Luke remained calm, his face impassive as he strode through the city. But it was the largest lie he had ever told. (That may be an overstatement he was a wonderful liar) His lean tanned legs propelled him through the throngs of Flying Changelings. A large eyed girl with dragon fly wings and maroon hair asked him for a pence. He smiled down at her but placed a silver piece there instead while stepping on the urchins foot that tried to steal his purse as he did so. He ultimately realized they were from the same gang but he'd rather give the poor children money honestly than force them even lower than begging. Stealing.
He walked among his people and none spared him a second glance. This close to the palace no one would. He was just another interestingly colored noble. But as the districts became poorer by the block he had to take off to avoid the stares and the hungry eyes. He knew some of the people despised the court. Some hated it. But most people looked up to the court of wings. They viewed it with awe. And that was another reason he took to the skies. His great metallic silver wings erupted from his body and gasps dripped from the mouths of people watching. Some one with feathered wings in this district was a rare sight. If they did have feathers they were usually ugly and dirty. Common sparrow wings. Not the beautiful gleaming plumage of the silver fishing eagle. So the prince flew to the hanging gardens, bow and quiver slung over his shoulder. His back muscles rippled with the strain of moving such massive wings. The guard change was soon and he couldn't be seen in the air. He would be questioned and most likely dragged back to the palace on some important business or the other. So the second the hanging gardens came into view he folded his wings into his back and dove toward the luscious scent. He inhaled deeply as he banked through the vines and tropical flowers. He startled a poor bee changeling and caused her to drop her basket full of petals covered in sticky purple sap known to ease stomachache. Luke swooped down and caught it for her, and carefully folding his wings back he climbed an especially thick vine back to her.
"Thank you kind sir…" her voice trailed off when the blond girl sees his face. He tries to hush her making calming noises and waving his hands at her but she still shrieks.
"PRINCE LUKE!" There is a sudden buzzing in the surrounding vines and he knows hundreds of other small girl sized bee changelings are buzzing from every direction. Luke has always loved a challenge. To escape without being seen and mobbed…
"Damn it all," and he folded his wings in as tight as they would go and plummeted through the foliage. Thorns scratched his arms and he cursed his stupidity and vanity of not wearing a full length sleeved shirt. Blood splattered his eye as a thorn ripped through his cheek. And eyebrow in a vertical line. I would be right next to the other scar. He sighed and waited. After what seemed like ages the plants began to thin and Luke fell into the open air. Far, far below him normal trees on the rolling hills below his beautiful floating city. He could just fall and fall until all his troubles claimed him as the place he despised so became his instant end. But He slowly spread his wings and began spiraling into the Reverse Forest.
The massive tree that grew upside down underneath the palace was the heart of the Reverse forest. It was filled with flying creatures and the Mythical Owl Tribe flying Changelings, never seen during the daylight hours. Actually never seen. Sightings were always put off But he planned on finding one tonight. But it was only mid morning, and hunting would ease his mind. The ancient trees of the forest swallowed the moon prince.
The sun prince hovered a few yards from the edge of his balcony. Angeline stood on the railing of his balcony and she kept groaning, shifting into random people. Once he saw her grow claws from her fingers but she quickly made them disappear.
"Focus on flying Angeline! Think of freedom!" Caine yelled from the air, his gold wings shimmering beautifully in the bright blue sky. Angeline's face was twisted in concentration as she focused on freedom, of soaring through the air. Somewhere deep in her semiconscious she knew that if she thought of the laugh and the dream she would fly. Wings would burst from her back and she would scream bloody murder but she would fly.
And she just couldn't do it.
Angeline just couldn't put her mind through the torture. She struggled to find away around it, a secret back door into changing in more ways than were absolutely natural for her. She tried right then to shift into Caine with his wings spread. But all she managed to do was become the gold man. His earring through a spark in her eye and she waved it away. At least she blamed the prickling behind her eyelids on it. She growled in frustration. Her fingers curled into claws and she knew what was about to happen. Last time she had been this frustrated she had shifted unwillingly into a horrible creature. Angeline clenched her fists and teeth trying to hide the shaking. She thought of happiness, of butterflies and white clouds. But they weren't real memories and when she tried to remember it made her furious at what had happened to her. Just because of what she was. Her whole body was shaking now and Angeline felt her teeth elongating, thickening, and sharpening. Her ears grew pointed and fuzzy and she knew controlling it was no longer an option. She ran into Caine's bedroom throwing the curtain closed behind her it's gold fibers shimmering in the sunlight. She needed to hide, to run away, but there was no time. She curled herself into a small ball in the darkest corner of the room and let the shift roar through her body.
