Baelor watched in slight amazement as the shallow cuts and lighter bruises on his daughter gradually faded. Those, he knew, were easy. His eyes grudgingly drifted over to the hideous gash on her arm watching as slowly the bleeding tapered off then stopped completely.
Evergreen silently sat near Alce and calmly removed her sword to clean it. The whole camp was silent as the night wore on. The events slowly fading to be replaced with the questions of what would happen next.
Baelor looked up from his precious daughter, seeing the Ferine’s eyes glued to the blond elf. Her hands were steadily cleaning her massive blade without hesitation even though her mind was elsewhere.
Baelor almost flinched at her sudden attention. “Am I necessary?” He asked keeping his hand on Tirin’s chest.
“Yes.” Her deep green eyes pulled away from him and back to Alce. “He…he will need yor energy.”
Baelor looked at his daughter’s still ashen face.
“Chance of death?”
Evergreen’s white brows rose high on her forehead causing her iridescent skin to shimmer slightly. “Fo’ her? No. Fo’ Ahlce, yes…fo’ you …due to yor ahge…yes.”
Baelor gave her a small smile, if he had to he would without hesitation. He nodded his understanding. The sensation that connected him with the fragile girl of his blood and the young mage ebbed and flowed like the ocean. Sometimes swelling strongly like a threatening roar causing a sense of dizziness only to soften and pull away from him like an ending kiss. The night waned calmly, quietly, and slowly. Despite the group’s silence, morning found them and threatened when the old Imperial’s body finally gave in to his exhaustion, his hand stubbornly still in contact with his sleeping daughter.
Tyrus finally returned from where ever he had vanished to in full lupine form. He padded silently to lie at Tirin’s feet ignoring the protective glare of Evergreen.
Darec awakened hours later as the forests fauna stirred. The sky was painted with deep purples and pinks as the smell of cooking meat chased the lingering sleep from the Young Prince’s body. He slowly rolled onto his side and took notice of the older Guard.
Zeph stirred the steaming pot silently, smiling slyly as he himself watched the younger guard flirt coyly with a blushing Daynel.
Darec almost felt jealous.
The sun rose and traveled across the sky, but no one seemed to be in a rush now that Tirin was no longer in serious danger. No one even seemed to be concerned that they were still mere miles away from an angry town whose prince was turned into a lecherously grinning statue.
So Darec simply waited and watched.
Sire Baelor was still out cold alongside his half-breed daughter and the annoying mage. Evergreen was still watching everyone else with a distrustful gaze. Not worried like a fretful lover, but keenly, like a cat ready to pounce.
Tyrus was irritating him. The young Lord’s thoughts were jarred by the idea that Tyrus had utter control over his transformations. When did that happen? How? Had it always been that way?
Darec chewed on his thumb thoughtfully. It had to have been Alce. The dog-boy never had such confidence till after returning with the weird wizard. That pain in the ass had to have done something to ease the usual worry and concern Tyrus was usually burdened with. He was dangerous now, Darec admitted without pause. Showing emotion with ease and without concern, he couldn’t have that.
Tyrus raised his midnight colored head then turned to face the stirring Imperial.
The older elf sighed, looking about mildly disoriented before looking down at his daughter. He sighed again, caressing her face. Her color was much better than last night. Immediately he vowed never to push her away, never to let her go off angry…or alone for that matter.
There’s an attention getting sniff from his feet. Baelor looked to the wolf, surprise crossing his face when he finally noticed Tyrus.
“I am sorry…Sire.”
Baelor raised an eyebrow. He was surprised to see the boy in full wolf form. He recalled the monstrous form he had last night and concluded that Alce had definitely done something to the boy or his confidence.
The wolf fidgeted nervously. “I …did not get to her…soon enough.” His eyes seemed glued to Tirin’s dirty bare feet.
“Tyrus.” Baelor gave a slight groan as he moved to face him. Feeling every bit of his 182 years. “You didn’t shoot her.”
The old imperial ruffled Tyrus’ mane causing the wolf to quiet.
“You got her back for me.”
They became silent for a while before Baelor reached over and caressesed Tirin’s face again. He regarded Alce concerned, noting the boy’s eyes were no longer open. He looked up to Evergreen. “Is he---?”
