The Drakthos

By Kammy Gaffney




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Markkastanen landed, and ran full-speed for the bar, his father's scream reverberating in his ears. He nearly made it to the rear entrance, when he was tackled from behind. "No!" he gasped, struggling frantically, struggling to rise. "Díamand - let me go! Father!"

"You can't help him, you little fool - it's too late! If you go in there now, they'll see right through your glamour, and they'll kill you too! Now stop this nonsense at once!" The Sidhe pinned Mark's arms to his sides, and held them there.

"You bastard! You promised! You said he wouldn't get hurt - FATHER!!"

"Will you please shut-up!" Díamand hissed, "before you get discovered, too?" He roughly pulled the boy to his feet, tried to clap a hand over his mouth.

Mark kicked him in the shin, stomped on his toes as hard as he could, and twisted free. He ran to the back door, wrenched it open, and darted inside. Díamand didn't follow. Mark raced through the back, shoved open the swinging door, and skidded to a halt. "Oh gods... no... Father..."

Rhaegal burned. His body, his wings, even his sword were wreathed in brilliant orange flame. He lurched to his feet, and the sword swung in a great fiery arc, and the one man that was standing there, entranced, watching - he was torn in two. The second one raised his gun - and Rhaegal simply looked at him. The man lowered the gun, sank to the floor, and picked up a large chunk of glass, with shaking hands. Sobbing, he cut himself, running the glass down his forearm from elbow to wrist. Then he switched hands, and started on the other.

"Father..." Mark whispered.

Rhaegal still burned. The alcohol had burned away long ago, and yet he still burned. He was the son of a dragon, and a dragon's blood flowed through his veins. The fire loved him, loved the blood that drenched his clothing, and pooled on the floor around him. But his flesh was not a dragon's flesh. He burned. His hair burned away, his clothes, the flesh beneath blackened and charred. The great wings remained a while longer, and when Markkastanen drew closer to the living bonfire that was his father, the fierce blue eyes, filled with agony, gazed up at him. He could not speak - his lungs were charred, his vocal cords burned away, but their eyes met, and he opened his mind, and Mark was struck - Pain. Oh gods, the pain. It was searing him inside and out...

...Markkastanen... I do not know if your brother lives... fnd him... he is in the hands of the human... called... Natalie. ...Markkas, promise me.... Promise me you will look after Adavidarian.... Keep him from the Sidhe.... Help him to live...

I promise you, Father. I swear it.

Good.... I go to be with Alizarin now.... farewell... my... son...

Father? Father!

Markkastanen dropped to his knees beside a pile of hot ash. "Forgive me, Father... please..." There was no answer. Moments later, Markkastanen slowly sifted through the ashes. He found his father's dagger amulet, and slipped it around his own neck. He waited for it to strangle him; he hoped that the blade would grow, suddenly, and run through his traitor heart. It did neither. It merely hung there hard and still quite hot, resting against the skin of his chest, near his heart. Mark got up, and picked up his father's sword. It was very heavy, indeed. He burned himself on the intricately carved hilt, and he had to hold the weapon away from himself at an awkward angle. There was no sword belt to carry it with. That had burned with his father. The young vampire sighed, and clutching it in both hands, he slowly walked out of the bar, through the back, and stepped into the shelter of the woods. Díamand was there, waiting.

"I nearly left without you."

Mark didn't say anything.


Díamand sighed and gently put his arms around him. "I am truly sorry. I did not mean for it to be this way. If your father had done his duty like he should have, or at the very least, not interfered... such a pity. He was a fine man, despite his willfulness. Now instead of one life taken, there were two." Mark still didn't say anything. His eyes had grown as dark as the midnight sky, brimming over with sorrow. Díamand sighed. "Such a beautiful boy." He murmured, and kissed him, gently. "You are not an outlaw any longer, Markkastanen, now that the matter of your brother has been taken care of. I extend an invitation for you to stay with me. You may be my consort, if you wish, my guest, if you do not. I know this is a difficult time for you now, but will you at least consider it?" The elf gently stroked the grieving face with his fingertips. Markkastanen remembered his promise, and knew what he had to do.

