The cliffs on the east side of the island prove to be rather deserted, at least as far as the living are concerned. It’s still chilly, but the air grows warmer with each passing day. Soon the island will be buzzing with critters and flowers.
At least for now, the cliffs remain a welcome respite. The voices of the Guild don’t reach me here, giving me the opportunity to think. Caroline’s illness has Gwen stumped. None of her attempts to create an antidote seem to be working, and I’m not entirely confident that it will cure her if I take the death. Will the poison pass to me?
While the fields and the cliffs may be void of life, there are many spirits flitting about. As of late, numerous spectres of dragons fly around the island, unbeknownst to the living. It’s a sad reminder of the tragedy that occurred just weeks ago.
The figure of a woman materializes beside me, almost six feet tall with flowing silver hair. Her form is translucent, and even still her eyes are sparkling gold.
“I don’t believe we’ve met,” I muse as she stares at me.
“No, I don’t believe we did. Do you know who I am?” She asks.
“I’ve seen your face in Kaitlyn’s memory. Both of them,” I smile. It’s almost unnerving that I can’t read what’s going on beyond those glowing eyes.
“I see. You must be the one she told me about. The one who reads minds and, of course, speaks to the dead,” She hums.
“That’s me,” I bow slightly. “What can I do for you?”
Her pale lips curl into a smile. “Nothing, child. I’m already dead. Until the rest of my children cross over, I will remain,” She waves to the spirits flying around above us.
“What brings you over to me then?” I raise an eyebrow.
“You seem troubled,” She states simply. “I wonder if I might have some knowledge to share.”
I consider that for a moment. Just how old was she? Older than Markus, at least… “Are you familiar with Void magic?”
“Unfortunately, I have had some encounters,” She sighs. “You are having trouble with the Void?”
I nod, “A friend of ours has been poisoned. Our Life Guardian doesn’t seem able to overcome it.”
Her brows pull together, “Life cannot overcome the Void? How unusual… however, you are Spirit, are you not?’
“Then you should know what to do next,” She frowns. “If you’re willing.”
“I’m not going to let her die,” I snap.
“So why do you look troubled if you already know?” She tilts her head.
I purse my lips. “I’m concerned it won’t be enough.”
A soft smile crosses her lips, “You will succeed if you believe you will.”
I roll my eyes. “That sounds awfully convenient.”
I’m not sure if she responds. I’m distracted by a familiar voice nearby. I hear him coming before I see him, walking across the field. He doesn’t seem to notice me, distracted by the baby dragon in his arms. He’s absolutely thrilled to be with the little creature again. Thinking he’s alone, he allows himself to be happy for once. He allows himself to enjoy the time with her, no matter how short it may be.
She is eager to be let free, squirming until he sets her on the grass. Almost immediately she has the scent of a mouse, and she crouches in the long grass. She all but disappears, still so small. The spirits fly down to greet her. They don’t seem to understand why she doesn’t respond.
“Is that the hatchling?” The woman asks, bringing my attention back to her.
“Yes,” I answer. “It seems Heath and Kaitlyn worked together to give it enough warmth to hatch.”
“I see,” Her form flickers. “That is a relief.”
“They’ve named her Scoria,” I assume she might want to know.
Her head tilts as she studies the pair out in the field. “How fitting.” I raise a brow at her, but she only grins back at me with a twinkle in her eye. It’s unexpectedly frustrating to not know what she’s thinking.
“Please excuse me,” She nods to me. “I should return to the children.”
“Oh, sure,” I blink. “Thanks.” She stares at me with a sweet smile until her image fades away. I wonder how they do that. Well, I guess I have my answer for what to do for Caroline. I’m sure she can wait another hour or so…
I cross my arms, hugging myself against the cold breeze as I watch him in the field, maybe fifty feet away. He smiles and laughs, watching the dragon chase mice in the grass. She throws a fit when one gets away, and he seems to find it adorably hilarious. I find myself grinning. It’s refreshing to watch with all that he’s been through.
