Aurel’s eyes snapped open when he heard footsteps sneaking across the sand outside. He gently shook Diana and quickly put a hand over her mouth. “Someone has come to our home, please stay silent.” She nodded and he got up, waiting. He could hear the front door being opened and then the footsteps across the floor. When his bedroom door open he used magic to blast the person back and into the living room where they rolled and then came back to their feet. Aurel gritted his teeth, growling as he followed and the would be burglar turned and headed outside. Diana was up and following, worried about her mate and wondering what the person wanted. Aurel came to a stop when he stepped outside and saw that there was more than one, all on horseback.
“God of the sands.” The head rider said as he removed the cowl that covered his face. “You will come with us.”
“I don’t know who you think you are, but I don’t take orders from anyone but my mate.” He stared at them menacingly. “Leave now and I will not kill you.”
“Aurel, what’s happening?” Diana asked from the doorway.
“Nothing, love, go wait for me.” He turned his attention back to the men just as two of them rushed him. They were quick, well versed in combat, but he was quicker. He ducked and dodged easily, dispatching the first and then grabbing the second and twisting his arm behind his back so he screamed. “I won’t tell you again, leave or…” Something sharp pricked his neck and he reached up, pulling out a dart. He felt suddenly dizzy, felt his muscles beginning to seize up and he let go of the man who scrambled back.
“Aurel!” Diana said as he hit the ground, unable to move. She dropped down next to him.
“Aurel. What did they do?”
“Just a sedative and paralytic.” The leader said as he moved closer. Diana stood, taking a swing at him and he backhanded her across the face, knocking her down. “He truly is a beautiful creature.” He squatted down and ran his fingers across Aurel’s cheek. “The boss will be pleased. Take him, leave her.”
“Aurel” she cried out. She wanted to try and fight them but her mate had told her to find their son. She got up and started running as fast as she could. Diana was glad if she couldn’t chase her husband just yet that at least her son wasn’t all that far away. She knocked in a panic, scared for him. Konstantin was to the door near instantly. “Mother, what’s wrong” She explained the situation and urged him to hurry “he didn’t want me to follow alone. He wanted you to come with me so come” Rage bubbled up through Konstantings body as he picked up his mother and began running back towards his childhood home.
Aurel was frustrated that he couldn’t move and even more so that he wasn’t able to use his magic. His head felt hazy and whatever they had given him threatened to knock him out. Rage kept him awake as well a small inkling of curiosity at what idiot had sent these men. He very much wanted to interrogate them and hoped Diana was safely with their son. He took a deep breath, focusing on their scents and trying to discern where they might be from. “You must be thinking about why we would come for you.” The leader suddenly said, but Aurel couldn’t raise his head to look at him. “It’s simple really. Our master is a collector of sorts, he loves beautiful things. Art, music, animals, women and men. He saw you once during a trip to this place and said he could not get you out of his head. You’ve consumed him, you’re all he thinks about. When he expressed a need to have you, my men and I obliged.” Aurel growled and they all laughed. They did not know what kind of monster they had dared to challenge and he couldn’t wait to show them his power, especially the leader who had dared lay a hand on Diana.
“I do not recognize their scent.” Konstantin said as he studied the area where the men and horses had been. “It’s foreign.”
“We have to save your father.” Diana was near tears. All she wanted was her mate back and she didn’t understand why this was happening.
“Tell me again what they said to dad.”
“That he was beautiful and that their boss would be happy with him. Do you think he’s okay?”
Konstantin huffed. “Who dad? He’ll kill them the first chance he gets and he won’t be intimidated.”
“We have to follow.”
“Just promise to stick to me, I couldn’t take you getting hurt and neither could dad.”
He took his mother back in his arms and took off, following the trail. He truly wasn’t worried, once whatever they had used on his father wore off he would have all their asses. Aurel couldn’t be kept down but he would still go to aid him and keep his mother safe in the process. “Thank you Konstantin”
“You’re my parents, I’m glad you came to get me mom. I know if you hadn’t you might have just tried to follow by yourself. I’m sure that’s part of why dad sent you after me, to make sure you wouldn’t try to follow by yourself.”
“Probably knowing him”
“He loves you to pieces mom”
“And I love him, we’ve grown so much together, I couldn’t imagine life without him.”
Aurel knew where they were even without seeing. He knew every inch of this desert, he had spent so much time before Diana exploring every corner, every cave and oasis. This place was a part of him, it was his home. He knew the direction they were going lead to an oasis. I was out of the way, in the middle of nowhere, but was the perfect safe haven if you were lost. It was the center point of the desert. He felt the ground slope up for a ways as they climbed a dune and then it dipped back down and he caught the scent of fresh water and exotic flowers. The sand changed to green grass and the darkness was lit up by fire light. The horses stopped and Aurel was lifted off the horse, all the blood that had pooled in his head rushed back into his body, making him feel dizzy for a moment. He managed to raise his head a bit, taking in the large, extravagant tent. He had known they were not from around here, they style of their clothing and the detailing on the tents and even the horses were different than the ones around there. He was dragged inside the tent and something cool was put around his neck, a metal collar of sorts. He bared his teeth, not liking being treated like a dog.
