[A Cold Winter] A Confused Child

Aerian was bitterly cold, she huddled into the corner as best she could keeping her knees to her chest in an effort to stay warm. Winter was in the Everlands in full and violent force. Every part of her hurt especially after Hareavor had got done with her just a few hours earlier and act that made her sick to even think about.

She whimpered into her knees as another wave of pain rattled through her as she tried to mentally piece the layout of the area she was been held, her mind still fighting to maintain the control that allowed her to simply be herself. It wasn’t far to the room that Hareavor had tortured her in, never did it in the cell as it was open and Hades was only a few doors down, the room was sealed with a heavy iron door and well she guessed the walls were solid within. The door next to it led up to the castle she suspected that would be her way through.

Once more she mentally counted the steps then she waited.

That is when Aerian heard the violent click of those heels, announcing the nearing presence of Z’ress, instead of earlier, they passed Hades’ cell and proceeded to halt before Aerian’s own.

Sure enough, the door was cried upon opening. Standing on the other side was Z’ress, adorning a tray with a pitcher and cup, the smell drifted was scrumptious. Stepping within, she was flanked by the two werewolves, as they stood by the door and the third guard closed the cell. Z’ress glanced back to the two imposing wolves, snapping her fingers when they looked to her with a snarl, she remained steady in her stance and eventually the door was opened and closed.

She moved to sit in the middle of the room, beckoning Aerian forward with a nudge of the tray. Z’ress then scooped up the food, it was delectable to a starving stomach. “Liver to help with the iron in your blood for the loss. Orange juice to add the necessary sugars in the body.” Z’ress began to pour the juice from the pitcher. “Tell me. Has Hareavor touched you since we last spoke?”

Aerian remained in the corner her stomach growling loud enough to be heard “Since this morning? Then you and Ceremon visited just after so, no he hasn’t gotten back around to it yet but he will” Her words came on a flood of emotion which Aerian chose to promptly choke down wiping the tears angrily from her eyes.

“Why are you looking out for me? You know I won’t turn her over, nor will I will turn over the mansion, so unless you’re not quite as mental as Aishani tells it …. This seems a lot of effot to play nice?” I was half question half statement a ramble from the confused mind that Aerian was violently fighting to control.

Z’ress remained silent to Aerian’s flood of questions, simply holding the fork forward to extend the vegetables and meat to the red head. The scent was indeed stirring her empty stomach, while Z’ress poured the juice with her other hand. “Eat, it is impolite to talk while ignoring my offer to you. As far as Hareavor is concerned, unless, he values his manhood, he will not touch you again.”

Her crimson eyes remained fixed on Aerian, still held with little emotion and absolutely no compassion for the injured girl, that flow of her white hair around her shoulders was like snow blowing in the cruel winter gales.

Aerian looked for a moment before crawling across the room, awkwardly she crossed her legs to sit in front, it was now the bruising was all too clear, almost every inch of her upper thighs were purple or blue, “Funny my dad says the same thing” she took the offered liver, not exactly a favourite but understanding the reasons enough were correct. She chewed slowly, feeling it finally hit her stomach as she swallowed.

Aerian didn’t speak only ate finally feeling some of her body fight back in response to more than the chunks of weeks old bread they had been fed to simply keep them alive.

Z’ress still kept her silence, while ensuring that Aerian ate and then offered her the cup of juice. “It is knowledge that you are stubborn and refuse to comply. Your grandfather, has a weak spot for you, which is to your own advantage. You spoke to me of wanting something you can never have, I am in the same seat as you. Everyone seems against me gathering my own flesh and blood. You see, I simply want to take her home. She has caused enough trouble in this realm and do not hesitate to consider for just a moment that if the situation best suits her, she will leave.”

Those crimson eyes travelled upon her upper thighs, the bruising well defined. She then lifted her hand while the webbing of violet wrapped her and pulsed, as Aerian felt a warmth enter her body, as healing was occurring. It was minimal, perhaps, to avoid a shock to the body, but, Z’ress simply watched her.

Aerian watched the webbing vanish into her skin feeling the pain ease, she drank slowly “Ceremon may claim he has a soft spot, but only because he knows IF I wound up dead, my father would rip this castle apart and everyone and everything in it” She finished the juice and another bite of food before she slid back a little “Make no mistake Z’ress, he is afraid of my father, everyone is”

She shrugged softly that slight edge that kept others from getting close no crept into her body, the way she held or at least tried to as much as you could through the pain, the bruising and being naked, the latter barely bothered her anymore though the ice in the air wasn’t helping matters. “But you want your daughter, who will serve critical in protecting this realm, I already know this to be true, I’ve seen her in action, I fell in love with her, before she found my father” She drew a short breath “That one stung. Nevertheless I was sent to watch over her and ensure she got to Dentarius, which is why the bounty hunter my mother dispatched to take her life is now at the bottom of a ravine with half a dozen arrows in his spine, war is coming and we need her”

Z’ress tipped her chin a slight in a jut, at Aerian’s words, those crimson eyes fixed on her with an impending chill that seemed to cause the room to grow even colder. “I have heard that twice now. Must be difficult for you, then. To watch the interaction between the two, to know, if only you moved faster that COULD have been you. Doesn’t that make you angry? To have her beneath you, writhing and screaming out your name, instead of his? I taught her very well indeed, her manipulation is top of the line. I’m impressed.”

She considered Aerian. “Why do you torment yourself? You allow for this to happen to you, perhaps, not knowingly. You wish pain to…numb, some part of you.” Z’ress moved on hands and knees to crawl closer to Aerian, this image reminded Aerian as a predator stalking pray. “Was it your father? Your mother? Ah…yes, a lover. Was she taken away? Oh, no, I think killed…”

It caught her square in the chest her entire body tensed visibly at Z’ress’ words watching her move toward her the pain of Mayas death merely held her in place. Her mind simply shutdown as the defences fell all within a moment “I couldn’t protect her, couldn’t stop him, couldn’t find him, will kill him when I do” the words came in a flood, this time she didn’t even bother wiping her eyes falling back onto the floor her entire body exposed to Z’ress.

Her breasts were exposed and just as bruised as the rest of her, a layer of dirt missed leaving almost no area of her body untouched with deep dark patches, her hair had become matted and clung to her scalp with barely any motion, her brain reeled in a wave of confusion she could barely process.

“It doesn’t matter none of it, because if you remover her from the equasion that this realm is so finally balanced upon you will kill us all, if the Everlands falls, then every realm from here to the netherealms will fall one after another until there are none left” Aerians words were oddly chilled as if not spoken by her but they were from deep within the desperate pit that she now fought to bury once more “I couldn’t protect Maya but I will protect Aishani I love her, she found dad I can make peace with that, eventually…..” her voice trailed off thoughts of Aishani swimming through her mind before her brain hit her with another wave of confusion and pain.

Z’ress ran her tongue across the ruby polished lips, once Aerian reacted the way that she had. As Aerian was on the floor, she felt those ice cold hands creep up both her legs, but, then a tingling followed. Perhaps, it was her imagination, but, those hands continued to travel upon her naked form. Brushing the breath of frost upon her petals, while it was frigid, again that strange warmth remained, a look to Z’ress provided the display of her crimson eyes glowing like two embers of the deepest logs. Then her hands moved upwards from her hips to her bosom, slowly and very gently each was taken into Z’ress’s hands, while tender kneading took place but it did not remain. Z’ress was healing her to the fullest, ridding the pain and the bruises, then met Aerian’s gaze, as their mounds met with the thin fabric between them, her pert buds tickling that of Aerian’s.

But, the instant that contact was made, Z’ress lifted from her and swept the red-head in her arms, cradling her close to her bosom. She was as though, swept into a drift of snow, but it was comforting. “Then, I will be here for a very long time it seems. It seems everyone is so wrapped up in their own desires and wants, which leaves you at the bottom of the pile, doesn’t it? You never allowed anyone to comfort you. Caress your hair and tell you that everything will be all right. But, you know that isn’t going to happen, don’t you?”

As her hands crept over her body Aerian felt her body react, her flesh rippled with goosebumps, as her hands crept over her intimate parts she felt a whimper slip past which she promptly bit back midway through, her nipples hardened the instant Z’ress’ hands touched them.

It was as she took her in her Aerians that for the first time in a long time Aerian felt true panic, the kind that twists your insides, Aerian could feel her body heel and yet her strength remained all but gone as she twisted quickly out of Z’ress’ grasp slithering back along the floor, she remained on her hands with her feet planted against the floor “I don’t need to be told I’ll be OK, I have watched my life break down so many times it no longer matters, I survive because I’m Elcarus or because I’m stubborn too die depending on whom you ask”

She felt the panic settle which allowed her to drop the defensive posture, she couldn’t take Z’ress she had already worked that out, she was healed but she was far from healthy in that moment “Does make me curious as to your end game beyond retrieving your daughter, I mean you said she gravitates toward protective men, but you, you sided with a certified whack job and by my math you would have got to Dentarius and my father long before Aishani, which means Ceremon was already aware of your arrival” Aerian stopped her train of thought as she settled back “He knew, he brought you here, but why, certainly not to seduce his lesbian granddaughter that capture was does because the opportunity arose” She tipped her head ever so slightly as she let her eyes now trail every inch of Z’ress she could see, her own body still heated from being touched.

Z’ress sat motionless on the floor when Aerian escaped her arms, almost as though, expecting such, in the dimness of the room, her now snow white hair adding an almost surreal aura around her. “You survive. Because, unlike my daughter, you are NOT weak.” She began to place the food on the try, calmly, including the pitcher but left the cup. Slowly she rose with perfect posture, while in the background light, ever contour and curve was revealed in contrast beneath the thin fabric. Z’ress turned now, while the wink of a pert bud was caught and then the shift of the fabric revealed the supple bottom that was contoured perfectly and a quick flash of the petals beneath.

Those cruel heels began to click in her walk to the cell door. “I would reconsider things, as they are. Do not pretend to know me, nor my plans. No one knows this, but, me alone. I risk everything to leave my house to my daughters in my stead…Yes, Aishani’s sisters. I have much more to lose than her, nor any of you.” She lifted her hand to knock on the door.

“I wouldn’t assume to know anything Z’ress, except the pieces of a larger I have, I would just make sure you’re on the right side for the right reasons, love is just as powerful as hate and I have family filled with both” Finally Aerian made her way to her feet leaning back on the wall, her body once more exposed though somewhat less unclean than before “Maybe next time you can clean me up properly, I still have more of Hareavor on me than I’d like”

Z’ress hesitated, but, did not turn to face her. “There are other meals, throughout the day. You will see me again, Aerian.” The door opened to reveal the human and the two werewolves, she stepped through and pivoted on her heel to walk away. After the door moaned closed in defeat of the now lonely cell, the only remaining sound was the clicking of her heels upon each slow and steady step.

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[A Cold Winter] Dinner With Hades

Ceremon let his grip on her wrist slid a dark smile “Go tend to our prisoners, let’s see if they bite first” he thought for a moment “Perhaps a less violent approach will help loosen their defiance”

He watched just long enough for her to disappear from the library before returning to his work within the books.

