Dazriel groaned and lifted his head to take in his surroundings. The darkly lit chamber only depressed him and the Angel went to close his eyes. He paused though as a soft moan caught his ears. Carefully, still very aware of his pounding head he edged himself closer to the muse.
Makoto was lying on the floor, face creased from pain and rightly so considering the deep sword wound that slid across his ribs. The muse’s breathing was shallow and Dazriel swallowed nervously. He reached out gingerly to touch Makoto’s chest. The muse gasped and his purple eyes shot open, before flickering in pain.
“Oh Makoto…” Anger burning in his throat Dazriel placed his hands palm down on the wound. He took a deep breath and drew his power from behind its door. A trickle of magic, small at first but slowly becoming bigger, stronger flowed into the muse.
Behind him he heard the door swing open, voices’ pause in their conversation. He didn’t turn though, focusing all his power on the job at hand. It was too much work to keep his true form hidden as well and cursing silently Dazriel shifted. Powerful white wings split the flesh of his shoulder blades, making the Angel howl in pain. They spread out around him, golden blood dripping off the flight feathers to pool around the muse’s body. Automatically Dazriel folded them away until they sat comfortably on his back, his mind still on healing Makoto. Gasps came from the men behind them but the Angel ignored them, choosing instead to straddle the muse’s hips.
Power lashed through them and then the wound began to pull together, the flesh joining, agonisingly slowly. A scream broke from Makoto’s throat and the muse threw his head back, his body convulsing beneath Dazriel’s.
Finally the wound closed, leaving seamless, pale blue flesh in its wake. Drained, Dazriel slumped over the muse, panting heavily.
“Erg… and here I was thinking I’d like cuddling up with you…” Makoto purred. Dazriel giggled softly and pushed himself away from the muse, rolling over until his wings got in the way. With a groan, Dazriel stretched his wings out until they brushed the walls of their cell before slumping backwards, his hair pooling around him.
“Can I die now?”
“Er… no, I’d hate to think what Malachi would do to me then.”
“I really don’t want to know!”
Footsteps made their way towards him and Dazriel turned his head to look at the man standing near to him. He wore simple brown robes and Dazriel smiled, obviously a priest. The man looked down at him, eyes wide with awe and fear.
“Are you really a angel?”
“Uh-huh” Dazriel purred at the question. “You really a human?”
“Of course, angel Lord!”
“One don’t call me that, my name’s Dazriel, and that there’s Makoto. He’s a muse by the way, not a demon.”
“There’s a difference?”
“Yeah, muses are hornier and two, can I ask what on my lords name is going on.”
The man gasped and then his eyes hardened, lifting his chin dominatingly he struck a pose.
“I am here to exorcise the evil spirit corrupting your soul!” The priest cried dramatically, raising a wooded cross high above his head. Dazriel raised an eyebrow; this was new.
“You must be possessed, or under some sort of mind control for such a holy being as you to protect a demon!” The priest looked pointedly at Makoto.
“Damnit! I’m really starting to hate them calling me that! I am not a demon, I’m a fucking muse!”
The priest was silent for a while, digesting this and then with a smile he raised the cross again and started to chant. Makoto sighed and flopped back down on the floor. As the chanting picked up the tempo Dazriel found himself mouthing the words along with it. Eventually the chant drew to a close and the priest gazed at the angel before offering a shaky;
“Do you feel any different?”
“Erm… no.” Dazriel offered him a brilliant smile. Confusion written clearly on the priests face he turned to speak with the other humans.
“I don’t know my Lord, maybe there never was a spirit in him.”
“Why would he defend the demon then?”
“Maybe it is as they say my Lord, maybe the demon is not a demon.”
“How can we be sure?”
Dazriel sighed and slumped back down next to the muse. Boredom teased at the edges of his mind as the humans broke into an argument. The angel raised his arms and realising a little of his power he made a small ball of light dance between his fingers. Dazriel’s infamous mischief rose to the surface and grinning he sent the ball to hover around Makoto’s face. Frowning, but still not opening his eyes the muse waved at it, nose wrinkling when it landed on him. Makoto opened one purple eye and looked at him pointedly. Smiling embarrassedly Dazriel pulled the spark away, moving it so it floated around the humans.
One of the men, a striking, middle aged, well richly clothed mortal turned to glare at it. He blinked slowly and then sighing turned to smile at Dazriel.
