Chapter 25: Destroyer Of Skies
Ra’venna waits until Helios leaves for a meeting with visiting nobles, before taking her leave. She ventures into the East Wing, Terdar’s wing. It does not take an investigator to know he was the one to tell Helios’s parents of their relationship. She intends to have a word with him about it.
It isn’t hard to find his room. The East Wing mimics the West Wing in design and like the West Wing the Prince’s room is at the far end of the hall, protected by two guards. She storms down the hallway, the sound of her leather boots hitting the tile, bounces off the walls. The guards stiffen as she approaches. She smirks beneath her hood.
“I need to speak with the prince.” She addresses the right guard. Her tone leaves room for no argument. The guard steps inside the room, closing the door behind him. The other guard tightens his grip on his spear. Ra’venna rolls her eyes. She could kill him within the blink of an eye.
The door opens and the guard remerges. “His Imperial Highness will see you now.” He holds the door open. Ra’venna glides inside.
The wing is not the only thing that is mimicked. Their rooms are nearly identical. The bed is in the same place, as is the fireplace, desk, wardrobe, and even the floor length, window doors that lead to the balcony. The only difference is the color scheme, instead of blood red and bright orange like Helios’s room, the room is themed snow white and gold.
Terdar is seated near the lighted fireplace, a silver chalice in his hand. His right leg rests over his left one and his back is pressed up against the white cushion of the chair. He turns his head to face Ra’venna, a smirk across his face.
“Come to say goodbye before you return to whatever hole you came from?” Terdar wonders. Ra’venna laughs. His smirk falters.
“No, I’m not going anywhere.” She says. She approaches him.
“Then it appears you have forfeited your life.” He replies smugly. A smirk spreads across her face.
“Not so. Your parents have so graciously allowed Helios and I to continue our relationship.” Terdar’s eyes widen and he sits up, unfolding his legs.
“You are lying.” He accuses. Ra’venna scoffs.
“Lying is beneath me. I am not you. As to why your parents won’t harm me...Helios threatened to leave, for good this time, but your parents didn’t want him to. They didn’t want to have to pass on their empire to you.” She spats, a smirk spreading across her face.
“My parents would never allow Helios to be with someone like you.” She lets a wicked laugh.
“I could same the same about the throne. They don’t want you on the throne, because you are weak and trivial. You can’t rule a household, much less an empire. You are more obsessed with taking down Helios, than you are with ruling a kingdom.” He rises from the chair, kicking it back with his leg. It topples and falls to the ground, landing with a loud noise.
“I am an Emperor! I am the rightful ruler of Quvania!” He bellows.
“You are a boy, a child, pretending to be a man.” Ra’venna counters. “You are nobody.”
Terdar raises his hand and extends it to strike her. Ra’venna catches his fist in mid-strike. She twists it behind his back, bringing him to his knees. “As I said, you are nothing. I could kill you, right here and now, it would only take one strike. One snap of my hand and you will be a corpse.” She hisses into his ear, allowing her breath to brush up against his ear. She releases his arm, pushing him to the floor.
Terdar collapses face first on the floor. Ra’venna steps over him. She grabs the silver chalice sitting on the table beside where his chair used to sit. She turns and dumps the contents on the prince’s snow colored hair. The red wine runs over his locks onto the fine carpet. He snarls, his Dragon teeth extending from his gums, and jumps to his feet.
“I am nothing. You are an assassin. You are a murderer. You’re worse than nothing, you’re a monster.” Ra’venna makes a sound that sounds like a cross between a scoff and a laugh.
“That is the thing about monsters. We are dangerous creatures and we should not be angered.” Her voice is eerily calm. She spins around, her cloak fanning out around her. She grabs him by the throat and pulls him to her. “I know what I am.” She throws him down to the floor and leaves the room.
Ra’venna is already in Helios’s room, waiting, by the time he returns. The day has almost concluded and the last light of day is fading away. Ra’venna is reclining back in one of the chairs beside the fireplace. Her purple cloak is slung over her legs and her wings are folded around her, shielding her face from Helios.
