You would think after hours of flying, I would lie down to rest a bit, maybe grab some water or a bite to eat. That’s what any sane person would do... But my sanity has always been debatable. I launched as soon as I knew Sunshine was gone with a toy and circled slowly outwards, scouring the ground with my eyes. Ed had trouble keeping up with me, for he was just as exhausted and not as accustomed to wearing himself out as I was.
Finally, he contacted me. Dirg, we need to rest.
No, you need to rest.
Driving yourself to the ground isn’t going to help her.
I growled in annoyance. He was right. I caught his thought about landing and I could join him if I wished. I landed and found a comfortable spot to collapse. The lightsy prince reclined against a tree, his eyes trained on me. I ignored him and quickly nodded off. The sooner I went to sleep, the sooner I would wake up, and the sooner I could find my Sunshine.
“I stayed up for about an hour after you blacked out,” Ed commented as I cooked a rabbit on a spit.
I made no comment and looked at him with intimidating curiosity.
“You gave me access to your mind. I’ve only had access to one other mind, Theo. In fact, you are the only one besides him that knows I am not a lightheart.”
I zipped my lips to tell him I wouldn’t say a thing. Conversing by thought was only easy if he wasn’t within earshot. Really, the whole ordeal was mind boggling, and I still didn’t realize he was in my head. He laughed at that.
“Yes, I am fully aware you aren’t going to tell anyone for the next two months, and I know my gift is a little hard to wrap your mind around. Since you now know, I need to keep reminding you of it. I don’t enter anyone’s mind unless they give me access, though I must admit that I was sorely tempted when Lucy showed up. You’ve given me access, so that hour I was awake I was searching your memories.”
I stiffened as I tested how done the meat was. I could feel my anger building at his meddling, but he was quick to say more.
“Dad has been worried about letting you near Lucy. I only looked for everything having to do with her, I swear. I needed to know what your intent for tracking her down is.”
I removed the rabbit and used a dagger from my boot to slice it up for the two of us. I took my portion and relaxed against a tree, watching him and eating quickly. I was thinking of all the possible ways he could have deduced that without invading my memories.
“The rabbit is tasty,” he said quietly, not meeting my gaze.
I nodded thanks and took off as soon as I had myself cleaned up, even though he was not yet done. I began circling again, and now it was daylight. If he knew everything I thought about Lucy, then he knew how badly I wanted her as mine again. He knew that if his father told me to stay away, I would. And he knew that I would give my life to keep hers safe. Maybe he would relay that message to the lightsy king for me. I doubted it. In hindsight, it was stupid to allow a lightsy access to my mind.
We found a small village and managed to barter some clothes from them with my pretty little marbles. Don’t look at me like that! I set them so they would never go off, okay? Now that I was covered properly, I felt less tense. I was not yet comfortable with the toy following me around, but it was a step in the right direction for the both of us to be clothed. He joked about not knowing how to put pants on and nearly freaked me out.
The clothes weren’t exactly normal. My “dress” was basically a very long piece of cloth wrapped in a peculiar way around my body. I had no idea how to replicate it, but Shawn assured me he knew how. Letting him dress me didn’t exactly sound like fun, but I figured we would cross that bridge when we got there.
Shawn was a loud walker, especially through the forest. I tried to go quietly to not get caught, but he didn’t seem to catch the memo. I sighed in annoyance.
“Shawn, could you try not to step on every branch in the forest?”
“I’m not stepping on the ones still on the trees.”
I looked over my shoulder and saw him exaggerate a carefully placed step that still somehow managed to land on a pinecone, making him jerk back because he was barefoot. I was too, but I knew where to step. He scowled at my giggle and brought his foot up to rub it.
“I’m a dancer, not a forester.”
“Well, I’m a princess, is that keeping me from walking quietly?”
He froze and stared wide-eyes at me. “P-Princess? Mira said you were spawn of her mother and a lightsy, but she never said who your father is.”
“My dad is King Amora of Iraq.”