“Is this yours?” His voice had a rough gravel like quality to it, a pleasantly rasping sound. Dazriel smiled brightly at him and cupping his hands, ordered the fragment of his soul magic back to him. The ball of light floated back to him, sinking into his flesh where he touched it. The man made his way towards him, a small smile fluttering on his mouth. He settled down next to the angel and after winking at him broadly, reached out to pet Makoto’s head. The muse cracked open an eye, his eyebrow arching bemusedly.
“Erm…” Makoto blinked in surprise as the human leaned in close.
“Why, you have purple eyes, how rare!”
“Um… thanks, I think.” The muse muttered over Dazriel’s laughter. Makoto sat up, twisting his tail until it flopped down over Dazriel’s face. The angel scrambled away, coughing as he inhaled fur. The human’s laughter filled the air and the group of men suddenly fell silent, and instead stood gaping at the sight.
“I’m Narhe-del, king of Cassenlt. And you are?”
“Dazriel Akka and this is Makoto Seen… can I help you?”
“Only if you want to, I’d never presume to demand something of an angel.”
“Well feel free to.”
“Just out of interest, he really isn’t a demon?” Narhe-del asked, waving his hand towards Makoto.
“Again, he’s not.” Dazriel ground out through clenched teeth. The human grinned and thumped him on the arm before springing to his feet. He grabbed Dazriel’s arm, jerking him to his feet. Narhe-del turned to Makoto with a smile.
“You do understand that I had to be sure, responsibility of the powerful and all that.” His voice was sugared as he offered the muse his hand. Makoto took it gracefully, allowing himself to be pulled up.
“Oh quite so, I think maybe a kiss could just about cover the damages.” The muse purred at him, his tail curling demurely about his calf. Dazriel choked on his own tongue, his wings fluffing out.
“Makoto!” he stared, horrified, at the muse. To his amazement Narhe-del only smiled thoughtfully, watching amused as Makoto stroked down the angels ruffled feathers.
“Yes, I do think that sounds like a fair price.”
“My Lord!” One of the humans cried out, a horrified look on his wrinkled face. Narhe-del waved a hand at him irritably and then ignoring the gasps of his companions placed a chaste kiss on Makoto’s lips. The muse’s lips curved into an amused smile, one small white fang slipping out onto his bottom lip.
“Well played.” He purred.
“I always did like a challenge. Now come, you must be hungry, and I’m sure you’ll be welcome at my table.” Narhe-del swept from the room, the sense of self confidence only true royalty owned ensuring that he would be followed.
Dazriel hesitated at the doorway to the cell, until Makoto’s arm settled around his waist and steered him from the room.
“Don’t worry Angel, It’ll be fine, don’t think about it love.” He murmured so only Dazriel could hear. The angel leaned against him greatfully.
“I’m so tired Koto.”
“I know angel, just keep your eyes open until we eat and then we’ll make our excuses.”
“’k” Makoto’s soft huff of laughter stirred his hair and Dazriel sighed happily, closing his eyes as he leaned into the muse, trusting him to guide him. Sound flooded into his world and Dazriel opened his eyes as they were led into a large hall. The room fell silent as all eyes fell on the king and his guests. Almost as quickly a buzz of whispered conversation rose.
Narhe-del strode towards the central table, raised on a platform, decorated with red and gold silk and velvet. He beckoned the two to follow him and Dazriel broke away from the protective circle of Makoto’s arms self consciously.
Narhe-del banged his cup down on the table until silence was once more gained. All eyes fell on him and the human beckoned Dazriel up to stand beside him.
“We have two very… established guests with us today, The Lord Angel Dazriel Akka and the…” He paused and turned to Dazriel. “Just what is Makoto anyways?”
“He’s a muse, or a Karu I guess.”
“And the muse Makoto Seen. I expect you to treat them all with the same respect you would I or my kin. Now, its time to eat. Tuck in.”
Two places were quickly cleared at the main table and Dazriel was seated. Makoto was on his right and to his left sat a young boy, a young boy who stared, mouth slightly agape at him. Dazriel smiled at him gingerly.
“This is my heir, Houroi-keh. You must forgive him for his lack of diplomacy; he’s still a young boy in most things.” Narhe-del told him, shooting his son a loaded glance. The boy blushed powerfully before mumbling a apology into his plate. Dazriel smiled at him sweetly, trying to put the boy at ease and Houroi-keh smiled back at him.