Caine got a little upset when he saw his pupil begin to vibrate. He panicked when Angeline ran into his room, the gold curtain glittering with sudden movement. Quick as the sun eagle he was. With one beat of his massive wings he gently touched down on the carpeted floor.
"Angeline?" He whispered. "What's wrong?" He crouched low and held out his hand, as if trying to calm an injured animal.
"Leave me," Angeline said. But it came out more like "Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeave meeeeeeeeeeeee,"
"Angeline…" He trailed off when two yellow eyes appeared in the darkness of the corner. There slit pupils were obviously trained on him.
"Please," but again it came out like "Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrlease," he took a few steps closer. He saw black fur uncoiling.
"GO!" Angeline shouted, but she was too late. Her shift had overcome her. She ached for flesh and there was a delicious bird right in front her? Her back legs tensed to spring, her claws extending and tail swishing through the air in excitement. Her pink tongue licked the inside of her teeth.
All Caine heard was a roar as Angeline shouted. Then a black monster was on his chest forcing him two the ground, it's jaws reaching for his throat. With a burst of adrenalin he manages to wriggle out from under the massive panther. His breath came in ragged gasps as he sprinted out the missing wall. A claw caught the back of his shirt and for a horrifying second he though he was going to die. But the fabric ripped and he fell into the heavenly air. Another roar rang out and Caine narrowly dodged a swipe by massive claws. He unfolded his wings and beat the air once, floating just out of reach of the snarling black cat.
"Angeline, Angeline it's me!" he shouted as he examined the creature below him. It was at least eleven feet long from tail tip to muzzle. Two gleaming white canines the size of his middle finger were visible, along with a deep red tongue as a horrible noise escaped the beast. It's thick black tail twitched. But Caine swore he saw fear and anxiety in its eyes.
"Remember me? Caine? I set you free," that was stretching it but it worked. The giant panther sat down, confused look on its face. And then Caine began to sing.
All feathered Flying Changelings could sing. Some sang beautifully. Other's sang joyfully. But a few sang hauntingly. Caine was one of those. The notes he sang caused shivers to run down the spines of the guards now diving down to rescue their prince from the panther. The cat put its paws over it's nose and whined. Slowly it began to shrink and shift. Caine waved the guards back as he realized she wasn't going to be clothed when she came out of the shift. Quickly he swooped down and carried her into his room, closing the glittering curtain behind him. Gently he lowered the shivering creature to his bed, and then Angeline was there, curled into a ball, not a scrap of clothing on his bed. Crying. Oh this was killing him. He just wanted to touch her and kiss her until she stopped. Until the only word she could say was Caine. Instead he found one of his dress robes with two slits down the back. (most of his clothing had two slits down the back) and he gently put it over her. Angeline scrambled into it and much to his dismay he saw nothing.
"What's wrong with me," she sobbed, head in her hands. "I can't control the shifts anymore. Only when I feeling intense emotion can I shift." Caine sat beside her and stroked her hair.
"I understand your pain. Once when Luke and I were out hunting, we got attacked by rouge wolf changelings. I killed some with my sword and Luke shot some in the eye. We killed them, but the beta managed to break his leg and the alpha broke my wings. I was helpless. I couldn't fly or walk. Luke told me all I did was scream like a Vagpie." Caine chuckled at the memory. Luke was smirking as he told the tale to a group of sexy nobles. It was before he had become so serious and burdened. Caine's smile faded when he realized that some of that was his own fault. He did the duties of two crown princes. But Angeline was looking at him questioningly, feigning interest for her sake more than his own.
"A vagpie is a Flying Changeling that was hatched rather than born. The mother gave birth to an egg. They are extremely powerful but incredibly stupid and covered in feathers and for the first year of life all they do is scream. Not many make it past that month if you know what I mean," Angeline managed a small smile. It was weak and watery so he quickly continued his story. His hand was absently moving on her back now and it felt so good. It was stupid of her to think so. Angeline moved away from his hand. It froze in mid air for a moment before he brought it back to his lap. Caine's hands gripped themselves. His grasp was so tight his already pale skin was stretched ice white over his knuckles. He continued his tale.
"Yes, so Luke had to fly all the way back to the Palace and find a team to come get me. You see, we are always supposed to travel with a set of at least five guards when we leave the city in case of an emergency just like this one. We had sort of snuck out a few nights ago and the whole court was frantic. Luke got the burnt of the screaming though because he was supposed to be the responsible one but then he passed out from lack of water, food, and pain. He had to fly back again with a splinted leg because I would die if they took to long to find me. All in all it ended well. We were lucky the dogs were so stupid. We only won with our brains," He smiled a little and looked at Angeline to find her shaking and trying in vain to smile. "And I couldn't fly right for a year." She nods appreciatively while trying not to shiver.
