The Blood King

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Chapter 13

I stare at myself in the mirror as I brush the long white tresses that fall down my back. It makes me miss Ismena. She’d be making me laugh by now with her tales from the kitchens. I let out a soft laugh and continue brushing.

I haven’t been around much anyone lately. Just random people of the castle, and I only see Caius if we’re training. Other than that, it’s Ulric who is escorting me to and from places. Ever since that day at the river, it’s almost as if Caius has been told to keep away from me. There’s a soft knock on my door, and it’s pushed open to reveal the last person I expected to see tonight. Cassian.

I feel my muscles tense up, and my heart quickening, but I keep my composure. Those black and red eyes are watching my every move, piercing my soul. He silently pushes open the door, closing it behind him, but not speaking a word as he moves across the room. His movements are so fluid and confident, you can tell this man was born to rule.

He takes a seat on the corner of my bed, never once breaking eye contact. He smiles, revealing those sharp canines and that dimple.

“Breathe.” He says. That’s when I realize my chest is burning from lack of oxygen. I exhale, making a mental note to keep breathing. He laughs softly, looking away from me and into the fire.

“Caius tells me your training is going well.” He says. I just stare. He came in here to talk about my training? I nod my head.

“He’s a good teacher.” I say. I notice Cassian’s smile drop a little.

“Hm.” Is all he says. He looks back to me and my grip on the hair brush tightens. He stands up holding his hand out to me.

“Come with me.” He says. I look at his outstretched hand and want nothing more than to move away from him, but he looks so trusting in me, that I slowly set the brush down, and place my hand in his. His grip is warm, but his hands are callused from fighting all those years no doubt.

He pulls me along into the hallway, and the light from my bedroom disappearing in the darkened halls. He looks excited as he pulls me along.

“Where are we going?” I whisper. He turns to me, not missing a beat. He places his finger over his lips, smiling at me.

“Shhhhhh.” It comes out so soft, almost as if it were just a leaf on the wind. I blink, and roll my lips into my mouth, emphasizing that I will be as silent as I can. He laughs softly, turning away from me and continuing to pull me along.

We move along the corridors, until we reach a set of stairs, and I realize we are heading out one of the hidden exits of the castle. He keeps his hold on me, and at one point he pauses placing his back against the wall. He pulls on my arm pulling me away from sight, and flush against his chest.

He’s warm.

I look up and his head is turned to the side as he looks around the corner. He has an almost childlike grin on his face. It’s foreign there. He looks down at me, and I immediately look away feeling a burn on my cheeks.

“Come on.” He whispers. He begins pulling me again.

We reach the outer edge of the castle, and I look up, seeing the stone loom over us. But Cassian doesn’t seem to be stopping. He still pulls me along until we reach a cave. My footsteps immediately falter as uncertainty comes over me. Cassian notices, and stops his pulling to turn to me.

I look from him to the cave and back to him.

“I won’t hurt you, Neytiri.” He says. He tilts his head to the side gazing at me with a small smile on his face, and for the first time I don’t feel fear. He’s so boyish in this moment. He holds his hand out to me.

“Trust me.” He says. I can feel the walls breaking down around me as he utters those words. He steps closer to me, and I let out a soft gasp from the suddenness of his movements. He slowly reaches up placing his hands on either side of my face.

“I promise. I will not tamper with your memories again, Neytiri. Trust me.” He says. His gaze is serious as it latches onto mine. I nod my head, and he smiles leaning forward and placing a soft kiss on my forehead. My body heats up from the sudden contact. His lips are soft against my skin.

He pulls away as if he hadn’t just kissed my head and pulls me into the dark cave beyond.



“Wow.” Is all I can mutter. The moon is shining high above, illuminating the pool below, but even without the moons bright glow you would be able to see the water. It’s illuminated somehow, each time the water washes ashore, a bright blue glow appears. It’s like there was a hidden reservoir inside of the cave.

I look back to Cassian, and my eyes nearly bug out of my head. He’s pulling the top of his robe off, dropping it on the sand below. His chest is broad, and I can see the rest of the symbols that curl down his face, wrapping around his throat, and decorating one side of his chest as well. His hair is pulled back into a ponytail so his body is visible. My eyes travel down his body, and he’s wearing pants, but as soon as they travel back up I see his gaze. The bright red orbs are illuminated in the dark, and I realize that he’s smirking at me.

