The twosome snaked through the house until encountering Osmund’s back door
“I didn’t realize that such a small house could be so... Big on the inside...” Sabrielle gasped, awestruck that their journey through the hallways was so intricate.
“I assume that’s a complement,” he mused, opening the creaky portal. Light cascaded into the dark domicile as the door groaned towards an open position. The instant luminosity forced Sabrielle to squint her delicate amethyst eyes out of complete surprise. “When did it stop raining?” she inquired, amazed at the drastic change.
He shrugged, grinning as he absorbed the pleasant sunshine. His dazzling smile did not help the issue of extreme brightness for the nearly blinded woman.
They slowly strolled toward the center of his elegant garden. She gasped at the surreal beauty, taking in the vibrant scene that flanked her at all sides.
“Wow...” Her mouth hung agape as she stared at all aspects of the marvelous open area, her eyes now adjusted to the sun.
“That’s enough,” he cooed, referring to her motionless observation. “Let’s begin...” His hardly noticeable limp deterred him infinitesimally as he approached an inconspicuous cupboard propped against the home’s backside, just to their left. Upon opening the olive cabinet, a work of art in its own way, sunlight refracted off of the contents inside: various swords of differing sizes.
Sabrielle drew her sword cautiously, hoping to initiate the fight by her simple gesture. His acute hearing notified him of her temporary adversary’s action; he was ready to counter what she may attempt to do.
She was confident that this man would prove to be much less of a match than he claimed to be, in which she proceeded to react accordingly to her reckless assumption. The solar rays glinted from her silver blade as she took three long strides and a leap, closing the gap between the two contenders.
One swipe is all it will take to entice him to fight back, she thought, swinging her sharp weapon in midair. She awaited a reaction from Osmund, some move that may save his life.
None had occurred.
Maybe I expected too much from the old man she imagined, horrified. Her steel came into contact with a solid form as its path neared its end. The dull ‘clank’ of metal upon metal appeased her previous fear.
Osmund had turned so abruptly that Sabrielle failed to register the minuscule movement during her fantasies. His sword was raised before her own, halting the forceful slash she had exerted.
“Nicely done, old man...” she taunted, recoiling from him in preparation for his offensive. The two stood completely still; Osmund refused to attack and Sabrielle was much too suspicious to execute another assault.
“One of us has to move, my dear,” Osmund muttered without altering his stance. He chuckled at her expression; his muscular abdomen rippled with laughter, his stomach was now exposed through his partially unbuttoned top. She suddenly realized how much younger he appeared. Whilst in the sunlight, Osmund’s grayness retreated, replaced with smooth skin and billowing golden hair that sparkled inhumanly beneath the shining rays.
Her cheeks blushed a bright magenta.
Osmund grinned; her face’s change in color was invigorating. He utilized the opportunity. A swift flick of his hilt disarmed her incredibly easily, then he effortlessly aimed his sword-point at her heaving chest.
“How did you–“ she stammered as anger returned to her body, causing her thin figure to shake unevenly. His breathtaking smile and victorious posture forced her to involuntarily swoon.
He took note of her motions, laughing to himself; his musculature vibrated in a masculine manner once again. He then paused, cautiously scanning his surroundings as though an invisible danger was approaching.
“Uh...” Sabrielle began, an air of apprehension had abruptly arose deep within her throat, “What’s wrong?”
Osmund’s urgent gaze silenced the young woman instantly.
“Mr. Gilliam,” someone called from inside the house. Osmund remained still, whereas Sabrielle flinched as the voice resonated throughout the garden. It was a gruff sound, one with suppressed fury, and shortly after it came, a rugged man entered Osmund’s backyard.
“Mr. Gilliam,” he repeated, now slightly surprised as his topaz eyes fell upon the unexpected visitor aside Osmund.
“Vyktor... Vyktor Cael, right?” Osmund inquired in a falsely friendly tone, “What brings you here?”
Vyktor averted his piercing gaze from the quavering Sabrielle. “Why is she here? You know better to endanger young women, Osmund...” he barked gregariously.
“You didn’t answer my question, Vyktor... Why are you here?” Osmund retorted, now angered. Sabrielle’s eyes flashed from Vyktor to Osmund, horribly confused of the issue at hand.