He slips inside the room, silently closing the door behind him. Ra’venna’s eyes are shut and Helios’s thinks she’s asleep. He slips his robe off and drapes it over the foot of his bed. He goes over to her, a small smile arises on his face. He tucks the waves covering her face behind her ear. Ra’venna stirs and her eyes open.
“Hey,” she whispers.
“Hey.” Ra’venna sits up and runs a hand through her violet waves. “Sleep well?” He teases. She rolls her eyes.
“I didn’t realize I had fallen asleep.” She replies. Helios plops down in the chair across from her. “I had a conversation with your brother earlier.” She informs him. Helios’s face tightens. Ra’venna can feel his rage through their bond. She clings to calmness, hoping it will seep into Helios and soothe him.
“Is he still alive?” He asks. His hands curl around the arms of the chair.
“Yes, but I believe he got the message.” Helios doesn’t miss the malicious smile on her face. He narrows his eyes.
“What did you do Ra’venna?” Heat jolts through her as her name rolls off Helios’s tongue.
“I injured his arm, poured wine in his hair, and choked him.” She lists, with no particular emotion. Helios laughs, picturing his brother’s white hair soaked with red wine. He keels over, clutching his stomach.
“What did he do?” Helios chokes out in between laughs. Ra’venna’s giggles.
“Throw a tantrum.” Helios’s laughter dies down and he leans back in the chair. His eyes fall from Ra’venna’s face to the pulsing, dragon claw around her neck.
The two spend hours talking back and forth, about everything from his day to stories about Ra’venna’s travels. When the conversation fades, the two sit quietly staring into the fire, enjoying each other’s silent company.
Ra’venna thinks of Helios. He has shared a great deal about himself. Not all of it he wished to share or wished her to witness. Yet, he knows almost nothing of her. He knows where she is from and that is only because he saw the tattoo covering her ribs. He knows only pieces and parts of her history as a mercenary. He doesn’t know why she left Etrien or how she was trained. There are only two other people alive that know that much about her: K’marie and Zidtyx. Trusting is hard, it leaves her vulnerable and vulnerability can kill her. Still, the secrets are killing her as well. Having to hold in all she is, is beginning to take its toll on her.
She diverts her gaze from the fire back to Helios. “I had a mother, father, and sister.” She says. Helios turns to her, confused by the sudden outburst. She looks away from him.
“I-I don’t...” His words die away.
“Goodnight. I will see you tomorrow.” Ra’venna gets up, wraps her cloak around herself and leaves the room.
Helios doesn’t follow after her or try to stop her. He knows better than that. He replays her statement in his mind. Mother, father, sister. She must have meant on Etrien. Helios looks to the door. What happened to them? Are they dead? Prisoners? He knows her last name. He could always inquire. No, that would be too dangerous. If they are alive his parents could kill them to drive her away and if they aren’t alive they could be used as ammunition against her. She shared a secret with him, a piece of her, he’ll keep quiet until she can share more.
Ra’venna is awaken by a sharp, loud knock on her chamber doors. She lifts her head startled and instinctively she reaches for one of the sais lying on her bedside table.
Whoever it is doesn’t wait for an invitation, they come right in. Ra’venna relaxes when she sees it’s only Helios. She sets the sai back down on the table and falls into her pillow. “Do you have any idea what time it is?” She growls, burying her head in the feather pillow.
“My parents wish to speak with us.” Is all he says. Ra’venna sighs. She pushes the covers off her and throws her legs over the side of the bed.
“What about?” She groans.
“I do not know.” That explains the panic across his face.
“Do you think it is about...our relationship?” She questions quietly. The Emperor and Empress have been tolerant, but they can change their minds.
“It didn’t sound like it.” He replies. He doesn’t sound the least bit confident.
“I suppose we had better find out.” She mumbles. She signals for Helios to leave so she can get changed.
She changes into black, leather pants decorated with a pattern that resembles Dragon scales. She slides on a breastplate of black, leather armor and laces up the sides, tight. It has a corseted front and the dives down enough to give a teasing view of her chest. Ra’venna slips her hands into the matching fingerless gloves and slips her holster and sais on. She wraps herself in her violet cloak and leaves the room.
