Blood, Wood, Snow and Sky

by Nightfox

He sits in the ebony framed window of the hunting lodge and looks out on the snowy landscape beyond. The fire roars at his back and the room stifles hot. It is too hot. It is far, far too hot for the man used to the cold stone confines of enormous, drafty halls. The wood of this place is warm and hums with life. He puts down the dagger he's been sharpening and swings wide the window fitted with thick wavy glass. The panes aren't quite colorless, instead holding the slightest hint of blue within their transparency. When they no longer distort the view, everything that spreads before him is white. The crystalline flakes of cold have drifted and piled until they reach as high as his roost in the dark wood enclosure.

He picks the dagger up once again and loses himself in the deep blue reflection of the darkening sky in the perfect polish of it's blade. The sun has just set but the black of deeper night has yet to fully stain the vaulting firmament. The moon is full, an enormous silvered disc just peeking over the horizon, the promise of splendour pregnant in her shape. The birthing shall be a magnificent midnight. He feels the power swirling in the air and he understands in that moment, the reason of the old religion. The knowing draws over him. The old religion isn't about rituals or incantations, it is not made of charms, icons or talismans. It is this, power carried on the breeze and rustling in the leaves of the trees. It flows in the brook bubbling unseen at the forests edge and sifts as powdered multitudes in the soft slide of snow. He understands in that moment that his father is insane. The King can never prevail in his campaign against magic, for magic fountains in the rocks that form the earth. It grows in the woods and rolls in the ocean. It is the wind that stirs the air and the rain that waters the soil, the bird that files above and the worm that crawls below. Uther can no more stop the sun in the sky than he can eradicate magic from the land for it is the very heart that beats at the core of the world.

Arthur loses his father in that moment of understanding. He knows he's never had a father as sure as he's never had a mother. They died together and the King was born in the same moment as the Prince. The surety of this is strong. He has no one. He's not alone though, it's worse than that. There is more to the epiphany and pain explodes through the meanest mote of his soul for he is less than alone. He is incomplete, bereft of the full measure of matter that forms other men. Even as he crumbles though, there is a whisper of something else. There is a promise. That which is missing can still be won.

He feels the sting across the flat of his fingers and his gaze falls away from the darkening forest. His dagger slipped as he drank in the knowledge gifted him by this yet fledgling night. He stares, mesmerized at the red of his blood in the snow, splashed over the inky wood of the window, shining wet on the edge of the sky-dark blade. Red and white, red and black, red and blue. White and black and blue and red. Blue and black, red and white. Wait...soft...hold...yes. That is it. That is how he will know. White and red and blue surrounded by black. Bright colour circled with shadow, framed in it as he is now by the arching wood of his sheltered space. He sees and understands. It is he. He of whom Arthur lives bereft. He will have skin of snow, hair of ebony, lips red as blood and eyes blue as the twilight sky.

The knowledge settles into his soul and the flames tormenting him die back to a slow, warm smoulder that soothes. There was to be someone for him. The vision doesn't coalesce into anything coherent but he can see the flash of the lazuline eye, the sweet, plump curve of the scarlet smile, the flaring edge of bone beneath the stretch of silken skin and just the gleaming shine off a sable curl. He strains to see more of the image painted on the air but the pigments bleed away into the creeping dark and the vision is gone as rapidly as it arrived. He catches his breath and only now realizes that he's been holding it. The frigid air burns his lungs and he coughs just once before swallowing the pain.

It is enough. Now he knows. He knows that a balm exists that can soothe the ache in his soul. The ragged edge of his unfinished heart will know the join of a contour that matches. The shattered pieces of his sum shall be multiplied and made whole. His query to the cosmos, unrecognized in the asking, is answered and Arthur rests content. He shuts out the wild thrum of nature and returns to the artificial light and heat created by the hand of man. He must bide his time until he is completed, only then can he mend what has been broken by the blood that begot his. It is their purpose, the reason they were brought forth into existence. To heal the wounds scourging the land is to be their task. And they will...he knows not yet how but he knows they will.

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