The world was a sea of crimson sand. An endless scarlet river that stretched into the white horizon, as far as the eye could see. Miles and miles of ruby coloured slopes rolled in the distance. Fading flickers of sunlight splashed across the sky in streaks of waning pink and blazing orange, illuminating the harsh desert landscape which created the impression that one had stepped into an eerily breathtaking and cherry stained dreamscape where even the very air itself was consumed by dancing embers, ready to ignite at a moment’s notice. Ostara stood out amongst the terrain of swirling red dust. A solitary and wraithlike figure that could easily have been mistaken for some kind of unearthly mirage. The tiny grains that were left to scatter in the wind kissed her flesh, skin as white as bleached bone, like freshly fallen snow. Flecks that fell to stain her silvery skirts, resembling smudges of blood that glistened with the same kind of foreboding beauty that emanated from each and every pore of her body. But what else should one expect from someone whose world was but a painting of madness and death, sketched upon a canvas of alabaster?
Gossamer fabric rested opalescent against milky skin, threads of grey and ivory wrapped tightly across her porcelain thighs as if she had chosen to drape herself in the silken strands of a spiders webbing, the cloth too opaque and shimmery to be anything but. The dark top she wore left the pearly flesh of her midriff exposed to the eye, seductive slopes that were flawless in design except for the faded white scar that cut across one hip, dipping beneath cloth. Azriel. The name whispered in her head as her touch skidded slowly across the jagged mark which had been fashioned by the sharp edge of his claws. A token of their time together, the first encounter of which had taken place in the sands at her feet. The memory unfolded, the sound of her own breathless groans reverberating around her and accompanied by flickers of imagery, the feverish passion in which they had grappled with each other, naked flesh speckled with streaks of blood, illuminated by the sapphire glow that emitted from the pale and spectral blue orbs she had allowed him to glimpse. The picture triggered something deep inside of her, something black and twisted with hatred as those same lost spirits of the dead buzzed about her limbs like manic fireflies.
They all left in the end, she thought with an unreadable expression drifting over her features. Even those that could withstand the splinters in her mind and the madness her touch inspired, Not that she particularly minded nor was she surprised by the fact. She was accustomed to being nothing more then a perverse novelty. A twisted thrill, a morbid curiosity. A deformity. It was easy enough to forget, the foggy haze of foreign recollections absorbing and smoothing over the past. But the scars she requested from her lovers remained. A fair trade for the dark miracles her touch could accomplish. A peek into the frenzied hunger and violence in which she found affection. And if she was so inclined to revisit the taste of another’s breath cascading against her lips, the scrape of teeth raking against flesh striped with streams of blood, the indentations left upon her bruised throat…. All she had to do was stroke the tip of her finger against one of the many jagged ravines that snaked across her limbs, lurking beneath cloth, though some were visible to the eye.
“Weak” She muttered beneath her breath, her scorn echoing and carried away on the hot, dry breeze that rustled through her hair. A mess of dreadlocks and braids that were sent into a frenzy of sound, the tiny bells threaded throughout the multi coloured ropes clanging wildly. It was hard to tell if the woman was referring to herself, or those that fled from her in horror like rats scurrying away in an attempt to abandon a sinking ship.
But, she had not come to visit this rough terrain of scattered remains, where so many exiled lives had come to an end, to immerse herself in what once was. She had no interest in piercing the curtain that lay draped over what was buried so deep that there was none that could pry it back into the light. Slowly, her gaze lifted towards the deepening shadow of night. A heavy shroud of blackness that spread like spilled ink, encompassing the vast wasteland in which she stood and bathing all it touched in a nocturnal darkness that was pierced only by the silver illumination of the moon and the stars that encircled it, glimmering with scintillating grace.
Beneath fading drizzles of amethyst, her hips began to sway. Rolling gently in sensual circles, rocking back and forth to the beat of unheard music as her arms lifted, her touch taking time to trail drowsily over her curves, disturbing the silk that clung to her in ripples before hands met to twirl and writhe above her head like interlocking serpents. As she danced beneath the glare of pallid light, those turquoise spheres of luminescent hue weaved a path around her frame, joining her in rhythm as if linked to the murmuring of her heart. The sand at her feet began to tremble and churn, vibrating and rumbling as the woman started to chant, her voice but a breath of a raspy whisper that contained its own melody.
It was a bewitching sight that would have disconcerted most had they the luxury of glimpsing the strange creature who twirled to her own lullaby amongst rising clouds of scarlet dust. Yet as alarming as the ethereal figure was, one would be lured in by those undulating hips, drawn to the spellbinding essence that radiated from her in bittersweet waves, capturing and ensnaring hidden wants and dark desires, igniting a thirst for something that was not easily defined or explained. However, the living were not the only ones that were at risk of being enticed into the dizzying rush of lunacy, the cryptic maze of death and dreams over which she held dominion. Those that roamed beyond the layers of existence were attracted to the woman like moths to flame, pressing at her all times without invitation but now? Ostara coaxed them forth willingly, beckoning to the spirits of those that had fallen at her feet to emerge from a tomb of rock and coloured soil.
As she began to pirouette. wisps of fine black smoke slithered across grit and gravel, twisting into spirals that danced about her outstretched arms, spinning like the pastel silks of her skirts. Faster and faster her bare feet moved, the bells that were braided in her tresses chiming noisily. Her movements but a blur as her breath grew laboured with exertion. But she did not stop, lost in a gale of beautiful chaos. A blinding flood of euphoric awareness swept over her, scorching her body like a flame yet chilling her flesh like droplets of snow or a sudden downpour of rain. Flashes of enlightened perception caused each cell to flare, staining her blood. And all at once, she glimpsed the beginning and end of all things, the golden thread that tethered all of those countless lives together.
