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Thorn in Moonlight

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1 Thorn in Moonlight on Sun Jun 24, 2018 11:24 pm

[TW: Abuse, Genderfeels]

Nine months of moonlight.

When she was a little girl (had she ever been a little girl?), she'd liked the fairy tale Mother used to tell her about where the seasons came from. An elvish goddess, a little cousin to the great and grand Ehlonna, had been kidnapped by a lord of night. Not Nerull himself, but one of his lesser brothers. The presumptuous man took the elvish girl to be his bride, not considering there would be nice hells to pay when Ehlonna missed her favorite handmaiden. In a fit of cold fury, the goddess of nature and wild things plunged the world into eternal winter, killing indiscriminately both the good and bad in her endless sorrow.

The gods pleaded with Ehlonna to bring back the warm growing seasons. Her heart encrusted in sorrowful ice, she refused. She would only lift her curse if her handmaiden was returned to her. In defeat, Nerull ordered his brother to return the elvish lady to her mistress. That should have been the end, a happy ending for everyone who deserved one, but the lord of night had been clever. He tricked the girl into eating seeds from a special moon-blossoming fruit which only grew in the gardens of Sehanine. By rules even gods could not bend or break, the girl henceforth belonged for six months of a year to her night lord. Ehlonna could gust and bellow all she wanted, but for six months of every year they would be parted.

Whenever she heard the story as a girl (had she ever been a girl?), she'd harbored the suspicion that the elvish maiden had gotten the best of a raw deal. Maidens weren't supposed to like the gods of night, but Sehanine did and the moon herself couldn't be completely wrong, could she? And for all that Ehlonna was good and pure and strong and lovely and fierce, anyone willing to visit eternal winter on the world for a crime committed by a single person seemed... intense. The disproportionate nature of the punishment reminded her too much of Father, the way she'd learned to tiptoe around the house when he was looking for someone to be angry with. Stay out of his way, Mother always said. Don't give him an excuse.

Then she grew older and married and if she thought about the elvish maiden at all (she didn't) she might have had second thoughts about how good a deal she'd received. Six months with a husband she hated and feared was better than twelve months by far, but still a terrible compromise. Maybe Ehlonna had been right; maybe the answer was to tear down the very foundations of the world, undo all of creation, break every law, and rebuild from scratch. To make a world where nothing and no one could compel a girl to stay with the man who'd harmed her, because any world where that was possible was an unjust world.

If every living thing had to suffer in order to make that point, was that so wrong? Was it better if the only person suffering was a young girl who'd never asked to be a pawn in a game between gods? She didn't know. Nothing ever seemed certain to her. If she'd ever once been certain of anything, it was gone now. Only fools built foundations on shifting sands. Better to stay light and nimble, always ready to move with the changes of the wind. Survival meant never getting attached to an opinion, a belief, a cause. Survival meant constant vigilance, movement, and readiness to duck. To curl in before a blow. To go limp.

She (she?) lies back on the bed and studies the ceiling in this place. The moonglow is beautiful, soft and soothing; bright enough to read by day and dark enough to sleep by night. She (she?) misses the sun, but the loss is worth it for the safety and love she feels here. This place is the closest she can imagine to paradise. Rik visits her in the evenings and holds her at night, soft and strong and warm and real. His hot breath when he kisses her, the little growls he makes, the strength in his arms; she should be scared of him and yet never is. He wouldn't hurt her for the world and she knows that. Has never once been in doubt. She loves him. If the price of this safety, of his love, is a lifetime away from the sun, she'll pay it gladly.

But it can't go on forever.

He (he?) knows that. He isn't a fool. Reverence is genuinely kind, but he is an investment for the high priestess. She is grooming him to be a politician, to take over his father's seat on the council, and he isn't even sure he doesn't want that. After all, what are his alternatives? He wasn't raised to know a trade or to work. He can paint--and he paints well--but he isn't sure he wants to make a living from his art, and he knows he'll have to be amazing if he plans to support himself and a child on an artist's meager income. He could marry again, but there's no one he wants to marry but Rik and he's already worked out on his own that Yondallan paladins aren't exactly rolling in high wages from the temple.

Choosing this path will require stepping out of the moonlight. Leaving the safety of the night and walking back out into the day. He'll have to face his father again, and--worse--he'll have to find a way to do so politely and with respectful filial duty without losing the sense of self he's carved out here. He'll have to face his husband in court, demand a divorce and a settlement of his dowry, and that in itself is terrifying. The Redfangs won't take kindly to losing a valuable meal ticket. Treygis beat him when he needed him alive and relatively happy; what will he do to him when his life no longer holds value to the Redfang family?

He's going to need allies. Reverence is a start, and she's determined to introduce him to others. Freed, with her laughing wry eyes and the way she seems to know everything about everyone in town. Abbie, who is good and smart and clever and he wishes he could see her more often. Rik, who is the world and the sun and the stars, and hardly the political liability he views himself as. A politician with a paladin for a husband? No one could ever question his moral standing. ("If he'll be your husband," the little voice whispers in his ear. "Have you asked? Has he offered? Are you a paladin's husband or a paladin's wh--" He cuts the voice away by digging his fingernails into the palm of his hand until he sees stars. He hates that voice.)

He'll need more. Elves, especially. People who were friendly to him as a child, the ones who didn't mind the orcish features they saw in his face. People who disliked his father and looked to him as a possible solution to their problems. The enemies of his father are, possibly, his friends. If he's smart about this. If he's careful. Then, too, there are the other temples. That Olidammaran tiefling boy who was so charming and sweet. ("He offered to marry you, at least," the voice grants. Though whether he'd been serious or not was distressingly hard to judge.) The Nerullian paladin who came by sometimes to talk while Rik glowered at him.

He'd been confused why the quiet paladin would have any interest in him at all--surely Reverence wasn't so persuasive as to charm an elf into looking twice at an orc--until Quivyll had confided in his quiet voice why he had left his people to come to Brilight. Thorn had blushed and looked down at his hands and not known what to say. He knew he wasn't alone, of course, but he felt alone. Isolated by his parents' disapproval and their decision to keep him in a role which had always felt wrong to him. To know someone else who had escaped a similarly stifling atmosphere, to see how strong they had become and to hear them say that strength was in you as well... he'd not known what to say or do except to blink back tears.

Was he strong? It was easy to say, and they all said it in their own way. Abbie, Reverence, Freed, Quivyll, Rik. Harder to believe it. The last time he tried to be strong, the results had been... painful. He shied away from the memory. But he'd left the next day. Escaped here, to safety and luxury and love in a good man's arms. To Rik. That wasn't nothing. In fact, it was everything. But how long could he keep those things for himself? How long could he keep the things which made him happy?

Nine months of moonlight.

He had that much. Beyond that, he wasn't sure.
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2 Re: Thorn in Moonlight on Mon Jun 25, 2018 1:00 am

Ana.. how very dare you...

This is just the tears are just gosh darn it your good
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3 Re: Thorn in Moonlight on Mon Jun 25, 2018 1:11 am

Aww! Thank you. Everyone else was doing drabbles, so

*shy*
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4 Re: Thorn in Moonlight on Mon Jun 25, 2018 1:12 am

I relate so fucking hard to thorn hsnfjrnsjhhhgg

All the feels
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5 Re: Thorn in Moonlight on Mon Jun 25, 2018 9:49 am

Thorn wrote:He's going to need allies.

I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE

Thorn wrote:He'll need more. Elves, especially.

I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE AGAIN
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