I’ve always enjoyed working with characters in transition…evolving from one state to another…either as a consequence of extreme external trauma or the natural evolution of who they are destined to be. Islena Doraux…the complex and challenging quasi-protagonist is the personification of this type of character…though whether her transition is one of evolution…or complete disintegration is open to debate. Part two of this series of excerpts comes from the forthcoming…A Fallible Goddess and the Enduring Sorrow…the final volume of the Journey through the Land of Shades series.
This particular segment depicts the rapidly changing dynamic between the novel’s antagonist and a rapidly changing Islena Doraux…intimating at a possible staggering reversal of roles as the story draws down.
Snippet # 2:
A thoroughly entranced Myrhia gazed up into the brooding afternoon sky as Islena, attired in an effulgent argent robe and boots, emerged into the dull light. Her sorcery-enhanced vision was drawn to the partially visible orb that was buried in the deep valley between Islena’s breasts and she frowned in consternation. This unanticipated anomaly was the first indicator that Myrhia’s carefully contrived machinations had gone seriously awry.
The orb had clearly bonded with Islena in an intimate fashion that defied all reason.
Myrhia’s disquiet intensified dramatically when Islena stepped over the edge of the stairway and out into the void. Rather than plummet like a stone, Islena’s heavily-muscled body drifted indolently downward as if she was a construct of smoke and gossamer threads.
She landed lightly on the balls of her feet, regarding the enchantress with inscrutable eyes that caused her to shudder perceptibly beneath the weight of this alien gaze.
Extending her cognizance toward Islena, Myrhia could glean no trace of the volatile, easily manipulated creature she’d so adeptly maneuvered in the past. The woman now standing before her bore only a physical resemblance to the supercilious plodder she had plucked into this dark drama.
The enchantress tensed expectantly as Islena closed the distance between them…her inscrutable face betraying nothing of her intention. Islena came to a sudden halt and extended her right arm with her fingers splayed open. In response to this summons, the Dragonsword shattered a startled Myrhia’s restraints and leapt into Islena’s outstretched hand.
Islena was immediately enveloped in a cocoon of light…vermillion and silver swirling together in a blinding magnitude that forced the enchantress to shield her eyes. Doraux’s body contracted into a livid knot, before arching like a drawn bow. She laid back her head and bellowed a guttural moan of inarticulate, primal pleasure. When her reverberating cries subsided, the transfixed enchantress noticed that the rubies on the haft of the Dragonsword pulsed in perfect syncopation with the orb embedded between Islena’s breasts.
The two collective bodies had merged in perfect harmony…an unexpected precursor to Islena’s now seemingly inevitable ascension. Smiling her unfathomable new smile, Islena strode toward Myrhia, who quickly summoned her own emerald power and challenged, “Would you test me now, daughter?”
Undaunted by the adversarial edge in Myrhia’s tone, Islena replied, “I wish only to test the pliability of those pouting lips, mother.”
Myrhia’s eyes widened at this nuanced rejoinder, but before she could do more, Islena surged forward and buried her right hand in the enchantress’ raven tresses. She then pulled the smaller woman into a passionate kiss that dizzied her demure senses. After a moment, she released Myrhia, who stumbled away on rubbery legs with her head spinning from the ardor of Islena’s kiss. Seeing how dramatically the enchantress had been disconcerted by the gesture, Doraux chuckled, “That was a rather impulsive expression of my gratitude, mother…for freeing me from the chains of my own mediocrity and apprehension. While your methods may have been…overbearing and needlessly harsh, the end result is more than fair recompense.”
“I…I don’t understand?” Myrhia stammered, suddenly wary of this unfathomable new embodiment of her eternally trying child. “What befell you in the crone’s cave?”
“Illumination…amongst other things,” Islena gushed with a significant twist of her generous mouth. “When you first abducted me…I wanted nothing more than to go home…to return to my old lackluster existence. That woefully misguided creature desired only to squander her life in pursuit of meaningless trinkets…a testimony to her pathetic lack of vision. You, mother, disabused me of that vapid nonsense…using the tools of pain and humiliation. Oh, how I wanted nothing more than to wrap my powerful hands around your throat and strangle the life out of you.”
“And you expect me to believe that this has changed somehow?” Myrhia asked and though her tone was both dubious and mordant, her great dark eyes were alight with a speculative gleam.
