Chapter 30: Mafrien- To a Bright Future
The room had erupted into chaos as Ekabat stabbed Kysael through the hip, where I knew she had been previously injured almost fatally. I watched as blood gushed down her chin, and she doubled over, gasping.
I decapitated Ekabat quickly, and dispatched anyone else who dared to try to harm her as Dragon quickly took her and flew out of the room.
By the time they were out of the room, four dead bodies lie on the floor.
I huffed. "Anyone else?" I asked. They shook their heads in the negative. "Alright then. Coal, by my side!" And then I rushed out of the room as the guards took over for me there, and I followed Kysael's fading life force. I also sensed a dark energy, but I couldn't make sense of it. It was not familiar to me.
I caught Castiel rushing out of the castle in a great haste, barely visible to me.
I rushed into the bedroom that I assumed was Kysael's. "Kysael!"
"Mafrien," Dragon said. "Kysael has been poisoned. The blade, from Ekabat, it was...." His voice cracked, and his worried eyes flew back to look at Kysael.
"Dragon, aren't you a world-famous healer? Can't you do something?"
"I don't know much of anything about poisons. Certainly not one this complex. Castiel has went to find Arthenia, a poison expert and friend of mine, who is on her way here with her team to begin a new clinic at the base of the mountain. She is probably already there by now."
"I see." I nodded. "All of the ones who wished Kysael harm have been dispatched. I am positive that their people will relay the message and the laws, and that this conversation will go a bit smoother in the future unless they all want to end up like their former leaders, dead on the floor at my feet."
"Thank you for doing that," Dragon said softly. I was vaguely surprised; he was such a peaceful man that I didn't think that he would show me gratitude for murder.
"Where is Kelose?"
Dragon looked sadly at Kysael. "He....began to transform into a Darkelf when she lost consciousness."
I startled. "What...?" I breathed out.
Pain speared me.
After everything that I had put this girl through, then she had finally gotten close to Dragon, only to lose him, and then marry Kelose just to lose him as well?
I began to think that this girl was simply cursed.
Kysael stirred, and I could feel her life force waning. If Castiel didn't hurry, she wouldn't survive. I was surprised, to be sure, to see a poison potent enough to affect a Skyelf this rapidly.
I idly realized with shock that Ekabat had been planning this.
"Ekabat had planned this," I said with the realization.
He looked at me.
"There aren't any poisons around this area, at least not that I am aware of, that are capable of affecting a Skyelf this rapidly. It doesn't make sense. She shouldn't be this affected, not yet. It should have taken more time. He must have been experimenting with poisons and testing their effectiveness, seeing if it would be potent enough to kill her. He didn't care that he was going to die, he just wanted to take her with him to the grave."
Dragon cringed. "The expansion of the Clinic on the borders of Lykra," he said solemnly. "My partner and I expanded the clinic to include poison studies, antidotes, how those poisons affected different races...."
"Dragon, this is not your fault," I said softly. "You couldn't know that this was going to happen. Ekabat was a deranged old man who hated his own granddaughter for not being a full-blooded Wraith. It's not your fault."
Dragon sighed, and looked to Kysael. "She is fading, and quickly."
He was right. Her skin was getting pale. My heart raced.
Castiel burst through the door, a strange woman trailing quickly behind him, and several more people behind her.
"Arthenia!" Dragon said, his voice thick with relief. "Thank heavens. She has been poisoned," he said, pointing to Kysael.
Arthenia didn't waste any time on pleasantries, and went straight to checking Kysael's vital signs and took a sample of her blood.
Her assistants quickly got to work, testing the blood sample with different antidotes and poisons, seeing how the blood reacted to the tests.
Dragon looked at Arthenia, his eyes full of emotion and meaning. "Arthenia....I cannot lose her," he warned softly.
Her eyes widened for a moment. She could see in his eyes how deeply he cared for Kysael. "I understand." Her voice sounded.... rejected, almost.