“Sleeping.” Evergreen nodded. She didn’t think it prudent to mention that Alce had stopped breathing at one point during the night. “Ahlthough.” She knealt down and touched Alce’s arm. “He won’t be of much use for ah day or two.”
“I’m sorry for the trouble.” He watched her eyes widen at his words. Apparently she wasn’t used to such gentle treatment. “Not all of us surface dwellers are disrespectful.” He assured her. She gave him a slight smile and nod.
Tyrus’ head snapped up at the soft groan.
Baelor leaned closer to his daughter, his heart skipping as he wasn’t all that sure that the noise had come from her.
The girl in mention just barely opened her eyes, the swirling colors, and fuzzy forms slowly coming into focus.
No one moved, no one made a sound as her eyes slowly opened wide as she recognized the form hovering over her.
“Fa---?” Her voice cracked and tears streamed down her face as Baelor pulled her to his chest hugging her tightly.
“Shh.” He rocked and tenderly rubbed her hair as her body shook uncontrollably with sobs. “Cattea, na blauta pue moa.” He whispered nuzzling her cheek. “Alah fe…alah fe lo moa.”
Daynel watched quietly, a lump in her throat as the scene played out before. Her own father had never showed her such ...adoration. Saying such expression was a show of weakness. But Tirin was anything but. Stubborn through all the bullying she showed nothing but strength and determination. Daynel turned away from the emotional show. The tears wanted to come and she was fighting hard against them. She knew she would never be able to look at Tirin the way she used to.
Darec only found it interesting that he felt absolutely nothing. At least until Tyrus crawled up by her side and started licking her hand slowly getting her to pet his head.
“Dumb dog.” Darec hissed to himself only to watch startled as the ‘dog’ in mention glared at him with teeth bared.
Baelor rocked with his daughter, listening to her sob, feeling her tremble against him. He never wanted to feel this again. Never.
The day passed with little excitement. Alce slept through it all, but as the day ended the young mage stirred. Enough energy to be half walked/half carried and pushed up onto Evergreen’s horse as they headed out to go home. By nightfall the camp had been dismantled and the fire dead for almost two hours when Gar finally reached it. He smiled at the direction they were headed in. This would be easy.
The trek back was slow, deliberately. Baelor rode in silence still cradling Tirin. Tyrus walked solemnly alongside staying close to them whispering soft words to her. Alce was snoring slightly against Evergreen’s back, more than likely drooling from the strange look on her face. The Guards were up ahead talking quietly to each other, Daynel intermittently joining in.
Darec merely watched. Tirin would eventually get over her shock and talk of everything. What could he possibly do to prevent this from happening?
He watched as Tirin’s fingers brushed across Tyrus’ face causing the ‘dog-boy’ to hesitate for a brief second. He then dipped his head forward, bashfully hiding his face in a black curtain of his wild hair.
“Can we camp? I’m tired.” Darec forced out through clenched teeth, he wrenched his eyes from the strange family.
Tirin’s eyes met his. She loosened her grip on her father before Tyrus reached up to help her down, her dark eyes locking with his.
Evergreen placed Alce’s hands on his chest after laying him out on the sleeping mat. She paused for a second before realizing that she was being watched. She slowly turned to watch as the old Imperial’s daughter slowly walked over to where she and Alce were bedding down. It struck her as odd. Evergreen knew that all the girl had to do was ask and her father or Tyrus would have carried her to them. Instead, with a determined glare to her very human eyes she slowly made her way on her own. The flesh of her feet was obviously still tender with the care she took with each step. Even though they appeared healed, her soles would take another day or two to be completely mended.
Tirin finally reached the couple. Her tongue sticking out of her mouth at a quirky angle while a small smile played across her face. “Finally. It didn’t look to be that far!” She huffed.
Evergreen only looked at her. Then almost smiled as she saw the look on the girl’s face as she stared at her. It was weird and it almost made Evergreen laugh in amazement. Tirin didn’t look at her like the others did. Her eyes held no notice of her obvious difference from the rest of them. It was like she saw her as an equal.
Evergreen blinked. “Oo?”
Tirin smiled. “Thank you. For coming with them. To…to save me.”