He blanched. “Oh. My. Gosh. Okay, now I am sooo glad I didn’t- uh- you know. Oh gosh.”
I nodded and sighed. “I can only pray this didn’t start a war.”
His eyes took a hard glint. “Oh, I hope it did. The darkies deserve the destruction they fear the lightsies could bring. Every single last slutty one of them.”
I was taken aback by his venom. I had a feeling I already knew the answer, but I asked anyway, “Why?”
He nodded. “Dirg never did use you as a toy, or you wouldn’t need to ask that question. My days consisted of working out to keep my muscles and practicing provocative dancing, while nights were either spent entertaining Mira or her friends or a group in any fashion they pleased. You cannot even imagine the things they put us toys through, not caring about the actual people they are hurting. To them, we are things! We are just bodies, and if we display pain, or discomfort, we are the ones in the wrong! If we act like people, we are punished! They trample our humanity and sneer at our wingless backs, and they deserve every torture they have inflicted upon us!”
I was shocked by his rant. I had known toys were treated as objects, but to hear the venom from one was something else entirely.
“Well... You freed yourself, Shawn.”
“But I want them all free. You- you can do that.”
His gaze went from unabashed hatred to some sort of awe. “You have the ear of the crown prince. Your father is the king of the lightsies. You’re a dark light.” I shivered at his mentioning my outcast status. “You can change things.”
I frowned at him. “I-”
“No. You can. That is my price for saving you, you have to try to end darky slavery.”
I blinked. Of course he would need a price for that. It was common courtesy to pay someone back for saving you. I just didn’t expect the price to be this... Impossible.
“Yet you still want me to be your mistress,” I commented.
He didn’t even flinch. “You are the most powerful skyrunner I have stolen a power from, and I don’t believe you will hurt me. Besides, if I’m following you around, it will help you remember your debt to me.”
I tilted my head. “I suppose it will. So what do I call you? My personal servant?”
He grinned. “I like that, Mistress.”
“Okay then. You can call me Lucy.”
“Can I call you Sugarlips?” he asked with a mischievous smile.
I glared at him. “No. The available nicknames are Princess and Lucy.”
I turned around and we began walking again. It was another few minutes before we heard the distinct sound of flapping wings. Shawn rushed to me and tackled me into a bush.
I pushed him off of me and glared at him. “It’s daylight, ya dumbutt!”
He blinked. “Oh. Right.”
I stood and cupped my hands around my mouth to amplify my voice. “Hey! Down here!”
A white blur burst through the canopy and swooped down to land nearly in front of me. Dirg didn’t take time to stop before he basically ran into me and wrapped me in a crushing embrace. At first he surprised me, but I went with it and hugged him back, burying my face in his chest. He held me as if I would slip away if he so much as blinked wrong. Being in his arms felt like the safest place in the world, and I basked in it. He pressed his lips to the top of my head, silently telling me with his embrace that he was scared for me and with the kiss that he was happy I was safe.
I looked up at him and saw affection in his stormy green eyes. I remembered what Shawn said about toys and felt gratitude swell up in my heart that he didn’t put me through that. He had taken care of me, and if he really flew all the way to Asia in the few hours since I got here, he was still trying to. I could see past his former lies, now.
Before I could change my mind, I got on my tiptoes and kissed him on the lips. He went rigid for a second in shock before he kissed me back. In typical Dirg fashion, he took control of the kiss, but in atypical action kept it sweet. This was nothing like the controlling kisses from the desert. It was better than the make out sessions Shawn had used to orchestrate our escape. It was as innocent as a kiss between a darky prince and his former pet could possibly get. Soon, I pushed away, one hand going to a forearm to run nervously across my scars.
He grinned slightly and tucked a stray lock of hair behind my ear. I saw in those eyes a longing for more, but he held it in check. Dirg controlled himself, and that made me happy.
Someone cleared his throat, and I looked over Dirg’s shoulder to see one of the twins trying to not look like he was incredibly awkwarded out and maybe offended by us kissing but failing miserably at hiding it.
“Are you hurt, Lucy?”
