|posted on 26-Nov-2001 11:06:55 PM by RainCrazy|
|Title: Bring Me Home|
Disclaimer: Not mine. Fox, UPN, all that good stuff.
Summary: Elissa (Liz) is dedicated to the fearsome God of Swords who is known for his cruelty and violence. She bravely struggles to keep her independence and identity in his overwhelming presence and forms a bond with the lonely God that leads to a search for love and for a home.
Author’s Note: I’m pretty sure that everyone here is smart enough to figure out who’s who, but just in case here’s a list:
Liz – Elissa
Max – Marcus
Maria – Maia
Isabel – Isadora
Long ago, in a land filled with the lush, pulsing beauty of sunlit forests and pure shimmering waters, there lived a girl who was as beautiful as the skies were wide. Her eyes were deep and the color of warm, dark honey and when she smiled, she filled people’s heads with haunting visions of the morning calm. Her name was Elissa, princess of Kyrina and she was the oldest daughter of his imperial highness, the Emperor Caedor.
She was born in the palace on a night when the moon was full, and her mother and father rejoiced at the birth of their first child. And after her mother had sufficiently recovered, Elissa was taken to the Oracle so that her parents might learn of her destiny…
The temple of the Oracle was small and elegant, giving visitors a sense of comfort rather then the intimidation that would have been provided by a more imposing structure. The Empress Illia held her baby close to her chest and murmured words of comfort to the small, restless child. A priest had met them on the road and had told her husband that she was to come alone. A little upset, the emperor had started to object but had chosen instead to comply when he took note of the fire in the old man’s eyes. So, here she was, alone and on her way to meet with the only person who held the knowledge of her daughter’s future. Her steps slowed as she neared her destination and she walked hesitantly into the dimly lit inner chamber of the temple and came to a stop, awaiting the voice of the Oracle.
Suddenly, a rush of wind filled the room and bathed the room in a warm light. As soon as the wind died down, a voice spoke. “Good evening, Empress.”
Illia clutched Elissa even closer to herself and then knelt and said, “Good evening.” She hesitated then slowly presented her child. “This-“
She was immediately cut off by the Oracle, “-is Elissa, yes, I know.” It paused then said almost affectionately, “She is beautiful already. Her destiny is that of one who will reach for the stars and find more then she ever bargained for. You will dedicate her to the God of the Sword and all will be well.”
Illia’s head shot up at the order of the Oracle. “The God of the Sword? But he is…no! She cannot! I will not!”
But the light had already faded and she was left alone in the cold, stone room with the echo of her defiance ringing around her.
18 years later
Elissa stared into the mirror, her sad eyes gazing into the pleading green eyes of her baby sister.
The young blonde bit the inside of her cheek to prevent her cries from erupting from her mouth but it was no use. “Lissy, why do you have to go? You did not choose to become the high priestess of the Sword God!”
“Maia, this is something that I have been prepared for since I was born. I know that it’s hard for you to understand but I have to go. There is no other way.”
Maia’s eyes filled with tears. “You speak as though you are willing to leave us, to leave me. What will I do without you? Who will I talk to? Who will laugh with me and listen to my secrets? Who will protect me from Isadora?”
Lissy laughed at the last part of her sister’s outburst. “So that’s why you want me to stay! You just need someone who will watch out for you and make sure that you can get away with all your mischief!”
Maia pouted and managed to look hurt at the same time. “You know how bad it can get with Isadora! And that is not why I want you to stay! You’re my best friend as well as my sister, and the fact that you have to go live in that…that fort-like, barren temple is horrible!”
Lissy sighed and said, “I know Maia. I don’t want to go, you know I don’t, but I have no choice. You’ll be fine without me. Besides, if you need me all that much, all you have to do is have the stable boys drive you down to the “fort”. It’s only ten minutes away, you know that. As for your pranks on Isadora, I know that you don’t dislike her as much as you pretend to, so maybe it’s time for them to stop. Besides, they seem to have this awful habit of backfiring on you.”