The dark shadows of death and sand that whirled around her were spectacular. Like Ostara herself, they were terrifying and stunning as they coiled and wrapped around her until finally, the woman shuddered to a jolting halt. Her chest heaved as she panted softly, her eyes lit with an agitated almost feverish gleam. The bands of silver fitted to her wrists and ankles began to throb with a sharp turquoise light which seeped into engraved grooves and patterns. Those tendrils of black matter crept in slowly at first. Almost tentative, gently prying into the burrows of her mind, chasing away slivers of radiance to be replaced by impersonal hunger. Her sight darkened, an ache climbing up her limbs as smoke began to sink into her pores, reaching down her throat and into the crevices of her skin. They knew what it was she was offering. Impatient and desperate for her touch, for a way to return to life and in their rush, they spared no mercy. Her psyche shook, new cracks ripping open, like rats gnawing at raw meat.
Eyes of different hue bulged. Her neck strained as her head was thrown back in a rough snapping motion, her gaze vacant and wide as her as pupils rolled towards the skies that seemed to reflect the agony that seared her insides. Above her, the darkness brewed and boiled with an unquenchable rage, splotched with bruised black and blue. The muscles beneath her skin twitched and pulsed as if jolts of electricity travelled through her veins. The memory of those that squirmed beneath her skin shone, vivid and bursting with life, infusing her body with a blinding white light that caused rivers of red to flash behind her eyes. The copper taste of her own blood fills her mouth, cloying to the surface of her tongue as her teeth scrape across the inside of her cheek. But she hardly felt the gentle sting, consumed by images of a past that was not her own. Each breath she took felt scorched, thick with smoke and heat that burned her lungs.
Suddenly, a guttural cry ripped from her stretched throat. The shriek was filled with agony, the long and piercing note reverberating across the desert plains. At almost the same time as her sharp cry began to wither to a faint tremble, those twisting shadows of death tore themselves from her palms. Lunging, they crackled with violent energy, snapping and biting as they buried themselves like blades into the debris at her feet, taking with them borrowed bits of her soul that would bind them to her command. As if caught in a sudden whirlwind, swirls of crimson sand leapt into the air, writhing with purpose as shards of rock and abrasive dust merged together. Below the surface layer of rose coloured soil, crumbs of black dirt and crushed human remains sat and now, they uprooted themselves, rising like a vortex to join in the frenzied dance of death that allowed those vengeful souls to leech fragments of their surroundings, forming them into a physical form that could penetrate flesh and drive through bone with ease.
Slowly, the groaning cloud of churning debris began to take shape, molding itself into gnarled limbs that clawed and scratched at the chilled air, shifting with constant movement as grains of black and red spun to features that seethed with abhorrence. The eyes were soul-less, empty caverns that burned with only one purpose. Revenge. Though, the incantation she summoned that night would have no taste of it, forced to enact her bidding and focus that steely intent on the target she chose rather then the demons that had thrust them into an endless and hellish existence.
There was a perverse shredding sound as the manifestation tore itself in half, a screech that pierced the night as it split to form several replicas of themselves though there were notable differences amongst the nightmarish beings that snarled and growled. Like snowflakes, no two were the same, a personal imprint left upon their twisting and insubstantial flesh. Like a feral beast on a lead, they tugged at the invisible ropes that pinned them into submission, fingers that curved like slashing knives as they groped for freedom, yearning for the whispering promises that had lured them from their shallow graves. Ostara recovered her breath, inhaling the ripples of power that rushed against her as her vision cleared, darting towards the reincarnated souls that settled under her gaze. The sound of her husky voice rasped, low and filled with gravel. Yet it was but a mere two words that breathed from her quaking lips.
“Find her.” She ordered, the demand tinted with impatience, as if she had already waited far too long. In truth, she had. With a terrifying and mournful wail, the manifestations moaned their reply though her head vibrated with their thoughts and emotions as they began to bolt, intent on charging across the dry landscape but the tip of one raised finger held them back.
“Be gentle. I’d rather not receive pieces of her.” She murmured. There was no reply, at least none that was spoken out loud but the slow, tired smile that flitted across her face indicate that her words did not remain unanswered.
“Yes” She breathed, her tone dropping to a sensual whisper.
“You will have what you seek, but only after the deal is complete and her soul twists between my fingers” With those words, her hand lowered to fall to her hip, swiping across the air in a shooing motion as she turned the slope of her ivory back to the monstrous weapons she had fashioned into creation. There was a rumble beneath her feet as she allowed them control of the new bodies they wielded, a rush of wind spiced with the scent of funeral flowers as the dead launched into action. And by the time, her black and blue gaze had flicked back to the spot where they once stood, she found nothing but clouds of red dusts in their place, the heavy grains slowly settling to the ground to join the endless sea of now stilled scarlet. Her eyes fluttered, the ghostly woman in silver and obsidian now tempted to plummet into exhaustion but she knew she would get no rest in any place other then the glimmering shores of Lilac Lake where her tiny cottage lurked, overgrown with moss and hemlock, its awnings decorated with hanging crystals and windchimes crafted from bone. Already she could smell the sleepy scent of those fragrant blooms that trailed from each branch of the Flooded Forest of Dreams.
Home, she thought with a drowsy smile, tugging at one braid of fading grey as she ignored the whisper and rattling screams that almost always surrounded her in favor of focusing her minds eye on the shadowy paths of the dead and before a burst of maniacal laughter could bubble up from her stomach, the woman let herself become immersed in the cold yet alluring lure of those that existed to roam beyond the veil, the shimmer of her pale skin vanishing as she faded into the darkness.