Sunday, April 27

Chapter 17

Today was the day.. Blazerine's stomach lurched dangerously, a terrible mix of nerves and sea sickness troubles her. 

"Ugh."

She wasn't made for traveling by sea. Her skin had tinted to a slight green due to her sickness. She sighed, covering her lips with one hand as she felt the ship rocked back and forth; drifting on the waves. 

Then she brought her other hand to clench her stomach, trying to keep down its churning contents. 

Fenix swiped his boot across a bucket, sending it to her side of the room. 

"Here's a bucket if you need one," Fenix told her.

Blazerine suddenly sat up fast, after he finished his statement - she grabbed the bucket.

Fenix looked on over and laughed, "Boy she shot up straight like a bat outta hell." 

She struggled quite a bit because there wasn't much in her to get out to begin with. For several minutes, she gagged horribly, until Fenix surprisingly came over and started to pat her on the back. The most, she got rid of, was the bottom line of her stomach. 

Once she was done - or at least when she thought so anyway. She sat the bucket aside before leaning over to buried her face in her sweaty palms. 

"Y-you can stop now." She insisted since Fenix kept continuing to pat on her back. 

"If I've known this be would be the only way to get you to talk. I've would have rocked the boat a long time ago myself." Fenix chuckled. 

"It's all my fault." She started to cry. 

Shortly Fenix climbed out of the bunk and headed to the door, but he stopped only to say,  "I don't like seeing you this way Blaze. So return back to your old manly self soon, okay?" 

As soon as Fenix was about to let himself out, he felt a pair of arms latched around his waistline, from behind. His long black hair cascaded down onto his shoulders, despite the messy ponytail that created some restraint to its actual length. Awkwardly he looked back, only to see Blazerine holding onto him.  

"I never knew what it was like to have friends until I met you guys." Blazerine weeps against his back, "Up until now, people have always just existed in my life, but I never have been in theirs."

Fenix didn't really know how to react to the situation. The most, he did, was turn around and pat her on top of the head and said, "There, there..."

"She fancies you, lad!" Elizabeth giggled from outside the crack of the door. 

Fenix felt embarrassed because he didn't know he was being secretly watched. 

Lyrist tilted his head slightly at Fenix, "Now where did she learn that from? You took her down below, didn't you?" He asked. 

Fenix angrily he squirms out of Blazerine's grasp, bellowing, "That little demon! She promised she wouldn't snitch! I guess a woman can't be trusted, no matter the age!" Then he threw the door open all the way and chased after her. 

Blazerine stood there, confused by what had just taken place. For a second she thought of asking Lyrist, but then she changed her mind. 

"I don't even wanna know." She quietly mumbled. 

Without warning,  Lyrist took Blazerine's hand and turned the palm faced up, before setting down her sunglasses. 

 "We've all got secrets we want to hide from everyone, from ourselves, but there's always a shadow of truth. Denying it... is like denying ourselves.” There was a small pause as he thought about his next choice of words,

 "I don't care if you think that what we did was stupid and reckless. We know you didn't ask to be saved, but we wanted to. And if you honestly think we should have left you to die in that place -that it would be doing us all a favor, you're wrong. I don't want to hear you think that way ever again, understand?" 

"Lyrist..." She began to say. 

He placed a hand upon her shoulder and said, "Anybody who has gone through so much torment and anguish as you. It takes a lot of strengths to carry on, and in fact maybe even more strength than you've got right now, or ever will have.  But none of that matters, because you have what a human needs the most." He patted her chest; right above her heart.

"I..." She barely managed to get out. 

 "We'll always be here to lend a shoulder. You just need to learn to accept it." Lyrist gave her a reassuring smile. 

A sigh escaped from her lips, "I'll try." 

"No you won't try, you WILL." He argued. 

She looked down slightly when she said, "But Leon... where is he?" 

Lyrist moved away to take a seat on the bunk bed, "Now that's a discussion I wasn't planning on having today." He murmured. 

"Don't tell me... he's-" She swallowed rather hard.

"Dead or alive... we do not know." He replied.

