God of Shadow – Chapter 9

It was nearly an hour before Adahmri was coherent enough to continue. He stripped off his cloak and shirt, which both startled pleased Sielahiel, and changed into one of the extra shirts his companion had stowed in her bag. It was too large for him, but it was clean. Sielahiel gave him her cloak, as well, and insisted that she didn’t like the way it felt on her anyway. Adahmri balled the torn and dirty shirt and tossed it into the growing pool of slime next to the dead spider.

After returning their supplies to Sielahiel’s satchel, Adahmri again took the young woman’s hand and led her through the catacombs. He gave her a warm smile, and she blushed as she followed along after him. She didn’t remember him being so charming, but perhaps it had more to do with the image of him slaughtering that giant spider so diligently before it could get to her. Or perhaps it had been his genuinely happy smile when she had knelt next to him to tend to his wounds.

For now, she tried to push the thoughts away. He moved quicker through the corridors now, and he seemed to know where he was going. It was quiet now, and they did not encounter any more enormous denizens – for which Sielahiel was immeasurably grateful.

Adahmri paused in front of a large wooden door. Whatever tugged on his chest had to be nearby. He could sense something, somehow. Was it just on the other side of this door? He let go of Sielahiel’s hand and placed his palms flat against the heavy door. He didn’t see any locking mechanism, so he just leaned his body into it and pushed. The wooden door groaned in protest, as if it hadn’t moved in years. It was indeed heavy and felt as if it was reinforced with steel. He shoved his body against it and it slowly moved under the pressure. Sielahiel appeared at his side and helped him push by pressing her shoulder against the wood. Adahmri was momentarily distracted as his gaze shifted to look upon the low collar of her dress, and the generous view of her bosom from so close. Without her cloak, the dress was not as modest as it had been before.

He shook his head sharply and renewed his attention to the door. He grunted and pushed with all his might. Finally, the door opened wide enough to allow one of them through, but the weight of the door did not ease. It would close again when they let go. Adahmri nodded toward the opening.

“Go in, Siel,” he said. “I’ll be right behind you.”

She hesitated and tried to peek into the room, but the weight of the door was immense. She sucked in a breath and slipped through the opening in the doorway. Adahmri darted after her, twisting to avoid the heavy door as it fell closed again. He exhaled heavily, and then looked around the vast room they had entered. Sielahiel stood a few feet away, gazing at the stonework of the arches which lined the walkway. A single set of stairs led down to an open area that looked as if it could have once been a dining hall. The high ceiling was bare – there weren’t even any spiderwebs in the corners. The far end of the long room was empty, the walls bare. A small tunnel lay opposite the empty wall, and another hallway led elsewhere in this strange, abandoned place.

Adahmri’s gaze moved to the empty floor in the center of the lowered area. Whispers echoed in his mind, and he locked his eyes on a small black object resting alone on the stone. There were no tables or chairs. There was no debris. The entire room was empty save for the magical torch which lit the entire chamber, and the single black pearl which lay conspicuously on the floor.

The young man stepped forward. Sielahiel looked at him when he moved and followed him down the steps. When she realized that he had set his sights on something on the floor, she drew away from him. The black object that held his attention glimmered unnaturally, and she held her breath as she scooted away so she could still watch whatever he intended to do from a distance.

Adahmri paused in front of the pearl, and then slowly leaned down to pick it up. He had barely touched the bauble when it suddenly erupted with energy. Adahmri straightened, alarmed, and drew back a step. The pearl followed him. It darted into the air and hovered just in front of him. Unsure what to do, Adahmri reached out with both of his hands and held them cupped beneath the pearl, as if he might catch it if it fell. But it did not fall. The pearl grew darker, and somehow the light in the room dimmed. Inky black tendrils began to ooze from the pearl, but Adahmri was not afraid. He stood transfixed, watching as the shadowy entities reached out and began to curl around him, embracing him.

His body relaxed. Eyes hooded, he gazed down at the pearl as it began to spin. The energy held inside the gem gently escaped its dark, pearlescent shell, cracking the surface until it crumbled into dust. The tendrils melted into his hands and his body, and Adahmri closed his eyes. He inhaled deeply, lips parted as the power flowed through him. It was so similar to the power he had felt the other day, when the wolves had attacked him. But it did not frighten him. It was warm and welcoming, soothing. It was as if it had always meant to be with him, and now their separation was at an end.

The energy died down and the shadowy tendrils disappeared into him. The only thing that remained was a fine grey dust which covered his fingers. Adahmri opened his eyes and gazed at his hands. He marveled at the sight, and then shook his fingers to let the dust fall to the stone floor.

His senses expanded, and he had to close his eyes as he suddenly perceived things that he never could have seen or heard before. Above him, he could feel the people of Thornin going about their business. He knew which of them were angry, and which of them were delighted by the prospects of the day. He could feel their thoughts and their emotions. It was as if they all had auras surrounding them which he could now read as if they were physical things.

He opened his eyes and looked to his right. Siel. His mind spoke her name repeatedly, praying that she would not be afraid of him. She stared at him with wide eyes, and she saw more than just the silly boy who had long proclaimed his love for her. His eyes were darker. His skin was kissed with bronze. What was once a boy now held the appearance of a man. The way his dark eyes penetrated her left her breathless. She could feel him. It was like a subtle pull, a yearning that gripped her heart and tugged her toward him.

Her feet moved of their own accord. He watched her closely as she stepped forward, as if expecting her to stop and run from him at any moment. She was transfixed, and when she reached his side, she lifted her hands to touch his face. He was solid and real. He had not become an illusion before her eyes. Whatever the pearl had done to him, it had awakened something in him which sent a thrill through the young woman.

Adahmri bent and crushed his lips to hers.

She moaned when his arm curled around her waist and tugged her body against his. She couldn’t explain the sensations which coursed through her now. And as she returned his kiss, she didn’t try to reason with herself. Adahmri was a god. He may not have finished his quest yet, but finding this first pearl made all the silent questions and doubts she had harbored vanish.

The kiss ended so suddenly that it left her dizzy. Sielahiel gazed up into Adahmri’s fiery eyes and wet her lips with her tongue. Adahmri placed his hands on either side of her face, stroking his thumbs over her cheeks.

“You are not afraid,” he whispered. Even his voice sounded deeper.

Sielahiel smiled and slid her hands up along his chest. “You are a god, Adahmri,” she replied slowly. “It’s… intimidating, fascinating, and a little bit crazy.” She chuckled helplessly and leaned her face into his touch as he cupped her cheek with his palm. “But no. I can’t be scared of you, kid,” she added, teasing him.

Adahmri smiled, and his joy was breathtaking. Sielahiel melted into his embrace as he pulled her tight against him. In that moment, she knew that her heart was lost to this man-turned-god, and she would never again seek to turn away from him. But her heart prayed that he would not suddenly lose interest in her. After all, she was just a country girl from a small town that didn’t really matter, in the grand scheme of things. She wasn’t sure how her life had become so insane that she had managed to fall in love with a god, but she would be a fool to fight it – even if she did want to.

 

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Jes A. Condrey
Line Art by Mariamjs. Colored by Jes.

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