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[personal profile] glitterburn
As autumn died, the imperial guard turned against the Emperor and overthrew him. The dream interpreter was tied into a sack weighted with rocks and thrown into the harbour, and then the captain and a full company of soldiers marched through the palace to the prison in the courtyard.

Yunho had been awake half the night, still and silent in Changmin’s arms, and when he’d finally slept, his dreams had been of nothing. Grey, rolling, endless nothing. Changmin had taken the dream, but it tasted strange and bitter, and later he’d spat it out over the palace wall and watched it shredded in the teeth of the Black Wind that ripped along the great waterway.

Now Yunho sat at their jumbled collection of tables with the mismatched porcelain and the candle-stubs and the faulty timepiece, and he watched as the imperial guard bowed down to him, and listened as the captain hailed him as the daystar, lord of the horizons, His Serenity the Emperor.

“What of my father?” Yunho asked when the litany of praise ended and the soldiers all rose from the floor.

The captain met his gaze. “Your Majesty, he is dead.”

Yunho nodded, his expression utterly blank.

The coronation took place at noon when the shadows were deepest. Changmin wrapped himself in darkness and watched as Yunho became less of himself even as he became more. Out in the city, the people thronged the streets and hurried to the palace, the news passed from mouth to mouth. They clamoured at the gates and Yunho went to them, held out his hands as if to embrace them all, and he smiled and promised to bring peace and prosperity back to the Empire.

Changmin perched on the wall and whispered an ancient phrase, and after a while, the crowd dispersed without incident, the people going about their business happy and content. Pleased with the result, Changmin was about to slink away to the marble terrace when Yunho glanced around the outer courtyard, found him, and beckoned him.

So as not to startle the guards, Changmin took his usual earth-bound form and strolled out of one of the stables. Still they reacted, drawing their swords and clustering in front of Yunho, but then they retreated, staring in bewilderment at the rusting iron manacles around Changmin’s wrists.

“Blacksmith,” Yunho said, stepping around his guards, the imperial purple of his robes dragging through the dust, the ribbles of pearls suspended from his golden diadem clattering and swaying as he extended his hand. “A rasp, if you please.”

The blacksmith eyed the manacles and offered the opinion that a hammer might do the trick: “The iron is so old, Your Serenity, if you were but to tap them in the right place, those cuffs would disintegrate. Does Your Serenity wish me to demonstrate?”

“No, thank you.” Yunho smiled at the blacksmith and took the hammer. “I wish to do this myself.”

It took only three blows to release Changmin. The first shattered the chain. The second struck off one cuff; the third smashed open the other.

He was free.

Changmin tried to prostrate himself the way he’d seen other men do, but before he could complete the first bow, Yunho stretched out his hand. “Do not abase yourself in front of me, child of smokeless fire.”

“I am your slave,” Changmin said. “You freed me. I must serve you.”

After a pause, Yunho motioned to the blacksmith and the watching guards to move away. Only when they were out of earshot did he say, voice low and soft, “What if I wish to give you freedom?”

Changmin lifted his head, met Yunho’s gaze, and lied. “Then I would leave here and you would never see me again.”

Yunho curled out his tongue-tip to touch the corner of his mouth, a habit he had when he worried at a thought. “You would not come back?”

“No.” Changmin lied a second time.

Distress sparked in Yunho’s eyes. He looked down at the dusty ground. “I don’t want you to leave.”

“Then let me stay and serve you,” Changmin said, keeping his tone neutral to hide the surge of triumph.

Yunho smiled, brighter than the sun. “No more talk of service. You are my friend. My love. The keeper of my dreams.” He held out his hand and lifted Changmin to his feet. “You will be my chamberlain and whisper wise counsel when I need it. You will be my most beloved companion and grant me peace when we lay down to rest. Though hidden in shadows, you will rule with me, for the daystar needs the horizon to impose limits upon it.”

Changmin bowed his head. “If this is what you wish.”

“I do not wish it,” Yunho said. “I hope for it.”


Whispers followed him along the arcades and corridors of the palace. Rumour was kept busy feeding gossip. No one knew who Changmin was or where he came from, but everyone had an opinion. He came from the City of Jasmine, some said; no, said others, his home lay amongst the islands far to the east where sea-wyrms consorted. None could decide how he had first met the young Emperor, but all agreed as to why His Serenity was so captivated.

They believed Changmin was of the third gender. They stared at him in secret when he passed by, and he knew what they saw. Dressed in black silk, tall and slender, long-limbed and with skin as pale as a star, his beauty fascinated the court as much as his temporal power frightened them.

“They think I’m a eunuch,” Changmin said one afternoon. He lay on the stone flags of the rose terrace, soaking up the last trace of warmth left by the weak sun. The roses had long since flowered and faded, and now only thorns remained on the bushes cut back for winter.

“A eunuch?” Yunho sounded amused. He sat nearby within a pavilion, a brazier beside him giving off gentle heat and the fragrance of myrrh. Most of his attention was on a report from a garrison in the east, and when he’d finished reading, he folded the paper and returned it to the same gilded table his father had used for correspondence. “They fear your sharp tongue, my love. Eunuchs are known for their cruelty.”

“I am not cruel. Merely truthful.” Changmin rolled over and propped himself up on his elbows. “Is that cruelty?”

“To a courtier? Yes.” Yunho smiled. “But I would have you no other way. In this sea of sycophants and schemers, I need you to be my guiding light.”

Changmin sat up, his silks pooling around him like shadows. “As you wish.”

Yunho laughed. “Not a wish. A need. A desire. One I hope you share.” He rose from his chair and took a carved rosewood box from the table, then came down from the pavilion and knelt on the terrace beside Changmin.

“Here,” he said, presenting the box. “A gift.”

Curious, Changmin lifted the lid. Nestled within on a bed of velvet was a pair of cuffs of polished silver, curved and flared to show their decorative nature.

“Silver untouched by iron,” Yunho said when Changmin remained still and silent, uncertain how to react. “One each. So we never forget our time of imprisonment.”

Changmin nodded, still silent. This was not slavery, nor was it service. This was something else. He took one cuff from the box and Yunho held out his left arm, pushing up his sleeves of ermine and silk, turning his hand to offer the fine bones and vulnerable skin of his inner wrist.

When Changmin latched the silver cuff around Yunho’s wrist, he felt the world draw in tight around them as if they hung within a droplet of water, as if they were suspended within a ray of sunlight.

Yunho smiled and closed the second cuff around Changmin’s right wrist.

They sat together and admired the burning glitter of the silver, their hands clasped, their fingers entwined.


As the dreams foretold and the reports proved true, the Empire was dragged into war. Winter marched ahead of the gathering armies, a bitter harbinger of battle with its flaying breath.

Once the danger of the snow-bearing north-easterly wind had passed, Yunho ordered his troops into the ships that carried them across the great waterway. On the eastern shore, more soldiers waited, summoned from their garrisons. Their numbers swelled further as Yunho turned south into the heartland of the second continent.

Changmin journeyed at the head of the army, his white gelding a match in beauty for the black stallion Yunho rode. Where Yunho wore silvered armour and greeted his soldiers with smiles and rousing speeches, Changmin wore swathes of black fur over his black silks and glowered at everyone who passed beneath his gaze.

The serried ranks of men bearing iron amongst their steel weapons made Changmin’s skin crawl. The supply-carts with iron strips to strengthen their wheels and the iron cook-pots and other accoutrements made his back itch, and he would touch the silver cuff around his wrist to calm himself.

But the closer they came to the enemy, the more anxious Changmin felt.