Maia’s mouth dropped at her older sister’s seemingly innocent comment on the success of her pranks. “I’ll have you know that-“
Isadora walked into the room at that moment, effectively silencing Maia. She immediately went to embrace her older sister and smiled sadly as she pulled away. She whispered, “I’ll miss you Elissa.”
Elissa smiled back at her sister, surprised to see her usually aloof sister so vulnerable. “You know that I’ll miss you too, Izzy,” she said as she rose to hug her sister again. She wiped away the tears that were rapidly gathering in her eyes and laughed weakly then said, “I guess it’s time for me to leave for the temple. They need to get me ready for the bonding ritual. I’ll see you there?”
Both her sisters nodded and as Maia hugged Elissa one last time, she whispered mournfully, “Be well. And don’t forget me.”
Elissa laughed a little and replied, “How could I ever forget my sister, the spitfire? Be nice to Izzy and try to find something that will replace the joy you get from torturing her so mercilessly.”
Then, with one last look at her sisters, she left her lifelong home and walked bravely towards her uncertain future.
Elissa caught her breath as she stared at the temple that was to become her new home. It was an immense structure made completely of a dark stone and obviously built to be easily defended. She stared until she could hold back her tears no longer and she hid her face behind her hands as she cried quietly.
Her home was constructed entirely of the purest marble and was made up of delicate, spiraling towers that were covered with flowers and bathed in light. And now, to come here! She could almost see her dreams and fantasies withering in front of her.
Suddenly, she lifted her head proudly and her eyes flashed with determination. No matter how dismal her life might seem now, she would continue her search for her dreams, her longing for a place in this world. Nothing could stand in her way.
Just as she thought this however, a doubt formed in her mind. She may want to keep dreaming, but would her soon to be Lord, the God of Swords allow it?
Illia sighed, her regal face creased with worry and fatigue. She looked around her daughter, Elissa’s room and her moods lifted slightly as she remembered all the memories she shared with her beloved daughter here. She sat on the bed and closed her eyes, taking a moment to rest and forget the deep concern she had for her daughter, if only for a minute.
The silence was soon broken by the sound of the door opening. She looked up and saw the blond heads of her two younger daughters peeking inside.
Maia smiled smugly, then turned to Isadora, “Told you she’d be in here.”
Her sister rolled her eyes and considered smacking her sister upside the head but caught herself, remembering the presence of her mother. She chose to ignore the comment from her incredibly annoying little sister and turned to her mother. “Why didn’t you say goodbye to Elissa? I know that we’ll see her again at the ritual, but after that…” she trailed off, unwilling to actually say anything about her sister’s rapidly approaching permanent absence.
Illia sighed again. It seemed that it had become quite a habit of hers lately. She smiled ruefully at her daughter. “I guess I just haven’t been thinking clearly lately. I’m getting old Isadora, and my mind isn’t what it used to be. And now, especially, with Elissa-“ Her voice broke, but she pushed back the tears that were threatening to come forth, “With Elissa leaving, I just haven’t been able to act like myself.”
Maia stepped forward, her expression full of worry for her mother along with her own confusion, and asked, “Mother, I know how much you care for Elissa, but why are you so worried about her? She’s going to be a priestess for the God of Swords. The high priestess, no less! There is no higher honor then to serve a God. What could be better for her? At least she won’t have to marry and become an arrogant prince’s trophy.”
Illia dropped her head and stared at her hands, choosing her words carefully, so that her still young daughter might understand. “Maia, yes, normally there would be very little to worry about, but Elissa is not going to serve just any God, she will be a priestess to the God of Swords, and that is a very different matter indeed. He’s dangerous, daughter, and she will be much less then a trophy to him, she will be a slave!”
Isadora came to sit next to her obviously shaken mother and held one of the Empress’ hands between her own. “Mother, we still don’t understand.” She glanced at the slightly scared expression on Maia’s face, then spoke again hesitantly. “What exactly is so dangerous about him? Elissa is strong, stronger then all of us, what could be such a threat to her?”