Hades pulled himself to his feet, every part of him ached, if there was one thing he had forgotten it was the feeling of being tortured, Hareavor was good at that part, a second experiment after he himself was deemed a failure, at least by Ceremon. If the truth were told Hades had simply seen that been on Kanes side was a far easier life than been hunted by him. He groaned as the days of tortured cracked from each bone, he had a couple of broken ribs, an a few strains here and there but whatever Z’ress had done had either tricked him into thinking he would be OK, or she had actually healed him which was all the more confusing to Hades, he wasn’t exactly the thinking kind.

From the hallway, Hades heard the echo of those cruel heels clicking upon the stone floor, steady and erotic. The mere sound was not music but torture to his ears due to the knowledge of the nearing presence of Z’ress that is when he heard the door scream in agony to the weight on the joints and the moisture that was causing premature rust.

At first two guards entered; the werewolf and the human, one carrying a sack while the other held a metal bucket that was closed and then those crimson eyes appeared from the darkness beyond fixed on him. She motioned for the guards to place down the items and take their leave, it was quick in the gesture and a snap of her fingers. The cell door closed behind her with a clank, while lifting the torch to hook upon the metal hanger fixed to the wall.
 
“How are you feeling, Hades?” She asked, her voice still indifferent, in her hands balanced perfectly was a tray of food. The smell is what hit him the hardest, freshly grilled meat and vegetables, everything his body craved. A silver pitcher and cup was set at the side. “Come let me inspect your ribs…bones are harder to heal then external injuries.”

“Not the first time that asshole has broken bones, probably not going to be the last either” Hades levelled his tone as he set back against the wall, his stomach growling angrily at the scent of food. Something he had been deprived off since his capture, he stepped forward just a step before letting his glance move to the torch and bucket.

“So I play nice or you sic the rats on me?” He smiled a knowing smile, he may not have been as threaded with vampire as his other brothers, but he had enough to recognise certain scents. “Impressive, but what I don’t get is what use I am? I can’t bring down the fields around Elcarus Mansion, see dad neglected to give me that particular skill, only those born in the grounds can affect the convergence there” He made his way to sit in front of her his eyes set on the plate of food “But then you already know this, so either you get off on torturing men, dad isn’t giving you too much pleasure or you are just plain bored, or” his tone darkened “You think I have any level of influence over Aerian, and can convince her to side with you, you will do as you please to me regardless of what I give you”

Z’ress listened to Hades, while calmly slicing into the dark piece of meat. Such was slick and smelled of butter and mouth-watering spices, though, her crimson eyes slowly lifted to meet his gaze. The shadows at the corner of those luscious lips appeared to be riddled with mild amusement. “Forget, Aerian for the time, Hareavor will not lay a single finger on her, less he desires to keep his manhood intact. Is she here? Have I mentioned her? I am speaking with you. You are my focus, Hades.” Z’ress calmly, lifted a forkful with the meat and vegetables, those supple breasts partially exposed within the dress, a teasing darkness of the upper of the areola exposed. “Now. Eat, the iron in the liver will assist to decrease the amount of blood loss that you have sustained. I do not desire to ruin a good meal with plots, let us, simply enjoy it.”

Hades eyed the food with suspicion, then Z’ress with that same look, before finally taking a bite. “So what you’re just here out of the goodness of your heart?” He swallowed slowly the pain still there as he watched her “Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of murder and mayhem as much as anyone else, value my life, but” he let the world hold “I protect my family, even at the cost of my life, Kane saved me from the torment of the hell Ceremon left me in, a debt that still needs to be paid, so if this is because you’re a saint painted bad then I’m thankful”

He sat back taking another piece of liver “Also might be worth noting my vampire is a whole lot less than Kane, I have no reliance on blood to stay alive nor heal, may take me longer but Ceremon gave me much bigger pieces of their strength and was able to strip the weaknesses. Which is why Hareavor likes to beat me up so badly, he does tie me up first though because he knows I’d kick his pathetic ass in a straight fight”

As he ate the liver, such was cooked and delicious, as well as the vegetables. She gathered another forkful, while, offering it to him. Her crimson eyes fixed on Hades, harbouring indifference to his words and reflecting nothing but ice. “Perhaps, not. But, for anyone, vampire or other, liver assists in the loss of blood by supplementing the iron.” When he accepted that bite, Z’ress, placed the fork down to her side while gathering the pitch to pour some juice into the cup. 
 
By the smell of the sweet citrus and orange in colour it was orange juice, without a moment of hesitation, she then lifted the cup and took a sip and then from the pitcher to illustrate there was no danger of poison. From the corner of those plush lips, he caught a trickle of the orange juice that slithered down her chin to plop invitingly between those exquisite womanly breasts. Calmly she lifted a digit to wipe the escapee juice down to her chin with a lick on the digit.

“Hm. I value family, entirely. She is running selfishly from her responsibilities within Faerun, she is wanted for many things. Mostly murder and theft. She seeks shelter with those that she finds strong. I will commend that she has sunk her teeth into Kane. I do not think you or even he realizes the trouble that she has caused. But, you see, Aishani is being difficult and bringing you…Aerian and this entire realm into direct line of danger. It is unneeded and pathetic. All I want is my daughter.”

Hades stretched awkwardly then recoiled as the pain in his ribs snapped him back “The funny thing about our realm Z’ress, we’re pretty much always in danger. The problem is, right now we are in far deeper trouble than you think” He coughed and then growled at the wave of pain he was rewarded with.

“Those funny portals that you happened to take a trip through to end up here?” His eyes met hers “They are usually linked to one occurrence, and the sky has been awful dark of late which means we are headed to war where your daughter will be least of your worries” he breathed slowly trying to take a grasp of the pain “I’m thankful for the food, really, but giving you Aishani means betraying my brother”

He stopped short of his words for a moment before he sat back into the wall “I won’t do it, without him as he is now we don’t stand a chance of the war to come, Aishani gives him that strength, and against what’s coming that’s the Kane we need” He shrugged softly watching her, his eyes tracing her body for a moment “We’re all going to die if you keep up this pursuit, but then Ceremon wouldn’t want to reveal that, he wants what’s in the mansion, power he thinks will save the realm and make him a hero, it won’t”

“Yes. Danger is a part of life, otherwise, things would be…boring for those of us that enjoy mayhem and murder, amongst some things.” She calmly began to rearrange the tray, though, emptying it to place the remaining on the cold floor, minus the pitcher and fork. Gracefully, she stood and turned to near the cell door. Her snow white hair sultry accenting her hips and the play on the flesh of her bottom by the sway of her body, the cruel click of her heels still heavy in the walk. 

Z’ress knocked on the door, it opened and she extended the tray forward to the guard on the opposite side, though, turn back to return within the cell. “You want to ensure, that Ceremon does not get a hold of Kane and meet with his end game. Then it would be wise to…work with me, instead of against me.” She moved now to the bag that held the first aid items, removing the bandage.

Now, she settled before him with the first aid item in her lap, working her fingers upon his sides while investigating the damage done, fingertips as brushed silk and skilled but freezing to the touch. She gathered the bind, holding it in one place while wrapping it tightly to pin his ribs in place, the brush of her hair was as though a frigid breeze but incredibly soft.

She fixed the bandage and settled back, eerie crimson eyes staring deeply into his. A smirk upon the corner of her lip with the flash of her tongue gracing the surface. Z’ress offered him the grace of her fingers, though, rise and stood back. 

Tilting her head while watching him, expression revealing nothing of the ideal thoughts within her mind. Her hand lifted while suddenly a webbed light was thrown upon him, violet and throbbing, then sinking into him with the urge of healing. She advanced lifting her leg to pin his shoulder back with the violent implication would he move, this was so quick, reminding him of a viper. The balance she held was perfect, but, from the lift he could see those magnificent petals by the part of the fabric. Such a delectable ashen hue that was kissed by the most delicate pink, the perfected term of such petals. “Think it over. Because, you have been so compliant thus far, I will leave the rats within as company. For now.” Z’ress lessened the strength of her pin, then pushed him back, while pirouetting on her heel with hips pulling. She was a vixen, full of prowess and grace, but, lethal and unpredictable. The groan of the door was heard opening and the sound of her heels faded in her leave of the dungeon.

“Yea, cos rats make such great fricking company!” Hades would have thrown something in her direction if he had been able to but the sight of her over him had affected him, the healing power seemed to drain him as he sank back into the wall, the pain at least had dulled quite a bit as his fight against sleep was finally lost.

[A Cold Winter] Meanwhile in Dragons Keep

Hareavor wiped the blood from his hands another day and still no answers as he made his way back to the library where his father was as usual busy pouring over notes and books. Hareavor propped himself on the edge of the table.

Ceremon simply looked up his eyes cold and distant as he eyed Hareavor “Did she give anything up?” His voice was level and yet somehow dark, his eyes carried no emotion framed by the silver hair.

“No stupid bitch is still adamant her asshole father will come for her” Hareavor shrugged, his features we’re almost identical to Kanes except his eyes a far darker green and scars across portions of his face left deep slices through the flesh. He unlike Kane had also aged much further.

“That is my granddaughter, do not speak of her in such a manner lest you wish to lose your tongue my boy” Ceremon snapped back darkly “Now where is our guest? And which of the two has she met so far?”

“You are not one to tolerate such disrespect and yet from her you do?” Hareavor bit back and no sooner had the words left his mouth than Ceremon was upon him pinning him to the desk a blade pressed to the back of his head

“You will show her the respect I expect, you will treat her if she is me do I make myself clear boy?” Ceremon growled each word almost as darkly as the last, Hareavor finally was able to free himself only to stand and nod in reply then storm off out of the room.

No more than a few moments later, was the cruel click of heels heard upon the passage outside the library, announcing the nearing presence of Z’ress. 

Clearly, by the way she moved, Z’ress was drenched in power and female sexuality, such oozed from her the instant she breeched the door into the library. Her hair framed her smooth ashen features, imitating the fallen snow that blanketed the realm in a deep freeze. Those crimson eyes were stunning, while capable of captivating a room with the arachnid venom from one glance, her lips were stained a beautiful and deep crimson. Rarely, if ever, had Ceremon seen the woman smile in tone or expression. In physical aspect, she held the daunting and delicious curves given to her daughter, Aishani, though, her bosom was more womanly and full, especially in the plumpness captivated behind the corset that drew focus to her small waist and beautiful birthing hips, a skirt with slits up to the hips with the exposure of her luscious legs. She had a whip fixed to her hip that was cruel with strips of metal that held a wicked hooks on the end, all her attire held a reminiscent touch of a spider insignia.
 
Z’ress stopped no more than a few feet from the door, those piercing crimson eyes fixed upon him, expression enigmatic and calculating at the same time. “Hareavor, has shown them torture…I could be, mistaken, but we need information. They know now, what happens when crossing us. It is time to break them.” Her words slithered past her lips in a sensual purr, meddled with a hiss. She tipped her chin a moment, running the pink tongue slowly across her polished lips.

Ceremon snapped a look in her direction his eyes cold and dark the green of his eyes barely even detectable now as his eyes met hers “She is my granddaughter, and while he is good at what he does there are limits to what I will allow” His voice was dark “While I admire your want to make men bow, here we do not, or rather I do not” His eyes glittered just for a moment in that last statement

“Try Hades, perhaps he will be more forthcoming in selling out your daughter for her execution” Ceremon look to Hareavor for a moment before he stood “Perhaps you and I should go speak with him, I wonder how he would react to a women he can’t intimidate”

Her crimson eyes remained fixed on Ceremon’s with indifference, expression calm, almost as though it was chiselled from the very ice of a raging river hidden beneath. When she spoke her words were a hiss, full of that potent venom. “That is your weakness, Ceremon.  That little rat, squeals and cries for her father. She has such seeded love for him and faith…Twist it, use that against her to believe that he has abandoned her, make her favour you. But…” She added as an afterthought, turning, the shift of the fabric exposed those glorious stems and bare bottom beneath, her back him. “…I am sure, that a little…persuasion to Hades, may prove beneficial.” Z’ress held her hand upwards with her palm down, a silent command for Ceremon to gather such and the two to go into the dungeons.  

