“I must warn my mistress. She must know what is coming so she can defend herself. How dare he think he can barge in here killing whomever he pleased. Those were my mistress’s men. Only she can kill them. Must warn her. He is in a dark mood.”
The stooped figure rushed through the halls muttering to himself in his nasally voice. A few moments ago, the dark stranger had blasted his way through the iron doors of the castle as if they were made of kindling. As Sebastian watched him and the two men following closely behind him, their strange weapons drawn, from the balcony he could tell that dark lord was in a foul mood. The guards who tried to detain him were now puddles of blood and meat scattered across the courtyard. The weapons had never fired.
At first Sebastian stood in shock because the visitor had not used his hands to kill those in his way. He just glared at the men and they rose into the air, screaming as their limbs began to twist and turn, each bone snapping loud enough that Sebastian could hear it over their screams of agony. Then the men began to slowly expand, bloating like a corpse until they burst apart in a spray of blood and meat. When the dark visitor was done, the two guards were nothing but stains on the nearby walls and ground. Strangely enough, the visitor or his men did not have a drop of blood on them.
What Sebastian had seen was impossible. No one had that kind of power.
Then something even more frightening happened. Something that sent Sebastian scurrying to warn his mistress. Even though he was hidden in the shadows, the dark visitor had looked directly at him. His red eyes freezing Sebastian’s heart. Sebastian tried to run, but he found his legs would not obey him. Finally the visitor released his hold and strode into the castle proper, out of sight. Sebastian slumped against the wall gasping for air.
The dark visitor was in a rage and he was heading for Sebastian’s mistress. He must warn her.
* * *
The moment Aden was hidden from the prying eyes of the castle guard, he slumped against the damp rock wall of the castle’s interior. Blasting through the doors and killing those men had taken what precious little strength he had remaining. Putting his hand over his heart as it squeezed painfully, he wondered not for the first time what Caius was doing to Kara. There had been unimaginable pain before, but nothing like this. A burning, soul draining pain that radiated throughout his body. Whatever was happening to her was not magic induced, but physical.
“My lord?” one of his men softly enquired, his worry clear in his tone.
Thank the gods Well’s had the foresight to send these two with him. There would have been no way he could have flown himself and landed the shuttle safely. Where it had always been painful to be away from her, this time it seemed the further he moved away from Kara the weaker he became. What was the difference between the original bond he held with her and this one? What had he missed in his study of the prophecy?
“Someone is coming?” the second guard hissed.
“Maybe we can use whoever it is to strengthen you, my lord,” the first suggested.
Prying his tightly closed eyes opened, he first saw the guard, Modi, standing in front of him, his face lined with worry. Turning his head slightly he saw the other, Bresi, whose back was to him as he scanned the area around them, making sure no harm would come to him while he was weak. Yes, these two were his most trusted and knew who Kara was to him and the cost of being this far from her. Knew about the prophecy and what his role in it was. Knew his most evil power. The one that drained the life of another to strengthen his own.
“No,” Aden said with a tone that told him he would not discuss it any further. He would not use an innocent for his own means, not if he could help it. As if to remind him of just how weak he was, his legs chose that moment to give out from under him. With a groan, he slid to the ground, Modi’s hands on his arms following him down so he wouldn’t fall over.
“My lord,” Modi said, his voice pleading. “We are in enemy territory and you can barely stand. If we are to finish our mission and return to the ship as soon as possible to help Lady Kara, you need to borrow someone else’s strength.”
He did have a point, damn it. Hating himself for what he was about to do, Aden nodded his head. “No innocents,” he reminded sharply, taking ahold of Modi’s arm before he could rise.
“Yes, my lord,” Modi promised. Pulling out his own blaster, he nodded to Bresi who silently disappeared around the corner and outside.
There was a grunt, some movement of cloth and feet on the ground and Bresi returned with an unconscious soldier in his arms. Sitting him next to Aden, against the wall, the two guards backed away a few feet, turned and took up watch so Aden could do what he hated most without fear of being ambushed. Steal the life of another living creature for his own needs.
Reaching out, Aden touched his fingertips to the hand of the soldier that was closest to him. Closing his eyes, he began to pull the life energy slowly from him. As he began to grow stronger, the memories of the solider began to play before his eyes. A side effect of using this power was that he gained the memory of his victims. This soldier had done his fair share of atrocities under the order of his commander and queen, but he did not enjoy it. Underneath the gruff exterior that he showed his fellow soldiers was a man who would have rather stayed at his family farm and raised his son and daughter with his wife peacefully, but he was the youngest in a family of three sons, so the only avenue left to him to support his family was being a soldier for the queen’s army.
Aden pulled his hand away. He would not steal anymore of this man’s life. Instead he would do what he came here to do and rid this world of their evil queen’s tyranny.
Another slice of pain shot through his body. Clenching his teeth to keep from crying out, Aden rode it out, some of the precious strength he had just gained draining away. What the hell was going on? It was as if Kara was…dying.
