Bonds Unbroken Ch. 05

byCia81©

Suddenly, I could feel the pull of my mate. I needed him and he needed me.

Peering out into the corridor I made sure no one was there. I figured the strange sounds I had heard earlier were probably from Natham, he had to be close by. My wings fluttered, I curled my talons into the flesh of my hands, the pain from the small pricks bringing me focus and clearing my mind. If anyone was with him they were going to die.

I only hoped it would be his father.

That Carthera was going to die one way or the other but I dearly wanted it to be by my own hand. No one was in sight so I went right down the hall, away from the big door at the end. I could see a few more doors on either side of the corridor and I stopped to listen at each one.

I stopped suddenly and took two steps back. There were only faint sounds coming from behind the thick door I had just passed but even that small sound was enough. I could hear a mocking voice and a whimpering sound. The sound was enough to bring back the consuming rage and tint my vision red. I tensed and sent my talons into my palms again as I wrestled for the control I needed.

If there was more than one person in the room with Natham I would have to be very careful.

I threw open the door and took in the room in a swift glance. It was the same size as my cell had been and the same chains hung from the ceiling but Natham was not in them. He was on his stomach on a table that dominated the middle of the floor. His body was limp and he even though he was facing the door with his eyes open I didn't think he could see me. His back and sides were coated in blood and splatters had landed on his face. His beautiful hair was tangled around him. I had to force myself to look away after barely a second taking in his condition. I would not be able to help him until I killed the Carthera hurting him.

His torturer was the snake Carthera, the same one who had taunted him in the van when we were captured. He was naked from the waist up with his back turned to the door. I could see a line of shiny brown and yellow scales going up his spine and flaring out across his shoulders into a hood with two yellow and black rings of each side like a giant eye. Cobra clan; the strongest of the snake clans. He was thin, lean almost to the point of emaciation but most snakes were. I wasn't that much smaller than he was so I would have a chance in the crowded cell in hand to hand combat. The ceiling was too low to try flying.

He was still in the process of turning toward the door to see who came in when I launched myself at him. He was surprised but didn't drop the studded cane that was in his hand. He swung at me as I shoved my talons into the thin flesh of his chest seeking his heart. I grunted when the cane came down hard on one of my shoulders. He had been aiming for my head but the blow went to one side as I dodge it. I could still feel my arm but it started throbbing painfully while we were still in mid air.

He fell over backward from the force of our bodies colliding and I followed him down to the ground. He tried twisting us but I used my wings to keep him from pinning me down. I knocked the cane out of his hand with my uninjured arm and sent it skittering across the floor. The metal of the studs chimed as it rolled across the stone floor to bang into the table Natham was still laying without moving but I couldn't focus on him, I had to focus on the life or death struggle I was now locked in.

The snake was hissing at me as we struggled.

He was trying to maneuver his head so that he could bite me. He inched closer and closer as he twisted his body; he moved almost as if he was boneless as a real snake. I struggled to keep him from flipping me under him or biting me.

"You're going to die..." he whispered as I fought to keep him from my neck.

"No," I choked out in fierce denial, "you are."

I would not leave Natham to this monster. I would not let him have either of us. I had both hands pushed talon deep in his shoulders to hold him down as we struggled and I began inching them upward toward his neck. I lost my leverage on his body and he began to turn us over even as I ripped large tears in his flesh as I sought his jugular. I felt as if things had slowed down as he slowly flowed toward me with his fangs descended and dripping and my talons were digging into his flesh.

My gaze narrowed and focused on that rapidly beating pulse. Just before his lips touched my neck I reached that throbbing point and drove my claws into it. I ripped and tore at his flesh and the gaping wound I made began pumping blood on my face. He let out a wet gasp as he pulled away from me, his eyes wide in shock and panic.

I stared into those yellow eyes with their narrow slit pupil and drove my talons into his chest again as he fell onto his back on the floor. I was mindlessly focused on killing him, digging through the muscle and bone of his chest until I saw his heart. It was no longer beating but I pulled it out and viciously tore it to pieces. I was panting when I was finally able to shove myself back from his body, my blood lust sated.

I was no longer seeing red from the hunting instinct that affected my clan but I was from the blood that flowed across the floor to pool in the dips and cracks in the stones. I was covered in it. My hands and arms were coated in so much blood it looked like I was wearing gloves and I could taste the heavy, metallic flavor it in my mouth. As much as I hated touching the snake's body I did not want to touch Natham with all that blood on my hands. I wiped as much off as I could on the Snake's pants.

Shaking, I reached for Natham. I avoided touching his raw back, the sight of the torn and bruised flesh made it hard to breathe. I wanted to kill the snake Carthera again, slower this time, flaying him slice by slice until his blood ran across the floor in rivers. I held tight to my rage to keep my fear and sorrow at bay. I tried to take comfort in the fact that the damage seemed to be focused just on his back. He had been whipped methodically, his body crisscrossed with stripes that had barely an inch between them.

The methodical sadistic nature a person had to have to inflict such marks in such a way was beyond my comprehension.

