Note - does contain a malexmale pairing (FocalorxSinbad) although I guess its djinnxmale, but close enough. Listed as a"T" as I don't think anything is very explicit here (yet), but more than likely that will change
Big, big thanks to Akumarayne for all the help,as I needed it for this one :p
Wounds of the Past
Gazing into the Abyss
"See! There are ruins down there after all. That means the treasure room is there...right?" Sharrkan enquired tentatively, his voice almost lost on the harsh storms overhead. He was gesturing downwards, to the foot of the mountain and to the shadow cast ravine floor. There he could barely make out the faint, fractured outlines of what seemed to be a large and dark building. Slowly he continued to lead his companions down the narrow and winding path and closer to their goal. The descent was steep, and dangerous, especially considering how little light settled there. "Dungeons sure are long though. I should have guessed that..."
Initially, the fifteen year old had brimmed with almost painful enthusiasm as he journeyed with Sinbad to Focalor's dungeon. Yet once those bitter and tempestuous winds had set in. He had become increasingly fatigued and weary the further they progressed. Sinbad nodded to him, breaking free from where he walked alongside Jafar to catch Sharrkan up on that narrow ledge. He clapped a heavy hand on the young, silver haired swordsman's shoulder before passing him to resume his lead. The new, self-made king knew once he conquered this dungeon, and he would conquer it, it would be the fifth he had claimed thus far.
The descent down from the cold mountains had proved tasking, and more troublesome than Sinbad had hoped. But he had noticed the dungeons had become increasingly difficult, and potentially deadly, with each he took. Something of a grim reality dawned upon him, of just how dangerous his goal was becoming now. And here he was, leading both Jafar and Sharrkan into such a desolate place. There was, however, no turning back now they were there, but then he wouldn't turn back even if he could.
"Yes, those ruins are probably what we're looking for," Jafar replied as he went to catch Sinbad up, struggling to match the older man's significantly longer strides as he did. "But they look more shabby and miserable than most treasure rooms I've seen. This place really is a nightmare..."
Sinbad's amber eyes cast a downwards look at their apparent destination, and nodded. "Yes. But soon it will be a productive nightmare – watch out!"
Their momentary reprieve was brutally shattered. A flock of hooked, dagger-like beaks and frenzied feathers were gathering in the cruel winds above. Those vermillion and scarlet birds collected together as if they were the embodiment of a bloodthirsty storm, before their shrieks pierced the air and they swooped down. Sinbad moved quickly and gripped Jafar's shoulder to pull his old friend down and out of the way. The two took refuge behind a chiselled gathering of rocks, waiting for the foul dungeon creatures to rise from their collective dive and return to their blustering skies above.
Sinbad and Jafar had, at least, avoided the onslaught.
"Ow! They got me again! Why is it always me..." Sharrkan groaned, having not spotted them in time and currently in the process of fending off a solitary attacker. He slashed at the creature with a dark, rapier-like blade as it fixed him within a bloodied and beady-eyed gaze. Finally the harpy took off in a blur of loud wings and a cackle of hysterical laughter. It seemed nothing short of insanity was splashed over its cruel, grimacing and somewhat effeminate face. They had seen little outside of birds and harpies within the dungeon, but then there were also so many of them.
"As you're pretty loud, they hear you first. They haven't gotten me once so far – you need to be careful," Jafar told him quietly. Sharrkan clapped a defensive hand over the scratches grazing his forearm before glancing over them. Through the boy attracting their attention so much, they had worked out that the creatures' beaks and claws had to ability to drain their prey's magoi. As he didn't have all that much magoi to start with, it was hardly the most fortunate discovery.
"I keep saying that they go for me even when I'm quiet. They just hate me," Sharrkan muttered, rubbing at his shoulder. Somewhat dejected he leaned against the cold rocks and yawned tiredly.
Sinbad indicated the marks marring his own arms and hands. "They get most people sooner or later. But as we're almost there its fine if you want to rest a while. We need to wait for them to stop looking for us and go elsewhere, anyway."
