A/N: And as I continue to stretch out into more fandoms, both new and old, I come across one of my old time favorites, Legend. This 1985 cult classic has always been really close to my heart, but I've never been able to do any kind of fanart for it before, for various reasons. But after watching this and a few other childhood faves, plot bunnies popped up like mad. One little line in particular, I liked the pairing of Oona and Lili. Oddly enough, when I searched the net for anything with these two, I think I found a grand total of two things; one video and one tiny fic. Must add to the fandom and expand on an under-loved femslash pair! Plus, the setting just has a lot of potential for pretty language. ;)
The Mummers Dance by Loreena Mckennitt
All the Things She Said by T.A.T.U.
Disclaimer: Legend and related characters © Ridley Scott and Twentieth Century Fox.
The Blue Room
The Realm of Darkness is, by its very nature, is a place of the blackest intentions, of foulest deeds. It is a place where Light is almost entirely blocked out, and the landscape infested with shadows of physical and spiritual origin. The under creatures of creation, the goblins, changelings, and devils, are given their reign to cavort and prey on each other as they will. Concepts such as kindness, nobility, or innocence are foreign, and would soon find themselves mired in their brackish surroundings.
The Great Tree is the dusky jewel set atop this writhing nest of vipers. This is where the most corrupt stand in attendance to the Master of Shadows. Where outside the walls, scraps of sunlight still lingered, here is where Light is banished in truth. Here, the only light comes from the tainted fires of hearth, candle or oven, and did not illuminate so much as accentuate the darkness. From the highest tower to the lowest dungeon, here was the most dangerous location a being of Light could find herself entrapped.
Oona, a faerie, was so entrapped. She would never admit to being so, but rather say that she was on a mission to restore the world to its proper balance. She could leave this temple of evil any time she wanted - so she would claim - but then, as Gump had so aptly put, what good was a world locked in a season of death? Where would be the joy in playing pranks on goblins? What fun would there to be had in forests in the grip of a black winter? No, she would not admit to being trapped, nor to being forced to act as she did. She was a creature with her own fiery will, and she was here by her own choice, not by those of others.
But even she would admit a certain reluctance.
The Tree was hollow, a great fortress in which evil creatures lurked. The lower levels were not worse than those that were higher. One level was as infested as any other, the only difference lying in the mind of whoever was so foolhardy to be caught there. But while there was no difference in the level of danger, there was a difference in how it presented itself. Where Oona found herself was a place as close to the earth as she ever wanted to be. Well below the surface, here was where the shadows remembered back to the days when the world was new, and the balance of Light and Dark still raged as a storm. The blackness slithered and coiled around the pillars, its whispers tickling about her ears, telling dark and twisted truths she couldn't quite grasp, offering temptations she couldn't quite hear. This was an evil that didn't charge at you with tooth or talon, but slipped in quietly with suggestion and desire.
Oona felt it press at the edges of her heart and mind, and fortified herself as best she could. She crept through the scintillating gloom in her larger form, for although her smaller, airborne body would be faster, it concentrated her essence and made her too easy for more physical enemies to find. At the same time, being larger spread her defenses, thinning the line that separated 'her' from 'them'. She focused on why she was there, what it was she had come to find, and ignored the soft whispers probing at the corners of her consciousness. It was a search she was on, a search for one or any of a few things: the unicorn, the severed alicorn, the girl, or Darkness himself.
She shuddered at the thought of encountering that Lord of evil. She quickened her pace, a pale, slim form flitting from one pillar to that next, her bare feet avoiding the rocks, bones, and less savory things the floor was littered with. She may be able to avoid the minions that crawled and crept about, but against their master she would stand no chance. But then, it wasn't her responsibility to stand against Darkness on her own. If she found him, she was to spy, listen, and remember and then report back to Gump and Jack what she had found.
The gloom around her convulsed oddly. She felt it contort, bunch and move with sentient deliberateness. Oona braced herself for whatever was to come next, but nothing happened.
Confused, the faerie scanned her surroundings quickly, searching for the cause of what she had felt. It hasn't been her imagination, she was sure of it. This place of Darkness was doing things to her mind, she knew that for a certainty, but she could still feel the strangeness, the tightness of her skin and the trembling of her gossamer wings that told her something was wrong. Something had changed from what it had once been to what it was now. She just had to find it, before it found her…
Between the giant pillars, almost hidden behind layers of shadow, there was a flash of white, a glimmer of movement.
Oona fluttered her wings, wanting to transform, but still not daring. Whatever she had seen, it hadn't seen her yet. To transform might only announce her presence. Staying close to the cold, mica flecked, careful to keep it between her and the flicker of movement she had seen, the wide-eyed faerie watched.
She didn't have long to wait. Soon another flash of white, so foreign in this place plagued by blackness, caught her eye, and baited her to chase. Her feet moved almost of their own accord, following the fleeing glow almost before she realized what it was. Pale legs, gently curved and white as the moon; a gown, once fine and now in sad tatters, fluttering loosely about the limbs it attempted to cover; a beautiful face crumpled with fear and wreathed in dark, tangled locks… Oona's feet knew before her mind did, this creature could be none other than Lili.
Instinct told her to catch the girl, to bring her back to the others, or to at least hide her away and keep her safe from the other, less savory denizens of this place. If Lili were to fall prey to them, then their entire quest might be lost. And if Darkness himself were to come upon her…
But Oona stopped short of catching up the fleeing girl. Another sense held her back, rang warnings in her mind. Lili, for all of her apparent and understandable terror, moved as though she were in a dream. She had a touch of a deer in flight, in the flurry of her steps and the flash of her throat, but none of the wild, head-long panic. She ran, but she did not run as though the hounds snapped at her heels. Hadn't she been caught, along with the female unicorn? Why was she loose, then? Had she escaped whatever cell she had been thrown into? It didn't seem likely, but there was no other explanation the faerie could think of. And after a few more moments of pursuit, she ceased to wonder. She still did not know, but it did not seem important.
