I'm new here, and new to posting (since I really only post to my personal journal) So! Please let me know if I'm doing this correctly.
I've written a story which is underdeveloped and un-beta'd, but I would love some feedback so I can
make some changes to the point where I am sufficiently happy it works.
Chapter Rating: PG/PG-13
Summary: As Yurik becomes obsessed with the possibility of bringing his brother back to life, he is forced to examine the moral standing of his faith and what is really important to him.
Author Notes: I enjoyed writing this, but I'm a little nervous I'm the only one who finds it interesting. I would love love love feedback.
Warnings: In the future, there is strong violence and suggested m/m romance. Nothing even close to explicit on that last one. Oh, and beware of dramatics and cliches.
The country Nazeran began the golden age of the church: after tens of years of strife, the pope had placed a king on the throne that, while subservient to the church, had successful conquest in the name of God. He obtained large amounts of land and control of main trading routes. He had secured his place among the many conspiring dukes and earls, and led his land into a time of learning, art, and invention.
When King Nazeran mysteriously died, his son quietly took the throne. He continued the work of his father, but was more heavily religious; he had a majestic chapel built on palace grounds, attended church regularly, and became the picture of a pious man. In that time of peace, religion easily fit into the lives of nobles and peasants alike. As the church gained power, some said it corrupted the truth of God’s word; and while Nazeran’s nobility held to the old church, other countries broke off to form their own sect. This reformed religion, along with other lesser sects and cults, flourished. Small uprisings of the new, self-proclaimed true religion broke out in King Nazeran’s own land. It was at this point which the old church commanded King Nazeran to crush this heresy. It is at this point which we start this story.
The small town of Kamene lay in the countryside just outside of Nazeran’s capitol. A farming town, Kamene was governed by the young Count Sasha Beaumont. This town consisted of little more than a church, small marketplace, and small, spread houses surrounded by fields of crops. Indeed, the town’s largest building was the Beaumont manor. Minor nobility, the Beaumonts were a family of doctors, possessing natural healing talent but little wealth, all of which was contained in the country estate and town house in the capitol. Despite this, Count Beaumont was much loved by the people and revered by the upper nobility.
On this particular day, a small hunting party dashed through the bare-tree woods on horseback. Trees were stark black against the grey dome of sky. The hounds had caught scent, and Count Beaumont saw a flash of orange through the trees.
“Yurik! Ready your gun—we are almost upon the fox!”
The Count’s younger brother, cheeks aflame with cold, shouted back, “Yes, I see him.” Steam rose from the horses, damp with sweat. Their breath rose in clouds. “The brush and pine are too thick. We must dismount.” They slowed their horses, leaving them with the attendant, and ran after the hounds.
“See him there, Sasha?” The hounds had the fox surrounded, dirty and panting. The brothers stalked up together, their breaths forming twin clouds in the frigid air. Yurik had always loved the hunt, and while such was not in Sasha’s nature, he was often beseeched by his little brother to go.
“Take aim, and—” The Count’s blood pounded, heart raced. He steadied his shaking hands and took aim again.
“Sasha!” The Count spun around to his brother, who erupted in a coughing fit. The gun lay discarded in the snow beside him. “Sasha!” Yurik cried out again, stumbling, collapsing. The coughing began again, rough. Yurik stifled a spray of blood with his hand, then reached out to his brother for help. The Count ran to his side and wiped the blood that had dripped down Yurik’s chin with his handkerchief. The hounds barked and whined behind them as they sniffed the crimson-splattered snow. Sasha watched as his brother’s eyelids fluttered over sapphire eyes.
Sasha carried Yurik to the horses, and with help, got him to the manor and into bed. Yurik, he though, was very sweet; his innocent figure lay unconscious between the white linen and wool blankets.
“Oh, Yurik. I wish I cure you of this weird illness, but I do not have the healing power that our father did. All I can do is pray for you…” Tears filled his eyes, and Sasha bent down beside Yurik, palms touched together, and prayed.
A knock at the door. “Master Beaumont, Dr. Devai is here.”
“Come in.” The door creaked on its hinges, and a round, graying man walked in with his doctor’s case in hand.
“I came as fast as I could; the snow is so heavy the carriage had a difficulty getting though it.” The doctor set his case down in its usual place on Yurik’s drawer. He first took the fevered temperature, then inspected Yurik’s emaciated limbs. “He has gotten much thinner since the last time I was here. Have you been giving him the medicine I prescribed?” Dr. Devai questioned.
“In sooth, I have, Doctor.”
“And about his fits?”
“The coughing is becoming increasingly frequent and violent, Doctor. It seems he is in constant pain, now.”
“Well, and what did he do today that set it off?” Dr. Devai sorted through the glass vials in his case, selected one, and handed it to Sasha. “Increase the dose by one half.”
Sasha blushed under the accusing stare of the doctor. “Yurik has been so miserable lately, that when he wanted to hunt, I gave in. I know I shouldn’t have, but Doctor! I fear his physical and mental wellbeing are suffering from tedium almost as much as his illness.” Dr. Devai crossed his arms and shook his head pityingly.
“Sasha…” Yurik rolled his head to gaze dazedly at his brother.
“Oh! Are you alright? How do you feel?”
“Better.” Sasha suspected a white lie. The doctor turned to him.
“If you’ll excuse us for a minute.” Sasha followed the doctor outside Yurik’s room. “I hate to be the messenger of ill news, but remember I am a messenger only, and have done everything I can for the boy.” The doctor drew a deep breath, and looked down to his feet. “Yurik has only a few weeks left to live. His illness is incurable. The only action you can take now is prayer, and heaven knows you are devout, Count Beaumont.”
