I'm going to guess it's safe to update now? *looks around uneasily for Tily Everly, all the while not noticing the dark shadow advancing from behind* *screams as Tily Everly tackles to the ground, and they roll around with swords clashing*
Chapter eight: Arothyn
What . . . what were they?
The strange symbols all along my arms were a deep ruby red, and they were . . . glowing. If only faintly, but they were glowing. I felt my eyes widen as I turned my arms over and over again, examining the strange runes all over my skin.
The symbols didn't stop there. They extended to my chest, before they stopped, and started up again along the sides of my legs(I reviewed this later in privacy). Since I no longer casted a reflection in mirrors, Selest informed me that the markings were also upon my face.
I stood up from the bed, seeing my wings were still in place, the same as before--- black, with red tips upon the feathers. I sighed with relief. I glanced at Selest, who was still perched on the edge of the bed. "How are my eyes?" I asked worriedly.
"They're gold." she said softly.
That could either mean one of two things. Either my eye color was permanently changed, or my eyes had turned gold because I was in love with Selest. Gold was the color of love. I blushed deeply.
Selest suddenly smiled at me. "And now they're pink and gold, because you're embarrassed and . . . in love with me?" the last part was questioning and amazed.
I looked down from her, feeling suddenly shy. "Well, yes." I mumbled, heat flaring in my cheeks.
Selest beamed, standing up from the bed and moving over to me. She hugged me around the waist, and just then it struck me how much younger than me she was. I felt a sudden rush of guilt, and eased back from her.
"Selest, I'm going to have to address this." I took her hands in mine, looking down into her eyes. "I want to hold off on a relationship like this until you're older." I began.
Selest's eyes fell. I was surely glad she showed her emotions openly to me. "So . . . you're going to make an excuse because you don't want me?" she mumbled.
I was shocked. "No! Selest, no." I stroked her fingers gently in mine, my gaze softening on hers. "I'm saying that I want to wait until you are older before we go into an extreme relationship like this, because I feel wrong taking you right now. I want to leave you other options, other men to choose from first."
Selest's eyes widened as she looked up at me. "I don't want anyone else." she said, horrified.
I grinned. "Good. Keep it that way."
She smiled reluctantly, before I released her hands and asked, "Where's Irene?"
Selest suddenly looked down at her hands, hiding her eyes from me. "Um . . . with Raylan."
My eyes narrowed slightly at his name. "I see. Well, I need to know where they are."
"In the stadium, I believe. I left them in there to come check on you after Irene left." Selest said uncomfortably.
I nodded. "I'll go find them."
I glanced sharply at Raylan as he snorted when I dropped all the ancient books I was carrying on the stadium floor. I glared at him and he returned my look with innocence, until I sat down. Then he resumed smirking at me.
I spread the books out all around me, opening them up to various pages and studying the ancient text laid out before me. I was studying about this enhanced race that Cillian was, now, trying to find a name for them. There was no official name that I could find.
"Try this paragraph here." Raylan murmured from over my shoulder, resting a tanned, golden-tinted finger on the book to my left. I scowled but obeyed, seeing the paragraph was labeled 'Arothyn'.
I began to read, seeing this was the name that the hybrid race--- the cross between vampires and eslendar--- had been dubbed after a century or so. Arothyn. I thought, intrigued. I wonder if Cillian has woken up yet, speaking of him . . .
I was hardly paying attention when Raylan sat down behind me and lightly slid his arms around my waist, holding me against his hot body. The heat was pleasant, and I didn't really mind, but I felt guilty, when I thought of Cillian. I was getting ready to tell Raylan to get off when he murmured, "Do you honestly think that Cillian hasn't come to a realization over the young eslendar girl, as long as he's been in that room with her? Don't let yourself feel guilt over something he's doing, as well."
I sighed. That was probably true. It didn't make me angry as much as sad that my relationship with Cillian couldn't be what we had hoped when we'd first met. I guess it just hadn't been as 'right' as we'd thought. To be truthful, I felt more 'right' in Raylan's arms than in Cillian's.
I wriggled out of Raylan's arms just as someone entered the stadium, and that turned out to be the new, transformed Cillian. I felt my eyebrows rise when I saw him. It was still shocking.
He was so . . . so beautiful now. His skin was paler, and the red runes along his arms glowed. He also had a crescent moon on his forehead, and a strange marking on each of his cheeks. His eyes were still rainbow colored, but I knew now he was a force to be reckoned with.
