I remain strung up in the temple ruin, in extreme pain and sufficiently starved and tortured throughout the rest of the day until midnight. The one thing that gets me through is, ironically, the deluded state of mind I quickly regain after the fading Horse Root in my system is completely wiped out from my blood.
Lixar knows what he is doing, because the pain induces sweat that dehydrates my body and I’m exposed to the forces of magic and the Moon.
My skin itches, my temperature soars and I’ve begun to froth at the mouth as that strange sickness takes over my body as if rejecting this human form.
It makes the time pass awfully slowly and I feel my chains being loosened for the fifth time. I can’t see as my eyes are sealed shut, as if I’m meditating in the suffering. The wind which has picked up in strength, swipes over my fevered body as my feet touch the ground. The wind helps cool me and soothe me; …Zarcar.
It’s a brief thought.
I had been allowed rest at intervals as had been suggested and each time I collapsed in a pathetic heap.
Now as I collapse for the fifth them, my cheek presses against the cool marble floor and my eyes stay closed as I hear faded words around me.
“…it’s time, for release…mine…how perfect…now it’s my turn…”
It was finally time to be fully Awakened.
I peel open my eyes, which is a tremendous effort. Once I realise I’m not being strung up again off the floor, I relax onto the marble.
I raise my head, my senses clouded by midnight and my vision foggy.
I don’t see Lixar right away, who is meant to help me Shift.
The Immortal King is watching me from the other side of the temple, hidden by shadows. Rey is leaning down and beckoning something closer to him. I watch, spell bound… as a white snake lifts its head and curls along his wrist and arm.
I feel myself getting dizzier and the pain in my bones, blinds me as Rey turns and catches my gaze.
I felt like I was giving birth to a spirit from inside every part of my body.
I try to reject it.
I needed comfort.
I feel the Mystifyer’s present, as if their energy flows to my body to reassure me of their presence.
To the left, Lixar stands close and on edge, he’s in a squat, watching me intently. His hazel eyes are entranced by my pain, wondering about the change.
Zarcar is on the right, he hides behind a pillar, his anger loud and clear by the way he stands by that marble pillar, half hidden from view. His energy was darker and roiling with… possession. Lixar was more relaxed, his energy was hyper aware of the Shift. He was excited.
Andoll watches from behind Zarcar in the ash of the haunted little sect of Swendula. She’s chewing on more Horse Root, grinning at me as I promptly start to shiver with denial. I didn’t want to let this thing out.
Something terrible might happen.
“Little birdy,” Lixar speaks and I’m surprised how clearly I can hear while in pain, “Look at Rey.”
I can’t speak as I press my forehead to the marble and breathe.
Up, above, in front.
Steps start toward me, one at a time. Relaxed and lazy. Arrogant and sending icey waves of cold power towards me.
Rey was asserting his authority over me.
Something inside me snaps, then.
In that moment.
I dare to glance up… I see the white snake curling around Rey’s shoulders and winding down his other arm… the demon snake wants to come closer to me.
“Don’t let it go just yet,” Lixar advises Rey, “She’s still thinking.”
“She’s had all day to think,” Rey drawls, “I don’t want Chyronex thinking I’m neglecting her as my Queen…” I watch as Rey looks at Zarcar, who steps forward in defence of Rey’s words. The way our King watches Zarcar, his silver, black veined eyes focus on the Warlord as if he is the threat, “Don’t you dare interfere, Zar. Lix will help transition our Queen. Another step and Lix will take your place as Warlord over my armies.”
Zarcar halts and slowly slips his black eyes to mine.
The demon in him is roaring to get out, the anger is excessive but he’s learned to control himself well. 290 Winters later he had perfected staunch control.
I turn back to Rey. I watch the head of the snake rise, the tongue flickers out at Zarcar as if mocking his poise.
Zarcar is a fire spitting, dangerous beast that should be unleashed to his full power. He shouldn’t be contained nor disrespected. Zarcar has been protecting his Draconess.
I’m the Draconess he has been protecting.
Zarcar is a well behaved Mystifier. Mine. Lixar is out of control and needs to be whipped until he understands his place in this Venatores.
