Julius stands behind Callista and Jacob, as he speaks to her in a low tone. For the pass five hours, Callista has refused to speak, even for a moment. Julius remembers the feel of her against him, his lips pressed against hers. He inwardly sighs at himself, the pathetic feeling that now circulates within him. The dark path beside the mountain kept them hidden, until the shadows dispersed under the light of morning. It has been five days since they left Silver City, trekking through a pack on the hunt for his blood.
The clouds above them shuddered and rumbled, light flashing through the skies. Julius and the males watch it with intensity as storms are never good news. Callista starts murmuring quietly to Jacob, answering questions without letting any of them know what happened at the Fae club. The horses were left behind at the infirmary tents by Granite City, as they ran for their life. That put a damper on things as well, the favor Julius and Davis had to provide to get those horses. Another story for another time. The sky opened and started to pour, leaving Callista shivering. The trees on their left swayed with the wind, dripping with rain.
"Now its storms?" Davis mutters from beside him, his brown eyes taking in the dark sky. The clouds rolled in, covering the morning sky.
"Apparently," Julius says, "but we have to keep going. The Kingdom Road should be about an hour away if we are lucky."
Jacob looks back at him, his eyes weary as Callista speaks to him. Julius tries to not overhear, hoping to not set her off. Last night was a mistake, no putting it lightly. He could not have feelings for her because of what he did and what he is about to do. He looks away, focusing on the path before them, the trees disappearing on their left all together. He nods to himself, the surroundings becoming more familiar. The Kingdom Road will take the straight to the gate of Outlaw Village. The path merged into sand as they get closer to the rocky road.
Callista stops answering him, her lips pulling into a frown as she takes in the surroundings. The tress dispersed all together, leaving them in an empty plain, with path heading east. She stops, forcing the others to as well. The rain never let up, the lightning flashing across the plain, lighting it up. Her eyes sparked with familiarity, but Julius frowns and shakes his head.
"I—" she starts, but cuts herself off, unsure of herself.
"What?" Keiser questions, "Have you been here before?" His voice is filled with sarcasm and he's mocking her. Callista doesn't spare him a glance but continues to take in the surroundings. Keiser's eyes darken with rage at the dismiss he got. He strides forwards and yanks on her arm, whirling her to face him.
"Do not ignore me," he snarls softly, still loud enough for all of them to hear. Julius shut down every emotion that goes through him, the hand on the arm his trigger. He calms down, the red tint of anger receding. "You do not want to make me an enemy, Callista."
With a burst of hatred that blossomed in her eyes, she quickly snaps her arms back. "I don't give a shit. I am already facing a time limit, aren't I?"
Jacob hangs his head, and Julius now understands why he kept looking back at him. Davis and Keiser look pissed off, his hand darting forward and grabbing her neck. He brings her closer, her legs flailing as he is nose to nose with her. He bares his fangs at her, enhancing her scent of fear.
"Stop," came her voice, but it came out choked. Her silver eyes meet Julius's, pleading at him to stop. "Julius, please."
Keiser lets out a sharp laugh, his eyes looking over his shoulder to meet his. "Julius, are you going to help this damsel in distress?"
He scoffs, sending a signal of doubt through her. "Of course not, but I can take over."
Keiser looks back at Callista, her hair now sticking to her face from the rain. "Be aware of who you trust. This one is the reason your friend and you little dog are dead," he pauses, "Well, your friend would be, if you weren't on the phone."
Her eyes wavered from where they met his. He smirks at her, no emotion coming through. Keiser drops his hand off her neck and she drops to her knees, gasping for breath. Red marks litter her neck from the pressure he used. Her eyes held pain and hate, which made her eyes look like molten silver. He leans down with her, his lips brushing her ear.
"I never cared about, Callista," he whispers, letting his fingers trail her neck as she gasped desperately for more air, "You are just a human to me, a blood bank for those like me."
She raises her head, her chest heaving. Her eyes narrow into slits. "Prove it." She whips the words into him, hoping to entangle him. She wants to prove to his friends that he is bluffing, hoping to win. He shakes his head at her, letting out a low chuckle full of darkness.
"Deal." He responds, before letting his fangs slide out and sink into the tenderness of her flesh. The sweet copper taste fills his mouth, exploding into a thousand sparks. Dimly, he heard her crying out, her arms pounding against his sides. The taste of her and the feel of her, he never wants to let go. Two sets of hands peel him back, Callista squirming in pain on the ground. His eyes snap to Davis, who looks horrified and Keiser who looks pleased. Jacob is across from them, his back facing them. He looks toward the horizon as if he can shut everything out that is happening. Blood stains the neckline of Callista's shirt, soaking her hair. Julius raises his hand to wipe his face, smearing the back of it.
Warmth floods through him. His eyes meet Callista's, hers full of wrath and hate. He smiles at her, content with the taste of her in his mouth. He leans down, his lips caressing her ear. "Delicious."