"Hi." I embraced him first, finding, sadly, that it felt as if I were embracing a close friend, and nothing more. I pulled back, and smiled. "How are you feeling?"
"Better than ever." Cillian replied honestly. His voice was lower, stronger.
"Do you mind if we test out your strengths and weaknesses?" I questioned. "I'm going to have to take notes on all of this."
Cillian nodded. "That's fine. Just tell me what to do."
I nodded in return. "All right." I turned, towards the massive boulder I'd had teleported in here. "Vampires have unbelievable strength, and could lift this boulder with ease and throw it. But as for crushing it? That would be nearly impossible without slaving for days. Try breaking it." I suggested to Cillian. He shrugged.
He strode up to the boulder twice his height and size, before he reared his arm back and punched straight through it. My eyes were wide at the neat hole that was left. Cillian looked bored. God.
"Um." I glanced at Raylan, who was watching with an impassive expression. Then I quickly scribbled this observation down on my notebook. I glanced back to Cillian. "Okay, then. So there's my answer. See how fast you can get to the other side of the room and back."
When Cillian just continued to stand there, looking at me, I felt a rush of annoyance. "Cillian?"
"You can go ahead." I gestured with my hand impatiently.
Cillian blinked, and then cocked his head, confusion on his face. "I already did."
"All right. I'll do it again." he shrugged. He continued to stand there. I noticed that his legs were in a slightly different position, as if he only barely shifted from his spot.
He was so fast I hadn't even seen him. Me, a vampire! This was phenomenal! I was excited, now, as I raced up to Cillian and said, "I want to test your weakness to sunlight. Hold still!" I raced back, chanting a brief word of magic before a ray of light shot from my hand and shone over Cillian. He squinted and winced, but it didn't burn his skin. He held up a hand to shield his eyes.
As I jotted all of this down, Raylan suddenly spoke up. "So what do you plan to do, Irene? Tell Helen of this discovery? There will be an outrage."
"I'm well aware of that, Raylan." I said patiently. "But we have no choice. We'll tell Helen, and let everything go from there."
"Well," Helen settled back in her seat, folding her hands in front of her. "This is extreme news." she finally said, and I held my breath, waiting for her to continue. "I agree entirely with it, but I am afraid for how the rest of the eslendar will react to this."
I let out my breath of relief. "That's good." I said. "I'm glad you agree with it. Selest is also in agreement, and we'll have to present this to the eslendar. I certainly hope they take it well."
"They'll have no choice but to." Cillian said simply. "I believe in my heart that this was the gods' intention. Why else would we have met?" he smiled at me.
I smiled back, and was shocked to see Raylan look away from me, to see his hand clench on top of the table so hard his lovely tan, golden-tinted skin turned white. I shrank down in my seat, feeling very guilty.
Helen stood up from her chair, announcing, "Then we will summon the entire Underground to this meeting and have a word with them. We will reveal you to them, Cillian, and you will demonstrate the benefits but also the downfalls of your transformation. We will keep Selest by you so that she may agree with you and support you on this decision. Agreed?"
There were murmurs of consent from me, Raylan, Cillian, and the rest of the Council, before we all stood and headed from the room, toward the stadium, to wait.
Butterflies were in my stomach the entire time the population of the Underground filed into the stadium, sitting down in the stone bleachers. I stood by Raylan, and Cillian stood to my other side, Selest on his other side. Helen was in front of me.
When everyone was gathered and silent, Helen raised her arms and called, "We have summoned you for no small reason. A new matter has been brought to our attention and could possibly be the method that will turn the war in our favor. What I desire is that all of you listen to this theory, first, before any decisions are made." Helen stepped back.
Cillian moved forward then, and I heard many gasps and or screams from the audience. "I can see already that many of you are wondering what has happened to me." he said quietly, but it seemed that the audience hung onto his every word. "Tell me. Have any of you ever heard of the race of Arothyn?"
The stadium had gone deadly silent. I felt suddenly cold all over, colder than normal.
"For those of you who have not, the race of arothyn was a race of half and half. They were a mix between vampire and shadow being. Vampire and eslendar. Many years ago, vampiric scientists theorized that a hybrid race could be created, one that was powerful enough to take over them all. A race that could not be defeated by anything. And they nearly succeeded.
