Author's Note: Thank you to lightfoot and Asmodeus1389 for reviewing! It means so much, and I appreciate it. :) I'll also get a link to a picture of Thyss up very, very soon. By the way, this chapter was edited slightly, so it flows better. Nothing major, I just wasn't happy with how abrupt it was towards the end. Thanks for reading, and reviews are always appreciated!
Rheis stood silently, with such an aura of calm about her that all the world seemed to slow and descend into quiet contentment. All around her, the earth seemed more fragrant, more at peace and more magical than it had all been before. Birds flew down from their lofty perches to sing in her wake, and slender birch trees swayed and swooned as she passed. Flowers blossomed were her heels touched the earth, if ever they did, for it seemed to Asphodel that she never did walk along the ground. She fluttered above it, like the truly enchanted creature she was.
She stood with quiet patience in the water, the stream just touching her pasterns. Her soft eyes were closed, and she sang to herself, but only mumbled the words, and yet her voice was still just as pleasing. Still, she managed to lure the birds from their nests; white doves bathed themselves in the clear, cool waters at her feet, flitting about her legs and cooing gently.
They scattered though, darting quickly away and fluttering into the trees, as Asphodel approached the rosy copper mare. She only smiled as he drew nearer, her singing stopped. The dark stallion paused on the bank of the stream in which she stood, and gazed sheepishly at the ground, overcome with her presence.
She felt so great and magical, and one wanted nothing more than to fall into dreams when around her. She had the touch of a mystic, and the deep magic carried within her was so powerful and overwhelming, it was felt by the earth around her. Her scent, too, was strong, and Asphodel inhaled deeply, like drinking in ambrosia. She smelled of musky cinnamon and crushed flower petals.
Rheis began to hum once more, although no words came from her. Instead, she crooned low in her throat, patiently waiting on Asphodel as he stood soundlessly on the bank of the stream. He could only watch her, taking comfort in the familiarity of her. Her rosy copper coat that shone so brilliantly in the light; her rich, musky brown legs that were so long and thick and elegant. He delighted in seeing her move, just to watch her legs dance as they carried her.
A breeze flitted through her mane, and the feather-light umber strands lifted and tangled along her arched crest. Bird feathers were woven throughout her hair, and through the length of her tail.
"What have you come for?" she finally asked. Her voice was deep and smooth, full of rich beauty; and it seemed no small wonder to Asphodel that she had been made a singer. One could be lost in the sound of her speech. "It has been long since I have last seen you."
"And it has been long since I have seen you, too," he murmured, looking at the ground when she cast her gaze on him. "It has been a long time, and I saw you in the Watching Pool. It told me to come to see you, the dreaming magic did."
Rheis merely nodded, turning her eyes away. "Aye." She had strange eyes; pale, silvery dove gray that had depths beyond what one could imagine. It was told that you could see dreams in her eyes, and it seemed nothing short of the truth to many. But her gaze held a strange fascination, for the color and magic in it, and for the long, thin scar that ran down the left side of her face, over her eye and on to her cheek. It blinded her, and her eye was opaque white with no pupil.
Some said that she had been wounded when naught but a foal, and others whispered shameful rumors that Asphodel's father had done her such harm. But it seemed as though such disgraceful stories would always plague the coppery mare; she never took heed of them anyway. Sometimes, Asphodel wondered if she even knew of the appalling tales that wound false beliefs about her. He did not want to believe any of them, and yet, he could not help but wonder what truth really lay behind such words.
"You do not come here anymore," Asphodel said quietly. "Not as often."
"Do you expect me to?" Rheis asked; her tone was gentle and tender, carefully sensing the hurt in the other's voice. His heart warmed as he listened to her, feeling again the motherly manner in which she addressed him that had been so long absent in her attitude. "Ah, I am not as welcome here as they would have me believe. Asides, there are other wonders than these." She smiled and let her gaze sweep around their surroundings to indicate the Celestial Valley. "I would rather spend my time elsewhere; finding places I haven't seen before."
Asphodel nodded silently. He turned to leave, and flicked his ears as Rheis once more began to sing. Already, the eager doves flitted down to her ankles to bathe in the stream and hear her enchanting voice. He paused, but then continued on his way, through the slender, airy woods that surrounded the small clearing in which he had found her. He left the trees, and wandered to the outer fringes of the valley, studying the forms of grazing unicorns, looking for a fiery-pelted mare among them.
That night, as he stood in his trance, Asphodel let his mind wander back to his mother. It had been so long since he had last seen her … and he dreaming of her that evening.
She had been the Dreamspeaker of the Celestial Valley, and held within her greater powers than any who had come before her. Some said that she had been kin to the Mare of the Mountain, her magic was so great, but such rumors were nothing more than fanciful stories. She was nothing more than friends with the Mare, and even that was grand itself.
Rheis, as they knew her, was strange and lofty. She sang for them during the dark moons every month, and her voice held such magic that could charm the very stars from the sky. But they loved her, for a time. Very quickly, it changed.
She had never been known to have taken a mate of her own, as many of the unicorns had. When she was notably carrying some stallion's get, it was cause for scandalous rumors. She had taken a lover for the night, a romantic tryst, as some said, but she had chosen to remain free of a mate. Others supposed that she had fallen in love with a unicorn from Balinor, outside the Celestial Valley, and had went to him through the magic of her Watching Pool. And others, even, accused her of seduction. Scandalous rumors came about of her lover, and past ones that she had seduced.
And yet, no stallion came forth to announce that he was the sire of her child.
When her foal was born, they called him a bastard, not fit for the Celestial Valley – whatever the story of his father was. But Rheis demanded her colt, and threatened a curse on the valley if they banished him or both of them together. It was frightening enough to believe.
They hated her after; and forgot her name. She became known as Lady Poison among them, a name meant to degrade her and her position among them. They demanded that she step down from her rank as Dreamspeaker, and take an apprentice to pass on the magic to another figure more trustworthy; more loved. But this plan did not take, for she chose her child, Asphodel. Again, they called him bastard and not fit for the Celestial Valley, much less Dreamspeaker. But they did so in fear of Rheis and her magic, and spread disgraceful stories in whispered voices.
When his apprenticeship was over, and she had taught him fully the dreaming magic, Rheis left the valley. She came back frequently to see her son, but such visits were done in increasing secrecy, and she was soon forgotten. It was forgotten that Lady Poison was Asphodel's mother.
It was forgotten that she existed at all.