Azriel flew awake with a rasping gasp as his arms flailed and his mind reeled trying to discern why he was jerked from sleep so violently. It took several moments for him to hear over the sound of his blood rushing in his veins and his heartbeat thundering in his ears and when he did, he went cold and statue still.
Coming from outside the cabin was what sounded like a series of war cries and the swsh swsh of magick colliding against magick and the twang of metal on metal. We’re being attacked!
A quick glance around the room showed that Rhyshladlyn was nowhere to be seen and he cursed long and harsh in Anglë’lylel before lurching to his feet, grabbing his sword from where it lay propped against the wall just inside the door to their shared bedroom and pounded out into the main area of the cabin, utterly uncaring of his nakedness as he cast his senses out for Rhyshladlyn, found him to be outside on the lake side of the cabin and promptly turned and hit the back door, barreling through it with enough force that it slammed off the outside wall and shook the frame on the rebound when it clicked back into place.
He bounded across the wide back porch, vaulted down the stairs and ate up the distance between the cabin and the lake edge within minutes. It wasn’t long before he was able to see Rhyshladlyn with his wings flared wide and puffed with aggression, face slack in the way it got only when in the midst of battle, a slow, sickly sweet smile twisting his expressive mouth, auburn hair flying around his face, the early light of dawn glinting in the red hairs that dotted his jaw and chin as he’d given up on shaving once they left Fènwa and he was no longer required to adhere to the Sinner Demon ways. For a moment Azriel almost faltered in his pace, caught up in the striking, terrifyingly beautiful sight his Qishir cut as he parried blow after blow with both magick and steel and bare hands, his laughter low and dark as it skittered across the Currents. He wondered briefly where Relyt was, never mind Shadiranamen and Nhulynolyn, but didn’t take any more time than that fleeting second of thought before he waded into the fray, letting loose a war cry of his own that shook the trees that surrounded the lake and the cabin, making two of Rhyshladlyn’s pursuers turn with wide eyes to him just as his wings exploded from his back and his face shifted to show the truth that lived below it.
And then he was on them, right hand swinging his blade out in an arc that took out a chunk of one assailant’s mid-section, dropping him screaming and bleeding to the ground as he tried to keep his innards where they belonged. Azriel moved on to the second one who had turned to him, her eyes wide as she screamed at the sight of his true face, her eyes tracking the hissing gold and red light that bled away from his face as he moved towards her at a pace almost too fast to track. His left hand gripped her face as he bodily lifted her off her feet and slammed her onto her back in the dirt. Throwing his anger and power into the action he felt her bones vaporize below his hand, leaving a mess of bone and gums and muscle and sagging flesh and blood behind as he pushed up and off her, whirling to meet the next assailant with an exuberant howl that was equal parts excitement and fury.
He was distantly aware of Rhyshladlyn’s own singing war cries around him as more enemies poured out of the woods. There was a thunderous explosion from yards into the underbrush that shook the ground and he would have lost his footing like the majority of those he was fighting had he not had his wings out to backwing and keep him upright. Screaming and the crackling sound of flames echoed out from beyond the tree line as a column of grey and white fire rocketed skyward above the canopy before disappearing.
Azriel sought Rhyshladlyn’s gaze in the battle-lull that was created by the sudden explosion and his Qishir shrugged before tapping the center of his forehead with a raised eyebrow. Relyt perhaps? he was saying with the gesture, unable to speak across the distance between them.
Azriel touched the bolt of his jaw by his left ear and dragged two fingers down it to his chin before tapping his chest twice with those same two fingers. I thought they weren’t offensive fighters? Rhyshladlyn grinned and the sight of it made Azriel’s body tingle in ways that weren’t suitable for battle and judging by the way those glowing orange-amber eyes darted down to his sex where it twitched between his legs, the Qishir knew exactly what he was doing.
