After hours from recovering from what was meant to be a normal day turned into a near-death experience, silence engulfed the cave. Night had fallen and Dreya and Meggan were huddled together, trying to keep warm. Both looked traumatized even though Dreya put on a brave face to keep Meggan from having another panic attack as she did shortly after Rykal had brought them to the cave.
He noticed the silent one was shivering from the coldness wafting in. Its icy touch was left on the cave walls, lingering in the already bitter night. Rykal could feel the sharp coldness biting at the parts of his body where no scales were.
Below him, his Dragella shuddered, pressing closer to his warmth. As she breathed, the air leaving her lips fogged and became visible. He frowned and noticed her once pinky red lips had turned to a dull shade of blue. All of the girl’s breaths were visible, even his own breath fogged as soon as the air left his lips. Rykal alone wouldn’t be able to keep her warm when he could feel the winter air himself and he surely wouldn’t be able to keep all three humans alive. If he didn’t do something soon, Dreya and Meggan would die and his Dragella would be near it.
He groaned. Standing he was careful not to wake his sleeping human as his muscles ached in protest. He needed to stretch his body that had stayed in the same position for too long and his wings were wanting to be spread. He stretched out his legs, groaning in pleasure from the satisfaction. After stretching his wings Rykal picked up Olivia and made his way over to the two huddled humans.
Dreya tiredly looked up and held the knife out in her hand. Rykal narrowed his eyes at her, disliking her pointing a knife that could hurt his mate. Annoyed that she might retry the same actions from before, he gritted his teeth. “Put. The knife. Down,”
Dreya blinked before she groaned and shook her head. Lowing the knife she sighed in exhaustion. “Sorry. I didn’t realize it was you. Bad dream put me on edge.”
She put the knife down and rubbed the back of her head and groaned. Rykal watched her skeptically, reluctant about leaving his mate with her. But if he wanted all three humans to survive then he would have to trust Dreya. He huffed out smoke from his nostrils, realizing he had no choice. Slowly, as gently as he could he laid his mate between the two humans, the silent one sleeping and shivering.
“I’ll be back soon. I see one mark on her and there will be the underworld to pay,” he warned her, keeping his expression unreadable.
She narrowed his eyes at him. She stood, grunting at the protest of her aching muscles but stood tall in front of him. She stepped closer and looked at him firmly. “Let’s get one thing clear, lizard, I’m not here to hurt anyone here besides you if you dare try and hurt Olivia. She isn’t yours. You don’t know a single thing about her. So, the way I see it,” she stepped closer. “You leave even a bruise on her body, and there’ll be hell to pay.”
Rykal’s eyes narrowed, dark thoughts clouding his mind. His mouth pulled back into a nasty snarl that bared his sharpening fangs. A vicious growl escaped his throat as he stepped closer to Dreya, towering over her. The beast within him roared, prickling his scales that began to harden.
Dreya stepped back. Her eyes shifting from anger to uncertainty. A minute ago she was threatening him. Rykal pitied it. Too late for that,
Before she could blink Rykal grabbed her neck. She gasped and grabbed his arm as he yanked her forward. She grunted and Rykal closed the gap between the two. “Let’s get one thing clear, Dreya, you so much as threaten me in any way, you won’t have a spine in the next few seconds,” his eyes burned darkly, the bright blue darkening. “I’ve been searching for the sleeping girl longer than your ancestors have breathed. Now that I’ve found her, anyone who dares to block my path from her. . .” his eyes shifted from black to a burning crimson red. ”I will tear their limbs apart. One by one. I will annihilate you, and anyone who dares to come between my Dragella and me,”
Dreya’s eyes widened and she chocked at the lack of air. Rykal’s eyes shifted back to blue but remained dark. He huffed angrily and dropped her. Dreya landed hard and gasped, throwing fits of coughs as she grabbed her neck. She weakly looked up at him as he turned away from her.
“You know who I am,” he muttered, walking to the entrance of the cave. “You know what destruction I can cause with a breath of my fire,” he reached the edge and spread his wings. “Cross me again and I won’t hesitate to end your pathetic life.”
Rykal didn’t let her answer as he dove down into the fog. His anger raged as he made his way over the mountains, flying toward the forest. He couldn’t help as a snarl of anger pulled back his mouth. The dark night made the glow around his scales seem brighter, making himself an easy target if something was watching him. Though, his patience had worn thin as thread. He was in no mood for anyone trying to ambush him, especially the Fantasy Hunters who were his main problem. Every chance they got, they’d ambush him. It irritated the demons out of Rykal that they wanted his carcass as some sort of trophy and would stop at nothing until they succeeded.
Rykal fumed silently, puffing out smoke from his nostrils and landed. When he folded his wings in Rykal took a few steps forward. Then he stopped and noticed that the forest seemed dead. Nothing was heard even with his advanced hearing. Rykal looked around him, squinting his eyes in the darkness. All he saw was tall dark trees. Even if he couldn’t see anything Rykal knew something was wrong. It was quiet, too quiet.
