Shadows danced across his vision, lit against stone walls by bright towering embers.
Screaming cries filled his ears, painful shrieks and the burning crackles of wooden homes.
The heat scorched his skin to the bone, turning his flesh black and his skin to ash like paper in a hearth.
An unending miasma of suffering and death. Death. Over and over again.
Hatham's eyes hurt as he opened them to the harsh morning sunlight making him blink rapidly before sitting up in the unfamiliar bed and rubbing them with his hand.
It was the worst dream he had ever experienced and it had seemed to be never ending. He checked his hands that beforehand he had watched burn constantly and wither to nothing but black meat hanging off bone.
"You know it wasn't a dream" a voice said to his side on the bed.
Hatham turned his head to see the naked form of Priscilla lying on the bed, the covers barely covering the curvature of her hips, her arms supporting her head up sideways on the pillow and her eyes staring lustfully at what Hatham now realized was his naked body, as the covers had slid down when he sat up.
He quickly grabbed and pulled the covers over himself and scowled at Priscilla but his eyes could not help but take in an admire her gorgeous and what seemed to be perfect body. No matter how hard he tried to look at her face his eyes were always drawn down to her cleavage and her pink supple nipples against pale white skin. When he finally looked at her face he saw that she has noticed him staring and he wondered how long he actually had been looking. He could feel his face turning a deep red and that childish giggle once again came from her mouth.
"What do you mean I know?" he asked, realizing what she had said but not understanding what she had meant.
"We don't sleep, either one of our minds is always active and so all you do is go into a form of meditating where we both experience each others thoughts and memories" Priscilla said shifting onto her back stare at the ceiling and twisting her long hair in her fingers, as if bored by the question.
"So everything I saw and felt, that was what happened when the city burned?" The pain twinged in his heart once again.
Without him noticing her movements, Priscilla's arms wrapped around his neck gently and her lips met his passionately.
The confusion quickly faded away and Hatham kissed back, moving his hand down her shoulder and back, while she moved her fingers delicately across his chest. She finally pulled back and rested her head on Hatham's chest reaching her arm up and stroking Hatham's cheek.
"I know how you feel, every thought and emotion you have beats into me as well, there is no one in the world that can be there for you more than me Hatham". Priscilla looked into his eyes as she finished those words "I love you and we are together as one always and if that is not the love that you humans have, then we can give each other the love that we both so desperately need, but has been forsaken in this world".
He looked at her stunned, this creature that came from the darkness that he had made a deal with now talked about finding love and being there for each other in both his suffering and her desire for a physical existence.
Yet she sounded so sincere and caring.
She made Hatham feel like he did with Priss.
"You don't think I mean it do you?"
Hatham blinked out of his thoughts. "No,no I just was surprised that is all." Hatham laughed nervously "It was just strange to be hearing something so human from something that is-".
"That is not human? I understand your confusion, I have only gained knowledge of human affections through viewing into your world or through sifting through your memories". She did not seem phased by his response at all and she slung her leg over his body till her bare body was straddled on top of his and causing Hatham to blush even more than he had before. "Of course if you are not satisfied with this then I know that there are other ways to show love".
She slid her hand underneath the covers, grasping Hatham's manhood tightly but not enough to cause pain and started to stroke it before he sprang out of the bed throwing her off with a new found strength born out of embarrassment.
"No! That is fine you, you don't have to do that." Hatham said waving his hands dismissively, trying to shrug off the oppressive feeling of his innocence coupled with his mind wondering, desiring Priscilla and wanting to touch her where ever he could get his hands."I don't really want that kind of thing".
"That does not look like the case from where I am lying". She smiled, seductively biting her lip and stretching out on the bed before nodding towards Hatham's manhood and its' now more upright position.
Hatham covered it with his hands before sitting back down on the bed and using the covers as a more suitable concealing apparatus.
A loud knock came from the bedroom door and Hatham pulled the covers further up his body.
"Who is it?"
"Your maid servant my lord." The voice replied. "Do you want me to come back another time my lord?"
"No it is fine, just give me a couple of minutes" Hatham said realizing that all that seperated his body from the gaze of an innocent maid was a thin satin sheet. He moved over to the chest of ornate drawers in the room and pulled them open to find a fresh tunic and a pair of trousers and slid slid into them, pulling the tunic hurriedly over his head and pulling it down. After he was satisfied that he was properly clothed he slid to the door, ignoring the still naked body of Priscilla lying on his bed, although his arousal at seeing her had not died down just yet.
Wait what was he thinking? She was a demon, a means to an end. She did not even have a physical form, yet he felt such strong emotions when he looked at her and it was not just physically that he wanted her.
Hatham pushed the thoughts out of his head, focusing in the present and his overall mission.
"You can enter." he shouted and the maid stepped in took a low bow and brushed down her red servants garb.
"Sorry for my tardiness my lord, beg your forgiveness" her green eyes darted down to the floor in a shy and shameful manner.
She was certainly not bad to look at.