She lets out a whimper from pain, the blood stopping. He shrugs off Davis and Keiser, eyeing the male opposite from him. His best friend's green eyes meet his and anger burns there. Turning away from him, Julius looks at Davis. He signals them to get her up. They do, ignoring her heavy breaths of pain and the salt scent of tears. They continue walking, half dragging Callista along. The rain stops pouring down and slows into a soft sprinkle. The path widens enough for horses to go by and carts for market weeks and parties his father hosts. He grins as the edge of the gate breaks through some of the clouds. About fifty feet away, is the wall to the Vampi Kingdom.
A thick cloud of grey surrounds them, making Callista hack as she sucks in the air. Sulfur and burning wood. He jogs forward, his hands hitting the tall gateway, hoping to gain the attention of the guards stationed.
"What's going on?" Jacob asks, his voice gruff against the smoke.
"It looks like the wolves took their attention to the Kingdom." Davis spoke softly, his brown eyes watching their surroundings warily. Callista looks shaken as if something occurred to her, but before Julius could drag it out of her, the gate opens with a loud boom. The five of them stand there, their eyes searching for the person to open it. A long-twisted hand, barely concealed in the smoke, beckons them in. Callista steps back, her terror seeping through her every pore. This is something new to them as well and they do not know how to handle it. Julius steps forward, hoping to follow when the smoke moves, circling around them. Jacob cries out on pain as an arrow shoots through his arm. It vanishes, disintegrating into dust before their eyes. He checks his arm, seeing no wound to indicate it was even real. His green eyes brighten with fright, his hands shaking as he moves closer to Callista.
"Bring her to me." A dark voice thunders, the smoke thickens around them. Suddenly, it washes over them, concealing them from the other. It is searching for Callista. A high-pitched scream echoes through the smoke and Julius tries to reach for anyone frantically, the scream too high to pinpoint on who it was. The smoke thickens and forms a distinct shape, materialized into a teenage boy. His eyes are a molten red, like lava. His clothes are shredded like he has been in a battle with wolves.
The smoke clears, disappearing into the boy. The village they entered is a warzone, filled with destruction. Homes burnt down and raided, broken bodies scattered. Julius takes in a sharp breath. The boy strides toward them, rage filling his face as he looks at their group.
"Where is she?" he snarls, his eyes meeting Julius's, "You were supposed to bring her to me!"
Whirling around, he sees Davis and Jacob standing in front of the gate, while he is a few feet away. Keiser lays on the ground, his body not moving Julius crept closer, ignoring the angry teenager behind him. He hurries over, Jacob and Davis kneeling before the body. When he got closer, he looks away. He stops and puts hand to his mouth.
Forcing himself to look, he takes in the gruesome death of his comrade. His head is cut clean from his neck, blood a red-carpet underneath him. The head is a dew inches away, the mouth open in a scream. His eyes glassy and glazed over by death. Blood foams out of the corner of his mouth, into a line on the dirt where it was tossed.
"What the fuck?" he swears, his eyes leaving his friend's body. He may not have like Keiser, but a death like that? He couldn't imagine a more gruesome one. He around the clearing, the fifth member of their group suddenly coming to mind. She is nowhere to be seen, not even a body.
A hand slams out his shoulder, letting pain radiate throughout his whole body. Forcibly, he is turned to face the teenage boy, who looking wickedly angry. His red eyes gleam like laser as they stare into him. His brown hair plasters to his forehead as he wrenches himself away from him.
"You were supposed to bring her here!" the boy crows, his voice tilting into insanity, "Like your father demanded, like he planned."
The boy cuts him off, throwing him back a few feet into a skimpy tree. Pain is now through his whole body, numbing some areas. He hisses through his teeth, surprised a mere boy overpowered him. The boy simply disappears into the smoke and drags a finger down his chest, cutting into his flesh. He screams, the pain unbearable. Then it is gone, replaced by the boy. Julius looks down at himself, to find his shirt in tatters, but no wounds.
"Find her, or you will be punished," the boy demands, his voice high, "Find her before it is too late."
In a dark swoop, the smoke swirls around him like a tornado and disappears, leaving the village a destruction zone. Jacob and Davis stand by Keiser's corpse, a few feet away. Julius tries to stand, but his head floats a bit. He groans and settles against the tree. Concussion. He thinks to himself.
Jacob sprints over to help him up, letting him lean on him. "She is gone." He states, his voice mixed with emotions.
"I know," he whispers, his head pounding, "but we have to find her. We have to free whoever is left of Outlaw Village."
Jacob is silent as he supports him. They stop at the dead body and Davis. "I just wish an innocent life didn't have to die."
Davis nods, his brown eyes crawling back to the kind and gentle being he is. They start to look through the building near them. Smelling of smoke and burning skin. The clouds part, leaving a light sky in its place. The light that is casting upon the ruins, show how much worse it actually is. Whatever happened here, it didn't end well for Outlaw Village. The village is a burnt skeleton of what used to stand, a structure looks oddly like a rib cage.
"Where could she have gone?" he whispers to himself, his voice echoing the broken buildings.
