Nelly woke , lifting her head up off the window she had been resting against. She was still on the this train with a terrible feeling in her stomach that nobody but her seemed to get. The first day she had woken confused but one of her fellow passengers explained they were all going home. The explanation had settled her at the time. It wasnâ€™t until this morning, four days later that it hit her â€śgoing home from where?â€ť She decided to ask â€śWhere have we been?â€ť another question hit her and she asked it right away â€śand where is home?â€ť The question seemed to perplex the man she asked.
He couldnâ€™t believe it, she was really pregnant â€śand you think itâ€™s been two months?â€ť
â€śYeah andâ€¦Iâ€™ve been suspicious for about a month now so Iâ€™ve had a lot of time to think. I really want to seek out my parents. Iâ€™ve wanted so badly to introduce them to you, Pretoria and Brynmor anyway and now that theyâ€™ll have, well, sort of their first grandchild itâ€™s time. I know youâ€™re scared for me to leave but you three will be right with me Reesâ€ť She had returned to him almost three years ago and as frightening as it truly was she was right so he fought down his protective instincts and agreed they should journey to find her parents. â€śHow will we find them thoughâ€ť she walked over to a nearby drawer and pulled out a necklace.
â€śPaimon, come on we should have left already.â€ť Pellegrino said as he walked into the room Paimon was using at the castle. â€śWhatâ€™s takingâ€¦â€ť he froze, his heart jumping in his chest when he saw Paimon standing there naked, drying his hair. Paimonâ€™s eyes collided with his and he swallowed. â€śIâ€¦sorry, I should have knocked, Iâ€¦â€ť He turned around to leave and Paimon was suddenly standing there, closing the door, the towel wrapped around his waist.
â€śWell hello to you too Pellegrino.â€ť Paimonâ€™s eyes twinkled with his trademark amusement. â€śCan I help you?â€ť
â€śUh, our tripâ€¦I just came to get you.â€ť He hadnâ€™t expected him to be completely naked. He often walked into Paimonâ€™s house without knocking.
â€śOh thatâ€™s right.â€ť He chuckled. â€śIâ€™m afraid I slept in. If youâ€™ll just give me a moment to get dressed.â€ť
â€śOf course, sorry.â€ť
Paimon chuckled again, not seeming bothered in the slightest that Pellegrino had seen him naked. Paimon was confident in his body and if anybody was going to see him naked he wanted it to be the prince. Paimon dressed slowly, a wide smile on his face as he enjoyed teasing the very nervous Pellegrino. Once dressed he hugged Pellegrino from behind and whispered in his ear â€śIâ€™m ready nowâ€ť chuckling again at how he reacted. Paimon let his body go but took the princeâ€™s hand and tugged him out. Pellegrino was once again left not knowing what to do. Paimon was a lot to be around but he enjoyed every second of it.
Paimon took a detour to the kitchen where he grabbed a bag he had packed the night before with snacks for the road. He wasnâ€™t particularly worried about supplies, confident in his ability to easily provide for them. â€ś How long are we going to be gone?â€ť Pellegrino asked.
â€śA few days. Why, are you scared to be alone with me? Afraid I might bite?â€ť He chuckled at the princeâ€™s stuttering heart. He truly did love teasing him, especially since he was so innocent.
â€śDonâ€™t worry, I promise to make every moment incredibly enjoyable my sweet prince.â€ť
Paimon kept possession of prince Pellegrinoâ€™s hand even as they left the castle, wanting him to stay close. He knew the prince liked it anyway. He was often tempted to tell the prince that the feeling was mutual but Paimon enjoyed this phase far too much. They had forever so what did it matter how long they were here. Eventually the prince would admit their feelings and theyâ€™d still have eternity together. Right now, things were adorable but a part of him did hope maybe this trip would be what got Pellegrino to admit he wanted to be in a relationship with him.
â€śWhat are we going to be doing exactly?â€ť Pellegrino asked.
â€śItâ€™s a surprise my prince, or perhaps youâ€™d like me to spoil it for you?â€ť
â€śNo, well maybe a hint?â€ť
â€śHmmm.â€ť Paimon tapped his chin. â€śItâ€™s fun and interesting and you get me all to yourself.â€ť He teased and Pellegrinoâ€™s cheeks flushed. â€śItâ€™ll just be you and me.â€ť
â€śOh, I see.â€ť
â€śThereâ€™s going to be hot springs.â€ť
â€śMmhmm and youâ€™ll love it there, I promise.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m surprised youâ€™re not dragging me off to mess with someone.â€ť Pellegrino said with a nervous chuckle.
â€śIâ€™m not all tricks, my prince, sometimes I like to unwind and be â€śnormalâ€ť for awhile.â€ť
â€śso did anything keep you up last night?â€ť
â€śNot really, It was just one of those nights I fell asleep particularly hardâ€ť Pellegrino didnâ€™t say anything back so Paimon asked â€śwhat have you done this morning?â€ť
â€śtalked to some friends who stopped me on the way to your homeâ€ť
â€śOh, which friends?â€ť
â€śMĂos, Enfulid and Enfulidâ€™s most recent fling.â€ť
â€śHe never does stay with anyone more than a few months. Were they just saying goodbye?â€ť
â€śMostly, Mios also decided to bring up again why we don’t just teleport where we are going.â€ť
â€śPart of the fun is traveling thereâ€ť
â€śThat’s what I told him. He said if he had that ability its all he would doâ€ť
â€śThat’s what you think but its not as fun when youâ€™ve been able to do it all your lifeâ€ť
â€śSays the guy who likes to sneak up on people, me included, and scare them.â€ť
â€śI prefer the term surprise and donâ€™t pretend you donâ€™t enjoy it.â€ť
â€śI admit life would be boring without you.â€ť
â€śTrue, Iâ€™m pretty amazing.â€ť
â€śYou are, I mean it.â€ť He felt embarrassed so he cleared his throat and focused on the road ahead. Even so, he could see Paimon smiling out of the corner of his eye. It wasnâ€™t fair how beautiful he was, how easily he wrapped people around his little finger. He had been captivated from the moment they had met.
Paimon couldnâ€™t get over how sweet Pellegrino was and how adorable he was in his obliviousness. He was so innocent in comparison to himself, he wondered how he would react to being seduced. â€śOh, would you mind if we took a little detour? Itâ€™s a shortcut, but I think youâ€™ll like it.â€ť
â€śOkay, whatever you want.â€ť
â€śKeep saying that and I might just collect.â€ť He winked and then chuckled when he heard Pellegrinoâ€™s heart quicken.
They were soon turning where the detour began, walking silently side by side due to the fact Paimon was now hooked into the idea of suddenly seducing him at some point during this journey. He just had to plan how and when. He didnâ€™t mind this phase but the urge to actually mate with him grew stronger and stronger every time they hung out. If he kept just teasing Pellegrino and waiting for him to confess he didnâ€™t know how much longer he was going to have to wait for sex, possibly years and that tipped the scales a little into how much fun it would be to seduce such a sweet, innocent man.
Pellegrino noticed small changes starting to occur as they walked. The grass was growing more vibrant but the trees, once green and full bodied were starting to look more like they belonged to fall weather. He began looking more intently at everything which Paimon noticed â€śOf course, heâ€™s thinking of nature and Iâ€™m thinking about making love to himâ€ť he thought to himself.
â€śWhat happened here?â€ť He pointed. â€śThereâ€™s snow back there.â€ť
â€śMy theory is a magic user may have been practicing changing the weather and it got out of hand. I call it the Forest of Seasons.â€ť
â€śYouâ€™re better.â€ť He gently bumped into him.
â€śAm I? I think Iâ€™m being incredibly honest. If I had to choose between you and this place, Iâ€™d definitely choose you. Youâ€™re far to entertaining and pure to pass up.â€ť He teased.
â€śIâ€™m not pure.â€ť
â€śOh? Do tell sweet prince.â€ť
â€śIâ€¦wellâ€¦â€ť he rubbed the back of his neck, â€śokay, so maybe I am more pure than I thought.â€ť
Paimon chuckled. â€śThatâ€™s okay, itâ€™s actually quite adorable.â€ť He grinned. â€śBesides, I have enough experience for both of us.â€ť
â€śPaimon, come on.â€ť He looked away. â€śSo, tell me more about this place? Are there any animals or anything?â€ť
He really wanted to talk about anything other than Paimons previous exploits with lovers. He knew he meant that in other ways too but it still made him uncomfortable. Paimon easily transitioned over to a new topic, always feeling it was a subject that did nothing but make his mate uncomfortable. He had hoped at first it might interest him but it never so much as slightly peaked his interest though he couldnâ€™t blame him. He knew from experience with others who had slept around just because someone had sex a lot didnâ€™t mean they were good at it. When you get people in bed they don’t get a preview of how good you are so your skill in bed has nothing to do with how many youâ€™ve been with.
He wasnâ€™t sure how that idea even got started. Sometimes having a multitude of partners actually meant you were pretty bad at it, as in, beings werenâ€™t coming back for more after they had you once so you had to bed someone new. â€śthere’s actually an amazing variety of animals this way. Since there are so many seasons a lot can live in different areas of this placeâ€ť
â€śThanks for bringing me this wayâ€ť Paimon smiled, charming as always â€śthings like this is precisely why I enjoy walking with you instead of teleportingâ€ť
â€ścan we stay for the night when weâ€™re about halfway through? I don’t want to rush through hereâ€ť
â€śThat’s fine with me, just gives us more time togetherâ€ť
Pellegrino wanted to explore the different parts of the forest and Paimon happily followed, even pelting him with a snowball at one point. When Pellegrino went to retaliate, he was suddenly behind him and smashing another over his head. â€śThatâ€™s so unfair.â€ť Pellegrino said with a laugh.
â€śThe look on your face is always priceless though, I canâ€™t help it.â€ť He helped dust Pellegrino off. â€śCome on, weâ€™ll stay in Spring.â€ť
He took Pellegrinoâ€™s hand again and pulled him through the woods, moving out of the snow to a more warm and vibrant area. He marveled at how brightly colored the plants were and also at the heat radiating from the area. It was like both Spring and Summer had taken up residence here and it was amazing. â€śThis is perfect.â€ť
â€śThereâ€™s no need for a fire when itâ€™s like this.â€ť He dropped his pack in the grass and stretched. â€śSo, what do you think so far? Good trip? Bad?â€ť
â€śItâ€™s perfect.â€ť Pellegrino sat down and leaned back against a tree. â€śSo, have you come here often?â€ť
â€śOf course, I love it here, why?â€ť
Paimon could see the question in his eyes. He was wondering if he had brought anyone else here. â€śYou know, I used to travel alone, mostly following Jarius and making him angry. I spent time with others of course, but I never brought them to my favorite places.â€ť He went and sat down in front of Pellegrino, taking his hand. â€śYouâ€™re the only one.â€ť
He could see how much that meant to Pellegrino, the look he had on his face was so adorable he kissed his forehead. â€śYou hungry?â€ť he asked before Pellegrino could say anything. â€śIt probably would be good to hunt before weâ€™re too hungryâ€ť he semi stuttered and Paimon chuckled, come, lets hunt together. Paimon knew the area so Pellegrino followed his lead. They didnâ€™t end up too far before nabbing and quickly killing an animal. They prepared it together, it producing so much they could eat off it for days if they kept it stored properly but Paimon had magic for that.
â€śLet me cook it, I found this particularly good way to use this meatâ€ť
â€śalrightâ€ť Pellegrino watched Paimon, always eager to learn.
â€śHow did you get it to taste so good?â€ť Pelligrino asked when they were finally eating. â€śI watched you and I donâ€™t remember you putting much on there.â€ť
Paimon shrugged. â€śItâ€™s a secret.â€ť
â€śCome on, I want to be able to make it too.â€ť
Paimon shook his head. â€śYouâ€™ll just have to visit me as often as possible to eat it. Itâ€™s a good excuse to have you over.â€ť
â€śAlright, fine, I guess I can deal with it.â€ť
â€śHow else am I to entice you over?â€ť
â€śBut food is an added bonus.â€ť
Pellegrino chuckled. â€śIâ€™ll give you that.â€ť
They continued to make small talk as they ate, Paimon teasing Pellegrino at every opportunity and Pellegrino unable to hide his embarrassment or the fact he actually enjoyed it. He could see why so many found him charming and even loved him. He couldnâ€™t help but feel a slight stab of jealousy and he hated it. Paimon paid more attention to him than anyone else and he knew he should be happy about it. â€śYouâ€™re making a face my sweet Pellegrino.â€ť Paimon jerked him out of his thoughts. â€śWant to talk about it?â€ť
â€śNo, Iâ€™m fine, thank you for bringing me here and for dinner.â€ť
â€śWell be prepared to be spoiled the whole time. I have a lot planned for when we get there.â€ť
Pellegrino smiled, snapping out of it. The past didnâ€™t matter, just them, right now mattered. It felt good to know that he was the only one Paimon had brought here. Paimon got Pellegrino blushing again when they laid down for the night. Instead of just laying across from him Paimon pulled Pellegrino into his arms and almost instantly fell asleep, not giving Pellegrino much of a chance to say anything. Pellegrino swallowed down how nervous this made him and allowed himself to slowly drift to sleep. In the morning Paimon had such a smug smile on his face that had Pellegrinos heart racing. â€śgood morningâ€ť
â€śgood morningâ€ť Pellegrino quickly sat up and Paimon chuckled, happily starting to get breakfast going. Pellegrino still didnâ€™t know what to say about Paimon holding him last night so ended up not mentioning it. He liked it and still couldnâ€™t tell Paimon how he felt so he decided nothing was best unless he was ready to tell him he wanted to be with him.
â€śDo you think weâ€™ll get to where weâ€™re going today?â€ť Pellegrino asked once they were on their way again.
â€śTonight, thatâ€™s why I went this way. It takes us up and over instead of around.â€ť He took Pellegrinoâ€™s hand. â€śLuckily, because of all this magic, it stays fairly warm on the way up. Are you excited?â€ť
â€śVery.â€ť And nervous, he thought. Paimon had such a way of throwing him for a loop. He was so forward and absolutely shameless.
Paimon could hear how hard his heart was beating and pulled him a little closer. He took them up at a leisurely pace, not wanting to rush his time with Pellegrino. A warm breeze blew through the forest, kicking up flurries of snow. When they crested the hill, Paimon pointed. â€śWeâ€™re going way over there where that clearing is.â€ť He explained. â€śSee the sun hitting the water?â€ť
â€śThis is amazing.â€ť
â€śYou need to travel more, my prince. I may just have to take you on a new adventure every couple of weeks.â€ť
â€śYou donâ€™t have to do that.â€ť
â€śNo, but I want to.â€ť
â€śalright then, that sounds funâ€ť
â€śas long as Iâ€™m with you Iâ€™m doing something I want to doâ€ť Paimon always teased but not this way. Was he trying to kill him? His heart going like this couldnâ€™t be healthy. Paimon kept on the entire way, building up to what he was planning to do as soon as they reached their destination. It was amusing in itself that Pellegrino still wasnâ€™t getting it. He was far too innocent and sweet. When they arrived that evening Paimon didnâ€™t even give him time to finish talking about how much he liked this place too. Paimon pulled the prince into a hungry kiss. He couldnâ€™t take it slow, he wanted this too bad and the shock value would be too amusing. Besides, he knew for a fact Pellegrino did want him.
Pellegrino was so shocked he couldnâ€™t even kiss back at first but shyly, he did eventually start to. Paimon started feeling him, desiring all of him more than ever but Pellegrino pushed his hands away. Paimon groaned, pulling away completely â€śToo much then?â€ť
â€śI love you and I want you. Iâ€™ve been teasing you long enoughâ€ť
â€śSo all this time youâ€™ve actually been flirting with meâ€¦â€ť
â€śYou mean more to me than anybody ever hasâ€ť
â€śand this isnâ€™t a joke? Youâ€™re seriousâ€ť
â€śwasnâ€™t that kiss serious?â€ť
â€śItâ€™s just, Iâ€™m not exactly, you know and you do enjoy messing with me soâ€¦â€ť
â€śDo you trust me?â€ť
â€śThen trust that Iâ€™m being serious.â€ť He pressed a light kiss to his lips. â€śI want you and only you, no one else, and I have for awhile.â€ť He grinned as he leaned in, his lips close to Pellegrinoâ€™s ear. â€śDonâ€™t you want me too, my prince.â€ť
Pellegrino swallowed, his heart hammering in his chest, the tickle of Paimonâ€™s breath sending desire dancing through him. â€śI do, itâ€™s justâ€¦I may disappoint.â€ť
Paimon pulled back, the look on his face surprisingly serious. â€śLet me tell you something, Pellegrino. The amount of people I have been with doesnâ€™t matter, there is no comparison to be made between you and them. I love you and anything I do with you will be more enjoyable because I love you. There is nothing you could do to disappoint me. I am yours to do with what you wish, nothing will change that.â€ť He smiled warmly. â€śYouâ€™re my first love, Pellegrino, my only love.â€ť
â€śYes and itâ€™s something I never thought I would have or even want.â€ť
Pellegrino didnâ€™t know if it was foolishness, hopefulness or the way Paimon was looking at him but he believed him. He kissed Paimon, not half as sure of himself as Paimon. Soon he wasnâ€™t thinking at all, just one with the moment they were sharing. â€śI love you tooâ€ť Pellegrino said softly when their lips parted again. Paimon grinned â€śwell lets stop this before I have you right now. Youâ€™re probably tiredâ€ť
â€śtired? Right now?â€ť The look Pellegrino gave him as he said those words made Paimon chuckle â€śso I can have you then?â€ť
â€śdonâ€™t be so nervous, I mean it. I love you and that alone will make it amazing. People from my past should never bother you because they never meant a thing to me. You have chemistry in bed or you donâ€™t and most the time how you feel about eachother determines that. Its like how mortals will sometimes act like sex in their marriage was suddenly terrible. Their sex life wasnâ€™t different, how they felt was. Mates enjoy sex far more than people who whore themselves because we love eachother.â€ť Paimons lust was getting harder to control but he didnâ€™t want Pellegrino to be so nervous.
â€śI just donâ€™t know what to do.â€ť
Paimon smiled as he pressed another seductive kiss to Pellegrinoâ€™s lips, eliciting a little moan that sent a thrill of excitement through him. â€śLet me show you my love.â€ť He kissed his chin, nibbled his way down to his neck where he gave him a gentle bite.
â€śPaimon.â€ť He sounded breathless, needy, and maybe even a little scared, but he wasnâ€™t pulling away.
He pushed at his shirt, lifting it up and off, allowed his hands to slide over his torso. â€śCan I have you, Pellegrino?â€ť
Paimon found his lips again as he pulled him down to the soft grass. They pulled at each otherâ€™s clothes, both if them letting out a sigh of pleasure at being skin to skin. He coaxed Pellegrino into touching him, enjoying the shy way he explored him. He rolled Pellegrino beneath him, his lips moving down the center of his body, his teeth biting down to mark him.
Each time Paimon bit down on Pellegrinos flesh to mark him Pellegrino moaned. When Paimon reached just above his length he began to lick up Pellegrinos body, stopping at his neck to gently nibble and suck. Pellegrino began touching Paimon again, feeling him, causing goosebumps to show up all over Paimons skin. This truly was better than any encounter he had ever had before. He hadnâ€™t known if all that talk from Jarius was true but right now, he knew it definitely was. Sex was a million times better with someone you loved.
Paimon moaned loudly when Pellegrino nibbled at his ear then licked just behind it, something nobody had actually done to him before so he hadnâ€™t known how sensitive he was to something like that. Pellegrinos heart flipped in his chest that he could cause such a reaction from him. It gave him a little more confidence already since he could sense how much Paimon was enjoying this in general.
Paimon hadnâ€™t planned this but was always preparred, producing some lube so he wouldnâ€™t hurt Pellegrino during their first time. Before he used it he checked again, his words husky with desire â€śare you ready for me to be inside you? Iâ€¦donâ€™t know how slow you need me to beâ€¦if I have to stop now itâ€™s alright but I will need to go masturbate if I do have to stopâ€ť
Paimon kissed him as he loosened him, excited by Pellegrinoâ€™s heavy breathing. He rubbed some lube on himself and slowly began to push into him. Pellegrino clung to him, his moan somewhere between a yell and a whimper. He could see he was slightly overwhelmed and paused, giving him a moment to breathe. â€śYou okay?â€ť It was a struggle to stay still, to not completely bury himself, but he managed, not wanting to hurt or scare him. Pellegrino nodded and he continued, letting out a relieved moan once he was all the way in.
â€śPaimon.â€ť He gasped for breath, clinging tightly to him.
â€śItâ€™s okay, relax, breathe.â€ť He braced himself on his elbows, withdrawing and sinking back into him, his hips taking on a gentle, rocking rhythm. Pellegrinoâ€™s back arched and Paimon thrust into him a little harder, pushing him over the edge. He picked up the pace, unable to hold back any longer. A loud moan was wrenched from his throat as he flowed into him and he pressed his forehead into Pellegrinoâ€™s, the only sounds their labored breathes and thundering hearts.
Pellegrinoâ€™s eyes were damp with tears and Paimon pressed loving kisses to his lips, his fingers running through his hair and brushing back pieces that clung to his sweat damp skin. â€śAre you okay?â€ť He asked.
Paimon smiled. â€śGood then?â€ť Pellegrino nodded and Paimon rubbed their noses together. â€śI love you.â€ť
â€śI love you too.â€ť
Pellegrino would have never believed when he was invited on this trip theyâ€™d end up like this. Kissing, exchanging I love yous and cuddling. Paimon barely seemed like the kind of man to be so sweet but Pellegrino couldnâ€™t be happier. They were actually together now and if their first time together was any indication they were going to have amazing sexual chemistry. They made a long trip of things but nobody had worried when they came back. Everyone knew how capable they both were and were instantly elated for them anyway when they told everyone they were together.
~ The End
The gangly, curly haired youth bursting through Violetâ€™s door nearly made her drop her book. She glared at the boy, telling him with her eyes that it was more than a bit rude to walk into a house uninvited and to do it in a way that nearly knocked pictures off the wall was even more reprehensible. The look took him by such surprise that he seemed to forget what he had been going to say and stood there frozen for a moment opening and closing his mouth like a fish on the bank of a pond.
Violet marked her place, closed her book, then took a deep breath to calm herself. â€śCan I help you?â€ť She asked and he seemed to snap out of his sudden daze.
â€śUh, maâ€™amâ€¦yes maâ€™am, sorry.â€ť He collected his thoughts, wheels turning as he put words together to form a full sentence. â€śA dragon maâ€™am, there is a dragon and the mayor asked me to get you.â€ť
She sighed, putting her book irritably down on the coffee table. â€śOf course he did.â€ť
â€śSorry Miss Violet, so sorry.â€ť He bowed and then bowed again.
â€śOh stop, how annoying, do I look like a princess to you?â€ť She stood, straightening her dress. No, she thought as she moved around the coffee table to the coat closet, rather I look like someone took a witch and a librarian and mashed them together.
â€śNo maâ€™am, sorry maâ€™am.â€ť
She rolled her eyes. It was hopeless after all. She yanked open the door and pulled out her cloak and boots, shaking them both out before putting them on. â€śCome on then.â€ť She walked past the young man and he quickly followed, head down. â€śOh stop moping, I shouldnâ€™t have snapped at the messenger.â€ť
â€śYes Miss Violet.â€ť
â€śWhere is this dragon then?â€ť
â€śOutside of town maâ€™am, in that old cave maâ€™am.â€ť
She walked on, ignoring the turning heads and whispered words of â€śDo you think the witch is gonnaâ€¦â€ť and made her way out of town and over rolling hills to the now occupied cave. She knew it was occupied because she could hear the breathing of the beast and noticed faint smears of blood here and there.
â€śWhat are you going to do maâ€™am? Turn him into a toad? Kill him?â€ť
â€śHow absolutely barbarous.â€ť She said and picked up a large rock. When would they learn that she had as much magic as a thimble, unless the thimble had been enchanted, then that was a whole other story. She pulled back and threw the stone as hard as she could into the cave, hearing it make contact with something and then the breathing stopped. The boy cowered behind her as a roar echoed out from the cave, the ground shook dramatically and a red wedge shaped head detached itself from the darkness soon followed by a large scaled body.
â€śOh shut up you annoying thing.â€ť She snapped and the creature shut its mouth, seeming shocked. â€śNow go on and get.â€ť It lowered its head and started to open its mouth when she slapped the tip of its nose. It drew back, shaking its head. â€śI donâ€™t think so you very bad dragon. Go! Now! Find another place of residence and stop scaring the villagers. They come to me when things like you turn up and it can be quite nerve racking so go on, find sheep or cows elsewhere.â€ť It opened its mouth again as if to protest and she planted her hands on her hips, glaring at it with death in her eyes. Its jaws shut and it launched itself into the sky, kicking up dust and knocking the young messenger boy over with the force of its wind. â€śThere, now someone else can deal with him.â€ť
The messenger looked in awe of her and she sighed. No matter how often they saw her handle things without any magic at all they still thought her a mystical being. If the others were braver they could handle these situations too. Violet walked away, happy she was successful again and not that dragons snack. Violet hoped that maybe she could finally finish this book when she arrived home. Maybe this town and the magical creatures around it could afford her the hours needed because she was incredibly into this book. Once inside her shoes were off again and she lifted her book before settling back into her chair. She was instantly taken right back in, not coming back to reality at all until she closed it.
Upon looking up she noticed it was night and smiled thinking this was the perfect time to get a walk in. The sky would be gorgeous and the villagers would all be resting. Gleefully she set her book back down and slipped back into her cloak and boots before going off into the cool night air.
It was always so peaceful at night, as if the countryside itself decided to relax. She breathed in deeply and let her breath out in a sigh. Even with all the trouble, she still loved it here. The road branched and she turned off onto the left path just as someone came tumbling out of the woods and into her. â€śSorry.â€ť He said, grabbing her to steady her. â€śAre you alright?â€ť
It took her a moment to regain her equilibrium, but when she did, she looked up at him. He was tall, really tall and his eyes were a shocking shade of blue. â€śUhâ€¦yeahâ€¦uhâ€¦â€ť
His head suddenly jerked up and he looked at the woods then back down at her, his eyes searching hers for a moment. He then lifted her hand and smiled at her. â€śHold onto this for me.â€ť He let her go and took off running.
â€śWait, who are you?â€ť
â€śDian,â€ť he called back, â€śbe sure to tell them where I went.â€ť
â€śWhat?â€ť She was confused and it took her a moment to realize she was holding something. She opened her palm, studying the silver medallion that rested there. It had beautiful, intricate designs carved into it inlaid with blue and gold. She had never seen anything like it before. The sound of snapping twigs pulled her back to reality and she turned to face the woods, her hand sliding into the pocket of her cloak as three more men came stumbling out of the woods.
Violet wondered what problem she had gotten herself involved in now but she wasnâ€™t worried, even as she realized how tall these men also were. She faced down dragons, trolls and many more much more formidable creatures than simple men. â€śHas anybody else run by?â€ť a man with red hair and incredibly intense green eyes asked. She didnâ€™t skip a beat answering â€śNo, I have been out here awhile clearing my head and havenâ€™t seen a soul until you three.â€ť Violet didnâ€™t know who the unsavory party was yet but going by gut feeling she trusted the man who had given her medallion.
The man looked at her a short while, long enough for her to take in more of his face. He had light scars but they werenâ€™t unattractive. In fact they probably served to get more women in his bed â€śYou wouldnâ€™t lie to me would you?â€ť
â€śWhy would I? I donâ€™t know you so Iâ€™m certain I donâ€™t know who else youâ€™re looking for. Iâ€™d like to be left aloneâ€ť
â€śwe donâ€™t have time to waste, if the broad says she ain’t seen him she ain’t seen himâ€ť the man to his left said. The word ain’t almost physically hurt to hear but while she wasnâ€™t scared of them she still didnâ€™t want to piss them off by correcting anyone. The men left her and she was glad to see they didnâ€™t go the same way Dian had. Medallion in pocket she resumed her walk, knowing if she went home now sheâ€™d only pace anyway.
She turned back around when she reached the end of her walk, her eyes and ears open, listening for anyone approaching. When her home came into view, she was surprised to find that there was a soft orange light coming from inside. From the way it danced, she was sure it was from the fireplace. Someone was in her home. She approached as quietly as she could, moving around the back of the house and grabbing the wood ax propped against the wall there. She knew it wasnâ€™t one of the villagers, they would have just left. She moved over to the back door, being careful not to stomp on the back porch. She gripped the door handle and pushed it slowly, glad when it didnâ€™t squeak. She listened, not hearing anything but the crackling of the fire. She gripped the ax as she stepped in and gently closed the door.
She readied herself as she came closer to the living room, the ax pulled back, ready to strike if someone attacked her. She froze when she saw him, Dian, sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace. He gave her an exhausted smile. â€śYouâ€™re safe, thatâ€™s good.â€ť He said.
