Bloodlines, p.21
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       Bloodlines, p.21

           Trisha Lynn
 
Chapter Twenty

  “Are you ready?” His voice was low and quiet, and closer to her then she had expected.

  She turned to him. His gold-green eyes bright but still faintly distant. His dark hair fell just over his brow. He was an imposing character, and she was getting ready to enter another world with him. The good thing was, she had a feeling if anyone was going to protect her against the things in this realm, it was him. He looked ominous and serious as he readied himself to enter his world.

  She gulped and nodded.

  “Remember to relax and close your eyes. It's very disorienting. I'm going to hold your hand or arm if that's okay?”

  He smiled thinly at her when she nodded again, and he took her arm. Her mouth thinned but she allowed him to pull her into the edge of the doorway. The warmth his hand gave her was peculiar, and it sent a sensation of comfort through her.

  “When I touch the inside of the portal, you do the same okay?”

  She gulped, a shiver of something between anticipation and trepidation trickled up her spine, but she nodded. She wondered a moment if she was really ready for this, but it was a little late to turn back now, right?

  He reached out with his right hand; she mimicked him and reached out with her left hand. His left hand was still tight around her arm. He said a few unintelligible words under his breath. The shimmer she saw before intensified, until the entire doorway was a kaleidoscope of colors. She felt a tug on her arm and she stepped in, then she felt a tug in the middle of her stomach, through to her heart. She closed her eyes involuntarily, her mind spun and she had a feeling of utter weightlessness. Millions of colors wavered before her closed lids. It lasted only a few moments before her feet hit solid ground. She stumbled a bit and if not for Loki's hand on her arm she most certainly would have fallen forward onto her knees. Her blood hummed and her skin prickled with energy. She felt a slight tremble all over, like she'd been on a treadmill for hours and then tried standing on solid ground. Before she could even open her eyes, the onslaught of senses being turned up by the million fold was so intense that she gripped her temples. The ache in her ears started the distant forest noises were crackling in her ear drums. Branches swaying in the breeze, leaves rustling, an acorn falling to the forest floor, a branch creaking, a twig snapping under the foot of an animal, a brook bubbling in the distance, small forest animals scampering about. Birds chirped, sounding like they were right on her shoulder. She put her hands over her ears to try to muffle the sounds. Finally, the attack was over and it settled into a more bearable noise level, like turning the radio down several notches.

  Next she inhaled through her nose, and got an intense smell of raw earth, dirt, moss, root and wood. Then evergreen and wildflowers. She got a gentle whiff of an earthy, crisp, clean scent. Like the forest after a rain, and with a start, she realized the smell was definitely male. Her traveling companion. She swallowed, and tried to move past the forest scent that she could smell from Loki's skin and on to the deep forest smells cascading about her. She smelled water, and could then feel the moisture of it. Sensations hit her. She could feel the mist that clung to the forest against the fine hairs on her face and hands. Adeila had the overwhelming urge to take off her sweatshirt so she could feel it against her skin, but resisted. The breeze kissed along her face, what was exposed of her neck. It was refreshing, like nothing she'd ever felt.

  She then felt the earth beneath her shoes; she reflexively curled her toes, wishing she could feel the soil beneath her bare feet. She could almost feel the heat radiating off of Loki's skin, and realized he had let go of her arm and stepped away from her. But only a few feet from the heat she felt from him. It sent a slight bit of reassurance through her.

