Son of Blood and Bone Ch. 03byfreedomofnoise©
Its' pitch was grating but musical and, despite the increasing volume of pain weaving through it, the sound just barely managed to drag me from unconsciousness. That sound, that awful sound so full of agony and anger, flung itself into the air where it hung suspended for a time, stubbornly refusing to die until it had permeated every corner of the earth. When a jolt of white hot agony raced through my body and abruptly cut off the noise I realized that that ungodly sound was coming from me.
The pain abated slightly and through blurry, tear-filled eyes I was able to take in my surroundings. I was on a couch, naked from the waist up. I glanced down and looked away quickly but not before seeing bloody, jagged cuts that broke skin and runes and the sharp white of a rib bone. My stomach turned uncomfortably as I recognized the sea foam colored walls of my living room and the thick brown hair of the Magician beside me.
I focused on Max and felt my misery decrease even more. His eyes were closed and his full pink lips moved quickly, whispering under his breath. Suddenly his eyes open and he raised a glowing hand and laid it on my open wounds. My back arched sharply and another yell as hot as hell-fire blazed from my throat. I wanted out of this world full of torment but as quickly as it had started it was over. I collapsed against the cushions, gasping, and looked down the length of my chest as I felt a twinge around my wounds. The torn muscles began to knit back together and then the skin until there was nothing left of the cuts. Even the broken edges of my rune reconnected in their bold, swirling patterns.
I let my head fall limply backwards until I stared up at the ceiling. The healing had left me drenched in sweat and feeling exhausted. Max's face popped into view and he looked at me intently before speaking.
"You alive, Ellian?"
I opened my mouth to respond but only managed a dry croak. Max placed the glowing hand on my throat and soothing heat flowed through my shredded vocal cords. "I'm alive, yes," I responded after some time. He leaned closer and I felt his breath waft softly across my lips and I was instantly aware of the warmth of his hand still on my throat and my state of undress. I felt a blush start high in my cheeks and flushed down my neck and chest and I watched in horror as Max's eyes tracked its' movement.
Bemused forest-green eyes met my own. "Pretty," he said with a smirk before his eyes narrowed in suspicion, "But you better start explaining to me just how in the hell you bleed red, Necromancer."
I closed my eyes against the demand and arousal as the world began to spin and instead asked a question of my own. "How did you know where I live?" It was quiet for a beat before I heard Max's long stride leaving the room. I sighed and opened my eyes to stare at the ceiling again; though his absence left me feeling bereft, his question dug a little too deep for comfort. The clicking of paws against the wooden floor alerted me to Valburg's presence and in the next moment he was leaning two paws against the couch to look at me.
A high pitched whistle rang from the kitchen and Max returned a short while after with two mugs of tea. He sat down next to me as I leaned back against the arm of the couch and handed me a steaming mug before glancing curiously at the mummified fox. His eyebrows rose.
"It's illegal to bring back the dead, even animals."
"I did not make him. He was in the state he's in now when he found me."
"Found you," Max echoed and he looked more closely at Valburg before his eyes widened in surprise, "You...I know you! You are from the deserts of the Shiel," he said excitedly. Valburg's dark eyes studied him impassively.
"Bael, took me there when I was younger," Max continued, "Do you not remember me, fox," he asked expectantly and I wondered briefly if the use of so much strong magic in one night had temporarily fried his brain. After a long silence anger flashed in the Magician's eyes. "I know you can fucking talk, you little-" he said and dove off the couch at Valburg who nimbly leaped out of the way. A thunderous growl boomed through the room and Valburg took a menacing step towards Max before lifting his nose high in the air and strutting from the room.
What in the hell just happened?
"Will you leave him alone? He is just a fox, he can't talk," I said tiredly as Max picked himself up off the floor and sat back on the couch. I took a cautious sip of the tea and sighed in pleasure. "Thank you for this, for everything," I said to Max. His eyebrows were still drawn low over his eyes in irritation when he looked at me.
"I've always been able to feel the magic in your markings," he said while gesturing the runes that decorated my torso, "It is old magic, strong but foreign to me. I had to find a way to heal you while keeping that magic intact, which wasn't fucking easy, mind you."