Illia looked into the concerned faces of her daughters and tried to explain, to make them understand how cold the Sword God could be. “You know that he is the youngest of the Gods, the product of an affair between the High Father and Cassandra, the Goddess of War. His incredible power and coldness he received from his father, and his beauty and taste for cruelty from his mother.”
She paused, trying to recall a story that she had heard that would explain her fear of the Sword God. “When you were young, Isadora, I took you to the temple of the High Father in Deo. I was well into my pregnancy with you, Maia, and was going to seek the blessing of the manipulative King of the Gods.”
Her face crinkled with distaste as she mentioned the High Father’s title. Isadora and Maia exchanged a look at their mother’s obvious dislike of the God King but decided not to interrupt their mother with questions.
“I walked into the temple to find it in chaos. The priests and priestesses were moaning on the floor, and the other worshippers were running and screaming in terror and in pain. I looked up, and there, standing atop the altar, was the High Father’s son, the God of Swords; his eyes blazing and his mouth open in a soundless cry of triumph. He shone so brightly that I could not look directly at him but still his image is burned into my memories. Before I was hurried out by a terrified and compassionate priest, I saw him summon hundreds of swords from the air and hurl them out in every direction.”
Illia pulled her hand away from Isadora to cover her eyes, trying to block the vision of the scene in her mind. “He killed hundreds of men, women and children that day. I asked the priest who had led me out why. What had they done to deserve such an act? And he knew nothing. There was no reason, except for the Sword God’s immense cruelty. There was no sense in it, no humanity…
Later that day, when I entered the temple again, he was still there and the blood was everywhere. I saw him watch a child cry as it shook its dead mother and…he laughed. He laughed with cold fury in his eyes.”
She looked up at her daughters’ horrified faces, pleading with them to understand. “He will kill her. Simply for his own joy, he will kill her.” And as she sobbed, she released a lifetime’s worth of worry, pain and fear.
Maia immediately moved to her mother’s other side and wrapped her slender arms around the empress’ now frail, tiny body. Her pain-filled eyes met her older sister’s brown, equally miserable eyes and they silently agreed to make sure their mother received the attention she needed.
One of her mother’s servants walked into the room at that moment and hesitantly announced, “Empress? It’s…we need to start preparing you for the bonding ritual.” The girl clasped her hands together in front of her then said, “Should I come back later?”
Illia quickly wiped her tears from her face, then rose, laughing a little with embarrassment. “No, no, Sefria, let’s go now.” She took her two daughters by the hand and said with a watery smile, “You two will have to get ready too.”
Her daughters rose from the bed and stood in front of her. Isadora remained worried, she sensed that her mother was retreating back into herself and was still hiding the full extent of her pain from them. But she decided to continue their talk at a later, more private time and smiled, replying, “Then we’ll go with you. Your servants are better with hair and makeup then mine are anyway.”
Maia smirked and said, “And we all know Isadora needs the best to make herself even remotely beautiful.”
Isadora’s eyes widened angrily at the snide comment, but said sweetly to her mother, “And I was hoping we could find a dress for Maia that would hide the fact that my dear younger sister has been eating a few too many sweets.”
Maia fumed and was about to retort when her mother stopped her with a stern glare. “You may come with me if, and only if, you choose to act like the princesses that you both are.” Shamefaced, the sisters nodded and murmured a quick apology to each other and to their mother.
As they walked out, though, Maia “accidentally” stepped on the edge of Isadora’s gown and made a large tear in the fabric. She flashed her furious sister an unrepentant grin then skipped ahead of the older princess to link arms with her mother, effectively shielding herself from Izzy’s wrath.
Marcus, the God of Swords, was not in a good mood. And when the Sword God was not in a good mood, there would be hell to pay for whoever was responsible. Only this time, it wasn’t a person that was upsetting him, but rather the multitude of conflicting emotions that was churning in his chest.
