Nightblood

In a world of eternal darkness, the light is slowly seeping in. It’s up to one particular winged warrior to save the Night.

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18. Chapter 18

Chapter 18

 

He tries hauling himself to her, but he can't walk. He can't move without pain. 

Ryan collapses on the ground, giving up. 

Giving in to the pull that drags him into unconsciousness, the grip of a new vision.

➿➿➿

I scramble up, breathing raggedly, pain shooting through me. My wing is most definitely broken. I discretely grab one of the healing potions I have stationed at my hip, chugging down the contents before anyone can stop me. 

I warmth that borders on unpleasant envelopes me, condensing over my broken wing. Within moments it's healed, maybe not completely but well enough to fly. 

As Seres readies to attack me once again, heavy realization settles over me. I'm going to lose this fight. It's inevitable, it's impossible to escape. I realize, I must retreat. This is not a fight I'll win, for once reincarnated Seres is finished, the rest will race to finish what he'd started, if he doesn't succeed in killing me himself. 

I call to all the power with in me, reaching a new bottom. A new depth. I let it escape, aiming it at Seres, watching as he's caught in it's tide, as it burns him away. 

I don't stick around to see what happens, I lift into the air, flying as swiftly as I can, racing to find Ryan, find some kind of safety, ignoring the cries to pursue me, as I retreat. I push hard as I can, flying as fast as my weary wings will take me. 

I see the clearing, and drop like a stone out of the sky, falling to the ground like a thunderbolt. 

My power still bristles around me, as I am unable to reign them in, vicious sparks of white-hot energy flying through the air around my descending form. 

I see him lying on the ground, crumpled into a ball. Ryan, unconscious, collapse onto the rough ground. For a second, I almost believe him dead.

Panic and grief war inside me, panic eventually winning. I have no time to grieve, but there is time for me to do something for him. I swoop down, relief flooding me when I see the rise and fall of his chest and feel a steady pulse. 

So he is merely unconscious. I move him back to the shelter, laying the blanket over him. I should probably head to sleep soon, but I can't. Each creek of the trees is someone approaching, the scuttle of rodents in the underbrush is the silent wingbeats of a Nightblood. 

So I stand and pace, waiting for Ryan to stir or an enemy to show. The latter comes first. Seres, alone, sweeps down through the trees. 

➿➿➿

The events have changed. She escapes the camp. But Ryan is still uncertain what comes next, locked into unconsciousness, the visions refuse to come. 

Just emptiness. Blackness. Nothing. Suddenly the feeling of being moved, though he still can't fight to the surface. 

He pushes against whatever is holding him down, but to no avail. It weighs him down, and he sinks into the vast sea of his subconscious.

➿➿➿

“Seres! How can you!” I growl as he approaches, his face sting, eyes like ships of silvery ice. 

“How could you? Move on so fast? And with a Day-sider?” He retorts, eyes filled with rage.

“Move on so fast! It's been years, Seres! Years! ” I fire back, tears welling in my eyes. I can't fight him. I can't.

“What?” He stops dead in his tracks, the look on his face one of pure confusion, no malice. “They told me it is mere days!”

“What did they tell you? Tell me how you're alive!” I demand, still baffled over his return to life.

“There's a ritual. It's not done very often, as it's dangerous, but it's a sort of life-for-a-life thing. One other Nightblood died so I could live again. They said it had been only a few days since my passing, and that you'd already fallen for someone else,” he explains, face softening. “And suddenly, they claimed he is a Day-sider, and I just—I just lost it.” 

“Who is it, the other Nightblood?” I ask, he managed to pique my curiosity. 

“Someone named Aroal,” he answers, and I see guilt flicker in his eyes. Guilt, and anger. 

“And they told you to kill me?” I question, sorrow weighing me down like a heavy cloak. 

“They didn't need to!” He shouts suddenly, rage taking hold of his normally beautiful face, twisting it into a scowl. 

He launches for me, brandishing a dagger, an anger-filled growl rumbling deep in his throat. I try to dodge at last minute, but not quick enough, it slices through my sleeve, silver blood welling up. I hiss in pain, and launch myself at him in return.  

White sparks dance at my fingertips, I call to the flickering energy within me, tossing it out towards Seres. 

“Light lover!” He screeches, as I call up to the last reserves of my power, shoving my hands out towards him with all my might. White light envelopes us, burning away at him but leaving me alone. I control it, it does not harm me. 

When it's over, black blood appears to spurt from every pore of his body, until he's drenched in it. 

With a final snarl in my direction, he takes to the air on unsteady wings, vanishing into the depths of the silky black sky.

Panting, I force my jumbled thoughts to get in line. First, I check to make sure I have no grave injuries. Secondly, I will search for Ryan, and possibly slap him when I find him. Third, I will sleep until I can't sleep for any longer.

