Tulip's Ghost - Book two of the Torian Warriors series.

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Chapter Two

Korom fought with everything he had to stay in control of his darker side. Over the last few years, his control had slipped more and more with each change.

This last change almost undid him. His mist side, his dark, savage, single minded side clawed and raged inside him. It wanted… something. He could feel the craving, the pull towards an unknown thing.

With each shift, Korom could feel himself getting more and more lost in the blinding need to search. Before, as Korom grew up, and later trained and became one of the best warriors beside Bor and the Torian warriors, the fight had been enough to keep his dark side appeased. As the Torian’s were called to more and more missions by the ruling Decagon Council, Korom found that the battles he fought only drove his dark side into more of a frenzy.

His whole life, Korom knew that he was different. Not just in the way he looked as a child growing up in the kings Keep on Toria, but the first time he misted Korom was lost for days. Not knowing how to get back to himself, he had drifted in the sprawling woods around the Keep, screaming out in his own mind for a way back to what had become his life.

He didn’t remember his mother, or his family. The first memories he had were of his life on Toria with Bor, his brother and sister. They had taken him in and always treated him as one of their own. So when Bor’s mother had set out into the forest to search for her adopted son, it was the soothing sound of her voice that had finally brought him back.

As Korom paced his quarters on the command vessel, his inner self fought with him to be set free once again. On the planet below, when he misted to help defeat the Spinners and save the warriors, Korom could already feel the last tethers of his control slipping away. He couldn’t risk another change. The rage, the primal anger and fury that coursed through his blood meant that if he were to let his other side out again, it wouldn’t allow itself to be contained any longer. And with that, came the very real and terrifying risk that he would kill everyone on this ship. Including his brother and king, the females they had saved, and over three hundred warriors he cared for and respected. He couldn’t risk it.

With a heavy heart, Korom made the only decision he knew would keep everyone he cared about safe. He would lock himself in the quarantine cells in the belly of the ship and let the unrelenting need to shift take over. Perhaps if it were let out for long enough, it would grow tired and let him take control again.

Back on the planet, when they had first found the females, when he pulled himself back together, he could feel his mist reaching out for something. It pushed at his skin, begging to go to whatever had captured its attention. Parts of his mist escaped his tight control. He knew that one part of him had shot out so fast, Korom had no idea where it went or how far, but one second he was fighting a losing battle, and the next, his mist had grown docile and obedient, allowing him to draw it in and lock it away again.

Thinking back, he tried to rack his mind for where it had gone. What it had seen or discovered that had calmed it so much, but his mind was too shattered at the moment to think about anything more than the safety of the crew.

With a long, sad sigh, he left his room and found Bor. After telling his brother about his plan to be locked away, Korom went back to his room to pack up his things. Once all his personal possessions, which there weren’t many of, were packed into a small crate, he sat down on his bed and dropped his head.

Never before had he felt like this. The feeling of failure inside him for how much he was about to let Bor and the warriors down tore at his heart. He was the one Bor relied on in tough situations. Not that Bor couldn’t take care of himself. Bor was one of the most skilled warriors Korom had ever met, but the idea of not having his brothers back ate at him.

As he sat there, his mind lost, his mist side again pushed at him to be set free. Shaking his head, Korom whispered, “I wish I knew what it is you seek, my old friend. I would give it to you.”

His mist side didn’t reply. It never did. All he got in response was more pressure inside him for it to be set free.

As his mind slipped even more, he felt a small part of his other self slip out. Before he could stop it, the mist shot out of the room and vanished. Panic exploded inside Korom at what it would do. Who would it hurt? Where had it gone?

But a minute later, the mist returned and as calmly as a gentle breeze it flowed back inside him.

The moment it did, his mind flashed with a vision. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen lay in a medical exam bed, fast asleep. A small data pad rested against her chest, with one hand curled around the device and the other tucked in under her stunning, delicate face.

Korom closed his eyes and sighed. Tulip was something he never would have predicted on this mission. He and Bor had faced the Spinners many times, but never had he been so lost in thoughts of a female that he couldn’t think straight.

Her long, black as night hair lay sprawled over the crisp white pillow, making her skin look even paler than it did the first time he’d seen her.

More sadness flooded him. Tulip deserved so much more than he could ever offer her. He was an outsider to the world she would soon be calling home. A lone survivor of a horrid attack on his people that left his entire species and home planet decimated. As far as he knew, Korom was the last of his kind. What could he possibly offer a female as smart, beautiful and timid as Tulip.

Yes, he had worked hard to earn his rank as the Torian Commander and second in command beside Bor. Yes, he had saved all his own wealth over his many years, in the blind hope that one day, a Torian female would choose him. But Torian females followed the mating call, just like Bor did. And no female would ever feel that call towards him.

Now, as his mind filled with the image of a sleeping Tulip, he wondered what it would take for him to be worthy enough for her?

His eyes stung as the realization hit him. He would never be worthy. He was a ruthless, savage killer, who was about to lose control of the deadliest thing on Toria. Not only that, but he was sure that this time, when he changed, he would be lost for good.

