*** EIRIKRINN’S POV ***
I feel sudden pain in my chest and on instinct grip for my dagger. Place is empty. It’s not here. Cold and fear washes over my body. Am I betrayed? Memories from night back float back quickly. My eyes flutter open.
- You are not touching her!
All I see is Sorgedon towering over me. His blade rests still and deep in my body. He clearly missed the wanted spot and now his rage drags blade towards my heart slowly. I hit his body with both my legs. He staggers backwards, but he still has a hold on the dagger resting in my open insides.
- Predator! I knew you won’t change! I warned her, but instead, I just had to get rid of you.
He hiss as his hands turn the dagger changing the angle. Its serrated blade leaves no mercy. I can’t move my chest and my hands give away power under the sharp pain. I hit Sorgedon’s forehead with my head till I am able to move it and then my heel follows. I’m not going to be the one to die!
- Just stop, you two! At least now! It’s not time for estrus!
Estrid’s arm lands on Sorgedon’s and in one smooth move pulls out the sharp gun. Just as I teached her. I cry out to the heights of sky and spit blood which was lingering already in my throat, roll over the bed edge with a loud bump and the green sheets pressed against my fresh wound. I peak quickly at it to check the done damage, but to my biggest surprise I start to heal quickly without the blade dividing my skin. There is no nausea and the head is not dizzy. Probably Sunshine’s blood is still working. I am glad she shared it tonight. It spares me time now. My eyes travel back to the empty bed and huge concern wraps my heart. Where is she?
- Estrid! They are HIS beasts!
Sunshine is not here, but their voices return me back and I follow the scene still bleeding and clutching my wound. Sorgedon’s finger throws an invisible net towards the window as he wobbles quickly. Estrid’s eyes cross the hall and click on my lost ones. I scramble on my feet as soon as I hear a common sound out the windows. My fingers curl over the windows edge. They are not seen. Yet.. They are coming. Impossible! I get into my pants ignoring their stares and Sorgedon’s comments.
- Where is Rhia?
- That’s your f*cking beasts float us and you expect her to meet you?! Milly knows, they are Cymru!
Sorgedon thunders. Estrid keeps his wrist firm and blocks his way with her body.
- They are not mine.
Sinns.. He is coming..
- They are in red!
He kicks my red cloak, which was lying on the floor letting him fly and land. Estrid’s eyes grow bigger and she steps carefully back.
- You even don’t hide. Sure! It’s your pride to come and destroy! You and your creatures from hell!
- NOT mine!
He hisses through the teeth and I answer also hissing, rushing and struggling to take on shoes. I just hope, Sunshine didn’t do anything stupid. She can’t meet him in person.. Snake tightens my throat. Sinns!
- We remember! Because of YOU she left. Because of you she hurts and lives in that fear!
He catches my arm. I block his other one in a swing aimed at me.
- I am afraid she is NOT any more, Sorgedon.
My words leave in a hurried whisper with a clear gaze in his eyes. I push him backwards freeing my way.
- He won’t leave her alive if he gets to her, Black.
- You, Cymru, always wanted only HER!
- HE changed his mind. He wants her to END.
I whistle and snap my fingers near the open window. Sorgedon launches on me, but Estrid slides in between quicker.
- I couldn’t stop her, Eirik. She is out.
I look at Estrid’s confession. Her eyes plead. Hair on my skin stands in pure horror. I can’t lose her. Not now! My breath quickens and eyes flick on Estrid.
- Stay with Silva.
My fist knocks at my chest quickly in Cymru sign, then hand grabs for the edge of exterior window shutters and legs leave the floor floating in the open air. My body slides down making all wood shutter in pieces. Rest of the way I am forced to jump down. Thankfully the garden’s ground appears to be not so hard and meets my bended knees and an elbow enough soft kissing them.
- Porir, seal the castle!
- Do we stay inside?!
I nod leaving him behind. My legs rash on the defence wall. Where is she? Where did she go? I scan the way along the dropping high waterfalls, pathways, bridges and clif.
- She knows, your father is coming.
I find Silva standing nearby. She observes intently the point at the horisont. I double check it. She knows well where my Sunshine is, so I stay by.
- He threatened, but I didn’t take his words seriously. He speaks so for years.
