A Mated Pair
Hak’vo had a mate- and suddenly it made sense why he was trying to make Nicodemus rely on him- leverage. If Hak’vo was the only thing keeping this place when things went south then it wouldn’t be hard to get this from him. That’s probably why he gave me such a cold shoulder when I put up the barrier- even though I just wanted to be able to order things easier. Now that Nicodemus found his fated one that held a better barrier it made Hak’vo have nothing to barter with so he was collecting his entire horde of things- some of which he must have hid in plain sight. That or Nicodemus may have paid him for his services and didn’t have any knowledge of the painting being what it was.
Whatever the case it didn’t matter- Hak’vo had it, which meant he had my mate wither he realized it or not; and I had mine.
Both he and I now understood the importance of having your other half. Keeping something or someone like this was heart breaking. I wanted to think that Nicodemus probably just thought this scrap of paper was a regular painting, just memorabilia of his mated one but I highly doubted it. Nicodemus was old enough to understand the importance of this- otherwise it wouldn’t have been hidden away in his bedroom.
I ran back to the door- coming back from the way I had come in the same desperate rush. My skin itched and buzzed- likely from the paint drying on my skin irritating it. That or it was the adrenaline rushing under my skin as I ran.
Hak’vo was likely to be in dragon form still- then again...
Then as if I were already at the door sliding it open I quickly dodged a jet of flame- my body knowing exactly what to do since I had done it before. “Hak’vo I have your mate! Burn me and you burn her!” I screamed before ducking once more thrusting out the gold container I had in my right hand.
The fire stopped and Hak’vo’s bones crunched sickeningly as he morphed back.
When I blinked I was still running down the hallway several turns away from the door down stairs. What?
A Raven’s call seemed to echo in my mind.
Had that been a vision? It was so seamless, washing over my reality for a moment before I came back into myself. With no effort. Strange.
The only clue I had was the bird’s cry fading in my ears- the vision almost like an echo in my mind so different front he present. It was hard to explain since it was magic and the type of magic I had wasn’t exactly normal. Either way I trusted what it had sent me.
Sure enough as soon as I reached the door and flung it open my body moved in the motion I had felt before, seemless as I dodged the jet of flame. It knew exactly what to do of course.
“Hak’vo I have your mate! Burn me and you burn her!” I screamed before ducking once more thrusting out the gold container once more I had in my right hand, just as I had in the vision.
The fire stopped just as predicted and Hak’vo’s bones crunched sickeningly as he morphed back making me cringe once more. The worst thing is that the vision gave me the ultimate displeasure of experiencing it twice.
"Give her to me." he hissed.
"Not without a fair trade." I responded picking myself up from the ground. I saw he had moved most of his stash- some of it including the paintings near the back of the now empty room. He was shoving it into a bag; or had been before he probably heard me running down the hallway. Guess I could have came quietly, but who knows maybe he would have smelled me then and it would have been the same.
"I have not had my mate since you witches first began to walk this land. She trusted one of you and has been forever trapped in that cursed paper. Now that's it's finally in my grasp what makes you think I won't kill you to have it." He hissed, his eyes stilted and claws growing on his hands. Oh god he was angry.
It made me want to retch as I saw the scales splitting from his human skin as blood ran down into the carpets down his pale white arms and into his robes. He looked almost like some demonic priest. It was pretty sickening.
"Look- I'm just here to get my mate in return. I didn't do this to her- Nicodemus gave it to me so I could get the paintings back. All of them. Free and clear. You don't hurt me, I don't hurt you."
"You think I would agree to a deal like that?" He hissed. "After what your kind did to her? Even if you do honor your trade- it's still only a scrap of paper. I would never trade any of my precious items for something so... trivial."
I opened my mouth- ready to tell him off. Knowing I was calling his bluff. The words died on my lips though.
Instead a new thought came to mind- something that maybe would make the dragon stop hating me. "What if I could find a way to free her? What if I know a way?"
Hak'vo's eyes narrowed but he was still as he stared at me for a long moment, considering this. "I'm listening..." He replied, his body slowly starting to morph back into flesh.
"If you allow me access to your stash and items within, at any time of my choosing for as long as I wish, with no repercussion to myself from either your or your mate. I will have my mate release her from her picture."
Hak'vo was completely human looking, his only curious feature his slightly orange brown eyes; hands folded in his blood stained robes. He was never going to get the stain out of the fabric. I wondered how expensive it was. "Allow access- you will not be able to take items with you."
I twitched my lips uncomfortably. "If I take items I will return them within twenty four hours in the same condition."
"If you don't you will never have access to my stash again." He huffed, smoke puffing out of his nostrils. "And I have full permission to hunt you down and kill you if I choose after."
I thought for a moment, dragons sure were tough to deal with. It sounded like a very solid deal, and mostly fair for the purposes I needed. Even though I doubted I needed anything from his stash, keeping her in his stash would be a lot safer in the long run then anywhere I was. If I wanted to live eternity with her too- it would be the best place to forever hide from the covens. They couldn't kill me.
Plus I never had to be afraid of anything in the stash changing hands. Dragons didn't ever give up anything in their stash. Everything had a purpose and a place and they collected some of the most special magical items that no longer existed anywhere else. Letting me use any of it? Even having the option? No witch would ever get the opportunity.
"Deal." I said with a firm nod.
"Deal." He huffed. "Now release my mate."
I held up a finger smiling. "No I said my mate would release her. I will go get her and be right back."
He growled taking a step towards me. I put my hands up defensively. "Hey I mean it. If I'm not back by this time tomorrow feel free to burn all the paintings you have from the same painter. My mate is inside one of those paintings, she was born with the same gift that apparently this witch that trapped your mate with. She made an entire world in there- that's where I came from when you found me the first time."
Hak'vo's jaw twitched annoyed as he stared at me for several moments. "Give me the painting while you're in there. Twenty four hours- if you're not back I burn the paintings and I will spend every day of my life destroying every last one of your kind. I have enough trinkets to do plenty of damage."
"No sweat." I said smiling as I walked forward handing him the golden tube. He yanked it from my hands quickly finding the ending and pulling out the very old picture being careful to roll it out gently. A strange sigh coming from his body that seemed larger than he was as his eyes roamed over the picture.
I chewed on my lip looking around awkwardly- and when I noticed his eyes were not lifting back up to me. Slowly I inched over towards the paintings- and then sprinted to them. As soon as my hand made contact with the painting, my fingers tracing over the treeline I felt my body slowly being pulled inside like I had the first time.