He glanced over at me, his feet pounding on the rock floor as he walked back and forth.
"Stop pacing you're making me dizzy" I groaned, closing my eyes.
"This is a very odd place to meet your brother" was his reply. I could hear him as he kept pacing, but it slowed down a little.
"He decided it. It seems like a quiet place to meet. He said he had inside information about the Serin Clan and he wanted us to hear first" I said.
"I agree, but did it have to be the cave farthest from the mansion?" He said.
"Aww, is the princes legs tired?" I mocked. "If we took you're Ekiris they would've noticed us gone"
He huffed in annoyance and crossed his arms. His pacing had come to a halt and I sat down on the cold stone ground. My long light orange Ora-meta robe tangled around my legs and I kept shifting uncomfortably.
He turned to the cave exit, watching the sun setting. Still no sign of my brother Corosse. He would come soon, I was sure. Suddenly my antennae twitched, sensing strong emotions from the prince. He was uneasy, worry coming off him in waves. I was about to get up and go over to him when he raised a hand in signal to stay back.
I froze, in getting up position, and listened. For a long minute, there was only our breathing. Gravel and snow suddenly crunched outside.
I focused in a questioning emotion, hoping he'd pick it up. He glanced over at me and put his hand down. He took a step forward.
The crunching became louder before a shadow came into view of the cave mouth. It looked back at us with a curious look before entering.
"Corosse" I gave a sign in relief. Quickly I finished getting up and went over to him.
We looked nothing alike, my rusty ginger fur was strange compared to his white fur, covered with black jagged stripes. I hugged him. Being an Ora-meta, I rarely left the mansion, even to go home and see him. He was a platoon leader in the war, so he was rarely home also. It felt like I haven't seen him since the war started. He put his arms around me and I smiled.
"How're th..." I was about to ask when a strong hand yanked me from his arms by my hood. I stumbled backwards but stayed upright. Corosse looked at me in surprise.
The prince still had a firm grip on the hood of my robe. I glared at him. "What was that?"
He was just focused on Corosse, a look of hate deep in his eyes.
Was he jealous?
"He's just my brother, Isihan" I called him by his respective title, which simply meant first born of the leader.
Corosse bowed to him before giving him a confused look. "Isihan Kasuk, glad you could make it. Please release my sister" There was a tone of command in his voice. It made me nervous for some reason.
He let go of my hood, but his uneasiness increased as he did. What was his deal?
"So what news do you have on the war matter" He asked my brother.
"Serin's men seem to be taling more and more prisoners and taking less lives." He said
"That's good" I chimed.
"So it seems" The isihan said.
"Yes, he may be turning them against us. There have been minor rumours that their lab is up and running again, but like I said, just a small rumour." Corosse said.
"And this is all?" He asked.
"No, most of the lives he spares are females. We think he may be trying to get an heir"
"That's sick" I said.
Corosse nodded and stood there for a moment, seeming to be deep in thought. I tried to get some emotion waves from him but he seemed completely numb and cold.
I moved forward to go over to my brother. To my luck the prince didn't move. I pulled Corosse into a hug again.
"What's wrong?" I asked. I barely croaked out the last word. Pain rose in the back of my shoulder where his hand was. A knife? Why? No, it was warm, not cold metal. Claws? I tore back from him, trying to get out of his strong grip. I twisted and his claws released from my shoulder. Waivins didn't have claws.
I was thrown back by the prince, who moved in front of me. He drew his sword in one swift movement and swung it towards Corosse.
"No!" I screamed. The prince froze and looked back at me. The blade was against Corosse's cheek. Only it wasn't against the regular white fur or his face, but a black scaly like skin.
To my horror, the skin spread up and over his right eye.
Corosse gave me a dark grin as the scales was quickly spreading. The prince stepped back in shock and watched as my brother turned into a monster. He went down on all fours, now completely covered in the black scales. Suddenly two snake like yellow eyes opened and stared back at me.
The creature that had taken my brother had a long muzzle, no ears and only one long tail. It moved like a large cat about to attack, slowly advancing.
"W-What is it" The prince moved back from it cautiously until he stood almost beside me.
"The unnamed creature" I just assumed. No one knew exactly what one looked like and lived to retell it. Now I doubted we would.
He was shocked for a few moments more before pulling his sword up into fighting position again. He slowly advanced back towards the creature, the sword pointed threateningly at it.
He thrust it forward and the creature dodge.
