[193--small and simple things]Universe:
This is the result of my writing ADD problem and not related to anything else I've posted. It's not as polished as I would like it to be and I'm sure there are many a typo. Concrit is very very much needed and wanted!
He gathered wind and ran faster.
Dogs howled somewhere in the forest behind him and the sounds soon fell away. They were going in the wrong direction and he took comfort in that. He focused his attention ahead of him and listened to the air. It kept his course straight and true. He knew it wasn’t far. He came to a halt shortly after he burst out of the trees.
The breathless shout drew her attention and she turned towards him. She stood two steps away from the edge of the cliff. She was partway through the change and even now he was frightened for her. Her dark hair turned the same blue black as the night sea below them. Her deep green eyes paled and the scars on her sides slowly began to separate.
She smiled and took a step back.
Three steps took him within arms reach of her. He almost slipped on the remains of her dress. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her away from the edge. Quickly he twisted her arm behind her back. She did not struggle. Instead she placed her free hand on his chest, over his heart.
“Aren’t you going to ask if it is true?” She still stumbled awkwardly over the Halen tongue, so the words were slow and soft, but she taunted him just the same. When he didn’t respond immediately, her fingers curled into the damp fabric of his shirt. “Kael?”
“Did you kill him?” he demanded. It was more forceful than he wanted and he struggled to control his temper. Naeda took no notice and again, she smiled.
He inadvertently twisted her arm more, nearly dislocating it from her shoulder in his frustration. Her eyes closed briefly but it was the only sign of discomfort. “The war is over, Naeda.”
“I will not be its spoil.”
“I would have protected you!”
She clenched her free fist, her new claws ripped the cloth easily, and shoved him away from her. Kael stumbled back several steps. He didn’t release her wrist but she twisted out of the uncomfortable position. When he pulled her back to him, he noticed the hardening pattern of scales along her forehead that moved down along her hairline. It stopped at her shoulder and he knew it would move down along her back.
“Stop!” he hissed and released her wrist in favor of gripping her shoulders. She drew in a deep shuddering breath and once more closed her eyes. The lines on her sides had completely separated and she began to shake. “There is no where to run!”
Naeda opened her eyes and pressed her fingers to her lips. She raised her hand to him and he understood that she meant to jump into the sea. Even now, even after what she had done, he could not bear the thought of her falling and breaking from this height. The sea would be too strong, even for her.
She turned and ran off the edge. Kael gathered wind and leapt after her.
She was halfway down the side of the cliff when he caught up to her. He was able to wrap his arms around her and pushed away the sounds of her suffocation as he concentrated on slowing their descent. He used the wind to push them farther out into the sea and away from the shallows and rocks at the base of the cliff. When they slammed into the hard water, he lost the wind and inhaled water. Somehow he managed to retain his hold on her for a few moments longer.
Out of her back came two fins, shaped like large fans. Smaller fins came out of her arms and legs. They were sharp and caused him to fall away from her. His eyes stung fiercely but he stubbornly looked at her. This was the third time he had seen the complete transformation and he still ached at her beauty.
Her scream echoed in the water and against the rocks. The music of her voice was jarring and her face held horror at what he had done. She did not hesitate to press her mouth to his and force her tongue into his mouth.
She drew the water out of him, swallowing it until his lungs and airway were no longer clogged. When she pulled away, his chest tightened and began to burn for need of air. She pressed her forehead against his and he felt the slits on her waist fluttered against his arm.
“Forgive me,” she whispered, her song sad, and pressed her mouth to his once more.
A warmth spread through him and he could feel the air pass between them. Now that he was no longer drowning, he realized that this was as close to a real kiss either of them have ever come. Heedless of the peril surrounding him, he used his returning strength to pull her closer and kissed her back.
Kael knew there was a better time and place for this sort of thing, but he didn’t care.
He had to hold his breath when she finally pulled away. The slits in her sides were moving erratically and when she noticed him staring, she looked away. He reached up and turned her face back towards him. She kissed him once more and then took his hand. They began to swim and he trusted her course. She would stop every few moments and give him air.
Eventually she came to a point wear he could feel a cross current rushing past them and towards the beach. He watched expression leave her face and when she pressed her fingers to her lips and then to his, Kael knew this was the real goodbye. He had lost count of their farewells.
“You owe me a debt, Zephyr Kael,” she whispered.
For a moment, it looked like she might clarify. Instead she kissed him once more and pushed him hard into the current. He tried to grab onto her arm but only cut his hand upon her fins and scales. The struggle to remain afloat distracted him from the pain and the knowledge that once again she had given him something he had no right taking.
Getting to shore was still difficult and he swallowed quite a bit of seawater before he managed to crawl up the beach and collapse in the sand. The dogs found him, along with Aeryn and Lukian, lying very close to where he had first found Naeda. He hated the irony.
Lukian helped him to his feet and studied the waterlogged young man carefully. Aeryn fussed about him like a nervous bird and he let her. After several minutes of Lukian staring at him, Kael glared at the taller man.
“What?” he asked and sighed.
“The Visola has marked you.” He pointed to the set of scratches Naeda had given him atop the cliff. They were still bleeding sluggishly and the salt water had made them red and irritated. Kael clenched his jaw and tried to remain calm. He resisted the urge to cover them. He was about to speak, when Lukian interrupted. “She broke the Forbidden. She is a thief as well as a murderer.”
Kael swallowed and forced himself to look at his teacher and friend calmly. “What do you know about the Forbidden?” he asked and Aeryn suddenly became very still. Neada was the only one who had ever mentioned that Moryan custom. The wind around the three of them died and even the crash of the waves became quiet and restrained.
Lukian did not look away, his eyes paling for a moment, before returning to their steel gray. “Only what my father told me of it. Only that those that break it are marked and cursed. No man, Halen or Moryan will take her now.” He paused and then continued. “That includes you, Your Majesty.”
Kael stiffened at the new title and shoved the implications of it away. “But your mother--”
“Was a Walker. And they did not break the Forbidden. He never stole her death. He never gave her life.”
Silence followed Lukian’s statement and the wind slowly started up again. Kael ran his hands irritably through his wet hair and glanced down at his sister. Aeryn looked at him sadly before placing her hand lightly on his arm.
“She saved my life,” he finally said.
“She killed your brother,” Lukian responded. “And this is not her first murder.”
“She made you King,” Aeryn whispered and withdrew her hand. “It can never work between you and the Visola. It will be war again if you try.”