"What do you mean you don't know!? Why wasn't he with you?" She cried. 

Lifting his head, he looked her directly in the eyes and told her, "Leon had to decide between his own ambition, to serve the church or you." 

Frowning, she said, "I don't understand... he just abandoned us?" 

Something had crashed and died within Blazerine upon hearing those words. How could they have departed ways already? She should have been upfront about everything, and maybe - just maybe none of this would have ever happened. 

"Blazerine... he cannot fully commit his service to both you and his God at the same time." Lyrist softly commented.

"Service?" She quietly repeated the word, "Was that before or after he saw what I truly am?"

"Speaking of which..." Lyrist frowned some, "I do not know if you recall much of the events that have taken place back at the castle. The men who tortured you - I'm not sure why, but they drank some of your blood.  And all of them died except one who turned into something... horrible. Will the same thing happen to you as well?" 

"I'm not going to even ask what you saw because honestly I don't want to know.. The truth is I'm the only person who has survived the longest. Nobody has ever seen the outcome. Everyone usually just dies straight away, but I was one of the very few who made a compatible host. And we're not exactly sure why that is still." She explained. 

"Do you realize how similar your condition is to the black mark of death?"

"I must admit the symptoms of this extraterrestrial virus are very similar. And I don't know why." She shrugged, 

"I bet you're thinking they're somehow connected... but that's very unlikely. My illness was caused by an actual microscopic parasite, which gained entry through my respiratory system. There it feeds on the host - well in other words; me... by accessing the bloodstream, eventually budding offspring to attack the nervous system."

"This, thing, this parasite is living inside of you?" He questioned.

"I thought you already knew." She arched an eyebrow at him. 

"Must I remind you I'm no mind reader..." He smiled, "I can only simply listen." 

"Or that's just what he wants you to believe." Fenix declared while walking through the doorway, carrying Elizabeth; who had finally worn herself out. 

"You've been listening this entire time?" Blazerine grumbled.

"I heard enough," Fenix said after he set Elizabeth down onto the bunk bed and tucked her in.  

"You're easily influenced." Lyrist pointed out that he copied what Elizabeth had done earlier to him. 

"We still have other things to worry about." Fenix declared, 

"In a way were lucky that event took place when it did, because most of the survivors think Blazerine is dead. A couple of them they think she's that "thing" Lyrist mentioned. What we have to look out for is the queen, cause she for sure will go blabbing her mouth around." 

"What do you suppose we should do about her?" Lyrist asked him.

"If it were left up to me. I say we kill her, it's going to be either her or us in the end, you know?" Fenix knew he had made a great argument.

"We just can't kill her in cold blood!" Blazerine argued. 

"Wait a second... I got an idea!" Fenix exclaimed, 

"We could nab the queen and use the cloak to pose as her to our advantage. Then our queen can explain what had happened, but leave Blazerine completely out of it." 

"What about the real queen? Don't you think she'll contradict everything once we release her?" Lyrist asked.

"No, the queen would be discredit if she went back on her previous word," Fenix explained.

"So in other words, she would be made to look like a fool." Lyrist commented.

"That actually sounds like a good idea." Blazerine is pretty surprised, considering it's the first time Fenix had ever come up with anything useful; strategy wise. 

"Who's gonna be our queen then?" Fenix asked out of curiosity. 

"I think Lyrist would be the only one who could pull this off." Blazerine suggested. 

"Me..? Why?" Lyrist gave them quite a puzzling look.

"You're a frickin' prince - even if its of cats. You're the closest thing to royalty we got here." Blazerine pointed out. 

Fenix laughs, "Yah she's right. Hell Blazerine doesn't even know how to act like a woman, let alone a queen."

Blazerine was quick to say, "Fenix shut the hell up!" 

"Alright this is what were going to do." Lyrist said. 

-----

Around midnight, Lyrist and Fenix had snuck out on a row boat and quickly paddle their way to the Queen's heavily but lousily guarded ship. Although her ship had embarked first; it still wasn't too far out of sight to reach. 

The chilled air around them only seemed to heighten the stillness of the oncoming night. The paddles swooshing through the water; was the only sound that broke the silence between the two.