Sharrkan nodded, and seemingly was already recovering his enthusiasm for how it would feel to conquer a dungeon. Sinbad had very recently encountered the boy, following being challenged to a duel by him. Far from the cocky teenager taking the defeat badly, he seemed in awe of Sinbad's skill and had taken a liking to him. He had additionally found the concept of Sindria interested and found the idea of building a country interesting, even if the island kingdom was still in its infancy. The meeting had, it transpired, resulted in the new king acquiring a talented, yet highly impressionable, warrior to his ranks.
A welcome silence resumed, and for a while not a word was exchanged between the three. The caws and jeers of the vile dungeon creatures faded finally, almost as if they were seeking easier prey elsewhere. Sinbad had to wonder if someone else had entered into the dungeon and attracted their attention, but for now was just thankful the beasts were gone.
"I wonder if Focalor is watching us again," Sinbad pondered and watched as his breath cast a slight fog as he spoke. The djinn had appeared before after all, a dark apparition carried upon vermillion feathery wings who always avoided approaching them too closely. All the while he had showered them in various and ominous warnings that only death awaited them. To Sinbad, it just seemed a little of a troublesome omen that they were getting closer and closer to the treasure room, as those warnings become louder and more fanatical. Perhaps even now, and within the shadowy abyss laid out below, Focalor was perched in wait.
"Who knows," Jafar replied through chattering teeth, as the violent winds grew increasingly cold and embittered. His dark eyes, unreadable as always, remained fixed upon their destination below. "I'd be amazed if even the djinn of this place can see through this storm. But all that depressing rambling about us dying here – I'll admit it, he seemed a right weirdo to me."
"A weirdo who was wrong; we've survived worse and there's no way we're dying here. He just – ouch!" He stopped as a sudden, strong ripping of air and a dark flashing of claws had set upon Sinbad, and so easily had gotten the better of him. Stabbing pain etched rapidly over his hand, and was coupled with the tell-tale sensation of a pin-prick of magoi being sapped away from him. He whipped round quickly, and in time to see a dark shape descent the skies out of his reach. That familiar mass of deep red and raven feathers which was Focalor gazed over the three calmly. Sinbad rubbed at the warm trickle of metallic crimson which was beading up over his fingers before realising..."Zepar? You stole my ring – hey!"
As if in mockery, Focalor raised a talon at him to reveal himself to be wearing Zepar's metal vessel upon his middle claw. Admiring it silently, the djinn drew out a long tongue over the ring, tasting the small hints of Sinbad's blood which had caught on it during his attack. Furiously Sinbad stood, and quickly started after the silent and retreating figure without a second thought. He couldn't believe he had let his guard drop, especially after Sharrkan had be warned to be more careful. Perhaps, just like a bird of prey, Focalor had been waiting for an opportune moment. And he had been so silent, so swift, that Sinbad hadn't known he was there.
He paid the calls behind him no heed. Instead he aimed to make short work to the rocky ravine below. As such he both skidded and tripped painfully down the lethal path as fast as he could. Ahead of him, that cursed thieving djinn soared down energetically, as if leading his prey but Sinbad paid that little thought. He dropped down to the ravine floor, rubbing the aching in his shins as he landed and stood up against the cold and boisterous winds. As he did, he could only gasp at the dismal and dire scene laid out before him.
Fire omitted from a wide circle of torches, which lit up what happened to be the ruins of a kingdom long since lost to the ages. The flickering flames harshly illuminated the decayed and moss-ridden halls of a once breath-taking and now abandoned palace fallen to disrepair. The ruins now served as little more than the nesting ground to those foul harpies. Bones littered the ground under the nests made in the surrounding skeletal tress, bones he was certain were human. He shuddered, and for once not from the chilling air.
High above him and perched on a once elaborate and now greyed and crumbling arch, Focalor stretched out his dark wings. The djinn's powerful voice was easily carried over the braying winds as Sinbad was fixed within his sights again. "Just give up, mortal. You'll only end up lining their nests and stomachs like the rest. You people never learn – just go! Haven't I warned you so many times already?!"
Sinbad had been warned, but wouldn't have turned back even if he could. Brilliant golden eyes fixed on him, and in particular it was Focalor's third eye which caught his attention. Centred on the djinn's forehead, the orb gleamed brightly, even with the shadows passing over its surface. He nodded pointedly to his ring; still being worn on the being's clenched talons. "Even if I could leave, you have my ring and it's important to me. I didn't know djinns were thieves..."
