The Blood King

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Chapter 10

When I was younger, I ran away from the village. While I was in the forest, a black bear came upon me. It stood on its hind legs, showing me how tall and brutally strong it was before roaring at me. I had felt so much fear in that moment, I thought that I was going to die. My throat was locked as if the breath itself had escaped me. My legs felt as if someone has replaced them with thin twigs, barely able to support me. And my heart. It felt like a hummingbird, beating against my chest.

I vowed to myself I would never, ever feel that way again. I would never fear anything. I would train and grow strong and be able to take down anything that came my way. Until today. Right now, in this hour.

As I stare at Cassians face, I feel nothing but fear. Crippling, unfiltered, paralyzing fear. And I have no idea why. He’s attractive. Beyond attractive. His skin is smooth as marble, and his lips are full and chiseled on his face. His jaw is as sharp as my blade, and I can see the soft indent of a dimple on his left cheek. His hair is black. So dark, you might get lost in it if you stare too long, and his eyes. The things that are keeping me captive in this very moment.

They are black like Xavien’s. Where the whites of his eyes should be is completely black, followed by gray eyes with blood red circling his pupil. There are emblems on his face, only on one side around his eye and I see them alongside his throat and disappearing into his robes. I feel my legs shaking beneath me, and my breathing is stuck in my throat. My chest is burning from lack of oxygen, but I can’t breathe. That’s how afraid I am. There’s only one-word flashing through my mind right now.


He smiles, causing that dimple to deepen on his cheek.

“I won’t hurt you.” He says. Somehow, his voice sounds more sinister now that I can see who he is. As if his words are taunting me, not trying to soothe me.

“I... I...” I can’t say anything. He laughs softly to himself, reaching out and pushing a stray strand away from my face. My flesh is burning from his touch.

“See. This is why I wanted things to go different. Slow. I knew this would happen.” He says softly. He reaches underneath my legs, lifting me up off the ground and carrying me across the room. He sits me softly on the bed, laying my head back against the pillows. He then turns away from me, and I can see his back. His hair is long. Kept together past his waist by a loose tie.

He walks away, but it’s as if his essence is still in the room. It’s overpowering. He comes back to the bed, with a blank expression, but he’s terrifying me. And he knows it. He takes a seat, reaching over to the basin he brought and sat on the bedside table, ringing out the cool towel before placing it against my cheek.

My skin soothes from the contact. He does the same to my forehead and the other side of my face. He’s so focused on his task, but his eyes roam over my face as he works.

“It’s natural. What you’re feeling.” He says. I shudder from his tone.

“Fear.” He says. He lets out a long sigh.

“It’s in your blood to know. But your mind has no way of comprehending why you’re feeling this way.” He says. He reaches over me, placing the towel back in the bowl. My body is shaking. It’s so strange I can’t control myself in the slightest.

He stands with his back to me, and begins messing with the ties on his robes, pulling them apart and dropping the fabric to the floor. My eyes widen when I take in his naked back. The symbols run down from his throat crossing over his shoulder and on to his back. But I also see two slits on his back. My eyes narrow as I try and make out what it could be, but he turns back to me. He begins walking around the room, blowing out the candles until there is no light but the soft glow from the fireplace.

He crawls behind me in the bed, pulling back the covers and I tense when I feel his arms around my waist as he drags me close to him. His hands are wrapped around my waist, and I feel his warmth. I squeeze my eyes shut in terror as tears escape me.

“It will wear off by morning.” He says simply. I feel him moving m hair and he places a soft kiss against my exposed shoulder. I shudder.

“I didn’t want you to have to experience this, but you left me no choice. Until you understand who you are, and the past we have together, you will never be able to look upon me with anything other than fear. And as you mature into what the ikniri are to be, it will be harder and harder for me to keep you alive, unless you understand the truth in your heart.” He says. He lets out a deep sigh and begins humming something soft.

The tune is vaguely familiar. I don’t consciously know it, but I can hum along with him if I want. I know the notes that are coming next. I feel my eyes getting heavy from the comfort of Cassian behind me, as well as the heat he is giving off. Thinking back to all the times we were together in the castle, I don’t understand why such fear came over me at the sight of him.