Ceremon eyed her for a moment curious and frustrated all in the same “You do not know the sheer defiance of my granddaughter, she would never turn on her father even for the right price” Ceremon strode off down the hall and then down the stairway and into the cold hall that led to the cells.

“Hades however, well he may be a failed experiment but as you say he may be swayed, with the correct incentive” His eyes travelled over her body slowly, before he pulled himself to height and made his way to the cell that contained his son. As the door open Hades snapped back into the corner, his flesh discoloured from the assaults he had suffered from, a cough sent a spray of blood across the floor.

“Finally got bored of your dog been unable to get the job done?” Hades growled though the words carried little threat, Ceremon simply stood and looked

The sound of her heels clicked mercilessly upon the floor in his wake, the stride itself speaking of unbridled strength and a demand to be respected. When the door was open and Hades moved to the back corner, her expression remained calm and eerily neutral, stepping further into the cell while holding a hand forward for Ceremon to remain in his position. Z’ress moved to stand before Hades, those hips powerful in the sway and it was more than clear that she was used to displaying her sensuality. “Do you find pain arousing, Hades? You are torment yourself for a female that is not of this realm and could very easily turn on you, your brother and your family, if she sees fit. You see, she is weak and will syphon the strength from those around her. Do you think, she will remain when the threat is removed?”

Hades raised his eyes to her just for a moment before another round of coughing sent blood spraying across the floor, as the pain subsided he raised his eyes

“I would apologise but not really my style, as for your daughter she isn’t my problem, my brother made a choice so anything that arises from that is on his head, though she didn’t look too much of a threat the last time I saw her. I’m also pretty sure she wouldn’t hesitate to lay her life down for him or Aerian, unlike say your pet asshole behind you, he would bury you if it served his purpose” Hades drew a rattled breath “Now if you don’t mind I need to rest, I doubt my niece will have given me up for dead just yet”

He sank back against the wall the pain finally taking him from consciousness, his breathing hard and broken

Z’ress tilted her head a slight, watching Hades as he spoke and then grew unconscious. The rise and fall of her shoulders, dictated her breathing, remaining calm and even. She neared the blood on the floor, while kneeling down and bending forward upon all fours, her tongue drug against the crimson stain on the cold surface. But, then soon after, straightened with a look to the unconscious Hades. “He is disgusting. I will heal him, what fun is it to have a broken toy to play with?” She fell silent for a moment, while closing her eyes, while her ruby polished lips began to flutter in an incantation, but, a hand pointed to Hades as a dark violet light erupted from her fingers to wrap around Hades like a webbing, throbbing before dissipating. “He needs to be bound again. That effect will heal him overtime, so I can work into his will…Hareover will not touch him. I will feed him and clean him.  Alert me when he is awake and the food is ready, he will either learn how patient I can be or exactly how I do so love to play rough…”

She turned on her heel, but, stopped when at Ceremon’s side, glancing to him. “Have Hareover gather me a metal bucket and seven rats…Hades will eventually, learn, NEVER to cross me.” Those cruel heels abused the floor beneath her, while her hips swayed to guide each delicious leg forward to her walk.

Ceremon could only smile at such a dark request “You know my son will not take kindly to be treated like a common servant, nor will he take kindly to him not been the one to handle the torture, the boy does love such a thing” With that he shrugged and made his way down the hall, eying the door to Aerians cell for a moment.

“Perhaps he will bend, but as for break? That will be interesting to see” Ceremon unlocked the door and stepped in the scream echoed down the hall as the terror simply tore from Aerian before she shrank into the corner, her eyes bright emerald green but her body showed similar signs to Hades

“You don’t deserve us” Aerian snarled coldly “Don’t preach family when you only ever serve your own interests, I pray my father finds the strength to finally end you”

Ceremon merely shrugged “He has been unable to do so for so long, he is weak my child, he will always remain so, and I assure you he is not coming for you, I suspect he doesn’t even know you are missing, but  do want you to meet a dear friend of mine”

Z’ress appeared indifferent to his comment on behest of Hareavor, stopping in the grizzly corridor for him to leave the room. She then walked with him to Aerian’s cell, remaining just outside and when Ceremon made the pretence of an introduction, the click of her heels was heard upon her entry.

“Poor creature…” She whispered softly, this was cold with viperous intent, those crimson eyes fixed on Aerian. “You know, all this pain can end. Everyone, serves their own interests in the end, Aerian, that does include your father. Consider this, just for a moment. He is in a nice warm bed, oblivious of the pain and torment that you are undergoing right at this very moment. Possibly even fucking my daughter until she can’t see straight. Such a pitiful creature she is, so weak and pathetic, always finding those in strength to protect her…because, she can’t herself. I should have ended her life the moment her first breath. But, now, we are at an impasse. You are much more impressive than her.” Z’ress moved to stand before Ceremon. “Get me warm water and a cloth, Ceremon. I will tend to her wounds personally, she deserves more than this. Food as well, possibly starving. Mouldy bread and cheese will not do for your…granddaughter.” She then neared Aerian, crouching with splayed fingers supporting her, caressing Aerian’s cheek. “Do you want this all to end, my darling?”

Aerian looked up through the dirt on her face she remained as indifferent as she could manage “My father may be a lot of things, weak to some” She eyed Ceremon darkly “A hero to others, but he has never once abandoned me, the only regret I have now is it’s his softness that stopped me putting an arrow through both your heads” Her words snapped darkly “But really how can you end this? How do you ease the pain of been violated because your …. Because someone sees you as a plaything as a toy to tortured? Or because you lost someone so dear that every fucking breath hurts? Or because you can’t have someone you want? I doubt that even you can help you have to have a heart to even begin to figure it out”

Aerian swallowed awkwardly “He could have stopped it, he chose not, I wont trust anyone in this place” as she spoke she drew her knees awkwardly to her chest “He knows I will die before I do”

“Stubborn as ever Aerian, sadly Hare does as he will, even the gods cannot control him, had I left the means to do so I would have ended up with another Hades on my hands and that wont do” Ceremon snapped back coldly

“At least Uncle H has a heart” Aerian bit back darkly

“We will see about that!” Ceremon snarled as he strode from the room waiting in the hallway

Z’ress tilted her head to the side, hair as pure as freshly fallen snow, not acknowledging Ceremon in his outburst, nor the spat between relations. She then caressed upon Aerian’s cheek a slight more, her skin was as cold as the frigid weather outside, just as cruel. Her crimson eyes fixed upon Aerian, slowly she shook her head. 
 
“Those, my darling, are trials in life. You are wrong, though, I have lost and suffered with every breath I take. I want someone but cannot have them, too many obstacles in my way. We all have various differences in our own, it is what doesn’t kill us that makes us stronger. But, I can accommodate, would you accommodate me. Words, mean nothing to you in this state, so allow me to prove this to you. Behave and you will be treated well; misbehave…you will not be treated so well.” 
 
Abruptly, Aerian felt the pressure of both, Z’ress’s hands upon the side of the temple, then the venomous drip of her whisper beside her ear. “Do not discredit me. Ceremon has a soft spot for you, I do not. So, do not push me and I will tend to you.” She pressed her lips against Aerian’s ear in a kiss, but, then Aerian felt a tingling throughout her body, as though caressed in the sun during spring and a throbbing to state of her healing. “I will return to check on your healing process and feed you, something other than the disgusting slop, I am sure…IF they have. Consider my words, my darling.” Z’ress then was facing her, leaning in to press her lips against Aerian’s with the slip of her slick muscle, although, brief. Straightening, she rose and turned, leaving the cell without another word, nor glance to the red head.
 
Once the tormented hinges groaned to close the cell behind them, Z’ress glanced to Ceremon with a shift of her eyes and never her body. “Hareavor touches her. I will kill him. He will ruin my plans.”

“He may consider that a challenge” His words came almost jovially as they walked back through the hall and up into the library, he turned to face her his eyes soft or as soft as a serial pyschos could appear “She will not turn, even with Hares abuse she has never turned on him, she is very good at what she does, be careful with her Z’ress”

His words were level and yet carried that faithful truth that once in while he was capable of “They are unaware of her disappearance, but when Kane learns of it, he will come and he will come in force, we cannot hold of the Dentarian Army, those we have around us are kept by fear and and warmth of the castle but they will not die willingly for us save a few, your time is limited so work quickly” And with that he seated himself at the desk of books “I will keep hare away from Aerian I cannot promise the same for Hades”

Z’ress remained silent, as always her heels heard in her wake, speaking of her presence beside him. Her posture was proper with shoulders squared back and held with pride, dignity. The power in her essence was nearly smothering when they made way into the library, idly, she moved to look over a few books, a fingertip caressing over the binding in her sultry stroll.

“Do not…rush me, Ceremon.” Those words dripped with venom laced malice. “I already gathered that the little rat is capable of weaselling out of any situation, unfortunately for her. Gained trust would not work on either, if Hareavor plays with EITHER of them. He has a palm and can rape any woman outside these walls. Surprised you don’t have slaves. You know for a fact, that Kane is not en-route now? I know, if I was in the situation that Aishani placed herself in, I would not take an army. Too large and noisy. No…I don’t trust it.”

“It’s far too messy to have women around here, you have for yourself seen the damage my boy does to them, the last …. Well, it took days to clean the room after he was done, sadly he is far too good at what he does. I wonder how long before Kane or indeed Hades puts a blade through him” Ceremon shrugged softly “Still that’s cost for turning humans into us, leave their morals intact and I get Hades take them away and I’m left with Hareavor, maybe next time I’ll try for a balance”

“Providing I don’t kill them first” Hareavor spat as he walked back into the library “The little bitch is claiming she cannot be touched, which is not what we agreed” He eyed Ceremon his glare ice cold there was nothing in his eyes but anger and a deep cold pit “She will lead us right into the heart of Dentarius I just need a little more time”

“You will leave her be” Ceremon growled “And Hades for the moment, they need time to heal, we cannot have them dying before winters end”

“If they’re not dead by winters end we will be, you know he will bring the force …” Hareavors voice trailed off “You want him to come?” It was half realisation half a thought out loud “The winter would likely kill him during the trek here, you could take Dentarius with no resistance”

“Sadly not, even if he dies the fields stay in place, we cannot take the mansion without those down and that requires Elcarus blood” Hare was about to point out the obvious “Not yours, nor mine we were not born there our power is not rooted there”

“Neither was the little bitch” Hareavor snapped

“No but her father was, I can all but imagine it will work the same way, Z’ress will tend to their interrogation for now, you will double the guards outside, and replace the ones that die, we need to keep our eyes and ears open” Ceremon waved Hareavor off who simply stormed from the room muttering and cursing both Z’ress and his father.

“The boy has a temper pay him no mind, his insults are mere words to us” Ceremon spoke over his rant loud enough for Hareavor to catch as he left.