"Get away from me, Díamand."

"Excuse me?"

³You heard me. I told you to get away from me. I never want to see you again."

"Markkastanen... I don't understand."

"I hate you. Go away and leave me alone. If I see you again, I will have to kill you. I cannot express it any more plainly than that. Father is dead. I have nothing. You let it happen. I loved you, I trusted you, and while I slept in your arms, Father was dying. I must forget you now. Every time I see your face, from now on, any time I think back and feel an ounce of love or joy or contentment from my memories of being with you... I will see my father burn."

Díamand looked at him for a long moment, his violet eyes grave and thoughtful. Then he shrugged. "Very well, if that is your desire. It was pleasant, while it lasted. Farewell, Markkastanen." The beautiful platinum-haired elf turned around and strode off into the forest.

Mark stood there proudly, his head raised high, long after the Sidhe noble was gone. Then something in him broke. He went down, dropped down into the sandy loam and pine needles, and curled up in a little ball, his wings wrapped around him. He wept, broken-hearted and wracked with guilt, until sleep took him.

* * * * *

Morning found him walking along the side of the road. His eyes were dry, his face was set and expressionless, and his stride was purposeful. His heart was a stone. He was Drakthos, and a Sartain, and a Sartain did not cry, nor did they bare their throats to anyone. He no longer needed to. He had already lost everything worth crying over, and worth begging for. There was only one thing he had left, and that was his promise.

Markkastanen marched up to a mailbox on the side of the road, opened it, and checked the address on the electric bill inside. 'Ms. Natalie DiArmano' it read. Mark re-settled the blanket- wrapped sword under his arm, and he headed up the long sandy road that led to Natalie's house. He grew more and more apprehensive as he approached it, but he knew better than to show it. As he finally reached the open sandy area that the house was nesting on, a golden retriever seemed to explode from underfoot.

"Oh, go away." The drakthos snarled. Mark had never really liked dogs. The retriever circled him a few times, barking, and then it bounded off, all tail-wagging, grinning, foolishness, pausing to look back over his shoulder as if he was actually leading the intruder to the house.

"Some guardian," Mark muttered, under his breath. The house itself was nothing special. Small, two story, off white with dark brown trim on the posts and roof and shutters. A primer gray pick-up truck was parked on a careless diagonal in front of it, and there was laundry hanging on the clothesline, dangling limply. It looked like it was going to be another insufferably hot day. It was already terribly humid. Mark hoped the human had air conditioning. The front door opened, and a short, voluptuous woman with dark shoulder-length hair stepped out, openly carrying a shotgun. Mark froze in his tracks.

The woman blinked, and put the gun down. "You're Rhaegal's other son."

Mark blinked back. "You can see through my glamour."

She smiled. "I guess that's because I was expecting you. I was hoping you'd find us. But even if I couldn't see the wings, there's no mistake. You look a lot like him. You're here for your little brother, right?"

Mark nodded, and made no attempt to hide his annoyance when that damn slobbering dog came up to him again, its entire rear end swinging from the force it was putting into its tail-wagging. Mark's lip curled, and he bared a single gleaming fang.

"Daisy, knock it off!" The dog whined, and slunk under the porch to pout. "Don't you mind her at all - she's a spoiled brat." She stuck out her hand. "I'm Natalie."

"I'm Markkastanen." He smirked at her expression. "Mark is sufficient, if that is easier for you."

"Good." She smiled again. "Just for the record, what is your brother's name?"

"Adavidarian. Davy, if you prefer. Wouldn't he tell you?"

"He was kinda delirious last night, and he'd been sleeping all day today. He kept calling for Rhaegal, and for you, now that I think about it. I should've known your name from the get-go." She sighed. "I just don't know how to help him, anymore than I'm already doing." She led Mark up the stairs, and led him into a small, but airy room, mostly in white with light yellow accents. Davy was nearly as pale as the sheets on the bed, and he looked so tiny, thin, and fragile, that it seemed as if he might dissipate into the humid summer air at any moment. His eyelids were purplish, and sunken in. He stirred a bit, sighing.