Fortunately, because there were no other living things in his home at this time, as usual, he was free to let his emotions grow stronger and stronger without any worry or embarrassment. Finally, when his emotions boiled over and he lost all control, he shot off a group of swords, and the energy of his frustration was back to a level where he could handle it. He sighed, as he grew angry again at his obvious lack of discipline and control, but he quickly did his best to quell that anger. Gods weren’t supposed to get angry, he reminded himself sternly and he pulled his thoughts from his dissatisfaction with himself and tried to distract himself with a different topic.
He grimaced as he thought of the dedication that was to take place today. He hated these public appearances; there were always so many people and so many opportunities for things to go wrong.
And he would have to deal with another inquisitive high priestess. A former princess too! He shook his head as he prepared himself to deal with the plethora of questions that she would probably bombard him with, half of them born out of fear, the other out of awe and desire. Of course, he had heard that this princess possessed a beauty that surpassed that of Callidora, the Goddess of Romance, but what did it really matter? He had known thousands of beauties during his time, but none of them had captured his attention completely. This new priestess would be no different. He frowned, then pulled out of his reverie and realized that he should get to the temple in Kyrina before the ceremony. He needed to watch the girl and make sure that she was told of the special conditions that she would need to be aware of to survive under his domain. His eyes dimmed as he thought that final, dark thought and he disappeared without a ripple in the air.
Elissa shivered as she entered the cold, stone temple of the Sword God. The lights were dim, and the air was heavy with the scent of incense and smoke. She looked around, expecting to see paintings and statues of the God, but she saw none. She had never been shown the image of the Sword God, for all of her life her mother had sheltered her from him, hoping to keep him from her daughter’s life for as long as she could. And now…now, she was incredibly curious to see him, but a little fearful too. Her mother had reinforced a wary caution against the God in her since she had been a child, and even now, she had a morbid fascination with imagining how horrifying he would actually look. She had hoped to finally find out what he looked like here, at his temple, but there were none of the self-idolizing objects that the Gods usually sprinkled throughout their temples. She sighed with disappointment but when one of the many priests came her way, she went with him with a smile.
She was led down a long hallway and given a key to her new chambers by the priest, who then left respectfully. She nodded at him gratefully, then opened the door to her room. She stepped through the entrance and as her eyes adjusted to the light, she gasped. She had expected something dark and gloomy like the rest of the temple, but this…this was amazing! The room was lit warmly with the glow of hundreds of candles, and the floor was covered with warm, thick rugs of brightly colored fabrics. The silk hangings on the wall shimmered in the candlelight, and the walls were laden with beautiful paintings. She gazed at the treasures in the room with hungry eyes. She had always appreciated beauty wherever she found it, and the furnishings of the room were some of the most finely crafted things she had ever seen, even better then her family’s possessions at the palace.
The entrance of the woman who was to prepare her and cleanse her for the public ritual that would be held later that day interrupted her stunned examination of the room.
She smiled in welcome at the young blond priestess then laughed softly as she said, “The room…it’s amazing!”
The girl smiled thinly, then said, “Yes, it is, only the best for the most beautiful princess in the land.”
Elissa was a little taken aback by the dislike that was thinly hidden underneath the girl’s polite conversation and she looked warily at the blond, trying to hide the hurt and insecurity that came from being in a new place.
The girl looked back with ferocious determination in her eyes, then said, still with a polite smile, “You must be cleansed before you are dressed Princess, the bathing room is through that door. Just let one of the other priestesses know when you are ready for me.” Then with a slight bow she left the room.
Elissa turned to enter the bathing room, wondering at why exactly the girl had shown such an instant dislike for her but the thought was forgotten as she slowly pulled of her dress and entered the warm, foaming water of her bath. She sighed happily as she relaxed in the steamy, dark room and dipped her head underneath the waters. She surfaced with a small sound of satisfaction and languidly smoothed her long, dark hair back.
She slowly opened her closed eyes as the water dripped of the smooth skin of her face and was just settling down on a seat in the deep, circular pool when she heard a soft footstep. She jumped, startled, then slowly looked around the room with fearful eyes, listening for the sound again. This time, when she heard the footstep behind her, she gasped and whirled around to find herself staring at a pair of smooth, golden feet. Her eyes traveled up hard, muscled thighs covered by a luminous white garment, a chiseled stomach and a well-formed chest.