He’s a good man. He deserves to be happy. Despite myself, I think his boyish charms have wormed their way into my cold heart. It’s impossible to deny. I feel more than just his happiness, but one of my own. I enjoy his company more than I expected to, and I see no reason to complain. Maybe it’s time I let my guard down…
Scoria leaps in the air, chasing after a bug. As his gaze follows her, he turns in my direction. He notices me then. He’s happy to see me, but it’s tinged with worry. Something Nik said to him about ‘plan B’.
I start to cross the grass toward him, having been discovered. As I get close, the dragon hovers in the air to look at me. She squawks, not sure who I am.
“Hello little one,” I smile at her, offering my hand. “I’m a friend of your mom.” She makes a curious croak, landing ungracefully in my palm. She really is quite cute.
“Can you… understand her?” He asks, thinking her mind is like that of a cat as he scratches his head with mild annoyance.
“She has a mind,” I laugh. “Dragons are a lot more expressive than most animals, and the older ones even learn to articulate.”
He chuckles, “I wish I could speak to her. It’d be interesting to know what she thinks.” He hopes she likes him.
“She does,” I wink at him. “Quite a bit. Almost as much as I do.” I giggle, stepping closer.
He’s slightly taken off guard by my answering his thought rather than his spoken comment, but then gets completely distracted by my getting nearer. “You’ve been busy,” He says, wondering where I’ve been. With everything that’s happening in the dorms, he’s missed spending time with me. “Do you come out here often?”
“Only recently,” I look around. “It’s quiet here. I can hear myself think.” I glance back at him curiously. “You know you can send me a text if you want to know where I am. We don’t always have to rely on magic.”
“Oh, right. I forgot I had one of those…” He starts trying to figure out where he’s left it. “I can’t help but wonder though if you need a break from me,” He smiles amusingly.
I take another step, almost right into him. “From you? No. Everyone else.” He blushes at my compliment, lifting his arms to take me in them. I feel his hands pull me into him as he presses me against his chest. He feels at peace again.
“Didn’t you want to ask me something?” I wonder aloud.
“Ask? Oh, Nik mentioned that you had a plan B for Caroline. Is there a reason you haven’t told me about it?” He asks with worry.
I lean back slightly. “I did tell you. Maybe not directly, but it should be obvious. I told you what I can do.” I watch as Scoria climbs up his chest to perch on his shoulder. His anxiety is making her nervous too.
“You did?” He scrunches his face in thought. “That was the question you were referring to, right?” He asks.
“I believe so,” I sigh. “Don’t you remember what I told you, about what I can do? Telepathy aside.”
His thoughts still as he finally remembers. “Ohh… You would take her death for her. But, you’ve done that before right? Is it dangerous?” He asks. He remembers that I keep all my memories, so he’s not afraid of me forgetting about him. He’s wondering why Nik seemed apprehensive about it, hesitant.
“I don’t think so,” I answer honestly. “I suspect there are side effects, but nothing too worrisome. I wasn’t sure if the Void magic might affect it, though.”
He purses his lips in thought. “When you take a death, you die like them, right? But when you come back… do you retain the scars of that death?” He wonders.
I laugh, “If I had scars from all my deaths, you would already know that answer.”
“Have you ever taken a magically caused death?”
“Once,” I shrug, “That I know of.”
He finds it complicated but settles on trusting my judgement. “I guess if you are aware of what might happen, then you’re already informed,” He smiles warmly. For a brief moment, his thoughts are distracted by an itch.
“I’m quite aware of exactly what will happen,” I turn my gaze away. “It won’t be particularly pleasant. I don’t suggest you stick around to watch.”
He bites his lip, wondering if he would be scared by such an experience or not. He sighs, “That means you have to wait till that time, right? Nik also said it might come soon, I think. Gwen, I think, is getting distraught.”
“I can take it now,” I shrug. “Caroline will be free and I will succumb to the illness when she would have. Probably no more than another day or two.”
“Ohh… and you’re okay with that? You’ve taken death before. Aren’t you… scared?” He asks, worried about Caroline and how she feels but also scared of how it might hurt me. He feels conflicted between which he thinks is worse.
“I have nothing to fear from death,” I assure him, trailing my fingers down his arm. “I don’t imagine I’ll be conscious for most of it, and Gwen can give me something to dull the pain.”
He concentrates on my fingers, feeling goosebumps at my touch. “Something’s bothering you though,” He says calmly. “That’s why you haven’t told myself or Kaede about it,” He reasons.