I nodded, distracted by how close he was to me and the deep, rich tone of his voice. He didn't seem to be looking for a response and we sipped our drinks in silence for a while and I gradually sensed the tension leaving his body. I took the time to study him more closely. Over the weeks I'd gotten few chances to really look at my Magician. His nose was straight and proud. His hair was thick and unruly. His lashes were short but full and curled becomingly over green irises that were even more stunning up close.
Were I to scour all of creation I would never find another as beautiful as him.
He eyes cut over to me and I felt my face heat in embarrassment at being caught.
"How long have you been able to walk through worlds that way? It's something I've never seen before, even the Bone Eaters didn't have that type of power," he said abruptly, his tone accusatory. I moved from the couch and carefully began making my way towards my room. My body felt weak and my progress was slow and I got as far as a few steps before Max stepped in front of me and blocked my path.
"You have red blood, ancient magic carved into your very being, and the ability to move unseen through the world of the living by stepping through the world of the dead, just what the fuck are you, Mars?" With each statement he took another step towards me until I felt my back press against the wall. "You better start giving me some fucking answers before you find yourself a permanent resident of that ghost plane you love so much," he threatened.
"Let him go, Magician," a deep voice drawled from the doorway of my bedroom. Both of our heads snapped around to see Valburg sitting there with his eyes fixed on us intently. Max's smug smile was powerful and dazzling.
"I knew you could talk," he exclaimed with excitement and I fainted again for the second time that night.
I opened my eyes to the roiling purple storm clouds that obscured the skies of the Abyss and the terrified and bound form of my younger self. I lay on a black slab of the same obsidian that shaped Hell's throne, stretched beyond comfort and securely tied by my limbs to every corner. A hooded figure stood over me, muttering spells, as blood dripped from my body, mixing with ink made from the tears of a dead god that slipped silently, sensuously, to the ground to be lapped up by hungry demons.
A terrified cry brought my eyes back to my face as a hand pressed an instrument to my groin and carved a symbol there. My body was riddle with vivid markings that flowed and writhed, that lived, against my skin, changing colors slowly. "Infertility, as you will be as no other was before, nor ever will be again," the hooded figure hissed as it finished the carving with a skilled flourish despite my squirming. Setting aside the carving tool the figure pushed back its' hood to reveal a shock of black hair, pale skin and familiar honey colored eyes.
I stepped back from the scene, the memory, but couldn't tear my eyes away. My father raised a sharp dagger high above his head and began chanting a spell so powerful that it shook the whole of Hell. He sliced open his palm and dragged his hand over my face and chest. "My blood, my power."
I took a step backward hoping to escape the horrible thing I knew would come next and back into something warm and solid. Strong arms encircled me and soft feathers brushed against my cheeks. "You should have not returned to this place," the voice whispered through my head again and I heard the near silent beat of powerful wings and was pulled high into the air.
I looked down in time to see my father's face twist into a cruel mockery of a smile as he leaned forward to whisper into my ear. Though we were too far for me to hear, I knew all too well what he said: "Your blood and your life." Then he shoved the dagger into my chest and ripped a ragged hole into my torso, tearing out my heart. The clouds, pregnant with the suffering of things past, let loose their grief and began to pour down in discontent on the scene that was becoming rapidly smaller.
As we rose above the clouds I closed my eyes and saw my father. He set back to work carving ancient magic into my still body as demons swooped in to devour my heart that he'd so carelessly tossed to the ground beside him. There I was, a monster made, and though I lay there, cold and dead, proof that there were things worse than necromancers walking this earth stood muttering over me.
And I was not the only one who was heartless.
The next time I woke I was alone in my bedroom. I stretched experimentally, wincing at the slight ache in my side and soreness in my muscles. Though a masterful spell, the healing had taken quite the toll on my body. I relaxed against the pillows with a tired sigh, too afraid to return to sleep because of the memories that awaited me there. After a moment I heard whispers in the silence. So, Max, the object of my fascination for these last weeks, was still here.
And he was talking to Valdburg...my dead pet fox.
I dragged my hands down my face and huffed out a breath. This day cannot get any weirder, I thought optimistically. Immediately after the thought my hopes were dashed when Valburg entered the room followed by Max.
