In the Shadows

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Chapter 22

Iselora looked towards her companion gracefully sitting in the clearing. Her eyes honed in on the black irises that reflected their image back. Iselora simply nodded before breaking her hold on Svila. “I am so happy for you both. I cannot wait to celebrate more. But, for now, we will let you celebrate with each other.” Iselora smiled at the elated pair before turning towards Asmodeus. “Calnonern wants to talk to me about something. It should not take very long.” Iselora whispered as Cerberus and Svila became deeper into their own conversation. Asmodeus looked towards where Calnonern sat, suspicion working its way into his expression. Iselora placed her hand on his cheek, pulling his attention back to her. “Everything is fine. She probably wants to complain about the love fest that we landed in.” Iselora giggled at herself before turning to walk away. Asmodues reached for Iselora’s hand and pulled her back into his arms and planted a strong, deep kiss on her lips. Iselora’s eyes went wide with surprise. Asmodeus lingered in his kiss before whispering, “I will look into finding you something to eat.” Asmdeus turned and began walking away but not before shooting a glare towards Calnonern, who returned in kind. Iselora lightly touched her lips, his touch still lingering on them. Iselora’s mind became absent, simply enjoying the moment.

Calnonern interrupted Iselora’s thoughts in irritation. Iselora ignored the tone as she turned and practically skipped towards her beautiful companion. Iselorastill found herself in awe of the true size of Calnonern. Calnonern’s towering face glowered down at Iselora. “I do not like him.” Iselora’s face fell at the words. “What? What do you mean? He has been nothing but kind to me.” Calnonern’s expression hardened further. “Demons are not to be trusted. But, that does not matter now. We must discuss the next phase that you are going to experience.”

Iselora walked beside Calnonern as she led to a quieter location for them to talk. Calnonern looked about them before settling into place. With a long stretch, Calnonern curled into place, looking at Iselora. “What I am going to tell you will be unsettling but it is a natural process for our kind.” Iselora sat on the hard ground, hanging on every word. “The process will be especially uncomfortable for you. I sensed it when we first bonded, your magical ability is underdeveloped, which is not surprising given your background.” Iselroa’s memory flashed back to her life before. The Minder’s cackling faces aimed menacingly towards her. “Normally, companions would share their magic with each other. Because of this, my magical ability may overtake yours. This is a good thing, at least until yours develops naturally. I do not know what will happen to you, I only know of rumors. They say that the strength of the bond will yield physical alterations. Ultimately, it will be up to you to withstand the process.”

The pair sat there for several minutes as Iselora absorbed the information that was just passed to her. “You said my magic was underdeveloped? Then why do I cry tears of blood? Should that not indicate magical build up?” Iselora looked into Calnonern’s eyes, there was a slight shift as Calnonern thought for a moment.

“Do you know your species?” Calnonern asked in a flat voice.

“My blood is muddied, the Minders said that I was a blood elf that was mixed with something else.”

“That is partially true. You are a blood elf, but it is not muddied. You are of royal blood. In fact you are the rightful monarch of this land; that is for another time. When do these blood tears occur?”

Iselora sat and thought for a moment, mentally listing when the blood tears had spilled. Once her list was completed to the best of her knowledge she shared it with her companion.

“I see, there is one explanation that matches best with what has been happening. The tears feed off of your emotions. The stronger the emotion, the darker the tears. The tears may be showing now because the seal has been broken.”

“But, what about the time after my hair was cut, in the Minders tower?”

“Simple, your emotions overpowered the seal. Thus briefly revealing your true nature. I will caution you though, because your emotions and such are able to be seen, be careful who sees this side of you. You will learn what triggers them over time. For now though, we must prepare for the more pressing matter of your rapidly developing magic. It seems the process is happening quicker than anticipated.”

With a deep breath Iselora stood, dusting her knees and bottom off. “I will be ready to take anything that is thrown at me.” Iselroa raised her head to Calnonern, determination shining in her eyes. Calnonern chuckled, “I may have underestimated the bug.” Iselora scowled, “I am not a bug.” This only served to make Calnonern laugh harder. It was not in Iselora’s mind link, it was a physical reaction. It was rough but Calnonern’s laughter melted Iselora’s facial expression, Iselora began laughing as well.

After the laughter had died, the pair began their journey back to the camp, surely someone would have noticed their extended absence. As they walked Iselora noticed that her stomach was throbbing from hunger. She tried to remember the last thing she had eaten, but could not. That was when the smell of the cook fire hit her. The robust scent of meat being slowly roasted over the flame. Her stomach growled so loudly that she had little choice in the direction she was going. Calnonern must have sensed her own hunger, “I will be departing here, it would be safer for everyone if I went to hunt for my meal.”

Iselora nodded as Calnonern slipped away, weaving gracefully between the darkened trees. Iselora returned her attention to her own hunger, the fire flickering just beyond the line of trees beckoning for her company. As she was about to break the tent line, she began hearing whispers. She quickly spun around to see who could have been behind her, but all she saw were the darkened woods. “Iselora?”

Iselora turned back towards the light, Asmodeus’ silhouette illuminated by the fire calmed her nerves. ‘Are you alright?” Asmodeus made his way to her side, carefully watching Iselora. “I am alright, I thought I heard someone say something.” With eyebrows furrowed Asmodeus scanned the perimeter. Iselora quickly interjected, “it must have been my imagination, I am quite hungry and a bit tired.” Asmodeus’ expression loosened slightly but still maintained firm. “Then allow me to escort you to your tent. I trust these men to be warriors, not gentlemen.”

With that, Asmodeus placed a gentle hand on Iselora’s waist walking her past the delectable pig that called to her roaring hunger. “Is it not possible to sit out here and eat?” Asmodeus pondered this for a moment before answering, “I do not think it is wise tonight, there has been news of there being rebellious traitors nearby. I will dispatch a server to retrieve your meal.” Iselora stopped walking and turned to look Asmodeus square in the face. “Why am I being isolated? I want to eat under the stars. We have eaten among these men before and they were pleasant company. Besides the safest place to be is surrounded by warriors, not cowering in a tent.” Iselora’s anger rose in her chest at her own realization. Asmodeus looked taken aback at her sudden stubbornness. “The situation is more complex than you think.” Asmodeus’ tone had a darkened edge to it, but Iselora’s temper was stronger.

“Then explain it to me. What changed? I -”

“You died!” Asmodeus roared, “I watched you selfishly sacrifice yourself. When you died, I felt a part of myself die. You took our future and burned it without thinking of the consequences. If you think I am going to let that happen again, then you are mistaken. I cannot lose you again and that is the end of this discussion.” Before Iselora could respond, Asmodeeus roughly grabbed her arm and commenced in dragging her towards the center of the camp. Iselora quickly found her voice and protested his actions. When her voice failed, she fought back. In response to her physical reaction, Asmodeus simply hoisted Iselora onto his shoulder. His patience wore thin. Iselora’s anger had also reached her breaking point. Her eyes gleaming with fire. Everyone they passed averted their eyes, no one wanting to involve themselves in the quarrels of their king. She did not care of her feelings towards him at this moment, she did not escape her previous abuser to be held in control of another. “That is enough! Asmodeus Set. You. Put. Me. Down.” Asmodeus slightly paused in hearing her command, but continued towards Iselora’s intended tent. Before Iselora could think further, she did the one thing she could think of. In both mental and physical forms, Iselora summoned her companion.

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