Like any other day the sky was a reflection of the fire in the earthís core and there was screaming from every direction. It was a barren place with nothing but bones poking up everywhere and fires sprouting from anything and everything.
But tonight was different. There was a new scream to the bunch and the sound made me very on edge. Unlike a human, I always go towards the sound that bothers me. Or more like intrigues. This scream was filled with fresh pain. This human just arrived.
As I neared the sound I found a man strapped to a rock by an invisible force. Maybe it was pain. For all I knew he was in lots and lots of pain. Was it even a man? Peering closer from the top of the hill, as far away from the demons as possible, I looked more closely at his bitten face and swollen lips. I peered at his jaw line and then at his barely noticeable shoulders. Yes, he was a man, and beautiful nonetheless. It only took me a glimpse to figure it out, because the demons pulled away like they wanted me to see him, and then pounced on him all over again.
I watched as the demons tore at his skin, sometimes taking it with them, and some kissed him...and I do mean some. Most of them were biting, tearing, sucking...anything that would quench their thirst for more and more pain. I guess that’s not quite right though, demons never stop getting hungry. They feed on you until there’s nothing left, or you stop giving off waves of pain. Even then I guess they could continue, if they wanted, but to them its never as fun when their victim doesn’t scream or moan in agony.
I’ve never really watched a torture happen, and I didn’t like it. No, I hated it. It made my stomach hurt, and with every tear they made a sharp pain would cut through my stomach. Why though? It’s not like the blood and organs spilling out disgusted me. So what was it then? Thinking this, I really looked at him this time.
Although his face was burned from the touch of so many demons he was beautiful. He had a strong jaw and a straight nose... I think. His hair was cropped military style, and his wide eyes were bright ocean blue. They almost glowed in fact. My eyes traveled down and his torso, although cut to shreds, still had it’s shape and it was ripped with muscles. Or at least I imagined it that way, considering the strong set of shoulders he owned. Once again my eyes traveled further south. Down...down.... down they went. And I caught myself before I tried to peer through the horde of demons to drool at his manliness.
I brought my attention back to the demons and my stomach twisted in knots again. Not so much because the sight was gross, but because I realized they had torn his clothes to ribbons while torturing him. And now they were pushing at each other, wanting a chance of their own to possess one of his offspring.
All of the sudden fury and disbelief washed through me. Why did demons have such a right to do this to a man? What did he ever do? Oh, well I guess that’s how he got down here. He did do something. Okay, let me rephrase that. What did he ever do to them? Nothing, that’s what.
Before I knew it, I was marching down the hill and straight through the fires. Yes, I have the ability to walk straight through them. Not a burn to be found. One after the next the warm heat of the fire brushed at my skin before I could pass through and into the next. As I neared the pile of demons and one human, they started to notice me.
They growled at the interruption and some bared their teeth. Demon’s teeth are very sharp and if you aren't immune to the poison then you have a small chance of living very long. Basically their venom would take over your white blood cells and eventually kill you. Short and simple.
Once I had all their attention I spread my legs into a battle stance and palmed two daggers as I called upon the fires blazing behind me. In doing so the fire grew in volume and torridness.
I smirked knowing that they have misjudged my skill because of my small size. “Leave or die.” I said, giving them a chance to live. But I didnít give them very long to think. I immediately went for the kill, slashing throats and stabbing hearts. Some fell to the ground in a heap of ashes that I dragged my foot through. I didnít want to take the chance of them reviving and stabbing me in the back or using their teeth on my. I didnít need another scar, I had plenty. The rest lit in flames with their mouths agape in a silent scream. This was it for them. They would never come back in any way, shape or form. And I mean that literally. Thatís how powerful my fire is.
The job done within three minutes; a record I must say; I wiped the purple-black blood from the daggers on my pant legs and focused my attention on the man. As I neared him the flames receded, and the heat on my back died down.