She lowered the ax. â€śYouâ€¦how did you find my house?â€ť
â€śItâ€™s a gift.â€ť He pushed himself to his feet. â€śI hope you donâ€™t mind me resting here.â€ť He crossed over to her. â€śMay I have it back please?â€ť
She moved the ax to her other hand then reached into her pocket and pulled it out. â€śTell me why those men were after you.â€ť
â€śI stole this.â€ť
His amused smile at her questions lit up his eyes. â€śBecause Iâ€™m looking for the rightful heir to the throne.â€ť
â€śIf itâ€™s so important why did you hand it off to me? They could have taken itâ€ť His smile lifted a little again â€śI knew you were too intelligent and brave for them to figure out you had it. I was worried they would catch up so handing it to you was the safest thing to doâ€ť
â€śBut you donâ€™t know meâ€ť
â€śIf you sit with me by your fire I will explain everything and answer any follow up questionsâ€ť His stomach growled and she said â€śMaybe I should feed you first. I have some leftovers that will be quick to heat upâ€ť
â€śThank youâ€ť He began explaining as she heated up food. He was exhausted, would have been able to fall asleep that second if he laid down but he wanted to explain everything to her. Even if he didnâ€™t want to explain she had given him a place to rest and helped him by hiding the amulet, he owed her an explanation. â€śso youâ€™re descended from a powerful witch and you read my mind earlier which is how you knew you could trust meâ€ť
â€śYes but donâ€™t worry, I have to be touching you to do itâ€ť she shrugged â€śNot worried, I donâ€™t have much to hide and nothing really embarrasses meâ€ť He looked so amused again â€śHow are you so cheerful when youâ€™re being chased and have such a big job to doâ€ť
â€śI enjoy every moment of life, always have and Iâ€™m enjoying your company. Youâ€™re a beautiful and interesting personâ€ť She seemed more surprised by his comment than anything as she asked â€śso, what gave you this job?â€ť
â€śI worked for the previous king and queen before their deaths and doing this for them is only right. Their son deserves to ruleâ€ť
â€śAnd where is he?â€ť
â€śNorth. His parents thought if heâ€™s in the snowy, icy reaches then it would give people less of a reason to go after him. He was put on a ship and put under the care of a merchant and his family.â€ť
â€śI canâ€™t imagine going from a prince to a merchant. It must have been hard.â€ť
â€śHe was always a good boy and, much like his father, a hard worker. It may have been an adjustment, but he wouldnâ€™t have shied away from it.â€ť He sighed. â€śI thought I had thrown them off my trail, by pretending to board a ship, but I guess they caught on.â€ť
â€śWhat are you going to do now?â€ť
â€śResupply and continue my journey. I have to fulfill my duty and bring him home. If I donâ€™t things could take a turn for the worst and no one wants that.â€ť He sat his fork down and leaned back, truly exhausted. â€śThank you, Violet, truly, thank you. I promise to repay your kindness.â€ť
The words came tumbling out of her without a single thought â€śwhy donâ€™t you repay me by allowing me to come with youâ€ť Despite the fact those words came unbidden she meant them. She had been tired of being here and maybe if she left the people would learn to take care of themselves. Dian sat upright, amusement playing over his exhausted face â€śThat works for me.â€ť
â€śwow, that easily?â€ť
â€śYouâ€™d be helpful, I can tell. Even if I didnâ€™t owe you Iâ€™d welcome you alongâ€ť
â€śThen lets both get some restâ€ť While Dian finished eating Violet brought a pillow and blanket into the living room, laying them both on the couch for him â€śgoodnight Dian, youâ€™re welcome to any food or water you need in the night. Iâ€™ll make us coffee and a descent breakfast in the morningâ€ť
That night Violet slept with her ax near her bed, just in case the men who had been chasing him managed to find her home. She woke the next morning to the sound of footsteps and someone talking. It took a moment to realize it was Dian, already awake, and she wondered who he was talking to. She yawned as she got up and made her way into the living room, seeing him pacing back and forth and reading out loud from one of her books. He smiled as he turned, closing the book. â€śSorry, did I wake you?â€ť
â€śItâ€™s alright, you should have woke me as soon as you got up.â€ť
â€śI didnâ€™t mind waiting.â€ť He let his eyes move over her. She looked quite cute disheveled as she was.
â€śI look rough donâ€™t I?â€ť She asked and his eyes jumped to her face.
â€śNot at all, quite the opposite. I apologize for staring.â€ť He cleared his throat. â€śWould you like me to help you with breakfast?â€ť
She shook her head. â€śI can manage.â€ť
â€śIâ€™d feel bad if I made you do everything.â€ť
She couldnâ€™t help but smile at him. He was far too kind and generous. â€śThen how about you read to me, you have a really nice voice.â€ť
He chuckled. â€śDo I?â€ť
She felt her cheeks heat. â€śWell, yeah, itâ€™s enjoyable enough.â€ť
He grinned again ‘well I was enjoying this book anyway, we will have to bring it on the journey so I can read aloud for you in the evenings. I always read out loud. Itâ€™s one of the odd things about me” She had been too sleepy to register what he had been reading so she asked â€śwhich book is it?â€ť he lifted it so she could see the cover â€śOh, thats actually a series. One of the villagers here writes it.â€ť
â€ścould we bring them all?â€ť
â€śYeah, if any get ruined I can always get another. She wonâ€™t even allow me to give her paymentâ€ť
â€śBecause I take care of this village. If anything bothers them they come running. Just the other day I had to chase off a dragonâ€ť
â€śHow do you think theyâ€™ll do without you?â€ť
â€śFine Iâ€™m sure, they just need to realize they donâ€™t need meâ€ť
â€śYou arenâ€™t worried about them discovering that?â€ť
â€śNo, Iâ€™ll get more time on my own and I have enough skills I donâ€™t need anything to be given to meâ€¦anyway, Iâ€™ll get the coffee started. That way itâ€™ll be ready when I amâ€ť Violet started the coffee then went back into her room to get dressed in something comfortable for the road.
â€śYou look good in that.â€ť Dian said when she came back and she couldnâ€™t help but blush.
â€śTheyâ€™re just some old clothes.â€ť
â€śThey suit you.â€ť
â€śThank you.â€ť He smiled and her heart jumped, causing her to look away in embarrassment and head into the kitchen to make breakfast.
â€śSorry, I didnâ€™t mean to make you uncomfortable.â€ť
Violet shook her head. â€śYou didnâ€™t, I promise, just not used to someone saying something like that to me.â€ť
â€śWell if they havenâ€™t, they are obviously blind.â€ť He sat down at the table, flipping the book open. â€śMay I still read?â€ť
â€śOf course.â€ť She had to admit to herself once again that she really enjoyed his voice. It was surprisingly smooth and had an unexpected deep timbre to it. She could honestly listen to it all day.
The smooth way he read along with how skilled this author was at showing the reader a scene had her mind clearly seeing what was happening in the story within her mind as she prepared breakfast and enjoyed her black coffee. Violet was almost disappointed as she sat down with their plates and he stopped but her mind quickly reminded her that he planned on reading throughout their trip. They ate silently but when Dian was finished he said â€śthat was incredible. Iâ€™ll be glad to read to you while you cook on the tripâ€ť she smiled â€śthatâ€™ll work amazing for both of usâ€ť She got up almost too quickly, not used to interactions like this at all.
Dian didnâ€™t say anything, her nerves only gave him hope. People who didnâ€™t react to your flirting werenâ€™t interested and he was incredibly interested in Violet. She was beautiful, an a amazing cook, had a mind of her own and was brave. He could only imagine what else he might find to like about her during their journey to collect the prince. When she gathered the series together Dian insisted he carried it since he was the one who had wanted it. She didnâ€™t put up too much of a fight having realized how heavy they would probably be after awhile.
â€śSo, whatâ€™s your plan?â€ť She asked as she shouldered the small pack she had made up with food and water in it.
â€śMake it to a bigger city and rent a horse and also buy warmer clothes. I wouldnâ€™t want you to freeze to death.â€ť
â€śWell I have you to make sure I stay warm, so Iâ€™m sure I wonâ€™t.â€ť He grinned and she blushed. â€śI mean, with your magic. You can make fire right?â€ť
She swallowed and he chuckled. â€śSo, what if he isnâ€™t there?â€ť
â€śThen weâ€™ll wait.â€ť
â€śIt must have been awful for him, being forced to stay in hiding even after his parents died. I donâ€™t know if I could have stayed, I think I would have raced home, heâ€™s definitely stronger than me.â€ť
â€śNow thatâ€™s not true, Iâ€™ve seen it in your head. That dragon didnâ€™t know who he was dealing with.â€ť
â€śYouâ€¦how much did you see?â€ť
â€śI didnâ€™t have time for much, I just saw the past few days. I wont look at anymore unless you say itâ€™s okay though. I just had to know if I could trust you and if you were up to facing those men should they comeâ€ť She could understand that. He did have a huge responsibility on his shoulders. â€śIâ€™ve found with most creatures all it takes is being brave. In our world you canâ€™t judge a book by its cover so they probably think Iâ€™m more than just humanâ€ť
â€śProbably, non magical beings do tend to just run or cower, especially in the presence of dragonsâ€ť
â€śHave you seen many dragons?â€ť
â€śI met a shifter once. He was a cool guy and as a dragon, well, he probably could have swallowed that dragon you met wholeâ€ť
â€śYeah, maybe I can introduce you two one dayâ€ť
â€śI would like that, maybe once weâ€™ve brought the prince home.â€ť
He nodded and they continued down the road, Violet looking back at her home as they got further and further away. She wondered how everyone would react once they realized she had left. She could only imagine. It was better not to tell them she was leaving, they would just try to make up excuses for why she couldnâ€™t. â€śIf you wish to turn back, now is the time.â€ť Dian said and she turned to him, smiling.
â€śNo going back until weâ€™ve finished this. Besides, itâ€™ll give them time to find their own courage and strength. Theyâ€™ll have to rely on each other if another dragon shows up.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m sure they will.â€ť
â€śAnd I get to go somewhere new thanks to you, even if it is dangerous and cold.â€ť
â€śSpeaking of dangerous,â€ť He reached over, taking her hand, â€śallow me to give you a little protection.â€ť He said a few words in a language she didnâ€™t know and she felt warmth move from his hand to hers, up her arm, and into her chest. He smiled and let her go. â€śThere, a ward of protection, just in case.â€ť
â€śThank youâ€ť Violet was surprised when he didnâ€™t let go but she didnâ€™t complain. She hadnâ€™t held hands with someone since she was a little girl and the fact he was so handsome along with nice definitely contributed to the fact she didnâ€™t mind. â€śAre you truly staying out of my head?â€ť She had to ask. He smiled again â€śYesâ€ť
â€śalright, I trust youâ€ť
â€śwhat would we have to talk about anyway if I went and looked at everything?â€ť
â€śTrue, I mean, the books are only going to last us so longâ€ť
â€śI was trying not to think about them. I want to know what happens nextâ€ť Violet smiled, filling with amusement of her own. â€śwho is your favorite character so far?â€ť He had to think â€śCedric, Iâ€™m going to have to go with Cedricâ€ť
â€śBecause heâ€™s so relatable. Heâ€™s trying his best to do the right thing without hurting anyone, but heâ€™s realizing things arenâ€™t that simple.â€ť
Dian gave a little laugh. â€śYeah, I donâ€™t want to hurt anyone, I really donâ€™t, but I know Iâ€™ll have to and Iâ€™ve made peace with that fact. These powers were passed down to me to defend myself and others and thatâ€™s how Iâ€™ll use them.â€ť
â€śYouâ€™re a good man, Dian, you really are.â€ť
â€śI owe the king and queen, they were good people and my friends. I couldnâ€™t save them, even with all my power, so now Iâ€™ll bring their son home and help him take back the throne.â€ť
â€śAnd Iâ€™ll help you.â€ť
â€śAre you sure, you know there are bound to be swords and ill tempered mercenaries.â€ť
She smiled, making his heart dance. â€śIâ€™m sure, besides, you have my back.â€ť
They chatted happily about their lives, Dian telling her stories of what it was like serving the previous king and queen, of how his magic worked. She felt her face heat as she asked if he had a wife or kids and her heart fluttered when he smiled in amusement and told her no.
Despite how embarrassing it was to ask him, Violet had to know. It came as a relief to know that her attraction to him could be felt without guilt. She wasnâ€™t ready to confess to anything yet, it was much too soon and they had too far of a journey ahead of them but it was incredibly nice to know that if she fell completely in love it would be okay. The terrain they were currently in was perfect for getting to know one another. The path was smooth and there didnâ€™t seem to be a wild animal with the mildest interest in them. They were able just to talk until lunch when Dian kept to his word and read to Violet while she heated up their food.
They were back on the road as soon as they finished eating and cleaning up and Dian decided to continue reading as they walked, even acting out some of the scenes much to Violetâ€™s amusement. He grinned every time he got her to laugh and teased her when she blushed. Their first day passed without trouble and Dian started another fire when night fell so Violet could warm their food and to keep them warm. They settled in for the night after he finished reading and he was relieved she could so easily sleep outside. It was some time after midnight when they were woke by the sound of footsteps and whispered voices. Their eyes met past the fire and they both lay there as still as possible.
â€śViolet,â€ť he said softly, â€ścover your ears, close your eyes and scoot back away from the fire.â€ť
She nodded and squeezed her eyes shut, pretending to roll in her sleep, bringing her hands up to her ears as she did so. Dian could hear the men in the woods. They thought they were being stealthy, that he and Violet had not heard them, but they had been wrong. He heard them step out of the treeline and readied himself. One approached him from behind and he could see in the firelight another heading straight for Violet. He heard the whispered command of their leader and just as the one near Violet reached for her, he closed his eyes, covered his ears, and caused the fire to explode up into a bright pillar of blinding light.
They groaned loudly and Dian quickly rose, punching the man who had been previously in position to grab Violet. They both heard bone crunch and knew the mans nose was going to be gushing blood. â€śfuckâ€ť Violet got up too, ready to fight alongside Dian but instead he grabbed her wrist along with the bag of books and began running, pulling her away. Dian knew this journey would require violence but he wanted to use as little of it as possible. The only reason he punched the man so near Violet was to make sure he couldnâ€™t find his senses and grab her when she stood and if he was being truly honest with himself, he also did it because she was coming to mean a lot to him.
Violet couldnâ€™t quite keep pace with Dian but she did her best. The two kept at it until they were both panting and sure those men were far behind them. â€śOh crap our stuffâ€ť Violet realized they had the bag of books but not their items. He sighed â€śwe have whatâ€™s important, our lives and the medallion. We can make due along the wayâ€ť
â€śIt’s good you keep it on you constantlyâ€ť
â€śYou didnâ€™t get scorched or anything did you?â€ť
â€śNo, still have my eyebrows.â€ť
He chuckled as he stopped and took her face in his hands. â€śYeah, they look even to me.â€ť
She blushed. â€śUm, yourâ€™s do too. You were closer than me so, thatâ€™s surprising.â€ť
â€śTrust me, Iâ€™ve burned mine off a few times, back when I was first learning. There was a time I had to keep my hair extremely short because I kept burning it.â€ť She laughed and he smiled back. â€śIâ€™m glad you got to keep yours though, itâ€™s too beautiful to burn.â€ť He let her face go and took her hand instead. â€śCome on, letâ€™s keep moving.â€ť
Violet wasnâ€™t sure how long they kept walking, only that the sun was suddenly starting to rise and she was getting tired. She was about to ask for a breather when Dian scooped her up into his arms. â€śWhat are you doing?â€ť
â€śYouâ€™re tired right?â€ť
â€śWell yeah, but youâ€™re already carrying the books.â€ť
â€śIâ€™ll be fine, I promise.â€ť
â€śIf Iâ€™m not walking I could read to you so you can learn what happens nextâ€ť He smiled again, it lighting up his face â€śthats a perfect ideaâ€ť he set her down long enough to grab the book they were on and give it to her. â€śAre you sure this is enough sun for your eyes not to hurt?â€ť
â€śOh yeah, this is fineâ€ť Violet relaxed in his arms and began quietly reading, semi worried there might be others near who could be drawn by her voice. They had been lucky to get away from their last situation so easily. She didnâ€™t want to roll their odds again anytime soon. Things were quite, almost concerningly so for Dian but he wouldnâ€™t worry about it. He was finding he liked her reading voice too. Dian suddenly stopped a few chapters later, causing Violet to look up at him â€śwhats wrongâ€ť he set her down so he could touch the ground. Violet stood there silently, gripping her book. He took her hand, still not offering any sort of explanation. She supposed they either needed to be quite or this was just a result of traveling by himself up until now. He might just not be used to explaining anything to someone else.
Either way she began looking around, only seeing different kinds of bugs exploring this place they called home. He was crouching again, feeling the ground. He looked up at her â€śyou know I almost fell for it listening to you read. It might be dangerous for you to read while I hold you. I might not pay close enough attentionâ€ť
â€śwhatâ€™s wrong?â€ť she finally pressed, eager to know what she should be worried about. â€śI canâ€™t imagine anybody knew Iâ€™d be coming this way so this must be an old trap someone set for whatever reason and then forgot to get rid of itâ€ť
â€śthat or were killedâ€ť
â€śyeah, I suppose theyâ€™d need some kind of reason to do this but come down here, feelâ€ť She crouched down beside him and felt in front of them. Her face scrunched up”what?”
â€śtheres nothing thereâ€ť
â€śbutâ€ť she felt again â€śdear god maybe whoever set it forgot and walked right offâ€ť
â€śthat kind of karma would suck. Since we ran in the dark we must have gone the wrong way somehow. Iâ€™m normally better than that. Iâ€™m sorryâ€ť
â€śYou donâ€™t have to be sorry.â€ť
â€śI should be more aware.â€ť
â€śDian, you havenâ€™t had to worry about someone else traveling with you, so donâ€™t beat yourself up. Youâ€™re just trying to be a good protector and companion.â€ť
He sighed then gave her a smile. â€śYouâ€™re an amazing woman, Violet.â€ť They both stood. â€śIâ€™m going to disarm it just in case someone else comes around then we can get back on track.â€ť He had her step back and he held his hands out, closing his eyes, and whispering a spell.
Violet was amazed when his palms began glowing with pale light. Her heart danced in her chest as his voice became a little louder and more impassioned. She could feel his magic as it spread out around them and tingled over her skin. The light faded and he let out a soft sigh and opened his eyes. â€śIs it safe now?â€ť
â€śYes, everything should be fine and no one should get hurt.â€ť
He nodded and reached over, taking her hand. His palm felt warm against hers. â€śAre you ready?â€ť
She didnâ€™t realize she was just staring at him until he cocked his head to the side and gave her questioning look. Her face flushed in embarrassment. â€śOh, yes, sorry, letâ€™s go.â€ť
“He chuckled. â€śHow cute you are my little warrior.â€ť
â€śOh hush, come one.â€ť She started to walk off and he gently pulled her back.
â€śItâ€™s this way.â€ť
She nervously chuckled, wishing her face wasnâ€™t so warm. People around her had always looked up to her back home but Dian was the first man to make her feel seen as a woman. He was so flirtatious and sweet. Her thoughts soon turned more serious as they walked back the way they came. She knew the two of them had gone far and wasted hours of time in a situation where every bit of time was precious. When he began guiding them to the left she grew concerned they were going the wrong way again â€śbut we didnâ€™t turn before? Shouldn’t we still go straight?â€ť
â€śNo, itâ€™ll be quicker to get back on course this way. I know this area pretty well which makes it all the more ridiculous I did that and I see that face, itâ€™s not your fault. Youâ€™re distracting but that doesnâ€™t make us getting side tracked your faultâ€ť
â€śI wont hear of it. Iâ€™m a man with a job, distracting female companion or not I should be aware of where we are goingâ€ť She gave him a small smile â€śso, can we talk?â€ť
â€śYeah, what would you like to talk about?â€ť
â€śWell, what do you plan to do, after everything? I mean are you going back home or something else?â€ť
He smiled. â€śDefine something else.â€ť
â€śWell, maybe settle down or something?â€ť
He shrugged. â€śMaybe, I havenâ€™t given it too much thought really.â€ť He chuckled. â€śOkay, thatâ€™s not entirely true, Iâ€™ve been thinking about it more recently. I mean, what if I died never falling in love? What if I never had the chance to have kids and raise them around the castle and show them magic?â€ť
â€śYou would want to live there?â€ť
â€śWell, I feel an obligation to continue my job, not just for the prince, but for his parents, my friends. However, if she wished to stay where she was then I would have no choice but to travel back and forth.â€ť
â€śI think I would move if it were me, I mean it would be something new, an adventure.â€ť
Violet was startled when he said â€śwell good because you are the cause of my thinking of that recentlyâ€¦I know we just met Violet but Iâ€™d be a liar and an idiot to pretend you didnâ€™t have a pull on my heart. Youâ€™re not only beautiful but youâ€™re incredibly brave. That brief glimpse I saw into your history made me want to know so much more about you. You also have impeccable tastes in books apparently.â€ť She almost stuttered but managed to speak normally â€śYou canâ€™t really think Iâ€™m pretty. Iâ€™ve never felt prettyâ€ť He took her hand, causing Violet to stop so he could look into her eyes â€śYouâ€™re gorgeous Violet. I mean that. How do you feel about me?â€ť
â€śI like you a lot tooâ€ť
â€śgood, I really do hope by the end of this adventure youâ€™ll truly want to live in the castle with me. We donâ€™t have to rush into marriage or kids or anything. I was just being honest about the kind of thoughts you draw out of me Violetâ€ť
â€śI know, Iâ€™m happy, really. Are you sure youâ€™re ready to live with me? I mean, Iâ€™m a bit hot headed sometimes.â€ť
â€śNo youâ€™re not, you just get exasperated, I saw it.â€ť He tipped her head back and bent down, his lips stopping a breath from hers. â€śYou are so noble and beautiful, a true warrior and I love you for it, Violet.â€ť
â€śDian.â€ť Her voice came out in a whisper and he smiled as he pressed his lips to hers.
He pulled back with a sigh. â€śWe should go my love. Are you ready?â€ť
Dian decided to take as many shortcuts as he could as they headed further North, wanting to stay as far ahead of the men chasing him as he could. He knew the journey back might be harder than the journey there while they were being followed. He could feel that it was starting to become colder the further they went and was relieved when the city came into view. Violet was shivering and he picked her up, hoping his own warmth would keep the cold at bay.
She snuggled into him â€śthank youâ€ť her voice was a whisper which concerned him even more. Dian picked up his pace, wanting to get her inside somewhere before she became sick. Dian walked into the first in, only setting her down to pay for a room. It didnâ€™t take long, soon they were inside and he suggested â€śwhy donâ€™t you run yourself a bath while I go out again and see if anybody around here sells clothing. Now that weâ€™ve hit a city we really need a change of clothes, something warmer since most of whats left of our journey will be coldâ€ť
â€śYouâ€™re cold too though. You donâ€™t need to get us warmer clothes right now.â€ť
â€śI really want to, I can probably just ask the man at the front desk so I wont be outside long. Just relax here, warm up and Iâ€™ll be back before you know itâ€ť She could see the resolve in his eyes to go so she didnâ€™t argue it any further. Besides, her body longed to be in a warm bath. Dian left as Violet entered the bathroom, making sure to lock the door so she wouldnâ€™t get any surprise visitors. Just as he thought the man at the front desk knew a good place to go clothes shopping for them both so he didnâ€™t have to wander to locate one.
Violet let out a sigh of relief once she was sitting in the tub and she was grateful that it was so big so the water rose up to her chin and covered everything. She rested her neck against the edge, just soaking up the soothing warmth. She hummed softly to herself, thinking of Dian and how much had happened in just the short time they had known each other. After everything she had had to face and scare away, falling in love with someone like Dian had been the most unexpected. She couldnâ€™t get over how perfect and honorable he was and she hoped she wouldnâ€™t suddenly wake up asleep on one of her books.
Dian bought clothes as quickly as possible, thanking the woman running the store for helping him find something suitable for Violet. He spent extra on a coat and boots for her, wanting her to be as warm as possible while they traveled North. He made a stop at another store to buy dry kindling, a small ax, and ask where the best firewood could be found in the direction they were going. He wasnâ€™t going to make Violet travel through the night in the snow. He thanked the man there and hurried back to the inn.
The bathroom door was still closed when he entered the room so he knocked on the door, both to make sure she was really still in there and to let her know he was back â€śyeah? Dian?â€ť her voice sounded from the other side of the door, obviously still safely in the bath â€śdo you want me to set your new clothes in front of the door or to set them in thereâ€¦I wont go all the way inâ€ť
â€śYou can set them in here, thank youâ€ť Dian opened the door just enough to set the clothes on the counter. Violet pulled on the stopped so the tub would drain. There wasnâ€™t a lot of heat left in it anyway and she was sure Dian needed a turn to warm his body. Violet was a little nervous about the clothes fitting since he didnâ€™t know her measurements but to her glee they fit perfectly and were incredibly comfortable. As she looked in the mirror she decided they were even cute, he had good tastes, another thing to love about him.
The first thing Violet did upon leaving the bathroom was hug him. He just smiled, holding her tight â€śthank youâ€ť
â€śI was worried about youâ€ť
â€śJust not used to it being so cold. I mean it snows back home, but itâ€™s much colder up here.â€ť
He pulled back to look at her. â€śHow are you feeling? Warm enough?â€ť
â€śYeah and I love the clothes.â€ť
â€śThey look good on you, but I have something even better.â€ť He moved away from her and lifted the coat. â€śTo keep you extra warm.â€ť
Violet took it gently, amazed by how soft it was. â€śWow.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s made from a bear hide. The interior is sealskin, same with the boots to keep you dry.â€ť
â€śYouâ€™re so sweet, Dian.â€ť
â€śI canâ€™t have my beautiful love freeze to death.â€ť He took the coat and held it open. â€śLetâ€™s go out and get something to eat, we can talk about what weâ€™re going to do while we do.â€ť
â€śOkay.â€ť She slipped the coat on and quickly buttoned it. â€śWhat do you think?â€ť
â€śYou look like you belong here, very cute.â€ť
â€śare you sure youâ€™re up to going out? You havenâ€™t had a chance to warm upâ€ť
â€śIâ€™ll be fine, just cuddle with me laterâ€ť Dian said, bringing her hand to his lips to kiss it. The difference in their temperatures was clearly evident but he insisted he was fine so they left together. â€śthis one place smelled amazing when I passed itâ€ť Dian said as he scooped her up outside. â€śI canâ€™t waitâ€ť Violet was worried about Dian not being able to truly get warm yet so she was glad they didnâ€™t have to go far to reach the place he was talking about.
Violet agreed, the smells coming from this place were amazing. They talked about the restaurant until their food actually came â€śso do you need us to take a break here for more than just tonight? We can stay a day or two. Youâ€™re not used to this and I donâ€™t want to push you too hardâ€ť Dian said after his first bite. Violet finished chewing and swallowed â€śI definitively want to leave in the morning. I donâ€™t think we should take a long stop unless one of us gets sick. Youâ€™re right, Iâ€™m not used to this but Iâ€™m really fine. Besides, you keep picking me up so how can it be all that hardâ€ť
Dian smiled â€śI like being close to youâ€ť Violet blushed and he was just happy she was warm enough to. She found herself thinking about how sweet and caring he was again. Traveling together was one of those things that could make or break relationships so she felt it showed how much promise this thing between them had that she felt this happy. They talked about where they needed to go and the best ways to get there until their food was gone. After Dian paid he took Violets hand and said â€ślets just enjoy eachother for the rest of the night okay? If we talk I just want it to be about normal life things, I want to get to know you moreâ€ť Violet smiled â€śIâ€™d like that tooâ€ť
Ambrose sat there drinking some water, sweat running down his face as he took a break and watched Demeter practicing. There was something wrong, he could tell, and there had been for a few days. She slashed and blocked, spun and ducked, but she seemed exhausted, her form off and it worried him. He could even hear that her breathing was off, like she was struggling. It was when the other soldier knocked her sword out of her hand, shocking the both of them, that he stood and went over to her. Demeter was gripping her wrist and the young man was apologizing.
â€śAre you alright?â€ť Ambrose asked as he took her hand.
â€śIâ€™m fine,â€ť she turned to the soldier, â€śitâ€™s fine, really, I was careless. Why donâ€™t you go and practice with one of the others for a bit.â€ť
â€śYes maâ€™am.â€ť He hurried off and Demeter retrieved her sword, slipping it into its sheath.
â€śDemeter, love, whatâ€™s wrong? You havenâ€™t been acting like yourself lately.â€ť
â€śI donâ€™t know, Iâ€™ve just been so tired andâ€¦and I canâ€™t focus.â€ť
â€śMaybe youâ€™ve been overworking yourself?â€ť
â€śIâ€™ve worked a lot harder than this.â€ť
He smiled, pressing their foreheads together. â€śJust because youâ€™re a mighty warrior woman, doesnâ€™t mean you canâ€™t push yourself too hard.â€ť
â€śHow about we ask for some time off, Iâ€™m sure my cousin would let us.â€ť
She sighed, â€śIt does seem like I need it.â€ť
â€śThen let’s see if she has time to talk to us.â€ť As always Cantaly was more than happy to talk to them and didnâ€™t mind them leaving for a bit in the slightest.
â€śThankfully I donâ€™t think anything or anybody is foolish enough to mess with our kingdom at this point so always feel free to take breaks. I never want you pushing yourself too hard Demeter.â€ť
â€śI really enjoy what I do.â€ť
â€śI know, but taking care of yourself is important. Besides, who else could put up with my cousin Ambrose if you pushed yourself too far?â€ť She said with a grin.
â€śHey.â€ť Ambrose said with mock annoyance.
Cantaly laughed, causing her husband whom was standing beside her to smile. â€śGo on you two, take as long of a vacation as you need. We can handle things around here.â€ť With her blessing they left hand in hand.