She’s asleep. I can hear the soft and beating of her heart. A rhythm that hours ago was going rapidly. I’m across the room, looking into the fire. It’s always comforted me. I look back to where she lays in the bed. Her ice white hair is falling in her face, and her lips are slightly parted.

I feel a slight throb on my hand and lift it to my gaze. It’s red. There’s going to be scarring. Neytiri did it earlier on accident. I was so caught up in my irritation with Xavien’s meddling, I forgot how dangerous it is for me to be so near her when she’s frightened. She’s already passed her maturation, so her power is just dormant at the moment.

But in that moment, she felt so much fear, and released it on me, burning my flesh. I let out a soft laugh staring at the angry red marring. It’s been a while since I felt any form of pain. It’s a dangerous game I’m playing right now. Everyone is against it, and it can go either way for me. I must be patient.

I walk back to the bed, standing over her sleeping form. I could end it all right here. Like I should have years ago. But as my hand hovers over her throat, I just can’t make myself do it. But in the future, I must come to a decision. Even if it is the hard one.


I open my eyes, just as sleep wears off. I look around the unfamiliar room, realizing that I am still in Cassian’s room. I sit up in bed, looking around but he is nowhere to be found. I let out a deep sigh, sitting up feeling relief that I am finally in control of my body again.

What was that last night? I try and re-imagine Cassian’s face, but I come up blank. All I can recall is how scared I was at the sight of it. I throw my legs over the bed, standing and stretching the sleep from my muscles. I then walk to the door of the room, in search of Caius.

“You can’t just go wandering off when with strangers when you feel like it, Neytiri.” I nod my head, swinging my sword. It collides with Caius’ jarring my body. He holds his ground, not even looking like he’s exerting any form of energy.

He releases the hold and begins swinging at different angles which I manage to block. It drives me crazy how he is able to fight me as well as lecture me at the same time. He uses my distracted mind against me, knocking my sword from my hand and using the butt of his to hit me hard enough to knock me on my ass.

I land hard in the dirt, coughing as the flies around me. Caius agreed to train me and we have been doing so since that day. Even now in the back of the castle we managed to find a spot to train in. And he always bests me.

I look up as the dust clears and he has his blade right at my face. I hold my hand up signaling surrender, and he gives me a soft smile, helping me up.

“Much better today. You’ve really improved, Neytiri.” He says. I nod my head, looking at the ground. My mind has been frazzled since last night, and nothing that I do can take away the confusion that is in my head. Caius tilts his head so that his gaze is under mine.

“Something bothering you?” He asks. I look up at him and see the genuine concern on his face.

“I saw Cassian last night.” I say. He raises a brow at me, so I clarify.

“I saw his face. He showed me.” I say. Caius tenses, but says nothing.

“And the moment I saw him, I couldn’t move. My body was just... paralyzed.” I say. I look down at my hands and back to Caius.

“You see him every day. How can you look at him without fear? How can the castle look at him without fear?” I ask. It’s been bothering me, how much his presence affects me, but no one else. Caius looks up at the sky, contemplating his answer.

“Because... we are not, Ikniri.” He says. He looks back at me.

“Only you, your people, can see what he truly is. The rest of us, are just... puppets in his game. Drawn to him, wanting nothing more than to blindly follow him to earn his favor.” He says. I narrow my brow in complete confusion.

“Only I can see his true nature?” I repeat. I think back to what his true nature was when I was with him, and I can’t wrap my mind around it that that is who he truly is. It’s... impossible.

“But... How can that be possible?” I ask. Caius shrugs.

“I’ve already said too much. Come. We must get you cleaned up before dinner.” He walks past me, expecting me to follow him. But his words are ringing in my ears.

“Only you can see his true nature.”

If that’s the truth, then I fear Cassian now more than ever. I begin following Caius into the castle, and on the way I realize that I am humming. I pause, my eyes widening as I put words to the song that I am humming. The song that Cassian was humming to me just last night.

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