Chasing The Moonrise
An Infiniflash Fiction by Kristy Nicolle
The air is thick with the metallic tang of blood, the space around me vibrating as blade and bone meet beyond raised shield and shredded armour. The sky overhead is a milky rose, the grey clouds which drift giving an otherworldly, hellish feel.
Philippe shifts beneath me, my sword brushing my hip as it hangs low from my vice-like grip on the steel hilt. The black silk of his coat turns onyx tainted vermilion as the sun is suddenly unleashed from behind weak cloud, turning the world bloody in hue.
I feel my heart pounding beneath my metal armour, sweat dripping down the left side of my brow, the men around me blanketed in the grime of battle. I was not designed for this place, for the urgency of war, for it seems that despite the carnage around me on every side I still cannot help but dream while gazing up at the sky.
The ocean sparkles beyond the edge of the mainland, but I force myself to focus, clicking my heels against the underside of Philippe’s belly, his breath coming in desperate and terrified wisps, mirroring mine.
The front line has been decimated, and from where I’ve watched the men fall like autumnal leaves into the sodden soil beneath them, I too must now charge forward into the fray.
The muscles of the inky stallion beneath my gait engage, adrenaline flooding through both of us as we charge forward, his hooves never faltering upon the churned earth that sprawls around us for miles, peppered with the dead.
I hear it, the clang of the metal, the cries of pain, the final exhales of the dying, the prayers of the injured, but still I charge forward, raising my sword in defiance of the overwhelming and lethal odds.
I feel something in Philippe’s rhythmic gallop, in his stride, and see only too late what he has realised long moments before.
It strikes us, slicing through the neck of the steed and into my chest, puncturing my armour with such velocity that both me and my horse are thrown backward and into the sea of ruddy mud below.
I feel it, puncturing my heart, vital fluid flowing from me and baptising the battlefield with my sacrifice as I’m crushed beneath Philippe’s dead body, his final exhale merely a grunt as we hit the ground.
As I lie here, knowing that death’s embrace is closing, I cannot help but continue to stare up at that milky rose sky, dreams flickering out one by one like dying stars behind my eyes.
The sloshing of the shoreline wakes me, my ears pricking at this familiar and comforting natural melody that takes me back to days spent fishing with my father, God rest his soul.
I open my eyes, long lashes that my sisters have always envied tickling the high rise of my cheekbones as I realise something not altogether normal.
I don’t feel any pain.
I panic, looking down to my chest, where a thin white cotton poet’s shirt clings to me, open and exposing my pristine pectorals. There are no wounds, no blood…
My heart lurches, recalling my final moments, recalling the hit which had ended us both.
My head swings from left to right, scanning the dusk blanketed beach, white sand crystalline beneath my shaking fingers. It glistens as I blink slowly, the air dry, yet fragrant with citrus and vanilla as if some otherworldly force has extinguished all mortal presence from this place. The bay curves into the shape of a crescent moon, palm trees spattered across the sand at random intervals, their enormous leaves swaying lazily in effortless breeze of dusk.
I hear him before I see him, his nostrils flaring, his tread as familiar to me as my own, and my eyes shoot to his elegant silhouette, dripping with weak sunlight. He approaches without caution, without fear, but not alone.
A woman, lilac hair flowing from her with ethereal grace, walks toward me, her body draped in ivory silk that clings to every inch of her sun-kissed golden skin.
I stand, eyes widening as she comes into clearer focus, sand warm on my bare feet that protrude just beneath three-quarter length black pantaloons.
“Orion, welcome…” her voice is like the cry of gulls and the hush of a new incoming tide as it sweeps the sand clean, and it causes me to drop to my knees, sharp yet sensual. The song of the ocean made singular and real in a lone melody as it tumbles from her lip.
“What… what is this place?” I ask her, eyes wide, breath coming in salt-laden wisps, the sun caressing my face as she stares down at me.
“Do not kneel, child. Rise. This is your night,” she croons, extending long fingers that end in elegant multi-toned fingernails, scale-esque one might say. Her hair is swept back by a lone crystal starfish that clings to one side of her head, capturing the dying light of day and transforming it new, making it new and of the dawn instead.
I take her hand in mine, getting to my feet and allowing my lungs to fill with her sweet nautical musk.
“Where is this? Where am I? What happened?” The questions buzz inside my skull like fireflies, illuminating queries that had once been shrouded by the overwhelming shadow of my mortal struggle.
“That does not matter. All I can tell you is that your father is waiting, Orion. He was chosen by me, just as you have been. Now, you will join him in eternity beneath the divide that cleaves my world with that you have always known. Are you ready?” she demands an answer, her blue eyes greying like the steel of merciless water before a storm hits.
I cannot refuse her, even if I wanted to. Something about her beauty, her effortless existence tells me that I’m exactly where I need to be. I feel it deep in my gut, that this is right. When all others were focused on the clashing of blade and the spray of an enemy’s blood, I was gazing up at the sky, and this is why.