Yunho’s dreams had turned dark again these last few weeks. The recurring dream haunted them both. In it, Changmin waded through a sea of blood, corpses grabbing at him to impede his way as he tried, frantic and grief-stricken, to reach Yunho. But always he was too late, and Changmin would fling himself out of the dream and retch it up, letting it curdle on the floor before he called upon a breeze to scatter it.

One morning, scouts returned from their explorations to report the presence of the enemy some twenty miles away. Between the two armies, they said, lay an ancient town. Now ruinous, it commanded a wide plain where the river had split into many forks.

While Yunho conferred with his generals, Changmin slipped away and caught onto the blustery breath of the north wind. He surveyed the land from on high, then flew further south until he spied the enemy. Their numbers were almost double the size of Yunho’s army, and their troops were rested and well fed from stealing from the nearby villages. But Changmin saw squabbles and factions within the enemy ranks, too many men who fought not for the upstart nobleman but for their own lords. They’d been promised easy plunder from the wealth of the City of Brazen Serpents. Instead the Emperor had come to meet them far from the safety of its walls, and they feared his wrath.

Changmin returned to Yunho’s side and repeated what he’d seen.

“A large army, but one divided,” Yunho said, looking at his generals. “This battle will be measured not in numbers, but by determination. Give the orders; we march for the ruined town. I want us to hold that plain by nightfall.”

By mid afternoon the town was secured; by evening Yunho had established a camp within its ruined walls, choosing an abandoned building in the old marketplace as his headquarters. Sentries were posted and soldiers were directed to their billets for the night. Many of them feared the ruins and clustered together in the marketplace, where fires were lit. Those brave enough to explore as far as the ancient theatre on the hillside came running back with tales of demons.

“Perhaps one of the djinn?” Yunho suggested when he heard the rumour.

Changmin went to investigate but found no trace of his kin. Instead he encountered a ghul, ragged and pale, its claws scratching at the marble seats as it crooned to itself. When it saw him it hissed and scuttled back into a hole, its unblinking yellow eyes gleaming at him from the darkness.

Ghuls often frequented ruins, but this one smelled of the mountains, not the plains. Changmin curled towards it. “Why are you here?”

“The battle.” The ghul’s voice was a slow, rattling exhalation. “Where the children of dust make war, I and my brothers and sisters come to feed.”

“More of your kind will come?” A prickle of uneasiness climbed Changmin’s spine and he resisted the urge to look around in search of other yellow eyes.

The ghul’s laughter sounded like vomit hitting the ground. “Tomorrow we will grow fat on their carcasses. You should join us, djinni. The flesh of men is sweet.” It paused, tilting its head. “But perhaps you know this already.”

Changmin spat in disgust and hurled himself away from the theatre. He went to the supply train and commanded the officer in charge to give him a sack of salt and the loan of one of his men. At Changmin’s direction, the soldier sprinkled salt around the marketplace and headquarters in a single unbroken line, except for the narrowest gap the span of a man’s hand.

“Ghuls fear salt,” Changmin said when he told Yunho what he’d done. “Be sure to bring the injured back to the marketplace, but tell your men not to disturb the line of salt. It will protect them.”

Yunho looked at him. “The djinn also fear salt, is that not true?”

Changmin bowed his head. “It is true, but I left a gap so I might pass through when we ride out together on the morrow.”

“Does it not hurt, to be almost surrounded by salt?”

“Not as much as it hurt to be imprisoned within an iron box,” Changmin said, “but yes, I feel it pressing in on me, and it is... unpleasant.”

“Then for a moment, let us step outside the ring of salt so we may both be free.” Yunho held out his hand, silver cuff glinting around his wrist, and Changmin went with him.

Just beyond the crumbled walls of the ancient town lay the ruins of a temple. Barely anything remained amidst the weeds and tumbled masonry save a single column, worn and cracked yet still standing. A pair of storks had made their nest on top, and the birds stirred and chattered to one another as Yunho led Changmin through the rustling grasses.

Yunho’s hands were cold against Changmin’s skin, but his breath was warm and his kisses hot. The fur slid from Changmin’s shoulders. He pressed back against the column, the fluting sharp and dark beneath his palms. They made love in silence, swift and urgent, and Changmin looked up at the stars, the night motionless and deep above them.


The first touch of dawn’s light revealed that the enemy had arrived at the far side of the plain. Scouts ran to and fro, and the soldiers formed up and marched from the town while officers bellowed orders.

Yunho rode out a short distance, Changmin beside him, and together they surveyed the land as the armies massed. Fear stroked icy fingers down Changmin’s back. The sun struggled to rise through the clouds smothering it, and it seemed to hang in the sky, a blood-red ball. Turning in the saddle, Changmin looked back at the ruined town, then he looked at Yunho, resplendent in silvered steel. Behind him was the standard-bearer, carrying the white and gold pennant of the imperial house.

The air was heavy, thick with a tension that had nothing to do with the coming battle. Changmin sniffed, recognising the shape of invisible currents, and knew a storm was being born. This was Yunho’s recurring dream, a warning cried across the seasons, and yet Yunho remained ignorant of his fate.

Only Changmin had the power to alter it.

“I can win this battle for you,” he said, the words spilling out in a rush. “If you wish it, I will call upon the south wind and bring a sandstorm to devour your enemies.”

The look Yunho turned upon him was one of surprise. “No.”

“Think well on your decision. You have never asked anything of me. Only wish it done, and I will grant you victory this day.”

Yunho shook his head. “I cannot. We shall win this battle if God wills it.”

Anger rose, and Changmin jerked on the reins of his gelding, walking it around in front of Yunho’s stallion. “If you will not have a care for yourself, at least think of your people! These soldiers—they follow you from love and duty, and you lead them to their deaths. What of their wives and children? An Emperor must care for his subjects. Why would you waste the lives of these men and bring needless grief to their families?”

“Is that what you think?” Disbelief and disappointment flashed in Yunho’s eyes. “My love, if I were to wish upon you, I would make slaves of us both. In serving my wishes, you would make me your slave. If I relied upon the power of a djinni to defend my empire, my people would become fat and indolent, knowing they were safe from all harm. They would not strive to improve themselves. They would fall into lethargy or become greedy. If a djinni can keep us safe, they will say, he can also make us rich. They would expect greater gifts from you, from me, and I would no longer be worthy of being called Emperor. I would be as much their puppet as yours, and a puppet is not a leader of men.”

Though Yunho spoke the truth, Changmin was still dismayed and tried to argue against it. “But you would be victorious!”

“That is not victory.”

Furious tears swam through his vision. Changmin tossed his head and snapped, “You are too proud.”

“Perhaps.” Yunho smiled. “It is a human failing.”

“Please,” Changmin said. “Reconsider.”

Yunho held his gaze. “I have thought on this every day since I ascended the throne. I will not ask anything of you, my love. The children of dust are born to die. This is our fate. If my men are to lay down their lives today, let them die as heroes, defending their women, their children, their home, their empire. Permit them to believe in triumph. Let them have hope.”

“Hope is for fools!” Changmin snarled, emotions strangling him.

“Then I am the biggest fool of all.” Yunho’s smile turned sad.

“No.” Furious, helpless, Changmin lashed out. “No. You are selfish.”

The silver cuff glinted in the eerie sunlight as Yunho reached out and stroked gentle fingers down Changmin’s cheek. “Maybe I am selfish, to hold onto you for so long. If you wish to be released, I—”

“No!” Changmin caught at his hand and clutched it in a fierce grip. “Don’t banish me from your side. Let me ride to battle with you today.”

Yunho withdrew his hand. “It is too dangerous. There will be weapons of iron everywhere. I would not have you exposed to such pain. Please, Changmin—stay within the limits of the town. I will need your counsel and your warmth when the fight is over.”

