The Blood King

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Chapter 27

Caius

Cassian has done a lot of messed up things in his life. But this takes the cake. This is up there at the top. Neytiri’s wolf is carrying her on his back as we make our way discreetly back into the village. He used her.

She left the village to protect us, and to try to reason with him. But you can’t reason with a monster. You just can’t. We reach the gates, and I make sure to make my way around the left side, where no one will see us. The only reason I knew she had left is because I wanted to ask her something. But she was gone. And so was her wolf.

By the time I made it to the bottom of the mountain, it was too late. Cassian already had his way with her. I feel anger boiling inside of me just thinking about the way she looked. She was naked and crying. And there were obvious signs of what had happened. But I wouldn’t dare point it out. Not when she couldn’t even form a coherent sentence.

She finally experienced who he really is. And I hate that i couldn’t shelter her from that.

He could have killed her. But he let her leave in the state that she was, to show us that he means business. He isn’t playing around anymore. And he isn’t going to spare us. He’s going to kill us all. And not just He’s trying to show us that she isn’t fit to lead. Not when she can fall so easily for his act.

I reach up, puling her off of the massive beast, holding her weight in my arms. She is light. Her body is chilled, which is a good sign. Earlier she was burning up from Cassian. But now that she is back in the mountains, her strength is returning.

I make my way to the springs, and pull the cloak off of her body. Her eyes flutter lightly and open when I lower her into the warm water. She looks up at me, and I feel my heart break for her all over again.

“I’m sorry.” She murmurs. She lowers her gaze. She looks so defeated. So lost.

“I thought... I thought I could prevent this..” She chokes on a sob.

“No. Don’t do that.” I wipe a tear from her cheek. “You did what you thought was right. You tried to save us. No one can fault you for that. Don’t apologize.”

“But Cassian-”

“Forget Cassian. He’s been alive much longer than you. He knows things you don’t. You’re still young. You still have room to grow.” I smile at her. But she cries even harder. I let out a deep sigh.

“We all knew the moment we turned on him, this would be the result. We don’t fear death, Neytiri. We know Cassian. He was our king for years. But now... it’s your turn. You deserve a fighting chance. This world deserves some kind of hope. We can’t just give up without a fight.” I say.

“Cassian is going to torture every single one of you.” She whispers. “And there will be nothing I can do to stop him.” She cries. I smile softly.

“Neytiri, look at me.” She blinks twice. Then one more time, and finally looks up at me.

“This isn’t something you have to go through alone. We are your army. Not the other way around. And we willingly did that. Do you understand?” I ask. She nods hear head.

“I just wish I wasn’t so foolish. I wish I wasn’t so naive.” She says bitterly. I don’t respond. There is nothing I can say that can change what happened, and at this point what happened in that camp is the center of her words right now.


Three Days Later

War. It is inevitable. It’s always been inevitable. But never in my life did I think that the inevitable war I would be fighting would be against my own king. I’ve fought many battles. Alongside the same men. But now, I am going to fight against those men, to defend the people that were responsible for our suffering in the first place.

I am the first to step into the hall. Neytiri is sitting at the head of the table, her power at full capacity. You can see it radiating off of her. She’s standing, watching each of us walk in. I can feel her resolve as if it were a fire burning through the room. Her gaze is determined. I can see the anger behind her gaze as well.

She’s different now. Maybe less naive. Less trusting. But different. And all it took was for Cassian to push her over that edge.

I take my seat, as do the others.We all look to Neytiri in silence. She closes her eyes for a moment, and takes a deep breath.

“My people are surviving. They feel safe. They feel hope for the first time. I want that same freedom for the rest of the world. And I know that if we don’t stop Cassian, they will never see it.”

“I know that this is going to be a difficult task for you. But we are the last line of defense between Cassian, and the world.” She opens her eyes, and I have to stop the gasp from escaping my lips.

“We don’t have a lot of time. Cassian’s army is on the move. And I swear to you, on my life, we will stop him.” She turns away from us, holding her palm out and in a flash of light, an entire map of ice forms across the solid wall.

“All of you are experienced in war. Don’t be shy in giving me your ideas.”


Neytiri

The world is quiet. Almost as if it’s at peace. I’m sitting on the cliffs edge. My eyes travel to the mass of clouds swirling just beneath my dangling legs. Tikaani sits a few feet away from me, laying down.

Tonight, is the last night of comfort for the world. After tonight, either we will prevail or Cassian will. I close my eyes looking up at the sky. I can see the stars twinkling down at me almost as if they were winking. I always wonder if this is the destiny that Gran spoke of for me.

Cassian used me, and broke any restraint I had for him. He’s just a bloodthirsty madman hungry for war and chaos. At this point, there is nothing i can do but fight him. I smile when I sense Caius behind me. He always finds me when I’m letting my thoughts run me ragged.

“It’s late. You should get some sleep before tomorrow.” He says softly. I keep my gaze trained on the stars.

“Do you think you can do it?” I ask. I keep my back to him.

“Do what?” He asks. I finally turn to face him.

“Kill him.” I say. I don’t have to clarify who I mean. He knows. He doesn’t respond. I know he won’t. Becuase he hasn’t thought about it. He hasn’t wanted to.

“I won’t burden you with that, Caius.” I say softly. “You’ve already endured so much torture in your lifetime.”

“Neytiri, it is no burden. I’ve told you before I ple-” He stops speaking when I face him again with an irritated expression.

“Caius. Stop treating me like a child. I know you have pledged your life to me. But that doesn’t remove the life you had with him. I know how important he was to you. All of you.” I look back at the stars.

“He’s just...lost.” I say. I try and keep the bitterness out of my tone. He and I share the same connection. We both lost everything and everyone. He chose the path of destruction and brought his men down that road with him. Our paths were destined to cross the day my brothers invaded his castle.

I take a deep breath.

“My people are coming back from the brink of extinction thanks to you and your men. Thank you. I will never be able to repay you for this kindness.” I stand from the cliffs edge, turning away from the vast space beneath me and walking towards Caius. He is watching me with shock, awe, and worry.

“No matter what happens to me tomorrow, I want you to know that I will never forget you or your kindness to me the moment I arrived at that castle.”

I stand in front of him and give him a hug. He pauses, obviously in shock until I feel his arms wrap around me. We sit like that for a moment, and I feel tears welling up in my eyes until they spill over. I squeeze him a little harder, until my fingers are beginning to ache from the pressure.

“Thank you.” I murmur. I pull away from him, and keep his face between my palms, standing on my tiptoes and pressing a soft kiss to his cheek. I give him a smile, and walk back to the village to rest for the night.

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