  After her body relaxed from the attack of those senses, she allowed herself a few deep breaths before opening her eyes. One lid at a time. The colors were so vivid, even the muted colors of the forest, that she almost closed her eyes again at the harshness of it. She had to get this part over with, so she pushed through the slight pain beneath her eyes and focused on a tree in front of her. She could see the overlap of each piece of bark, and the muted browns, deep greens and grays that ran along the entire length of the trunk. She saw small insects scurry along the base, her eyes traveled up into the leaves. There colors were intense, and so green. But not just green, every shade of green and yellow. She could pick apart each color and where it blended with the others. She moved her eyes around, seeing browns blend to greens, blend to yellows. It was incredible. Like being blind for many years, to then gain your eye sight again abruptly. Light fluttered through in small patches across the forest floor. Leaf debris glimmered from the sun light. Shadows lengthened and swayed. Each blade of grass distinct. Each color intensified. Buttercups and daisy's dotted beside the wooded trail they stood on, their color more yellow and white in every aspect then she ever knew them to be before. After a few moments the ache beneath her eyes lessened and with some effort of control, the pain within her ears went away completely.

  Adeila began to remove her hands from cupping her ears, when she felt the smooth, slender tip of them. She ran a finger along her lobe and discovered that where her ear was round before, now it tapered into a slender point. She tried not to panic as she knew this was going to happen. Loki had said that the Fae had tipped ears. It just cemented the idea that she was indeed a Faerie.

  She swallowed a mouthful of spit, and ran a hand through her hair. She paused, her hair felt thick and extra silky. She had decent hair, but it never felt thick or overly silky like this. The new conditioner she had spent a small fortune on designed for fine hair, must finally be doing its job. She pulled her hair over to one side of her shoulder, and realized it felt longer than before. It fell well over her shoulder, she whipped her head towards it and her breath whooshed out of her lips.

  Her generally boring mousy hair was a glossy, classy, very light earthy brown with golden, caramel and even lighter blonde highlights reflecting throughout it, blending perfectly to make it so natural and dimensional. Far from boring, or mousy.

  She'd tried dying her hair once, about a year ago. The color had come out almost instantly and she'd broken out in a rash for her troubles. She'd never dared to try it again, even at Marissa's insisting. Her best friend had insisted they'd gotten a bad batch of dye. But this color was no dye; it shimmered in the filtered sunlight. Her hair was thick, still straight as a pin - but now it didn't bother her - and strong feeling. Like split ends were a mythical thing. She'd always kept it long, generally mid back, to her bra strap, but now it was a bit longer. Resting at the small of her back. It was then her eyes traveled along her arms to her chest and what she saw made her heart stop. Her chest was definitely bigger. Her breasts had grown at least a cup size. She ran her hand down the front of her chest, and then she unzipped the thin sweatshirt and lifted up the collar of the blue and gray striped shirt below it. She peaked down inside of her shirt to her plain white cotton bra. Her boobs were bursting through the top, as they had never done before. The light padding in the bra had always helped her averagely-endowed chest look bigger before, but now it just pushed the flesh to almost the spilling over point.

  She swallowed. Whoa! She'd always wanted bigger boobs, and now it was just weird seeing them on her body. She poked them with a finger to make sure they felt the same. Yup, certainly her own flesh. The portal hadn't given her some crazy silicone boob job while she wasn't looking. That was a relief.

  After her boob inspection she ran a hand down her flat stomach, she'd always been thin, and with the yoga and walking as often as possible, she was pretty toned, but what she felt was much more. She felt the tiny indentations of ab muscles. She ran a hand to her slightly protruding hip bone, and lifted her shirts. She ran a hand across her midriff, feeling the muscles. Her body had toned itself a fraction harder than it was in the human realm. Well, damn, she could certainly live with these minor changes. Hair, boobs, body. It was all doable. Shocking, and weird, but manageable.

  Her
eyes caught her wrist, where it rested on her hip. Markings weaved across it, a few shades darker gold then her skin. They were vines, branches, flowers and leaves all cascading over each side of her right wrist. In the center of the underside of her wrist were two bold oak leaves, and from there tree branches intertwined with Celtic designs across the top side of her wrist.

  She flipped her arm over numerous times, and then pulled it closer to her eyes for inspection. Yup, definitely some kind of tattoo or brand thing. Her parents were going to flip. Then her mind wrapped around the fact that she was on another realm and that this might all change again when she went back home. A tiny surge of regret went through her.