As they arrive... Lyrist slowly rises to his feet - with Yeldir's cloak fluttering gently in the wind behind him. And his eyes resembled a pair of crisp stars that shined through the night. 

Precisely he did a quick mental count of the men by listening to each individual thought patterns. Most of them were either wearily from the day or had already fallen asleep on duty. 

Once Fenix aligned their boat beside the queen's ship. Lyrist leaped a jump that would leave most professional athletes jealous. .  He managed to make it half way up, before he leaned forward, throwing himself against the ship's side to secure himself in place with the help of is unsheathed nails. 

Carefully he begins to climb the rest of the way until he reaches the top. Although his destination had been reached. He still did not dare to aboard just yet. 

He fixated his eyes with a constant stare at his new prey. His teeth began to chatter while emitting a strange rattling noise. One could say it sounds rather similar to a cat watching a bird from afar. The instinct was so overwhelming; it made his body tense up with anticipation. 

It wasn't long before his eyes lit up with the thrill of a hunt; he had almost forgotten how it felt to play cat and mouse. It took him awhile to overcome it long enough to calculate a strategy.  No matter what he decides it’s going to be risky since he is outnumbered.  

So he took a look around to see if there’s anything else available in the area that'll be useful. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything he could snatch without being noticed. He's just  going to have to stick to the original plan. 

Cautiously he snuck aboard and hid himself behind some barrels filled with grog. Then he unties a small pouch from his waistline to retrieve two handkerchief's and a handful of shiny pebbles. 

Shortly after he spreads the handkerchief out beside him before unsheathing the nail of his index finger. He uses it as a cutting tool to neatly cut the handkerchief into small decent size pieces. Now taking the pieces of cloth, he individual wraps the pebbles and secures them with a tight knot.  

Afterward, he tugs out a small little vial that’s hidden in an inner pocket of his vest. From a closer examination, it contains a green-yellowish sap inside. Carefully he tilts the vial sideways to allow a little of the sap to flow out smoothly onto the bottom of each tied cloth piece, because he knows a small amount would be enough to take down the already exhausted guards.  

Slowly he grabs hold of a pebble by interlocking his digits solely around the knot. Patiently he waits for the right opportunity before making his first attempt. The only visible skin was their faces; he was going to have to be accurate or else he'll be detected. 

The nearest guard; Merek watched a fellow comrade; Boris vomit. 

"I think he drank too much." He pointed out. 

Caleb ignored his statement since he annoyingly announces the obvious to everyone from time to time. 

Unexpectedly Boris collapse faces down into his own pile of bodily fluids. 

"What kind of loyal guard gets wasted on duty..." Caleb grumbled. 

Then he wasn't sure what to think after he saw Merek get hit in the face with some sort of a small object. Whatever it was; made him keel straight over. And the moment he was about to call for reinforcements, he too went down like a pile of bricks. 

In the queen's quarters; The queen was writing a letter; to notify the King of Freyrguard of her arrival. She kept it short; stating there is urgent matter that needs to be discussed privately. Once she was finished writing, she gave the note to a bird named Aramysis. Then he flew off into the distant ocean, traveling to Freyrguard. 

When the Queen finally had enough and decided that she wanted to grab some fresh air.  So she headed out onto the deck.  As the wind blew, she tucked a few strands of hair behind her ear. It wasn't long before she raised her head to trace the stars above with her eyes. 

Although it took a second or two to realize something, "Where did all her loyal men go?" 

Deservedly she searches the deck only to surprisedly find all her men lying on the floor boards. At that very moment, she didn't know if they were alive or neglecting their duty. 

Without warning, she saw a dark figure across her sight, but it was too fast for her to make out what it was. She tried to find him. No luck. She pulled out a dagger, but it was too late, when she felt somebody had grabbed her from behind. Her struggling cries were quickly muffled by a handkerchief. 

Once the queen was lost consciousness; Lyrist finds a rope to snatch. Right after he ties a knot around the Queen's waistline. It takes him about five minutes to drag the queen over to the side of the ship. 

