The silken throne
Descriptiona select chapter from my work in progress
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Chapter Sixteen Tearing down the stairs two at I time; I lunged for the door and clasped the handle with both hands forcing it back with all my strength. I was surprised to find it unlocked, and stumbled through it as I forced it open, slamming it closed as I stood on the doorstep. I hadn't realised that I had been holding my breath, and it came out as a ragged gasp that shook my body, I inhaled again and filled my lungs with icy air. I stood shivering on the doorstep and watched the clouds continue to allow the rain to fall, hanging low and heavy in the grey sky. I looked down at the flimsy nightdress I was wearing, the lacy bottom already soaked through as it dangled in the puddles forming at my feet, and silently cursed myself for not grabbing the cloak I had left hanging over the dresser. I hesitated, considering going back inside and fetching a jacket, but as I lingered I heard a god-awful crash coming from my room upstairs, and the tail end of a string of curses that managed to sound angelic as Laphaniel spat them out. My name was mentioned once or twice, and the rage behind his words forced me off the step and backing towards the forest. I glanced up and saw his silhouette watching me from the tall window, his figure dark and his face unreadable. As he turned away the light caught his eyes, darkening the lilac pupils to black, so the silver circles around them shone. In truth, he had never looked more of monster. The rain quickly numbed my skin as I ran through the trees, and after spending so many months dancing under their boughs, they no longer terrified me the way they had. I looked back only once, to find Laphaniel's house completely swallowed up by trees, their branches and vines entwined so thickly it was if there had never been a path there to begin with. I ran without direction, and I continued to run until I was bent double with a stitch in my side, gasping in air so cold it made my head spin. I rested my hand on a tree trunk as I leant forward and retched into the ivy-covered floor. I spat and wiped my mouth, sinking to the damp ground so I could catch my breath. I rested my head on my knees and clutched at my aching empty stomach, watching as the rain slipped from the dying leaves and trickled to the mulch that gathered on the ground. Closing my eyes, I felt a cool trickle of moisture slide down over my face, though if it was a tear or merely a stray raindrop, I didn't know. Images, though not quite dreams, for that would have been impossible, flickered in my head. I was unsure if they were really memories or if they had been placed there, forced into my head for the intention of keeping me there, of keeping me His. I allowed them to play on, watching them shift and change like a time stop movie. Some I recalled clearly could still feel the bruises on the soles of my feet from dancing. Others there was nothing but a peculiar sense that I had lost something, or had left a light switch on, without remembering what room or what beloved object I was now without. Pushing my sodden hair from my eyes, I heaved myself to my feet and carried on walking, the twinge in my side aching with each step. I looked back a couple of times, finding the way I had come hidden by creepers and vines, that even as I looked up swept up from the ground and knotted together. "Yeah? Well I'm not going back anyway." I said, mostly to myself as more forest knitted together barring my way back and pushing me forward. I wondered then if I was lost, but could you really be lost, if the only way to go on is forward? It had been far to easy to forget about Niven, she had been pushed from my mind with so little force that my stomach knotted with guilt every time I thought of her. Shunning her memory to take Laphaniel's outstretched hand and dance with him under the moonlight. I closed my eyes to force her dancing silhouette back into my head, to watch as she danced as I just looked on, too afraid of the shadows and the odd creatures that moved with them to move closer. She wouldn't come, and although I no longer saw her when I closed my eyes, I could still hear her echo in my ear as if she were standing right beside me. Find me; God I wanted to, to find her and get the hell out of the woods and never set foot in them ever again. I could move to London with her, bring mum along for the ride, surround us with tower blocks and masses of rust coloured iron railings to keep the bastards out. Even as I envisioned the shabby little flat, surrounded by nothing else but other shabby little flats, I knew my plan was flawed. The trees crept in closer, raking my cheek with their long branches, wooden fingers tinged with autumn dew streaking across my face to leave a trail of grime and blood. Laphaniel was right, I was never going home. I yelled as the branches of a young oak tangled in my hair, forcing me back when I struggled to move on. They came up from the ground, roots breaking the earth to catch my feet as I stumbled on, snatching my hair from my scalp as they pulled me down. Clamping my hand to my throbbing head, I pushed myself up and surged forward, taking in handfuls of ivy and ripping it from their bark, listening to their pained cries with delighted glee. I felt each stinging slap as I ran, felt the ivy snake down and wrap itself around my neck in an attempt to choke me, and felt the creepers slide up my nightshirt, caressing my calf, coiling up my thigh, crawling higher; I cried out, snatching the twisting thing from my leg and snapping it from whatever tree it belonged to. Bringing my hand to my mouth I choked back a sob, and tasted the coppery tang of blood on my fingers, I pulled it back and examined my palm, seeing for the first time the criss-crosses of dozens of tiny cuts that were tattooed across my skin. They weren't deep, but stung like hell as I grabbed onto another piece of fauna and tugged it off my arm, ripping another couple of holes in my hands for the pleasure. I streaked them down my nightdress, smearing the white with blood and filth; the pretty little buttons had been long lost, torn from my chest by a sycamore tree with no personal space boundaries. The fabric gaped at my chest, revealing a flash of white skin, and a little too much breast than I was comfortable with, whilst standing in a forest filled with lecherous trees and shrubbery. I kept moving forward, pushed, shoved or just through my own free will I kept on moving forward. Going back wasn't an option to me, I supposed it stopped being any sort of option a long time ago. Even if the trees gave way and allowed me to pass through, I couldn't go back, I didn't know my way home anymore. I passed through a small clutter of trees and shrieked as I tumbled down the sheer edge that they had been hiding. The wind rushed past my head, an echo of ancient laughter that followed me down as I fell. I reached out my hands to take hold of the roots and dangling branches, but as my fingers scrambled for them they jerked away, letting me slip through. I skidded and somersaulted down, each thump squeezing the air from my lungs as I went arse over face. I took in a mouthful of mud and mulch as I rolled to a stop, landing with the skirt of my nightie wrapped up around my waist. Gasping and choking I pulled myself to my feet, tugging my nightdress back down to cover my body, pushing my finger through the new holes that dotted the fabric. It glistened in front of me, partially hidden by a few oak trees and a sweeping willow that dipped its long green branches across the waters. It was not as beautiful as I remembered it being. Though the waterfalls still crashed down into the perfect blue, and the light still bounced from the ripples caused by the faint breeze that stirred the trees, it was a sinister place. I couldn't stand in awe of its beauty without Laphaniel holding onto my arm to keep me from plunging into its waters. I didn't feel safe without him. The bastard. He terrified me, had struck me and held me captive, yet here I was standing at the edge of the forest and longing to be in his arms. I shuddered as the creepy feeling surrounding the lake refused to disappear. The trees swayed slightly as the wind moved between them, as if bending to listen to some private joke. I stared down at my arms, covered in bruises and bleeding cuts, at the grazes on my knees as they sent me plummeting, I looked up and finally understood. She stood at the side of the lake gazing into the depths, black eyes reflecting the water so for the first time they appeared to have colour. She didn't move, but tilted her head to look at me, she smiled and from where I stood I could see the glint of her tiny pointed teeth. I stood frozen as I stared, and Lily stared back, the twisted smile still slashed across her stark face. I was surprised at the sound of her voice, gone was the harsh rasp that had threatened me before, replaced with a beautiful and terrible song. I preferred the former. The wind echoed, my ragged breath echoed, Lily's song did not. "I've been waiting for you."