  Finally, she remembered her traveling companion and looked ahead in the trail towards him. He gazed at her with an incredibly amused expression. Clearly entertained by her little display. Her cheeks flamed from embarrassment.

  Of course, she'd forgotten him while she was poking at her own boobs. Great. That's not awkward at all. She swallowed, and then held up her wrist. Deciding to just move past the embarrassing little display of checking out her own body. She was quite sure it had just looked too weird.

  “What is this?” She tapped on her wrist.

  He smirked but his voice was even. “Marks of your bloodline.”

  Her eyebrows rose and she looked at him harder. His hair was a shade darker than it had been on human realm, and a tad bit longer; almost reaching the collar of his t-shirt. His face was more angular, more rugged, and more masculine. Just more. More painstakingly beautiful. Even for a girl who was taken and uninterested, he was gorgeous in an otherworldly Faerie warrior fashion. His ears were tipped like hers, and his body was fuller, taller, more muscled than in the human world. He had a lithe, slim, physique with muscles in all the right places. Places that you actually used. Then her eyes lit onto the sword at his hip. It had a silver hilt with interlocking designs, the blade was hidden within a supple gray leather bound sheath but she knew it was a sword easily enough. She gulped but decided to ask.

  “Sword?”

  He looked down at it, proudly. “Nah'Aseel Fivur. Meaning “Northern Warrior” in northern Fae tongue. It has been passed down to me from my great-grandfather Nasaam. My middle brother gained that of my great-great grandfathers. It is called Dh'ijhanga Hyn. Meaning “Cold Song.” My eldest brother received his very own sword, made for him by the best sword maker of the north, Nysmah. She is the undisputed greatest sword maker in all of Faerie. It was a gift from my parents when he became a man. It is called Ughestin'Ahel meaning “Tether of Ice”. There are many relics passed on from generation to generation within the Faerie world. Weapons and jewels are probably the most common.”

  Adeila had subconsciously moved a step closer. Realizing it now, she brought her eyes from his sword to his eyes. They had changed too, although subtly. Now they were more golden, greener, with flakes of metallic chips of steel gray. She was quite sure they would still change with his emotions and she wondered briefly if she'd still be able to read them as she'd been learning to do on the human realm. The colors were bright, and so very unreal. Nothing like that would ever exist in the human world; no contacts would match all those colors swirling around. She looked back down to her wrist. This was so much to take in. Then she looked at his arm. The colors of the marks on his arm were darker, more pronounced against his tan skin. His tattoo had almost looked faded and gray in the human realm, but now it was dark and stood bold against his skin, almost like it was moving along his arm. The marks had also grown, lengthened and gained many new swirls, lines and stars. She was sure that within the stars and swirls she made out the image of some kind of deer like creature. The Fae realm must have blanketed some of the marks while he was in the human world.

  “What of your marks?”

  He shrugged. “The same as yours.”

  She narrowed her eyes. “That's all? There must be more to it than that. It goes all the way up your arm!”

  He cocked his head. “They represent my bloodlines, my birthright, and my history. You gain marks as you succeed in life in your own personal way. Each line represents something you've done, or accomplished.”

  Adeila blew out a breath. That was pretty cool, she couldn't deny.

  “What do they all mean?”

  “That would take far too long to discuss, and we must move on. The Fae realm is no place to be caught at night this far from Oakend.”

  She remained rooted to the spot. She knew it was childish, but she desperately wanted to know. He had stepped away, but when he realized she wasn't following him, he stopped and threw his head to the sky, emitting what sounded almost like a growl. He turned to her clearly irritated.

  When she still didn't budge, he threw up his hands. “Fine! Pick one.” He ground his teeth. “One, Princess.”