Asides from a few minor cuts and bruises, I relatively intact. My wing is still bothering me, but it appears to be mostly healed. The healing potion also helped with the majority of my injuries, and if it weren't for the bone-deep exhaustion weighing me down I would be in near-perfect condition. 

I stumble over to the shelter, not surprised to see Ryan collapsed inside of it, the ghostly fire nothing more than grey embers. 

I don't wake him, but I forgive him. He is victim of his Heartmagic, falling under the visions. I forgive him, and curl up next to him on the frosty ground.

But despite my exhaustion, I can't sleep. Ryan’s form is shaking, his clothes drenched in sweat. His breathing is heavy despite his slumber, and concern floods me. I push myself to a sitting position, and examine him for any signs of sickness.

He is perfectly healthy, no infected wounds, and the scent of sickness does not cling to him. Instead, a musky smell drifts on the air, something deep and feral, tinged with heavy magic.

His eyes snap open, revealing irises of solid gold. He lunges at me, fingernails twisted into claws, fangs bristling in his jaw. 

I do nothing as he slams into me, a snarl on his lips, his gaze purely feral, lupine. I don't pretend like I am not aware of what’s happening, I know with heart-wrenching certainty what is going on. 

The Creature inside him is rising to the surface. It looks terrible, and his grunts of pain assures me that it feels even worse. 

I push him away from me, snarling. He whimpers, backing away. I blink in surprise. And watch as he flops down and commences convulsing once again. 

I wait until he goes still, before I check him pulse. His heart’s beating just fine, and after a few minutes of him laying on the ground, chest rising and falling rapidly, he works up the nerve and strength to stand. 

“Are you alright?” I ask, concern lacing my voice. 

“I think,” he gasps, eyes bright and feverish, yet returned to normal, the golden haze clearing. 

We don't speak anymore, he heads into my shelter, I stand outside until it starts to rain, water pouring down from the black cloud coated sky overhead. The stars are blotted out, the moons mere whispers of frosty light. 

I stand outside until I'm completely drenched, and quietly slip into my shelter, curling up around Ryan, wrapping my arms and wings around him. 

I use my magic to dry myself off, hot energy zipping around me until the frigid rainwater turns to wisps of steam. 

“Sleep well,” I whisper to Ryan. He shifts next to me, and for a heartbeat I believe him asleep.

“Sleep well,” he eventually returns, and I listen to his breathing until it settles into a slow rhythm, and eventually I drift asleep too, the small amount of energy I provided to keep the fire going being shut off, the flames put out by the pelting rain. 

I lose track of time in the blackness of sleep, until a whisper breaks the depths of the silence. 

“You awake?” Ryan hisses, and I open my eyes to him facing me, curled up in the tight confines of the shelter.

“I am now,” I grumble, annoyed at being aroused. 

“I can't sleep,” he whispers back, his voice transformed into a scream in the silence.

“I can tell, if you're awake at this point in time," I exhale sharply, annoyance consuming me. We lapse into silence, and for a while I believe Ryan may have fallen asleep.

“I've missed you,” he murmurs, voice incredibly soft, yet breaking the fragile silence. 

“I've missed you too, I've missed us,” passion and love fill my voice, making it thick and raw. Something shifts in me, something hard and untouchable becoming open, willing itself to be handled and touched. 

“I… I love you,” Ryan’s voice quavers, weighed down by the heaviness of his statement. I do not speak for a moment, and I feel him stiffen against me.

“I love you too,” I whisper back, and suddenly some dam breaks, tears trickling down my cheeks. I don't know why I'm crying, but the tears feel almost like tears of joy. 

He brushes his lips against mine, carefully. Seeing if this is what I want. It is, and I push back, pressing myself against him. We pull back together, gazing at each other with love, not lust, burning in our eyes. 

He nuzzles up against my chest, and I wrap my arms around him, listening to the whistle of his breath and the sigh of the wind. 

Soon, we both drift off into a peaceful sleep, a weight finally removed from our aching chests. 

➿➿➿

Against his better judgement, Estrie returns to the Nightblood camp, and she's out for blood. She's returning for revenge, to destroy whatever is left of Seres and prove her point. And he is to come with her

He tries not to think about their time together under the shaking roof of Estrie’s ramshackle shelter, but he can't cleanse his mind of the memories. They fill him with so many conflicting emotions, happiness, love, passion, relief. It fills him with energy, and also drains him. Leaves him empty and broken, full and healed.

She is a force of nature, a storm waiting to break. She is a raging wildfire, a sharpened sword. 

He treks through the trees behind her, the embers to her flame, the hilt of her sword. He is a part of her life now, and together they will make a statement to the Nightbloods. 

➿➿➿

Carson feels himself fading, and welcomes it, welcomes the emptiness rising up to claim him. 

He just hopes that the afterlife will offer him some kind of peace, after all this turmoil. He lived his life, and as he passes on he does not regret a single choice he made. 

A sense of acceptance and peace settles over him, and he waits to leave this world, and explore the next, whatever it may be.

