Blood Oath

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“I'm bored,” Nuve groans for the fourth time as he stares at the window of the cottage in the seaside city of Sliver Bay. “When are we supposed to receive word from Castine about Corvic?”

“It takes three days to travel between Glass Gate and Sliver Bay while resting at night,” Seamus explains. “It will be at least a week before we hear back from him.”

“And how long has it been,” Nuve continues to whine.

“Five days,” Seamus sighs. Rather than being bored like Nuve, his mind has been occupied with thoughts of Row’s potential engagement. During their free time since meeting with Louwits, the four of them have explored the city to curb their anxiety and boredom with Sir Prandon as their guide. Today however he was called away for an emergency meeting concerning citizens being attacked in the streets, leaving the guests by themselves to do nothing.

“Why can't we go out on our own,” Nuve complains. “I want to see more of Sliver Bay.”

“What’s so great about this place anyway?” Minto interrupts him. “The people are all happy-go-lucky idiots worshiping a bloodsucker claiming to be their lord.”

“Technically he is their lord,” Row is slightly annoyed. “Children of humans and bloodsuckers are entirely bloodsucker because their blood is stronger, but that has nothing to do with the blood of King Doryan. I am living proof that at least some of his godlike traits survive in his descendents.”

“So you’re a god now,” Minto scoffs.

“They both are.” Nuve slams his fist down on the window sill to scare her into silence. “Do not question my master’s mistress again, wench.”

“You are taking this vassal thing too seriously,” she yawns. “How desperate are you for the approval of the man who killed your own father.”

“Shut up about that. You don’t know what you are talking about,” Nuve warns her to stop.

She of course is undaunted. “I'm serious. Who exactly was this Husk person and why are you so loyal to him?”

“I'm not loyal to Husk, I'm loyal to Seamus,” Nuve bellows.

“Only because of Husk, though, right? Why did he kill your father anyway? What do you mean he was only doing his job? Was your father supporting bloodsuckers or something? How is that any different than what Seamus or you are doing?”

“My father was eating people!” Nuve’s eyes flare angrily as he answers.

Despite not being able to see them though, Minto is obviously disturbed. “I, I didn’t realize…” she immediately tries to apologize.

“Stop, just stop.” Nuve grabs part of his hair and tugs on it. He would be squeezing his head if he had two hands to do so with.

“So your father was a ghoul?” Seamus interrupts them.

“Not always,” Nuve sighs. “He was attacked by a ghoul in my home town of Palinthia when I was eight and turned. I didn’t see him again for almost two years. People started vanishing from the town and we knew it was a human ghoul’s doing. We sent for a demigod and two of them answered. Not before Lucious had killed sixteen people including my mother.”

“Why would he do that?” Minto gasps.

“He wasn’t the same,” Nuve answers while patting her head to show he is not mad at her anymore. “His memories of being human served as a list of who to attack. He killed all of the men he used to work with as well as their wives and relatives; pretty much anyone who met Lucious was in danger.”

“And for that, they killed him,” Seamus mutters.

“They executed him,” Nuve corrects him. “They strung him up from a gigantic willow we call the hanging tree. Over a hundred different people have been killed there. It’s said their souls are trapped in eternal torment by the spirit of the tree.”

“Why over a hundred?” Minto asks.

“Because anyone convicted of a crime in the surrounding area is always brought to Palinthia to be executed,” he explains. “Palinthia is at the edge of Lord Goldfrey’s territory. It is a no man’s land where every unwanted wretch is sent.”

“And you lived their?” Row cringes.

“We don’t choose where we are born,” he responds in a slightly annoyed tone. His normal carefree attitude has been slowly diminishing throughout his time spent with her and the others. He is becoming easier to understand and easier to get along with.

Before anyone can say or ask anything else, there is a knock at the door to the cottage. “Hello, Nuve, are you there?” the shrill voice of Nordila Bulkere resonates through the walls. Nuve quickly opens the door to allow her inside. She is carrying a large white fleece cloth bundled around something metal. “I finished it this morning. Fastest job I’ve ever taken. I had to consult with several mechanical experts around Sliver Bay to make sure it works perfectly.”

“What is it?” Row learns over the short woman’s shoulder, trying to peek inside the bundle.

