Waking Other Lives

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Chapter 8: The Pull

Seth’s POV

I was walking in the forest, my eyes searching for any subtle movement hidden beneath the thick cover of the trees. The air was hot and dense with an indescribable stillness lying over the deathlike wilderness. I could hear the buzzing sound of the dragonflies, with their colorful small bodies furnished in layers of red, yellow, green and blue, and the rare ones in tones of grey and black, hovering busily above. The sound of them flapping their transparent wings was barely audible as their slit-like glowing red eyes fervently looked for their prey. As beautiful as they looked, these small insects were lethal for mortal humans.

The air was literally filled by a swarm of these killer insects at this time of the night, their venomous stings causing agony and death on the weak humans, such as the young, the old and the sickly, whose bodies were simply unable to fend off the attack of the burning poison they released upon their bite. They kept their distance from us, yes, our fire could easily scorch them, but in fact, it was the Drakon scent we could secrete on demand, which really kept them away, the scent paralyzing them immediately, and killing them within seconds. Since the war had begun, we had no incentive to provide that service to the humans obviously, so we let these insects just flourish and multiply, their actions left unrestrained, and unfettered.

“Spread out,” I commanded to the Drakons coming right behind me. “We have only a few hours left till the sun rises, use it wisely to flush them out. Try not to shift unless it’s absolutely necessary. Being inconspicuous is our only weapon now, get it?” I asked, to make sure they’d gotten the importance of these instructions.

“Right! Guys you heard him,” said Cayman as he urged the others. “C’mon, let’s go get them.”

I continued on the path ahead of me which suddenly trailed to the left, wriggling between the thick trunks of the trees, whose mini roots branched out like thin long arms in different directions, stretching in the vast darkness. I knelt down on one knee, closed my eyes and just smelled the air, trying to decipher any human scent beneath the flutter of the light breeze which mingled and brought all sorts of smells from the beings who sought refuge in the wilderness tonight. It was then that I pinpointed it, my nostrils reflexively flaring, trying to take it all in, the fragrant and intoxicating smell bringing tears to my eyes. My heart started to pound, I felt the daggers of excitement snaking into every bone, my body vibrant and alive as if hooked to an endless source of energy.

I rose on both feet, which were now shaking as I used all my control to hold onto my human form. The dragon in me wanted to be let out, my whole body was on fire, I was struggling to tame my inner primitive force which was lashing at its walls, enraged at being denied. I took in long breaths in order to steady and calm myself, not quite understanding what had brought this transformation in me. My feet moved, my steps fast and rhythmic as I followed the scent. The pull was strong, holding me by the leash. I walked, not thinking, just moving, each step taking me closer to my target. I passed the dense trees, and sniffed the air around me, closing in on my hunt, determined to appease my hunger. The scent was so sweet, like the voluptuous scent of orange blossoms on a fresh spring morning, infusing the soft breeze with its aroma, which blew in lazy wisps all around me. My breathing was ragged, my heart was rushing, and the dragon was rejoicing. I knew I was near. The scent was vivid now, urging me, tempting me, ever so seductively, from its hideout beneath the thick large oak tree.

Three steps to go, two steps, and then the final, last step... There it was, a small lump lying on the hard ground, curled up like a fetus, sleeping with her thick hair cascading over her face. I frowned in confusion, inhaling the whiff of her perfume. How could the smell have been coming from her? It did not make one bit of sense to me. I had never found any human girl alluring before.

The human girl looked so vulnerable, and scared with her fists firmly clenched in her sleep. Why was she alone, didn’t she know they would find her here, kill her, and it would be on my orders? Damn it! The thought of anyone harming her, filled me with such an excruciating rage, and with such an intense, strong urge to protect her, that I feared of what I would do. I took an impulsive step towards her, I wanted to lift her up in my arms, but thankfully, I just moved her hair around her face, the desire to see her features acting as an undeniable impulse in me.

My calloused fingers moved in agonizingly slow motions on her face, touching her skin with a softness I did not believe I possessed. When she sighed, I immediately withdrew my hand, heeding not to wake her. I ended up just examining her—her soft freckled complexion, the black thick eyelashes surrounding her oval shaped eyes, her small upturned nose and the wide generous mouth with full lips. She appealed to me. That was a fact.

Lowering my glance, I let my eyes feast on her slim hips and long legs clad in tight trousers. When I had my fill of her, I sat down across her, and reminded myself over and over again that she was the enemy. Yet, I couldn’t help but secrete the Drakon scent that would massacre the dragonflies in the vicinity. They could hurt her, and for an indescribable reason, I wanted to keep her safe. And, I would, at least, for tonight.

