Onyx Dreams Ch. 30bykitazkitten©
Rhys waited until dark before sneaking out. It had been rather easy to slip past Erykia and Anthony and make it to the river. He could feel the dragon, Nyelene, humming in the back of his mind and it excited him. Now he would be on equal footing with Cyrus and Kennice. He would destroy Cyrus and bring Kennice to heel. They would complete the marriage binding ceremony and then he would rule as king. Ambition burned in his chest as he slowed near the embankment. "Nyelene?" he called out, careful to not make too much noise lest someone hear him.
The large dark shadow in front of him shifted as the huge bulk of something turned to face him. ~Speak up rider, be proud of who you are. A future king must be willing to announce himself to his subjects.~
"Nyelene, dragon, I am Rhys, High Priest of Holtar." He straightened up to his full height, his eyes gleaming in the dim light.
In return, two sets of bright golden eyes lit up in front of him. Four small flames trickled out her nostrils as the twin heads of the golden dragon illuminated in the dark. "It is an honor to finally meet you Rhys. As you can see, I am no ordinary dragon. My father was a Hydra, the last of his kind."
"Hydra? I have never heard of you. But of course until today I had not heard of unicorns or gryphons either so I guess you are in good company. You are magnificent though," he added as he backed up to get a really good look at her. She had two heads, not one like the ordinary dragons. This was even better. He would surely be able to defeat Cyrus now and put such fear into Erykia and Anthony that they would bow before him or die.
"Of course you haven't heard of me. We existed eons before the gryphons rose to power...in a time where only Dragons and Hydras roamed this world."
"So many things have been hidden, I do not like not knowing them." Rhys walked to the golden beauty. "May I touch?" Something warned him to be mannerly around this creature.
The dragon half-breed raised an eyebrow for a moment as if considering his request before nodding once. "You may touch, but nothing more."
He touched her leg and considered what his fingers were telling him. She didn't seem to be scaled; no, rather she felt smooth, like human skin. If she were kin to dragon, shouldn't she have scales?
~I know what you are thinking, Hybrids grow thick hides like that of your Kruntak bulls, it is easier to heal than scales are to replace.~
She flexed her muscle for a moment and the skin became harder than even the gems on his staff, it seemed impenetrable...
"Amazing." He studied her physique and blurted out, "I don't see wings."
~That is because Hydras do not fly. We leap at our prey from the ground and devour them at our own level.~
For a brief moment he was disappointed. Not such equal footing, however it might still work to his advantage. "Why me? You could have picked any number of people. Why me?"
~Because you have the proper understanding of where people sit...everyone below you. The king, their ruler.~ She bent one of her heads down to look at him and smirked slightly, ~You can rule can't you?~
"Of course I can. However everyone else except you seems to think me incapable."
~Then perhaps you simply need the chance to prove you are capable. I think we should do just that by calling out your rival in a duel. When you defeat him people will see your greatness.~
He liked the idea. A duel would prove once and for all who was the best and most fit to rule.
Nyelene turned and held her leg out for him to climb up. ~Then let us depart my king. We must get to know one another much better if we are to best your rival in combat.~
Rhys hesitated, duty to the people making a feeble protest for his attention before he mercilessly stamped down the thought. It was time to take control of his destiny. Squaring his shoulders he climbed up Nyelene's offered leg and settled into place. This was going to be fun. He threw his fist in the air. "To vengeance and to victory."
She nodded and headed off into the deep forest, the shadows shrouding her form as they traveled far deeper than mortal men dared to tread.
* * *
Katherine sat outside next to Julian and brooded. Things were not going exactly as Erykia had planned. And though Katherine called Erykia mother, in truth, they were not that close in blood. Rather, Katherine came from blood by marriage through her father's family line that had only been around about five hundred years. Still, Erykia had found her in a village, begging for food for her starving family and at the tender age of seven, the great High Priestess had spirited her away to learn the ways of the druids.
~And then I found you and you needed nothing else~ Julian replied smugly, his body curled around hers, the warmth of his scales keeping the night chill at bay.