“Um, how old is she?” The blacksmith frowns at her.

“She’s twenty-two,” Seamus answers.

“She’s three years younger than me!” Nordila is shocked. “How come she’s so much bigger?”

“She cheated,” Seamus snickers.

“Shut up.” Row slaps his shoulder. Minto sits down in a corner of the room, pretending to stare off into space. She has nothing to get excited about like everyone else but doesn’t want to bring down the mood of the room.

“Here we go.” Nordila unfolds the white cloth to reveal a shiny new arm, made from mixed metals but mostly steel. It is sleek and slender, just like a sixteen year old boy’s arm ought to be. “Well, what do you think?” She places her hands on her hips proudly after setting it down on a table in the center of the room.

“It’s lighter than my old one.” He lifts it up to test its weight.

“Yes but not weaker,” she assures him. “I spared no expense on the materials. I assume your previous limb had maybe five separate areas it attached to. This one has more than twice that.”

“What is she talking about?” Row asks Seamus in a whisper.

“In order to move like an actual arm it attaches to particular parts of the remaining muscle in his stump. When he clenches those muscles it transfers to cables in the arm which pull twist and bend the joints properly.”

“With it attaching to more parts of his remaining muscle, won't it hurt more?” Row adopts a concerned expression.

“Like the devil,” Nuve snorts confidently.

“Alright, I'm going to attach it now.” Nordila lifts the arm up and presses it against Nuve’s stump. Row and Seamus watch with interest as she uses leather straps wrapped around his shoulder to hold it in place. She then moves each joint individually, which in turn pinches different parts of Nuve’s stump via claw like clamps at the end of cables inside the arm itself. When she is satisfied with its performance she wraps one more leather strap directly around the part where the arm meets the stump, protecting any of the visible clamps inside.

“That wasn’t so bad,” Row sighs with relief.

“That was the easy part,” Nordila informs her. “Now comes the pain.” She steps back several paces while drawing a small dagger from her belt. Then she charges forward, apparently intending to stab Nuve in the throat. Instinctively he brings his left arm up for defense but quickly remembers that it is not metal and therefore will not protect him. Instead he jerks his stump upward, bringing the flailing metal arm with him.

The knife bounces off of the metal and nearly cuts Nordila’s hand in the process. “What are you trying to do?” Row shouts at her.

“That was no good,” she scolds Nuve. “You need to try using the arm, not the stump, got it?”

He nods confidently. “One more time.”

Again she readies her knife and charges at him. This time he clenches the muscles in his stump, which then tug on the clamps in the arm and move its joints, raising it up, slowly but surely. Again the knife wobbles in Nordila’s hand as it collides with the metal. “Almost,” she applauds him. “Just remember, this is life or death.”

“What is she doing?” Row has covered her eyes but is peeking through the spaces in her fingers.

“She’s trying to make him use the arm like a real one,” Seamus answers. “By replicating a life a death situation he will be less hesitant.”

“Why is that necessary though?” Row whines. “He can already move the arm.”

“Not well enough though.” Seamus shakes his head. “His muscles are barely pushing the clamps and cables. He is putting in twice as much effort to move them as it should take. Watch this.” He directs her attention back to Nordila as she charges at him one more time. This time he brings the arm up almost instantly, slapping the blade out of her hand. There is an audible scraping sound coming from inside the metal appendage though.

“Alright, this is it.” Nordila pulls a small flat metal tool off of her belt and jams it into one of the joints of the arm. Immediately Nuve starts to scream as she uses it to tighten one of the cables leading up to a clamp in his stump.

“What is she doing now?” Row is still completely lost.

“For the daughter of a blacksmith you really don’t know anything, do you?” Seamus snickers.

“Champaign wasn’t my mother and she wasn’t a blacksmith.” She crosses her arms to convey annoyance.

“Fine, fine,” he stifles more laughter. “Now that he has his arm in the optimal position, she is tightening each of the cables to the proper length. They will act as his muscles leading right back to the real ones in his stump. Afterward they should move with the ease of an actual arm.”

Row stares at the pained expression on Nuve’s face as Nordila wedges the tool into a new joint and begins to tighten the next cable. “How many of them did she say there were?” she asks while cringing.

“More than ten,” Seamus answers.

“It must really hurt,” Row mutters to herself.

