The Second Dream
Phelios – 'into the castle'
Genre: AU, drama, romance, angst
Beta: unbetaed, all errors are mine.
Summary: Phelios's casting of La Gamme fails to kill Duzell.
Consciousness came and went. Halfway through the journey my eyes opened slowly and I was still in Duzell's arms, walking slowly to an unknown destination. Each breath felt like fire across my chest, unbearable. I opened my mouth, "I-"
"Be quiet," Duzell said immediately, ignoring me, walking faster.
I stared at him, and slowly placed a hand against my chest, maybe I could feel why it hurt so much. It was warm. I stared at the palm of my hand, soaked in blood. "Something is wrong," I said in one breath, and Duzell finally glanced down. His eyes met mine for a second and cursed, quickening his pace.
I was thankful when the darkness took me again.
Someone was touching me. Hurting me. I screamed and tried to get away from whatever or whomever it was.
"Hold him! His wound is still open!"
Arms grabbed me. Pushed me down against a hard surface. I fought harder.
"I said hold him! Duzell will kill us if he dies!"
I tried to reason through the haze. But instinct. The urge to defend myself won over any rational thought.
Then something heavy hit me in the head. It was dark again.
I was alone the third time I opened my eyes. The haziness was only momentary. My eyes focused slowly and I could feel the sun's warmth gently touching my face. I tried to move. First a hand on my side to help push myself up. The second against my chest to feel what was there. The pain just a numbing feeling now. I looked down at my body to find it covered in bandages. I found myself in a small room, dresser in a corner, small desk to one side and the bed I was lying in. I rose from the bed slowly, clutching at my numb chest. The door to the room was open and once outside I found myself in a long hall, countless doors on each side.
My feet moved slowly, but surely and eventually I found myself in a garden. Roses, lilies, gardenias. It smell wonderful and it felt surreal. That's when it struck me. This place was too beautiful to be Duzell's.
Had I died?
The sound of footsteps disconnected me from my thoughts. My head rose in time to see a man- taller than me by maybe half a foot, brown hair cut short, he was close to my father's age. He ran into the garden, his eyes scanning the place, finally settling on me.
"Your highness!" he said, recognizing me.
"Who are you?" I asked him as calm as I could. "Is this..." Heaven. I couldn't get the word out of my mouth.
"You shouldn't be walking! You still haven't recovered fully! King Duzell's orders-"
"This is Duzell's castle?" I asked, surprised, the garden suddenly looking more stunning than before.
The man placed a comforting hand on my shoulder. "Yes. Now please return to your room, you need to rest."
"Who-" I started asking again. The man smiled.
"My name is Felippe. I'm here to assist in anything you might need while you recover." I nodded slowly and allowed him to lead me back to the room. "If there is anything you need don't hesitate to ask."
"Water," I said quickly. "I would like some water."
I slept for days. My body healed slowly and painfully. Felippe was always nearby with food or water, as well as medicine. Duzell never once appeared during this time, something that both troubled me as well as brought me relief. It wasn't that I was afraid of Duzell, it was more that I was afraid of what would happen when I did see him. In all sense of the word I belonged to him now, and I was mostly convinced that the only purpose I could serve here was as food. The few times I had ventured out of my small room it had been during the daytime, and those few times I had managed to spot a few humans here and there, walking by or apparently doing some small errand. Felippe had told me that close to 100 humans lived in the vampire castle, and that they formed a small community here. When I asked if they were servants for the vampire's Felippe shook his head.
"Aside maintaining the castle clean and taking care of ourselves..."
"You let the vampires feed from you," I finished for him, and he nodded solemnly as he pulled his buttoned shirt down to expose his neck and the various marks there.
"It's a small price to pay. We are allowed to roam as we please, and none of us is held here against their will, we all stay because we want to."
"The war has taken a lot from us. My wife died accidentally when she was hit by an arrow from my neighbor. One of the vampire's saw what had happened and offered me a safe place for me and my children. I never once regretted my decision."
"I'm sorry," I uttered, unable to meet his eyes. "If I had been stronger, this war would be over."