Rhyshladlyn pressed the back of both thumbs to his chest on either side of his sternum with the rest of his fingers curled into a loose fist, tapped twice, then lifted his thumbs to sweep the backs of them from his nose across his cheekbones to his ears and dropped his hands in a sweeping gesture in front of him with the fingers extended and palms skyward in response. They are capable of offensive fighting but often are conscientious objectors; what he just did if that was him, was a Soul Wave.
He mimicked the motion Rhyshladlyn had done but shrugged his shoulders to indicate, Soul Wave? What is that? Before Rhyshladlyn could answer the lull had ended and they were engaged with enemies again.
Parrying a blow aimed for his throat, Azriel punched his left hand through one neodrach’s chest as ey set up for a return try with eir trident blades, hissing when he pulled his hand back out and the splintered bones scraped open his skin. He spun on the sole of his right foot to backhand a blue-skinned male with eyes the color of the twilight sky just before night fell. He went down with a hard thud, grunting as he skidded several feet away, leaving a cloud of dust from the dirt in his wake. A loud splash drew his attention to where Rhyshladlyn had flung six people into the lake with a sweeping motion of his hand, his magick smacking into them with all the force of a physical blow. Hope they can swim, he thought before returning his attention to his own fight, ducking, parrying, striking, weathering the few blows that managed to get past his defenses, rinse and repeat.
The ground shook again, the sound of the second explosion coming long moments after Azriel felt it, this time the heat from the flames whooshing out of the trees to ruffle his hair. He cast his eyes to the trees as he dodged what would have been a death blow, smacking the female dealing it with one of his wings and sending her crashing into a nearby tree, the sound of her spine breaking drowned out by her scream and the cracking of the bark as she dented it with her body. He was already turning to the next one before her body even began to fall. By the time another lull fell he was drenched in blood and gooier things, wings weighed down by blood that was both his and others’, flecks of brain and pieces of the internal organs of his fallen targets speckling him from head to toe, a cyclone of dust moving about him where he had fought in the drier dirt of the lake’s beach.
As the dust cloud settled he blinked slowly, taken aback by the number of bodies that surrounded him. There had to be hundreds and it floored him. He hadn’t noticed it was that many as they kept pouring out of the trees. Though when he looked at where Rhyshladlyn stood drenched in gore, magick shimmering around him like the after image caused by heat rising off stone, wings restless, eyes fever-bright, cheeks flushed, and chest heaving as his mouth split wide in a smile that both warmed Azriel’s blood and chilled him to the bone to see, Azriel shouldn’t be too shocked by his own body count. Because where he had hundreds, Rhyshladlyn had to have thousands if one were to count the bodies littering the lake’s surface like fallen leaves. And damn the male, he didn’t even look tired where as Azriel’s muscles were starting to scream at him with from the strain he’d put on them with the nonstop fighting.
Where in the whips of Ckushayel are his Others and Relyt? Azriel wondered now that he had more than a few seconds or couple minutes to breathe without having to switch back into battle mentality.
Casting his awareness out again to search for his fellow qahllynshæ he felt the Soul Healer deep in the woods, breath labored and livid. With a wave at Rhyshladlyn to catch his attention, Azriel indicated the woods, tapped his forehead with a forefinger and when he saw his Qishir nod, took off running towards Relyt. He felt Rhyshladlyn at his back, darting around the trees with an ease that shocked him considering until they had landed in Majik World, Azriel was certain the Qishir had never encountered a wooded area that was natural like this. Hells, Azriel’s homeland was far greener than Shiraniqi Desert and even he was struggling not to get whacked by low branches or trip over roots. Whereas Rhyshladlyn moved with a fluidity that was almost uncanny; as though the trees moved out of his way rather than the Qishir moving out of theirs.