Z’ress turned when Hareavor entered the library, tipping her chin in a slight jut. The movement of her tongue rolling beneath her plush polished lips was heard in a soft click at the suction in the roof of her mouth. Her crimson eyes were focused on Hareavor when the ice slipped from his tone, the chill in his voice and the anger apparent. When Ceremon turned his focus to her, Z’ress was leaning over his chair with a hand on his open book and curled at the back of his chair. Those eerie eyes remained solid and fixed on him, as though, peering deeply into him.

“He means nothing to me.” She hissed, dipping close to Ceremon’s ear in a whisper. “Hareavor is not broken…a wild stallion to run loose and cause chaos. That was your mistake in his creation. Do NOT go soft, that is the weakness others will feast upon.” The warm moisture of Z’ress’s breath prickled upon his lobe and neck. “I will now go check on the food, then tend to each.” She dipped down to glide the warmth of her slick tongue from the collar of his neck to his lobe, then straightened to leave the library.

Ceremon actually looked stunned for a moment by her act as he slid from the chair to catch her wrist, his hand wrapped around her wrist with enough force to block her attempt to leave “I have not gone soft in the five centuries I’ve been around, I generally do as I please and the results may not be pretty but they are effective” his voice was low and dark “Now you and I agreed we would work to a common goal to deal with your daughter, I did not expect my children to become part of the equation, however now they are they will be eliminated and will take my mansion back, make no mistake that is my end goal”

His hand drew her to him they cold grey of his eyes settled on hers “And you can return to your world and dominate the men like you are so used to, but here you are as I an equal in all things I will not be treated like a child Z’ress” He grazed his fangs against her neck slowly “I like you don’t make me regret that”

Z’ress tipped her chin a slight while not offering defiance in his catch and interruption from her procession to the entry of the library, spun to face him, ashen features calm and ruby lips glistening with life against the reflection of the lighting in the room. Succulent and captivating. She lifted a finger, wagging it at him while clicking her tongue in a tsk-tsk. “Then do not act like a child, my viper.” She hissed, angling her head to the side while offering him open terrain on her satin flesh.  “All I have heard when it comes to conversations between your family, is disagreement and yapping. Take those reigns as the patriarch…rule over them, this is beyond love, such a word doesn’t exist in my vocabulary. Then accept me for the challenge I am, Ceremon, my viper, bite back.”

Scared

I can’t think straight right now, this whole thing is a mess and I pray somehow dad gets to me. It’s hard trying to stay strong even harder trying to ignore what my head is telling me. I can’t fight my way out, I can’t run, I can’t hide, that I think is what hurts the most, I’m so used to been able to invisible when I chose here I can’t they watch everything I do.

VirraThere are three guards of which two are werewolves, which means busting out is a serious no way in hell. Uncle H is … well I haven’t heard from him in a day or two so he’s hurt in a bad way. But all this is just a fraction, she came to see me, seems my grandfather has totally lost the plot in aligning himself with that psycho Z’ress  think her name is, Aishanis mother. She promised me Hareavor wont hurt me again as she can control that lunatic who actually gets off on torturing me.

There is this girl, she … well she works for granddad but keeps coming down to look at me, like she just stands at the door and looks through the slot thing, she’s cute though at least there’s that. Kinda wish she’d help get me out of here but no one is coming to do that. I will die here, Z’ress has helped ease the pain for now, but those eyes are just dead, there’s more pain coming, play the friend to destroy your enemy a tactic I’ve used in assassinations the realm over.

Oh and one more thing that just adds to all the weirdness I could swear I saw Shadow, yea the giant ass spider that has Aishanis back, the one I saw tear half the battlefield apart, if he’s here than I can pray Dad or Aishani are on their way, but for now I need to sleep, you can only lose so much blood before your head goes kinda fuzzy, and it’s not like I’m vampire to recoup the way dad does, nope I got saddled as a half angel, half chaos demon more like my mother and granddad than my dad but … yea … pray for me because I am.

Please allow me to introduce myself…

Virra

My name is Virra Billote. I’ve never really done anything like, even now, it seems ridiculous but my father, Bryant, says it is good to keep a catalogue of my personal thoughts and feelings. Seems, strange, writing things down on paper, as though confessing to a holy man.

Anyways, where was I? Oh, yes, my name is Virra Billote, daughter to Bryant Billote the leader of the Corzine Bandits. I am seventeen years old, going on twenty. Mature for my age, most say. But deep down I am a child at heart, it was my training that toughened me up. I was used to death, in fact, how many can say that they killed their mother coming into this world? Not many.

I am the only surviving child by my father, you see, he was very pernicious in his younger days. Going from town to town, sleeping with females, even those that were married. ‘Leaving his imprint in society’, he says. That is just a joke. He could have said that he wanted to fuck, yes. That was it. But, who is to say, how many siblings I may have running around out there that are none the wiser to the romp that their mothers had with an infamous bandit, well, he wasn’t infamous back then.

Surprisingly, my father took care of my mother and from what I heard from the others. He actually kidnapped her due to a job, but, eventually ended up causing a fraud with the town’s mayor or something…He took the money, but, never returned my mother. As many have said, they were the perfect pair, creating chaos and havoc. Two peas in a pod…yeah, so, I don’t know my mother only stories.

As far back as I could remember, my father taught me. He taught me to hand to hand, testing me with rabid dogs, cats and various types of wildlife. It was cruel, now that I look back on it, but, it made me tough and to realize most everyone out there was a wild animal. He also instructed me on pick pocketing, lock picking, sword fighting, climbing…Oh, the list could go on and on. Basically, I’m a bandit like him. I specialize in many different things from tracking and spying, to assassinations, you name it. I’m a jack of all trades.

The men in the group, have touched me in places when I was younger, never told my father about it. Needless to say there were times that those…men would turn up missing…I guess that I was raised like a boy in a man’s world, there for I am just one of the boys. But, doesn’t change the fact that I have all the female parts. I even find myself watching women and commenting like one of the men to them. I’ve lain with a few females, so soft and gentle, unsure. But, the taste is sublime and the sounds they make is like music to my ears. The complete opposite of a man that wishes to dominate a woman, grunting like an animal. Yuck. It’s not that I am not attracted to men, but, they lack something with the stick between their legs that sometimes, I think is stuck up their ass.

I find myself constantly trying to prove myself with my father, but, time and time again I just seem to be one of the group. Another face. Though, recently, we were hired by a man named Ceremon. My father told me that he is the father of Kane Elcarus, imagine the father of such a powerful man needing the assistance of us. I had to laugh about it, but, the interesting part…and get this, he wants us to scan out in a radius around his castle. Huge fucking place. It is dark and creepy, I mean more then what I have dealt with before. I hear howling and screams. It’s almost like a thick blanket covers that place in darkness and evil.

Well, my father accepted it and in the terms of protecting us in a long term venture. We really don’t need it but my father says that it couldn’t hurt to have the backing of such a man in the future. I snuck to listen to the conversation outside the tent, that woman with Ceremon…She is…I’m not sure how to put it, but, I know she isn’t from this realm. The way she carries herself and walks, demands such attention and respect, but, it is what lays beneath the surface that frightens me. The dark ashen skin and those eyes. I swear they are as red as blood. I like the sight of such crimson…having witnessed it many times, but, there is something about this situation that has me wary.
 

Earlier I had to stop writing, I saw this…thing. It was…I swear it was a spider! It was the size of a dog, I kid you not. Strangely, it was moving to the castle, so…I followed it. The legs…had these blades on it, I thought it was trick of my eyes. But, I heard it as it snuck into the bowels of the place. The creature appeared to be searching for someone in the dungeon. I couldn’t help myself, I just had to find out what was going on. Curiosity killed the cat they say, but, this cat has nine lives. When I was passing cells, I saw this woman. She was strung up without clothing, that hair was red as fire in the darkness of her cell. So beautiful. But, I couldn’t linger long enough, I had to hide when the spider went up the hall then hurriedly made escape again.

I had to consider the presence of the spider, then I began to draw some lines in my head. This HAD to be from Kane, but, I wasn’t aware of him being able to do such with arachnid creatures. Oh, how this peaked my interest. I feel like a dog with a juicy bone, drooling at the potential.

The spider continued to move, hurriedly and in a rush. A few times, I was very nearly caught by the critter but now, it seems it is moving away from the castle. Would this be from Kane, then it would surely lead to him. It’s time to do my father proud. If you don’t hear from me ever again, you know what happened…

[A Cold Winter] A Bridge Made of Ice

Kanes patience was already wearing thin as they knocked upon Ascondias chamber doors, they had already been waiting for a few minutes before the door finally unlatched from the inside and opened, Ascondia for a moment actually looked hurt he wasn’t alone, but quickly pushed that aside plastering her ever so pleasant smile in its face.

“What can I do for you Lord Kane” She sang sweetly

“Drop the act Ascondia, we don’t have time for it” Kane snaped his told bitter and cold as he made his way into the chambers, one he had long since set aside for her and such it was now lavishly decorated, the picture from his room he had replaced some weeks ago also adorned the wall here. He eyed it for a moment before he turned to face her.

“I am here as a matter of courtesy, very shortly Aishani and I will be leaving Dentarius, I assume in doing so you will try to seize control of my lands in my absence which leaves me little and few options” She held up her hand and he fell silent

“Why would I do that?” She snapped darkly

“Because its you” Kane shrugged “We are headed to Dragons Keep, Ceremon has Aerian which means Hareavor has Aerian, are you going to help or are you going to try and leave me homeless while I go free her”

Ascondia went pale sitting herself awkwardly as her eyes looked to Kane the pain all too clear as searched her mind for an answer “And you’re taking her?” She snapped her head to look at Aishani “Before coming to me?”

“Oh dropped the hurt act, Aishani is the reason I know for sure Aerian is trouble, now either get off your high horse and help or sit here and sulk like a child, Aerian may act like a brat but at least she knows the line between her own interests and those of the realm” Ascondia rushed Kane only for him to sidestep sidestep the attack before slamming her into the wall her arm twisted up her back causing her scream “I don’t have time, we leave in an hour be in the courtyard or we go without you” And with that he let her go and headed for the door.

Aishani placed a squeeze upon Kane’s hand, reminding him that she was there and even her mouth-watering scent infiltrated his senses with a subtle but strong support of strength. She released his hand when he stepped forward into Ascondia’s room, following within and closing the door behind her.

Silently, she watched the exchange between Ascondia and Kane, stepping to the side as though Aishani already saw this coming but was leaving this particular altercation between them. She watched Kane take his leave in the manner he did, resting her golden eye upon Ascondia. “Titles cast aside, we are going to get Aerian out with or without your assistance. You want to prove Kane and Aerian are not your pawns, that you love your daughter? Perhaps, you think you don’t need to prove it to anyone. But, I think that she needs the verification. I love her and do not wish to see harm upon even a single hair upon her head. Set aside your fucking differences and focus on the one good thing that came from the relationship that both of you HAD.”

Aishani turned on her heel and the pivot directed by the strength and control of her hips, to leave the room after Kane with a close of the door behind her, proving to Ascondia that she wasn’t interested in furthering conversation with her.  To catch up to Kane and prepare her belongings to leave.

As the door closed Ascondia launched the blade in her hand at the door sticking where Aishanis head had been just a moment before. “Stuck up bitch” She snapped angrily before turning to begin packing.