Dirg shot a venomous look at Shawn and looked to me to see my response.
“Nope. Maybe my pride a bit, but I can live with that. Shawn and Jesus saved me.”
Shawn frowned. “I don’t remember anyone else being there.”
“That’s ’cause he’s God.”
Shawn looked at me like I was crazy and then to Dirg. I saw the utter confusion in Shawn’s eyes, but he shrank back when his gaze met Dirg’s. I hit Dirg’s arm.
“Play nice! He was supposed to rape me and helped me escape instead. If he hadn’t gotten the guts to run, I’d be in a broken, sobbing ball right now, and it wouldn’t have been your fault this time.”
The sorrow in his eyes didn’t seem to believe that. The twin let out a sigh. “Could you please tell us everything that happened since you poofed?”
I nodded. “Shawn, you might want to get behind him,” I gestured to the twin.
He nodded, and Dirg’s face darkened.
I rocked back on my heels and began, “Well, one minute I was in Dad’s office, and the next I was in a dark room, being kissed rather forcefully by Mira’s toy. My power wasn’t working and Mira and Fon quickly left me with him. I prayed silently, and Shawn decided he would rather chance Mira’s wrath than rape me, so he helped me escape. We ran, ended up sleeping in a bush, and bought clothes since then.”
I saw Dirg infer several things from my brief synopsis and his entire visage went dark. Surprisingly, the question I guessed he wanted to ask came from a bewildered sounding little brother of mine. “You two weren’t wearing clothes?!”
He spun around to Shawn, who raised an eyebrow. “We were both wearing toy clothes. Truthfully, I feel like I’m suffocating in these overclothes, it’s been so long.”
Shawn sighed. “Oh for the naivety of a lightsy. Do you want me to educate your half-brother, Mistress?”
Dirg looked shocked, so I glared at him. “He needed someone to call mistress, so now he is my personal servant.” I explained and then answered Shawn’s question, “How would you do that?”
“Words only, promise.”
He looked the twin straight in the eye. “Toys are sex slaves, so we tend not to wear much more clothing than absolutely, vitally necessary. Some masters have their toys wear even less than that.”
The twin paled and shot a look at Dirg. “Okay, okay. I think from here Dad needs to sort this out. Shawn, have you flown before?”
“Um, no. I’m a human.”
“No, I mean has no one carried you before?”
The twin sighed and rubbed the back of his neck, looking back and forth between Dirg and I.
“Okay, so I will carry Shawn, and Dirg will carry Lucy. Any objections?”
Dirg shook his head, though the arrangement did not make sense to me. I weighed less than Shawn, and Dirg was bigger than the twin, since he had about five years of growth on him. I made no objections, for I was more used to Dirg’s flight pattern. I had never ridden either twin. Come to think of it, I never saw lights carrying humans.
I got on Dirg, showing Shawn how to do it, and he picked it up easily, though the twin didn’t seem very comfortable. We took off, and Dirg had to circle for a bit before the twin and his new rider got a rhythm and could actually fly. We were off soon enough in the clear, sunny day. The wind was minimal, and Dirg’s back below me was steady and firm. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the light and peace of the sky.
Something clicked in my mind, then. I wanted to fly. I had always dreamed of it as a child; I had even drawn myself with wings before, but as I grew older and the notion grew more and more preposterous, I gave up that dream. I became enslaved to the ground, along with the rest of humanity. I knew I was a human. I could not fly, such a dream was unreachable short of a pilot’s license, something I could never afford. Instead, I dreamed of more realistic things. A car. A job. A house. I knew a family was out of the question, a husband even more so. I told myself that I would do well to stay off of the streets.
Then Dirg shattered my hopes and dreams. At first I resented him for stealing my life, and then I let him have it, and now... now, he was trying to give me what I should have had. In effect, stealing me from my old life led to the life I had dreamed of as a child. I just needed to reach out and grab it and not let go.