Forcing the image of Tulip out of his mind, Korom rose from the bed and walked purposely towards the quarantine cells. He had to get in there and lock himself away before he changed his mind. It was for the best. Tulip didn’t need his darkness staining her bright, beautiful soul. She would be alright. Bor would take care of her, and one day, maybe she would find a male that felt the mating call towards her. If there was one thing he could be sure of, it was that whatever male felt the call for Tulip, he would be the luckiest male in the universe.

Stepping into the contamination cell, Korom turned and gave Oris a small nod.

“I will find a way to help you, my old friend,” Oris said in a low, pained voice.

Korom tried to smile, but his fear of what would become of him was too great. With one last nod, Oris shut the door, engaged the seals and locked Korom into the small cell.

He waited for Oris to leave, before Korom finally let the last of his control crumble away. His mist side exploded out of him, ripping a muted scream from his fading lips as it thrashed and pounded against the walls of the cell, demanding to be let out.

As Korom’s mind drifted in the dark void of the mist, he thought about the tiny female once more. She had looked scared at the dwelling on the planet below, yet her eyes shone with such intelligence that it brought a smile to his non existent face.

Over the hours that followed, his mist grew more and more enraged with the confines of its prison. It pushed at the clear walls, trying as hard as it could to break the reinforced structure. It searched for the tiniest hole to escape through, but these cells were designed for the most deadly of pathogens. There was no way out. It was why Korom chose this as his prison.

He heard every time Bor came in to speak with him. He so badly wanted to take his solid form, to reassure his brother that he would figure out a way to be alright, but not even Korom believed that at the moment. He heard Lilly as she spoke to him as well.

Hearing Bor’s voice one day had calmed him enough to form a partially solid state and place a hand on the glass wall, but he couldn’t hold it for long. When Bor mentioned that Tulip had been standing outside his cell, his mist side went absolutely crazy. It thrashed harder, pushing with so much force at the glass, Korom worried it would break.

He tried everything he knew to calm the beast, but it wouldn’t listen.

Hours passed like minutes at first, then stretched out, feeling like days at other times.

After a while, and after Korom had almost completely detached his mind from reality, the doors to the quarantine rooms opened. The male that walked in was unfamiliar to Korom, making his anger spike once again. But when he saw the small frame of Tulip enter behind him, Korom the man and the mist both finally agreed on the anger they felt. Who was this male? Why was he here? Why was Tulip with him?

For the first time ever, Korom and his mist side were on the same page.

Tulip and the stranger spoke for a moment, the sealed cell blocking out their voices. Tulip looked worried, but her eyes had a determined look to them. She glanced over at the cell Korom was in, before she spoke to the tall stranger again.

After a few minutes, they both approached the cell and stared into the boiling black mass inside.

Korom had never been as terrified in his entire life as he was the moment Tulip reached for the door controls of his cell. He did something he had never done before. He begged. He cried out to his other side, begging it not to hurt the female. To spare her in the rampage that Korom was sure would follow as soon as the door slipped open.

Tulip tapped on the screens a moment, then glanced up at the stranger one last time. With a nod, the stranger stepped closer and all Korom could think of was that this male would be the first to die.

But the second the doors slipped open, his mist burst out of the doors and flew towards Tulip.

“NO!” He screamed out to his dark side, unable to pull it away from her. It surrounded her, blocking out all the light in the room and casting the small female in an eerie shadow. Korom turned his mind away from what it would do to her. But when the mist calmed, gently pulsing around her shivering frame, Korom opened his mind to his surroundings once more.

His mist was… calm. It surrounded Tulip in a way he had never felt or seen before. He had no illusions at this point. He lost control of his dark side hours ago, so he had no say over what it was doing. Yet it felt… at peace. Like it had finally found what it had so desperately been looking for for so long.

He tried to pull it back into a solid form and found that his hand formed, but only faintly. Lifting it up to grant himself his deepest wish, he gently brushed his fingertips over her warm, soft skin. His vaporized body and mind jolted with an energy that both shocked and excited him. As soon as the jolt went through him, his mist side calmed even more, allowing Korom to take more control. It allowed it. It… wanted him to.

After a few seconds, as though knowing that something important was about to happen, the mist gently flowed back into the cell and waited as the tall stranger faded away into his own mist and joined him inside the cell.

Shock raced through Korom at the sight of another one of his kind.

“Easy, young warrior. I am a friend,” A deep, male voice said inside the cell.

Korom frowned. There was no solid form in the space with him. And as far as he knew, the mist side of a Miasm couldn’t speak.

“All will be well, Korom. You are going through a very hard time in your life, and I am here to help you. I see the hardest part of my task is already accomplished,” There was humor in his voice as he said that, “But there is much still left to be done. The hardest task for you to do now, will be to trust me.”

Korom tried to push his own voice out, to speak back, but only silence filled the room.

“You cannot speak yet, not until you merge. But have no fear. It will happen. And once it does, you will be stronger than ever before. Strong in a way that only comes when a Miasm is finally one with his other side.”

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