As Aishani and Kane made their way out into the courtyard Kane had packed a rather large rucksack which now sat at his shoulder as if it weighed next to nothing, Ascondia was sat a rather sullen face as she waited, behind her with a backpack of his was Elvin, a long bow strapped to his back. Kane eyed them a moment before turning off the path and down into the grounds, the party of four began their journey.

Kane neared the wall of the outer grounds he stopped and turned to face the group “We go through here right into the forest, anyone watching the gates will be unaware we’ve left, problem is this is where the anti aggression spells are their strongest which means going through them is going to give one hell of a headache, we are leaving with the intent to survive that means to kill you may be calm now but the spells” He barely had time to finish the explanation before Ascondia cut in

“They were little use against the dragons Kane, what makes you think they would work against anyone else” She spat darkly, his eyes met hers level and yet the threat at her interruption was there

“When was the last time you ever remember Aerian missing a kill shot?” Kane snapped

“She never has” Ascondia shrugged in reply

“Might want to discuss that fact Z’ress when we run into her then” Kane retorted coldly “Now as I was saying it’s going to give you a head ache going through but it will clear quickly enough, then well we go get Aerian, you follow my orders, if you’re not fine with that I don’t need you at my side” And with that his hand ran over the wall the bricks simply faded as he stepped through, just for a moment the field throwing him off just for a moment before the fuzz cleared as he crouched in the cold snow his eyes scanning the forest before them.

Aishani from outside glanced to the thud against the closed door, a smirk forming on her lips with a chuckle. But, as everything was packed, Aishani dressed warmly with her gifted blades at her hips and the original extra pair at her backside sheathed just at the base of her spine, then her legs were strapped with the throwing knives that glistened violently upon the lean surface. Upon her shoulders was her own pack, heavy as Kane’s but carried with ease.

She remained at Kane’s side, in a silent reattribute to state to Ascondia that he was no longer her property and that the two were equals. But, as he stopped, she looked to Kane and listened silently with a slow nod. Aishani folded her arms over her chest, while focusing her golden hue on Ascondia at the small argument between the two. “Stop it. The two of you. This is for Aerian and if we can not work together, then it is doomed from the start.”

Aishani walked after Kane, closing her eyes with a step to the side once in the field, inhaling deeply and releasing the air in her lungs. Then followed his gaze to the forest, such skeletal trees with the barren limbs stared back at them. Her scent still prevalent in the air surrounding him with the mouth-watering aroma of her presence and strength at his side. She drew her hood up to contain the escaping heat from her gathered hair in the pony tail with various dreads dripping down.  A hand set on his shoulder in a physical form of strength.

“Stay off the paths, and watch your footing” Kane spoke quietly his hand running over the wall behind him the walls instantly filled with bricks. They set foot out into the forest the trees reach high above them but the day had already gone and sunk into a dark night, though now and again the moon would break through the trees above giving the snow and eerie silver appearance, the air was cold so cold their breath would freeze in the air before them.

“Do you have a plan for breaking into Dragons Keep milord?” Alvin had now fallen in stride beside them as he looked ahead he had oddly already drawn his bow.

“Alvin you’re going to have issues travelling armed constantly, secondly this won’t be the first time I’ve had to break into my fathers home, admittedly the fact it’s winter poses a problem, but we will figure it out just fine, for now just worry about our backs” Kane replied his voice hushed he knew better than anyone the dangers of All Hallows Wood, especially if you’re off the paths.

Though, Aishani had her hood drawn, she was alert to her surroundings. Glancing forward and to the sides every so often, her jacket tethered tightly against her while her cheeks were kissed with a violet and her nose was even darker. Her hands while in the convertible mits to fingerless gloves remained warm due to the closeness of each digit to the other, yet, always at the ready to gather a weapon in the instant. The air was still and crisp as the fallen snow beneath their feet, even the crunching of their shoes upon the surface, causing her scent to be even clearer to Kane, allowing him the focus.
 
She remained silent, while maintaining her focus, taking it one step at a time.

As they came across it the river was frozen though easily beneath the thin sheet could be seen the raging torrent that would take them away as fast as air been driven from your lungs, Kane stepped to the edge looking down then crouched to look along the river bank.

“We have to cross here” He stated softly

“Are you fucking blind? That ice wont hold us!” Ascondia growled “The instant you step onto it you’ll be through and torn down stream” Ascondia shook her head and strode off up the bank for Kane to look after her just for a moment

“Did I say we’d be walking on the ice? This is the shortest point across” With that he pulled a roll of rope from his back pack and with ease tied it to an arrow. He edged closer to the bank and then took aim, within seconds a dull thud signalled he’d struck his target on the other side. As he stepped away tying the rope off around a tree and a tap of the rope sent a shockwave across it the air around the rope halting in its motion becoming solid over the river creating a make shift bridge “It wont hold long, so don’t dawdle” and he set off over the make shift bridge.

He halted on the far side helping down Aishani, then Ascondia then Alvin who still look bemused by the whole thing “How?”

“Temporary alterations of the temperature in the air, you were walking on the clouds guided by the rope” Ascondia shrugged

“I can manipulate the weather just not very well, Ascondia on the other hand could have frozen the river for us saving me using up necessary reserves of power, still we’re over and we’re alive, time to move” And he hoisted his back pack back over his shoulder he led them down a small embankment and back into the darkness of the forest

Aishani crouched at the river, looking to the current as it raged beneath the frozen surface, glancing to Kane and straightening with Ascondia’s stride up the bank. Slowly she folded her arms over her chest while shaking her head, then, parted her lips to speak but was cut off by the words from Kane, gritting her jaw to keep from speaking. Stepping back with the draw of the rope to the arrow and the shot against the opposite side to a tree then a tether to the one upon their side.

She followed after him, pulling herself across by the rope and met Kane’s gaze when he helped her down, the reservation still held with Ascondia’s presence. But, both, perhaps, knew this wasn’t going to be easy due to her presence, but, it was something they all had to cope with. She followed at his side within the woods, while her mitted fingers sought out his own, still aware of everything around her. The crunching of their feet. The subtle wind through the naked trees that caused soft groans. She offered him a glance of support and a coy smirk upon the edges of her lips, but, otherwise remained silent. This wasn’t just to be a combined effort, but, also it would take all of them to bring Aerian and Hades to safety.

The air was cooling quickly as night drew in, Kane made a point of taking them deeper into the forest before they came upon a formation of rocks, he eased in through a crack then ignited a fireball in his palm looking around.

“We can rest here, I need to recoup myself so this will be best for us tonight” He dropped his back pack to the ground by one of the walls and then slowly circled the entire stone cave, there was no way in besides the crack they had entered a detection spell cast would keep them aware of any attempt to enter the cave from there.

He pushed a pile of twigs together and dropped the ball of fire into instantly igniting a fire casting both light and warmth around them.

Aishani kept up easily with Kane, carrying her pack with just as much ease. Their feet crunching in the snow the only sound, other than the whispers of their breath as the chill began to creep in with a violent burst.

When inside the cave, she looked around and assisted in gathering twigs for the fire, some thicker than others, but, it would not be maintained too well but enough to fend off the chill until morning. She placed down her belongings besides Kane’s. Adjusting her coat and rubbing her hands together within the mitts and breathing into the fabric.

After settling, she placed herself against Kane and gathered a blanket to drape over their shoulders, while realizing that skin on skin contact was the best form of heat but even being in the proximity would do them well. She removed a small bit of a ration from her pack, nibbling upon it while staring into the fire. “Do not push, yourself too much, Kane.”

“Wouldn’t need to if someone else would offer help” Kane snapped softly it was anger but frustration that was bubbling just below the surface of his patience.

“You’re doing so well on your own” Retorted Ascondia darkly “Besides you said follow your lead so perhaps if you need my help you should ask for it”

Kane didn’t reply simply settled into Aishani, Ascondia sat opposite lent back on the wall her eyes closed as she simply listened to the sounds around them, Alvin simply looked awkward as took up a place by the door. “We will leave at first light, until then we rest”

Kane shifted awkwardly before he felt the conscious state slip from him. Ascondia eyed him for a moment then to Aishani “He is injured? I guess he is beginning to slow in his old age, the Kane I knew would have taken the entire field in a blaze of magic and mayhem, his need to play nice has weakened him, he should have stayed under our control at least then he was less of a risk in battle”

“Lord Kane is the bravest man I know, I have seen him go into battle against insane odds and leave alive, but he does seem out of sorts, even with his use of weather manipulation he seems unusually drained” Alvin added his eyes not moving from the entrance “I will remain awake and keep an eye on our entrance, it’s not that I don’t trust him but he admitted himself his magic is not as it should be”

“He needs to feed regularly, especially while he is injured, his need to play nice overrides his need to survive, as I said he is weak” Ascondia snapped coldly not even opening her eyes as she rested with her head back on the cold stone wall.

Aishani glanced to Kane while he shifted with a slight struggle, before falling to sleep, carefully, she adjusted him to lay his head upon her lap and surrendering the shared blanket for him to be covered fully. She watched him for silence, then her golden hue flashed dangerously to Ascondia, her voice was calm, even, but laced with a poison that would kill. “Yes, he is injured more than I think you comprehend on that high chair of yours. His physical wound has healed, and I ensure he feeds as much as the twisted sheets allow him that grace.” She returned her gaze to Kane, running her fingers through his hair. “He is in recovery from one great loss to another in his life, then one twist and turn after the other. He is tired, Ascondia. Stretched thin with little change to fully recover before the next is dropped upon him, he doesn’t need a bird pecking at him constantly, while the two of you had a child together. A piece of each of you is in that woman, you came together once. Come together again, to protect the fruit of your loins. He has a connection to each Hades and Aerian, if…Ceremon or Hareavor or even Z’ress are torturing Aerian or Hades, he will feel it. Stop acting like a little child that had her favourite toy taken away. Now, I am doubting my decision to push Kane to go to you, had I know you would not act like an adult, I would have seriously reconsidered. Prove me wrong, Ascondia.”

“This is a suicide mission, you must realise that, he will lead them right to him giving us the time needed to escape, for him the hero, and we will break Aerian out and she will resent me for letting her father die, I do not get that child she would rather hunt and lay with females than sit at the throne where she belongs. She wants to be a hero but it will only end in a lonely grave” Ascondia spoke softly almost for a moment there was regret “She will always walk the line of her father because he panders to her, while I am labelled villain and cast aside by them both”

“The only loneliness is what you place yourself in, Ascondia. A hero is surrounded by honour and loved ones; while a queen is surrounded by fakes and regret.” Aishani looked to Ascondia, her voice that rolling purr but always calm, expression remaining enigmatic. “Perhaps, you should not try to understand Aerian, accept her for whom she is and her decisions, the rest will follow. Your pessimism makes me sick, I am willing to lay my life on the line for Aerian, Kane, Alvin, Hades …yes, even you. All of you have important roles in this realm.” She chuckled. “I was weak…But, I found my strength again. Everyone told me because of my mark, I was weak and to be killed due to not standing up to the bloodline of my family…but this is not about my issues at the moment, it is about Aerian. You do not want her to resent you? Then stand and fight with us to get her and Hades safely out, stop riding on your high horse and come down to the level of compromise. Kane will NOT be alone in this, Ascondia. You shouldn’t be either. So stop, this bullshit. Stop pushing everyone away, because, if you do, before you know it, you will have no one to blame but yourself for the loneliness you feel.”