~True you did find me and I've never regretted a moment of it. I just wish I knew what to do now. The High Priestess's plan did not detail any of, well, this situation we are in now. And I can't risk contacting her for Cyrus is suspicious already.~
~Yes he is, but Kaie makes it worse for she thinks we are all out to get her. Some of the older ones are but not me. I only want you safe, my rider~ Julian asserted.
Katherine smiled and stroked his body.
A soft cough from the shadows close by broke the silence, the ominous, distinctive hum of sonic power let her know who it was. "I believe we are due for a little chat young lady. You can come willingly or I can have Kaie come and put Julian out of his misery before I drag you away to my cells. Which would you prefer?"
Julian hissed, rising swiftly to all fours, his wings spread wide, his body blocking Katherine's smaller form. ~Stay away from my rider!~ Julian warned. He growled low and deep.
Katherine came to her feet and gave Cyrus an inscrutable look. "Julian, at ease. My king wishes to speak to me and I shall obey. Go to our cave and rest. It's been a long day."
~But Katherine,~ Julian protested and lowered his head toward her as she walked past him to stand a few feet from Cyrus.
~Go, Julian. Just go.~
Julian gave a distressed hiss and took to the skies, leaving his rider to the mercy of Cyrus.
"I believe you know the way to the interrogation chambers, yes?" He nodded to the side and two large muscled riders stepped out and took Katherine roughly by her arms, licking their lips as one of them whispered hoarsely, "Guess where you are going when he's done with you!" They both laughed maliciously and dragged her to the large, almost regal interrogation room, one reserved for when the last leader had simply wished to watch the interrogation.
Katherine didn't bother fighting. She wasn't going to give him any more ammunition than necessary. Besides, if he wanted to hear her scream and bleed, he would do that, regardless of how she behaved on the way to the interrogation room. The two riders holding her arms and leering at her didn't bother her because she knew what thoughts they had in their small little minds.
The two escorts roughly shoved her down into the hewn chair, completely out of place in the regal room. They began to secure her wrists with the straps when Cyrus spoke up. "No, don't bother, if she wanted to escape she'd simply burn them off. Leave us. You will have your fun when I'm done, make sure the cave she and Julian share be stripped bare. If my troops wish to keep secrets from me then they will be denied the basic pleasures I provide."
The riders nodded after a moment and reluctantly left, leaving the two of them alone in the eerily quiet room. "So tell me, Katherine, what was it you were doing in the forest? Hugging some trees perhaps?"
"Perhaps I needed to answer nature's call," she suggested, her expression neutral.
"Then perhaps you need a change of diet. Come now Katherine, we both know that wasn't what you were doing. I will make this very clear. I know hurting you physically won't do much, so I will hurt you emotionally instead. Every time you blatantly lie to me, my men will cut something off of Julian. I know you care for him enough to not want that to happen, now do you? If you doubt my sincerity feel free to remember the last dragon I had eaten." He steepled his fingers and raised an eyebrow at Katherine as he waited for her answer.
Katherine kept her anger off her face. "What would you like me to say that will fit into what you think I was doing, my liege?"
"I would like you, to truthfully tell me what you were doing. From the way you were crouched I would assume interacting with the earth somehow. Do enlighten me. If necessary I will have Kaie tear the truth from your mind once I run out of Julian to serve to the men."
"My king, though I have the power of fire, I also need the soothing touch of earth to keep me balanced. Though the two elements are opposite, they can co-exist in the same space." Katherine looked at him, never wavering. "Fire speaks to me as does earth. And sometimes the earth reveals its secrets like who stepped on what plant and what animal has just been eaten."
He sighed and slowly shook his head before mentally signaling to his men. A cry reverberated from Julian as a few inches was slashed from the end of his tail. "Would you like to try again my dear? If you were soothing your powers as you said then there would have been some sort of evidence left behind to show that."
"I am telling you the truth. Earth and air are the two elements who leave no trace of their workings. Air because it can't be seen and earth because traces can be covered. Fire leaves a mark as does water when it washes away things. I do not lie, my liege, I tell you only what is commonly known to all riders."
He smirked and got up from his chair, slowly walking around her. "But that's not all, is it my dear? You said you soothed yourself but even I know that takes but a moment. You were there for some time." He lightly placed his hands upon her shoulders and whispered, "You left something out didn't you?"