For some reason, I was being hesitant to go near this man. My mother always said don't trust his kind. As she said it, “they can take your virginity and free will all at the same time.” I guess that’s how she had the four of us, my sisters and me. She was never really that strong of a woman anyways. Mother was never emotionally strong enough to push a man away. And according to her he was a man in need.
Looking at this man now, he didn’t seem at all dangerous. He seemed harmless actually. As I shuffled closer I mentally slapped myself aí side the head. Get it together, Kenna. This man is wounded to the point of demise. C’mon girl!
I was right up against him at this point and saw that his body had relaxed...kind of. As relaxed as a tortured man could be, but his eyes were still glassy and I wasn't sure he was breathing. Wait... no he was, I realized as I bent down to listen for breath leaving his lips. I sighed thankful I wasn’t too late. Even a few minutes after death you can still feel pain.
At my presence he jolted, his head banging against the boulder, like I woke him from a dream. Then the screaming started all over again. Not just a raw sound came from his throat this time, but words that pleaded to no one in particular. “No, please! Let me be. Please, No!” his body started to shake from fright and he began to moan and groan from the pain. “No please, please stop. I beg of you.”
I guess he was so numb that he couldn’t feel the loss of roaming hands and sharp claws. “Man. You need to calm down or you'll lose even more blood.” Man? Really? But what else was I supposed to call him? Sir was too formal and I didn’t know his name so...you see what my dilemma was?
The man immediately stilled. Maybe afraid of this new voice?
“W-who’s there?” He said in a scratchy voice. Well, I guess thatís what happens when he has shrieked for who knows how long.
“A rescuer.” I pronounced proudly.
“Who -” That’s all the man could get out, because his voice just broke and went down the drain.
I sighed realizing he wanted a name. “Kenna is your rescuer.” I said, and then smiled at my own wit. Tilting my head I looked down at him in confusion. “Why won’t you look at me? Don’t you want to know how beautiful your rescuer is?”
The man mouthed, “Can’t. Hurts.”
“Hmmm. Okay, well do you want to see me?”
Then he spoke more words. “Come closer.” This time it was in a barely audible whisper.
Taking a deep breath and pushing back the negative thoughts, I leaned over him, my face now barely a foot away from his...his lips. I mentally slapped myself again. Stop thinking about his lips! He needs help and youíre his hero. Yeah, hero. I like it.
I watched as his eyes tried to see what appeared in front of him. And then he became confused. “What’s wrong?” I asked, worried I looked bizarre. Was there blood on my face?
On a whisper, “Can’t.”
“Oh! Here let me help you.” I replied, lifting his head ever so gently.
He hissed in a breath from the pain I had most likely caused.
“Sorry, sorry.” I said, distantly feeling the pain in the back of my head too. That was odd.
That was all I could think, because now we were even closer and practically breathing each other’s air. The man gasped. At my beauty? Was I beautiful to him?
“Beauti-ful.” He whispered with a break in his voice.
I smiled. That confirmed the question. As a matter of fact, I don’t think he realized he said that, as he stared at me in awe.
He winced as he tried to get closer to me, to do what; I couldn’t tell. “No,” I gasped. “You need to lay still.” I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the real reason why I pushed his shoulders back down on the smooth surface of the crimson colored boulder. Crimson because his blood had been drained from his body.
“Okay, just sit still for a moment and listen.” I demanded, worried that he would try to do a stunt like that again. When I saw his eyes dim, loosing his determination, I continued. “Here’s the game plan, I’m going to drag you to my little hidey hole, and help you heal. And I’m not promising that you’ll be pain free the whole way there. You were just tortured after all.” Way to go, Kenna. Way to remind him of the first thing he wants to forget.
He groaned at the reminder.
“Sorry. Anyways,” I continued hesitantly, realizing he’s probably emotionally raw as well. “I have to get you away from here, because I can already sense more demons on their way to the fresh blood.” I winced at that too, but thankfully he didn’t react.