With that thought, I did the impossible. I relaxed my legs from around Dirg. Then, before I could scare myself again, I purposefully fell off, right behind his big, white feathers. The stupidity of my action hit me like a solid rock wall as I looked down at the vast landscape beneath me and felt my back flare in pain as I summoned my wings. At least I wasn’t rolling around and I knew which way was down.
“Lucy!” I heard a male yell, but the wind in my ears didn’t help me know which one it was.
The ground approached, growing ever larger and more detailed, and I watched in a mixture of awe and fear. It could kill me. I should be scared out of my wits, I had been before; instead, I simply grinned like the idiot I was as my feathers grew and the trees reached up to grab at me.
On some instinct I did not know I had, I leaned down and streamlined my body, nearly diving, and then pulled back, sweeping up just as my wings fully settled in. I laughed in exuberance and skimmed the tops of the trees. I held my arms out and whooped as I gained altitude.
“I’m flying, Dirg!”
I swear that girl wanted to give me a heart attack. She slipped off of my back in the middle of the sky, without her wings! I quickly dove after her, but she was just out of my reach, and the idiot was summoning her wings in a fall! She couldn’t know the damage that could do to her plumage, but still, she had to at least have had a clue. I ran into the branches of a tree as she pulled up, laughing like the maniac she was. I quickly disentangled myself and launched again after her, only to find her gaining altitude and smiling at me.
Okay, that made my panic worth it, at least a little bit. She wasn’t suddenly suicidal again, thank God. Then, I noticed her wings and again nearly had a heart attack, though this time it would have been of joy. Her feathers were white and gold! They were amazing, seeming to shine in the light of the sun like gilded angel wings. She accepted Jesus! She was flying! I grinned and looped around her in ecstasy, staying out of her airspace.
She wasn’t very fast, since she was experimenting with these new, now functional limbs, so I thought to Ed that he should stop and rest. He happily went to land, already exhausted with carrying someone nearly as big as him. I still didn’t understand why he insisted on carrying the toy. It had something to do with him being a guy carrying a girl, but it didn’t bother me as much as it did him, so I didn’t really understand.
She realized he was landing and tilted towards him. I flew under her, just in case she started falling. I would not let her hurt herself. She looked down at me, and I had to look over my shoulder to keep her in my sights.
“Is he resting?”
I gestured an affirmative, so she pulled up.
“I want to fly for a bit. You’re going to keep me safe?”
I nodded, happiness blooming within me at the fact that she recognized that. This day was just getting better and better. Apparently, all she needed was a little danger to get her head back on track, how very darky of her.
We had to make very frequent stops after that, either for Ed and I to switch carrying the toy or for Lucy to let her wings rest. She was really new to flying, so she had not yet properly developed any of the necessary muscles. Still, she insisted on flying herself. If that was what she wanted, I literally couldn’t argue. Dusk hit quickly, and I remembered that she couldn’t see. Hmm, how to land a blind new flier without using my voice? This whole not talking thing just got trickier and trickier.
Ed picked up on my confusion and dropped Shawn off quickly. “Having trouble, Lucy?”
“Yeah. I can’t see.”
“Ah.” He circled around her, so I landed and began to hunt. When I came back, they were all on the ground, and it was almost completely dark. I stayed away from the firelight as I scaled and gutted the fish I had caught from a nearby stream.
I looked up, and Lucy was glaring at me. What did I do? She was fine, Shawn was playing with a stick, and Ed was... Shivering over the fire. Oh. I formed light around him, and he sighed, looking square at his sister.
She broke the silence, “So, what is your gift, really?”
He smiled half-heartedly. “Theo really is a lightheart. I can hear thoughts. We decided a long time ago that it would be safer the fewer people knew that, so we practice a ton.”
She nodded. I looked back down at my hands and noted with displeasure the gore on the king’s ring. Crap it. King Zinx would flay me if he saw it like this. I spitted the fish and began cooking them, so I also held the ring above the fire, watching it burn the gore off.
Lucy inhaled in surprise, her eyes glued onto the ring in my hand. “Dirg, is that gold?”
I nodded, looking up at her from across the fire.