Katherine's eyes stayed on him as she thought how best to sway him. Julian's anger hummed in her head at his tormentors' actions but she had to tread carefully. Was she truly just a sheep following meekly or did she have the nerve to blaze her own path? What had serving Erykia ever really gotten her? Not much. Out of poverty yes, but other than that nothing. Yet she had bled and been violated all in the name of the High Priestess.
~Make a choice rider. I will follow you regardless~ Julian promised.
~I want to be happy. I want to be what Cyrus desires. But to do that I have to regain his trust.~
~Then give him something to think on that is true.~ Julian urged.
Katherine lowered her eyelashes as if in defeat. "I was following orders in that swamp, sire." Let him ask and she would tell all and yet keep herself protected by giving him the thing he wanted most. Destruction of the thorns in his side.
"Orders from who exactly?"
There was another yelp from Julian, only a cut this time though. "That was his punishment for taking someone else's orders, yours will come later." His tone was still calm, almost sweet, he enjoyed these kinds of interrogations the best.
"Your main enemy, sire."
He sighed softly and smirked. "We are getting there, slowly, but getting there. Which main enemy would that be Katherine? The next vague answer will mean another Julian flavored steak." His grip on her shoulders tightened for a moment, reinforcing his growing lack of patience.
She winced. "High Priestess Erykia, my liege. She was attempting to set a trap to capture you and Kaie."
"I see, then pray do tell why you have decided to betray her? I was under the belief that light riders would rather die than reveal such information. As a matter of fact the last one did just that I believe." He let his eyes slide down to look at the slope of her cleavage, thinking up her punishment as he interrogated her. "Perhaps this is simply another ruse to fool me? Perhaps we are a due another steak?"
"I am not a rider of the light. Just a rider. Riders become dark or light depending on their heart's desire. I was straddling the fence but even I know better than to back a losing group and the High Priestess will lose to you. After seeing the village attack and her inability to truly defend, I realized where I really want to be.
"Is that so? And what else have you realized since then, hmm?" He leaned closer, his hot breath on her neck as he drew in her scent. "I wonder what other tidbits of information you have to tell me?"
"I can tell you who your real mother is. It is not who you were told it was. Though that woman did die trying to protect you from harm."
He raised an eyebrow, pondering this new bit of information, "Is that so? Then why not enlighten me as to the identity of this woman then?" His grip was still firm, the tension in the air clearly visible. "I suggest you choose your words carefully and precisely."
"What does it buy Julian and myself? You don't trust nor believe easily. If I tell you, you would call me liar and kill Julian." Katherine would save her dragon, even if she couldn't save herself from Cyrus. "Besides what does it matter the identity? I will tell you this, High Priestess Erykia is not dead."
He tensed for a moment, a low growl escaping his lips as his grip tightened painfully on her shoulders, his nails digging into her flesh and drawing small drops of blood. "Oh? And how would you know that Katherine? I'm quite sure that blast should have been big enough to mortally wound her at the least."
"Again, my liege, I asked what will it buy Julian, the knowledge you seek?" She was sweating a little but her resolve remained firm.
A slight smirk came across his face and he whispered softly in her ear, "That kitten, all depends on how valuable the information is...if I deem it valuable I will let him live...if not, I'll cut something else off as punishment for trying to deceive me."
She grimaced but decided to play his game. "I know she lives because of the blood bond that binds me to her. It allows us to communicate in several different ways, but mainly through my elemental abilities and through her mind powers."
A long low purr came from his throat. Oh this was valuable information indeed! This could prove very useful. "Oh really? Then perhaps kitten you would think it wise to contact her...right now. Do this and Julian will be released. Then we shall have a little fun at your former mistress' expense."
She didn't like the glint in his eyes but she would obey. Julian's life was at stake. Closing her eyes she focused on the feel of magic that tied her to Erykia. A faint heat and then tug signaled they had connected. Keeping her eyes closed she rapidly sent images of her current conversation with Cyrus through to Erykia. She felt Erykia's displeasure.
~Stupid girl! I sent you in, the perfect spy, and what do you do? Let it slip what you were doing! You are a disgrace to the order. And now that arrogant whelp thinks to control me? I think not!~ Erykia roared and lashed Katherine with her power.
