Now that I have a bit of extra time to get away from my mates and their punishment, I take the opportunity wisely. I choose to head down through the empty mountain caves until I arrive at the lowest exit which leads directly into the Requiem Forest.
With one step into the embrace of the forest, my bare feet sink into the cool dirt and soft leaves. I am, in turn, filled with joy as I breathe in the night air.
This was the smell and touch of real freedom.
As I slow my pace to work out which direction I shall run with, I let my mind wander to the twin princes to see if I can listen into their conversation if they are having one.
I don’t hear anything, until a direct link is forged back with my own.
What is it, Luvenia? Scared?
I am not fool enough to respond to Sylvan’s instant mocking questions. I quickly cut off the mental connection before he can trace where I’m headed and I shake off my sudden anxiety as I continue deeper into the forest.
They were pursuing, now. Quickly.
The irony. I had just been handed my freedom. I could choose where I wanted to go now. I just had to escape my princes’ hands. Those half-blood pricks were so arrogant and were already assuming ownership of me.
After five years, all I wanted was some maturity. From our last encounter, I attacked both of them when they tried to burn my clothes. Now, it seemed to be coming to that same situation once again... if they chose to try and stop me... they would feel my wrath. Literally. I’d break skin if I had to.
I follow my instincts, which takes me down a moonlit light trodden path. I recognise it. It is the same path the gathering group of slaves take to the nearby town, Haven, to grab new supplies each week.
I feel safest gaining distance on this path, choosing to jog instead of transforming into my Dragon form. As I go, I become steadily uneasy about my mates’ plan and I can’t help but check on their location.
I very carefully, sneak into the conversation, not sure if I’ll slip through this time round when Sylvan caught me out so quickly last time.
I’m lucky, however, as I bud right into the middle of a busy link between them which means I’ll be harder to detect.
Look at all these tracks, Luv sure knows how to stomp her way around, I hear Thaddeus joke to Sylvan as I keep a close ear on any conversation I may overhear. I come to a slow halt and a scowl curls my lip as I process what he just said. Stomp? Did he think I was fat? Also, what tracks was he referring to?... tracking in snow, rain and constant wind was hard. This is like following a slave-young, uncaring of the broken branches and displaced dirt they leave behind –
The last thing I’d worry about is displaced dirt, Thaddeus, I snarl back at him, making my presence known as my fury takes hold of me. I was like a slave-young? How dare they!
You’re making it too easy, from here I could throw my curved blade and calculate exactly where you stand, Thaddeus boasts in his newly attained deep brawl, which was nice to listen to but – no. Nope.
Where was I?
Try me, I challenge him, I’ll stand perfectly still, and if your blade misses or hits me; at least I’ll be dead before – a battering of air, over and over, followed by a slice of cool metal on my neck, has me standing stock still as I watch a curved blade plunge into the tree just ahead of me.
I feel a moist trickle of blood seeping out of my skin. I slowly turn my head towards where the blade slipped by. I glance at my hair just below my chin... and there is a huge chunk felled to the dirt.
My long black hair had grown to my waist and I loved it long. Now I had a quarter of it hacked off... for what... as some sort of joke? Was this the punishment? Or Thaddeus’ idea of trying to impress me?
I feel my Dragon instincts enraged, my green eyes most probably swirling with anger as I curl my fingers and focus in on the blade lodged into the tree ahead.
Thaddeus was the best-tracker in the war, Luvenia, Sylvan drawls through my mind, provoking my anger further, even better that you leave tracks like a slave-young.
I tend to leave marks like one too, I decide to prod them both back with a relaxed tone as I take two steps forward and grip the handle of the curved blade.
I tug it out of the trunk with ease and eye it with critical judgement only a princess can have.
“I’ve seen finer blades than this,” I mutter to myself as I turn around, “...but it will do.”
I grab my hair from around my shoulders and bring it to the front as I hack off the rest to match the other length.
As the blade cuts, two giant princes stroll forward out of the woods. They had kept off the track, and step onto it now to face me side by side. There is still a safe amount of distance between us.