“I am…” I stumble for her name, knowing that perhaps no single word would be adequate, and she smiles, mouth curving in delicate pink flesh, like the shimmering wet lip of a conch.
“Atargatis,” she relinquishes, and I inhale a sharp breath.
I almost drop to my knees again in awe, but she steadies me, her hand rising to tilt my chin, so my eyes are caught in the net she casts with her own, helpless to do anything other than obey.
“No time for that. Moonrise approaches, Child. Here, take the reins.” She shoves braided seaweed reins into my palm, gesturing to Philippe, who takes a step forward, nodding his head once as a twinkle exploding within the warm mahogany depths of his eyes.
“What do I do?” I ask, and she smiles with knowing mischief playing behind the calm shallows of her irises. She does not reply immediately, instead watching my face and body with something almost like fascination.
“Chase the horizon my child, embrace the call…”
“But, what call?” I continue to query her, and she shakes her head.
“So many questions. I’ll make sure to remember that when picking you a companion. Come, ride. The day is dying.” She lets her fingers trail over the obsidian silk of Philippe’s coat causing him to stir with the gentle certainty that her intent can only be good. His hooves lift from the sand, and I watch him become restless, urging me into motion with his persistent gaze.
I take several large strides and close the distance between myself and the horse. His scent overwhelms, the comfort of home washing over me like a warm cloth in my mother’s palm. I mount him, easier than I ever had in life, and marvel at the view from his spine as I adjust my position, seeking comfort.
Once Philippe is steadily planted between my thighs, I look down upon the Goddess.
“Hold on.” She grins, slapping the hindquarters of the inky stallion and turning to leave us. I don’t have time to watch where she goes, as a whinny cuts slick through the humid night air, and sand goes flying. I pull back on the reins, trying to gain some control, but I soon realise this is futile as Philippe is clearly following orders from a higher calling. I clench my thighs, gripping them around his spine for any kind of balance I can regain as he becomes an ebony blur, streaking across the shoreline… toward the sea.
My heart falls into my stomach as I see the waves approaching, the sun an enormous burning ember on the horizon, dwarfing me before it.
“Whoa!” I cry out, the last thing I can think to try in order to stop the forward momentum of the stallion beneath me.
Her voice is a playful giggle on a lazy summer tide as it drifts through my subconscious.
Faith, Orion. Have Faith.
I close my eyes, body relaxing unwillingly as we meet with the froth of the waves, helpless to resist the whim of my steed.
The sea bathes my feet, cooling my sand-speckled soles and washing them clean. I brace myself for the rest of my body to become consumed by the waves as well.
Instead though, I remain dry, my brow creasing in confusion as the sound of horse hooves echo in my ears, almost drowned out entirely by the splash of the surrounding ocean.
Opening my eyes, my heart pounds, my breathing a panicked wisp that sticks in my throat. However, I cannot help but feel my jaw fall, eyes widening beneath the rich watercolour bleed of the last dying rays of sunlight as the sun slips beyond the horizon.
Philippe and I, we’re galloping atop the sea, as though it had some invisible glass layer beneath its swirling waters.
An awe-struck laugh spills from my lips, the salty citrus breeze ruffling my hair and cooling my rabid pulse beneath my skin. A calm descends, deeper than death, it is faith in the woman who has blessed me.
The world goes dark as I gape, periwinkle blues and indigoes spreading from the edge of the world like a writer’s ink spill.
I gape as the stars come alive around me, the water beneath the hooves of Philippe lighting with aquamarine algae and tracking our path across the water’s surface.
A single tear falls down my cheek as I find myself barely able to breathe at the stunning scene. It’s like something out of my wildest dreams, my deepest most sacred fantasies coming to life before my very eyes.
I hear it then, the call, that of which she had spoken.
It rises, a glorious opal over the edge of the sea’s dark divide from the sky, the melody that sweeps across my skin leaving sharp goosebumps in its wake.
A female allure, a godly certainty, and an endless truth that sweeps across the surface of the ocean as my stallion and I gallop atop the waves.
Smiling, perhaps the widest I have ever smiled, I let the reins fall from my fingers and throw out my arms as Philippe continues to race forward, mane streaming like abyssal ribbons and his every step exploding in natural fireworks that glow bright as stars in our wake.
My heart fills, my soul soars, and together beneath the diamond scattered velvet of the sky we continue onward without fear, chasing the moonrise.
Did you want to know more about my fantasy infiniverse?
Check out my books-
BOOKS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM KRISTY NICOLLE
THE TIDAL KISS TRILOGY- A MERMAID FANTASY ROMANCE
TIDAL KISS SHORTS AND NOVELLAS
THE ASHEN TOUCH TRILOGY- A DARK FANTASY ROMANCE