- He comes stormy, Eirikrinn. He will slaughter us all. Any of us.
I know she is right. Family has no big meaning to him, if he believes we are useless for his plans.. My grip on the edge tightens.
- Estrid can’t stay here. Could you take care of it?
Silva’s face widens in a bright smile with her eyes still fixed at the outline of woods.
- She told you, Eirik!
- You knew!?
I curse not hiding from her. She knew it all the time and decided to seal her lips.
- She almost died giving birth. There were times we thought we lost her. We had to find out how to keep her alive.
- Sinns.. Silva! And you said nothing to me!..
- She struggled between our worlds and two mixing bloods. It took years, Eirik.. There was nothing you or we could do more. It’s the first precedent. You both write our history.
- I’m in depth for Andvari for helping you to keep her alive.
Words leave, but somehow I don’t feel guilty for what I did to him. He is still my rival and without blinking I would repeat it again. Itchy jealousy still licks my heart. Silva shakes her head smiling, surprising me.
- He knew nothing.
I guess once more. She winces at the howling of wolves. He eyes flick the surroundings. Sinns, Silva, where is she?! My anxiety grows.
- My father. Sorgedon appeared here almost at the same time as you.
I exhale in relief as jealousy lightens its grip. My eyes uncontrollably find Fergus, measuring a new opponent. He is helping Porir. Looks like Rhia already gave him an order. She prepares the castle for it’s defence.
- Why did Fergus stay here for so long?
- Bond.. You should know better..
It gives me hope and assurance. Now, when Sunshine and me are back together, our blood bond has to work along with us. A piece of hope blooms warming my chest.
Lots of shadows leave the woods and place themselves on the stony string. Silva and I stick to the blurred distant view.
- So Rhia spoke with you yesterday. She already knew King Cymru was coming.
It’s already my statement. Of course Sunshine knew.. That’s why she acted so strange. I don’t wanna take it as our goodbye. We just reunited. Silva nods shortly confirming. I curse. This time in my mind.
- She counted on Sorgedon’s help, but he refused.
I curse once more replaying in my mind the scene in the yard. Her brother fails her again when she needs him most. And once again she chose him instead of me.. My heart sinks in invisible, but so real pain. Sunshine kept me blind. Pique finds a place between other my burying feelings.
- What’s Rhia’s plan?
- Rhia decided to fight on her own. She is not backing off. As she expressed herself “She won’t surrender. She will fight for those she loves”.
Those words ring in my memory. I already heard them. They made my madness to come out and brought light to my heart and biting heat. Sinns, she knew it even then!..
- Toke and Estrid want to stay and support her. Rhia let them. I’m sure, Sorgedon comes to his senses, but he is not any more in her plans, though we need everyone. Even them.
Our eyes are glued on the lazily moving shadows. I’ve seen it once. It’s a battle for a power in their pack. Roaring sound splashes the air and Silva’s body flinches, bouncing my shoulder to the side. One creature twirls suddenly around and stops in front of others. Others encircle slowly, keeping accurate distance.
- It’s Rhia! Hell, Silva!
Silva stops me catching my wrist and locking in her steel grip. I never expected her to have such power. I point my eyes warning her.
- She has friends among them.
- What friends?!
I return my eyes on the battle. Rhia stands on her hands and feet with bent legs as for the low start. Her head is high watching and warning them all. Fangs are out. They glisten in moonlight. She turns slowly around. Two of the wolves launch on her back and others follow. My body vinces on instinct to shield her. Steely grip locks me in place.
- Trust her now and find the way to help her later.
It’s a cold peppering purr. However it hides hesitation. She doesn’t breathe and I understand that my Sunshine’s chances to come back stay fifty fifty. Friends.. I shake my head slightly under my thought. It’s only for the better she won’t take care over my daughter.
I pull out my arm with ease, disappointed in Silva’s decisions. Her power is not equal to mine. I feel an urge to leave her quicker, but her purr appears on my way.
- Alone she withstanded worther. She has many lives.
