The phrase “old gods” was something weighted, but otherwise benign on its own. The words individually were harmless. Though when they were strung together, heads might turn in skepticism, but dismiss them in favor of more immediate and pressing matters. Their world was yet again consumed by war, afterall. What an endless cycle.
Yet Saashenka felt her chest seize the moment Mosur let the mention pass his lips. Once she remembered how to breathe again, the air of the room had shifted.
“I only ask for advice,” Mosur pleaded. She could hear the barest twinge of desperation in his voice. Their minds had converged on the same point. She could see it swirling in his aura and feel it thickening around them.
And why wouldn’t he feel it too? It had affected him just as greatly. Perhaps even more so.
She gives him no immediate answer, opting to momentarily table the conversation. But Saashenka knows is must be addressed. It’s too serious not to.
Her horns ache dully. The right side of her face burns. The wounds have long since healed, but even the very threads of her nerves remember. And the memories plague her into the night.
All she knew was terror. How it gripped her wholly and completely.
An uncontrollable madness that consumed him, devouring from the inside out. Mosur had ceased to exist in cohesion, and it threatened to tear his pieces apart until nothing but it remained.
It came for her, swallowing all of her light. It used him, and came for her. Furious and insatiable.
He lay next to her now, and he pulsed with light and the smell of the earth. His chest was solid beneath her finger tips. It rose and fell in tandem with his soft snores that punctuated the still night. Mosur was real in his warmth, with his arms that surround her tiny frame. There is no shred of darkness to be found. He was whole again. She settles against him, unseeing eyes wide open, peering at nothing.
Saashenka has faced many evils and horrors in her young life as a child of war and exodus. Some of them more grey than others.
Though only once, and far too short a time ago, did she stand in the gaping maw of an all-consuming darkness. It took all of her strength to hold its teeth open, and drive it back to the depths of the void from which it came.
It was one time too many.
He asks a lot of her. He asks a lot of the both of them. But Saashenka has long since understood her purpose. It was a heavy burden, but it was her duty to the Light to shine it brilliantly through all shadows. And it was a burden she would bear with her head held level and steady.
She tilts her head to press a soft kiss to a sleeping Mosur’s jawline, and tucks her face against his neck, beneath one of the tendrils that protrude from his beard.
As sleep finally comes she reminds herself, it is her who stands in the mouth of evil so no other should ever have to.