The Realms of Thrice (Lesbian Fiction)

Chapter IX- Darkness is Deceiving (Part II)

Tiny particles of glass sparkled against the sunbathed room as they descended to the ground in a rain-like fashion. The resounding crash still echoed within the large room as the unfortunate glass chalice made contact with the dark stone wall. The force behind the raged throw was astounding. The air in the room changed in an instant – full of tension, and so thick one’s lungs screamed at the deprivation. Occupants sat ramrod still in fear one stray movement might instigate an attack. The sweet perfume of burgundy wine, which infiltrated the space, didn’t even cause nostrils to flair.

“I nearly gave you my throne!” Her breathing labored from the exertion of hurling glass at the wall, not even hitting her intended target, though it had been mere inches from his head. She continued, “Handed it to you on a crystal platter. Even went as far as to tell you when and how to overtake the guards. When she would be vulnerable! And this is how you repay me? By contacting me to inform me just how my plan was failing? You incompetent fool! Have you paid naught a single speck of attention these past several years? ANSWER ME!”

Lord Tryon recoiled at her tone. “Yes, madam, I know the plan well.”

She huffed, rolled her eyes, and slammed her palms down on the table in irritation. “If that were indeed true, then you would not have sent for me. Panic would not have been laced within your words. You would have known and seen exactly how my flawless plan was taking shape. You would have seen the cogs falling seamlessly into their place, and you would have laughed and smiled with absolute glee upon witnessing it.

“My apologies, madam.”

She waved him off in dismissal as she walked over to the large floor to ceiling window, and peered out. Her long, neatly manicured nails tapped at the windowpane. “My daughter, as worthless of a gorgon as she might be, is still integral to this plan,” she spoke as she watched ingrates mill about in the market square. They are living too well, she thought. “She is leading her right where we want them.”

She turned back to Lord Tyron and the few in his council, and walked back to the elongated table to take her seat at the head. Her steps graceful as her black and maroon dress flowed with her movements. She sat and snapped her fingers for a new glass and wine. “Pity, I could have seen having more use with her.  That insufferable child! She might not have had the intellect to rule a kingdom, but she had a sickening kindness that allowed her power over others … something I didn’t have. Shame I didn’t notice it before. So many could have fallen under her influence. Bend to her every will and then snap their neck once their usefulness came to an end. All the power she could have had…that I could have had…and yet she pissed it away. This grand, powerful gift I bestowed upon her. A throne, a kingdom…power, and she snubbed it away.”

Silence once again overcame the room. No one dared speak. Except Lord Tyron, that is. “She was ungrateful, madam.”

Kali’s gaze met his swiftly and sought to melt the flesh away. “Of course she was! Don’t insult me with something as trivial and known as such. Get him out of my sight,” she called to no one in particular. “We have them right where we want them. The path has been taken. All that’s left is to wait. And I’ll be at the other side to greet them.”

“What about the threats beyond the boundary?” another man spoke. He was seated next to Kali, his dress different from her own. Much lighter in color. “Will they not be a distraction?”

“I know our daughter well,” she said to him. “She will let nothing get in the way of her redemption. That’s what she desires, you see. Atonement for her crimes. She wishes for all the people in the realms to see her for who she really is. For her truest love to see her for who she is. And do you know what? They will. They all will see who she is. I will show them what a monster I bore. And her love? Well, what’s love without agonizing heartbreak, or so I’m told. I wouldn’t know much concerning that. Love showcases your weak points. Makes you vulnerable. What do you think would have happened should I have loved our daughter? She would have been my weakness. Something for someone else to use as leverage against me. I couldn’t have that. And now look where we are. I have the most power yet, and my own flesh and blood has helped me receive it, and before too long, she, along with the demigod, will grant me the most power of all. No one will dare oppress me again.”


The dark forest held true to its name. It played on one’s fears, and now proved no different. There was no moon, no stars, not a ray of light seen. The walk labored as each and every step resulted in the eerie awareness that unseen apparitions grasped for one’s very being. The sound of snagging and scrapping cloth deafened the ears. They were but merely branches, thorns, and vines, but again, it was a very effective mind trick.

The nocturnal woodland beasts sounded off as part of nature’s elaborate symphony. Each step calculated, and the women’s horses stepped cautiously with their ears up and their eyes wide and bright, waiting to take flight at the tiniest sound of potential threats.