“Did you kill your father?”
I closed my eyes and tilted my head back. I didn’t want to think about that. I wanted to think about the fact that she was safe and the lingering sensation of her kiss. She had kissed me, and that was much easier to ponder than the possibility that I was now the king of the darkies.
Ed answered for me. “No, he didn’t. He purposefully stabbed him and missed anything vital in his chest. King Zinx is currently recovered and resting in one of our hospital rooms back home, and the transporting dark is at his side.”
I nodded, assuming he and his brother were still linked some way or another. Good, they healed him. He didn’t die of blood loss. That made our situation a dangerous one, though. I avoided war between lightsies and darkies, but I may have sparked a civil war among my kind. I hurt him enough to substantiate my claim on the king’s ring, but since he was still alive, he could object that I stole it, and if I refused to give it back, it would be a bloody mess. If I did give it back, then that would be akin to exiling myself because 1: I failed at killing the king, 2: I’m a lightheart and 3: I have white wings.
A soft touch on my arm jolted me out of my thoughts. I opened my eyes and looked to Sunshine, kneeling next to me. I was hunched over next to the fire, clutching the hot ring in my hand, so her worry wasn’t without reason.
“Was he trying to hurt you by taking me.” It was more of a statement than a question, but I nodded anyway and sat in a more comfortable position.
She looked at me, playing with a lock of hair in thought. I kept her gaze, absentmindedly turning the fish on the spit. Her cute little nose scrunched up as I enviously watched her fingers twirl her hair.
“You can talk, Dirg,” she stated hopefully.
I shook my head. I said I wouldn’t, and I wouldn’t. Her pretty brown eyes seemed to sadden. “Did we start a war?”
I pointed to her and shook my head and then to myself and nodded. She frowned and took the ring from me, and I didn’t stop her because I knew she would give it back. She turned it over in her hands, examining the intricate detail of the seal.
“If you started a war...” she began slowly, and her gaze shifted to her brother. “Then why are you following him, Ed?”
He looked at her steadfastly. “He was the best bet for finding you, so I couldn’t let him out of my sights as soon as we realized you were gone. When we get back... He will have to answer to two very angry kings.”
She nodded and handed the ring back. She looked so sad; I wanted to grab her and hold her and tell her everything would be alright, but I couldn’t do any of it. Her father had forbidden me from “forcing myself upon her” or in other words, touching her in any way shape or form that she did not initiate. I had hugged her without preamble, true, but it was highly necessary. I needed to see if she was okay, and though she looked it, the very fact that she kissed me betrayed how she felt otherwise. At this point I wasn’t sure if I was the one that needed comfort and I was assuming she needed it as well, or if she actually needed it, but a repeat of that kiss sure would have been nice.
I shook my head and finished cooking the fish. The toy was so quiet, I had forgotten he was there, but I still had enough fish to go around. I watched Lucy eat, and I was happy to see that she didn’t hesitate at all and ate with gusto in a way I hadn’t seen for months. After dinner, we all took turns washing up in the stream, and when Lucy was doing so, Ed stood between the toy and I and the path to the stream, glaring alternately between us.
I rolled my eyes as he took up that position.
“If either of you so much as thinks indecent thoughts right now, I’ll gouge your eyes out.”
I smirked at him and took to clearing a little area of rocks for a bed. The toy fidgeted for a while before he decided he had nothing better to do with his time and started doing push-ups and planks. Soon, she was done and Ed left to go clean up. I gestured to my clear-ish area, trying to indicate that it was for her. She smiled sweetly at me, making my own grin grow bigger.
“You did that for me?”
I nodded and stepped away, but she stepped up to me and hesitated within arm’s reach, our eyes locked and her lips parted as if she was going to say something. I tilted my head to invite her to speak. I was listening. She hugged herself and her eyes dropped to the ground. I reached over and took her hand from her arm, squeezing it to reassure her.