My eyes find Sunshine. It’s easy to see, two wolves fight on her side. Her nails cut attackers fur and peel the skin off the bones. With a loud howl wolves get aback. She stands on her feet at a full height, fur and bones hang in her hands under her chin wrapped in her sharp nails. She stares every pair of eyes around. They sit and look at her whining. She imitates their howl. Slightly bows her head to the side and turns her back at them. They sit, only their eyes follow her leaving. She howls again and they repeat after her, then disperse back to the woods. She runs, speeds up on her four as she was born to crowl, jumps on the bridge, then in two jumps the wall follows. She crosses it with ease. She is back. I exhale the air I was holding.
- She just won you alliance.
Silva opens her mouth with ease and joy.
- One of those lives will be her last, Silva!
- Don’t get soft, Cymru.
I leave her annoyed and join Porir and Fergus seeking a distraction from inside me bubbling anger. It’s better to put my energy into something I know well.
- This castle has many weak points. We should consider it. That’s the plan.
- It served us well for centuries.
Fergus cuts my words. I don’t want to start with him from the wrong foot, but this is important. I’ve seen many times how Cymru crushed better prepared forces. We have to be all on the same page and be able to strike, if needed, so I continue.
- While you gather all there at the wall, old Cymru will strike us at the back door where we are the weakest. Rhia’s quarters needed higher investments, now it’s not the time to repair, but just keep it in mind as the possibility for us AND for them. And that slope from the river side.. It’s not easy for an army, but not for the well trained in the wars Cymru. He will smart his ass up, so we can do it as well. Just the matter of time, who will do it first.
Fergus turns his back to me. His blatant behavior shows me my place. I’m a guest here. I’m not in command, nor they are. I’m afraid Sunshine won’t win against Cymru with what she got. I curse in my mind gathering that little calmness in me. I feel like I have to say an apology, but Fergus is a commoner.. On other hand, he kept HER alive, right? I search for words to express what I want, but still to keep dignity.
- For my offence, Fergus, I say, it wasn’t meant to bite you.
- Don’t underestimate Rhia.
He blurs more friendly. I nod. They probably saw her only on her high note, but she is not steel and invincible, and she has a limited count of possible lives.
- Even the strongest sometimes need support. We can’t count on luck.
- It’s hard to cheer off your fun club, Eirikrinn?
Sorgedon approaches from behind. His tone irritates me. My fingers curl in a fists, as the thought crosses my mind.. If she only didn’t care about him so much.. I try to brush that sweet wave off my mind.
- Black, leap out your ass from your pocket and join the defence force.
- No need of buttered talk, Cymru. I’m not going to perform in your theater. I’ll whisk Estrid while you will be busy down there.
My elbow hits his chin up and then darts into his solar plexus. How he dares to accuse me! He drops to his knees covering pain and shutting his eyes. His pride forbids him to roar in pain, so he silently suffers. No one comes to his defence.
- She will make this decision herself. Sorgedon, you never learn..
- It’s good you already claimed my sister and have no right to do it to Estrid.
He tries to chuckle. I was already pissed off and that feeling just goes stronger, undeniable not brushable away. Sorgedon is just the right person in the right time. As feeling me, he stands up brightly laughing. He clearly is not aware that Estrid is mine.
- Your sister?!
Estrid joins us in the yard. Her clothes show she is prepared for the battle. I wish I could influence how this night started and will pass, but I’m the little wheel in fate’s play tonight.
- I told you, Estrid, hear me out!
I follow unfolding drama and have a feeling we are distracted. Guards are regrouping. I show a sign for Porir. He gives me a warning. It’s too dangerous for Estrid, but unfortunately I have no place or time to hide her.
- Estrid, Rhia is back. She will need your help.
Not to raise her suspicions, I leave before her hoping she will do as I expected. I just want her away from arising danger. Just in time to be oversounded by howling and grumbling. Woods are no more in silence. They are coming. They are near. My heart hummers and plays drums. Orders bark out of my throat. Good that my army and Porir is here. We are prepared. I scan scenery around. So well as we ever will be..
They are coming, bringing terrible sad, heart breaking howling out of the woods. My mother would have never agreed to that. I fist my hands. Now it will happen. At any second.
They strike the defence wall. Just as Rhia expected. Old Cymru always had low expectations from women, especially at the battle. Red cloaks float and fill each empty spot behind the defence wall. I have never been on the opposite side. Now I know how fear creeps into mind and freezes your muscles when you see and hear them. I shake my head trying to brush all of that as battle starts and needle clouds start to land hitting bodies. We are ready for that as well. Good to know your enemy from the inside. I manage a little smile. Toke eyes me suspiciously.