“And of course my wife the Lady Keah-sen.” Narhe-del introduced a lovely woman, beautiful despite the age lines she owned, if anything they only made her more real. Makoto sprang to his feet, bowing low over the table at her before settling back down and shooting her a dazzling smile.
The meal was rich and the food varied, and Dazriel happily tucked into a mixture of vegetables and sweet fruits.
“Do you not like meat Lord Angel?” Houroi-keh asked, his eyes alight with boyish interest. Dazriel smiled, and swallowed the mouthful of food he had.
“I don’t eat meat… I can’t. One of those angel things.”
“What oh? There is no oh.” Dazriel teased gently and the boy grinned at him. Houroi-keh was amazed by his wings, wanting to know everything and anything about them. Dazriel was happy to comply and they chatted away about how they worked, and weather you could fly on them and such.
“But don’t they get in your way a lot?” The boy asked, watching as Dazriel he had to lift them away from the snapping jaws of a lap dog that had temporarily broken free of its mistress. Its owner collected the dog, red faced with embarrassment.
“Well, of course they do, but usually it’s not a problem if I just put them away.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well I… wait, I’ll show you.” Dazriel stood up, stepping away from the table and sweeping his hair up over his shoulder. He took a deep breath and half closed his eyes. He drew the power from within himself, biting in to his bottom lip as he wings slowly moved back into his shoulder blades. Small dribbles of golden blood worked their way down his back, to soak into his shirt. Dazriel moaned slightly and then sunk back into his chair, leaning forward until the queasiness passed.
“I think it’s time the angel and I excused ourselves.” Makoto announced.
“Of course, here I’ll fetch someone to take you to your rooms.” Narhe-del offered.
“Ah, we’ll share one; it’s not good to leave an exhausted angel alone.”
“As you wish… I’ll send for the steward now.”
Houroi-keh woke them early the next morning. The boy’s eyes were bright with anticipation and he grinned at Dazriel widely.
“Hello Lord Angel. My father would like to take you to the market after you break fast with him.”
“Market?” Makoto asked and Dazriel sighed pointedly at the ‘Lord Angel’ title he seemed to have adopted. Makoto pulled on his hair playfully and the angel huffed and stalked out the room.
“Why yes Sir. Some of the Kahrnel have been caught; if they appear in good condition then Father might buy them.” This caught Dazriel’s attention and he dropped back to the others.
“I take it this doesn’t happen all that often?” He asked the boy. Houroi-keh shook his head, causing his hair to ruffle and stand up into the peaks of devil horns. Dazriel chucked and reached over to smooth the boy’s hair back down. Houroi-keh blinked up at him in surprise and then suddenly blushed and moved away. The angel frowned and went to speak when Makoto’s hand fell on his arm, the muse shook his head warningly, a finger to his lips signalling him to be quiet.
“These Kahrnal, did you say? Can you tell us about them?”
“Kahrnel, Sir … well they… I’m sorry Sir I don’t know how to describe them.” Houroi-keh’s face was still flushed slightly but he responded eagerly to Makoto’s question. The three walked on and eventually Houroi-keh was responding to Dazriel happily again.
They entered the main hall and took their seats near to Narhe-del. The human grinned at them and his wife just smiled politely and squeezed her husband’s hand. The food was served and as the conversation on hunting wasn’t really to Dazriel’s tastes, the angel let his mind wonder.
The Lady Keah-sen did seem to spend a lot of the time gazing at Makoto throughout the meal and when the muse offered her a rare smile, she blushed and hid her face behind her husband. Not that Dazriel could blame her, the muse really was quite striking, and the angel could only hope her infatuation would not get her into trouble with Narhe-del. His fears vanished soon after when it became apparent that the king was just as smitten with Makoto as his wife.
Soon after the plates were cleared from the table, and it was only Makoto’s hand on his thigh that stopped the angel from helping out. The muse leaned over, to talk to him privately.
“Daz, maybe you ought to be careful how you act around Houroi-keh.”
“What ever do you mean?” Dazriel pouted slightly as he glanced over at the boy. Makoto sighed and ran a hand over his plaited hair.
“Look angel, the boy’s a prince; he’s probably never been treated like other kids in his lifetime. You keep acting so friendly… and I do realize it’s only the way you are, but he will take it the wrong way.”
