The Second Dream
Phelios – 'a life for a life'
Genre: AU, drama, romance, angst
Summary: Phelios's casting of La Gamme fails to kill Duzell.
There was a silence among the battlefield; a silence that could only be understood by myself and the person before me.
I stumbled back after a big blow, sweat thick on my forehead, hands firm on the holy sword Sidia. I looked up at my enemy - the vampire king Duzell - and felt nothing but sorrow. Even with Sidia in my hands I knew I couldn't defeat him; I was only human after all. I had a feeling that this would surely come to pass - that in order to defeat the king of the vampires, I would have to use the ultimate spell; that I would have to die in order to end this war. I put my sword down, and started chanting the spell.
I felt a sort of peace as I spoke the words aloud. Duzell quickly caught on to what I was doing and started yelling at me. I could only smile at that and cite the last words of La Gamme.
Then nothing happened.
I felt a brief moment of confusion that was quickly replaced by turmoil. The spell hadn't worked. I was still alive, and so was Duzell.
I only had a moment to recover from the failed spell and raised Sidia again, but I wasn't fast enough. Duzell came at me in a blur and I only managed to block the first blow of the attack. The second blow came immediately after and the tip of Duzell's sword went deep into my left shoulder bringing my whole body down to the ground. Sidia clanked loudly as it fell to the ground and the sound only meant one thing. I had lost.
"It's over," a smooth voice said above me. "Now the fun is all over."
I looked at Duzell once he finished speaking. The vampire wasn't looking at me but at my kingdom far away in the distance. "Do you want to save your kingdom, Phelios?"
I blinked at the odd question, wondering what he meant, but when I didn't answer Duzell grab the tilt of his sword and drove the blade deeper in. I let out a cry of pain and immediately bit down on my lower lip not wanting to scream again.
"Let's make a deal," the vampire said leaning close. "I will leave your kingdom untouched, but in return you will give me your son."
I didn't understand what he meant at first, then I became very aware of that sinking feeling when I saw his eyes and understood that he was being serious.
I remember yelling no, and I remember trying to stand up. But I couldn't do anything and was quickly back on the ground with an extra wound on my face and the sword plunged deeper in. I managed to scream at him again and his hand quickly wrapped around my throat.
"This isn't negotiable!" he hissed. He was so close I could feel his breath on my face. I shook my head and said no again. I wasn't giving him what he wanted. Not my child - he was still just a baby. I was not giving him my child!
"Take me instead!"
For a moment I couldn't believe what I'd just said and by the look on Duzell's face, he didn't either. But even so, I wasn't taking it back; better me than my son.
The vampire king stared at me and I tried to read the look on his eyes. They were undecipherable. Then suddenly he grabbed the tilt of his sword and pulled the blade up. I screamed as pain flared on my left shoulder. Once the sword was out and lying on the ground, I heard the words that would change my life.
I couldn't think straight after that. Half because I was determined to keep my word, half because I barely had any energy left from the blood loss. Duzell murmured something I didn't understand and it was followed by the feeling of his cold fingers against my brow then against the side of my face. His sharp nails pierced my skin in front of my left ear and right afterwards he leaned down and pressed his mouth against my wound.
I didn't resist; I didn't move. I allowed him to mark me and drink from me, and once he was done he whispered very softly, "You have three days to settle your affairs. I'll be back for you as soon as the sun sets on the third day. If you don't come, I will destroy everything you hold dear."
"I understand," I answered him. He grinned at me then suddenly disappeared, leaving me there alone. I was found a couple of minutes later by the head of my guard who panicked when he saw the state I was in. I remember hearing him cry for help and something about too much blood. I don't remember much after that. More voices, more rushing; I was paying attention to none of it. When I closed my eyes I saw Duzell's face, and as his words echoed in my head I allowed myself to be swallowed by a blissful darkness.
The next thing I knew, I was safe in my own bed with my shoulder heavily bandaged. The first thing I saw was a man by the side of my bed. He was dark haired, taller than me by at least two feet, and always looked angry. His name was Nikai, the second in command, and the fact that he was by my bedside meant I had been appointed a full time bodyguard.
I didn't waste any time with pleasantries and ordered him to call Shialas, my personal advisor, and Shar, the captain of the guards. Things needed to be done, and they needed to be done quickly. I had dressed by the time Shialas and Shar arrived in my chambers and after answering their concern for my well being ordered them to sit down in a small meeting table that was set in my room. I excused Nikai for the time being; what I was about to say had to be kept confidential.
I had a plan for the next three days. Things I need to get in order, papers I needed to write, everything that I could possibly do to settle my affairs before leaving. Once I had revealed what had happened and what the scar in my face meant, both men raised objections; and both suggested plans to go back on the deal and find a way to kill Duzell. But I was having none of it - I had given my word, and I intended to keep it for the sake of my kingdom, and my family.
