Blood in Siberia
Chapter 29: Burning One, Sun Ray
It took Otto a moment, literally, to get the Prince, Heero, an ice-pack, and some scary looking witches to respond to his summons. He also had a dozen shape-shifters fly out to Lake Baikal to see if there was any trace of Oburi to be found. I didn’t say anything, but I feared that it may be too late. Because Oburi knew that *I* knew where he was, he could snatch Noin up and whisk her away before the shape-shifters could arrive. I could always rip the information out of Oburi again and again, but he would also escape again and again. The damn thing would be endless.
I adjusted the ice on my forehead and tried to be as unobtrusive as possible. G, using Earth Magic, had the floor... grow a table for him to work on. He had maps all over the place; several were laid out on the table, a few were tucked under his arm, one was being held up by Sedici, and the rest were rolled up, out of the way. Otto and the Prince were speaking rapidly in Russian, pointing to various areas on different maps. G and Heero were standing a little ways back, watching them and nodding every so often at a point made. The witches were at the fireplace with a cauldron, stirring something that smelled like rat ass and vomit.
As with everything else in the supernatural world, the witches were not what I expected. There were five of them, all so similar that at first glance I thought they were clones. Each one was completely bald. No stubble or hint of hair growth to be found. They were also very, very tall. I guessed the shortest one to be at six feet. With the height came the leanness. They had legs for days, gorgeous arms and shoulders, narrow waists. Their skin was alabaster white, and the bone structure in their faces was striking, reminding me of Grace Jones.
Just like the rest of the supernatural world though, they had no sense of modesty. They all had similar kinds of black, leather corsets. Some had garter belts, but all had knee-high leather boots and long, leather dusters. The black of their clothing (what there was of it) was matched by their long fingernails, lipstick and eye makeup. The dark color only emphasized how white their skin was. To top it all off was the symbol of the moon on their foreheads. Instead of being born with the moon like the werewolves, it looked like it was burned into their skin. Fuckin’ hell.
The Head Witch was the tallest of them all, nearly Otto’s height. She was the most beautiful too, with the biggest, blackest eyes I have ever seen. Her gaze however, could pierce through armor. It was impossible for her to hide her intelligence, and I knew that she was about as harmless as a grizzly bear. She was supervising her fellow witches as they poured something extra smelly into the cauldron that caused a lot of smoke. The smoke didn’t seem to bother anyone else, but my eyes were tearing and I was ready to cough up a lung. Instead, I cleared my throat, trying to appear as unaffected as everyone else. In doing so, I inadvertently gained the witches’ attention. Feeling five pairs of eyes zoom in on me, I ducked my head down and turned away.
When the witches first entered, the hostility towards me was felt by everyone. Otto made sure however, to get across that I was not to be touched. (“Harm him in any way and I will fuckin’ gut you,” was the warning given, I believe.) Fortunately, their hostility soon gave way to curiosity. There were certain behaviors they were expecting that I wasn’t exhibiting, and vice versa. As Primus I was entitled to many things, even from other Packs. So, what they were expecting was for me to be snobbish, demanding, and a general pain in the ass. What they found instead was that I was nervous, unobtrusive, and as curious about them as they were of me. I wanted to give off the vibe that I didn’t think I was any more important than anyone else, and I believe I succeeded. I felt the witches’ shock when I picked up a map that had rolled onto the floor and placed it back on the table. Apparently, that was something that a Primus Would Not Do, with capital letters.
For the four hundredth time in under five minutes, I shifted the ice-pack from one hand to the other. As I yawned, an arm wound its way around my shoulders and pulled me against a hard body. I rested my head against Heero and weakly held onto his caftan-dress-thingy. “You okay?” I asked quietly.
“Yeah. You?” he asked, knocking my hand away to hold the ice-pack himself.
I sighed, grateful for the break. My hands were freezing. “I’m not sure.”
He held me tighter. “I feel like such a shit friend.”
“Me too,” I told him through another yawn. When Heero entered the room behind the Prince, one would’ve thought we would’ve jumped into each other’s arms and held on for dear life. Instead, we took our reunion in stride. I thought that he was probably as tired as I was, and didn’t have the energy to spare on joy. Lord knew that was how I felt.
“Just as long as you understand that if you get the chance to run, you run.” Otto and the Prince were furiously snarling something, so they didn’t hear Heero’s comment. The Head Witch did though, and a surprised look crossed her face. She didn’t rat him out, only watched us from the corner of her eye. I watched as the other witches continued to work, but I knew that most of their attention was on us.
“Only if you do the same,” I said back.
“Deal,” he said, but I didn’t believe him. Heero would sooner leave the Shenlong before he’d leave me behind. I shook my head and opened my mouth to argue. He wasn’t having it. “You are exhausted. Sleep.” Without my permission he got me settled on the pelts in the corner furthest from the Siberians. In fact, this corner used to have that vanity shoved into it. Ah, the memories...