A boom of thunder echoes overhead and lightning slams into the ground behind, sending a thousand sparks in different locations. Julius whirls around to face the figure that takes shape. A sweeping cloak of red and black, and black armor. His dark grey eyes take him in. He frowns, his face edged with anger as he takes in the headless corpse and the other two males.
"Where is she?" he demands, grabbing Julius's shoulder. He cries out and stays rooted in place.
"I don't know," he pants, "We got surrounded by smoke and when it cleared, she was gone."
"Drakae," the King swears, but he keeps his eyes focused on his son, "You will find her by night fall, boy. Or this will be on your head. Raise your eyes to me." The demand draws taunt between them, dragging out obedience. Going with the pull so it hurt less, he raises his eyes and meets his father's. The moment they connect, memories of Tamara surface, the first day he met Callista, the Silver Village and Granite City. Every minute he was gone, enters the King's mind in a single moment.
"Ah," he snaps, his fingers digging into flesh. Julius cries out in pain, feeling warm blood trickle down his arm. "That is why she was able to escape." He looks over his shoulder, allowing Julius to see as well. Ten Yelkites stood a few feet away, their weapons at their sides. "You three and three of my guards will help locate Callista Shawcross. She is still in the Kingdom, but it is my right to kill her before my throne."
He releases his son, blood on his fingertips. He grins wickedly at Julius, before flicking the blood all over his face. Julius watches, his hands clenching at his side. The deal has been made, his promise echoing the walls of his head. He had to find Callista to be released from this man.
"Oh, and the Village toward the outer banks of the kingdom? That is where they were all transferred during the war." His father murmurs softly, a hint of hatred making a bitter tone. "Might want to start there." He turns, his cape billowing in the wind. Seven of the Yelkites turn and follow, forming a half circle around their lord.
The three Yelkites in front of them wore dark grey metal plates, white ash capes and silver swords hung from their sheaths. All three have hoods covering their faces, like every Yelkite is trained to. Trained warriors, demon warriors. Julius bares his teeth at the creatures, watching as they grew crooked grins. He turns away from them swiftly, feeling the blood on his chin and cheek. The pain in his shoulder receded, leaving him clear headed to start their search party. Jacob and Davis stood by the ruins of their old training building. It wasn't a big place in the first place, but seeing it in a big pile of rubble, made Julius flinch.
They spilt into three parties, all of them with a Yelkite. The one Julius is walking around with has a pendant hanging from his neck. The charm keeps turning, so Julius never catches a glimpse of it. The Yelkite, seeing him eye it, shoves it in his armor, before scowling at him. The two of them make their way around the gate way circling the Outlaw Village, which surrounds the whole kingdom. They are checking for tracks of any kind to lead them to where Callista scampered off too.
"So," the Yelkite starts, his voice sounding like metal grinding together, "this humanis something special?"
Julius scoffs, jerking away from the creature. The voice ringing his ears, grinding together. "No. She is just a pawn to get free."
"From who? Your father?" the Yelkite sounds amused, "If any other Heir had your father, they'd be burning down the entire realm."
"Well, I do not see a realm to rule if it burns." Julius snaps, focusing on the ground, hoping to come across something of Callista.
"You do not know demons then, Prince Julius," the creature snarls, "for we are always building on things that once were. From the ashes we are born. "
Julius rolls his eyes and look away, hoping to see Jacob or Davis, but neither of them came through the arch way. He stops and turns, the wall seeming days away. He sways, the use of magic washing over him. The Yelkite beside him chuckles darkly, leaning lose to him.
"We are hiding in the darkest parts of your mind," he says, "we are a force to be reckoned with. You are clueless to who is behind it."
In a moment, the gate opens, revealing a perfect town and people yelling. Julius is a few feet away from the door as if he never left it. Davis and Jacob stood by a stall, their eyes wide and taking in the surroundings. Their eyes met and Jacob bows his head in relief. But he takes in the village, nothing seems out of place. No ruins, no burning buildings. People walk around, going stall to stall, entertaining those of the royal palace. An armed guard points at him, talking to a hulking figure beside him. Julius feels a trickle of cold slide down his spine as the eyes of the General meet his.
He smirks coldly, gesturing to his men to surround them. They rally Jacob and Davis over, so they are standing near each other. The guards are actual Yelkites, their uniforms gleaming in direct sunlight. They cover their faces, but their mouths are left on display. The General is about six feet tall, with bulging muscles and his eyes are a dark amber, flaring with red pupils as he takes in the three of them.
"Ah, here already with no girl and never alerted the King," the General snarls, "Are you ashamed for failing your assignment, Princeling?"
Julius share a glance with his friends, confusion on all of their faces. They remember the King visiting them vividly as he did. But he tries to grasp the memory, but it fades, leaving him momentarily disoriented. The General sees this and growls, gesturing for his warriors to grab them. Julius and his friends resist, knowing an audience with the King is one they will live to regret.
"Now let's go before the king." The General laughs, before pulling them head on into the people of Outlaw Village.