His back was nearly black in places and purple in the others. Raw red stripes were gaping wounds an inch or more across in places and narrow strips in the other. The curves of his backside were not whipped but they were swollen and deep purple. His thighs showed red marks that I couldn't place but I resisted looking at the things hanging on the walls. I could see Natham's eyes staring at me and his mouth open and shut.

"Shhh, babe. It's okay. He's dead." I had to touch him, I couldn't see him and feel our bond as mates and not touch him, even as hurt as he was. I softly ran my fingers down his cheek over and over and watched as his eyes filled with tears until they overflowed and wet my fingers.

"I'm here, Natham. You're not alone."

His mouth was moving but I couldn't hear him.

Turning my head so that my ear right in front of his mouth I finally caught what he was saying, the sound of his words barely louder than a breath.

"Oh gods, no Natham! I won't go. No matter what happened, I will never leave you. You are mine."

He struggled to speak louder. "You must go." His voice was a thready whisper that broke as he panted between each word.

"I will not go without you. We need to get you up." I told him. I stood up, reaching for his shoulder. His fingers twitched.

"I can't... move," he whispered, "Venom." More tears spilled down his cheeks.

***

Our bond was doing its job as I tried to send strength to Natham. He was weak, almost as weak as when Mishtar first brought him back to me but he was still moving with the cobra venom coursing in his veins. I could almost feel his determination and drive to get out through our bond, though we were both awake. He would not let anything keep him in these cold stone halls. I noticed the route just for reference if we had to come back with the Falcons. If I didn't know better I would think that we were trapped back in medieval times in the dungeon of some evil tyrant bent on taking over the known world.

I guessed that thought wasn't that far from the reality though. Mishtar's men had found out a lot about Natham's father and his plot to first take over my father's territory and then start a war against the humans that would decimate them and us. We would survive, we were much stronger than the humans, but many of our kind would be lost and the world would never recover. My father believed living with the humans was our only chance for survival and growth as a species; I could not let his vision be shredded by insane rogues.

I would not let that happen, no matter what the cost.

"Do you know where we are?" I asked as we made our slow way up the narrow stairway.

"An old winery. I can smell the scents of the casks and the juices like hints of perfume in the air when the currents shift. My father liked it because of the cells. They used to store the wine in the..." he paused painfully and closed his eyes, panting a little, "the rooms we were in. The original owners built underground so they would be temperature controlled naturally. The look appealed to my father's... nature."

I suppose I had noticed those scents but they didn't mean much to me. I shuddered to think of the type of person who saw stone walls and immediately thought of chains and torture. "I'm going to get you out of here and away from him. He won't hurt you ever again," I swore.

Natham snorted a little. "I know you mean well but you've said that before." He grunted in pain as he stumbled a bit on the stairs. I heard the unspoken 'Look at me now' as I silently bore his weight and his comment. I felt anger but it was muted under the pain. I was a leader for my people, all my people. I was a Falcon, the Falcon.

The fact that my own mate thought me too weak to protect him galled me and pierced my heart with shame. I wasn't angry with him though.

He was right.

I had failed him.

I felt my resolve stiffen as we kept going. We made our way past a wide landing and then up a final flight of steps. I stared up at the door at the end of the stairs. No matter what stood behind that door we were going through it and out of this place. I would get Natham to safety and then I would come back with my Falcons. I would call the Panther clan for their deadly ability to stalk and ambush their prey in lethal silence and the Wolf clan for their ability to scent their quarry even better than the cat clans. The Carthera clans under my leadership would send their best warriors and we would raze this place to the ground. Then we would track down every man and Carthera who ever used it to torment and betray our people. I would see these feral traitors pay and I would not stop until each one turned dead, sightless eyes to a world safer with them taken out of it.

I had already killed a man; I would not hesitate to do it again and again until my people, all my people, were safe. The litany of those I planned to end was running through my head so I was paying less attention than I should and had to shift quickly to catch Natham as he stumbled. My mind was focused less on our surroundings and more on my thoughts of revenge. I had to pull myself together; we would be the ones to die before these traitors would if we were caught by surprise.

I was a little shocked we hadn't come across any other guards yet but I didn't want to risk asking Natham how many men he thought his men had and where they could be in case someone heard us.

My body was alert and wary as we approached the gray metal door cautiously. It was a welcome bit of modern architecture among the stone and concrete underground where we were trapped. We paused a foot or so from it and listened. I looked at Natham and pointed to my ear and nose. He shook his head; he could not hear or smell anyone on the other side. My sense of smell and hearing was less than his; all I could smell was his blood.

I frowned, considering our options

"Do you think you can stand on your own?" I asked him in a barely audible whisper.

"Maybe," he said softly, then winced as I gently eased him against the wall.

I made sure he was safely leaning on his side. Any pressure on his flayed back would have been excruciating for him. He was already oozing blood from some of the deeper wounds and if the smaller ones broke open he would lose more blood than he could safely part with. He put one trembling palm against the wall to balance himself as his free hand wrapped around his bruised torso. He took a small, shaky breath and then nodded at me.

I stepped up to the door and grasped the handle. My heart was hammering in my chest and I had no idea what was on the other side.

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