Glimpses of the Past
I’m slow to wake up, but I’m highly aware of the warm body that curls into my lap, even in my exhausted state. I open my eyes to find the cutest thing in the world snuggled up against my chest. I lean my head down and press a gentle kiss to her forehead. She stirs slightly, burying herself deeper into my shirt.
Eventually, the sizzle and popping of cooking meat reach my ears. Looking towards the fire, I find Shawn already awake and cooking some animal over the fire. One quick sniff of the air told me it was rabbit he was frying in a small pan I had stuffed in the backpack. A bottle of oil I had stashed with the pan now sits next to him. The cap is twisted off but resting on top of the container. I am glad he was using the things I packed him plus whatever the Lionheart could hunt.
“Thank you,” I whisper, not wanting to wake Kiela up.
Shawn’s head snaps up at me, surprised at first, but then relaxes as he realizes I just woke up. “No problem.”
Kiela shifts in her sleep, moaning softly. Her nose brushes against my collarbone, making me stiffen as my brain stops working. Shawn seeing me in this state, chuckles. Taking a stick, he Skewers a few of the chunks of meat then hands it over to me. I shake myself out of whatever trance I’m in and take it from him.
“You know, you and I should spar sometime,” I comment around the bite of rabbit in my mouth.
“Kiale would probably flip her shit if either of us got hurt by the other, but it does sound fun.” Shawn smiles, toying with the idea.
“Mild wounding isn’t that bad, is it lionheart?” I joke.
“To her, it is..” Lionheart shakes his head, deciding against the idea. “She cares about both of us. A lot.”
“She barely knows me, though,” I whisper. I’ve had chosen before, I’ve never tried to reject one though. I know my pull to her is stronger since I’m the Godly one. However, I don’t know how it is for her. This is one of those moments I hated to have a chosen. I understand having a chosen just means the Fates think I’m compatible with the person. So the Fates being the Fates just add a little pull, (or that’s how they feel is a gentle pull. Personally, I think it’s one of the most influential forces I’ve ever felt.) they add this attraction to make sure we notice the person. From there, rejection is an option if both parties are agreed or if there’s abuse involved.
I’ve only seen three rejections in my lifetime, each belonging to one of my brothers’. My younger siblings Erin and Asura, the third and fourth sons of my father, both had unfortunate events happen during their time in the overworld, which led to Erin refusing his chosen and Asura’s chosen to reject him. Later I learned that my youngest brother, Azrael, had been forced by our father to kill his chosen. In all three cases, they suffered from separating themselves from the pain. Erin lost the will to speak, Asura is reluctant to trust his heart, while Azrael darkens his heart. So even though we are told that we have free will, the Fates punish those who veer off their path.
Even I tried to reject the bond, but here I am, beaten and battered with Kiela perched in my lap. The relationship between us, unbroken, and I still reluctantly attached the Path the Fates have laid out before me, wherever it may lead.
“she’s in love with you...she falls hard, and she falls fast.” Shawn tries to explain, but he doesn’t know even half the story. Suddenly his face gets dangerous. “so if you break her heart, I’ll rip your head off. ”
I put my good hand that’s holding a stick up. ” I’ll try not to, but I already told you I’m a bad person to pair her off with.”
He just shrugs away my warning. “you’re the one who was stupid and told her.”
I feel my upper lip lift into a play snarl. “Only because the two of you were constantly demanding that I accept my feelings or whatever! I can’t catch a break with you two!”
Shawn laughs, and I couldn’t help but join in. I notice Shawn isn’t wincing at the action, meaning his ribs must be on the mend. I expected mine to be mostly healed by now. Being both the son of Death and Selene, the Greeks called her the moon’s goddess. I don’t die easily. Even with that advantage, I felt that my regenerative abilities were debilitated. I was desperate to devour a few souls to restore my power, or my superior healing was at a standstill.
Shawn and I were both starting to sober up from our momentary laugher when suddenly Kiela wakes up. Her body jolts away from mine like I electrocuted her with my touch. Her brown eyes were wide and glazed over with whatever nightmare she was having—her fist slammed into my broken shoulder with all the strength that body of hers has. I yell and grit my teeth against the pain, my own hands balling into fists as I restrain myself from lashing back. The sound of me in pain seems to snap her out of whatever trance she was in. She blinks confused a few times then realization quickly turns to horror as she scrambles off my lap apologizing.