"I'll find you some clothes," Caine says and walks over to a basket. He pulls out a white blouse and a short red skirt made of what looks like leaves. Gently he places them on her lap.
"Turn away," she says. He looks at her confused. Usually women jump at the chance to undress before him. But he complies. The sound of fabric hitting the ground is almost too tempting for him. Normally, Angeline would run her hands down his back, tease him a little. But not now. She's too shaken and confused so she pulls on the tiny skirt and the sheer white blouse over her oil hair. "You can look now." He turns and smiles. She looks stunning. The skirt makes her eyes even more frightening. He hadn't laid a frightening girl in a while. There are two slits down the back of her shirt.
"Why don't we eat, I'll get you some food."
Luke's thoughts were far away from food at the moment. He perched in the Reverse forest, on the underside of a massive branch. He watched his prey as it drank out of an up turned leaf the same size as the silver prince. It could have resembled a hog in another world. It had a long double snout and stubby back legs with three digits that wrapped around the back of the leaf. It had a bulbous body and small little eyes but extremely large ears. Luke drew back the string on his bow and they twitched. He froze, not even daring to breath. Then the beast went back to drinking. It's skin was a pale green, but on it's hindquarters there were speckles of bright pink and orange. It's pattern perfectly fit in with the foliage around it. But the part that most differed it from a common hog were its two front legs. Or what weren't legs at all. It had two leathery wings, bat like. When folded they had a hook right where the other digits would be and the bone acted like a leg. It tottered over to a big flower and ripped it from its stalk. While it chewed Luke released the arrow. He smiled in satisfaction as the Lugar dropped dead without even a squeal. His arrow had penetrated right through the chink in its skull. No mess, no wasted meat. He flew the fifty meters to the kill and removed his arrow, cleaning the blood off in the water. He pulled out his knife and began to clean the carcass. Soon he would dispose of the internals, head, bones and hoves. But first he removed the meat in strips. It was a blood red. The color of Angeline's eyes… He slapped himself. Hard. A red hand print formed on his cheek, but he couldn't see it for the water keep shifting.
That night Caine dragged Angeline to a party. There was a party every night. This one was to be even wilder than lasts. Caine promised himself he would leave before the meeting started.
That night Luke waited in the tree's for the fabled Owl tribe. They supposedly hunted every night. Getting more fierce and more beautiful as the moon swelled. Luke promised himself he would leave before the meeting started.
Caine flew into the center of the dance floor his gold wings drawing appreciative gasps from those who withered underneath him. He landed gracefully in a clearing that had formed when he made it know he wanted to land. A women with slick brown hair, black eyes, and white skin smiled at him and licked her lips. He smirked at her. She leapt across the dance floor to him, and his usual followers crowed around him in their usual ring. Then he began to dance. Simple at first, easy for the black eyes one to follow. She did with ease, her expression teasingly bland. You can do better it taunted. So he did.
He danced and danced and danced. Twirling, grinding, spinning her in circles so fast she became disoriented and fell into his arms. He just laughed and forced her back up. He made the rest keep going. He made the whole floor keep going. Even the singers on their raised platform kept going for him. Their sun.
Angeline stood at the very edge of the dance floor. She didn't move toward Caine like she had that first night, no matter how much she wanted too. More now than ever before. The whore with the perfect skin dancing with him ripped her heart a little more with every rotation of her hips against his own. It was little help that he was being so rough. And when he spread his wings to there full length, and she spread her own pure white beauties, Angeline couldn't take it anymore. Her throat constricted and a long hiss escaped her mouth. A forked tongue flicked between her teeth. Horrified she ran. Ran out of the room filled with birds that suddenly looked so appetizing. Especially the one with pure white wings.
Luke sat among the glowing plats, twirling a glowing blue blade between his fingers. The forest was always more beautiful at night. And then she appeared. Undeniably beautiful she ghosted out of the darkness. Her wings made no sound and she never appeared to touch the plants. If he had been looking the other way he would have never noticed her arrival.
She folded in her white wings edged in dark brown. Large buttercup eyes looked at him. Her skin was the same color as the moon, a pale cream. She was fine boned and her legs gracefully touched on the glowing orange moss draped over a branch across from his own. Her white hair, the color of stars was twirled into intricate braids and beaded along her forehead. She wore leather wrapped around her ankles but no shoes. She wore a constantly shifting skirt made of large leaves that fell halfway down her calf. She wore a necklace of similar design to the skirt on a smaller scale. It failed to cover her chest. His eyes traced her body appreciatively, but ended on her face. She spoke then, her eyes had obviously been roaming over him as well. Her voice had a strange accent to it. One which Luke had never heard before.