Vyktor was immensely more attractive than the older Osmund; Vyktor’s hair was a shimmering jet black, his long bangs were parted to the side, revealing his burning golden eyes. He had angular features upon his bronze face and his chiseled jawline was lightly spotted with overgrown stubble. His broad chest rose and fell while he took ragged breaths as though he was wounded; she soon discovered that he had sustained a winding gash just below his visibly defined pectoral muscles.
She inhaled deeply, but quietly, eyes fluttering sporadically for but a moment.
What is wrong with me lately??? I’ve practically fallen in love with two complete strangers in the course of a few hours... And the sickening part is I can’t help it... She thought, in a disheartening way.
Vyktor grimaced when he began to speak once more, “The Terra are coming... They’re searching for all of those who participated in the Rebellion. I escaped their grasp just before they could finish me...” He inhaled painfully. “I’d advise you to get out of Kadn.”
Osmund’s face remained expressionless. “What will become of Sabrielle?” He gestured toward her.
Vyktor’s smile was thick with lust. “I’ll keep her with me,” he proposed, but was quickly interrupted.
“What is going on? ” Sabrielle roared. “I’m not going anywhere ”
The two men faced her, frozen with utter surprise conceived by her sudden outburst.
“Who are the Terra? I’m so confused,” Sabrielle mumbled, more composed now, but still with an edge of emotion.
Vyktor was the first to recover: “It’s not imperative that you know, we can speak of this later when we have more time. They’re on their way as we speak, so we have to get far away from here.”
“Why can’t I just stay here? I don’t even know you two... Why would they kill me? Just let me be on my way and you can flee the city,” she piped up solemnly.
Osmund responded guiltily, “My, well... Scent is on you... the Terra are notorious for their... Creatures... They’ll hunt you down for information concerning me, then kill you, no matter how cooperative you turn out to be... I’m sorry, but the Terra are incredibly ruthless. I’m not going to take any chances...” He hesitated. “I promised your parents...”
The word ‘parents’ shook Sabrielle to her very soul. Her eyes widened tremendously and sweat beads began to develop upon her brow. She shook her head.
“You knew my parents?” she whispered, nearly inaudibly.
He nodded gravely.
Vyktor allowed them their distance as he crouched upon his left knee, examining his stomach wound. It bled profusely.
“I... I thought that you seemed eerily familiar... Like I somehow... Knew you...” she stammered. “Osmund... Osmund... Uncle Osmund...” A light of recognition shone across her face. “You’re Uncle Ossy?”
Finally, a smile parted upon his previously somber lips. “I suppose so... I have missed you...
“We’re running out of time... I’ve got to get you to safety... You’re in danger...” Osmund replied hurriedly. Vyktor rejoined the twosome, swept Sabrielle up into his rippling arms, and led Osmund toward the overgrown jungle-like perimeter of the garden.
“Let’s get the hell out of here,” he murmured, then angled his face nearer to hers. “I’ll explain the details to you when you’re safe.”
She rolled her eyes playfully, trying to conceal her unexplainable adoration. “Right...”
“You shouldn’t have exerted yourself like that...” Osmund scolded Vyktor as they entered the town of Meisdal.
“Hey,” he began, exhaling painstakingly, “it was only... four... miles...” A smile of sarcasm cut across his dampened face. He then collapsed to his side and relinquished Sabrielle from his failing grasp. She rose, dusting herself clean, while observing Vyktor’s condition.
“Oh my God... You’ve been running for a long time... You’ve got to be exhausted... Are you alright?” she asked, partially hysteric, hands upon her mouth. Osmund shook his grey head, still rebuking the wounded man.
“If you had just allowed me to carry her, you wouldn’t–“
”Osmund, please, you’re merely a human, there’s no way that you could’ve–“
”Now listen to me, young man, just because you think that you’re nearly invincible doesn’t mean that you can continue to risk your–“
”I’m not nearly invincible... I am invincible... You have no idea how strong I–“
Vyktor and Osmund proceeded to converse argumentatively until Sabrielle could not endure their bickering one moment further.
“No one had to carry me at all...” she grumbled.
“Oh and you’re trying to tell me that you could’ve kept pace with a great war hero and a half-elf?” Vyktor questioned skeptically. Osmund glowered at him, mostly because of his carelessness.
“Mortals are not to know of your origins, Vyktor,” Osmund hissed, furious at his ‘companion.’