The Ferine slowly cocked her head to the side. “Yor welcome.”
Tirin grinned at her. “Lady Evergre---.”
That was taking it a little too far for her. Evergreen snorted rather amusedly. “You ahre tha Lady here, Lady Tirin. Such titles ahre waysted on me.”
“I don’t think so.” Tirin resituated herself, looking and feeling more normal. She was glad her father packed some of her clothing. After she awoke in her father’s arm …and calmed down a bit she had him burn the maid’s uniform she had been wearing. More than ready to forget that part of her life.
Evergreen observed Tirin quietly. The mixed girl tenderly took Alce’s hand and watched his sleeping face. Unsurprisingly the young mage stirred.
“Mmphf.” Colorless eyes opened to spy her. He smiled, a soft cheerful yellow delicately coloring his them. “Tirin.”
“Alce.” She leaned over and hugged him tightly. Then quickly pulled away to pinch his nose. His light yellow eyes darkened to gold.
“Where have you been?” Tirin’s gentle air was quickly replaced with playful ire. Evergreen sat at his shoulder with a smile on her face as the two friends renewed an old relationship.
“All this time you’ve been safe.”
Alce yawned, his eyes switching to fuchsia while he sat up. “Tirin…I’m glad to see you too.” He grinned.
“You should be.”
Baelor watched the exchange with a smile. Glad that his daughter was refusing to dwell on the past. It would take time for her to discuss what had happened, but he didn’t mind. She would never again berate herself for the blood of her mother anymore. Not after meeting both the good and bad of her Human side.
Tyrus looked on as she slowly tried to get back to normal. She would tell all soon when she got over her skittishness. The sharp, acrid scent of fear was slowly being replaced with her normal smell of honey and caphony flowers. He closed his eyes recalling her loving caress of his face earlier. It had startled him, almost causing him to stumble. He wanted more of that attention and knew he would get it. The look in her eyes now, when she turned to him. It was there. He could feel it. She loved him. Him. He opened his eyes and immediately found Darec studying him.
The Young Lord was not pleased. However, Tyrus couldn’t tell if it was with him or with Tirin or the both. He wanted to laugh, because he really didn’t care. He redirected his attention to Tirin upon hearing her laugh at something Alce was saying. Seeing her smile, hearing the laughter he had missed so much. Drinking in the sentiment hidden behind the pull of her lips when she smiled when their gazes met, Tyrus sighed inwardly. He was whole again. The long awaited confrontation with Darec would probably be sometime tonight. The prince couldn’t seem to keep his glares hidden or his comments to himself. It only made Tyrus more anxious to put his fist to Darec’s face.
Zeph watched as one by one the small party fell to sleep. He looked up at the moon, sighing as he recalled looking up at the moon from his post at the gate. He had wanted some excitement…he definitely got it. He laughed softly before heading off to make the first circuit of the night; this adventure should keep him happy for maybe ten years before he needed a change of scenery again.
Tyrus sat up as Zeph’s footsteps headed away from camp. Quickly he walked over to where Tirin laid. Smiling he bent toward her, delicately brushing her outstretched fingers with his. Her hand curled close and she shifted to face him, her sleep-blurred eyes spied him and a groggy smile spread across her face.
“Tyrus…” she whispered before falling back to sleep.
He grinned wolfishly while watching her breathing slow. Tyrus felt the eyes of another and slowly turned to face a glaring Darec. Surprising even himself, Tyrus bared his fangs at him before darting off into the darkness. Darec clambered to his feet quickly to follow him.
Grumbling, Tirin sat up rubbing her throbbing hand. Glaring after Darec’s retreating form. She massaged her ailing appendage and then noticed that Tyrus was gone as well. She quickly got up.
“You Bastard!” Darec screamed into the night’s air as somehow, somewhere he had lost track of Tyrus. His insult echoed through the night without a rebuttal, nothing but the sound of the wind through the trees.
A soft growl whirled him about and fingers of fear crawled across his stomach when he faced the darkness of the thick brush behind him. The night was given a pair of bright violet eyes when Tyrus made his whereabouts known.
“I am a bastard?” Tyrus rumbled.
“Yes.” Darec snapped. “How long have you been planning on stabbing me in the back?”
