Waking Other Lives

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Chapter 25: The Decision

The mist of anticipation mingled with surges of excitement in the room where the court was held, leading to frequent sighs of impatience. I silently walked out of the room. It was perfect timing to make myself scarce, I hoped Seth would not notice my absence. He had driven me to this, leaving me with absolutely no choice. I would not let anything or anyone stand in the way of my mission. Lives, including his, depended on it. I found my way to where Rocco was held, I didn’t forget to seize some clothes for him on my way. The smell in the small room hit me hard and strong as I approached it, it was a mixture of shit, sweat and dried piss. Nobody deserved this treatment, not even a Drakon who killed humans. The least I could do was clean him up, but my altruism was not the driving force for my being here. I had ulterior motives, and if my hunch was correct, I would get out of here with valuable information, long before Seth found out about my little intervention. The room was in complete darkness, but I had come prepared as I was holding the gaslight. The Drakon opened his eyes the moment he heard the sound of my approaching footsteps.

“What are you doing here?” he said, with a cracked voice. Shit, I had not brought him any drink, or food. It was apparent he was parched with thirst.

“I’m sorry I forgot to bring water, I will. Later,” I promised.

He was chained, but there was no reason to tempt the devil. I kept my distance as I threw him the clothes. The last time, I was here he had an underwear, but now he was completely naked, I noticed with dismay. I kept my eyes firmly fastened at his face.

“Do you think I need clothes? Do you think I’m cold? You know nothing, don’t you?” he tried to laugh, but it was pained.

“Look, I’m trying to help,” I said. “I do not approve of this.”

“And what does your dear mate say?” he asked, amused.

Why did they keep on insisting on the word, mate? I decided to ignore it. “Seth and I do not completely agree on this, but I will keep trying to convince him of the rights of a prisoner,” I said. Then I couldn’t help but notice the red dragon tattoo on his abdomen, which had a raw bleeding appearance. In fact, now that I was looking at his body, it looked pretty much unmarred except for his tattoo. He didn’t look tortured at all, yet he was definitely too weak to stand, almost too exhausted to talk, and I certainly hadn’t imagined the screams, had I?

“Your tattoo,” I said. “It does not look good.”

“Thanks to your mate,” he said bitterly.

I don’t know what compelled me to take the few steps that would take me towards him, but I wanted to examine the tattoo from a close distance, something drew me to it.

“What are you doing?” he asked, as I brushed my fingers softly on the edges around it. It was a red dragon, the sharp ridge of scales on its spine stood out as if outlined in blank ink, the red color enmeshing with yellow and orange at the head and the talon section. The work was certainly exquisite, but it was the agonized cry and pleading of the dragon beneath the skin which guided my actions. The roar was painstakingly clear, the pain was etched deep in its features, as it raised its head in desperate frustration, struggling to move its huge talon, and spread its wings. The dragon was alive, it was hurting, and it was wounded, yet death would not claim it. Was I losing my mind? I couldn’t speak, and my fingers moved towards the tattoo as if driven by an undeniable force.

“What are you doing?” he asked again, flinching back from my closeness.

But neither him, nor I could stop what was to come. He tried to lash at me to stop me, but the chains held him back. I stretched my palm and placed it firmly on the dragon which was begging for my help, for my intrusion. Light erupted in the room, from where I knew not. The touch of my palm on his skin was warm, heating by the second, and I felt energy move into my body, my hands were tingling and vibrating from its power, especially my fingertips and the center of my palms.

“Stop it!” he screamed.

As the dragon’s voice finally hushed, its body now ceasing its last struggle, I withdrew my hand, and pulled back.

I looked at his abdomen, where my palm was. The tattoo was gone, vanished into thin air, as if it never existed. In its place, stood no scar, or mark of its previous existence. He traced with his fingertips what he remembered to be the shape of the dragon on his abdomen, disbelieving at the turn of events.

“What have you done to my dragon, you bitch?” he shouted. “What have you done to me?”

“I don’t know what you are saying, I don’t understand what happened,” I said, utterly stupefied.

