The Nightmare had spent a good deal of time upon a rock, either contemplative or napping. It was only now, as the seasons turned, that he'd given himself to such bouts of lethargy.
After all, when one had more time than things to fill it with, one tended to fill the excess with what they had on-hand, which in this case was nothing.
The dragonelf, on the other hand, had too many things to fill her too little time available, and found herself snarling at the minutia and mundane. It was Teshid, true partner indeed, who had recommended she take, in his terms, a real vacation. She’d scoffed at the very idea. Her reticence wasn’t due to skepticism in his abilities as a businessman - he was a master - but rather at the residing weakness that claimed her whenever she dared allow herself to suffer thoughts of her mate. It had been almost a decade, a lifetime and yet a mere second, since she had first willfully given to him and yet she still fell into an inwardly simpering mess in dreaming of the Nightmare. A letter begun and seeming complete cast its way toward Rhydin and the Southern Woods. In truth, the midst of penning caused the epiphany; she needed him again. She needed home. A hastily-drawn figure served as promise and warning in its own perfect way.
She followed; she almost preceded her musings but it inevitably arrived before her by a mere day. No warning of her imminent arrival was provided and it was careful cause to not allow the Nightmare knowledge of her return. She’d quietly stalked the Wood - in her mind, their wood - for another day before she caught frail whispers of his presence. It was a careful thing, being in his place, his power, without detection. Shades, those minions of her shadow powers, cloaked her movements and dispersed distractions and subterfuge through the glens. Finally, though, she presumed to grace him with her attendance.
Plain and simple, yet elegant, sturdy, and perfectly balanced, a knife sliced through the air from the thicket behind the Nightmare on the rock, aimed not toward the heart but rather toward his left shoulder.
Skid's afternoon of relaxation didn't seem to take Dawn's approach into account. After all, she was still in Iristica as far as he was aware. Truly, he hadn't moved throughout her stalking approach, hadn't given any physical indication he'd even noticed another presence, such as his serene repose seemed to communicate.
So when the knife found purchase and split apart the skin between scales, sliding through muscle and sinew, the reaction was immediate. Scales all across his body rippled and rose, ever so slightly from the skin. The jet of chemicals from beneath them ignited almost instantaneously, as though a series of small explosions were taking place all across his body, leaving him wrapped in a wave of flame.
He didn't even reach for the blade, but instead twisted and backpedaled away from the thicket, towards the clearing.
The drop, it seemed, she had gotten on him!
Most people - most villains - would make themselves known in this situation. They’d come out of hiding, smirking and posturing at their superiority. Dawn, however … not most people. Silence reigned in that thicket, carefully downwind of the Nightmare. He had myriad resources, skills, and abilities that could provide clues as to his assailant’s identity; she wouldn’t make it easier for him to find out. The game, you might say, would likely be up as soon as he ascertained her.
She did, however, draw the shadows behind him to flicker and shift, just at the corner of his vision.
He spun about, tail whipping defensively across the space he'd been facing before.
A tongue of flame arced from a split in the mask to create a semi-circled inferno in the clearing's soft, verdant grass, turning it first into a blistering flame, and then into smoldering char.
Somehow, he still hadn't thought to reach for the blade. And the letter she'd sent had given her an even sharper edge. After all, he'd kept it on his person since its arrival.
His back was turned once more, and thus another blade was produced and flung toward his right shoulder. This blade, too, was of the same production and heft - it was the mate to the first. Fitting, no?
Perhaps, though, this one was meant to pass through his shoulder, for it was flung with greater velocity, greater viciousness, and sped faster across the clearing. On the other hand, mayhap, the enhancement was meant only to reach him faster as his senses were heightened, alert given and reaction times reduced.
Either way, she dared to chuff a laugh, a very soft, short sort of snicker at his consternation. Shadows flitted once more at the limits of his sight, in front of him now but at the very extremes of both sides.
This time, the attack wasn't as smooth. Of course, the second blade found purchase, sinking into the trapezius with polished, deadly accuracy. However, his right hand had wrapped around the blade of the first, and in a single, fluid motion whipped it from its resting place around him, and straight back towards the sender.
Now, however, the blade was coated in slick, black blood. Sizzling ever so slightly against the metal. He gave no time to consider the fate of the blade, however, as he spewed a napalm-like slurry from side to side, torching more of the surroundings.