- Toke, we need to attack. Defence won’t help us for long.
- I agree, but that’s not what Rhia ordered. She wants ALL of them there.
- They outnumber us. We have to act! Now!
He stays silent. He wants to, but afraids of her.
I turn to him for support. He is the one who could influence others, but he shakes his head. We all stay low and in silence. I feel like a mouse in a cat’s trap. I’m not used to being played. I’m not a sitting duck! Guided by instinct or maybe by experience I jump on my legs. Fergus catches my shoulder forcing me to look at him.
- Support her when she will need it, Eirik.
I look at Fergus. They all are mad. Sunshine is fragile. She has no much experience in stateging battles. She never led an army. I’m not the one to sit and wait, and let her die! With Porir and my men behind me we sneak out the back gates. I try to reach my father. I calmed him dozens of times. It’s worth a shot. She gave birth to Cimru woman’s line. It’s more than my father ever dreamed of. It’s a miracle of the centuries. And she still breathes. Father will call his army out. He got what he always wanted and even more.
Cymru warriors attack us as if we were the enemy target. We use waterfalls to avoid their guns and keep savier distance. Anyway father will be at the side of all of it. No need to leap in the middle. Our eyes finally meet and father’s lips curl in a smile, though his men don’t stop to attack us.
- Call them out!
He smirks at me and says nothing. I want to wipe that weird smile of his face, unfortunately he is not yet in my reach.
- We’ve got her. The way you always wanted.
- Eirik, you don’t think straight.
- Father, Black princess is mine! Ours! I claimed her and she obeyed to stay with me.
- While you used her body, son, she f*cked rough your mind. You have lost yourself in her web.
His laugh overshadows all other sounds. I slip behind him, ramming the dagger at his throat.
- Call them off, father.
He elbows my nose hard letting the blood spring.
- Because of her you became weak, Eirik. You are my prime. She is not right for you. I can’t stand and let her leash you!
I take him down and we wrestle. Brutal punches, nothing like we did during training sessions. I take the upper hand and press mercilessly, pining his throat to the ground.
- She is chained, father, bonded forever to Cymru. Willingly. Royal blood to royal blood.
I knock shortly at my chest. Men in red around us instinctively salute “Cymru” repeating me. Damn, I forgot how I missed that. My father’s lips hit a smile.
- I get your point, son.
I stare at him. He understood me? That’s it?! Right, he got what he wanted. He smiles softly at me. We are done. Relief washes over my chest making it light. I help to get him on his feet. His smile greets me and he proudly turns to warriors. My father knocks into his chest sending terrible gong.
Cymru’s joy erupts on the whole field and they storm the castle walls and gates from the ground and air. Betrayal. That’s how it feels. I stare at my father. One more open invisible wound in my chest. I watch him sending commands and pointing fingers to the castle. They won’t hold inside there against my father for long. I don’t know if she is hurt, but something inside me prompts she is still alive. I leap in a fight with old Cymru. There were days when I would leave my ashes for him on any battlefield, but not after today. I already had many doubts, but now he hit me with his ice sharp coldness. Red beasts gather everywhere, no matter where I turn during the fight. They will break in at any time. What’s worse, they know it and it drives them more passionately. My stomach turns and panic settles. My father laughs at a sign of me. With enormous crack statues of dragons separate themselves from the defence wall they were sitting. They fling their heavy wings sending intruders drop off the trembling wall. They hit the sky covering stars and leaving us small. What my father planned for this time? How did he take them to the sky? I follow them rising high.
- And you stand for her, son? Open your eyes! She played and misguided you!
My father states his beliefs and starts to regroup his warriors. Dragons hit straight down, then with the swing leverage horisontal, their opened mouths set all the way under them on orange burning fire. It licks red backs and hands, feets and heads, bones and muscles, returning everyone who wears red to the grey ground. I know many of them. We were fighting together, saving each other’s backs. I’m frightened.
- Look at the hell she created!
My fathers voice crosses the cracking air. I watch the fight between death and live. It’s Sunshine’s doing! It’s her plan!
- It’s you, who always mixes heaven with the ground!
