The first thing Luna became aware of when they manifested in an unfamiliar setting was the calling of birds.
Sweet, drifting melodies singing down to her ears from the overhanging trees within the large cavern- just the barest hints of the sky peeking through via the collapsed top of the cavern, drifting in and out of the canopies.
Her eyes swept over everything in their path as they delved further into the space. Anryien guided her by their locked elbows, pointing out the richly colored birds of varying sized swooping in and out of the greenery.
She gave a whistle under her breath and a few birds whistled back to her. A smile slowly dawned on her face and she finally looked up at Anryien.
“It’s beautiful. Where are we?”
His eyes scanned the forest surrounding and he was silent until small ruins began to peek through the overgrown bushes and long drifting grasses.
He grabbed hold of her hand and swung her around to stand opposite of him.
He waved a hand over the surrounding stones, “This is Anrei.”
His eyes burrowed into her, “My city once upon a time.”
Her eyes were focused entirely on his own, the silver discs carved into her, searching. For what, she didn’t know.
So focused was she that she almost failed to notice the ground begin to quake and the greenery began to rustle. Anryien glanced away first and she finally turned her gaze to their surroundings.
“Oh my god.”
A smile bloomed on Anryien’s face beside her as she witnessed his city rebuilding itself from almost nothing.
The trees shifted and moved- the canopies keeping the ground encovered from any wayward eyes even as buildings took up their former places. Bare stones seemed to recover themselves from time lost- small buildings reborn piece by piece.
Anryien placed her hand in the crook of his elbow and swept her slowly through stone paths becoming stone streets and she knew she would never see something so magnificent ever again.
She was enraptured by the rebirth of the city, her eyes when not caught on one thing, were caught on another.
Slowly, they made their way through the city and he allowed her free reign when the ground had settled once more.
She flitted from one path or street to another, delightful laughter trickling back to him and keeping a smile on his face for hours.
Keep smiling and our face will stick like that.
Would that really be so bad?
His words seemed to placate the mortal, but Anryien knew it was more than that- he too could see the sheer happiness on her fine features. They both knew that Jack was just as entertained by her glee as the god was and so they were silent for hours as she swept in and out of buildings- his people’s once markets, homes, businesses.
Eventually he lost track of her and made a game of tracking her by the sound of her gasps and laughter. When he sensed her tiring he manifested right beside her, scaring her senseless.
She gasped and nearly fell back had he not wrapped her in his arms.
“Come, I have somewhere to show you.”
She nodded and he pulled her through the streets to the city center where his and his sister’s temples were perched on a slight hill.
His temple was larger than his sister’s and his people had built it with tremendous care- elaborate carvings of stags, bulls, and long necked colorful birds- elaborate carvings of soldiers and warriors in the midst of battle.
In comparison he could suppose his sister’s was far humbler. She had once liked the look of smaller but elegantly simple buildings. He had once been the egotistical one- the one who had desired more and more and more, never satisfied with his lot.
He had learned to be better than that in his years alone- separate from everyone and thing, barely sentient, living as a ghost- entirely swept up in his domain.
He was brought out of his thoughts as Luna danced in and out of the courtyard connecting the two temples, staying toward the center where a fire pit sat.
It was not a cold evening, but he still summoned up flames within the pit, taking pleasure in watching the firelight dance along the planes of her face.
She laughed and swayed to silent beats, the hem of the slip he had clothed her in allowing the easy movements she made.
He was content to watch her as she circled the flames and soon he recognized that even more hours had passed since he had taken her here.
So he stood and took her by the hand, and they delved into his temple, his shadows swarming around them but the night sky providing light along the ceilings of his temple, his power animating the paintings on the walls and the ceilings. Her breathing was shallow beside him as her eyes couldn’t seem to decide whether to stare at the painting to her left or to her right or maybe the ceiling?
He chuckled and she finally looked at him.
She released a grin and he made sure not to stop until they had passed through the several courtyards, the dozens of rooms, to the final courtyard where a shrine built for him stood. The sky above them was bare of trees and provided them with a near perfect view of the night sky.
She gasped at the view and her eyes filled with awe as she stared up at the sky.
Stars twinkled brightly above them, glowing and dancing and blessing them with a brief sense of the mighty macrocosm above them- all around them.
She only looked away when he stepped up beside her.
An expression he had never before seen gleamed up at him from her eyes. She teased her lip between her teeth and he became near hypnotized by the motion.
