3 months later
I had not run away just so I could avoid a spoken, broken apology.
I had not run away from the Horde of Venom.
I hadn’t run away!
“We have a full battalion of 20 trained foot soldiers, all charged with the worst crimes against our people, they have chosen to face judgement through battle. All weapons desired are in their palms,” my favourite elderly lady, Gwen, who was the keeper of the local prison, is holding a broom, cackling at the edge of the pink stained Ice Arena - a place to skate, a place to battle and a great place to die, “But at the centre we have our reigning champion, our beautiful, wild, little maniac - Mad Minx! As our gladiators face our champion, the prize will be gold and innocence.”
Innocent of judgement from murder.
Innocent of judgement from causing pain.
The fairly large crowd from the town of Deuce in the Tempest Territory, roar their appreciation of the battle soon to commence, from their stands. On one raised platform is tiny Bezzel, lying on her back being hand fed meats and fruits while having her gold belly rubbed by her favourite humans who helped run this little Justice Event every weekend.
It was midday and I was already surrounded by the army of trained foot soldiers, who had previously been set for almost certain execution. The evidence against them for their crimes was bound to get a sword swung deep into their necks. Funnily enough, though choosing to fight me gave them a small chance at survival... I would argue that it was a far more slow and painful way to die.
Once again, I repeat my small chant. I had not run away, I had not run away, I had not run away. I had come here to gather treasure as an apology. A great, big, fat, very sincere apology. It wasn’t in my blood to want to apologise for anything, so hence I had to force it out of me. I had to fix this feeling inside me. This, strange, strange, emotion. Although regret must be real... rather... no... rather another deep emotion I couldn’t exactly name... heart.... heart... oh Sky Gods, it was heart br -
“Let the battle begin!” Gwen waves her broom around to signal the start of the fight and some of the blood lusty soldiers who wanted to prove their strength as mortal men, come rushing at me with spears.
I squat down in my silver battle armour, which covered my knees, my elbows and my middle. I tried to keep as much weight off as possible. So, I was still very, very fast. Grinning, I pounce onto one spear, landing my feet on the wood stick, I jump off and ram into another solider, my arms around his head as I twist and bring him down to the ground - cracking his neck in a headlock.
I roll back to my feet and jump at the next solider, my blood pumping and my heart finally feeling okay. I always felt okay while I was busy doing what I do best.
I stand back from the next solider and pretend to give him a chance to swing at me with his sword. I make out that I do not to see the two others rushing behind me as I wait, ducking at the last second to kick them both off their feet. I summersault backwards and spring back up, seeing one man has hazel eyes. Close enough to a golden green... but that bright gold... I hesitate for one moment.
For your choice, you are not in trouble, Minx. Take time to yourself, stay out of trouble and return soon. You are loved. - Rawk.
One note from my mate, two and a half months ago... and nothing from the other.
As one arrow whizzes past my ear, a little too close, I quickly jump back into action. I sink my venom dripping teeth into the arms and the legs of the remaining men, wanting to feel the flesh rip and split, to hear their screams. It was a great, great distraction. It’s easy, it’s drawn out by my own accord and not one thing touches me. Not a fist, a nail, a slither of spit or the edge of a weapon. Only blood soaks down my chin and neck, turning me into the Mad Minx everyone knew me to be.
By the time I’m walking around the dead bodies of men sentenced to death for their crimes, I feel the crowd cheer but I don’t truly hear them as my blood pounds in my ears.
I eye Bezzel licking Gwen’s hand and putting on a show for those who wished to see a baby Bellum Minima Dominus up close. She loved the attention; a true Queen in the making.
Gwen nods at me from far away and I turn to walk out the other side of the arena.
People reach over to shake my hand but I ignore them.
I eventually run for privacy away from the crowd and I walk into the showers for warriors after a fight. I rip off my armour, not bothering to mist as I hadn’t been my Dragon for the last twelve weeks.
By myself, I see my reflection in a cracked and golden mirror. I hated this mirror. The gold staining reminded me of Rawk.
And Rawk reminded me of Zoraul.
I reach up to wipe the blood from my mouth.
As my green eyes glare back at me from the mirror, I chant again. I did not run away, I did not run away, I did not run away.
I would not cry. I wouldn’t!
The day until I finished a battle and didn’t cry about that feeling in my chest, was the day I could consider going back.
Somehow, every time it got worse.
“Stupid mirror!” I scream at my reflection and punch it before turning to the shower with my eyes closed while I suck in a breath and try, try, try, so hard, not to cry.