I convinced both that it was going to happen: that in three days I would give myself to the vampire king, and even though I could see the disagreement and displeasure on their faces they both reluctantly agreed. There wasn't any time to waste and the rest of the day was spent in secret meetings and papers. I trusted both men blindly and it was decided that they would both take my place until my son, Ishlan, came of age. All the other issues felt meaningless, but I waged on trying to tie as many loose knots as possible until the afternoon of the third day. It was three hours before nightfall when I decided I had enough of the paperwork and decide to take a walk around my kingdom for the last time. It was an empty tour since everyone that wasn't a soldier had been sent away for their safety. I had wished to see my wife and child one last time, but their location was at least a five day travel away so all I could do was leave them a letter.
As night approached I readied myself as if I were getting ready to battle. It was more out of habit than anything else. I had been doing it for a very long time and it was still hard to comprehend that this will be the last time I would do it. Once Sidia was tucked away safely in its sheath I went to the gates where I met both Shialas and Shar. In order to keep appearances we were officially going on a minor scouting mission to verify the damage on the wall surrounding the kingdom. Sadly we were going to get ambushed by vampires in the middle of it, and I wasn't coming back. I left Nikai in charge while we were gone; it was the only way to keep him at the castle without him objecting too much.
It was almost full dark when we reached the edge of what we considered safe territory, the ride there had only taken less than half an hour but it had felt much longer especially with the grave atmosphere around us. Once there we could only wait, and we waited for a long time, enough to make me restless. More than an hour had passed after nightfall and there was still no sign of Duzell, no sign of any vampires. I wondered for a moment if I had mistaken the date or if it had been a mistake to go out and meet Duzell. The atmosphere had become so tense it was palpitable.
Shialas was the first to break down. "We can't stay here any longer, your highness! If we linger any longer Nikai is bound to send a search party for us!"
"Then leave! Tell everyone what we agreed on!" I hadn't meant to snap at him, but the tension was getting to me too.
Shialas lowered his gaze a bit, "I cannot. Not until I see what is going to happen to you with my own eyes."
I frowned. I knew Shialas saw me in the same manner a father would see his son, and I took some silent comfort in the thought. But what he said was true too; if we didn't show ourselves in the castle soon more than a dozen guards would appear looking for us, and that couldn't happen. "Shar," I said loudly. "Go back to the castle, and tell them Shialas and I stayed behind to inspect something." I saw him starting to protest so I added, "I'm going to wait an extra half an hour, and if Duzell doesn't show up, I'll come back to the castle."
He couldn't object after that, so he just nodded his head and rode off. I dismounted my horse after he had left, not realizing until then I had been riding him the whole time; it was probably the restlessness, and Shialas proved my theory by staying on his horse. I walked a few steps forward, wondering what would I do if Duzell didn't show up, and unconsciously touched the scar on the back of my cheek.
"Phelios?" I heard Shialas call out for me with a tinge of alarm on his voice. I looked back and realized how far I was from him. I started to walk back and saw him calm as I approached, but it was short-lived when a hand reached out from the darkness and grabbed my arm. I was turned and held forcefully as a loud gasp of surprise escaped my lips. It was Duzell, and he was not in a good mood.
"You weren't at your castle!"
"Your highness!" Shialas yelled at our direction and I could hear the distinctive sound of his sword being pulled from its sheath.
Duzell merely glanced at him for a second, "Tell that old man to put away his sword before I call off our arrangement."
I shuddered inwardly, but obeyed. "Its fine, Shialas! I'm fine! Please put your sword away."
Shialas stopped and slowly but surely put away the sword. He stayed back a good twenty steps away from where Duzell and I were standing and didn't say another word. My attention went back to Duzell. "I'm sorry," I said in answer to his first words, "I thought it would be best to meet you out here, to prove I wasn't going back on our deal." I looked him straight in the eyes as I spoke, and his anger seemed to lessen just slightly. He hmphed and released my arm.
"Next time don't take the initiative," he snarled and turned away.
I apologized again. He asked, "Why is that man here?" glancing over at Shialas and I explained. He seemed to accept it.
I asked in return, "What now?" He turned slowly to face me and came closer. It took almost everything in my power to stay still and not flinch when he reached out and touched the scar on my face.
"Now you come with me," he said, "this mark says that you belong to me."
I tried to answer him but my voice came short. Instead I asked if could say goodbye to Shialas. Duzell nodded and said I had two minutes. I walked steadily towards Shialas, who dismounted his horse when he saw me approach. I untied the sash that was holding Sidia and took the sword; sheath and all; in my hands. "Keep this safe," I said, "it belongs to Ishlan now." He accepted it without hesitation giving me a small bow. "Thank you for your guidance all these years."
"I always thought of you as a son," he said.
"I know," I replied. "Goodbye."
I walked away, my chest feeling tight and heavy. When I looked up I saw Duzell waiting for me, looking completely unworldly. Then suddenly his calm look melted away and his brows closed together in anger. For a moment I wondered if I did something to make him so angry, then it all became clear when I heard the sounds of hooves and yells out in the distance. I looked towards the noise and saw a small mass of figures quickly approaching us. I heard Duzell snarling as he saw them too, then quickly leered down at me, "what the hell is going on? You prepared an ambush didn't you?!"
"No!" I yelled back in a slight panic.
"Deals off," he said and turned away.
I reached out for him and grabbed his arm. "I did not call for this! These are not my orders!"