She held her breath as her gaze finally came to rest on the most beautiful face she had ever seen in all her life. And as she met his burning gaze, she could see the sun, the moon, and all the stars in the heavens glowing in his eyes.
Marcus was stunned beyond belief. He had thought that he had known and seen beauty, but she, she was indescribable. He struggled to form words, to say something coherent, but all that came out was one word, uttered with longing and awe. “Elissa.”
And when he saw her slow, easy smile, the sun rose, piercing his darkness with a single ray of light. And he knew he had found a home.
Marcus was still lost in the warm glow that radiated throughout his body from Elissa’s smile. He had arrived at the temple minutes before, and had been taken immediately to the high priestess’ chambers so that he would be able to speak with her in private. He had sat in a chair that was behind the door and had been reminding himself to remain calm, cold and detached when she had first come in.
The emotionless wall that he had been painstakingly building around himself had crumbled into a pile of gravel at the first touch of her presence. A sense of peace surrounded her and he had lost all control once again, only this time, he had no regrets about that fact.
He had been about to get up and speak to her when the other girl had come in. He remained quiet; deciding he would reveal himself to her when she was alone, but he quickly grew angry as he saw the hurt and doubt the blond priestess had been subjecting Elissa to. His anger grew savagely, and the black waves of fury had been threatening to overwhelm him when the girl had abruptly left. He gave a silent sigh of relief at this, then sat a moment, trying to regain his composure.
Finally, when his anger had faded, he stood; hoping to finally hear the sound of Elissa’s voice, only to discover that the room was empty. He had panicked for a moment before he had noticed the door to the bathing room was slightly open and he stepped through it without a second thought. He had been drawn to her, unable to stay away and when she turned to look at him, he had lost his breath and all his wits along with it.
And now, he stared at her with such intensity that he felt that he would seize to exist if she looked away. However, the glow that encompassed his soul faded quickly when he saw her warm, chocolate eyes start to burn.
Elissa was furious, she knew she should be and she was. How dare this, this man follow her into this room and watch her bathe! Yes, he was the most gorgeous being she had ever come into contact with, but that wasn’t the point. He was watching her bathe!
She quickly sank a little deeper under the protective cover of the foamy bubbles and demanded angrily, “What are you doing here?”
The man looked surprised and a little dazed and his reply was a confused, “Excuse me?”
Her eyes darkened even more, and she stonily said, “Okay, you know what? This is what we’re going to do. You are going to walk right back out that door and sit on the bed. As soon as you are gone, I’m going to get out of this pool, dress, and then we’ll talk, understand?”
The man drew himself up to his full height, and his eyes were flashing with indignation. He started to protest against her orders, but she gave him an impatient, expectant look, then shouted in exasperation, “Now!”
His eyes grew wide, and with an expression that curiously resembled a pout, he walked out the door angrily. She silently congratulated herself on her firmness, then slowly pulled herself out of the warm waters of the bath.
Marcus sat on the bed with arms crossed and an indignant expression on his face. He was a God for heaven’s sake! He never, ever took orders, especially from a tiny, dark-haired girl! That scene would definitely not be taking place ever again. He was the God, and he would be the only one who was giving orders around here. He opened his mouth to speak that very thought when she walked in, but she beat him to the punch.
“What exactly do you think you were doing? Is it a habit of yours to be walking into random women’s bathing rooms?”
He retorted, “I don’t think you know who I am, Elissa, I have every right to enter any room in this temple at any time I please.”
She arched one slender eyebrow and crossed her arms in front of her chest also, imitating his defensive posture. “Oh really? Well know this, I don’t care who you are, you are not to invade my privacy ever again.”
He stood suddenly, and moved so that their bodies touched lightly. He slowly bent down and putting his lips to her ear, he whispered, “And what exactly will happen if I do, princess?”
Elissa shivered, the brush of his lips against her ear had sent a wave of fire rushing over her and she closed her eyes, hoping to shut out whatever power he had over her. “Who are you?”