I whip away from him, hiding my face in my hands. I can hear his laugh behind me.

“You can look at me, Neytiri.” He says. He walks around me, and I hear the sound of water. I look up from my hands to see him in the water. The ripples around him illuminating a beautiful blue.

“Wow.” I say again. He laughs. This time it’s loud, and boisterous. He even throws his head back for good measure.

“It’s a place I used to come to as a child.” He says. I look around the cave, slowly making my way towards the water.

“You’ve been here before?” I ask. He smiles nodding his head at me.

“The kings of old used to have magnificent feasts, and we would travel miles and miles to spend the whole nights dancing away and enjoying the time of peace.” He says. I smile along with him and take a seat at the water’s edge.

“I taught my sister how to swim here.” He says. He has a sad smile on his face.

“You have a sister?” I ask. He looks at the water, his smile dropping. His dark gaze meets mine and I see the sorrow that lurks there.

“Had.” He says. I look at him in pity, remembering what he said when I asked if he had anyone.

“I’m sorry.” I say. He shakes his head.

“It’s no matter now. It was a long time ago.” He says. He pulls his hand into a fist.

“The people that took my family have paid for their crimes with their lives.” He says. I feel a small shudder creeping up my spine at his words. I place my fingers in the water, mesmerized by the way it lights up when I touch it. I pull my knees to my chest, looking at the moon’s now rippling reflection.

“I don’t know who took my family away from me.” I say. I look up at him.

“Do you?” I ask. He laughs, shaking his head and turning away from me.

“Yes.” He says.

“Everyone knows who wiped the ikniri from the world.” He looks up at the moon and turns his gaze back to mine.

“Except for the last ikniri.” He says. He then dips under the water, the blue hue lighting up as he moves under the water. I can see his silhouette that is being lit by the strange water as he moves gracefully through.

He finally re-emerges, and the water streams down his muscles. He then begins moving towards me.

“Why did you bring me here?” I ask. He shrugs.

“I figured you wanted to get away from the palace and constant stares.” He says. I raise a brow at him.

“Oh? Not for your own selfish gain?” I ask teasingly. He makes a face as if he’s appalled by my words.

“Me? Selfish?” He says. I laugh. I don’t even think about my next words.

“I like you like this.” I murmur. I immediately tense when I realize what it is I just said. I look over to where Cassian is standing, and he has a look of surprise on his face. But he quickly covers it up. He holds his hand out to me, with a smile on his lips.

I can feel the fear of him slowly dissipating until it is nothing more than a nagging at the back of my mind. I return his smile, standing from my place on the shore, and stepping into the water. It’s cool. He keeps his hand outstretched. I keep my gaze focused on him, and as I get closer, my breathing becomes shallower. I may not be as fearful, but I am still just as nervous to be near him.

I reach him and place my hand in his. He uses the moment to pull me in close to his body, until I am flush against him. He’s warm. So warm.

I keep my cheek pressed to his chest, and I can hear his heart beating. It’s so fast.

My eyes widen when I see some kind of smoke forming around us. I let out a soft gasp, but the smoke is in my system, and my body grows slightly heavier. As do my eyes. My bones feel as if they are turning to mush. I slowly raise my gaze, looking up into those glowing red orbs.

Cassian’s face is serious and focused on me. His fingers are under my chin, holding up my head and keeping my gaze locked onto his. He’s watching me as if gauging my reaction, seeing if I’m affected almost. His bright red orbs roam over my face, until he sees what he’s looking for, and an unnerving smile makes its way onto his face.

A light scoff leaves his lips.

“Perfect.”

He leans down, bringing his face closer to mine. My heart is fluttering my chest, my mind screaming at me to run and get away, but I can’t. I can’t move. His lips are hovering just over my lips as he mutters words in a foreign language.

He then places his lips over mine, and before I can think of anything else, the smog that was surrounding us is breathed into my system, filling my lungs, and every cell in my body. I feel slow, sluggish, heavy, my mind muddled. My eyes widen as I take in the glowing red gaze inches from my face. It’s terrifying, but I can do nothing. I’m trapped. Captured. Rooted.

Darkness.

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