Lixar and Zarcar find Torrent and Rey. Without me. I stay in my Moon Tower, in my female mortal form, with Andoll hovering beside me as I make a spell around a locket on a chain. I crush beetles and worms with a stone, reciting a heart felt spell for the locket, while bathed in moonlight on the rooftop, “Hidden from sight, hidden from the veil and hidden from Lucifer, the dark king who holds the crown. Andoll. Your safe place,” I hope up the locket.
Andoll touches it, and her soul is sucked inside. I close it shut and put it around my neck, “You’ll be safe and warm in there, it’s a forest that I made to rest,” I speak to my chest and the chain, “…it might be a small paradise, but you can hide safely while the war ends. I will never let you die, Andoll. You’re my best friend, in all this. You’ve helped me, you’ve helped everyone. You tried to save my friends before they were burnt at the stake. Now they to, traverse as spirits. Whatever Zarcar did, he didn’t let them truly die that day,” they were ghosts, protecting the city from the Surge of Hemon, “I’m doing the same for you, Andoll. Now. Dawn is coming,” I look up to the orange sky, “I need to speak with the men. Rey. Zar. Lix. And Torrent. He’ll be the death of me…” I nearly choke up as I hold a hand to my chest and I let out a shaky breath before I wipe away my tears.
I had to be strong.
Lucifer’s bargain was my priority. I had to befriend Torrent. I had to push Zarcar away. I had to make it clear, my interests lay elsewhere now.
I shift into my Draconess and I pick up the locket with a talon as I fly.
I fly to the Red Castle, swooping over the Red Courtyard of Roses and then back around. They aren’t here.
By the front gates of the city, come quick. Fly low. Chyronex. The Surge is approaching, Lixar speaks for me, where the hell have you been the last two hours?
Crying in my Moon tower. Crying it all out before I faced this different reality. A new path. I had to break up my first ever Venatores.
I could not stray from the bargain, lest Lucifer steals Andoll back, to torture her for eternity. No way. I wouldn’t let it happen. My first Venatores was my responsibility. Andoll was my responsibility. No one else was on death row, so she came first right now.
I also wasn’t in the mood to talk about war. I had the talons, teeth and the mystical strength to lead and rip the Surge apart. No matter the blood, no matter the injuries. I would be a commander leading a special force. Rey, Zar, Lix, maybe Torrent… they could work out the details before hand. I couldn’t care less right now about discussing anything with any of them.
I needed the time alone. Even if the timing was off. I needed the time or I wouldn’t be able to face Zar without breaking.
However, my time for mourning was up. The full Surge was coming now, so now I had to participate. Every other moment tonight, I had stolen for myself. Andoll had kept me company, but in the end, my tears of sorrow turned into tears of feigned strength. I spelled a simple locket, a place to keep Andoll safe.
That was my first strategic move. Now, the war needed to be won.
Guys. I’m on my way, where is Zar’s army? I ask, looking for our own soldiers.
Torrent’s going to annihilate the Surge on his own, Lixar says, uncertainly, Just come quickly. You’ll understand from the gates. We’re on the highest turret, overlooking the river and the coming Surge. They have no idea that Torrent awaits them behind these walls.
I see you, I whisper it, it’s a little bit gut wrenching to see Zarcar standing on the turret at the forefront, next to his older brother. Rey stands on Zarcar’s other side. Lixar waits at the back for me, holding my gaze, nodding at me as I swoop in closer.
And I can read every single thought you have, Lixar mentions, casually. I completely forgot, and my wings almost falter. It meant…- I know everything, Chyronex, Lix drawls, it’s okay. Now it’s not just your burden to bare. But mine too –
I don’t want to talk about what happened, I hiss, cruelly, over the top of Lix.
Understood, you vicious Queen, Lixar winks at me as I form smoke, tumble forward and then land in front of him, naked and not very Queenly. I grab the locket from my toe, and place the chain around my neck.
Lixar is dressed, so he takes off his coat, putting it around my chilled shoulders.
I avoid his gaze, humiliated that he knows about the deal I made with Lucifer. That he knows what I have to do now because of it.