"Djinns can be whatever they wish, just as men can. Did no one ever tell you birds like collecting shiny objects?" Focalor replied with a slight laugh, gazing at the pentagram-emblazed object caught in his clutches. "And this puny, tiny thing is a metal vessel. It's useless to me, as I really don't want to summon Zepar here. Why don't you come and claim it off me, little king?"
"It's not as if all of us can fly, you know..."
"I just assumed you could do anything, given how many djinn have lent you their strength," that third eye pierced through Sinbad, shining brightly as it did, and seemed to be staring into his soul itself. "I can see their marks on you. I'll admit, it's impressive – and a lot more power than any sane man could endure. But don't four djinn seem more than enough to achieve whatever ambitions you have. Why desire a fifth – what are you even doing here? Why seek my power, why would I even lend it you? I...might not even like you..."
Sinbad kept his eyes locked on Zepar's vessel. "No, perhaps you won't like me. But you didn't say I wasn't worthy in any of that."
"No, I didn't, and you are powerful. More than a man should be perhaps," Focalor commented, yet seemed satisfied with what that mysterious third eye of his had seen. "I guess that's stating the obvious, though. Let's see; if you bow to me, I might consider thinking about lending you my power."
"Not for just thinking about lending it to me, no. And I'm not really the bowing type, anyway."
"Is that so? But then aren't you just in awe of this place? This wonderful and prosperous kingdom I've watched over for so long?!" his laughter was like the wind itself. Sharp and quick as a cracking of thunder, yet mournful as an autumn breeze being consumed by a frozen and cruel winter. Focalor's wings bristled as he looked ahead to the two smallish figures approaching the ruins. It seemed Sinbad's companions had caught up, and were hurrying to join him.
"...This place is such a wreck, though? It's all falling apart, are you sure there's treasure?" Sharrkan's carrying voice was muttering to Jafar. He paid no mind to Focalor, who was peering at him with great interest. "I thought it would be...bigger, I guess, impressive. Instead it looks like a damned tomb!"
The djinn smiled. "And indeed it is a tomb..."
In a whiplash of air, and as swift as before, Focalor swopped down, his talons scurrying and scraping against the dusty ground as he landed behind the two teenagers. Once again, Sinbad barely registered he had moved. His sudden gesture disturbed the harpies in their nests nearby, who until now had been passive and alarmingly lifeless in the presence of prey, yet came alive and rose up in loud shrieks. They gathered up in a thick cloud of red before soaring high over the mountain tops and out of sight.
Focalor watched them leave before continuing. "But it is awful here, isn't it? What a bizarre and loud child you travel with. Doesn't it seem a bit cruel, that you're leading such a young and talented person to die in a place like this?"
"Argh! Sin! It's him, it's..." Sharrkan's emerald eyes widened as he let out a loud yell. He dashed away from the being and to his king's side, where his nails gripped Sinbad's arm painfully. In contrast Jafar followed casually after him, gold and green robes ushering around his pale form serenely as he did, as though not phased by Focalor in the slightest. "Well, it's such a mess here you know! How can you put up with living in such a depressing place?!"
"Not very well, to be honest. And I've gazed over it a lot throughout the years..." the towering figure gestured sharply around him. "I've been here so long after all, longer than some child could comprehend. And do you know what I think? They all deserved to die!" Focalor thundered, dark claws gesturing to the bone-strewn ground. "Those foolish men, all calling themselves warriors. Wanting to be kings. They all blundered in here and demanded my power. And all they wound up doing was getting their eyes pecked out! Do you have any idea what it's like, boy, watching something as disgusting and horrific as that so many times? It would drive you mad! Oh and I warned them, just as I warned you. But people always have the audacity to keep going! Idiots! You people should all die for being so damned stupid! For being so weak, yet daring to come here. And then...just to die like...that..."
He trailed off, and Jafar sighed quietly. "Yes, Sin. It seems like you've found yourself yet another weirdo..."
Sinbad paused. He dreaded to think, really, of how many people had entered the dungeon. He knew at fourteen years old, whole armies from Partevia had fallen in Baal's lair, and shuddered at the memory. He looked over the bones, and thought of what it would be like for the djinns watching; to see so much death over so many lost years.
