"Ah Luo, marry me, or die." A mind numbing voice called out from above.
Falling from the sky, an eerie figure lands atop the broken remains of roof, ones from a lone courtyard swallowed in a blizzard enraged forest.
The wood crunches underneath his weight. The fallen snow powders on his blazing aura, a tangible force exuding from those lean muscles, melting the snow down his sharp cheeks, pointed ears and chin. That tall and lithe body cloaked in black lurks toward the chair of a raven haired woman, those locks of silver dancing with the snow and wind.
In the dispersing dust the woman sat serenely composed. She raises her sleeve to clean the surface of her desk. Silently withdrawn, she knocks the fallen splinters and snow into the trash bin.
Blue with a touch of white, her long blue robe flutters in the breeze against the white snow. The sight miraculously shutters the cold air with a touch of longing, a bittersweet sight craving for spring but forever locked in winter, just like the weak heart beating a few layers beneath.
Only after being sure of the cleanliness of her space did she direct her sight to the window. The usual clear glass had fogged over. In the murky reflection was a demanding tyrant with unnerving eyes stalking behind her.
Clicking against the hardwood floor, the sound of his boots stalked forward, the crunch of wood edging closer, the cracking pops synced with her own heartbeat, which was, despite suspense weighing heavily on the shoulder——–surprisingly calm.
Snap! The man stops, he leans forward. His anger crushed his palms to the chair’s back. Such a heart stirring sound as the wood ached beneath his fingers, bearing the weight of his silent fury. Through the foggy reflection, his eyes, chaotic and desolate, locked onto the woman.
Leafy Green eyes to wooden brown, gloomy emotions facing off against serenity. The cold room became even colder and neither budged in this moment muffled by the fallen snow.
Although she needed not to ponder an answer, the woman still took her time to observe the man. A swirl of snow powders the air with both her and him at the center, the backdrop of white chills his silhouette, making her own tenebrous form appear wispy. It did not take any amount of knowledge to know, by just the sight of these two, a complex story of twist and turns exists between them both. A story quite like the fleeting snow falling around them. Yet just like the snow would eventually stop, this moment had reached its end, this story, a tragedy that never attempted to be anything else, was now penning itself upon the last page.
This brief silence disturbed by the utterance of a sigh, had lasted no more than ten slow breaths. Mozen, the woman colder than the snow powdering her hair and shoulders, raised her chin, looked right through Liu Rougang, the eerie tyrant’s soul stirring eyes and answered.
• • • •
The twelfth month of the year was nearing its end. It was long past the twenty second day, which ushered the coming of winter. The days henceforth had been cold with a dust of snow powdering the tops of the Vermilion Forest. Even the crystal clear windows of this wilderness's only clinic had frosted over in ice. The candles flickering inside showed no sign of breaching the cold air, unable to warm the glass they hid behind.
The window shutters open, a hand reached out and let the cold inside. Draped by a long sheer sleeve it pressed against the window, pushed it open and knocked down a layer of built up snow, allowing a red shadow to break free and into the sky.
A small phoenix had flown through the crack. Whereas the ‘warm’ hand couldn’t, the bird melted the window’s frost, its red wings arced in fire as they cut through the sky. Loud and piercing it cries to the clouds. Answering this creature’s call, a ring of fire burns a hole through the sky, a circle of black speckled in stars. It dashed, twisting its body to spin, vanishing into the darkness, leaving behind the fire to sizzle and fade into smoke, to become one with the clouds blotting out the sky.
Mozen felt exceptionally calm, those previously quivering eyes of weakness became solemn lakes without ripple, and the drowning gloom nowhere to be seen. This was essentially terrifying, a horrific sight more chilling then the sickly appearance shown throughout the past month. For a temperament to change so abruptly without cause——–nothing good could come of it. But ah, how unfortunate, it's truly a pity that not a soul was privy to this change other than herself.
With a slight tug of her fingers, a force prompted by this action closed the window. A crisp breeze lifts her hair and pushed it back over her shoulders. Inadvertently the breeze revealed an offensive sight, right there beyond the curve of her shoulder blade lay ill sighted, black, squamous skin crawling up from her back, cunningly disappearing into her hairline.
Suddenly a bout of chuckles filled the room. Caught in a smile, Mozen leans back in her chair, closing her brown eyes to better enjoy the sound. Just as much as it is to one's self, laughter to the ear is a medicine unlike no other. The music, just what she needs to crescendo into a smooth climax. Yes, not much longer.
"Pft! Oh this is too much. That bathysmal Lazarus has grown an entire mountain range of green on his head and it just keeps expanding. This is the fifteenth time this week his wife has reached her branches over the garden wall and the week just started yesterday. One can't simply help but admire how resourceful she is!"
On the other side of the room reclining leisurely on the elm wood canopy bed, a large six foot owl sipped at a porcelain tea cup painted with interlocking vines.
Her white feather bound body dressed softly in leafy green, budding tiger lilies grooving her skirt and her wide sleeves shadowed in misty clouds peppered with stars. In front of her hovered a crystal ball, the images inside obscene, and quite honestly thought provoking. A scaled skinned woman sprawled out on a red silk bed. Her tail wrapped around the leg of a smooth skinned male, presumably a human who towered above her. The man's face was unseen but the woman's, oh that immaculate face with sharp contours, majestic and prideful, held a seductive charm laced with evil intentions. Intentions she acted upon when pulling the man to her for a tongue lacing kiss.