“Chyronex… please relax,” Lixar murmurs softly, reaching up a hand, to cup my cheek, to continue with some soothing bullshit that I didn’t need right now.
My gaze is focused passed Lixar, to the back of Rey.
I smack away Lix’s wrist from my face and walk around him, stalking my way to the King.
“Hey you,” I grab Rey’s shoulder, and I ignore Zarcar, including his older brother, whom I still have failed to meet officially face to face. I can feel Torrent’s eyes on me now as he turns, and although the gaze is powerful and penetrating, very similar to Zar… I can’t deal with that shit right now, “Rey,” I pull Rey around towards me, a snarl on my face, “You’re half of my kind,” I hiss, while the Vampyre reaches up a hand and grabs my mouth, sealing my lips shut.
“Careful what you yell, Slave Queen,” Rey hisses down over me, “We’re busy, if you haven’t noticed, now is not the time,” Rey shakes his head at me, his black eyes, stained with silver rivers of power… my power… he just glares, “Be quiet. Watch the battle end. Not to mention, where the hell have you been?”
I do not answer, but I pull out of Rey’s hand and grab the edges of the stone wall of the turret, at my chest, I pull forward and try to see the field. I can see the armies gathering, cracks in the ground, King Reyn at the front on a horse, holding a flaming sword.
I’m too short to see much more of the size of the Surge and –
After a shadow falls over me, I’m abruptly lifted.
An arm has wound around my waist, totally confusing me for a second, until I’m raised enough that I can see over the turret wall and witness the entire field.
“Fuck me,” I snarl out my anger, “There’s so many –”
“Watch that language, Chyronex,” Rey snaps, pissed off, “Show some manners in front of our guest.”
I look over my shoulder briefly. Torrent is the one hoisting me up.
While Zarcar avoids my gaze altogether, Lixar stands with his cousin, and Rey stands between Torrent, I and the other two.
“Have you seen enough?” Torrent asks me, politely enough. I nod and he loosens his hold so I slip backwards into his front. I still haven’t seen his face properly.
I turn into his front and look up, preparing a sassy remark.
But I pause.
And not just because he’s a handsome bastard. I’m pretty sure if Zarcar were to grow centuries into a war torn leader of army after army, Draconess after Draconess, he’d look like this. With no scars from glory after glory, victory following victory, yet the silver hair does it. It’s impressive. It’s not wispy. It’s perfect. Framing a young face that shouldn’t look so young. Torrent is perfectly masculine, perfectly god like, angel like… demon like. Too much of everything. Torrent is just that; too much. His eyes are grey toned silver, a flat colour… a shade of black, lightened, perhaps.
He watches me with a curious look, but not much to say.
I guess he was used to females staring.
“How are you going to win the war? Why are you wanting to win it?” I ask, instead, as business like as possible, “I can help, you know-“
“You’re in shock from your first battle,” Torrent speaks calmly, yet in a very ferocious manner that suggests there is to be no negotiating, “I’m ending the war, saving my city and leaving in the morning back to my home. A babe demoness will not win a war without at least a few disastrous consequences that can be avoided,” Torrent raises a brow, as if he knows my secret, but of course he cannot, “You’ll only be led down a path you’re not ready to handle yet… Draconess… so if you will…” Torrent grabs my shoulder and spins me again, he lifts me up once more, “Watch and learn, young one.”
I sigh and start to dig my claws into his arm, ready for a long wait.
But then the ground explodes.
And it’s all over.
It’s like time has slowed. The intense waves of magic make the realm appear distorted. Pyroclastic clouds rise from new cracks in the ground. I see plumes of ash and hot gas, swirling in a wall of war ending consequence.
By the time the explosion stops. By the time the warping air and the clouds settle, there’s a buried field. A buried army. And complete silence.
From the forest, from the town, from the other turrets. Complete silence.
Except for a casual remark from Torrent, “…and that is why I’m a legend, Chyronex.”
He puts me down again, I nod, reality starts to smell like dirt and death.
I turn and walk away from them all.
I return to my tower. I spend the hour packing my bags. I advised Lixar, through our mental connection, needlessly explaining, that I was leaving with Torrent. Lixar advised me, also needlessly, that he was coming with me.
