She walks in beauty, like the night. Her umber skin shines with such radiance, and her walk lures with much mystery. Hair that flows with such shine and freedom. Her brown eyes hold all the world’s innocence in them, and yet, my heart races for her. Her full lips kiss with such passion, and her touch has such tenderness. But I am not worthy of her.
Surely, she will be tainted by my ugliness. I am unfit to even breathe the same air as she, let along look upon her loveliness. Who was I to still a night of passion with her? She trusted me to keep her safe, and in my slumber, I fell prey to her touch, believing she was another. But when I woke, she did not shy from me. She pulled into me and drained me off all my senses.
“Mr. Dulac, thank you for healing me.” The Elder says, once my healing touch had been done.
“Think nothing of it. It’s the least I could do,” I say, even if I was unsure how I was even doing it.
“Mr. Dulac, you have saved my people, provided us shelter, and healed us. You have done so much.”
“Your words are too kind,” I say, bowing in respect to the Elder.
“Do not bow to me. You honor me too much.”
“Yes, Elder, but…,”
“Do not speak it. You did what you had to.” The Elder says, eyes showing the most extraordinary compassion within them. Before I could protest, He continues. “Thierry, you are a good man, regardless of your people’s actions and what you may think. Take a rest. You need it after all you’ve done.”
“But there is still much to do.” I proclaim.
“If you are spent, then how will you do it?” He rebuttals.
“You are right. Thank you, Elder.” I say, giving him a salute. He seems to be okay with this form of respect.
As we wrap up, the next group of Humans shows up, the group with Karishama. They approach, and she is on the arm of another. Good, Her mate was also saved. He looks to be more decent than me. Surely she would not tell him of our night, but I was happy that she had someone to comfort her.
“Good morning all,” I say, with a salute. Weary not to anger the Elder.
“Have you slept at all?” Karishama inquires.
“I slept well on the way here. You all made sure of it.”
“Thierry, that was a nap, and several hours ago!” she bites, her legendary temper being to make an appearance.
“I assure you, my lady, I am fine,” I say, holding my hands up to calm her. It doesn’t work
“Tell me you’ve eaten.” I’m not sure if she’s asking or telling.
“I have not…” before I can give much more of an answer, she releases her hold on her mate and grabs me by the hand. Pulling me in the direction of the cafeteria. “My lady, please, there is much left for me…,” she cuts me off and stares me down.
“How will you help if you faint of exhaustion? How will you help if you do not take care of yourself? You can’t. So you are going to get something to eat, then you are going to go to sleep. Do I make myself clear?” Had it not been for last night, to see so much fury in one as beautiful as her, I would be taken by surprise. I had gotten used to it by now.
“Karishama, please. I’ll be fine,” I try to talk her down.
“Mr. Dulac, you will listen to her.” The Elder speaks up. “She speaks much truth.”
“Elder, Karishama… Will no no one help me?” I say, looking around, and it seems that I’m vastly outnumbered. Even her mate folds his arms and shakes his head at me. I feel her tug at me, and even though she’s not strong enough to pull me, I follow.
Tucking my wings behind me to ensure that I do not clip anyone on the way into the cafeteria, she marches past the line, and I start to protest.
“These people were here before us. I must wait…”
“It’s okay, Mr. Dulac, you can go ahead.” A customer says, not even one of the survivors says with a cheery smile. She was not the only one. The entire line moves and gladly allows me to go ahead. Well, I’ll be. They hand me a tray and push me to the front.
“Whatcha havin’ hun?” An Elvish woman clearly from the marshlands says.
“Whatever you recommend is fine,” I say, not wishing to give anymore push back. The Elvish woman doesn’t move but gives a smile. Ouch! Karishama grabs me in her world-famous ear hold and tugs hard.
“Give him all three meats, eggs, two biscuits, gravy please…,” she continues down the line.
“Wait, who is going to eat all of this?” I speak up.
“Do you want another ear twist?” She says, snapping her head back towards me holding up her hand.