"I tried keeping a bandage over his eyes, but he keeps pulling it off."

"Why? What's the matter with his eyes?" Mark asked softly, laying a hand on his forehead. There was a touch of fever, but that was a good sign. His body was warm from the healing.

"Um.... well... they're... gone."

"Gone? How do you mean gone?" Mark demanded, a little louder than he intended to. Davy stirred again, moaning, and Mark turned back toward him before Natalie got a chance to answer.


"Yes, little brother, I'm here."

Davy opened his eyes. Mark turned away, his face ashen. "My gods.... why?"

"I don't know, Mark, I don't know." Natalie's voice was weary. "I thought he was going to die, I really did, he was so weak, and when I tried to get him to feed, he wouldn't, so I ended up having to get a needle and a baby's bottle and..." she showed Mark the puncture wounds on her forearm. "I was up with him all night. Not like I could sleep anyway. There were all of the police sirens and stuff, going by on the main road."

Mark looked at her hard. "Did anyone recognize you there, that survived?"

"No. I'm the only one that came out of that bar alive, and there was nobody there to see me do it." Natalie looked away, then looked down, and she bit her lower lip. Tears shone in her eyes. "I knew those guys since we were all kids...." She blinked, hard, and regained control. "But I only lost some friends... you lost your father... your brother's blind now... and it was all their fault. I'm so sorry."

Mark's jaw tightened. "What's done is done. I can take care of my brother. As he's too weak to travel yet, we stay here for a few days. Our kind tend heal quickly, so he should be strong enough to fly out of here in two or three nights."

"Oh, of course. I don't mind. Could be nice to have the company. Keep my mind off of things."

Davy started to moan again.

"Davy? What's the matter?"

".... Scared..."

"Scared of what?"

".... So.... dark..."

Natalie gave Mark a quizzical look, and whispered, "He's afraid of the dark? But you guys are nocturnal, mostly, right?"

Mark rolled his eyes. Didn't the woman realize that Davy could hear her no matter how low her voice? "Yes, but we can see at night. It's never truly dark for us, unless it's one hundred percent." He scowled in frustration. "I don't know what to do. I don't know how to fix this. Even a healer can't regenerate missing parts... and it doesn't matter, as no spell would work on him, even if I could get him to one." Mark's voice had lowered; he was practically talking to himself. Davy began to whimper. Mark glared at him. "Be quiet, will you? It's not really dark, you know, it's just that you're blind, and you probably will be for a good long time, so you better just get used to it!" He got up and started pacing the room, fists clenched. Davy started to sob, and then struggled to stop, baring his tiny fangs at whatever fearful things that might be hiding in the darkness. Natalie sat down on the bed, and started to stroke his hair.

"Please don't yell at him, Mark... it's not his fault." Natalie started talking to the frightened child softly, as she stroked his hair. "I know you're scared, honey, and that's okay. But it's not dark for real; it's just dark inside your head. It's actually the middle of day out here. Do you want me to describe it to you? You can imagine it, and then maybe you won't be so scared."

The boy nodded weakly. Natalie started describing the room, and everything in it, and finally paused to look up at the agitated teenager pacing the room. "Mark, I think I have things covered here. Why don't you get some rest? There's another guest room next to this one, on the left. It's where I keep all of my books too, if you like to read. You probably don't like romance novels, though, huh?"

Mark sighed, stopped his frantic pacing, and ran a hand through his raven hair. "Rest. That does sound like a good idea." He didn't say anything else, just gave Natalie a quick, terse bow before he headed out of the room.

"Nat... lee?"

"Yes, Davy?" The boy hesitated for a while before he asked the question, as if he feared the answer.

"Father's not coming back for us, is he?" Adavidarian mumbled sadly, barely coherent. Natalie understood his hesitation now; she didn't like the answer to that question any more than the boy did.

"...No honey.... he's not coming back." Natalie sighed. She lay down beside Rhaegal's golden-haired child, and he curled up against her, two creatures desperate for comfort. She stroked his hair softly, and in a few moments, Davy's breathing slowed and steadied as he slept. Natalie closed her eyes, and a single slow tear ran down her face.


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