She opened her eyes, hoping to catch the answer in his face, but it was unreadable. Then, suddenly her eyes widened and she asked, “How did you know who I am? You’re…no, you can’t be…”
He pulled back from her slightly and hid his hurt with an arrogant smile. “That’s right, princess, unfortunately, I am Marcus, the God of Swords.”
Marcus pushed the pain away. True, he had lost himself in the dream that she had woven around him. She was intoxicating and he had fooled himself into thinking that she would accept him as a man, as one who could love. But he had seen the fear, the loathing in her eyes and it had jolted him, had burned away the haze of desperate longing that had been filling his heart and his eyes.
He brushed away invisible tears, pushed away his deep, ancient scars and steeled himself. He was ready to be the God that she believed that he was. Marcus would be pushed away once again, to be replaced by the God of Swords. And as the mask slid into place once again, the fire of hope in his heart dimmed, flared in one last desperate gasp for life, then quietly…blew out.
The warmth of security that had infused her body drained away from Elissa in one terrible moment of shock, leaving her cold, scared and desperate. For one perfect moment, when she had first locked eyes with the stranger, she had thought that Fate had finally chosen to bless her, that all her dreams had been fulfilled in the burning love and safe home that she had seen in his eyes. And now, for all that to be ripped away and revealed as one of the Sword God’s cruel games! She felt the tears burn in her eyes, but pushed them back, determined not to give in to him.
She met his now dark, frigid eyes defiantly for a long while then finally dropped them. Finally, she determinedly took the edges of her flowing, ruby-colored dress and slowly sank to her knees. And when she looked up and saw the hopelessness in his amber eyes followed by an icy determination, a sense of agonizing loss gripped her.
Illia looked out the window of the carriage that was carrying them to the Sword God’s temple wearily. She smiled gently as she listened to her daughters’ friendly bickering and she pulled her gaze away from the scenery to look at her precious daughters. As her eyes fell on the empty seat next to Isadora however, her eyes filled with tears. Elissa should be here with them; this was her true place, to be the beloved eldest princess of Kyrina.
She quickly pulled the silken package she carried out of her pocket and gently fingered the golden ties. On a whim, she pulled delicately, releasing the ties and revealing the dark, gleaming pendant it held. She fingered the intricate etchings in the smooth, black silver. She held it up to the last rays of sunlight that fell through the window of the bouncing carriage and watched as they set the silver sword on fire and sighed as slowly one by one, they faded, leaving the pendant dark and cold once again.
Sefria, the Empress’ personal lady, watched her mistress and friend with concern in her green eyes. She watched with apprehension as she saw the shadows darken the Empress’ face and worried at the expression of old pain in the Empress’ eyes. She placed a comforting hand over the older woman’s hand and squeezed gently.
Sefria checked to make sure that Maia and Isadora were occupied, then whispered, “This is what she needs. You know it. Leave her in the hands of the Oracle. It will all be well in the end.”
Illia looked up at her lifelong companion and friend with aging eyes and said, “Will it? With every step I take, every path I set my daughters on…the answers grow dimmer. I can’t just believe anymore. I am old, Sefria, and I need to know that my daughters will become the women that I know that they can and must be. I need to, Sefria.”
And with that, she pulled her hand and eyes away from he childhood friend and resumed her intense scrutiny of the shining, ebony pendant in her lap.
Marcus could barely keep from grabbing Elissa and pulling her up from her submissive posture. He raged at the injustice of it all, that this woman refused to acknowledge him as anything but the inhumane God she believed him to be. The hopelessness crashed through his body as he stared at her beautiful face raised to his. His hand moved unconsciously to cup her face but at her slight shudder, he jerked it away. His head throbbed with intense emotions of fury and loss and he could feel the waves fill him, building up to a tragic and horrific climax. Finally, with one last gaze at her, he summoned the strength of mind to pull his pride together and he vanished, leaving behind his tortured heart in the hands of a woman whose whole world had just turned upside down.