Heartweed: Chapter 35

This is the beta version of my novel. If you are a new reader – welcome. You can read from the start here.

New sections are released every week. Please let me know your opinion in the comments section. Thank you for reading. 

 

Chapter 35

Artie met Lady March’s soft eyes. The faerie woman dropped the glamour and walked forwards, her slippered feet tip-tapping against the stone. The parasite’s feeder roots groped at her, unable to get a purchase and feed without the addition of Artie’s touch.
They had time. This was easy prey. Lady March looked down at the body of her husband. There was no change to her large, luminous eyes, but a slow smile spread across her face.
“Thank you.” Her voice had the sweet clarity of a violin. “I am sorry about Alex.” She put her hands flat on her belly. “I loved him too.”
Alex? They frowned at the word. Alex. There were memories in the sea of their consciousness that fit that word. They did not care to sift them out.
They hungered. They needed to feed. Only a little more and they would be complete. They would become purely physical. They would put down roots. Bloom. Blossom. Fruit.
This life would be enough to tip the balance. These lives. Lives. There was another life beneath the hands. New. Barely there. A life. A seed.
I loved him too.
Fragments of Artie surfaced in their joint consciousness. A child? Alex’s child? They reached their hand towards Lady March, to take her magic and her life. The pieces of Artie rebelled. She stopped their hand – her hand! – and curled it back in to her side. Their other hand began to reach; Artie curbed it. The parasite’s frustration was deafening.
Artie used the last of her mind to turn away from a Lady March and run from the room. The parasite that had infiltrated almost every fibre of her being fought each step.
They fell to their knees – her knees – their knees in the main hall of March’s manor. They tore at the flagstones. The stones shredded like paper under their strong hands. In its frustration the parasite lashed out too.
In a frenzy they were destroying everything. They stood in the epicentre of the destruction and drank in the magic that permeated every molecule around them. The stones of the manor walls crumbled to dust. Chunks of the ceiling fell around them. The parasite dodged their body out of the way of the falling masonry and they ran to the exit.
As Artie and the parasite passed through the arched door into the chill night air the remainders of the walls groaned and, with a grating roar, collapsed. The earth heaved in shock; they fell forward. The earth beneath their face smelled clean and potent.
The parasite fed ravenously on the magic in the air and the ground and the ruins. With the last bit of will that remained to her, Artie forced feelers out into the fabric of Faerie. She tore at it; it was already weakened by their sapping the magic and they rent a great hole through into the shadows. Beyond that Artie could almost sense the shape of the human realm.
The parasite revolted. It reached its tentacles up out of the roiling sea of their shared consciousness and pulled the last of Artemisia Jacobs under.
They were one. They were hungry. Dozens more feeder roots erupted from their body and delved into the space around them, seeking magic on which to feed. The roots throbbed on the very edge of being corporeal.
Here they would root. Here they would grow. They pushed their fingers deep into the soil. Rich. Heavy. Coarse. They could feel the physical roots itching to burst from the finger ends.
Remnants of the human’s mind turned their eyes with longing to the tear in reality and the ill-defined shapes of houses and cars beyond; their lowered their face to the dirt and pressed a handful into their mouth.
They chewed and chewed at the earth, grinding away tooth enamel with the stray grains of sand in the soil. They rubbed the crumbs between their tongue and the top of their mouth before swallowing, greedily, needily.
The heartweed smiled.

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