"I don't want for you to misunderstand," Dragon said quickly. He glanced at Kysael, almost as if he were making sure that she was still unconscious. He looked back at the new girl. "Kysael is special to me, and I hold a....very.... intense bond to her. I have been Blood Bonded to her."
Her eyes got full of understanding. "You are...her servant," She said. "While we were in Lykra, I had been studying the Wraiths to better understand their culture, and I ran across that phrase in a text that I was reading. She fed you her blood, and therefore you are forever bonded to her, as her servant. And... I already knew that you two were married, word travels very quickly. But I knew that she was under the mating mark to someone else, and Soul Bonding to yet another....so...I thought.... But you're her servant?"
Dragon let out a single laugh. "That wasn't quite her intention. I had been stabbed on the battlefield, and that was the only thing that she could think of to save me. She was unaware, at that time, that it would create a Blood Bond between us."
She nodded. "Is that...why you were so hesitant, when I first mentioned expanding the clinic...?"
He smiled. "Yes. I honestly didn't know how you would react to the news. I....I had hoped that if I just stayed friends. But then, Kelose and Kysael completed the Soul Bond to break the mating mark, and while I continued my marriage with her, and they also grew closer to one another...Well, I hoped that if things worked out to where I could be with you, you would care enough about me by the time I confessed my feelings that you wouldn't mind the bond. Afterall, if we were to get together, the bond would pose no threat to you. But things have changed. And I don't know what will happen now. But it is imperative that Kysael survives."
She laughed. "I will do everything that I can!" Her voice was relieved. "I am glad you told me the truth. That does make me feel better."
"Lady Arthenia, we have found something!" One of her assistants called, and she rushed to check it out.
"We found that when we mix these antidotes, the blood goes back to normal. But it could cause other health issues, side effects from mixing them that way...."
"Lord Dragon has already expressed to me that he is not going to allow her to die. Make the antidote for her, quickly!" She said.
They began their work, and hurried about getting it prepared.
Dragon got behind her on the bed, her head lying in his lap, and he tilted her head back and closed her nose, opening her mouth and pouring the disgusting looking and foul-smelling brown liquid down her throat.
Her body jerked after a moment, and she began to thrash about. Dragon held her head in his lap, stroking her hair as her body was held down by Castiel.
"At least the nerves weren't destroyed this time," Dragon said softly once she began to calm down. "I can heal this wound with no problems."
After a few more minutes, Kysael began to stir again, opening her eyes this time.
"Oh....My hip," she whined. "Gosh, what a cheap shot," she said.
Dragon ran a hand over her face. "I am glad to see you alright," he said softly.
She nodded, and sighed. "Cold, blanket..." she mumbled, nearly incoherent. She reached for something in particular...
Dragon smiled sadly, and handed her a dark green traveling cloak. It is what she had motioned for.
His body tensed when she snuggled into it, but she covered herself with it nonetheless and snuggled into it all the more.
"Tired....need....to sleep," she grumbled.
"You need more than sleep," Dragon said gently. He gave us all a look that told us to leave, and we hurried out of the room.
Once we were out of the room, I could smell the blood in the air as she fed from him. So, despite her Skyelf half, she still needed to feed on blood to survive.
That was interesting. She truly was a perfect balance of the Light and Dark Realms.
I sighed. "This always bothers me."
Arthenia looked at me, questioning. "What always bothers you, my lord?"
"Oh, the Blood Bond. His biggest duty to her...is to allow her to feed from him."
Her face was sad, but she smiled. "He is very loyal to his duties," she said, her eyes lighting with respect. "Even if it does sound repulsing."
I nodded. "He's been a little too loyal to his duties in the past," he remarked darkly.
Arthenia gave me a confused look. "What do you mean?"
"Oh, don't mind me, my lady. I am just rambling on. My friend's injury has made me very worried," I recovered, trying to show her that it wasn't anything to worry over.