Taking a deep breath, Aden gathered what strength he had left and pushed himself to his feet. Waiting for the world to settle and grow solid under his feet, he pushed away from the wall to stand straight. Ignoring the worried glances from his guards, he started across the large foyer towards the throne room closed doors. If Kara was to survive, if they were all to survive, he needed to finish his mission and return to the ship as soon as possible. Whatever the hell Caius was doing to her, if he was this weak the gods only knew how weak she was.
It was the queen’s fault that he was here in the first place and not by Kara’s side protecting her. He would make sure she paid for her stupidity in as much pain as Kara was enduring.
* * *
The stooped figure sighed in relief when he rushed through a side door of the throne room and realized he had arrived before the dark visitor. Making sure the large thick wooden doors were firmly shut and barred, he shuffled over to his mistress who was playing with the strange metal toy the dark visitor had given her on a half-naked male hanging from the ceiling, shackled by his wrists. The same place the healer Tanis had hung not so long ago. Sebastian winced when the man screamed in agony. Normally he would not dare to interrupt his mistress when she was playing with her victims, but this was important.
“Mistress!” Sebastian called out.
The queen’s hand froze inches away from touching her victim with the torture device. She closed her eyes, tamping down the rage that boiled to the surface at the untimely interruption, Sebastian’s whiney voice grating on her every nerve. The little voice in the back of her mind she rarely listened to reminded her, he would never interrupt her unless it was important. Still, she felt the need to punish him for his insolence.
“This better be important,” she said through gritted teeth.
“It is, Mistress,” Sebastian gasped bowing. “The dark visitor has returned.”
“Lord Sahen?” she asked brightly, her anger instantly dissolving at the thought of the handsome dark sorcerer visiting her. “He must have decided to take me up on my offer to mate. An offspring with our powers combined would be magnificent,” her smile broadened at that thought.
“I do not think the pleasure of your lovely body is why he is here, Mistress,” Sebastian said shuffling closer. “He seems to be in a foul mood. He has already destroyed the front gates and killed two of your guards and with just a thought.”
The queen frowned at the news, but before she could ask any more questions, the doors to the throne room burst open with such force they broke their hinges. Aden strode into the room, two guards trailing behind him weapons drawn. The stench of death and the promise of more filled the room. He stopped only long enough to sweep the room with his eyes. His frown deepened when they landed on the queen staring at him with barely contain rage. Quickly recovering herself, she put on her best coy smile.
“My Lord Sahen,” she cooed as he began striding towards her. “What a pleasant surprise. To what do I owe this…?” She was cut off when Aden raised one hand, ripping the metal rod out of hers. The moment it left her hand she flew into the air, crashing into the wall behind her.
“Once again you have not lived up to your end of the bargain, Maura,” his quiet voice leaving no doubt of just how angry he was.
“I don’t know what you mean?” Maura gasped. “I delivered the one you wanted.”
“Oh, I think you do,” Aden said, his voice low and angry as he slowly walked towards the struggling queen until they were so close she could feel his breath. “The one I love, that is my life, now suffers from your incompetency. I am here to remind you what it means to betray those you promise loyalty to. When I am finished with you, you will wish for the death you escaped all those years ago. If you are lucky, I may just give it to you.”
The queen’s eyes were wide with an emotion she had long forgotten.
“My lord, I beg you. Please….” Her pleas turned into screams as Aden lightly touched her with the metal rod. He held it to her side, his face inches from hers, watching her expression as her screams intensified. Slowly he pushed the wand harder into her side. This woman caused Kara pain, so she would pay with pain.
Slow, searing, agonizing pain.
Behind him, the sound of blasters filled the room. Before they had entered, he and his guarded agreed they would take care of any outside threat so Aden could concentrate what was left of his strength on the queen. Although, while they were busy defending his back, beside him he felt movement. Reaching out his free hand, without looking way from the queen, he grabbed Sebastian around the neck, holding him frozen with his hand holding a dagger high above his head. Memories of the oily creature’s atrocities poured into Aden’s mind. Brutalities that he reveled in inflicting on others for an adverse sense of power he had never known in his miserable life. As the slimy creature’s life slipped away and Aden grew stronger, there was no sense of remorse at killing the bastard. The only regret Aden had was that he had no time to kill him as slowly as he was going to kill the woman screaming in agony before him.
Dropping the dead carcass on the floor, his red eyes glowed with renewed power as he glared at Maura. “Shall we begin our lesson?”
No one dared to interfere as Aden poured all the rage and malice he felt towards Caius, the helplessness he felt being at being unable to stop what being done to Kara, the pain he felt Kara was enduring while he was on this godforsaken planet unable to help her, the pain their separation caused them, and everything he knew they would have to endure in the coming years into the defenseless queen.
Her screams would haunt the halls for many days and nights to come.
Copyright © 2019 Heidi Barnes