"They mixed vampire blood with the blood of eslendar, and thus, arothyn were born. Arothyn possessed strength superior to that of vampires, speed superior to that of vampires, sight, touch, taste, smell . . . anything they could possibly imagine. The sunlight only weakened the arothyn, and did not kill them. Holy water no longer burned, and crosses no longer paralyzed. Running water could be crossed. Blood was only required rarely to survive. The only thing that was sure to kill an arothyn was fire." Cillian paused, letting this all sink in to his race. "And now, with vampire blood, and my own eslendar blood, I am an arothyn."
All hell broke loose. People jumped to their feet, shouting in fury and rage. People began to fight, shoving and biting at one another, until Helen had to shout for guards to restrain fighting vampires and eslendar. I felt alarmed, as Helen shouted for peace and silence.
It was only when it was completely silent again that Cillian went on. "I know that most of you are against this, and disagree. But I, the guardian of the Cave of Mists, find that this is the gods' will. I know it is the gods' will. I could feel it as I changed. There is no other way to win the war! We must change, must become different, to win! Otherwise, us, our loved ones, and the loved ones of others, will die! Humans will become extinct and our enemies will take over! There will be no end to the corruption and fire spreading across the world and consuming all we know and love! Hear my plea, and agree with me!" Cillian stepped forward, holding his arms out. "Side with me, and give us, the eslendar, the vampires, the werewolves, witches, warlocks, elementals, and every other creature a hope for the future! Eslendar, the gods command it of us!"
"Cillian speaks no lie!" Selest agreed, stepping forward to support Cillian. She laid her hand on his arm. "Do not think that I was not aware of this. I had received dreams from the gods of this prophecy. We are presented with a chance to win, and it is as certain as death in taxes! We must embrace this new race, become one with what we once feared, and master our fears. We must give a hope to our young and those in future generations. Let us use this to bring peace." she concluded quietly.
I stepped forward, to voice my part. "Those that will change, please step down and join us." Then I stepped back and waited.
Not nearly as I had hoped joined us. It was very few, in fact, but that much was to be expected. The rest of the eslendar seemed to turn their backs on us, and even the vampires looked disgusted. I looked to Helen, and she returned my look with sympathy. I sighed, looking away.
"If any of you are to change your mind on the matter, simply report to me. Otherwise, all of you are dismissed. If you care to see a demonstration of Cillian's abilities to decide your mind, stay for a while." Helen said, waving her hands.
A few eslendar and vampires stayed behind as Cillian displayed his new abilities for them, as I wrote down the names of all the eslendar brave enough to change. While I did this, Raylan moved to my side and murmured, "I never was told why fire elementals could not change with vampiric blood."
I sighed. "The fact that fire kills vampires and that the icy essence of vampires would kill fire elementals."
Raylan absorbed this with an intrigued sound. "Interesting. Irene . . . may I have a word with you after this is finished?"
I was surprised he was being so polite, and so . . . nice. He'd been nice to me all day, in fact. His smart aleck comments had been rare, and he'd been watching me with an almost gentle gaze for the duration of the evening.
I chewed my lower lip, considering. "I . . . I guess. I have to talk to Cillian first, though." I told him.
Raylan seemed annoyed. "Fine. Just meet me in my room." Then he left.
After I finished tallying down the names, I drew Cillian aside for a word. It was a bit awkward. "I'm not sure how to put this, but . . ." I trailed off, looking up into his eyes, trying to find what I wanted to say. I wasn't sure how he still felt about me, and I didn't want to hurt him. I didn't know what to do. I looked up at him helplessly.
Cillian smiled sadly. "You're breaking up with me?" he asked softly.
I felt my heart crash. "I'm so sorry." I whispered, meaning it with my entire heart and being.
Cillian only smiled and shook his head. "It's all right, Irene. I think we just aren't meant to be together romantically. Besides," he hesitated, "it seems Raylan will take care of you."
I felt a rush of blood to my face. "That's . . ."
"Selest will take care of me." Cillian finished, stroking my cheek affectionately. "Friends is good enough, isn't it?"
I nodded, smiling back. We hugged tightly, and I realized that I couldn't think of him as anymore than a friend now. It just didn't seem to fit. But that was fine. I still loved him, like a brother.
