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Stars Above (Scarabs Below)

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The sheets swirled around his legs as he lifted them. Ever so careful to not disturb the stranger that lay at his side, they drifted, soft as a feather, down.

(Take the worst situations.)

He padded gently along the polished wooden floor, boards of ancient origin from times of Veloth whispering quiet words of protest as he ghosted along them. The door felt cool beneath his polished fingertips and he pushed it open, only to close it behind him without a sound.

(Make a worse situation.)

The bruises on his hips told stories in shades of plum and apricot, bearing the fruits of his labour. The labour that it was, holding a shell of a heart in his chest. He didn’t even know tonight’s lover’s name.

(Follow me home, pretend you found somebody to mend you.)

He heard his own called from the room beyond, but he didn’t respond. A tear slipped down his cheek and his footsteps guided him away from the tragedy inside. His veins burned with guilt and desire, confounded into one singular pain, searing.

(I feel numb.)

Since when was air so heavy? A hand rose to meet his throat, but he did not recognise it as his own. He didn’t exist in this space; accolades meant nothing to him as they did a bloodied Queen, her beautiful hair so quick to strangle like a weapon.

(I feel numb in this kingdom.)

To Resdayn he belonged, from Resdayn he was exiled. A pauper becoming a king, his crown was made of bones, built only upon the death of his former self. Indoril was not his own, he was not his own. He was of Ayem and her mercy, of Almalexia and her disgust.

(I feel numb.)

Married into a house sanctimoniously for feats lauded and in the face of all tradition, tradition he wanted to uphold. He was a bastard, one who did not belong; a puppet on Mournhold’s strings made to dance for feelings of power alone.

(I feel numb in this kingdom.)

He wanted to feel love, but in doing so, lost it. The tears came fast and hot down his cheeks and down the skin of his neck, so reminiscent of the sinful deeds done last night in a bed that was not truly his own. Did his lover call him King? He could not remember.

(Chemically enlaced faces.)

Steps quickened beneath him. His breath followed, never quite catching up, much like his mind with the games he was forced to play. Like a child, he was always that one move behind. Flowers blurred past, hanging from pots, and in his distress, the mer wasn’t so sure that he had not been poisoned.

(Black out nights and tight spaces.)

Bile rose, only to descend out of his mouth upon a flighty exit out a surreptitious back door. To scarred knees he fell, braced upon the dirt of the gardens as he emptied himself for all he had. Thorns dug into the sweet flesh of his blessed palms and all he could feel was unadulterated pain in his secret corner.

(We’ll feel distant embraces.)

From afar, Voryn Dagoth stood upon a balcony, gazing, only to recognise the silver star he had grown to love was bent and broken in the city below. Anger permeated his cold veins.

(Scratching hands around my waist.)

Tenderly curated nails sharpened into blades and scarabs took flight, the sky above a swarm of scarlet, humming and vicious.

(I’ll wash my mouth but still taste you.)

The drone of insects filled the ears of Azura’s chosen, a tender kiss to the senses. He looked above and saw not the stars of the Mother, but a vivacious red. A red not of misplaced swords nor misplaced passion, but of protection and endearment. He knew.

( I feel numb. )

Voryn’s lips whispered tender nothings along the wind.

( I feel numb in this kingdom. )

The scarabs fluttered down, a swirl of vermilion, and murmured into silver-adorned ears with gentle shifts of iridescent wings beneath strong carapaces. A lone heartbeat thrummed with the beat of their spindly legs, marching along the ground to surround his star in a circle. 

( I feel numb. )

The night air grazed his skin softly. Azura’s blessing.

( I feel numb in this kingdom. )

A crescendo spiralled upward and upward as the scarabs rustled their wings. March halting with their sleek bodies in perfect position, the tears ceased to fall. No creature would dare break their circle.

(You better make me better.)

Voryn descended from his chambers.

(You better make me better.)

The scarabs all but sung to his star with words he knew only they of Dagoth would understand. The song was earnest.

(You better make me better.)

Gentle and austere, a select few of his chosen climbed the arms of the mer they guarded. They were not malevolent.

(You better make me better.)

Voryn emerged just as the scarabs touched the melancholy face before them, sweeping the last of the near-dried tears away with gentle beats of their wings. Scarlet carapaces glowed in the moonlight and he approached in silence, ever dutiful and ever watchful of the one he loved.

( I feel numb , make me better.)

“Sweet Nerevar.”

( I feel numb in this kingdom. )

The scarabs hummed, benevolent as they withdrew to let Voryn pass and kneel before the other. Lovely in servitude, his deft, gentle hands caressed Moon-and-Star’s blessed cheeks as the insects softly covered the two in an embrace of their own.

( I feel numb , make me better.)

“Come here, my star.”

( I feel numb in this kingdom. )

Nerevar let himself fall into Voryn’s embrace, sobbing into his chest. The scarlet insects cloaking them sung another soft lullaby, as musical as the House to which they belonged, and Voryn hummed with them. Stroking the mer’s back with care he afforded no other, he let the gentle song of the scarabs fade only as Azura’s dawn broke over the Palace walls.

(...)

Looking up, Nerevar found the only kingdom he ever wished to belong to.

Voryn, looking down, felt the same.