"Prove it then."
I stared at him until the sound of hooves was starting to drive me mad and I turned towards it, walking just a few steps forward putting myself between the advancing troops and Duzell.
"Stop!" I yelled at the top of my lungs bringing the group to halt. I counted them to be around the vicinity of ten men and Nikai leading them. "What is this, Nikai?" I asked trying to keep my voice in check. "I strictly gave you orders to stay at the castle."
"I'm sorry, sire," he answered, "we got worried and decided to see if you needed any aid."
I was angry at them for disobeying my orders, but what he'd said meant they didn't know what was going on tonight.
"Don't let it happen again, Nikai. I will not tolerate another incident like this."
Seeing me perfectly fine seemed to calmed them; the fact that I was so upset at them seem to calm them more. A few of the men started turning away when Nikai suddenly asked, "Who is the man behind you, sire?"
That took me aback. I didn't have an answer, and I didn't have time to come up with one since I suddenly saw the look on Nikai's face morph from apologetic to rage.
Someone yelled: "It's the king of the vampires," and all hell broke loose. The men dismounted their horses and pulled out their swords. A couple of them started to yell at me to take cover. I could hear Duzell snarling louder a few feet behind me. People were about to die. I had to stop them.
I walked forward towards my men and ordered them to stop. Some did. I yelled it again and everyone except Nikai halted in their steps. Nikai's eyes where only focused on Duzell. "Nikai! If you don't put your sword down now I will charge you with treason!"
That stopped him. He looked at me for a second with pure bewilderment on his face.
His voice was just as shocked. "My king? Are you defending this vampire?"
I stood as tall as I could, my eyes firm. "I am."
"Sire!" his tone of accusation shook through me, but I stood my ground. There was no going back so I told them everything. After I had I swore them to secrecy. These men had been raised to be loyal above anything else, and the ones before me where the most trusted. They bowed in respect of my words, all except Nikai.
"I'm disappointed in you, Nikai."
He gripped his sword even tighter. "I don't understand, my king!' We are many, he is only one. This is our chance to end this war!"
"Don't you understand? I lost! I fought and I lost! He could have killed me and he didn't!" I was so angry I had made my hands into fists so tight it hurt.
"If you leave us is the same as if you'd died."
"No, its not. This way I get to save what is important to me."
Nikai finally showed some signs of accepting after I spoke. I felt relieved, but also tired. It felt like I've been talking and explaining for the entire night, and I was ready to take a rest. But the night wasn't over yet.
Duzell decided that moment to make his presence very known by putting one hand over my shoulder. "Let us go now, Phelios. You belong to me now." He said the words loud enough that my men could hear and he'd done it on purpose.
He started pulling me away and that's when I heard someone say "I can't allow this" followed by a loud yell. I didn't have time to do anything except react. When I turned around I saw Nikai coming at us; at Duzell; with his sword raised high above him. There was a slight grin on Duzell's face; he was ready to take the blow, and if that happened I knew he would have complete control on what happened from now on; so I did the only thing I could do. I pushed Duzell away and took the blow for him. The tip of the sword cut across my chest and right arm. My legs buckled from the shock and my knees touched the ground as I instinctively clutched at my chest.
I heard the men in front of me screaming, Shialas somewhere among them. Nikai was the loudest.
"Everybody shut up!"
I started to stand up and would have fallen back down if Duzell hadn't grabbed me under my arm and pulled me up. "Every one of you will get on their horse and return to the castle, you will not turn back. You will tell everyone that I have died here, and that the war is over. Is that understood?"
I carried my voice loud making it very clear that anyone who will raise an objection will regret it immensely. I was answered by a loud 'Yes, Sir!" in unison followed by the sound of reins being pulled and horses moving forward. I still saw some resistance by Nikai, btu in the end Shialas approached him and made him leave with the rest of the men.
Now it was just Duzell, and me.
"For a while I thought they would never leave," the vampire muttered.
"I apologize," I said as I glanced towards him over my shoulder. I must have moved my head too fast because right after my vision swam and I found myself once more in Duzell's arms in order to stay upright.
"Lost some blood there did you?" Looking at my red stained clothes, his words were an understatement. "Three days ago I took blood from you by force," he lifted my arm where Nikai's sword had managed to cut, "today it was given as a sacrifice," his mouth pressed against the wound making me gasp, "all that's left is for it to be given willingly."
I opened my mouth then quickly closed it. It was inevitable that sooner rather than later I would offer myself for him to feed. After tonight my life wasn't mine anymore, it belonged to him.
"Shall we go?" he asked.
I avoided his eyes and stared at the ground as I decided to say something very bold. "I'm tired, bleeding, and I just gave up everything I know. If you want me, you're going to have to carry me."
He didn't reply right away, instead he put one arm behind my back, another behind my knees and lifted me up. "If I carry you any other way it would be painful because of your wound," he said before I could protest; so I let it go. Letting him carry me off in a completely unmanly and undignified way, but I was too exhausted to care. All I could do was rest my head on his chest and just let go; and as I drifted off to an uncertain sleep Duzell spoke very softly; and his words echoed in my head, "I think I'm going to enjoy this deal."