â€śFirst off let’s just finish our day at home. I could cook for you and maybe give you a massage.â€ť
Demeter kissed his cheek. â€śThank you.â€ť
Demeter was relieved to get home and remove what armor she was wearing. She dropped down on the couch and Ambrose sat down next to her, lifting her feet into his lap and removing her boots. â€śYou donâ€™t have to do that.â€ť
â€śSure I do.â€ť He rubbed her feet and she let out a little sigh as she moved to lay back on the arm of the couch. â€śYou okay?â€ť
â€śYeah, just exhausted.â€ť
â€śWant me to get my uncle to come check you? You know he will if I ask.â€ť
â€śNo, Irimâ€™s probably busy or spending time with his family.â€ť
â€śAs long as youâ€™re sure.â€ť
â€śI am, thank you.â€ť
He leaned over her, giving her a kiss then got up to make her something to eat. He was worried about her, but didnâ€™t want to be too pushy and upset her. He hoped it was just fatigue from overworking and that once she had time to recharge, she would be back to herself. He peeked in at her, seeing she had fallen asleep. He decided to just let her nap until he finished cooking.
Ambrose kept telling himself that Demeter was okay and would be just fine. He had to think positively or he knew heâ€™d ruin their time together. He was going to make her an incredible meal then rub out her tense muscles more. Those things combined with rest had to get her feeling better again. He tried to focus on other meals he could make for her during her time off so he wouldnâ€™t get any more anxious than he already was. He wanted them to taste amazing but also be good for her.
When he was finally finished cooking he made them each a plate and set the table before going to gently wake Demeter. She woke easily, rubbing her eyes. â€śIâ€™m sorry.â€ť
â€śDonâ€™t be, the point is for you to relax.â€ť
The smell of dinner hit her nose. â€śLet’s eat what you made before it gets coldâ€¦thank you for making it by yourself.â€ť
He kissed her head as he took Demeter in his arms to carry her to the table. â€śYou deserve a little spoiling Demeter.â€ť
Ambroseâ€™s cooking was delicious as always and when they were finished eating, he refused to let her help him clean up, carrying her to their bedroom instead and asking her to wait. He quickly cleaned up then came back to her, crawling over her and pressing a kiss to her lips, his hands pushing at her clothes. â€śAmbrose.â€ť
â€śItâ€™ll be easier to rub you my love.â€ť
â€śI mean it, I promise to be good, you need to rest, husbandâ€™s orders.â€ť He added with a smile.
He chuckled. â€śBe careful, I might start liking the sound of that.â€ť His heart fluttered when she laughed and he continued pulling her clothes off. He moved her onto her stomach and let his hands run over her, savoring the softness of her skin. She let out a little moan as her muscles loosened and he felt the stirring of desire. â€śYou make it hard to be good.â€ť
â€śI canâ€™t help it.â€ť She let out a contented sigh and he pressed a kiss to her shoulder then moved next to her, pulling her close. â€śWhat should we do with our time off?â€ť
â€śStay home and have lots of sex?â€ť
â€śAmbrose.â€ť Her skin warmed.
â€śAlright, go out and haveâ€¦â€ť she put her hand over his mouth and he laughed. He pulled her hand down to press it against his chest. â€śIâ€™ll talk to my dad, he knows about a lot of fun places. You just have to promise me if you start to feel too sick, youâ€™ll tell me.â€ť
â€śAlright, we can go over to their home in the morning after breakfast. We havenâ€™t spent any real time with my parents in a long time so I guess we can hangout there until we have lunch with them.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m excited, your mom is so sweet. She also always seems to have cures for everything so maybe she can send us with something that will help me feel better.â€ť
â€śSheâ€™s certainly raised enough children to know remedies to everything.â€ť
Demeter laughed at his words. â€śYour dad certainly can’t keep his hands off of herâ€¦they really are so sweet. I hope weâ€™re together as long as theyâ€™ve been together.â€ť
She blushed as she said those words and Ambrose smiled, moving to kiss her again. â€śYouâ€™re not getting rid of me, no matter what. I love you every bit as much as my dad loves my mom.â€ť
â€śI love you too.â€ť
Demeter fell asleep snuggled against him and he just laid there brushing his fingers through her hair. He was truly lucky to have her and still didnâ€™t know how he had got so lucky. He didnâ€™t deserve her at all. He turned a little, pressing his forehead against hers and closing his eyes, letting himself drift off. Demeter woke a couple of hours later, her movement stirring him and he smiled lovingly at her. â€śGood nap?â€ť
â€śItâ€™s okay. Still feel like crap?â€ť
â€śFatigued, a little sick to my stomach, but other than that Iâ€™m alright.â€ť
â€śTell me if it gets worse.â€ť
â€śI will.â€ť They spent the rest of the day relaxing together, Ambrose fussing over her, making sure she didnâ€™t do to much. She couldnâ€™t help but smile at how adamant he was about her just relaxing.
The next day they were both up early, so much so Zane and Belle hadnâ€™t even finished breakfast when they arrived but Belle was over joyed to see them when Zane brought the couple to the table. She quickly got up, hugging each one of them â€śHow are you two?â€ť
â€śWeâ€™re okay, myself more so than Demeter. Sheâ€™s been incredibly fatigued lately. Sheâ€™s taking some time off work so we wanted to spend the day with you guys and I wanted to talk to dad about possible places to take Demeter.â€ť
â€śOh no.â€ť Belle said and Zane put a hand on her shoulder. â€śDemeter just works hard is all. Sheâ€™ll be fine with rest. Come sit with us, are you two hungry?â€ť He asked and Demeter answered, â€śWe already ate. I feel bad about interrupting your own breakfast though.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s no trouble, just sit with us and we will all talk.â€ť
â€śHow long have you been feeling off?â€ť Belle asked.
â€śAbout a week, just tired, felt a little sick to my stomach yesterday, but nothing really serious. Itâ€™s been making training the recruits hard.â€ť
â€śWhy donâ€™t I make you something to help settle your stomach.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s no problem, you know that.â€ť
â€śDo you know any good places we can relax?â€ť Ambrose asked his father. â€śHopefully somewhere we wonâ€™t be bothered.â€ť He took Demeterâ€™s hand. â€śI really want her to rest.â€ť
â€śYou could spend time in the Shadow Wood. Thereâ€™s a cave there Irim helped me fix up. Itâ€™s protected by magic. Thereâ€™s also the place I sent your brother and Tawny.â€ť He named off a few more and Belle soon returned with a cup of ginger tea, handing it to Demeter.
â€śThat should help.â€ť She said with a warm smile.
â€śThank you so much.â€ť Demeter said then took a small sip. It was hot, but she was ready for any kind of relief.
â€śWhy donâ€™t we let them plan. I have a few things I want to show you around here. Zane and I have been busy again redoing a few things.â€ť
Belle looked at her son and said, â€śYou know if she gets too tired Iâ€™ll bring her back here.â€ť Demeter smiled as her husband blushed. Taking her drink she followed Belle out of the kitchen. They were in a newly renovated guest room when Belle spoke again, â€śSo there really are things to show you, but are you sure youâ€™re not pregnant?â€ť Belle looked so eager. Even all these children and grandchildren later she was still all about babies.
Demeter almost laughed. â€śI didnâ€™t even think about that.â€ť
â€śYouâ€™re an incredibly fit woman and obviously not actually sick so that’s the only explanation to me.â€ť
â€śI mean, if youâ€™d like me to take a pregnancy test I will.â€ť
â€śIâ€™d love that.â€ť
â€śThat’s the first thing that came to your mind isnâ€™t it?â€ť
â€śYeah, but what’s the point in working up Ambrose if youâ€™re not. If youâ€™re not though you should really let someone look at you because I canâ€™t imagine why else youâ€™d be getting exhausted when youâ€™re used to a lot of physical activity.â€ť
Demeter didnâ€™t know why she was suddenly so nervous now that she was about to take a pregnancy test, but she let Belle stay with her as she did, her mind racing as she sat the stick on the counter and waited. â€śItâ€™s going to be okay.â€ť Belle said.
â€śI know, itâ€™s just do you think Ambrose will want kids?â€ť
â€śHeâ€™s grown a lot since he was a kid, I think heâ€™ll be worried, but happy.â€ť
â€śWorried because of what happened between you two?â€ť
â€śYeah, I think heâ€™ll be scared of a child winding up like how he was.â€ť
â€śI donâ€™t think that would happen, heâ€™s been so sweet.â€ť
â€śI know and you have no idea how happy Zane and I are.â€ť
They continued to chat until Demeter had to check the test and her heart jumped when she saw it was positive. Belle had to cover her mouth to keep from screaming with happiness. She wanted Demeter to tell Ambrose in her own time. â€śIâ€¦Iâ€™m pregnant.â€ť She rested her other hand on her abdomen. â€śDo you think that babyâ€™s okay, I mean with all the physical activity?â€ť
â€śOf course, it takes more than wrestling and sword fighting to hurt a fetus and you probably havenâ€™t been pregnant that long.â€ť Belle whispered. â€śIâ€™m so excited, another grandbaby.â€ť
â€śI think I should wait until weâ€™re gone to tell Ambrose, heâ€™ll start to fuss about us traveling is I donâ€™t. Could you wait to tell everyone until we get back, except for Zane I mean?â€ť
â€śOf course sweetie.â€ť She hugged Demeter. â€śAre you happy?â€ť
â€śYeah, just surprised.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s amazing being a mother, it really isâ€ť Demeter smiled with both amusement and warmth. â€śIâ€™m so glad just to know whats going on with me.â€ť
â€śYeah, it can be scary the first time but you can talk to me anytime about it and I can teach you how to make drinks and things like that to keep yourself feeling good.â€ť
â€śThank you so much.â€ť
Belle hugged her. â€śThank you for marrying my son and for now giving me another grandchild.â€ť Belle let go then continued, â€śWe should finish up this tour and get back before we seem suspicious.â€ť
â€śGood thinking.â€ť Belle showed Demeter a few more things around the house then they rejoined Zane and Ambrose
â€śHeâ€™s decided on a place.â€ť Zane announced when they came in and Demeter said, â€śLet me guess, itâ€™s a surprise?â€ť
Ambrose smiled. â€śWell you know if you hadnâ€™t run off with my mom it wouldnâ€™t be a surprise. So youâ€™ll have to deal.â€ť Demeter smiled then kissed his cheek.
They spent most of the day with Belle and Zane and when they finally left, Zane pulled Belle into him, smiling at her excited face. â€śSheâ€™s pregnant isnâ€™t she?â€ť
â€śHow did you know?â€ť
â€śBecause you always make that face when you find out about another baby.â€ť
Ambrose insisted on carrying Demeter home even though she said she felt better. She relented and rested her head on his shoulder and he pressed a kiss to her forehead which made her heart flutter. â€śI love you Demeter.â€ť
â€śI love you too.â€ť And she couldnâ€™t wait to tell him the news. â€śWhen are we leaving?â€ť
â€śAs soon as weâ€™re packed, my dad said the place I picked is the prettiest at night and if I fly fast, Iâ€™ll get us there in no time.â€ť
â€śI take it you plan on carrying me there?â€ť She said in an amused tone.
â€śI can tell youâ€™re still tired, just let me fuss, itâ€™ll make me worry less.â€ť
Her heart warmed as she looked up at her mate. â€śAlright, Iâ€™m so happy weâ€™re getting away together.â€ť
â€śMe too, we should make time for trips more like my parents do.â€ť
â€śWe really should, at least once a year.â€ť
â€śWeâ€™ll do it, I promise. I won’t have you getting this tired again.â€ť Her grin widened as she thought this may just happen a few more times. She hadnâ€™t spent a great deal of time thinking about kids but the few times she had she felt four would be a good number for her. She even hoped that she would be lucky enough to enjoy two girls and two boys, in any order. Sheâ€™d love whatever the universe granted her though even if she had all of one gender. They were soon home and packed with a few changes of clothes along with essentials before locking up and heading outside so Ambrose could shift.
Ambrose held Demeter protectively in his claws as he soared through the air, keeping the wind off of her. When he glanced down at her, she was laid back with her head resting on their pack, her eyes closed and even over the wind he could hear her humming. He dipped his head down, gently nuzzling her and her laugh made his heart flutter. He hoped she was feeling better, that his motherâ€™s tea had helped her stomach. She fell asleep halfway through their journey and he only pushed himself to go faster, wanting to get her somewhere comfortable. When his destination came into view, the top of the mountain trail breaking through the woods, he slowed and started circling. His father had told him it was easier to come down the trail than it was to try landing in the thick wood.
Demeter woke when he landed and he shifted back, taking the pack and lifting her into his arms. â€śYou donâ€™t have to carry me silly.â€ť She said with a yawn.
â€śYou know I donâ€™t mind, I love having you close, so let me.â€ť
She nodded and looked around. â€śWow, itâ€™s so pretty here. Where are we?â€ť
â€śSilverwood, but itâ€™s not our true destination.â€ť He started down the trail and Demeter marveled at how truly beautiful their surroundings were.
They werenâ€™t much further when she said â€śI really love this place. Can we explore a little instead of going straight through? I meanâ€¦we arenâ€™t in a hurry right?â€ť
â€śNot exactly right here because of some creatures here, but if we go a little further we can stick around here awhile.â€ť
She kissed his cheek. â€śYouâ€™re the best Ambrose. What sort of creatures live here?â€ť She asked out of both curiosity and just wanting to talk to him.
â€śThey are a lot like bears, but curved blades come out of their bodies.â€ť
â€śReally?â€ť She asked in almost a gasp. They sounded so interesting.
â€śYeah, their bodies just make them and they can send them flying at you. They are razor sharp too.â€ť
â€śThey donâ€™t cut up the bears coming out?â€ť
â€śNope and few blades can harm them.â€ť
â€śPlease donâ€™t tell me you want to see one.â€ť
If she wasnâ€™t pregnant she would have, but she couldnâ€™t take that risk with a little one in her stomach. â€śMaybe not right now because I know I need to relax.â€ť
He kissed her head. â€śI was so worried youâ€™d ask to see them now.â€ť
â€śI know how worried you are. I don’t want to make you ill now with stress.â€ť
He gave a sigh of relief. â€śSorry, I donâ€™t mean to act this way, butâ€¦â€ť
â€śItâ€™s okay, it doesnâ€™t bother me. Itâ€™s actually cute seeing you all worried.â€ť
Ambrose felt his face heat and he let out a huff. â€śIâ€™m not cute.â€ť
â€śJust like your dad when heâ€™s around your mom.â€ť She rubbed her nose against his cheek and he turned his head, pressing his lips briefly against hers, causing her to flush.
â€śIâ€™ll show you cute once weâ€™re in a safe place.â€ť
She smiled, snuggling into him. â€śIâ€™m looking forward to it.â€ť
Ambrose kept himself alert as he walked, hoping any predators could sense he was a dragon and that if they attacked them he might make an exception and eat one of them. Once they finally made it through the dangerous part of the forest, he lowered her feet to the ground and laced his fingers through hers. â€śStay close please.â€ť
She laughed. â€śI will, I promise.â€ť
Ambrose was glad this trip was already getting her to relax. She seemed so happy as she walked around and took everything in. Demeter had this amazing way of appreciating everything. She wasnâ€™t rushing through to get to their destination, she saw something beautiful and wanted to take a break and experience it as well. Ambrose knew after all the years his parents had been together they must of stopped in here a time or two but he still hoped he might find something to tell his father about in return for his father telling him about this. He had such amazing parents, willing to help whenever he asked. They were genuinely good people and sometimes the embarrassment of who he used to be was unbearable.
Thankfully nobody ever brought it up, his family wasnâ€™t the type to hold things in the past over your head forever. The fact everybody basically acted like his youth didnâ€™t happen was the only way he could live with himself. They ended up spending the rest of the day there. Demeter suggested sleeping where they were but he was too worried about those bears coming over here. They generally didnâ€™t but that didnâ€™t mean they were safe.
â€śIâ€™m fine just to carry you the rest of the way.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m sure weâ€™ll be fine.â€ť
â€śSweetheart I wont be able to sleep here and I promise Iâ€™m fine. I know I can finish the trip or at least get to a spot I could sleep in.â€ť She took his hand
â€śIâ€™m not all that tired yet so lets walk together. The sky is so beautiful here. I want to enjoy it and yes if I get too tired you can carry me.â€ť She kissed his cheek then tugged him along.
Demeter yawned as they walked through the twilight and Ambrose pulled her closer, his arm slipping around her waist. She knew it was just the baby exhausting her and she couldnâ€™t wait to tell Ambrose so he wouldnâ€™t have to worry so much. She let him pick her up once the sun had completely fallen and snuggled into him, letting her eyes drift closed and her hand rested on her abdomen. Ambrose picked up the pace, wanting to get her to their destination so she could rest comfortably.
He was glad she was asleep when they arrived, thinking it would be more of a surprise this way, and gently woke her. She blinked her eyes, smiling up at him. â€śWeâ€™re here.â€ť He said softly and she turned, her eyes widening and a little gasp escaping her lips when she saw the tree house. â€śWhat do you think?â€ť
â€śItâ€™s beautiful.â€ť She gently pushed until he lowered her feet to the ground. â€śDid your father build it?â€ť
â€śHe said he repaired it. Apparently fairies and elves build them sometimes and when they move on, they leave them.â€ť
â€śCan we go up?â€ť
He chuckled. â€śOf course.â€ť He laced his fingers through hers and took her up the spiral staircase to the top.
Demeter even admired the staircase as they went up. Someone or a family obviously took great time and care to build this. It was beautiful and covered in designs. It made her all the more excited to look inside. If they took this much care with just the stairs she could only imagine the care they took in there. Demeter didnâ€™t let her eagerness make her rush. The last thing she needed was to take a tumble down the steps with a baby in her stomach. She had fast reflexâ€™s and Ambrose was right there but she couldnâ€™t risk it. She already loved this baby too much.
â€śMy dad told me thereâ€™s a special word for lighting the interior.â€ť Ambrose said as they stepped inside.
â€śHow did he figure that out?â€ť
â€śIrim, thereâ€™s nothing he doesnâ€™t know.â€ť
Demeter heard him say a short phrase in a language she didnâ€™t understand and she let out a little gasp at the little dots of light that came to life, looking almost like shimmering stars as they hovered near the ceiling. â€śOh wow.â€ť She said softly then her eyes swept down and around the room. Everything had been carefully crafted from the forest surrounding the area and she stared in awe as she turned, trying to take everything in. â€śOh Ambrose, itâ€™s so beautiful.â€ť
He pulled her into his arms and brushed a kiss to her forehead. â€śIâ€™m glad you like it.â€ť She teared up and he leaned back to look at her. â€śAre you alright, my love?â€ť
â€śYeah, sorry, I love it, I promise.â€ť She wondered if it was the baby making her emotional.
â€śMaybe you just need to rest.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m fine, really, letâ€™s look around first then we can eat.â€ť
â€śAlright, but you have to promise to relax while I cook for you.â€ť
He couldnâ€™t resist kissing her again before they both started looking around this amazing tree house. Demeter was surprised it was left vacant for people to visit. Surely someone would want to claim this for their own. Then again, there were risks involved with claiming a vacant home another creature built. They could come back eventually and they may or may not be sane. One morning you could wake up with some lunatic standing over you, angry and wanting answers about why you took up residence.
As promised, when they were done Demeter relaxed in an armchair while Ambrose prepared something for them to eat. She didnâ€™t even realize she had fallen asleep until he was waking her to eat. She wondered if it was normal to be this tired right off the bat. Sheâ€™d have to ask Belle when they returned home. â€śSorry.â€ť
â€śI was happy to find you getting more rest my love.â€ť
He took her hand and pulled her gently to her feet and to the kitchen table. â€śHow are you feeling?â€ť He asked as they ate.
â€śJust a little tired, but other than that Iâ€™m fine.â€ť She wondered when would be a good time to tell him. She hated that he looked so worried. â€śItâ€™s okay, I promise, Iâ€™m alright.â€ť
â€śI love you.â€ť
â€śI love you too, Ambrose. You really are the sweetest, most adorable man Iâ€™ve ever seen.â€ť She had to tease him a little, wanting to get his mind off his concern over her sudden exhaustion.
â€śBe good, you know Iâ€™ll pay you back.â€ť He replied with a grin.
â€śMy big, sweet, strong, cute husband wouldnâ€™t.â€ť
She let out a little laugh. â€śThen I guess Iâ€™ll have to eat slow.â€ť
Demeter did eat slow, smiling here and there. Ambrose finally seemed amused rather than worried which was perfect. Demeter decided she would tell him tomorrow. He was fussing over her anyway so he may as well know the real reason she was tired. As Demeter ate she thought about different ways to tell him, settling on right when he woke up. She imagined heâ€™d wake hilariously fast but most of all she hoped heâ€™d be just as happy and excited as she was.
After dinner Ambrose carried Demeter to the bedroom and began kissing her as he laid her down. It was slow and passionate, the entire evening was and she woke eager for him to get up as well. He slept hard, she guessed it was because of the travel here and all the worrying but Demeter enjoyed admiring him as he slept. She gently ran a hand through his hair, sometimes trailing his skin. When he woke she smiled, almost deciding not to tease him by telling Ambrose first thing in the morning.
Ambrose turned into her, his arms wrapping around her as he snuggled close. He pressed his forehead against her chest and let out a contented sigh. â€śWhat are you doing awake my love, itâ€™s far too early?â€ť He asked drowsily.
â€śItâ€™s actually late for us.â€ť
â€śHow are you feeling then?â€ť
â€śHappy, a little tired, pregnant.â€ť
â€śMmm, thatâ€™s good.â€ť She waited a moment and nearly laughed when he pulled back to look at her slightly confused. â€śWait, say that again.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m happy and tired.â€ť
â€śPregnant, Iâ€™m pregnant.â€ť She said with a laugh.
He took her face in his hands. â€śYouâ€™re sure, really sure? Iâ€™m not just dreaming?â€ť
â€śI took a test at your parents.â€ť
He smiled then and crushed her to him, his lips excitedly meeting hers. She started laughing and he pulled back to look at her. â€śI canâ€™t believe it.â€ť His eyes suddenly flashed with concern. â€śYouâ€™ve been practicing with swords with a baby and then you let me fly you all the way here. Are you okay? Is the baby okay? Maybe we shouldâ€¦â€ť
She kissed him, cutting him off before he got himself too worked up. â€śAmbrose Iâ€™m fine, weâ€™re both fine. Iâ€™m not even that far along.â€ť
â€śStill, if I had known I wouldnâ€™t have flown so fast.â€ť He brushed his nose against hers. â€śI canâ€™t believe Iâ€™m going to be a father.â€ť
â€śI take it youâ€™re happy?â€ť
â€śAnd nervous and terrified, but yes, incredibly happy.
â€śThis is going to be an amazing thing in our lives, I know it. Youâ€™re going to be such a good dad and your family is amazing. Your mom is so happy.â€ť Demeter giggled at the memory.
â€śI bet, Iâ€™m surprised she could keep from telling me. I know she told dad the second we left.â€ť
â€śYeah, probably, but she promised not to tell anybody else. She wanted to let me be the first to let you know.â€ť
â€śI promise to be a good dad.â€ť
â€śYouâ€™re a good man, I know youâ€™ll be. Just behave if itâ€™s a girl. I donâ€™t put it past you to strangle some young man.â€ť
â€śNow that I canâ€™t make promises on.â€ť They both laughed and kissed again, completely wrapped in bliss about their situation.
Just as Demeter knew he would, Ambrose fussed over her even more, often talking to the baby and making sure she was getting enough to eat. He stayed close as they explored the forest and made sure she didnâ€™t push herself to hard. â€śWeâ€™re going to have to ask my mom and aunts how to get your energy back up.â€ť Ambrose said as he carried her back after a hike through the woods. â€śI donâ€™t like you being so tired all the time, itâ€™s concerning.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m sure it just depends on the baby.â€ť
â€śSorry if Iâ€™m being ridiculous.â€ť
â€śYouâ€™re not.â€ť She pressed a kiss to his cheek.
â€śAnd what about work, would you take time off? I know you love what you do, youâ€™re amazing at it, but I donâ€™t want either of you getting hurt while youâ€™re pregnant. I know you like being active, butâ€¦â€ť
She pressed a finger against his lips. â€śI will.â€ť
â€śThank you. I love you.â€ť
“I love you too.”
â€śI just know stress can cause all kinds of problem in pregnancy. I want you both to come out of this healthy.â€ť
â€śYouâ€™re so sweet.â€ť Their vacation was a peaceful one, filled with nothing but talk of the baby, wonder and laughter. They made sure they left the tree house clean, possibly cleaner than before they arrived. When they arrived home Zane and Belle arranged for a big family get together so they could easily share the news and Demeter would have a house full of experienced women to ask questions so sheâ€™d feel confident over the course of her pregnancy. Right away everyone started making their guesses about the gender of their first child. It was fun to think about not only that but what kind of personality their little one would have.
They walked home together that night, Ambrose seeming more at ease after having talked to everyone, having received a list from Irim of foods he had made for Ariel to help keep her healthy, and had been told if there were any complications to come to them right away. They didnâ€™t want them going through anything like what Gabriel and Tawny had gone through. â€śSo, boy or a girl?â€ť Demeter asked and Ambrose pulled her closer.
â€śHealthy and ready to use a sword.â€ť He answered, making her laugh. â€śIâ€™ll have my dad teach them how to be terrifying.â€ť
â€śAmbrose, be good.â€ť
â€śI am, Iâ€™m going to create little warriors. Theyâ€™ll be beautiful and strong like you and have my charm.â€ť She laughed again and he picked her up and pressed a kiss to her lips. â€śI love you Demeter.â€ť
â€śI love you too, you silly man.â€ť
He pressed his forehead against hers. â€śThank you for everything, for being my mate and for giving me the gift of a child.â€ť
â€śAmbrose.â€ť Her voice was soft and she felt herself tear up.
â€śI canâ€™t wait to meet our little one.â€ť He carried her the rest of the way home and they fell asleep that night wrapped in each others arms, both of them looking forward to this new stage of their lives.
Lao sat on the edge of Tirâ€™s bed, admiring the young prince as he slept. He let his fingers drift over his cheek, pushing his hair back and he leaned down to kiss him. Tir started to push him away in his half asleep state, but Lao laced their fingers together and pinned his hands next to his head. He felt Tirâ€™s skin warm and he pulled back with a grin. â€śGood morning my prince.â€ť
â€śLao, what are you doing?â€ť
â€śWaking you, I thought I was allowed.â€ť He rubbed their noses together, getting a blush of embarrassment from Tir. â€śWeâ€™re supposed to be heading out.â€ť
â€śThatâ€™s right.â€ť Tir tried setting up, but Lao kept him in place. â€śCome on, you promised you would take me with you and you already let me sleep in.â€ť
â€śI was honestly hoping you would forget all this assassinâ€™s school nonsense. I am only going as a favor to my mentor.â€ť He let his lips brush Tirâ€™s, a barely there touch that had the younger man shivering. â€śI donâ€™t like the idea of having you around all of those assassins.â€ť
â€śBut youâ€™ll protect me, wonâ€™t you?â€ť
â€śOf course, no one there could touch you.â€ť
â€śThen letâ€™s go.â€ť
â€śI should have left while you slept, but I hate the idea of being dishonest with you.â€ť He gave Tir another kiss then let him go. â€śAlright, get ready then.â€ť
Tir found himself admiring Lao as he got out of bed. He looked so elegant and put together. His shirt hung open to his waist where it was held closed by a red sash. Lao cleared his throat and Tir blushed as he hurried to get his clothes and bathe.
Lao grinned, who didnâ€™t love the adorable look on their significant others face when they became embarrassed? He hoped this trip went well. Heâ€™d have to kill someone in front of Tir because they dared to hurt him. He wasnâ€™t sure why they would, but assassins work could attract some very unsound minds and sometimes it was figured out too late. Lao decided he would just concentrate on the positive so he wouldnâ€™t ruin this trip for Tir. Since Tir was determined to go he wouldnâ€™t have to go without him, which had been something he hadnâ€™t been looking forward to in the slightest. He also would get to introduce his mentor to the love of his life and he enjoyed showing him off.
Tir sat with his father and Lao through breakfast, listening to his father reminding him to stick with Lao and only eat and drink what Lao had tested out first. Tir was sure none of the other assassinâ€™s would dare cross Lao, but he understood his fatherâ€™s worries. He hugged him when it was time to go and he and Lao headed out to the carriage waiting for them. â€śHow long are we going to be there?â€ť Tir asked as their driver let them in.
â€śA week, my mentor was quite insistent I give him at least that long. The old man is quite pushy.â€ť He sat close to Tir, his arm draped over his loverâ€™s shoulders.
â€śOld man? Thatâ€™s a little surprising.â€ť
Lao chuckled. â€śYouâ€™re thinking elderly arenâ€™t you?â€ť He let his nose brush over Tirâ€™s cheek, causing goosebumps to rise on his skin.
â€śMy mentor is not human. Heâ€™s been a part of the school for a long time and is one of the best.â€ť He pressed a kiss to Tirâ€™s temple. â€śI want you to stay near while I teach, donâ€™t take anything that anyone tries to give you save for myself and my mentor, he can be trusted.â€ť
â€śOkay.â€ť Tir enjoyed the affection as his mind played through what he imagined the school and Lao’s mentor would be like. Lao’s constant touch and his imagination might have lulled him to sleep, but the occasional bump from the road kept him wide awake. It was sweet how Lao never seemed to tire of touching him. He had learned not to tease Lao about it because it only made him tease right back by getting more sexual with it. â€śWould you like me to tell you more about the school my love? I can tell your mind is busy.â€ť
â€śWell you have to give me a kiss first.â€ť Tir wasnâ€™t surprised to hear that and moved happily to kiss him. Lao made the kiss long, but they had a long ride so Tir wasnâ€™t in any rush. Who would be when they were lucky enough to have an amazingly skilled, incredibly attractive and sweet assassin in love with them who also happened to be an incredible kisser.