“I'm sure he would rather go through this than remain an invalid for the rest of his life,” Seamus surmises.

It is nearly twenty minutes before Nordila finishes tightening all of the cables in Nuve’s new arm; a total of eighteen. Nuve looks like he is about to pass out from exhaustion or pain. “There, now how does it work?” Nordila clasps her hands together hopefully. Nuve flexes his sore muscles, causing the arm to rise and fall with ease. He is even able to move each finger independently.

“This is amazing,” he whispers in a hoarse voice. “I don’t know how I can repay you.”

“Don’t worry, I’ve billed Sir Prandon for everything,” she assures him. Nuve manages a slight smile before collapsing on the blacksmith’s shoulder. “Oh, I was wondering when this would happen,” she coos while dragging him toward one of the other rooms in the cottage. “One of you, help me get him into bed.” Seamus rushes to lift Nuve’s legs so they can carry him through the door. He is completely unconscious.

“He’ll be like that for a while,” Nordila informs Seamus. “Even when he wakes up, he’ll be sore. Tell him not to overwork himself. I'm sorry I can't stay longer but I’ve put quite a few jobs on hold for this one. Tell him to stop by when he’s feeling up to it so I can show him everything it can do. Until then, good day to you all.” She marches out of the cottage, taking her white cloth with her.

“Wow.” Row runs her hand along the sleek appendage as she watches Nuve sleep. “I'm really happy for him.”

“Great, now at least one of the invalids is whole again,” Minto calls from her corner. “Now if only they knew how to make mechanical eyes too.”

Seamus and Row share a concerned glance. They are not sure how serious she is right now. From time to time during their travels she has made multiple jokes about her eyesight, much like her declaration of appreciation for the mass collection of weapons Prandon showed her when they first arrived. It has become hard to tell whether or not Minto is actually bothered by her blindness.

It is a stupid question to be sure. Obviously being unable to see would bother anyone. “I'm just kidding,” Minto bursts into laughter. She is not very convincing though.

Row looks at Seamus for advice but he has no idea what to say. “Hey, Minto, apparently there is a soothsayer in Lord Louwits’s servitude. Do you want to go and see if she has anything like that vision potion you were using when we met?” Row makes a suggestion of her own.

Minto’s face lights up instantly. “Can we?”

“It’ll give us something to do while we wait for Nuve to recover.” Row smiles at her happily. She is proud of herself for figuring out how to help her friend if only slightly. Seamus looks skeptical but does not say anything. Visiting the soothsayer will do no harm so he may as well come with them.

“Sorry, we’re closed,” the response Row receives after knocking on the door to the small rickety shop at the edge of the seaside city is short and rude.

“Why? You’re in there aren’t you?” She knocks again. “Do you know how long it took us to find this place?”

“You’re very bad at asking for directions,” the old lady calls through the door again. “Go away; I have nothing to give you.”

“Please, you don’t even know what we want,” Row whines.

“Maralee was so much nicer,” Minto mumbles to herself.

“Haven't you heard of the curfew?” the old lady asks. “There is something in town attacking people in the streets. Go back to your homes.”

“Curfew? It’s the middle of the day.” Row is not concerned.

“Doesn’t it always seem like every town we visit has problems with people disappearing or otherwise?” Seamus asks suspiciously.

“I'm sure it has nothing to do with us.” Row waves her hand uninterestedly before turning her attention back to the locked door. “Will it really do you any harm to let us shop for a little bit?” She rattles the knob fruitlessly.

“I'm busy. Lord Louwits has asked me to do an incantation to protect the entire city. I'm also doing a scrying to find the person responsible for these attacks.”

“What’s a scrying?” Seamus furrows his brow in confusion.

“It’s like dowsing,” Minto answers. “Rather than using two rods to search for the item on foot, you wave a crystal, soaked in salt water during a full moon, over a map and wait for it to fall from your hand.”

“What if I hold on especially tight,” Row asks stupidly.

“Then you’re doing it wrong.” Minto frowns at her.

Suddenly the door to the shop swings open, revealing a woman dressed in silk garments underneath a sparkling hooded blue robe. “Madame Soothsayer, I presume.” Row bows quickly.

