This picture was deleted.
Pian and Teyan were both holding steaming tubs of water when they returned. Brand had a stack of white towels underneath his arms, even his eyes held concern. Data carried a silver tray that he set down beside Zane. On the tray was a paintbrush, knife, gauze and blood red ink. Cabe had a small basin filled with cold water and a small hand towel that was floating in the water. It smelled of jasmine. Mikal, the last one to get back, brought a tray of food and drinks.
I snorted through my pain. Were they going to force me into a hot bath, paint something, cool me off then feed me? Weird.
Zane grabbed the moist hand towel from Cabe. He put it to my forehead and wiped away sweat that I didn’t even know was there. Then he ran the towel along my arms, leaving a cold trail. Zane motioned to Mikal who handed over a glass of ice water.
Zane put it to my lips and whispered, “Drink.”
I swallowed the liquid convulsively, which lessened the burn of pain. I shivered, suddenly cold. Zane lifted me off the floor, being careful of my wings and set me in one of the tubs of steaming water. Instantly, warmth seeped into my skin. Data held the tray he brought into the room and Zane picked up the knife.
He sliced his palm and let the blood blend with the red ink. The ink flashed a brilliant blue before becoming a dark black. Zane put the knife back onto the tray and took the paintbrush in hand. He lifted my arm, which was now covered in its usual ink when I lost control.
Cabe muttered something in a different language. Zane answered him. The others wore shocked expressions but watched as Zane dipped the paintbrush into the blood ink. He methodically traced the black tattoos on both of my arms, whispering to me in Greek the entire time. With each stroke of the paintbrush, the pain lessened and my wings seemed to retreat. I sighed at the now blissful feeling settling in my skin. I closed my eyes.
Zane picked me up again and set me in the other tub, letting my arms sink in the warm water. I looked down to see if the blood ink was washing off but was surprised to see the ink seeping into my skin. Brand brought forward a towel and Zane held it open for me. I realized that I felt about a thousand times better and gingerly got out, realizing my wings were no longer there.
Zane wrapped the towel around me then took another towel from Brand to dry himself off. Without being asked, the others cleaned up the mess from whatever had just happened. Zane handed his towel off to Brand and reached for me taking my hand in his and leading me to the couch where he laid me down. Muttering a word, I dried myself, clothes and all.
I huddled in the corner of the couch. “What just happened?” I asked. Zane sighed and leaned back.
“Magic backlash. Your body is unused to magic and instead of letting it flow through the land and back to you, your body trapped it inside.”
“And my wings?”
“Your wings, it seemed, thought you were still using magic and didn’t go back when they should have.”
“So what did you do?” Zane sighed, rubbing a hand over his face.
“With the help of my blood, I released the barrier on your powers so they could flow free instead of damming up inside.”
“Why has this,” I waved my hand around trying to remember the term he had used, “magic backlash never occurred before now?” Zane set his cheek in his palm and watched me with mercury eyes.
“I suspect it is because of Tartarus. You have never visited before and compared to Earth Side, Tartarus has more magic in the air. More magic that could and did interfere with your uncontrolled power.” That made sense but why did I get the feeling Zane wasn’t telling me everything? I ran my hand over the ink still seeping into my skin.
“So what are these tattoos? You said they were some sort of dam?” Zane massaged the side of his head, as if he was getting a headache.
“Those tattoos were exactly like a dam. We call them seals. They are used for those who cannot control their powers or for those that don’t want all of their power released when they use even the tiniest amount.”
“So how did I get them? I’m guessing you aren’t born with them.” Zane closed his eyes, all the while rubbing his temple. All the guys returned at that moment and Zane never answered me. Data leaned against the couch I was sitting in and Cabe sat down next to me, putting a hand lightly on my shoulder.
I rubbed a hand through my hair, feeling emotional and high-strung. I wanted to kill someone but I knew I could wait for the chance. I didn’t want to kill anyone but everything was starting to annoy me. I curled into a ball and put my cheek on my knee.
The men around me talked in hushed voices as if frightened of startling me. I closed my eyes and listened to the rumble of the men’s voices. It was oddly calming especially to have Cabe slowly petting my arm. Someone else sat on the other side of me and ran their fingers through my hair, twirling strands around his fingers before letting them spring back into place.
When the fuck did I transport into a reverse harem? I swear to god, before coming to Tartarus I had no inclinations toward men. And now, suddenly, it seemed like men could do it for me. Shit.
I knew it was Zane playing with my hair just by the feel of his fingertips against my cheeks. I sighed and leaned into his strong shoulder. Everything I had ever believed in was flipped upside down. I let all of my muscles relax and felt my consciousness slipping.
