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part six.


Aura has changed, almost beyond recognition.

The bone structure, the famous little heart-shaped face and the deep, intensive stare are the same, but they’re just about the only things which are. She seems to have grown a few inches in height (not that it makes an awful lot of difference, since she was only tiny to begin with) and, thanks to the famine, she’s thinner than ever before – her cheeks are hollow and her normally bone-white skin has taken on the slightly greyed tone which indicates undernourishment. Her once bright blue irises have darkened in colour to near black, and her hair, which had been a shoulder-length silvery-white blonde, now comes half way down her back and is a deep, fiery red in colour. Aura’s face is usually relatively impassive, with a permanently mournful and deadly serious expression; now it’s alive with a kind of passionate rage which sends a chill down Adonis’ spine.

Mentally, he reaches out for his familiar. ‘Itzal – I found Aura, she’s in Mahogany Forest.’ With the latter advancing slowly on him, it takes every ounce of courage in Adonis not to back up. ‘Get help.’ Aloud, he says hesitantly, “Aura, we’ve all been looking – ”

She silences him – not with her usual penetrating stare, but slightly more forcefully and in a rather more unexpected manner. Too stunned to react, only one thought drifts across Adonis’ otherwise preoccupied mind; where did someone who remained a virgin for so many millions of years learn to kiss like that?

Eventually he comes to his senses and breaks away, somewhat breathless. She reaches for him again but he clasps her shoulders firmly and holds her at arm’s length, trying to think. Lilith said the fourth curse had struck, and he himself had deduced it would probably be another mental or magical one – Aura must, somehow, have been affected. How, though? What could the curse be? Gently, Adonis gives the deity a little shake, watching her with concerned golden eyes for clues as to why she might be behaving like this.

“Aura? Speak to me. Say something.”

If she understands, she doesn’t let on. Her only response is to reach out and try to kiss him again, but he’s ready this time and holds her back firmly. At that moment a loud splashing indicates the arrival of assistance - Adonis shouts out, indicating where they are, and a few minutes later, Delilah, Blake and James Stark appear. None of them seem surprised; Itzal must have searched Adonis’ mind and relayed the necessary information to them, before turning himself to the Core to alert Arthur. Adonis nods to them, grateful that they managed to get here so quickly.
All of their efforts to try and talk to Aura yield no results. She doesn’t seem to be deaf, because she starts at the sound of Blake tripping on a tree root and falling with a loud splash, but she doesn’t respond to anything they say. She doesn’t seem to mind Blake and Stark too much, although she keeps a wary eye on them when they come close, but when Delilah touches her arm she jumps and makes a catlike hissing sound at the offender.

Nothing else for it. Adonis nods to Stark, who’s nearest, indicating he take hold of the legs. He himself takes holds of her arms, and together they hoist the thrashing and kicking deity into the air and, with Blake and Delilah in tow, grimly start the long haul back to the castle.

    • part five. -
    • part four. -
    • part three. -
    • part two. -
    • part one. -

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