Chapter 26: Nevrland
The bed seemed impossibly soft, but sleep was at most an elusive concept to Vatyr.
The hunter stood nude in the center of the huge cylinder-shaped bedchamber, taking in the singular mural that took up the entire wall. It depicted the mighty Queen Mara Sov as she rose to power in the Reef Wars. Most would much rather look at the naked form of that same Queen on the bed, pale and drenched, a far cry from the embodiment of power immortalized in the painting, but Vatyr knew how terrifying she truly was. The conquering and idealized entity rendered in the mural was far less intense.
The Techeuns had easily stopped the murder-fueled Uldren in mid-flight with their psychokinetic gifts; the Queen herself ordered him and the witches to leave, not even deeming the scene unfolding worth her gaze. She was clearly displeased with his actions but could not possibly be surprised, and neither was Vatyr. As the visage of fury soared through the throne room at him with a pure and deep violence singing from his aura, Vatyr considered letting the Master Crows’ blade sink into his heart. At least this dance would end after so long. He knew fully all the levels of antithesis that the guardian represented to Uldren, and Vatyr couldn’t yet bring himself to war over it. Had she commanded it, he would have embraced the steel looking to rip the life from his body without hesitation.
Numerous veiled attendants appeared and scurried off with Vatyr, removing his bodysuit, bathing him and scenting him with perfumes to the Queen’s liking. He was then led to her bedchambers, where she awaited him.
The night had been long and exhausting. There was no love in her actions, only lust and the joy in being worshiped. His every movement, exertion and word intended to placate and satisfy the goddess that straddled him commandingly. Even now, she merely lay there in her afterglow, letting her plaything recuperate for the next round.
He loved her. Endlessly.
He was not sure why he adored her, and he couldn’t possibly be sure that his devotion existed purely because she bent his will to it with her own. Nobody was quite sure where the borders of her influence lay, nor how she came by the power that bent spacetime and souls. Most were certain that she was the source of whatever encapsulated the Prison of Elders, and that was more than enough to fill most sane people with fear and awe.
Yet, he still loved her.
“My Queen, may we converse in the time between…” Vatyr was not quite sure how to properly describe what had filled the last few hours.
“No doubt you came back to me with purpose more serious than your need to venerate me most directly,” she purred as her naked body arose from the mountain of sheets and pillows as if carried upon libidinous dreams. She stalked slowly towards Vatyr as if the hunter was prey, “Are there not more enchanting focuses of your attention?”
When she pivoted around him and met his gaze, Vatyr was awestruck. Such power housed in such a faultless form, and yet he was the only one to find the softness in her eyes. He dropped to his knees and began to kiss her body deeply, speaking as he went. “A dear friend has sacrificed himself in a colossal battle against the Vex, no doubt saving Earth and the Reef in the process. His deeds alone won the day.” He kissed her feet, her calves, her venus, her belly and her breast. A smile crawled across her lips. With a slight hesitance as he met her gaze again he cradled her head softly in his hands and for a fleeting moment his fear was elsewhere, seeking that softness in her eyes that only he knew. He kissed her lips in the long and tender way that took him back to what seemed like another lifetime.
“My Queen is powerful, and benevolent. She rewards those who serve her people, and so I come to her now to beg for her guidance. If there was some way to bring my friend back, surely my Queen would know of it.” Vatyr had hoped he would be more eloquent in his plea, but his reason for being here was being quickly overshadowed by the divine creature before him.
Vatyr’s body suddenly shot into the air, 20 feet above the bed, and hung there inverted. Mara’s outstretched hand pointed at him, holding him in place. Static filled the space between them, her face stoic and timeless. Her eyes locked on to his, staring into his soul. Guardians were used to seeing impossible things, but Vatyr had never seen such a display of power put on with such ease. To Queen Mara Sov, bending spacetime to her will was as easy as breathing. Vatyr could feel her mind pressing on every inch of him. The world around him echoed a low thunder at the edge of his perception, like the atavistic thrum of a black hole, threatening to shake him to quantum potentials.
“You come here seeking a boon which only I can give, and yet you denied me what I sought from you all those years ago.”
“Yes, my Queen.”
“A thing that I could have easily taken and, one would have thought, came from a mutual place.”
“Yes, my Queen.”
“And in response to my invitation, the likes of which no other being in the cosmos would not covet, you left to scurry around in the dirt and fight a war that is not your own.”
“Yes, my Queen.”
The pressure increased. The thunder rolled. It was if he was being driven deep into the Earth’s mantle.
“Are you willing to give me what I still seek, in exchange for what you seek?”
A split-second of hesitance is all Vatyr could allow himself. “…Yes, my Queen.”
Vatyr’s body slammed down into the vast bed with purpose, dazing the guardian. Gathering himself, he found he was already set upon by the nubile form of the Awoken queen, moving not unlike a pouncing cat playing with her kill. “I always knew my pet would come back to me one day. Tomorrow I will grant you your boon. Tonight, we play.”