Come away, O, human child! 


To the woods and waters wild


With a fairy hand in hand, 


For the world's more full of weeping than

you can understand.

- The Stolen Child

Y. B. YEATS

**********

CHAPTER ONE

"Traitor," Gormlaith hissed, her voice raising the hairs on the other's arms. Her silvery eyes were narrowed in on the man who cowered in the center of the room. How small he looked kneeling there. The corners of her pretty mouth turned upwards into a grin.

"Come now Gormlaith, we must hear his story before we condemn him," the second woman, ever the rational, placed her hand on the first's shoulder; it shook beneath the touch.

Gormlaith glared back at the other, "Alastroína, we know what he's done. Letting him speak will only make it more difficult when we have to…"

"Kill him," a fourth cut in, the man stood off to the side and kept his eyes focused on the wall. He ran the blade of a knife along the tips of his fingernails, his mouth turned downward in boredom.

"What do you know of killing, Bearach?" Gormlaith taunted, gliding over to him: it almost seemed as though she wasn't walking at all, "When all you've ever done is sit and watch while I do your dirty work?" Her honeyed words fell onto his neck hotly; he smiled down at her.

Bearach ran his hand across her cheek absentmindedly, and gently kissed her forehead, "I know much of killing," he frowned, toying with memories, "Do not be so quick to forget that, Gormlaith," his hand was still resting on her face; she shivered expectantly, "I ask little of you and give you many rewards; indulge me," the other two, the cowering man and Alastroína, watched in slight revulsion.

"May we return to the subject at hand?" Alastroína asked, all heads turned to look at her, "Aonghus," her pale hand extended in the direction of the fourth, "has broken our most sacred of vows. Shall we listen to him? Forgive him? Silence him?" Her voice was nothing more than a whisper, and despite her even tone, her eyes were wide with grief.

Aonghus, still kneeling, opened his mouth to speak, but the words were lost before they even were.

Gormlaith sighed, "He has betrayed us, Alastroína, he has done great evil in our name. He has brought blood upon us, and we must give blood back," the two women stared at each other for a moment, before Gormlaith returned her gaze to Bearach, who was watching a bird out of the window.

"Good and evil are the same," Alastroína said softly, "They are made of the same thing, and with the slightest of changes, one becomes the other. Neither is definite. The balance between the two is delicate, with just a simple intention, one can outweigh the other," she passed a small golden ball from one hand to the other. There were faint carvings in its surface, words, "There is no distinction until we give it life; evil is only what we call evil; good, what we call good," she stopped passing the ball and squeezed it tightly, until her bones ached from it.

Looking away from the bird, Bearach spoke, "Your words mean little, sister. No matter how pretty they are. Punishment is due," his chin pointed at Aonghus, "Speak," the tone of his voice was sweet, almost forgiving.

Aonghus seemed somehow younger than the others, though not in appearance. His lip trembled, though he tried to steady it with his teeth. A drop of blood, then another trailed down his chin. His eyes shifted from one to another, first Bearach, then Gormlaith, and lastly Alastroína. The second woman could not even bear his gaze; she turned from him, and a slow smile spread across Gormlaith's mouth. "She called to me, like the river calls to us," he paused, "I could hear her, begging me to find her, to release her."

Bearach rolled his eyes, "How long did you think it would take us to notice? I could smell it on your skin, dirty. You were tainted, like one of them. It was foolish to try, Aonghus, did you really think we were that blind? And my poor sister, did you think she would forget? What you put her through, why it was tragic!" He walked over to Alastroína, and they looked at each other with the same silver eyes, their sharp noses and furrowed brows were mirrored. His hand held her's tightly, but he turned his attention back to Aonghus, "What did you do with it?" Sick interest, distorted fascination.

Aonghus started to stand, but his knees let out from under him, "I kept it, hid it."

"Where?" Gormlaith leaned in close to him, her nose nearly touching his.

"You must give it back, it will poison us. By keeping it you have endangered us all, no matter where you kept it. While it was yours, you were killing us, slowly, but effectively. Have you no regard for us? Our people are few, you cannot act out of impulse like a child," Alastroína said. She held her brother's hand tightly, and Bearach looked down at her pityingly.

"It is too late, it has been gone too long," Aonghus replied wearily.

Gormlaith frowned, "It is never too late! We must be rid of it, now. Before it begins to eat away at us," she drew a vain hand across her unblemished cheek. Her shocking white skin was perfect.

"Gormlaith is right. We must make repentance, return it," Bearach said.

A pained look crossed Aonghus' face, "You don't understand, it is different there; time is not the same. There is nothing for it to return to. There is no one to give it back to."

