Flying With a Winged God - The Four Moon Cycles Part Five

Submitted into Contest #60 in response to: Write a post-apocalyptic romance.... view prompt

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Fantasy Gay

Rhyvahr braved the smoke, ducking beneath the flames. They caught on the curtains and climbed up towards the ceiling.

“Father!” His heart pumped, sending fear and desperation flooding all through him. Casrian had been the one thing in Rhyvahr’s life that he always knew would be there.

No matter how long he was away, how far he travelled. He knew he would come home to Casrian in the infirmary, or maybe the off chance that he had gone down to the river with Haisoka.

He was always meant to be there.

“Father!” Rhyvahr yelled again.

The walls creaked.

His wings swept around to block all the smoke. Tears burned down his cheeks and the unbearable heat choked his breath and brought sweat onto his brow.

Rhyvahr yelped as the tip of a flame singed his feathers.

Then a coldness came over him; a harsh, cutting wind.

And the flames died.

“Rhyvahr!” Rhyvahr raced towards Casrian’s voice. “Rhyvahr, go—” Ophyla stood over Casrian, her hand over his mouth. He was bound with black tendrils that slithered and squeezed increasingly tighter.

“One more step,” Ophyla said. “And I will make sure his broken ribs puncture his lungs.” Casrian struggled against the constraints. “I wonder what seeing him die will do to you. A son must avenge his Father’s death after all,” She stroked her finger along Casrian’s cheek. “Poor Casrian, never properly loved, always in the shadows, forced to raise the child of the man and woman he could only love from the darkness.”

Rhyvahr’s magic flared, black mist flying from his fingertips. “Let go of him.”

Ophyla sneered. “You can barely control your magic.” She swept her arm across the air, picking up the wind and sent it surging towards Rhyvahr. His wings blocked most of the blow, but he still skidded across the debris, barely able to stop himself from tripping over it. “Child’s play.”

She grabbed onto an unconscious Casrian and disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

Rhyvahr only seized a wisp, before he was all alone in the charred infirmary, his heart beating at his throat.

*

“He is gone?” Haisoka said, worry lines appearing in distress. “As in dead?”

“No, a crazy witch took him,” Rhyvahr replied.

“Now is not the time for jokes, Rhyvahr,” Haisoka chided.

“I am being serious.” Rhyvahr wished he was joking. He wished he was dreaming. Anything but this. “I know where he is, I have to go to him.”

He took a step and swayed on his feet. Haisoka pulled him back. “You inhaled a lot of smoke, just sit for a moment.”

She went to tend to the other patients. They had cleared away the tables in the dining hall and set up some blankets.

Rhyvahr sat, shock coming over him. Ophyla took his Father.

Why would she even want him? What would she do to him?

He set to plucking out the singed feathers, not caring about the sting or the small trickle of blood his wings wept. Rhyvahr sighed, touching them softly. “Perhaps I have been too harsh on you.”

The window view in the dining hall looked out to the Cilli River, lotuses floated on the water surface. Rhyvahr sucked in a deep breath, expecting his Father to come up beside him. He wasn’t ready to face Ophyla, but he couldn’t leave Casrian at her mercy.

Rhyvahr was almost out the door when someone caught onto his sleeve. He turned, finding the last person he was expecting to see.

There were bandages peeking through his tunic, his skin still pale. Where are you going? He signed.

I should stay away from you, Rhyvahr signed back. Fenndon could read his lips just fine, but he wanted Fenndon to know exactly what he was saying.

I have not even thanked you for saving mine and Aikirra’s life. There was nothing but kindness and gratitude in his eyes. How are you?

Of course he was asking the one person he should be hating the most how they were.

I am fine, Rhyvahr signed. I have to go.

Fenndon touched Rhyvahr’s feathers. Your wings, they are bleeding.

Rhyvahr already knew that. He had made them bleed. Go back to your family. And your lover. He shook his sleeve out of Fenndon’s grasp. Every part of Rhyvahr wanted not to turn his back on Fenndon. But it was for the best.

Fenndon thought he owed Rhyvahr feelings because that was how he was. Always caring about how people felt.

It was dark outside, the skies thick with misted stars. Rhyvahr whispered incomprehensible words to his wings, and finally stood, ready to fly in the night.

There came a sudden whoosh behind him, almost knocking him off his feet.

“You should know better than to go blinded into a situation you do not understand.” Rhyvahr turned, and gasped.

A woman stood before him, clothed in black robes, a silver circlet shone upon her ebony hair. Her skin was pale and flawless, lips small, almond-shaped eyes holding violet irises. She carried an aura, a glow around her, Rhyvahr had felt it when he awoke at the bottom of the cliff.

But what was most jaw-dropping of all were the black wings that towered behind her, feathers gleaming.