Changmin drew in an annoyed breath. “Is it your wish that I stay here?”

For a moment Yunho was silent, and then, with a measured look, he said, “Yes.”

Shock drove splinters of ice through Changmin’s heart. He had trapped himself, made himself useless, caught between his own anger and Yunho’s care. “Take it back,” he said, desperation edging his tone. “Let me go with you.”

“No.” Yunho’s expression was implacable. “Changmin, I wish you to stay within the town until I return.” He urged his mount closer and leaned in, one hand warm on the back of Changmin’s neck. “Be not angry with me,” he murmured, and kissed him, swift and passionate.

“I’m not angry,” Changmin whispered when they parted. “I’m afraid.”


The battle raged for most of the day.

At first Changmin paced back and forth along the city walls that gave a view of the plain, but all he saw was chaos. The clash of arms was unbearably loud; the shouts and screams of men and horses were worse.

Ghuls shambled through the streets, creeping from one dark place to the next, lurking beneath the arcades and moaning their delight at the sounds of battle. Changmin chased them away, expending his frustration by snapping at them until they retreated to the theatre. There they climbed to the topmost tier and looked out at the battlefield, chattering about what they saw.

Changmin drifted below them, tired and angry. He ignored their harsh, rasping voices, sickened by the way they took bets on whose flesh they would tear into first—perhaps this fat cavalryman or that young nobleman, or maybe even the new recruit who’d just shat himself with fear. The ghuls rocked with laughter as they described the scenes unfolding on the plain, and then they stirred, excitement sharpening, as the first of the injured were brought into the town.

“We cannot feast,” one of the ghuls said. “The djinni ordered salt to be poured around the marketplace.”

They grumbled and settled back down, a few of them cursing Changmin for depriving them of an easy meal.

“No matter,” they assured one another. “The bodies left abandoned on the field will taste even better. Imagine the soft flesh torn apart by hooks to spill out their entrails! How delightful. No need to blunt our claws on their armour or sneak past iron and salt and fire. Already corpses bloat the rivers on the plain. By day’s end we will have a feast the likes of which has not been seen for years!”

On and on they chattered. Disgusted, Changmin turned from them. About to slip through the circle of salt to question the exhausted men carrying their injured comrades, he stopped when a screeching cry went up. The ghuls rose as one, making a wild ululation.

“What?” Changmin flitted up the steps towards the top of the theatre. “What has happened?”

“The Emperor.” One of the ghuls grasped his arm, claws sinking in tight. “The Emperor has fallen.”

“No.” Changmin pulled free so fast that the ghul unbalanced and tumbled down the theatre steps. Ignoring its hideous shrieking complaint, Changmin plunged over the side and flew to the outermost limit of the town, where Yunho’s wish prevented him from going any further.

Changmin clawed at the walls and the earth and begged to be allowed out, but the wish held. That at least was a small mercy, for it meant that Yunho still lived. He could do nothing but wait, and he despised his helplessness and railed at the injustice.

Turning his fear into action, Changmin went back to the marketplace and helped the medics tend the injured and the dying. He used magic where he could, knitting together broken limbs, healing torn flesh, but he could do only a little.

“It is fate, my lord,” one of the medics told him, a soldier on the ground between them with a hole in his skull showing a slop of grey slime within. “I’ve seen men with barely a scratch lie down and die, while other men with grievous injuries got up and walked. Medicine is but a part of healing alongside faith and belief, and yet if a man’s time has come, no earthly power can intervene.”

Changmin closed the dead soldier’s eyes and turned away. Some of the ghuls had come down from the theatre and stared across the ring of salt, strings of saliva glistening from their chins. Rage beat back his growing panic. He would scatter the ghuls, send them screaming back to the mountains, but before he could step beyond the salt and summon the wind, horses came clattering into the marketplace.

Changmin froze, recognising the captain of the imperial guard. Two other mounts were with him, a limping grey mare and a proud black stallion. A body fell from the saddle onto the ground. When one of the medics hurried forwards, the captain snapped, “Leave him—he’s dead. Attend to the Emperor. Quickly!”

The medics surged closer, hands up to cradle Yunho’s broken body. Changmin pushed past the captain, swallowing the awful keening note that threatened to smash its way out of his throat. He could barely recognise his lover like this. Yunho’s skin was so pale it was like virgin snow, and around his waist was wrapped a trailing length of red silk.

No, Changmin realised; not red silk. White and gold. The imperial pennant stained scarlet with Yunho’s blood.

The captain spared Changmin a brief glance as they followed the medics inside the headquarters. “He led three attacks across the rivers, drove back the enemy and cut them down. He seemed invincible. When he rallied us for a fourth time, the standard-bearer rushed ahead and lamed his horse, and the pennant was lost. Even though the enemy swarmed all around, His Serenity refused to let it go. He threw himself against them and fought his way to the standard. He tied it around his waist, and then it happened. A blow from a sword, and when he wavered, another and then another. They would have pulled him down and trampled him in the mud, but then we got to him and pulled him free.”

Changmin nodded, not trusting himself to speak. He stood and watched as the medics laid Yunho on his bed and untied the pennant to reveal the extent of the damage. Stepping back, they debated with one another in low voices.

“Hurry,” the captain said, drawing his bloodied sword as if the threat of violence would aid their art. “Do something. Heal him!”

“They can’t.” Yunho turned his head, his face grey and waxen and his eyes glassy. He managed to twitch a finger, and Changmin came to him, knelt beside him. “Tell the medics to go away. They must save others.”

Changmin shook his head, smoothing trembling hands over Yunho’s cold brow. “They must save you.”

Yunho frowned slightly. “Send them away.”

“I’ll see it done, Your Serenity.” The captain gestured at the medics, and they all hurried from the room, leaving Changmin alone with Yunho.

An endless moment passed. Yunho’s breathing grew fainter. He was cold, so cold. Changmin tried to pour warmth into him, but it drained away to nothing.

Yunho blinked, focused on Changmin, and smiled. “I release you from my service.”

“No.” Tears ran down Changmin’s face. He held tight onto Yunho’s hand. “No. I don’t want to be free of you.”

“It is my wish. You have to obey me.”

Changmin gritted his teeth and made a negative gesture. “Please, my love. Let me bring back the medics.”

“No.” Yunho sighed, soft and resigned. “Let them save as many men as they can. No one wants to be known as the doctor who killed the Emperor. Let them do their duty elsewhere.”

“And what of your duty?” Changmin cried, rousing his anger to banish his sense of vulnerability. “You’re the Emperor. You have a duty to everyone. You can’t die, do you hear me? You can’t. I love you!”

Fury made him reckless. Rejecting the words of the medic, ignoring the prophecy of the dreams, Changmin called upon his magic and tried to heal Yunho. For a brief, glorious moment it worked, organs restored and blood renewed and flesh mended, but then everything was undone and Yunho broke again, snapped and torn, and Changmin howled in despair that he had caused his beloved such pain.

This is what becomes of the children of dust. They can be ruined so easily. They die so easily, and the children of smokeless fire can only grieve.

A sound at the door, running feet, and the captain burst in, wide-eyed and out of breath. “Your Serenity. My lord. The enemy is in retreat. Their generals are slain. We have won a great victory.”

Changmin turned on him, as vicious as a striking serpent. “You have won nothing!”

The captain dropped to his knees. He started to speak again, words fumbling from his lips, and then Yunho stirred and beckoned him nearer. “Victory? God be praised. Come close, captain, and tell me...”

Unable to bear it, Changmin whirled away outside. The marketplace was filled with the wounded and dying, and medics moved amongst them, doing what they could. The news of the victory had lifted everyone’s spirits and the atmosphere was one of quiet optimism.