“The name is Jauntess,” she grumbles. “Move aside, I'm not interested in you.” Row looks extremely dejected as she steps aside to allow the soothsayer to get a good look at Minto. “Ah, child, I see that you are blind.”

“What was your first clue?” Minto scoffs.

“Resentment is understandable,” Jauntess sighs. “Come inside, I want to hear more about what you know of the occult.”

“I don’t know much, really,” Minto admits while shuffling into the shop, making sure to drag her feet so she can gage the distance. “I spent a lot of my time in Glass Gate speaking to a potions peddler named Maralee in the market place.”

“You don’t have to tell me what you were hoping to buy from a woman such as that,” Jauntess snickers.

“It was a seeing eye potion,” Minto answers anyway. “I was desperate to know what the world looked like and was willing to pay any price.” Row can tell that Minto is feeling guilty again about poisoning Nuve.

“I'm afraid that sort of thing is useless when dealing with damaged eyes.” Jauntess shakes her head. “It would only work if one was born blind.”

“I was born blind,” Minto spouts quickly. “And it did work on me. I was able to see the world for the first time for a whole ten hours. It was amazing; amazing and fleeting.”

“Now you seek a more permanent solution?” Jauntess raises an eyebrow.

“I was actually just hoping you knew how to prepare more potions and that we could have Lord Louwits pay for them,” Minto admits with a slight laugh.

“While that is not entirely impossible, I’d rather try my hand at something else,” Jauntess responds slyly. “I’ve always wondered if I could manipulate a human’s body permanently.”

“Um, I’d rather not be experimented on.” Minto backs away from her.

“I’ve been testing what makes bloodsuckers and ghouls so resilient,” Jauntess continues to prattle, ignoring Minto’s apprehension. “Their bodies are more malleable than ours. Because of this, mana can heal them faster and keep them youthful for longer. Recently I watched what exactly happens to a person when they are drained entirely of life force by a ghoul. Apparently the human part of them dies, namely their soul. The body continues to live without any more restraint.”

“That’s sickening,” Seamus gasps while Minto cringes. Row however looks down at her feet guiltily. She can still remember when she almost turned Seamus into a ghoul while fighting against Lodar in Bos Stad. If he had not managed to absorb some of Champaign’s fading life force in time he may have been transformed permanently.

“Without a natural source of life inside them, a soul, ghouls are basically nothing but moving masses of meat. They can practically die without ceasing to function. If I could suppress your life-force in a similar fashion, I could possibly force your body to regenerate from extreme damage.”

“I told you already, my eyes aren’t damaged; I was born this way,” Minto squeals.

“It can't hurt to try, can it?” Jauntess shrugs.

“It can, it definitely can. I could end up as one of those vile creatures,” Minto wails.

“Damn, and I thought I’d finally found a willing test subject.” Jauntess bites her thumb disappointedly. “Fine, I'll mix you a large amount of seeing eye potion, but it’ll take me a while. In exchange, you can help me scry for the person attacking the citizens of Sliver Bay.”

“I don’t think I’ll be much use to you.” Minto frowns.

“Just wave the crystal over the map of the city. If it drops, I'll look and see where it hit,” Jauntess assures her.

Seamus and Row glance at each other for a moment. “Excuse me, what about us?” Seamus asks. “Can we help in any way?”

“Why don’t you head to the north docks and search between the pier and the streets.” Jauntess waves him away uninterestedly. “That was the only place I was receiving any urge to drop the crystal before, but I wasn’t sure. If you find anything interesting kill it or capture it. The sooner we end this situation, the sooner I can get back to running my shop.”

“A simple enough task, to be sure.” Seamus nods confidently while stretching his arms behind his head as if preparing for a fight. Row rolls her eyes but still smiles as she links their arms so he can escort her down the street. His cheeks turn bright red as he thinks back to the first time they did this. It was back in Bos Stad when they were similar in height. Now that Row finally appears as old as him again, the act of linking arms is much more embarrassing.

Jauntess chuckles as she watches the awkward pair disappear through the door to the shop. Minto has no idea what is so funny. She is already seated in front of a table with a large map set out on it, holding the crystal she needs to scry with by a small chain tethered to the end. Jauntess closes the door to the shop and shuffles over to a shelf full of potion ingredients.