The scales on Rykal’s forearms twitched. A bad feeling sunk to the pit of him. Rykal gritted his teeth and turned and grabbed hold of a tree next to him. His nails extended into large sharp claws, digging into the tree stump. Swiftly, Rykal pulled the tree out of the ground with a grunt. He held it under his arm and looked at it for a second.
“Should be enough wood,” he mused.
He flapped his wings and rose into the air again. He took off into the night sky and was relieved not to be in the forest for something to jump out at him. The cold wind ruffled his hair and made it more spiky than normal. He didn’t mind it. He had forgotten how satisfying it felt to fly in the night without a care in the world. No responsibilities or risks of being caught. For a brief minute, he felt free like nothing was holding him back. But he knew it couldn’t last. He always had to have his guard up ever since the Fantasy Hunters found him.
He sighed as he dodged past the mountains and flew up around the third mountain. A strange new scent wafted up to his nose. Immediately, Rykal let out a threatening growl as he landed in the cave. Dropping the tree to the side, he walked in and his eyes narrowed in on a figure standing toward the back of the cave. Her back faced him as her dark dress blended with the shadows around her.
“What the demons are you doing here, bloodsucker?” he demanded, his voice cold and sour.
The woman turned around, her white hair flowing irritably gracefully as she did. Her blood red eyes locked with Rykal’s darkening blue and a smile quirked up her plump red lips, contrasting against her snow white skin.
“Long time, no see, huh, Rykal?” she offered.
Rykal narrowed his eyes at her. She turned and looked behind her. Rykal followed her eyes, behind her was a motionless figure. His eyes grew wide and he snapped his head to where he left his Dragella. He saw her and the silent one sleeping soundlessly. He sighed in relief knowing that it wasn’t his human the leech decided to feast on.
“I was wandering around, getting away from father. You know how fathers can be,” she winked at Rykal and he grunted in reply. “And then, I smelled this amazing scent and I just had to see what it was. I climb up this mountain and what do you know, I find three human girls,”
Rykal snarled at her. “If you touched my Dragella—”
Scarlet laughed. “I couldn’t go near your mate even if I wanted to, Ry Ry. My mate wouldn’t let me. She’s got a fighting spirit. Challenging. More excitement for me,”
Rykal scoffed. “She’s a handful. I almost killed her,”
Scarlet bared her fangs and but gave him a sweet smile, a bittersweet one. “Hurt her and I’ll make sure your life becomes a living hell,”
Rykal couldn’t help scoff again. “My life already is a living hell. What I’m implying is, you will have a hard time obtaining her submission to you, much less throne her as the queen of vampires alongside you,”
Scarlet grinned sickly and licked her red lips. “I’ve already marked her, Ry Ry. Making her submit to me won’t be too hard.”
Rykal chuckled dryly. “Don’t underestimate her, Scarlet,” then he bared his fangs. “Now, get out,”
Scarlet huffed and pouted. “You’re no fun. What happened to the old you? So full of curiosity and rebellious spirit. Now you’re just cold and callous.”
“It’s simple,” Rykal replied bitterly and crossed his arms.
Scarlet cocked her head. “How so?”
Rykal looked away and went to the two sleeping girls. “Just take your mate and leave.”
She looked at him a bit longer with curious eyes before she sighed in annoyance and picked up Dreya. Scarlet placed the passed out Dreya on her back and walked toward the entrance. She paused and looked back at Rykal. “This isn’t over, Rykal. I want an answer. And by the way, how’s the exile?”
Rykal seethed at her. “Get out.”
He heard a scoff and looked to the entrance. In a gust of the wind, the vampire princess left with her mate unconscious on her back, leaving Rykal alone with two sleeping humans. Rykal scoffed in disapproval and shook his mind clear of the dark memories plaguing his mind. He went over and grabbed the tree again, breaking off branches for firewood. Snapping noises filled the silence and made his Dragella stir. Rykal decided it was enough and came back with a bundle of wood in his arms. He dropped it in front of the girls and the silent one stirred before her eyes opened groggily.
Rykal looked at her before he took a deep breath. Fire bubbled in his throat, the blue glow around his scales grew brighter as he blew small flames onto the wood. The silent one gasped, her eyes wide awake and fully aware.
“Sh, Meggan, is it?”
Meggan flinched back, staring at him with wide blue eyes. They were full of terror as if she’d seen the devil himself and the devil was the scariest thing Rykal had seen, apart from the mirror’s reflection. He studied her for a bit longer, seeing her body quiver.
Is she cold or afraid?
“Are you afraid of me?” he asked.
She didn’t answer him. She stayed completely still like he wouldn’t be able to see her. It made Rykal frown and he thought that maybe she was too scared to even talk. A human such as herself wouldn’t last very long in the cruel world they were in and he wondered how she survived in the lamia nest for so long.
“You don’t need to fear me. I’m not going to hurt you,” he tried.