There he manages to push her over the railing and kept her suspended in the air by holding onto the other end of the rope. Slowly he lowers her down to Fenix. 

Fenix stood up the moment the queen was within arm's reach and safety guided her the rest of the way floor of the row boat. 

"Infiltration successful, way to go long ear." He chuckled. 

"Here." Lyrist said before he tossed down the vial of Sleepy Lilly.

As soon as Fenix caught it he further comments with, "Just in case."

"Good luck," Fenix told him; knowing he won't be seeing him for the next few days. 

----

The next day; late in the afternoon they arrive at Freyrguard. This kingdom consists of two main islands, people only live on the largest island. The large island lies at a relatively low elevation, but consists of fertile lands that possess plentiful water and soil. However, the dense vegetation, that covers the very top, tends to be an overgrowth on the outside of the castle.

The smaller island is coupled with a coastline which makes it possible for people to access it by boat. It's usually quite wet and brings them in a great swell of fish from the sea. As a result, this has become a fisherman paradise. 

Many of the flowers bloom during this season and the land becomes quite beautiful. Most would considered this, to be the nicest time of year as the rain finally begins to cease and the heat from the sun, becomes tolerable. 

Fenix headed out first to see if he could find a suitable place to hide Blazerine and the queen out of sight for awhile. Elizabeth being still crazy as she is just had to tag along. Tightly she held onto his hand while they wandered off-board through the crowd of passengers. 

Fenix's stomach rumbled audibly, causing him to stop and lay a hand on it. The usual discomfort of a growling stomach was only made worse by the bruising on his abdomen. 'That's the fourth time in the last couple of minutes', he thought with a frown. It had been a long while since he'd experienced the despair that came from the mixture of hunger and poorness. "I need food!" 

Several of the pedestrians in his vicinity stopped what they were doing and stared at him oddly. It was only then that he realized that he had spoken quite loudly. 

"Right, then. I'll just be going." He proclaimed nervously as he walked forward as quickly as Elizabeth's legs would keep up. 

In his mind, he had a few options. Option one was to pickpocket an unsuspecting citizen. Unfortunately, he stood out too much to actually get away with it. People tended to keep their distance from men who looked barbaric, despite how charming and handsome he was. 

Option two was to steal food. The only hindrance in this option was; where would he steal it from? The market was much too crowded. And breaking into someone's home was out of the question. And the more he thought about it. The more he realize it would be best to keep a low profile anyway since they're going to be staying here for awhile. 

His last option would be to find someone who had the willingness to trade instead of charge, but what would he trade? He ended up discussing the matter with a local fisherman. He was quite old and frail so he made a deal with him.

Fenix would fish twice his load for the next few day in exchange for borrowing his equipment; including his medium sized boat.

When the deal was final. They returned to the ship. There Fenix tied the queen down to a chair and strung her up with pelts and all another sort of junk to keep her hidden from view. Then he strapped the chair to his back so he could haul her right through plain sight without being notice.

"I'll be back for you next." He declared with a sly dog grin. 

Blazerine wasn't too fond of the idea, but what other choice did she have? 

After the transportation was all done. Fenix 
wasn't too thrilled about spending any more time on a boat. So he and Elizabeth said their goodbyes and wander away from the docks to find a nice quiet spot; on the opposite side of the island. 

Elizabeth swayed from one side to the other while singing with Argo; who horribly howled along, 

"I like cheese~

Dogs like to sneeze~

Cats are mean.

Phoenix has no wings."

Nearby; Fenix was risen from his bed of grass. A couple of seagulls, that settled around him, had scattered away in surprise. 

"What's their problem?" He murmured in a bit of a yawn. 

Right after he rub the sleep from his eyes. Then he stretched until his muscles shook from the strain. 

"If you keep that up you'll scare all the fish away." He warns her. 

Elizabeth took a shaky breath, willing herself to remain calm as her hands nervously fidgeted in front of herself as she held onto the fishing pole. 

Approaching closer, he said, "The first bite we get we'll fill our bellies with." 

"Really!? Yay!" She squealed happily. 

