I made a connection recently with someone… This person told me of something which I have been thinking about this past little while. It’s a very important question, one that speaks to something which is, really, core to many questions … What happens when you come to the …
There are places, times, and moments in the universe that are called crossroads. In these places, choices are made, realities are shaped, and sometimes, just sometimes, one discovers more about oneself than anyone ever thought was possible.
There are beings in the universe who know of these places and await others there, some for ill, some for good. Some watch and do nothing, others take control and change things.
This particular crossroads happened to be one which had not seen a soul for time immemorial: a passageway through the underworld, blackened floors with red marble veins running through in an indescribable pattern. The walls were polished smooth, a mirror that reflected over and over again the passageway that awaited its time to be the focus of something; whether that something was of more or less importance was not certain.
Out of the darkness, a soft green light formed, then shifted into a portal before opening. The portal sparked brightly for an instant, its light flaring through the space, before it vanished, leaving a raven-haired, red-horned and tailed Queen of the Succubi there alone.
She looked somewhat different from how she normally appeared. After all, in this place there was a certain ambiance that she needed to display, and that coloured her appearance. A tight, black leather corset wrapped her body while a long, red wraparound skirt swirled around her legs—which were caressed by a pair of thigh-high black boots with tall heels. But, regardless of her style, her raven hair was as wild as ever, spilling over her shoulders and down her back to where her tail began and moved slowly behind her while her ever-so-green eyes shone in the dark, glinting with mischievousness and the power within her.
Tera smoothed out her skirt as she looked around the space, making note of where the crossroads came from and where they went. Seeing that, at least for this place, there were but two directions to travel, she turned to her left and moved down the hallway. The stillness was broken by the sound of her heels clicking on the floor, the occasional tap of her fingernails against the polished wall as she continued onwards. It had been some time since Tera had visited this place. Her thoughts passed over the ones that called this place home, what they were like, and more.
She hadn’t felt the calling to return here for ages; in truth few who lived in this existence managed to seek out, to discover, to learn that which was hidden away from them. She would have, had she been allowed, done something about that, but there were rules here, rules that even she had to play by. However, that did not mean that she had to when she was called here by another.
The question was, of course, who it was and why.
She had travelled for some distance when she heard the first sound: a clink, possibly a scrape of … something. It came from still some ways in front of her, and, far off in the distance, she noticed the first flicker of red light. Of course, it would be red; this was, of course, the underworld.
The second sound was a mournful wail of loss, and that tugged at her. Someone was off in the distance there. The question was: why was he wailing? But the better question was: why was he here?
The answer came when Tera entered a rough-hewn cavern, the walls no longer mirrors, but jagged rock; the floor no longer smooth, but uneven and unkempt. As she looked within, her breath caught at the sight she beheld.
Curled up against one of the bare, cold walls was one of the incubi, his dark hair matted, his red skin covered in soot, his black wings torn, his tail wrapped around his waist. He was chained, held—for how long Tera couldn’t know. He was turned away from her, shifting from time to time, which made the sound she had heard before. It was clear he had been testing his bindings, thus the first noise. Finding them fast, he moaned in despair, the second sound she had heard.
Tera crossed the room, coming close to him, and then placed a hand on his shoulder. His response was instantaneous, pulling away and growling in a dangerous tone. When he turned to face her, she could see his eyes: deep, dark pools that held what he had been through and what he had expected when she touched him.
He rose from the ground, his wings outstretched, his tail slashing through the air. The first words spoken were in a gravelly voice, worn, distant: “Are you here to sate your lusts?”
Tera showed him her hands, palms upwards: “I come here without malice.”
His laugh was bitter indeed: “All do.”
“I … do not.”
His eyes narrowed as what she looked like registered to him: “Who are you? You are not like the others.”
She smiled: “I’m not. My name is Tera.”
He laughed deeply: “She is a myth, a tale, a fantasy, nothing more.”
Her tail arched over her right shoulder in response: “Is that what they are saying now? What else do they say? No, let me guess. They say that there is no love for you. Only lust is what you deserve.”
