Disclaimer: You have three guesses what this means… and the first two don't count.
The wood splintered when his sword crashed into it. The woodchips went flying, into the ground, into the trees, into the grass.
He thrust, parried, dodged, spun. Sweat rolled down his back, sticking his coat and tunic to his skin. It made the back of his neck itch, it made him annoyed, it made him want to scream.
Children scream, he told himself again and again as he worked himself into a frenzy. Wood was flying everywhere, like rain falling onto the ground.
The inside of his mouth tasted bitter and his stomach twisted with sickness. He shut his jaw so tightly that he could almost feel the tough material of his teeth beginning to snap. Pain was all over him, running across his skin and tensing his muscles.
"Stupid, stupid, stupid Father," he said over and over again, hacking into the wood until it was nothing more than a pile of rubble.
Why couldn't he see? That woman was eating him from the inside. She was like a parasite and she was pulling their family apart. He and his brother could hardly look at their father without wanting to shake him. The Black Fang had no respect for him. And the woman controlled everything.
"I will see her dead," he whispered to himself and dropped the sword, his shoulder aching.
He was still loyal to the Black Fang. What they did was still justice. There were many Lords who needed punishment. He didn't want that woman in charge. He wanted his father there. Like he used to. Proud, strong, the Leader.
The sword was thrown into the air and it crashed into a tree, jutting out of the wood like a mortal wound. Golden sap dripped down like blood and he had the urge to hack at the tree, draw more sap more blood.
It was disgusting. This was weakness, this rage boiling in him. He was letting that woman get to him, get under his skin like she had done to his father. She would control him if he wasn't careful. Not through sex and lies, but through anger and fear. It was worse. That control was worse. That was twisting his emotions into something they weren't.
But he hated her and it was all he could do not to attack her, hurt her, make her suffer. But boys don't hit girls, Father had told him so, Linus had told him so. Girls were made of weaker stuff. They needed to be protected. They needed to be shielded.
No, women were sneaky, stronger than any man. They knew when to strike. They were like snakes, recoiling and waiting with an unimaginable patience. Then they would lash out, inject venom, and watch their victims slowly die with the poison in their veins.
That woman, that bitch, was doing it right now. She was lazily increasing her control in the Black Fang little by little. Then she would attack their father, destroying him and whatever sway he might have held if he regained his willpower, and then she would come after his sons.
He slammed his fist into the ground and jerked it back up in pain. A large wooden splinter protruded from the callous flesh on the side of his hand. Crimson ran down the side of his wrists and trickled onto the floor.
There was no scream when he yanked it out. There wasn't even a flash of pain. Rage boiled off and pushed everything else out. There was only his rage, the Black Fang, and the woman destroying everything around him.
But then he was aware of a sensation on his palm. A calming sensation, like cool water being splashed onto him. It chilled his skin and cooled the boiling blood in his veins. He hated the feeling. The rage made him feel human, not like the morphs that were taking over the Black Fang.
"You should be more careful," said a carefully neutral voice. "You brother would be disappointed by this lapse in judgment, Lloyd."
He raised his head and glared into her dark blue eyes. Ursula, Sonia's little lap dog. Her slave. Spy of the Four Fangs. Merciless Valkeryie, deadly and beautiful. Every inch a ferial snake.
She came to the Black Fang attached to the woman's legs, a little orphan girl no one cared about. She trained under Sonia and flourished in magick. She was deadly with a tome and a savior with a staff. She was in the center of death and life, able to send someone hurtling into the abyss and able to pull someone from the edge of it.
"Go the hell away. Doesn't Sonia need you to lick her boots or something?" he snapped, his eyes narrowing and hatred making his blood hot again. But it was the way the tight fabric of her dress clung to her breasts and curves that made him tremble.
"No," she answered. Her gray mare snorted in distaste at him, hating him as much as he hated Ursula.
There was no way to tell Ursula's feelings for him. She was an enigma. Her face never showed a hint of emotion. Sonia's training. But she always managed to say the right words to make him feel less then what he was. A little boy compared to her years even though he was at least two years her senior. No one was sure how old Ursula was and she wasn't forthcoming on the information.