Argo wildly prances in reaction of Elizabeth cheerfulness and accidently bumps into her from behind. She went plummeting towards the water, but Fenix was quick enough snatch her straight up into his arms. 

"Phoenixy." She stammered to herself with wide eyes; in a moment of surprise.  

"And you said Fenix had no wings." He chuckled.

"I don't see any wings." She argued.

Although it was a little bit odd to him. She held onto the fishing pole the whole time. When she could have easily have let go in order to help herself. Either way he ended up setting her back to the ground. 

What, he didn't expect, is for her to crawl right into his lap the second he sat down.

"How old are you kid?" He calmly asked. 

"This many!" She exclaimed with a single hand extended out. 

"Oh four?" He dumbly replied. 

"No - no - no I'm five!" She protested. 

He nodded toward her intently, "Alright calm down little demon I believe yah." 

"Mr. Phoenixy..." She started to say, "Will I ever see my papa ever again?" 

She tilted her head back enough to glance back at him. When Fenix saw the look in her eyes. He couldn't help but ponder the issue carefully; searching for an answer to both please Elizabeth and to ensure he wouldn't hurt her by completely telling the whole truth. 

"Someday - I don't know when, but when the time is right. It'll surely happen. So until then Mr. Phoenixy will look after you. So don't you worry about it." He replied.

Elizabeth's cheeks grew brighter by the second, and he merely gave a chuckle, followed by a small smile in return. 

-----

Since the boat had been docked sideways against the coastline. Blazerine decides to wander out to take a look at the ocean for the very first time. She paused briefly after noticing the deck had felt hard beneath her bare feet. 

Approaching the railing...  She exhaled softly and glanced at the ocean, watching the light dance on the waves. Despite all the commotion on the dock, the ocean that bleed fantasizing colors was still calm as it tended to be on such days. 

Deep down inside she knew the thought of returning home was nothing but a dream now. How far she had drifted away. It was a painful journey that she could barely withstand. If she returned now like this; whatever fire she had left in her soul - surely wouldn't be enough for the upcoming war. Therefore, home would probably  become her final resting place. It was such a pitiful thing to think, but it wasn't so far from the truth. 

A sudden voice startled her out of her thoughts. She turned quickly, nearly losing her balance; as she did a foot slipped out from beneath. Her knuckles whitened as her grip tightened momentarily on the railing to prevent herself from falling any further. 

Her cheeks flushed slightly in embarrassment at her near fall, and the irony of it happening in front of - She didn't even move a muscle from her position, because she wasn't entirely sure if it was just her imagination or not. 

"It's...not real." She barely managed to say after she struggled back to her feet. 

His small steps towards her had shortly turned into long fleeting strides. 

A shocking gasp escaped from her lips as she's thrown back into the railing from the momentum of the embrace. 

That goddamn condescending smile found its way to his lips as he spoke, "Tell me if this isn't real." He insisted.

She wanted to kill him. She wanted to wrap her fingers around his neck and squeeze every ounce of life out of his body. She, in fact, was prepared to say some harsh things that would send any man running in the opposite direction. 

But somehow she knew - deep down inside of her heart. This is Leon's way of saying he never would leave her side again. She resented him for it, but she resent herself more for being okay with it.

"I'm glad you're okay." She told him, "I thought - I thought you were dead. I'm sorry - I'm sorry for everything."

Leon couldn't stand the thought of not telling her the truth. And by some sort of compulsion, his eyes had made contact with hers. He realized she was so tantalizing it made his mouth run dry. Why did she have such a hold over him? There's nothing elegant about the woman and yet... he couldn't tear his eyes away from hers. 

Blazerine glanced around nervously as if looking for someone…or rather, looking around in hopes something would  save her from this awkward circumstance because she felt irrevocable, undeniably trapped. 

Leon studied her, all her facial expressions as she reacted to his stare. Her eyes left him if only for a moment to return to see if he had stopped. 

It was different to Blazerine. From her point of view, she has gotten used to talking to a pile of armor after all. There're only been brief moments she has actually interacted with him face to face.