“No, not at all.” I surrender.
By the time we make it to the end of the line, it takes three plates to carry it all. She walks me to an empty table and commands me to sit.
“How do you like your coffee?” She says, seemingly easing up.
“I don’t drink coffee.” Her face furrows. “I’ll have orange juice instead,” I say quickly. She walks off, and my heart and I take a sigh of relief. I’ve seen plenty of battle, and I have suffered all types of wounds. But as of today, no one scares me more than her, and that ear twist is at the top of the most painful. I rub my ear a bit, then take a piece of bacon and start to nibble. Once the saltiness hits, my tongue begins to send the flavor to my brain, my stomach starts on auto-pilot. I guess all my worry had pushed my hunger away, and I really was far more hungry than I initially thought.
Kari returns with a tall glass of OJ, and I nodded to her to thank her. She already thinks my people are monsters. No use and making her feel we are slobs as well. Once I pour a little juice down, I swallow what food I have and give her a proper thanks. She nodes and takes her seat across from me.
“Where is your food?” I ask, once my mouth is free to speak.
“I will eat after you do. I don’t trust you finish without trying to work again.”
“Come now, have I ever lied to you?”
“I just met you last night. I’m sure you will, if given a chance.”
“You wound me, dear.”
“With how fast you’re putting that food away, it leads me to believe that you lied about being hungry.”
“In my defense, I didn’t feel hungry until I started to eat.”
“So you lie to yourself, why would I not think you would like to me?”
“Because I”m more afraid of you than I am myself.” I get a smile out of her.
“You learn quickly.”
“I try. It may take an ear twist or two.”
“If you need another, I really don’t mind,” She giggles.
“No, the first one is still holding up pretty well,” I say, then dig into another bite. “So, are you going to make me eat by myself?” I say, trying to pull off the begging eyes I used to use on my parents.
“If you lift one finger to do anything but eat or drink, I will get you.” She says, pointing her finger at me and staring me down.
“You have my word, my lady,” I say, after yet another bite.
I watch her walk away and see the sway of her hips. I look away as I feel ashame of looking in lust at another man’s mate. But I am compelled to think of her as her kiss still lingers in my mind. My mind brings the memories of the feel of her body, her moans, the smell of her. I try to put food away to push the memories away, but they are some stubborn buggers. The sound of her voice in my ear while her nails dug into my back causes my blood to rush in so many ways.
It was one night of almost passion, Thierry. Let it go. She does not belong to a murderer like you. If only she knew how much blood stained your hands. If only she knew how many of your kin you killed, if only she knew how much hatred for her people you held in your heart before last night, she would not want to be anywhere near you. You are what she called you
A monster. Plain and simple.
It doesn’t take her long before she returns with her mate. They take their seat, and Kari gives me a smile.
“I see you listened this time.”
“Oh, of course. One ear twist is enough for me.” I smile.
“You see, Amir. It only takes him once. You could learn from him.”
“Oh, she got you too, huh,” He laughs. “Be careful. She will get you over anything at any time,” he says, and I see her hand reach with such quickness. I try to warn him, but my mouth is full.
“Ah!” He breathes, twisting his body with it to lessen the pain.
“What are you trying to say, Amir? Are you saying that I am unfair? That I hurt you without cause?” she says, her lock tight. I quietly continue to eat.
“No, most beautiful Karishama. I would never call you unjust.” He grovels. It works. She releases her hold then leans on his shoulder, rubbing on his arm.
“You see, if you listen to me, I am nice.” She says, giving him a devious smile.
“You are always nice to me, Kari.” He says, giving her a half hug while shooting me a wink. Luckily my mouth was full at the time, and I couldn’t laugh.
“See, Amir is my proof, I am always nice.” She says, starting back to her food. “And by the looks of your plate, I am always right.” I look down and realize that I have eaten all the food given to me. I must have really been occupied with my thought to fight my hunger off this long. Staking my plates, putting my cutlery on the plates, and moving my glass, I start to get up to put my food away. I feel a gentle hand on my back, stop me and take my tray for me—one of the men from last night that I saved.