“Absolutely! My attitude toward you…towards everything has undergone a radical paradigm shift,” the enigmatic creature exclaimed grandly. “I have now come to see that you have rescued me from the shackles of degenerative mediocrity and forced me to confront the destiny for which I was conceived. Feeling the raw power residing within me…unmitigated and mine to wield as I see fit…it is inconceivable that I could ever have chosen maternal obligation over deification. Yet, I would have had it not been for you, mother. Your remorseless and incessant campaign to break me to your will had set my feet squarely on the path to omnipotence. For that, I am in your eternal debt.”
She fell silent and her right hand rose slowly and caressed the enthralled Myrhia’s prominent cheek bone…before sliding to her delicate throat. There, Islena’s delicate fingers contracted and relented…contracted and relented…against the flawless white skin. Myrhia met the argent-tinged gaze unblinkingly and the fraught moment stretched out painfully. Finally, Islena inclined her head toward Myrhia’s right ear and whispered, “I have no illusions, bitch. You did none of these things for my benefit. You seek absolute power vicariously…to be a puppet-master who pulls my strings. Yet you were not half as clever as your absurdly inflated ego led you to believe…were you?”
Shocked by her own unprecedented timidity, Myrhia merely nodded. In response, those powerful fingers constricted until the enchantress was gasping for breath. Her hand then dropped to the firm glory of Myrhia’s right breast and resumed her gentle kneading. “Were you so blinded by the anticipation of power that you could not foresee that your tools of coercion would lose their currency? Do you really believe that a goddess could be swayed by the fate of a single child, a family…one inconsequential world awash with nattering insects?”
Myrhia’s eyes grew comically wide, prompting Islena to growl, “Perhaps you had best turn the harsh light of introspection on your own perceptions and motivations…if you wish to have any prospect of a future beyond my ascension.”
Myrhia swallowed at the dire warning implicit in this snippet of advice, but still managed, “So where does this leave us?”
Islena regarded the enchantress as if her query had been exceedingly inane. “Exactly where we both were before my great revelatory moment. You claim that you have eschewed you ambitions of power to serve as my advisor and I will take you at your word. I would recommend that you devote yourself to the task like a zealous cleric mother…unless you relish the prospect of obliteration. For the rest of the world, we will propagate the charade like the most gifted of thespians. I will be the vanquished, simpering subservient, who cowers beneath your stern gaze. You will continue to portray the menacing tyrant, whose penchant for cold-hearted savagery has brought her enemies to their collective knees. No one will be the wiser and we can enact my ascension without further tedious subterfuge.”
“Do you really think they won’t see through the theatrics?” Myrhia inquired. “There is nothing in your demeanor that even remotely resembles the Islena that skulked away from Othgol on my leash. The Lamish whore may be an ill-bred savage, but she is acutely attuned to Islena Doraux’s nature…and she will not be so easily deceived. Only you can see her to an end…perhaps that would be wise.”
“Lorio is hopelessly enamored with the volatile, unsettled imbecile you first pulled from the other reality…hopelessly so. It will be a rudimentary trick to convince her that this absurd caricature still exists,” the enigma contradicted. “She will remain with me…even a goddess has need of distraction on occasion.”
When Myrhia’s expression remained doubtful, Islena sighed impatiently. In the next instant, her exquisite face underwent a subtle, yet unmistakable transformation. Gone was the glean of aloof condescension in those indecipherable eyes. So too had the aura of razor sharp focus and formidable intellect vanished. In its place was the brooding, plaintive frown…tempered by a mindless sort of defiance that had been Islena’s signature expression. “I never wanted any of this. I just want to go home with my son. Why can’t you people get it through your thick fucking skulls? I’m not a fucking savior…I’m just a woman who wants her life back…goddamn you all!”
Myrhia gaped in astonishment and grudging admiration. This perplexing entity had delivered a stunningly accurate portrayal of Islena Doraux. The entity bowed grandly and inquired. “Did I mewl and bemoan my fate with just the right note of whining self-pity? Did I note capture her image of the bleating, long suffering victim, who evokes such pity…and lust in pathetic Lorio’s heart? Leave the matter of Islena’s deception to me and concentrate on being the fearsome scourge you once believed yourself to be. Now, do we have a consensus or must we go through the tedious process of breaking you to my view?”
Myrhia laid her hand atop Islena’s and clutched it to her breast. Struggling not to gag on the humiliation and ash of her concession, the Mother of Iniquity murmured, “I will do as you require…and serve you in keeping with my given oath.”
“And I will reciprocate and promise that you will have an eternal place at my side,” Islena replied with what appeared to be a mirthful twinkle in those disturbing eyes. “Now, let us commence the disturbing journey to Othgol…destiny awaits.”