Tyrus growled again, “I think it is the other way around … young Lord.”
Darec looked at him somewhat shocked at his bluntness. He wondered again what brought all this about especially since Tyrus seemed to be welcoming the release of pent up emotions.
“Oh high and mighty master.” Tyrus said caustically. “Dare I explain what I mean?” He cocked his head to the side as he came forward a few steps. He was enjoying this. He smiled as best he could with his transforming mouth.
Darec backed off when Tyrus gave him a rather menacing grin. He remained in the shadows, but Darec could see that Tyrus had yet to finish changing.
“The selfish, spoiled brat. The cause of my anguish.” Tyrus drew closer, a frightening sight. He had more than doubled in mass and hair. The strange sounds Darec was hearing known now as the popping and reshaping of Tyrus’ bones. He gawked seeing Tyrus’ flesh move as if it was about to separate and form another being. Darec wanted him to go back into the shadows feeling that it was where he belonged.
“It is not the so called curse I blame you for, but the so called friendship you felt compelled to give me.” Tyrus sensed Darec’s discomfort at his appearance and moved closer to give him a better look. “I had thought we were friends once, but you made it clear that I was nothing but a flunky.”
“Maybe.” Darec hissed. “If it wasn’t for me you would be…”
“You truly believe you had something to do with keeping me here or alive?” Tyrus finished. “No. I would have died because of my mother; because of the fright I caused those Guards that night. The only one who saved me was Tirin.”
“Whom I love …” Darec started only to cut himself short when Tyrus lunged at him, resembling more the wolf now.
“Do not lie to me as you have lied to yourself!” Tyrus seethed. “You love that she has status that she has earned and that she is special, but you do not love her!”
Darec glared at him, “What would you know?” He snapped; the little fear that had gripped him now dispersing as his anger flared. “You say I’ve changed, but so have you.”
Tyrus shook his massive head when his change reached its end. “Yes, into a wolf. Very observant.” A strange grin seemed to settle on his canine face.
Darec’s eyes narrowed in irritation. “You changed as much as I did.”
“I changed because I had no choice. It was hard to remain who you once were when not only did you kill your own mother but to have those you once called friends and family turn their backs on you.” Tyrus paced in front of him, his eyes never leaving Darec’s face. The Young Lord only stared back at him.
“I tried to be your friend, this excuse….”
“Not an excuse, Darec. You were never my friend, actually …just another lackey you convinced to help you torture Tirin. Being a fool I actually tried to get back into your good graces. Hating the isolation you and the rest of ‘our friends’ bestowed upon me after you told them I betrayed you after catching you ...” Tyrus closed his eyes unable to finish that line of thought. “And then when I failed at your dare and …changed. My …relationship with Tirin strengthened to your dismay. Even then you knew that any chance of our being ‘friends’ was strained, but you did not want to chance my possible revelation of what you did to her father.” He paused as Darec listened to him. “What you did to Tirin … I lost all respect for you then, but being young and stupid I went along with it and wanting no trouble as Tirin did not remember, I kept it to myself.”
Darec turned away. “I didn’t ask you to.”
“No, you did not,” He barked, “but you knew that I could not divulge such knowledge to anyone without being looked at as a brute.” He bowed his head. “Blameworthy due to association.” He pawed the ground, digging up a little of the grass. “The truth behind your trying to secure Tirin for yourself. To keep all secrets silenced.” Tyrus sat down upon his haunches, his tail whipping about. “You plan on using her as you have used me.”
“For a long time I actually thought you were trying hard to fix what you had done until you let it slip that you was appreciative of my silence weeks later after publicly proclaiming your friendship to the ‘dog-boy”. Tyrus snapped. “Using me to keep your reputation pristine by letting your guilt be my friend when no one else wanted to, just in case Alce let it be known what you had done. Lucky for you he was nowhere to be found.”
Darec rolled his eyes. “I suppose you’re going to blame that on me as well.”
“I do not know. Should I?”
Darec kicked at him watching as Tyrus scampered out of reach. “Maybe some of what you say is true. Maybe at one time I felt that if I had turned my back on you like everyone else did you would have said something.”
Tyrus sat with his back to him. “All those years of being your flunky and you have the audacity to think this?”