“Okay I’m going to lift you. I expect you’re in too much pain to even help, so just relax as much as you can.” I tried to comfort him.
I didn’t get much of a reaction, so I guess I could get started with the slow journey back to my little cave.
As I lifted him off the sticky rock and positioned him correctly, he grunted and groaned. At one point I think he passed out, if only for a few seconds.
We walked for a very long time it seemed, and I tried my best to dodge all the flames that reached for the red sky. But a few times they reached for us, probably drawn to me, and licked the man. He screamed out in fear more than agony, and I would have to calm him down. Doing this, took a lot of time out of our trek towards home.
Once we saw the river that connects to my sister’s mountain we would be half way there. This river is actually the only river that held fresh, healing water. I’ve followed it plenty of times to know that it came out in a waterfall on the side of the mountain with a small cave surrounding it. I think the cave was created to hide the opening to the underworld, and to be safe the gods built a natural wall in the back to hide us altogether.
Coming around the bend and avoiding a newly made flame, I found the river. Oh sweet mercy! I used the rest of my pent up energy to drag him to the water’s edge, and plopping down next to him. Once my body settled, my muscles in my legs and upper arms started to quake. I sighed cupping my hands and dipping them in the water to clean my face of the sweat and grime.
Looking over at the man, he was quaking as well. Was it fear? “It’s okay. We’re just at the river. I needed a break.” I’m so glad there existed such a river, because no matter what, it always stayed cool.
He relaxed ever so slightly, and I turned my attention to the canteen that was on my hip. Oh great, it wasn’t there. Either it dropped as I dragged this hundred thousand pound man, not really, it just felt like that; or it was stolen during the fight. It took me a lot of heads disconnecting from bodies to get that one canteen, dammit!
Oh well, I guess I’ll have to use my hands. Cupping my hands again, I drank the refreshing water.
Once I drank my fill I turned to the man. Cupping water out to the side, I said, “Open up.”
Fear instantly overshadowed the pain that he was in. I guess I should explain. “It’s water. Now open up, it’ll help with your throat...I promise.” I ended more gently.
Very hesitantly he opened his lips, but not enough for water to trickle in. I sighed trying not to get frustrated, but it showed anyways. “That’s not going to work, C’mon.”
“Can’t. Jaw hurts.” He rasped out, probably trying to save his voice with fewer words.
“Well, unless you want to speak ever again you better open up.” I had no more patience for this man, because I was worn out and needed some rejuvenation. Why did I even save this guy? I could have just walked in the other direction like every other time. Oh, that's right, I was interested in him. He sounded different. Why? I couldn’t tell you. It was just an instinct and a gut feeling.
He obliged, and opened with an airy breath, with pain written all over his face. As the water ran down my fingers and passed his lips, I watched a pinch of satisfaction color his face. A few times drops splashed on his raw chest. A chest my sister, Kallan, could have healed. But of course she wasn’t here, so I would have to do the bandaging up.
By the third drop on his chest, he sucked in like it stung. It probably did. But he kept on swallowing, because for all he knew, this was probably the last time he would get something as fresh as this.
By the fifth mouthful his throat had cleared because his groans weren’t as strained, and he swallowed less. I guess it was a good time to ask a question, before he passed out again from wooziness. “So uhh, what do they call you?”
Calder? I looked up from where I was staring, looking at him anew. For some reason I was nervous about asking what his name was. Watching him now I could see someone calling him by that name. It was rough and strong, just like him. As a matter of fact the name meant ‘rough waters’. Yeah, he’s gone through some rough waters for sure. He’s just been tortured physically and mentally, and he did something to deserve it too.
“Well...Calder, as you know my name’s Kenna and I’m going to patch you up,” I paused afraid to say the next thing, making it real. “I’m going to take care of you.”
Calder eyed me with relief and. . .anger? Why? Was he angry that a girl had to take care of him? That’s all I could think, because I felt a pull that wanted me to leave this man, the man I just promised I’d stay by and take care of, then I knew nothing.