The After Effects

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Dealt Deals

A throat cleared and I turned to the other two males standing in my cell. Locke and Soren seemed relieved at the recognition that I know flashed through my eyes.

Relief, however, did not flood through me. Instead panic did.

"What are you guys doing here?" I suddenly fought to sit up, the action causing me to scream as intense pain ripped through my back and I felt more flesh tear.

"Are you crazy?!" Locke suddenly shared my panic, rushing towards me. "Don't move you complete idiot."

"You guys can't be here," A tear fell down my face, panic and pain the cause of it. Mostly the latter, but that's neither here nor there. I turned to my brother's jade green eyes. "You fell into his trap, he's gotten exactly what he wanted."

A cool hand wiped the tear before it fell off my face and I turned to amethyst eyes. "You three have to leave," I begged and pleaded with the stubborn males. Rorek's huge hand stayed on my face, as his thumb rubbed lightly at my cheek.

Of all the things I expected, it was not a smile to grace Rorek's stupidly perfect face. "Too late, he knows he's here and now we are here for you." Rorek jabbed a thumb at my brother, who stared worriedly at my back.

It was the expression on Soren's face that made me realize what Rorek meant. "You know about the deal," I said to no one in particular.

"Of course we do, he bragged about it as soon as we showed up," Locke said, exasperated.

"How could you be so stupid?" Soren glared daggers at me, his arms crossed in what felt like disapproval.

I couldn't help it when a dark chuckle bubbled from my throat. "I just saved your kingdom and yet you're calling me stupid?" I glared back at the infuriating male.

"You're going to fight supernaturals," Soren barked at me. "You have zero training or knowledge of such, yet you expect to win against gods know how many of them." Soren threw his hands in the air as he swore at me.

Rorek turned to Soren, a pissed off look evident on my dragon shifters face. "Watch your tone," Rorek warned in a low voice.

Soren just shook his head at me, disapproval and anger wafting off him in waves. "You're a cretin," Soren said to me.

Rorek tensed and looked as if he was seconds away from springing off the dirty floor and murdering the prince of the south. I brought a strangely steady hand to his hand that laid against my face, causing Rorek to turn his eyes back to me.

Although all eyes were on me, I looked at my hand, finding it strange that it wasn't trembling like it had been for days. In fact, I was feeling marginally better. The inferno that was once my back, had dulled to a simple roar and my thoughts were definitely more clear.

"The deal has been dealt already, so there's no point in scolding or name-calling," Locke turned to Soren with a stern look. The prince just went back to pouting against the cell bars, his arms once again crossed.

"Why am I not dying?" I asked no one in particular, though a growl was heard at my question. Apparently Rorek didn't like thinking of me dead, I mused to myself.

"Dragon's blood has healing properties," Locke explained. "Since your injuries were severe though, it will take a couple of hours for you to be fully healed."

I nodded in answer since that was best I could do, after all this whole magic thing is still fairly new to me.

"Scars?" I asked my brother.

"Probably," A grin pulled at my brother's mouth.

"Sweet," I smirked back at him. He knew how much I loved a good scar, after all, they make for stellar stories and even better reminders. "So about the deal," I shifted the conversation. "Did Dear old Dad tell you anything?"

Locke's smile widened, "Of course he did. That man is a huge gossip." Finding a comfortable place to sit against the far cell bars, Locke did so and so did Soren. Guess they're staying for a while.

Rorek was getting closer and closer with each passing minute, more and more of his skin touched mine as he seemed to be hating any distance between us but also cautious with my healing back.

"Most of the rules are the same. You're to stay here, in this cell whenever you're not training, and will follow a strict training schedule. The first fight is in a week," Locke explained.

"A week?" I exclaimed. "Somebody is anxious."

Locke nodded in agreement before going on. "You are to be the only one in the arena fighting for yourself. He, of course, refused to say how many warriors you will be fighting, but everyone knows they'll be supernatural, because our father loves a good show." Locke rolled his eyes. "To win the fight, you must kill all of your opponents. In the case of you losing, you will then take up arms for our father and lead his military, thus starting the war."

"No pressure," Soren mumbled from the corner of my cell.

Locke glared at the moody prince briefly before his jade green eyes turned to me. "Are you sure about this?"

I shrugged, the action pulling at my healing back. "I have no choice."

No one could fight my words, cause they were true. As soon as I issued the bargain, there was no turning back. So I was stuck. I had to fight these three fights and I had to win.

"Time's up," A guard walked into the dungeon and glared at the men filling my cell and then my cell door on the floor.

"Well," Locke shrugged while getting up. "I suppose I will see you tomorrow in training," Locke said before he and Soren left.

Locke knew me so well. He knew that as much as I would love for him to hang around, I needed time to process everything and that hovering would do no good. After all this isn't our first rodeo.

I turned to the dragon shifter still sitting on the floor beside me. One of his hands rested on my neck while the other rested on my cheek.

"I take it you're not leaving?" I mused to Rorek.

"Not a chance in hell, Little Dove," Rorek rumbled to me.

Despite his words, he peeled himself from the nasty dungeon floor before leaving my cell. Alrighty then. A dull ache started in my chest at the lack of contact and the space he was putting between us.

I expected him to leave the dungeon, but instead, he went to the opposite cell, ripped that cell door off its hinges and marched into the cell.

A guard came into the dungeon and cursed at Rorek, who just responded with a death glare and growl that had the guard turning tail and leaving the dungeon. Amused, I watched as Rorek picked up the cot in the cell and brought it back to my cell.

He scooted my cot away from the wall and placed the new cot against the wall behind me. Then, in a heartwarming gesture, he got on the cot next to me and stared intently at me.

"I missed you, mountain man," I said softly to the sweet male.

Something flickered in Rorek's eyes as they briefly flashed to my back, he looked as if he was going to say something before settling on something else, "I missed you too, Little Dove." Rorek rumbled as he gently pulled my side against him. Ever so cautious of my back, Rorek draped his arm across my butt, the only not hurting part of me.

No longer dying, content, and feeling safer than ever, it didn't take long for me to fall asleep next to the cool body of Rorek. Before I drifted off, I vaguely heard his soothing, deep voice, "Mate."

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