"Why are you here...? And without your armor? What if somebody sees you?" The questions rolled right off her tongue.

And when she was about to look away once more, he stopped her by placing a hand on her cheek. 

That flustered expression of hers made him want to-... The muscles in his arms and legs quivered in their attempt to keep him from progressing any further.

"None of that matters now - only you do." The words fell from his lips before he could wrap his head around what he had just said.

She was completely lost in his eyes and he in hers. The smallest of touches were so intoxicating that it had left her yearning for more. But she knew it never wasn't meant to be. Since Leon was a man who had given himself up for a higher purpose. Even if it's a belief she, in fact, did not agree with it. She still respected his decision. 

Although that thought quickly subsided the second she felt his lips pressed against hers. Shockingly her eyes widen with surprise, because she couldn't believe it.

She was confused... What was she suppose to think? Everything had escalated so quickly. But the longer they kissed, the more she realized why Leon was no longer in armor. He had completely thrown his identity away just for her. And she knew from that moment on - for better or for worse, he had stolen her heart. 

What happened next didn't need much of an explanation, it was just a matter of how fast they could get each other out of their clothes.

The next morning  Blazerine woke up only to find herself lying alone on an empty bedroll. Although Leon's absence wasn't the first thought that came to mind; her stomach was. She felt sick - almost as if -. 

Immediately she sprung up and grabbed the gown. She was in such a hurry that she had accidentally put the gown on backward. But even after she realized it she didn't bother to fix it. 

Straight away she came bursting out onto the deck. What she saw made her stammered in shock. 

The only thing, she could see for miles, is water in every direction she looked. 

Without thinking, or consciously deciding she blurted out, "What the hell?" 
Her gazed eventually finds its way to Leon; who is casually leaning back against the outside wall of the cabin.

"Leon what's going on? " She asked, "Why are we -"

"Sailing?" Leon finished her sentence. 

"Yeah, but without Fenix and Lyrist?" She exclaimed. 

Leon pushed off the wall before he approached. He simply ignored her question as he laughed heartily, 

"It looks like I'm going to have to not only teach you how to dance properly, but dress as well." He said while he adjusted her gown accordingly.

"Dance properly...?" She repeated. 

At that very moment Blazerine remember something, 'That's - that's exactly what the man in the bird mask said to me at the party but how did he know? He wasn't even there. And yet...' 

"Who told you that? Who told you what the man at the dance said to me." She asked him. 

"Lyrist did of course. You know how he is when it comes to prying into conversations." He replied.

Blazerine took a step back when she said,  "You're lying - Lyrist couldn't have - his ear was injured -" 

Slowly, Leon approached, forcing Blazerine to back up into the wall; over towering her. 

"We could have had such a pleasant trip." He spoke gently as he took her chin with his fingers to tilt her head back, so her vision could lock with his. His eyes narrow some while he surveys the fearful expression upon her face. 

"You're not - you're not Leon are you?" She questioned him. 


---- Thirteen Days Ago ----

Lyrist slowed his pace quite a bit, after realizing Leon was purposely falling behind. "There is no time..." He he told him, "Are you going to save her or will it be only Fenix and I?"

Leon lowered his head down and sighed, "I never in my wildest dreams, thought the words of my father, would burn a hole forever in my heart. My path was set in stone, when I pledge my allegiance to God...but now..."

"You must know now there was meaning behind my words, when I told you - she's helping you for whatever time she has left in this world." Lyrist told him. 

Leon stopped because the question impaled him, his heart ached painfully for several long moments before he could even suck in a breath. By the time he lifted his head up to respond, Fenix and Lyrist were already out of sight.

"I'm sorry Blazerine..." He quietly said; keeping his eyes down and his shoulders hunched.

His stomach lurched as the words slowly sunk in. It bothered him that it had to come down to this in the end. He lowered his head as he slowly but surely made his way up the stairs, watching every step along the way. 

Finally reaching the top, he looked back only momentarily, until he's blindsided by a blunt object. In result, his body plummeted down the stairs. The impact was hard enough to knock his helmet off and render him unconscious.