It’s a welcome surprise after all the mental angst I’ve been fighting since the first battle was over.
However, I’m still in a mindless daze. I walk out of my tower in the bustle of a busy late morning with my knapsack of trinkets. Clothes. Boring things.
I stalk to the Red Castle, and I see them all by the front steps, speaking a loving farewell.
Zarcar hugs Torrent, Rey nods his respect. Lixar stands back, waiting for me, dressed in a purple and black uniform… as if he is staying.
I have to make it seem like a last minute decision to leave with you, like I didn’t plan it, don’t I? Lixar murmurs in my head, just relax.
Stop telling me what to do, I snap back.
“Chyronex…?! Why are you here?” my insides twist when Zarcar speaks of me. I glance at him very briefly and I gulp, holding up my chin as I approach Torrent directly.
“…so the Slave Queen wishes to abscond…” Rey drawls, as he witnesses my things for travel.
“…you’re leaving again…” Zarcar murmurs the statement and question, shortly, and then he goes quiet.
“Such a rogue, she is,” Lixar teases me, “Such a cock tease. Here we were, thinking you’d be servicing us every night… all night. All of us.”
“I wish to go away and learn of new things,” I lie, standing by Torrent and not looking him in the eye, “So I’m going with Torrent. The legend himself. Quite an upgrade, if you ask me,” I choke that last part out, trying so hard to sound sassy and confident.
There is an awkward pause as my intentions settle in.
“Well. Young Draconesses do well under my wing,” Torrent speaks to Zarcar carefully, rather than I, “You can trust me on this, little brother.”
“Fuck it. I’m leaving too,” Lixar steps forward, a skip in his step, “I enjoy travel… and I’m sick of Zarcar’s ugly mug always scowling at me…”
Lixar stands on Torrent’s opposing side, smirking because he manages to make Zarcar scowl just as he said that.
The three of us face an extremely irate Rey and his astounded Warlord.
“You will stay here, I assume, Zar?” Torrent asks, to confirm.
“…I will… visit you,” Zarcar gulps, then also forces on a firm tone, “In a year. Or two.”
“A year or two?!” I blurt out, my heart thumping, my chest constricting. But I wipe my sudden burst of anxiety away, before Zar questions my outburst.
Torrent puts a hand on my shoulder at the right moment, comforting me. He squeezes it strongly, once, “I’ll have him visit sooner, Chyronex, I can promise that,” and then Torrent turns and speaks to Zarcar again, “When you are ready for a vacation, and Rey’s forces are strong without you for a time, visit whenever you wish. You’re welcome home, brother, anytime. You know this.”
I pause and catch Rey’s gaze, as he, also, watches me about to leave with apprehension. His Slave Queen, no more. Including Lixar. And he couldn’t protest. Not after Torrent’s help.
“You should visit too, Rey,” I murmur, trying to speak without looking at Zar, “For a laugh over ale. Or something.”
“Hmmm. Maybe. Until next time, Chyronex,” Rey raises a brow, “Your blood was foul… by the way, to be expected from a fellow demon.”
“It was lovely knowing you too,” I take the opportunity to go.
I spin dramatically and force every single foot step, without looking back.
One pace. Two. Three. Four paces. More. And more.
Every step, my heart splits further in half.
Half my Venatores was behind me. I was leaving them behind. To save one of them.
Torrent surprises me by catching up quite quickly and murmuring something so boring and dismissible into my ear, that I don’t pay it any attention while I’m wracked with guilt and retreating into my fractured mind, “All in good time, you’ll understand how this world works… and you’ll be okay.”
I ignore the knowing deep drawl of reassurance from Tor, even though it’s meant to be a symbol of hope. That everything would be okay.
Just not right now. Not while I followed Lucifer’s bargain.
Which meant I had to do everything I could to hold sway over my next enemy; the devil himself.
So, one day, I could achieve my dream. To reunite my Venatores. And we could live freely, all of us. Together again. Maybe.
I could choose my mate again.
I would have the freedom to choose the right one.
All in good time.
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