But something bright and mysterious begged Emri’s attention in her peripheral. It was unlike anything she had ever witnessed before. It was mesmerizing – the way it moved, so fluid and intoxicating. She halted her horse and stood transfixed as the atmosphere seemed to gain life around them. Colors of blue, green, yellow, and white danced to the hypnotic sounds of nightlife. Without thought, Emri dismounted and walked toward the blanket of lights.

But not before a hand gripped her own softly, stilling her movements. She felt Nora press into her back as she whispered into her ear. “It’s beautiful, is it not?” Her breath warm and pleasant against Emri’s windburned ear. She shivered at the action and felt strong hands steady her, pulling her closer against the warmth of her body.

“What is it?” Emri whispered. Her intense gaze focused on the sheet of lights as they danced around the forest growth.

Nora swallowed and pressed her lips to the younger woman’s ear, her own gaze transfixed by the light spectacle before them. “They’re spirits of the Black … of the deceased. If you believe in such things, I suppose. I’ve heard about this, but never have I witnessed it firsthand. I believed it to be a myth, because why would something so pure and beautiful take shape here … not only in the dark forest, but in this dark realm.”

“Why are they here?”

“Where else would they go? It’s their opportunity to be free. They’re safe here … undetectable.”

Emri felt Nora shift behind her. She waited, expecting Nora to say more, but when nothing else came, she turned her head and saw Nora staring out into the distance, spellbound.

Nora then spoke. “Let us stop for the night and make camp on up the way there? We are at a suitable resting point.”

“Yeah, all right. You know best.” Emri said. Her eyes never once tearing from the scene set before her. Tears pooled within her eyes as she looked onto the lights dancing before her.

Nora turned to leave, but noticed the lack of presence behind her. She saw Emri unmoving, unspent tears in her eyes. Nora approached her quietly and put a hand to her shoulder, squeezing gently. “Don’t mourn for them, Emri,” she whispered. “They are far better off. You know just how vicious this reality is.”

They arrived at a suitable location about a third of a league away. With haste, Emri began the makings of a fire, gathering brush, kindling, logs, branches, and rocks. Nora, in the mean time, settled the horses, rationed out their water, and made something which resembled a two-sided tent. It wasn’t much, but at least it would provide some protection from wind or rain that might greet them during the night.

The conversation between both women had been the first of the day, at least, since their spat in the late morning hours. It was now approaching midnight. They were exhausted, cold, saddle-sore, and hungry. Not to mention the smell of rain infiltrated the surrounding air. Rain would certainly come tonight if the steady zephyr indicated anything, and it would be a cold, miserable precipitation.

Emri didn’t bother trying to hunt. Not only the hour, but the short duration of their stay meant any energy spent on hunting would prove futile. Instead, she rummaged through her saddlebag and found two pressed oatspice bars. She cringed as she held the matter in her hand. It had the texture and weight of tree bark and was confident it would taste as such.

As she walked back to the small fire, she noticed Nora had already taken a seat next to the growing flames. Emri’s heart warmed, a smile coming to her face when she saw she had already cleared a place for her. Guilt soon became an overwhelming emotion.

“Nora?” she began.

When mahogany eyes lifted to meet her own in acknowledgment, she fidgeted on spot, turning the wrapped food in her hands. “Nora, I—I’m sorry for what I said.” She knew it wasn’t enough. There would be no excuse for what she had said, but for now, she had to try to make things right. “I was just frustrated and … you are not what they speak of,” she declared. She stepped forward and offered the stale bar to her companion before taking a seat to face her. “Even now, after all these years … after all of our transgressions, I still see you, and the good that you have inside of you.”

Nora just sat, unmoving. Watching, staring with unshed tears in her eyes. And Emri wanted nothing more than to ease her sorrows.

“There’s darkness in us all. We all have inner demons we struggle with, and some fight them better than others. I learned that in the Gray. I guess part of me knew that in the Black, as well. It was not my place to judge you, Nora. Gods above know it wasn’t, and for that I’m … for that, I’m sorry. You spent the better part of eight years suffering for your actions and decisions, and those markings upon your flesh are even more evidence of that fact, and for me to stand in front of you, spitting all that against you yet again. I just wanted to know … to understand what happened to you. What happened to the young girl I grew to love with all of my being? What made her into the … monster everyone accuses her of being? Because I just don’t see how it happened. I don’t see that in you.”

