By Kammy Gaffney
"Hey Mark?" Davy called, as the landed by the pond. He looked around, and his carefree spirit sprang a leak and sank. No one was here. No one at all. Davy squinted. He thought maybe he saw a movement on the other side of the pond. He started walking around it, kicking pinecones into the water.
When he reached the other side of the pond, there was no Mark there, either. Davy turned slowly around in a circle, straining all of his senses, but he didn't see or smell or hear anyone. Or anything. Perhaps that little movement he thought he'd seen was nothing more than a squirrel and his hopeful imagination. It was dead quiet. There was no breeze to stir the pines, and the heat was oppressive. He swatted a bug away from his face, annoyed. So here I am... now where are you? Maybe his brother had seen him coming and was hiding from him. Mark had hidden from him before, when he was annoyed and didn't want to be bothered.
"If you didn't want me to come, you shouldn't have invited me!" Davy wrinkled his nose. "This pond smells. And it's hot. And it's too damned sunny. Hells." He stamped his foot. "I'm gonna go back home now." Just then, he caught the flicker of motion again. It was there, for sure... and it wasn't any squirrel. There wasn't anything he could define, just simply that, motion. It was like the heat rising off of asphalt in July, just bigger, and in roughly spaced out chucks. And it seemed that this strange phenomena was getting closer. And closer. It moved away from the trees, and spread out, moving toward him.
Davy rubbed at his eyes and blinked hard - perhaps it was a weird mirage, generated by the heat? And then he froze. The strange, shimmering shapes were very close to him now, and Davy, still unable to move, began to shiver with fear. The shapes were within fifteen feet of him, then ten, and then there was the strange non-sound that he had come to associate with his null field connecting with a powerful magic, and just like that, the strange watery, wavy phenomena was gone. There was a half-circle of humans standing there in front of him, instead. He stepped back, confused and frightened, and heard a harsh cough. He turned around. More humans - a small rough crowd of them. He was completely surrounded.
"Well, whadaya know, Tom," said one, a lean, wiry fellow in a baseball cap and a great deal of stubble. "That Diamond guy was right - there is a Jersey Devil. Looks like we just found 'im."
"I'm not a devil!" Davy bared his tiny fangs, and held out his small leathery wings in a threatening posture, his hands in fists. The men laughed.
"As if you'd admit it. Tell me... did you have anything to do with ol' Patty dying? 'Cause that's what we heard, and sure enough, when we stopped by to visit, ol' Patty's looking a little under the weather."
"I didn't kill that old man!" The men exchanged glances.
"No? Then how did you know that Patty was an old man?"
"I swear... I didn't..." The little vampire's lip trembled. He desperately started to scan the sky. Where was Mark?
"What are you lookin' for, you murderin' Devil?"
Davy couldn't answer him. His knees were shaking, no, all of him was shaking. He blinked hard, and tried to remember all the things his brother had told him. Drakthae don't cry, Drakthae aren't scared, Sartains never bare their throats to anyone. He was strong... he was fierce... and these were only humans... Davy bared his fangs again, and let out a loud angry battle cry. Or at least, his best attempt at one.
"AAAAARRR!" To his amazement, the men stepped back, and looked at each other with sheepish expressions.
"Did you bring a gun?"
"Naw, I thought that crackpot was sendin' us out on a wild goose chase. Him an' his magic invisible potions, an' all. Did you?"
Davy decided to beat a hasty retreat. He flapped his wings hard, crouched down, flung himself in the air -
"I got one." - A loud crack seemed to shatter his eardrums, and Davy flinched, even as his wings kept pounded the air. Then something slammed into him, and he went flying backwards, and landed hard on the sun-baked earth. He tried to yell for his brother, but he couldn't seem to draw a breath. He blinked up helplessly at the men surrounding him. Then the pain kicked in. Davy's face twisted in agony, as the circle closed in on him.
"Damn nice shot, there, Phil. I bet if we can keep him alive, we could get an even better deal than that other guy was offering."
* * * * *
Rhaegal was holding his newborn son in his cupped hands. Born too early, there was little hope of his survival, but Rhaegal did his best. He slashed the tip of one finger with his fang, and placed it on the child's lips. He was too young to have a sucking reflex, so he had to work at it, carefully coaxing one scarlet drop after another into the tiny mouth.
That child must die, Rhaegal. Rhaegal turned and looked at the platinum-haired Sidhe that was addressing him. It was not the one he remembered, from that time, half a decade ago. He'd never seen this particular noble before.
I will not. He is my flesh and blood. He is the flesh and blood of my mate, whom you stole from me. I tore him from her belly with my dagger and my bare hands. If he dies, it will be because he fails to live, not because you kill him.
You mistake me, Lord Rhaegal. The noble stressed the 'lord', said it in a mocking fashion. I do not wish to kill the child myself. But you will. It is your duty. That child has no magic. He is Kithain.
I will not.
It is your duty.
I will not.
You must, before he destroys us all! The elf's voice was very impassioned. Rhaegal raised a brow, as he saw Markkastanen come up behind him, slip his arms around the elf's waist, and affectionately nuzzle his hair. Rhaegal's lip curled into a snarl. This was no dream; this was a nightmare.
I will not.
He is a monster.
He is my son. I will not.
No... he doesn't even know the word, he never will... I swear it. He is Drakthae. Do you think he can be anything other than what he is?
Do you think you can contain his nature by simple ignorance? He can only be what he is - even your own philosophy betrays you. You are a bigger fool than you know, Rhaegal. Look at him! He grows!