"You vait for us in our ovn forest. What do vou vant?" He noticed her hand was wrapped around a bow similar to his own, hidden behind her back. Not really that well.
"I wanted to see if you really did exist." she laughs at that. Her laugh is haunting, like mad persons more than a sing of amusement. She made a few clicking noised with her tongue and then screeched. Luke felt more than saw four warriors fly out of the darkness to surround him. He smiled a little.
"Vhy are vou smiling Moon Vings? Vou are about to die." Luke chuckled a little.
"You cannot kill me."
"Vhy is that? Ve all have arrows ready to shoot vou in an instant," she looks at him skeptically. That's when his palm catches on fire. He lights the blue stick he was holding and passes it to his other hand. The one now empty is still burning.
"Because," Luke says with a smile of satisfaction, "if you kill me I drop the stick and it lights your precious forest on fire. If I fall My hand lights your forest on fire. There are only five of you around now, don't bluff I sensed you all in the beginning. You cannot put out all the fires before they spread." They know it's true. The only one he can see, Star Hair he decides to call her, hisses at him. He moves his hand closer to the bark. "They leave." She looks at him with so much hate. But with a few clicks and whistles the guard disappears into the wood. I know they don't go far. Just out of my senses.
"Vhat do vou really vant Moon Vings?"
"I want your bow and arrows," she looks at him oddly.
"I vill give vou my bow. But I vant something from you." she flies over to the same branch he is on. "Virst, I vant vour bow and vour arrows," she purrs. He places them in the hollow. She places hers next to them. Luke's silver eyes glint oddly in the orange, blue, and pink light. As if he has no pupil. Like he actually is the moon god. She finds him extremely handsome. He must be part Owl Warrior with his white hair. She hadn't had a mate in a long time.
"Take off vour clothes."
"I really don't-"
"Do vou vant vour bow?" Luke strips his clothes. He stands there, naked with his head held high. He retained as much dignity as possible while he got very cold. Star Hair stepped up to him and ran her long fingered hands over his chest. Luke was embarrassed by his erection but did not flinch. She kissed his neck and his jaw and he stretched his neck, letting his hands move over her small curves. She was very thin. Nothing like Vienna. Vienna. Oh not again. But he'd rather do it with this woman, one he'd never meet again, than with Angeline. With her tiny waist flaring hips that jutted through her skin because she was so unhealthy. And the bruises on her neck from him. On her wrists from him. The whip marks on her back. Oh how he want's to burn her. But to rape her first. And that's why he thrust into her without thinking twice. She gasps. He's so big. And she's so tight. She moans a little and her hands scrabble on his back. He thrusts into her biting her neck hard enough to leave a mark. Over and over again he pounds her. She is screaming about him being the moon god but he isn't paying attention. He's trying to bring her to the climax. It would be his only chance of getting away. Her fellow warriors would kill him otherwise. Luke knew their bows were closely guarded secrets. He kisses her, moving his tongue into her mouth in the same motion as his cock. He bites her nipple and massages her breasts. Star Hair claws at his back. He knows she's almost there- A scream of pleasure slices the night. All her muscles strain towards the one object that gives her pleasure. She almost milks him. Almost. But he thinks of Vienna and holds strong. He will only truly give himself to her. The Silver Prince manages to pull Star Hair off him. Then pushes her over the branch. He would never do it if he knew she wouldn't survive. The forest ends, and then there are thousands of feet until the ground after even the Reverse Tree, whose pollen is said to keep the city afloat. Besides, her team will catch her before that. Luke quickly dresses grabs his new bow and arrows, and flees into the night.
Caine knows he has to finish this. No sex tonight. He sighs a little at the thought. She would have been feisty. They swirl around each other in the air. He looks through the crowd for Angeline. Then he knows she left. A long time ago too. That angers him. Oh, for some unknown reason. His eyes burned their real gold his whole demeanor darkened. The whole ballroom took the air. There were shouts of confusion and pain, but Caine just stayed still, hovering in the eye of the storm. The black eyed girl was whisked away. The wind from all the wings blew out all the flames. The music could no longer be heard in the roar. Slowly the eye of the storm shifted. Caine left through the missing wall.
When Angeline had fled she knew the way to only one place. She ran blindly, following the same route Caine had taken with the Assassin the night before. To the place she was this afternoon. But the only image that comes to mind of the whole ordeal is Caine and Luke on the bed.
And she wishes she had been in the middle.