Changmin almost choked on his sorrow and rage. He pushed through the gap in the ring of salt and drifted towards the battlefield. Blood soaked the earth and ran red in the rivers. Corpses lay tangled, some dead for long hours, others still warm. The ghuls crouched over their chosen victims and ripped at their flesh, rending limbs from bodies and feasting on internal organs.

Overhead, vultures circled, scanning the field with gimlet eyes. They flapped away from the pack of ghuls then folded their wings and dropped down to feed, sharp beaks snapping and tearing.

Changmin stared at them.

It would take a miracle to save Yunho. Changmin was only a djinni. What he needed was a god.


He left on a whirlwind, driving the pillar of fire south into the desert. Though centuries had passed since he was last there, Changmin found the temple again. The sand had all but covered it, and the sculpture that crowned the pediment had blurred beyond recognition. He ordered the dunes to slip aside, and the great doors of burnished bronze were revealed. Though they had slammed shut when he’d left, they stood open now, inviting him into the cool, shadowed darkness.

Changmin went inside. The air gathered around him, thick with promise. Sand hushed and trickled. He moved forwards with purpose, unfaltering, and prostrated himself before the statue of the god. When he got to his feet, he looked inside the libation bowl and saw that the bones of the slaughtered children had crumbled to dust.

A rustling, sliding sound rolled through the temple as Nasr wakened. Little ginnaya, the god said, you have returned. There was no smugness in his voice, nor even curiosity; just deep, endless patience. Do you have a prayer this time?

“Yes.” Changmin went back down onto his knees and bowed his head before the vulture-god. “I beg you to save the life of a man. Yunho, the Emperor of—of...”

Ah. Him. Nasr hissed and was silent as if considering. He already walks amongst the shadows. It is no easy prayer to answer, this one. I can give you another man to please you; one like him, strong and brave and handsome.

“No.” Changmin curled his hands into fists and thumped at the altar as if this would help his request. “It has to be him. Save him. Don’t let him die yet. Let him live and be healthy and happy and let him grow old.”

You sound like one of them, ginnaya. You sound human.

“I love him.”


A pause, long and deep and cold. Changmin shook with a storm of grief, his tears dripping onto the stone floor.

Finally Nasr spoke. It is done.

Changmin looked up. “He lives?”

He draws breath, his heart beats, and his flesh mends, but now he needs a reason to live.

“He is the Emperor.” Changmin rose to his feet, unsteady with hope. “He lives for his people.”

Foolish ginnaya. For an instant, Nasr sounded amused. Your prayer is answered. Now give me your sacrifice.

Changmin stared. In his desperation, he hadn’t thought to bring anything suitable. Bowing once again, he said, “Great Lord Nasr, I will give you whatever you desire. Only tell me what you wish for, and I will bring it.”

I will take you.

The bronze doors slammed shut, sealing out the sunlight. Fire burst over the libation bowl, smoke roiling thick and black as it filled the temple.

Changmin screamed as it devoured him.


He woke in an ancient tomb, naked but for the silver cuff around his right wrist. His head ached and weariness lay over him. Changmin sat up. His face was crusted with sand, and when he ran a hand through his hair, runnels of grit worked loose and showered over his body. Hunger griped at him and he had an unbearable thirst. When he touched the earth, he felt only dirt. When he touched the walls of the tomb, he felt only stone.

Changmin found his way to the wooden door and pulled it open. The sunlight hurt his eyes and he turned away, blinking. Now he could see a pile of clothes placed on top of a carved limestone sarcophagus, and beside it, bread and sliced meat and a jug of water.

The urge to eat and drink was too great for him to ignore. He went over to the food and tore at the bread, stuffing it into his mouth. Water next, a great gulp of it, taken so fast he almost spilt it down his bare chest. The water was cold and had a faint metallic taste. It took him a moment to recognise it, and by then he’d eaten the meat. Salted meat; and when he tilted the jug to the sunlight, he saw the reddish tint to the water and realised it contained iron.

He stood there, waiting for the deadening pain as the salt and iron took effect, but nothing happened. Nothing except his stomach grumbling for more food. Puzzled, Changmin continued to eat, more cautiously this time, and then he drained the jug of water. When still nothing happened, he unfolded the clothes and got dressed. These were not the expensive silks of the palace but the garments of a commoner, with an old woollen cloak to wear over the top and a pair of scuffed leather boots.

Changmin ventured out of the tomb, shading his eyes with one hand as he looked beyond the necropolis at the brilliant white travertines spooling down the hillside. He was at Sacred City, far away from the temple in the Empty Quarter but only four days’ hard ride from the ruined town and the battlefield.

He glanced around and saw a horse laden with supplies tethered nearby. The animal lifted its head from cropping at the weeds and regarded him with no great interest as he approached. Changmin spoke to it, stroked its nose, and then unlooped the reins. Then he tried to mount up. It took him five attempts before he was successful, and this more than any other sign finally made Changmin realise what had changed.

He was human.

The knowledge drove deeper inside him with every beat of his heart. He tugged on the reins, turning the horse towards the road to the west, and caught sight of a great bird perched upon a stele.

It hunched there, claws gripping the tombstone, its gimlet eyes black and deep. It had a bald head and a ruff around its neck, and when it spread its wings, their span was huge and terrifying.

“Nasr,” Changmin whispered, and bent his head in acknowledgement.

The vulture launched itself into the air and flew away.

Changmin stared after it until the bird vanished from the sky, and then he pressed in his heels and the horse sprang forwards.

For four days he rode, feeling his new humanity with every mile. He pushed the horse to its limits, forcing himself to stay awake when exhaustion almost tumbled him from his mount, huddling within the cloak when the storm winds he’d once controlled blew over him with freezing rain and left him blasted with cold. Hunger and thirst were like nothing he’d ever known before, and yet on he went, driven to know what had become of his love.

Late on the fourth day, he found the relics of the defeated enemy, scatterings of iron that could do him no harm and corpses half devoured by ghuls and wolves and vultures. The horse drudged onwards, picking its way across scree and then down onto the plain, splashing through rivers that ran clear once more.

Changmin checked his mount and scanned the near horizon. The imperial army still made its camp within the walls of the ruined town. Weary and sore from so long in the saddle, he dug his heels into the horse’s heaving sides and urged it on.

It responded on a burst of speed. They raced across the plain, Changmin bent low to the horse’s neck, its mane streaming over his hands and brushing his face like smoke. Soldiers ran towards him, calling for him to stop, but he didn’t. He couldn’t.

The horse slowed to a trot and then came to a halt at the outer limits of the town. Changmin all but fell from the saddle. More soldiers hailed him, but fell back when they realised his identity.

“The chamberlain,” they said to one another, their words spreading throughout the town. “He’s returned. But where has he been?”

Though he could barely walk, Changmin forced himself not to run. “Yunho,” he said, and his voice rasped in his throat, strange and unwieldy. “Yunho.” It became a litany pushing him on, one foot in front of the other, and soon he came to the marketplace. The ring of salt had been remade, and this time it was unbroken.

He stepped over it and collapsed before the headquarters. “Yunho!”

The captain came out and stood on the threshold, astonished. “My lord!”

Changmin lifted his head. “Where is he?”

“I’m here.”

The captain stepped aside and Yunho appeared in the doorway. He was pale and wan, weakened but still vital, and though the memory of pain shadowed his eyes, he was alive and whole and perfect.

Uttering a frantic cry of joy, Changmin clambered to his feet and flung himself into Yunho’s arms.

Yunho caught him and held onto him, lifting a hand to press it against Changmin’s cheek. “You’re different.”

Overwhelmed, Changmin nodded. “Everything’s different now.”