Dazriel sat dumbstruck at the statement.
“You don’t mean that he’d think…” His voice trailed off and he shot a shocked glance at Houroi-keh. “But I’d never…”
“I know that Daz, but he doesn’t. I know you’re just being friendly, just being an angel.” Makoto smiled at him worriedly and Dazriel patted his hand before sitting back in his chair to think about that. His thoughts were interrupted as the table was cleared and chatter began in earnest. The angel stood with the rest, Makoto close by his side. Houroi-keh walked to stand beside him and Dazriel avoided the boy’s eyes, fearfully.
A hand touched his shoulder and Dazriel spun to face the king. Narhe-del grinned at him, exposing ruby incrusted canines, the angel offered him a timid smile in return.
“You will be coming with us to the market of course?” Narhe-del’s grin widened and Dazriel backed away, bumping into Makoto. The muse wrapped his arms around his shoulders, head resting on Dazriel’s, so his plaited hair fell down across the angels chest. The angel tugged on it gently in thanks.
“No matter Angel, Malachi’d have a fit if I let you get hurt pet.” Makoto whispered into his ear, “Tell the truth, it’s kinda nice to have someone to watch out for.”
“Well?” Narhe-del was getting impatient.
“Oh well of course we’re coming your highness. Daz here just ain’t that much of a speaker now are you angel?” The muse’s drawl had a hint of smugness in it but thankfully Narhe-del let it pass.
Houroi-keh tugged on Dazriel’s sleeve as they followed his father from the room.
“Are you mad at me Lord Angel?” The boys voice was timid and Dazriel reached out to ruffle his hair.
“Na, course not. Just kinda homesick is all.” Dazriel smiled at the worried looks Makoto was shooting him. Beside him Houroi-keh nodded wisely and took the angels hand in his.
The market place was hot and crowded, but the crowd parted like mist on a warm night as the party was sighted. Dazriel sat on a bed tempered mare, a spotted bay that had enough years to her name to know that the being on her back was not one to be thrown off, no matter what. He was sandwiched in between Makoto and the prince, both of whom were being possessive. It was an interesting tug of war.
He’d put his wings on show at Houroi-keh’s request and the boy was currently twirling one, large, snow white feather between his fingers. Absentmindedly Dazriel fluffed out his feathers at the chill breeze blowing around, and then lifted his wings so they wrapped themselves, like an extra cloak around his slight form.
Below him the mare snapped at a near by child, the angel frowned and pulled on her mane gently in warning. This was a joke, he couldn’t even control a bad tempered mare, somebody up there was laughing at him, he knew it. Although he had to admit, he much rather that some one ‘down below’ was kissing him. Dazriel sighed, feeling his wings droop slightly.
“Daz? You all right?” Makoto asked, worry tinting his voice. The angel sat up and smiled at him sadly.
“Sorry. Just thinking about Malachi is all… oh Makoto, I already miss him too much!”
He closed his eyes briefly, letting the pressure in his chest go in a long sigh. Makoto moved his own horse closer to him, moving so that if he leaned slightly he could wrap an arm about Dazriel. He placed the ghost of a kiss on the angel’s cheek. He flicked Dazriel’s nose gently and then steered his horse in the opposite direction.
“Feel free to browse the market place, you might find something to your tastes. I’m sure Houroi-keh will be happy to join you.” Nerhe-del dropped back to talk to them, placing an affectionate hand on his son’s head. “The main viewing will only start at noon, at the halls.” The human waved his hand towards a large white washed building. “We can meet up there later.”
“As you wish father.”
Houroi-keh led them through the streets of Cassenlt, winding in and out of the buildings and pockets of people. Eventually they came to where a podium was set up and Houroi-keh drew to a stop.
“What is this?” Dazriel asked him, even as a hint of an idea crept into his brain. Life was stirring on the platform and a crowd had begun to gather around it. Houroi-keh turned to him, smiling slightly worriedly.
“Oh… the sale’s about to begin.” As the boy spoke a group of humans were ushered onto the platform. They huddled together like frightened sheep, eyes wide.
“Just what kind of sale is this?” Makoto asked as one of the men was pushed forward to stand next to a richly dressed merchant.
“Oh a slave sale of course.”
Dazriel at stunned and then turned his horse sharply in order to leave, only to find that the crowd had closed about them and escape was impossible. A hand fell on his shoulder and Makoto squeezed it comfortingly.