Stillness swept in around them as Nora’s gaze met the dancing flames. It was quiet save the occasional hoot of an owl, or nightly calls of the insects. With the crackling fire and ambient noise of the night, any other time Emri would have found it peaceful. A lullaby she often fell slumber to. The fire even cast a beautiful hue upon their skin, giving it color and warmth on this dark, damp, and cold night.

“I grew up, Emri.” Her voice quiet as she torn her gaze away from the alluring blaze and found Emri’s. “I grew up far too quickly, and perhaps, one of these days I’ll share more with you, but as of right now, you are not ready to hear what I have to tell you.”

Nothing was said, just the faint motion of a nod. “Five … to answer your question. I’ve killed five people, not including the guard. Two innocent: a mother and child. They had been masked. Used as decoys … and I put an arrow through them. I still remember their faces, the sword still within their grasp.”

“Their deaths … is that why—”

“No, my anger overtook me when Ma and Danny died. Never before. It’s strange though … how it’s always felt a part of me. Just never to this extent. It’s like I’m not even in control anymore. I’m something else. Something that I never wanted to be.”

Emri stated solemnly, tossing a few sticks into the blaze. Sparks and embers decorated the air around them as the flames flickered in agitation. Despite the fire, its warmth failed to keep the night’s chill from burrowing down to their bones. They huddled close together, each seeking the warmth emitted from the other. In their innocent years, such an action wouldn’t have leant thought; now, however, it told a completely different story. They had grown older … wiser. Both in years and experiences, and each of those held a huge impact on their lives. They both donned scars down to the very marrow of their bones.

Right now, their innocent exchange exposed themselves for who they were: two women who, despite their rough and cold exteriors, were still above all human. Two humans who still held a primitive need of companionship and acceptance.

This intimate of a display would never be tolerated with anyone else, but it was allowed here because both women not only understood the other when she was at her worst, but also when she was at her best.

“It seems as if we still have much in common then,” Nora whispered as her eyes remained fitted on the flitting flames. “Tell me,” she began once again. “Have you never questioned your abilities? Why you are able to do things no other person can? Why you hurt the way in which you hurt?” Nora asked. Her eyes inquiring as curiosity built about the subject at hand. She had her own ideas, but wanted Emri to voice her own facts.

The change of subject brought great relief, and Emri took the bait and ran with it; thankful for a reprieve on such a heavy topic. “Not really. I just always thought it to be a gift … or a curse from the Gods. A way of survival for me,” she said.

Nora nodded, smiling softly. “A great gift.”

“I don’t believe it to be a gift anymore. Not for a long time. It’s made me into this … this thing I don’t even recognize. I can’t stand the person I’ve become. Full of loss, anger … pain. It never leaves, just builds. Stews within me. Waiting for me to succumb to my weakness.”

Nora scooted closer to Emri, their shoulders brushing as she took cool hands within her own. “You are too critical of yourself, Emri, for I do not see what you speak of. All I see is a young woman who has struggled, yet rose from the depths. Fight in her eyes, ready to take on all who doubt her. I see you. A strong woman, a strong person.”

Emri looked down at their interwoven fingers. She closed her eyes, relishing the minute contact just before inhaling sharply as cool fingers graced her cheek. The fingers stayed idle for a few seconds as they whispered across her sensitive flesh with tenderness and care.

Warmth spread through Emri’s body, a nice compliment to the fire that set ablaze feet from them. But the cold was the last thought on her mind. Instead, she squeezed the other hand within hers and felt a shiver race up her spine as she brought said hand up to her mouth and placed the lightest of kisses against the older woman’s knuckles.

Oh, how she had missed this. The thought, the remembrance of Nora’s caring touch had remained with her all these years. Years of aching for her closeness. It had been a void no other living person could have filled. Her mother and brother had been the affectionate type. But Nora had been different. Her carefully constructed walls had only been allowed to crumble around the younger woman. Her exterior may have been cold, but Emri had never failed to see the love, the care hidden within her dark crimson eyes and expressed with the slightest of touches. Granted, it had never been anything romantic or sexual at the time. No, those feelings developed later, at least for Emri.

Now, on the cusp of their transformation, Emri found it overwhelming. As she felt the woman’s touch she had desired for so long grace her skin, she decided she wished to drown in the sensation. Content to die within her embrace. A strangled, uncontrolled sob left her throat. Perhaps it would prove to be too much.