“Nice shot,” I raise my eyes to Thaddeus’. They both have amber eyes like their uncle but Thaddeus’ irises are slightly darker, “You hacked right into your mates’ hair. I appreciate it,” I smirk as I hold the blade up for further inspection, “Thanks for the blade too... as pathetic as it is... it’ll come in handy on my Rogue adventures.”
“She didn’t talk enough,” Thaddeus jokes with his brother, “And now she talks too much.”
“Don’t give me that same bullshit my father’s give to my mother. You cut my hair... now I’m going to cut yours,” I stand back and raise my arm with the blade, holding it back over my shoulder, narrowing my eyes as I aim, “You can thank Amadahy for teaching me accuracy,” I can see in their eyes they don’t believe I’ll do it.
Unfortunately for them, they clearly had no idea how stubborn I could be.
“Don’t make a fool of yourself,” Sylvan takes a step forward and my eyes light up.
“Perfect, thank you,” I change tactics, now I step to the side and position the blade from my right. Sylvan made enough room for me to do exactly what I’d hoped for, ”Don’t move.”
I only warn them once before I fling it. I watch the blade boomerang through the air, right through the middle of them.
I stand back with my hands behind my back as I hear the thwack of instantly sliced thick long Dragon hair.
I then glance at the two seperate chunks that have laid to rest at their bare feet.
“You were saying, Sylvan?” I ask, with a raised brow, “Now excuse me, dear princes... I have some adventures to be taking a part in. Rogue adventures. Perhaps I will become a whore... just to spite yourselves. Good day – good night,” I correct myself and turn, heading deeper into the forest.
No, I couldn’t outrun them but perhaps I could insult them to the point they just let me go.
That was my new plan.
Being distasteful usually worked at pushing everyone else away. Why wouldn’t it work with them?
You made a mistake, little Rogue, Sylvan touches on my mind, speaking condescendingly as if to a child even though they were only a few months older than I.
They were just a whole lot bigger.
I’d lift your arms in the next three seconds or your losing a hand, Thaddeus isn’t as kind as I remember, but far more playful... in a manly way. I smirk to myself and raise my arms in the air.
I hear the familiar battering of the air right before a section of my white dress, at my thigh, is completely cut through.
I look down and witness the large cut.
Fine then, we were playing games.
My turn, I leap forward to grab the blade out of a protruding low branch. I spin and I nearly squeak.
They’ve closed the distance.
Five or so feet separate us; and it’s not much anymore. Even from where I was, I felt even more tiny now. Like an ant.
“Don’t hurt yourself, sweet princess,” Sylvan speaks aloud while I lick my lips and hold the blade before me.
“Don’t get too close, sweet prince,” I retort, “I’m the one holding the blade now... and next time it might cut something... lower on your person,” a raise a brow, cruelly.
“Try it. I’m curious, mouse, where exactly do you plan on going?” Sylvan asks, completely unthreatened by my threat.
“As a princess, I can go wherever I please,” I tease, lifting my chin higher, “As a Rogue, I can live wherever I please. As an experienced whore, I can please, whoever I please!”
“As our mate, you will be punished, however we please,” Sylvan interjects immediately, rolling his eyes at my continued attempt at banter, “Pass me the blade, sweetheart.”
I shrug and chuck it at him, trying to distract them by responding differently to how they’d assume I’d respond.
“I’m sorry but you are both mistaken. Punishment is for slaves,” I explain, slowly, “What are you doing?” I watch as Sylvan holds the blade steady, grips the majority of his hair and hacks it off; as did I. He passes it to Thad, whom does the same thing.
Now their hair is a short messy length as it used to be.
In the last moment, as Thad lowers the blade when he is done, he unexpectedly flicks his wrist and the sword goes flying by me again, this time to cut the other side of my dress.
“Nice shot again, Thad,” I roll my eyes, ignore Sylvan and watch his brother instead, “How do you plan on punishing me?”
“It’s not really about punishment,” Thaddeus explains in a gruff low growl, “It’s about teaching you obedience to ourrule and our word,” I just raise a brow at him, “Tonight, we’re branding you as ours, Luvenia,” Thaddeus explains, “Do you have an issue with that?”
“How about I breathe fire down your throats?” I ask, curious for their response.