Rey… Rey is a Vampyre.
He has the Command.
His words fly through my brain.
I’ll kill everyone you love if you step out of line. Even for a moment. One word. One blink. One wrong move and you’ll be taught the consequences that can only come from a King to his Slave Queen… If you obey me, Draconess, you’ll be the Queen you’ve always deserved to be and so much more… I don’t plan on weakening your precious Venatores, you see, but I plan on empowering you all to full measure. You’ll lead the Venatores but the Venatores is mine to command.
Mine to Command.
Empowering you all to full measure.
The Draconess, me, rolls that threat and promise around, the memory of him Awakening me… releasing me… telling the truth.
He was telling the truth.
Somehow, the demon inside me, merges with my thoughts and they become my own. New and enhanced.
My Venetores. I had to protect them. I look up and I see Zarcar and I see Lixar. Their voices have drowned out, but Lixar is pointing to Zarcar and Rey is also nodding, smirking.
They know something.
Rey whispers to the white snake… and it slithers around Rey’s ankles once… twice… and then it races towards Zarcar in a feeble attack.
I haven’t realised I’ve felt my vision rising… floating, almost.
All I see is the men become small and punish below me.
The white snake is preparing to strike Zarcar when I reach down. My new long snout strikes forward and I grab the end of the white tail. I swing my head to the side so the snake goes flying out of the temple.
I didn’t want to kill baby demons; myself and the Draconess say it, in complete unison. That part of me saves the snake by throwing it out of the temple.
I then turn to Rey and I see Zarcar grinning to the right and Lixar sitting on his ass as if astounded by something.
I can’t see what I look like, but I can see Rey’s eyes focused on mine.
He’s waiting for me to launch and rip him in half. To attempt to.
Magic was pooling at his feet, charging up his legs, to his spine.
I let out an arrogant growl turned laugh as I lean down with my head, grin with teeth I can’t see but I can feel are long and narrow, which means they’re sharp and perfect for killing.
I press my brown scaled snout closer to Rey’s boots, sniffing the magic.
He was dwindling.
He wasn’t powerful at all.
But he was tied to something I was tied too, I just couldn’t see what. Something was draining his power, maybe the cracks in the earth.
I stand back on all fours, raising one scaled thick muscled arm, wanting to inspect my talons, wanting to see what they look like. I can’t because the chains have expanded. They are infused with magic.
I snarl when I realise I can’t inspect my perfect killing talons.
What the hell!
I tap them on the marble, fast in excitement and annoyance.
I wanted to see them!
I snarl at Rey, who’s watching me, utterly confused by my reaction.
Lixar is laughing his head off and Zarcar has his hands behind his back, smugly proud of something. He thinks he’s limited teachings helped me remain calm while Shifting. He’s oddly right. Lixar, however, is being a disrespectful little bastard.
I turn my head and snap my jaw down above his face, breathing hot stinky air over the idiot.
Lixar pretends to gag and stands up, slapping a hand to my snout – my head snaps back and swings forward – knocking him violently out of the temple, he goes flying after the snake.
Disrespectful piece of horse shit!
I watch as Zarcar strolls closer to my front, putting out a hand to my scaled neck, I feel his support rolling into me. A good choice for a mate. Very strong willed. Unbreakable stubborn determination. A very good choice.
“Chyronex doesn’t need to kill, she only needed the mere presence of a full demon,” Zarcar speaks fluidly next to me, quietly insulting Rey’s half demon blood. Rey notices the disrespect but Zarcar adds in before the King can start, “She’s beautiful and all yours, isn’t she just wonderfully powerful? Look at her teeth,” it is a well crafted lie about Rey’s possession of me.
It spoke volumes. That I was under Zarcar’s wing and never would be Rey’s in any sense. It was the sarcasm that Zarcar had brought up that showed Rey a slither of rebellion from his Warlord.
“Shift,” Rey chooses his words carefully, “Immediately,” he half bows to me and nods his head to Zarcar, “…or I cut your lovers head clean off his shoulders.”
“My King,” Zarcar growls a warning.
But I’ve already contracted into my human shell.
