When solid ground grows soft with emerald moss and rivulets of black mud, and coffee-colored water pours slowly around the trunks of densely carpeted trees, this marks the beginning of Laod Mor: the swamp of Blossom Forest. Time itself seems to slow to a soporific crawl . . . the humid jungle air grows stagnant, thick with the scent of rich flooded earth and an abundance of green things that can be found nowhere else—except perhaps Caidir Olc. In some areas of the swamp, water rises so high the only way to cross it is to crawl across fallen logs or massive roots arching from their liquid beds; in other places a wolf might wade easily through the mire—or find a fortunate stretch of mostly dry earth. Pieces of the great river, Glaesfaet Sceawere, also slice through from time to time: small falls that feed into surprisingly clear pools, only to terminate into tar-like pits. Of course, Laod Mor’s beauty shines brightest at night. Here, fireflies gather at all times of the year . . . suffusing the shadowy place with millions of twinkling lights.

Those looking to hunt here of course find a myriad of water prey, including caiman, turtles, fish, crayfish, otters, and toads.


The Final Option

Massive ebony claws dug deep into the soft earth, one by one, carrying the massive beast through the treacherous swamp with ease. Legs like tree trunks exhausted little effort despite the tiring landscape and dreamy, mismatched sea-foam orbs stared at nothing in the darkness. The beast was deep in thought, making his way slowly in no particular direction. He ignored the new itch that had recently plagued his body, most particularly his limbs. Only days prior he had experienced the worst kind of magic. Something he had hoped to avoid entirely despite his new ward. His legs were now covered in the most fascinating texture. That of scales some may say, despite logic. The massive brute had been taking a moment to himself, gathering his thoughts and trying to reason with himself. When very much out of nowhere he had been hit by this blinding light and intense pain. Followed only by darkness. When he awoke, he was no longer himself. Not physically anyways. He was changed. Covering all four of his thick limbs were hard, oil slick, reptilian scales. He had torn at them, bashed them against trees, and drowned them in water, only to be met with defeat and blood. It had sent him completely over the edge. As if his mind hadn’t already been cracking before, it certainly split then.

He had been trying to clear his head of the recent events from the weeks prior, weeks in which he had met the most wonderful little creature. His “rainbow-fairy-creature” as he liked to call her, or more simply, Miss Vera. His cold and battered heart had grown warm for her the moment he had saved her pitiful life. He had been minding his own business, in this very same land, when her stunning color had glimpsed across his peripherals. She had been carelessly playing with some of the light bugs. Considering her unnatural state she had immediately caught his attention. Without hesitation the brute followed suit and found her clinging for dear life to a rotting log half drowned already. Being the archetypical Byronic hero that he was, he of course pulled her from impending doom. But the demon had found himself unable to control his fascination. They spoke for some time and he quickly fell soft for the fae. Though, he hadn’t stopped beating himself up about it since.

From Néphe’s birth until the day his father died, he was taught to never make emotional connections. To love is to destroy and to be loved is to be destroyed . He had lived every single day by that motto. That is at least until he met Vera. Though he had always had a bleeding heart for the ladies, he had always walked away in the end. The way his day was about to go, this particular lady would be walking away from him it seemed.

He had been walking for some time now. Mindlessly, blindly, just following his heart and paws wherever they led. He was trying to find her but was close to losing hope. At this point he wouldn’t have been surprised if she had found her Tempest. He huffed heavily at the fleeting idea. There was no way he was going to let one of those bigheaded beasts dictate her fate, her heart. There was also no way he had become emotionally attached to her, nope, not a chance. He closed his ocean eyes tight and shook the very thought of attachment away. Definitely no attachment, just trying to save a life, completely different. The massive beast tensed his muscles, and dug a little deeper into the mud beneath his frame, walking with a little more frustration now. It was then that he caught the scent. Blood. It made his hackles rise ever so slightly and his footfalls came to a halt. He stood frozen, suddenly very intent on the source of the unnerving smell. It wasn’t prey, he knew that for sure, but he couldn’t quite make out the rest as if it was mixed with something else. Dreamy orbs became slits as he tensed his muscles and lowered himself into a half crouch. Without any real movement the ebony angel was at a smooth run. He covered the ground quickly, clearing deadly gaps effortlessly, stepping over fallen branches and twisting vines.

Upon arrival to his destination the brute came to a brisk stop, his heart leaping into his chest. On the ground before him was a dull but still colorful form. A tiny, soft green ear stuck up in the air, peaking out from behind a mottled mess of blood and mud. The demons blood ran cold and he swallowed hard. Air evaded him as he tried desperately to breathe again. His lungs declined, unable to fathom what laid before him. Hackles stood on high alert and ever so slowly he lowered his great skull. Nares flared as he took in her scent and his eyes glassed over. No. Hours, days seemed to pass before he took a deep breath. His sea-foam eyes rose to meet the black figure standing over his fallen fairy.

He saw only red in the seconds to follow. Letting forth a deep, horrible snarl, the beast sank his claws into the mud and tightened every single muscle in his enormous body. In the same swift movement, the demon lunged forward and barreled the entirety of his mass through the creature before him. He hit like a battering ram and knocked the brute straight off his feet, sending him flying. Néphelim landed solidly on his paws and turned on a dime to again face his opponent.

You’ve got some fucking nerve!

He roared in fury as he again lunged at the brute, barely giving any chance to get a word in edgewise. He landed hard on the others back, knocking him again to the ground and sinking his raging daggers deep into the scruff. Without wasting any time he tore hard on the flesh, ripping a messy hole into the brute’s pelt. He spit the bloody skin to the side and stood on the creature’s ribcage, his claws dug into the pelt. He towered over the ebony beast, his teeth bared. Blood dripped from his maw and onto the other brutes face as he stared into his eyes.

Haven’t you ever heard of thou shalt not kill?

He snarled maniacally, laughing into the male’s stunned eyes right before he opened his jaw and tore mercilessly into the beast’s throat. Néphelim wrapped his canines around the creature’s trachea, bit down hard and ripped his entire body away, throwing the flesh into the darkness in one swift motion. He then stood, breathing hard, eyes psychotic, and stared at the now dead body that lay in the mud only feet from his rainbow angel.

Without thought he watched himself walk to her mottled body. She was drenched in her own horrid blood and the dreadful mud he had saved her from once before. There was no saving her now, he had been too late. The massive demon stood defeated, dripping blood and mud, body rigid and cold. His nostrils flared in the effort to continue breathing. Gently, he lowered his face to hers, nudging her small skull as softly as he could, taking in her scent one last time. His blue and green eyes closed tightly, containing the wetness that threatened to ensue.

Then, as if no emotion had ever even touched the beast, he stood up straight, cleared his throat and shook the pain away. Quietly and carefully he picked up the frail girl’s body and placed her one last time upon his broad, worn down back. And with that, he silently walked off into the darkness, leaving only one corpse behind to rot in the thirsty swamp.

To love... is to destroy

Somewhere in the night a quiet professional is waiting.
He does not care that he is tired.
That his hardened body is sleep deprived.
He is unbroken and vigilant in his task.
Somewhere this warrior is the final tripwire.
Somewhere this weapon of war will not ask nor give quarter.
He is..... The final option
Male || Lone || Teen || Word Count: 1300

Photo and Table by Pompeii

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