➿➿➿

I hear the voices before I reach the clearing, they laugh and carry on until I burst in, silence settling over the amassed Nightbloods. 

A sense of awe and terror as well, as I unleash the full force of my magic, a carpet of white energy, electricity, flame, settling over the camp, the fires begin  flickering out, even the stars appear to shift, some to brighten and others dim. 

I meet the gaze of everyone and no one at once, as the leaders begin to emerge. I do not have eyes for them, for they are already glued to Seres. Without a moment of hesitation he strides forward, pressing a knife to both my throats and Ryan’s.

“Is this him? Is this the Dayling?” He spits, digging the blade into Ryan’s moon-white flesh, and I watch as red blood wells up. 

“No. There never is a Dayling. I think my companion can introduce himself.”

“Ryan of the Strennan tribe. I'd say it's a pleasure meeting you, but really it's not,” I can't help but chuckle at Ryan’s sarcastic tone and snide words, watching as Seres stiffens. 

“Tell me why I shouldn't kill you both,” he commands. His voice is a lethal growl, I can feel the hate that radiates off of him. 

“Because I'm going to kill you first," there is no mercy in my gaze, no sympathy, no forgiveness.

“I'd like to see that happen. I've already got the upper hand,” Seres chuckles, as a smile brimming with hate and malice spreads across my face, pulling my lips tight. 

I force the energy that hung in the air around us to condense, to funnel into Seres. With my Heartmagic returned to full force, he didn't stand a chance, and I feel not even a flicker of remorse as he falls to the ground, my power slowly killing him. 

Because this is not Seres. This is an evil incarnate, not he sweet boy I thought I fell in love with. 

Once the deed is done, I turn to the rest of the Nightbloods, revelling in their fear and awe. I ready my words, preparing the speech I, about to deliver. 

“As you can tell, I do not take well to being threatened. I do not take well to being lied about either.” 

“But it is not a lie, you feel for a Day-sider!” A voice randomly pipes up, and I feel faint anger stir in a chasm of emptiness that has become me, at least for this performance. 

“I did not fall in love with a Day-sider, but helped one survive and return home out of basic compassion and empathy. For whatever other reasons you've chosen to hate me, I assure you they're either false or exaggerated. Let this serve as I message. Trying to kill me will not end well for you,” I say it all without my voice shaking, I keep my tone steady and my eyes dead. 

“So our leaders lied?” Another one grills, and once again I cannot tell who spoke. 

“For whatever reason, yes.”

A murmur sweeps through the crowd, a virus spreading from one end to the other. It is cut short by Gar emerging from the shadows, a flame flickering in the darkness as he strides towards me. 

I do not feel afraid, even though all rationality tells me I should. I should turn tail and flee, never looking back. 

But I don't. I stand rooted in place, silent as Gar draws nearer, red, white and orange flames dancing around him. I'd never seen fire that is red or orange, but it glows around Gar like a halo of embers.

I feel a wisp of fear stir inside me. The only thing telling me I can still feel. The whole camp appears to hold its breath, waiting for the Leader to speak. 

“We have our reasonings. Saving a Day-sider is punishable by death, but we chose to spare you,” his voice is tight with anger, a deep rumble. 

“Spare me? By bringing a past lover of mine back to life than telling him to kill me? And spreading humiliating lies? Tell me Gar, in what world is that sparing me?” I demand, my voice even and stone cold. 

“You're still alive, so I'd say it is,” I take a deep breath and roll my eyes at the Leader’s statement. He glowers, and I take it in stride, launching into another speech. 

“Who warned you to the Dayblood attack? Who fought side by side, nearly dying in order to save you all? Who's Heartmagic is it that returned the light back where it belongs?” My voice rings out clear through the clearing, my face tight with rage. I force myself to relax, to not show my inner feelings. 

I call to the magic dancing in my veins, ringing myself with white energy, calling to each tendril of moonlight that falls from the sky, wrapping myself in a cocoon of energy and light. 

Everyone goes still, as I reach the full extent of my power, trying not to let it flicker despite the exhaustion that swarms me. I'm reaching the ends of my reservoirs. 

“You may have saved us, but you also saved the enemy!” Gar screeches, and I almost laugh.

“You're being ridiculous! One show of compassion towards the Day should surely be outweighed by saving the entirety of the Night!” I state, a sliver of incredulity creeping into my tone. 

Gar’s flames leap higher, and as I show of strength I call to them, adding dancing flames of red and orange to my display. Awe turns to anger, but no one dares stop me. 

“You're right,” Gar says, looking drained and weary, weak without his halo of fire. “But that does not amend for saving one of the enemy. You may live, but you are banished from the Nightblood camp, to return is punished by death.”

I nod, and feel a twinge of sadness. I'm going to miss this place, if not the people in it. 

“Goodbye,” I say, my voice empty and hollow. Ryan and I turn and leave, not looking back. Embracing whatever lies ahead, forgetting about what lies behind. 

 
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