I find myself smiling, and then chuckling. “Yes… Sometimes you surprise me, even with my gifts.”
“Really?” He perks up, liking that.
“Really,” I giggle. “But don’t worry. I have reason to believe it will work out. However, before I submit myself to this, I’d like it if we could stay here a little longer.” I lean against him, running my fingers up and down his arms.
He hums like a cat purring. “I’d like that too, but you already know that,” He chuckles.
I smirk as I reach up, sliding my hand around the nape of his neck, guiding him to lean forward. He seems happy to oblige and I pull him within reach, pausing just short of my lips. I wait, curious how long it will take for his patience to run out.
He exhales heavily and closes his eyes as he gives in to the moment, pressing his lips against mine firm, yet gentle. I let my eyes fall closed, and the worries of pain to come slip away. His hands slip around my back, hugging me tightly. Memories of previous embraces fill his mind. He feels he’s gained confidence since the first time. He forcefully pushes that from his mind though, focusing only on me. I feel his fingers trail up my neck and comb through my hair. It sends shivers down my spine as he cups the base of my head in his hand, tilting my head back as he continues to kiss me tenderly.
I grab fistfuls of his shirt, pressing as much of myself against him as I can. It’s cold out here, and even without his magic, he’s warm. It’s intoxicating.
Scoria squawks, annoyed and jealous. Heath jumps in surprise, losing his footing. Panic passes through his mind as he feels himself falling forward, so he jerks back to try to catch himself. Instead, he uses too much force and gravity takes its toll. It happens too quickly for me to do anything, and being intertwined, I fall with him.
His arms squeeze around me, his desire to make sure he lands on the bottom. He hits the ground hard., grunting as pain shoots across the back of his head, down his back to his rear. He curses internally.
“You okay?” He asks, still holding onto me.
“Yes,” I push myself up enough to see his face. “Will you be?”
He chuckles, “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Spare me the bravado,” I roll my eyes, crossing my arms on his chest, not bothering to get off of him. I like the feeling, the way our bodies feel together. His chest is so well toned I can feel the definition even through our clothes.
“Okay, okay. I’ll be fine.” His lips lift on one side as he tries to assure me. He too likes the way I’m laying on him. He blushes at his own thoughts, frolicking together out here in the field.
“There’s no one here to see. Why are you embarrassed, my love?” I ask innocently. “Unless you count the dragon?” I look up but she’s gone about fifteen feet away, chasing a bird.
“What about… from the roof? Someone could look down from there, no?” He whispers although he is tempted.
I laugh, “And see what, exactly? A couple of flesh coloured blobs in the grass?”
He laughs, knowing what he thought was stupid and that I’m 100% right. He untangles his arms and runs one along the side of my face and down my chin, gently pulling my face to his so our lips can meet.
I smile against them, taking a fistful of his collar as I press my lips harder. I think I enjoy testing his limits more than I should. He shivers beneath me, excited at my desire. His mind briefly wonders if it’s selfish of him to not want me to die for Caroline. He quickly disagrees with himself as he slides a hand under the hem of my shirt and up my back.
His concern is a little surprising. I find myself taken aback. Even knowing I won’t be gone forever, he’d rather I didn’t. I can’t honestly say any of the others worry about me that much. Not that I give them cause to. The surprise quickly amplifies my desire. The clothes seem to be in my way.
I pull back, shifting my legs to straddle his hips while my hands move to pull my sweater and shirt off all at once. The cold air raises bumps along my skin, and I gasp involuntarily. Funny enough, the cold only encourages me to move faster, to build heat.
He works beneath me to pull his own long sleeve off revealing his muscled torso to the brisk air. He flinches at the cold as he brings his hands to his belt. I catch them with a mischievous grin, lifting them to the button of my own jeans instead. He looks up at me with a crooked smirk as he unbuttons my jeans and shuffles them over my hips.
I look down to where they stop, unable to move any further. “Hmm… a dilemma,” I muse playfully. He nods in agreement and suddenly the sky and ground flip and he sits between my legs, smiling as he pulls them off.
“Not anymore,” His eyes gleam playfully.
