Friday, June 21, 2013

Curse of the Undead King: Chapter Five

About fifty thousand years ago.

"We shouldn't be here," Plt whispered. "We're supposed to stay in the caves or the cellars until we're called on. Mrrda, you know what happened to Poul..."

"Ssh," Mrrda breathed as he bent a large leaf aside for the young lady. "I want to show you something. Don't worry, I come this way all the time."

Plt tiptoed past, taking slow and deliberate steps to prevent the dead and dry forest floor from cracking beneath her feet. Her big, brown eyes gazed up at Mrrda, speaking loudly of fear and life.

"Don't worry," he added reassuringly. Then, a bit more darkly: "They don't like it out here. It's too alive."

Mrrda wasn't much for lies. As the pair continued on under the stars, they found that the night became far less still as they marched away from the towering city of their masters. The crisp bed of dead leaves became a wet mulch dotted with greens and crossed and hatched with slippery, veiny vines. Bugs buzzed by, their wings drumming quickly as they fled the screams of tree-dwelling bats. The air became thick with pollen and humidity, coating the surrouding jungle in both yellow dust and slimy sweat. Each step seemed to make something slide, breathe, or pop—a sensation not unlike the berry-stomp.


"Ssh," Mrrda breathed again, this time putting a finger to her lips. "You'll see soon enough. You don't want me to ruin the surprise, do you?"

"I don't like surprises." Plt crossed her arms and puffed out her lip. An unwise choice for one traveling in dense forest. A lively stick rolled beneath her foot, causing her to stumble forward. Her hands, tucked neatly away in her armpits, were too clumsy and tangled to wing-out for balance. Mud caked up her knee as one leg slid into the earth, but a firm grasp held strong on her elbow, saving the rest of her from the same fate.

Mrrda smiled down at her, swallowing a laugh but coughing up the chuckle. "You have to be careful. No ground is steady here."

"I can see that," she huffed, digging nails into his bicep and yanking herself up. "Maybe that's why they make it stable."

"Whatever stability they achieve," he let go of her arm as he spoke, "is merely a side effect of their quest for despair."

Longbugs sang for the pair as they pressed onward, pushing past reaching branches and the weeping curtains of willowy trees. At last they came to a place where the leaves were pressed on a cool night breeze. The wind carried with it a sweet scent, something like honey. It was almost too sweet, almost sickening, but still on the side of pleasant. Mrrda watched as Plt closed her eyes and took it in, her slender nose wiggling in the air as she sniffed gently. With a grin he grabbed what he knew to be the last wall of leaves and ripped it aside, revealing a field of stars in a valley beyond.

Of course they weren't really stars—they were flowers. Flowers with petals that twinkled like stars, casting golden light into their valley at the bottom of a grassy knoll. Though they certainly seemed to match the stars in the sky. Lanterns in the darkness above, candles on the darkness below.

The reflections sparkled in Plt's eyes. At once she rushed ahead, her bare feet pounding on the gentle grass with soft thwops. Mrrda tore off after her, quickly matching her pace and following her in a tumble into the field. The flowers were deceivingly wet and strong, not pulling up as the two danced through them. They grabbed each other and spun, Mrrda lifting Plt into the air so she could see the miles and miles of majestic glowing grace. At last his arms ached and he set her down. Promptly they fell over, resting on their backs and enjoying the warm kisses of the wet petals.

"What are these?" Plt asked at last, her breath heavy from the sudden excitement.

"Flowers," Mrrda replied plainly. He managed to pluck one and pass it over to her. Plt clasped it in both hands and held it just below her chest as she stared up into the true stars.

"I know they're flowers... but what kind? Flowers that glow? Flowers that are warm and wet and so vibrant and alive? Flowers that smell (and taste) like honey?"

"Taste?" Mrrda turned his head. Plt faced him, a sheepish smile on her face. Between her lips poked the glowing remains of the flower he had handed her. They rustled a bit before disappearing with a gulp.

"I don't know if that's—"

"They smelled so sweet." Plt's eyes grew wide and pleading. "I couldn't resist."

Mrrda thought for a minute. "I'm sure it's probably okay..."

They were silent for a while, simply being together in the glow of so many stars. Each minute seemed to bring them closer together, until at last the warmth of the kissing flowers was combined with the warmth of their bodies pressed together, side by side. Their fingers closed tight on one another's hands. Mrrda's face was hot, an extra bit of sweat found its way to the surface. That's how they stayed, for a while, getting used to the feeling of each other's skin and the all the sounds of their breath and their hearts and the way their chests rose and fell each time they took in breath.

"Why don't you name them?" Mrrda asked after some time.


"The flowers. Why don't you give the name?"

"I'd probably call them something stupid. Like 'Star Flowers' or 'Star Honeys'. I'm not very good at naming things. I probably couldn't even name my child."

The comment made Mrrda catch his breath. Pushing it away, he said: "Star Honeys is nice."

"Yeah?" She glanced at him, her face as red as his. The glow of the flower swam in the honey on her lips.


They kissed then, long and slow and passionate. Kissed and held each other close until sleep came for them. They spent the night alone together, forgetting the world, forgetting their masters, forgetting all that was not each other, the moon above them, and their bed of Star Honeys.

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