Though Minto is curious to learn how to make the potion she will be relying on for the rest of her life, she knows she will only be in the way of the old soothsayer. It is not like she will be able to absorb any teachings until she has already consumed enough of the potion to see what Jauntess is using to make it with. Perhaps she will be open to training an apprentice in the near future. It would certainly be an option to explore in the event that Row actually does marry Lord Louwits and settle down in Sliver Bay permanently.

“How about over there?” Row asks while dragging Seamus toward yet another shop. She already has a large sack dangling from her free arm, filled with exotic cloths and other things that interest her. They have basically been moving from shop to shop, acquiring anything and everything that catches Row’s eye simply by telling the owners of said shops to bill Lord Louwits for everything.

“Are you sure we really need all this stuff?” Seamus is starting to worry. “What if you end up turning down Louwits’s proposal in the end? Is it really alright to accept his money in exchange for nothing?”

“He’s a gentleman; he knows how to treat a lady,” she makes a farfetched excuse. She is having too much fun to care about the consequences of her actions. It has been far too long since she has been able to enjoy the finer things in life. As far as she is concerned, this is basically a romantic outing with the man she holds affection for. Unfortunately it could also be the last of its kind she will ever experience. She is definitely going to make the most of it.

Seamus is halfway torn between enjoyment and terror. He is more than willing to indulge his mistress’s obsessions but he is equally afraid of the punishment a fully enabled lord can enact upon him. In order to effectively disregard this outing as an expense for services rendered, they will at least have to do some form of investigation concerning the north docks, which they have not even reached yet.

“Look, we’re almost at the pier. Why don’t we take a break from shopping and try to work on these attacks?” Seamus suggests with a nervous chuckle.

“Why should we have to do work?” Row groans. “Everywhere we go, all we do is fight. My head still hurts from that enraged excuse for a Genlock replacement. We were cordially invited to Sliver Bay by the lord himself. Can’t we just relax?”

“That soothsayer lady promised us a large amount of seeing eye potion for Minto all in exchange for a little bit of reconnaissance. I don’t think that is too much to ask, all things considered,” Seamus tries as hard as he can to argue logically.

“What do I care if Minto can see or not,” Row grumbles. “She doesn’t even like me. She hates bloodsuckers and wants them to die. For that matter, so does Nuve.”

“You know they don’t think of you that way,” Seamus assures her.

“Well they should.” Row crosses her arms angrily, finally unlinking herself from Seamus. “They are not doing me any favors by ignoring what I am. They are basically insulting my race in front of me and pretending I don’t have an opinion about it at all.”

“Weren’t you the one who suggested taking Minto to see the soothsayer?” Seamus reminds her.

“I just felt bad for her.” Row starts to pout.

“And you said you were happy for Nuve, right?” he continues.

“That’s because I'm not like them. I don’t hate humans. Even after everything they have said about bloodsuckers I still care what happens to them. I…” Row’s voice trails off when she notices Seamus staring at her with wide eyes. “Um, what is it?”

“Did you just say you care about humans?” He grabs her by the shoulders.

“Well, not every human. I just said I don’t hate them and I sort of care about Minto and Nuve. I can't explain it but I'm becoming accustomed to seeing them. I guess I would feel a sense of loss if they were not around.”

“Those are emotions!” Seamus shakes her by the shoulders. “You’re finally showing real emotion.”

“What? No I'm not.” She jerks away from him. “I'm a bloodsucker; we don’t care about anything.”

“You’re just trying to sound like your brother now.” Seamus is smiling at her like he knows her better than she knows herself. “Do you know how long I’ve waited for this?”

“Since you got most of your memories back outside of Glass Gate,” she suggests.

“Maybe.” He shrugs. “Who knows, maybe this was your desire, not mine.”

“I don’t desire anything,” she scoffs. “All I need is sustenance and survival.”

“And me, and Nuve, and Minto,” he adds while snickering.

“Shut up.” She stalks away from him.

“And you need your brother’s approval,” he continues to berate her while chasing her down the street. “You are so obsessed with proving yourself to Corvic that you practically accepted a proposal from a complete stranger.”

“Louwits’s offer makes a lot of sense,” she argues. “Maybe I should be thinking about the future.”

“What about me?” Seamus demands. “Am I included in this future of yours?”

“I don’t know.” She grabs her head. “What exactly do you want for yourself?”