"Nonsense. You didn't kill my wife, nor force me to live here. My father once told me that everything happens for a reason. I believe I was put in this position so that my children could live, so that I could meet a great man like you."
I smiled at him when no other words could come to mind. "Then I am honored to have met you."
Days flew by. My body healed. I settled into a routine, a resemblance of a life. I tried to take tasks like the people around me, but there really wasn't much to do and frankly there weren't many things I was good at. Cleaning or tending to gardens weren't some of those things. All I knew was magic- and fighting. So that's what I did. A couple of children lived inside the castle. Young and bright eyed and completely unafraid to live in a vampire's castle.
The children- I was happy to notice- were untouched by the vampires, only the adults would have bite marks on them every once in a while. Seeing the children play in the gardens reminded me me of my Ishlan, and how I was never going to see him grow up.
One morning I found myself staring at my reflection, my body telling the story of what had happened to me. The scar across my chest still pink and raw, my eyes somehow firmer than before, wiser. It was hard to explain. Like the person I saw in the mirror wasn't me, but someone whose life didn't belong to them. But that was exactly what it was wasn't it? And yet...
Not once had I seen Duzell since that night, and the few vampires I had seen roaming in the castle after dark avoided me.
All in all I guess I couldn't complain. I spent my days doing something I loved, and at night I wrote letters. Letters to my wife, to my son, to my friends, even to Duzell. Letters that no one would ever see. It was a calm life. Little did I know that in a week it was all going to change.
The day started normal. I spent most of it at the garden, talking with a few people and giving some children and impromptu sword lesson with tree branches. The sun set slowly as we ate dinner when suddenly Felippe burst through the door of the dining room, yelling frantically. "Get the children to their rooms now!"
There was movement all around me. Mothers and fathers grabbing their children and taking them away as fast and calmly as they could. In a matter of minutes the children were gone, and only the adults remained roaming around the halls.
"What's going on?" I asked Felippe.
"The vampires are returning," he said a little out of breath. "They will probably be hungry and it's best to hide the children just in case."
"I thought the children were out of limits."
"They are!" Felippe reassured me. "Duzell's orders, but sometimes when they come back from a battle they're usually hungrier or angrier. It's just a precaution."
"Hungrier? You mean-" I didn't have time to finish my question, because Felippe was pushing me away.
"You should return to your room as well. Please, before they arrive."
"I'm not a child."
"Phelios please! Just trust me. I can't explain right now." And with that he left down the hall, calling a few other men to follow him.
I walked to my room halfheartedly, but also understanding that there were many things I didn't know of how things worked here. I started seeing vampires walking down the hall in large numbers, it made me wary. They seemed to be looking for something, some spotted me with glee in their eyes, but quickly ignored me when they met my eyes. I kept walking. I reached the hall where my room was located, it was empty except for a woman and two men five doors down. I tried to ignore them until I heard the woman cry softly. The taller of the two men had her by the waist, his mouth on her neck.
My first reaction was to help her, but three steps in I remembered that what was going on was normal here, that was why humans lived here in the first place. I reluctantly turned around, but halfway I heard the woman cry louder, her eyes wide with fear, the vampire still feeding fiercely from her. My feet moved on their own accord, running.
My outburst seemed to stun the vampires and the one feeding off the woman let her go. She fell to the floor with a thud, and with the vampires attention now on me she slipped away unnoticed.
"How dare you?" the smaller vampire snapped. He was at least a foot and a half shorter than the vampire who had been feeding from the woman. His pale brown hair down to his waist, his eyes grey and angry.
"You were going to kill that woman!" I yelled at them.
"That's what she's here for," he replied with a sardonic grin.
"For you to feed maybe, but not to kill!"
"I'll tell Duzell!"
The smaller vampire roared with laughter. I frowned, wishing more than anything that I had Sidia with me to strike them down with it.
"Arrogant whelp! Like Duzell would ever listen to what a human has to say." He turned his head slowly towards me. "Grab him, Ravas."