It seemed so strange to be the one pursuing rather than being pursued. For her, Oona the faerie, to be following this human girl Lili, deeper and deeper into danger. Normally it would be Oona dashing flirtatiously between the trees, entangling the unwary with her charm and magic, leading them until they were hopelessly lost and then abandoning them in the wood. Never before had it been she who followed while another led… but she found it not entirely disagreeable. Lili was unaware of her follower, and Oona was coming to enjoy watching her as she wove among the pillars.
She knew how Lili looked in less dire circumstances. She had seen her face imprinted on Jack's heart and reflected it back for him to adore, but that was not the face she wore now. Now, with all her finery in rags, her hair in tangled knots, her face besmirched with grime, the laughing eyes were wide and wondering. There was a wildness to her now that drew Oona close, that held her to the girl as surely as tethers. Undoubtedly, undeniably human, Lili nevertheless had a look of faerie to her now. Oona felt in herself a yearning, a growing need to touch the shining girl in this place of Darkness. To cup her cheek, to feel her hair, to draw her finger along her lip; to look into those eyes and know what it was that could so enchant a unicorn to allow itself to be touched…
All without meaning to, Oona drew closer, until only a single row of pillars separated them. The nearer she came, the greater the ache to close the final gap became. Oona was a faerie, unaccustomed to denying herself any impulse that came over her. By nature she was a creature of desire and impulse, and the intangible danger of why or how Lili came to be here was not enough to hold her at bay for long.
Just as Oona began to close the final distance, however, the girl crossed a threshold, and a pair of doors, heavy as night, closed up behind her.
The faerie stopped in her tracks. With Lili no longer in sight, she returned a little to her senses. She realized abruptly how foolish it was for them to have been running so uninhibitedly down here, how vulnerable she was, and how lost. She gave her head a brief shake to clear it, looked about herself for any threats, and approached the shut doors slowly, cautiously.
Feeling uncomfortably exposed, Oona crouched before the doors and pressed her eye to the gap between, peeking inside.
Beyond the doors was a wide room, lit a throbbing, angry amber by the great fires under huge stone hearths. Darkened alcoves and shadowed corners lined the room, impossible to see into, but down its center lay the largest dinner table she had ever seen, spread with platters of food which would have been mouthwatering, had it been any other color but black. Oona soon found Lili, her poor silhouette a tattered, beaten leaf, shivering before the fire she came to warm herself at. Or was it the light that drew her, as a moth to a candle? It was far from cold here, and the trembling Oona could see might well be from fear.
Looking at her, Oona felt again the need to be near her tug at her heart, and she cursed the doors that separated them.
From nowhere, a breeze murmured through the room beyond the door, seeming to whisper words before disappearing. Oona shivered, her glittering wings quavering. Even Lili, with her all but deaf human ears seemed to hear something. She turned slowly from the light of the hearth to the shadows at her back. Oona saw, then, that now true fear was now in her eyes, as it had not been as she dodged between the blue pillars. Whatever it was that had drawn her here had shielded her from the terror of her plight, was gone now, and she trembled in its hold.
The whisper-wind came again, Oona was sure she heard a voice, old and dry as autumn leaves, buried at the heart of it. If Lili heard it, she gave no sign of it. Indeed, her expression changed from one of fear to one of… intrigued, coy interest. Oona's wings fluttered involuntarily, her cheeks warmed to see such a look on her sweet face. Lili moved away from the fire to a place Oona could not see. She turned and twisted in her place, straining to see the girl through the gap in the doors, but could see no more than a trailing and tattered hem of her skirt. The breeze muttered again, and the world changed.
Lili, hidden from her sight, gasped, and Oona saw why an instant later. A moment before, Lili had been alone in that room, with aught but the shadows to keep her company. Now those very shadows had coalesced into a form, a golem of darkness, wrapped in a gown of tattered night and cobweb. And it was locked in with Lili.
The golem swirled in place, the train of its gown coming alive with flashing stars trapped in its folds. It twisted and swayed, curtsied and pirouetted, dancing all around Lili, who shied away, pressing her back to a wall. The poor girl, her eyes wide and frightened as a rabbit's, seemed only more wretched before this glamour, and she shrank back from it as it offered her its hand. Oona was frozen to the spot, watching. This was a magic she had never seen before, and could not divine its purpose. Was it meant to confuse Lili, to frighten her, or to lead her astray? Was it truly a glamour or a predator or a distraction? It wasn't until the creature offered Lili its hand again that she realized its purpose, and not until Lili, with a despairing, broken sigh accepted it, that Oona realized what it was.
This was not just any shadow. This was Lili's personal shadow, the darkest side of her heart that trailed at her feet. Somehow it had been granted a body, and now danced with her. Its purpose was temptation, corruption.
These two, Lili, the girl so innocent even the unicorns craved her touch, and her shadow, wound in sheaths of lust and decadence, danced together in a harmony that was beautiful and terrible to watch.
Oona, trapped on the other side of the door, could only watch, not daring to call out, nor to try pushing open the heavy doors to get in. She could only watch, her heart fluttering as quickly and as brokenly as her wings, an ache threatening to consume her as with a flash, Lili and her shadow became one.
The faerie turned away. Lili was being tainted by the shadows, and Oona was not nearly strong enough to save her. She knew the shapes of quests, and here was needed a hero.