Lao grinned at Tirâ€™s red face and heavy breathing when he pulled back. â€śWhy must you be so tempting my love? If we were homeâ€¦â€ť
â€śLao, stop, what if the driver hears?â€ť
â€śPretty sure I could keep you quiet, I have my ways you know.â€ť
â€śLao youâ€¦youâ€™re supposed to be talking about assassins.â€ť
Lao chuckled. â€śAlright, if you insist, but once weâ€™re alone, you wonâ€™t be safe.â€ť He gave him another kiss before starting. He started with the schoolâ€™s history before moving onto describing the building itself. It had been built circular to accommodate the obstacle course in the middle where an assassinâ€™s strength and agility could be honed and tested. It had a sheer cliff behind it and on the other sides a forest. Mentors encouraged their students to practice sneaking through the school itself and even trying to assassinate their teachers.
â€śDid you try killing your mentor?â€ť Tir asked.
â€śOf course, I failed, but I tried many times.â€ť
â€śNot for us, it helps us realize what we need to work on.â€ť
â€śI donâ€™t think I could ever do something like that. Killing the person who trained you. Are you going to let those students attack you?â€ť
â€śOf course, youâ€™ll get to see me show off for you.â€ť
Tir was a little worried, but he didnâ€™t voice it. Lao’s entire life was risk so he felt it would be silly to ask him not to. Lao could see the anxiety in Tir so he took his hand, knowing if he kissed him again he might lose all self control. â€śWith you to impress and protect none of them will touch me Tir.â€ť They continued talking the entire ride there. There was so much history when it came to the school and teachers, not to mention all his own memories. Lao could probably fill days with conversation about his time there. Before they got out Lao had to warn his love again, â€śPlease, be careful. I donâ€™t want you afraid but I want you mindful. This school is good at weeding out the lunatics but that doesn’t mean itâ€™s impossible for one to slip through and do something stupid.â€ť
Lao smiled. â€śSo obedient, itâ€™s a bit surprising.â€ť
Tir blushed. â€śI just donâ€™t want to have to take care of you because you went and got hurt on my account.â€ť
â€śI think you just like me bossing you around.â€ť
Tir crossed his arms and Lao pressed a kiss to his cheek, causing his skin to heat further. â€śIâ€™ll get our things.â€ť
Lao chuckled as Tir started pulling their bags out and reached around him to take one grinning at the heat coming off of Tirâ€™s body. â€śCome on, wouldnâ€™t want to keep my mentor waiting.â€ť
Tir fought down his blush and took a couple of deep, calming breaths to get his heart under control. Nervousness replaced his embarrassment when they made their way from the front gate and past the arena. There were a few young men and women on the obstacle course and some of them had stopped to watch the two of them pass. Lao didnâ€™t seem to notice them or maybe he was ignoring them so Tir tried his best to do the same. â€śDonâ€™t worry, theyâ€™re only curious.â€ť He gestured around. â€śPretty impressive right?â€ť
â€śYeah, more than I could have imagined. So this is where all of those amazing skills were honed huh?â€ť
Lao nodded. â€śThere are many different kinds of classes here, ones on poisoning and stealth, ones on combat and seduction and even on the best materials for ease of movement.â€ť
â€śEvery assassin learns everything, but some are better at certain skills. Seduction is for those who arenâ€™t as good at hand to hand or knife play. The ones who prefer that method often pair it with poisons.â€ť
â€śAnd what about you?â€ť
Lao chuckled. â€śYou should know by now, that I am good at everything.â€ť He winked and Tir felt his face heat again.
Lao could be intense, but it was an amazing part about being with him. Tir knew how loved he was, he could see Lao’s devotion all the time. Soon they were standing before Laoâ€™s mentor who instantly seemed to be looking Tir over, Lao stepped a little in front of Tir, protective as always, even with his mentor. â€śYou brought him here, he must be special. I canâ€™t help but examine him.â€ť Nenyoâ€™s eyes were now on Lao. â€śThank you for finally coming. Is he whatâ€™s kept you too busy for your mentor’s request? I thought youâ€™d be eager to come back. You always were a show off.â€ť
â€śBefore him I would have been in a hurry, but a prince surrounded by assassins, it wasnâ€™t something I was comfortable with.â€ť
â€śIf anybody can keep him safe itâ€™s you, but I understand, come.â€ť
The interior of the school was beautifully crafted, every pillar and mural, every statue was gorgeous. Lao gestured to the walls. â€śNotice anything strange?â€ť
Tir looked around. â€śNot really.â€ť
â€śThe walls have hand and footholds built in.â€ť
â€śBecause, young prince, this is a school for assassins.â€ť Nenyo answered. â€śThey are always welcome to try their hands at sneaking up on and killing one of us.â€ť He suddenly stopped and looked up at the large chandelier. â€śNice try, come down young lady before I knock you down.â€ť
Tir was surprised when someone dropped from the ceiling and rolled, coming up on their feet in front of Nenyo. The woman pulled her hood back, frowning. â€śSir.â€ť She said.
â€śYou are still too heavy footed. I could see the chandelier shaking.â€ť
â€śYes sir, Iâ€™ll practice harder.â€ť
â€śSee you do.â€ť
Lao just smiled. â€śStill a hard ass I see.â€ť
â€śWould you like to try your hand?â€ť
â€śOf course, after weâ€™re settled in and you have introduced me to the students. I am sure fighting you would be a good way to show them what real assassins look like.â€ť
â€śThat eager to be beaten in front of your lover?â€ť
â€śJust that eager to be admired by him.â€ť
Nenyo grinned approvingly at his once student. He was looking forward to Lao being back around and seeing how much better he was than when he left here. Being that these were students he didnâ€™t often get a real challenge and Lao had brought just that into the school. Tir just kept admiring everything, looking at the walls, furniture, decorations and floors for anything else out of the normal. There were some places that even looked like they might be small doors, just big enough for a fit person to get through. It made Tir slightly more nervous, but he was still more interested in all this than afraid to be here.
Nenyo lead them up to the top floor where he pulled a key out of his pocket and unlocked a door. â€śI thought you might want your own room away from the dorms.â€ť He pushed the door open and gestured inside.
â€śNo secret passageways I hope.â€ť Lao said with a chuckle.
â€śI didnâ€™t think youâ€™d appreciate it. Perhaps if you were alone. I am sure you can handle one of the students coming through the window?â€ť
â€śOf course, it wonâ€™t be a problem.â€ť
â€śThank you.â€ť Tir said with a smile.
â€śI hope itâ€™s comfortable enough for you, prince.â€ť
â€śIâ€™ll be fine, I know I live in a castle, but Iâ€™m not picky and as long as I have Lao with me, anythingâ€™s fine.â€ť
Nenyo chuckled. â€śI have to say, Lao, youâ€™ve chosen well.â€ť
â€śDespite his shyness, Tir is quite strong.â€ť
â€śGet settled in then and meet me in the arena. Iâ€™ll gather the new students.â€ť
Lao gave a small nod then Nenyo left them, allowing the two to set their stuff down and have a few moments. â€śWhat do you think so far?â€ť Lao asked and was happy to hear his love say, â€śItâ€™s amazing, Iâ€™m happy you didnâ€™t leave me.â€ť
â€śIf you havenâ€™t changed your mind by the time we leave then weâ€™ll come back more. Maybe I can come back every now and then as a visiting teacher. I know being one permanently is out of the question since you donâ€™t have any siblings to rule after your parents.â€ť
â€śYeah, but youâ€™re fine with that right? Iâ€™m not holding you back from anything?â€ť
Lao grinned, moving closer. â€śThe only thing you keep me from is making love to you as much as I want. Iâ€™m an incredibly happy and lucky man Tir, donâ€™t ever think otherwise.â€ť
Tir wound up having to push Lao back with one hand when he started trying to push his shirt off. He didnâ€™t want to be rude to Nenyo and wound up using the other hand to push the bedroom door open, stumbling out and only not falling because of Laoâ€™s quick reflexes. He found himself pulled into Laoâ€™s arms, blushing when Lao started laughing. â€śThat eager to get away from me huh?â€ť
â€śNoâ€¦not at all, I just want to see you show off is all.â€ť
Lao gently tipped his head back, grinning at him. â€śOh? Then Iâ€™ll have to make sure to put on a good show.â€ť
â€śJust donâ€™t get too hurt.â€ť
â€śI have you to tend to my wounds my love, so Iâ€™m not worried.â€ť He rubbed their noses together. â€śCome, letâ€™s go down before he comes back up.â€ť
He took Tirâ€™s hand and they walked back down to the arena. Lao smiled when he saw Nenyo and his students, the young men and women so eager to learn seemed excited at the prospect of getting to witness their mentor fight. All of their eyes were suddenly drawn to Tir and Lao, studying both of them, perhaps even looking for weaknesses. â€śTook you long enough.â€ť Nenyo said.
â€śCan you blame me, I mean look at him. Such an attractive distraction.â€ť Lao shot back with a teasing smile.
â€śLao, come on.â€ť Tir said embarrassed. â€śWhere do you want me?â€ť
â€śKarthan.â€ť Nenyo said and a young woman stepped up to stand next to him.
â€śYou are to sit with the prince and ensure his safety and comfort. He is off limits to all here. If anyone tries to lay a hand on him, you have permission to defend him.â€ť
Karthanâ€™s smile was friendly. â€śCome along prince Tir.â€ť She guided him to a good place to watch and soon all the others took seats, purposefully giving Tir and Karthan a lot of room to try to keep from getting into any trouble. â€śYouâ€™re in for a good show. Weâ€™ve been eager for this.â€ť Karthan whispered. Tir was interested himself, interested and hopeful Lao didnâ€™t get hurt trying to show off.
â€śKarthan is my best student currently so I donâ€™t want to hear anything about being distracted with worry over Tir when I beat you.â€ť Nenyo said confidently.
Lao lightly chuckled. â€śStop stalling, are you ready?â€ť
It startled Tir when Nenyo moved. He was so fast, almost too fast, and he was amazed that Lao managed to block the blades in Nenyoâ€™s hands. Lao grinned as he shoved his mentor back and struck out at him with lightening fast slashes. He looked around at the students, at their captivated gazes and then back at Lao, his heart thumping in his chest as he watched his loverâ€™s dance like movements. â€śA dance of death.â€ť Karthan said softly. â€śI have never see something this amazing. You are truly lucky prince, to have Lao by your side.â€ť
â€śI know.â€ť He had never seen Lao move like this since there was never anyone who dared come after either of them. He knew Lao was fast and silent like a cat, that he had been an incredibly talented assassin, but truly seeing it for the first time, was astounding. He jumped up when the tip of Nenyoâ€™s blade nicked Laoâ€™s cheek and had to stop himself from moving forward. He couldnâ€™t be a distraction right now.
Everyone gasped when they both lost a blade and Lao was suddenly on his back on the ground. Nenyoâ€™s blade pressed against his throat and the tip of Laoâ€™s was at Nenyoâ€™s solar plexus. Everyone was frozen as they waited to see what would happen next when Lao chuckled and Nenyo grinned, standing up and offering Lao a hand up. â€śAmazing as always, you actually had me.â€ť Nenyo said.
â€śAnd you me, butâ€¦â€ť he wiped at the blood on his cheek, â€śpoison? Really?â€ť
â€śMy blades stay coated.â€ť
â€śWere you testing my immunity?â€ť
â€śIt still burns.â€ť
â€śWell Iâ€™m glad youâ€™re staying sharp in all ways. Itâ€™s nice to see students leave here and become something to be proud of.â€ť The students all began running down in excitement, all except Karthan who took her task seriously.
â€śAre you ready to go down there and talk to them?â€ť She asked Tir who answered, â€śYeah, lets go.â€ť
They walked down and Lao broke away from them to kiss Tir before he whispered in his ear, â€śMaybe when we are in our room next time you won’t resist me after seeing this.â€ť Lao moved back and winked, causing Tir to blush. It really was sexy how amazing he had been out there, but it filled him with immense embarrassment that Lao knew it all too well.
â€śWhen shall my first class start?â€ť Lao suddenly asked Nenyo who said, â€śYouâ€™ve had a long journey, the students got their demonstration. That will be enough for the day. Just enjoy your prince and the school until tomorrow.â€ť
â€śIâ€™ll meet you all out here straight after breakfast.â€ť They seemed to light up and before Tir knew it Lao had lifted him off his feet. As they walked away they could hear Nenyo talking to the students about what they had just witnessed. He was walking them through every single move, every single choice that was made and could have been made instead. He seemed to be a good teacher.
â€śShouldnâ€™t we explore a little?â€ť Tir asked and Lao let out a chuckle.
â€śTrying to avoid me?â€ť
â€śNo, itâ€™s just umâ€¦well itâ€™s not every day a prince just walks in here, soâ€¦I do want you, but I also want to see everything.â€ť
Lao grinned as he pressed a kiss to Tirâ€™s cheek then whispered in his ear, â€śWhy donâ€™t we have both?â€ť
Tir swallowed. â€śWhat do you mean?â€ť
â€śI have a secret place here.â€ť
â€śThatâ€™s almost hard to believe.â€ť
â€śI told you this place is very old and Iâ€™m sure the original architects still have many things hidden away. I just found one of them. The only one who could possibly know is Nenyo, heâ€™s even older than the school. So, want to see?â€ť
Lao grinned, theyâ€™d both be getting what they want. Tir could experience more of the school and he would still get to make love to Tir. It was actually an added bonus to make love to him in his old secret place. He had never brought anybody there for sex before and there was nobody heâ€™d rather pop that places cherry with. Lao continued walking, it almost seemed like they were going to leave campus when suddenly Lao pushed into a wall that had seemed solid, but it seemed they were now inside it, walking down a flight of stairs, â€śWoah.â€ť
â€śMy thoughts precisely when I ended up finding this place.â€ť
â€śHow did you find it?â€ť
â€śItâ€™s a bit embarrassing.â€ť
Lao let out an exaggerated sigh as if the memory was truly that bad. â€śI may have happened to lean against it playing a bit of cat and mouse with another student and I may have fallen through and part way down the stairs before I could stop myself.â€ť Tir grinned then covered his mouth as he started laughing. â€śSee? This is why I said it was embarrassing.â€ť
Tir took a deep breath, but couldnâ€™t keep the smile off his face or the amusement out of his eyes. â€śWere you hurt?â€ť
â€śJust my pride, but at least there was no one around to see how ungraceful I was.â€ť
â€śI bet the look on your face was, dare I say, adorable?â€ť
â€śIâ€™m sure I could make you take that back.â€ť
Tirâ€™s heart felt like it was about to jump out of his chest, his skin flushing, and his mind whirling with what Lao might do to pay him back. â€śIâ€™ll be good.â€ť He knew Lao would never hurt him, but he blurted it out anyway, receiving a grin from the ex assassin.
Lao chuckled. â€śToo late now my sweet prince.â€ť He let out another little laugh. â€śI never thought my little escape artist would be so nervous.â€ť
They made it to a a surprisingly nice room beyond the fact it was dusty from lack of use. â€śIt looks as if truly nobody else has found this.â€ť Lao said as he set Tir down.
â€śIt looks so nice.â€ť
â€śI found it this way for the most part. I only brought different bedding in. I imagine an original person that used this school used this as a room and I didnâ€™t want to be sleeping in someone elseâ€™s sheets. I might change it out again if we come here a lot.â€ť Lao kissed Tir’s shoulder as he slid his hands up Tir’s torso. Tir blushed, this time just enjoying his lovers touch instead of trying to get away. There had been many reasons up until now to push him away, but now they could just enjoy each other.
Lao continued to slowly press feather light kisses until he had kissed across his right shoulder, all the while caressing him. Sometimes touching him could be addicting, especially after having to try so many times to get his prince to stay still long enough to let them have a moment like this. Lao licked up Tir’s neck before gently biting it. Tir moaned, his heart racing with anticipation. He could tell Lao was going to tease him more than normal and he supposed that was hisÂ punishmentÂ for laughing at him.
Laoâ€™s hand moved to Tir’s face only to move him so they could kiss. Their tongues were soon moving against each others as Lao began to play with and rub Tir’s nipples. Lao grinned when he felt Tir harden against him. â€śI love you.â€ť Lao whispered. Tir whispered it back before finally beginning to touch Lao as well. Lao began to feel his own length start to grow hard so he stripped Tir. Tir did the same so soon they were both naked, kissing and touching one another.
Lao began backing Tir up and suddenly he found himself against one of the walls, Lao licking and biting at his neck and shoulder again. â€śOh god Lao.â€ť Tir moaned, growing harder with need for release. Tir didnâ€™t know how Lao did this for so long, especially since he was hard as well, but he almost sighed with relief when Lao began kissing down his chest then stomach, soon taking Tir in his mouth. The sucking and licking he had been experiencing before was intensified now, causing Tir to almost shake with pleasure.
Lao knew there werenâ€™t condoms or lube in this room so he began working Tir as he sucked him, bringing the prince to the edge before stopping. Lao grabbed a piece of clothing from a nearby drawer then turned his lover so he was facing the wall and entered him. They came almost together, Lao inside Tir and Tir into the piece of clothing Lao had given him. Lao however wasnâ€™t done with him yet and Tir didnâ€™t suspect heâ€™d be anytime soon.
Lao pushed Tir far past his limit and Tir could only lay there panting and letting out little whimpering moans. He was so sensitive that he shuddered every time Lao touched him. â€śLaoâ€¦Iâ€¦itâ€™s too much.â€ť
Lao leaned down, his lips pressing against Tirâ€™s as he pushed into him a little harder, delighting in the way the prince clung to him, at the little whine that welled up in his throat. Their lips parted on a moan and Tir went limp with exhaustion, breathing heavily, his eyes damp with tears. Lao pressed kisses to his lips, smiling lovingly down at him. â€śDo you have any idea how much I love you?â€ť He rubbed their noses together.
â€śYeah.â€ť He said softly. â€śI love you too.â€ť
Lao nibbled at his chin, grinning when Tir let out another little whine. â€śI love seeing you like this, I canâ€™t help but tease and take advantage.â€ť
â€śI canâ€™t anymore today, Iâ€™ll die.â€ť
Lao chuckled as he moved off of him and moved Tir to lay on top of him, his head resting on his chest. He let fingers trail up and down his spine, getting a little shiver and goosebumps in response. He smiled when Tir fell asleep and let him rest for a bit. â€śTir, my love?â€ť He gently woke him a little while later and Tir let out a little groan as he opened his eyes.
â€śIs everything alright?â€ť He asked sleepily.
â€śOf course, but we should probably get clean and find something to eat. Iâ€™m sure youâ€™re hungry.â€ť
Tir blushed. â€śItâ€™s your fault.â€ť
Lao tilted Tirâ€™s head back and kissed him, grinning at how hot his skin was. â€śYou know I canâ€™t help myself, youâ€™re just so hard to resist.â€ť
Tir slowly got out of the bed then the two dressed before Lao took Tir in his arms again to carry him. Tir just relaxed into Lao’s arms, feeling both embarrassed and happy. The two returned to the room Nenyo had shown them, took a long shower then went to see what they could eat. The next morning Tir and Lao returned to the stadium for Lao’s first day of class. The students were already there, once again looking awe struck that they would soon be taught by Lao. Tir took a seat himself, but away from the students, not wanting to be in the way of anything they might do for the lesson.
Lao seemed to look them over then said, â€śCome here.â€ť Tir couldnâ€™t tell who he had said that to, but apparently to the students it was clear. A man who looked maybe a little younger than Tir stood and approached Lao. â€śAnd you.â€ť He said to another student who got up, it was the woman who sat with him the other day. â€śKarthan right?â€ť
â€śWhatâ€™s your name?â€ť He asked the man.
â€śIâ€™d like to start this class by really seeing where you all are with your skills. Iâ€™m not going to tell any of you the reasoning behind my pairings today, not yet anyway, but Iâ€™m going to have two on two matches until everyone has faced off against someone. Thereâ€™s an odd number of you so whomever impresses me most will go twice.â€ť
Tir watched as Karthan and Thacese fought, Karthan favoring the same type of blade Lao did while Thacese preferred his bare hands. Even so, he could see much of Nenyoâ€™s style in their movements. It was the way Lao fought as well, a mix of grace and aggression. There was something else in their movements though, almost like they were playing with each other and when he looked closer he could see Thacese grinning. Lao called a stop to the fight when Karthan knocked him to his back and landed on top of him, the tip of her dagger beneath his chin. â€śVery good, Karthan.â€ť Lao said and she stood, helping Thacese up.
â€śThank you sir.â€ť
â€śThere is a problem however.â€ť
Lao grabbed her arm and held up her wrist where Thacese had scratched her. He could see her veins through her skin. â€śHis nails are coated in poison.â€ť She looked surprised. â€śYou need to get the antidote, all that moving around only made it pump through your veins faster.â€ť
â€śDonâ€™t be upset, you did incredibly well, but you must expect the unexpected from a man who uses no actual weapon. Thacese, take her to get what she needs then both of you hurry back here.â€ť
Tir couldnâ€™t help but smile at how amazing he was. He was so patient. He called on the next two students and Tir just admired him, unable to keep his eyes off of him. Laoâ€™s eyes met his for just a second, a grin pulling at his lips that caused Tir to blush. â€śItâ€™s quite something seeing him so captivated by another person.â€ť Nenyoâ€™s voice next to Tir startled him. He hadnâ€™t even heard him.
â€śUhâ€¦Iâ€¦if anyoneâ€™s captivated itâ€™s me. Heâ€™s very magnetic? Alluring?â€ť
Nenyo chuckled. â€śHeâ€™s always been like that. He was a natural you know, picked up everything almost immediately.â€ť
Tir couldnâ€™t help but think of Laoâ€™s fall and had to stop himself from laughing. He turned his eyes back to Lao. â€śHe really is perfect, isnâ€™t he?â€ť
Nenyo chuckled. â€śWell thank you for coming. I can see even more now how much you mean to him so I know if you had been against it these students wouldnâ€™t have him here. He may have learned from me, but he has picked up a few things of his own. I feel this school and itâ€™s assassins will truly benefit from him coming to teach every now and then.â€ť
â€śWell, Iâ€™d never try to tell Lao he couldnâ€™t do something anyway.â€ť
â€śI donâ€™t think you would, but I doubt he would go do something regardless of if you actually said anything if he could tell it would upset you. He has keen senses, especially for a human. You donâ€™t seem like the controlling type so I hope you know that is not what I meant in the slightest.â€ť After a short pause Nenyo asked, â€śHow is your father?â€ť
â€śWell, though with how heâ€™s always been I imagine heâ€™s at home worried about me.â€ť
â€śYouâ€™re his only child, itâ€™s understandable. Nothing will happen to you here, not with both Lao and I watching. Besides, they idolize Lao so much I doubt theyâ€™d want to be on his bad side.â€ť
â€śAre these all the students here?â€ť
â€śAre you the only teacher?â€ť
Nenyo shook his head. â€śThere are others, but their classrooms are inside.â€ť
â€śLao said everyone learns how to make poisons and umâ€¦seduce people.â€ť
Nenyo chuckled. â€śAre you curious about the things Lao has had to do?â€ť
Tir blushed. â€śNoâ€¦not really, it just explains a lot.â€ť
â€śHe was naturally charming when I met him, a natural at manipulation. He played the other students with ease and tried it with me, though he failed. Just to let you know, his feelings for you are genuine.â€ť
â€śI know, but thank you all the same.â€ť
They continued to watch each match, Tir noticing that both Karthan and Thacese had returned. Thacese was surprised when he was chosen to participate in the extra fight, but Lao explained it was for his trickery. Afterwards, he pointed out mistakes he had noticed or skills he thought needed improvement and things he believed certain students should focus on. They listened with rapt attention, truly absorbing everything he said.
Lao ended the day with that, wanting to give them time to absorb everything he had tried to teach them. â€śIâ€™m all yours again.â€ť Lao said with that ever charming smile.
â€śIâ€™d like to grab something to eat then see more of this place if you want.â€ť Lao kissed Tir’s forehead, causing Nenyo to chuckle and walk away. It was surprising how even here Lao acted just as he did at home, like it was just the two of them in any given room. Lao hadnâ€™t seen his old teacher in years yet his focus seemed to still fully be on him.
â€śLets go find some food then.â€ť He turned to the assassins, â€śSame time tomorrow.â€ť They nodded and Lao left with Tir, taking his hand as soon as they were out of the arena. â€śYou liked watching me again?â€ť
â€śWhat was my old mentor saying to you?â€ť
â€śHe thanked me for you being here and we talked a little about how natural this all came to you.â€ť
â€śHmm, only good things I hope.â€ť
â€śHe said you were quite charming.â€ť
â€śYou know you are.â€ť He blushed. â€śEspecially with me.â€ť
Lao grinned. â€śYou like how charming I am, admit it.â€ť He brought Tirâ€™s fingers to his lips, kissing and then nipping at them.
Lao grinned as he lead him through the school to the large kitchen. He was happy to see the same family still working there. The cook had been in his thirties when Lao had come to train there and was always kind to the students. His wife and children worked with him and they all smiled when they saw Lao. He hugged them then introduced Tir. â€śSo youâ€™re going to be a queen then?â€ť The son said in a teasing tone.
â€śThe most beautiful if I do say so myself.â€ť Lao shot back.
â€śMake sure to buy him plenty of pretty dresses, prince.â€ť
Tir chuckled at the banter. â€śYou know, Lao would definitely look good in anything, even dresses.â€ť They almost forgot they were hungry as they continued talking.
It was the cook who said, â€śWell you obviously came here to eat. I have the perfect recipe. I discovered it after you left and my first thought once I tasted it was how much youâ€™d love it Lao. I can even bring it to your room so you donâ€™t have to sit with everyone else going in and out of the dining room.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m actually enjoying getting to know everyone around here so we can sit out there.â€ť Tir said and Lao nodded. â€śThat’s fine with me too.â€ť
â€śAlright.â€ť The chef and his family began working and Lao guided Tir to where they could sit together. There was only one other student there reading but it wasnâ€™t a meal time so they hadnâ€™t expected it to be full of people.
Lao couldnâ€™t help but flirt with and tease Tir as they ate, grinning at how red he was by the time they took their dishes back into the kitchen and left. â€śEnjoying yourself?â€ť Lao asked as he laced his fingers through Tirâ€™s.
â€śOf course, this place is amazing and Iâ€™m here with you, anywhere with you is perfect.â€ť
Lao smiled as he pressed a kiss to Tirâ€™s temple. â€śIâ€™m glad, thank you for insisting I bring you. My time here would have been so boring and lonely without you.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m not, I need you with me always. Since you became mine, I canâ€™t fall asleep without you, I feel restless.â€ť
Tirâ€™s heart did a little flutter. â€śIâ€¦I feel the same. Having you close to me, makes me feel safe and loved.â€ť
â€śYou are the safest person in the world.â€ť Lao said then gave Tir another kiss. The days flew by as Lao continued to teach the students lesson after lesson. Tir even found himself absolutely comfortable here and enjoyed watching the students slowly improve. It would be incredibly tempting to just stay here and let Lao become a permanent teacher if he didnâ€™t have to rule. It would be nice if they were lucky enough to be immortal like Laoâ€™s old mentor. He could be king for awhile, maybe adopt a kid with Lao and raise them to rule one day so they could come back here but they didnâ€™t have enough life for that. Lao even had sixteen years on him. By the time their child could rule he probably wouldnâ€™t feel like teaching. Lao may have endless energy now, but we all got old one day. Itâ€™s the curse of being a mortal.
Tir was grateful for any life with Lao though. He just couldnâ€™t help but be a little selfish sometimes and want entire lifetimes with him like immortal beings could have with their loved ones. They could just live any kind of life then switch one day and live an entirely different one. It was endless possibilities when you werenâ€™t racing time and your body breaking down. His mind more so drifted to them ruling together, the kind of life they would have.
After another day of lessons and once Lao had finished talking to the students, Lao headed straight to Tir. â€śYou seem to be in deep thought lately, my love.â€ť He said as he took Tirâ€™s hand and pulled him close.