"You won't last," he promised her and her face remained unflinching. "Father will see… see what your mistress is doing. He'll stop her."
"Will he, Lloyd? How long has it been now? Eight years? Almost nine?" Ursula offered him a small smile and it made him feel little. "Just how long are you planning to keep up this façade? How long?"
The words haunted him and he yanked his sword from the tree, the sap splattered across Ursula's mare and it whinnied in distaste. He wished desperately that it was her blood. It was such a vivid image he could almost smell the cooper in the air.
He looked into her face and scowled. He wanted to see her in pain. He had never hated someone as much as he hated her. It wrong, weak, of him to do so but he did. It wasn't just what Sonia was doing to the Black Fang that made him hate her. Ursula was beautiful and she wasn't supposed to be. She was the enemy. She was supposed to be hideous and deformed and unbearable.
It sick and twisted but he imagined pulling her down from the horse and putting an emotion onto her face. He imagined it flushed with passion and rage and fear, all the things that had never crossed her pale features. Never once. He wanted to be the one to put them there. He and no one else.
She was staring at him, calmly still. Perhaps she knew what flashed across his mind, that ill plan. Or perhaps she thought too highly of him to think he would sink so low. There were many maybes.
Dirt and gravel crunched beneath his feet as he brushed passed her and her mare. "It won't last," he promised and continued on. Ursula didn't have an answer or maybe she didn't want to answer. Either way she was silent and that was just like her.
But her gaze bore into his back.
Night fell and bonfires were created. The Black Fang were celebrating. Sonia had been married to Brendan Reed for over eight years.
Lloyd didn't see why anyone was celebrating. He looked into their faces, the Black Fang operatives, and wanted to shout: don't you see what she's doing? But couldn't. Maybe it was because Sonia was there. Or maybe he didn't have the courage to speak out against her. He always felt a presence around Sonia, a protector that could tear him limb from limb if he hurt her.
His brother sat besides him, stonily watching the celebration. Their thoughts said the same thing, but there was a barrier between them. A trust that they had had as younger boys had been broken. They looked at one another and saw kinsmen, but not brothers. That relationship was broken beyond repair. It was all Sonia's doing. She had made a big enough rip at their seams and had waited for them to tear the rest apart.
Sonia was curled up in Brendan Reed's lap, like a cat, as the musicians played in soprano. Her eyes were dark and beady and reflected the glow of the fire. Her hands were wrapped around Brendan's neck and her nails dug ever-so slightly into his skin. Lloyd was reminded of the snake.
Nino stepped forward, barely fourteen, wearing an elegant dress of blue and gold. She had saved for years to buy. Lloyd remembered watched her slip the golden coins under her bed everyday.
She could not be the daughter of Sonia. No, she was too innocent, too bright. Sonia was wicked, tainted. Nino was none of these. She was all smiles and laughter and kindness. Sonia trained her in magick everyday and yet that evil never seeped onto the girl's flesh. It was almost as if there was barrier protecting her from the evil of Sonia. Lloyd was happy for it. He loved Nino. The one good thing Sonia had given him.
The young girl danced, the fire swaying with her motions. She danced to celebrate her father—who wasn't really her father, but she didn't know that—and mother's marriage. Lloyd wanted to drag her away from the flames and tell her never to do it again. Sonia was evil, evil, evil and she should not be danced for.
But he could not make himself move. Sonia was smiling at Nino, something she never did, and Nino was beaming with pure joy, her steps becoming more and more confident as she went.
Lloyd glanced around and saw the figure in the darkness. The Angel of Death. He had arrived with Ursula, but hadn't clung to Sonia's legs. Instead, he had stood to her side like a silent sentential, no better then a morph. He did what he was told and did nothing more. He was a shell and Lloyd hated him most.
But Jaffar was not a shell now. He was almost a man. He was halfway between the living and the dead. Nino's dance was bringing him closer and closer to the light, the warmth. Fire flashed across his emotionless eyes, but perhaps he would have thrown himself into it had the young woman simply asked.
He wanted to rush forward and kill Jaffar where he stood. Jaffar was tainted, tainted like Sonia, and Nino would not be protected from his evil. No, she would drown in it and all her light and life would be gone. Jaffar had no right to take it from her.