Two seconds after that, I was out.
I jerked awake when I felt a sudden swelling of power in the room.
I immediately jumped to my feet, my foot splashing in the water that used to be an ice-pack. Heero was leaning against the wall with his arms crossed, watching the proceedings. Whatever the witches were doing, they had apparently finished. Otto, G, Sedici and the Prince were giving them a wide berth as they struggled to carry the cauldron from the fireplace to the table. I had stepped forward to help when Heero caught my arm. “No, do not touch it,” he breathed. “Doing so will disrupt the magic.”
I turned back in time to see them hoist the cauldron up on G’s table, crushing the maps underneath. The Head Witch jumped up on the table as the rest stepped away. Kicking some maps out of the way (I thought she did that just to piss G off), she leaned forward and... kissed the smoke that was rising from the cauldron. Slowly, sensually, she ran her fingertips along the rim, whispering something that I couldn’t make out but that sounded awfully kinky. When she was done she stood up, and the remaining witches quickly came forward. Two to each side, they grabbed the rim of the cauldron and turned it on its side to pour its contents onto the floor.
Except the contents weren’t liquid. The contents were smoke.
I watched in absolute amazement as the smoke poured onto the floor like liquid nitrogen. Its black color made the wisps that rose seem evil. Its two meter height made it intimidating. Most frightening of all was that I could make something out in the smoke, something that had eyes as white as the moon’s surface. It lacked pupils, but I had no illusions about its sight. It could see perfectly fine, and had no problem meeting my gaze.
“Oh my god,” I gasped, falling to my knees. It didn’t have wings. It didn’t have scales. Its hide seemed as tangible as fog, but I knew exactly what it was. I reached a trembling hand towards it, awed. “A dragon...”
The dragon was sitting back on its haunches, strong, proud and dignified. I edged towards it slowly, and held my hand out to it like I would a wary dog. It lowered its head, giving me permission to touch. Honored, I petted it as gently as possible, astounded at the odd sensation. I expected a dragon’s hide to feel like the roughest of leather. Instead, I felt warmth. It made me think of sitting in front of a roaring fireplace on a cold day while wrapped in a blanket, sipping a cup of cider. The sense of home and comfort sent a sharp, painful pang through my chest. That was exactly how Howard, Hilde and I spent our Christmases.
Without warning, the smoke billowed around me. When the smoke became less... smokey, I realized that the dragon had curled itself around me. Surprised, I looked it in the eye and realized that it... no, she, saw me as a cub. She brought her face towards mine, purring quietly. I stared at her, and gently traced where her snout would be. We were in our own world until the Head Witch disturbed us.
I felt the magic in the air change again. I felt the power of the witch wash over the dragon. Serafima still had me held against her, but I was no longer in her thoughts. She had eyes only for her master now. “Find the wizard Oburi. Devour him. Return with the Alphagué.”
Although she was a dragon, she functioned in the manner in which she was created. Her body was made of smoke. So like smoke she dissipated into the air, leaving only a light dusting of ash behind. As the others bustled about, I sat back on my heels, pulling my fingers through my hair. My thoughts tumbled over each other and I let them. This was beyond my imagination.
“Did she cause you harm?”
A shadow fell over me. I looked into the black eyes of the Head Witch. She raised a nonexistent eyebrow. I could only shake my head numbly. “No, no. Not at all. I... I’m just in shock.” I hesitated for a moment, then decided to just spit it out. “She was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.” I was sure the majority of the population would be disgusted by the dragon. I didn’t care. To me, Serafima was as beautiful as her name.
The witch’s eyes widened, and a humbleness I would never expect of her crossed her demeanor. “Thank you, Primus.”
“You’re welcome.” Feeling at a disadvantage on my knees, I stood up. She took a step back, but continued to stare intensely at me. Thoughts flitted across her face, too fast for me to decipher. “Is everything okay?” I asked, keeping my posture as relaxed as possible.
“Yes,” she said, but that peculiar expression remained.
Not knowing what else to do, I tried to peek into her mind... and got in! Hot dog! Now to see what all the fuss was... oh. I should’ve known.
She wanted to know what I was. I mentally saw her thought process, how her mind flipped through statistics, qualities, and creatures like a rolodex. It was odd to see that her mind also seemed... hazy? Where the werewolves had a brick wall around their minds, she had smoke. There was enough to obscure her thoughts, although she currently wasn’t doing so.
Suddenly, I touched on a different strand in her mind--her magic. It was then that I understood why her mind was hazy. “You use Fire Magic,” I said in awe, and that made complete sense. Fire wasn’t all about flames. Fire included the aftermath of flames; the black of ashes and soot, the grey haze of smoke, the dulled orange of dying embers. “I thought only wizards’ magic was elemental.”