“Could I get you anymore, Mr. Dulac?”
“Bah, no. I could not eat another bite. Thank you, my friend.” I say and clasp hands with him. Before I could get up from my seat. Karishama speaks up.
“If you are going anywhere other than to bed, I will find you.” Her words send a shiver through my body because I know she’s telling the truth.
“Bien sur, My lady. I would not dare cross you. Not that I could anyway. No one would let me.” I return.
“Good. I’m glad you are starting to see reason.” She says, then gives me a wave.
“Rest well, Mr. Dulac,” Amir says. I give him a nod and a salute before getting up and walking away.
Once away from Kari and her mate, I mull over the idea of getting to the roof and flying away. There is still much to do. I was able to pay for three nights, but what would happen after that? Luckily I had my saving that I could burn through. I am now dead broke. I would need the assistance of one of the clerics in the city to help. They have been known to help refugees in times of need.
I can’t make it more than five feet without a person, whether saved last night or just a passerby showing me respect. I move across the beautiful tiles in all shades of browns and oranges until I make it to the elevator. My timing is pretty good. Someone has already hit the up button.
Which clerics will be best to help? Well, there’s Thenosan’s chosen, they could answer some questions about my newly found powers. When I woke up yesterday morning, I was but a simple warrior, but after last night’s events, I find myself equipped with all manner of divine powers. I need to understand them to use them better. I often heard tales of the Paladins of Thenosan but never dreamed of being one. Or at least that’s what I think I have become.
The ding of the elevator brings me back from my thoughts. Shuffling in, I stand in the back and move my wings out of the way of the other passengers. Well, all but one. There is a couple with their child, and the little one is very interested in my wings. The father tries to keep him away and apologizes for the little one’s curiosity. I assure him that it is okay. Even allowing the child to play in my feathers. His coos and giggles warm me, driving off my thoughts about what was to come next.
These people depend on me. They have lost everything. And if I don’t come up with something quick, they could be out in the streets in a matter of days. What good would saving them from the clutches of war be if they are to starve in the streets? I must make haste and get help for these people.
The elevator alerts me that it is on my floor. With the eyes of the people on me, I can’t be too sure that Karishama doesn’t know these people. I take my exit and make my way to the end of the hall. Maybe I will leave out of my room, as the couple seems to share a floor with me. Karishama doesn’t need to know that I purposely went against her wishes as soon as I was out of sight. But she will be better when I’m gone. A monster has no place in her life.
At the end of the corridor, I enter my room, which is little more than storage for my pole-arm. Entering the room, I see someone is sitting on my bed. I would guess a woman by the shoes. Swinging the door fully open, I am thoroughly surprised. Going to a knee.
“Holy Mother,” I say, kneel before her.
“Arise child, and close the door behind you. We have things to discuss.” Her voice is as beautiful as I remember. I would only imagine that all the gods sound this pure. Following her command, I stand across from her.
“Sit my child.” She says, motioning to the chair that sits by the door. I obey and lay eyes on the Goddess.
She was known for her sense of fashion. Her elegant white dresses were always enthralling. The neckline drops to show her godly body, but I dear not give in to their allure. Many who gaze upon her do not notice her defined body, from years of combat, only her dainty, elegant hands and legs that are pampered. Maybe even most take note of her full figure and but try to hide their thoughts because to think of the Mother of light in such a way would surely bring shame.
I take my seat, and she smiles at me.
“You have questions, my child?”
“Yes, Holy Mother.”
“Then ask them.” She says, so simply
“How did this happen to me?”
“You were chosen by me.”
“How do I better use it to serve you?”
“Divine powers are based on your dedication. The more you are behind the purpose, the more powerful. If you wish someone healed, then it shall be. If you want someone protected, then it shall be. I do not dabble in magic. There are no words or incantations to speak of. In your darkest hours, call on me for strength if need be. I shall grant you my strength. But be warned. Your heart will be judged when doing so. Make sure you call for me only when needed.”
