Chapter 0:

Faint images of a silver tear.

Faded Scales of a Hyacinth

She awoke in the agrestic countryside that had been littered with snowfall, an endless field of silver lace and bare trees that had long abandoned the bright colours of their leaves.

There was a lack of villages, towns, and cities in her sight, so the field she knelt within lacked light, apart from the blanket of glittering stars that danced overhead. The gentle-blown wind crawled quietly up her skin, sparse of comforting warmth and unforgiving in its chill.

The shaking of her body, despite the snow that continued to fall from the heavens, was due to an apt shock that filled her mind with a stuffy haze, one that imbued her thoughts with a distinct self-imposed fear.

She cried gently into herself, refusing to let her sobs fall into the breeze where they would be stolen away as if she understood it was the only thing that could belong to her alone.

Whenever you remember, you begin to think you’re worthless, don’t you?” A voice echoed endlessly inside her mind, trying desperately to chip away at her will with its taunts.

She did not know whether her crying was brought on by the voice’s embellishment of her melancholic self-disposition, although her views towards it did not distract well enough that her tears had frozen against her cheeks with a soft, biting pain.

That pain was harshly different from the one she would recall - a stinging, gnawing wave that would rush over her body, once small in its infancy, like an ocean of torment.

It was as if a thin, silver-coloured veil had been laid over the small fragments she could recall, in such a way that it left them blurry.

Only one sentence amidst the pain was branded into her mind.

"Do it now." He spoke. "Bind him to her."

The face behind the words of her torment was wholly uncertain. Apart from that, she remembered nothing else of important regard, albeit her name - Aelem La'arte.

However, what that name that was supposedly her family's meant, or what feelings her heart held of it, were faint in her mind.

"Even now, all you can think to do is sit here and cry." The voice continued to taunt, a muddled layering of the cries of many others. "So give yourself to me."

"I wish not to." She spoke in a hushed whisper.

"You move forward with no purpose. You rarely care what happens to you." The voice hissed. "At least I could offer your body some usefulness.

Aelem did not respond to the voice in turn, standing up to face the glimmering stars above.

In all regards, she had dressed quite inappropriately for the wintertime. She wore a fluttering cloud-white dress of lace, with sleeves that cut off around her elbow to reveal midnight-black gloves that covered her gentle, long-in-length fingers. Against her midsection, a vermilion-coloured charmeuse skirt stretched towards her ankles, which had been fitted with russet leather boots worn down by her travels.

Despite that, she could feel the quiet crackling of the flames that burnt within herself, so she felt nothing from the chill of the wind. If she had thought anything of the voice otherwise, his warmth was the only gift he had offered to spite that. No place would welcome her, nor the taunting voice she kept kindled in her chest. So, she had wandered for as long as she could, remembering nothing of herself, and staying hidden as if she were an outlaw.

Cutting through the once-verdant field of snow sat a river half-frozen by the wintertime air. It had grown troublesome to take care of her carmine hair which fell waist-length, yet still, she troubled herself all the more to take care of it. It was some sort of clinging hope, that if, in the event, she were allowed to live a life of normalcy, her florid appearance would bring her a healthy future.

Stepping into the water, she rid herself of the clothes that had been soiled with ash and dirt by travel, exposing her sanguine skin to the soft winter air. Against the rushing of the stream, she felt a faint, dull pain pulse against her arm and neck. Trailing up the right side of her body like vines, small patches of obsidian-black scales had appeared upon her flesh, almost as if they were meant to taunt her with their uncomfortable affliction.

"Allow me to be free." The grating voice spoke once more, almost in a sort of chiding tone.

In response, Aelem slipped down into the chilled water, where the voice could not speak. She kept her eyes closed for a moment, as if afraid that the frost of the water would attenuate her eyesight. Yet, when she worked up the courage to open them, she was greeted with the sight of a sub-rosa environment under the water, a hidden world that had always been tucked away by a layer of clouded ice.

Countless brightly-coloured fish swam about as they engorged themselves with the sylvan forests of bright-green moss and weeds upon the gravel floor. Underneath her feet, she could feel the slick, viscous texture of the pebbles, which would roll as she moved slowly through the waterscape.

Snowfall fell gently against the river's surface, melting away as soon as it made contact with the rushing water. She wondered if it had not disappeared upon gracing the ground if the snow would have been heavy enough to sink along with her.

The water was a peace within its silence, but soon she had to return to the stinging torment of the world above the water, which in turn was below the bright midnight sky. It was grating in its beauty, for she could never fully enjoy it.

"At least take me to see the city of fog." The voice murmured in its grating tone.

As she tied tight the lacy straps that kept her skirt around her waist, she spoke back towards the fiery beast within herself.

"Why do you want to see the Misted Veil all of a sudden?" She asked of it, in her quieted voice that could barely be heard against the howl of the winter breeze.

"I've heard that the glare of the lighthouse in the centre of the city cuts through the haze beautifully." The voice spoke with some sort of abject admiration. "If you're not going to allow me to live life, then at least allow me to see it."

She let out a sigh and wondered if such a thing would lead him to quiet himself for once.

So, in a certain way, she gave into the demands of the voice, if only to soothe his grievances.

Lucky Lane
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