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“Damn you,” he hissed wrathfully. “If it were me out there, you would rejoice!” Shadow felt a surge of shock that coiled up from the specter. He had not been this connected to his companion in a thousand years, or more. Tarkin’ton did not say a word, but he felt his thoughts churning in confused denial. He saw a shadow pass over the boy. It was a hunting dragon. Hawk didn’t even try to hide; he fell to his knees to wait for it as it circled scenting his injuries. Hawk looked up at Tarkin’ton and smiled sadly seeing him there with him. Shadow felt the anguish in his companion as he looked into that loving face, but he didn’t ask again. Maybe he had finally realized this was not a game; Shadow was seriously hurt, seriously pissed, and Hawk was going to die! Perhaps he had finally realized that most creatures didn’t like being hurt and scared; or maybe he had just accepted that he couldn’t change this one without help from a creature he had tormented far too often to expect any sympathy. Shadow tensed waiting for the fated blow to fall. His own face was wet with tears. He didn’t want Hawk dead, but he was so mad at Tarkin that he didn’t care! He let his hands fall and kept his eyes closed. Tarkin’s eyes tracked the enormous, yet thin Glade dragon’s decent anxiously. It circled back and began a winding search pattern that would bring it eventually to it meal.
Feeling a stab of pain that he didn’t try to hide, the ghost turned away from the sight despite his own wish to watch in horrified helplessness. “I am sorry, Shade…I did not know you felt like that,” he admitted in defeat. Shadow moaned. He could have waited! He could have stood there and watched it all. His misery alone would have allowed him to do it, but not now. He melted into the houses shadows and came up outside.
He rose up insubstantial from a tree’s shadow howling in righteous fury at the beast as it attacked. His face was a mere blur of darkness and teeth, but his hands scraped long lines on the poor creature’s underbelly as it twisted to escape a far more deadly predator! It wasn’t even a true dragon, but a smaller version of the real thing. Perhaps only a dragonette child, he thought as he knelt on the ground growing solid again. He looked over the boy’s wounds to see if any of them were severe. The avien boy was shaking in shock. He didn’t pick him up. Shadow drug him into the house by his injured arm. He slammed the door open and let him go. Hawk sank to the floor in a little heap beside a decorative counter. Then, he released the spell set on the kitchen.
“I want you all out,” he snarled. “You have had plenty of time to eat! There are other dragon clans here despite this not being your home. I expect you can make it on your own from here on out. Now, go!” The dragons filed out eagerly except the two indigo children. The girl stood beside Hawk comforting him as everyone passed. They looked back as they shut the door. That only left the chained dragons and a room full of children down below. He activated the house’s security spells. Most of the protection was designed for outside things trying to get in, but some of them kept what was inside where Tarkin’ton believed they belonged. Shadow tried to put it into his head to remember to change that when he had more energy to waste.
He left the boy alone and went back down the stairs to find a way to release the Sun dragon. He knew there was a mechanism that would lower him to the ground, but he could no longer remember where it was located. It had been too long and he was too distressed to think clearly. He almost gave up looking when a voice spoke up weakly, “Between those…things…hanging there…” Shadow looked at the ‘things’ in question and saw whips and silver tipped flogs. Some of which were designed to flay the skin down to bare bone. Hidden amidst the assortment was a tiny lever. He flipped it and went to catch the dragon as he was slowly lowered to the cool water. The man was drifting in and out of consciousness. Muscles twitched with fatigue. He kept him in the same position from his chest up. It would take a while before they could be moved to a different position without serious pain.
“I am going to take you across to a dry bed,” he warned him removing the chains as he spoke. “It will take a while for your body to recover, and I don’t want you to move. So, I will lock you in…Besides, I expect to have a herd of children running around loose. For their own safety, I cannot allow dragons to be roaming freely.”
“I won’t…hurt children,” he protested weakly sounded offended by the accusation.
“Shh…these children feel older than you do to me, yet they are defenseless, dragon.” The man groaned when he lifted him. Shadow cradled him close moving as gently as he could. It still angled his body into a different position than the one he was used to, so it hurt him. “I know how bad this hurts.” The dragon’s face was twisted in pain and beginning to sweat. “You will be better in a dry bets10 place free of poisonous snakes.” When he didn’t respond, he wondered if he could even hear him past the pain he was feeling. He settled him onto the female vampire’s dungeon bed and waited for the pain to subside. “Are you hungry?”
