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The Moonlight Blessing

Moonlight breaks through the dark clouds, illuminating the tranquil forest with a silky white glow. Owls and crickets conduct their nighttime serenade in perfect harmony. A soft breeze from the north gently rustles the trees, making water droplets fall to the earth. In the center of the forest sat a gothic castle which seemed to extend to the heavens. Its owner, Lord Azel Bancroft, was well known throughout the lands as both a prominent healer and a skilled swordsman. He was well toned with long charcoal hair and penetrating sapphire eyes. He wore an embroidered silk cape with only the finest of clothes. “Another beautiful night” he whispered looking out to his property. He walked to his ebony piano, sat down, and began playing. Like water, his fingers flowed from key to key producing a melody so enchanting that it seemed as though time itself stood still just to listen. With the last note echoing throughout his halls, he sighed. “All this passion, yet no one to share it with”, he said as a tear fell onto the piano.
Suddenly the doorbell rang and he went to answer it. When he opened the door a young woman was standing before him. She had mesmerizing emerald eyes with hair as silky white as the moon. She was wearing a white dress which fit her hourglass figure. In a soft, timid voice she asked, “Are you Lord Bancroft?” He answered, still astonished by the sight of her, “Yes I am and how may I help you Miss…?” She giggled and bowed “I am Salacia Amaranth, pleased to meet you Lord Bancroft.” He smiled, bowed and allowed her to come in. They had a cup of tea in his parlor and she told him that she was traveling when she stumbled upon a wolf cub that had its paw stuck in a trap. She showed him the cub and he gently took him and laid him on the coffee table. He asked “Can you open the curtains and fetch me some water please?” She nodded and went to do as he asked. He closed his eyes and held his hands above the cub’s paw. When she opened the curtains the entire room was bathed in a silky white color and Azel’s hands began to glow. He spoke in an ancient language that Salacia couldn’t understand. She was amazed and felt compelled to watch, ignoring the fact that he still needed water. After he was done, Azel sat down out of breath and the cub started running around happily. Salacia remembered he needed water and quickly rushed to get it. She ran back and handed the glass to Azel. He drank and smiled whispering “he is all better now, Miss Amaranth.” She smiled and started to play with the little cub and Azel watched her, still weak from the ritual. He felt a strange feeling overcome him. He wanted to protect her, to care for her, and to always be by her side. He felt this way before a long time ago, but he wasn’t sure how she felt about him. He sat in silence after Salacia went to bed, staring at the roaring fire until it went out.
The next morning he awoke to an ethereal melody echoing through his halls. Salacia was sitting in the his bedroom with his golden harp, plucking each string so carefully as though it would break with the slightest bit of force. She looked at the sun and started to sing with a voice as pure as crystal. “I never thought that I would hear the music of the angels”, Azel whispered to himself. Salacia heard him and stumbled back bowing “Lord Bancroft, I apologize. I saw your harp and I could not help myself. Please forgive me.” Azel sat up in his bed and said “My dear Salacia, why would I hurt you? I was merely enjoying your music. It would make me happy if you would continue.” She calmed down and smiled “I would be happy to Lord Bancroft, but if I continue your breakfast will get cold”. He looked at her puzzled and followed her downstairs to find a table filled with fresh bacon, eggs, and a glass of fruit juice. “Salacia, did you make this for me?” He asked. She nodded and pulled his chair out for him “Yes Lord Bancroft, I woke up early this morning to make all this for you.” He blushed softly, sat down and started eating. Shortly after, he asked “Salacia, you cook wonderfully, you play marvelously, you sing beautifully and I must know if there is something that you cannot do.” She giggled and said “Yes Lord Bancroft, there are many things that I cannot do, but I am more than willing to learn. For example, how you healed the wolf cub last night.” Azel stopped eating and looked up at her, “My dear, I have given up my entire being to have this power and I do not want you to do the same and please call me Azel from now on.” He went back to eating as she sighed and nodded.