“You killed my dragon. I’m no longer a Drakon,” he said, weakly.

“If you aren’t a Drakon, what are you?”

“I’m a pathetic human like you, that’s who I am,” he said, spitting his words.

“That’s ridiculous,” I said. “There is no way I killed your dragon, I wouldn’t even know how. I’m just a human, as you said, in your own words, quite pathetic and if I may add, powerless to do anything like that.”

“I can’t believe it,” he kept saying. “The dragon is gone, don’t you see, bitch?” he raged.

“It’s just a tattoo,” I muttered.

“It was my dragon, it’s unique to each Drakon, and now, thanks to you, mine is gone, forever. I am no longer a Drakon,” he kept repeating like an obsessed child.

It was the meaning behind his words which finally clicked. “What did you say?” I stammered. “What do you mean? You mean each Drakon has a dragon tattoo?” I repeated. Somehow that made perfect sense to me, how come I hadn’t added two and two before to arrive at the obvious conclusion, I didn’t know. Seth had a dragon tattoo, he hid his tattoo from everyone, and he was extremely strong, too strong to be a mere human.

“Oh, you didn’t know?” he said, chuckling. He seemed to have gained some of his joy back. “You didn’t know your precious mate was a Drakon?”

His sarcastic words confirmed my fears. Seth was a Drakon, and he had fooled me, he had fooled everyone. Yet, he had had no problem talking about the issue of trust to me, what an irony!

“It doesn’t matter, “I said, quite calmly under the circumstances. “I don’t have much time. I am here because I want to ask you something.”

A look of disbelief and disgust ran across his features, as if he had a hard time understanding whether I was sane or not.

“What makes you believe I will answer anything you have to ask?” he said, angrily. “I should kill you, and I shall, the first moment I have the opportunity,” he snapped.

I completely ignored his outburst. “Do you know where the heart of Rawonia is?” I asked. If Seth knew about the heart, I had more conviction now than ever, that he should know, too, given that this information was news to all the humans I’d asked. After all, I now knew that he and Seth were both Drakons.

“Why do you need to know?” he asked, cautiously.

“Do you or don’t you? It’s a simple question,” I said.

“I may.”

“And, will you tell me?” I asked.

“I may, it all depends,” he reiterated.

“On what exactly? I can bring you food, and drink,” I said, hoping to make an exchange here.

“I don’t care about those things, I want to get out of here,” he shouted. “Can you do that?”

“You know I can’t do that. You are a prisoner here,” I explained, hoping to appeal to his logic.

“Then we have no deal,” he said, shrugging.

“Are you serious? You are mad!” I said. He seemed unmoved. “Fine, I’ll leave you here to rot in your piss, and shit until you simply starve,” I said, using the tactic of bluffing as a last option.

“Do you think I’m scared of dying? You already killed my dragon, go to hell!” he said.

Okay, the tactic hadn’t worked. I had to think of my options here, I was going to carry out the threat of leaving to make my bluff credible. I started to walk away, but his voice stopped me.

“You’ll never find it, not unless you run into another Drakon who is willing to supply you with the information you seek, which is highly unlikely. And, obviously Seth is not telling you, or else you wouldn’t be here. I’m the only one who can give you what you want. Think about it. It’s a fair exchange,” he said.

His words held some truth, unfortunately. “I’ll think about it,” I said, as I left.

When I got back, people had already dispersed. I grabbed Travis’ elbow, “What happened?” I asked.

“Ozy got a death sentence,” Travis said, grinning.

“That’s no laughing matter young man, it’s somebody’s life,” I reprimanded him.

His discomfort was obvious in the way the grin was wiped off his face. “The leader was looking for you,” he said, trying to be serious.

“Seth?” I said. It was still hard to think of him as the leader, even more so, now that I knew he was a Drakon. What did he intend to do with us? Was he here to kill us all? Somehow, I had difficulty thinking about him in bad terms, not as of yet anyway. He’d always had my back, running to my aid whenever I needed it. He was still my anchor. Period. Nothing had changed. I would simply let him explain first.