I didn't have a second to react. Before I knew it the tall, bulky vampire's hands were around my neck and I was forced against a wall, my feet dangling on empty air. I gasped, trying to pry the steel hands from my throat.
The other vampire met my eyes as I struggled. "You look familiar," he wondered for a second, but then just shrugged. "He's yours, Ravas."
My eyes widened and I saw the big vampire- Ravas- open his mouth wide, his fangs protruding from his mouth. He leaned closer. I felt the sharp points against the skin of my neck and all I could do was close my eyes. There was a growl close beside me and I was suddenly falling to the floor.
"What the hell are you doing? I gave precise orders! Can't you fools obey them?!"
Duzell grabbed the smaller vampire by the throat, snarling at his face. Ravas was on his knees on the floor, keeping his head down.
"What do you have to say for yourself, Rishas?"
"I didn't know!" Rishas squirmed under Duzell's grasp. "My group just got back from the battle up north! I didn't know he was out of bounds!"
Duzell growled, and released Rishas. "Don't let it happen again," he threatened.
Rishas stood up quickly followed by Ravas, and as they passed me by, the smaller vampire met my eyes, and I knew it wasn't the last time I would see him.
Duzell suddenly grabbed my arm, turning me around. With his other hand he grabbed my chin and raised it to check my neck. "Were you bitten?" He growled suddenly, "you're bleeding, but he only grazed you. That idiot. Has anybody else tried to bite you? I don't see any scars."
I shook my head, unable to respond verbally to his fast questions. My thoughts were in a daze for seeing him after so long. I urged to ask him where he had been all this time, but I remembered that here I wasn't an authority figure, here no one was bound to show me respect.
"Follow me," Duzell ordered and I obliged, wondering what could he possibly want. Not that it mattered what I wanted. As we walked down the halls I spotted more vampires feeding, as well as humans with fresh marks on their necks. The further we went the less people I saw, until it was just me and Duzell, until he was standing in front of a large double door. He didn't have to tell me. I knew. This was his bedroom.
Duzell opened the door noiselessly and I followed. The thud of the heavy door closing made my heart skip a beat, my mouth went dry. I was afraid.
"Sit," Duzell ordered pointing to the bed, the only piece of furniture in the room. I swallowed hard and slowly very slowly did as he ordered. He disappeared for a moment and when he returned his long cape was gone, stored somewhere I didn't know. I swallowed hard. Duzell stepped in front of me and I tried not to think, not to move, too afraid of what would happen if I did. His fingers touched my face and I held my breath, then my neck and I closed my eyes.
I was terrified of what he was going to do because I couldn't fight back. I had given my word. I had given my life to this beautiful monster in exchange for my child's life, my kingdom's freedom, and I was willing to follow through. But I didn't- I didn't...
The most sensible thing to think was that he was going feed off me. Why else would he be so concerned if I had been bitten or not by one of his vampires? Why would he be so pissed off that one almost did? It made sense, it fit. So why the hell did I keep thinking his intention was something else? Something that involved the lack of clothes?
I swallowed harder.
Then something really odd happen. Duzell cursed under his breath and pressed a wet clothe against my bruised neck. "Idiots that can't follow orders," he mumbled, angry. He ran the clothe down the wound gently, cleaning it. I winced when the wound burned accidentally by his touch. "Forgive me," he said automatically and made a face after the words were out of his mouth.
He slowly stopped cleaning the wound and moved away a few inches from me. His eyes met mine. "No one is allowed to touch you," he said through gritted teeth. "You will tell me if anyone even tries to, understand?" It was an order, one I couldn't ignored.
"I will," I said as calmly as I could, opposed my erratically beating heart.
Duzell huffed then stood. "You can go now."
For a frame of a second I wanted to protest then almost smacked myself for it and left the room like he said. The door shut behind me and I could think again. Wariness, confusion, surprise and disappointment all jumbled together. But above all was a question, something that I had been dreading and in all honesty just wanted it to be over. If I was here as a possession. If I was here as food. Then what was he waiting for? Why hadn't he bitten me?