“Oh I don’t push them away, I make them run away screaming” Ascondia snapped “But I will aid you in this because you need the help, without the force of the Dentarian Army Kane knew it would not be possible, once we have Aerian in hand I will take her home” And with that Ascondia stood walking to Alvin her eyes looking through the gap to see as the snow fell beyond.

“He was smart to lock us in here, this storm is going to complicate things, tell me seeing as you seem to know him so well, is he really ready for this? Or is he just going to get us all killed?” Her words were sharp the biting realisation that in the moment she was no longer his priority in this he would without a doubt protect her but she was unsure if he would save her over Aerian, or even his new lover.

“Then you set yourself up for a lifetime of failure. Keep your friends close, but, your enemies closer…you can’t even manage that.” A smirk formed on the corners of her plush lips. “Aide me? You will aide in the cause to rescue your daughter. That, of course, is Aerian’s decision to return.”

Aishani considered Ascondia in silence for a moment, then lowered her gaze down to Kane resting in her lap. “Who can honestly, say they are ready for something like this. There are too many variables to count at this point that is an offensive. But, I know weaknesses of Z’ress and he knows of such with Ceremon. Now, the other, well, he seems like a piece of work…As one we fall, together we stand and that is what must be done. You want respect, especially with your daughter, earn it, things as such are never given. That doesn’t just fall in line with her, either. I grow tired of talking to a pessimistic fool such as yourself. I’ll take the first watch, the two of you should get rest.”

“We’ll see who’s pessimistic when he turns on you like he did me” Ascondia spat back angrily before she stormed to her pack and slumped down pulling her cloak over her head.

“Except you’re missing the part where you wiped my mind and created a bunch of false memories, kept me at your beck and call for a century and half, now please Ascondia get some rest we have a long walk ahead of us, Aerian is in Hareavors hand and I’m fairly certain you can remember what happened the last time he got her” Kanes words came as he stirred, slowly stretching in her lap offering her a smile

“I passed out?” Kane sat rubbing his eye for a moment before he pushed himself to his feet “You guys rest I got this”

“Ever the hero Kane, and yes I remember how your brother raped our daughter and left her to die” Ascondia growled coldly “I was there as she screamed seeing you covered in her blood, every second I am haunted by that memory, we made a mistake and she paid for it”

“Yea I made a mistake, one error in judgement and Aerian took the brunt of it, so do you think I’m in a hurry to allow that to happen to her again? I have one of the most powerful beings in the realm at my back, I have Aishani who can fight like I have never seen and Alvin is almost as good a shot with a bow as me or Aerian” He breathed slowly in thought “We will get her and Hades out and we will get them home alive, all of us”

Aishani inclined a brow to the tantrum of Ascondia as she returned to her pack, chuckling softly with a shake of her head. But, blinked to the rise of Kane’s voice gliding a fingernail upon his jawline in a caress, as he adjusted. A knowing smirk coiled upon her lips to the knowledge of the charm that had been used for such influence.
 
She nodded softly, at Kane’s query, but watched as he stood. Aishani gathered the blanket that Kane left behind and tossed it to him. “You’ll need that, Kane.” But, she stood when Alvin moved to settle near his own pack to get some rest. Aishani’s golden eye hummed softly in the light of the cavern, her eye fixed on Kane and offering him the ration from earlier and water. “You need to eat.” But, the hold of his gaze, also, implied of something more imperative to his well-being then the stale old bread.

“I know, but I make a point of not doing so around company” He replied softly, let them sleep we will need to check the area around, us and set traps for food, I would rather we all eat well before leave tomorrow, “In truth no one needs to watch the entrance, if something should try to get through the charm on the entrance will make sure we know” He looked once more before dropping the blanket by the crack in the rock taking her hand he led her out into the dead cold of the night.

As the cold air hit them he drew her close catching her in a deep kiss “We set the traps, then I will do as I told”

Aishani nodded slowly to Kane, flicking her gaze to the others. But, unprepared, Aishani blinked to his hand that took hers in the lead from within the cave and through the tight squeeze of a crack. She drew her hood the instant that they appeared within the night, glancing to him and then surprised by the claim of his lips upon hers. The passion in the brief but deep kiss left her breathless, her taste lingered upon the surface of his lips in a haunt.
 
“Mmm…Now, that is what I like to hear.” She purred beside his ear catching his lobe with her teeth and dragging but being cautious to not moisten the surface too much.

It didn’t take them long to circle the outskirts of where they were camped, they set traps to catch any number of small animals, Kane also added a small charm that would sent the catch to the cave within moments of it been caught, better to catch it warm than frozen solid.

He also placed a detection charm similar to the one in the cave to alert them to any potential threats that could approach and give them a few minutes to prepare before they descended upon them. With that done he led Aishani back to the entrance “At least now breakfast is taken care of, we are as safe as we can hope to be we should consider resting”

Aishani as Kane learned, was familiar in setting traps, quite possibly due to her run from her Z’ress throughout the years. She watched him with her golden eye hidden now only by the night but the shadow of her hood, glowing from within the darkness offered. Aishani inclined a brow to Kane’s words, slowly shaking her head and pulling on his hand before they entered the cave once more. “You know, I was not talking about normal food, Kane. Yes, I do know you prefer to not feed before others, which is fine. But, you need your strength, my love.” She lifted her hand to caress his cheek with the back of her mitted hand.

“And I promised I would do as I’m told once we had things in hand” He smiled softly looking to the cave for a moment then leading her off to the side, a cluster of bush and tree provided a temporary respite from the violent winds beyond he drew her close “Contrary to Ascondias comments feeding only helps to a degree, but you have already seen how much quicker I regain myself having done so before. I don’t need much, just enough to replace what I lost with that little bridge trick”

He took her hand gently drawing it to him turning it over to expose her wrist, he looked to her with a soft smile before sinking his fangs into her wrist drawing deep the sweet taste of her, his mind immediately flooding to the taste of her, along with her scent sent the outside world far from his mind focused only on the bitter yet sweet of her blood.

Aishani lowered her hand while he led her to a cluster of bushes and a tree, the heat of her body and her mouth-watering scent offered sanctuary in the frigid climate that had blanketed the land. She watched as he tenderly took her hand and pushed the sleeve of not only her top but the coat aside, the nipping chill in the air caused her skin to rise in gooseflesh. Aishani lifted up her arm to compensate for his height and guide, inhaling with a hiss when his fangs pierced her flesh, baring her own teeth at the response. The melt of her skin around him throbbed with her exquisite essence that raged beneath, extracting his fangs caused the blood to rush into his mouth, tickling his senses with every fibre of Aishani’s being. The mouth-watering scent melted away into his pallet, causing her breathing to quicken with the redirection of the flow to offer him the feast his body so desired, a gentle growl passed her lips in the momentary pleasure of offering him the sustenance he needed. Each breath cast by her was swept into the moisture into the air in due causing a puff of fogginess. Her free hand was lifted to her mouth to remove the cover of the mitt to expose her fingers, curling the nimble digits within his hair, kneading into his scalp with her nails gentle to display the fire that he had lit in that moment.

His grip on her wrist subsided as he withdrew from his feed, the punctures healing in the wake of him letting go. A soft smile as he wiped the blood from his lip, he lent to a soft kiss. “We should go a rest my love, we will need it in the wake of this storm”

He held her close for a few moments before finally leading her back into the heat of the cave, while it was still relatively cool the fire had warmed the contained space. Ascondia and Alvin slept unaware of their departure or even their return. Kane crossed the room to retrieve his bow and then settle back by the entrance.

Aishani moaned softly as he withdrew his warm lips from her skin and the punctures healed nearly as quickly as the feast was instigated. Her eyes opened, looking to him. In the kiss, her lips pressed plush against his, flicking to the surface with a smirk. “Indeed.” She rested her cheek upon his chest while the heat was passed between the two on the wintery night, seeming to melt the world around them.

Once within the cave, she gathered her own blanket, then moved to drape the blanket discarded by him earlier to his shoulders, securing it. Adjusting to lay her head in his lap with one hand curled around the hilt of her dagger, preparing for any type of rude awakening. Playfully she turned and bit at his thigh, reminding him that she still held a desire for him and it was never ending even in moments of high stress. The weight of her eyes won, closing. But, while she slept with her head in his lap, the delectable scent in her presence lingered in a caress to his nerves and offered him a strength.

His hand ran through her hair lightly as his sense kept tuned to the charms that would alert them to a threat, the warmth of her against him was still enough to lure him to sleep.

He was woken abruptly that morning with a sharp boot to his ribs Ascondia glaring at him “Some fucking guard you are” She snapped darkly, he simply threw her cold glare before adjusting slightly “Do you not forget the charms are connected directly to my conscious, if anything bigger than a dear got near those I would already be up and have an arrow ready for its heart.

The last statements came as both a statement of what his actions would be as well as a warning should she continue to push him, the smell of cooking meats could be found wafting through the cave as he grinned “Alvin the cook as ever” Alvin simply nodded in reply. He now turned his attention to Aishani brushing her hair from her face lightly “Good morning my love, what can I get you for breakfast? Besides my humble self of course” Ascondia snarled in anger as she stormed across the cave.

Aishani’s eyes flew open the instant that Kane was assaulted with the cruel tip of a boot, instantly, awakening with a shift into a crouch with her daggers in both hands and at the ready with a snarl curled upon her plush lips. But, then inclined a brow to Ascondia’s presence, spinning the daggers in the palm of her hands then sheathing them with a flick of her wrists, flopping back into the same place on Kane’ lap, causing a wayward dread to fall into her face. “All, I need is you, Kane.” She grinned wickedly to him, though, sat up now with a brief caress of her lips upon his.

Rolling her shoulders into her neck, as a pop of the lost tension cracking, glancing to Alvin at the fire, then to Ascondia. “Afraid of a soft little bunny, are you?” She chuckled with a slow shake of her head and moved near to Alvin to look over the finely smelling meats, dipping her hand into a pouch at her side and beginning to discuss with him some ideas to liven the meal. Eventually, she gathered a small tin and then an even smaller kettle. She went to gather some snow to boil into water and threw some dehydrated mushrooms into the pan to cook and then sauté them, allowing Alvin a taste, speaking of it being common in her homeland and filling some cups for hot water with a sachet of some special spice and smelt faintly of apple cider. She provided Alvin with a cup and then to Kane in passing with a press of her lips to his brow, while standing now before Ascondia with the cup and extending it to her.

Ascondia looked to the cup then her face twisted with a wry smile “Wouldn’t be trying to poison the Queen now would you” Kane laughed darkly “If she was I wouldn’t take solace in her using poisons from our realm or did you not figure that part out yet?” Kane sipped from the cup as he moved toward the fire settling to eat before they headed out.

“She’s trying to be nice, about time you tried the same thing, it’s a long hike from here, it’s the coldest we’ve seen in years so I suggest you prepare” Kanes words no longer held anything but the same tone he used when addressing anyone else, level and calm as he finally collected his serving of rabbit in mushrooms.

Aishani inclined a brow to Ascondia’s expression, withdrawing the cup to hold closer to herself. “Suit, yourself. Mind you, Kane has a point. Though, it would defeat the purpose to harm you.” She rolled a shoulder, words always calm but saturated in a rolling purr of her sensuality. “Besides, all the others are drinking the same and I would not be one to kill without just cause.” Aishani turned but sipped the cup that would have been Ascondia’s, if she accepted it, joining Kane and Alvin near the fire to eat, the rabbit and sautéed mushrooms. “If you like Alvin, I can give you some of the herbs in my pouch if you are interested after this is said and done. A little goes a long way.”