They were magnificent.

“Who are you?” Rhyvahr asked. He had never met anybody else with wings like his.

There was a coolness surrounding her. “Olaa, Goddess of the Crescent Moon, Guardian of the Dead.” Her words echoed across the night. Rhyvahr looked up at the crescent moon hanging amidst the darkness. “I am sure you know of my sisters and I.”

Of course Rhyvahr knew, who didn’t?

Looma, Goddess of the Full Moon, of wealth and prosperity. Haara, Goddess of the Gibbous Moon, of healing and good health. Pemna, Goddess of the Quarter Moon, of bribes and regret. And Olaa, Goddess of the Crescent Moon, and of death.

“Each of us has a protector, a guardian who shares some of our godly power. They will stay with us for eternity. My guardian, Hestina, fell in love with a mortal once. Met him on every cycle of the crescent moon. She bore his child, and one night as she slept, he took out a dagger, fearing that the child would be a monster. I killed him right where he lay. Hestina hated me, but it was for her own good. She gave the child away. I watched over him, saw him begin to gain power. He could see people’s deaths, and everywhere he walked, he was shamed for bringing bad luck. His children and their children only became stronger.”

Rhyvahr swallowed. “Why are you telling me this?”

“So you may understand the events that occurred,” Olaa began. “Twenty three years ago…”

*

“All right, Naila, just try to relax,” Casrian said. Him and Illias had found her at the top of the tower, shaking like a leaf.

“No, stop telling me to relax, I am telling you, she came last night and she took my blood.” She rolled up her sleeve, exposing a small cut at the heel of her palm. Illias sat down beside her, wrapping an arm around her shoulder. “I saw her. Ophyla. She was here.” The fear in her voice was evident.

Illias pressed a kiss to her forehead. “We are here now, we will protect you.”

Suddenly, Naila gasped.

Casrian whipped his head around, expecting Ophyla to have appeared behind him, but there was nothing. “The baby,” Naila said, touching her swollen stomach. “It’s kicking.” She grabbed Illias’s hand. “Feel it.”

The fear had melted away, but Casrian was still uneasy. He didn’t want to take the risk of dismissing Naila’s words as mere hallucinations. Especially when he knew what Ophyla was planning.

“Cas, stop worrying, come,” Illias said. His voice lacked the solemness that the Tel-hatian language possessed. He was always joyous and laughing, smile lines prominent.

That night, they lay in bed together. Naila had sought kisses from the both of them and Illias had sung her to sleep.

Casrian lay awake for a long while, before climbing off the bed and taking the winding staircase to the bottom of the tower. He held a strand of Naila’s hair.

Ophyla stood by the trees, hidden away from the moonlight. “Do you have it?” she asked when Casrian approached.

“Yes,” he said, giving her the strand of hair.

“You know of the love I hold for Naila. She loved me too until she met Illias. Well, I suppose she loved me too until she realised I was a witch,” Ophyla said. “I am not doing this for some twisted revenge. I just want a part of her that will love me back. And this child, a unification of my magic and hers will be powerful beyond belief. Witches are a dying race, we have to do whatever we can to survive.”

“You promise that you will harm her no further,” Casrian said. “You know how devastated she and Illias would be if she lost the baby.” Perhaps a part of him wanted Ophyla to have this.

Ophyla looked down. “You care so much about her. And Illias. Do they care about you the same?”

“We love each other,” Casrian replied. Although he often wondered how much of a difference it would make if he left. The child was Naila and Illias’s; it had nothing to do with him.

But he knew he would love the child as his own, no matter what.

“It is a pity,” Ophyla said, throwing the strand of hair aside. “I do not need her hair. I needed her child’s soul, but I could not reach it. Its magic is too strong. But I still need a soul. Only a segment.”

Casrian backed away. He had been warned to stay away from witches and dark magic. They brought nothing but death and darkness. “No, you will not harm them.”

“I was not talking about Illias or Naila.” Ophyla twisted her fingers. “I was talking about you. Consider this as a favour for an old friend.”

A sharp pain struck his chest, and he collapsed to the ground, vision completely white. His entire body was aflame. He writhed and screamed until his throat was raw.

Casrian woke the next morning with no memory of the previous night. Only the faint shadow of an ache at the base of his heart.

*

“The night you were born, soldiers infiltrated the tower. Your Mother was one of the many princesses of Tel’hat. She was locked in a tower as punishment for loving those of unroyal blood. Casrian and Illias. The Queen was furious to hear that she had borne a child with Illias. She was determined to have him punished. They all knew you would never be safe in Tel-hat, so Illias told him to take you and flee. He brought you to Jahara and raised you as his own.”

A silence stretched between them after Olaa finished.