She stirred in her sleep with a barely audible groan, her intoxicating scent now mixing with fear induced sweat. She opened her eyes, blinking a few times to shake off her sleep. She had not noticed me, and I didn’t do anything to draw her attention to my presence. She sighed in relief when she didn’t detect any danger. Then, as if urged by an instinct, she looked through me, and I felt her eyes finally take me in as the seconds stretched in silence ahead of us. She didn’t seem to be scared. For whatever reason, that made me feel real good.

“Who are you?” she asked, too calmly.

Either she was too stupid, or too brave. I didn’t know yet. “A better question is, who are you?” I asked her. Indeed, who the hell was she?

“I’m Sierra,” she said. “Is this hell?” she asked, cautious.

She had a sense of humor. I liked that. “Some might call it that,” I laughed. “Since the war began, life has become hellish for everyone.”

“No, I mean in the literal sense, what is this place?” she said, persisting in her weird question.

Hmm, perhaps she was not humorous, but crazy? “This is Rawonia. How come you don’t know that? Do you have amnesia?” I asked.

“So, this is not hell, and you are not dead? Is that what you are saying?” she asked.

“Do I look dead to you?” I joked. But, I was only trying to hide my excitement, crazy or not, her scent at this point was driving me nuts. I moved closer to her, I needed to touch her. But before I could, her fingers were on my face, tracing my features. My whole body jolted in shock.

“Seth, is that you?” she asked.

“How do you know my name?” I asked, suspiciously. Did she know who I was? Was this a trap and was she the bait set here to lure me in? If so, the humans had done a good job. My eyes roamed any shadows lurking beneath the trees, but I didn’t spot anyone.

“Seth, oh my God, you’re alive,” she said, and I suddenly found her cute small butt molded perfectly on my lap.

“How is this possible, that both of us are here together, when both of us were dead, if this is not the place for the dead?” she asked.

Was she even aware that she was sitting on my lap? She was rambling, her words did not make sense, but I was not complaining. “We are not dead,” I insisted. “How do you know my name?” I asked, shaking her off my lap with all the force I could muster. The dragon roared in agony. But, I knew this had to end, I had to put a stop to whatever this was, while I could. She fell clumsily on the ground, holding her ankle. My gaze latched on the stiff movement of her leg, and my ear was glued to the deep sigh escaping her lips. Distress shadowed her pain etched features. Was she hurt? That didn’t sit well with me.

“Seth, it’s Sierra.” she said, as if that explained a ton of things.

“I surely don’t know any Sierra, and I surely have never seen you in my whole life,” I replied. if only, she knew what I was thinking. She couldn’t see in the dark, but I could. I ran my eyes up and down her body slowly, committing each curve, each move, each look to the deep recesses of my memory. She was beautiful to me. Why, I didn’t know.

“Are you pulling my leg, this is so not the time,” she said, her voice was clearly frustrated.

I shook off my stupor. “Pulling your leg? Why should I touch your leg to pull it?” I asked. “You sure talk strange.”

“That’s it. I am about to lose it all, this has been a very trying day for me, I have no fucking clue what is going on and I’m losing my patience with whoever is pulling this nasty trick on me,” she said.

She was a small lump of spitfire, I liked that. But, she was a danger to herself. I clamped my hand on her mouth before she drew my men here.” Ssh, are you nuts, do you want to draw the Drakons here?

She was still trying to talk, the stubborn little human. “Promise not to shout,” I said, loosening my hold on her. She nodded, her soft wavy hair brushing my fingers. I purred inside.

“Drakons? That word again...Grandma had used it, what the hell is a Drakon?”

“How come you don’t know that? Aren’t you an Andra?” I asked. She looked fit, athletic and she was in the wilderness. Why else would she be here?

“Me, an Andra...yeah right!” she said, way too quickly. “Just indulge me, will you?” she asked.

She certainly was not an Andra. Then, what was she doing here, all alone and how come she had never seen a Drakon in her life? Had she lived in the underground all her life? “An Andra is a human fighter. How is it you know nothing?” I said, getting extremely exasperated with this whole thing.

“Of course, I knew that,” I said. “And, sure, I’m one of those Andra,” she said.

I wanted to laugh, she was a terrible liar, her large green eyes mirroring her jumbled emotions, all of which indicated a girl extremely lost, confused, yet not defeated. “Yeah, right,” I said. ” And, Dragonman... that’s what a Drakon is.”

“Dragon and man together, you mean like a werewolf?” she said, in excitement. She was like a small child, her earnestness and joy, so invigorating, so tempting and damn it, so appealing.

“What is a werewolf? ” I asked.

“Never mind. It’s a fictional character.”

“Then why do you bring it up?” I said. I couldn’t figure her out, she was a puzzle. My curiosity was piqued.

“Seth, how do we go home, how do we get out of this Rawonia?” she asked.

Was she real? “There is no way out of Rawonia. This is home,” I said, laughing. “But, tell me, why are you here alone? It’s dangerous out here, don’t you know that?” I asked, gently.