“Very kind of you milady” Alvin inclined his head “Food will become harder to find the deeper the snow gets, it will be nice to make meals of tree bark and flowers taste a little less tree like”

“We will be fine Alvin” Kane replied softly as he finished his breakfast he eased toward the cave entrance to grab some snow for pot washing water, as they finished with the claning he threw the remainder of the water into the fire dousing it.

“Time to go, stay close and stay sharp that storm ain’t friendly” Kane smiled then headed out into the bitterness beyond.

Aishani nodded to him, licking her fingers clean while then assisting in the cleaning. With three of them finishing up it went rather quick, she cast a glance to Ascondia briefly but then arranged her blanket within her pack and drew it upon her shoulders. Closing her coat and drawing the hood up, justifiable it had a faux fur around the edges to capture the snow so it wasn’t as impending, also keeping her warm.
 
She followed Kane out, while glancing around to await the others. Again, she took the front with Kane, Ascondia in the middle and Alvin covering the rear. Their feet were crunching on the snow, while the wind tormented the trees with the anguished moaning. Aishani kept aware of the terrain, paying attention to sounds and movement, being an elf she had keen sight and smell, even hearing. 

[A Cold Winter] Unwanted Surprises

The descent into the basement was fairly quick the same route to the hidden was almost the root to the damaged heating elements, the staff and metalworkers had already removed the cracked pipes huge tubes of metal bent apart by the cold ice that had flooded them just a day earlier.

“We’ll be needing those fancy magicks of yours soon milord” Abrams called as he caught sight of them, and the bottom of the room the green fires burned high, this was referred to as dragon flame a never ending fire that burned to keep the waters of the mansion heated.

“Of course Abrams” Kane quietly removed his gloves the flicker of flames danced over his hand as the pipes were hoisted into place they were heavy as staff shuddered to hold them in place.

Aishani lowered down to the basement of the estate, acknowledging the familiar path that appeared to nearly lead to the hidden laboratory. Her eyes took in the individuals within the area from staff to metalworkers. She glanced to Abrams with a wave at his presence, Aishani pulled the covers of the mits back to reveal the fingerless gloves and moved down to assist the staff to set the pipes into place after Kane’s assistance. She was abnormally strong for her height and size but not terribly so, offering her help without question.

Kane eyed her for a moment with a grin, before he moved to the point where the new lines joined the old one, quietly his hand ran over the pipe a crackle emitted for a few moments before his hand came away the pipe glowing a dark red but sealed to the old pipe work, crossing to the other side he repeated this process and the pipe held in place.

“Always amazes me you can bend fires like that milord” Abrams chorused softly

“Easy enough when you’ve had a century or two to practice with, we can open the water lines now?”

“Aye milord, should warm you all up in no time” Abrams smiled

“Thank you for your prompt response to our issues”

“Well if you lot freeze to death who’s going to look after the rest of us this winter?” Abrams shrugged before extending his hand, Kane promptly made the shake before walking back to Aishani.

“The supply wagons have arrived that would be our next stop”

She straightened when Kane neared her, a smirk on her plush lips while stepping back to watch his word. Tilting her head to the side at the fusion of the metal of the pipes, glancing to Abrams with a chuckle. But, she moved to ensure that all the other staff and metal workers were good, then a nod to Kane. “Well, then what are we waiting for?”

Kane nodded softly taking her hand as they all left back out through underground and out into the court yard which was now full of wagon and horses and soldier in the blue and greys of the Elveran Army, it was at this point Kanes walk slowed, the far side of the courtyard housed a large blue and silver carriage, the side bore the Silver Horse of the royal court.

“Oh great” Kane groaned quietly “Well this is going to be fun” the sarcasm in his voice was as obvious as the caravan as the door opened the frame of a young woman, dark red curls framed the face of a woman who was accustomed to getting her own way, instinctively Kane drew Aishani to him.

Aishani considered the soldiers, then her eyes narrowed on the blue and grey of the Elveran Army. Her eyes barely had a chance to catch the appearance of a female with dark red tendrils and glanced distractedly to Kane when he drew her close; it was almost protective but possessive, a search for strength from her. The crispness of the cold air swirled and nipped at their cheeks and noses, but her exotic aroma permeated Kane’s senses. Silently stating that she was present and not going any place.

Kanes eyes never moved from the woman as she strode across the courtyard staff skittering from her path. She stepped in front of Kane before eying Aishani carefully studying her, another moment before her voice came snapping Kane from his annoyed state.

“You do know the correct greeting for the Queen is to kneel before her?” Her words were emotionless and cold, her eyes now staring into Kanes, the awkward moment held them for a moment.

“Unless you’re on grounds where the power of the crown is no longer acknowledged” Kane replied his voice now veined with the same ice that had taken hold of the realm

“You may be an independent state, but you still answer to the crown Kane, we know that” She replied

“We will support the crown when needed, we don’t answer to you or the High Council” His words actually took her by surprise as she snapped a glare to Aishani, her curls flowing in the motion “He is always so unreasonable?” again her voice dripped with sarcasm.

Aishani straightened when the female eyed her, though, left her gloved hand curled within Kane’s, but, never once did she stand down from the woman’s gaze. Allowing for Kane to handle the situation for the most part until the directly acknowledged by her. “Perhaps, you should consider the cause for him to be reasonable to you. A Queen would not demand that anyone bow in neutral grounds, such should be done without push or snap. The title is a privileged not to be overlooked, respect is earned and NEVER given.”

“A title I was forced into at just twelve years old, used for one end or another, beaten as I grew into my own mind, and now because some believe I use things to my own mind there is a High Council who seek to take power for themselves while I sit and watch my lands fall apart. They would have him executed without question nor trial, did he tell you that part? That he abused his power” Kane growled snapping her attention to him, his voice was sharp yet not without concern, not for Ascondia but any implication she may bend the story to fit her agenda.

“I used no one Ascondia, but you are correct without the protection of a free city that you afforded me I would be hunted like any other bounty. I would be likely caught and I would indeed be executed, seeing how you will always harbour a soft spot in that ice cage you call a heart I was given Dentarius, which brings us to why you are here?”

“Oh stop worrying so much Kane, I’m not here for your woman, though I would appreciate the return of my property, and my bounty hunter or him to repay the two hundred thousand in gold I paid him upfront” Ascondia shrugged softly “I wanted to discuss a new threat, apparently your loving father has found himself a new power mate, and I want to ensure he isn’t coming after the throne again”

Kane almost threw his hands up in disbelief yet the act was a mental one Aishani would see in her mind as Kane shifted back to the straight faced side he showed her these days “I think it’s more likely he is coming for us, so you can rest easy Ascondia, as usual I have things under control, I won’t be needing the crowns help to deal with family matters”

“Hmm very well, I will stay the night and we will return to Elvera tomorrow, perhaps I can catch a word with our daughter before I leave” Ascondia shrugged his answer off before stepping toward the mansion “I trust this will be fine?”

Kane scratched his head idly in thought before he replied “Funny thing about that, Aerian rode out with Hades this morning, headed to check the outer provinces, though I now wonder if perhaps she didn’t go because she knew you were close, all these years and you still haven’t found a way to talk to her”

“She is stubborn, and resents me, that is not my doing” Ascondia snapped back coldly

Aishani looked to her with only a brow inclined and her expression remaining passive without much reveal of emotion. “Clearly, any benefit to your own personal vendetta need remain at the glass carriage you ride to remain there. I am well aware of all things considering. Everyone has their own motives, it is to discern if such is detrimental to others…Thank for the property by the way, seems you must have cherished it once upon a time, but, isn’t that how all tales begin? In your case, manipulation and betrayal are in your blood. Seems, you must have to bite the blade and swallow the money you paid in full, because, he clearly took the money and ran.”

A smirk formed on her lips, while it was subtle with the shadows darkening on the corners of her mouth. “He has a point, Ascondia.” But she stepped forward at the mention of Aerian. “Regardless, if you think it is your fault or not for the resentment Aerian has, there is much she deals with and all you think of is yourself. Might have a wonderful conversation with your reflection, because, the mouth moves but only you are heard talking.”

“Such a spirited woman, he does like them fiery does he not?” Ascondia grinned throwing Kane a glance before striding off toward the mansion. Several guards fell in line behind her as did a row of maids and other Court personnel.

Kane waited for a few moments “I do so wish that woman would just leave me be” He sighed softly before walking toward the wagons that were heavily loaded “Still at least she brought the supplies with her, there is a small mercy in the fact no one would be stupid enough to attempt to rip a caravan of supplies off while they are with the Royal Guards”

“Indeed Kane, we would gut them before they got close enough” Called a tall man now striding toward him “The Royal Guard as good as we have ever been, at least since you were in command” The man was tall and looked young yet his hair was aged with silver, he held a hand to Kane who promptly responded with a firm shake.

“Alvin, they have you in command now?” His voice was etched with curiosity

“Indeed, the Queen has put several more trusted of us in more key positions, between you and I, I fear the High Council may be after the power of the throne, I fear they may attempt to assassinate her” The man lowered his voice so none so close could hear his words “Our lady dispatched Alastair Grimloshi to bring back your girl, one of our scouting party later found him with arrows in his back at the bottom of Dragons Gorge”

Kane eyed the gates for a moment in thought before considering his answer “For two hundred thousand pieces of gold, there are many who would be out to take the contract from him” His voice had become level as spoke in thought

“But not so many stupid enough to try and take them from him, also he still had the fee with him, he was executed my lord, and most likely by the high council to an end we cannot determine” Kane handed off a bag of grain to the men now creating a line between the wagons and the storage areas of the mansion each would pass it to the next.

“And he would undoubtedly had realised that should he have come here, I would have put an arrow in his head myself, he may have been the pet hunter of the crown but I have a hard time forgiving treason” Kane handed another bag down to Aishani before pulling another to him, this pattern he repeated for a few more bags “So why come to me?”

“Because I have yet to find a man who can question your honour my lord” Replied Alvin “And without you I’d just be another corpse on the battle field, you pulled us out that day at the cost of your own family, I have never forgotten”

“Me either” Kane bit darkly “But what do you expect me to do?”

“Watch her back, just as you always have Kane” Alvin replied his words almost now a plead

“No” Kane replied simply handing off yet another sack of grain

Aishani remained still for a few moments, a tick tick of her nail tapped upon the hilt of her sheathed dagger to her side, while the narrow of her eyes were so venomous that it would nearly poison an onlooker by the simple glance of it. When Kane spoke it was as though her spell shattered and Aishani looked to him with a smug nod. “That is the only decent thing, which she has brought with her benefiting anyone but herself.”
 
She turned her golden eye to rest upon the man that spoke, listening to the conversation, now the informal introduction of Alvin. She accepted each bag of grain that was handed down to her, amidst the discussion, turning it to the next in the daisy chain line. Aishani kept her thoughts to herself, on one passing of the grain, her hand caressed against his own with a brief wash of her gaze and a cascade of her scent swirled around him in the frigid air.
 