He stepped forward, fixing Focalor's eyes with his. "But you know I'm stronger than they all were, don't you? You looked into me, and saw that. As you said, I've struck deals with four djinn before, and conquered their dungeons. I'm here as I still need more strength and help with what I'm doing. I'm building my own country, and you're going to be part of it. And you won't need to think about this place ever again."
"A mere man, consoling me? Hoe arrogant...I like that. Your name was Sin, was it?" close enough, so Sinbad nodded and watched Focalor fall into deep thought. "Very well then, Sin. Let me speak to you alone. But if you fail to impress me..." eyes pierced with his, "Just make sure you impress me."
He took flight, as if certain that Sinbad would acquiesce to his offer. The djinn swept over them, the winds he left spiralling violently against the three as their master vanished into those ruins. Sinbad looked to those cracked and ancient halls, and started forward. "He has my ring anyway. And I don't think Zepar would be amused if I let someone steal him off me."
"He wouldn't mind, Sin; it's just a ring. You have a whole room full of rings, remember?" Jafar muttered as his king took tp picking a path though the mass of bones and dirt. "You could just call him into another vessel, remember? Do you really want to go in there alone?"
"Of course, he asked me to so why not? I can't convince him to come with us standing out here," he called back over his shoulder. "Anyway, what's the worst that could happen?"
"...You know I hate it when you say that."
Grinning, Sinbad continued as this is what he was here for. Steadily he passed though the desolate halls, his steps echoing softly on the worn marble floor as he did. He knew this place encompassed his own fears for Partevia's fate, and perhaps held some resemblance to the lost world of Alma Toran as Focalor remembered his home. Either way, the silence playing around him was thick; it was too heavy and too void of any hope, or laughter. He passed the ivy-strewn crumbling walls, and felt the djinn longed to be drawn away from this world. That Focalor wanted to finally forget the defeated kingdom he watched over.
He rounded the final corner into what he gathered to be the treasure them, an unrelenting wind ripping through his long and violet hair as he did. At a time, he guessed, it had been a pristine and majestic throne room. Now, there was little there aside from the forgotten words and whispers of those who lived long ago. People had once gathered there, had both kneeled and served their king. A king who would have sat upon a stone throne, and gazing over his palace and subjects before him.
Focalor now sat on that cobweb-laced and crumbling throne far across from him. He was overcast by shadows, and a hand was cupped upon his chin as though he was bored. A finger lazily beckoned for Sinbad to approach.
"I know what it's like seeing people die," Sinbad informed him quietly. On drawing into the large room, the winds finally relinquished their assault on his skin. He passed the lines of cracked pillars, and the piles of gleaming magical artefacts and haphazard piles of gleaming coins. All the while, his eyes never left that form shrouded in shadow. "Here you test them, and as they can't leave unless they conquer the dungeon you can't stop them suffering. They chose to be here, yet died before they made it here."
"You say that, but you're leading people to their deaths as well. Right now you're brought those two here – that boy – knowing he could die. You're even building a country, aren't you? What if it falls, their blood will be on your hands. Is this all your kings amount to?"
"Some might, but I'm not going to be one of them. Seeing things like that made me want to build Sindria," as he spoke, his hand gripped the hilt of his father's sword. "When I was really young I lost my father, and the day my mother was taken from me I had to become a man. Many men from my country perished in dungeons, and I hated it. It's why I need power. I need your help, Focalor."
"You're quite the arrogant man, but it's always interesting when someone believes they can change the world. I'm curious just how far you can go..."
As he approached that throne, Sinbad noticed that Focalor's appearance had changed. He no longer was the vermillion feathered creature haunting the new king's steps, but had taken the form of something which looked a lot more human. He was bare to the waist; his skin smooth and pale, and patterned with the swirls of black markings. His hair was a showering of extremely long raven feathers which veiled softly over his powerful shoulders and reached far over his toned arms. Golden chains and charms, both numerous and gleaming, hung around his neck and down onto his exposed chest. Sinbad drew forward, and Focalor inclined towards him from his throne.