- Open your eyes, boy, don’t be her puppy!
- She is bonded to me. I did what you could never achieve!
- Snap! She bonded herself with Hell! I’ve sent Shadow and an army after her, assassins, I’ve sided with warlocks, what cost me a fat fortune.. She not only escaped, wasted my goods, she got her poison into YOU! And now..
He swirls his finger around.
- This! She uses MY dragons against me!
I launch on him just in time to avoid the flying axe. It parts my fathers side under ribs. I recognise, it belongs to Toke. My eyes jump over heads to find him, avoiding sharp silver darts aiming for my heart. It stops our fight. My head spins and a stream of blood covers my eyes. Not mine. Nearby one more down. My body is bruised and marked in disgusting cuts. Still heals perfectly quickly. I look for my father, but he is already gone. My eyes come back to Toke. He leads her men. I scan the field. She is nowhere around. I exhale deep. Toke is sweaty as me and millions others in this red-gold and hot deadly dance. Three more dozens are down under my cut. My heart flutters. At least she stayed in. Toke shouts and gives me signs I don’t understand. My ears don’t separate his voice in a booming crowd. Dragon statues open their wings and reach for the sky. Damn Sunshine!.. They are machines, they are not real dragons! I remember that strange smell, piles of books shattered everywhere, all the wires, gallons and tools I’ve seen in the green halls when I looked for her.. Does she even control them? My eyes rake them getting up into the sky. Panic erupts as those flying creatures turn towards us again. I know they will strike. Toke yanks on me and drags me down away from the hot line, out of its reach just in time before their shadows color in hot red yellow licks..
- You had to stay in! Now Rhia sent me to babysit you.
He stares me down, but quickly leaves. My eyes search for my father. We are not done yet. At that moment the defence wall collapses with a great sound and the red wave piles in.
- You are not worthy to be Cymru!
I collapse on my way to her as my waist is looped by a rope. My father towers over my body. My chest is pressed under his spiky shoe.
Estrid’s voice comes up clearly. My father booms in low laughter.
- With a royal bond you needed a slut! You are pathetic.
He aims this time to my heart, but I manage to escape. His daggers still pin me in pain on my shoulder and knee. He acted stricking. I hiss wrestling in pain blocking him direct access to my heart and throat. Estrid leaps on his back, but he shakes her to the ground as a small fly. I shield her with my body. He gives a sign for his guards to drag her away.
- Nice ass to f*ck. After the prince King will be for her an upgrade.
He winks at me. My hand finds the nearest sharp gun, wraps around it and darts directly to his heart.
- She is Cymru.
We stand there looking at each other. Seconds pass. Nothing happens and I slowly understand I missed something.
- She doomed you, son.
He laughs grabbing my wrist, but changes his mind and sends me in the middle of his guards. I cut their throats, but instead of them the same amount of new again appears. Old Cymru goes after my Sunshine. Her slim fragile body appears between dancing fire tongues on the bridge. She flies and turns in the air sending piles of dust. As soon as she sees him, her eyes go icy cold. He is her target as much as she is his. Her each step sends air blasts wiping all around her body. Her hands work so quickly, you don’t even notice. She mastered through the years. My father tenses. I’ve never seen him scared, but that is it. He stops in front of her. Two powers, two bloods, two bodies. She speaks up first.
- It’s a habit of yours to come uninvited.
She observes her finger rings of wharlock’s origin, though a corner of her eye stalks every of his moves. His tomb brushes the corner of his lower lip.
- Your father forgot to put you on leash. I was there to help.
- He didn’t ask you!
- He did.. by turning my wife against me and you continue that line working up my son! Your father deserved everydrop of that poisonous cut.
He hisses and whispers hatred words. He is not proud to speak aloud his weakness, but he also provokes her. He knows she has no experience. Those two worlds will collide. I try to break into their circle breaking the rules once again. I aim to change power slides, but they both ignore me and I’m being dragged away by the guards. In the blink of an eye they face each other circling in the air and clearing the area around them. Dust flies in the air mixed with ashes, little stones and red pieces. Battle between those two powers looks so unreal. Every second I blink I expect to see the real calmer unfold, but each time I’m met by a harsh fight and guards holding me tight in place as I try to break out of their hold. She slips on the edge. His dagger enters her chest and her cry stings in the air and in my blood, stopping fights around. They all know they came here for her.