Now, her silence spoken, while a chuckle rolled from her lips in that fantastic purr. “She is the Queen, always a struggle to keep and maintain such a position is part of the life of those of higher privilege. I do not pretend to understand the circumstances, nor do I care. There is far more at play then I believe you realize, Alvin, each thread to web and with just the wrong footing a trap can emerge to send the spider for a feast. But spiders do not eat slowly, no. They send in an enzyme that slowly rots the inside, spoiling it. Then…” She made a slurping sound. “Be wary that which side you are on. The life can be sucked from you. Duty is duty, I understand such things. But, do not hesitate for a moment to consider that on the drop of a coin, all that can change and challenge the very air you breathe.” She then returned to the passing of the grain. “In other words, the QUEEN can look after herself, as we have to on our own family matters.”

“I would not betray my duty milady, I am the third to this position after Kane, the other two well met ends not so pretty” Alvin sighed softly “So far I have been fortunate to walk the line between the intent of the High Council and ensuring our Queen stays safe”

“Alvin, you are safe here, the council are not stupid enough to risk bringing the force of Dentarius against them, be it to Ascondias end or another, but rest assured that is where my obligation to protect Ascondia begins and ends, you are free to conduct any inquires you wish here. Find your spies and I will ensure they never see the light of Elvera again” Kanes final words came sharp and with enough for anyone in earshot to hear a warning that any attempt on any from the Elveran party on his lands would not be permitted, as he slid down from the wagon having offloaded the last of the grains.

“I will have the East Wings assigned as normal to the royal party, now if you’ll excuse me Aishani and I have much to do in preparation for Dentarius surviving this winter” Kane bowed lightly as he swept off down the courtyard he halted just for a moment “Alvin my words count for anyone just so you are aware” and with that he headed off toward the stables with Aishani.

Aishani smirked to the sharp velocity of Kane’s impending words, stepping back to wait for him to jump from the wagon. Once he was down upon the grounds, her mitted hand met with his in the walk to the stables. “Kane, I don’t like this…Something is rubbing me wrong about this entire scenario. Almost like it is a distraction from other things at hand, we need to remain focused. I am not aware of how Ascondia fits into this, but, rest assured, Z’ress can weave such a web that it is lethal to any that step foot in her trap. We need to weigh things, because, I would not put it past my mother to test your loyalties; meaning pitting me against Ascondia to make you decide, even Aerian. It is discerning to me and quite troubling. Yet, again, I may be getting too far ahead of myself on this.” Her tone was a rolling purr in her whisper, to keep such from eavesdropping ears.

“It would seem a storm is brewing to distract us, though I suspect this is no more than a test of my patience, there is truth to the High Council trying to dethrone Ascondia, without her they would be free to seize control of the realm” He paused “I have desire to be drawn into a political war on war front and all-out war with Ceremon on the other, but I am almost certain this is no more than Ascondias attempt to mess with my head, after all I suspect I will always remain her favourite play toy” Kane caressed her hand gently.

“Z’ress and Ceremon will have to sit and wait for winter to pass before they can take another shot at us, so for the moment we will indeed focus on what’s in front of us and survive this winter” As they walked it began to snow, small yet enough to frost the ground quickly, by the time they reached the stables it had already stopped “I would of course warn you to watch your back around Ascondia, right now you are in her way and you’ve already eluded her once”

As the entered the stables he halted turning to her “On the subject of Grimloshi and that been the second time I’ve heard is name do I suspect my daughter is responsible for his death?” Kane stepped to the side to grab a bale of hay “Not that it matters after all Alastair was no more going to meet such an end, after all had he shown up here trying to take you it would have been my arrow ending him”

“Mmhm, yes, it would not surprise me. She really thinks that she has you wrapped around her little finger. I understand her position but she has to understand that you are not at her beck and call especially here. I still know the location of her necklace, in which, she will not get it back until the charm is broken and removed. I would not wish to see you in any state of mind control.” Aishani glanced to the ground as it was dusted with the snow, but, when near the stables, she turned Kane gently. “Honestly, Kane, I would not be surprised if Aerian had a part in Grimloshi.”

“Ascondia may think she is in control, I assure that will never be the case again” Kane replied softly handing her a shovel, as he placed the bale of hay down and sat upon it “As you said we have bigger things to have our minds on than a game of who can mess up Kanes head the worst” he shrugged the comment about Ascondia or his father was all too evident, finally he stood “So do you wish to clean or feed them?”

Aishani watched him for a few moments in silence, accepting the shovel but neared him to caress his cheek and lifting his chin upwards to look upon her. But, as he stood, she stepped back and looked at the stable, then to him. “Things are often faster when working together on one project. I say that we feed the horses and then bathe them. I’m sure we will make short work of it, Kane.”

As they worked clearing the stables Kane was working the floors clearing the muck into a barrow which was then promptly taken outdoors, a sudden panic cut through him before he was able to push it down, evidently aware as his nails bit into the wood of the stall. As it subsided Kane continued to help with the cleaning of the stables.

“This is the last of things for today” Kane spoke softly as their tasks were done, standing the remnants of the bale in the trays by the door. They walked out into the yard Kanes fingers laced through hers as they headed back toward the mansion he halted, his eyes searching the high walls of the outer perimeter before he shook his head and they once more resumed their path to the house.

Aishani moved quickly when Kane’s hand latched to the wood of the stall, instantly at his side for support, while a hand was upon his chest and another on his back. She inspected him with her golden eye, while moistening her lips. But, as the tension melted from his muscles, she retracted, leaving it be for the time as he never spoke on the cause for his actions.
 
She nodded to him, having shed her coat and moving to slip it back on over her shoulders, but, her eyes remained on him in the leave of the stable. Aishani followed his gaze to the high perimeter walls and then back to him, keeping in step with him to the estate.

When entering, they heard a commotion in the kitchen followed by screams and pots and pans falling down, almost as though the clatter of smashing plates were heard behind the closed doors. She exchanged a glance with Kane, then withdrew her new daggers with a spin in her hand the cover of the mit already tugged down to expose her fingers.
 
As the door to the kitchen was burst open, one of the kitchen staff was throwing anything within arm’s reach at the large spider covered in thick black fur with dark brown strips up and down the legs. Those chitinous plated ridges of the sharp legs were lifted as though to fend off the assault. “Shadow! There you are.” She said, while sheathing her weapons and a smile formed on her lips, as though, welcoming a long lost friend back. The palp extensions appeared to chatter, while the soft clicking of the legs were heard in the movements over to greet Aishani. But, as the palps continued to chitter, a seeming dark cloud covered her and it was apparent.

“Kane…to our room. I have need to speak to you in privacy, Shadow is going to join us…” Without awaiting a reaction further from Kane, Aishani left the kitchen to make for the stairs with Shadow following her closely like a loyal dog, merchants and staff gasped and jumped out of the way to the ghastly sight.

Kane groaned as he lent against the kitchen wall, before finally waving off the protests of having Shadow in the mansion. He drew one long breath then righted himself as he strode from the kitchen and up the stairway to their room.

“Please tell me there are no more surprises today, I’m not sure my poor head can handle them” He groaned stripping off his cloak simply letting it fall to the ground and waling to sit in the window the cold air at least for the moment wiping the pain from his mind.

Aishani closed the door after he entered the room and Shadow began to explore around the floor and even climbed the walls to nestle comfortably in a corner that was possibly near a pipe. She turned to face him as he settled on the window perch. Aishani parted her lips to speak but fell silent, removing her gloves and coat, gathering his own to drape over a chair together. Then proceeded to settle across from him while guiding him to lean and lay his head in her lap, fingertips gently working in a massage upon his temples while her opposing hand combed through his threads.

“I wish, I could say that it wasn’t a surprise, Kane. But, I have had Shadow keeping watch upon Aerian whenever she leaves the estate. It is no different than her leave with Hades…” She paused, swallowing thickly. “Winter or not…we cannot remain here. She told me that Aerian and Hades were attacked…and taken to Ceremon’s castle. Shadow was right to come back immediately, she knows that she was outnumbered and held no chance against them. Let us pack warm clothing and food, we have to leave at once. But, my concern is the fact that Ascondia is here now. To leave her within this estate does not settle well with me without you or I present. Is that the cause of the pain or headaches?” Aishani fell silent, caressing her fingers through his dark threads, but watching him for his reaction.

Kane remained silent his eyes closed as the knot in his stomach twisted into a cold feeling, it would be hard to miss the wave of emotion that ripped through his mind anyone close enough would feel it, yet he remained silent. Chaos ripped at him from every direction and in that moment he allowed it to.

It took a few minutes but finally he pushed the wave down sitting “No the headache is because Aerian is in severe pain, or serious trouble, or throwing a temper tantrum sometimes its hard to know for sure” he breathed slowly the thoughts finally beginning to make sense to him “We will have to go alone, I cannot dimish forces here in Dentarius, even for my daughter or my brother”

He shifted awkwardly as he sat slowly “As for Ascondia we are left with two options, one leave and pray she leaves in the morning as she is supposed to do, unfortunately no one in Dentarius is capable of making sure that happens, secondly we take her with us, she is a skilled mage and not too bad at close quarters combat, a prospect I admittedly do not envy” He scratched his head awkwardly unnerved by his own suggestion as to taking the one person in the realm he actually did not wish to be around longer than needed “It does however concern her daughter”

Aishani clicked her tongue upon the roof of her mouth, narrowing her gaze outside the window. “While I do not care for the suggestion to bring her with us…I cannot argue that this involves her daughter. I have seen the tension between her, you and Ascondia. The relationship the three of you share is stretched to the limit, it is ready to break. This is in the best interest of Aerian that is important. Ceremon…I know he must be capable of torture, but, she is kin…as far as Z’ress is concerned, kin or not, is very cruel and heartless. After all she is out for blood to end my link to life, her own flesh and blood.” She fell silent for a time. “I believe we need to bring this to her attention. There is to be none of her noisy men, except perhaps Alvin. The less attention we get the better.”

“I would agree the less of us that approach Ceremons hide away, the better and also you are correct in your assumption Ceremon wouldn’t hurt Aerian, he is honourable in never harming her, Z’ress I’m far from sure and Hareavor … has already broken Aerian more than she or I would care to admit” He sat slowly his eyes looking out of the window in silent thought for a moment.

“We should go speak with the Queen” He spoke coldly his tone and choice of words simple in their statement she was the queen and nothing beyond their daughter mattered to him “Just when things between Aerian and I looked like they may finally begin to repair themselves” He sighed softly kissing her cheek gently “Whatever happens I’m glad I have you”

“Unforeseen events, Kane. The bond that I have seen that never dies is that between family. She may act like a brat at times. Aerian loves you and I believe after we rescue her, which we will, you two need to spend time together. I have a feeling she will need you.” She pressed her lips to his briefly when he withdrew from the kiss to her cheek, curling a hand within his and instilling a squeeze. “You will have me at your side, no matter the circumstance. She is the Queen to you and only a title to me which I will not acknowledge since I am not from this realm. Undeniably the mother of Aerian…Enough talk, I will send Shadow ahead to scout for us.”

The blade spider thudded to the floor looking stunned for a moment then moved to Aishani, the palp chattering against the venom dripped fangs. A smile formed on her lips, while running her fingers through the dark fur and nodding. “I will see you soon enough, stay warm and safe, Shadow.” Aishani stood now, guiding Kane to rise and open the window to allow Shadow the exit.

After watching the spider skitter on the high walls then disappear from sight. “Kane, my love, it is time to visit the red-haired witch of the West.”