  She almost trotted towards him in glee, feeling like she had won some battle. When she got close enough, she reached out and tentatively grabbed his arm. He tensed and stood rigid. A feeling of electricity bolted up her arm at the touch, and her fingers warmed from his flesh. She had to restrain herself from running a finger along some of the marks, but decided on the very dark purple stars and swirls that were in the very middle of the inside of his forearm. There were antler horns, being crisscrossed by stars and then swirls that faded to more stars along the inside of his bicep.

  She tapped her finger on the antlers and stars and looked up into his smoldering golden eyes. His lips thinned.

  “The stars and antlers represent my ancestry. When I was given the ancient tale, the marks showed. They represent my knowledge and full acceptance of my ancestral lineage. My father is a direct descended of Taivyl Staghorne, the first leader of the North. Taivyl was also the descendant of one the very first circle of Fae. The five Fae created millions of years ago. One for each of the elements; Fire, Water, Earth, Air and Spirit. Your father is also a direct descendant of the very first circle of five Fae. At one point we had quite a famine spread through our ranks, the Fae were mysteriously dying off. To this day, no one really knows why.” He shifted his feet, and took his arm back from her. She let her arm drop to her side, and waited for him to continue.

  “Taivyl, could shift into a stag, it was part of his Fae powers. He was descendant from the elemental Fae of Spirit. He couldn't turn into any other creature, as some can take many shapes now through evolution and need. He had only the one. But it was mighty. The stag, especially the white Stag, was rare and mysterious, and at that time impossible to kill. Some say that the white stag is the creator of the Fae, some say that the Earth mother Lh'eanah is the creator, some say they created the Fae people together. I guess no one will ever know the truth of it. But Taivyl took it upon himself to turn into his stag form and venture north to see if the famine ran amok among the entire Fae realm. He found out that it did not. He led our people into the deep north, a kingdom he later named Neberuk. It wasn't inhabited at the time by none other than polar bear, arctic fox, wolves and mountain trolls. Once he made a pact with them, it was safe for us to live there and rebuild. He led us to great prosper and knowledge of things beyond even our sights. The people began calling him ruler of the North or Stag of the North. Decades later it was a descendant of your fathers, Adeimon Dennoak, who led some of the people back here to Oakend. Adeimon, who was a direct descendant of the first elemental Fae of Earth, became ruler of this kingdom he called Oakend, and Taivyl ruled the North, Neberuk. The Fae realm flourished for many, many years under their fair and just command. Working together in companionable honor and friendship. That friendship is held in honor today, even with the Faerie realm being cut into a few more kingdoms.”

  He had begun walking down the path, and she followed him on instinct, thinking his tale complete. Although it still left her with questions. To her surprise he asked her a question of his own. “Your human realm has the North Star, correct?”

  She nodded, and stepped carefully across some roots.

  “Well, when Taivyl died, he shifted i
nto his Stag form. The form that saved the Fae, and some say created it. The Moon Goddess shined upon this favor and turned him into a constellation in the stars above. Forever to watch over the Fae. To call all Fae home when they have lost their way. Your North Star is only the center gem in the antlers crown on the Stag here. Taivyl's Stag form is an entire giant constellation, even in the human realm it shows as such to the Fae.”

  She thought back to sixth grade science class when she'd been called upon about the North Star and she'd said she could make out a deer in the sky and the teacher had looked at her as if her imagination was far larger than her scientific mind could handle. She'd tried to argue with the teachers, her parents, but who listened to an eleven year old girl? She'd been deemed to have a crazy imagination and the teacher ensured to call upon her much less than before. So this meant she wasn't crazy, after all. She had seen what she thought she had.

  He cocked his head at her. “You've seen it?”

  “Yes. I even tried pointing it out to people. Teachers. My parents. They thought I was out of my mind.”

  He smiled briefly and nodded. “The Stag will always call the Fae home. If they seek that constellation and follow it, they will always find a portal to the Fae realm. Many strong Fae have an internal pull to the portals and can typically find them just by following their instincts, but I am sure that the Stag has called many less fortunate, lesser Fae home.”

 
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