The Realms

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Light It Up

Mark had made several trips to the car to take all the groceries to the kitchen in the time it took me to step out of the car. He was super fast. But he was nice enough to come back and walk me into Riel’s home. Ashley and Cal had arrived by now and gave me great big hugs. Riel led us down the hall to our rooms and showed us where the bathrooms were (fully functional, thank goodness). He led us by the kitchen and then showed us his wing, saying, “In case any of you want to sneak into my room at night, I tend to post up in the room at the end of the hall. Ani, I mean that for you in particular, young lady.”

“Riel!” I whined.

He only flashed his brilliant smile. “What? I can’t help but be honest.”

Mark rolled his eyes. “I’m going to go call Jeff if anyone needs me.”

Jack moved up behind me, wrapped his arms around me, and lifted me up. “Come for a swim, Ani,” he pleaded.

“Alright. Unhand me and I’ll meet you out there,” I told him. I stepped into my temporary room and got changed. I was brave enough now to wear a two-piece to show off my belly ring. It was still relatively conservative but there was nothing wrong with that. Jesse was waiting for me in the hallway and we walked together out through the glass doors of the entertaining room. Evin and Cal had set up a chess game under the sun. Sam and Riel were wrestling over by the rocky side of the mountain. The garden was completely enclosed by the house and the mountain and was open to the sky day or night. I’d have to spend at least one night out here before I left. Jesse led me around the side of the house and inside an alcove was the pool. Jack was doing laps. Jesse released me and did a flip into the water. I sat on the edge, dipping my feet in first before submerging myself. The water soothed my burning skin, skin that had been inflamed both by the sun and by the lovely people surrounding me. Even with my powers, I hadn’t been able to cool down. The water refreshed me and I sighed in contentment. I raced Jack and Jesse back and forth into the evening. As darkness fell, tiki torches were lit.

Riel came strolling over to let us know dinner was ready. He knelt down and held out a hand to help each of us up. The boys all ran inside to get ready. When Riel pulled me up he noticed my belly ring. “Very sexy. You never told me,” he tutted. “How’d you manage to keep that hidden from me?”

I shrugged. “I have my ways,” I replied airily, walking past him. I heard him growl and picked up the pace. “Don’t go getting any ideas,” I warned him.

“Read my mind; I’ve got plenty of ideas already.” His long-legged stride quickly brought him beside me.

“I’m a bit afraid to. Especially before dinner,” I admitted.

“Afraid it’ll put you off your meal?” he wondered playfully.

I paused as I put my hand on the door handle leading inside. “No. I’m worried I’ll like it too much,” I stated seriously.

Riel stared at me with equal seriousness in his light green eyes. “Oh, you really want to see, don’t you?”

“Yes. Seeing you and Aeryn in the woods excited me. It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I’ll never forget it. I wanted to maybe find out if I can be a part of that.”

“We’ll see, poppet. Later,” he replied quietly, placing his large hand over mine. Together, we opened the door and went into the dining room. The vampires served us food and then retreated from the room, getting ready for a hunt. Well, all except Sam. He was locked away in his room for the duration of the hunt. I found that a bit hot. Jesse did as well. After our meal he posted up outside of Sam’s door, talking to him through the intercom. Evin, Jack, and Davis posted up somewhere to talk. Ashley, Cal, and I played a karaoke game in the arcade. Ashley had a rather lovely singing voice. Cal applauded us as we sang a duet. He wasn’t half-bad, either. Finally tuckered out, I went to the large, comfy room Riel had assigned me. The bed was the best I’d ever laid on. I wished I could take it with me when I left. I snuggled up in covers as soft as clouds and fell asleep quicker than I ever had before.

I dreamed of the stars dancing over my head. They seemed to pulse and I pulsed with them. They changed places until they formed an outline of Riel’s shape. “Hello, poppet,” he called to me, coming down from the sky. As he filled in with flesh and hair I saw a strange mark on his forehead. I recognized it as one of the Dark Curses Ramailo had shown me. It was a very ancient curse. But it protected the one who bore the symbol from death. Why was that familiar? Someone else had been protected from death at the beginning of the human race, supposedly. Mark’s words drifted back to me: Riel was reincarnated from someone who’d lived a very long time ago. But he couldn’t be who I was thinking of! That would mean…

“Ani, come with me,” Riel urged, lifting me into his strong arms. I stirred awake to find that Riel was presently cradling me for real. “There you are,” he cooed.

“Riel? What’s going on?” I murmured.

“I want you tonight. I’ll keep it short, I promise. I know how much you humans need your sleep,” he smiled sweetly.

I reached up to run a hand through his blond hair. “You’re kidnapping me from my room?” I laughed.

“All I could think about during the entire hunt was sinking into you. Watching Aeryn take you. I could hardly wait,” he said as he glided down the hall with me in long, graceful strides.

“You all are so quick.” I shook my head.

“You think a year is quick?” he wondered.

I thought about it and then conceded the point. “No. You’re right… Say, Riel, do you remember anything about your past life?”