Taking a deep breath, I relax my fist. Kiela didn’t mean to hurt me, she was just scared. “it’s... it’s alright, my lady... come here,” I tap the uninjured side of my chest. Kiela throws herself at me, hiding her face in my shoulder as I hold her once again with my working arm.
I was right about needing answers last night. If anything this morning, with Kiela’s reaction, just reaffirmed my intention. I have to know what scares Kiela so much she always wakes up frightened, or why a man is trying to track her down and is willing to kill to get to her. I have a right to understand what’s going on. I have thrown myself into a game, I don’t know who my opponent is or how to play. Personally, I play to win, to that I require the rules and who all is controlling the pieces. I’m done going in blind, while everyone around me has their eyes wide open. If Kiela chooses to leave me in the dark, I’ll walk away, but that is the only reason I’ll leave her side.
Shawn clears his throat. “Kiela, are you hungry?”
She turns her head out of my shoulder, “yeah. What are you cooking?”
“So, do I get to find out stuff now? Or am I still supposed to follow blindly?” I ask bluntly.
Kiela pushes off my chest and moves away. Her eyes still glued to Shawn’s face as she ignores me completely. “You cooked rabbit? Gimme!”
Shawn’s green eyes go wide as he looks in between Kiela and I. This wasn’t going to work. I feel the emotions slip from my face, as I watch Shawn hesitatingly give Kiela a skewer of cooked meat. She starts to eat as my dead voice echoes through the suffocating silence. “I have the right to know what’s happening.” When she doesn’t reply, I continue, forcing my voice to remain stiff and emotionless, I was tired of begging. ” I can’t keep just following and not understanding why! Tell me, or I’ll walk away right now.”
Kiela stares at her food then drops it to the ground as she stands up. “Shawn, tell him.” She mumbles before leaving, not sparing and glance at either of us.
Shawn sighs, and my eyes dart to him. His green orbs swivel back and forth as they stare at the fire, clearly trying to think of how to say whatever he was told to say. I wait patiently for the information I’ve been dying to receive.
“A long time ago, a female demon and male angel met each other in the underworld. Both turn their back on their own kind and come to the overworld. A few years later, the two are married and have a child named Kiale. They lived in peace, tucked away from the rest of the world. This family even took care of an orphaned, prideless, lionshifter. When Kiela was four,” Shawn starts slowly, each word carefully formed. His eyes never leave the flickering flames. “They were found, turns out her father had been the son of one of the underworld’s generals. The angel had run away from an arranged marriage to be with the demon. Turns out, the general had been sending his man to find his missing son to punish him. When they found the couple, Kiela’s father was killed in the fighting. Her mom was captured buying time for Kiela to run away and sold to a group of slave traders... I found her wandering through the woods almost frozen to death. I was about 7 when we lived together for a while until she was about 14...”
He seems to pause, getting sucked into the memories. “After that..?” I prompt him to continue.
“one of the traders from the group that had Kiela’s mom found us. I believe you’ve met him? Gave him the endearing name Scarface.”
“Yeah, I think I’ve run into him a few times.” I roll my aching shoulders. “So how did he find you?”
“turns out they questioned Kiela’s mother about us. We were just kids, so once they had enough information about us, it wasn’t hard to find where we hid. When he found us, he showed no mercy.”
“She thought you were dead... how did that play out..?”
“He took us both, but I wasn’t what he was looking for. I was just another mouth that he had to feed, I wasn’t usefully to him or the others. So sold me to a master that’s known for killing his slaves once they get older. He kept her as his own...”
Images of how scared she looked at the thought of returning flash before my eyes as well as the memories she had shared. “that explains a lot...”
Shawn nods, “I don’t know the details, but we managed to send messages with the help of stray house cats. All I know is he treated her like shit. I figured out that she’s important to the group she used to belong to. and as you’ve seen, there isn’t much they are not willing to do in order to get her back.”
So we were playing a big game of keep away, and Kiela was the target. Well, she was mine, and now I’ve decided to listen to what the Fates have been trying to tell me. I was going to raise hell if anyone thought they could take what was mine. Satisfied with the background information and rules of the game, I shift my interrogation to the players. “know anything about scarface and his double?”
