DL sat up in his bed, sweat breaking across his forehead. His heart raced.
It had happened again, the nightmare. All those voices in his head accusing him of killing them, even their faces, their dying eyes while they breathed their last. They were all haunting him.
He started hearing them, slowly at first until it was all he could hear.
"Murderer! Murderer! You killed us. You killed us!" Different voices whispering things to him until it was so loud that he started shouting back.
"You killed me first! You killed me first!" He shouted into the air.
He turned to whatever direction he heard a voice but they were everywhere so he kept turning. He sometimes covered his ears with his hands but that didn't work, they were in his head. He started hitting the walls and breaking whatever he could.
"You killed me first!" He shouted again and someone rushed in.
He looked at the door immediately as Nana locked it back. She had a key with her and no one except her and Goben could come in without being invited.
"Again?" She asked knowingly. This was history repeating itself.
Her voice clouded with tears as she made her way to the bed, trying hard not to get injured with the mess on the floor. She hadn't even gotten close to the pillars when he spoke.
"I don't want it! I don't want that drink! Not tonight, if I sleep, it will only make it easier for them to get me." He said, his eyes hard and cold.
"But Dra...." She started to say his name.
"No! Don't you dare say it!" He gritted his teeth and walked away to the further side of the room.
The voices were still whispering in his head. They never really go quiet at night.
"You must leave. Leave now before I hurt you, Nana. Leave before these voices will make me do something we will both regret." He said his eyes turning dark as he clenched and unclenched his hands, trying hard to control himself.
She turned away with weeping eyes and when she was at door, she said.
"I love you, grandson. I beg you not to be like him. Don't you dare die like him!" With that, she bolted.
He could still hear her sob even with the voices in his head.
The Fire Tribe was right. He would have to get married to Clara quickly. He thought as he walked towards a side of the wall, a secret passage that he only knew about.
He would have to get an heir and maybe this time, it would give him a reason. A reason to live differently, a reason to even live.
After pushing and arranging the secret lock, the wall opened and inside filled up with lit torches.
Only one thing could help him silence the voices in his head and that was his dragon.
Another roar and blue flames busted from the beast, Landrus, DL's dragon. The dark misleading the calculation of how big Landrus was. The beast moved and the chains rattled, it paced back and forth then looked at DL, his eyes circling in on him.
DL looked confident then waved the Specter of Fire in front of it. Landrus relaxed then bowed in submission.
DL had never dared to approach Landrus without the Specter, he feared what could happen.
Dragons were really dangerous creature, a creature that Alusa should have never had. Dragons only existed Dragons Well, far away from Alusa. Dragons with blue flames were the most dangerous of all, very strong. They were magical creatures and magic was dying in Alusa. Magic could be misused, so it had been banned way before DL was born. Still, some would just never leave like the Specter of Fire used to control Landrus. Without it, there would be no control over the beast.
DL laid on Landrus side and the beast huffed arrogantly. DL smiled as the sharp edges of Landrus rough and sharp scales poked his back. He was so used to it and somehow being here with Landrus had always helped to keep all the voices away.
Landrus was a gift from Dragon's Well when there was still peace between them. This was during the time of the Pure hearts when Adreno, DL's great-grandfather ruled. Dragons Well had wanted to rule over Alusa after sometime and this caused a war. Dragon's Well had a lot of dragons and Alusa only had Landrus, Dragons Well's gift. Dragons Well started feeling lesser than Alusa and feared that if Alusa was allowed to continue to accumulate power from wars, Alusa would wage war against them and conquer them. They decided to wage war against Alusa first since Alusa was causing so much trouble.
Alusa had millions of warriors more than Dragons Well did but what she lacked in warriors, she made up for it in Dragons. The war began. Many pleaded that DL's grandfather, Lucius, call for peace. Lucius was stubborn and he disagreed.
The war came and the Dragons Well was defeated. They had forgotten or maybe never even knew that the Dragon gifted to Alusa was a rare breed. It could take down thousands of dragons on its own. Landrus was the Major reason they won the war.
History told. The war was referred to as The Flaming Sweep because of how much lives were lost, people and dragons alike.
With fear in everyone, Lucius ruled till the voices in his head never left him. Till the voices in his head drove him crazy, till he ended his own life.
People still feared the war, although many from that time were already dead, history passed the story down along with its fear.
DL traced the symbol on Landrus forearm and Landrus huffed.
There were many things that DL didn't want to remember and one was the prophesy.
A prophesy that was said long before DL was born. A prophesy about the Dragon Mother, a woman who wouldn't need a Specter of Fire to control all the dragons.
DL wasn't sure if this would ever happen. Just like the history of The Flaming Sweep, the prophesy had been told years ago way before he was born. He traced the symbol again. When she gains power the symbol will glow in blue flames.
A Dragon Mother, a threat to his reign.