“No…Yes, but…” His eyes looked dilated and dazed.
“You are, but you need to sleep first,” Shade finished for him. “I daresay you might throw it back up until your stomach relaxes anyhow.” The dragon nodded weakly. “I have never chained someone like that,” he added seeing a wary look in the man’s eyes. In his own defense, he explained how he knew what he was feeling. “An old lover used to leave me hanging that way for fun,” he stated in a soft tone.
“Some fun,” he said sarcastically with a newfound sympathy in his voice.
“I would imagine you know all about the details of it by now and just how thrilling he can be.” Shadow stood to leave. If he stuck around much longer, he would probably molest the poor creature himself. Or worse, weaken him further with his kiss…”I will see you soon. I am feeling rather weak myself. I plan to lie down for a while.” He locked the door, but unlocked the bottom so food could be pushed under the door by someone. He left the rest unlocked since all still bore their chains.
Upstairs, Hawk still had not moved. He was shaking like a leaf and crying raggedly. “I need to lie down. I imagine you have realized I do not feel very well today,” he stated softly. When he knelt beside the boy, he narrowed his eyes as Hawk flinched and looked up at him. “This was not your fault, boy.” He touched his feathered face and casually stroked the cheek. “I am sorry you think it is, but you stepped into a very old, very bitter feud. Tarkin, even dead it seems, cannot resist tormenting me.” Shade pulled the kid closer to uncoil him from his tight, little knot. Hawk looked down the hall shivering like he wanted to see someone there who would save him. “I won’t hurt you again. It goes against my nature, but when he pushes me…and I am tired or hungry…” Hawk looked at him oddly knowing he was all of these things, and then some. “I have a nasty temper,” he admitted with a weak smile. “I would have let that dragon have you. I was too mad to stop it. I apologize for that.” He kept petting him and blew on his face to dry the tears again. When he looked normal, Shadow helped him to his feet. “Tar keeps a box of bandages in the kitchen. Let me clean you up a bit before I lie down, okay?” Hawk followed with only a gentle tug on his uninjured hand. The kitchen still had sliced fruits lying about since the dragons had little interest in the produce. The boy nibbled at it while he found the box and a cloth he wet with warm water. Shadow was very careful washing away the drying blood. The feathers on him made it nearly impossible to do painlessly. He had the box on the floor at his knees. He could clearly make out a multitude of severe bruises beneath the feathers, but they would be hidden by the feathers. He was far more worried about the cuts. “Do the feathers regrow if left alone?”
The boy was noticeably afraid to answer his question. Shadow winced, not blaming him in the least for his reluctance. It was a bad thing to ask after what he had done to him earlier for nearly the same thing. How would he know it was Tarkin’s laughter and not his answer that had sparked his rage? Finally, Hawk whispered, “Yes.”
“Thank you…for answering me.” He drew a bottle of anti-septic liquid out pouring it over his leg knowing it wouldn’t even sting. Tarkin’ton only used the best supplies. Then, he took out a small vial and smeared his thumb with the liquid it held. Pulling out a wrap of long leaves, he painted one side of a leaf with his wet thumb and pressed it to the wound. It sealed shut. The fluid and leaf was a common dragon curative used long before the humans discovered ‘modern’ medicines. The thought made him grin for a second. Shadow took Hawk’s arm, but a glance showed that this wound was much smaller and less deep. He must have landed upon the leg when he fell. Once he was done, he kissed his cheek. “There you go. Eat something else,” he muttered stroking his hair. “I really am sorry I hurt you…Make certain the other boys eat, too. Release them into the house, but be cautious of the dragons below and steer clear of the corpses. I will deal with that…eventually,” he added tired to the bone and beginning to feel it again.
“I can seal the room, my lord,” the boy offered softly. Shadow looked at him firmly. Tarkin’ton rarely showed anyone how to do that. It involved a thick, solid sheet of metal that sealed into an airtight barrier between the room and the house. Rodents and other scavengers could get in to feed off of the corpses, but the smell wouldn’t permeate the dungeons for months on end. “Would you rather I did not?” Evidently, Hawk realized he was not pleased that he knew some of the house’s bets10 giriş secrets.
