As promised here is the original chapter that did not make it into the final publication. This is Luxx's back story.
Ray of Light
There is no saviour like a person who feels your darkest thoughts and emotions and chooses to stand by you. Lev is to Luxx as leaves are to trees, intrinsically connected and dependant upon each other, a symbiotic relationship if ever there was one. In Vulnari and across LaMarra this connection is known as a bond. This bond is only strengthened with the joining of water from the Aquavass. Lev and Luxx’s bond is unique, running deeper than usual. The bond magically snapped into place when Leviathan broke ranks with the water dragons and refused the blood token offered to him by Luxx’s mother when Luxx was still an infant. The blood token required to secure safe passage across the inky black depths of Siphon Lake. The mystery and magic surrounding the lake and Blackstone prison are so ancient no one in the recorded history of LaMarra recall a time when these places and the strange magic that is produced by them did not exist.
Maia, fearing the worst having to transport her infant daughter across Siphon Lake, collected sharp stones from the banks of the lake at the base of the prison and tied them around Luxx’s arms and body to protect her from whatever evils lay beneath the water. When the Water Dragon shot out of the depths to demand the blood token, Maya hesitated and chose to prick one of Luxx’s fingers to draw blood. Leviathan, centimeters away from the wailing infant turned his large head, and in that instant the infant’s arms began to flail about slashing the beast’s eye. Wracked with the pain of the injury the water dragon sprang out of the water roaring and slashing his talons in raging pain. Being a beast did not delude the act of selfishness that Maia had committed. In spite of the injury inflicted by the infant Leviathan refused the blood token and agreed to carry the infant across the lake to the banks of Vulanri. Knowing the frail infant could not care for itself Leviathan reluctantly brought Maia along as well. The journey across the lake set the bond in place between Luxx and Leviathan the moment of pain they shared joined them on the deepest level of their consciousness. Leviathan made a silent vow then to forever protect Luxx.
The council of Water Dragons felt cheated by Leviathan’s rogue decision to decline a blood token. Water Dragons are beasts as old as time and thrive on the blood token to maintain the magic of the Lake and the Prison. An act as deceitful as this does not go unpunished. To atone for the sin of robbing the other dragons of the blood token, Leviathan was banished form the ranks of Water Dragons, forced to live on the banks of Siphon lake in solitude as their Gatekeeper. Until summoned by the counsel Leviathan is charged with collecting blood tokens from all and any who seek passage across Siphon Lake or entrance into Blackstone Prison. He will take on the appearance of a human male, however, he will not be mortal rather a Falso-Humanis, existing on the periphery of humanity and beast.
Being bonded with Luxx Leviathan learned that he could feel her every emotion, sense her mood and feel her presence when she was not near him. His vow to protect her brought him away from the Gatekeeper’s cottage on several occasions to see her to check in on her and in some cases protect her from her own mother. When the counsel became aware of his ventures out into the village the cottage was enchanted to prevent him from ever leaving a small acreage surrounding the cottage. These restrictions forced him to learn to hunt to survive, but survival was a must for the protection of his bonded mate. In some ways it was a relief not to have to go into the village to acquire food and supplies as his scarred eye would draw looks of derision and disapproval. His appearance was inline with criminals who are cursed to wear the injuries they inflicted on others be it a scar, a missing limb or other disfigurement. Remaining at the cottage did not dampen the bond, every day, every moment he could sense her. Every happiness however few, every pain, everything.
Luxx’s childhood was plagued by poverty that forced her to venture out on her own from time to time, either to escape the raging traumas her mother relived with increasing frequency or to save herself from starvation and neglect due to lack of food and money. These excursions earned her a reputation for being a wild child, rough and ready but capable. She could hunt, she could barter and she could do it well. In time as an adolescent Luxx searched out various hunting grounds. She found the areas near Siphon Lake to be the most prosperous for her, always able to catch something with relative ease. The Magical barrier did not prevent her from exploring deeper into the area on the banks of Siphon Lake.
On one such occasion, Luxx fled her mother’s house while she was suffering a particularly violent episode, Luxx sustained a burn on her shoulder when her mother launched a pot of boiling water at her in a fit of rage. Luxx sought out a centenary healer, Sapphire, to ease her wounds but only so much could be done. Fearing further injury she did not return home but rather wandered through the protective canopy of the evergreen trees that lined the river banks and provided shelter near the base of the Basara mountains. Evenings were cool but not unbearably cold yet, allowing Luxx to spend a few nights under the stars.
Lev felt every moment of her agony, but was barred from reaching her. Through their bond he willed her towards the borders of his land. After a few days of wandering Lev could feel her strength dwindling, she was close so close but not yet close enough. As the evenings grew colder, Lev set a fire at the border of his land hoping the smoke and heat would draw her nearer to him. It worked. The moment she was within sight and on the inside border of the magical border of his land he made himself known.