The prophesy seemed to be something that would never happen and he hope it never would. He couldn't bear the thought of losing Landrus to some Dragon Mother.
He closed his eyes again then his thoughts went blank for a moment.
The thoughts of needing an heir tired him. He dreaded any union with Clara but he knew that he would do anything to make sure he didn't lose Alusa.
He was getting like his grandfather, like Lucius.
"Create the fear, maintain the fear and be the fear."
He could still hear his grandfather's voice in his head as he told him tales of war, stories of bodies rotting away on the battlefield and politics of ruling a kingdom. Those were the stories that put him to sleep.
He could still hear his voice of authority in his head, a voice that had ruthlessly guided his training. A voice that slowly losed its sanity with too many voices killing it.
Things had changed, he was having it too. The nightmares...
It was only a matter of time before he would go insane too.
"They are coming, Landrus. They are coming for me and this time, it is real." He whispered and all he could hear was Landrus breathing.
"Sunain! Sunain! Sunain!" Natty grunted with frustration.
"The Gimbia favours her, this is unfair." She lamented in her tiny highpitched voice.
"She has only just gotten here. And what do we have as result for serving faithfully, to be overrode by someone who has hardly spent as much time as we have?! What does she do better? I have a better body, I look better. The whole of Alusa's warriors would die to have me. If the Dragon Lord ever paid the thoughts of women any attention, then I would be the very first on the list. I am a beauty to behold." Natty ranted on and on to Nancy.
Truly Natty was a beauty to behold. She slided her hands around her curves then she huffed.
Such a beauty she was.
It was all so confusing why Sunain who wasn't even as curvy as she was could manage to get all that attention. How could a fair slim lady with stubborn black curly hair like her have all that attention? And those large eyes?! How was that even better than her? She was highly favored and all the Ministers wanted her.
What could she be doing better?
"Our profession isn't really something to boast about and definitely not something I would love to join a competition in." Nancy said as she laid on her bed.
They were mostly working at night when the Ministers had retired back from work.
"Still, it is what we do." Natty attacked back as she beautified herself while she stared at her reflection in the mirror.
"I wish it wasn't." Nancy huffed silently.
"Don't you dare start your story about why you are only here because your drunk of a father couldn't pay his gambling debts. That doesn't really help anything." Natty said, still looking at her reflection in the mirror.
"Still, I can't help but remember that my life would have been better. Of course, you are grateful for all these. You were picked up from the streets of Alusa. This is a better life for you!" Nancy expressed the last sentence dramatically.
"And it is not for you?!" Natty said sharing a tensioned gaze with Nancy who still laid on the bed.
This argument was always a circle within them, it never really ended. After the long gaze, Natty turned back to the mirror and continued with her beauty procedures.
"On Sunain's next assignment, I will be doing a little spying business. I want to know why she is so much better and if there is anything for me to stain on her to bring her down, by Alusa, I will do it." Natty sworn, her hands on her hips.
"You want to go and watch two people have sex?!" Nancy said, horrified and just like that their argument from before was forgotten.
"Don't you lay with those men you are assigned to?" Natty questioned, irritated.
"Yes, you do too. It is a totally different thing to watch. If you are caught, you will be killed." Nancy warned.
"And who said I would be caught?" Natty asked with a wink.
Diamant found herself wandering into the forest again. She denied to herself that she was getting attached to Aaron. She tried to convince herself that she didn't want to see him, that she wasn't looking for him.
That afternoon, Diamant had spent her time trying to figure out her grandfather's last words but she couldn't link it with anything. She realized that she didn't even know where to start or where to look. They had always been on the run so she didn't even know where to check first. But her mind was still divided if looking was even what she should be doing. She definitely wanted to sail to the future unharmed but there were so many questions and she didn't think this was even the right time for any of these.
Even if she did, she was a prisoner. She knew she was been watched and if she started to search for anything, it would give her away and the DL would know that it was time for her to be killed.
She had thought about the letter her grandfather had received that night. It amazed her that she had only just thought of it now. It would have helped but then it was probably lost forever.
She had paced around frustrated then she thought of seeing Aaron.
And here she was, wandering the forest, trying to convince herself that she wasn't looking for him.
"You've taken ten wrong footsteps along the wrong path." Aaron said with folded arms across his chest while sitting on a tree.
She turned up to him and smiled. There was something about his presenc that drew her to him.
Something so peaceful...
"That would be if I was even going to where you thought." She said, defensively.
"Of course, you were! My abode is that way and you were looking for me." Aaron said jumping off the tree then he walked closer to her.
"I wasn't looking for you!" She laughed.
"Oh, you were. Why would you be here if you weren't? These hunting grounds are mine and it is obvious that you are here for me. I am here for you too." He said the last one softly as he caressed her left cheek.