By the time she reaches the throne room doors Helios is already there, pacing a hole in the floor. His hands clench and unclench as he moves across the polished floor. He halts upon hearing Ra’venna’s approaching footsteps.
She grabs his hand and gives it a small squeeze. Helios squeezes back. The guards open the doors and Ra’venna drops his hand.
The two walk side by side to the throne. The Emperor glares down at Ra’venna with a fury that could bring the strongest to their knees. Ra’venna stares back, her head held high and proud. She won’t be intimidated by him. She sneaks a glance at the Empress that regards her with both contempt and disappointment. Ra’venna ignores it.
“We have a situation that requires your attention my son.” The Emperor begins. Helios stares at him, no detectable emotion on his face, but Ra’venna can feel a mixture of anger and curiosity through their bond. “We have lost contact with Kinestorm and all the messengers we have sent haven’t returned. You and the mercenary will take a ship to Kinestorm and find out what is wrong.” He orders.
“When do we leave?” Helios asks, biting back remarks. He may be able to get his parents to tolerate Ra’venna, but it is clear he has no hope of them accepting her. It would be too much to ask his parents to turn their back on thousands of years of tradition.
“Now.” Empress Apollonis answers.
Helios and Ra’venna go to the courtyard to find a flying ship waiting for them. It’s roughly the same size as the one that transported Ra’venna to Etrien. It has to be a battleship. The design is fierce and magical cannons line the side. Aside from the crew there is only a handful of guards coming with them.
“This isn’t enough guards to take down a group of well-trained thieves.” Ra’venna mumbles, loud enough for Helios to hear. He nods.
The stairs are lowered. Helios goes first, closely followed by Ra’venna. The guards and crew bow to him. He ignores it. Helios and Ra’venna take a quick walk around the deck. Once satisfied, he and Ra’venna retreat below deck.
Ra’venna paces back and forth across the wooden panel floor. Her cloak whips around her every time she turns.
“Ra’venna, love, will you please stop pacing?” She freezes and turns. The term of endearment sends a flood of heat through her. She smiles, but doesn’t say anything. “Why are you pacing?” She sighs.
“I have a bad feeling about this.” She says. “A very bad feeling.” It’s something that’s been plaguing her all day. It’s an impending sense of doom. The feeling is akin to the feeling her power gives off.
Helios rises from the chair and takes her in his arms. He rests them on waist, beneath her cloak. She rests her open hands on his chest. Both areas flare with the heat of their bond. “Everything will be okay.” He assures her. Ra’venna refuses to look him in the eyes, instead her gaze is fixed on the table behind him. Gently, he grasps her cheek and turns her head to face him.
“You don’t know that everything will be okay. Don’t say things you’re not sure of.”
Recent events have left her with a sense of doom. It won’t go away. It’s the gnawing feeling that something terrible is coming. K’marie’s mysterious message combined with everything else that’s happened has her convinced that there is something bigger in play. She hasn’t told Helios. What would she tell him? She has a feeling something bad is going to happen. He would think she is crazy. She has no proof and there is nothing to suggest she is correct.
“I don’t say things I’m not sure of. I am sure everything will be okay.” He tells her. He speaks softly as if not to frighten her away.
There’s no proof that what she feels is true and yet the feeling doesn’t leave. Perhaps Helios is right, everything will be okay. It has to.
She nods and kisses him. She pulls away far too quickly for Helios’s taste. One hand moves to grasp her face the other her waist, setting her entire being on fire. He runs his thumb over her bottom lip, igniting it. Ra’venna moves her hand up his muscled arm, until it rests at the curve between his shoulder and neck. Helios captures her lips in a soul-shattering, fiery kiss. Ra’venna’s entire body is racked with heat. Her other hand reaches up to grasp his neck, pulling him closer, until their bodies are entirely pressed up against each other and she can feel every curve and contour of his figure. The heat consumes her, making her feel as if she is being swallowed by the flames.
Their exchange of kisses becomes more heated, more passionate, until Ra’venna feels her back being pressed up against the wall of the room. The roughness of the wood scratches her wings. She barely feels the discomfort through the fire of Helios’s touch. He trails a path of kisses down her jaw and neck to the collar of her cloak. Ra’venna grips his face and brings his lips to hers again. Helios reaches up to unfasten the clasp holding her cloak together.