Startled by the large ominous figure approaching her Luxx was preparing to fight to defend herself. Lev did everything in his power to engage the strongest feelings of protection through the bond. Watching him approach with wide eyes and unsure how to react, Luxx suddenly felt it. She felt the strongest wave of calmness wash over her she had ever felt. Previously when she was in this area she noticed the weight of her troubles lift but never as much as this. She stared at Lev, not speaking but sizing him up. She should be feeling threatened by a large man approaching her in the woods, scarred and brooding, he could be a renegade. But there was no fear, nothing except calmness.
As a young adult Luxx was capable of looking after her own survival needs, she for reasons she could not completely comprehend trusted this man. It was a feeling so deep that she could not deny its truth. She stayed with him. They lived together in the cottage for some time learning bout each other in the way strangers do but there was always a calmness, a feeling of safety with him. The first night he brought her back to his cottage he slept on the floor giving her his bed, and when Luxx woke the next morning she saw that her burn was carefully wrapped and anointed with ointment. There was a steaming mug of tea at her bedside and she was warm, comfortable, clean and content. Her mind cleared in the hours she spent drifting in and out of sleep throughout the day finally waking fully in the late afternoon. Lev was there standing sentinel over her making sure she was ok.
Lev reached out his hand to brush her hair off her face, and she looked into his eyes, the practically glowing amber eyes who saved her.
“who are you?” was the only thing she had the presence of mind to croak out, her voice thick with sleep.
Lev smiled and breathed a sigh of relief that she was in fact ok, and pushed his feelings of elation at her safety through their bond. Luxx felt it, strong and clear and with a force that sent her mind reeling. She had flashes across her mind of times when she saw his face, emotions flooder her senses making her feel light headed. She blinked several times and as she sat up she searched his eyes and ran her fingertips over his scar as she said “I did this to you?” The pained expression on her face was enough for Lev to launch into the story of how they came to be.
For the first time in her life Luxx felt the security of home and the protection of love. She stayed with Lev and did not return home to her mother. As a young adult Luxx was at the age where it is common to leave home and seek out a path of independence. Luxx’s path led her to Leviathan.
Over time Luxx and Lev allowed their bond to flourish, they became one, living together and becoming lovers. Luxx soon became ill and sought out the centenary who once soothed her burns.
From time to time Luxx would venture into the village to acquire supplies and food items. On one such trip she discreetly met with Sapphire to remedy her new ailment. Luxx was to discover that she was in fact with child. Being that she was impregnated by a Falso-Humanis, the reality of bearing such a child was impossible, carrying such a beast to term could kill her, if not that then surely she would never survive the birth.
Luxx recognizing the wealth of care and affection she and Lev shared for each other and not wanting to cause him any undue harm she chose to end the pregnancy and vowed never to tell Lev what she had done to spare him the pain of her decision to never bear his children, to protect her own life. Soon after the procedure Luxx returned home to Lev, but her mood had darkened, she was refusing to accept his affections. Within a short time she spiralled into the dark depths of her mind and left.
For months Luxx sought the company of men in bars, she would drink to calm her racing mind, she never said no to anyone. Her slender womanly figure and bright blond hair made her a favourite among the patrons of several seedy haunts. As she became more brazen and less careful about the company she would keep, she fell into violent encounters. In her absences Lev felt everything, occasionally she would turn up on his door step a shell of a person. Strung out and barley conscious, Lev would bring her back from the brink of death time and again. One night, the most disturbing of all, he was tortured, dragged from the depths of a medicinally induced sleep by a pull on the bond so sharp he was sure she had met her end. Frantic with worry and desperate to breech the magical border that caged him, he fought to get to her, but it was to no avail. In the early morning hours just on the outskirts of the border of his land he saw her. She was laying prone on the ground, half naked, bleeding and beaten, left for dead. The vision of Luxx his Ray of light so destroyed was nearly his undoing. He brought her back to the cottage and nursed her back to some semblance of life. When she was finally consistently conscious and appearing to heal Lev slept for the first time in days. When he woke she was yet again gone.
After having slept her way through half the Vulnari male population and nearly succumbing to the brutal rape and beating Luxx needed to drown her emotions and bury them deep. Sapphire found her huddled in an abandoned cave sheltering from the onslaught of rain and snow that was cascading off the mountain range. Sapphire urged her to fight, not to give up. The new Regent of East Marra was recruiting Warrior for the Army. After surviving everything she had survived in the recent months Luxx had no reason not to honour Sapphire with at least attempting to become a Queen.
Sapphire claimed she needed to make her way to Shadow Lake Oasis to procure some ingredients to produce a tincture and strongly suggested that Luxx accompany her. Luxx still woke with a start in the middle of the night plagued by nightmares of that last night that she nearly died at the hands of a Renegade. Were it not for the saving grace of a man they called Knoxx she would have certainly died that night. He dropped her off in the forest near the cottage, but that was enough.
Emily Stone & Diana Bloom were born to Italian immigrants who traversed the Atlantic from Italy to Toronto in the 1950s and 1960s. They both reside in Toronto, Canada, and have a passion for travel, crafts, fashion, makeup artistry, and literature. Writing has always been an important creative outlet, and they hope to help readers escape the mundane. A World Divided is their first novel.