She had plain features, long blonde hair, the kind of features that were appreciated when most high lords chose their servants. Plain enough so as not to draw the envy of their wives but pretty enough so as to soothe the lords eyes. It was a common practice in the Free City as well when it came to choosing women to work the stalls or to talk with customers.
"It is fine really, but why do you keep calling me my lord?" Hatham asked, every time she said it, it made him nervous, like he was expected to live up to something.
"Because I have been put in your service by Baron La Rose my lord, if it offends you I can call you something different, your grace." She bowed again.
"No it is just weird, I mean you can just call me Hatham okay?" He laughed nervously "You don't have to bow all the time either."
"But Lord Hatham, this is not the proper title that Baron La Rose has bestowed upon you and so does not do you justice." she cocked her head in confusion as if Hatham was supposed to know all of this. Who was this Baron La Rose? What had happened while Hatham had been unconscious?vWhere was Quinton? Hatham realized while he had been in thought the servant had been just standing there waiting for to respond. Hell he didn't even know her name!
Hatham coughed putting his hand up to his mouth "Um could I know your name miss?"
"My name is Roxanne, my lord" she walked past him and began to make the bed, her hands passing the form or Priscilla and all she did in response was smile at Hatham and wink before fading away. Roxanne finished making the bed and turned to Hatham. "Is there anything else you need my lord?"
"Yes actually I was wondering about the companion who brought me here, Scout Captain Quinton?"
"Ahh yes it is Guard Captain Quinton now, he received a promotion for his outstanding work in scouting out the remnant of the Free City."
"Could I see him?
"I am afraid not my lord, Captain Quinton is very busy in his duties, organizing the city guard and such, however Baron La Rose has requested an audience with you my lord."
Him? "Why would he want to see me?"
"He wishes to see the legends of the Moon-Kin in the flesh, my lord,and he wishes to offer you a place of status in his city."
Status? With that Hatham could find out all he needed to know about the dragons. He could request books and scrolls that normal people could never get their hands on and maybe they might contain secrets or weaknesses about the dragons that he could exploit.
"Okay, so when can I meet him?"
" The Baron requests your audience as soon as possible." The maid answered. "Have you bathed my lord?"
Bathed? It hit Hatham that he had not washed him self in, well however long he had been knocked out for.
"No, I have not had a chance too with all that has been happening."
"Well my lord if you don't mind my saying you have been lying in your bed for the past week or so, I would recommend a bath in this situation my lord."
Had it really taken Hatham so long to recover his strength?
He nodded to the maid and she walked to a door and opened it into a bathroom and began to run a bath in the tub for Hatham.
He sat and waited.
After bathing Hatham felt a thousand time better and actually felt clean for once! He stretched his arms and legs and put on the new clothes the maid, Seras, had put out for him. She has politely turned away as he changed and when he had gotten out of the bat, much to the delight of Priscilla who chuckled in his head at his plainly obvious virginity. Despite this even Hatham had to smile a bit as she taunted him in his head. He had not felt this happy in ages, he had company, power and now he was at his destination in the city of Fernhelm. The clothes he had put on were a plain dulled blue but fitted him well and felt soft against his skin so he did not complain since they were better than the rags he had worn on his journey here.
After he was done Seras led him out of his room and down a grand stone corridor that had more rooms connected to it then he could count. As they walked down what Seras told him was the East Wing Hatham could not help must count how many guards they passed, their armour was so clean and flawless Hatham could see his face in it and each one carried a large tower shield and a boar spear, with a small gladius sheathed on their side. There was an upper level to each corridor and Hatham could see more guards stationed up there with crossbows and some even with flintlock rifles which were far more expensive and less reliable. However they could cover a greater distance and packed more of a punch.
Hatham laughed out loud thinking how all those stories his Uncle had told him had actually taught him something.
They moved out of the East Wing and into the main section of the castle where Hatham noticed there were fewer guards but a lot more or both servants and nobility strutting up and down the place and as they walked by they looked at both Seras and Hatham filthily.
When they had finally passed the people in the corridors Hatham tapped Seras on the shoulder.
"What was all that about?"
"Servants are of the lower class my lord, so they are often seen as filthy or unclean among the upper ranks of Fernhelm" she spoke like this did not bother her at all and was used to it all. "You on the other hand my lord, they think that you are a liar."
"Yes, stories of your battle with a dragon have already spread in the city, but many think that you are simply a liar or that the dragon was already dead when you found it."
Hatham stopped walking a stood there stunned "But that is not true at all!"
"It is merely rumour my lord, do not take it to heart."
He started walking again all the time thinking about this is his head.
There there my sweet, I still believe you.
He felt the stroke of Priscilla's hand on his cheek and smiled.
"Thanks" he whispered ,soft enough so that Seras would not hear him.
They stopped walking in front of a pair of large wooden doors and Seras bowed her head.
"I am not allowed to go any further, so just remember to bow in front of the Baron, and do not speak when spoken too, my lord."
Hatham nodded and the guards stationed at the doors opened one slightly so that Hatham could walk in.