My gaze trails down his exposed chest to the half undone belt. “Well, you’re still confined. I’m not feeling particularly patient today. You’d better hurry.”
“Your wish is my command,” He hums, gliding a hand up the inside of my leg. Once he reaches the top he moves to his own belt to hurry up. He stands and kicks them off as the sun hits his skin. The light defines his muscles in such an artistic way, he almost looks like he could have been sculpted. I’m pleased to see he’s already quite engorged. Young men are so easily excited…. And as a Guardian, he’ll be young for a long time. I smirk to myself.
I reach up toward him. “Come now, you beautiful creature. Let’s be one.”
He looks down at me, a questioning look in his eye. “Who’s the beautiful creature now?” He chuckles as he lowers himself between me. His hands are warm to the touch as they run along the sides of my torso, his fingers pressing against my skin a little firmly. “Exquisite,” He breathes against my stomach as his lips kiss my skin.
I run my fingers through his messy mop of hair. “Yes, we’re quite well matched,” I muse shamelessly. My comment seems to make him even happier than when I called him beautiful, though I’m not exactly sure why. I snicker and watch him, hovering over my stomach, eyes glued to my face.
“You recall how I told you the first time, to start slow and work your way up?” I ask with a hum.
“Yes,” He answers slowly, recalling our time in the library.
“Let’s skip that part,” I grin wide. “I’m not in the mood to take it slow.” I twist my hand in his hair, tugging him to move further up to where he hovers over me completely. He grunts with surprise but smiles as he gets my hint, he’s being slow about it.
He looks down and positions himself, glancing up at me from beneath his lashes as he enters. We gasp in unison from the flood of pleasure and I pull his face down to my neck, tilting my head to give him access. He presses his lips against my throat, breathing in my sweet scent. He loves the way I smell. He moves between me, wanting me to feel as good as he does. His hands squeeze tighter to my ribs.
“Yes, my love. Ravish me,” I whisper in his ear. “Let’s make lady nature blush.”
He growls softly, digging deeper, pressing harder. He lets his thoughts go, allowing himself to be consumed by the sensation. I scream out, his name echoing off the cliffs before it’s swallowed by the crashing waves. Frankly, the risk that someone will see or hear makes it a little more exciting. I don’t hold back either. I would gladly lose my voice for this.
Using my powers, I push him to roll over without breaking contact. He’s stunned by the switch, not expecting it. Though, he remembers that I told him I enjoy this too. Once again on top, I waste no time. I rest my palms on his stomach to keep my balance as I bounce myself quickly. His hands find their way to my thighs, his head rolling back on the ground.
He sighs my name, opening his eyes to watch me from below. He admires the way the light touches me as I move. I slow my pace, prolonging the moment and catching my breath when he gets a grin on his face. The thought barely registers when I feel the grass on my back again, and he thrusts hard and fast from above me.
My eyes widen, taken by surprise. It’s strange, how often he surprises me. The shock wears off in a moment, and I realise I didn’t give him permission to roll over. I narrow my eyes and push again. He seems to take it as a challenge, and we leave a distinct trail of flattened grass.
The rolling stops as he growls, grabbing my shoulders and pinning me down. I don’t have the physical strength to resist, and I’m too distracted by his pace, faster and harder than any time before. It’s almost painful as I reach another climax, having lost count in the scuffle. My body trembles and they get more frequent as my sensitivity increases. I can’t focus enough power to continue the competition.
He slows down all of a sudden, releasing his hold on my shoulders. Worry and confusion cloud his mind and he makes a pointed effort to be gentle, almost afraid.
“What’s wrong?” I ask breathlessly. He hasn’t finished yet…
“I- I’m hurting you. I’m sorry,” He mumbles, still confused.
I frown, “No, I’m fine. What makes you think that?”
“I don’t know… I just… I was being rough. Sorry.”
I reach up to rest my hand on his cheek. “Sometimes, that’s a good thing. I told you to be.”
“I know. But… I didn’t realise it. I should be careful,” He says, becoming distracted.
“You worry too much, darling,” I stroke his cheek with my thumb. “I’m not as fragile as I look.”
“Mmm, so you say,” He hums, getting back into the rhythm. “I’m sorry for pausing then.”