“How about we breathe fire down yours?” Sylvan asks back, becoming impatient, “Is there anything else you’d like to say, sweetheart?”
“Stop calling me that, first off,” I put up my hand, “Secondly... you both arrived back from a five-year war. Why do you want to punish me? Oh, and why were you wearing an eye-patch to fool everyone you were blind?”
“He is blind,” Thaddeus growls, “He has a prophet’s eye – and like Zayda – it comes and goes.”
“Okay?” I can’t help but sound extremely disinterested, which erks both of them further into irritation and impatience, “We were... friends, remember?” I try to change the subject, “You know, like... just friends. Even when we were mates. You didn’t try to... try to...” I trail off.
“Brand you? Fuck you... sweet Luv?” Sylvan questions with a smirk, since I couldn’t say the words out of sheer embarrassment.
"She’s no whore,” Thaddeus chuckles, “Look at the way she blushes. Cute.”
“Shut up,” I snap, losing my temper but unable to rid the heat from my cheeks.
I turn from them, extremely embarrassed by my red cheeks.
When I see the blade, I lunge for it and pick it up, holding it by my side as I turn back around to face them.
“I won’t let you punish me,” I say, slowly, “Stop looking at me like that. Both of you. Stop,” Sylvan and Thaddeus are both trying hard not to laugh their heads off.
I grit my teeth to try and appear unfazed.
“Sweetheart... we’ve learnt a great deal,” Sylvan composes himself and chooses to explain, “I have the gift of visions,” Sylvan points to his left eye, “Ideas, thoughts, feelings, images.”
“That’s so interesting,” I drawl sarcasm and he in turn, eyes my held blade with amusement.
“Sylvan saw your future by our side,” Thaddeus explains and I shrug and instantly become defensive.
“Mates are usually with mates,” I snap, “That’s so enlightening.”
“He saw you, in our future. You will become... what you will become,” Thaddeus adds, nodding at me when my eyes briefly light up for a moment with a hundred fears, desires and anxieties in response to his riddle.
“I saw you fierce,” Sylvan explains, “I also saw you in tears, crawling to us... to our feet... begging for us to take you again after we took your sweet innocence.”
It takes a moment for this to sink in.
And when it does it hits hard.
"You lie,” I snarl. I can’t hear anymore. It makes my insides turn in fear, “You’re a liar and you’re making this all up!”
"No, but don’t fret. It’s not now, Luv. Not, yet.” Sylvan continues, “Not for a while.”
“Not ever,” I smile, trying to bluff confidence, “Also. If one more perverted fantasy leaves your lips, this blade is lodging right between your humongous thighs. This is one huge sick joke you’re playing on me and I don’t appreciate it.”
“I can see vital aspects of our future,” Sylvan continues, ignoring me, “...and surprisingly you’re a big part. There’s another important aspect you need to know,” he goes quiet to check if I’m listening before he speaks, “The war isn’t over... it’s coming to us, sweetheart.”
I drop my blade from abrupt shock and I back up, shaking my head.
“You lie again,” I deny his words.
“Nothing he has seen, has never not come to pass,” Thaddeus warns me, giving me a curious gaze at my constant denial.
“Well... if that does come to pass... do we win that war?” I blurt out, curious for the answer.
“I haven’t seen the end... yet,” Sylvan explains, quietly, “But I’ve seen you resisting our bond over and over. You fight. You trick. You lie. To avoid us. You come to heel one way, Luvenia. And one way only. I think you know what I’m talking about.”
Um – nope!
I try to think of an appropriate response, feeling like I’ll start to panic further or become hysterical if I don’t find a way to control the way this conversation was headed.
“You’re both big and strong, you can both track me, find me, do whatever you want to me. But you won’t gain my trust by pissing me off or threatening to punish me. And... I don’t want to hear any more... so I’m leaving,” I stay for a few more moments, after seriously telling them my truest thoughts.
I let my words register.
Then I turn and start once more on my attempt to walk away from them.
How do you think we’re going to punish you, Luvenia? Sylvan enquires, thoughtfully.
Probably beat me, cut me –
No, Thaddeus instantly cuts me off, is she daft? I think she’s become daft.