He kissed her then, pulling her closer when she responded with equal desire.
She was sweet and teasing and he only pulled away minutes later because he felt he had to.
He guided her to sit at a fountain’s edge, an elegantly sculpted bench waiting for them both.
She crossed her legs when she sat and he took her hands into his own, running his fingers over the lines that told her life story.
He began to tell her his tale as he kept his gaze on their locked hands.
“I began my life on the Autumnal Equinox of a year I had never noted until it was too far gone to know for sure when it began. My first memories are a blur and I don’t remember them well. I remember caring for my sister and trying to reign her in at times, I remember how it wounded us both to be alienated from the others just because our domains were dark. I remember discovering my abilities- my domain over shadows, learning how to manipulate darkness- my domain of compulsion, learning that with a few slight words I could win over anyone, I remember most how they feared me and I remember craving their fear as I came to realize that the rest were no friends of mine. I learned I could bolster my friends and allies and utterly wreak havoc on those too fearless to realize that standing against a god of war was not a good idea. I remember how with a simple touch I could bring the worst of ends upon any unsuspecting mortal.
“I did awful things and I failed to realize the full danger that such naivete brings. In the end the only ones who cared for my sister and I were the ones that were in danger by my actions. Sverila did things as well- but she was not always like how she is now- no, the brunt of it was my own to bear…”
He trailed off, his voice soft, “I suppose I should tell you of my other Brides.”
Luna squeezed his hand as if to offer comfort and his lips twitched into a small smile.
“Williams already knows of the second, Noyllia- she was beautiful but her beauty lie mostly in her cleverness- never had I known a woman to pick fights as often as she. And she won those fights, she won them well over, for her wit was her most cutting weapon of any. I loved her for that, until she turned that wit upon me weeks after she had finally met the other gods.
“The one that caught her attention was Yieren- the Radiant Sun, the god of Light. She was like a moth to a flame and he lured her in easily. In hindsight, I do not think he intended to lure her to him- no, Yiaren had little care for women like her. She had a cutting tongue and Yiaren only had care for that when he was looking for an adversary, she did not attract him as she did me.
“That is why I was surprised when she left one morning as dawn broke my hold over the city and never came back. I came later to discover that she had left me for him. Yiaren and I were no enemies, but we were certainly no friends. At least not until then. I became enraged and simmered in my anger until my sister urged me to do something. My sister has always liked to start fights- even more than Noyllia.”
He sighed and did not look up from their hands, “I…”
“I killed her within the month.”
Luna gasped softly, so softly that he thought he had not heard it for a few moments. She released her breath a few moments later and urged him to continue.
“She was the second? Tell me about the first.”
He glanced up and met her warm eyes.
They were too kind, too warm, too full with the desire to care.
He hated her for it as much as he loved her for it.
He blew out a breath, “Her name was Kamia.”
“She was an orphan, stealing food from markets and wayward strangers but she would take sanctuary in the crawl spaces in my temple here. I did not take notice of her until she was fully grown however- she had been caught stealing from a temple priestess and her sisters and the head priestess called upon me for my judgment.
“She was brought before my shrine and they cut open her hand, blood dripping down upon the hot coals that always sat in the offering bowl. I remember how it sizzled and the look of fear in her face when she saw it crackle.
“I was sitting by this fountain, you see. I was not visible to mortal eyes but I could see perfectly well myself- I could hear far better even.
“And for what I head…
“I heard her try to plead with me, a deity she kept no faith in because she put no faith in gods at all. I can hear her prayers in my mind still… Please! If you must, take me! But let the children that stay with me have food at least for the night… Yes, I remember her words well- they had startled me and I had been struck with curiosity. Why would someone to pray to someone they did not even believe in? It haunts me to this day, if I am honest.
“And so I whispered in the ear of the high priestess to leave the woman alone with me in the shrine and she did so. Just dropped her by the fountain and told her to stay where she was. I think Kamia was so startled by it all that she gave no actual thought to moving. I watched her for a handful of minutes before I became visible to her, manifesting from the darkness of the encroaching night.
“I remember how she was slow to notice and so I was slow to appear- I wanted to see the emotions flicker over her face. When she began to notice I saw shock but no horror- awe but no fear- curiosity but no sense of danger. It drew me in further and I became enraptured by her. It was the first time I had ever truly shown a mortal outside of my priestesses my form, my actual form- not this variation you see me as now.