I find myself kneeling and staring at my hands.
I feel so suddenly small and powerless as Zarcar stands by my side and Rey pauses… disbelieving that I would obey that quickly. He wanted me to fail… but also needed me to obey… he just didn’t understand how any of this was happening.
Neither did I.
I could only explain it as the Draconess and I bonding together so perfectly, it’s like we were one and the same.
And I was generally calm.
“Did you fuck her last night?” Rey asks Zarcar, almost concerned, “You know what happens when you don’t release. You start saying very stupid things, Warlord. I would watch your tone. You are powerful… but you’re unreliable unless you satisfy your demonic urges to fuck cute priestesses. Do you need a new virgin?”
“Chyronex is just fine,” Zarcar growls out.
“But did you fuck him last night, as I commanded?” Rey asks me this now, quietly and with narrowing eyes “…answer me.”
He had told me too.
I could lie but I already know he’ll hear it.
I shake my head; no, I did not fuck Zarcar.
Rey locks his jaw, his eyes blaze with fury at the disobedience.
Rey considers his words and Zarcar seems frustrated, as if he wants to speak but doesn’t.
I smile a bit, uncontrollably.
Because for once I feel like I have the control.
Rey squats the moment I smile, level with me.
“You didn’t kill the snake… you didn’t open your legs to your Keeper,” Rey murmurs, summarising my disobedience, “…you must see, my Warlord has a problem with his attitude when he doesn’t find comfort in a woman’s legs. He’s unreliable. He must be serviced. I need a powerful, united and obedient Venatores. You’ve made a mistake, Chyronex. I need to teach you a lesson so you do not make the same mistake twice. I will watch as he does it.”
What was he talking about?
“Watch what?” I whisper, confused.
“You’re young and stupid,” Rey snaps out, instantly “I can see now that Zarcar has trained you to be without knowledge… I don’t mind… but I do mind his attitude,” Rey explains, “I like Zarcar and I want him serviced so he is focused. Zarcar will fuck you and I will watch him fuck you into this very temple ruin. If you refuse, I will stage an audience that can be witness to your submission… far more publically... I will happily organise such an event.”
“Perhaps we can talk about this?” I ask, so confused by his request.
Was this a joke?
“I didn’t hear a yes, your highness, fall past your pretty little lips. I guess public humiliation is what you’ve settled for,” Rey raises a brow, “I’m quite disappointed in you, Chyronex.”
Rey is on a tangent, an emotional tangent.
That’s what it sounds like.
He’s out of control and he’s pissed off.
What’s worse is the Immortal King means every single word that passes from his lips.
“My King,” I start, “Pl –”
“Put your head down and grab your King’s ankles,” Zarcar growls from beside me… and his tone has changed.
Wait… b-but… but…
Obey. Be smart.
Zarcar wanted me to listen to every word he said tonight.
It was a matter of life and death.
Rey watches me, entranced by how I will respond.
I suck in a breath and bravely lean down towards Rey’s boots… just a little bit… and Rey halts his icy, almost excited breath.
“…what kind of magic is this…” Rey whispers, actually in awe of my quick submission to his Warlord, “You have actually trained her successfully.”
“She’s at your whim,” Zarcar slides down behind me and grabs my hips as I gently place my forehead near the floor… I reach out and my fingers brush Rey’s ankles.
I trust Zarcar.
I trust him.
Zarcar unbuttons his pants, I hear the sound.
“Enough,” Rey snaps, as if terrified. I glance up swiftly and I see Rey stumble back a few steps, “…it is not necessary…” his eyes flicker down to mine, “Get her back into her tower. Any walks around the city must be by your side. I will… think about what’s next… just keep her contained.”
Rey turns in a rush and leaves the temple.
He seems possessed by a memory.
I had no idea what.
But his anger was gone.
He was just in total shock.
I rise back up, my Warlord still behind me as I lean back on my heels and feel his warmth behind my naked back.
Zarcar snakes out an arm around my waist and rests his head down on my shoulder, letting out a shaky breath… I wonder if he is about to cry.
But then he bursts out laughing.