Months passed and Salacia and Azel became close. She would help him with his tasks around the castle while he would tell her stories of the places he has been. One day, they were talking in the parlor and Azel asked “Salacia, would you like to know how I got my power?” Joyful yet confused, she sat next to him and said “Yes, but I thought you did not want me to know how” He moved her silky white hair out of her eyes and said “I was afraid that you wanted it for the wrong reasons.” She smiled and cuddled up to him, ready to listen. He turned on the fireplace and wrapped his arms around her. With the fire crackling, he began in a soft voice “It was a long time ago when I was still human. I was in love with a woman named Aislin Crescentia and we were inseparable. I was going to ask her to spend the rest of her life with me when she became mysteriously stricken with a fatal illness. I did everything in my power to help her, yet my alchemy did nothing. Hearing our plight, my rival, Acacius Ronqvist, appeared on my castle doorstep one day claiming to be able to heal her through some magic ritual. Desperate, I agreed to allow him to help me, but he had one condition. The ritual would need a sacrifice and I was to be it. Aislin pleaded weakly “please my love, do not give up you life to save me” But my mind was made up. We all met on the balcony on the highest floor of my castle and Acacius started the ritual. He spoke the same ancient tongue I speak when I perform my healings and he healed Aislin. He then took out a silver dagger with a golden jeweled handle. The dagger had an Arabic inscription on the blade that read “Take life from the willing, give life to the unfortunate and share new life with the heartbroken”. As he was about to plunge it into me, Aislin moved in the way and it pierced her heart. She fell to the balcony and Acacius disappeared into the night. I held her body close to me and she whispered with her last breathe “I love you Azel.” As the life faded from her eyes I was overcome with grief and I cried into the dead of night. Just then, my hands began to shine brightly and the hole in Aislin’s chest healed, yet she did not come back to life.” He ended the story as the last bit of charred wood turned into ash and looked at Salacia who was fast asleep. He smiled and carried her to her room and tucked her in. “Good night Salacia” he whispered as he kissed her forehead.

A few hours later Salacia awoke and quickly got dressed. She stealthy rushed out of the castle towards town. “I did not know that Lord Bancroft knew that vile Acacius, but I must get that dagger from him. It’s the key to getting Azel’s power” she said breathlessly. Just before she got to town something held her back. She developed feelings for Azel and the fact she was disobeying and disrespecting him made her felt shallow. “Am I really going to go against the man I love?” she whispered. Just then Acacius came out of the darkness. “Well well, Miss Amaranth what are you doing up at this hour? A woman as beautiful and graceful as you should be resting”, he smirked and stroked her cheek. Acacius was like Azel in every way except for his arrogance, his blonde hair, and his devilish hazel eyes. Salacia started coldly at him and bit her tongue, “Good afternoon Acacius. How are you this fair night?” He smiled and said, “I am doing well Salacia thank you for asking. And how are you my dear?” She looked at his belt and saw the dagger hanging in its sheath, ignoring his question. He laughed softly, “The lady is so tired she cannot speak. Shall I escort you back to your home?” She shook her head and started running back to Azel. “So Azel has a new love and so much younger than his old one. I think I should drop by once again to my dear old friend and say hello”, he grinned smugly and started to follow Salacia, keeping to the shadows.

The next morning Salacia awoke to a horrible groan. She ran to Azel’s bedroom and found him lying in bed, eyes bloodshot and hands clenched to his chest. “Azel, are you alright? Can you breathe?” she panicked. He coughed and weakly said, “I’m alright, my dear, but could you run into the forest and gather some lavender and some wild mountain mint please.” She nodded and went to grab her cloak and the small basket they used to carry herbs in. It was a serene sunny day with only a few clouds floating overhead and a small breeze carried the smell of pine through the air. She started walking down the dirt path to where the lavender was when she heard a small cry. “What is that? Is another animal trapped?” she questioned. She went to investigate and found that it was a small bear cub stuck in a trap. She dropped her cloak and the basket next to the trap and tried to help the little cub, but she was snatched up by a rope. She screamed as she raced to the treetops, dodging branch upon branch when suddenly she stopped. She dangled above the ground for a moment or two until Acacius appeared next to her. “Oh my, I’ve seemed to have trapped the wrong animal, but it doesn’t matter. When Azel notices your gone he will come running to my castle to save you and it is there he will finally met his downfall” he laughed confidently. Salacia screamed for Azel as loud as she could, but Acacius knocked her unconscious. He cut her down and started making his way back to his castle muttering to himself, “Azel I warned you that you would pay for stealing the love of my life. Now I’m going to make you face the same decision you had to face all those years ago except this time I will make sure you stay dead. I will have my revenge!” And with that he disappeared into the shadows with only his laughter echoing throughout the forest. Back at the castle, Azel was sleeping when he suddenly jolted awake. “Something does not feel right. Salacia should have returned by now” he exclaimed. He quickly put his clothes on and rushed out to the forest. He sprinted down the dirt path, looking for some sign of her. He saw a cloak lying just out of sight within some bushes next to a small trap. When he looked closer he saw a rope trap which had been triggered. He had seen this particular kind of trap before and his eyes grew full of rage and hate. He clenched his fist tightly and said “Acacius, you demon. What have you done with Salacia?” He whistled for his horse and as it was coming by he jumped on it and rode toward Acacius’ castle.