She gave me a tight-lipped smile. “No, a witch’s magic is elemental too.” It took me a moment to translate. Her accent was very thick. “Unfortunately, it is easier to spot a witch than a wizard.” She leaned towards me as if imparting a secret. “Hunters seem to target us. If there was a choice to go after a wizard or a witch, they will choose the witch each and every time.”
“Ah,” I said, and I saw her point. “I got ya. The Hunters don’t want other women around that could be as powerful as them.”
Wow. Racism and sexism. One would think that the supernatural would be above all of that. I guess we all discriminated, no matter the religion, race, creed... or creature.
“Yelena,” the Prince called, peering intensely at a certain area of map.
“Your Highness,” the Head Witch responded, turning quickly on her heel and making her way over to her prince.
I watched for a few seconds as everyone hustled and bustled before growing bored. With a shrug to myself, I went to the balcony for a breath of fresh air. Right when I stepped out, I got a face-full of pure Siberian air... which meant the cold had taken my breath away. When I adjusted to the temperature, I was able to enjoy the crispness of the night sky.
Leaning forward, I rested my elbows on the rail and arched my back to pop my spine. Closing my eyes, I let loose a long, slow exhale. “I’m tired,” I whispered to myself, and in my voice it could be heard that I meant more than just a lack of rest. I wanted this shit over with to the point where it almost didn’t matter to me how it ended, just so long as it did.
The wind blew strongly, sending a chill down my clothes. I wrapped my arms around myself, not that it did any good. Then the wind changed. It freed my hair from its pathetic braid, tugging on it as if encouraging me to play. One corner of my mouth rose in a weak smile as I entertained the idea. I closed my eyes to the feel of the breeze’s fingers in my hair, and felt peace come over me the longer the moonlight shone on me. Gratefully, my mind started to shut down. My head started to empty. My breath slowed. I felt my body sag, but the strength of the moon held me up. She pulled me like She pulled the tide. Unconsciously, my hands reached for Her, pleading. My eyes were open, but my sight was gone. I had slipped into a trance. “Help us,” I whispered, imploring with all that I was. “Save us... save your children...”
“His eyes are glowing,” the witch whispered.
“He is beautiful,” Otto croaked. His voice seemed full of tears.
I wasn’t aware that the others had come out onto the balcony. They were watching me in what seemed to be awe. “Guide me,” I breathed, tears running down my face. “I need you...”
Suddenly, like a puppet with its strings cut, I dropped to the ground.
A familiar feeling started to come over me. I recognized it as the presence that I didn’t know the source of. It seemed tired and lonely. Without a second thought I reached for it, soothing it with my presence. It borrowed itself into me as much as it could, for protection and for peace of mind. Trying to see the world through its eyes again, I still didn’t understand the whiteness of the view. What I did see however, was that this... being, was as pure as white snow. It was innocent in a way that only babies could be.
Babies. Infants. Infant. Then it came together for me.
Oburi had the Prince’s son’s soul.
I opened my eyes. I could feel the heat from the fireplace and see its shadows dance across the ceiling. The Prince, Otto, Heero, G, Sedici and Yelena were standing over me. They all jerked in surprise before leaning closer to me. “Duo?”
I looked to Heero before I sat up, pushing the pelts off of me. As I did so they straightened, standing to their impressive heights. Assisted by a tug from the moon, I rose to my feet and walked back to the balcony. Looking up into the night sky, I closed my eyes and searched with my mind’s eye. It was a few seconds before I found what I was searching for. It was a thin, white strand. The strand went from my forehead to out beyond the mountains. I mentally tightened my hold, and felt how the strand strengthened. I wasn’t going to let go. I felt the infant’s hold on me tighten as well. He wasn’t giving up anytime soon. I smiled.
“Your son is alive,” I said in a hollow voice, as if possessed by an ancient presence. “He is being held as a prisoner.”
“Wh-what?” The Prince’s voice broke with pain, desperation, and hope.
I reached a hand up, gently touching the strand. “We are connected.” That was all I was willing to say.
The door banged open then, startling the hell out of everyone except me. “Your Highness!” the messenger shouted. “The Shenlong have us surrounded!”
“I need Trowa,” I said, coming somewhat out of my trance to face the prince.
He looked completely gobsmacked. He kept switching from me to the messenger to me to the messenger.
“I need Trowa,” I said again, stronger than before.
He hesitated. “Yelena. Call Serafima back.”
Yelena didn’t hesitate. “As you wish.”
Within seconds the dragon arrived. I stepped up to her, threw myself on her back, and nearly lost my connection due to the various magics. Being in contact with the dragon had an amazing effect on me. She was smoke. Being in bodily contact with her had the same result on me. I held my hand up in a sort of horrified wonder. I flexed my fingers and twisted my wrist, watching as my hand wisped out of existence before reforming again in waves.