He grunted and pulled on his chains slightly: “It matters not. Use me, then leave.”
Tera walked up to him, unafraid, and placed her right hand upon his chest. The contrast between her tanned skin and the red of his own was striking but she dismissed the thought as she looked up into his eyes.
“No. I will not leave, nor will I use you.”
This brought him up short, and the next words were not so rough-edged: “What do you want?”
Her hands moved up his chest until she was cupping his chin: “In time I will tell you. But, for this moment, I want one promise from you.”
His eyes narrowed: “You play a dangerous game.”
She looked directly into his eyes: “One that must be played. The promise is you will not do harm.”
His hands took firm hold of her hips: “What do I gain from that promise?”
“Promise first. If you know my legend, then you know what you gain if you agree.”
He considered her; how long that was, neither of them could say. She didn’t fear him, was not concerned, in truth, and her eyes showed that reflected in him. The difficulty was in him seeing who she was, accepting it, and making the next step.
He then asked a question: “Why?”
She laughed: “Just because. There need be no other reason.”
The words escaped him in the next moment: “I promise to not do harm.”
As she spoke the last word, Tera’s hands moved from his chin to the shackles on his wrists. Moments later they fell to the floor with a final clank. Dropping to her knees, she removed the ones around his ankles and, once she had done so, he was free to move.
In the next moment, he had pinned Tera against the floor, straddling her: “This is all a trick! You cannot be her! You give hope and then take it away!”
She was not surprised by his actions, and simply replied: “If I meant to trick you, then why would I have said that I come here without malice to you? Our kind cannot lie. I spoke the truth. You, he of the incubi, have been too long in the thrall of the unworthy. They have tainted your soul. See though their words and see the truth in front of you.”
The moment was long, both of them looking into each other’s eyes. Then he whispered: “Say your name … your true name.”
“I am Tera, Queen of the Succubi and Queen of the Realm. I am the Daughter of the Queen of us all. I am the light for our kind and ever shall be.”
As she finished speaking his lips came close to hers and he whispered: “There is no light here.”
Her eyes glowed a soft green as the scent of cherries filled the air around them both: “Then share mine and see.”
Their lips touched and a bright white light filled the room, blotting out the dark, dismal world that he had existed in for so long. It travelled down the crossroads, the mirrored walls reflecting the light over and over again until the passages were burned clean of the darkness of the underworld, leaving only the light behind.
As the light dimmed from incandescence, things had changed. He had changed. His skin was tanned like Tera’s own. His black horns and tail still present, but his wings only ethereal memories and fading fast. Hoofed no more, he looked at his feet curiously: “What have you done?”
Tera’s tail rose up and twined itself around his tail: “Shown you the light.”
He moved to the side, laying upon the floor now scoured clean from the light they had shared moments before: “How?”
She sat up and touched his shoulder: “By offering you light, which you accepted. You made a choice at your crossroads.”
He looked at her curiously, his eyes no longer black, but blue: “Do I call you “Queen,” then?”
Tera laughed musically: “Oh, no. Remember, you asked for my true name. All else was embellishment.”
He rolled onto his back and looked at the ceiling above: “She is Queen second, Tera first.”
Tera stood up and didn’t bother brushing herself off as she offered him her hand: “You never said your name.”
He thought about the question as he stood with her. His name; he hadn’t remembered it for a very long time and to rediscover it took some time. His answer came with a note of surprise: “I … believe my name was … Nathaniel.”
Tera rose up on her toes and kissed him lightly on his lips: “You are Nathaniel. You are the son of Naamah. You are also my brother and family and you are loved.” She then took his hand and walked with him away from the chains that had bound him, away from the place that had taken so much from him, away from those that had tried to turn him. Once outside of the chamber which had been his prison for so long, Tera paused and opened a portal to carry them away from the place.
As she held his hand and led him towards the portal, Tera smiled: “Your family has been waiting to meet you once again for the first time …”
As they passed through the portal it was clear that they had both been to the crossroads. One who had chosen her path long before and the other who had made his choice because she offered. And those who had chosen before at the crossroads waited to bring another of their family home.