His appearance resembled Sinbad a great deal, which he assumed was a sign he would gain Focalor's power. He looked over the clawed hands and their long, darkened nails and noticed they were grasping a long and scarlet scarf. Slim fingers threaded over it softly before mischievous golden eyes locked onto Sinbad. Then, without warning, the vivid scarf was brandished out and brought to coil tightly around Sinbad's waist. It settled round his back, and Focalor pulled him in close to the cold throne. The new king made no move to stop him, instead watching those hands continue to grasp the scarf before reaching up to play over the numerous silver and gold amulets which lay over Sinbad's broad chest curiously. "I thought I would need to persuade you before you would lend me your power."
"Lend you my power..." Focalor repeated quietly. His fingers ducked under those chains, and over the thin material covering his skin. Cold fingertips slowly rubbed and drew slow circles over Sinbad, and caused him to shiver. "I might have just decided looking like you suits me, and it does. I wonder just how entertaining you are..."
"After all this trouble to get here, I can't really see myself refusing many requests you might have and –" he paused as a loud and ripping sound echoed through that quiet throne room. He was flooded with the same sensation of his magoi being sapped from him, and so looked down. Focalor had neatly scored long and sharp thumbnail down his robes and over his chest. The now useless clothing spilled down over the cracked floor in a rippling of white and lilac. The djinn then drew the tip of his tongue over that nail, as if to savour the taste of the energy he had just taken.
"I'm sorry, that was rude to interrupt you wasn't it," shadowy mischief played behind the djinn's eyes, a seductive look Sinbad often wore himself when the occasion arose. It seemed now was to be such an occasion. "But no, I don't think it would make sense to refuse me. I think you should offer your body to me, for a time. That sounds like a good price for borrowing my power..."
The silken scarf encircling Sinbad was pulled abruptly forward. As such he felt himself stumbling again a smooth, and slowly warming chest as the djinn flashed him that same provocative look. Strong hands, so like his own, had already parted his thighs to allow Sinbad to straddle the figure sitting upon that abandoned throne. He was set upon Focalor's lap, who tied and bound his scarf around his bare waist as if marking the king as his. He closed his eyes as he felt fingers, gradually warming from the magoi stolen from his body, rake slowly down his chest and emitted an affected shudder. Nails were scoring their searching lines over his prickled and feverish skin, their pressure ever so lightly indenting against the energy flowing inside of him. It felt as though the djinn's touch was teasing at his very life force, and he inclined to it and failed to stifle a second moan purring in his throat. "I...can guess what you want from me I think."
"Yes, I doubt it's all that hard to figure out," Focalor replied. Even if such occasions were rare, Sinbad had laid with men before. After all, the journeys upon the oceans were often both long and lonely. As such, there had been times when he had whittled away the hours by taking the odd, pretty sailor boy. Or, on even rarer occasions and longer journeys, he would be busy with the taking of two even prettier sailor boys. However, this was very different. The now scalding hot arms had settled tightly at his back. And they held him as though Sinbad was both prey, and lighter than air. Yet he was, of course, neither of those.
Before he could protest however, Focalor's body arched up to meet his bare one. The tantalising presence of a warm pressure, both swollen and large, rubbed slowly against him and he called out loudly. Laughing softly the djinn resembling him so much continued to grind steadily up against him, as if to persuade his surrender. Focalor whispered to him, "I have to admit though – part of me has always wanted to rule over a king. At least for a few hours..."
Soft lips sought over their conquered prey's warm neck, and were now caught an enrapturing heat equal to his own. Feathered arms tightened around him, and despite himself Sinbad felt himself slowly relax into their control. A warm tongue seduced slowly over his damp throat, and he suppressed a cry as magoi was claimed thickly from him. As if that djinn was drinking and feeding from his very life itself. Kisses followed, and felt so pleasantly numb against his savoured flesh and be tilted back obediently for him. The thought dawned on him that his own body felt weakened and cooler as Focalor's become stronger and hotter. But he didn't think of that too much.
"So, you'll accept this?" Focalor asked, and continued to lap over his pleasure-numbed prey. Sinbad nodded, somewhat weakly and found himself unable to do little more than writhe in enraptured helplessness. He felt almost desperate for the lips nipping against his throat in their ever drain kisses, and the prickling heat they left in their wake. "Alright then, my little Sin. And don't worry – I'll be gentle with you..."