Memoir - 6

"I...already know your name. You are Dynast Grausherra."

The mazoku smiled, leaning towards Firia until their noses almost touched. "Very good, Firia. But you may call me Grausherra."

Firia drew her breath in sharply as his hair slid over her chest, black and smooth, cold and soft, and very, very familiar with her. His lips barely brushed her ear as he whispered those five words:

"Why are you so afraid?"

Just as every time before, despite all of her terror and any wishes to the contrary, something compelled Firia to answer. It was beyond anything she could possibly deny.

"Because I was right all along." Firia breathed the words up, tiny bubbles emerging from the sea of her soul.

Skin twitched, almost stroked against her ear. He was smiling. "Tell me what you were right about."

And with that, the bubbles surged upwards in a great rush, colliding and dancing and glittering and merging. Little bits of her soul, growing abundant as the Dynast's command invited her to breathe in the sea of his soul. But wasn't it the sea of her soul? But she was drowning...drowning inside of him...

She was speaking...

"When we arrived here, I was right in thinking that Milgasia did not seem to know his way as well as he should have. I was right in thinking the same for me. I was right when I feared the Hierephists' cell could be impossible to enter. When Milgasia tried to open the way for us despite such suspicions, I was right in thinking that he would fail. I was right in thinking that he would hurt himself. I was right in thinking that if I stayed with his body, I would be caught along with him. But I don't know if I was right when I thought that it would be impossible to escape anyway, as the alarms sounded and the air grew hot. I was right when I told myself that he was safer with me than alone. When the energy crackled around us, I was right to be afraid.

"When they interrogated me, sitting in that birdcage of a cell, I was right in thinking that I might as well be alone. I was right about his condition, he did not wake up. I was right when I told myself that no matter how many times I refused to answer, the interrogators would still ask. But I was also right in coming to the conclusion that they wouldn't hurt me. Because they were right in deducing that I wouldn't answer even if they did.

"I was wrong in thinking it couldn't get any worse."

Silk slid against her cheek now. No, not his lips. His fingers, his hand. His silk gloves. "Tell me more, Firia."

"I-I was wrong when I thought she would take the child if I didn't give myself to her. But I was right...I was right in being afraid of her. But speaking with her taught me that I was wrong in thinking, at the beginning of this journey, that the other races of dragons would be easy to understand. I was wrong in thinking that any of this would be easy to understand. I was so, so wrong..."

"Tell me what you were right about." The hand, the silk, slid down. It rested against her jawline, beckoning to her mouth.

"When you walked into the room, I knew that you were Grausherra."

Another twitch of silk against her ear. Another smile.

"I was wrong to be afraid before then. I shouldn't have worried over silly things. I shouldn't have cared. I shouldn't...I can't..." The water rushed around her ears, bubbles rushing against her face so fast and hard that they should bruise her. Drowning. He was drowning her. "When you entered, for the first time in my life I was right. Because I was afraid."

Silence filled her ears, the water gone. Her body was dry, the rushing of bubbles around her face only a memory. She wasn't drowning anymore.

The touch of silk had vanished, but so had Grausherra.

Safe but so very not safe.

"Thank you, Firia. That was wonderful." His voice poured into her ears. He was behind her, the clinking of glass and slosh of liquid hinting at his unseen motions. "You are a beauty to behold, a pleasure to listen to," He glided to her side, a great shadow in the corner of her eye. "And when asked a question, you answer me." A star glittered from the dark nightshape. He held a wineglass, light glinting off of the base. In it swam a liquid of such a vibrant amber that it seemed to glow. He rested the rim against her lips.

"I'm sure this ordeal has been tiring for you, and it would shame me to be inhospitable to a guest. And it is my pleasure to serve you, Firia."

There was no hint of a question in his tone, and it was not an order. Grausherra simply had not given consideration to any possibility of Firia refusing the drink. In his mind, that option did not exist. So for Firia, it did not exist either.

At least, this was the conclusion she preferred to come to, instead of thinking about what would happen if she actually said no to him.

* * *

Warren was silent as he led Xelloss up to his room. And as much as the human might think so, it wasn't because he was angry at Xelloss. No, Warren was very angry -- at Dolphin.

As cruel as she always has been, as ignorant, determined as she always has been to completely disregard the emotions and feelings of much as she's outright tried to hurt me from the moment she ever laid those cold, black glass eyes on me...I actually can't believe she's making me tell him.

Warren lit a cigarette as he walked into his room.

I hate her so much. I hate her so fucking much!

Xelloss followed Warren in, stepping lightly and making absolutely sure not to touch anything. It was less like walking on eggshells and more like walking on actual eggs. He didn't wan't Warren to crack again. That could only result in something bad.

Warren took a drag off of his cigarette and then shook his head, exhaling smoke. "Sit down. Sit on the bed. Stop looking so damn skittish, you're making me nervous." He put the cigarette in his mouth, freeing up both hands and enabling him to smoke even faster. He made a very brief geasture with all ten fingers, then tapped twice on the surface of a table near the bed. There was a flash, and then a circle a little under a foot in diameter glowed from the tabletop.

Xelloss blinked. A variant on "...a summoning spell?"

Warren nodded absently, focusing most of his attention on his cigarette and his thoughts. "Just wait a little. You won't faint before it comes, I promise." His voice was a little warmer with that last part. Let him eat before I tell him. He needs to eat anyways. I hope he isn't getting a headache already. Dolphin kept him out too damn long. Probably telling him all sorts of things just to see how upset she could make him. "Hey, what did the old hag tell you?"

*more to come*

* * *

Milgasia's mind had a lot of things to deal with, really, so it wasn't his fault that he didn't realize exactly what had happened, or what had been happening, or what was going to happen. Any half-alert dragon would have made the connections and drawn his conclusions by now. But Milgasia was not half-alert. He was lucky, in fact, that he could think at all in his condition.

So it is forgivable that he dwelled on the past in an attempt to figure it all out. There was not much else he could do. He couldn't even feel Avril's breath on his neck; how could he know that in a few minutes, he wouldn't be able to think about anything?

* * *