Estrid’s scream proves to me it’s all real. I take a try to sprint towards them. My father booms in his joyful laugh. Why didn’t he die of my hand?
- Like father, like daughter..
It instantly changes in his wolfish cry out as her hand enters his chest and her fist wraps around his heart. Dagger glistens. Sun threatens to peak over the mountains! Sunrise! Everyone starts to back off looking for shelter, but staying at the edges of this open place.
- You don’t have Cymru’s balls, girl.
He tries to laugh, but struggles under her grip.
- Never overpower free will, Cymru.
Old Cymru wiggles. I see her hand weaken. She is not Cymru to stand out against the King. My father knows that and a bright bloody smile spreads across his face, despite she is weakening him.
- You don’t have enough power to finish me. If you stay with me, we will die in the sunlight, but.. you always can let me go.
She gives me and Estrid short look. Will she consider that? I want to wipe that my father’s beam of his winner’s face. He is sure she will let him go!
- They are Cymru. Just like me. Will you die for them, Black princess?
As much as I know her, she always goes her own way. That’s why my heart sinks down and blood in my veins becomes cold..
- I’ll take the chance.
Cymru kicks her, but she stands out and doesn’t separate her hand from his heart. Just squeeze it tighter. He exhales short, with a blow. Bodies of my father and sunshine slump to the ground.
Crowd gasps under the scenery as Estrid springs towards Rhia. I chase after her. Sorgedon’s roar crosses the air as the sun threatens to uncover ground. He already lived in that moment. I flick the eyes to my Sunshine. I need her alive. Sorgedon joins us next to the bodies. Estrid sobs over Rhia’s body, trembling, on her knees. She is a total wreck. I look at Sorgedon and he reads my mind. Probably, because without asking he scoops Estrid and brings her to the nearest hideout.
I’m left to take care of Sunshine. They both are still here trapped in those bodies, not very alive, but also not yet dead. I don’t have to consider which one I want to save. I look at the mountains. Sun is coming up any second. My heart thunders. Either we will both survive or we will both die together. Sie is my sorrow, my joy. She is an elixir of my life and I’m not ready to part with her. Just the moment I lean in to pick her up, my head meets a strong push of fathers spiky boot. I am flinged backwards over the edge with dizziness in my eyes. The last thing I hear is his voice blurring out that Black Hell dies with him. I land hard under the bridge, on the right shore, in calm shadows, but my heart shouts for HER. He is not taking her away! I collect myself and find the secret passage which Porir found earlier during preparations for the castle’s defence. I appear near the gates in front of the bridge in no time. Breathless, but full of power and determination I storm forward. Estrid stops me grabbing my shoulder. I trail her gaze quickly. My father’s body is breaking into small dust, they fly into the air. Light wind brushes his remains not really willing to settle them around. Rhia kneels her hand empty right in the same spot where she held his heart. Her fingers are still squeezing my fathers invisible heart. She is under the first sun rays. Not burning, not fading.
- Fy, Rhia! Fy, Rhia!
I hear loud salutations. I look at her all so fragile there, all alone, not moving. Cymru gongs sound announcing that the King is dead.
- Eirik, what’s going on?
Anxiety and panic in Estrid’s voice remembers me about her presence. I wrap her shoulders and kiss her temple. Sorgedon clears his throat, bringing us his message.
- You have my wings!
Estrid astonishes me, when she notices my birth sign on my skin. Oh Sunshine, I wasn’t the one left in blindness by you! I give Estrid my smile and hug her tighter.
- You definitely have mine.
Hundreds of Cymru lurking in shadows start to knock at their chests, land on one knee and bow their heads. They admit my Sunshine’s victory and are ready to be led by her. She rises on her feet, stands there on the bridge with her bloody fingers placed in V on her chest. In daylight. Under sun. She scans the field slowly. Hell, she is a goddess! Her eyes flick on me. They are distant, unrecognisable, deep red. I put my two fingers on my lips in a kiss. I can feel her coldness. Something died in her, something has changed, but I know, my Sunshine is still in that body of hers. Time passes, but finally she mirrors me. I knew, our bond is still there. We stand apart, but we are in this together.
— The End —