This is #27 of an ongoing serial currently named The Autumn Queen. If you want to start from the beginning, go here.
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Days faded into strange blurs of moonlight and darkness, again and again, silverblue fading to black, brightening in a sliver, if brightening at all, or at times nearly ghostly, all things lit in a radiance I kept praying might at some point be revealed to me in holy music.
I prayed as I remembered Elias praying.
I woke one morning to find the widest, whitest moon shining down upon us, and in the distance, past a field of shimmering lilies.
My brother’s son knelt on a small mat near the fire, bathing in the moonlight, naked and just as shimmering, mixing something within a small bowl.
After a time, he said, “Bare yourself to her, Elodie.”
Shame colored my cheeks, but before I could protest, he said, “She has told me how to help you hear her. If you truly wish to hear her music, Elodie, bare yourself to her. Come to her unadorned, vulnerable. Her light cannot reach what you hide, and so to ask for her, you must hide nothing.”
With Elias gone, with only his strange son to care for (or perhaps be cared for by?) I could think of no real argument. I wanted to be close to him again, and the only way to do it would be to be close to Her.
I stripped naked, and stood next to him. He dipped his fingers into the bowl and reached out, carefully painting lines and runes against my skin, down my limbs, over my breasts, around my throat. The lines gleamed in the night, and felt like fire and ice against my skin. He painted his own skin in the same fashion, to match the marks against mine, and then bid me lay down against the grass.
I watched as he tipped the bowl against his lips and drank. He leaned down and put his mouth to mine. The bitter kiss startled me; I swallowed the herbs and followed his eyes as he pulled back, whispering, “She will come to you soon.”
He laid down next to me, bare in the long silver grass, and I stared up at the moon, wondering what he meant by ‘soon’ when I realized two things:
I was alone; he had left, somehow, and–
I could hear music.
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