Avon casually walked down the stairs to reach him. He unsheathed a dagger, that's strapped to his left leg, on the outside. With a quick swipe, the metal meets his own flesh, cutting open a wrist. He allows the blood to spew all over the front of his vest. Right after that, he slits the next one. 

Patiently he waits for a significant amount of blood to be lost; roughly around one-third of the blood volume. The second its been breached, his icy blue eyes began to glow dimly. His sight changed, everything now appeared in shades from jet black to light gray. Everything expect for a bright blue sphere that appeared inside of Leon's body. He extended a hand over his chest, and the sphere came to his palm like a moth to a flame. He could hear it speaking to him, it was angry and filled with hatred for revenge.

Leaning in close, he kissed Leon right on the lips. He breathed in slowly, causing the sphere to faltered just slightly until he inhaled a deeper and longer breath. Sucking the life out of him, the sphere quickly dispersed as so did his. 

The spheres passed one another through their mouths, switching places at the exact same time. The veins in his arms pulsated with the same blue light and traveled throughout his whole body. His heart raced for a moment before it completely relaxed. The voice of the soul was added to his mind. All of who he was, now resides inside of him. His memories, feelings, and even personality.

Leon exhaled slowly, his breath visible in front of his face. The temperature around him was significantly colder than everywhere else, as it always was. His breath flowed downwards and into the new nostrils. After a few seconds, his chest rose quickly then fell again. Eventually, he tossed the old shell aside and climbed back to his feet.

-----

"I'm what you humans call an exchanger. For we have the ability to exchange bodies with our victims. " He explained, "But some mistaken us as low life vampires. Instead of sucking blood, we suck out the soul of our victims when they're on the verge of death. Taking their form - obtaining all their memories and personality - everything.

"Where's the real Leon then!?" She demands to know. 

"As you originally thought - he is dead." He declared.

Out of nowhere; the letters c.o.n flooded Blazerine's mind. It was all starting to become clear now.

"The prisoner -  he was Sinner!  He knew you wore a falcon mask. He tried to warn me..." She barely managed to get out, "You're the reason why he's dead! Why - why are you doing all of this...?" 

With his face just inches away from hers, he whispers, "You didn't think I wouldn't come back for my little flower?" 

"Charles?!" She shockingly gasped, "You've been following us this entire time!?"

Suddenly Leon slid an arm around her waist, pulling her small body closer to his, his head lowering a bit now. Her body was warm but cooler than his, she smelled nice too. Like lilac. Slowly, he brushes his lips against hers before fully placing them against her soft, inviting ones for a tender kiss. 

Her brows naturally come together in a terrible glare when she shoved him back and screamed, "STOP!" 

"That's not what you were saying last night." He sneered. 

She was quick to say, "SHUT UP!" 

"Did you really think the real Leon would throw his life's ambitions away for you?" He pointed out, "He would have eventually abandoned you anyway." 

"Says who!?" She cried out of frustration. 

"Says that talisman of yours." He answered. 

"Talisman?" She repeated, "Don't you mean-" 

"The sacred orb?" He interrupted, "Although its appearance is one in the same. It still doesn't change the fact its a forgery."

"It's fake...?" She softly spoken as her eyes momentarily dropped down to glimpse at the necklace. 

"What Yeldir told you about the barrier is correct. Otherwise, we would have exchanged bodies. However, the talisman key sacramental purpose is to transmit the position of the one who is wearing it at all times."

Her eyes wandered around cluelessly when she asked, "I'm a walking GPS? But why would anybody want to do that to me?" 

"The one who made that talisman knew it would ensure your chances of survivable... by being mistaken as a guardian." He replied. 

"That's impossible - it would mean someone planned this from the very start. Almost like they knew of my arrival to begin with." She thought out loud. 

Her eyes narrowed with suspicion when she asked, "Why should I even believe you anyway? You could be lying for all I know."

"Because I'm the only one who knows the true whereabouts of the sacred orbs." He exclaimed.

"You're -" She began to say. 

"Yes..." He interrupted, "I am Johan Damus." 

































© Tiffany Ann Adkins 2015 - 2019