“Hey, for all she knows, you could be the Halfie and I could be the veteran,” Vyktor joked, grinning halfheartedly at Sabrielle. “She has a right to know what’s going on, anyways...”
Sabrielle was flabbergasted.
“Did you say... A half-elf? ” she managed to cough out. “You’re kidding... Right?”
Osmund gazed at her, feeling the anxiety in the air. “He’s telling you the truth, I’m afraid... Vyktor is indeed a half-elf. Elves do exist... I know it must be difficult for you to swallow this, I apologize.”
She refused to believe his confirmation. “That’s impossible... There’s no way...”
Vyktor began to speak, but Osmund silenced him with a swift hand gesture. “Show her...”
Osmund commanded softly. Vyktor nodded.
At first, Sabrielle did absolutely nothing, as if the sight before her had not shaken her at all. Shortly after she absorbed the spectacle, however, she understood.
Vyktor had pulled his coal black hair from his face, then further yet, revealing his ears. They were the same deep tone as his face, but with a rosy tint, and genuinely normal, with the exception of how obviously pointed the ends were. Instead of the usual human-like shape, his half-elven ears stretched to the sky, an overwhelming 5 inches longer than the routine human size. Countless various piercings clung to them, creating the illusion that they were even more mythical than they seemed. Sabrielle gasped.
“Do you believe me now?” Vyktor inquired, hoping for a reassuring nod.
He was disappointed for Sabrielle continued to deny their claims. “It is possible to be born with unusual features... That doesn’t necessarily prove to me that you’re a...” She gulped, fumbling for the word, “half-elf...”
The two men sighed in unison, Osmund’s was more angry than Vyktor’s discouraged one. “Let me show you something more significant...” Vyktor proposed. She gasped as he pulled his shirt over his head. She stared at his godly physique, his perfection unintentionally distracting.
“Do you understand now?” he asked, growing more confident due to her awestruck expression. She failed to hear his question, still gawking at his flawless torso, shaking her head in attempt to bring herself back to reality. Vyktor perceived this motion as a ‘no’ rather than her actual reason; he frowned and his brow furrowed in defeat.
“I don’t know what to do,” Vyktor admitted. Sabrielle instantaneously rejoined the conversation, “Vyktor,” she breathed, “your... Your wound... It’s gone.”
“Ah.” Osmund smiled triumphantly.
She shivered, the thought of Vyktor’s bare chest burned within her mind. “Elves are known for their incredible healing power, both their medical knowledge and their natural rate of recovery, as Vyktor had just demonstrated,” Osmund replied.
“It was so deep... I know I saw it... Blood was everywhere... There’s no way that it healed up that... Fast...” Sabrielle muttered with increasing faith. “So... You’re trying to tell me that you’re an elf...”
“A half-elf,” Vyktor corrected smugly, confident that she was beginning to comprehend both his and Osmund’s information. “It’s really not all that rare, I’m just deficient when it comes to keeping secrets...”
Her sparkling plum eyes bore into his. “Alright... I get it... So, I assume that the Terra want you dead because of your race,” she said, mostly as an inquiry.
“Actually, it’s not that at all...” his deep tenor voice mumbled, “They want me dead for various reasons, but the most pressing one is that I stole something from them...”
Osmund chimed in after being silent for so long, “Vyktor, enough... I’m glad Sabrielle reminded us of our plight, the Terra are still on our heels... We have to find somewhere to hide.”
Vyktor agreed, following Osmund as they all began to move once more.
The three travelers sought shelter in a nearby hotel in Meisdal, just after an abrupt flash of lightning startled the group upon entering the city. Rain poured serenely amongst the violent roars of thunder from afar; Meisdal was drenched in very little time, obscuring Osmund, Vyktor, and Sabrielle’s tracks upon the earth.
Vyktor stood, sternly facing the storm outside through a large window pane, a grim expression on his face. Sabrielle approached him, curious of his recent behavior upon settling down within the confines of a decrepit motel. She boldly interrupted his meditation.
“Vyktor, are you alright?” The tone betrayed her attempt at concealing her worry.
He nodded silently, still gazing at the dark, cloud infested sky. “I’m worried as well...”
he said through his teeth.
“I–“ she began, but could not choke out more of her unfinished thought. This caused him to smile, in spite of his mood.
“It’s not my sake I’m worried for, mind you...” Vyktor mentioned.