“No,” Shade countered. “Seal the room,” he stated solemnly. “I am a little surprised you know how to do it.” He shook his head and sighed putting away the supplies.
“Are you going to kill Piven?” Shadow stopped suddenly. He had already heard the name once and recognized it.
“I don’t know…Who is Piven?” He turned to look at the avien boy slowly.
“You will find him. My guess is wherever you have placed the body.” Hawk looked at the ceiling suggestively and noticed the stillness from the vampire. It was easy to see the rage blossoming in his reddened eyes. “Don’t hurt him. He was raised here since his birth, my lord. He has known nothing else…and…well, he…” The boy hesitated not wanting to make him any angrier. “I would imagine he is hurting far worse than you are right now…my lord.”
“What is that supposed to mean,” he fairly growled in a suddenly husky voice.
“He has known only love from Tarkin’ton…nothing else.”
“How old is he?”
Hawk shrugged. “Just a little older than I am, but Tarkin’ton shelters him,” he answered. “He has not seen much violence.” The tone of his voice suggested he was being mendacious in his wording. Hawk rubbed his injured arm. “If you hurt him, kill him quick,” he suggested. “He breaks easier than I do.” The vampire started towards the door. He looked shell-shocked, he knew. Could he handle another jilted, sobbing lover today? “Shade,” Hawk whispered stopping him. “You are his companion, aren’t you? The one he cried over.”
Shadow laughed in surprise. “He never cried for me,” he stated in a cold, firm decisiveness. “You must be mistaken.” Hawk stood before he could even walk past the kitchen’s doorjamb.
“I doubt that.” He touched his arm making him stop again. “I am the only one here who saw it, besides…the woman you threw out. I asked him why he didn’t have a picture of you and he said, ‘How can you paint an illusion?’ I did not understand what he meant. I know now. Your skin is like a natural camouflage drawing the eye away from it. You are Shade. You must be his lost companion! Meg’rin scorned him for his tears. She stomped on his heart!” Shadow snarled at him and he let go stepping back with an indrawn breath and wide eyes.
“Why are you telling me this? He is dead,” he hissed.
“Is he, my lord,” Hawk whispered breathlessly. The words left a chill in his heart. “If you kill Piven…If he is not truly dead, he will be.”
“Then, he should not have let me kill him!”
“He said you were good,” Hawk stated sadly backing up even more. “I don’t think he knew you very well!”
“I guess not,” Shadow snarled. His red eyes unmistakably warned of him mood. “Several thousand years of being hunted and tormented by soft whispers of death will do that to an animal, don’t you think?” His words were more growl than a spoken language. “He hated me! He hunted me! Do not be misled by his lies! He blinded me! The only reason I can see again, is because he is dead!” Breathing heavily, the sharp stab of pain caught him unaware and he nearly hit the ground with a savage moan of misery. Shade tried to obstruct his fall and toppled the table and its contents to the floor as he regained his balance. Blind with agony, he turned stumbling to the stairs. Hawk followed silent as a wraith. Stretching out over the stairs, he lay over the gentle slope of the wide lower section that led up to the split staircase beyond.
“If he is so dead, my lord,” Hawk stated neutrally, “why are you being drained so heavily? The shadows can do strange things…at times.”
“I felt him die,” Shade protested weakly.
“You have never felt the same thing,” the boy pressured intently. “Something that seemed to be his death, only to realize it was a lie.” Shadow started to automatically say ‘no’, but stopped himself in horror. He had! The last time Tarkin’ton had whispered in his ear: a thousand years or more ago, and silence afterwards. He had been sick with grief…just like now. Eventually, he had heard someone discussing his silent companion in horror! The worlds had learned to fear Tarkin’ton’s name; Shadow had learned to hide better. His own fright had grown. “You need food. I would offer my arm, but I have learned recently to value what little life I have,” he stated sarcastically and sounding a little sullen. “Go on up,” he advised and turned back into the kitchen.
Shadow slept. He didn’t mean to, and the hard, sharp angles of the stairs wouldn’t have been his choice of beds even if he had. It was a restless sleep awakening from the pain in his body quite often. All he could do was stare up the staircase helplessly until he was pulled back into an uneasy slumber. Several times he heard movement behind him in the halls, but he was too weak to look back. It was very late in the evening when he felt like he could move once more. The shadows of the bets10 güvenilir mi afternoon gave him energy. The darkness felt less abrasive upon his sensitive eyes. Had Tarkin’ton really drained him? Had he purposely kept him away from his body? Away from his little pet, Pevin, who he loved so dearly? The very thought drove him up the stairs!