Of course, that just makes more tears squeeze out and then the rest follow as I fall to my knees and cry into my hands. I’d have to scrub the blood off like every other time. It never just washed away when it was someone else’s blood. It seemed to stick. The shower itself is cold, barely above freezing.
I had not run away. I was gathering treasure. I would be worthy again. I wouldn’t be just the monster who killed and laughed. I wouldn’t just throw my mates away. I would do better. I would try harder.
The more I want it, the more I hate myself.
I loved that Bezzel lived, my precious Snoot-Snoot.
But Zoraul’s expression of rage, torment and betrayal was burned into my brain. Never. He would never forgive me.
And just as he had predicted, Rawk had.
He was proud of me for choosing a babe over his own soul.
That didn’t change that I had told them to fight to the death, and it had burned their Blood Curse back to life. Sassy and her Blood Raven mother turned Sprite had twisted and played with the power they could harness to change the curse how they wanted.
All that death, the exchanging of lives... Jinx killing herself to resurrect Rawk.
I had mentally scarred Zoraul, I had killed Rawk, I had stolen Bezzel from her mother, I had killed my mate’s mother.
So much death.
And I was still cursed.
I hated everything about who I was. I never wanted to cause so much pain like that. I was a violent monster, designed to take lives but that had always been a part of my power. This other thing I had done... I had successfully managed to rip apart lives from each other. I had ripped apart love and killed off bonds and made everyone distant.
When I’m done crying while the water gushes over me, I rub my hands over my skin half heartedly, trying to get clean. I stand up, run my hands through my hair and turn to get out of the water. A palm covers my face and pushes me back under the running stream. I blink through it, a broken snarl leaving my throat as I look up to see who would dare do such a thing.
“You still have blood under your chin,” he... he... he is both annoyed and disgusted as he reaches up a finger and slides the side of it under my chin and down my neck. I watch with baited breath as he slowly frowns, “...so much pain... so you kill to feel better for killing? The irony...” I still can’t quite believe Zoraul is standing before me in nothing but brown leather pants, his long straight bright silver hair is tied back neatly and he looks frustrated by my lack of words.
With a weird gritted smile on my face, I hiccup after crying and I take a shuffle closer to him. He backs off a step, smoothly enough, but he gulps and looks me up and down like he can’t quite believe he made himself visit.
“Rawk wouldn’t shut up until I agreed to check in on you,” Zoraul speaks casually enough. That disconnected look in his eye is now changed. It’s confusion and - “Stop trying to read me, little beast... you are no Silver Dragon.”
“Rawk?” I rasp out, my eyes sore and my hands still at my side as I see Zoraul hesitates.
“He’s here,” Zoraul speaks quietly.
I look around the room but I do not see Rawk. I then wonder if Zoraul is about to walk out as soon as he has asked the appropriate amount of questions. Do you have a place to sleep every night, do you eat well, how is Bezzel, what is the weather like, hopefully your accomodation is a long term agreement.
“Did you see me... um...” I trail off into a meek little whisper. Cry?
“I saw you fight, a bit scrappy for my taste,” Zoraul takes the opportunity to take a dig at me and my eyes flick up to see him taking a quick peek at my naked body. When he looks up, he is annoyed I caught him staring.
“I win every time. I will return with plenty of gold one day...” I gasp in that last part while trying to speak calmly. I awkwardly raise my arms and cover my small breasts, feeling somewhat disgusting while Zoraul looks me over.
“Please...” Zoraul growls, then lets loose, ”stop doing that,” Zoraul hisses under his breath and I can tell a slither of his temper has cracked through. He tries to compose himself. When I narrow my eyes, a little confused, his eyes run over the outside of me as if he is reading my aura. He leans in, just a little, to explain, “...having no self-esteem doesn’t fit you.”
“What does that mean?” I ask, confused.
“You reek of hating yourself,” Zoraul explains, looking more and more frustrated as he stays. I wonder why he hasn’t left yet.
“I will not waste your time then,” I respond quietly, walking past him, I accidentally bump into his side as I move quick. Or maybe he leans over, I’m not sure. I lunge for a towel and dry off without looking at him. When he says nothing I assume he has already left. I feel numb as I shake the towel through my hair and then throw it to the side, grabbing my leather outfit I’ve stored to the side of one bench, I get dressed into my leather pants and bra. Once I’m done, I build the bravery to turn from the wall I had been facing the entire time.