Tirâ€™s heart skipped a beat. â€śHave I?â€ť
Lao nodded. â€śCare to share?â€ť
â€śUmâ€¦wellâ€¦â€ť he sighed. â€śIâ€™ve just been thinking about our time together.â€ť
Lao cocked his head to the side. â€śYou havenâ€™t been feeling neglected have you?â€ť
â€śNo, not that, I mean our lifespan. I mean youâ€™re already so much older than me andâ€¦and weâ€™re both human soâ€¦â€ť
Lao smiled and pressed a kiss to his forehead. â€śYou had me worried for a minute, I thought maybe you had been feeling lonely or something.â€ť
â€śThatâ€™s impossible, youâ€™re always so attentive.â€ť
â€śAlright,â€ť he looked over at Nenyo who was talking to his students about their lessons, â€śthen Iâ€™ll talk to Nenyo, Iâ€™m sure heâ€™ll help.â€ť
Tir felt excitement rush through him. He hadnâ€™t even thought they could ask Nenyo. He just assumed theyâ€™d be human forever since they were born that way. Nenyo could say no, but Tir’s hope burned all the same. Lao waited for Nenyo to be done with the student before asking Nenyo if they could talk alone. â€śOf course, where?â€ť
â€śAnywhere that’s away from the students.â€ť
â€śWe will go to my office then. They know better than to be in there.â€ť
Tir and Lao followed Nenyo to his office, waiting for him to lock the door before saying, â€śTir has apparently been thinking about our mortality.â€ť
â€śAnd you want my help to not be mortal?â€ť
â€śPerceptive as always.â€ť
â€śHm, what would I get in return?â€ť
â€śAn amazing teacher that could always come back.â€ť
Nenyo nodded. â€śYou really would?â€ť
â€śYes, Tir seems to enjoy himself here and if we were immortal there could possibly be a day heâ€™s not tied down to being king.â€ť
Nenyo chuckled. â€śAlright, but tell me something first, you keep pairing Karthan with Thacese, is it for the reason I think it is?â€ť
â€śHeâ€™s in love with her. I wanted to see if he would hesitate during training. Sometimes weâ€™re forced to face off against people we considered our friends, you and I know that better than any of them.â€ť
â€śWe do.â€ť He nodded again. â€śAlright, immortality it is. Do you have a preference as to what youâ€™d like to be?â€ť
Lao grinned. â€śHmm, perhaps a vampire, so I have an excuse to nibble on Tir all the time?â€ť
Tir went red from head to toe and grew even more embarrassed when Lao started laughing. â€śYouâ€™re so mean.â€ť
Lao hugged him tightly. â€śOut of love.â€ť He pulled back to look at Tir. â€śWhat do you think?â€ť
â€śWhat choices do I have?â€ť
â€śMany.â€ť Nenyo explained. â€śIâ€™ve been around for a long time and Iâ€™ve met many beings. Dragons, demons, vampires, werewolves, you name it and Iâ€™ve either spoken to it or killed it. I can give you a list and you can research in the library if you like. Living forever is a big decision.â€ť
â€śGive us a list and we will probably get back to you about it soon.â€ť Lao said then Tir added, â€śThank you.â€ť
â€śWe need a teacher like him at this school. I was hoping heâ€™d ask one day. It would be irresponsible of me to simply try to talk people into it I wanted around forever. The timing is perfect since heâ€™s found his life partner.â€ť Nenyo pulled out a clean sheet of paper and began jotting down the names of creatures that came to mind until he couldnâ€™t pull another name off the top of his head. â€śIf none appeal to you there are many more.â€ť He said as he handed the note to Lao.
â€śIâ€™m sure one of these will do.â€ť
Lao and Tir left Nenyo’s office with one last thank you then headed for the library to look into them. â€śSo this is mainly up to you Tir.â€ť
â€śYouâ€™ll have to be whatever it is too.â€ť
â€śI donâ€™t care as long as we always get to be together.â€ť
Tir blushed and nudged him. â€śStop that.â€ť
â€śYouâ€™re purposefully over sappy to make me red.â€ť
Lao chuckled. â€śI mean every word I say though.â€ť
They went through the whole list together, researching each one and Tir finally settled on the kanima. He had Lao in mind when he chose it, knowing him being a jaguar would be perfect for his skill set. Plus, a feline matched him perfectly. â€śAre you sure?â€ť Lao asked.
â€śYeah, I think being a cat would be interesting. I could be the jaguar king.â€ť He answered and Lao chuckled as he pressed a kiss to his lips.
â€śHow cute. Alright, a jaguar it is then.â€ť He rubbed their noses together. â€śI do have to admit, Iâ€™m glad you chose a shifter.â€ť
â€śOh you know.â€ť He gave him a wink and Tir flushed.
â€śMâ€¦maybe something else.â€ť
â€śToo late now my love, youâ€™ve already sold me on it.â€ť He rubbed their noses. â€śI love you and honestly no matter what you chose, I would still be unable to keep my hands off of you. Besides, now Iâ€™ll be even better equipped to keep you safe. More speed, more flexibility, heightened senses, I dare someone to even think of harming you.â€ť He gave him an even bigger smile. â€śOr any children we may adopt.â€ť He stood, pulling Tir with him. â€śCome my prince, letâ€™s tell Nenyo.â€ť
â€śYou want children?â€ť
â€śI want everything.â€ť
Tir’s heart danced in his chest. This was really going to happen, they were going to live forever and have children. Nenyo smirked at their choice. â€śIâ€™ll get my friend here as quickly as possible. Itâ€™s been awhile since he and I spoke but we parted on good terms. Youâ€™re not in any rush to return to your castle right prince? Iâ€™d just like to know if I need to rush himÂ at all.â€ť
â€śMy father has everything, he told me to enjoy my time away and only come home when I was ready. I think he wants to pass the crown soon so wants me to get any cabin fever out.â€ť
â€śGood, Iâ€™ll make sure you two know the second he is on his way here. Enjoy your final days of being humans.â€ť
Lao lifted Tir, much to his embarrassment, thanked Nenyo and left, taking Tir up to their room. He tossed him on the bed then crawled up him and rubbed their cheeks together, then their noses, making Tir laugh. â€śWhat are you doing silly?â€ť
â€śPracticing being a cat.â€ť Tir laughed again and started to push him back, but Lao grabbed his wrists and pinned them down, grinning at him. â€śEverything we read said they love scenting their mates.â€ť
â€śBut youâ€™re not a jaguar yet.â€ť
â€śPractice makes perfect.â€ť
Tir smiled, let out a happy little sigh and lifted his head to kiss Lao. â€śI love you.â€ť
â€śI love you too.â€ť
The shifter came right away when Nenyo reached out. He was kind and eager to help out, even making sure to talk them about every detail so theyâ€™d be prepared for the change. Lao didnâ€™t have a shred of nerves, he never did and it made Tir feel more confident about them going from human to jaguar. When it was all over it seemed the both took to their new form well, but Nenyo’s friend insisted they should rest their bodies anyway so they did. Lao was teaching classes again the very next day with Tir still happily watching. They would be leaving soon, they had talked about that when they went to lay down. Tir wanted to tell his father and he didnâ€™t think this sort of thing should be shared over a letter.
On their last day, Nenyo and his class all came to see them off, the students obviously disappointed that he was leaving. â€śYouâ€™ll be back, right?â€ť Nenyo asked.
Lao shrugged. â€śPerhaps, weâ€™ll see.â€ť
Nenyo chuckled. â€śI guess Iâ€™ll have to bother you again then until you have no choice.â€ť
Lao held out his hand and Nenyo shook it. â€śDonâ€™t worry, weâ€™ll be back, Tir is far too interested in this place for me to stay away and I actually enjoy teaching.â€ť
â€śIâ€™ll hold you to it.â€ť
Tir and Lao climbed into the carriage, Lao immediately wrapping him in a hug as it pulled away from the school. He pressed a kiss to his lips, causing him to blush and reveled in the fact he could heart Tirâ€™s heart. â€śWhat do you think your father will say?â€ť
â€śI think heâ€™ll be happy because Iâ€™m happy.â€ť
â€śI think so too.â€ť He smiled as he pressed their foreheads together. â€śI love you, Tir, forever until the end of time.â€ť
â€śMe too, forever.â€ť They cuddled as the carriage carried them home and into a future with more possibilities than they could ever imagine.
Sylvie laughed with her cousins as they continued to play their game. She was out to celebrate one of them getting married soon while Jarius was out with one of his Uncles. The old dragon had come wanting Jarius to help him with some artifacts he had found. Doing something like that was hard to do with a four year old, especially a little girl as wild as theirs so one of Sylvies brothers had offered to take care of little Xeja. Jarius had almost taken a break from working with his Uncle so Lefan wouldnâ€™t have to watch her but at the last second changed his mind. He felt it would be better to try to finish so it wouldnâ€™t take time from his family any more since his wife was out anyway. Lefan had watched her a few times before so they could have some time alone so they trusted him today.
Suddenly Sylvie had a bad feeling and her cousins could read it on her face â€śSylvie, whats wrong?â€ť
â€śI think I need to go homeâ€ť
â€śis something wrong with Jarius?â€ť
â€śNo, I know itâ€™s not that. I just, I feel like I need to check on Xejaâ€ť
â€śOkay, donâ€™t ignore those mommy senses. I understandâ€ť
â€śI really am sorry thoughâ€ť her cousin waved her off â€śgo if you feel like you need to check on her. Just find us if everything is okayâ€ť They figured it would be. It wasnâ€™t like Sylvie spent a ton of time away from her daughter so they chalked it up to separation anxiety. Sylvie shifted, flying home as fast as she could. She burst through her door, startling Lefan who had been reading one of Jariusâ€™s old books â€śwoah, whats up?â€ť
â€śWhere is Xeja?â€ť
â€śI ran her around outside, I wore her out so sheâ€™s nappingâ€ť
â€śem, in her roomâ€ť her brother said in a confused tone then walked with Sylvie to find Xeja wasnâ€™t in there â€śI swear she was just here. Iâ€™ve been checking on her every time I get to a new chapterâ€ť
â€śXeja?!â€ť Sylvie called, trying not to panic. To her horror she saw the room Jarius worked and stored things he wanted near by but Xeja couldnâ€™t touch was opened â€śLefanâ€¦â€ť
â€śoh my godâ€¦I thought I locked that back I swearâ€ť Sylvie ran into the room, her brother behind her. Once inside Lefan was shocked by how far they could run in it, their home didnâ€™t seem this big. Sylvieâ€™s ears caught her daughter laughing and she ran to it, loseing her brother in all that was stored here. â€śSylvie!â€ť she heard her brother yell but finding Xeja was more important so she rushed on. Her daughter was messing with something on her finger â€śXeja, babyâ€ť Sylvie was tearful and just as she noticed it was a ring it began to glow. She grabbed it, wanting to take it off but next thing she knew she felt twisted, sick to her stomach and then she suddenly wasnâ€™t home anymore.
Sylvie felt like she couldnâ€™t breath so she was gasping as she clutched her little girl to her chest. She wondered if she was just panicking so she concentrated on calming down and taking in her surroundings. It was dark and nothing was around besides trees and the stars above. She wondered if she was even in her world anymore because it certainly shouldnâ€™t be night. Her daughter pushed away so Sylvie let her go, starting to apologize for possibly hurting her when her little girl began vomiting. It made her even more sure they had gone to a completely different world.
Sylvie pulled her daughters hair back, holding it until she finished. She then lifted her again, determined to find somewhere to now clean her up. Xeja began softly crying â€śYouâ€™ll feel better soon Xejaâ€ť
â€śwhere are we mommaâ€ť
â€śI dont knowâ€ť the girl started pulling at the ring but it wouldnâ€™t budge â€śits stuckâ€ť she whined, no longer amused â€śthen dont tug at it for now. Iâ€™m sure some being lives here. Maybe I can find someone who can help us get back to daddy and Uncle Lefanâ€ť
Lefan spun in circles, searched the room, looking under tables and behind shelves, but they were both gone. The sudden silence had been so shocking and now they were gone. He ran his fingers through his hair, starting to panic. What should he do? Jarius, he had to get Jarius.
â€śWell that looks pretty.â€ť The voice startled Jarius and his uncle, causing the former to sigh a roll his eyes.
â€śPaimon, can I help you?â€ť Jarius went back to the circlet he and his uncle were examining.
â€śNo, not really?â€ť
â€śThe prince out?â€ť
â€śWhat does that have to do with anything? Maybe I just missed your angry face.â€ť
Jarius huffed. â€śSure. Well if youâ€™re here, might as well make yourself useful.â€ť He pointed to some of the artifacts they had already examined. â€śWhy donâ€™t you take those and sort them onto the tables and shelves.â€ť
Sylvie didnâ€™t want to walk aimlessly so tried to put her nose to good use to search for water. She couldnâ€™t smell any in any particular direction but she was determined to just keep walking and scenting the air until she found that or a person. Sheâ€™d give anything right now to have wolf in her bloodline. Maybe they wouldnâ€™t be able to find any either but they had a much better chance than her. â€śI can walk momâ€ť her daughter said about a half hour later â€śare you sure?â€ť
â€śyeah, I know you donâ€™t mind butâ€¦if something tries to hurt us or if I really need it later I dont want to have already worn you outâ€ť
â€śdo you promise to tell me if you need a break?â€ť
â€śI promiseâ€ť with that assurance Sylvie set her daughter down â€śstay near me okay. I know nothing about where we areâ€ť
â€śyes mommaâ€ť Xeja took her mothers hand. Sylvie held on tightly, ready to protect her. Sylvie considered turning into a dragon so she could soar over these trees but that could potentially be risky and she certainly didnâ€™t want to draw the wrong attention to her and her four year old.
Mommy are you scared?â€ť
â€śA little, how about you?â€ť Xeja nodded. â€śWell thatâ€™s okay, everyone gets scared.â€ť
â€śAnd uncle Paimon?â€ť
Sylvie actually cracked a smile at Xeja calling Paimon her uncle. Jarius would probably have a heart attack. â€śIâ€™m sure he does.â€ť Sylvie wished she could discern where she was going. In this world of night everything looked the same, even the stars.
Lefan bursting into the room nearly made Paimon drop what he was holding and both Jarius and his uncle twisted around, ready to fight. All three of them became confused when they saw how terrified Lefan was. â€śJariusâ€¦Jarius, my sister andâ€¦and Xejaâ€¦â€ť
Jariusâ€™s heart jumped in his chest as he crossed over to Lefan, grabbing his shoulders. â€śWhat happened?â€ť Paimon was suddenly standing there next to him and Jariusâ€™s uncle had crossed over, a mask of worry on his face.
â€śIâ€™m sorry, itâ€™s all my fault. Xeja got in your storage room andâ€¦and then they were gone, just gone.â€ť
Fear gripped Jariusâ€™s heart and he opened himself up to Sylvie. When he worked and felt there was no reason to worry he blocked the part of himself that could feel what she was feeling. She could so easily take his attention he normally couldnâ€™t get anything done if he could feel her and now she was in danger and it took him however long it took her brother to come for help to be aware of it. There was a reason that room stayed constantly locked, many reasons to be more exact and there was no possible good explanation for his family vanishing in there. He could now feel her fear and worry so he said â€ścome! I need him to show me about where they were when they vanished. I know everything in there. I just need a place to startâ€ť
They still hadnâ€™t found a single thing by the time Xeja needed to rest. Sylvie decided just to stop for now â€śwhy donâ€™t you take a little nap sweetieâ€ť
â€śI donâ€™t know if I canâ€ť
â€śIâ€™ll tell you a story like I do at home for bed timeâ€ť
â€śBut daddy isnâ€™t here to sing to me afterâ€ť
â€śIâ€™ll just do the singing tooâ€ť Xejaâ€™s lower lip trembled â€śBabyâ€ť Sylvie said in concern. â€śI just miss dadâ€ť
â€śweâ€™ll see your father again soon. I wont rest until weâ€™re back with him and I bet you anything heâ€™s already looking for us. I still feel him and I can tell heâ€™s worried, he knows we are missing. Heâ€™s almost as old as time itself and his Uncle is even older. Between them and my side of the family they are going to figure out where we areâ€ť Sylvie began to rub her daughters face and stroke her hair to comfort her. â€śIâ€™ll tell a really happy story okay?â€ť
â€śOkayâ€ť Sylvie retold one of the happiest fairytails she knew and the poor thing was so exhausted from fear and the travel here she was out before Sylvie could even sing. Sylvie didnâ€™t rest there long before carefully lifting her daughter and walking on. She didnâ€™t think it was wise to rest any longer than she absolutely needed since she didnâ€™t know at all where she was.
It was almost an hour later when she finally found a lake â€śthank godâ€ť she whispered before setting her daughter down and testing the water to make sure it was safe for Xeja. Now that she had found water and her daughter was resting anyway Sylvie took another chance to lay down and regather strength for anything that may occur. Jarius had been completely spoiling her over the years so she wasnâ€™t as used to just walking constantly like this.
â€śMom?â€ť her daughters voice woke her some time later â€śyeah baby?â€ť
â€śyou found waterâ€ť
â€śsee, Iâ€™ll make sure we have everything we need until I figure out how to get homeâ€ť
â€ścan I go wash in it please?â€ť
â€śrun right in, give me your clothes and Iâ€™ll clean themâ€ť Xeja stripped down then ran into the water while Sylvie opened her senses up to any perverts or potential dangerous animals. Once their clothes and Xeja were clean they were off again, Sylvie now keeping her nose out for potential food. She could tell her little one was hungry but besides this lake there still didnâ€™t seem to be anything. It seemed impossible that a place could truly just be trees.
It was just as those thoughts were passing through her head a womans voice caught her ears but it was obviously another language. Sylvie pulled her daughter behind her protectively and said â€śIâ€™m sorry, I donâ€™t understandâ€ť saying that may have been completely pointless but she felt it would be better than being silent or trying to run. They had been hoping to find someone after all. The woman tilted her head, seeming to think hard. Her voice came out unsure, like it took great effort but what came out this time was English â€śyouâ€¦lost? You smell ofâ€¦elsewhereâ€ť
Relief rushed through Sylvie for many reasons. Though it would be hard to talk she could in fact talk to this woman and the fact the woman was even trying made her feel more comfortable. A person trying to harm them likely wouldnâ€™t care if they understood what they were saying. That may or may not be true but it was comforting logic â€śIâ€™m very lost, I came to this world by mistake. I want to go home but I donâ€™t know howâ€ť Xejas stomach loudly growled which had the little girl blushing, especially when it made the woman notice her. She motioned for them to come so Sylvie picked up her daughter and hoped she wasnâ€™t making a huge mistake by following this woman. She might never get home if she didnâ€™t put her trust in anyone here.
The woman lead them only a short ways off from where they had been headed before she stopped and held her hand in front of her, palm facing the ground. Sylvie held her daughter tighter again, wishing they could communicate more easily. Sylvie guessed the reason they had walked in complete silence was due to the fact english seemed to be hard for her to speak and Sylvie couldnâ€™t even begin to try hers. She had learned so many from her husband but of course she didnâ€™t know the one she needed now.
When they managed to get home she was going to have Jarius teach her more. A door appeared in the grass. The woman motioned for them to follow again as she opened it. Sylvie had expected to drop into a home but it was almost as if the world tilted so they could walk right in. It was honestly a little trippy and had Sylvie confused â€śMyâ€¦homeâ€ť The strange woman strained again. Sylvie wondered if the difficulty was from how different her home language had sounded. Her mouth and tongue were probably nowhere near used to the movements it took to speak to her.
â€śAre we safe?â€ť Sylvie asked.
The woman nodded and gestured toward a pile of animal hides. Sylvie sat down with Xeja in her lap, finding the makeshift couch incredibly comfortable. The woman moved off and Sylvie heard things being moved around. â€śHunâ€¦hungry?â€ť The woman asked.
â€śYes, thank you.â€ť She didnâ€™t know if it would be rude to say no and the woman had been so kind, she didnâ€™t want to hurt her feelings.
The sound of sizzling and the smell of meat soon filled the silence and after a few minutes, the woman came back with some meat and steamed vegetables on a large plate. She sat down across from Sylvie and Xeja and put the plate between them. She gestured to it, then her mouth, then to all three of them. â€śShare?â€ť Sylvie asked and the woman nodded. â€śThank you so much.â€ť
Jarius felt almost frantic, he couldnâ€™t figure out what his daughter could have possibly gotten into. So much had been knocked over between Xeja getting in here and Sylvie running around that things were mixed up â€śJarius, you need to breathâ€ť his Uncle Saeran said seriously â€śweâ€™ve been in this room for hours, hoursâ€ť
â€śyes we have but you need to keep a clear head. You need to think as your daughter does. Think of what she likes, colors, toys, everything and that will help you decide what is missingâ€ť as Saeran finished speaking Paimon interjected â€śItâ€™s honestly a little surprising you still have this habit. I guess dragons hoarding is a thing that dies hardâ€ť
â€śitâ€™sâ€¦itâ€™s my faultâ€¦Jarius having all this hasnâ€™t been a problem until I wanted a book from hereâ€¦â€ť Lefan said sadly, still spending most his time looking at the floor. Jarius sighed â€śPaimons a pain in my ass Lefan but what heâ€™s getting at is right. I shouldnâ€™t have something that could harm my family near our home, especially not while Xeja or any other children we may have are here. Sylvie is an intelligent woman who will listen when I tell her about things but a child canâ€™t be expected to always do the sameâ€¦you are not the only one responsible Lefan.â€ť
â€śever noble, Iâ€™ve never seen you so distressed. Othersâ€ť
â€śPaimon not right nowâ€ť Jarius cut off the speech before it got away from Paimon. He needed his family back and he feared every moment they spent gone was a moment he could lose them forever. Paimon also took Saerans advice and started thinking â€śJarius, sheâ€™s been wearing rings a lot lately.â€ť Paimon suddenly said and Jariusâ€™s normally pale skin actually turned whiter. â€śNoâ€¦â€ť he walked over the area again, even looking inside things â€śyou know what Xeja did donâ€™t you Jarius? Just tell us and stop looking for whatever youâ€™re looking for. We need to help your familyâ€ť
Jarius held a hand over his mouth, looking as if he might cry then shook his head hard â€śtheyâ€™re not there, theyâ€™re not there. Iâ€™ll find it and itâ€™ll be something elseâ€ť
â€śJarius, you know, I know how much your family means to you and thats why you need to admit what you already knowâ€ť
â€śdo you remember the book I wrote about Casisâ€ť
â€śThe cannibalsâ€¦â€ť Saeran said knowingly and Lefanâ€™s horrified voice asked â€śwhat?â€ť Jarius cried â€śtheyâ€™re in a world of cannibals. Its so bad they actually hide from one another there. Their homes are all cleverly put into the ground and mountains and such. They seem normal when you meet themâ€¦she might follow one homeâ€¦â€ť
â€śwhy on earth would a portal to that be here Jariusâ€ť Saeran reprimanded â€śwhen I first met Sylvie I had gone on another trip there for the fruit. They have the most amazing fruit and I gave her some. She loved it â€¦ I wanted her to like me. I kept making trips back so I could give her some and I just never took it out of hereâ€¦I forgot it was in here until Paimon mentioned ringsâ€ť
â€śHowâ€™re we going to get there?â€ť
â€śI dont know, thats the only portal I know ofâ€ť
After they ate the kind stranger put a hand on her chest â€śGazitâ€ť Sylvie felt that was her name so she touched her daughters head â€śXejaâ€ť then touched her own chest â€śSylvieâ€ť
â€śYou stay here in my homeâ€ť
â€śdo you know how to get me back where Iâ€™m from?â€ť Gazit shook her head and Sylvie slightly frowned â€śa little bit then, I really need to get home as soon as I canâ€ť After a few hours passed with little talking or indication this kind woman could be any more help Sylvie said â€śwe should go, I need to find my way homeâ€ť
â€śwhy?â€ť The woman just stared at her and Sylvie felt shitty about it after she had been so kind but it creeped her out. She hoped maybe she just didnâ€™t know how to explain and wasnâ€™t trying to be creepy. â€śdo you have maybe a friend I could meet? Maybe they can helpâ€ť still nothing and it just made Sylvie want to leave worse. The next time Gazit went to the bathroom Sylvie picked up her daughter and walked back to the door or where the door should have been because it was gone. Dread filled her but she didnâ€™t want to panic Xeja so she kept walking, acting like she was just toting her around until Gazit came back out. â€śits rest timeâ€ť she informed them then motioned to her couch â€śOkay, thank youâ€ť
Sylvies heart was pounding but she worried if she yelled, asked about the door or did anything that let Gazit know she was panicking she might make the situation worse. She also still didnâ€™t want her four year old to know there was any reason to be scared. Sylvie just settled down with her daughter and Gazit left them, closing herself in her bedroom. Sylvie had intended to stay awake and figure something out but it was almost if something was dragging her eyelids closed and her mind to rest. She fought the urge, she had to get out but next thing she knew Gazit was kneeling beside the couch, her face inches from Sylvies and it took every ounce of self control not to jump.
Once again she prayed this was a misunderstanding since it was hard to commuincate and they were from different worlds. For all she knew it was normal for their doors to vanish, maybe it wasnâ€™t so weird to stare creepily here and maybe personal space wasnâ€™t a thing here either. These among other things Sylvie kept telling herself for comfort as they sat at Gazitâ€™s table. She had already made breakfast and was just putting in onto plates. â€śwhy lap?â€ť Gazit asked since Sylvie was holding Xeja â€śsheâ€™s homesick for her dad. Iâ€™m trying to comfort herâ€ť It wasnâ€™t a complete lie, Sylvie could see how sad her daughter was.
â€śIâ€™ll be okay mommy, thank youâ€ť Xeja got out of her lap and sat on the chair next to her. Sylvie wanted her little girl as close as possible but at least she was still closer to her than their host. Sylvie went to tie up her hair with a band she had in her pocket when she noticed one strand was much shorter than the others suddenly. Maybe she shouldnâ€™t have but her eyes went to Gazit, who the hell else woudl have cut off some of her hair. Gazit sipped from her cup, her eyes once again locked on Sylvie which now Sylvie could only see as predatory due to how scared she was. There was no door any longer, Gazit was insistent they stayed and she knew she wasnâ€™t crazy, someone had cut off some of her hair last night.
Keeping her voice as calm as possible Sylvie said â€śGazit, we really need to leave after this meal.â€ť Gazit was silent and next time her mother spoke Xeja heard the fear in her voice”Please, I dont want to stay any more”
â€śMommy, is everything okay?â€ť Xeja asked. Gazit began eating again and that was all this panicked mother could take. Gazitâ€™s focus seemed to be on her but if this woman was crazy she was capable of anything. Sylvie shifted into a dragon in the small home and it obviously scared the hell out of Gazit who was pale, trembling as she looked up at the crampt dragon that had destroyed multiple things in the dining room just by shifting. â€śweâ€™re leaving if I have to eat you to do itâ€ť Sylvie threatened and suddenly, there was the door again. Xeja shifted too and they both left, flying away as fast as they could.
Jarius had Paimon, Saeran, and Lefan help him collect all of his books from storage and take them over to one of the tables. Maybe, just maybe he could find something in them. â€śPaimon, take Lefan and gather all of the books from the library on other worlds and spells for making gateways.â€ť
â€śYes sir.â€ť Paimon grabbed the dejected Lefan by his arm and pulled him out of the room. Jarius was surprised Paimon was being so helpful. He always seemed to revel in Jariusâ€™s loss of control, but now he was working hard to help. He didnâ€™t know what to make of it, but he wasnâ€™t going to question it to much right now.
â€śJarius, you must lock up that ring once you have it back.â€ť Saeran said as he started going through books.
â€śI donâ€™t even want it in the house.â€ť
â€śThen Iâ€™ll take it.â€ť
â€śI think that would be for the best. Iâ€™m such an idiot, an irresponsible idiot. I should know better at my age.â€ť
â€śWe all make mistakes, Jarius.â€ť
â€śNot like this, not with Sylvie and Xeja.â€ť
â€śSylvie has a good head on her shoulders Jarius. Youâ€™ll see them again so stay calm. You picked an amazing mate and your daughter, I see so much promise in her futureâ€ť
Sylvie and Xeja flew until Xejas little wings could carry her no further. Sylvie began to descend right away and was grateful that where ever they were now seemed nice. They shifted back into humans bodies and Xeja hugged her mother â€śMom, what happened?â€ť
â€śthere was something off about her baby. I realized it the night before but I didnâ€™t want to scare youâ€ť
â€śwhat are we going to do now?â€ť
â€śIâ€™m going to gather firewood, make you a nice fire and weâ€™re going to relax. You should have said something sooner baby. You look so exhausted. After the fire is made I want you just to lay downâ€ť
â€śokay mommyâ€ť Sylvie shifted back into a dragon and pushed over a tree to make wood small enough for their fire. Once it was burning Sylvie was in her human body again and patted her lap so Xeja would lay her head down. Sylvie hoped her following words would bring her daughter any comfort â€śthere has to be some sort of city sweetheart. Once youâ€™re feeling rested I will find itâ€ť
â€śwhat if itâ€™s underground, Gazitâ€™s home was undergroundâ€ť
â€śwhile you sleep Iâ€™m going to be sitting here thinking about all the ways we could possibly handle this. Donâ€™t stress okay baby, trust your mommy and close those beautiful brown eyesâ€ť
â€śIâ€™m sorryâ€ť She almost couldnt bare to hear her daughter apologize. A four year old breaking a rule shouldnâ€™t have these type of consequences. â€śdonâ€™t you be sorry about anything. Iâ€™m not madâ€ť Sylvies eyes were damp but she was still trying not to cry. She knew she needed to stay strong and she didnâ€™t want to waste her energy crying. â€śI promise to always be good when we get back to daddyâ€ť
â€śshhh sweetheartâ€ť Sylvie began lightly rubbing her daughters face and arms, grateful when she finally went to sleep so she wouldnâ€™t fall apart.
â€śYou said Casis correct?â€ť Paimon asked.
â€śYes, have you found something?â€ť Jarius moved to look over Paimonâ€™s shoulder.