“I did not say much over the hours that she stood with me, but she confessed her life to me- her trials, her tests, her feats, and her woes.
“She was not beautiful in body, nor in mind really, but instead in her ability to care for others. She truly cared for the children that stayed with her in those crawl spaces like they were her own. She was the mother they had never had and I couldn’t bear to take her from them or this world.
“But I was young and I knew little of what my powers entailed. When she caught ill as a result of a plague falling over the city, I knew I couldn’t let her go. I kissed her. I did not know that even if I had succeeded she would not have been happy to be immortal.
“I did not know really what I had attempted to do and it was because of that she died. I do not think she would have recovered from the plague that had wracked her body, but I have never been able to lay that aside. I took her before her time- before her foster children of a sort could be by her side…”
He trailed off and his eyes fell to the fountain where Luna suddenly glanced an elegant violet scaled fish. He released her hands and ran a finger over the top of the water wistfully.
“How...how did you come to be who you are now?” She found herself asking and he glanced back at her, his eerie tattoos dancing with starlight over the planes of his and Jack’s facade.
The starlight shifted between blues and greys and bright icy whites before her eyes, his solid obsidian features entrancing her as they slowly shifted into an expression she could not identify.
She found herself running a hand over his jaw and she felt him lean ever so slightly into her touch.
They were silent for a moment until she pulled away.
“I became who I am because of realizing that not everything is as permanent as I am. People die, my people died long ago and I lost myself when they did. I forgot all the important things they had wrought, I forgot all the accomplishments they had made.
“I had managed to learn as I grew- how to push my people to grow and to prosper and to do good for themselves.”
He gave a dry laugh and Luna edged closer, wrapping her arms around him when it turned into a dry sob. She didn’t know how to comfort him even though her heart ached to and it was more frustrating than she could really bear.
“It matters little now- they’re all long gone. I… I do not want to tell you what happened to them, but I will. Just not now.”
Luna pulled back to see the starlight cracking through was undertoned with a steely grey. They went silent for minutes, his eyes focused on hers so much so that she had trouble looking away.
She was not afraid of him, did not feel any unease when he stared at her like that.
There really wasn’t much to her- she knew it well, but Anryien seemed to see something more in her that even he couldn’t name. It was unnerving but also alluring to be seen so deeply even if there wasn’t much to find.
He slowly moved his hand to brush her neck, sweeping up over her jaw to push her hair out of her eyes.
He caught her unaware in the next moment when he pulled her lips to his own.
It was a hungry kiss, desperate for more and more and she could feel the desire just below the surface as his tongue circled her own, her lips tangling and nipping his own as she grew bolder.
She crawled into his lap, the silk slip covering her riding up to sit at her hips as her hands circled round his neck to bring him closer. He was taller than her still, but the height difference was met with ease as he ran his hands over her hips and up to her waist, rocking her gently as they kissed.
It was only when she released a moan and grew aroused did he pull back.
She pouted unwillingly in her frustration and he chuckled, running a finger down her lips, toying with the lower.
“Come,” He urged, “I have one more place to show you.”
He guided her slowly through the halls of the temple, giving her time to see the animated paintings until he showed her to a hall that she was certain she must have passed through to get to the shrine but had not noticed before. The walls began with beautiful paintings which dissolved into astonishing tile workings- amazing mosaics of glorious battles and powerful speeches.
She could almost hear the power of the speaker’s voice as the shadows animated them.
The hall seemed endless and they walked on for sometime till they found a doorway that one might never have noticed if they hadn’t been guided to it. Nothing about the doorway stuck out- it was just as covered by tile works and mosaics as the other parts of the walls, but when Anryien pulled her into the tile she actually stepped through the tiles and into a warm room.
It was a small, cozy room bare but for the plush furs and cushions that lay in the center- candles lit on shelves around them on the walls.
Anryien pulled her to the furs and she sunk down onto her knees in them- they were the softest things she had ever touched!
She knew as she laid out upon them that she would never come across a bed as comfortable as this one.
Anryien chuckled and she blushed when she realized she had released a moan of satisfaction when she relaxed into the blankets.
He fell to his knees beside her, his shadows sweeping out from him and around the room where they covered the ceiling. Her eyes fell back onto his face- his features curious, looking at her as if in wait.
He pointed at the ceiling, “Look.”