I laugh, feeling a wave of euphoria. “If you don’t believe me, go ahead and try.”
“You shouldn’t test me like that,” He says, sensing a challenge.
“Where’s the fun in that?” I moan.
“I’m only worried that I might lose control,” He shivers.
“Control of what?” I ask half-heartedly. “He’s still chained up in your subconscious. I made sure of that.”
“I guess it’s still a habit to worry about it then,” He hums, reaching a shaking hand for my face. His finger glides down my cheek in a loving way.
“Enough about that.” I hook my arms around the back of his neck. “I believe you have something to finish.”
He yelps and smiles. “Alright!”
He focuses on our connection, getting faster and faster until he gasps with relief. His arms shake on either side of me. I pull him down on top of me to allow his arms to rest. He slips to lay on his side against me.
“Was that enough for you?” He asks, curious.
I shift to face him and wink, “For now.”
“Oh, you’re bad. How can you go for so long?” He hums.
“Many years of practice, love,” I smirk. “Although, it’ll have to wait until I return.”
He looks up, a little saddened. “I don’t want you to go. I don’t want it to hurt. Are you sure there’s no other way?”
I can’t ignore the warmth in my chest that brings a soft smile to my lips. “In theory, I could take someone else’s life energy and give it to her. The problem is, they won’t come back.”
“So if I gave you life energy to give to her, I would die?” He asks.
“If you have enough to save her, yes,” I frown. “Any less and it would just prolong the illness.”
“I see. So you are her best option.” He thinks on that a moment before resolving that he has to let me go. “We shouldn’t take so long then. She doesn’t have much longer. Maybe we should head back up.”
“I’m her only option, if she wants to live,” I purse my lips. “I doubt she would appreciate murder even if it saves her. That boy she’s with, on the other hand…” I hum, “Well, I suppose we should redress.”
“Kaede? He’s in love with her. He doesn’t understand what he’s feeling. I feel bad for him. I don’t think he’s experienced pain like this before,” Heath reasons.
“You’re right,” I sit up, looking around for our clothes. Goosebumps rise on my arms. I rub my arms absently. “He’s immature. It’s boring.”
He gets up and offers me a hand to stand up and we follow the flattened grass back to where we’ve left our clothes. We find the baby dragon curled up on his shirt and he finds mine laying nearby and passes it to me.
“I wish I could warm you up, a little,” Heath sighs.
“I find men are warmer than women, regardless of magic. In my case though, most living creatures are warmer than me. I’ve always been cold,” I muse, “In more ways than one, I suppose.”
“Maybe in body temperature, but I don’t find you cold,” He smiles.
“Of course you don’t,” I scoff as I pull my jeans up over my hips, “You have a rare privilege, love. Don’t be surprised when I’m not warm and fuzzy when we return to Caroline.”
“I do, do I?” He asks, grinning to himself as he tries to slip the shirt on without dropping the dragon.
“Yes,” I catch his gaze and add with seriousness. “I enjoy you. I don’t necessarily enjoy them all that much. They’re friends, most of them, and I’ll protect them, but don’t expect me to be kind. I reserve that for a select few.”
“I guess I can understand. It takes me a while to consider anyone a friend. I haven’t had any really. Not before coming here at least.” He struggles with the shirt and the dragon but finally manages to get it on. He rubs the dragons chin affectionately before turning and approaching me. “I’m thankful then that I have the good side of you. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t.” A small feeling of sadness hides in his heart at the thought of not having me there to help him with the Lava.
I hook my arm around his and steer him toward the Guild. “We all need someone. At least one person. Even I do, although I wonder how this will affect you. I’m tempted to barr you from coming to see me while I’m sick, to spare you the pain.”
“What? But… I don’t want to be apart,” He pouts. He thinks he could handle it. Usually he’s detached but he wonders if not being connected to Lava will change the way he feels. He eventually comes to the decision that whatever I recommend is probably best. but he wants to remain close by.
I sigh, “Truthfully, I’d like you to be around. I don’t like the idea of being vulnerable. I worry that someone may take advantage.”
“Then I will stay. I want to watch over you if you need me to,” He smiles hopefully.
“It’s settled then,” I nod.
By Krystyna Yates