“I dreamt you were far away in a temple of shadows,” Yunho said. “A great bird perched on the roof and you knelt to it. It pecked at you, and you let it tear you to pieces. Then I woke and heard your voice.”

Tears blurred Changmin’s vision. He let them fall. “You remembered your dream.”

Yunho smiled and drew him closer. “Only because you weren’t here to take it.”

They kissed, gentle and tender; a promise, a reassurance.

“You taste different,” Yunho murmured against his mouth. “My love, you even smell different.”

Changmin laughed through his tears. “Dust.” He stepped back from their embrace and brushed at his clothes. The gritty residue of the road poured free. “It’s dust.”

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Date: 2012-12-07 06:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
wow yayyyy new fic<3
gonna read later :P

Date: 2012-12-08 05:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
wow this is so amazing<3
seriously i love all your story and it keep getting better and better each time..
you also have very original, unique and very creative storyline that so different from other fics..
and everytime i read your story i keep on thinking what a great and wonderful writer you are<3
you are so talented and im so glad yo are Homin shipper so we could always read wonderful story from you of Homin<3

awww and im so glad it is not sad ending, i could never take sad ending for Homin but you always give them happy ending<3

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From: [identity profile] - Date: 2012-12-09 06:50 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-12-07 06:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh. Oh.

This was so lovely. And what an amazing last line.
Edited Date: 2012-12-07 06:25 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-12-08 09:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you :)

Date: 2012-12-07 06:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*rubs eyes*

A historic AU? What have you done with my modern-day, gritty-Seoul/Gwangju-streets writer [ profile] glitterburn?

But by heavens don't you write historic AU's well? It's almost like you've done this before... oh, wait you have :)

As much as I love your modern writings, I have to say I'm really delighted to see you go back in time because you have such a gift for poetic and lyrical text and making the archaic accessible and inventing.This sounds and feels so different from Brakes and Hold Me Down and The Pick-Up and yet the characters and the situation you put them in are just as compelling.

I'll have proper comment soon - but I really need to eat first - and take the time to re-digest the story too.

Date: 2012-12-07 10:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
As promised, proper comment:

There is something so beautifully complete in this story. Changmin's journey is one where you could argue he starts strong and ends weak, but at the same time argue that he starts weak, and ends strong. It's a gift as a reader to have so much room to interpret.

While others of his kind contented themselves to live within a single drop of water, Changmin... was only truly happy once he
existed with a single drop of love, entwined with the emperor.

At least, that's the ending in my heart.
Meanwhile, my head tells me they probably had a massive fight with Yunho saying Changmin shouldn't have sacrificed so much for him, and Changmin saying he didn't have a choice, but if he had then he would have still asked for the same outcome.

And that would be that until the lack of power started to burn at Changmin - when the flow of water and the heat of the sun didn't fill him with energy like it once did.
And Yunho would see that frustration, even if Changmin tried to hide it, and the guilt would rise up until they clashed again and the hooks of such distress would tear into each of them all the more because they'd both know they were utterly on the same side, but helpless to balance when the sand beneath them was shifting so rentlessly.

Er, but then again, maybe post ending they just shrugged and the biggest tiff they ever faced was that time when Yunho got the royal court artist to sketch Changmin unawares while he was asleep...

But seriously, what I love most about this is that while it reads like something out of Arabian nights - it's made to be read aloud to an audience - you world-build without stemming the flow of the story. The way you work in the mythology of the djinn, alongside the sense of heat and sand and also clearly show us the sort of creature Changmin is in both character and characteristic, shouldn't be so easy to read, but it flows so cleanly and compels the reader on to find out what fate befalls them next.

And then Yunho who is such a contradiction from the word go - a prisoner but with regal bearing. He commands respect from the servants, but is still caged. He could be returned to power at any moment, but gives up one of his most valuable assests to help someone else regain their power.

I love the themes of sacrifice in this. Going with what I said above about them struggling to both justify the sacrifice post-story, Changmin could equally argue that giving up the chance to dream for someone you barely know is a greater sacrifice than changing status for someone you love.

This is why I think they will both come to terms with how they each found their balance.
I also want to comment on how sensual this is - it may not have the blatant sex scenes of many of your works - but to me that adds to the fable-like style that you absolutely nailed.
There is so much texture in the fabric of this story: sand, metal, silks, water, sweat and skin. It's the sort of tale I want to wrap around me an luxuriate in because it has so many layers and dimensions.

I should also note I love the mirroring at each end of the story - the ghuls being torn apart by dogs, and later ravishing the battleground like dogs themselves: Also the doctor who identifies Changmin as a djinn when he is captured balanced with the medic at the end who says: Medicine is but a part of healing alongside faith and belief, and yet if a man’s time has come, no earthly power can intervene.”

It was Changmin's time to get caught; It was then his time to be freed; It was then his time to see everything he loved lost; It was then his time to arguably be caught once more, but in human form - but somehow in being brought to dust he was truly freed once and for all.

I think this is one of those stories that I'll read again in a week and gather another set of feelings about. The gift that keeps on giving.

Thank you so much for putting Homin into something so poetic and tactile.

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From: [identity profile] - Date: 2012-12-08 10:01 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-12-07 09:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This story is really, really good! I loved the way you wrote it. The language, the descriptions, the narrative, everything felt different from your other fics and I think that's magical! You're such a great author, with so much talent and imagination. Thanks for sharing this with us! ^^

I speacilly liked so many details: the way Changmin felt inside the chest, the fact that after so many centuries in it he was almost sad to lose its familiarity. And the way Yunho is introduced! Brave but scare and so, so human; relieving his emotions braking things, exploring to calm himself down.

And Changmin's ways to cheat his own heart were so well written! Not long inner monologues but simplicity. And I believe that was the best way ever. Because he knows he has a great attachement already, and Yunho knows, we all know, so when I read it I just smiled and smiled.

My eyes got teary in the end, let me tell you. I really thought Yunho were going to die and Changmin would be sad for the rest of this years. That's why I don't have words to describe how all my heart filled itself with hope and relieve when I read that Changmin was alive. It made the perfect ending, I think.

I love this fic very much!! ^^ Thank you for it!

Date: 2012-12-08 10:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! This has been an interesting year for me in writing, because usually I write 60% historical stuff and 40% contemporary, and this is my first long (pseudo)historical of the year. Which feels a bit weird, actually! But the next one is also a historical so obviously it's the time of year for them, haha.

I'm so glad you enjoyed this one ^^ and I wouldn't have let Yunho die, I couldn't write a HoMin fic with a sad ending! Thank you again :)

Date: 2012-12-08 12:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

How did you know I am obsessed with djinn fables and tales of deserts, magic and palaces? HOW?

I love this so much. The whole thing is bittersweet and in spite of the completely different context and roles, Homin were still mostly themselves - I totally cooed over the couple bracelets. Such a Yunho thing to do!<3

Date: 2012-12-08 10:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I love the 1001 Nights - I remember reading the Burton translation before I was old enough to understand all the rude bits and I asked my dad to explain HAHAHA

Bittersweet is the best description for it. All the way through I was trying to make it pull in two directions. And haha yes Yunho would do couple bracelets, romantic sap XD

Date: 2012-12-08 12:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I was petrified that it may have a sad ending but it is wonderful .

I didn't expect the god to be so benevolent

Date: 2012-12-08 10:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! Noooooo I could never write a sad ending for HoMin, never!

Nasr wasn't really all that benevolent. He has all of Changmin's djinn-power now, though since he's stuck in the middle of the desert I guess it won't do him that much good, so everyone kind of got what they deserved in the end...