Rhaegal stared down at the child in his hands. The child was growing, and at a horrifyingly rapid rate. Rhaegal shifted him, so that he rested across his arms. The child opened his brilliant blue eyes, and stared at him. But instead of the sunny smile he remembered, the child screamed and burst into tears, but there was no sound. Rhaegal held him close, and tried to comfort him, but the child struggled, and all the while he kept growing. He was nearly his present age now. Frustrated, Rhaegal pushed him away and sat him on the edge of his lap. The boy had reached his present size, and the growing stopped.
Adavidarian, I can't hear you, what's wrong?
Davy 's face was twisted with fear... and something else... he looked at his father, opened his mouth - and this time, the words came. "FATHER!!! HELP ME, I'M SCARED... MARK! PLEASE, MARK, WHERE ARE YOU? FATHER!!! SOMEONE!!! PLEASE HELP ME!!!
Beneath the screams, Rhaegal heard the voice of his beloved, sweet and low.
Rhaegal save our son.
He turned around, and looked at his mate. Alizarin gave him a sad smile. He needs you Rhaegal, this one last time. Then we can be together again.
And just like that, the dream was over. Rhaegal ran to the door, and flung it open.
"Adavidarian!!!" he yelled. No answer. Rhaegal didn't hesitate. He picked up his sword, ran into his bedroom, snatched up the sword belt, raced back out the door, and took to the air immediately, buckling his sword belt around him as he flew, his eyes frantically searching the earth for his missing son.
* * * * *
Markkastanen had not left his bed in nearly two days, and the Diamand had been both taken aback and pleased with his new bedmate's stamina. It seemed that no sooner then he was spent, then the youngster's slender hands were stroking him, and his lips would seek his own, and the dance would begin again.
Mark felt as if he were hanging suspended somewhere between heaven and earth. He knew nothing besides the touch, the voice, the scent of the Sidhe beside him, the flavor of his sweat and blood on his tongue. All else was forgotten. His entire world had narrowed to the space of their bed.
"I love you, Díamand," Markkastanen murmured, his face buried in the Sidhe's neck.
"Do you?" The elf smiled. "How nice. You're such a sweet boy." Díamand lightly trailed a languid hand along the base of Mark's wing, and the vampire quivered, and pressed nearer. "I want you beside me when I return.You will love the court, my little dragon. I will dress you in the finest silk, and rare jewels, and the other lords and ladies will turn green with envy when they see you by my side. No one in Oberon's court has taken a Drakthos as a lover in many years, and such a pretty one, too."
Mark drew back a bit, and glared at him, sulkily. "Am I nothing more to you than a fine hunting hawk, or horse, or hound?"
Diamand laughed. "Oh you're better than any of those things by far, my proud little dragon." His violet eyes narrowed, and he brushed a lock of jet-black hair from the boy's eyes. "Breathing fire yet, are we? Well, let's put some of that spirit to proper use."
* * * * *
It wasn't until the end of third day, lying in perfect bliss in the sleeping Sidhe's arms, did Mark finally come to his senses. He sat bolt upright, with a small gasp of horror. "Father!"
Díamand opened his eyes, and stared at the boy sleepily. "What's the matter, Markkastanen?"
"I've forgotten about Father! It's been - why, it's been days! He must think I'm dead, as well!" Mark started to scramble out of bed, but the elf grabbed his arm, chuckling.
"We are between worlds, boy... time works a little differently here. I doubt your father even knows that you are gone."
Markkastanen considered that for a moment. "Are you certain? How do you know?"
The elf smiled, and gestured to a nearby table, upon which sat a bowl carved from a single quartz crystal. It was filled to the brim with water. "Place one hand on either side of the bowl, and look into it. See what you will." Then as Mark rose from the bed, he held out his hand again. "Wait a minute. Give me your hands." Mark held out his hands. Díamand picked up a rose from a vase on the bedside table, and carefully pricked Mark's index fingers. A drop of blood welled from each, a perfect match to the rose's velvety petals. "Now go."
The elf leaned back casually against the headboard and watched him through half-closed eyes, as Mark padded across the room. He was tall already, and looked to be growing still. He hadn't filled out yet, either - he was a long and lean and gangly as a fawn, and had a fawn's swift and easy grace. Díamand imagined that such a boy as Markkastanen didn't know the meaning of the term "awkward stage". He would enjoy showing off such a fine prize. The young vampire sat down at the table, laid his hands on either of the bowl, and peered cautiously into the water. He sat still as a statue for a few moments, and then, gasped, his eyes widening.
The boy turned toward Díamand for a moment, and then his expression darkened, and he flung the chair aside, picked up his clothes, and started hastily pulling them on.
"Markkastanen. Where are you going?"
"I'm going to my father."
"What on earth for?"
"He knows, Díamand! He knows, and he's going after Davy... he's going to get himself killed! I've got to stop him!"
Díamand made an attempt at stopping him. "Markkastanen, don't be a fool!"
Mark dodged the elf's reaching hands, and darted for the door, flung it open, and - stumbled out into the same sunny afternoon clearing in the pinewoods. Blinking in the sudden fierce glare, he glanced back. Díamand was sitting in the middle of the broken circle of sand, nude, and angrily shaking the sand and pine needles out of his elaborate clothing. "Damn you, boy - you might have at least waited until I dressed first."
design ©2001 by Cindy Rosenthal
The Drakthos © 2001 by KL Gaffney
What is copyright?