>> Back to the Library

King’s Demons

She watched him as he paced the length of the room and back, a fine bead of sweat glistening on his bronze nares. When he had come in, only moments before, she’d tried talking to him, aware by his stooped posture that something was terribly wrong. But he refused to answer, lost in his thoughts, whatever they might be. So she let him pace himself out, knowing that he would eventually have to stop.

Her wait wasn’t long in coming; with a long, ragged sigh, a golden nimbus enveloped his avian frame, Changing from Vahazayan to human. Wordlessly, King came over to the bed and perched on the edge, facing away from her. His eyes, so deeply sunken, stared straight ahead. Cautiously, Jacquelyn slid over to him, laying a tentative hand on his bare shoulder. Almost immediately, she jerked away, gasping -- her hand came away dripping with his sweat. In the subdued light of the room, his entire body shimmered with it, unhealthily.

Fighting down her own rising nausea, Jacquelyn maneuvered herself around so that she was sitting by him, but not touching. He didn’t seem to notice her, his breathing labored. “King,” she said softly, looking at him out of the corner of her eye, “are you alright? Are you sick?”

A shudder wracked his muscled frame; he was so deathly pale! “No,” he managed, voice tight. “We do not get ill … you know this.”

Jacquelyn pushed aside his comment, aware that he was under such heavy stress. But from what? “Then what’s wrong? Should I get Ver’raft?”

No,” he hissed, hands going up to cradle his head. A low moan escaped his lips and his skin twitched as no human’s could -- like a horse shaking off a fly.

Jacquelyn drew back; his whole demeanor scared her, made her feel cold inside. “What … what did Vagan need to see you for?” Part of her knew it was death to ask him, but the other part knew he had to speak of it.

A fresh sweat broke out between his shoulderblades and King doubled over, shaking his head. “The … ice ones,” he gasped, throat constricted. “He brought their … verital.” Clammy fingers pushed crimson hair back along his skull, hair that once had stood crest-straight. Now it was heavy with sweat. “Vagan … that traitorous vendictaren … disobeyed my orders … brought the verital to see me … demanded that I release them from their prison.”

Those words, those words weren’t true, Jacquelyn thought. He trusted Vagan with his very life; the new General was the last Vahazayi on Phoenixia to be called traitor. Vagan -- King’s best friend, teacher … dare she say brother? No, never Vagan.

Oil slick skin shuddered as she carefully slid her arm around his shoulders, digging her nails in to keep them from slipping off. He was cold, so very cold. Gone was the brazen heat of his internal fire, replaced by a fear so deep, it wracked his very soul.

“And did you?”

She was unprepared for his reaction. Massive muscles contracted and bunched under her fingers. Twin grey eyes, pupils wide in acute fear, locked onto her own, penetrated her to the core. His hands came up and wrapped tightly around her wrists. “No! Never!” he spat, a feral glow in his eyes. “And I told the creature that much! The Tarazayi remain for their betrayal!”

Jacquelyn winced as he put more pressure on her joints. A low whimper escaped her lips, but he didn’t notice; he didn’t seem to be noticing anything but what he was feeling inside. “Betrayal?” There was no such thing! “The entire population didn’t betray you, King!” She struggled against him, trying to pull herself free. Words came rushing out that seemed to bypass her brain. “Only that female --” She was flung backwards as a wild snarl bubbled up from the depths of his throat. Sulfuric breath and smoke rose up from his mouth and nose -- a truly demonic sight.

“Never mention that!” he hissed, body convulsing in some psychotic spasm. “The wrongs of one are the wrongs of all!” Smoke wreathed his face, his eyes totally Vahazayan now -- without white or pupil. They were totally grey with a fiery-white core burning behind them. The eyes of a madman.

For the first time, Jacquelyn was afraid, utterly scared in his presence. Fear gripped her, made her struggle even harder against his steel grip. “King! Let me go!” she howled. But he was strong, so very strong!

**Yes, let her go.**

A golden light with an equally-golden voice, a voice that was rich and deep and so very wise, filled the chamber. A small mote, almost the size of a grapefruit, hovered in the air before them. Casually, the golden light reached out with a tendril and tossed King the length of the room. Jacquelyn cried out as he collided with a giant chest and fell face forward onto the stone floor. With a moan, King levered himself up on one elbow, a thin line of ivory blood trickling down the side of his face.

The golden mote hovered expectantly, its presence mighty, filling the room with a sense of awesomeness and wisdom and Time.

**It is time you faced them, little battlemage, Chosen of Larath.**

“NO!” King screamed, trying to get his human feet underneath him. “I can’t! I can’t!”

**Face them,** the voice from beyond said softly, commanding.

With a snarl of rage, King raked his nails across the stone floor, tearing up great gouges. “Leave me, Solarius! Stay dead! I rule now!”

From her position on the bed, Jacquelyn watched as the mote expanded, growing larger with every second. And then, a giant avian filled the room: taller than Shekeira and Ventrishika and Cheron, broader, more majestic than any Vahazayi she had ever seen.

And of a golden shade she had only seen on one other Phoenix: Crystal.

**The only thing that rules the Vahazayi are your demons, and you know it,** the sonorous telepathic voice continued, completely disregarding King’s words. **You let them for fear of confronting that which causes you harm. Let it go, King Arex’fay, let it go. And forgive them.**

“Leave me alone!” he sobbed, beating the floor with his fists. “Go away! Don’t play with me anymore!”

**Let my children go, King.**

“Never! They betrayed me!”

**You betrayed them, remember that.** The golden Vahazayan flared briefly, turning to look over his shoulder at Jacquelyn. She gasped, clutching the bedding around her. No grey diamond eyes gazed into her own: the eyes of Solarius were white, illuminating the feathers around his face. The large canted crest flicked forward once, an acknowledgement of her presence.

And then he was gone.

A soft breeze wafted through the high window, carrying the first Vahazayi’s presence with it. Let it go … the wind sighed.

Moments passed before Jacquelyn could make her limbs move. Slowly, she crawled off the bed and along the floor on her hands and knees, striving to reach King. He lay there in a pool of his own blood, sweat and tears, a miasma of suffering hanging about him.

Tentatively, she reached out to him, touched his shoulder. This time, he didn’t flinch. Feeling strength flow into her body from somewhere, Jacquelyn gathered him up in her arms, holding him close, not caring if his caustic blood ate away at her clothes, blistered her skin. She loved him, loved this immortal bird of fire.

“Let go,” King mumbled to himself, body sagging against her, spent in mind and soul. “Let go …”

“Yes,” she found herself saying, “yes you can.”

Copyright Melissa A. Hartman
Design downloaded from FreeWebTemplates.com
Free web design, web templates, web layouts, and website resources!