"That is enough," Sonia said suddenly and Lloyd was drawn back into the light. "Nino, to bed. You have training tomorrow."
"But Mother," Nino protested, her eyes wide and pained. Her mother's voice had been chiding and Nino loved her mother. "I wasn't finish—"
"I said to bed. That is final." The Black Fang watched silently as Nino obeyed her mother, casting a longing look at her two 'brothers' as she went. Then she had slipped into the darkness and was making her way back to the Black Fang castle.
Jaffar melted into the shadows, most likely to follow her. He would make sure she got home safe, but Lloyd was angry at the assassin. He would hurt Nino.
"There would have been no harm in letting her stay up a little later," Linus protested, glaring at Sonia. He didn't like to speak out often against Sonia, but when he did it was powerful. People listened, people thought.
Lloyd felt admiration for his brother. His dear, brave brother who wouldn't be silenced by Sonia.
"I am her mother. I shall dedicate what she does and when she does it. You have no say, Linus," Sonia snapped back.
"Aren't you going to say something, Father?" Linus questioned, looking over at his father. For a moment he was a lost little boy reaching out in the dark for the father he loved dearly. "Is Nino not your daughter as well?"
"She is young," Brendan Reed said at length, his voice versatile where it had once been wise and powerful. Poison did that. "She should rest."
Linus fell silent, the child inside him dying completely. Lloyd mourned for them both. He wanted to shake his father, make him see what was before his eyes.
Ursula moved from Sonia's side, into the darkness like Jaffar. She was always at Sonia's side when events happened, but she never joined in on them. She observed and would only join in if asked directly. She was like Jaffar, only a little better, but all in all no more then a morph bending to Sonia's will.
He slipped after her, angry. No one noticed. Sonia had demanded that the musicians continue playing and more drinks be passed out. Even Linus hadn't noticed. He was lost in his own thoughts.
Lloyd followed Ursula's footprints to the ocean besides the castle. Waves filled with the silver light of the moon rose to meet his feet, almost begging him to allow them to drag him under. The pain would be gone then.
She stood at the edge of the ocean, barefoot so the waves touched her feet. Her eyes were closed and a peace was on her face. She tilted her head as he approached, but said nothing. She didn't even open her eyes.
Rage was ruling him again. Why should she have peace when he could find none? Her mistress was destroying everything that he held dear. She would suffer for it. A winner must always pay prices.
Screaming, he lunged at her, not caring that she was a girl, not caring that Sonia would have his head. He had to make her suffer, he had to make her pay for all the pain and grief and lust she had caused him and would continue to cause him.
Ursula opened his eyes and sidestepped him. He fell to stomach and rolled over. Before he could get up she pinned him down, pressed her knees into the taunt give of his stomach, and wrapped a slim hand around his throat.
Oxygen clogged in his throat and suffocated him. He didn't struggle against it or Ursula's tightening grip, though his first instincts had been to. No, he would rather die at her hands. He wouldn't have to see the Black Fang's descent.
"It's easier when you don't breathe," she explained. It was lesson, he realized. She was teaching him something, but his mind was too foggy to grasp it.
But then she was letting him go and releasing the pressure on his stomach. He grabbed her wrists and reversed their position. He straddled her waist, but wasn't sure what to do with his hands so he pressed them into the sand at the sides of her face.
Something flashed across her face. Fear? Lust? Hate? He didn't know, he didn't care. He wanted to see it on her again. She was real with it. She wasn't anything like a morph or even Jaffar. She was a woman and she was beautiful. He would bring it out of her even if he had to do it by painful means. He would have her screaming, begging, pleading, panting.
He ran his hands over her body, her breasts, her curves, her stomach, and lower still. Ursula withered beneath him, but her jaw was wired shut. He kissed it and undid the vest covering her body, allowing her naked, pale skin to shine in the moon. He followed her by stripping his own clothes off.
They were naked and Ursula was moaning, but it was muffled against her lips. He cupped the back of her neck and pressed her mouth against his, forcing her to open and accept his tongue. His fingers roamed her body as if he owned her, testing each secret and angle he could find of her.