“You are seriously telling me that Ophyla took my Mother’s blood and a piece of my Father’s soul, and made a child,” Rhyvahr said.

“It is dark, dark magic. Creating life where there is none. That is why when Ophyla used your magic to try and bring her back, it failed, and turned her into a monster. It is also why your blood cured her to some degree, for Naila’s blood runs in her as well. There is just one thing Ophyla needs to bring her back entirely.”

Rhyvahr already knew what that was. “The rest of my Father’s soul.”

“She would not have performed the spell yet. She would need to brew a special potion. And she can only do it once. For if she fails, Casrian will die and his soul along with him. Then, she will never be able to return her daughter to her true form. Only your power can match hers.”

Child’s play.

Rhyvahr had no chance against Ophyla. She would squash him like a bug.

“Do not underestimate yourself,” Olaa said. “You have power over life and death. The closest matching to mine. You are a descendent of my guardian, Hestina. If anybody has strength beyond their own knowledge, it is her. And so do you.”

She bowed her head at him, a faint smile tracing her face. Her fingers graced along Rhyvahr’s cheek, and she took him with her towards the stars.

*

“Ophyla, you do not have to do this.” Casrian gasped against the pain of his broken ribs.

Ophyla stirred at the steaming potion. “Of course I do,” she said. “What would you do if Rhyvahr died?”

Casrian exhaled. He knew the pain Ophyla felt. The loss of a child was unbearable. No parent should outlive their children, but he saw it every day.

It was him who told the distressed mothers that he could not save their son.

Casrian didn’t know what he would do if he lost Rhyvahr. He watched him grow in Naila’s womb. He was the one who cut the umbilical cord and held him screeching in his arms. He was the one who rocked Rhyvahr to sleep and sacrificed his own for every temper tantrum. He saw Rhyvahr’s every milestone – his first step, his first word.

Naila and Illias should have seen it too.

“Tell me you would not do the same thing,” Ophyla said. “Tell me you would not do anything bring him back. You can do that for me, Casrian.”

“I did it for you once,” Casrian said. “I may not remember then, but I remember now. You took a fragment of my soul.”

“You would never understand what I felt when that bastard stuck his sword in her.” Casrian saw the way Ophyla’s hands trembled. How her entire body shook.

“I am sorry they did that to her. I might not understand how that feels, but seeing Rhyvahr when he is hurt, I always wish I can just take away his pain. I had to cut his wings away, knowing how badly it would hurt him. I felt his pain multiplied in me. I saw him try to pretend that he was fine, like getting out of bed was not the hardest thing in the world, dragging himself through the day when I knew he just wanted to die.”

Casrian didn’t even feel the tears rushing down. He had never said that to anyone.

“What you and your daughter have faced is wrong. I know there are witches who are good. You are a Mother who loved her child, so I know there is good in you, Ophyla. But your daughter is suffering. You keep her chained up like a savage animal. She is not the daughter you loved, and you will never be able to bring her back.”

Ophyla whipped her head around, digging her nails into Casrian’s neck. “You will shut that mouth of yours right now before you dare to tell me what I can and cannot do. You have everything. While I have nothing, so you will give me what I want.”

She turned to her daughter.

Denimae’s body was laid on the table, she snapped and she bit, wrestling with the restraints.

Ophyla stroked her daughters matted, bloody hair. “It is all right, Deni, everything is going to be all right. You will return to yourself and remain by my side.” Denimae only stared up at her with her teeth gritted, snarling. “I love you, baby. I love you so much. So you understand why you can never leave me.”

She was so caught up in her words that she didn’t see the pain in Denimae’s eyes. The silent pleading. The invisible tear that slid from the corner of her eye.

Ophyla may not have seen it. But Casrian did.

*

Rhyvahr sneaked in through the window, padded down the abandoned hallway of dust-covered portraits. From down the other side, Ophyla’s chanting could be heard, rising louder and louder. But nothing could mask the sound of Casrian’s screams.

Rage ignited in Rhyvahr. Ophyla could torture him however he wanted. Drain him of his blood, rip his heard out of his body, but she did not get to hurt the Father who had raised him, cared for him at every turn.

A tendril whipped out at Rhyvahr.

“You think I cannot sense you from where you stand,” Ophyla said, tendrils slithering in front of her. “I will not let you take my daughter away from me.”

“Then you will let my Father go.” The aura of death in the room hit him so hard that his head spun.

All the anguish and suffering.

“I need him for the spell,” Ophyla replied.

Casrian struggled in his chair. “Rhyvahr, go.” He had never heard his Father so panicked.

Rhyvahr made a lunge for the cauldron. If she didn’t have the potion, she couldn’t perform the spell. However, Ophyla sent the tendrils shooting towards him. He flew out of the way.