No longer a laugh but a hiss of pain confirmed that the returned weapon had found its mark. Of course, that was likely the intention as she, unseen, made no motion to evade the approaching projectile. It cast deeply into her own left shoulder, through smokey grey leathers and to bone. Her own crimson ichor commingled with black on blade and shoulder, staining her hunting garb as it seeped into the tanned flesh. That was no matter; soon enough such things would be a shredded memory under his talons or hers. She could not resist, however, digging a finger into the slit gash where the knife rested, drawing out a glaze of the corrosive black substance on the very tip. She brought that to lips and tongue snaked out, tasting, while her eyes curved back into her head with the very perfection of it.
Shadows coalesced at his head, seeking to deny vision to the incoming attack, a spinning, whirling wall of midnight that never quite touched his abominable visage.
The attack, when it came, was of the dragonelf herself, launched forward from her protective thicket, wings mantled and hands spread. The knife remained in her shoulder at the lunge, a delicious torment that enflamed her, excited her, and cast her forward into his … arms. So to speak.
The hiss, of course, was what gave her away. The wall of shadow, now given reason, given identity, did less to drive him to frenzy than it did to make him focus. His arms spread wide and low, claws trembling in anticipation until she smashed right into him.
The very nature of what he felt gave him an apprehensive twinge of self-judgment, but his breath hitched nonetheless when the familiar feel of her skin, her leathers, her body touching his again invaded his senses along with her scent, hot and heavily blooded. The warmth that flooded him, the relief he felt, was far stronger than that momentary self-chiding for any perceived inner weakness.
That and, of course, as soon as she touched him, he knew where everything was. So as his arms circled her waist and brought her in, grasp between tight and crushing, claws digging through leather and into skin, his jaw all but unhinged and clamped down over her right shoulder, driving row upon row of needles and razorblades into the flesh.
The words he hissed, garbled by blood and an otherwise occupied mouth, nevertheless held their meaning against her blood-soaked skin.
"Ald'oer okarthel, Dianras. Sia'froneel."
When she met him, it wasn’t to bowl him over like she’d hoped, but rather a macabrely sweet embrace that he had settled himself for. Her grip matched his in intensity as she curved arms around his neck, enough to dig clawed fingers into the base of it. Her legs encircled him too, crossing at the ankles to cage him and press his torso closer to hers. The bite, relished agony, cast a shift as her head tilted back, howling at the pain. Of course, though, she didn’t seek to ease it, but rather redoubled her efforts and encouragement. The blade in her shoulder shook loose, jarred by the contact between them.
A hand moved from his neck and toward that still-embedded blade at his shoulder, curving around the handle and twisting. Agony shared is pleasure increased, after all. Her pelvis jutted up hard against him and her other hand, free with the security that his grip brought, dipped lower, aiming to entice the primal joining through deft strokes.
“Skedras,” she echoed. “Sia’froneel.”
Unable, or altogether unwilling to stop, the lovers let their violent tendencies bring tooth and nail to the forefront of their great show of passion. Through fabric and leather torn, discarded, and thrown aside to leave gashes and tears, punctured flesh and shorn skin and swaths of blood and destruction to the clearing.
Some not-as-long-as-you'd-expect time later, the pair lie together in a clearing no longer kissed by nature's bounty, but burnt and broken into a scorched, yellowish-black crater wishing desperately to be what it once was.
Skid was coiled up against Dawn, limbs lazily tangled, claws trailing along the outer edges of wounds, tail wrapped tight around one of her legs in as many loops as it could manage, his chin resting just above her collarbone as he looked upon her face.
"Will you be staying?"
One it-may-not-have-lasted-long-but-I’m-very-sated dragonelf met his gaze, eyes half-lidded. Her hands travelled over his form, recalling it, committing it to new memory. One, the closer to him, traced patterns upon the back of his head while the other dug into pinpricks and claw markings, widening them just minutely to feel as close under his flesh as possible.
“Aye,” she admitted with easy grace, not making him work and wonder at the answer. “For the season. Teshid has ordered me home.” Ordered was likely too strong a word, though there was no doubting the young man’s ability to assert himself and command the situation. It was a word that released Dawn from total liability of her need for the Nightmare, however, so she flagrantly abused the notion that she could be commanded by anyone other than her mate.