"You're up," the Magician stated simply before throwing himself on my bed, causing me to bounce unceremoniously. I shot him an irritated glance and pressed my lips tightly together before responding.
"How did you sleep," he asked slyly, looking at me with a mischievous glint in his eyes.
"I think you know," I cut in before looking at him full on. His beauty took me aback slightly but I gathered my resolve and fixed him with a level stare, intent on getting answers.
"It's called somnium vocantes, dream calling. It usually happens when Narcis starts getting rowdy but he hears the message as clear as the one you called and becomes intent on making your time in Unisys so much worse before you're saved."
"Narcis," I questioned and creased my brow in confusion. Though I was familiar with the dream world, Unisys, and its' unpredictable nature, the few creatures who called it home were a mystery to me. In truth, they were as much a part of the living plane as I was but most of their power was harnessed in Unisys and thus they found little reason to ever leave.
"He's shadow and doubt, that little niggling insecurity in the back of your head. He is the evening and darkness. He is the absence of light and god. He rules the dream world with a savagery that leaves no one unscathed," Max answered in a deep, ominous voice.
I shivered. "He's a god."
Max suddenly burst into laughter.
"No, he's just a total asshole who gets off on scaring people when they sleep," he managed to get out, "I can believe you bought all of that!"
He grabbed his sides and rolled around, his laughter shaking the bed. I scowled at him, beyond irritated with his vulgar mouth, obscure nature, and confusing actions. He went from trying to kill me to healing me to threatening to kill me to rescuing me, again, to teasing me. He was an enigma, this Magician, and I couldn't for the life of me figure him out.
My irritation melted as I watched him in his happiness. I was lucky to have him here, in this city, in my home, in my bed, and I was intent on making this moment last as long as possible. I felt nearly two hundred years of loneliness lift and float away on the sound of his laughter and I stared in wonder at him.
His laughter began to die down and turned on his side to face me, propping himself up on an elbow. "Jeez, you're a fucking dinosaur. Come on, Mars, it was funny," he chuckled, merriment still dancing in his eyes, lighting them beautifully.
I reddened when I realized I'd been looking at him too long. Clearing my throat I asked, "So what is he exactly," looking at Valburg curled up and sleeping on the foot of the bed, then at the pale blue comforter covering my legs, then at the antique iron clock mounted on the wall. My eyes bounced around the room as I desperately tried to focus on anything but Max.
"He's just a prick who I'll probably kill if he doesn't stop messing around in my head when I take naps." Which tells me exactly nothing about him, I thought wryly.
"He is a Demanthara, the last soldier of Danaestrael, a Dream Walker who lived long ago and was considered a god of sorts," said a deep, voice from the edge of the bed. I looked towards the foot of the bed to see Valburg stilled curled up but now his black eyes were trained on me. I sat up and worked my legs, as weak as a new born kitten's, from beneath the covers around to the edge of the bed.
I'd had more than enough in these last few days. What day is it, anyway?
When I made to get off the bed Max's hand shot out and grabbed my arm and I looked back at him to see him glaring at Valburg. "I was going to say that," he muttered before looking at me, "Lie back down, unless you plan on crawling out of here, you don't have the strength to just walk around." I reluctantly relaxed back onto the bed, eyeing Valburg warily.
"The Demanthara were soldiers created to protect Danaestrael when he started to lose his mind. Because Dream Walkers leave their actual bodies in this world and set their spirits free in Unisys, they're very vulnerable on both planes. Initially they were revered fighters with powerful dream influence abilities but desired to make Unisys their own. Then Danaestrael disappeared and they terrorized the dream plane for decades looking for him. It was up to the Magician, Elle, to get rid of them. Narcis only managed to live because the next Magician came into their power before she could find him and she died. He is now more powerful than his master ever was," Valburg explained.
"And he's a complete pain in the ass and stupid to boot. I really hate him," Max added.
Ignoring him I asked, "Where is he?" And what does he want with me?
"Who knows, the point is whenever he starts coming at you, you call me. I want to know why," Max snapped. I felt the puzzled look he gave me mirrored on my own face but decided against responding to his statement. There was a stretch of silence and I briefly recognized rage and impatience cloud his feature before he was baring perfectly straight white teeth close to my face.