I finally spin around, expecting to be alone.
But I’m wrong.
Rawk and Zoraul are both here.
They are sitting on a bench next to one another in the wash room, after watching me this entire time.
Zoraul is leaning back against the wall, looking irate. Rawk is dressed in grey leather pants and he is also shirtless. His burnt silver hair is let loose in a big powerful mess. But Rawk’s face is cracked all over, leaking Broken Fire. Even one eye shines more yellow than gold. All the black scars on the rest of his body are discoloured at the edges by a golden bright glow, as if he might fall apart into power at any moment and transition.
To my disbelief, after avoiding his note for two and a half months - Rawk is smiling at me.
“What are you doing here?” I ask, shocked that they would both bother.
I had assumed after a while, Rawk would see where I went wrong and agree with Zoraul that I was worthless as a mate.
“We’re not leaving,” Rawk growls out, lower than usual... he had changed. When I glance to Zoraul, he is tapping his thigh while watching me with half-closed eyed, assessing me slowly for what I was worth now.
I didn’t understand this slow, strange dynamic between them.
Usually they were all over me, trying to control me quickly.
They could barely tolerate me.
Now they were both here... and being so patient and quiet.
“I do not deserve such quick forgiveness,” I state, my chest moving up and down as I try to maintain steady and deep breaths, “I do not deserve this -”
Rawk raises his hand, “Don’t speak. Pipsqueak.”
I raise a brow automatically then shake my head as if to throw away the knee jerk reaction to attitude I had always harboured. Rawk smirks, Zoraul remains the same.
I open my mouth and shut my lips when Rawk’s eyes darken, foreseeing my coming disobedience.
“Show us to your accomodation,” Rawk suggests, standing up now. Zoraul waits a moment, lets out a long winded exhale, part sigh, and jumps to his feet next, hanging back behind Rawk to look at me over his twin’s shoulder.
Rawk looks part Sky God with the golden glow coming from his right side, patched together. Both of them are obviously as attractive as always, but being in this room, coming back to get me when I didn’t even deserve forgiveness... I take a hesitant step forward... and then another. When I’m close enough, I hold out my arms and jump into Rawk’s torso, wrapping my arms around his waist, I press my cheek to his glowing scars and...
...I hold him as tight as I can.
I close my eyes as more tears find their way to my cheeks, leaking onto Rawk’s body.
His large hands grab my shoulders, run under my wet hair and hold me close.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper it out, and I look up to see Rawk has a single tear on his cheek too.
“If you ever say sorry again, I will make sure you regret it enough that you never dare to apologise again,” Rawk growls it out, “No blame is on you. You knew nothing. You were innocent the entire time.”
I manage a small smile, while I feel a heat wisp behind me, bending space to appear at my back. I let go of Rawk as Zoraul grabs a bunch of my hair and jerks me back. I wince and look up at him, scared he might just throw me across the room.
Zoraul holds my head right back, jerks me a little closer into him as he leans down in slow motion, scowling.
“I am sorry for my temper, little lady,” Zoraul raises a brow at me and I open my mouth, confused as he lets me go and I dive into him next, holding my arms around his waist too.
I squeeze him tight and then I release him, bounding away from both of them... I grin and my heart explodes with acceptance and joy.
I turn to them, jumping on the spot.
“Let me show you around Deuce Town!” I exclaim proudly, “I help them, I help them with the prison and - ”
I shut my mouth as I watch their reactions. Was I too quick in thinking their forgiveness was total?
Rawk slowly cocks his head to the side, barely keeping in a grin and Zoraul pretends to roll his eyes.
“Fine,” Zoraul growls out when he finally meets my excited gaze, “Quickly.”
“I will, I will,” I nod and purse my lips, “And then I can show you the place I bought... and the treasure I’ve been hoarding in there. It’s yours,” I turn to Rawk and nod at him, “It’s all yours.”
“A treasure hoarding Fire Spitter I have to see,” Rawk winks at me and I turn from my mates and I skip out of the washing chambers.
I grin all the way out until the sun hits my face, a rare moment through the clouds.
Everything is aligned.
I feel whole again.
I hope I can please them.
It’s the first time I ever wanted to bother with someone else’s happiness.
I can’t wait to show them I have changed! I am careful! I am wise!
I am great again!
I breathe heavily in building, anticipating excitement.
I wanted... I wanted...
Oh, Sky Gods, please.
I wanted to ravish them!
I wonder if they wanted to ravish me?!