“Tyrus.” Darec sighed. “It wasn’t as easy as it seemed being the son of the High Lord. I had no true friends, no one I could trust. You were all just there to make yourselves look better.”
The monstrous wolf shrugged. “Maybe in the beginning it started out that way. Befriend the young master; receive gifts and privileges that most cannot get. But after years and years and the faces of those you called friends changed, save mine, you could not see that I had matured to the point of truly being your friend.”
“No.” Darec shook his head.
Tyrus sat there in silence.
Darec observed him as he did, at first a little ashamed of the truth and then that quickly faded. For a long time he had felt like Tyrus was holding him back. In the beginning it had been a good idea to keep him as an ally but as time wore on it became a chore. Tyrus grew cold and near unfeeling. Closing himself off from everyone. He became difficult to discern and it was hard even pretending to be friends with a wall.
“Now that it is official that our association has ended,” He said with some contempt. “Are you going to stand in my way at every turn?”
Tyrus looked at him finally. “Most definitely.”
Darec balled his fists. “Why? What does it matter to you? Even if you do love her she can’t possibly love you. No one can.”
“The true colors of the Young Lord finally show.” Tyrus growled. “All this time you knew how I felt about her yet continued to pursue her.”
“Of course I knew, we may not be the best of friends, but I knew you once. Your feelings were becoming harder to read as time passed, but it was obvious to me how you felt toward Tirin. At first I thought it was just gratefulness because of how she helped you but then…” Darec frowned then shrugged off the explanation. “I’ve pitied you from the start, knowing your life was ruined forever. Who would want a dog for a husband?” He shook his head then gave a small sarcastic laugh. “Actually you had a chance, though, at the Comne.” Darec eyes him. “Tirin’s desperate or haven’t you noticed that? She’ll take anyone who’s an elf to make sure she can keep calling that city her home. All you had to do was ask.”
“The fact remains that I refuse to let you use her as you have used me.” Tyrus said calmly even though he wanted so much to make him choke on what he just said. He watched as Darec threw a fit. Shaking his fists and stomping his feet, Darec, the Young Lord of Ao'lean, threw a tantrum like a spoiled child.
Darec walked up to him and knealt down some so his face wass level with Tyrus’.
“How am I going to use someone I love?” He yelled. “There is no way in hell you can prove that I don’t love her.”
“Besides the guilt you feel for raping her and the fact or the fear that the child could have been yours?” Tyrus said evenly. Darec stood up from him.
“How do you know this?” Darec asked confused thinking that no one else knew save those concerned.
“I was there when you raped her, remember?” Tyrus watched as the Young Lord fidgeted. “Do you think because my body changes that my brain becomes like that of a dog as well?”
“The child was not mine, she said so.”
The dog laughed arrogantly. "I know." His violet eyes stared holes through him. "I was there when she became pregnant. Besides the fact of the odd gestation period, believe me, it did not resemble you in the least.” Tyrus paced a small circle around Darec, slowly making it wider. “You have only been concerned with the potential consequences of your actions. None of what you have done to befriend her meant a thing to you. You never cared for her. Now that you find out that she is half elf with strong magykal abilities you think she will make an acceptable trophy wife? I cannot believe you think her that simple.”
Tyrus ignored his barb. “She had no idea what had happened to her after that, but you did not know because of your cowardly ways. You just want her to keep silent about how it could have been yours. Try and make her happy so she would not tell Sire Baelor. Shower her with gifts and compliments. Try to win her over so that one day you can ask her to forgive you.”
“You think she would ever forgive you?” Tyrus stared at him. “You think that after what you did she can easily forget how you abused her? Actually turn her mistrust and contempt into love and adoration for you; you think you are that charming?”
Darec feels the urge to shut him up permanently as Tyrus laughed heartily. “Shut up.”
“The shock of her first ‘No’ must have been traumatic because you cannot honestly believe that Tirin would ever forgive you, especially since you cannot forgive yourself.” Tyrus backed away from Darec, as he seemed ready to explode.
“You see? It is out of selfishness not love that you want her. You have no true feeling for her so why would I let you try and make the attempt of swaying her your way?” Tyrus watched Darec calm down some after letting his words fade.