Travis nodded.

“Where have you been?” came Seth’s voice behind me.

I shrugged. “I didn’t want to hear the court sentence,” I said, trying to justify my disappearance.

“He’s a criminal, a traitor,” Seth tried to explain. “Stop trying to save irredeemable souls,” he said. “Did you forget that he almost had your brother killed, not to mention he could have killed you, too,” he said, as he held my hand.

“What are you doing with my girlfriend, you ass!” shouted someone. “Why are you holding her hand?”

“They just arrived, and I let them in,” explained Fileas, shifting his foot uncomfortably, looking at Seth’s face for approval.

“Baran!” I said. He was here in the flesh, standing a few feet away from me. This complicated things, I unclasped my fingers and closed my eyes briefly to compose myself.

“How come you are already here? We’ve been hiding until now to lose our tail, but they were simply everywhere. Have you forgotten the Drakons were after us? What did you do, just immediately rush in here? You compromised this whole rebel unit by thinking of your own hide,” Payal spat venomously.

Was that true, was it us who had brought them in here?

“Payal,” Baran warned her. Then he looked at me. “I’ve looked everywhere for you,” he said, addressing me. “Where were you?”

“She was here, where else? I’m sure she didn’t even bother checking the Drakons tagging behind her. They were certainly chasing us. Where’s Ozy?” Payal insisted. “His name was Ozy, right?” she inquired, turning to Baran.

“Shut up! You do not deal with Ozy, you deal with me now. And, if you want my hospitality in here, you better watch your mouth,” Seth said, his tone brokering no argument.

I couldn’t help, but grin. Human, or not, Seth was sweet. And, I decided that I would not judge him prematurely in a world in which I knew nothing about.

“Who the hell are you? Where is Ozy?” Baran asked this time, his face stretched in anger. He approached me, and was now holding me by the elbow.

Seth, didn’t like it. He took a threatening step forward. This was not good. I didn’t want them fighting over me.

“I’m the one who ousted Ozy, I’m the new leader,” Seth said. “Whatever you want to say to him, you say to me now.”

“Where is Mina?” I asked, trying to lighten the atmosphere. “Don’t tell me she’s...?” I said, pausing.

“She was fine the last time I saw her. We all arrive in small groups not to attract attention, Sierra you should know that,” Baran said. “What do you mean you ousted Ozy?” he asked. It was obvious he was stuck on the last bit of news Seth had provided, and he was far from happy with what he’d heard. He looked around, his eyes taking the changes in. He finally turned to Fileas and asked, ” Is this true?”

Fileas nodded.

“Is Ozy dead?” Baran asked.

“No, but he will be, soon enough,” Seth said, making his authority crystal clear.

“I see,” he said. “We’ll stay here for a few days until my Andra are all gathered, then we’ll take our leave.”

“You can, but Sierra won’t,” Seth said.

“Are you implying something?” Baran said, his voice shaking with anger. “Sierra is my girlfriend. My girlfriend,” he said, enunciating each word. “And, she comes with me.”

“Boys, please. I have a voice, and nobody owns me, thank you very much,” I said, irritated. Apparently, I had to talk to Baran, and I had to do the same with Seth, for widely different reasons.

Seth was fuming, his face was red with rage, and I was scared he would kill Baran on the spot. “Fileas, how will we accommodate them?” Seth asked, in almost a whisper, barely holding himself.

“We have 2-3 large unused rooms where they can all stay,” he explained.

“Great, then please show them the way and keep them out of my sight until the time of their departure,” Seth commanded.

“Okay, boss,” Fileas said.

Baran was trying to drag me along with him, but Seth wouldn’t have it. “Sierra, you and I need to talk,” he said.

“Baran, I’ll see you later,” I assured him. He reluctantly let me go as Payal grinned cockily. Seth and I really needed to have that chat, for many reasons. And, then I had to decide what I needed to do next. It would all depend on the outcome of that chat.

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