Osmund took his role as spectator as their interaction progressed. He nonchalantly pulled a book from the poorly stocked bookcase and began reading, still on his feet. Although he seemed preoccupied, he continued to listen intently.
“I doubt I’m in much danger, Vyktor... You were nearly killed before I was even involved....” she argued. Vyktor closed his blazing eyes, fighting his anger and passion. “I was nearly killed because they thought I could lead them to you... Kinda looks as though I did...”
“Yeah, I suppose it looks that way...” Sabrielle confessed, sarcastically.
Osmund looked up, barely concerned, but then quickly returned to the ancient Macbeth, hanging open within his worn palms.
“This is all my fault...” he chuckled, not in the least from merriment. He took a step away from her; fear and regret emerged throughout the room and it all emanated from poor Sabrielle.
“It’s not your fault, but I need to know: why are the Terra after me? Neither of you have answered that one yet...” she demanded, turning to Osmund.
Osmund replaced the tattered book and limped over. “I told you that our scents are upon you... The Terra are after Vyktor and I...”
Vyktor shook his head in disapproval.
“No more lies, Osmund,” she said with a menacing voice, “there’s more to me than I thought... Vyktor is horrid at weaving tall tales; he tried, but your story doesn’t coincide with his explanation... They’re after me and you two are here to protect me... I want to know what’s out there, why they’re out there, and how can I help to make this journey easier.”
A painful smile enveloped Osmund’s already tortured expression. “Only if you’re prepared for more mythologies...”
Her silence took the place of an ‘absolutely.’
“The Terra has a leader, the man who started all of this madness... This man, Felix Pryde, was a well known commander in Zephyrose City’s small guard and... An incident occurred during the War twenty-six years ago...” Osmund paused, examining Sabrielle’s reaction.
“Alright, where’s the mythical creatures?” she joked, causing Vyktor to roll his eyes in an impatient manner.
“Brace yourself...” Osmund warned. “Felix was... Well, he was fused with an enormous male lion inadvertently by the Regiment... It was a complete catastrophe, no pun intended.”
A smirk erupted from Vyktor’s lips.
He regained his composure and masterfully recited his more detailed rendition, “It was during a massive takeover near Kadn when the Zephyrosians decided to test their newest addition to their artillery... Their weapon was identified as a ‘vaporizer’ but in reality, it did nothing of that sort, it actually reversed the dispersing of molecules; it merged targets together,” Vyktor informed her, “Felix had been involved in a misfire just outside of the Korrealus Forest, upon the Salda Plains, where a nearby lion stalked the small group.
“The giant feline attacked, entangling himself with the unsuspecting Felix. In attempt to save his companion, another member of the guard fired the ‘vaporizer,’ thus Felicus the Maimed was born. He was actually morphed with the lion: his hair grew into an unruly mane, his teeth grew sharper, his nails transformed into retractable claws, and his body was enhanced accordingly to the lion’s strength.” He finished, his expression remained unchanged. “So that’s what’s out there, Sabrielle...”
She nodded, slightly taken aback. “Okay, so this werelion type guy is coming for me? Why?”
Osmund replied first, “Well, you see... Your father was responsible for the Regiment’s intervention... That led to the reconnaissance in the Salda Plains, which, as you know, turned Felix into a monster... He wants revenge and had already cut Colonels Travise Liengue and Weslee Dierk’s lives short; your father, Major Dimetri Thomas, was destroyed by Felicus shortly after the entire war... Felicus then learned of your mother’s death, and in turn, your existence...”
Sabrielle flinched at the mention of her mother.
“Forgive me,” Osmund pleaded, “but once Felicus knew that Dimetri’s wife was dead, the only family that remained was you...”
Sabrielle mulled over the newly ascertained knowledge, grimacing sadly when the death of Celestine Thomas recurred once more. Vyktor noticed the gloomy atmosphere and took a step in her direction, ultimately wrapping his smooth forearms about her small waist.
“I’m sorry about your parents,” he whispered in her ear; his voice startled her for it was very soothing. Sexy, almost. Strike that, definitely sexy.
Her cheeks blushed a deep burgandy.