Her eyes followed his hand and she gasped as the shadows on the ceiling dissolved into nothing, the ceiling having dissolved with it.
“Oh my god.”
The sky was radiant that night- dancing stars, full of twinkling lights that flickered beneath her sight. The moon was the star of the show, however- huge and bulbous and bright in the navy sky- she thought briefly that she spotted a woman’s shadow on its planes and curves, a woman winking down at her as if she had told a grand joke.
Luna blinked and the woman was gone.
Anryien pulled her away when he laid down beside her, his hands gently running along the side of her form, drawing shivers from her at his pleasant chill. She leaned into his touch, rolling over to lean over him, her legs braced on either side of his own. His hands wrapped around her hips, sweeping over them to sit at her waist, her hair falling like a curtain over them.
His eyes were a bit wide as he gazed at her and she wondered briefly what she must have looked like then.
Not for very long however as he pulled her closer, flipping them over to kiss her sweetly.
She moaned and pulled him closer, her hands cradling his face to her own as she kissed him equally in return.
She barely noticed his hands slide up her legs to draw her slip up to sit at her waist- she barely noticed as she sat up a bit to pull off his holstered blades, to unravel his laced breastplate. It was only when her hands found his pants did she notice as he chuckled against her throat- his current place of affections.
She moaned when he nipped and teased her collarbone, her skin erupting in goosebumps.
She gasped and jumped a bit when she felt his finger tease their way up her thighs, pinching softly, rubbing and dancing up to her wet heat.
When he slid two fingers inside she moaned and he nipped his way up her neck, up her jaw, to her lips where he nipped at her lower lip till she gave entrance.
He pumped his fingers inside of her and she grew hot and needy beneath his touch, latching her hands onto his back, her nails leaving what was sure to be angry red streaks.
His kiss was passionate and the way he cradled her made her feel cherished- but she didn’t particularly want to feel cherished in that moment, no, she wanted to feel deeply desired and so she crept a hand down to wrap around his length and smiled wickedly when he gaped in surprise before his lips ticked up in a smirk.
She laughed and he chuckled in reply, pumping his fingers inside of her as she pumped him in return at least until he demanded she release him.
She inadvertently pouted and he chuckled again.
She kissed a trail up his throat to his ear, nipping lightly at the lobe till he released a groan.
“Take me.” She moaned when she felt him align himself with her entrance.
She gave a slight yelp when he entered her fast and hard and she felt him smile against her neck.
She muttered to herself and he broke out into laughter.
“If that’s your wish.” He allowed and she smiled when he began to thrust into her.
First with control.
Slow flourishes, reaching deep within her until she cried out, her skin hot as she begged him to go faster, to go harder.
Soon enough he picked up his speed and she released a growl of pleasure when he flipped them, placing her on top.
She braced her hands over the hard planes of his chest and Anryien urged her to continue, entranced by the sight of her as desperate moans reached his ear.
Williams was not exactly silent through it all, seemingly caught up in the feeling as well.
Good position. Great position. Good God.
Anryien laughed and grabbed hold of her hips, dragging them in circles as she hopped up and down on him for what felt like hours as she sporadically cried out in pleasure.
She moaned and he felt her tighten around him like a vise, urging on his own end.
A few tears feel down her cheeks at the feeling as she grew desperate for her climax until a few short grinds later she came, squeezing him until he came as well.
She fell against him and he ran a hand through her hair, rolling them over until he was pulled free from her, drawing a gasp from her and a moan of annoyance.
Her eyes were closed and it was only when he kissed his way back up her throat that she opened her eyes, her brown orbs dazed as a pout was on her full lips.
She laughed when he nipped her lower lip and kissed him slowly, languidly.
Soon enough they were at it again. And Again.
It was only when she made the executive decision that they stopped and her head found rest on his chest did they begin to talk again, first in soft whispers and then in laughter as he regaled her with tales of his sister’s affairs and how embarrassingly they turned out for the mortals a part of them.
The air had turned crisp and a pleasant breeze flew through the room via the ceiling door, still ajar for them to see the twinkling stars and glowing moon, which stll hung tall in the sky.
He eventually trailed off and they were quiet for a good while before he looked down at her on his chest and smiled softly, “I have one more story to tell you, beauty.”
She craned her head to look up at him and she gazed at him with curiosity in her doe eyes.
He relaxed, “It is brief, but it did not feel so at the time…”ns 18.104.22.168da2