â€śIt looks like the information is old, but old is probably good.â€ť He tapped the part of the page he had been reading. â€śIt looks like opening it takes a few things, namely the blood of the one opening it, but itâ€™s not impossible.â€ť
â€śI wish I could just open it damn it.â€ť
Paimon shrugged. â€śSo weâ€™ll each take a part of the list and gather what we need. You might have some of it around here. Just know, Iâ€™m definitely coming with you, wouldnâ€™t want you getting eaten before you can rescue the girls.â€ť
â€śAlright, weâ€™ll split up and try to gather everything, but hurry, I need to get to them.â€ť
As Sylvie sat there she noticed the ring again on her daughters finger. It could obviously change in size since it still didntâ€™ come off when Xeja shifted into a dragon. Sylvie rubbed the hand that wore it, wishing she knew how to work this ring. She was half afraid if she tried to do something with it, without knowledge of how it worked they could end up further down the rabbit hole in a whole new place. They could end up even further from home with less hope of returning to her husband. Sylvie sighed, her eyes now going to the fire as she asked nobody in particular â€śwhat do I doâ€ť Things remained peaceful until Xeja woke.
â€śyou ready? I can carry you if you want to wake up more before walkingâ€ť
â€śNo, I can walk mommaâ€ť
â€śOkay sweetheart, donâ€™t let yourself get that tired again. I still donâ€™t know where to begin so truly, we can rest all you needâ€ť Xeja nodded and Sylvie put out the fire before taking her daughters hand and walking on in the direction she had already determined theyâ€™d try. They found some fruit along the way and it clicked with Sylvie, she remembered eating this a lot with Jarius when they first met. She wondered what besides this he got up to in a place as odd as this one.
They couldnâ€™t have gone another full hour before Xeja gasped â€śbaby whatâ€ť she started to ask when she saw a dart in her daughters neck and heard another coming for her. Sylvie shifted after jerking it out of her daughter , hoping her scales would be too strong for the darts to get through. She heard deranged cackling â€śa dragon, I can deal with youâ€ť the voice was creepy and even more startling her little girl passed out.
Sylvie roared at the top of her lungs, beyond pissed at this point. The cackling started again and in her rage she started spreading fire indiscriminately. Normally sheâ€™d care about possibly hurting things that had done nothing to her but she was scared, she was exhausted, she was hungry, and she wasnâ€™t about to let some crazy make her feel trapped again. The fire caught quickly and Sylvie took Xeja in one of her claws for safety.
Sylvie flew straight up, glad when nothing else happened. I can deal with you she scoffed as she remembered his words. He was going to be dealing with the grim reaper if he came near her child again. It didnâ€™t hit her until she had flown a fairly good distance the being had used English easily. Maybe some people here did speak her language. Sylvieâ€™s current plan was to fly as long as possible so that hopefully her daughter would stay out of harms way until she woke up.
Jarius felt his wifes fury and it terrified him as to what may have caused it. She was far from an angry person so he worried what might be happening to his daughter. Suddenly it was as if she slammed into an invisible wall. It disoriented her and she slightly plummeted before lifting herself back up. â€śwhat?â€ť she was confused, why couldnâ€™t she fly further. She was too scared to land with her daughter still recovering from whatever drugs were in the dart so she tried to fly in another direction but to her horror she hit another wall, she was being boxed in somehow.
She roared as she hovered there. â€śI will burn this entire world if you donâ€™t let us go.â€ť It was a bluff, but she didnâ€™t want anything else to happen to Xeja. The laughter seemed to be coming from all around her and her heart danced fearfully in her chest.
â€śItâ€™s only a matter of time, dragon.â€ť The voice said. â€śArenâ€™t you tired? I wonder how long your wings will carry you.â€ť
â€śHow much more do we have?â€ť Jarius asked as he looked down at the things everyone had gathered.
â€śLefan is off gathering a couple of hard to get plants and your friend went off to find this amulet.â€ť Saeran answered.
â€śSheâ€™s scared uncle, angry, something bad is happening and I need to get to them.â€ť
â€śI know, but you must stay calm, keep a clear head.â€ť
â€śIf I lost them I would go mad. Even Paimon understands.â€ť
â€śTalking about me behind my back?â€ť Paimon asked as he stepped in and Jarius shot him a glare. â€śI got it.â€ť He held up the amulet.
â€śHow did youâ€¦you know what it doesnâ€™t matter, thank you.
Sylvieâ€™s wings began to ache, she knew they might give out and there was obviously some sort of trap waiting below. She figured it was best to rush down and try to escape than to simply let herself get exhausted and fall right into whatevers clutches. She took a deep, mind clearing breath then said calmly to her unconscious daughter â€śI love you so much Xejaâ€ť before flying down. She flew straight as soon as she was able and just as she went straight a large, metal contraption tried to clamp down on her foot, almost taking off one of her toes but she had managed to evade it. The wound stung and blood poured down onto the earth but she still kept forward until something wrapped around her neck, instantly tightening so that she could barely breath. She tried to roar in fury again but it was too tight, having no give whatsoever.
She wrapped herself tightly around Xeja as she hit the ground, taking trees down with her massive body and kicking up dirt. Her vision swam, her body aching all over, her blood soaking into the ground. She couldnâ€™t breathe, but she refused to shift back to her human form. She knew if she did, they would take Xeja. Her mind was a whirlwind of emotion and Jarius could feel everyone, could feel the pain reverberating through her and he growled, wanting to kill whoever had dared touch her.
â€śIâ€™m back, Iâ€™m sorry, there wereâ€¦complications.â€ť Lefan said as he came running in, one hand holding a bag, the other clutching his shoulder. He was scraped and bruised pretty bad, but he had managed to get the plants they needed.
â€śWhat happened?â€ť Paimon asked.
â€śJustâ€¦it doesnâ€™t matter.â€ť Paimon opened his mouth to argue and Lefan interrupted, â€śPellegrinoâ€™s back, heâ€™s probably heading this way.â€ť Paimonâ€™s eyes went from concerned to dancing with delight in an instant, something that he quickly shoved down.
Lefan handed Jarius the bag. â€śAre you sure youâ€™re alright?â€ť Jarius asked.
If Sylvie wasnâ€™t obviously getting hurt he would have insisted to check his wound but Lefan felt he was fine and they needed to hurry to Sylvie. By the time Pellegrino got there they were almost done â€śJust in timeâ€ť Paimon said â€śI had to finish taking care of the thing that attacked Lefan. It was a persistent son of a bitch. Iâ€™m happy I made itâ€ť Lefan looked awkwardly at the floor, hating he could seem to do nothing recently but cause trouble. What was he going to do if his carelessness cost his sister her life? He couldnâ€™t imagine telling their parents or their other siblings or even the rest of the family.
As Sylvieâ€™s vision began to get hazy she told herself over and over in her mind â€śdonâ€™t let goâ€ť hoping sheer will would keep her claws clutching her daughter when she was no longer conscious. Xeja regained consciousness as frustrated men tried to get to her â€śwhat the fuck! The damned mother passed out!â€ť Xeja gasped, pushing herself as far away from them as he confined space allowed. They seemed to be struggling to get her mothers claws open â€śmommyâ€ť
â€śdont whine, I cant stand whining children and Iâ€™m already frustrated kidâ€ť
Though Jarius was impatient he and his uncle made sure everything was placed perfectly and that the plants they had all collected were perfectly measured and mixed. He put the amulet around his neck and sat down in front of the circle of items. The bowl was placed in the center, the book open in front of him. â€śMake sure you get enough in there to soak the ground up plants.â€ť His uncle said as he handed him the dagger.
â€śI know.â€ť He sliced his palm open and held it over the bowl, his eyes moving over the spell, lips speaking the words clearly as he called the doorway that would take him to his wife and child.
Xeja screamed when they managed to get one of her motherâ€™s claws pulled back far enough that they could reach an arm in. She pressed herself further back, but one managed to snag her clothes. She bit whoever it was and they yelled as they released her. â€śYou little bitch!â€ť Another arm reached in and she moved away from it, crying for her mother and father.
She closed her eyes, still pushing herself back as hard as she could when suddenly she heard her father. Xejas eyes snapped open and she cried harder at the sight of not only her dad but her Uncles and Pellegrino. She knew they were safe now so she crawled out of her mothers claws and began to try to wake her â€śmommyâ€ť Xeja grabbed the lasso around her mothers neck and tried to break it â€śmommyâ€ť she whined. Paimon suddenly appeared on top of Sylvie, pulling out some sort of dagger and easily breaking the enchanted rope. Xeja noticed they had the men that were trying to hurt her unconscious on the ground so they were all coming over to help Sylvie.
Lefan lifted Xeja into his arms â€śthey have her okay, your mom is going to be alrightâ€ť
â€śwe need to get this bleeding stopped firstâ€ť Saeran said. They did their best with her toe, they could get her proper help back at home. â€śsheâ€™s not awake yetâ€ť Xeja whined and Lefan held her a little tighter. They took Sylvie home, they didnâ€™t know how much blood she had lost so far and Jarius didnâ€™t care where they landed at home. They could buy new things, he couldnâ€™t get another Sylvie. By the time Sylvie woke days had passed and her little girl, much to her relief was the first to greet her. She had been refusing to leave her mother so Jarius was currently gone getting them something to eat. â€śOh my babyâ€ť
â€śweâ€™re home momâ€ť Sylvie noticed she was in human form again â€śthey were able to make you shift back and they got the ring off, seeâ€ť Xeja wiped tears away then showed her mom her hand â€śOh thatâ€™s such wonderful news honeyâ€ť
â€śIâ€™m sorry mommy.â€ť
â€śOh baby, itâ€™s okay.â€ť She hugged her daughter. â€śWhereâ€™s uncle Lefan?â€ť
Sylvie knew her brother had to be beating himself over what had happened and was probably ashamed. She wanted to see him and tell him it was alright, that she wasnâ€™t mad. â€śWe should go see him, let him know weâ€™re okay.â€ť
â€śYou need to stay in bed, my love.â€ť Jarius said as he stepped into their room. â€śYouâ€™re too weak to go wandering around. Iâ€™ll bring him here.â€ť
â€śJarius.â€ť She could see and feel he was exhausted and scared and once Xeja had her food, she held out her arms. He said his own plate down, forgetting his food and just gathering her into his embrace. He buried his face in her hair and his relief and fear washed over her, his tears dripping onto her shoulder.
â€śI love you Jariusâ€¦we both missed youâ€ť Sylvie said softly, trying to bring him comfort. It only seemed to make him struggle more to keep tears at bay. â€śIâ€™ve already started clearing that roomâ€¦Iâ€™m so sorry I was soâ€¦something like that should have never been in there. I am so so sorry, I feel all your misery in that world is my faultâ€ť He wanted to apologize a million times over. â€śI was never mad at you or my brother. Neither of you would ever lead us to harm on purpose. I hope you werenâ€™t mean to himâ€ť Jarius shook his head â€śas I said, I feel itâ€™s more my fault than anybody elses. I told him as much but heâ€™s your brother, he loves you and little Xeja immensely. Iâ€™m glad I didnâ€™t scold him because heâ€™s punishing himself enough as it isâ€ť
â€śas it seems you are Jarius. However, Iâ€™m happy to hear youâ€™re getting rid of the dangerous thingsâ€ť
â€śitâ€™s irresponsible until Xeja is grown. Iâ€¦I canâ€™t even think of what I was thinkingâ€¦a locked door or not she was bound to get in there unattendedâ€ť He held her a little tighter then made himself let go â€śare you hungry? I was going to eat light anyway so take my plate if you are. Iâ€™ll grab something else while I go get your brother for youâ€ť
â€śare you sureâ€ť with damp eyes he nodded. Jarius handed Sylvie his food, kissed her forehead then made himself leave again. He had been dyeing to talk to and hold her while she was actually conscious but she wanted to see her brother. Now, of all times, he would not be selfish. He at least knew at this point she wasnâ€™t angry at him and that in itself lifted the weight of worlds off his shoulders. As soon as Lefan came to the door Jarius said â€śsheâ€™s awake and wants to see youâ€ť
â€śsheâ€™s not mad, at me or youâ€ť Lefan gave a sad sigh â€śstill herself I guessâ€¦shes never held a grudgeâ€¦Iâ€™ll get my shoesâ€ť Lefan was ready in a few moments then the two of them headed back to the waiting Sylvie.
Sylvie smiled when Lefan came in and her brother looked about ready to cry. â€śCome here, silly.â€ť
He sat down on the bed and he really did start crying when she and Xeja hugged him. â€śIâ€¦Iâ€™m so sorryâ€¦I should haveâ€¦â€ť
â€śHush now, weâ€™re both fine and Iâ€™m not mad.â€ť
â€śI should have known better.â€ť Jarius said. â€śI filled my home with dangerous things and paid for it.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s really okay uncle Lefan.â€ť Xeja said.
Once Lefan was able to calm down, he sat and chatted with them. He was relieved she was still her old self, that what had happened hadnâ€™t traumatized her or Xeja and if it had, they werenâ€™t showing it. He stayed until he noticed his sister getting exhausted and promised her he would stop worrying so much. â€śYou should get some more rest, baby, both of you.â€ť Jarius said as he sat down on their bed and gave Sylvie a kiss.
â€śYou need it, I can feel it. Rest, okay? Iâ€™ll stay here with you two.â€ť
â€śIâ€™ll go to my bed. I missed my bed and my stuffed animalsâ€ť Now Sylvie felt a little emotional. Her mind had definitely gone to what all that may have done to her daughter but she was still her bright, beautiful little girl â€śyouâ€™re welcome back in here if you need it honey.â€ť she gave Jarius a gentle nudge â€śgo tuck her in, she missed you singing to her. I promise to lay downâ€ť Jarius had to kiss her again before he stood and lifted his daughter. Sylvie sighed, looking around her bedroom. They were home, she was really and truly home. Paimon suddenly appeared and she smiled â€śPaimonâ€ť
â€śYou doing okay?â€ť
â€śYeah, just tiredâ€ť
â€śHowâ€™s my little niece?â€ť Sylvie weakly giggled â€śyou know she called you her Uncle while we were thereâ€ť He smiled, it seemed to bring him immense joy â€śgood, I love that little girl and despite what you may think I do have a heart in hereâ€ť
â€śI know you doâ€ť
â€śIâ€™ll let you restâ€ť
â€śtalking to Lefan I learned you helpedâ€ť He looked like saying this made him uncomfortable â€śI feel like I have a familyâ€¦I wasnâ€™t about to have that family broken upâ€ť Sylvies eyes grew even heavier as she smiled again, he could see it so he vanished, especially since he felt awkward anyway. Awkward was far from a feeling he was used to but family was far from something he was used to. Sylvie laid down, falling asleep before her husband returned. Jarius was quiet when he returned to their room,still worried over her.
He continued on clearing out the room he worked in then refilling it with treasures that were safe over the next months. He could have lost his beautiful mate and his wonderful little girl and he wasnâ€™t sure heâ€™d ever get over the shame of being so blind and selfish, no matter how forgiving Sylvie and Xeja was. They meant to much to him to forgive himself too quickly and no amount of time would have him forget the lesson he learned.
~ The End
â€śI think I might die waiting for season two Karen, I mean it. Itâ€™s funny I only gave it a try because my favorite voice actor dubbing for Akihito but itâ€™s seriously one of the best Iâ€™ve ever seenâ€ť Her friend Karen laughed, that familiar amused look on her face when sheâ€™d talk about her favorite anime voice actor when they translated anime to english. She guessed it was because she gushed so much about his voice. â€śwell I need to go to bed since my half brothers flight comes in so early tomorrow. Why donâ€™t you spend the night and come with me. I mean itâ€™s already almost midnight so Iâ€™d like you to stay anyway so I donâ€™t have to stress about you falling asleep at the wheel but I think youâ€™d be glad you met him as soon as he got hereâ€ť
â€śsure, any sibling of yours must be awesome. Does he like anime too? Thereâ€™s another one I want to watch with you but Iâ€™ll wait until he goes home if heâ€™ll hate us watching stuff like thatâ€ť
â€śOh, he likes animeâ€ť Karen laughed again and Adlai gave her a puzzled look â€śWhy do I feel like Iâ€™m the butt of some joke with you since you told me your brothers coming to visit? Is he like deliriously hot and you think Iâ€™ll swoon or something? Is this a set up?â€ť
â€śLets just get some rest. Just trust me, youâ€™ll really like my brotherâ€ť
â€śWhy havenâ€™t you told me anything about him then?â€ť
â€śJust trust your bestie okay? I want him to be a surprise. Before, you know me, I am not a big sharey person of personal details in general but something you ended up telling me made me want to save everything about him for when you meet himâ€ť
â€śDoes he know anything about me?â€ť
â€śHeâ€™s on my Facebook and you tag me all the time so youâ€™ve come upâ€ť
â€śwhatâ€™s his name?â€ť
â€śso you can stalk his feed? Nope, besides, he doesnâ€™t have his real name on there anywayâ€ť
â€śKaren, the suspense is going to kill me. Iâ€™m already dieing waiting for season two of this animeâ€ť Karen laughed again â€śgoodnight bestieâ€ť she repeated then went to her bedroom, knowing Adlai would make herself at home in the guest room. She had spent the night many nights before.
Adlai couldnâ€™t help but think of what might make Karen act like her brother was so mysterious? Was he a recluse or overly eccentric? Was he shy maybe? She racked her brain until she knew she needed to go to sleep then switched on the TV and put on one of her favorite shows, turning the volume down low before curling up and falling asleep. â€śRise and shine Sleeping Beauty.â€ť Karen said the next morning, rousing Adlai from her sleep.
â€śMorning.â€ť Adlai replied with a yawn as she sat up and rubbed her eyes then swept her hair away from her face. She grabbed her phone and checked the time. â€śYou werenâ€™t kidding, itâ€™s way too early.â€ť
â€śBorrow some of my clothes and get a shower while I make us something to eat real quick.â€ť
â€śOkay.â€ť She yawned again as he headed into Karenâ€™s room and went through her clothes.
Once she found something to wear she took a quick shower, not wanting her friends brother stuck at the airport too long. They ate together then rinsed off the dishâ€™s before leaving them in the sink so they could hurry off. â€śare we making good time?â€ť
â€śyeah, heâ€™s laid back like us so even if heâ€™s sat there a bit he wont be madâ€ť
â€śoh wow, actual information about himâ€ť Karen laughed â€śwell youâ€™re about to meet him so I donâ€™t have to be quite so mysterious nowâ€ť
â€śYouâ€™re killing meâ€ť
â€śand itâ€™s so much funâ€ť Adlai may have nudged her friend if she wasnâ€™t driving. They pulled up to the airport and found a spot to wait for him inside â€świll you tell me anything else?â€ť
â€śheâ€™ll be here any momentâ€ť Zephyr wore a big smile as he collected his luggage to go meet his sister and Adlai. He didnâ€™t often like attention for his work voice acting but Adlai was incredible cute and his sister didnâ€™t let people close easily so he knew she was a good person. He was actually excited and happy for the fact heâ€™d have a good opening with her. He hadnâ€™t dated in forever and while he wouldnt actually admit it forming something with Adlai had certainly crossed his mind a time or two when heâ€™d see her in pictures or when his sister would talk about her.
He just still wasnâ€™t sure how heâ€™d speak to her at first, what he should say but he was running out of time as he walked to where his sister said theyâ€™d be. â€ścome on, you can think of something goodâ€ť he said to himself but his own nerves from the fact heâ€™d actually be meeting Adlai today were getting to him.
â€śThere he is.â€ť Karen said, causing Adlaiâ€™s heart to skip in her chest. Her friend was on her feet and waving and yelling. â€śZeph.â€ť
The voice hit Adlai long before the face and she froze behind her friend, mouth hanging part way open. â€śShorty? Better shut up before I beat you up.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m terrified.â€ť They both laughed and then Karen turned, her smile widening at Adlaiâ€™s expression. â€śZephyr this is Adlai and Adlai this is my brother, Zephyr.â€ť
Zephyr smiled, holding out his hand. â€śItâ€™s nice to finally meet you.â€ť He was proud of himself for at least accomplishing a greeting.
Adlai blinked, blushed and snapped her mouth shut. â€śUhâ€¦â€ť she looked at his hand, her brain finally catching up, and quickly took it. â€śNice to meet you, youâ€™reâ€¦butâ€¦â€ť she looked at Karen. â€śHeâ€™sâ€¦heâ€™sâ€¦â€ť
Karen laughed â€śHeâ€™s your favorite voice actor and heâ€™s excited to get to know youâ€ť It made Adlai blush even more that Karen had said that out loud in front of him. She looked back at Zephyr â€śIâ€¦I promise normally I can hold real conversationsâ€ť He smiled and it was practically heart stopping â€śI knew she wasnâ€™t going to tell you who I was ahead of time. I know how surprising it must be. I meet a lot of fans and youâ€™re handling yourself well. Iâ€™ve been tackled a few times to be honestâ€ť
â€śLets get him back to my placeâ€ť Karen suggested and the two followed her as she began to walk, each taking a side. Adlais heart was racing, wondering if she was going to wake up to find this had all been a dream. Her best friends brother was her favorite voice actor? Did that stuff really happen?
â€śSo, working on anything new?â€ť Karen asked as she drove, trying to start a conversation between her friend and her brother.
â€śThatâ€™s a secret.â€ť He answered with a smile.
â€śCome on, you wonâ€™t even tell me for Adlai?â€ť
â€śThatâ€™s hardly fair.â€ť He turned in his seat to look at Adlai. â€śWould you like to know?â€ť
Adlai blushed. â€śWell, I mean if you want to tell me. I wonâ€™t make you, but um maybe a little?â€ť
He chuckled. â€śWell, the character Iâ€™m playing is a bit of a jerk with bright red hair and a reputation for being a delinquent, but he meets his match pretty quickly. Itâ€™ll be a first for me, playing someone whoâ€™s more or less a bad boy.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m sure youâ€™ll be able to pull it off, youâ€™re already really good. I canâ€™t wait to see it.â€ť
â€śI can always send you a play by play or if youâ€™re up to it, you could come and watch me work.â€ť
â€śYeah, Iâ€™d like for you toâ€ť Zephyr saw his sister grin and tried to ignore her silent teasing â€śso who are you on Karens Facebook then?â€ť
â€śIâ€™ll go ahead and add you, Iâ€™m Reph Retsod. Itâ€™s a mix of my name, kind of stupid I know but I like to have one thatâ€™s not over run with fans. I appreciate them all but you knowâ€ť
â€śI get itâ€ť He pulled out his cellphone and suddenly hers vibrated. She quickly accepted, her heart fluttering that she was actually Facebook friends with him. There was so much to be excited and nervous about that she barely knew what to do with herself as she waited for them to finally arrive back at Karens. â€śso if you end up staying the night again Adlai you can just sleep with me since my brother will now have the guest roomâ€ť
â€śIâ€™m sure you two want to catch up.â€ť Adlai said, plus she didnâ€™t want to look like some crazy fan girl.
â€śStay, Iâ€™d feel rude otherwise.â€ť Zephyr said, surprised at how fast the words came out. â€śIf you want to I mean.â€ť
â€śReally, you wouldnâ€™t mind?â€ť
â€śNot at all. We can all hang out, watch anime. Iâ€™m curious about which ones outside of my work are your favorites. Maybe I could find something similar to act in.â€ť
â€śAnd you can tell him which of his performances was the worst.â€ť Karen teased.
â€śHe hasnâ€™t had any bad ones though.â€ť Adlai blushed. â€śI mean, at least I donâ€™t think so.â€ť
Zephyr smiled which only made her embarrassment worse. â€śso what do you do besides voice actingâ€¦what do you like doing?â€ť Adlai asked, wanting to keep the conversation rolling. Karen almost irresistibly wanted to tease, saying ” Possibly you soon” but she kept it to herself. â€śwell, my friends and I get together to play board games from time to timeâ€ť
â€śHe writes poetry toâ€ť Karen added and Zephyr sighed â€śdonâ€™t say thatâ€ť
â€śI used to write poetry, forever ago, itâ€™s never been good enough to shareâ€ť
â€śI bet mom still has someâ€ť
â€śKarenâ€ť she pulled out her phone with a grin and he said â€śwould you like to watch something Adlai?â€ť
â€śsureâ€ť As they moved to the couch she could tell he was blushing too. It actually made her a little more comfortable that he was just as embarrassed as her.
She watched as Zephyr sat there writing in a notebook until he noticed he was being recorded and looked embarrassed. â€śWhat are you writing?â€ť Karenâ€™s voice came from behind the camera.
Zephyr sighed. â€śNothing really.â€ť
â€śAwe come on, share.â€ť
â€śDo you have to record me?â€ť
â€śOf course, I need blackmail.â€ť
â€śCome on Karen.â€ť
He ran his fingers through his hair, nodding. â€śDonâ€™t blame me if it sounds terrible.â€ť
He began to read off the poem he had been working on and Adlai smiled as Zephyr just looked more and more uncomfortable. â€śThat sounded goodâ€ť Adlai told him and he said â€śyou donâ€™t have to be so niceâ€ť
â€śNo, it was, you shouldnâ€™t have quitâ€ť
â€śdo you favor any certain poets?â€ť
â€śI really like Sara Teasdale, especially her poem I Am Not Yours. Iâ€™m not sure why, beyond that no real favorites. I just have a lot of certain poems I like. What started you writing poetry?â€ť
â€śA cousin of ours needed help with one and I ended up doing a lot on my ownâ€ť
â€śfor a girlâ€ť
â€śdid he end up winning her over?â€ť
â€śwhat girl doesnâ€™t like poetry? Especially when a guy puts special effort into one for youâ€ť Karen interjected. They awkwardly talked for a while longer, still trying to break the ice of meeting someone new then switched on some anime. Zephyr was glad for it, he could learn more about Adlai without feeling so awkward.
â€śWhatâ€™s your favorite genre?â€ť He asked as they watched.
â€śAdventure, romance type stuff, magicâ€™s a plus. You?â€ť
â€śFighting, you know man stuff.â€ť He joked.
She smiled and he felt his heart skip a beat. â€śI can see that. You seem to have a lot of fun during action sequences. Iâ€™m sometimes surprised you donâ€™t blow out your voice.â€ť
â€śI have before. I kept having to do this one scream over and over again and afterwards my throat was so raw and my voice was so raspy that I was ordered to take a break so I wouldnâ€™t hurt myself. I wanted to keep going, but they wouldnâ€™t let me.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s good they stop youâ€ť
â€śdamage that voice too much and youâ€™ll break her heartâ€ť Karen teased. Adlai looked back at the tv, feeling a little embarrassed again. After dinner that night Zephyr went to the guest room and Adlai joined Karen in her room â€śso, how was todayâ€ť
â€śyou were killing me with all that teasingâ€ť
â€śHey, I was teasing him too at times. I can tell he likes being around youâ€ť Karen laughed as her friend turned pink again â€śI wish you would have warn me who he wasâ€ť
â€śIt was so much fun surprising you though. Besides, you would have over worried and heâ€™s not much to fuss aboutâ€ť Karen winked at her friend as she finished the sentence. They changed into pajamas and settled into bed. Adlai couldnâ€™t sleep, over thinking the entire day until she finally decided that truly, this was just Karens brother and he seemed really nice. Chances were he wasnâ€™t being as over critical of her as she was being of herself.
The next morning Adlai woke a little groggy. She was surprised she had managed to fall asleep at all. Karen wasnâ€™t there so she got up and headed out of the room. She could hear Karen and Zephyr talking. The smell of food hit her nose and when she finally stepped out into the living room, she could see Karen sipping coffee from the kitchen table while Zephyr cooked. She stood there staring at him until Karen noticed her. â€śGood morning sleeping beauty.â€ť
Zephyr half turned, smiling at her, causing a blush to tint her cheeks. â€śGood morning, want some breakfast or coffee?â€ť
â€śSugar and cream?â€ť
â€śIâ€™ll get it for her silly, you just focus on not burning breakfast.â€ť Karen teased. â€śCome sit down Adlai, unless you want to eat from there.â€ť
Adlai crossed over to the table and took a seat, surprised that Zephyr was still watching her. â€śDid you sleep well?â€ť She asked.
â€śI did, you?â€ť
â€śYeahâ€¦well kind of. I must look rough.â€ť She pushed some hair away from her face.
â€śNot at all.â€ť
â€śSays the man who always wakes up looking like a supermodel.â€ť Karen said as she sat a cup of coffee in front of Adlai. â€śSeriously brother, did you get turned into a vampire or make a deal with the Devil?â€ť
He chuckled nervously and went back to cooking. Adlai took a small sip of her coffee and had to admit Karen was right. Zephyr looked perfect despite it being so early and already making an amazing smelling breakfast. â€śwhere did you learn to cook?â€ť Adlai asked and he answered â€śI live alone so I took some classes. Itâ€™s nice not having to go out to eat as much as some of my friends. I only really order out or grab something if Iâ€™m working a lot and canâ€™t find the time to cookâ€ť Adlai took a longer sip of her coffee, allowing the warmth and caffeine to wake her up a little more. She was grateful there had already been some waiting after her struggle to sleep.
The smell of cinnamon filled the kitchen and she didnâ€™t realize he had been baking something as well. His timer went off and he pulled a bundt cake pan. He flipped it over onto a plate then quickly put it in the middle of the table. â€śMonkey bread.â€ť He said as he went back dished food onto their plates, grabbed some silverware then moved everything to the table. â€śI hope you donâ€™t have any allergies or anything.â€ť
â€śNope, none and this all looks amazing.â€ť Adlai replied.