Her hands were wrapped around his neck, drawing him deeper into her yielding flesh. She moaned against his mouth, arching up, but he didn't feel triumphant. He wanted to own her more. He wanted to bury himself so far into her that they wouldn't be able to tell where he ended and she began.
He pushed himself into her, breaking her virginity. He didn't care that it would hurt. He knew it would, he had been taught it would. He didn't care. Ursula moaned beneath him. The small movements of her hips drove him mad.
Her screams broke the night and Lloyd couldn't tell whether Ursula cried out in pain or in lust. He wasn't concerned. He should be. Rape was something the Black Fang hated most. Better to let an innocent man die then a guilty one live was the motto and Lloyd had always agreed with it.
He broke, and gladly.
It was just sex, he told himself. It was his subtle way of getting even with Sonia. She tainted his father so he tainted her little puppy.
Fucking, that was what it was. It wasn't anything more. He didn't want to be anything more. She wasn't important. Sonia's little lapdog. He was teaching her a lesson. She betrayed the Black Fang, she destroyed his family. She had to be punished.
Ursula never said a word after they were done. She slipped on her clothes and slipped out, not looking at him. There was a flush on her skin and there was a scar on the underside of her left breast. He wondered where she had gotten it, but he hadn't asked. He didn't care.
She was breaking, he sensed it. Their rough nights together were destroying her from the inside out. He had broken more than her virginity that night. Now he was the parasite in her skin, corrupting her from the inside.
Sonia glared at him even more now. Perhaps she knew what he was doing to Ursula, but she never said so. She kept Nino from him and it hurt him deeply. So he was even rougher with Ursula when night fell. Ursula and Nino were pawns in Lloyd and Sonia's battle for control.
His body ached for her. He couldn't go any more than a night without having her before his body rebelled. He had tried once. To see how long he could go without Ursula. In the end he had dragged her to his room and hadn't even managed to get their clothes all the way off. He took her against the wall, hips thrusting against hips, bodies fused together. It sweaty and dirty.
He wished she would say something. He wanted her to say something. He wanted her to tirade, hate him, fight against him. She didn't. She simply moved against him, accepting. She never made demands and she never spoke.
A morph. A goddamn morph.
She slept in his bed now, prone beneath him. Her face was cast in shadows of the moon, the little light pouring from the tiny window above his bed, her naked beasts shone like silk in the light. He wanted to shake her awake, fuck her again. He felt real with her. He felt sick and dirty and his bones twisted in protest, but he felt human. Sex proved he was human, she was human.
Linus would be upset with him. He hated Sonia and Ursula and everything that had to do with them. He would be sick with anger if he knew Lloyd was fraternizing with the enemy. He would hate Lloyd. Lloyd loved his brother. He didn't want Linus to hate him. Linus was all he had.
But he could not stop. Ursula was like an addiction. One taste and he was damned. There was no salvation for him now. The Valkyrie was dragging him down, down, down. Down into the darkness and he would not be able to escape.
The only consolation he had was knowing that she was just as damned as he. Even as she tainted him he was tainting her back, maybe even more so. They dragged each other both down. And they both had no way of escaping.
He needed her. He hated it, but he did. Being able to break her was the only power he had now. Maybe she needed to be broken. Maybe that kept her from completely losing control of her body.
She came to him now just as readily as he came to her. She helped drag off his clothes and her movements were more demanding. Lloyd only wished she would speak. She still didn't. Even as she moaned she didn't say his name. It was as if she didn't know it. He tried to drag it out of her, to entice her until she was screaming it over and over and over again. He never did. It was the one thing he could not have from her.
Ursula was not evil. That was what scared him. No, the woman was not evil. She simply loved Sonia, like a mother. She was like Nino. Nino could become Ursula in the future. Both girls yearned for Sonia's love. Both girls never got it.
It made Ursula angry. Lloyd could sense it. They way she dragged her nails down his back as he pushed himself into her, not in ecstasy but rage. Even as she gave over her body to him, let him take control, her heart was screaming for Sonia's affections. She was a lost little girl trapped in darkness. Her mother would not rescue her.