“What do you mean, ill news, only a few weeks left? This is… its preposterous!” The Count stamped his foot resentfully.
“As I said, I’ve done all for him I can.” Dr. Devai retrieved his case. Count Beaumont saw him off, fatigued and angry. No one had the right to give up on his brother, let alone a doctor, of all people.
The Count went to the kitchen to boil water for tea. He had but a few servants; the money left to him by his father would last only if he carefully spent it on necessities only.
“Master Beaumont?” A servant leaned in through the doorway, brows anxiously knit.
“Yes? What is it?” The Count’s voice was taunt. He sighed and lifted his gaze from the water, just beginning to boil.
“I overheard the doctor’s conclusion.” The Count wrung his hands together. His gaze dropped again to the water on the fire. “I think I might have something that could help. I fixed up my little daughter, when she was just a baby, with this here book. Yurik, bless him, read it for me.” The Count remained silent for a moment. “I’m terribly sorry, Master. I didn’t mean to be a nuisance.” The servant began to back out of the kitchen, unsure of his master’s reaction.
“No, thank you, Fredrik. I know how you’ve cared for my brother these last years. Can I see that book?” A smile lit the servant’s face as he took a leather-bound book, inlaid with what looked like silver. A reflection of fire danced in the Count’s eyes as he took the book and opened its dusty cover. It weighed heavy in his hand. Every page had a list of strange ingredients and directions, incantations, as well as a description of what that particular concoction would do. These directions detailed everything from the time of year and day at which the ingredients must be gathered to how to write the runes needed.
The servant slunk from the room without another word. The Count was stunned at what was clearly illegal and sacrilegious. But, this was a chance, now that all else had failed, to save his brother Yurik.
Sasha kneeled beside his bed, head bent, hands pressed together in fervent prayer. His lips mouthed the wish that his brother be well again. Outside, the night was clear and cold. The moon’s rays floated through the window and danced on the floor. This serenity was not mirrored at all in Sasha; he broke off mid-sentence and paced back and forth across the pond of silver light. An owl hooted, breaking his concentration. Silently, the owl alighted on the open window and again gave her wise whoop. Sasha flinched, backing slowly to the back of his room, watching and waiting. The owl bobbed her head, as if bowing. She cooed one more and took flight, out of Sasha’s sight. He sighed, and his shoulders dropped.
“What for did you come, o owl? A messenger, perhaps? A creature of the night, in any case.” His gaze wandered to the book on his dresser; the same the servant gave him earlier. Sasha shivered as he picked up the book and once again turned its pages, but more slowly. “And now, the book of spells. Can you give me the power to save him? If that is possible, I would fain do that deed. Here; but these devils of hell are mentioned. Belial, Beelzebub, Astaroth and Mephistopheles, all princes. Would I call you for his sake. These instructions are weird enough for it! But that, above all, is what He would not permit, and so this dreadful war rages in my heart, stings my mind and batters my soul.” Sasha closed the cover with care. His slender fingers traced the fine etching.
Muffled screams came from down the hall.
“The pain I feel for Yurik is greater, though; it stands mountainous above the pain imminent of hell. I shall greet it with endurance, if only for Yurik.” Sasha made swiftly to his brother’s side.
The air was crisp and cold as Sasha carried his brother towards the woods. Yurik’s coughs echoed against the manor’s stone walls. The woods were still and silent, every tree trunk outlined by the unmarred snow. The arched branches made a tunnel, like an otherworldly cathedral. They made their way to an oval clearing, where the branches of the trees obscured the night sky completely.
Sasha lit a candle. He laid Yurik, in a daze, in the centre, and began the incantation he had memorized. He walked deliberately in a full circle around Yurik. Every step brought him deeper into a trance. Yurik looked up at him fearfully.
“Are you ok? Sasha?”
“Silence.” Sasha did not break is step or look at Yurik. He continued the circling, until Yurik became weary with it.
“I am.” Sasha’s chanting became intelligible words. It sounded as though he were conversing with someone, though Yurik could see nothing. “A voice from heaven… Yurik…” Sasha’s voice had dropped to a mutter.
Suddenly a great pain struck Yurik’s chest. He collapsed on the blanket.
When he opened his eyes, the trees of the wood around him had transformed to immense stone pillars, which seemed to grow out of the craggy rock beneath his feet. Yurik stood and wavered for a moment before looking around himself. All directions looked identical; the carvings of the pillars were all the same.
Distant voices led Yurik to a wall which stretched up so far, he could not see where it conjoined with the ceiling. He followed it until he came to an open arch, and the voices were easily audible. Fearful, Yurik peeked around the corner.
His brother stood before what at first glance appeared to be two beautiful people. With horror, Yurik realized one had fangs, and the other small horns sprouting from his head. The three were conversing vigorously. The two demons kept glancing at each other with sly smiles on their faces.
“We will save you beloved brother. We require no payment.” A smile lit Sasha’s face, which looked ghastly in the shadows, as if he were long dead.
Yurik woke in his bed. Sasha was sitting nearby in an armchair.
“Already awake!” Sasha came to Yurik’s side and helped him sit upright. “You look wonderful. I can already see a difference.” Sasha held up a hand mirror for Yurik. Indeed, Yurik was amazed at his own appearance: his face had lost its gauntness, and had lost the unhealthy pallor.
“It was you, wasn’t it Sasha? You saved me, when even the doctor had given up. Thank you.”