“Hm? Not really. Why do you ask?”

“I dreamed you had the Vengeance Curse on your forehead.”

A thoughtful look crossed his face. “You can see hidden things, Ani. Be careful with that.”

“Who you were before may get you in trouble now. Please be careful,” I warned him.

“I’ll keep that in mind. Thank you,” he said sincerely. He telekinetically opened his door and set me on his big, fluffy bed. “Wait here a moment. I’ll see if she’s ready,” he instructed and went into the bathroom. I heard him and Aeryn flirting and grinned. They were absolutely adorable together. She came running into the room in a robe and jumped on me, giggling madly. Riel dashed out and pounced on us both. We all cracked up and wrestled a bit before they made love to me. What heaven to be with those two. I discovered I was something of a pillow princess; I enjoyed running my hands over and into Aeryn, I enjoyed sucking on her nipples, but I could not bring myself to go down on her. I loved her body, loved feeling it against me and looking at it, but I could not truly taste her. Neither she nor Riel minded in the least; they simply gave me as much pleasure as I could handle. After they’d exhausted me, Riel happily shared tales of his exploits with me and taught me some things about sex I’d never imagined. The role of Sex God wasn’t merely a fun title: Riel was, in a way, responsible for all scaroths’ sexual behavior. That’s why Sam’s punishment had to be overseen by Riel. A Sex God had to be available to punish and teach other scaroths. He was the one they trusted most and his counsel was highly sought after. Even other creatures made bids to learn and study with him. The position lasted for 150 years before a new god was elected. The criteria limited the selections to the exceptional. That was no small feat amongst those who were literally built to be better lovers.

It made sense to me now why Aeryn had invited me to bear witness to as much of Sam’s punishment as I could stand to watch. Others made things apparent. While they did exercise discretion, in general they brought all issues into the light to banish any monsters hidden in darkness. Everyone was held accountable. And many knew the cost of their actions and what effect it would bring. I was one of them. This was my world. I had to explore it to the fullest if I was going to be effective. I could never give in to my weakness like I had before. If there were gods I had to come to terms with that. If Shadows had stolen the ghosts away I had to make sure they’d do no more damage to anyone. Aeryn and Riel were such amazing inspirations. As I lay in their arms Aeryn piped up, “I think you’ve brought out something unique in Mark. I’ve never seen him behave so nicely to anyone else, not even me. What kind of voodoo did you pull?” she wondered.

“I simply saw his soul. He might as well have left it hanging out for all the good it did trying to hide it from me. I doubt many can see it but I can. He’s as beautiful as you and Riel making love,” I shared.

“I’m glad he can let down his guard with you. Maybe you can soften his edges,” Riel added.

I shrugged. “The most important thing is enjoying his friendship. He’s amazing.”

“I suppose that’s why I’m a bit jealous of him. I have to screen all his lovers. I want him to myself but that’s not fair. It’s kind of a compromise. But you, you’re okay. I trust him to treat you well and I trust you not to be offended by his harsh demeanor.”

“Good to know. That’s quite an honor to get past your filters,” I smirked.

She tsked. “Don’t make me sound so evil. I only hoard him a little bit, I swear! Mm, get some rest, Ani. We’re doing some rock climbing tomorrow,” she advised.

“Fun,” I mumbled as I passed out. I’d never been so deliciously exhausted. How perfect, I thought. This time when I dreamed, Davis and Evin appeared. We were all standing out in the garden under the moon.

“What took you so long, sweetie? Evin and I have been waiting for you all night. It’s nearly dawn,” Davis said.

“Riel abducted me and brought me to his room,” I snickered.

Evin’s eyes widened. “Nice. Way to go, Aniella!” he praised me.

“Shut up, Evin. How are you guys tonight?” I asked them.

“Just fine. I’m trying to find some excuse to get out of rock climbing tomorrow. Mark was so kind as to let me know,” Davis sighed.

“There has to exist some sort of exercise you like, Davis. It’s unbelievable.” I shook my head in disapproval.

“Is sex not enough?” he frowned as if truly concerned.

“It’s absolutely not,” I tutted.

“Sweeten the pitch for him,” Evin suggested.

“I’ll let you climb up behind me,” I tempted Davis, deciding to go a little Queen Aeryn on him. “I’ve got a nice new pair of shorts.”

When it sank in his pupils widened and I knew he couldn’t resist. “Sure, Ani. I’ll go climbing,” he replied hoarsely.

“Good boy,” I grinned.

“Maybe we should practice now,” he suggested, licking his lips.

I slinked over to the rocky cliffside and grabbed hold of it, sticking my bum out. “I don’t know. What do you think, Evin?” I asked as if trying to make up my mind.

Davis stole up behind me and rubbed his body on mine, gripping my hips and kissing my neck. “You’d better say yes, Evin,” he urged him.

“I find this view quite lovely as is,” Evin replied.