“Calm down demon, it’s just to keep you in check.” The leader of his kidnappers said. Aurel felt something sharp prick his neck and felt his muscles begin to loosen. “You should be able to move soon, but you won’t be able to use your powers with that thing on, so be good, don’t displease our master.”
Aurel reached up and touched the collar when his arms once again obeyed him, ran his fingers over it, studied it. “It looks beautiful on you.” The voice was unfamiliar, as was the face attached to it. He didn’t know this man so studied him, looking for weapons, for weaknesses.
The mans smile widened as if he liked being examined. “that mind is always working. It’s interesting to watch. You’re such a beautiful thing but that mind wont rest a moment”
“what does me being beautiful have to do with my mind resting?” Bitterness rested in each word Aurel spoke. “I’ve found beautiful people don’t often think a lot. They don’t really need to I suppose.” Aurel just glared, still trying to scope out a weakness or means of escape. His son and wife were coming and he wanted to have the upperhand before then. He didn’t know if he could take someone hurting Diana in front of him again. He needed a level head and off drugs that would be something he couldn’t keep if someone hurt her or his son.
“What exactly do you want with me?” Aurel asked.
“For you to be mine of course. I’ll take care of you, love you, shower you with gifts.”
“You mean you want another pet. Do I look like a dog to you? I may be beautiful, but I am no ones slave.”
He chuckled. “How delightful you are, but are you not a slave that woman? Won’t you look at me the way you look at her, with absolute devotion?”
“I only devote myself to those I care about and I neither know you nor wish to know you. Let me go now and it will save you a lot of trouble. I may only punish the man who touched my mate if you stop this foolishness now.”
“But Aurel,” he leaned forward, his fingers sliding over the collar, “you can’t leave, the magic on this is too powerful, you have to come with me, you will come with me.”
Konstantin slowed when the oasis came into view and then stopped just on the outskirts, his nose taking in every scent. He lowered his mother to her feet and he and Diana stayed low as they moved further in. They could see Aurel’s kidnappers camped around a bigger tent, their conversation going between getting paid and making lewd comments about Aurel’s beauty. Diana hated people like this, they were the reason Aurel had been self conscious about his looks for so long. “Your father must be in there.” She whispered as she pointed at the bigger tent.
“yeah, I don’t want to annoy you mom but you and dad still practice with your abilities from time to time right?”
“Yes but I’ll still stay close.”
“Thank you, dad would kill me if I let anyone hurt you”
“I know honey, I’ll be okay though. If your mind is on me the whole time you wont fight aswell. I’m in practice enough to defend myself.” Konstantin nodded, deciding to trust his mother. They stealthily moved forward, taking them by surprise as close to the tent as they could. Diana’s scent hit Aurels nose and he perked up. She was here and he needed to get this damned collar off and protect her.
“So Aurel, are you going to come with me willingly or do I have to make you?”
Aurel felt himself smiling, a smile that said as soon as I’m out of here, I will show you what fear is. “Neither.” He said as he reached up, letting his fingers run over the collar. He studied every symbol, let the magic play over his skin.
“You won’t get loose, Aurel, I had the best make it.”
“You had the second best.” He could feel the spells that had been put into it. “The thing about magic is how easy it can be to reverse it when you study enough. Most magicians don’t really know their art, they don’t throw themselves into it, they don’t feel it like a living breathing thing. I’ve had centuries to grow into my magic, years of reading, of studying.”
Aurel looked the man dead in the eyes as he managed to break the collar off. “What?!” He was honestly shocked. Aurel had been correct, the second best had made him that collar. This demon had just broken it like it was nothing. The once cool and superior man was now terrified of the obviously pissed Aurel. The collectors death was quick. While he just wanted to put an end to that mans kidnappings he wanted to actually punish the man that had struck Diana. Aurel was gripping his target by the throat in mere moments, holding him in the air by it.
Aurel had wanted to do horrible things to this man but just then Diana and his son ran in. He gripped tighter but he couldn’t go through with it in front of her. He threw the man down ahrd enough to knock him out then embraced his wife “Aurel” she was already sobbing. “I’m okay love” He said soothingly as he stroked her hair. His son had another man by the hair “didn’t know if you got to ask any questions yet” Konstantin explained and Aurel said “make sure there’s nobody else this man had captive. I’ll take your mother outside” Konstantine nodded and Aurel walked out with Diana.
Talk to me baby.” He said softly once they were out of that tent.
“I was just so scared, I’ve never seen you powerless before. I…I thought the worst and I just wanted you back.”