“He’s a hybrid,” I internally wince when Shawn growls out like it’s the worst word he can think of. “someone designed him a lad. He’s mostly hydra, so if you cut off his head, it just grows back, but the way he was created his head that was chopped off grows another body. he’s one of the most loyal in the group, like a guard dog, and is often the one sent to do the dirty work.”
“Should have stopped me before I did it the first time,” I mumble, feeling like an idiot. The guy had practically told me he could do that! ‘Cut my head off, and there will be more of me’ I thought it was all just bullshit big talk!
“I was kind of trying to stay alive. It wasn’t very high on my list of priorities.” Shawn snaps back, probably feeling like an idiot too.
I could help but chuckle at the situation we made. “so now I know the game, and the basics on how to play, any other player I should know?”
“Probably? There’s a few more heads of the organization, but I don’t know much about that. Kiela never told me about any of them. I just know Scarface isn’t smart enough to come up with half the things he does. ”
“How about the one that shot you?”
“presumably one of his lackeys under Scarface’s control. He uses some of his slaves to do dirty work he doesn’t want to do and breaks them, so they don’t go against him.”
I nod then studying the feline. His eyes never once wondered from the flames as we talked. His shoulders were tense, he wasn’t telling me everything, i could feel it in my gut. But this was a breakthrough already. I had enough to think about for a while. I struggle to stand on my gimp leg, done with the question for right now. “I’m going to go get her...”
Shawn finally looks up from the fire and towards the mouth of the cave. His voice sounds as far away as his eyes. “Alright”
I carefully limp up and out of the cave. My eyes flit around the sky, and the trees figuring Kiela wouldn’t be on the ground. I was also hoping she would stay close to the cave because if she wasn’t, I don’t know where she would have gone.
I hear a soft snap and glance over towards the sound. Sure enough, Kiela is sitting on a branch, leaned up against the tree trunk about five feet off the ground. She hugged her legs to her chest, making her look small and fragile. Her short hair covers her face as she hangs her head. Nimble fingers fumbling with a twig, she had just broken off.
I stagger over to her, calling out. “my lady?” She looks up at me through her hair. I can see her eyes are nervous, I smile softly, trying to ease her nerves. “I would sit next to you, but I don’t think I can jump up there.” She still doesn’t respond, and I can guess what she wants to know. “my opinion on you doesn’t change...”
“Why?” Her voice breaks on the simple question, while her eyes fill with tears about to overflow.
“Why would it change my lady? You’re still the same person I saved in the forest, the same person who curled up on my chest. The same person who managed to steal the heart of the undead.” I put my hand on my chest over my heart.
Kiela shakes her head, and silver tears start falling down her thin face. “why are you so nice to me?”
It hurts me to watch her fall apart like this, and I want nothing more than to hold her, but I know how she feels about contact. “because you’re a sweet person... you’ve just been given a bad hand of cards in life.”
Her body shakes with sobs, “you didn’t even know that when we met!”
You’re my chosen I wanted to say, but I don’t. Instead, I put my hand on the branch and haul myself up into the branch next to Kiela, ignoring the pain the racks my body. Once I was settled, I looked into her eyes. “how do you know I didn’t, my lady?”
“then why’d you ask?!”
“It is necessary to know I’m up against to keep you safe... I need to know what monsters I’m fighting if I want to win.” She moves to hide her head in her knees, not responding. “Raven...” I gently touch her shoulder, feeling her flinch then relax. “I want to protect you.”
See how she responded to my touch. I carefully move along the branch to hold her. I’m relieved when she doesn’t push me off if she did I probably would have ended up on the ground. “look at me, tell me why you’re crying... I’ll listen... just talk to me.” She shakes her head and leans into me, one of her hands holding onto my jacket.
“I’ll be here when you trust me enough to talk,” I think I’ve pushed her enough for today.
“I-I trust you...” she whispers, and I wait for her to say something else. “I would just rather not sit here and explain...”
“Okay, my lady.” I look away from her and towards the rising sun, my hold on her tightening slightly. “I’m not going anywhere.” I left like the new dawn, the possibility of the day laying out before me. Nothing was stopping me from starting this new chapter with my lady. Sure there were storm clouds on the horizon. I was done denying how i felt, and I absolutely believed that no matter what we faced as long as it was together, we would get through it.