It was this closeness that rendered Diamant speechless. She had her own fair encounter with men but none of her experience ever lasted enough to be something special, they never really stayed in one place for long.
And that was why she found this strange, they barely knew each long enough for anything to be binding them together like this.
She took a step back from him and laughed nervously. She shouldn't think about things like that, she knew that she had no future.
"Since I am here already and there seem to be no games out for your wicked knife this afternoon, how about we both go to your abode."
"Admitting that you miss me already." Aaron smiled.
"Definitely not!" She defended but did not refuse when his hand slide round her waist to guide her to his abode.
"They are there?! Together?!" DL questioned Lewis.
Why was this ticking him of so much? He had thought that the punishment would only hurt her but knowing that a prisoner of his that should be suffering was out in the woods having a life, made him feel like a knife was being twisted in his chest.
"Yes, Dragon Lord." Lewis replied shakily on his knees.
"And you left them alone to come here?!" DL asked again.
Confused and not knowing what to say, Lewis shook with fear.
"You said information should be reported to you immediately, Dragon Lord." Lewis replied quickly, his voice pleading for mercy.
Lewis had given him information about this Aaron Whyte. A man from the long lineage of hunters, his father was no where to be found and his mother was dead. He was rich enough to be a Minister if he wanted, with the right connection which meant coming to him directly to seek for the position, but he had decided to stay in the forest.
"Stay in the forest and ruin his plans." DL thought bitterly.
The thoughts of both of them together baffled him. He didn't like it at all! He believed that it was because Aaron was ruining his plans to punish her but wasn't it his plans for her to want life first? Why then was he so angry? The process of punishing her is just so tiring! If only he didn't have to wait to serve her his punishment. But he would, after all at the end, it would all be to his favor.
"Were they intimate?" He asked really quietly.
What? He had to know if they were trying to bring kids could eventually be his slaves to the world. A child of a prisoner was also a prisoner and this would also help him to get Aaron.
He felt like a tiger, laying in ambush for his prey.
"No, Dragon Lord." If Lewis was shocked by his question, he did very well to hide it.
DL breathed in relief, it relaxed his mind for some reasons.
When he looked back at Lewis, he had dropped his head quickly to the ground. DL narrowed his eyes at him suspiciously then it became clear to him. Lewis had misunderstood his question and thought about other things. His robes felt hot immediately, he opened his mouth to explain but stop himself.
Why should he explain himself? What was wrong with him? He felt a heat of embarrassment washed over him.
"Go back and continue your job!" He ordered to which Lewis bolted off immediately.
DL went back to his paperwork and the thought of his marriage to Clara disturbed him. He had started the preparations and all he had to do now was tell her about it. Her presence still repulsed him but he feared that if he tried to pick another bride besides her, it would end up like Daya again.
He couldn't still get over the embarrassment. He couldn't remember the last time he felt that. His mind played the scene before his eyes repeatedly and he could hardly focus on his work.
He breathed in frustration as he stared blankly at paper on his table.
Goben could still feel it, the cold blade against his skin, cutting through him while Lily gave him a sick smile. He felt disappointed in himself, he still wanted her! Her touch on his skin, her kiss against his lips. He still hungered for her and it drove him crazy.
She almost killed him! Had DL not been there on time, she would have.
He traced the long scar across his chest down to his stomach, she had struck to kill him.
Her name still brought him back to bliss then swung him right to misery. She had him wrapped around her fingers. At the feet of love one would do anything, they say. They were never wrong.
He should have known when the guards had dragged her in because they saw her wandering around Alusa's great gate. But could he blame himself? She had looked lost! Wasn't it all just a coincidence that although he was never meant to do his rounds on that day, Nana had insisted that he caught the warriors by surprise to make sure they were doing their job.
Who would have denied those blue eyes? Lily was fair, looked so small and fragile that he was moved and decided to take her in.
A mistake of emotion that DL would never commit.
He made findings about her and he discovered that all her family had been killed in a war, a war that didn't involve Alusa. He had no reason to worry.
He gulped down another goblet of alcohol while he remembered how soft her lips were against his. How perfect it had all been.
Oh, he loved her. He loved her too much that he was blinded by it.
DL never liked Lily, he hated how she had always made herself looked so pathetic and weak and he had always fought blindly for her.
He laughed, mocking himself.
She wasn't pathetic when she slashed his chest. She was so desperate for his death that when DL had struck her with his sword, she still headed for him.
She still wanted to end his life.
Till her last breath, she wanted his death.
He later discovered that Lily was an assassin specially sent to kill him. He wondered why? He wasn't even that important! But being the DL's right-hand man and best friend was of utmost importance.
He remembered the disgust and hatred that filled her eyes while she stared at him and breathed her last.
He closed his eyes, letting the alcohol burn his tongue.
"For this thing called love, one would do it all." He thought.
But Lily never loved him.