He stroked her cheek and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Even someone like me is susceptible to certain drugs, thankfully he was too busy trying to flatter and threaten me to pay attention. His ego was astounding.”
She sniffed and cracked a little smile. “Oh his ego?”
“I prefer to call it confidence when it comes to me.”
“You can be such a jerk.”
He hugged her tightly to him. “I’m sorry baby, I’ll make it up to you, I promise. We can do whatever you want as soon as all of this is over. I need to find out where he came from, I’m sure he has more slaves back in his homeland and I’m going to have to clean this place up, I don’t want the oasis tainted by them.”
“I’ll help” He wanted to tell her no, to have her go safely home but there was no way she would do that and a small part of his heart always felt missing when she wasn’t in his sight. Even when he studied she was more often than not in the room with him. Weather it be reading, cleaning or just hanging out she was always right there with him. When their son came out with information for them the three of them cleaned the oasis and took care of the assholes there.
The next day they headed to where the collector kept his possessions once they were obedient enough to be left under guard in his home while he traveled for new toys. “It’s insane to me he would travel so far to collect people..” Diana said as Aurel held her in his arms “Obviously sick in the head and extremely entitled”
“we can’t just free them and say goodbye. We have to really help them Aurel”
“I know baby. We’ll take them to Chthons home since he has the space in his castle and we’ll stay until they are sorted out.”
The house the demon owned was huge and beautifully deceptive. If it wasn’t for what was held inside, they may have stopped to admire it. He approached the house, the guards seeming surprised when he didn’t stop at their order. When they reached for him he killed them with ease, not even pausing as he kicked the door open. “Konstantin go upstairs, we’ll take this floor and the basement.”
“Yes sir.” He replied and headed up the steps. Aurel and Diana knew he could handle whatever lay up there and if he couldn’t they knew he would call for help.
She and Aurel went from room to room, dispatching guards as they went and finding terrified maids with collars around their necks. Diana reassured them that they were safe, that they were there to help and that the way to the front door was clear. She told them to wait outside, that they were free now. They were hesitant to believe her, but they made their way to the front door anyway, wanting an exit just in case. “Come on love, they’ll be safe.”
“I know, I just hate the look on their faces.”
Your grandfather, Chthon and his family at the castle have helped people recover from worse situations. We’ll have them there soon so their healing can begin” Diana nodded, knowing Aurel was right. Chthon, Ruth and her family that lived in their castle were always helping people that went on to live happy lives once they left. They could help anyone recover and see their lives can be good again. They found some long, winding stairs that had them descending down for at least fifteen minuets. Going so low made Diana nervous she wouldn’t be able to hear her son but he was an adult and Aurels son, Chthons great grandson, he could handle himself.
This was where they found the mans collection of people and things. Women, children, men, animals, plates, cups, there were so many things but they only cared about the people. “what the hell do you want” a man came at them. Diana noticed right away he was covered with bruises and surmised it was defiance that had caused him to be so marked. Aurel calmly said “we’re here to set you all free.” He seemed to study them a moment and Aurel silently allowed it.
“Dead by my hand, his men as well. There’s no one here to stop you from leaving.”
He swallowed. “Where will you take us?”
“Somewhere safe. Have you ever heard of Chthon? He is the most powerful demon I know, some even call him a god among our kind. You will be safe there.”
“On my life.”
He nodded. “I’ll help you with the others then, but if you dare turn on us, I…I won’t hesitate to…”
They rounded everyone up and they went at the fastest pace they could to Chthons. Konstantin went ahead to give Chthon a heads up even if just a little before everyone else came. Konstantin could go much faster since he didn’t have to go at the pace of the slowest person in the group.When they arrived Ruth and Chthon, as always were more than happy to welcome them all and gave the rooms before filling their bellies and starting to get to know them all. In Chthons library Aurel said “I’m sorry to bring you so many”
“It’s never a bother, you know that. I’m just glad you and Diana are alright”
“I can’t believe I let myself get captured at all. It’s embarrassing and that..that brute slapped Diana. I’m so angry at him and myself”
“Even I have fallen pray to drugs Aurel”
“and you can’t talk because you were upset at yourself too”
“I just hate I was so caught off guard.” He ran his fingers through his hair with a sigh. “My over confidence got me in trouble.”
Chthon slapped him on the back. “All that matters is that everyone made it out alive.”
“I know and Diana did not suffer any permanent injury.”
“She’s tough, I mean she does come from my line.”
Aurel chuckled. “At least there’s that.”
“Why don’t you all stay here for a bit, rest.”
“Thank you my friend, believe it or not I’m exhausted.”