Nora, on the other hand, was struggling. Struggling to fight a long, drawn out, and tiresome battle; war in which she would undoubtedly lose. She fought hard to concentrate solely on the beautiful woman trembling within her grasp. The same woman who had visited her dreams and brought her from the darkness of her own mind. The same woman she believed gone forever, only to occupy said dreams until death took that from her as well. But her mind could only forget her trespasses for so long. They were too great to be ignored. Especially now, when she didn’t even deserve the affection Emri willingly gave. But she wanted it. Oh, how she wanted it. But as with everything in her life thus far, it too would be stripped from her. When all truths were finally spoken.

At that moment, the single – life changing moment chose that instant to make her remember. Forcing her to recall her crimes and misgivings. She tried in vain to chase it away, but it was determined.

“You will kill them yourself or they will be hunted down like the animals they are! Butchered! The lot of them! Mother and children! Is that what you desire?” Her mother had screamed.

She blinked away the memory and moved her other hand to cup Emri’s cheek, using the slightest of pressure to urge her closer. It’s done. It’s the past.  She told herself repeatedly. I just want to feel again. To love again. Please, don’t take that away from me. She pleaded within her mind, hoping and praying the rest of her memory didn’t play out. But she had never been that fortunate.

She felt Emri’s fingers ghost over her cheek before they made a trail down her neck, cupping it and running her fingers through the fine hairs there. A fluttering erupted in her belly and she was certain mythical dragons had made their home within her and were now anxiously awaiting their escape. The feeling was uncomfortable yet embraced with the fullest of passion.

Blindly, her hands reached for Emri’s thighs and pulled the young woman against her, into her lap. A move of comfort – reassurance, and certainly something else. She closed her eyes tightly as a gasp, not of her own shattered what little distance remained between them.

Nora’s memory resurfaced.

“Or kill them yourself, and show them mercy? It’s all up to you, child.” Kali had regarded her daughter with pure malice, her gaze harsh and penetrating. Cutting the very flesh from her body. Nora had felt warm liquid spilling from a wound her mother had no doubt opened.

The heat of their bodies warmed Nora with ferocity as the hair’s breadth between them grew shorter. Her lips first grazed Emri’s brow, before leaving the faintest of kisses against her forehead. A moment’s pause gave way to a series of light, chaste kisses against her cheeks, nose, eyes, and finally, upon her lips for the first time. It was nothing extravagant, but it was full of hope, promises, understanding, and, in a way, love. Because it was more than both had ever expected, and exceeded all expectations.

“I’ll do it, Mother.” Nora had spoken. Her chest had heaved as she sobbed, tears streamed down her face. She couldn’t even wipe them away for the two guards restraining her. “Now clean up. You look pathetic.”

Nora pulled back when she felt moisture against her lips. Emri was crying.

“Emri?” she asked. Her voice filled with concern as she pulled away, burgundy eyes seeking out jade irises. At that moment, Nora saw every hardship the young woman encased in her arms experienced. It all was carved into her very features: her eyes, the hard lines across her face, the few small scars and blemishes adorning her pale skin. It was all there. A map indicating all the places and trials she endured. It was beautiful yet heartbreaking; beautiful because she had survived, yet heartbreaking because she never should have been faced with such tribulations.

It destroyed her. Knowing she was the cause of such pain yet still desired everything—anything Emri was willing to give.

Nora’s eyes fluttered closed as she felt a finger and thumb trace her lips. She knew the younger woman could see the moisture brimming within her own eyes as well.

Emri’s lip trembled as her gaze shifted from Nora’s eyes to her lips. “I missed you.”

And that was all it took. Nora released her own strangled sob into the still air of night. The years of suppressed emotions and unheard pleas finally surfaced.

Before she could comprehend much more, eager, yet timorous lips met hers once more. They melted into each other as they kissed softly, tenderly, causing a shudder to pass over their bodies in unison. The night might have been cool, but their beings were full of warmth, contrary to the gooseflesh erupting across their skin. So this is what it feels like … to be wanted, she thought to herself.

They kissed slowly, unhurried in their touches. Each terrified this might be yet another dream. An illusion. Afraid in one instant, the other’s touch may go unfelt or their own hand drift through air, nothing solid or soft to brush their fingers against. Eyes remained closed for fear of exposing too much. More than what was already exposed. Yet it permitted them a chance to savor this moment between them.

Nora gave it no more thought as she offered herself up, allowing the sensations to sweep her away. Senses ignited by the mere touch, taste, scent, and feel of the woman she adored.

Nora pulled away first, brushing strands of hair from Emri’s eyes. She smiled before placing a tender kiss upon her neck, whispering, “And I you.”

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