“I’m not daft!” I yell out without looking over my shoulder, “and you’re both really starting to piss me off.”
Not daft. Just afraid. Sylvan guesses right... annoyingly.
I think you’re mistaken, princess, Thaddeus connects with me and I feel he is about to say something big. Something I won’t like.
I look over my shoulder to see they have disappeared from their last positions.
They’ve spread out and I can’t see them.
I start to speed up my pace, thinking about misting to my Dragon if it comes to that.
Mmm, I believe she is mistaken, Sylvan agrees.
Mistaken, I repeat to both of them, about what?
Clearly you have no idea what our intentions are, sweety, Thaddeus answers, confident and arrogant, we don’t intend to harm you. We intend to claim you.
And have you seen that happen? I ask Sylvan, separately.
Aww, he is so kind to you, and you believe him too. However, ‘claim’ isn’t the right word, Luv. We intend to fuck you into another world, sweety. As for my visions, have I seen that happen? I’ve seen every single time we’ve been together. And I remember every single moment your eyes give way to pleasure. Every single moment you give into complete surrender.
And tonight? Do you succeed? I ask, almost budding in desperately.
I badly wanted and at the same time, didn’t want, to know the answer.
If I told you, that would just be taking away all the fun, Sylvan slyly twists his answer, what do you think, Luv?
What does Thaddeus think? I twist my own response, hoping for clarity.
At the very least, sweety... Thad answers, content with his answer, I’m going to see you with nothing on. I’m going to feel that sweet ass of yours backed up against my shaft and if you’re lucky you might get a kiss from both of us before we brand you.
That’s... sweet of you, Thad, no more words can come out.
Because unfortunately, in that moment – I walk into a tree.
Literally; I walk right into a thick trunk in my way at full speed.
After half a second of shock, I slam my palms into the trunk and back off from it, pretending my face didn’t just face-plant into the bark. Also, denying desperately that his words didn’t affect me deep down.
I back up some more – because I’m confused. And I end up backing right into a hot, hard chest. It literally feels like I’ve hit a wall. I do squeak now, as an arm wraps around my waist and pulls me back tightly, against an insanely giant prince.
I look up and up, all the way into Thaddeus’ dark amber eyes.
All I can do is let out a shattered breath as I then lower my chin and look ahead to see Sylvan stepping out from the trees, into my path, and right up into my personal space.
I’m utterly speechless as Thaddeus holds me back against him and Sylvan closes the small distance, standing up flush against me. His hand quickly grabs my chin, holding me tightly between his fingers as he forces me to look up to meet his gaze.
“Now... did I say you could walk into that tree?” he asks, mockingly, with a smirk.
“I can’t breathe,” I complain – a lie – but my last attempt to try and get away from them.
Because now I was literally stuck between them. Every which way was blocked.
Sylvan looks from my gaze to his brother’s on the other side of me.
“I like her this tiny,” Sylvan murmurs, “I like it... a lot,” he leans down abruptly and plants a kiss to my forehead.
In the meantime, my brain is unexpectedly having a breakdown. Heat at my back, heat at my front, my waist controlled with Thaddeus’ huge arm, my chin held by Sylvan... and wetness pooling between my legs.
I feel lightheaded because I haven’t inhaled for at least thirty seconds, my heart rate is off the charts, plus I feel Thaddeus harshly rip off the bottom remaining half of my dress before his arm around my waist moves. But not to give me slack. His hand slides up over my breast, and onto my neck, his huge hand lightly grips it, a finger sneaking under my chin. He forces my head up further so I’m looking back up into his eyes again.
“What were you saying about being friends?” he asks, with a raised brow.
I almost agree with him.
I almost breathe out yes, I was wrong, while sounding needing and wanting.
I almost moan, when Sylvan helps Thad get rid of the last dangling part of the dress with one forceful tear.
And I almost meet Sylvan’s gaze as he watches my swirling emerald green confused eyes, as he leans down, intending to claim my first kiss.
But I remember his words.
About me crawling.
And about me being fierce.
I mist abruptly, to slip out from between them and to free myself.
I didn’t want to crawl for them.
...just thinking that – in this moment – feels like the biggest lie of all.