Last Daughter of Locusta – Urban Fantasy oneshot

There had been a time when Datura, the most infamous Witch of Milan, did not need a name.

During the Everwinter, when she was enjoying the first few scant centuries of her youth, when seas were lower and ice much thicker. She had danced with the wind and her words forked lightning. She was the herald of a Light that every other light devoured.

She had ruled over the Children of Men and drank from the fountain of their daughters, drying up Familiars like the sand of the desert after ever every drop of shadowed rain. That had been a time when she did not need a name. She just existed – at the top of the pyramid she had built with her own hands, the desiccated body of a daughter of Man after another.

And then she had met Atropa Belladonna.

“Lady?” Asked a female voice behind her.

Datura shook from her stupor and turned to glance at her Familiar. Denna looked back with a slight crease of worry on her face.

“Yes,” the Witch replied. Not just for her benefit, mind you. Behind her stood a vast group of Witches, some of them holding onto their Familiars for nourishment or support.

Datura’s golden ichor seemed to rumble inside her veins at that sight.

It was her duty, but she did not like to be looked at like that. As if a lamb before the slaughter.

“Would it kill you to show a hint of restraint?” She hissed at the crowd, and many looked away, shuffling  their feet. “I will talk to Atropa, alone. You can wait for me in the salon, we will be back in a few.”

The other Witches shared many a ponderous look, but in the end they all left her, dragging their feet to the other hall.

All but one. A tall Witch in white shirt and jeans, still wearing a most casual pair of beach slippers, gave her a grin.

“You won’t be able to help her this time. She has truly and finally snapped.”

“Wouldn’t that be most convenient for you, Dulcamara,” she replied with a sneer. Deanna took a step towards her, ready to put herself between the two Witches, which made the beach blonde crook one of her perfect eyebrows.

“Oh-ho. By Mother Mormo, should I consider this display some sort of threat? The Familiar of that most distinguished Witch… how was it that they called you? The Neon Demon?”

The angle of Datura’s mouth curled.

Truly, the time when she did not need a name was long past.

“I like that moniker. I would really appreciate it if you did dirt it with your tongue.”

“Ha! How very imposing. Very well, Witch of Milan.” Dulcamara showed her a mocking curtsey, as if they were still fighting over some half-grown Stravaganza during the last Eldritch War.

But then she did leave. Deanna set her hand over her shoulder – but she merely gave it a squeeze and shook her head.

“I will be fine. Please wait for me behind the door. Atropa is my friend,” she assured her, even though in that moment was something hard to believe.

As if to underline that last thought, she pushed the door open, entering into Atropa’s inner chambers.

If chambers could even mean anything at this point. Each and every Witch possessed their own Stravaganza, the supernatural bubble that extended in the unseen world, and every Witch could perceive those that belonged to others of their kin.

Datura, the Neon Demon, as the second-highest Seat of the Table Twenty, possessed one of the largest and deepest Stravaganza in history. Even hundreds of kilometres away she could feel it pulsating, throbbing with her own essence and the ripples of her Light.

Atropa never had one.

Maybe that was one of the reasons why she had always felt so uneasy next to her. Together with the fact that, since their fated meeting during the Everwinter, Atropa had shown Datura how different they were, like a candle turning to find itself in front of the Sun.

The chambers resembled a garden, endless rows of arches and plant-covered corridors going up and up until they got lost into the cloudy sky. She would have expected to see something similar in a Stravaganza, but there was no unseen layers of otherworldy power here.

Reality just did Atropa’s bidding, that was all.

Datura gulped. Air was stillborn. The last time she had been here she had found the garden full of life: birds, insects and all sort of fuzzy critters moving about.

Now it was all eerily-quiet.

She advanced towards the centre of the garden, where a white patio stood bathing in the frozen sunlight. As she touched the grass, Datura noticed she was stepping over the blades, but they did not bend beneath her weight. Something hit her on the left arm: it was a lazy bumblebee, immobile as stone, caught mid-flight.

Datura found her sitting inside the patio, looking down at her hands.

Atropa Belladonna might have looked like a life-sized doll, with her petite body, with just a hint of womanly curves, and her limbs so thin they could have seemed those of a statue. She wore one of her brocade vests. Everything, from her dress to her hair to her complexion, to her platinum lips, was the finest white.

Here was another one who did not need a name.

Even though she had gathered many.

Datura reached for her, crouching in front of the chiefest Witch of the Dominion.

“Atropa.” She set her hands against Atropa’s alabaster-pale fingers. At the touch, the porcelain Witch blinked and lifted her gaze.

Datura resisted the temptation to flinch. If everything in Atropa Belladonna’s body was the purest white, her eyes were the deepest black, a swallowing abyss of nothingness that made her feel a hint of vertigo.

“Datura.” Her voice sounded like silk brushing together, soft and hushed. “You have come.”

“I heard there has been some trouble.”

Some trouble. That was one way to put it.

Atropa’s forehead creased.

She blinked – once, twice – the world around her rippled with a spasm of sorrow. Datura felt it go through her body, through her golden ichor and pass over the Hungerlight pulsating in her core.

It left her breathless, hanging onto a thread. Her hands coiled and she almost fell against the floor.

Atropa’s hand reached for her chin and lifted it, gazing into her blue eyes with those black circles of nothing.

“Until the end, I had hoped… but it had to happen, didn’t it? Sooner or later, it had…”

“What… ah…” Datura gathered her bearings. She couldn’t push her own Light too much, or she would leave the room ravenous, and she had promised herself that she would not consume Deanna too soon.

It was a promise that had lasted two hundred years and she had no intention of breaking it now.

So she just let it pass through and over her.

“Melissa.” Atropa lamented.

Datura winced again.

Oh, they were in some trouble indeed.

“Melissa is gone.”

Author’s Notes: it has been a weird day. I felt like writing a one-shot. Thanks for reading.


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