It was little over two miles in that they came to a Dhaoine-made clearing at the center of which stood Relyt, clothes torn and tattered, wings red with blood and face splattered with gore, his eyes blazing, tattoos near blinding to look at, the jewel on his forehead glowing in a pulsing beat that probably matched the Soul Healer’s rapid heartbeat. His teeth were bared and Azriel wondered if they had always been that pointed and he just hadn’t noticed or if, like him, the Soul Healer had a true face that lived just beneath the surface. The male looked like a force of nature standing amidst the absolute slaughter in the clearing, trees still smoking, burned and charred bodies laying in whole and in pieces around him like a sick sort of offering to the gods. Those blazing slate grey eyes lifted from the eyeless body he was holding and looked up at them, face twisted into a mockery of a smile, muscles moving beneath the skin that weren’t normal for someone as humanoid as the Soul Healer supposedly was which lent credence to Azriel’s theory of him having a true face.
“They said they meant to capture you, my Qishir,” his voice was a bass rumble that made Azriel gasp as the air in his lungs suddenly seemed white hot. “They spoke of unspeakable things to be done to you once they were successful. I tried to talk them out of such endeavors, to get them to change their plan and leave. They would not listen.” Relyt looked down at the body in his grasp and released it sharply as though it had burned him. It flopped limply down onto the pile already at his feet and his face paled slightly. “I tried so very hard not to hurt them,” he lamented quietly, the ferocity on his face draining away to be replaced by something akin to horror at what he’d done, even if it had been in self defense and in defense of his Qishir. “I… by the Many, what have I done?”
“Relyt,” one word, syllables spoken at normal volume and inflection around an attend order that was not as harsh as Azriel knew it could be, slithered out and danced around the clearing like revelers during the Midsummer celebrations.
Relyt’s eyes snapped up to look at Rhyshladlyn who calmly strode across the carnage that lay between them as though he were going for a stroll, not crossing a veritable sea of dead bodies.
“You did nothing wrong,” the Qishir told him as he carefully picked his way across the clearing towards the now shaking Soul Healer who stood like a deer caught in the stare of a predator that meant to eat it. “You did what was necessary for your own protection,” Rhyshladlyn continued, voice still at normal volume, still even and wrapped around that same soft attend, “and that of your Qishir and your Key, without which you would most likely have died.”
Azriel choked on his air again, not because it felt like it was burning his lungs but because that was the first time Rhyshladlyn had acknowledged out loud, never mind so directly, what he was to him and Relyt. And that was by far more unexpected than the sudden onslaught of battle around their cabin.
“But I know you are more than capable of defending yourself against numbers thrice these without tiring. I had no reason to defend you,” Relyt replied, swaying slightly on his feet as Rhyshladlyn reached out and pressed his bloodied hands to either side of the Soul Healer’s neck, leaning so close so that their noses almost touched and it was then that Azriel realized just how short Rhyshladlyn was compared to them, even though the Qishir himself was still nearly six feet in height. It was such an odd thing to notice at a time like that but it was so obvious when Relyt had to look down at Rhyshladlyn in order to keep his gaze with the Qishir standing that close to him that Azriel wondered how he hadn’t noticed that difference before then.
“Regardless of that, you are qahllynshæ, aye?” Rhyshladlyn countered, raising an eyebrow. Relyt nodded jerkily, his hands coming up to wrap slowly around Rhyshladlyn’s wrists as the Qishir pressed on, “Which means that by nature of your qahllyn you must protect me at all costs, yes? Even if it means going against what your people and your beliefs tell you you should do, how you should be.”
Azriel watched as Relyt let out a long, shuddering breath before dropping his forehead to Rhyshladlyn’s and his hands squeezed once where they curled around the Qishir’s wrists. “Thank you, Rhyshladlyn,” he whispered but the words still carried.
“No need to thank me, Relyt,” came the easy reply before Rhyshladlyn gently disentangled himself from Relyt and stepped back, casting his eyes around the clearing with an air of one who was rather impressed by what they saw before he addressed them both, “We need to erase our presence here and leave. I don’t know how they found us, though I can hazard a guess, but we cannot stay here. More will come.”