When Azel reached the castle, he found it guarded with demonic creatures that were all under Acacius’ control. He fought valiantly through the hordes of demons until he reached the main chamber. He saw Salacia shackled to a saltire, her seemingly lifeless body dangling weakly above Acacius’ head. “Welcome Azel, I have been expecting you for some time now” he laughed softly. Azel clenched his fists tightly and shouted “Acacius let her go! She is of no use to you. This is between you and me.” He sat in his kingly chair and stared at Azel with his cold hazel eyes. After what seemed like an eternity, he said “You have no idea how wrong you are, Azel.” Acacius took out a gilded diamond sword and stood en garde. He wanted Azel to draw his blade, but Azel refused. “Last time I drew my blade, the moon turned crimson from the amount of bloodshed I had caused. That blade does not become me and you know, as well as I do, I cannot disown it.” He smiled and said “I told you to draw your blade, Azel. If you don’t obey me, I will slice Salacia’s throat.” Cornered and out of options, Azel called upon his blade. In a blinding flash of light, a beautifully carved blade appeared in his hands. It was as white as ivory and glowed like moonlight. Before Azel was ready Acacius lunged at him; however he countered with lightening fast reflexes. Azel then parried and tried to slash Acacius’ chest, yet he dodged and prepared for a powerful strike. He crouched bringing his diamond sword far above his shoulder and swung with such force it created a gust that send Azel flying into the wall. Azel stood, his clothes shredded and torn, and slowly walked toward Acacius, unscathed by the attack. “I will make you pay for hurting Salacia” Azel said in a distorted voice. The moon started to turn crimson and the eerie glow from his sword surrounded Azel entirely. Acacius knew that he could not defeat Azel, but charged at him anyway. Azel grabbed him by the neck and slammed him down on the ground. Fear grew in Acacius’ eyes as Azel drew his blade back and plunged it into his stomach, pinning him down to the marble floor.

He left Acacius lying in a pool of his own blood and went to help Salacia. She was so fragile and was breathing sporadically. He held back his tears thinking that somehow all this was his fault until Azel noticed a familiar mark on her neck. He had seen the same mark on Aislin all those years ago, but he did not know what it meant then. He asked Acacius “What is that mark on her neck? What does it mean?” After coughing up blood, Acacius muttered two words “Sanctus…Noctrum….” It seemed as though the entire world went black around Azel. The Sanctus Noctrum herb was one of the deadliest herbs known to man. Death would surely come to anyone who had direct contact with it. He walked over to Acacius, gripped his shirt and demanded for the antidote. Acacius only laughed and with his last breath said “She…will…die.” His black soul faded from his eyes and Azel searched him for the antidote. He did not find it on him, but he found the silver dagger he told Salacia. He took it and Salacia and rushed back to his castle as fast as his horse could take him. He knew that no herb could counteract the poison from the Sanctus Noctrum herb. The only thing he could do was to perform the ritual Acacius did and sacrifice his life to save hers. He took her to his parlor and set her down on a table and took the cursed dagger out. Azel spoke the inscription on the blade and stabbed his heart. A light emitted from the wound and shined brightly on Salacia. He saw the color slowly returning to her face and she opened her emerald eyes. She asked “What’s going on, Azel?” then she gasped when she saw the dagger in his heart. She started to cry and tried to pull it, but he stopped her. He said “Salacia, these past few months have been the best of my life, but I had to make a choice between losing you and losing myself yet again. I choose to save the life of my love, my heart and joy. I love you Salacia and I always will.” She held him in her arms sobbing loudly and whispered “Please don’t leave me Azel. I beg you! I’d rather have you live than watch you die. I don’t want to live without you. Please don’t die, my love.” His body started to go limp and she fell to the floor with him, still sobbing. He stroked her cheek and wiped her tears. He fell into her arms and faded from this world with tears of joy rushing down his cheeks.

The moon was the only source of light in the black night, yet everything still seemed bleak. The death of Azel rang throughout the forest and every source of life was paying the price. The lush green pines shed their needles and the forest animal’s mourning could be heard from miles. Inside the castle, Salacia wept over his lifeless body, hoping that this was just some horrible nightmare. She looked at his pale face and stroked his icy cheek. She felt angry at herself for not telling him that she loved him and felt guilty that all this was her fault. The moon then started to shine brightly than normally and Salacia gazed at it. She felt a strange feeling overcome her and she looked back down at Azel. She leaned to his level and kissed his lifeless lips. A silky eerie glow enveloped them both and she felt Azel’s lips become warm. A beam of moonlight came down from the sky and struck them both. Salacia didn’t know what was happening and she held onto Azel’s body and closed her eyes tightly. The beam disappeared and she felt a hand touch hers. She opened her eyes and saw it was Azel. She smiled and started to cry burying her face in his chest and he held her tenderly. Between tears she whispered “I love you so much Azel. I never want you to do anything like that again.” He stroked her hair softly and whispered “My love, will you be mine?” She looked into his eyes and nodded smiling. They kissed in the moonlight, tears of joy falling down both of their cheeks and they lived happily ever after.





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