Once inside the first thing Hatham noticed was the huge, long table of food that was layed out yet no one except one person seemed to be sitting at it. The only man who was had a very large physique and his body was rounded from copious amounts of food and wine. He had curled ginger hair and a finely cut goatee, and his face was red as he munched happily on a chicken leg he had picked up from the table. To his side stood two guards and behind them the friendly face of the newly appointed Guard Captain Quinton. The Baron greedily helped himself to another chicken thigh and turned to see Hatham standing at the door. He immediately jumped up and walked up to Hatham embracing him awkwardly in a tight hug before letting him go and patting his shoulders.
"Come, come you don't have to act like servant, come sit with us my boy!"
He led Hatham to a seat at the table next to his own before sitting down himself.
"Help yourself to anything you would like, or if you fancy something specific I will have my servants get it for you."
Hatham sat at the table hunched slightly trying not to look at the Baron as he began to shove grapes in his mouth.
"You are an interesting boy, it is not everyday someone kills a dragon."
Hatham nodded but still looked away shyly.
"The Ash Priests want me to execute you" The Baron said his mouth full of food. " I just think they are a bunch of superstitious fools! I think you are an amazingly gifted man, with an amazingly powerful force at your disposal. Tell me is it true that you have a demon inside your head like the legends of old say?"
Hatham nodded " Yes, she and I are bonded, my lord."
"Amazing! A she? Such a lucky man to have a woman in his head at all time." He laughed but it was cut short as he chokes slightly and coughed to get rid of it. "Although I am not sure I could put up with that."
The Baron laughed loudly and both Hatham and Quinton joined him awkwardly in his amusement.
"Now most of my noble council want me to either banish you or execute you for being a liar or a blasphemer in the eyes of the Brotherhood of Ash, but I think everyone around me are fools, except for my new Captain of the Guard who brought you to me." The Baron raised his cup of win to Quinton who nodded before making a small bow to his lord.
"I am not going to do any of those things, but before I make my offer, would you mind a little demonstration of your abilities?" He nodded politely at Hatham.
Hatham sat there stunned for a while, he did not even have proper control of his power yet and here he was asked to show it to the most powerful man in the city.
If you need my help you only have to ask
Hatham stretched out his hand in front of the Baron and as he flexed his finger the white crystals began to push out of his skin and form across the top of his fingers, sharp and glowing but at the same time unfocused and pointed it like spines in many directions.
The Baron clapped with the excitement and amusement of a child, as Hatham moved them forward and extended them, skewering a piece of chicken breast and slicing it in half.
"Now that is impressive! Did you see that Quinton? I bet those things could slice straight through steel like it was cream!"
Quinton nodded in agreement and gave a thumbs up to Hatham alongside his signature smile before popping a seed into his mouth and crunching on it quietly.
Hatham blushed at the praise and Priscilla even gave a smile of satisfaction.
You are getting good at that.
The Baron sat back in seat and finished off the last of the good on his plate with a large gulp.
" Now, I am impressed with you Hatham and my friend Quinton tells me you are a good lad, so I want to offer you anything you want. Anything at all and I will grant it too you! On the condition that you live here in the city and become my personnal bodyguard, after you have had training of course by the finest instructors in the land. You will have food, a luxurious place to live and I will arrange all of it!"
Hatham was stunned
"Um thank you sir I don't know what to say."
"Just say what you want and it will be yours!" He grinned at Hatham "You can even marry one of my daughters, pick whichever one you want and she can be yours but for now you can just think it over."
Hatham thought hard about what he could ask for, perhaps he could live here and be a happy rich man with a family.
No. He must never forget what his purpose was, and then it hit him.
"I want access to the Library of the Ash Priests."
If he could get in there he could at least try to find something that could help him defeat the dragons. In the library they ordered and kept all the blasphemous texts hidden away, but if Hatham could look at them maybe one would show him a weakness of the dragons that he could exploit and perhaps there might even be writings on the other people in history who wielded the same power as him, these Sun Hunters and maybe it might reveal how to use his powers more effectively.
The Baron sighed and wiped his mouth with a clean napkin.
"I am afraid I can't grant you that, only the Ash Priests are allowed in there and even then they are not allowed to read the books that sit on the shelves. It would be the ultimate betrayal to my masters to let you into that building. I'm sorry, but I will grant you anything else, why don't you think on it, Seras will take you out shopping for some new clothes, If you are staying here you best dress properly. Come back to me when you have made up your mind my boy. I look forward to having you as my bodyguard."
The Baron grinned again and waved Hatham towards the door, and Seras came in to escort him back to his room. Hatham sighed and had hoped the Baron would grant his wish but this was not the was. It didn't matter, Hatham would get into that library somehow, but for now he had to wait and bide his time, perhaps Quinton could help him?
Seras took Hatham into his room and bowed before leaving, Hatham jumped onto his bad and sighed again. he felt tired even though he had slept for days. He rested his head on the large soft pillows and closed his eyes and let the visions takes him as Priscilla invited him to talk to her, and they sat under an apple tree, clothe-less and without a care in the world.
Until the nightmares hit Hatham again.
And they hit him hard.