“Where are your Others? I figured they would be among the fray with you,” Azriel asked now that he finally could as he joined Rhyshladlyn as he headed back through the woods, Relyt shuffling along on Azriel’s other side.
“Nully went to wake you before he joined Shadi on tracking down that tavern owner. Only person who knew we were coming to this cabin was em,” Rhyshladlyn replied as they broke through the tree line and back into the clearing at the center of which sat the cabin and the lake.
“I thought we were undetectable here,” Relyt commented as the two males followed Rhyshladlyn up onto the back porch and into the cabin.
“We are,” he told them as he moved to the kitchen and began pulling down provisions that would keep for a journey, “but only to those who don’t know exactly how to find our location already. I should have listened to Shadi,” he added the last under his breath and shook his head with a roll of his eyes skyward.
Azriel frowned at him. “What do you mean you should have listened to Shadi?”
“She said I should kill the tavern owner once we had the cabin free and clear. It would ensure our safety here as no one knew the location. But I said it was more of a risk than leaving em alive; we didn’t know if ey had a lover or five, let alone children or friends, to whom ey spoke of the existence of this cabin. It was too many variables to risk killing em and chance having a manhunt for eir killer. But now I’m thinking I should have taken the risk because at least then we may still have been able to remain here somewhat longer,” Rhyshladlyn said, continuing to pull down provisions, voice bland as though he were discussing the weather and not that he had, at length no less, talked about killing someone who did them a kindness with one of his Others.
“Much as it pains me to say it, Shadi was right: you should have dispatched the tavern owner,” Relyt spoke up as he trudged towards the hallway, no doubt intending to take a shower to clean off the remnants of the battle. The because then I wouldn’t have had to do what I just did went unspoken.
Rhyshladlyn and Azriel shot startled looks at his back as he disappeared into the shadows of the hallway before looking at each other and Azriel watched as his face shifted, taking on that dark promise that it always did when he craved skin to skin contact in the most deliciously tortuous of ways. Azriel growled low in his throat as he stalked across the main room towards the kitchen, crowding Rhyshladlyn back against one of the counters, hands pressed on either side of the Qishir’s hips as he loomed over him, wings ruffled and spread behind him. Relyt would need taking care of but right now, Azriel’s priority wasn’t his fellow qahllynshæ, it was his Qishir.
“You have any idea how fucking delectable you look in battle?” Azriel bit out as he leaned down and buried his nose in the one clean spot on the Qishir’s body which was his neck just behind his left ear, inhaling deeply of the scent that was all Rhyshladlyn. “Gods, I have no idea how I wasn’t unreasonably hard the entire time.”
The dark laughter that rolled out around him made him shudder, hips pressing forward so his hard sex met where Rhyshladlyn’s strained against the fabric of the Qishir’s breeches, making both of them moan in unison.
“I would attribute it to the fact that I have you hard and wanting, practically begging for me, during sparring sessions,” Rhyshladlyn said cheekily and Azriel couldn’t help but bark a laugh.
“Fair enough, my Qishir,” he replied before reaching down to cup Rhyshladlyn’s buttocks and lifted him up off the floor, making him gasp as he wrapped his legs around Azriel’s waist before the Anglëtinean turned and promptly made for the bathroom attached to their room. “Now how about I pay you back for being such a damn tease?”
“Sounds wonderful, Az,” Rhyshladlyn purred in response and Azriel chuckled, unable to help it.
They were about to have to run again but it was worth it for these moments when he could make his Qishir laugh and smile and shiver as he rolled his hips against Azriel’s impatiently, making soft noises of need bordering on desperation in his ear. Because even though they were covered in the remains of literally thousands sent to capture or kill them, Azriel found himself continuously drawn to the male that had captured his heart long before he even knew he was the first and only Qishir in Azriel’s a thousand years of living to deserve his qahllyn.
Now if only I could get him to Answer it, he thought as he dumped Rhyshladlyn unceremoniously on the edge of the large tub while he started the shower, we‘d be golden.