I departed the stadium, after glancing at Cillian and Selest and seeing how he could make her smile and laugh when no one else could. She looked so happy, and looked up at him with so much adoration in her eyes when he spoke to her. I smiled to myself.
I knocked on Raylan's door, and when he opened it, I entered and he closed it after me. I crossed my arms over my chest immediately. "What did you want to talk about?" I tried to keep my voice polite and emotionless.
Raylan met my eyes, and his own were impassive. "I wanted to inquire as to your relationship with Cillian." he crossed his arms over his own chest, mirroring my pose and expression, except he managed to pull it off.
I sighed. "We broke-up." I found that I didn't need to lie to him or keep from telling him. I felt as if I could open up to Raylan. It was weird.
Raylan's gold eyes narrowed. "You broke-up?" he didn't look convinced.
"Yes, Raylan." I said patiently. "Cillian loves Selest."
Raylan smirked. "Why am I not surprised?"
I ignored that. "What did you want to talk about other than my love life?"
"Our love life." Raylan replied ironically.
I glared at him. "I don't have time for this." I muttered, starting to move forward, to leave.
"I wasn't being sarcastic." Raylan said quietly, stopping me.
I stopped, still glaring at him. "What do you want, Raylan?" I demanded, outright.
Raylan tilted his head back, his eyes narrowed slightly, as if he were an artist appraising another's work. "You, Irene."
"You asked me what I wanted, and I said, 'you'." he replied slowly, as if I were stupid at learning a lesson.
"What from me?"
"Everything." Raylan moved up to me suddenly, his golden eyes blazing as they held mine. "I want your love, your heart, your body . . . your soul. I want everything from you, and I will not take no for an answer. You have invaded my entire existence and I cannot keep up this charade."
I was shocked. My heart was pounding, and blood was slowly flushing my face. I suddenly looked down shyly, biting my lower lip, the blush spreading over me. Raylan wanted my love? Of course, I knew he wanted me, but I never thought he was this serious. I had never thought he'd wanted something as intense as love, as . . . my soul.
"Raylan, you don't know what you're talking about." I muttered, blushing profusely.
"I know very well what I want. And what I was is you. And I will have you." his eyes narrowed again.
"Raylan, what has gotten into---"
"You have!" he burst out, startling me. "Can you not comprehend this simplicity of all claims? You have pervaded my entire being, Irene! I can't go one single moment without you passing through my mind! To see one so ignorant as that eslendar boy with you is a disgrace! He couldn't handle your fire, your spirit, nor your passion!" Raylan laid a burning hand on my cheek, and electricity sparked through me from his touch. "Of all people, we should be together, and yet, you never took my love seriously. You never considered me in that manner. Instead, you chose him."
Finally, I began to understand. Raylan had fallen in love with me, had been in love with me all this time, and I'd been too ignorant to see it. What it must have been doing to him, to see me with Cillian. No wonder Raylan had seemed to persistent lately . . . My heart was still pounding, and I couldn't breathe, as I looked up into his flaming golden eyes. I had never seen Raylan this passionate before, never seen him without all his shields.
"You tear through all of my pretenses, Irene. I see nothing and no one but you. I can't hide my inner thoughts from you. You are the very thing that makes my heart beat, though in merely a second you could turn and my heart would be dust in your wake. And all that depends . . . on your response . . ." My back had pressed into the wall, by now, and as I looked up at Raylan, I couldn't breathe. Not that I needed to, but I couldn't.
"Irene . . ." The way that Raylan whispered my name made my stomach start melting and tingling in a way that made blood rush to the surface of my skin. I licked my lips, and his eyes followed the movement. In a single second, his burning lips were to mine, and I gasped against him from the taste that consumed me, from the feelings that raced through me. My fingers tangled in his thick, ruby-red hair, holding him to me, and I couldn't let him go. I didn't want to let him go.
And yet, he somehow managed to pull back. "Then I have your answer." Raylan whispered, a moment before his lips were on mine again and I couldn't think. All I could think was that I loved him, that we were now together, and that I didn't want anything or anyone else. My fingers ran down his neck to the buttons on his shirt, and I began to undo them, wanting to prove my love to him.
Whoo! Gasp, gasp, gasp . . . Man, Raylan is FINE!!! What I would give to be in Irene's place . . . How many of my lady readers agree? Oh, and Tily Everly, what do you think of Raylan NOW?