Chapter 12

Malovici remained silent as darkness encroached across the room, sliding tendrils of darkness into corners and pools of black beneath anything it could reach. When he spoke again, the harsh creak of his voice filled the room with ominous timbre.

In the end, I was able to help Luki escape. In love, there is great beauty and great darkness. The pleasure of the greatness of the love is offset by the horror of the truth of that darkness. I put off her escape for some two years, though I knew she could have managed it sooner.

At times, I caught a look on Merilina's face; as if she knew of my yearning and the quandary it created within me. If so, then I can only say that by some miracle, she held her peace with the knowledge and never taunted me with it-which begs the question of whether she knew or not.

My love gave rise to selfishness; selfishness that made me linger with Luki. I feared her escape almost as much as I feared the possibility of Merilina's success due to our continued enslavement. In retrospect, it might be true to say that I feared it more, for the knowledge that Luki would return to her people and be lost to me stayed my hand.

The nights were spent in whispers and with our hands entwined. I stared at the stars and listened to her hushed voice. While she was there with me, I knew peace. We lived in horrible conditions, but there was peace and acceptance in that situation. I was tortured and tormented by day, but by night, I...

He grew quiet and pensive once more, the story clearly difficult to tell and lying heavily upon his shoulders like a leaden cloak.

I had Luki in the nights. She knew no one but myself and Merilina. While Merlina held her captive, Luki was mine. I knew the method of her escape for two long, selfish years. Years that mingle together in that strange mix of Merilina and Luki and the complete opposition of their natures. Day was dark and night was bright.

Yet I could not sustain that selfishness. I was too old even then to hold onto such perfidy. Two years was a long time in that situation. It was nearly eternity to me at the time... yet even then it was a flash in the pan of a long life. It was the most exquisite time I could recall. Even my courtship years with Merilina had not been so profound.

Luki was a slave like I was, but she was brilliant. She learned swiftly and she held herself with unconscious grace. The spirit of her ancestors shone brightly within her, and could not be buried by any act of the treacherous Merlina. Her will was indomitable in a way that I've seen rarely since, though I have often seen echoes of it in her descendants.

He glanced at the tauren in the bed, then gazed again into the fire, that seeming to reflect from within the rotting sockets where eyes surely once resided.

Merilina's hideous attempts to copy her supposed success with me led to typically catastrophic results. She created nothing but zombies in all of those long years when she held Luki and me. Mindless husks that could only hunger and kill. There were many times that I had hope that one would succeed in consuming her... yet I feared it as well.

It is part of that madness... that you might fear the thing that would take away the one you love; even if it means something yet more horrid continues. I feared Merilina's death and desired it. If Merilina died, Luki would be free; and I wanted that for her. Yet I knew that her freedom would mean that I would be no more in her life.

For who can love a creature such as I? She loved me only because I was there. She knew nothing more. No bulls from her own kind, no humans, no one. I was all she had, and I was loathe to see her love another.

But such is the madness of love that eventually my desire for her well-being overcame all of my overwhelming selfishness, and I enabled her escape. It took another month before she would do it, for she could not bring herself to leave me... knowledge that burned my heart while it gratified it. There comes a time, however, that you cannot prevent yourself from seeking the best for the person that you love; that is the gift within love, hidden by the darkness of the craving for them.

I remember no greater heartache than what I felt as I watched Luki disappear into the darkness of that final night of her captivity. She was made to be free; a spirit that could never be conquered. By love I had held her; and with love, I watched her fly away into the freedom of the night... and I pitied myself that I could not weep for what I had just done; not for sorrow, nor for joy.