Chapter 14: The Cursed Ones
Morning came at a slow pace. The burning in my eyes from staying up all night were irritated. My eyelids occasionally would droop tiredly, but I reminded myself that Ignatius was fast asleep in my lap.
His temperature has dropped since last night. However, his arms have seemed to only get worse. No matter how many times I continued to change the bandaging, blood would continuously seep out. That wasn’t even the worse part.
There was a black color appearing over his hands and up his arms. It was like the roots of a tree growing deep in the soil. Or like a plague spreading dangerously in his veins.
All night, I couldn’t help but think that Ignatius was going through this suffering because of me. I remember Klency said it takes a toll on him when he heals someone. This wasn’t what I had expected though.
I noticed Ignatius wearing his gloves and scarf after he brought me to the tower with him. Was he hiding this so I wouldn’t find out?
It made me angry knowing he could be this selfish to keep something like this hidden. Then again, he was practically a stranger to me. It isn’t simple to open up to anyone, especially when your forced to babysit that person.
I dropped my head to look at him, his head was laid across my straightened legs. They have gone numb, but I refused to move. He looked like he was finally getting some good rest and I didn’t want to disturb his moment of peace.
He continued his random mumbling, ‘It was not me’. The sound of his voice was dark, sad, and lost.
What kept scrambling around in my head was that Ignatius never mentioned that he wasn’t human nor a god.
What the hell was he then?
A loud groan erupted from Ignatius pulling me away from my thoughts. I observed as he lifted his head and torso up. He sat there with his hand pressing against his forehead.
“Why the bloody hell am I still aching?” He complained out loud.
With his back facing me, I don’t think he sensed my presence. Unsure of what to do, I stayed silent. He moved his arms to stretch when he froze mid way. He whirled his head around, his bright eyes finding me. The shock on his face made me drop my gaze from him.
My cheeks began to burn furiously. It didn’t help that he was shirtless. The way Ignatius was peering at me was overwhelming strange. An emotion that had not fit his stature. But, like any good day with him, that passion soon vanished like it had been wiped from existence.
“What are you doing here?” His voice was like the edge of a sword.
My eyes focused on the ground before me as I begin to think of something to say. Unfortunately, I was tongue tied. Everything I wanted to explain almost came rambling out in words that didn’t exist.
“What happened to your dress?” Ignatius peered at my bare legs with wide eyes.
My heated cheeks flared up even more as I slowly pull my legs up to my chest. To answer his question I looked down to the pile of the bloody strips of cloth that use to be part of my dress.
His eyes followed where mine went and he overlooked the darkening red color that stained the blue satin. It was far from the perfect bandaging, however it absorbed and prevented infections to start.
So far. I mentally note.
“You were there with me all night,” He states like he was regaining his memory. He takes his eyes off the used bandages to look at me again. His face was emotionless, but I have a feeling he is in quite shock.
“Why? Why would you risk your life helping me?” He now questions, anger laced in his voice.
“To be honest, I wanted to help you in return for helping me.”
Ignatius’s face grows dark, his eyes narrowing, and his mouth twitching in anger. His rage was much too great for such a simple reason. He quickly stood on his feet with his strange black covered fists clenched. The blood that still poured out of his wounds came dripping down his knuckles onto the floor.
“Do you realize that I could have killed you?!” He snapped.
“Did you really expect me to just leave you here?!” I unintentionally snapped back.
Ignatius opened his mouth to say something, but then he shut it.
“Why did you leave the room?” He turned it back on me. A sudden fear raced through my heart as the question hit me hard.
What was I supposed to tell him? I left to go meet Clyde who I actually did not end up meeting?
Thinking of nothing to say, I stood from the ground. My dress was now mid thigh rather than reaching the floor. After helping him, this is the thanks I get?
I send a glare before I turn to head for the opening at the door. There was no reason to stay any longer. He seemed to have enough energy to move around now.
“I am heading back to the—” I began to say, but someone’s hands grabbed me. Forcefully, I was pulled against someone’s chest with my back facing them.
A sword was held at my throat as I face Ignatius who was watching with enraged eyes. He moved to come closer, but the sword was pressed threateningly farther on my neck.
“Move any closer and this girl is dead,” A deep voice warned.
Ignatius’s eyes held a murderous intent as the man who held me hostage trembled. The stranger’s grip continued to tighten around me as I breathlessly try to inhale air.
“You realize who it is your are using as leverage, right?” Ignatius questions trying to provoke the man.
“I know exactly who she is, Princess Artemis Grenefeld, the notorious wolf whisperer. I believe that’s what they are calling her,” He spat out like he were disgusted by me, “She is the center of attention. How would you Peacekeepers react if I took your entertainment away?”
“Leave the tiniest scratch on her and I will skin you alive,” Ignatius threatens with an inhumane growl.
Ignatius was still weakened by the amount of pain he suffered all night. His slouched stance had made that quite obvious. He was breathing heavy, but he tried to hide it. His arms were not getting any better as the blood continued to drip slowly down.
His tall muscled frame heaved up and down as he attempted to regain composure. He was facing an encounter that he knew he could not lose against.
“I have a feeling you won’t,” The man snarled, running the blade of his sword across my neck. It slit my throat, but not enough to cause any serious damage. The stinging pain caused me to wince out. I told myself to stand still. One slip up and my head could be cut clean off.
A flicker of worry crossed over Ignatius’s face to instant rage. As the light from the sun shone brightly in the room the more intense the heat became. It was as if the sun was fueling Ignatius’s power of fire.
“What did you come here for?” Ignatius asks. He seemed to be stalling and it made sense to me. While the sun rises higher in the sky so does Ignatius. It was like he was the sun himself. The heat in the room was extraordinary compared to moments ago.