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Date: 2012-12-08 03:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
How do you do this? You had me yelling for Yunho not to die.. I love how their love grew as they just slept together.. once he realized that he was dreaming of Changmin was when they were truly together... I thought once he left to go to the Nasr to save Yunho was when he would die.. I am glad that they can now be together until they turn to dust.. thanks again.

Date: 2012-12-08 10:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you :) Nooooo I wouldn't write a proper sad ending, my heart couldn't take it!

Date: 2012-12-08 04:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
oh my god, I can't stop crying.

real comment later, right now there are only tears T_T

Date: 2012-12-08 10:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Awww, thank you. Glad you found it such an emotional read.

Date: 2012-12-08 05:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've spent a few hours on this story, reading and then re-reading it again. So beautiful, so well written, so poetic! Wow, I just don't even know how to gush over this because it's some thing so completely different from anything you've written before. It's like "Game of Thrones" meets "Arabian Nights"... but more unique and original!

The beautiful, mischievous, but stubborn Changmin, and the honorable, brave, and lovable Emperor Yunho! I love their dynamic! The background history you shared with us, laid the groundwork having Changmin imprisoned in an iron box the same way a genie is imprisoned in a lamp. And yes, I am guessing that in this story, Changmin is an all powerful genie, child of fireless smoke, not immortal but the fact that they can live for centuries and have such powerful magic, yet tethered, weakened and enslaved by iron, was so nicely planned on your end!

I love the years they spend together, getting closer, so intimate with Changmin consuming Yunho's dreams. That whole concept is mind-boggling on it's own! Such trust, such closeness, such oneness! And the noble integrity of Yunho, not wanting to enslave Changmin, but only using one wish, which stubborn Changmin brought on himself, Yunho asking Changmin to remain behind, for his own safety. *cries* Such chivalry! I was gushing!

We were all on pins and needles, hanging by a thread when Yunho fell in battle and was dying. I knew Nasr would come back to play, that one was pleasantly predictable, but what I didn't anticipate was Changmin becoming human, a child of dust! OMG! What a spin!

The last line just had me smiling so broadly, because it encapsulated the entire story, using something so graphic, something so tangible, just like the rest of the story, parts you could see, feel, taste, with all of your iron, sunshine, water, earth, silks, wind... and yes, dust. >.<

You're a genius. You truly write HoMin like no other. Thank you for giving us this story. Probably best fanfic I'll ever read.

Date: 2012-12-08 10:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for the lovely long comment ^^ About 60% of my usual yearly writing output is historicals, but this year I've written barely any, which feels a little strange! So it was nice to go back to the genre, even if this is mostly pseudo-historical and a mix of the Byzantine and the Ottoman. 1001 Nights was definitely the inspiration (I'll take your word for it on 'Game of Thrones', I haven't seen it/read it!), and all the djinn lore is true - they fear iron (btw the iron box is this one ( in the medieval church in our village!) and won't go in a room where there's citron, and for all their fiery birth they love water.

The only bit I invented really was the taking of the dreams, and that came from the 'Do Dream' interview a few months ago where they were asked to describe themselves and Yunho said he was chasing his dream and Changmin said he was 'stealing the dream of the boy next to me', which I thought was a very ambiguous (and rather profound) thing to say. So the whole story came from that comment!

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts :)

Date: 2012-12-08 06:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
i've been bawling throu the story. so beautiful...
it's my first time bawling over fic T__.T

Date: 2012-12-08 10:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you so much, I'm glad you found the fic moving enough to cry :)

Date: 2012-12-08 06:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
this is amazing writing. i almost cried at the end ;__;

Date: 2012-12-08 10:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! Oh I like your icon, Changmin looks very steampunk *__*

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Date: 2012-12-08 07:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
this is too beautiful ; A :
it's just utter perfection, i dont know what else to add or ask or even comment anything, period.
it's just love <3

thank you for writing this piece, it's such a wonderful ride back to the past :)

Date: 2012-12-08 10:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you, I'm so pleased you enjoyed this one :) It might just be my favourite of all the things I've written this year because it's so different.

Date: 2012-12-08 07:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
;~; soo beautiful.. excuse me while I'm crying T_T

Date: 2012-12-08 10:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you, I'm glad you found it beautiful :)

Date: 2012-12-08 08:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Saving my spot! will come back to read! (saving 'Just Cause' for later...glitterburn long fic must be read in right setting (^_-) )

Date: 2013-01-07 11:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Reading this has left me so overwhelmed the words are jumbled up in my head. You created such a wonderful and elaborate word filled with creatures and fantasy (well fantasy to some extent...depending on the extent of belief of an individual ;) ) and like always I am captivated by your writing like I am under a spell (which I TOTALLY believe you cast on me!!! magic! sheer magic!!!)

There are so many aspects of this story that I love which I cannot begin to favorite however is this..

“It is I who grant wishes to the children of dust.”

Wishes are not prayers. Nasr’s voice rumbled, making the sand shift. Remember that, ginnaya.

I absolutely love how you distinguish the difference between a God and a djinn..the difference in power..where a djinn's ability to grant wishes doesn't even come near the power of a God..and even more compelling is how in the end you demonstrate why God is worthy of worship (God I hope that doesn't sound offensive to anyone..unlike you I'm not good with words...didn't know how to get my point across >.<") when he shows mercy to/on? Changmin by answering his prayer, and then some...albeit he took his power, in doing so he spared Changmin the grief of seeing his loved one die...he gave him a chance to grow old with Yunho..and let's be honest..who needs powers when they have Yunho...come to think of it who needs anything at all when they have Yunho!!

I can go on and on about characterization and the flow of the story but I think you already know my opinion on put it in such humble terms: mesmerizing, stimulating, imaginitive, flawless...

“It’s dust.”

Absolutely perfect (^_^)

(been away for a while and what a lovely surprise it is to come back with so much HoMin from you to read!!!!! <- stupidly excited!!)
Edited Date: 2013-01-07 04:37 pm (UTC)

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From: [identity profile] - Date: 2013-01-07 11:13 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-12-08 01:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hi, I've been a silent reader for a while but not anymore!

I love, love, loved this! And I think I've fallen in love with you and your fics because I have loved each and every single one you've posted <3

I was reading through some earlier comments (ie. the first page haha) and I saw your reply to one of them. I can't believe Changmin and his 'stealing the dream of the boy next to me' comment inspired you to write this lovely story with a lovely meaning behind it..!

I really liked how Changmin and Yunho's relationship progressed and how simple their relationship was considering the circumstances and how Changmin and Yunho were characterised and basically every single word!


Date: 2012-12-08 02:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hello! Thank you for commenting :D I'm really glad you enjoyed this fic ^^

Yes, that quote of Changmin's kind of inspired the whole thing. He often says the most interesting (and sometime unlikely) things, and that one really stuck in my head for some reason.

Thanks again!

Date: 2012-12-08 05:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm just here to tell you how much I adore the fact that you've built this whole AU on the City of Brazen Serpents from the two AU Vatican fics! LOL Thank you for building a whole universe around that and melding mythology and emotions so perfectly in the one story. \o/

(Also, this helped take the bad taste of 'ginger lollipop' away.)

Date: 2012-12-09 07:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes! And now you know why the Papal Secretary is always in such a massive strop. Poor Changmin is transformed into a human, Yunho is :O at him for the sacrfice and they have a huge fight and an overly dramatic break-up. Changmin flees to cry on the shoulders of his cousins incubus!Kyu and Bishop Minho, who mock him for becoming human and then fire up the bong and bring out the special cookies. By this point Kyu has become Pope so a bit more nepotism won't hurt. Changmin becomes Papal Secretary and terrorises the underlings and Prelate Thingy.