“I don’t know anyone, I had only one friend and this dragon took him away, right before my eyes.”

Ouch, I needed to check that out.

“I don’t know where to go, can I come with you Seth, please?” she pleaded, her helplessness piercing my heart like a sharp knife.

“No, you can’t come with me, are you crazy?” I replied, nevertheless. There was no way I could take her with me. We were mortal enemies.

“Why?” she asked.

“There will be others looking for you, I’m sure of it. You belong with them, you know. You said you were an Andra, remember?” I reminded her.

“Seth, I don’t care who you think I am. But, we know each other. You are the only friend I’ve got in this freaky place right now, believe me. You are my anchor, the only reason why I’m holding onto my sanity here, even if barely. I need to come with you, please.”

The sun was slowly settling in, its glow of light dwelling lazily on her locks, combing her rich auburn hair in honeyed streaks. I was mesmerized catching the way the sun’s slanting rays gleamed off stray wisps of her hair, the rays flaming it to a tint of burnished copper. “Sierra...” I said, pausing. I wanted to take her with me, so damn badly. And, how would I explain that to the Drakons, or to the King and the Queen? ′Hey guys, this is Sierra, somehow I am drawn to her, so while we are killing the other humans, let’s spare her, shall we?" Yeah, that would go really well. I heard a sound. “Listen,” I said, hushing her. There was a movement from beneath the trees. And, most importantly somebody was calling her name.

“They are here for you. Just as I said,” I told her. It was time to take my leave, unless I wanted her to witness me kill her friends.

“That can’t be me,” she insisted.

“Here you are,” said an Andra who appeared right in front of us.

I shrank in distaste, restraining myself not to rip her throat out. Apparently, my disgust of humans persisted with full force. Just as I thought, Sierra was the exception and not the norm.

“We’ve been looking all over for you. Why didn’t you answer? We thought they had you for sure. Where is Pietro?” she asked Sierra.

“He’s gone. A dragon took him,” Sierra said, sadly.

So, her friend’s name was Pietro. I had to remember that.

“That’s too bad. You must be devastated. We’ll find him, don’t you worry Sierra. You know how he is, it’s like he has nine lives, he’ll find a way to survive, he always does. But, now we need to leave. There is still intense Drakon activity around us, they are looking for us.”

Yeah, right. Finally, somebody was here to instill a sense of preservation in Sierra.

“And, who might this be? Are you new? I’ve never seen you before?” the Andra said, referring to me. She was eyeing me. Really, in the middle of a fucking war? No wonder, the humans were losing this war pathetically.

The trees behind us lit with fire. Who the hell was that? Damn it, I’d told them not to shift.

“They’re here!” the Andra suddenly cried out, the imminent danger finally overriding the female hormones slamming through her veins with a rush of visible, wanton lust. “They’re coming,” she said, pulling her gun. She was now scared shitless, the fear of the Drakon making her move in senseless circles. The weakness of humans had always irritated me.

“I’m not even sure I can run with my ankle. I hurt it badly. You guys should leave,” Sierra said.

So, that was what was wrong with her leg. And, she wanted to be a dragon sacrifice? I wanted to shake her badly until she realized the situation she was in.

“This is so not the time to come up with excuses, Sierra. You know, I can’t leave you. You’re my friend. And, he’d have my head,” the Andra said.

Hmm, the Andra’s image was improving by the minute. And, that’s why I decided she would live, at least for now. I heard Sierra gasp in pain as she tried to hop on her bad ankle.

I turned to her friend. “Take her and leave. You don’t need to hurry. I’ll keep them away from you,” I said. After all, they were my men, under my command.

“Are you crazy? We are not splitting, and I’m not making you prey to dragon fire, so that we can get away,” Sierra said, her small hands clutching my shirt firmly.

She had no idea I was the enemy she was hiding from.

I inhaled her scent one last time, but I knew this was it. The next time we’d meet, it’d be under completely different circumstances. “This is where this all ends Sierra. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. But, now you need to go,” I said, freeing myself from her hold. I ran forward, I needed to stop the Drakons before they came upon Sierra.

“Seth,” she cried out behind me, but I didn’t stop. I hardened myself, shushing the dragon who seemed restless, pained, and aggrieved by her loss.

I ran into my men within minutes. “What happened? Who shifted, I saw fire?” I asked.

“It was Vandurk,” said Cayman. ” He is losing it,” he whispered. He didn’t need to explain. I knew what was happening. The Drakon madness was spreading among us. And, nobody knew how to stop it.

“Right, let’s take him home then,” I said.

“But, we heard noises ahead of us,” said Cayman, the ever loyal soldier.

“I took care of it,” I said, my eye daring him to refute me.

He nodded.

Two Drakons held Vandurk by the elbow as we walked back. I wondered whether I would see Sierra ever again. It was better that I didn’t. I knew that. Yet, I wished for it, I desperately did.

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