"Nergal kissed me once," Ursula said after their routine romp. She said it into the darkness. Maybe she wasn't even talking to Lloyd. Maybe she was talking to herself, to exhausted to even realize someone was lying on top of her, a hand cupped over her breast possessively and the other one stroking the triangle between her legs. "Right before I left he said: 'you're very beautiful and very human. I haven't kissed someone like that in a long time' then he kissed me."
He didn't know what to say. He didn't know if he wanted to. Nergal was who Sonia answered to, he knew that. The man was scary, a darkness surrounded him. His eyes were calculating. He was worse than Sonia could ever be. He was darkness incarnated. He would destroy in a second what Sonia had destroyed in months.
Ursula was stroking his shoulder and it made him tired. "I didn't like it. His mouth is sour and bitter. It's dry, like dirt and dust. You taste like milk."
She had never spoken after the sex before and now he wished she never did. He didn't want to know what Nergal did to her. No, he didn't. It made him angry. It made him want to track Nergal down and kill him, rip him apart. No one touched Ursula expect him.
He rolled over and pinned her beneath him, already hard against her thighs. The urge to possessive slowly took over him. Her eyes were like sapphire jewels recently dug from the earth, untainted by the air. "I make you feel good." He licked at her neck, bit her earlobe.
A sigh. "Yes." Her hands moved up his body, across the taunt muscles in his back. Her legs twined around his waist.
"Not him," Lloyd was saying but he didn't know why. He wasn't sure why he did anything around her. "Only me."
Linus was dead. Dead, dead, dead. They had taken his body back to the second castle. The first had been breached by that criminal Lord and his wicked troupe.
He was pale, too pale. Something had been taken from him. His body was thinner than Lloyd remembered, as if his blood and bodily fluids had been removed. But his face was peaceful. That was good, wasn't it?
They put him in the earth. The cold, hard, unforgiving earth. His father and he had thrown dirt onto Linus's wooden casket. It splattered like blood and made a dent on the wood. The skies opened and poured, wiping the dirt away.
Brendan Reed had looked into his son's casket and perhaps his will returned. For a moment rage flashed across his face and he was the Black Fang leader again. But Sonia came up and wrapped her arms around his shoulder and Brendan was defeated.
Lloyd couldn't watch. He ran to his room and locked himself there. He would make Sonia pay, he would make his father pay, but he would make that Lord pay first. He promised Linus he'd bring their corpses to him. He would.
Movement. There was movement in his room. He spun as Ursula knelt besides him. He tried to push her away. He would hurt her more than he knew if she stayed. He would completely destroy her. He was bad, bad, bad and there was no Linus to remind him to be good.
But Ursula held him against her body and he clung to her, needing her more than he had known. Ursula had let him and had almost relished in the clinging. Perhaps she needed someone to cling to her. Needed to know she was needed.
When he kissed her it was gentle. When they joined it wasn't a punishing act. It wasn't sex or fucking. It was lovemaking. He had never done it before, neither had Ursula. They joined not to punished, but because they needed each other. They were two souls broken behind repair and they could only find peace when they were mated.
He pressed her against his chest, holding her there, afraid that she would disappear if he didn't. Ursula had cried his name out during their lovemaking, just as she reached the peak of her climax. It hadn't taken pain or hatred to draw his name from her, but tenderness. She had never been shown it before and he felt dirty and bad for not doing it before.
She drew herself up so they were eye level. Her eyes were sad and mourning. "I must leave tomorrow. To Bern. We will kill Prince Zephiel."
Yes, Prince Zephiel. The would-be king of Bern. But his father was jealous of him. The king wanted him dead. Nino was going, too. Sonia had decided it was to be her first mission for the Black Fang. Lloyd hadn't had the energy to protest.
"You will come back," he said, unable to look at her.
"Yes. When I return, we will leave. We will go somewhere. The desert, the isles to the South, even Ilia. We will escape." Ursula's calm words painted a picture in his head and it almost drowned him with hope.
"Yes. We will forget this." He kissed her on the mouth and helped her dress, fingers lingering on the curves he had touched moments before. "You and I… we shall leave together. The Black Fang does not need us."
Ursula nodded, her eyes sparking with hope. Then she turned and slipped into the darkness. Lloyd wanted to go after her, to drag her back and never let her leave his room again. He wanted to protect her.