The boat is rocked and they are thrown to the floor. Ra’venna lands on top of Helios, with her hands on either side of him. He grasps her waist. Still dazed from their encounter and her body overheated Ra’venna scrambles to get to her feet. “What was that?” She demands.
“I don’t know.”
Helios bolts out the door to the upper deck, closely followed by Ra’venna. She can barely make out the Captain’s cries over the sound of the air and the cries of the guards. Before Helios can ask what is going on a shrill cry fills the air. Ra’venna winces at the scream and coves her ears.
They both run to the edge of the ship and glance over. A grotesque thing swoops upwards, sending a powerful gust of wind that almost knocks Ra’venna and Helios to the floor. It opens its curved beak and lets out another ear-piercing scream. Ra’venna and Helios cover their ears.
The scream ends and the thing swings it wings firing feathers. The creature sized feathers nail themselves into the deck. Ra’venna pushes Helios out of the way as one lands, only inches from them. Ra’venna glances back up at the thing. It’s an Orc.
The Orc is the size of the Dragon she fought in the Helix. It’s in the shape of a bird with spikes running from the top of its head its tail. It’s wingspan is wide enough to cast a shadow over the length of the ship. It’s eyes are blacker than the feathers covering its body. It is like staring into the abyss. It’s talons are yellow and are strong enough to slice through solid ground.
“An Orc!” Ra’venna exclaims. “They haven’t been seen in the world in millenniums.” Helios and Ra’venna rise to their feet, clutching the rail to stay upright. “How are we going to destroy that thing?” They can’t get close enough to it to kill it. It’s too big and too powerful.
Helios glances over the side of the boat at the canons. The loud boom of it firing fills his ears. He watches as the magical blasts bounce off the Orc’s thick skin. “Get the ship far away from here.” He orders.
“What are you going to do?”
“Kill that thing.” He growls. Before Ra’venna can ask how Helios bolts forward. He leaps off the boat and falls into the sky. A scream escapes Ra’venna throat. It dies down as a Dragon flies up from where Helios fell.
Helios’s Dragon form is twice the size of the one she faced in the Helix. His wingspan alone rivals that of the Orc’s. His body is red with an orange underbelly. Tan spikes run down his back and tail. On the crown of his head is two matching horns that curve upwards. His eyes are a glowing solid orange, showing no trace of a iris.
He roars. The feral cry captures the Orc’s attention. Helios opens his mouth and a stream of fire comes out. The Orc screams and flies out of the way. Ra’venna breaks from her awestruck trance and runs across the boat towards the Captain. Behind her she can hear the screams and roars of the battle. She can’t bear to look back.
“Captain!” She calls. He turns his head in her direction. She grabs onto the rail beside the steering wheel. “Get this ship back on track.” He looks at her as if she’s lost her mind and shakes his head. “Prince Helioson’s orders.” She shouts. He sighs and grabs ahold of the wheel. He turns it frantically and the boat tilts to the left. Ra’venna tightens her grip on the rail, her feet slipping across the floor.
The boat evens out and Ra’venna pulls herself to her feet. She sends the Captain an appreciative nod and bolts towards the other end. In the sky she can see Helios and the Orc still fighting. Helios swoops down releasing a stream a fire onto the thing’s back. The flame catches, burning over its back feathers and spikes. The Orc cries out and bucks its body trying to shake the flames. Helios circles around and charges at the Orc. He capture’s the Orc’s neck in his jaws and tears it from the body. The Orc’s body falls to the ground, evaporating into darkness before it hits the ground. The head dissipates.
Helios flies over the ship. Fire surrounds his Dragon body. It fades and Helios is rendered a man once again. Ra’venna runs to his side. “Are you alright?” He nods tiredly. The shift and the battle has drained him.
Ra’venna slings his arm over her shoulder and pulls him to his feet. She helps him below deck, and lays him on the bed. “Get some rest.” She says. The darkness of unconsciousness consumes him before he can reply.