It’s loud and joyful and he roughly swipes a hand up and over my face, pushing the stray hair off my cheeks and back over my scalp. He keeps his palm on my forehead and pulls my head back. He’s grinning down at me.
“Good…” he whispers… “Good… good girl!”
I smile and he kisses my forehead.
“I will wait until we are back in the tower,” I murmur back, “And then I want a long hot bath.”
“I’ll bathe you,” Zarcar murmurs, dangerously low.
“…mmm…” I pretend to think on it as if it were a question and not a statement.
I look to the side when I hear and then see Lixar waltz into the temple, looking terrified and covered in ash and dirt.
Andoll glances in from a pillar, squatting and smiling from afar. Creepy, but I was getting used to her antics.
“I love you, Chyronex,” Lixar points at me and falls to his knees, interrupting my moment with Zarcar, he closes his eyes and puts his hands to his head, “I love your young, naïve little head, so damn much. But… you’re still smart… and you don’t even know it… you make all the right decisions on instinct… just like a Draconess should… the greatest Draconess ever!” Lixar rambles off to himself, also seeming to reflect on old memories.
I have no idea why any of them are acting this way, so damn happy; I didn’t do anything!
Zarcar releases my wrists from the shackles and I stand up, rolling back my shoulders… pain gone since Shifting.
“Why did Rey leave?” I ask, when Lixar just smiles after standing and Zarcar chuckles low from beside me.
“That’s part of the reason I was laughing,” Zarcar drops the chains and claps his hands together to swipe off any rust, “…he wanted an obedient Draconess… he’s in shock that you bend to me and I bend to him. It’s an indirect way of control but he is impressed. Not threatened. Probably needs to think about his success. Don’t worry, Rey is happy… happy enough.”
“Really?” I ask, watching Lixar roll his eyes at Zarcar.
“Cousin, please,” Lix murmurs low, “You have the power in your hands.”
“But even if we’re obedient, why does Rey want me to fuck both of you?” Perhaps it wasn’t the best time to bring it up again.
Zarcar slaps his hand over my mouth and glares at me like he’ll spank me right now in front of Lixar and he won’t care.
“Not another word about that,” Zarcar growls.
I nod into his hand and watch Zarcar as he takes his hand back. I feel guilty as he turns and curls his fingers for me to follow behind him. He wanted to head back immediately. He picks up my brown shift and throws it at me.
It collides with my face and then falls down into my outstretched arms.
Zarcar glances at Lixar and seems disgusted, he doesn’t want to wait so he turns and keeps walking.
So much for that little romantic moment before.
I glance at Lix then… and he’s lost his smile.
His black hair stills in the wind as if every part of him is considering the near future. He looks at me then looks me over, top to toe.
“We all have challenges we must face,” Lix murmurs, “Sharing you is Zarcar’s greatest one.”
“Do you know why Rey would… ask that… I don’t understand…” I murmur.
“To keep discord in the Venatores, I don’t know… but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it,” Lix raises his brows, as if asking me to think on it, “I will respect your choices… but Rey has final say… and whether we like it or not, Zarcar is right enough, that we must obey…” Lix hates saying it, growling it through gritted teeth, “…for now.”
As Lix waltzes away, I put on my shift and Andoll runs up to my side.
“Power,” she whispers, “Control. The best. That ever was. That is what the Vampyre wants. To rule. With you. Change it all.”
“Okay, um,” I pull the shift down and Andoll pats out a crease in the side.
“You will rule them all with me,” Andoll whispers, “Men are stupid. Not us.”
“I’d have to agree,” I lean down and whisper it back… she chuckles… and then I chuckle too.
We both walk back, Andoll by my side, she passes me some Horse Root.
We both chew on some each.
For once since Zarcar overran Swendula and since Rey arrived…
…I feel a little bit okay.
Ever since I shifted, I feel like I am no longer vulnerable.
I feel, oddly, as if I now have all the control.
The Draconess is smug by my thoughts as I am smug.
We are one, we are not different, we have always been connected; as one soul.
I didn’t know the extent of my powers as a demon formed Dragon… but I feel it… I feel that I am really, really powerful.
And that’s what makes me so damn smug.