Had this man really not noticed?
Ignatius was impenetrable during the day, but at night he was weak because he lacked the sun. This caused me to smirk upon realizing what he was doing. I figured him out.
“It is my chance to kill you. To be rid of you damn Peacekeepers!” The man shouted in pure rage like someone who held them accountable for being monsters.
Looking into Ignatius’s eyes, I knew he had a plan. To be able to distract the man behind me he would have to set him on fire and possibly me in the process. He couldn’t come near me or I’m dead. Ignatius looks hesitant to proceed before I gave him the look of determination. I would handle this my way and he could handle it his. After all, he could just heal me if I am badly hurt.
"Princess, please refrain from being injured. I am afraid you have some kind of importance to Ignatius. I don’t want him healing you anymore.” The words from Clyde suddenly appeared in my memory.
Even if he asked me not to, I make my own decisions.
“Just do it, you coward!” I screamed, not at the man who held a sword at my throat, but at Ignatius.
Just like that, his eyes lit up like a fire catching flame to a log. The heat wave materialized behind me, igniting both the intruder and myself. The man screamed out in horror dropping his sword to the ground. In an instant, I felt a warm arm pull me into safety.
I faced Ignatius’s bare chest as the sounds of the man screaming by being burnt alive echoed off the walls. The fire that caught flame on me dispersed, leaving a searing pain on my back. It had barely got me, but the flames were out of control.
“Burn in hell, you bastard.” Ignatius snarled.
The pleading from the man to make it stop made my heart quicken in fear for him. The pain of death by burning alive is a gruesome way to go. Ignatius held my head down, shielding my face from seeing the grotesque scene.
The terror that trembled through my body blocked out any existing pain from the scorching on my back. Ignatius just killed a man without any remorse. He could have just injured him enough that he couldn’t strike back.
“He would have killed you,” Ignatius states like he knew what I was thinking. He gently lifts my small frame up into his arms. “Do not open your eyes.”
“You’re injured,” I tell him, concerned for the injuries on his forearms.
“Quiet,” He snaps harshly. “Don’t make me regret saving you.”
I scoff lightly. “I have a gut feeling that you won’t allow me to die.”
Ignatius gives a soft chuckle. “I suppose you are right.”
Ignatius had me change into a very large pair of pants and a tunic that could practically be a dress on me. As I wait for him, my eyes focus on the boiling pot of water cast over the hot coals in the fireplace.
He lifted the back of my shirt gently allowing the cool air to brush onto the stinging burn. My teeth clench at the discomfort of it.
“I am going to need you to lay down on your stomach.” He instructs me.
Doing as he says, I position myself flat on my stomach. Knowing how Ignatius heals, made me nervous. Earlier, he insisted that I rest on the bed, but I refused. He had to show affection towards me and I had no desire to make it feel realistic.
“This is just to heal you,” His voice sounded husky as he whispered lowly. I could feel his hot breath on the back of my neck. My eyes slammed shut ready for what came next.
Ignatius lifted the fabric of the tunic farther up as he places his lips down on my skin. Like before when he healed my arm, little jolts of energy ran through me. As he placed a kiss in different spots on my back, his hands caressed the sides of my stomach.
Unexpectedly, a wet feeling ran across the lower part of my back causing me to squeal. “Is there any other way you could this?!”
“You don’t like it?” Ignatius was amused at my actions. Him teasing me in this situation was uncalled for.
“I do!” I shouted, but the wrong words came out. The shock of the realization had me stunned in silence. Ignatius paused, not moving any longer.
Could this embarrassment go any worse?! I cried out mentally.
“Shall I speed up the process then?” Ignatius knew I had been flustered. His continuous goading made that clear to me. He was actually taking it farther than necessary.
He bent farther down next to my ear. “I think you will enjoy it,” He whispers making goosebumps form all over my body.
I turned my head quickly to say something to him when our eyes locked together. The way he was leaning over the side of me with that look, it was like every ounce of my breath was taken from my lungs.
His hand reaches to pull my face towards him as our lips are dangerously close. I peer into his longing dark orange eyes as this feeling inside me gets deeper, more complete, more bewitching. There was something about him that felt so safe and warm.
Ignatius’s lips brush mine for a moment when suddenly he jerked his head away. The warmth that once embraced me vanished into thin air.
“You are healed,” Ignatius tells me flatly like nothing between us just happened.
The feeling that I had completely drained from me. Lifting myself from the floor I no longer felt the stinging burn on my back.
“What are you?” I ask the question that has been bothering me for quite some time now.
Ignatius stood on the other side of the room facing away from me. His hands gripped the edge of the desk that sat against the wall. The muscles on his back were tense as he breathed deeply like he were trying to catch his breath.
“Cursed,” He mutters out. “We are all cursed.”
“I don’t follow,” I say, trying to understand what he means. He moves to face me directly with his eyes full of dread and remorse.
“I am— no we are,” He corrects himself, “the greatest criminals to ever to live and being a Peacekeeper is our punishment.”
“You have seen my amends to the Gods,” He begins, “You should understand that every night for last couple centuries I go through the same suffering and pure agony of the ones I killed.” His voice is pure darkness.
“The reason I bear this power is so that I am reminded every moment of my life what I had done. I killed my own brother and the lives of innocent people!” He shouts like he is nothing but angry with himself.
He looked mad, like he had a psychotic break. He kept running his hands through his hair like he was about to lose it. Like remembering everything he done in the past had led him to this atonement he now faced.
“The plague was spreading like wild fire in my kingdom, and as their leader, I burned every last living soul alive.”
Next time I’ll dream sweeter🌹
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