Vyktor held her for what seemed like hours, but her senses were intoxicated with his wafting aroma. Only moments had passed, contrasting immensely with her prior assumption of time progression. Osmund had abandoned the couple for the velvet armchair, the identical book was flipped to a certain page, the same before his previous interruption, and allowed them to stare blankly at the dampened landscape beyond the window’s glass.
It was not long before Sabrielle craned her neck upward to face his flawless profile. His eyes met hers, a spark of tender passion fluctuated between their interlocked gaze. The gravitational pull enticed the two to grow closer; a blaze of irrevocable desire propelled their instincts further until two lips met. Her mouth parted, reflecting his own labial movement, and the innocent gesture ignited an increasingly intense response. Vyktor dramatically eased his tongue between her plump lips, eventually intruding the interior of her mouth. At twice the speed he had violated her mouth, he withdrew his tongue and forced his entire body to recoil from hers.
She stiffened, petrified with both anxiety and self-loathing. What had I done? she thought to herself.
Sabrielle lethargically acknowledged that Osmund was on his feet as well. She felt out of place, as if she had missed something.
Vyktor’s posture was incredibly rigid; his jaw was locked in a stern position, revealing his ill at ease emotion. Osmund wore a similar aspect, which frightened the silent woman. She obviated her gaze from him and back to Vyktor. Her sparkling midnight irises were fixated upon his brilliant, golden orbs burning beneath his dark brows. He refused to meet her gaze.
“Vyktor... I...” she faltered. He hushed her, turning to Osmund. No words were exchanged, but the men knew the other’s thoughts as if they spoke telepathically. They both acted very quickly.
“He’s here,” Vyktor stated, his tone absent of any feeling. He fleetingly reached out, pulled her into his arms, thus cradling her body, and wrenched open the large sliding glass aside them.
“You’re not going to–“ she started.
He faced the open window and answered her question in that instant. He jumped.
“Osmund ” she shrieked with hysterical alarm as she and Vyktor began to plunge three stories. Her last glimpse of Osmund was replaced with another vivid image; Vyktor absorbed the shock of their descent, alleviating Sabrielle’s state of delirium, but only to be aggressively outdone by something entirely new: Felicus the Maimed.
The lion-like bulk of a man crouched before them, his piercing crimson gaze violently perforated his dangling auburn mane. His black lips curled into a snarl and his white fangs were no longer concealed. A shudder ran down Sabrielle’s spine.
“Dammit, Osmund,” Vyktor murmured under his breath as he released her from his firm hold, “you could’ve stalled for just one minute...”
She barely regained her balance after being forced to stand once more. Vyktor took a deliberate step in front of her, blocking her from Felicus’s line of sight.
“Vyktor Cael,” Felicus sighed in a haughty fashion, “who’s your friend?”
Vyktor glanced beyond his adversary, yearning for some manner of escape. There were none and his facade failed to mask his internal emotion. His eyes flickered frantically back at Sabrielle.
“Are you looking for someone? Could it be Osmund?” Felicus inquired sarcastically.
Sabrielle inhaled delicately. “What have you done to him?” she demanded, not nearly as ferocious as she had hoped to sound. Vyktor’s grasp on her arm tightened significantly.
Felicus sneered at her maliciously, “I haven’t done anything... Yet...”
A groan echoed from the motel, loud enough for those outside to hear; this caused both Vyktor and Sabrielle to urgently survey the door of the building, awaiting Osmund’s exit, no matter the shape he may be in.
Three burly soldiers, obviously under Felicus’s command, lugged Osmund from the portal and roughly brought him to their leader’s feet. They forced his face into the dirt, then prepared themselves for Felicus’s response. It was a positive reaction.
“Hmm... Osmund, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it?” Felicus jested, placing his clawed hand upon Osmund’s shoulder, though his face remained buried in the earth.
Osmund wrenched himself free, stood, then faced the much larger man, glowering as blood trickled from his wrinkled forehead. He did not speak.
“Well, since I suppose you’re not going to engage in friendly conversation, I’ll just have to cut to the chase...” Felicus replied while shrugging his enormous shoulders. Osmund grunted; at first, Vyktor and Sabrielle did not know of the reason for such an agonizing cringe, but they soon comprehended how much pain their companion was in. They appraised his condition, coming to realization that Felicus had exerted an uppercut with unimaginable velocity upon Osmund’s abdomen. Felicus’s claws raked against Osmund’s entire front side; blood ripped from the wounds, staining the ground below them.