â€śTry some of the bread, it goes great with coffee.â€ť He reached over and pulled some off and took a bite, nodding. â€śI call that a win, it came out perfect.â€ť
â€śWow bro, going all out.â€ť
â€śI could have just stuck with regular old pancakes, but Adlaiâ€™s here and I think she deserves something for having to deal with being surprised.â€ť
After breakfast Karen said â€śwe should go out and really have some fun. Adlai is a pretty good bowler, used to play competitively as a child. Why donâ€™t we all go bowling Zephyr?â€ť
â€śThat sounds funâ€ť
â€śdonâ€™t let her hype me up too muchâ€¦it was just a kids league. My mom needed some place for me after school until she got off work and one of the local bowling alleys had an after school programâ€ť
â€śit must have been a lot of funâ€ť
â€śYeah, I loved itâ€ť They readied themselves to go out then headed over to the bowling alley, happy to find not many other people were there. Zephyr insisted on paying for everything, surprising Adlai again. â€śyouâ€™ll have to let me buy lunch or somethingâ€ť Adlai said as she put on her bowling shoes. Karen spoke before her brother could â€śyou and I can split the cost of getting pizza and drinks here, if we stay that long. If not weâ€™ll figure out splitting the lunch bill elsewhereâ€ť They picked their balls and they were finally ready. Adlai went first, proving how she spent her days after school by making a strike.
They bowled a few games, laughing and cheering eachother on the entire time. When they were tired of it they played in the arcade. This particular bowling alley had a fairly big one so they didnâ€™t realize how much time they had been there until hunger pains made them check the time. Since they were still there they decided to go with the pizza plan, the two girls splitting it since Zephyr had paid for their shoe rentals and the lane.
Adlais phone rang, playing the melody that told her it was one of the coffee shop employees so she took it â€śhello?â€ť both Zephyr and Karen were worried sheâ€™d have to go in as they heard her say â€śOh no itâ€™s fine, you just take care of Emma. Iâ€™ll call Carlyâ€ť she hung up â€śIâ€™m so sorry Zephyr, Iâ€™m a manager at a coffee shop. Just one more second. Would you two like me to walk outside?â€ť
â€śYouâ€™re fine Adlaiâ€ť Karen insisted. Adlai called Carly, relieved she picked up â€ścan you cover Marniâ€™s shift today? Even if you can just work until four I would greatly appreciate it. I need someone to cover her or Cory will be working by himself and heâ€™s still too new for thatâ€ť Adlai looked relieved as she said â€śjust go in as soon as you can, her shift already startedâ€ť there was a small pause before Adlai said â€śher full shift would have been until nine. You are such a blessing, thank youâ€ť Adlai had deeply not wanted to go into work.
â€śdid we dodge a bullet?â€ť Karen asked and Adlai said â€śyeah, thankfully sheâ€™ll even cover Marnis full shiftâ€ť
â€śher kid has been sick a lot latelyâ€ť
â€śYeah but the flu has been going around hard so I donâ€™t think sheâ€™s making it up to get out of work. Iâ€™ve never had problems with her until this flu seasonâ€ť
Do you like working there?â€ť Zephyr asked.
â€śYeah, itâ€™s pretty nice.â€ť
â€śWell if that ever changes, I could always use a new PA.â€ť
Karen laughed. â€śGeez Zeph.â€ť
â€śI said if, Iâ€™m not asking her to just uproot her life and move. Just if she ever wants or needs a change.â€ť
â€śIâ€™ll keep it in mind.â€ť Adlai replied with a blush.
â€śAnd even if you donâ€™t, Iâ€™ll still fly you out to watch me work.â€ť He stood. â€śAlright, letâ€™s see if I can redeem myself. I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve ever lost so hard in my life.â€ť
Adlai couldnâ€™t help but smile. â€śI could always go easy on you.â€ť
â€śYou better not.â€ť He said with a chuckle.
They played a few more rounds then returned to Karens to binge on more anime. The next morning when Adlai did have to work Zephyr felt a sad tug at his heart when she left and soon felt his sisters hand slam into the back of his head once she had driven off â€śIâ€™m still here you beaten little puppyâ€ť
â€śwhatâ€¦you were trying to set us up anyway right?â€ť
â€śYeah, Iâ€™m glad you two are actually hitting it off. Sheâ€™s my best friend though, if things get serious donâ€™t make me strangle you. Canâ€™t believe youâ€™re already trying to drag her to where you live. Iâ€™ll miss her you knowâ€ť
â€śyou could always move tooâ€ť
â€śtrue, could I mooch off you awhile if I did?â€ť
â€śOf courseâ€¦Iâ€™d owe you anyway for setting me up with heâ€ť
â€śthats right, now start paying me back by making that amazing hot chocolateâ€ť Zephyr chuckled and walked over to the kitchen, hoping time would move quickly so he could hangout with Adlai again.After her shift Adlai called Karen ‘hey, you coming back?” Karen asked and Adlai said â€śIâ€™m going to go home for a shower, some clothes and more make up. Should I eat dinner or can I eat with you guys?â€ť suddenly Zephyr called out â€śIâ€™ll cook, just come over afterâ€ť she blushed, surprised he had such amazing hearing. â€śOkay, Iâ€™ll see you two in maybe an hour. Iâ€™ll text you when Iâ€™m on the way overâ€ť
Adlai went straight home, taking a long shower then changing into something she felt particularly pretty in. Next she packed a bag then ran around, tidying up a little bit incase they all ended up over here for some reason.Last she double checked to make sure all her make up supplies were in her purse then texted Karen to let her know it wouldnâ€™t be long before she was back at her place. â€śsheâ€™s on her wayâ€ť Karen said as an answer to the hopeful look her brother wore. He got up to begin his work preparing dinner for the three of them, they had decided on something spicy.
Adlai was nervous as she headed back to Karenâ€™s. She couldnâ€™t help but wonder if she had dressed up too much. When she got there, she took a deep breath before exiting her car and heading up to the front door. Since she didnâ€™t have to knock, she just walked right in and could smell something delicious. â€śThere she is.â€ť Karen said with a big smile. â€śWell look at you.â€ť
â€śGot a hot date?â€ť Karen teased and Adlai blushed.
â€śNo, just felt like looking nice.â€ť
â€śWell come on then, letâ€™s show you off.â€ť
â€śCome on silly.â€ť She took her arm and pulled her toward the kitchen.
Zephyr was floored when he turned to greet Adlai. It was of course Karen again who began teasing â€śPick your jaw up off the floor. You two should just kiss alreadyâ€ť
â€śKarenâ€ť Adlai exclaimed, holding her face. Karen just laughed, thoroughly enjoying watching all this unfold. â€śweâ€¦weâ€™ve just met Karenâ€ť Zephyr practically stuttered. â€śwhat are we having for dinner?â€ť Adlai said, looking at the floor due to embarrassment â€śa recipe I made up myself, I hope you like spicyâ€ť
â€śyeahâ€¦I doâ€ť Karen decided to lay off a little, just enjoying the evening with her best friend and brother. They grew closer in the passing days, to the point Zephyr dreaded having to go back home soon since he didnâ€™t know if Adlai would go with him or how often he could come here to see her if she didnâ€™t come. Since time was growing near he nervously asked her again â€śsoâ€¦do you think youâ€™d like to come be my PA? Youâ€™ve thought about it a little right?â€ť
â€śwellâ€¦I talked to the owner of the coffee shop yesterday actuallyâ€ť
â€śYeahâ€¦I recommended Carly for my position since I do want to go and he wishâ€™s me all the best and shes getting a much deserved promotionâ€¦â€ť He smiled and it touched her how relieved he looked but what meant more was that he hugged her tightly. She hugged back, just enjoying being so close until he pulled back nervously â€śis hugging you okay?â€ť
â€śweâ€™re good friends now arenâ€™t we?â€ť he smiled again â€śyeahâ€ť He couldnâ€™t believe it, she was actually coming home with him and were one step closer in the way he wanted things to go. He wanted everything with her but at the same time Adlai was a woman worth waiting for and winning over. He wanted to be with her forever and that meant even as friends. Karen was over the moon and started getting her own life in order to move with them â€ścanâ€™t believe Iâ€™m going to have roomates againâ€ť Karen said happily and Zephyr just thought again that he couldnâ€™t believe things were going so right in his life.
~ The End
Ella punched her assailant in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him and feeling accomplished. He had went limp for just a moment and in that moment she felt she had just won but she soon felt razor sharp pain as he slashed at her, suddenly forming claws. Her scream was cut off as Mered startled her, pouncing on the man. He had been out with her brother, Nigel and Cadoc but she supposed now he was back. She could feel the anger coming off of him in waves and a new scream came from her lungs when the man she had been fighting cut his head clean off with his claws â€śMered!â€ť Tears streamed down her face even when she saw his body still moving. He simply picked up his head and it went right back on his body, his skin connecting with eachother again like it was a completely natural thing to happen.
He had told her he was impossible to kill but she had never seen anything like that before. The reality of her mate being basically indestructible was sinking in watching him fight this thing. Mered brought the man near death, wishing he could snuff out his miserable life but Ella was right there and he had promised both her and his daughter heâ€™d never take a life again unless he had to. Angrily he spat his words at the man â€śI wish I could kill you, I want to so badly for hurting her but she wouldnâ€™t want me to. If you so much as look at her again though you will be dead before you even realize what happened. Go! Get the hell away from her before I canâ€™t keep myself from killing youâ€ť
The man limped and stumbled away fearfully as Mered walked over to Ella and lifted her up. She could see the worry in his face as he carried her back to their house and inside. Mered cleaned her wounds, waiting to ask her what happened until after he had bandaged her up. â€śYou know how young male demons are. He saw me and wanted sex or a fight. I wanted neither but again, you know how young male demons areâ€ť
â€śThis is why I shouldnâ€™t leave you aloneâ€ť
â€śI would have been okayâ€ť
â€śYour wounds say otherwiseâ€ť
â€śsays the man that got his head cut offâ€ť
â€śAlmost anything can happen to me and Iâ€™d be okay. My body just puts itself back together unless you do it a certain way. I hope me loseing my head didnâ€™t scare youâ€ť
â€śIt did but you telling me and me seeing it are two different things. I mean wow, your head really did just go right back onâ€ť
â€śIâ€™m sorry you had to see it. I hoped youâ€™d never have to see anything close to that.â€ť
She had a sudden thought and giggled a little. He gave her a questioning look and she said, â€śLosing your head.â€ť
He huffed. â€śYou mean like my temper.â€ť
â€śYeah, sorry, I think I needed the humor.â€ť
He pressed his forehead against hers. â€śIâ€™m just glad youâ€™re safe. He didnâ€™t do anything else before I got there did he?â€ť
â€śNo, I promise.â€ť
â€śThank goodness.â€ť He was also relieved he really hadnâ€™t had to shed blood in front of her. There would have been no way for him to hold back if he had raped or attempted to rape her. â€śNow Iâ€™m going to have to lock you up to keep you safe.â€ť
â€śYou better not.â€ť She said with a laugh. She then reached up and ran her fingers along his throat. â€śIâ€™m so relieved you didnâ€™t die.â€ť
He kissed her then cradled Ella in his arms to take her to their couch. It had terrified him to stumble upon her fighting something and he wanted her close. He knew all mates worried about each other but more terror than most gripped him when it came to Ella due to how he used to be. Anything could just come and try to kill her simply because it was fun. â€śHow I wish you were basically impossible to kill like meâ€ť
â€śI am, just in a different way. My parents are amazing and taught me everything they knowâ€ť
â€śStill, Iâ€™m keeping you close for awhileâ€ť
â€śYouâ€™re so sweet Meredâ€ť He ran his fingers through her hair â€śIâ€™m so luckyâ€¦youâ€™re irreplaceable Ellaâ€ť He spoke softly, making sure she heard how deeply he meant them. â€śdid you have fun at leastâ€ť
â€śalways Cadoc gave me a little too much information about him and my daughter but it was still funâ€ť Ella giggled â€śHe makes her so happyâ€ť
â€śJust like you make me Ellaâ€ť He held her tightly against him, still trying to relax and stop worrying about her safety.
â€śHow about I make us some tea and cookies.â€ť Ella wanted him to relax, especially since she was okay.
â€śI can do it.â€ť
She laughed, smiling lovingly at him. â€śMered, Iâ€™m alright baby.â€ť
â€śAt least let me stay with you.â€ť He brushed his nose over her cheek then pressed a kiss to her neck.
He reluctantly let her go and followed her into the kitchen, letting her grab everything she needed and get the water boiling, then wrapping his arms around her from behind as she made the cookie dough. She hummed softly, the sound helping to relax him. She couldnâ€™t help but smile at how protective he was, reminding her of a guard dog. Whether he believed it or not, he could be quite adorable.
She wanted to keep the conversation going as she got everything ready so Meredâ€™s mind wouldnâ€™t dwell â€śso besides Cadoc talking too much, what did you talk about with my brother and Nigelâ€ť
â€śVina is repainting their home and your brother mentioned us all going to Porthcawl but I definitely donâ€™t want to do that nowâ€ť she giggled â€śMered, I seriously would have been fine and if we go youâ€™ll be glued to my side, I have no fear of thatâ€ť
â€śmm, well it wouldnâ€™t be just yet anyway so lets not discuss it for now. My heart stopped when I saw that man trying to hurt youâ€¦I just think of the things Iâ€™m capable of and so many scenarios went through my head even in the few seconds it took me to close the distance between us. I was such a horrible man and I pay the price now with worryâ€ť
â€śI understand Mered, weâ€™ll relax for the rest of the day and talk about it tomorrowâ€ť
Mered managed to relax a little more once they were cuddled up on the couch enjoying the tea she had made. The smell of cookies started to fill the house and he had to resist the urge to follow her into the kitchen when she went to pull the first batch out. He knew he had to be smothering her and he would hate for her to get upset over it. He could still hear her and stayed alert until she came back with a plate of cookies. â€śCalm down, baby, eat some cookies. Your heartâ€™s beating so fast.â€ť Her gentle, loving tone made his heart stutter.
â€śSorry, thank you for putting up with me.â€ť
â€śThere is no, putting up with, it makes me happy you love me so much. My brother would do the same thing you know, heâ€™d follow me everywhere until he was absolutely sure I was safe, so donâ€™t feel bad.â€ť
â€śI feel like a child. I keep thinking karma is going to come back and tear me to pieces.â€ť
â€śI have a feeling youâ€™d bite back.â€ť
He huffed out a laugh and pulled her into him, kissing her. â€śYou really know how to make everything better. Thank you, I love you.â€ť
â€śI love you too.â€ť
The next morning as they sat down for breakfast she brought up her brothers suggestion â€śyou know, I would love to go with him to Porthcawl. Heâ€™ll be there and youâ€™ll be there so nothing can possibly happen to me, you know thatâ€ť
â€śI suppose it would be a fruitless effort to try and keep you insideâ€ť she smiled and he leaned over to kiss her. As he sat back straight she said â€śIâ€™ll call him after breakfast and see who all is going and whenâ€ť
â€śwhat is it with you and Atticus with your need to travel all the timeâ€ť
â€śWe grew up going places a lot, fighting evils and what not with our parents or just traveling to travel and we always came home just fine. Maybe Gregory will come, youâ€™ve never seen him fight but he is amazing and his wife is a fairyâ€ť
â€śGregory is the vampire isnâ€™t he?â€ť
â€śWhat a dangerous match.â€ť
â€śNot for them, heâ€™s never had an issue with taking her blood.â€ť
â€śI see. I look forward to meeting them then.â€ť
She took his hand, smiling. â€śEverythingâ€™s going to be fine, youâ€™ll see. Weâ€™re going to have fun.â€ť
â€śI know and Iâ€™ll try to lay off the worrying if I can.â€ť They finished eating, Mered going through every scenario he could think of that could possibly put Ella in danger. He knew he was being ridiculous, but he wanted an out just in case.
Before he knew it the day was upon him, he was walking to Porthcawl with Ella, Atticus, Tamlin, Gregory and their youngest child, a teenager whom he had learned went by the name Taarmun. He felt a little more comfortable meeting them all in person. Time and time again it was confirmed in him his mate came form a fierce family. He felt he could count on them in any sort of fight, especially if she inspired even half the love in them that she inspired within him. â€śso is it true? You really have to be killed a certain way to die?â€ť Taarmun asked and Ella answered â€śI actually just saw his head get completely cut off and it just went back on like it was a perfectly normal thing to doâ€ť
â€śThats pretty cool, how did you learn you had that ability?â€ť
â€śIts one thats run in my family quite some timeâ€ť
â€śItâ€™s more irritating than anything, especially if I have to search for a limb.â€ť
Taarum started laughing, the sound contagiously moving through all of them, it taking longer for Mered to realize the humor in it. â€śDoes that happen often?â€ť Taarum managed to ask.
â€śA few times, but I managed.â€ť
â€śI can just imagine the face you were making.â€ť Ella said, her laughter starting once again. â€śI bet you were mumbling and cursing.â€ť
â€śI think the most frustrating time was when an arm flew into a swamp, I seriously considered just leaving it it took so long to find my armâ€ť
â€śwell hopefully you wont lost anything this tripâ€¦even though I know youâ€™ll be okay it still hurts to see you like thatâ€ť
â€śNormally I wouldnâ€™t let that happen, its rare when something can get the better of me. I was just so blinded by rage to see that thing hurting youâ€ť She grabbed onto his arm affectionately, giving him a loving smile that tugged at his heart. He was never going to let anything happen to her, he absolutely couldnâ€™t lose Ella. Questions continued to flow back and forth, everyone seeming to be getting along well but Ella had expected as much. Mered truly wasnâ€™t as bad as he felt he was and her family knew how happy she was with him.
Taarum asked more question as they walked, his curiosity getting the best of him. Ella enjoyed their back and forth while she visited with her brothers. Mered split his focus between Taarum and Ella, answering questions as he let her scent curl around him and relax him. â€śSo are you two planning on having any kids?â€ť Atticus asked and Mered heard her heart skip a beat.
â€śWe havenâ€™t really discussed it. That eager to be an uncle again?â€ť
â€śOf course. I need more nieces and nephews to spoil.â€ť
Ella laughed. â€śAwe, how cute.â€ť
â€śChildren are a wonderful thing.â€ť Gregory added. â€śWatching them grow into amazing adults is so rewarding.â€ť
â€śI agree.â€ť Mered said. â€śRaising Tahairah was something else.â€ť
Now her mind was consumed with children, she hadnâ€™t realized she wanted any until her brother brought it up. Her life stayed so busy, especially with all their friends and the daughter Mered already had it simply hadnâ€™t crossed her mind but now, she really wanted that but she was a little embarrassed to actually say as much. At least for now, sheâ€™d wait until they were alone to see if Mered would want to have children with her. She loved having four siblings so she wanted to have at least three children. She felt she was getting a bit ahead of herself since they hadnâ€™t had a real discussion yet so she decided to bring up another topic.
It was their second night out when clicks and sucking noises startled Ella out of her sleep. She sat up, her eyes locking with a volucrix. They were disgusting creatures, with large, flat heads that resembled cockroachâ€™s with spikes covering it. Their bodyâ€™s were thin, sickly thin and their arms were more like scythes. Its long, spiked tail drug behind it and thats when she noticed it was a group. â€śMerâ€ť she had started to say her mates name but almost in that very second they all lay dead, Mered covered in blood.
Ella stared up at him, shocked for a moment. For just a moment she could see that darkness slipping through and then it was gone as he crouched down to check on her, his eyes instantly warming. â€śAre you alright, my love?â€ť His voice woke the others and they were all surprised by the carnage.
â€śIâ€™m fine, just surprised.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m sorry.â€ť He looked her over, making sure she didnâ€™t have any wounds.
â€śWeâ€™re sorry sister.â€ť Gregory said. â€śWe should have been more alert.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s alright, Mered killed them before I even had time to scream.â€ť
â€śThank goodness.â€ť Atticus said as he examined the ripped apart creatures.
â€śWhy donâ€™t you go get cleaned up, Mered, weâ€™ll get rid of these.â€ť Gregory said.
â€śIâ€™ll go with him.â€ť Ella said.
â€śI wonâ€™t be long baby, you can stay.â€ť Mered worried what she must be thinking, that she would start to have doubts about him if he kept showing that side of himself.
â€śI want to.â€ť
He didnâ€™t want to argue with her about it so he let her come with him, a little surprised when she took his hand â€śElla Iâ€™m covered in those creaturesâ€ť he said gently â€śI donâ€™t care, I can clean my hand just as easily as weâ€™ll clean you upâ€ť They walked back to a river they had seen, careful to stay alert for any more of those creatures. Mered felt relief he wasnâ€™t forced to be the monster he hated being around her. Ella began to help Mered clean off as she said â€śyouâ€™ve had your work cut out for you lately. Iâ€™m sorryâ€ť
â€śsorry? Itâ€™s hardly your faultâ€ť
â€śwell, I wanted to come and you wanted to stay homeâ€ť He stroked the side of her face, holding her cheek a moment before realizing he was getting her messy again. He rinsed off his hand then wiped off her face which made Ella smile â€śI love you Mered, youâ€™re so sweetâ€ť
â€śyou can say that after what I just didâ€ť
â€śyou protected me, my siblings, Tamlin and my nephew. Itâ€™s astounding and shocking at times how fast you can be and how easily you seem to kill things but you only ever hurt anything any more to protect meâ€ť
â€śYou will always be safe with me Ella, alwaysâ€ť
â€śThereâ€™s nothing Iâ€™m more sure ofâ€ť she kissed him and his heart trembled. As soon as he was clean he hugged her, kissing her head before they began to go back to her family and their friend Tamlin. Things seemed to be cleaned up so they all settled down for the remainder of their night, Mered holding Ella close to him.
After they had eaten breakfast the next morning, Mered insisted on carrying her. He was going to keep her as close as possible until they made it to Porthcawl. He was happy when she let him, knowing he was probably being ridiculous, but for now he needed to make sure he could get her to safety immediately. They took a break for lunch and he sat with her in his lap as everyone talked about the trip so far. Other than the near attack, everything was going smoothly and the day was bright and beautiful.
â€śYou doing alright?â€ť Ella asked once they were off again.
â€śYeah, sorry if youâ€™re tired of being carried.â€ť
She laughed, the sound causing his heart to skip a beat. â€śOh yes, itâ€™s so terrible being loved and protected. Iâ€™ll be sure to file a complaint.â€ť
He grinned before placing a loving kiss on her forehead. She relaxed a little more in his arms, enjoying the comfort it brought her. Once again her mind drifted to children and her smile grew a bit bigger at the thought. She could imagine him carrying them around instead of her on trips and how much fun they could all have together. The question was getting hard to keep back so she decided she was going to try and find a time sooner rather than later to talk to him. All she needed was time alone since she didnâ€™t want to spring a question like that on him in front of people.
Mered was relieved when they finally arrived in Porthcawl and were no longer on the open road. He knew cities and villages could be attacked, he had been the cause of a few, but he had to admit that it was harder to sack a city than it did to surprise someone in the middle of nowhere. â€śBetter?â€ť Ella asked in a teasing tone.
â€śPerhaps. There are a lot of people around here though.â€ť
She laughed and he smiled. â€śI could scare them all away for you.â€ť
â€śIâ€™d appreciate it.â€ť
â€śYou two are absolutely adorable together.â€ť Tamlin said with a chuckle.
Mered gave his friend a look that was instantly softened by Ellas kiss. He didnâ€™t like adjectives like adorable when it came to himself but he could take it when it came to Ella. With most recent events he supposed he should take any softening of his image he could get before this beautiful, amazing woman realized he didnâ€™t deserve her. His past had been unforgiveable, despite the fact he now had friends and a mate that seemed to think the world of him. He knew better than to ever take this all for granted, that at any point he could lose these people and heâ€™d deserve it.
He didnâ€™t let those thoughts darken his mood though, especially not today. Ella had been through two close encounters and he wanted to have as much fun with her as possible before that stunning smile quit shining on her face. Atticus started leading them around,having a perfect memory of this place and everything there was to do there.
They joined a few games then found a nice resturaunt to eat at before calling it a night in their own rooms. â€śsee, weâ€™re all aliveâ€ť Ella said with a teasing look. â€śHm, I suppose we areâ€ť
â€śIâ€™m so happy we cameâ€ť
â€śMe too, but Iâ€™m happy anywhere as long as youâ€™re there.â€ť He sighed, feeling a little exhausted.
â€śThank you for coming, I know you prefer being home.â€ť
â€śI would walk through hell for you.â€ť
She smiled as she pressed a kiss to his lips. â€śI love you.â€ť
â€śGods know why.â€ť
â€śMered, I know what youâ€™re thinking and itâ€™s not true. Your past isnâ€™t going to change the way I feel about you. Youâ€™ve done so much to redeem yourself and youâ€™ve been so sweet and gentle with me.â€ť She let her fingers rub gently over the back of his neck. â€śI love you because whether you believe it or not, the man you are now has a big heart, is kind and generous and protective.â€ť
â€śYou see much more than I do love.â€ť
â€śAnd Iâ€™ll keep telling you how wonderful you are until you start believing it. Which brings me to something I wanted to talk to you about. I donâ€™t want you to be afraid to say no or think Iâ€™ll be angry, but I was thinking about maybe you and I having a baby.â€ť
His heart thumped a little harder, it both touched and surprised him â€śyouâ€™d like to have a baby with me?â€ť She had clearly just said that but he had to be sure thatâ€™s truly what Ella had suggested. â€śYeah, I really think youâ€™d be an amazing father and I want my own little family. My parents love being parents so much they occasionally just have to do it againâ€ť she said with a breath of laughter. He lifted his hand, resting it on the side of Ellas cheek, stroking it with his thumb â€śElla, if you truly want children Iâ€™d love to have children with you. We can start trying whenever you wantâ€ť
â€śI meanâ€¦weâ€™re alone nowâ€ť she was blushing and he smiled, moving to nibble at her ear. The soft moan it inspired already sending tingles of pleasure through him. Her clothes were on the floor moments later, his soon following. All exhaustion had left his body the second she had brought up children. It meant so much to Mered that she had that much faith in him and he wasnâ€™t sure there was a point of exhaustion he could get to where he wouldnâ€™t want to make love to her.
She wrapped herself around him and he held her close as he pressed hungry kisses to her lips, his hands drifting over her, savoring how soft and warm she was. Their lips parted on a moan when he pushed into her, her fingers gripping his back as he withdrew and rocked back into her waiting heat. He watched the pleasure play over her face, was humbled by the love and adoration he saw in her beautiful eyes. He held her tightly to him, moving in her a little harder as she quivered around him. â€śElla, I love you.â€ť
â€śI love you too, so much.â€ť
He felt himself choke up and swallowed down that sudden lump in his throat. How did she do that to him, break down his walls until every emotion he kept hidden overwhelmed him. He pressed his lips into hers, his fingers tangling in her soft hair as he picked up the pace, her little whimpers of pleasure and the feel of her dancing around him, sending him over the edge so he flowed into her. He ran his fingers through her hair, let his lips play lovingly over her face in light kisses until she captured his face in her hands and rubbed her nose against his, a bright, adoring smile pulling at her lips.
He laid down next to Ella, pulling her close. They both fell asleep deeply hoping she would become pregnant soon. Mered was a little nervous about raising a child again but he was still excited for it. Tahairah had turned into an amazing woman and he had managed that on his own. Now heâ€™d have Ella and he was sure his daughter would want to help with her new sibling any time she could. Life was about to change but as long as Ella stayed with him he knew nothing but happiness was in his future.
~ The End
Edith groaned as her phone rang again, whomever was calling was obviously unwilling to go away so she finally grabbed her phone off the night stand and sleepily answered “Hello”
“Finally, are you okay?”
“Edith, go look at yourself in the mirror”
“do it now Edith!” The woke her up completely, her husband had never yelled at her, not once. She got up and walked into their bathroom “Honey I’m fine”
“Check on our daughter, hurry, if she’s off at all you need to just take her to the hospital. The news is urging people to stay in their homes and just call 911 if someone in their home is sick but the news is also saying the ambulances can’t collect people fast enough so just take her. Screw anybody who tries to stop you, she’s not dieing in her room, you can’t let her Edith”
“what’s going on” she asked in panic as she rushed to her daughters room. Before he could answer his wife her scream told him Zatalia was sick too. Edith dropped the phone as she ran over to her daughter. Blood drained from her eyes and mouth and she was laying in an awkward manner surrounded by what she thought must be throw up but it had this odd color. All throw up looked odd but this was weird, horrifyingly weird. Her husband yelling made her grab the phone again “whats happening”
“is she alive?”
“I dont know”
“Edith” his voice was breaking “check if shes breathing” Zatalia didn’t look like it but upon investigating it turned out she was “Edith, I’ve been trying since this started last night to get home but the airports are closed and I cant find a road thats not blocked by police officers. Try to take her to the hospital, she’ll die, millions have already died since just last night. They don’t know what this is” She could hear him sobbing at the thought of losing their daughter. “I love you” she weepily said before getting off her phone and lifting her daughter off the floor to carry her to the car. When she went outside she was taken back by the chaos and grew defensive instantly when a man in a hazmat suit who had been walking by suddenly was coming up to her and Zatalia “give her to me” he demanded “I dont know who the hell you are so no”
“There’s no time for introductions unless you dont care if she dies. Give her to me now and get back inside”
“You sure as hell aren’t taking her without me” He pulled out a gun “Give me the girl and get back inside your house now mam. I will shoot you, do not test me. Whatever this is is going to kill us all if we don’t contain it”
She watched as his finger tightened on the trigger and was ready to spin around and protect Zatalia. The creature came out of nowhere, it hand slapping the man away so he flew across the yard, the gun falling from his grasp, and landed on his back. She just stared, she couldn’t even scream in her shock. “Dad, I made sure the military personnel with him are unconscious.” Baek said as he came running up next to the creature.