She gave me a skeptical face, but accepted it. "Your friend is the Skyelf Queen. It would be terrible if she were to die. And Dragon made it very clear to me that she had to stay alive, so...." She trailed off.
I bowed slightly to her. "Thank you."
A couple of days passed by, and Kysael was on the mend.
She had been throwing up and having dizzy spells, and complained that she was having hot flashes.
When we finally told her about Kelose's condition, she had been distraught. She had cried and sobbed brokenly, refusing to feed. She continued to vomit.
Arthenia told her that it must be a side effect of the poison.
I noticed something odd, something about Coal and how he reacted around her. He hovered around her, in an oddly protective way. I could sense something growing in him, something that he had never felt for anyone else before. This was getting quite interesting.
However, now just wasn't the time. Not for Kysael.
Kelose's body had been placed under a holding spell, but he was already part way transformed into a Darkelf.
The Skyelves were trying to find a way to completely stave it off, but it was a difficult matter.
Because it had already started, there was almost no feasible way that it could be cancelled out.
There was nothing that could be done. And as soon as the holding spell was released.... he would finish his transformation.
They would have to figure out a solution soon, because the mages couldn't continue holding him with the Hold Spell forever.
Kysael was finally well enough that she even made it to dinner on the ninth evening.
As Dragon whirled around the room doing things for her, it amazed me that he had taken to his role with such finesse. He was doing all the things that his duties as her advisor called for him to do, and doing it quite well, with no mistakes that I could point out.
She had been wise to choose him.
I held up my glass of wine, and stood. "To Kysael's recovery, and to a bright future," I toasted.
"Here, here!" Everyone raised their glasses. Coal raised his glass a little higher.... held it a little longer....
I could see it there. I could see it in his eyes, the way he looked at her.
Kysael wasn't ready, yet.
On the morning of the tenth day, Kysael and I stood outside of her palace, and I was looking out into the blizzard barricading the palace grounds with dread. As a creature used to deserts and heat, I was not fond of the cold.
Dragon and Coal stood there with us.
"Thank you for all of your help," Dragon bowed slightly.
I smiled. "It was nothing."
"Thank you nonetheless," Dragon smiled. He shook my hand. "We wish you a safe journey home. Send us word right away when you get back."
Kysael limped forward, her injury still making her leg weak. "I wish you didn't have to go. I've quite enjoyed getting to know you."
I chuckled. "I feel the same way. Alas, I must. And I will return Kirinae in a few months," I said, pointing to my heir. "I need to be teaching her the new ways. I need to begin teaching her for the throne."
Kysael nodded before hugging me. "Thank you."
I hugged her back, and lightly pressed my lips to hers simply in an expression of affection, and nothing more.
"Thank you," I told her. "You have done more for me than I can ever repay. However....as a gift, and in payment of all of your deeds....I am rewarding you with Coal. From now on, he shall be available to you and under your command as you see fit...well, as he allows, anyhow. It has been difficult to get him to listen to me, he's so stubborn," I laughed. "You seem to care for his company more than I do."
She laughed softly, and Coal shook my hand before he went to stand at her side, taking his place as her attendant already.
He seemingly unconsciously looped his arm in with hers, helping to support her weight, and she leaned into him.
I sensed something there, something that I'd seen between Kysael and Dragon, as well as Kysael and Kelose. But it was stronger, Coal was already like a magnet to Kysael's every movement. I inwardly grinned. They may not realize it yet, but I already saw what was happening. I had seen it for days.
Months, if I was being truthful. From the moment they had met, there was a spark there, a connection that couldn't be denied. It was slow growing, it was so small and flickering, but....
It was a connection.
It was a chemistry.
I had a good feeling about leaving Coal here.
That wasn't the only thing that I could sense. I could sense something growing, something inside of Kysael, and I knew that soon, she would be sending us some very exciting news. But I didn't bring it up now.
Then, Kirinae and I turned, and walked out into the blizzard.