“How am I supposed to know!” he raises his voice. “None of my memories are my own. Right now, you’re the only thing I have to live for.”

“Then find something!” she raises her voice as well. “Find something that only you can do. Find a purpose to continue existing in this world.”

“I already have.” He grabs her and spins her around so they are facing each other. Her face is already soaked with tears. “Huh? What… what’s wrong?” he is utterly confused.

“I'm sorry, Seamus,” she starts to sob. “I know I’ve taken everything from you. I’ve tried to tell myself it didn’t mater but something’s wrong. I think Husk’s power didn’t just suppress my aura, I think it might have made me more human. It would explain why I suddenly have emotions about you and Nuve and Minto.”

“But you said there is no human blood left in you. A bloodsucker is always complete. No human blood remains,” Seamus argues.

“But I'm a royal bloodsucker. I'm part god or whatever King Doryan was. That blood is too strong to be taken over. Maybe I’ve always been part human or god or something. Maybe Husk’s power is finally allowing me to act like it.”

“Is… is that a good thing?” Seamus’s eyes are wide with panic. “Should we try to reverse it?”

“I don’t know.” She covers her eyes with her palms. “I don’t want to lose anything. I don’t want to lose these feelings but they hurt so much. How can you stand it all the time? How can you stand the guilt of all the people that died in Bos Stad? How can you stand knowing we killed three demigods?”

“I can stand it because I know why I did it,” he answers solemnly. “I did it to protect you and I’d do it again. You are my reason for living, Row. I don’t need anything else if I have you.” He leans his head close to hers, pressing their noses against each other. Her eyes dart from side to side in a panic at first but she eventually calms down, closing her eyes and letting him kiss her.

“What do we do now?” she whispers in a terrified voice. “I can't accept Louwits’s proposal, can I?”

“I don’t want you to,” Seamus admits while kissing her again.

“Corvic is going to kill me,” she whines. Whatever happiness she is feeling right now is being drowned out by the knowledge that they have just failed everyone who is relying on them. She was not lying about Corvic killing her. She fully expects her brother to take out his anger on her to the fullest.

A sudden bout of screaming causes Seamus and Row to break apart. Several people are scattering through the streets, running in terror from a slithering silhouette moving along the ground. It is terribly slow for the most part, until it catches sight of someone it can pounce on. Suddenly it vanishes from sight, reappearing in front of a woman holding a child in her arms. Now that it is closer to Seamus and Row, it appears more human in form.

“What is that?” Row gasps as Seamus hurries to aid the terrified woman. Once again the only weapon he has is Arma Scov, which quickly slithers off of his arm, creating a crisscross barrier between the woman and the creature.

“Silver,” the monstrous thing hisses while poking the shiny wire, cutting its fingers enough to bleed black blood. Despite having almost no color at all, Seamus can still make out the sharp white fangs of a bloodsucker and a single pointed ear. “Silver!” he shouts even louder this time as it thrusts its arm through the wire barrier, allowing the razor sharp edge to peel its flesh off.

“Stay away!” Seamus leaps back in genuine terror. “Is it a ghoul? Is it a devil? Is it even alive?”

“It’s a bloodsucker,” Row answers him. “This is what they break down into after living for hundreds of years. Anything resembling a human dies, leaving just a parasitic creature that feeds on anything it can get its hands on.”

Seamus is suddenly struck by the fear that one day his mistress will look like this. He does not have time to dwell on it though as the creature vanishes from behind the barrier and reappears directly in front of him. He swings his arm at it on instinct, only to have it grab and bite into his vein, sucking out not only life force but blood as well. Whatever this thing is, it is ten times more terrifying than a ghoul.

Seamus jerks away, letting the creature rip off a good portion of his flesh as he tumbles backwards. By now the woman has taken her child and fled to safety, leaving Seamus as the creature’s only prey. Slowly his eyes start to flicker silver as he attempts to heal his damage with Wan’s power. “Silver!” the creature shouts while pouncing on him again. “Give it to me! Give me the silver!”

Seamus kicks it in the stomach and tumbles to the side, rolling off the street and onto one of the docks which runs parallel to the edge. He crawls on his hands and knees for a while until the pain in his arm becomes too much. Just as he stands up, the creature tackles him, dragging into the water. Immediately it begins to scream and thrash about.