Words pooled on her tongue but then swallowed, and she cast out others instead. “I had thought that Suturi might require some suitable company as Teshid has been away almost permanently, or perhaps it was time to assess her suitability toward the business with Teshid and I.” Lies, bald.
"Has he?" Saccharine amusement dripped from his words. "I should send him a gift. Though, I'm not sure anything I could send back would compare." Oh, but the honey poured on those words was nearly sickening.
"She has been rather rambunctious of late, you know. I'm not sure you could handle her." Oh, but a challenge? Or perhaps just pride peppered on his progeny.
"You could, of course, if the whim took you, while away the hours carving your name into my chest, until you hit bone."
"Or, if a truly sickening urge takes hold of you, we could go on a picnic. I would only judge you somewhat harshly."
The sweet caused the sour. A fleeting scowl marred her face and she dug claws in perhaps a little too harshly. Though … between Dawn and Skid, was there truly a thing as “too harshly?” She shifted under him, torn between indignation and the compulsion to be as much him as she might ever be. “Perhaps we should send him your tongue. He would, no doubt, marvel greatly at your inability to be an asshole,” came the not-quite-snapped words. She tempered them, though, with a shake of her head and her damaging notions settled, laying her hand flat upon his side, just under the ribcage.
“Further, I have no doubt that she is rambunctious, with you as guide and mentor and no moderating force.” As if she could or would do that. “She is also grown, and even moreso than youth in the prime, they know everything without our assistance.” Kids, hmph.
Finally, she responded to his kind and generous offer with a counter of her own. “I desire to gather a picnic, where I might craft a plate of your bone with which to set my succulent feast. Together we might watch your beating heart as we dine.”
"Liar!" His outrage was entirely faked. "You'd never give up my tongue. It's your favorite tongue. You're not that charitable. The price of my being an asshole is an outright bargain." He slid up just a little as she spoke of their daughter, and pressed the bridge of his nose against her jawline. His voice dipped, as well.
"They certainly do, don't they?"
An amused chuff escaped his lips. "The table would simply be ruined. We'd need to eat so quickly."
“You may be right, Sia’froneel,” she granted, caresses beginning anew but tender, light and cherishing, as the waves of softness lapped away edged steel inside. Her breath in stole from his out, closer he was now. Her eyelids fluttered completely closed, savoring this rare moment of present bliss. “I have missed you, my love. Perhaps…”
Her voice trailed off slowly, mind pausing the words as she sought to find that which she needed to express properly her thoughts. “… perhaps …” Another false start, another shift of her body underneath his. It wasn’t to withdraw but rather to more completely touch his own bare flesh. She couldn’t get enough.
“… Teshid.” She’d start there. “… it has been all but in name that he has moved to Iristica, for our ventures. What is your inclination if that were to come permanent, and official?”
He shifted with her, for they couldn't be too close together, and listened to her speak. His hand slid up from her hip, across skin and blood and flesh, to the other side of her jaw. He tilted her head enough to press her chin against his lips, then he brought his head up to regard her directly.
"If you would find greater fulfillment here, then I would be inclined to think it the most advantageous decision possible. The offices in the city are busier than they were, but could still easily serve as a seat of operations for you to grow from. Suturi spends more time in them than I do, you know. Tinkering in the basements." She really was a chip off the ol' block.
"I do relish the thought of your being near on a more permanent basis." His claw began to trace faint circles along her jaw, her cheek, her brow. "But you know this."
Her gaze remained on his, meeting the eye without hesitation.
It was a delicate balance, this idea of remaining indefinitely. She had taken to Iristica to give her a sense of purpose, of reason when she’d stopped slaving. The idleness was tortuous, a slow death confined underground in the caverns and was the closest thing to a rift between the pair. The distance had been important, then, but now … now, they both suffered from it.
That was plain with how desperate they remained to touch.
He was right, too. Here could serve as a new seat for a growing empire and would satisfy them all. Oh, Teshid might miss Rhydin, so she would need to monitor his interests and desires and give him a “real vacation,” but the Nightmare’s seeming acceptance emboldened her enthusiasm for the nascent plan.
A final decision was made quickly, based solely on his response, but not rashly.
It was an answer to his previous query, a repeat of her words, but carried this new meaning. “I’m staying.”
His smile was, for lack of a better word, beautiful.
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