The four were silent. The room they were in was small and sparsely decorated. The stone walls had set to crumbling, what had once been magnificent, seemed dull. They lamented the former grandeur of what had been theirs. Several worn tapestries hung limply, their wear and age were amplified by the dim glow of the few candles that were scattered around the room. The single window was nothing more than a slit in the wall; barely thick enough for an arm to pass through. It seemed only a short time ago that this had been a place of greatness. How quickly, Bearach thought, beauty fades. His eyes fell on Gormlaith, whose perfection had been eternal. What once was can never be again.

Finally, Alastroína began to speak, "It matters not; we cannot keep it. You must return it, and you must face the penalties that are due to you."

Aonghus said nothing.

Bearach looked to his sister and sighed, "No sister, you must return it," when Alastroína nodded, he took several steps towards Aonghus, dragging his sister behind him. Her feet make sloppy and awkward steps, clattering against the floor. It was disgraceful. "And you must do what I ask of you," she nodded again.

Gormlaith's lovely face could not hide her excitement, though it was not without jealously, "But Bearach, it is I who…"

"Silence. My sister must do it, because it was she who was wronged. Blood was spilled, and the earth felt it; Alastroína has to restore the balance. An offering is due."

Alastroína placed the small golden ball in the pocket of her gown, feeling its weight in the folds of the silk. There were always duties, things one must do. These were the laws that had governed them since the earth first breathed life. She didn't feel it when her brother handed her the gilded blade, nor did she notice how cold Aonghus' skin felt beneath her fingers. She knelt beside him, putting them at an equal level. She brought her mouth close to his ear for a moment, whispering gently to him, "Good and evil, love and hate, they are all the same; but desire, it is its own enemy, and its own ally. Desire is all desire has. We cannot want. We cannot have. We simply are." His eyes were still open and his breathing was shallow, two watched as his throat bobbed angrily as he seemed to bite back sobs. How weak, they thought. But the third, Alastroína, saw nothing. She was blind to it all. How soft his hair was; her fingers dug deep into it, pulling his head back by the roots. How sweet his breath; her other arm rose sharply, and as she brought it down, she whispered to him once more.

"My love," but he would not live to hear it.

Though she was sticky with blood, she felt nothing. The coppery scent filled the room, sending both Gormlaith and Bearach reeling. Time passed, but Alastroína could not seem to move. Her hands caressed his face and hair, leaving trails of his own blood across his pale skin; his silvery eyes stared gently up at her. A voice broke her trance, and she found herself suddenly catapulted into the small stone room that reeked of blood, "You've done well, sister," Bearach extended a hand towards Alastroína, grimacing at the print of blood she left upon his skin. "But you still have duties; you must take it back."

She looked at her dress. It had once been a fine thing, though the years had left it lackluster and threadbare, the blood was drying now, stiffening it and leaving ugly brown stains, "Of course, but where do I take it?" She looked at him with adoration. He ran his eyes down her form: her pale hair was disheveled, blood stained her face, and her eyes were a disturbing red. He was revolted and enchanted at the same time.

"Listen," he released her hand and left the room. His heels made deafening thuds against the stone floor. He turned and looked back at her once more, smiling, "The music is simply intoxicating today, don't you think?"

*****

She had followed the music blindly, letting it lead her where it would. It called to them, and they did its bidding. What it desired, they would give without thought or question. She came to a clearing, and felt his presence there, thick and warm. When she closed her eyes she could nearly feel his hand on hers. The song changed: a slow and gentle lament. It was full of longing, of need. Could she do what was asked of her? Her eyes fell on the bundle in her arms; it seemed so out of place. She wondered where he had hidden it for all those years. It looked so innocent that she almost pitied it, it had committed no wrongs. She took a dirt path that wound its way through the forest, leading to a small cluster of buildings. It was near midnight, and her silvery form glowed against the inky blackness of the night. A smooth melody wove through the town, rocking the people to sleep. Men who were busy checking their animals suddenly found themselves exhausted and returned to bed. Women who worked by dim candlelight, mending and stitching, slumped over in their chairs. Even fitful children and fussy babes fell into peaceful slumbers. Only one watched as the woman carefully placed the bundle on the steps of the church. The onlooker's eyes followed as the glowing woman bent over and kissed whatever she'd left, as her hand lingered, and she stood to leave it. They half expected her to take it back into her arms and glide away with it. When she turned towards them, they ducked out of sight, afraid to be seen. As she walked away, Alastroína looked back at it once. The wind picked up around her, her worn cloak billowed out behind her. She had done her duty, given back what had been stolen. There was a balance, she told herself, and she had restored it: blood taken and blood given.

AN: For pronunciation of names, check out my profile, I'll have a running list! Thanks to everyone who read the prologue of Desire, I hope you like the first chapter. Constructive criticism and comments are always welcome, as are any kind of question. A special giant thank you goes to Chel Bel, Decoris Verbum, lenavis, and akissinthedreamhouse! I really appreciate your reviews!

EDIT: I apologize for having a bit of a wayward paragraph at the end, it was not supposed to be there! So if you've read it...please forget it even existed! And again, I'm sorry for that mistake!