“I care about her, a lot.” Darec swallowed as he glared at the dog. “I may not love her but I am more than confident that in time it will grow to be.” He grinned at him arrogantly. “I am as charming as you care not to believe. Not only will she have me, but she will take me without question of my sincerity and her life will be better for it.”
“You still plan on marrying her?” Tyrus asked surprised.
Tyrus shook his head. “She has already told you 'No'.”
Darec shook his head back at him. “You can’t stop me.”
“Why would you…?” Tyrus whispered.
“Does it matter?” Darec cut him off. “It’s not like you would ever let your feelings out to show her how you feel, you overgrown icicle.” Darec smiled at him. “You have been in love with her for the longest and you have done what with this affection? Buried it, just as you have buried every other emotion the great Gods have given you. Your fear, your paranoia of your curse keeps you from doing anything you want. You can be nothing to her, nothing but a very good guard dog.”
Tyrus stood there not sure if he should smile or if he should frown. True he could control his talent now, and the fact that he knew Tirin had feelings for him, but she had yet to come to terms with it was also known. But with Darec mentioning his fear; the dreams or nightmares … did they really mean anything or were they the pranks of his paranoia?
“I can be more than you.” He whispered.
Darec laughed. “A pet.”
Tyrus glared at him. “A pet that will make sure you never get her hand.” He snarled. “I will become a constant in her life, making sure that there is no way in hell you can sway her heart your way. I will remind her of the horror you put her through. Keep fresh the insult you did.”
They glared at each other. Tyrus threw his head back and released a howl. A long eerie howl of anguish that sent chills down Darec’s spine as it echoed through the trees. Silencing the night time fauna.
“Why must you be so selfish?” Tyrus snapped. “Why not let someone who loves her…” He stopped as a smile slowly crawled across Darec’s face.
“If anyone one would hurt her it would be you.” He looked up into the night sky as he crossed his arms. “You refuse to let anyone in, I honestly believe that the Tyrus I knew long ago would have let me know about his feelings for her despite the ridicule of others. You were stronger then, Tyrus, you always let everyone know how you felt about things and I honestly believe that I wouldn’t have stood in your way to try and court her.”
Tyrus snorted. “Mostly because you and others would have started torturing me as we have tortured her.”
Darec grinned, his right hand twirling a bit of hair. “This is true. I don’t doubt that at all, but you would have taken it.” His grin widened. “Now it’s too late.”
“It does not have to be.” Tyrus said simply.
Darec stared at him suspiciously. “And I’m supposed to trust someone who has had nothing but contempt for me for the past,” He begins counting on his fingers, “seven years? You’ve been holding in all this disgust for me for so long, Tyrus. What’s to make me sure that you will not one day reveal that deep dark secret once you have secured the prize?”
Darec eyes become narrow slits and his chestnut complexion became ruddy quickly.
“To hell with you, dog.” Darec growled himself. “She’s special, life has some grand adventure for her and I want to be a part of it.” He rolled his eyes. “Besides, the Grand Ao'lean revealed her in a …”
“That vision was nothing but your own fantasy. So selfish that you do not even remember that you made that up yourself.” Tyrus snapped. “You care about nothing but gain for yourself.” Tyrus narrowed his eyes at him. “You are just evil!”
Darec gawked then laughed uproariously. “Maybe next time you’ll move a little faster!”
Darec observed as Tyrus whirled about, heading straight for him, his teeth bared fiercely and the most hate filled growl he has ever heard filled the air. Tyrus leapt into the air ready to attack him, Darec’s anger melting quickly into intense fear. He yelled out.
Darec fell back onto his rump, his own feet the cause of his unbalance. His arms over his face Darec listened to his own yell taper off to a whine. He looked through the gap between his arms to see Tyrus standing less than a yard away from him, his hackles up, teeth still bared and a low yet vicious growl droning on, but the crazed look that had been in his eyes now gone.
“You Stupid Beast! How dare you...!” Darec started only to scramble back from him as Tyrus darted forward cutting him off.
“Shut up and leave me be!”They stared at each other for a long drawn out minute before Darec got up and started back for camp. He grumbled loudly as he distanced himself from Tyrus
-WARNING!-This Is a rough draft! (That means typos and other editing issues will be found within!)
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An Epic Fantasy