Katherine's eyes flew open, no longer the brown that was hers but instead stormy blue. She screamed and then abruptly went silent. She blinked once and her expression changed as Erykia manipulated her body and actions. "You wanted something, boy?" Erykia/Katherine sneered.
The grin on his face was nothing short of a man who had someone right where he wanted them, trapped for his own pleasure. "Oh yes, Erykia, we have MUCH to talk about. It seems you are almost as difficult to kill as I am."
He hauled Katherine's possessed body over to the table and slammed her roughly down upon her back, his strong arms pinning her down. She could feel the injuries that still hadn't healed in Katherine, feel the fear that this moment had instilled in her spy.
Erykia kept Katherine's consciousness pinned down while she coolly confronted Cyrus. He looked so much like Skarl that it made her heartache for one moment before common sense asserted itself. She was going to test his resolve, even if it meant losing her spy. She felt Katherine's protest and ignored it. More lives than just Katherine's were at stake.
"So what do you plan on doing about it? Since we both seem to have the help of luck in remaining alive?" Erykia watched his reaction closely, ready to pounce at any hint of weakness.
He smiled the smile Katherine recognized, the one he had when he had tortured the rider of the light earlier that year. "Oh I think you already know what I'm going to do Erykia, Brenna has opened the portal and soon I will have entry into that realm. My ranks will swell...like Katherine's wonderful breasts..." He ran his fingertip slowly over the slope of her tender flesh, the pressure felt quite clearly through her shirt, stopping to lightly tease her nipple. "And then I'm going to hunt down you and your army and burn them alive."
Erykia/Katherine chuckled. "Still trying to use sex to get what you want? Typical male. Always thinking below the belt. You can do what you want, but you will get no information from me. Good-bye soon-to-be dead Overlord." The eyes glowed bright before they shifted back to Katherine's normal brown. She gasped weakly as she felt Erykia recede leaving her feeling bereft and a little ill.
"Thank you Katherine, that was much appreciated, as promised Julian will be spared." He sent out a mental command and the riders and dragons surrounding Julian backed off before heading back into the main hall to join their brethren. "I'm glad to see your former mistress still underestimates me."
"You're both inconsiderate," she hissed. "You're both users." A tear slid down her cheek but she couldn't wipe it away because Cyrus still pinned her.
His hand slid up to her face, gently wiping away the tears, his cruel smile still there. "I know dear but you really shouldn't have done what you did, should you? Now we are going to have a little chat about your special little blood abilities. You are going to tell me all about them. Are we clear? I assume I don't have to tell you of the consequences to you if you refuse."
In that moment she feared him more than she feared Erykia who was far away and safe. She'd seen Cyrus's brand of cruelty. She licked her dry lips. "What do you want to know exactly?"
"Everything, what its full powers are, what its weaknesses are, how it works, how you control it, everything." He lightly tapped the end of her nose with his finger, "And don't think I've forgotten you have yet to inform me of who my mother is, kitten."
She shivered, gulped and started talking. "Blood powers are a form of binding magic that any druid can do. The strength of the binding, however, grows when one is High Priest or Priestess. And their bindings are more lasting than an ordinary druid. All it takes is a simple knife cut and the pressing of the binder and bindee's bleeding wrists together to start the blood bond."
His eyes glinted in the dim light as an idea struck him, "But it does not have to be the wrist? If blood mixes with blood anywhere it can occur?" The smile was back again, it showed that the wheels were turning fast now, a plan was forming.
Katherine was confused for a moment and had to think about what he was asking. "I would assume anywhere it mixes. Blood is life and to mix two lives is to bind them together."
His smile stayed fixed upon his face, he would keep that knowledge safe in his mind for later. He had plans for Kennice that could involve this. He looked down at Katherine once more, his eyes intent, "Now comes the important question...who is my mother, Katherine?"
"What will prevent you from killing me when you don't like the information I provide? Never mind. The woman you thought is your mother was not your birth mother."
"Oh? Do tell, perhaps while you do I will kill two birds with one stone and punish you for passing information to the enemy hmm?" He reached down and unceremoniously ripped the front of her top open.