Heero snapped me out of my contemplation. “I need to get to the Shenlong,” I told the witch.
She turned to the dragon. “Obey his commands.”
We didn’t vanish so much as we just... blew away.
The werewolves went bananas when a smokey version of myself atop a dragon appeared out of nowhere. They sounded like thunder as they were running for the castle. Then we appeared and every one of them veered off and into hiding places as if I was a ghost. Sally even squeaked in fright! I couldn’t wait to tease her about it.
It took a few seconds before Wufei realized what was going on. He quickly Changed Over, and I damn near fainted watching his nude body, which was glistening with sweat, approach me. The rest of his Privileged were right beside him, ready to defend to the death. “Duo!” he yelled in horror. “Get off of her and run!”
“I need Trowa,” I said instead with a slight shake of my head. Whether it was because I couldn’t do what he said, or because I was trying not to look, I didn’t know. “I can finish this, but I need his help.”
“Get down now, Duo.” Fur started to grow along the back of his hands, jaw and forehead. His canines lengthened, as did his fingernails.
“I need Trowa,” I pleaded, pulling at my hair in frustration. “Please help me, Wufei. Please.”
He took a swipe at Serafima. Some smoke blew away. She was completely unfazed.
“Get down this instant!”
“I will not help you help that maniac!” he snarled, spittle flying.
“It’s not about him!” Wufei took a swipe. “Or you!” Wufei took another swipe. “It’s about the baby!” A judo kick to the air. “We can save him!” Several rapid swipes followed. “Will you stop doing that?!” A few kicks, punches and a head bunt followed. Serafima seemed terribly, terribly bored. “For fuck’s sake! Wufei, this is ridiculous!” Without another thought I reached out and grabbed Trowa’s wrist. His visible eye widened in surprise when he became hazy, and the three of us were immediately swept away.
We reappeared in the room. Sedici was still holding the map up as G and Otto were circling points with a red marker. I would’ve laughed at the expression on his face if I wasn’t so worried for the baby. The witch, Yelena, seemed to be packing supplies that would be more appropriate for Professor Snape’s class at Hogwarts. When I felt my hand being jostled, I turned Trowa loose and slid off of Serafima. As she floated off for her master, Trowa and I entered the room further. Seeing something dark out of the corner of my eye, I turned and found the Prince and Heero having a... heated discussion near the corner of the room.
I stood still, entranced as I watched. They were speaking in a language I have never heard before, but their body language was something I was horrified to understand.
Heero was pleading. His fists were tight but he had no intention of using them. He only held them down at his sides, as if using them to hold back his frustration. The Prince was adamant about something. He had his hands on Heero’s shoulders, as if begging him to understand an unpopular decision. After another moment, Heero relented. He hung his head and nodded. The Prince released a shoulder, and used his fingers to gently bring Heero’s face into view.
Their eyes looked too deeply into the other’s. The Prince’s touch was too familiar. Heero was too accommodating.
With a gasp, I turned my back to them and ended up facing Trowa. The expression on his face was one of fury. I was sure mine radiated shock and confusion. What the fuck was going on?
“Put these on!” Yelena demanded, shoving clothes at me. Modesty curbed for a moment, I stuffed myself into a white snowsuit that looked as if it could withstand the next Ice Age. I also had matching thick gloves, ski mask, goggles and boots. I stuffed my braid into my hood. When I was done, I looked like some kind of snow ninja. So did everyone else.
“Orders?!” Otto yelled as he threw a machine gun over his shoulder. Too bad it wasn’t white.
“Shenlong’s Alphagué and its Primus will accompany us,” the Prince drawled as he left Heero’s side, throwing a machine gun over his shoulder as well. “Sedici, you are to defend my castle.” Sedici’s joy was a burst that nearly knocked me on my ass. “Fail me, and you will die.” Unfazed, Sedici bowed deeply at the waist, his gratitude and desire to succeed suffocating. I knew without a doubt that he wouldn’t fail. “G, Shenlong’s Special,” and here he paused, eyes hardening as he gazed at Heero, “is to be secured in an undisclosed location for his protection as Collateral. Serafima will return for you as soon as we are in place. Join us as soon as he is secured.”
I was about to pitch a fit when I realized what he was doing. The Prince wasn’t making Heero stay behind due his position as ‘Collateral.’ He was making him stay behind because he wanted to protect his... to protect his loved one.
The Prince sighed. He wasn’t happy with what was going on, and it was obvious. “Heero. You know what the consequences will be if you run.”
I looked to Heero and frowned. There was more going on in this conversation than was being voiced.
“I do. I just wish you would not resort to such... lows.”
“Then blame your Packmaster,” he snarled. With that, the dragon enveloped us in her body. I watched as Heero and G disappeared before my eyes, and gasped as we appeared in the middle of a blizzard with guns blazing around us.