The After Effects

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The Second Battle

Searing hot pellets of water rained down on my skin, leaving red marks and near blisters. But I didn't move the shower handle, the burning of my skin was way too ironic for me to care. I deserved to have my skin burning. I deserved the pain that the shower brought.

The second battle was definitely more difficult. Although, unlike the first fight, I never had to slip into my Slaying Still. It was more difficult because I was present to witness the betrayal and pain in my opponent's eyes.

Like the first fight, I was matched against a fire gifted supernatural. Though this time I didn't fight a Fae, the creature I fought was a mix of what I assumed to be a reaper and a mage.

The female that had been my opponent had been wearing a heavy black cloak that masked most of her features. I was able to make out the sparkly red eyes that she had glared at me with. The female had stood taller than me, in fact, she might have even been taller than my brother. I had been able to see her deeply colored skin whenever she waved her hands around, casting some sort of magic, that had attempted to trip me up.

Her favorite trick was fireballs, in fact, she had managed to hit me directly with one of them. The ball of fire had seeped into my stomach, causing an insane amount of pain and scorching the skin on my stomach.

The sheer pain and force of the ball hitting me had knocked me onto my back. The female I had been fighting didn't waste a second, she had been on top of me in a second, her hands burning into my waist.

I had played dirty then. I had let a whimper escape my throat and a silent plea to stop, causing her to lose her focus. With one of my free hands, which she hadn't bothered to tie down, I had grabbed a dagger and buried it in the back of her neck.

I got to watch as her red eyes widened then almost immediately fogged over. I had distracted her, played her compassionate side before I betrayed her and murdered her.

After pointing my bloody dagger at my father, who sat in his usual kingly box, I had gone directly to the shower. Where I sat, still fully clothed, and drenched from head to toe in hot water.

Heavy footsteps could be heard over the noise of the shower, dragging my attention to the lockerroom door.

"Ivy?" Rorek's deep voice rumbled around the locker room right before his massive frame jogged into the shower and he froze at the sight of my crumpled form.

"I tricked her," I whispered, my teary eyes raising to Rorek's amethyst colored ones.

Cool hands picked me up, hooking behind my knee and neck, as Rorek lifted me from the ground and out of the steaming shower. I didn't care where he was taking me, instead, I just buried my head in his chest, taking any comfort he could offer me.

When Rorek stopped walking, he didn't set me down, instead, he sat down on our makeshift bed in my cell.

"Have you ever killed?" I asked the mountain man that cradled me to his chest.

"Yes," he said simply.

"More than once?"

"Yes."

I don't know how or why, but I found comfort in the fact that he has possibly felt like I do. Like a monster. Like a cold-blooded killer who didn't deserve to live.

"What was your life like on Conale?" I decided to randomly ask, hoping to pull my dark thoughts from my mind.

"You want me to tell you about my family?" Rorek asked, humor lightly teasing at his voice.

"Please," I said, my voice weak.

"Well back on my planet, there were lots more dragons. A lot more than three. My father was a fire dragon, his coloring was kind of like Soren's though his colors were more red and gold. My mother, well she was an ice dragon, her colors were a deep purple and dark blue. They were mated, and deeply in love. They ended up having two kids. My brother was a fire dragon and I'm, of course, an ice dragon. We were the perfect split of our parents. My brother, Vegard, had my fathers temperament. Whereas I got my mothers compassion." Rorek explained.

I found myself completely enraptured in his story, picturing a young Rorek and a look-alike brother running around a strange and alien planet.

"Vegard is older than me by only a few life cycles," Rorek explained.

"Life cycles?" My face crinkled in question.

"I believe you call them years here," Rorek attempted to say, though he was unsure.

"Right..." I said, then another question popped in my head. "How old are you?"

Briefly hesitation flickered across Rorek's usually confident features. He doesn't want me to not like him because of his age, I realized with a start.

My hands reached up and grabbed his cheeks in what I hope was a reassuring move. "If you don't want to tell me you don't have to," I told him.

Shaking his head, he sighed. "No, it's alright. It's hard for me to remember exactly but back on my planet, I was around one-hundred and thirty-three life cyc-years," Rorek corrected himself.

My eyes widened at the number. This man is way older than me. "How long do dragons live for?" I asked, questioning how Rorek looked no older than twenty-three years old.

"Hundreds and hundreds of years, you have no need to worry about that. " Rorek reassured me before he shifted back to his earlier story. "Our family, like Soren's, was highly regarded on our planet, mostly because of our raw power. Although dragons didn't often get together to discuss politics, there were roughly ten higher clans that were seen as basically royalty by dragons and other supernatural creatures."

"How come the King didn't recognize you when you showed up in the throne room a couple of weeks ago?" I asked.

"Because we had never met. He had more than likely met my parents, but without my dragon's family scent, he couldn't tell who or what I belonged too. Now though, I'm sure he's put together that I come from a powerful family," Rorek said, a smile crossing his face.

With Rorek's story, I had managed to calm down and nearly move on from the woman I had murdered earlier. For that, I would always be grateful for him.

He seemed to be able to sense my semi-stable state. "Do you miss your family?" I asked Rorek. He shifted me around, so that I no longer lay in his lap, but now on the bed while he cocooned me into his chest.

"Every day," Rorek whispered against my hair.

"Are they gone?" I dreaded the answer, but had blurted the question before I could think it through.

"Yes," Rorek said, pressing his lips against my forehead.

I felt sadness pang through my chest at his loss. I could never imagine losing my brother, although my father wouldn't be that much of a loss. The death of my mother and sister had crushed me though, even though they were years apart. I could never imagine losing my entire family in one night.

Sleep had started to pull at my consciousness, and I felt my mouth mumble words before my brain had processed them.

"I love you, mountain man."

His huge frame froze beside me, before I felt another kiss pressed to my forehead as he spoke. "I love you too, Little Dove."


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