“That's good, Seamus,” Row shouts at him. “Bloodsuckers can’t stand salt water. It purifies their parasitic nature; especially ones as far gone as this one.” Seamus is struggling to keep his head above water and therefore does not even hear her. The creature’s skin is turning red and raw as the black tinge leaks into the water like ink running off of paper.

“Silver,” it is practically whimpering now. Seamus uses Wan’s power to extend his arm, allowing him to grab hold of the dock and pull himself up onto it again. The creature clings to his back tightly, forcing him to bring it with him. Seamus coughs and sputters for several minutes as he lies on his side. The creature is completely exhausted as well.

Row rushes to her servant’s side, and pulls him away from the creature, which is looking a lot more human now that so much of the black taint has been purified by the salt water. “Corvic?” Row gasps when she recognizes her brother. His long flowing hair is practically gone, leaving only a few strands, and he is missing one of his ears but it is definitely him.

“Silver.” He reaches a pleading hand up to his sister. “Please, give me the silver.”

“What does he want?” Seamus asks while spitting out more salt water than he thought he had even swallowed.

“Seamus, let me try something.” Row grabs his arm and presses it against Corvic’s mouth, allowing his fangs to puncture it. Seamus grits his teeth as the silver in his eyes starts to fade. At the same time a pinkish tinge enters Corvic’s eyes as his normal red mixes with the bright whiteness of Wan’s power.

Slowly the rawness of his flesh starts to recede as new pale white skin grows in its place. A new ear forms on the side of his head, while the remaining one shrinks down, becoming less pointed. The final thing to return is the hair on his head, which is once again long sleek and black. “Corvic, what happened to you?” Row wraps her arms around his neck tightly.

“Turok,” he sputters hoarsely.

“What?” Row jerks back, a look of utter fear in her eyes. Seamus is too drained to focus on what is being said but he knows his mistress is absolutely terrified of the demigod Turok. “What did he do to you?” Row asks while sweeping the hair out of her brother’s eyes.

“He didn’t do this; I did,” Corvic admits. “He was too much for me, him and his insane sorcerer. I had to flee.” He rubs part of his forearms as if remembering something painful. Row can see a slight difference in the color of his skin where his elbow is. It quickly vanishes though with Wan’s power, as does her chance to ask about it. She can guess what he was forced to do to escape though.

It is not impossible for ghouls or bloodsuckers to re-grow limbs they have lost, but it is not a simple process. The amount of feeding it requires is immeasurable, and even then, the appendages never quite work the same way they used to. Finally, the toll it takes on the creature’s lifespan is equivalent to aging over three hundred years. Without borrowing Wan’s power to shape shift, Corvic would have never been the same again.

“Come on, we need to get you somewhere safe.” Row lifts her brother up by the arm and uses her shoulder to support him. Seamus rises to his feet slowly, swaying side to side.

Eventually he manages to stumble back up from the docks to the street where he left Arma Scov. It is no longer holding its form and is instead lying in a crumpled heap. He is too disoriented to control it with his mind though. Instead he simply grabs it with his bare hands, letting the razor edge cut into him deeply. He is too numb to care though.

“Seamus, what are you doing?” Row gasps when she sees the blood running down his hand. He doesn’t answer. Instead he simply turns in the direction of the castle and starts to march toward it. “Wait, I'll fetch us a coach,” she yells at him. He is not listening though. However, after a few more feet he collapses on the ground, unable to move.

Row sets Corvic down and rushes to her servant’s side. He is still breathing but there is a terrible rasping sound coming from his lungs. He has not yet managed to expel all of the water he swallowed. Row glances around the street for anyone to help her but all of the citizens fled the moment Corvic began his rampage. She lowers her head to Seamus’s chest and starts to cry again, not knowing what to do. She has never been so afraid of losing Seamus as she is now.

“You wait here,” Corvic groans while rising to his feet. Row looks at him with concern. “It’s alright, I can feel my legs again now. I never thought I’d be thanking that pathetic human for anything. I’ll fetch a coach, don’t you worry, little sister.” He vanishes in his signature fashion, leaving Row alone with Seamus in the middle of the street.

“Please hurry,” she whispers while pressing her forehead to his chest again.
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