“When Fan was... Making out with me I-” she breathed in deeply and her eyes flicked to me. “I tried to imagine it was you instead, but it didn’t really work. Somewhere, I knew you wouldn’t force yourself upon me like that. Not anymore, because you follow Jesus. That was why I thought to ask Him for help, and I said if he really loved me he could prove it by helping me get out of that. He did, so I accepted his gift. So, I, uh, wanted to say thank you.”
I smiled and nodded, not exactly sure what she was thanking me for, but happy nonetheless. She grinned shyly and looked down at her scarred arm. Her grin faltered for a second, so I used the hand that wasn’t holding hers to gently cover those hated reminders of all the pain I had caused her.
I wanted to tell her that I loved her, but I bit my tongue. Maybe this was a moment where she was gathering enough courage to actually move on from me. That was what I had wanted for a while now, for her to move on from me, the man who had hurt her more than any could ever again. I knew that would most likely break my heart to see her smiling at another man and marrying him, but I deserved much worse.
As if she was reading my mind, she looked up at me from behind those golden eyelashes. “Dirg, if your father does let you be king, are you going to leave?”
I sighed and took my hand off of her scars to rub my forehead. I would have to, wouldn’t I? She seemed to read that answer in my body language, since she looked disappointed and saddened. She turned to the area I cleared for her and sat silently, so I took that as my cue to go wash up.
My brain was on overdrive for the rest of the night as I assessed the next day. The best-case scenario (for me) was if Dad accepted the ring back and gave me mine, King Amora didn’t ostracize me, and everything could go back to how it was before. I knew that would never happen. The worst case and most plausible scenario was if King Zinx completely rejected me, and I would have to either forcefully take the throne or become a complete outcast. King Amora would most likely keep me as far from Lucille as he could and maybe let me stay in his land for pity. He would never allow me to court her. I was beginning to despair when my thoughts turned to my Lord.
I sighed while still away from the rest and looked up at the stars past the tree limbs. “Oh God, I am scared. I can’t see any way that ends well for me, and that’s okay. I want your will to be done in this, whatever that is. Even if I am forced out of the sky, I will follow you. I will tell my kind of your love. Please take care of Sunshine. She didn’t ask for any of this. Please help her find a good, strong husband who will love her and never hurt her in any way I have. Your word says that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, so please give me the strength to face the kings tomorrow and to do as you command. I love you, Father, and my life is yours.”
I stayed there, on my knees in the forest for a long while, simply basking in the peace God had given me. That was something that only came from Him, and I wanted as much of it as He would give.
When I eventually came back to the camp, the first thing I noticed was the toy lying next to Lucy. One of her wings was over most of him, but I didn’t miss their hands entangled together. Lucy was asleep, but the toy was awake, staring at the stars. His nearly black eyes locked onto me, and I narrowed mine, stalking over to him. He grinned slightly at me, trying to placate me, but I had none of it. He quickly got up and on one knee, still holding her hand and bowed his head respectfully.
“I can’t sleep by myself, Your Majesty,” he whispered.
Lucy stirred, since he had to move her wing to get up. Her eyes half opened.
She spoke groggily. “Shawn? Ya okay?”
I leaned down and whispered in his ear. “She may no longer be my pet, but I will still tear you limb from limb if you dare touch her inappropriately. Am I clear?”
He nodded and settled back down, mumbling to her to go back to sleep. She hummed or groaned or something like that and settled back down into slumber. I shook myself and nodded to Ed, who had watched the entire thing with I was sure more than just his eyes. He nodded slowly back.
You care about her, He noted silently.
More than you know, I replied, not unkindly.
I settled into a clear-ish area across the fire from Lucy and watched her sleep, the firelight flickering over her smooth skin and reflecting dazzlingly off of her golden hair. Her face was so innocent and peaceful in her sleep with her golden eyelashes resting daintily on her cheeks and her lips slightly pursed. She lay on her stomach with her wings spread out and her face tilted towards me, her hair cascading around her like a golden waterfall. Her wings were white and gold and oh so very beautiful. I never liked angels before I met her.
I shook my head to dispel the thoughts about her and lay down to rest.