Ophyla shouted enchantments at the thorns lining the wall. They pulled Rhyvahr back, drawing blood from his skin that dripped into the boiling cauldron below.

Denimae screamed and thrashed. She was a far cry from the ghost she was in his dreams, the one that saved him from being slaughtered by hunters.

She is just the version my Mother preserved.

Rhyvahr’s mind clicked. That was it.

He closed his eyes, moving through the strong mist of death, Rhyvahr reached for her with his magic. And as Ophyla pressed her hand against Casrian’s chest, ready to take his soul…

“Mother, stop.” A transparent hand reached for Ophyla’s own. “This is not what I want.” Ophyla’s eyes were wide. “You dragged me from my rest, turned me into a monster, and now you chain me up. You are not doing this for me. You are doing this for yourself, because you were so desperate to have someone who could love you.”

“You are not my daughter,” Ophyla snapped.

“I am,” Denimae said. “And I love you. But if you love me. You would let me go.”

Ophyla just kept staring at the ghostly form of her daughter. And Rhyvahr saw the tears she was barely able to hold back glistening in her purple-blue eyes. 

September 25, 2020 03:43

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13 comments

Nicole Zhao
10:35 Sep 29, 2020

oui oui

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Yolanda Wu
10:53 Sep 29, 2020

:)

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Kristin Neubauer
14:08 Sep 26, 2020

I am dying, Yolanda! What is going to happen next? The whole story has been thrilling so far but this takes it to a whole new level. I love how you have unveiled this mysterious new storyline with Casrian, Rhyvadhr and Ophyla. I also love how you brought Fenndon in for just an instant and captured that hurt/anger/love Rhyvadhr is struggling with. This is so brilliant! I'm sad that we are nearing the end, but yet it feels like you are wrapping if up beautifully. I'm going to have to go back and read them all together like a novel. Ama...

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Yolanda Wu
23:14 Sep 26, 2020

Thank you so much, Kristin! Even after I finish the last part, I definitely don't think that is the last you will hear of Rhyvahr. There's still so many places in the world that I want to introduce, and other characters that didn't make it in. :)

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Kristin Neubauer
11:54 Sep 27, 2020

I'm so happy to hear that! Maybe one day you can write a trilogy of novels or novellas about these characters and their worlds. I'd buy it for sure!

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Yolanda Wu
23:47 Sep 27, 2020

That's so sweet of you, Kristin. Thank you so much!

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Rayhan Hidayat
17:46 Sep 25, 2020

Holy cow, this had me on the edge of my seat. The most intense one yet, by far. Definitely worthy of a penultimate installment. My favorite part is definitely the convo between the dad and Ophyla, two parents that know what it’s like to love/lose a child. And the climax with Rhyvahr using his wits instead of force to save the day—always awesome. Also, is there a polyamorous relationship in there, or did my eyes decieve me? Because that’s so cool if there was. Now I just want to see this wrap up. Please notify me at once!

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Yolanda Wu
23:10 Sep 25, 2020

Thank you so much for reading, Rayhan! I definitely had a lot of fun writing the conversation between Casrian and Ophyla. And yes! It is most certainly a polyamorous relationship. :)

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Elle Clark
09:12 Sep 25, 2020

The penultimate installation didn’t disappoint! How you come up with these ideas is beyond me - you’re so creative. You’ve got quite a few grammatical errors so you might want to do another sweep for those. In terms of other things that might need tightening: - you need to resolve Haisoka’s bit. Does she leave? Does Rhyvahr leave her? - the line ‘perhaps I’ve been too harsh on you’ - I can’t tell who is saying it or why they’re saying it to. Could be either Haisoka or Rhyvahr talking to each other or about the wings. - I don’t ...

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Yolanda Wu
09:44 Sep 25, 2020

Thank you for the wonderful feedback as always, Laura! I will definitely take all of these on board when I write the novel. And I totally get how all the stuff I wanted to explore wasn't very clear. To clarify, Haisoka does leave, and he's talking to his wings. I guess I should have delved a little more into Naila and Ophyla's and Casrian's past to get what I wanted to portray across about their whole relationship. Your feedback is always helpful and I will definitely read it through again to fix up grammatical errors and whatnot. Thank ...

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Yolanda Wu
03:45 Sep 25, 2020

I am well aware this is not post-apocalyptic romance, but there was no way I could get this story to fit the prompts. But as promised, it's here. There's probably going to be one more part after this because 6 is a nice, rounded number. I had a lot of fun exploring Casrian's past. But yeah, I hope you enjoy. :)

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Rayhan Hidayat
17:42 Sep 25, 2020

I was so engrossed in this that I didn’t even notice the lack of apocalypse!

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Yolanda Wu
23:08 Sep 25, 2020

Haha, thanks, Rayhan. :)

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