Instead, he curled on his bed and slept, dreaming of her.
Sonia was dead. She was finally dead. And she had died painfully. She had a spear jutting out from her chest. Blood coated her pretty face and she was dead. No one buried her. Everyone was freed from her spell. Everyone saw her for the bitch she was.
But there were casualties.
Brendan Reed had been murdered. Killed by his own wife. Magick had peeled away his face and if it weren't for the battle axe clutched in his arms they would not have known it was him. They placed him in the water of the temple and let him sink to the bottom. There was no time for a burial.
Nino was gone now. She was in the embrace of the enemy. She was working for them. She and Jaffar. They had failed to kill Prince Zephiel and had joined the other side. They had been the ones to kill Sonia. They were coming to the Shrine of Seals.
And Ursula was dead. She died like Sonia, a spear through her chest. But there had been no blood on her. Her chest wound had not bled. There was no blood in her body. It had been drained by some unknown force. She was pale like Linus and her body was too thin and her face peaceful.
Lloyd had nothing now. He was alone, completely. There was no Nino to care for, no Jaffar to hate, no Sonia to hate, no Linus to shame, no Ursula to love. He was the last of the dying Black Fang. Only the Silver Wolf remained.
There was nothing for him. Dreams shattered like the useless illusions they were. He was the shell now, the one no better than a morph. All that mattered now was revenge. Ursula was dead, Linus was dead, Father was dead. All were dead because of a wicked Lord and his troupe of mercenaries.
They would pay.
Sleepless nights were spent preparing for it. The battle. Killing the Lords and finding his peace. Even if Nino stood in his way he would not stop. He would cut her down and continue on. Nothing mattered now.
Salvation was ripped from him. He had almost closed his fists around it before it was dragged away. Ursula was dead and every hope of happiness he had died with her. Now there was only revenge.
When it was over and when he died perhaps he would see them again. Perhaps the gods would take pity and let him and Ursula and Linus and Father be together again. Be a family this time.
Ursula's voice haunted him, floated around his head like a tease. He thought he saw her in his sleep, he would reach out for her. Then he would find himself grasping only air. His body ached for hers, for her nimble fingers and quiet eyes. He hadn't realized how important they had been to him until they were gone.
"Ursula…" he called softly into the night as sun seeped onto the ground, crimson. "Linus… wait for me… both of you… I won't be long in coming…"
They were making their way to him, the Lords and their troupe. He would see the Shrine as their graves and when that was done he would wander the earth, a broken man. He would flee somewhere, maybe to Ilia, and wait for Death to take him with only memories as companions.
The Lords were coming now, golden sunlight spilling on their armor and swords. It didn't matter how many there were, he'd kill them all. He was a man with nothing to lose. It made him strong, stronger than time.
He thought he saw his sister's moss green hair among their ranks but he pushed the thoughts from his mind. Ursula's voice was seeping into his ears, drowning out all other logical thoughts.
Peace. Peace surrounded him, wrapped around his throat. A peace that had eluded him ever since a deadly Sage had become his father's wife. Ursula had given it to him during the night, but she took it with her in the morning. It came back now. It washed over him. He was at peace.
"Lloyd…" Ursula was calling him. Calling him to death. "Lloyd…" It was a siren's call. The water was dark and murky beneath him. Falling into it meant death. Falling into it meant oblivion. "Lloyd…"
He could almost feel her lips. The hot trail of kisses she had scorched onto his skin was burning. A Fire tome had been cast inside his skin. He couldn't see anything. There was nothing. He was nothing. There was only blackness and Ursula's voice, drowning him, bringing him to the abyss. She was the Harbinger.
"Lloyd…" She was crying now. Crying in his mind. Ursula had never cried before. It made him frown. She shouldn't be crying. "Lloyd…"
Word Count: 5401
Time: three hours
Beta: that's funny
Author: Lizzy Rebel
Couples: Ursula/Lloyd, Sonia/Brendan
Characters/style: Ursula/Lloyd angst, lemon piece
Author's Notes: There is nothing that can be said. It was in my head and it had to be written. If you run away screaming in terror I won't blame you. I think my conscience ran away in horror, too. Probably hiding under the bed… again…