Davis slipped his hand between my legs and we finished off the dream full of bliss. In the morning I found Riel had gone on ahead to get climbing equipment for those of us that could die if we fell from great heights. Aeryn greeted me with a kiss and then walked me back to my room. Everyone met outside, where Riel was floating down after checking on the mountain and setting up lines. I gawked at Davis as we put on our gear; it was the first time I’d ever seen him in shorts or anything resembling fitness gear, at that. It made me realize I had an undiscovered fetish. I’d have to tell him about it later on. I was almost sad to be climbing ahead of him. Aeryn and Riel free-climbed on either side of our group while Evin floated up behind us, ready to assist should any of us need it. We made it to the top without issue and discovered we were on a small outcrop with even more mountain above us. “Who’s ready to go higher?” Riel polled us, already starting up. Cal decided the 100ft climb from the garden was enough for him. Aeryn tossed him a water bottle as the rest of us trekked upward.

“Davis, how are you doing?” I called down to him.

“Quite well. Your ass looks fantastic. And this is actually fun,” he answered. Before I could reply things went to hell.

“Jesse!” Jack yelled suddenly. All eyes went to the left. Jesse seemed to be frozen, and with good reason. Sam was glaring down at him. His hair was white. Jesse began to tremble as Sam latched onto him and shredded his skin with sharpened nails. Time seemed to slow down as Sam yanked Jesse from the wall and bared ridiculously sharp teeth. As his teeth moved to clamp down on Jesse a flesh of red sped by me and barreled into him. Mark, I realized. The three of them fell towards the ground. “Get them inside,” Aeryn commanded Evin as she dropped down to help subdue Sam. Jack gripped his chest as if in pain. Evin warped him inside first and then reappeared for Davis and me. He warped away for Ashley and Cal after depositing us in the living room. Jack was rolling back and forth on the floor in agony, screaming his brother’s name. Davis lifted his head into his lap, urging him to mute the pain. He massaged the side of his face and his arms, telling him to breathe deeply. Another red flash went by and I jumped. Aeryn came through the door holding Jesse in her arms. She laid him gently on the couch and turned to Riel, who had followed her in.

“After Mark’s secured Sam he’ll heal Jesse. Ani, are you coming?” she asked as she glided past me. Her voice was devoid of emotion. This was the queen of monsters and not the mere 18-year-old she appeared to be. This was my moment to choose. To show her what I was worth. I left my boyfriends and friends to recover and followed the mysterious woman who’d turned my life upside down. Riel walked behind me, unusually somber. Aeryn went down long corridors that wound deeper and deeper into the mountain. It slowly dawned on me that they were only walking for my sake. It was the only kindness they could offer me right now. The walls’ color grew darker and darker until it turned to rock. We went deeper still, eventually arriving at an enormous titanium door. Riel stepped around me to unlock and open it. Mark stood in the entrance as if waiting for us. “He’s been bound. You can begin,” he informed us.

“Thank you. Go heal Jesse. He wasn’t bitten but he was scratched up pretty badly. I think he may have broken a few bones in the fall as well,” Aeryn replied, touching Mark’s shoulder as she passed. Approval. He ran off, his red hair flashing by yet again. “Come,” she said to me.

I followed her into the dungeon. Sam was bound to the wall with a heavy metal. His breathing was erratic and his eyes were crazed and full of rage. His hair was completely white now. As Aeryn went towards him he struggled against the restraints. “Blood!” he yelled in a tortured voice. It was full of his pain and anguish. I found myself surprised he could speak at all. He looked like a wild animal. “Aeryn,” he moaned.

“Silence, Sam. You will not speak unless I demand it,” Aeryn ordered quietly, coldly. She strolled over to a shelf full of jars filled with clear liquid. “I have just the thing to make sure you keep quiet.” She slowly opened one of the jars and picked up a funnel. “Hold him, Riel,” she instructed as she brought the jar over. It smelled like bleach. Sam shuddered and recoiled violently as Riel tilted his head back. He screamed and gurgled as Aeryn placed the funnel in his mouth and poured nearly the whole gallon of bleach down his throat. My stomach twisted and I gripped the wall. Sam’s cries went straight through me, chilling my heart. Aeryn removed the funnel and broke the jar around Sam’s feet. A single tear ran down her face. She wiped it away and turned on her heel. Riel stroked Sam’s cheek before herding us out to close and lock the door.

I fell to my knees in the hallway and vomited. Aeryn knelt by me while Riel went to retrieve cleaning supplies. After he returned and cleaned up my mess and my face, I stared at Aeryn. “Why the bleach? That won’t kill him?” I wondered.

“No. But it will set his blood on fire. It nearly purifies a vampire’s blood. Being bloodless already feels like dying; the bleach makes it ten times worse. For a logmin the bleach would likely result in death if enough is ingested. It’s a new tool the Hunters started using.”

“How awful,” I mused sadly.

“How necessary,” Riel pointed out. “Sam agreed to this. It was his suggestion to use the bleach.”

“What a brave man.”

“It’s only remorse. A brave man would never have violated me in the first place,” Aeryn ruled, rising to her feet. “You should check on Jesse and Jack. I need a moment alone.”

Riel helped me to my feet and down the hallway.

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