“Breath Angel. Just don’t think about it.” Makoto moved his own horse closer, calming Dazriel. Houroi-keh was looking flustered; worried he’d upset his guests.
Dazriel watched, appalled, as the sale took place. Anger building in his chest and frustration that he could do nothing about it. Beside him Makoto was murmuring something in the Karu tongue and desperately Dazriel latched onto his whispering voice, zoning out on anything but it. Makoto fell silent suddenly, his breathing quickening and curiosity getting the better of him, Dazriel dragged his eyes up to the human on sale.
He was young, fully grown but with a sense of frailness about him. His eyes were downcast, hair long and scraggily. Around his neck was a metal collar and he was held at a distance from the men selling him by thick metal poles. A hiss of hatred rose from the crowd around them and the man started back from the edge only to be checked by the poles. A whimper broke from him, and beside Dazriel, the muse began to growl softly. He began to mutter to himself again and this time Dazriel caught on of the sentences.
“Not again, ‘s not good. ‘S bad… ‘s bad…” Dazriel placed his hand on Makoto’s and the muse turned black eyes on him. “That was me Angel, that was me…” Abruptly he turned to Houroi-keh. The boy started at the sight of his eyes, swallowing nervously.
“What is he?”
“Well… he’s a Neryh… a blood taker.” Houroi-keh was fidgeting again, fear staining his voice and Makoto visibly took a few deep breaths, calming himself and shifting his eyes down a few shades.
“A blood taker… right, and that would be?”
“Err… a blood taker is a, well they’re little more then beasts, they live off human lives. Drink people’s blood and well… everyone knows about the Neryh. They’re not very popular.” Houroi-keh shrugged, “Usually they’re not sold off… well except to the religious fanatics.”
“Why would they want to buy someone like that?” Dazriel asked gently.
Houroi-keh glanced towards him and then at Makoto.
“Well… so they can kill them.”
Makoto’s eyes flashed and he spun around, his attention focused entirely on the podium. The bidding was mainly between two richly dressed, if slightly eerily, merchants.
“A hundred and fifty!”
“Five hundred.” Makoto’s voice was calm; he didn’t need to shout to be heard by all. The merchants head snapped towards him, eyes wide. The seller’s mouth was slightly open and he gazed at the muse, stunned before his wits returned and he snapped;
Makoto nodded in response and at the vender’s gesturing the three made their way around to the back of the platform. Dazriel sat on his horse shocked, as the muse paid the seller.
The Neryh was forced to his knees, shirt lifted as one of the men walked towards them, a branding mark in hand. Makoto caught his arm in a vice like grip before it could touch the slave’s skin.
“That won’t be necessary.” The man opened his mouth to protest but them at the look on Makoto’s face nodded hastily and backed off.
“As you wish my lord.”
“Yes.” The man backed off and the muse reached down to pull the Neryh up. With quick, economical movements he unclipped the collar from around his neck. The man looked up at him surprised and Dazriel hid a smile behind his hand.
“Oh shut up Angel, and help me get him up.” Makoto growled.
“I’m Dazriel… and you look like you could do with a hug.” The angel half purred before throwing his arms about Ruben. The Neryh froze eyes wide and then Makoto pulled Dazriel off him.
“Behave Angel.” His voice was amused though so Dazriel just flicked his tongue out at him.
“I’m sorry to interrupt… but we really have to be getting back to the halls. The main viewing’s about to begin.” Houroi-keh’s voice was small and he placed a hand on Dazriel’s shoulder. The angel nodded happily and then sprang to his feet and grabbing his horse’s reigns set off for the main building.
They reached the entrance quickly and Dazriel pushed open the door, stepping into the cool air of the building. Someone slammed into him from behind and a young woman, covered from head to toes in layers of cloth rushed past him.
“Sorry, sorry.” Another person called out and Dazriel turned to watch as a young man rushed past them. He skidded to a halt a spun round to face them, shock on his face. Rojan stared at them, stunned and then blinked as the woman called for him to hurry.
“Makoto! Don’t you two dare leave!” He turned and started away into the building before stopping again, “Come on! It’s the daemons!” The clatter of boots on the stone floor and then Rojan turned the corner. Dazriel turned slightly to look at Makoto and then with a nod the two ran after the incubus.