Shade thought he saw something move and grew still to listen to the entire floor. There were not many rooms on the upper level. He thought he saw another movement up ahead. Walking to the door slowly, he kept watch. Without excellent night vision, no one else would have seen a thing. Was it a shadow? Barely any light at all crept into the silk covering the bedroom’s windows. They were black, he knew. Tarkin was as enamored of darkness as he was. It covered the windows in a double layer and a single sheet over every wall. During the day, light filtered in like splintered light reflecting along the walls of a cave. It was moist and the air was clear with the scent of plant life. Someone had watered them recently. They hung in long vines woven along and in front of the silks. One had a floral scent that was just beginning to fill the air with fragrance. A night-blooming blossom, how lovely, he thought to himself. The floor was some kind of enameled marble substance covered over with a light layer of soil to support the moss flooring. Shadow took off his boots before entering out of respect for his old ways. He dropped the shirt wondering when he had made himself a set of clothing. Several potted trees lined one wall adding their scent to the room. A bird moved sleepily inside one of them. A snake trailed along a vine into a net that held dried grass over a corner of the room high above. It was around five feet long, but thin. Nothing else stirred inside of the room. Walking closer to the bed he waited until his eyes could see what lay there. He drew in a sharp breath in shocked surprise.
The body had been undressed and cleaned. Tarkin’ton lay there like he was asleep. There wasn’t a single sign of the wounds! His flesh blended into the blackness beneath him yet he could see every detail in vivid relief. Someone had placed him in his favorite sleeping position when in bed alone; spread out with one knee bent and one straight like an upside down, inverted number four facing his right. One hand was behind his head and the left was thrown over his bare stomach. Tarkin’ton’s ears were tipped into triangular points at both the bottom and the top. He had forgotten that little feature. His eyes tilted down much the same was as Hawk’s had done into a straight nose and a firm chin. The cheekbones were high. Still his profile was unspoiled and in some way thoroughly attractive at the same time. It never failed to astonish him. All of it was fitted together in shades of the darkest dark like the drow elves. Tarkin’ton was a Shadow mage. His heritage was very clear in his appearance.
Shadow knew his eyes would be yellow if they were open and they could glow obscenely. They were not the red-orange people saw when he was mad, or the black that they saw when he was around people he did not know. Not even the more common gold shade that was popular, he thought, just plain yellow. Chartreuse he had called them. Shadow felt his heart compress as he sat on the edge of the bed to touch the ankle near him. His fingers traced the white scars marring it. He had felt them, but this was the first time he could see them. Why did they still mark his body? Tarkin’ton could have healed them long ago. Why would he keep them as a reminder? Shadow swallowed hard trying to breathe past the memories pressing in on him. His fingers lined up with the scars perfectly. He closed his eyes and just sat there with his fingers curled around the scars thinking. It had been too long since he had allowed himself to just think…just remember.
He knew Tarkin’ton changed into a large, black beast when he changed forms. It was massive like a demon mastiff, a hound from hell, he thought in amusement. The creature was frightening and strange. It was a form rumored to have been the same as his father, but to Shadow’s knowledge Tarkin’ton had never met the ancient who had knocked up his bitch of a mother. He had also never blamed the man for fleeing the demented psycho witch and her cruel, animalistic lover. Tarkin’s mother, Mia, had tricked the Shadow Mage and ripped out his throat at the crucial moment. Larkin had fled the pair never knowing he had conceived a son. Who could blame him for it? Genesis was scary enough without adding Mia to the picture. That ancient made even other ancients look like children! He was calculating and primal in a savage way. Some said he was mostly beast and not as intelligent as he pretended to be, but no one wished to offend him. He was cruel and cannibalistic, often eating the creatures who angered him. It was said Genesis was the one who had driven Mia mad when he had fed off of her and left her alive afterwards. No one knew for certain. Mia had raised Tarkin. Sometimes he found it odd that the man could be tender at all, yet he knew he could. Tar had raised Shadow with a loving touch and mellow smile. Wasn’t he also raising Pevin the same way?
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