"Don't hurt him, he's still my brother!" I sounded desperate. It was clear Corosse wasn't still in there, or just the strength of his will to live would shatter this creature.
I expected the prince to deny but he kept his focus on the advancing beast. Watching them stare each other down for a moment, I decided I wasn't just going to stand there helplessly. I reached for the dagger in it's sheath at my belt with unsteady hands. I pulled the dagger out but it slipped from my grip and onto the floor. My whole body was shaking madly. I bent down to find the weapon on the dark floor.
I reached blindly into the shadows for what little form of weapon I had while I was oblivious to what was happening behind me until I heard an echoing clang. The prince's sword had dropped.
I jumped up and turned, forgetting the knife. The sword was a few feet from me but I didn't move to pick it up.
The creature's tail had extended, pointed into a sharp end. The tail had the prince pinned to the cave wall, almost running him through completely. He coughed and gave a few guttural sounds of pain as he struggled.
The creature had an amused look, staring up at him with it's long tail extended up over it's head. I charged towards him. Brother or not. I reached down and scooped up the sword, having only a second's chance to get a firm grip on the hilt. I swung it out towards the creature.
It simply ducked under my swinging blade and each time it moved I heard a painful grunt from the prince.
"Stay alive Isihan!" I said. I cursed myself for my little battle training with weapons. I finally made contact with black scales. I struck down right between it's shoulders and drew blood instantly. It started to back away, it's tail shortening to regular length. There was a thump behind me and I glanced back. The isihan was laying on the ground by the wall now, bleeding from the gash on his mid-section. Reluctantly I sensed his emotions, mostly pain. He was alive and I forced myself to stop. "Keep breathing" I whispered to him and raised my sword again.
There was a savage shriek. The sword came down and pierced the creature's flank, pinning it to the ground on it's side. It struggled and twitched. I forced myself to look away, closing my eyes and ears to it until it fell still.
There were no time to feel sympathy for it. I tried to convince myself that Corosse was dead before I'd even picked up that sword, and what I had killed was a monster far from Nukk's order.
I rushed over to the prince. He still breathed, clutching his wound as the blood slowed.
"I'm so sorry. This was a bad idea" I sat down beside him.
He didn't have the strength to reply, and I just watched him, not knowing what to say, not knowing what to do. Until he drifted off.
I gasped as faint light penetrated my dream. Nightmarish-memory more like. My first view was the ceiling, and I thought I was back in my house.
When I didn't see my sword mantled on the wall I remembered I was at Namara's house. That dream was a relentless reminder of how it was my fault the Isihan was dead. What made things worse is that I lied about his death to his parents, in fear of being fired and replaced.
It's my fault...
I pushed the blankets off me and stood up slowly, careful to avoid head-rush. The light from the two moons filtered into the room from the open window. It was warm, one of the advantages on living next to a sish (sand) land instead of on a furo (snow) topped mountain.
Two days time, Jeon would be leaving to become a jailbreaker, and to free a possible ally with important information. All I needed now was an excuse to tell Namara. Would the truth be better? I've lied to her so much already, and she was a loyal friend. But this was risky business, and if what Jeon said was true, she already had trouble of her own.
The door to my room slid open and a shadowed face looked in.
"Chiora?" Namara asked me.
"C-Come in" I said. She nodded and came in. The moonlight made her white fur shine silver.
"Which nightmare this time?" She asked.
"The usual one. The prince's death" I replied and sat back down on my bed.
"It's been over a year, there's nothing you can do about it now" She said.
There was something I could do about it. That I could just go strait to Mado Kasuk and tell him all the secrets. The only thing holding me back was that the Kasuk Isihan was gone, in the past.
We just sat there in silence for a while before she got up and left. "I know how hard it was for you, especially since he was your cousin."
"I'm still grieving, for both of them" I said. She gave one last understanding nod before sliding the door closed behind her and leaving me alone with my thoughts.
Thought I'd try a different character's POV for a chapter. Anyway, the Ora-meta of the Clan is usually the leader's niece, which made Chiora and the prince cousins. The prince does not have a name in this book since he's not an important character whatsoever. He died a year prior to this book, just and epic flashback for you.
I feel like that entire scene was so cliche.
Most of their terminology is close to Japanese. *slaps self* Milov, stop that!
I'm reeeeeaaaaaaallllyyyy tired. It be 12:44am.
© Copyright 2017 Katherine Ann Barton. All rights reserved.
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