Disclaimer: Vampire Game does not belong to me, no matter how I wish it. And this holds true for all following chapters, since I know I often forget. No, I always know that Vampire Game belongs to Judal. It's just that it's such an obvious fact of life that I sometimes forget other people need to be reminded of it ...
A/N: I started writing this story in my head a long time ago, after I read the last volume of Vampire Game. I just couldn't believe that the happy ending would stay happy. Razenia is only one kingdom over, and was so superstitious about twin princes that one prince had to disappear. I really can't believe Pheliosta is going to be perfectly fine with having twin princes now. And as one of the twin princes is actually a Vampire ...
Anyway, this will be a collection of loosely connected short drabble-y pieces in not-quite-chronological order. Enjoy :]
IMPORTANT A/N: There's some controversy over who St. Phelios' reincarnation is / if St. Phelios was ever reborn prior to the epilogue. I'm assuming that Yuujel/Yujinn was St. Phelios' reincarnation, and Ishtar's son Phelios is the reincarnation of Yuujel/Yujinn/St. Phelios.
Dreams of Death
For as long as he could remember, Lios had always had dreams of desperate spell-battle, nightmares of dying by sword and by magic. Some nights, an old man wielding sword and spell fought to kill him, and he could only fight to defend, because killing the old man would result in terrible consequences. Other nights, he was armed with sword and spell against a young man with long platinum blond hair dressed in black armor, their duels fought in the midst of pitched battle.
The dreams were usually fuzzy and indistinct in his memory. Sometimes he'd only remember a blurred sensation of whirling desperate movement or a vague feeling of endless exhausted spell-casting. Other times, he'd wake with only an inexplicable ache in his side, or with tears in his eyes, but no memory of dreams.
And then there were nightmares that were terrifyingly sharp and clear. Sometimes he'd wake screaming from the shock and the pain of a sword in his gut, the face of the old man blazed across the inside of his eyelids. (Some days, he thinks that Uncle Vord looks a lot like the old man, and he flatly refuses to go to Razenia when Mother and Father start talking about a diplomatic family visit.) Sometimes, it was the young man's wide-eyed shock that was carved into his mind, the young man's incredulous shouts (Then what is the point of victory?) that tore him awake. Shouted incantations echoed through his mind, rang in his ears, and, on bad days, would be so close to the surface that he had to be careful not to lash out with those spells when startled. (The holy magic tutors always marveled at how fast he learned magical spells when his understanding of magical theory sucked, but he tried not to think too hard about how he could dream of spells that he'd never learned before.)
And on the worst days, the spells he'd cast (how could he know those spells?) and the people he fought (people he'd killed, he was a murderer, but they had killed him, he was dead) in his dreams the night before would drown out all else that was happening around him, and he'd lose track of who he was, what he was doing (he was supposed to be dead) and he'd just curl up in a corner and scream.
But Duzie was always there, even though Duzie was an expert with swords and knives and fists (and what was happening to Lios could not be defeated with such weapons), even though Duzie was not good with magic the way Lios was (but who else could ever learn spells from strange and terrifying dreams?), even though it was Lios who always protected Duzie (from the nobility they met on a regular basis, from the occasional undead assault, from the frequent assassination attempts). When Lios collapsed, when he could not separate nightmare from reality, Duzie was the only one who could pull him back from the edge of insanity.
Duzie would always send away whatever servants or guards or nobles were in the room, as commanding and imperious as the king he would eventually be. Lios could remember the first few times, when the palace guards and servants were still unused to this arrangement, to Duzie's sudden transformation from quiet scholarly child to imposing future king. The servants had ignored Duzie, had crowded around Lios, trying to hold him down - they thought he was having a spasmotic fit - and Lios had screamed and thrashed all the more, for his mind had superimposed the faces of the old man and the young man from his dreams on everyone, even though he knew he was awake, he knew these people around him were ones he had grown up around, grown up trusting. And Lios couldn't control it, he lashed out with magic that would have killed - and Duzie leapt in the way of the magic blast, yelped in pain, survived, and then snarled in near wild fury that everyone should get the hell out of his sight they were not helping matters by being there. And Lios had slowly quieted, once there was only Duzie left, because Duzie grounded him, Duzie took the magic Lios threw at him but survived, and didn't attack him, and didn't flee in terror, and didn't die, the way everyone in the nightmares did. When the guards came tearing back, magic tutors and holy knights in tow, they had yanked Duzie away, and Lios had lashed out with magic again, magic that shattered bone and sliced into flesh, magic that maimed and killed, and this time it was not Duzie that was hit, and the guards and holy knights were dying. And Duzie wrenched free, leapt again in the way of the next spell and took the brunt of the magic - but was not hurt at all.
Eventually, the palace came to a consensus - their little prince Lios was far stronger than anyone knew. Every once in a while, the magic that was larger than Lios, that was more than Lios could control, would grow wild and lash out at anyone and everyone in the vicinity. Except for Duzie, who the magic recognized as part of Lios, as the same as Lios, as Lios himself, and did not attack him. In fact, some whispered, Lios was born with twice the magic of any Royal, everyone knew Duzie had little to no magic, so Duzie's should-have-been magic must have been transfered to Lios. Maybe the gods had made a cosmic mistake in handing out magic, who knew? So the magic that went wild was magic that should have been Duzie's and rebelled against Lios's control and threatened to kill everyone Lios cared about - except Duzie, who the magic recognized as it's original should-have-been master. Or maybe Lios's magic was not just the magic of their beloved Prince Lios, but also the magic of his ancestor Saint Phelios, drawn to his namesake a hundred years later. And it was Saint Phelios' magic that grew wild and lashed out, to kill all those who did not hold Saint Phelios's blood, the way it was rumored that Saint Phelios's sword Sidia did. And since the blood of Saint Phelios ran in Prince Duzie's veins, Saint Phelios's magic did not kill him.
A thousand rumors, a thousand rationalizations. But whatever it was the palace inhabitants believed, they at least left Duzie and Lios alone whenever Lios went out of control.
Lios knew the truth however, and the palace was nowhere near it, with their crazy theories of wild magic. Lios's magic was under tight and deadly control at all times, it was Lios's mind that shattered and twisted and saw enemies everywhere. Lios lashed out on purpose, with the deadliest of intent, to kill the old man with a sword who had killed Lios the night before, to defend against the young man in black armor who was surely here to avenge his death at Lios' hands. And Duzie, by not dying, by not breaking, by not even reacting under the blow of magic, brought Lios back to reality, brought Lios out of his nightmares where everyone died at his hand. And it made no sense, that Duzie could have no reaction at all to magic that should have blown away an arm or shattered his skull, Lios had never ever held back, had never ever had a last second realization that this is my brother, I can't hurt Duzie.
And yet Duzie survived.
This was how Lios knew Duzie was magically more powerful than him. Duzie could shrug off everything Lios threw at him, without any visible effort. He just went to bed an hour earlier on those days, woke up an hour later than usual, and was perfectly fine the next day.
What kind of magic must Duzie be using to survive the onslaught of death-magic? Lios always wondered, but only ever asked Duzie once, after another episode when they were a week shy of eleven years old.
Duzie's only answer then had been a long indecipherable look, and a question: What did Lios see when he collapsed screaming and lashed out with magic?
Lios did not answer. Duzie did not pry.
They both understood the need for secrets no one else should know.