Rykal held up his hands showing her that he meant no harm. Though, it did nothing but make her eyes dart back and forth between him and his hands. Rykal stayed still, hoping that it would in some way show her that he wasn’t going to do anything. The only thing that happened between the two was his rising curiosity for the silent human. She was intriguing.
The fire crackled and burned brightly, keeping the coldness from reaching the girls and him. But still, she didn’t relax. It made Rykal realize that she wasn’t cold, she was afraid. Whatever happened in Meggan’s past had destroyed her. Rykal had never seen anyone look so petrified in his life. Every creature he killed couldn’t compare to the terror reflecting in Meggan’s eyes. It was like staring down a black abyss with glowing feral eyes staring back, knowing that death was near.
Sighing, Rykal dropped his hands suddenly and Meggan flinched. “I didn’t kill Dreya if that’s what your thoughts are. She’s just. . .” Rykal didn’t know how to put it. “Gone,”
Meggan’s eyes shined and she cowered away from him and against Olivia’s sleeping form. Small cries left her mouth and she huddled closer into her. Rykal frowned again before he shook his head and sat down.
“I’m not implying death. She’s gone with someone.”
No response came from her as a tear slid down her cheek. Rykal breathed out an annoyed exhale and ran a hand through his hair. How frustrating could humans get? Especially ones who were terrified to the bone of the mere sight of him. He certainly hoped his Dragella wasn’t the same. The problems he would be forced to deal with were unpredictable; the thought alone had him pulling the ends of his hair. What a bothersome the circumstances could result in.
“Dreya was claimed by a vampire princess, silent one. They are fated to be together, that is why Dreya is gone,”
Meggan blinked at him. A slight frown came upon her. “Mate?”
Rykal looked at her in surprise and nodded. “Mate,”
It seemed to calm Meggan down in the slightest way possible. Rykal was somewhat relieved until her lip started trembling. The silent one pulled her knees up to her chest, tears already glistening her blue eyes and Rykal gave her a puzzled gaze. For some odd reason, he felt sympathetic for the silent one. Though the dragon shifter was more confused. No creature would be acting the kind of way the silent one was unless something had happened in the past, something tragic and unforgettable.
Don’t I know it, he thought, relating to it.
“Meggan, if your thoughts say I would harm you, silence them. If I desired your death, I would’ve left you for the lamias, or as to how you humans call them, Snake People.”
Rykal thought she would’ve responded but it seemed it wasn’t happening that way he favoured. She still had terror-filled eyes like he’d murdered dozens of humans in front of her. Her silence was allowing his frustration to get the better of him and he groaned sharply. He stood and walked around the fire toward his mate and Meggan.
She stiffened and whimpered, staring at him like a hawk. Rykal glanced at her as he picked up his sleeping human. He walked back to his side of the fire and took his seat again, tucking the sleeping girl between his crossed legs. Meggan watched him silently with her shiny blue eyes before she looked down again.
“Kane,” she whispered, another tear rolling down her cheek.
Rykal looked at her with confusion. He recognized the name. “Kane?” Meggan didn’t answer as she sobbed quietly, her head burying into her knees and Rykal voiced his curiosity, wondering if it was the Kane he was thinking of. “Kane, as in the lycanthrope king?”
Meggan snapped her head up to Rykal, catching him off guard. She stared at him and he saw the familiarity when he said the lycanthrope king. He squinted at her — which she cowered from — before his eyes widened in realization, it made sense that he recognized her from before.
“You’re his mate,” he breathed out.
A tear rolled down her cheek and Meggan looked away again. “Was,”
Rykal frowned. “You are his mate, are you not? Kane has been looking for his mate whose name is Meggan,”
The silent one weakly looked at him, her eyes dead and hollow as if a grave memory was swirling through her mind. Her voice sounded hopeless, all the glee and thrill sapped out of her. “Mate alive?”
Rykal chuckled, hoping his next sentence would bring something to her empty self. “He is more than alive, silent one. The lycan is on a quest.”
Meggan’s eyes widened. Tears overwhelmed her and for the first time since they met, Meggan smiled. Her dull eyes seem to brighten, a soft hue of pink coloured her fair cheeks and he heard how heavily her heart thumped.
Rykal’s lips quirked up into a soft smile and he remembered the promise he vowed with the lycanthrope king. “I offered him my loyalty and commitment to support him with his search to locate you. He also gave me a message if I ever sought you before he did,”
“Message?” Meggan said with a tilted head, eagerness shining through her watery eyes.
Rykal confirmed with a nod. “Firstly, he says that you two are never going for a date in the forest again,”
Meggan looked down and chuckled lightly. “Never.”
“Secondly, when he finds you, he will not under any circumstances allow you to leave his sights. And thirdly. . .” Meggan looked up, waiting in anticipation. Rykal couldn't fight the grin tugging at his lips. “Thirdly, Kane says he loves you, chestnut,”
Meggan couldn’t help but smile widely, tears glistening down her cheeks as she sniffled. “I love you too, almond.”