I tried to wrench out of the hold on me but to no avail, the persons fingers digging into my upper arms like adamantium bands. I turned my tearstained face to see the woman Elethor had introduced as Dracia had a firm grip on me and she was shaking her head solemn. I turned back to Elethor who stood in the center of the room, and the circle his Legion had made. The woman I now could clearly see was a Chanter had squared off his opposite, staff out in a combat ready stance. I blinked bewildered as I had seen her before, her face twisted with fury and deep hatred; she was the woman from the road… Her white hair crackled with power and floated out from her head and the curve of her horns like spider silk. I looked back to my beloved; his eyes aglow, a deep bloody red and he spoke just passed me to Dracia and Dark both, though I could not understand. I looked back to Dark who had the grace to explain briefly.
“He’s asked us to keep you out of harm’s way while he… deals with the situation.”
I felt my eyes widen as I turned back to Elethor in time for the woman to raise her voice loud and clear, a shockwave emanating from her staff, flying towards Elethor at an incredible rate. I screamed and struggled in the restraining hold Dracia had on me, lurching forward in her grasp. She wouldn’t let go and so I fought against her. She grumbled something through gritted teeth and a metal clad arm crossed my chest and pulled me away locking me solidly back against Dark’s plate chest, my feet kicking feebly above the stone floor.
The spell she had used clashed against Elethor’s mage shields, the sound reverberating through the hall and setting my teeth on edge. His rich voice called out clearly words only understood by his fellow sorcerers versed in the arcane and the woman’s body twisted and transformed, her body stretching and lengthening, skin smoothing then roughening into the bark of a tree. I continued to struggle as he stalked around the tree, his voice low and dangerous yet still loud and clear to all of those gathered in the hall, though I knew not what he said.
He spoke to all assembled there, looking at each face as he stalked around the woman in tree form, his voice angry and his expression sharp and I held still, hoping that the big Gladiator would relax his grip, but also very aware he was too smart for that. Elethor continued to address his people for what seemed like forever, turning back to the tree when it started to shift, plying a sleep spell to the woman as she changed back to normal. She stood there comatose as he finished speaking and he waited for her to wake up. I shouted for him not to let her, but he had some sort of point to prove because when she did she came awake hissing and spitting, swinging her staff in an arch that would surely strike him. I dare not close my eyes but at any moment I expected to hear the crunch of bone as her staff met his body, but it never happened.
Elethor blinked out of existence, one moment there then just gone, vanished and the next he was several meters away, behind where he just stood. It was an awesome display of power and stilled me in my renewed struggle against Dark to break free and go to his aide. The Elethor I remembered from all those many years ago had been shy about his displays of power… well maybe shy isn’t the correct word, controlled would be more accurate. Zenton had always been the quick one to display his prowess. I blinked as the chanter stumbled, her staff swinging through air where my Elethor had once stood, her entire body twisting with the blow to a degree it looked painful and I felt sick, knowing what kind of damage it should have done had he still been in the direct path of her rage.
He began to cast a complex spell, his voice sharp and every syllable of the language of the arcane dripping with concentration. The Chanter swung her staff again, but before the words finished leaving her lips the most terrifying and awful thing happened. The shadows of the room began to draw together, slipping along the floor and gathering beneath Elethor’s boots, before twisting and rising up behind his back. The inky blackness continued to rise and twist on itself, writhing into the most awful creature I had ever seen, looming high behind him arching forward and I was so very afraid, not for the woman, but for Elethor… The creature of shadow arched forward and for a mere second it seemed as if it were about to devour him whole, I screamed and bucked against the orichalcum clad arm that bound me as the creature arched higher behind Elethor before twisting and curving in on its self to smash down into the woman he fought, driving her up off her feet and into the stone floor.
She lay there prone, unconscious, for now and Elethor spun, holding his arms wide and shouted to the assembled people of his legion before turning to me, his face schooled into a grim mask of stone, only the barest flinching around his eyes telling me what his display of power had cost him. He let his arms drop to his side, and looked passed me to Dark speaking a few solemn words to his friend. He held his arms out to me as the Gladiator let me go… I sobbed as my feet touched the floor and I ran to him, locking my arms around his shoulders, squeezing him tightly to my chest as the tears leaked down my face. His arms found their way around my waist and he hugged me, hands smoothing up my back even as he whispered soothingly in my ear. We did not dally, even before he could draw away from me enough to move he was steering us for the door, his people parting as he moved us passed them, Dark and Dracia falling in behind us, guarding our backs.
“Aion’s light, what was that Elethor? What did you call? I was so afraid for you, what did you do?” I asked as he ushered us quickly through the halls of his legion’s house to his quarters. We reached his door within moments, his mouth set in a grim line as he moved us purposefully into his chambers, refusing to answer the myriad of questions I threw at him. He turned to his friends who remained in the hall and a short exchange commenced between them. Dark nodded, Dracia echoing the movement with a graceful inclination of her chin. Elethor shut the door, the last I saw of the two was Dracia slipping into her surroundings like a well worn cloak, turning invisible and seemingly taking up post outside the door while her beloved Dark strode down the hall, the long reach of his legs devouring in long strides the distance between us and his intended destination.
The door shut and Elethor latched it, locking us inside before leaning forward heavily against the thick wood for a moment. I stood still and waited for a fraction of a moment to pass when he turned, strode to me and took me by the arms, his crystal eyes intense with worry as he looked me over, his voice strained with barely suppressed panic.
“Are you hurt?” he asked me, “Are you injured in any way?” he ran his hands up and down my arms and across my shoulders, checking my collarbones for breaks before smoothing his hands down my ribs and hips. So intent was he with finding injury or imperfection with my body he missed the bewildered look on my face, he was about to run his hands lower, checking my legs when I stopped him with my own hands gently on either side of his face, making him look at me. I couldn’t help it, my face twisted with tears I couldn’t stop as I looked at the scorch marks and tears in his robes over his chest and shoulder where he had taken the strike intended for me… and where I could not heal him. His flesh was whole beneath the gape in the material, his skin smooth and perfect where it had been charred and bleeding before and I knew in that moment, that I could not stay here any longer than I all ready had. That it was too dangerous for him and that my being here would get him hurt or worse… that it would cause me to lose him forever.
I crumbled then, collapsing into one of the wingback chairs before his fireplace, wrapping my arms around myself and I let myself give in to the helpless anguish I felt, allowing it to issue forth in a bitter heartbroken wail, the shards of which tumbled from me with my uncontrollable sobbing. He knelt by me and gathered me into his arms, resting my head on his chest and rocked me with a grim certainty as he made soothing noises into my hair, he did not ask me what was wrong, because he knew as well as I what it was that tortured me now, he knew it as well as I did… and I think he felt it too.