Another rumble joined the others, I recognized the voice and looked up at my father with blurry eyes. “Papa.” I whispered reaching out my arms as if I was only a child. My father smiled a sad smile and lifted me in his arms. I snuggled into his shoulder, “I missed you, Papa.” My dad ran his hand down my arm, I could feel his muscles tightening as he turned slightly.
“Tell me everything later.” His voice rumbled through me. I clutched my father’s shirt in my tightened fists and urged him silently to take me away, to take everything away. He tightened his grip on my arms.
“Persephone is waiting for you.” My father whispered toward Zane. I heard my father sigh and then I was passed into a different set of arms. It seemed Zane had given my father a look. My father turned and left, his long strides eating up the length of the floor.
Zane carried me upstairs, walked a while before turning to the right, opening a door and placing me on a large bed. He covered me with blankets, I smiled and dove deeper into the blankets surrounding me. He touched my cheek with his fingertips once more before turning and walking out the door, closing it almost silently behind me.
I was asleep within minutes, the sound of Zane’s voice whispering, “óneiró, pouláki mou,” sending me into dreams.
“What do you mean I have to train?” My father sighed across from me. We were sitting in the ballroom, me on a loveseat and my father on the couch across from me. Zane was sitting beside my father, his fingertips touching and resting on his chin. Brand was reading a book in the one person chair, his eyes shifting over every single one of us.
“I do not want you to be defenseless against your own powers. Zane and the others will help you control your powers now that the seals have been removed.” I rubbed between my eyes, and sighed.
“What does this ‘training’ require exactly?” My father smiled slightly, knowing I had basically agreed to the training.
“You will go to a dojo and be ‘attacked’ in order for your power to activate, and from there Zane will guide you.” I sighed and ran a hand through my hair. I had a really bad feeling that Zane was not going to go easy on me.
Zane and my father led the way to the dojo. It was a large room on the first floor, with bamboo flooring that softened landings, and large windows on one side of the room. There was only one door at the far end of the room. No one but my father, Zane and I entered the dojo.
“You will train with Zane today and later I will help you get settled here.” My father said in a cheery voice. He nodded at Zane then gave me a pat, promising to be back later.
I watched my father’s retreating back with an indifferent expression, turning back to Zane, I raised an eyebrow, “So, how are we going to do this?”
Zane stared at me and took a step backwards until he was a few feet away from me. His eyes glowing with feral power. He crouched. I mimicked the position.
“I want you to reach inside yourself for your power. I want you to harness it without the seals and try to control the blood rage.” I turned my arms and cracked my neck. He explained it as if it was so easy. I looked beneath the skin at my power. It was coiled tightly and intricately, resembling the tattoo’s that were no longer there.
I didn’t trust that coiled power, it was too dark, too hungry to control. Instead I reached for my mage power. Surely Zane wouldn’t notice the difference. I wrapped my mage magic tightly around me, creating an almost invisible shield that would block anything thrown at me.
Zane watched the process with un-amused eyes. He surged towards me and twisted some magic around my barrier, searching for holes. Without warning he tossed even more magic that almost cracked my shield.
The next attack he used his body. I rose to the balls of my feet as he ran towards me, his intent written on his face. I blocked the kick aimed towards my stomach and swung out with a fist. He dodged and danced away, a half smile on his face.
“You want to test yourself, but only on your own terms,” Zane taunted me. “You were given a gift you’ve denied all your life, and still refuse to see.”
Obviously he could tell the difference between mage and demon magic. But I could reach the next plane without that dark power, I assured myself. I reached for my mage magic again and threw it at Zane. He blocked it and laughed.
“Is that all you can do, mage?” He lunged towards me, his silver metallic eyes changing to the deep black that signalled his use of power, what the demons called the Shadows of Tartarus.
Psychic energy formed hands that ran down my cheeks to settle on my waist.
Fury flooded my veins; I fought the overwhelming wave of emotion, but the damage burned. I had to control it, what good was the power without the control? I slammed a wave of energy toward him instead, amazed when it connected, almost taking him to his knees.
The demon in his veins seemed to writhe. His eyes lit with a glow of respect.
“Very good, Kei, however that wasn’t enough.”
“It’s never enough with you, Zane. You want it all.” I snarled launching myself at him. The instant I reached him, he grabbed my wrists with his hands, lifted me off the ground and slammed me onto the floor. My back screamed in agony at the force of the tatami mats against my still sensitive skin. Zane held my wrists above my head with one hand, the other tightening against my throat. His lips were a whisper away from mine.
óneiró pouláki mou. – dream, my little bird.