“B…Baek?” Edith said
Baek’s eyes moved to her then to Zatalia, all color draining from his face. “No, no, no, please no.” He was across to them in and instant. “Zatalia? Zatalia, baby?”
“We have to get them home, Baek.” Neek said.
“Dad, I can’t lose her.”
“Baek, we have to get home.”
“Yes, I know.” He then grabbed Edith, forcing her to look at him. “You have to come with me right now.”
“Just please trust me, I’ll explain later, but she will die and it’s not safe.”
“As soon as we have you two safe, I’ll get him.” Neek said. “Now, come.”
She followed them, finding herself shocked all over again when they were suddenly boarding what looked like a space ship. She felt like she was on the verge of a mental break down. Her daughter was barely breathing and more frighteningly had been slowly bleeding for an unknown amount of time since she couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed and answer her cellphone. Millions were already dead and this sickness hadn’t even started a full twnety four hours ago. Then on top of that someone actually tried to take her daughter away then shoot her when she refused. Her daughter could have been stolen from her and at the mercy of obviously heartless men. For all she knew millions were dead because they were killing the sick to attempt containing it.
Now, the father of the young man her daughter was dating looked like something off a scifi movie which had to mean Baek was whatever Neek was. Her head was reeling, did her daughter know? Once inside she saw Johana, the woman going just as pale with fear as Baek had when he took in Zatalia. “please tell me she’s still breathing: Johana said emotionally “she is but” Edith tried but her own tears choked her too much to talk “Follow me to the medical part of the ship Edith. We need to hurry, she’s drowning” He wanted to be more comforting but he didn’t have that kind of time, not where his sons girlfriend was concerned.
She followed Neek and his family to the medical part of the ship and laid her daughter where Neek asked. He soon grabbed his scanner explaining “I want to know fully what’s going on with her before I start trying to help to make sure I don’t make a mistake Edith” Neek scanned her then rushed to a drawer, pulling out a few things which had Ediths heart rate spiking even further. “what’re you doing?” she asked fearfully “I have to empty her lungs right now and this will be the most efficient way. I just need you to trust me right now. I promise to explain more but Zatalia doesn’t have time for me to stop and explain what I’m doing, please understand”
Edith nodded as she sobbed and Johana spoke to someone Edith hadn’t even realized was there “go make her something calming to drink. She’s getting too worked up” Johana held Edith, doing her best to comfort her. Suddenly she heard her daughter take a deep, sharp breath then was breathing normally when before you had to be incredibly close to her to even detect she was alive. “see, Neek is just helping her. You can trust my husband okay Edith” She wiped at her face “thank you so much” The man returned with a drink and Johana asked “Edith, please drink it.”
“what will it do to me?”
“It’s going to relax you”
“I need to tell my husband she’s breathing better now first”
“okay, do you have your phone” she pulled it out of her pocket “It’s almost dead..” she wondered just how long her husband had had to call her to get her up. “then use mine, keep my phone until this is all over so you can talk to him” Johana handed Edith her cellphone and allowed her to text her husband an update before she handed Edith the glass “drink it, you need to calm down. It’s not healthy to be this worked up”
“I just don’t understand what’s going on? Why is she sick? What is he?”
Johana guided her out of the med bay of the ship and into another room where she had her sit. “Neek is an alien, that’s the easiest way to explain it and he’s going to save Zatalia. Trust us okay?”
“Yeah, I just…I want my husband and I want her to get better. I’m so scared.”
“It’s okay, everything is going to be okay.”
Baek gently cleaned Zatalia’s skin as his father worked. The way she looked terrified him and he hated that he couldn’t find his usual calm. “Dad, I’m not going to lose her am I?”
“You know I will do everything I can, I’ll fight for her, I promise.”
“Why is this happening?”
“Someone could have released it or someone sick could have escaped from somewhere, it could be someone from another world.”
“What are we going to do?”
“First, I’m going to get her stable and then take samples from her. We also need to get Edith’s husband, then we can head over to Freg’s and check in with them.”
“do you think her parents are still going to be okay with us dating..” Neek sighed “They seem like good, understanding people, and in the worse case scenario you both are eighteen now and here that means they can’t stop her but hopefully there are no hard feelings. I am just grateful you told Zatalia when you did so when she wakes up you two will still be okay. I know Freg and I were probably annoying but you know what happened with Johanas parents, we didn’t want anything like that for you caused by waiting too long”
“Thank you for doing it…for making me swallow my fear and tell her before she found out by waking up on this ship. I should have sooner, she was going to tell her parents, I hope they believe that so they aren’t hurt by the fact she didn’t say anything…She just wanted her dad to be home first” They were tending to her as they spoke. Neek didn’t rest until he was sure she was in a stable state. For cautions sake he put a mask on Zatalia that would help her breath and had an IV of fluids going into her “I will collect my samples now son. I know it might be hard to leave her side but would you mind going to tell Lim that it’s time to search fro Zatalia’s father”
“I wont leave her side until youre back”
Lim was already sitting in the pilot’s seat when Baek came in. He looked worried and jumped when Baek called his name. “Sorry, I was just so focused on what’s happening I didn’t hear you.”
“Dad wants you to find Zatalia’s father then we are to go to Freg’s.”
“Do you know where he is?”
“Zatalia said he’s in Washington.”
“Alright, I’ll just track her genetic sequence.”
“Thank you, we should hurry.”
“I will, go ahead and be with her, I can handle everything up here.”
“Thank you.” He hurried back to Zatalia, his heart breaking and how bad she looked. She was so pale, her veins were standing out dark beneath her skin. He took her hand in his, terrified of how cold she was and pressed his lips against her forehead. “Can we warm her up?”
“There are extra blankets in the heater.” Neek replied. “I’m going to examine all of this and contact my home world to see if they know anything. I’ll get your mother and hers to come in and change her into something clean.”
Baek nodded as he retrieved a couple more blankets and placed them over the one she already had then went back to holding her hand. “Please wake up, Zatalia, please wake up.”
Neek walked out, carefully carrying his samples. He didn’t want to have to take more from her than he had to in her state. His little girls saw him and started to run over but their brother Iseul who had been tasked with watching them for the moment lifted each in an arm, settling them on his hips. “dads busy okay, it’s really important”
“Thank you Iseul”
“I’ll try to get them to nap so I can be more useful”
“If you can’t don’t worry, you’re doing plenty keeping an eye on Tarryn and Arli. It’s not an easy task with them being only one” Iseul smiled, though there was little joy in it given the situation this world and Zatalia were in. Once Neek had done everything he could do with the samples at the moment he went to check on his wife and Edith “How’s Zatalia?” Edith asked right away. “alive…she’s still not awake yet and I don’t have enough results from the tests I’m running to say more but I have her breathing and I am going to keep her that way. No matter what it takes I’m going to keep her alive”
“Thank you…” Edith didn’t have any more tears in her, her eyes hurt too much. “You two should probably change her so she’s more comfortable when she wakes…theres…well” Edith nodded “okay but into what”
“My clothes, she isn’t that much smaller than me” Johana offered and Edith nodded “I’m going to contact my home planet then. Hopefully they will have insight”
Baek was talking softly to Zatalia when their mother’s came in and his hugged him, trying to comfort him. “I just want her to wake up.”
“I know baby. Edith and I need to get her changed into something clean.”
“Do I have to leave? I mean, I could turn my back, but…”
“That’s fine, Baek.” Edith said. “I understand.”
“Thank you.” He turned his back, waiting as patiently as possible for them to change her and when they gave him the all clear, he was back at her side in an instant.
“Do you need anything sweetie?” Johana asked.
“No, I’m fine.”
“How about something to eat?”
“I’m not really hungry.”
“I’ll make you something easy, you need to keep something in your stomach.”
“Zatalia would want you too.” Edith said. “She wouldn’t want you neglecting your health.”
“Okay…for her” Johana began to walk out but Edith found herself paused, looking at how heartbroken he was, finding comfort in the fact Baek loved her daughter so much. He was an alien, apparently his whole family was. It was hard to grasp and a little startling once it sank in but looking at him sitting by her daughter, the obvious pain and worry in his expression, she felt happier than ever Zatalia chose Baek to be with. Edith felt when her husband found out he would feel the same. Edith hurried after Johana once she got out of her own head then asked on their way to the kitchen”May I ask what brought your family here? I need something to think about other than my daughter being so ill and my husband still not being with us”
“Neek is a researcher. His people value knowledge, it’s more precious to them than anything else so they send their kind to different worlds to study them. They are able to do that because they are shifters and in the most awesome way. They can shift into anything they have seen before. It enables them to study things without them knowing”
“You’re human though right?”
“Mostly, I have an alien way back in my line”
“so you met Neek on earth?”
“yeah, I didn’t know I wasn’t fully human before him. Can I ask a question?”
“How’re you feeling about our children being together? If that’s even crossed your mind now that you know about us”
“Baek loves my daughter…thats all a mother can ask for…her dad will feel the same” Johana felt relief, it had been scary to ask but if Zatalias mother was having doubts about the relationship now she wanted to have a chance to comfort her before it worried her son. Lim felt triumph when he found Zatalias father. He stopped the ship then ran to Neek “do you want me to take Edith to get him? He doesn’t know me so I’m sure we’ll need her”
“if you don’t mind, I’m waiting on another response” Lim found Johana and Edith, the later looking about ready to cry again. He was arguing with a police officer when they were approaching him which only added to Ediths fears. “Sir I am going to arrest you if you don’t turn around right now. The road is closed, I’m sorry about your daughter, I really am but they wouldn’t let you near her anyway”
“Holt” His head practically jerked “Edith” he ran over to them and the officer just seemed relied he was going away. “come on, we must hurry back on so we can get to Freg” Lim insisted and they rushed back to the ship.
“Wh…what’s going on?” Holt said as he turned in confused circles, taking in the interior of the ship. “Am I sick? Is this real?”
“It’s very real.” Edith said as she continued to pull him. “I’ll explain in a minute.”
“Safe and alive, come on.”
Baek jumped when Zatalia’s parents came in, followed by his mother. Holt crossed over quickly, his eyes filling with tears as he looked down at his little girl. “Zatalia, sweetie.” He gently hugged her and Baek had to swallow down his own tears. “Please tell me she’s going to be okay.”
“Neek is working on it.” Johana said. “He’s fighting to find a way to stop this.”
“What’s going on?”
“Why don’t we go and get you something to eat and drink.” Johana said. “I know you can’t have even though of food while you were so worried.”
“She’s safe with Baek, baby.” Edith said.
“I’ll also explain everything and you can come back here at any time.” Johana assured.
He reluctantly left with them. He wanted to help his little girl but at the same time he knew there wasn’t much he could do and he’d give anything for at least some answers about what was going on. Iseul, who was now in the room with his father was startled when Neek exclaimed his name suddenly “I need Lim right now, go get him, please, the ship can pilot itself to Fregs home” Iseul hoped whatever that letter back said and those supplies were the cure for Zatalia so he ran as fast as he could. Lim immedietly asked once he was in the room “what can I do?”
“do you remember when you were a teenager, the planet Efrars”
“Yes, go get everything ready, I’ll be in there with Zatalia when I’m done making this” Lim ran out and Iseul asked “Is she going to be okay?”
“If I hurry son, she’s going to get worse and possibly soon. She’s surviving only the first part of it. It took so long with Efrars to figure out how to stop it we learned this has many stages. Their people survived this part easily, it was whats coming if I don’t help her soon enough that may take her. It must be harder on human bodies but this also explains why we’re fine, we’re immune, your mother is too. Not all species can carry it, for most in the galaxy it dies by contact”
“But it wipes out those it can infect”
“Yes but it was contained, Jean is looking into how it could have possibly gotten here”
“you think someone did this on purpose?”
“I dont know but let me work son. Maybe you can help Lim”
Edith and Holt jumped a little when Lim came running past them and Johana, his face a mask of seriousness that had them worried. They didn’t have time to call out to him to ask what was happening, but when Iseul came running after him Johana called to him and he skidded to a stop. “Any news?” She asked.
“Dad says he found out what it is, he’s going to save Zatalia, but he has to hurry. Sorry, but I have to help Lim.”
“Go on then baby.” He kissed his mother quickly on the cheek then continued after Lim.
“Oh thank god.” Holt said, his voice and body shaking as he hugged Edith. “She’s going to be okay.”
Baek sat in a chair he had pulled up to the side of the bed, his head resting next to the hand he held. His thumb stroked Zatalia’s wrist, hoping she knew he was there. He pressed a kiss to her fingers, feeling like crying. He felt so helpless, like he should be doing more for her, but this was all he had and he swore he was going to do something amazing for her when she was better. He hadn’t realized he had started to drift off until his father came into the room and he snapped up. “Dad? Anything?”
“Yes, but I have to work quickly.”
“Truly? She’s going to be alright?”
He stood and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Did you hear that baby? You’re going to be alright, just hold on for a little while longer.”
Neek and Lim were still working on Zatalia when they reached Fregs home so she checked on their girls happy to see them sleeping peacfully. Just in case she ran into any trouble before she got inside she asked Iseul to come with her. He was just glad to have something else to do to help so he eagerly agreed and left with his mother, rushing over to the large house and running inside. The house appeared empty but Johana knew better, they wouldn’t have left with this going on. The only reason they had gone anywhere was because of Zatalia. As soon as they saw the news of what was happening to the humans none of them could sit easy not knowing how she and her parents were.
She rushed to a hidden hatch and knocked, smiling with relief when Freg opened it and hugged her “Johana, you’re okay”
“we’re all going to be okay, we’re immune. With the help of Neeks home world we know what we’re dealing with. He’s trying to save Zatalia now. By the time we got to them she was sick, her parents are okay though. You guys should get on our ship with us, you know it has plenty of room. The humans who govern this world are scared and not thinking at all with their hearts. They threatened to shoot Edith because she wouldn’t let them take her daughter away. We need to figure out what to do, especially if we’re going to give them the cure. When we explain things who knows how they’ll react”
“I agree, just give us a moment to pack and then we’ll come with you.”
Johana and Iseul helped where they could packing clothes and getting luggage out to the ship. They nearly ran into Lim coming back out again which surprised them. “Trucks are coming up here, I saw the lights and Neek told me to come get you.”
“Just give me a moment to lock down certain rooms.” Freg said as he took off. Everyone knew he had things in his home he refused to give up and he didn’t want the government knowing of his family until they needed too.
“Where’s my dad?” Johana asked when he came back and was loaded on the ship.
“Off planet, I let him take my ship. I sent him a message so he would know to stay away.”
“good” Johana felt relief rush through her for multiple reasons as they closed the ship. Her father was far away from any potential danger if the humans decided they were some sort of threat instead of a friendly group trying to help them and now everyone she loved was in the ship so they could flee themselves if they were forced into it. When Johana reached the medical bay Zatalia was just gasping for air, her face indicating she was in pain. Neek gave her something a little stronger for it then comforted “you’ll feel better soon okay. Try to breath normally, I know it feels like something is sitting on your chest but I promise you’re breathing just fine. It’s a mental side effect” She looked confused, almost panicked so Baek hugged her “it’s okay Zatalia, you’re going to be fine. My dad cured you and your parents are here”
“What are we going to do about delivering the cure to the rest of the world?” Johana asked her husband.
“We find noble people who won’t try to sell it and have them deliver it to everyone.”
“Is there going to be enough?”
Neek nodded. “My people are going to help manufacture the cure.”
“How long until Zatalia is back to normal?” Baek asked as he stroked her hair.
“We should see more improvement in half an hour.”
“I…feel…dizzy.” Zatalia managed to say.
“That’s the painkillers.” Neek explained.
“Do you think I could take her to my room where she’ll be more comfortable?” Baek asked.
Neek nodded. “Johana, would you take one of the oxygen machines into Baek’s room?”
“And Baek, if she starts to vomit, make sure you turn her on her side and call for me if you feel she’s getting worse.”
Her parents had so many questions but they allowed Baek and Johana to walk away with her. Holt couldn’t help but ask “Neek, did she know you all weren’t human?”
“She hasn’t known long. It’s my understanding she was waiting until you got back from this last trip to talk to you two. If you’d allow me just a few more moments I will happily sit and answer any questions you have. That way when you get to talk to my son and your daughter all that will be left is simply talking about them”
“Thank you…you’re doing something important right now. I can wait” After Neek had done all he could for the moment he sat down with Zatalia’s parents and answered their every question about his species and his home world. They were still deep in discussion the next day when Zatalia was able to walk around. She seemed nervous as her parents hugged her but they assured her they were okay with everything and absolutely grateful to Baeks family for saving her life. They knew in their hearts they wouldn’t even have a daughter any longer if she wasn’t dating Baek. She would have died before they cure was distributed.
Baek was relieved when he finally had Zatalia settled in his room and she seemed to relax a little more when he was able to climb in next to her and hold her in his arms. Her breathing was still a little labored, but as he ran his fingers through her hair and rubbed her back, it started to even out. “How are you feeling?” He asked softly.
“Do you want me to get my dad?”
“No, just stay here, I’ll be alright.”
He held her a little tighter, a knot forming in his throat as he fought back his tears. “I thought I was going to lose you. I’ve never been so scared in my life.”
“It would kill me, Zatalia. How could I go on without you? Fate was kind when it brought us together.”
“It’s okay, I’m okay.”
Baek calmed himself, feeling selfish that he was causing her to comfort him. “I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“Rest, I won’t leave, okay?”
The two were inseparable and spent most their time cuddled up in Baeks room until dinner one evening where Neek brought up “so we need to determine how this got to earth. I already have the people picked who will distribute the cure adn there will be enough tomorrow but if this was done on purpose who knows what will be released next being only someone not of this world could have brought it.” Lim spoke “I’ve been scanning along with a few of the other family members and we can’t find any alien life form we didn’t already know was here and all of their ships check out, I’m not sure what else we can do. Maybe someone made a visit where they werent supposed to and spores fell from such a passing ship into the earth somehow. The humans..most of them anyway have been destroying the earths protections for a long time now. This could all just be a terrible accident”
“true, I guess we’ll just have to hope it was. I’m still not prepared to leave earth. I want to be completely sure I have been everywhere there is to go and since we’ve discovered those portal systems, most of which can only be accessed to our belief on this planet I still have much to see and document. I’d like to write this off as a passing nightmare”
Neek helped Lim do more scans, looking for any signs of sickness or reports of a missing person. If an alien became sick, he or she may have gone into hiding in hopes of not spreading it. While they did that, Johana vaccinated Holt and Edith. Baek fussed over Zatalia unless he was needed for something else, but the moment he finished, he was back to her side. She was still recovering and he didn’t want her straining herself. “Do you think we’ll be able to stay here?” Zatalia asked.
“I don’t know, especially after my father gives the cure to everyone. We may even be blamed for this disease.”
“But that’s stupid.”
“I know. If…If we have to leave, will you come with me? I know it’s a lot to ask, but would you?”
She didn’t hesitate for even a second “Of course I would Baek. I love you, I can’t live without you. No matter where you and your family go I want to go too” He hugged her, just those words meant so much but the fact she hadn’t paused for even a moment before saying them meant so much more. “If we have to go I’m sorry that means you wont be going to college..you’ve been so excited about it”
“i wont be sad about that. I mean, your dad will probably be assigned to study a different planet. I’ll get to spend my entire life with you studying different places. He was on earth so long I imagine I’ll only live long enough for the next assignment but that’s exciting to me Baek. Much better than living an ordinary human life”
Baek held her a little tighter, letting his lips brush the top of her head. A normal human life. He had very nearly forgotten that. She had a much shorter lifespan than he did. “You know I love you, right?”
“Yeah, are you alright?”
“Just relieved.” He wouldn’t discuss his worries with her right now. She needed rest, not to worry about him.
Lim jumped a little at the alert sound coming from the ship and moved closer to the screen as Neek enhanced the image of the location. “Are those spores?”
“Looks like it. Go let everyone know we’re going to land so you and I can check it out.” Lim nodded as he headed out to alert everyone and Neek grabbed a syringe full of the cure just in case the person who had spread it was still alive and not immune.
Baek and Zatalia were the last to be informed “do I need to come too?”
“No, you have her to comfort. Your father and I have this.” Lim looked at Zatalia “are you feeling okay? Do you need anything before we leave?”
“Baek has me covered, thank you” Lim hurried off, not knowing how to feel. “what do you think they’ll do if this was brought here on purpose Baek?”
“We have a small holding cell. If they did do this on purpose dad will probably take him back to our planet to let our leader decide.”
“where? I thought I had been everywhere”
“On my ship but dads is bigger than it appears, like that show you like so much”
“yeah, if you feel okay and really want to see it I can take you”
“I’d rather just cuddle”
Neek and Lim were surprised to find that the spores were much thicker than they had previously thought and seemed to be coming from a small shack hidden in the trees. “It’s quiet.” Lim said.
“It is.” Neek agreed as they moved closer to the shack and he tapped on the door. There was no answer and he slowly pushed the door open. “Hello? Is anyone in here?”
There was a shuffling sound and they both froze. “Who is it?” A voice asked, sounding shaky.
“We’ve come to help. The disease here has spread.”
“Wh…what? But…” The person who stepped out of the shadow was pale and sickly looking like they hadn’t eaten anything in awhile. Both Neek and Lim could smell sickness and knew he had been bleeding and vomiting. “I…I quarantined myself. I…I…” He doubled over as if he were in pain and his stomach tried emptying itself, but nothing came up. Lim caught him before he fell and hurt himself and the man tried shoving him away, but was too weak.
“How is he even still alive?” Lim asked.
“I don’t know.” Neek answered.
“Maybe his species bodies are better at fighting this than the humans or the first race that caught it”
“In any case help him lay down and I’ll give him the cure” Lim took the man to the nearby couch and laid him down so Neek could cure him. He looked so bad off they hoped it would work in time.”I didn’t mean for any of this to happen, you have to believe me. I got caught up between two waring space monsters and was flung into the quarantined planet.” The man sounded so weak, like it was near impossible for him to even speak “You can explain later” Neek tried and the man shook his head “No, just incase there isn’t a later I want you to know that when I got away one of the monsters caught me in it’s jaws. By the time it flicked my aircraft out of its teeth I was barreling towards here. I took shelter in this place, I’m sorry”
“It doesn’t sound like your fault”
“I should…should have blown my ship up, I should have died.”
“Easy, it’s going to be alright.” Lim said. “Rest.”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m really…sorry.” His weakness got the better of him and he closed his eyes. His breathing was so shallow, they had to assure themselves he was still alive. Lim lifted him over his shoulders.
“What do you want to do about this place?”
“I’ll come back and burn it down once the cure is distributed. I want a controlled burn that won’t take out the whole forest.”
“I’ll come back with you then when it’s time.”
“Let’s get him to the medical bay first, I want to monitor him. Hopefully with enough time, he’ll be back to the way he was before all this.”
“He’s going to keep blaming himself.”
“Then we will help him see it was all an accident.”
They hurried him to the ship and got him settled in the medical bay. Neek then hooked up IVs to make sure he got hydrated then put a similar mask he had put on Zatalia to make sure he got all the air he needed. Once he had done all he could for this poor stranger he called everyone into a meeting about the man. He wanted to be sure everyone knew the story before he woke so he wouldn’t have to go through the shame of explaining again. Not a soul on board blamed him but Neek had known before the meeting they wouldn’t. “can I ask a possibly stupid question?” The question was from Edith and it was Neek who responded “you are always welcome to ask questions.”
“If there’s nobody there for the disease to thrive on how is it still living. There’s no way to clean the planet”
“There were many attempts and if part of your concern is worrying over the earth being saved it can be. It took so long to figure out how to fight it it had largely taken over the planet. It was deep in it’s very soil. It hasn’t been on earth long. I know we can handle it. My leader is already sending people to as you might call it disinfect your earth”
“what’re you going to do if your help isn’t welcome.”
“If they blame us?”
“Hopefully we can work it out but if we have to leave we will”
“what does that mean for my daughter and your son”
“You two and Zatalia are welcome to come with us. I’d rather die than ever leave my wife and I wouldn’t expect my son to leave the woman he loves but you two don’t have to think on that for now. The cure should be waiting, I’ll go retireve it and make sure it gets in the right hands”
The men and women Neek had chosen were startled when he came to them and even more so when he revealed the fact he was an alien. They were surprised he willingly gave them the vaccine they needed and couldn’t even speak when he left. “Do you think they’ll tell anyone?” Johana asked.
Neek shrugged. “Maybe after, when everyone is cured and vaccinated.”
“Now we wait. I am sure Jean will be contacting this world’s leaders to let them know what’s going on.”
“Do you think they’ll ever recover?”
He pulled her into his arms at her obvious worry. “Of course, I have learned that the human race can be quite resilient and it could have been much worse.”
They all waited, some of them nervously as Neek’s people arrived and hoped that they wouldn’t be greeted with hostility. Neek had found that sometimes in a crisis, humans would see anything strange as dangerous and he was ready to flee with his loved ones should things take a turn for the worst.
Thankfully all went well, they were welcomed and actually thanked instead of blamed. They weren’t so ready to accept the being that brought the disease but Neek promised he would take him to his home planet personally. The humans and their leaders weren’t happy about it but they were so grateful they didn’t give Neek trouble about taking the healing man named Berbeoka home. “sir” Berbeoka said as they were flying back “Please call me Neek” He urged yet again “I feel I have something else to apologize for”
“What is it?”
“Your kind likes to study planets in secret…I’ve blown your cover”
“Oh, thats alright, I mostly am still at this planet because there are so many portals to other worlds on it. They will know nothing so it’s all good”
“Yes, its amazing. They have the most of any I’ve ever seen and as far as we know they are only linked to earth”
“I’m glad I didn’t cause you trouble then…well…any more trouble”
“Nothing was your fault. I’m glad you didn’t kill yourself, your family, I’m sure, will be happy you didn’t either”
“I still can’t stop thinking about it though…my life cost the humans so many…”
“It’s unfortunate what happened but will never be your fault”
“Yeah” Zatalia said, surprising both of them that she was in the room “Oh…Za…Zatalia” she seemed to make him especially nervous since he knew he had gotten her sick too. She took his hand “I meant it when I said I forgive you.” He teared up a little bit and she said “come, hangout with my boyfriend and I while we travel”
When they arrived at Berbeoka’s home world there were so many relieved to see him back alive and well, it touched all their hearts aboard the ship. “keep in touch okay” Johana said as they began to return to their ship “I will, thank you, thank you so much”
“Yes, thank you” a woman who seemed like she could be his mother said gratefully. Over dinner that evening Neek said “so Edith and Holt, now that you’re aware of what I do on earth I was wondering if you two would like to start traveling with us, when we go to other worlds within your world. I can see to it you wont lose your home and even without a job I promise to show you ways in other worlds that you can still be taken care of. Baek hardly comes because Zatalia can’t come but maybe we could all go together”
We’d love too.” Holt said. “I mean if our little girl is going to be with Baek then we should experience all of this.”
“It’s still all a little confusing, but we’ll do anything to make Zatalia happy.”
“You two really mean it?” Zatalia asked.
“Of course baby, especially after everything that’s happened.” Holt replied. “And if anything happens that makes it so we can’t go home, then we’ll gladly relocate.”
“Thank you.” Baek said. “I know she’ll be happier with you here.” They talked more about Neek and Johana’s people, the former telling stories about some of the planets he had explored and the wonderful events he had witnessed. The more he talked, the more at ease and eager they seemed about space exploration. He would take them anywhere and if they had the patience, he would show them how to pilot his ship.
As the evening came to a close Baek spoke to Zatalia “why don’t you head on to bed so I can talk to my dad”
“alright” she kissed his cheek then expressed “I love you so much Baek”
“I love you too Zatalia” He pulled her close, giving her a deep kiss then letting her go. He pulled his dad to the side and asked “so that thing we talked about when I was a kid, figuring out how to make humans like us…did you ever finish that. I know we started but…I never want to lose Zatalia…she’s irreplaceable.”
“I was simply waiting for you to ask. Let everyone rest for now, tomorrow we’ll talk to them about living forever” Baek hugged his father “Thank you so much, you’re the best dad”
“and I couldn’t ask for a better family Baek” He hurried back to Zatalia, nestling happily into her in their room. Everyone but Neek, Lim and Johana slept late that night, only waking the next day when they were promised food. Neek went ahead and brought it up during breakfast, knowing how eager his son must be. Holt was the first to say anything once Neek was done explaining “will it hurt”
“Thankfully it wont, I’ve found in most things it does when species change but the one person whom I did it with successfully didn’t feel any pain at all. They said their stomach felt like it dropped about a hundred feet but they were fine” Holt looked at his daughter “do you want this baby?”
“Yes” No hesitation yet again. Baek held her hand tightly, wanting to kiss her. “Then we’ll do it” They are, waited a few hours then began the process, starting with Zatalia then changing both her parents. Zatalia remarked “huh, I really don’t feel any different”
“but it worked right dad”
“It did, you have her forever now son” Baek nearly cried as he held her and she smiled “I’m the luckiest girl in the world Baek” she whispered to him, causing him to hold her even tighter. It felt like everything was perfect once more. The earth was recovering, they’d be traveling together and now he could truly be with Zatalia until the end of time.
~ The End