Meanwhile back in the City of Brazen Serpents, Yunho is moping around the palace and listening to sad love songs as he weeps Bitter Tears of Regret and Woe! Then one of his spies tells him Changmin is in the Vatican. What to do? He could simply arrange a magnificent imperial visit to His Holiness! Or he could declare war against the Holy See! BUT NO. The dozy git disguises himself as a Renaissance Artist and applies for the Sistine Chapel gig. Changmin will be overwhelmed with delight when they see one another again and they will live happily ever after!!!11!!

.............and that's how the Emperor of the East ended up doing stick drawings of tourists posing with the Hairetic Siwon in the papal stocks for $50 per picture.

(I may have thought about this whole scenario a little too much PMSL)

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Date: 2012-12-08 06:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I wrote a comment, and then clicked something by accident and now I have to re-write it. *sigh* I even revised it! Anyways, here goes attempt number 2.

I saw that you posted a new fic and I thought, oh, it's shorter than Just Cause. I can manage to take a break from studying and read this.

I really really really wish I had not read this. Truth be told, I probably took more time on this fic than I will on Just Cause. I spent so much time rereading certain portions that I found so captivating. I spent so much time after reading it just reflecting and soaking up the emotions. Now I really really really wish I had the time to reread the whole thing all over again.

Seriously, just WOW. I have so much to say but I have to keep it short, or this will turn into a literary essay (which is quite feasible with this amazing story). Again, with you, it's the subtleties. You explain in such a way where you don't necessarily have to write every detail, but you give just the right dose of description for the full effects to be felt by the audience. You leave room for your readers to understand and interpret and I love that. It's having faith and trusting your readers. So there's not only a connection with the plot and its characters, but with the author as well.

I'll focus on one of my favourite lines: "He had trapped himself, made himself useless, caught between his own anger and Yunho’s care." Man, the feels in this one. The way you describe this "spectrum" communicates so many emotions. Desperation, aggrievance, frustration, anger, isolation, and at the very end, love.

And the imagery...just wow. The way you describe the environment and setting is so vivid. I can't even start to go into it because my fingers are already tingling with the desire to write my soul into this comment.

Lastly, when I started reading the part where Yunho comes back wounded and Changmin is desperate to heal him, my severe case of vertigo set in. But I was so strung on this story that I had to finish. So, besides the desperation and urgency and emotional turmoil already set into that part of the story, I had my brain playing up the effects by causing the computer screen to spin and swirl and move in front of my eyes. I felt like I was Changmin. And the last line about dust, holy effing crap. I can't describe the emotion(s) that settled over me when I read it. FEELS I tell you. FEEEELLLLLSSSSSSSS.

ANYWAYS, So beautiful. So so beautiful.

Date: 2012-12-09 07:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for such a lovely long comment and for writing it all out again, that's really kind of you ^^ I'm so glad you enjoyed this fic, and wow, you totally nailed what I try to do with my writing, about trusting the readers and all that. That was such an insightful way of looking at the process and I really appreciate it. I was like 'oh wow, that's exactly it! *lightbulb*' LOL so really, thank you for that.

Oh, vertigo isn't at all nice, I get it occasionally :/ Hope you're feeling better now, and good luck with your studies! And thank you again for the comment ♥

Date: 2012-12-08 08:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I love the plot of the fic.

A warning, an unlikely encounter and then fate took it's path for Changmin to meet Yunho.
Seems like everything for Changmin....his circle of life was to be with Yunho as a human eventually.


Date: 2012-12-09 07:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you :) Yes, again you've summarised the whole story really well - for all that Changmin tries to fight against fate, he was destined to be with Yunho ^^

Date: 2012-12-08 10:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh god.
What a beautiful story. Soooo god.
And I was so close to tears when it seems like Yunho is gone...

I love your storys and this one was again soo awesome!

Thanks for this awesome piece <3

Date: 2012-12-09 07:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you so much for commenting :D

Date: 2012-12-09 12:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Okay, wow. That is probablyone of the most powerful stories I 've read in a while. The second paragraph of part 1 is just.... stunning and then the next paragraph and the line Regret has a long memory.
And unto dust.... my brain boggles at the moment at how you took those religious tones and life/death themes and worked them out.
Oh and the visual images of Changmin eating those dreams and becoming full, spitting out the dreams that tasted bad, wrong. Lying to stay by Yunho's side. Spitting out dreams that curdle on the floor...
I love to eat and the thought that such things are edible and fill you up to your very soul. Even the idea of retchingthe bad ones back up, so hard to do but necessary to stay whole. Oh, it makes me squiggle in joy the images.
When he encountered the God it was terrifying but that he would remember the God at that point and wow, my default word here, I mean I knew what sacrifice would be necessary but it was still me holding my breath and holding on as he rode back and made to Yunho.
Where you go back to him even tasting different. All that time he tasted Yunho and now they will learn each other all over again.
Wah! Look at me babbling. It was just lovely.

Date: 2012-12-09 08:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you :) I love the 1001 Nights and Arabic literature in general is so exquisitely beautiful that I wanted some small measure of that in this story. Really this is a smush of Byzantine and Ottoman mixed in with Late Antiquity - the City of Brazen Serpents is Istanbul, and I really can't leave that place alone.

Originally when I had the idea I thought of making Yunho the djinni since he's the one associated with fire, but since djinn are so fond of water, I decided Changmin should be the djinni instead, and then this pic of Changmin ( came out and I was totally sold.

But yes. I'm really glad you enjoyed this. Thank you for commenting ^^

Date: 2012-12-09 09:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This was such a pleasant surprise, after seeing so much modern-AU/band!fic Homin (of course, not that I have any issue whatsoever with that :D)! I really loved how it still resonates with the same vibe that all your stories have and yet in a way it has a different... feel, I guess? LOL I think I might've contradicted myself right there but I hope you know what I mean :P

Again, the characterization is fab (not just as the Yunho/Changmin we know but just as they are in the story, really). My favorite part of this, though, is the element of contradiction and inversion - which I LOVE, by the way - that seems to be in many of your other stories, as well. I loved how Changmin begins as a powerful, nearly immortal being and ends entirely mortal, but at the same time his relationship with Yunho progresses so that the powers that had once hindered him and indirectly led to his own guilt, once stripped, allow him happiness free of that regret (hopefully the future is happy :D). It reminds me of Wolfsbane in a way :)

There's just so many interwoven themes in this story, but it's never so much that it's suffocating. Every time I read this there's just another layer to be discovered and more jkgfdljgirdjigrdjlgjfklg to be done. AND THAT LAST LINE OH MY GOODNESS. SO GODDAMN PERF.

Ugh. Beautiful. T__T

Thank you so much for the lovely story! :D

Date: 2012-12-09 11:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you ^^ Yes, I know what you mean! Usually I write a LOT of historicals and this year, apart from a handful of short fics for The Borgias fandom, I hadn't written any, and it was starting to feel weird. The next one is also a historical, by odd coincidence. Maybe it's just because it's the end of the year so I'm feeling nostalgic or something!

Ah, that's so insightful - the contradiction/inversion theme. Yes, it is one I play with a lot, probably in every fandom, now I think about it. It's especially strong with HoMin though because I do find them to be such contradictions within themselves (especially Yunho, although - that's interesting - I tend to make Changmin the contradictory one. Hmmm, now you're making me think!). And yes, I guess there is a thematic similarity to Wolfsbane, that's a good point to make.

Thanks again for commenting, I really appreciate it and you've given me things to chew over!

Date: 2012-12-09 09:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks for writing and sharing another awesome HoMin fic! Changmin once said in Do Dream that he wanted to steal Yunho's dream and you made it happened in your fic ... such a cool idea. I'm so loving you for the fact that you made Changmin into human and return to Yunho. Now both of them are dust and one day they will die together. This live ... as I have learnt it ... that everything is only temporary ... we start out as dust will all return to dust.