Aurel left Chthon and went to find Diana. It was harder to track scents in a highly trafficked place like Chthons but Aurel, being the demon that he was managed it. He found her talking and to his pleasant surprise laughing with Adette and Nisari. Her family could always make her laugh, it was another reason he was glad he came. “Come to steal her?” Adette asked “yes, I’m very tired and would like her to rest with me if she can be pulled away” Diana hugged the two girls “I need rest too anyways” Once out of the room Aurel asked “where’s Abraxas?”
“He and a few of the others a gone, helping someone”
“What would the worlds do without your family?” Diana smiled and took his hand. Once in their room they showered, dried then cuddled naked under the warmth of the covers. Aurel let Diana’s voice lul him to sleep as she talked about everything Nisari and Adette updated her on. He knew it wouldn’t anger her, he often liked to fall asleep at night to her talking. It was actually something she found endearing rather than insulting.
When he was out she kissed his head “goodnight” she whispered then let herself relax. The next morning Aurel woke alone which startled him out of bed until he remembered where they were. Home he would never wake without her there but here, once she was up she was gone to be with her family. He dressed himself then walked to their dressers. Since this was the room they always had when they came they had a few changes of clothes. He took his time getting ready, carefully doing the buttons then making sure there wasn’t a single knot in his long blonde hair.
Someone looks nice.” He heard when he stepped out of his room and arched an eyebrow at Fotia who was just coming down the hall with a basket full of clothes.
“Hello little Fotia, how are you this morning?”
“Helping get rid of these. Those people deserve better than this garbage.”
“Have you see Diana?”
Fotia giggled. “So that’s why you look so regal, like a prince. She’s down in the kitchen helping mom and the others cook. With all the people in the castle, she wanted to lend a hand.”
He smiled. “She’s such a treasure. I’ll head down to her then, unless you need help.”
“Go on, I can manage some dirty clothes.”
Aurel nodded and walked to the kitchen where he was glad to find Diana. He hugged her from behind and she spoke “good morning sleepyhead”
“Good morning, can I help?”
“ask Ruth what you can do” He looked over at her and was soon given instruction. They stayed busy helping until breakfast was over but after they went outside. Often when Diana and Aurel returned here they would do things they had done back when Aurel was wooing her. It was fun and often romantic to walk down memory lane. She was still the same woman she was then but she was still do different at the same time. She had a lot more confidence in herself, in her looks, in teh reasons Aurel was attracted to her. To go through these things again as a far more mature woman was nice so they went on the same walk they had so many times before.
Aurel had changed quite a bit too from when he was wooing her. He understood other peoples feelings a lot more and actually knew what to do now when she was upset. Though, because he was better socially and with his temper he rarely made her cry anymore. It destroyed him to hurt her so he did his best to be a better and better man all the time.
“I’m so glad to be back here Aurel”
“Me too, you know, you’re more beautiful than last time we were here. I think every time we come you’ve grown ever so slightly more beautiful”
“stop being such a flirt” Aurel chuckled “I love flirting with my mate” She held his hand in both of hers “I think you’re after something.”
“Maybe” she laughed when long ago she would have just blushed and looked away. “You’ll just have to be good and wait.It’s been awhile since we came here. I want to enjoy going on this old walk” Aurel smiled “This was about the only way I could get you to spend time with me without you being overly nervous. I would have walked with you all day if thats what it took for you to talk to me”
“I know, it was really sweet”
“I have loved you since the moment we met Diana. I will always love only you”
“Me too, thank you for being so patient with me back then and for getting me to come out of my shell.”
He grinned. “You’re still the shyest girl I know and it’s still incredibly cute when I get you to blush. You’re so beautiful when you’re red from head to toe.”
“Oh stop.” She giggled and he scooped her up, wanting her closer.
“You’re so beautiful that it drives me absolutely crazy. Sometimes I just watch you trying to figure out why you stayed with me and what I could do to make you happy. I should be the one thanking you for forgiving me and loving me.”
“You’re my other half, Aurel, that’s all there is to it.” She rested her head on his shoulder and just enjoyed the rest of the walk, bringing up memory after memory until they reached the end and had to turn around. There were so many amazing things she had experienced with him, things she thought she would never get to when she was as shy as she had been.
“I’ve been thinking, my love.” He said as they neared the entrance of the woods.
“How scary.” She teased and he chuckled.
“Oh yes my mind is so devious there’s no telling what’s going on in there. All of those incantations have finally corrupted me, you should probably lock me up.”
“I’ve thought about it.”
She blushed. “That’s not what I meant and you know it.”
“It wasn’t, what have you been thinking about?”
“Yes, I miss having them.”
“That was an easy sell”
“You’re an amazing father and I love being a mother. Why not?” Aurel smiled and leaned down to kiss her. When they returned to the castle and their room they immedietly began trying, getting lost in eachothers bodies and sounds. It was months later they finally left Chthons castle and returned home. Diana was almost a month along with their new baby and all the Aponte’s and Davo’s couldn’t wait to meet them.
~ The End