“Do I not do things in your name?” I say, indeed, my doubt amuses her.
“Yes, my child, but do not call for my power without trusting your own first. Have faith that I put power into you for a reason.”
“Yes, Holy Mother.”
“Do you have any other questions for me, my child?”
“How do I best protect these people?”
“Find my followers here. They will assist you.
“Thank you, Holy Mother.”
“No, Holy Mother.”
“Are you sure? Nothing clouds your mind?” She says, her smile changing to something more devious.
“Plenty of things cloud my mind, Holy Mother. But I will not trouble you with such.”
“You are not a monster, Thierry. You are my champion.” Her words shake my core. Of course, she knows my heart. “Never question my judge of your character.”
“Of course, Holy Mother.” She stands and walks over to me. She places her hand on my shoulder, and I feel the full extent of her power, and my body resonates in its presence.
“Follow your heart, Thierry. I assure you, it will not lead you astray.” She says, and once her words are spoken, she kisses me on the forehead. Once her lips press, the feeling is gone, so is she.
By the Gods, to be chosen by one is a great honor. Wow, Mamma and Papa will be …. Oh, by the Gods! They probably think I’m dead. I reach in my pocket and fumble around until I find my cell. Thank the Holy Mother, it’s not broken. Hitting the dial pad, I quickly scroll down until I find the contact for the house phone. Frantically I hit send and wait for them to answer.
Ring. Ring. Ring.
Gods no, what if they don’t answer?
“To whoever has the phone of my son, you shall feel the wrath of Gerald Dulac.” Dad comes through the phone. I know that his fangs are fully elongated. If this situation wasn’t so dire, I would find humor in his overprotectiveness.
“Papa, it’s me,” I say, trying to reel him in.
“Thierry, I will hang you when I see you next. How dare you make me worry. Rosalia, come quick, it’s Thierry!” He shouts.
“Papa, you’re a priest, how can you talk of hanging me?” I find a small chuckle
“I am the giver of your life. It is only right that I would be the one to take it. You nearly killed me with fright mon fils.”
“Papa, I assure you I did not mean to cause you worry…” I can’t finish without Maman cutting in
“Thierry, sei tu?” she says. Dearest Gods, I’m in trouble when she speaks in Angelic.
“Yes, Mamma, sono io?”
“Mi hai fatto prendere uno spavento!”
“Mamma, I did not mean to give you ‘the fright.’” Seeing them in full parent mode gives me a small bit of happiness to know they will be this way until the end of time.
“Come home, Cucciolo. You need your rest and to eat.”
“Mamma, I ate here at the hotel…” What an idiot, why would I say that. Mamma cuts me off.
“Cucciolo! You get here right now! I will have no son of mine eating Human hotel food and sleeping in their beds. They are not clean. You get….” Papa finally grabs the phone from her and tries to calm her down. It took him saying ‘Ma Cherie’ four times to get her to calm down.
“Yes, Papa, je sais. I know I’m stupid.”
“Come home so we can sort this out.”
“Papa, I can’t. These people need my help.”
“What people? The humans?”
“Yes, Jean went crazy and started killing civilians. I couldn’t do it, Papa.”
“I understand, Cucciolo.” I think he can hear the sorrow in my voice.
“Papa… can you and Mamma stop calling me a puppy.”
“If you want her to stop, you tell her. As for me, I will call you what I want.” I laugh away a tear. “Listen, Cucciolo, we raised you to be a good man. Do what you must. I suspected something was wrong when Grand Dictorus started to act weird. So I believe the Gods put you there for a reason. I will let your mother know what’s going on. But please. Call us and let us know you are okay during this and be careful.”
“I will, Papa.” I can hear Papa, clearing away a tear of his own. Followed by Mamma telling me to get enough to eat and drink plenty of water. Papa and I chuckle, and then we end the call.
I sit on the bed then feel as all the events since last night pulls me to the bed. Damn it, Kari was right again. I lean back for only a second, then everything goes black.