"You better start answering my questions, Necromancer," he growled.
"I-I don't know how I do it. I just...I just know I want to escape the dream, the memory. I just know I want someone to save me and then...you're there," I stuttered out honestly. The anger slowly drained from his face and quickly turned to surprise when Valburg landed silently, yet solidly, on his chest, the force of his weight slightly sinking him into the mattress.
"You would take care to move very slowly, Magician," Valburg hissed, large leathery ears pressed back against his head. Max nodded slightly and Valburg sat back on his haunches and continued, "The volcantes is neither here nor there and Narcis is the least of your worries, Mars. There is a Bone Eater in New Parais."
A pair of pale lavender eyes surfaced in my mind and I closed my eyes against the memory. Valburg was right, Xesil was our main focus and the sole reason Max was even in town. We needed to find him and soon before more perished at his hands to fuel the growth of an undead army.
Max brushed Valburg aside and stood next to the bed, a slight frown drawing his eyebrows close together. "We can't wait for him to come to us again. There's no telling what he'll send next time," he said as he began pacing the length of the bed.
A disgruntled Valburg curled up on the pillow next to my head and focused eyes filled with the fury of a thousand years on Max. "Humans, Wolves, Fae, Phari, Nacromancers, Magicians, and countless other creatures filled to the brim with blood powerful enough to bring back the Horde, that's what he'll send next time," Valburg hissed.
I shut my eyes against the thought, exhausted beyond belief and ready to be done with this whole thing. As I dozed off I thought of Xesil, hungry for vengeance and power, walking like a ghost among New Parais, snatching living beings and sacrificing them cruelly to further his own twisted agenda. I thought of his victims, Laeyah, Tina, Wenton's pack members and how their last sight was pale lavender eyes.
Eyes that watched, waited, and then harvested their blood.
When I woke again my body felt stronger than it had in many years. I stood easily and made my way to the bathroom, briefly wandering where Max was and stripping out of my pants before stepping into the shower. I sighed as the warm water began cascaded down my body and my muscles began to loosen. I began to wash thoroughly, being careful to gingerly run over the area where my wounds had been.
As I worked a soapy lather on my body my thoughts drifted to Max. I recalled the warmth of his hands on my body as he healed me and the enthralling color of his eyes when he laughed and felt my cock become painfully hard. I reached down and began to stroke myself as my imagination ran wild with fantasies of us together.
Glittering, heavy-lidded jade eyes would gaze at me full of lust.
Kisses from soft pink lips would burn against my skin, trailing down my neck and lower.
His mouth, so sinfully sweet, would wrap around my cock and suck lightly...
I gasped as my orgasm shot up my spine and exploded behind my eyes. Groaning, I sagged against the glass of the shower door and watched as the remnants of my pleasure washed away down the drain. The glow of pleasure slowly left my body and I quickly finished washing up and stepped out the shower to wrap a towel around my waist.
I walked into study and, ignoring the siren call of the bones buried beneath the floorboard, I sat down at my desk, opening the Bone Eater files to pour over them in hopes of finding something I'd missed before. Water dripped steadily from the wet ends of my hair to pitter onto my desk as I read the files.
First there had been Laeyah, then an older Phari named Remiel, and then a Witch named Tracy. Another Fae, two humans, and one Succubus later there was sweet Tina and four other members of her pack. And none had any connection to the other, save for the Wolves. These creatures all had powerful blood in that it could be used to entice more than one spirit from the Wait at a time. There was no telling how many Xesil had drawn back into this world, one, maybe two hundred. And where was he keeping them? Each of the murdered beings were found nowhere near each other, from Laeyah in the larger park in Acre Village to Tina in the dry canals of Summit Parish.
Where are you hiding, Xesil?
I leaned back into my chair and pittering of the water droplets became slightly louder as they made contact with the leather. I recalled my first meeting with the Necromancer. I had been wandering the woods for a few days, shaking with chills from a fever that had burned through my body and ravaged my mind for a hundred years. I lay on the moss covered ground staring bleakly at the sky as the magic rushed through the runes on my skin, searching for a way out. It would be many more years before it would stop, only reminding me of its' presence when my runes changed color, temperature, and position.