"Mozen, if I accurately recall, you used to be that unintelligent reptilian's doctor. In your opinion, when will Lazarus become aware of his spouse spreading her legs for anything with a pulse?"
Not waiting for an answer she gave her own, "I say never.” She scoffed out a hoot.
“How many times now has he helped her stretch her wings and hadn't been the least bit aware. Going so far as to invite the wolves into the home, then ironically paying them for their services! The inside servants had just as many bites as the strangers walking in and out of her boudoir. One swears upon it that every hour has a different flavor for that woman. With so much activity in and out, just how blind can one person be?" Dragons ever the prideful race having such a useless descendant, who knows how many graves have cracked and ancestral tombs smoking with anger. The thought quite amused the owl named Shira. This truly is one of her favorite pastimes. The epicaricacy of such drama wet every one of her sinful tendencies.
The hooting laughter came to a slow and awkward end. Silence filled the room. An annoying buzz hung in the air causing Shira's eyelid to twitch. Her tongue nearly broke through the roof of her mouth due to how hard she pressed it. Honestly she should have thought as much. Why was she even surprised? This response, or lack thereof, is nothing if not common nowadays.
"Still ignoring me, eh? You're such a-" she sighs, cutting herself off from further headaches prolonged by unnecessary grumbles.
Growing bored with her usual drama, Shira puts the crystal away, slipping the ball into her wide sleeves and out of sight. She frowned upon taking a sip from her cup. Her vexed sight shot to the window, to the silent figure with their eyes closed.
“Mozen do remind me, it's been how many days, how many weeks? Don't you think you've taken this far enough." With a swirl of her cup she clicked her tongue with a tsk tsk. "There’s still time and there’s plenty who would shelter you if you’d only dare ask the question. With how many favors you have hold of, none would think to deny you and yet your bull headed self refuses in the name of stubborn selflessness. And-" helplessly she reached back to ruffle her feathers. "ah… quite frankly, since it’s you I’m not surprised. But that does not mean I'm willing to sit quietly and watch! Witnessing what could have easily been stopped with a single word, a lift of a finger, by the gods, even a raise of an eyebrow would suffice!” She berated in exasperation. Those large blue eyes chilled in ice. A shimmering drop of tea flew from the cup due to her agitation, falling silently upon the bed. A small but noticeable moisture mark slowly spread through those blue sheets.
The osmanthus tea had grown cold, as did her long time friend who hadn’t responded since the moment she'd arrived hours ago. Let in without a word. Left to meander without a word. Ignored for hours since early this morning with-out-a-word, mind you! Even mutes had more to say then her! Leaning back in that plain wood chair, dressed in an equally plain blue hanfu, at a desk clean of adornments, quite literally nothing on it, was Mozen, privately known as Hong Luo by her close companions. A plain person, with her plain house, plainly idling away to grow mold!
Her friend really was a true simpleton and quite honestly boring to be around. Yet it was this simple, unmaterialistic, unmotivating, and clear personality Shira had grown to love. There was no need to over think. What she said was what she meant. And what she started, she’d never leave undone to prevent further trouble she wished not to deal with. Since her lazy soul rarely did anything that required extended effort, unless it dealt with her passion for healing, her surroundings reflected her lackluster tendencies, which also showed forth in her lack of communication, that normally at least a word or two could be uttered.
Except now of course, she was leaving so much undone, including her passion which Shira had found concerningly odd. This was really unlike her friend at all. “Mozen? Have your ears gone deaf, or are you rudely ignoring me again?”
“Mhm,” Mozen dulled out a response. She flits her hair back over her ear non-commutatively.
“Oh no, of all times, you did not just break silent to answer me! How dare you!” Shira threw her teacup away. Cutting through the air and crashing into the wall, it shatters into pieces next to the cabinet filled with medicines and herbs, peppering the ground in drops of unfinished tea.
“Gosh, I must truly be the most patient owl under the heavens to keep a stiff-necked blockhead company up till death.” Roused with ire and jumping to her feet, Shira trots over and slams her wing to the table. “Alright Mozen, don't you think this cold shoulder treatment has gotten old, what is wrong with you? Out with it already!”
She warned her friend weeks prior to the ill-fated omen yet to come but the stubborn oaf neither budged nor deign to utter a rebuttal as to why she refused to abide, to seek safe haven when time was plentiful. Her lips remained sealed, practicing her golden silence when it need not be practiced. Gosh, such a bumbling fool!
“Must there be something wrong?” Mozen shakes her head and points in the direction of the victimized teacup. “And even if there were, what reasons did you have to abuse my utensils, mmm?”
Puffed up in laughable anger, Shira flicks her friend’s forehead. At the sight of her lost gaze she argues back. “What's yours? When I’d arrived the tea had been in hand all the while. As my own, whether it breaks or stays whole is entirely up to me. You have no say in the matter.”
“Is that so,” Mozen blankly looks up at her fluttering friend who did not seem to be lying. Her eyes shaking rapidly fell to her nose, then following soon after did her nose fall to her heart. “Oh right, I’d forgotten, you did didn't you? My apologies my mind's…been elsewhere all day, and strangely enough, I can’t seem to keep memories in my grasp,” her eyes briefly lost focus, she held onto the last word, almost questioning herself, hopelessly alluding that she might be…....
“Mozen-" Shira grumbles. "Must you jest so horribly? Only a fool would believe your eidetic memory would suddenly-”
SHHEEK! A rush of crying birds cut Shira off from the beginnings of her rant. The off putting sound loud enough to shiver the bed curtains.