Date: 2012-12-09 11:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for commenting! They had to be together somehow ♥


Date: 2012-12-09 11:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
GOTDAM. HISTORIC AU and a poetic one at that. This was an amazing read which really isn't much of a surprise since it's you but you still managed to blow me away everytime. This was very, very beautiful. I have to tell the truth, my mind was in jumbles durIng the first few parts - you've used so much uncommon words, words I thought would be forever stuck in the old novels I've read in the past, I had to consult a dictionary once in a while. And tbh, I thank you for that - you've re awakened my freak of a mind for vocabulary. It's been a long time since a fic has had me thinking way beyond the story itself. :))

I will be back with a proper comment for this because God knows this deserves more than just 1 paragraph. :) Just let me get these exams out of the way . :) I jst couldn't resist the temptation when I saw you posted. I read this the same day you posted but the internet was crap so it failed to publish anything - had to wait another day to comment - this is my 4th attempt I hope this time it gets through. /crosses fingers Anyway, I'm glad I allowed myself the distraction once again because it was all more than worth it. Know that I think you are amazing and that the way you write is worthy of getting published - if you already are then I'm not even surprised but if you're not I highly encourage you to NOT stop because even if this is just fan fiction - you totally draw out the same reactions from me as I have when I read good published works. I've said it before, I'll say it again now - the world needs to know of you're awesomeness. I WILL BE BACK. Please hold this spot for me. <333

Date: 2012-12-09 11:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! I love writing historicals, usually I write a lot of them every year but this year not so much and I was missing it. The next one will also be a historical \o/ my research books are staring at me in a scary way.

LJ has been a bit crap over the past few weeks, half the time I couldn't log in, so thank you for writing your comment again, it's so kind of you :D And haha yes I have been published but I prefer to keep fandom and pro fic totally separate.

Thank you again, and good luck with your exams!

Date: 2012-12-09 03:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ahhhhh, this fic. Totally not what I was expecting and so, so good. For some reason, my mind keeps on telling me it's not a story but a tale?

This is just so beautiful and powerful, ahhhh. Your world-building is superb and I loved how this read like a story out of the described period. The narrative, the dialogues, the way the characters' thought processes functioned - all of that whisked me away to a different, old, unknown world. It's so different from your modern fics and it's amazing and damn impressive how you excel at both.

(I was looking out for Yunho and wondering if it's finally him with each new chara about to be introduced, I must admit.)
In a way the introduction of Nasr was almost textbook - I knew that if he appeared at the beginning, his aid would be required later on and that it'd be important and Yunho-related. And yet as I was reading on, I was overtaken with emotions and fear and managed to forget it and wonder and get surprised. I must admit that for a moment I was debating whether you'd break my heart by killing Yunho but then I remembered it's you and that you said you would never deprive Homin of their happy ending. (...Ofc it was me, I'd totally do that. Unless I was being catty or death would be too predictable and I would want to take people by surprise \o/)

I noted several things while rereading it just now so I'll now proceed with throwing them haphazardly at you.

So, I was quite stricken by the line when Changmin was about to be freed from his imprisonment by Yunho. Freedom having the scent of dust - now that I knew how the fic ends, it came across as so meaning-ladden? Such a clever foreshadowing. In a way Changmin loses his true/original nature at the end but on the other hand - he finds a new himself waiting for him in dust, in Yunho. Speaking of dust - I love its recurring motif and how it was present in most significant scenes.

I utterly adored the scene with Yunho gifting Changmin with the silver cuffs and them exchanging them. Idk, I have a soft spot for things like these - actual objects marking the relationship. And here it was all the more meaningful since, like Changmin himself said, while it wasn't a sign of service or slavery, it still meant entrapment of sorts? But it was this one imprisonment that he actually had a choice in. (Tho I guess when love is concerned that could be debatable.)

Other detail I liked was Yunho being associated with white and Changmin with black? Yunho as a human being and Changmin as a creature of dark? Altho Idk how apt this guess is since Idk much about the djinn lore. And then the colours got swapped sometimes (horses) and it seemed to hold a concealed meaning too. It also kind of brought to mind yin/yang? Altho I'm aware it's not quite the right culture XD I guess I'm ruined by my studies lol.
(On a more shallow note - Changmin in black silks and fur, ahhhh. ...You really like that image of him, no 8D)

Other scenes that left particular impression on me - oh did my heart split in two when Changmin attempted to heal Yunho and failed. The thought of him causing such unbearable pain to a person he loved and wanted to save. ...You're cruel.
And before that - I loved how Changmin asked Yunho to let him help win the battle even tho he knew he shouldn't and that Yunho'd loathe the concept and that he'd be disappointed/hurt. But Changmin had to prioritise in that moment and right then keeping Yunho safe placed first and foremost and ahhhh.

I also adored how their relationship in this fic seemed so... delicate? Soft? I think I told you that before but that's how I perceive your Homin in general but even moreso in this particular piece. Maybe it was partly cause there were no explicit scenes so the physical nature of it was left mostly to our imagination, idk. Either way I love how you still made it so sensual and potent even with no sex scenes.

And! You jokingly described this fic/the concept inspired by Do Dream as "Very Profound" and it is, it totally is.

All in all, brilliant. ♥

Date: 2012-12-09 04:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you ♥ yes, I guess it's technically a tale, or maybe even a fable. And heh I realised when I was editing it that people might think the lieutenant was Yunho, or the first emperor, but noooo, good things come to those who wait, Changminnie XD (although poor lamb had to wait a long time).

I'd picked Nasr for the longer version of the story and decided to put him in this one, too. All those ancient gods out there in the desert, it's fascinating. And nooooo I can't do sad HoMin endings! I will totally bow to you on that count XD

There's a lot of entrapment in the fic, really. More than I consciously realised, now I think about it in a more detached sense. And yes Changmin wearing black is just a reference to his djinn nature as one 'covered in darkness'. Also he looks hot in black \o/ and you're not far wrong with the yin/yang thing, mixing cultures yet again Yunho wearing white because white represents death as well as innocence.

Delicate - I like that. I guess I do have them try to be very sure of one another before they go at anything physical (most of the times) and that makes them more tender? idk. I like the thought of it though!

Thank you so much ^^

Date: 2012-12-09 06:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh my god, what is this beautiful Homin/Minho you keep writing? ;____; I seriously can't get enough of the different plots, themes and concepts you keep writing. For real, I'm hooked.

Now, that said. Mind if I add you, so I can keep better track of when you publish something new? I know I'm totally lazy at commenting and showing my appreciation for great pieces like this, but I promise to try and be active!

Oh, and one more thing. I'm kindly asking demanding for a sequel to Headlong. That story needs more than a simple oneshot. Well, actually, I was just bummed out that there was no hot sex :o Was totally expecting there to be some, yet there wasn't and I'm basically not satisfied, lol. Yes, this is me asking kindly.

Did I mention that I totally adored the way you write the two of them together?

Date: 2012-12-10 03:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you :) Sure, add me if you want - I'm only writing in the fandom until the end of the year though, so if you'd prefer to just pop back without adding or add me and then un-add me, whatever suits you best!

Unfortunately I don't have time to write the sequel to Headlong D: The first idea I had would have needed ages to write it. The second idea seemed straightforward and then I realised it wasn't. So I'm also not satisfied because I'd love to write it but unless a miracle occurs and time can be bent backwards, it's just not going to happen. Which bums me out but yeah, I just don't have the time, I'm afraid :/

(no subject)

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