Interlude IV

Interlude IV

Settling the Score

For a while, I was a bit drunk with power as I gleefully ransacked city after city. Unlike my usual rampages I wasn’t angry, and I was having far too much fun testing my new abilities. I wasn’t sure why ‘Tia didn’t have the same tricks as I did, but when I ran out of the water I brought with me – that managed to flood three of the cities I visited – I was able to gather more from the moisture in the sky.

Had I been closer to the coast, I would have been able to use the humid air at ground level, but that wasn’t possible on land. Not only did they have less humidity, it wasn’t water I could control since the currents belonged to Jadari, the earth and wind goddess. I had to reach high up, where Anatil’s currents were, waiting to feed Elati’s storms.

Using that collection of moisture would inhibit Elati from making a storm in the region for a while, but I figured she wouldn’t mind. As long as I was damaging property and being a pain to my peers, she would probably allow me to use almost anything of hers.

Delar had a lot of cities under his command, and I was destroying them in record time. I left as soon as I came, only staying long enough to flatten the buildings closest to me once the humans evacuated. The goal was to lure the prat out, but I also wanted make him suffer some heavy losses as well.

Of course, I knew I had to stay still somewhere, otherwise no one would know I was to blame and Delar wouldn’t be lured out. I was certain he was sitting in Barcilica, waiting for either ‘Tia or myself to appear there. I had to draw him out before my sirsa reached the castle gates. The only way he would know about the damage was if someone told him about it.

I made sure to make a lot of noise so the next town over could hear it, and thus any Fodaren relatives would come investigate. My efforts were not in vain, since someone did greet me by throwing a stone aimed at my head. I was easily able to sense and deflect the harmless object, but I was caught off guard that a fellow falucite would use such a human way to get my attention.

I turned to find the same girl who had greeted me at the Fodaren homestead at my last visit. She stood with a stern glare and her hands on her hips, looking at me like I was a disobedient falcie under her command.

I tipped my hat to her and managed a polite nod. “Good morning,” I said serenely, struggling against my new accent. It wasn’t hard to say the words, but my mind was now familiar with the seafarer dialect that it came to the surface faster than my old one.

“Good morning!?” she repeated incredulously, her violet eyes turning into slits. “What do you think you are doing? This is my brother’s territory and you have no right to destroy it!”

“Ah have every right,” I replied evenly. For now, I kept my anger in check. “Your brother tried ta kill me and seize my property by force.”

The girl looked stunned, then doubtful as she shook her head. “Th-that cannot be true! Delar said that you have consented to the union and is waiting for your pet’s arrival.”

“A pretty lie, but I have never consented, an’ ah told Delar such when we had last met. At me refusal he challenged and threatened to kill me, thinking that there would be no retribution fer his actions,” I told her, my accent slipping slightly. They were scarce enough for her ignore.

She stamped a foot forward and held her fists to her sides like a falcie- she probably was one, since she didn’t seem older than one hundred fifty. “Yes, but my brother is going through puberty. He should not be held accountable for mere words. As you know, sometimes we cannot help our emotions during the final phase,” she countered as if she was trying to scold me.

I tipped my head down to hide my glare under the shade of my hat. My tone lowered as I growled, “My dear, if this were about ‘mere words’ then ah wouldn’t be here.”

I could have been sympathetic about the puberty. I knew very well what he was going through. But whether Delar was aware of his condition or not, he crossed the line. I may have felt desire to kill him, but unlike him, I would not have gone through with it. And regardless of his lack of emotional control, he wanted my most precious treasure. I would sooner cross all five hells than to watch him take my ‘Tia as a slave.

As my face darkened, she backed away a few steps, eyes growing fearful. But she didn’t back down completely and she tried to plead with me. “I don’t know what my brother has done, but I am sure this can be resolved before my elders. Just-”

I cut her off. “Maybe we could have resolved this through your elders, but not anymore. Yer brother chose to disregard falucite law an’ challenged me as his own entity. If your elders become involved, then ah would have to assume that you all wanted to destroy a representative of the sea. I would rather believe this be a matter of one man, than be forced ta punish an entire clan.”

She seemed caught off guard by that; her confused expression said it all. I had to admit that it was hard to fathom anything being beyond falucite law. Even a hormonal adult would not choose to cast it aside. The law made everything easier when it came to disputes. It was either an act of desperation or very poor judgment to seek other means to settle.

“But…” she trailed off. The very fact that Delar lied to his clan about the last meeting indicated that he acted on his own, without the consent of his elders. It was dangerous if elders had little control over their young. Not only that, but this behavior must have been learned; someone – likely the true culprit behind the forbidden warehouse – taught him it was acceptable to act in this way.

The Fodaren clan itself may have been moral and just, but their lax discipline and upbringing would be their undoing. I was more than happy to eliminate the bad seeds for them, but the elders would never believe my accusations. To them, I’d just be an enemy who ruthlessly killed one of their own.

“Bring me Delar. It is high time we settle this,” I announced to the blue haired girl.

She flinched and took another step back. I could understand the fear and worry she was expressing; a scary man wanted to see her brother, and I was out for his blood. But her demeanor changed when she looked me in the eye. “Very well, I shall summon Delar, but I will contact the elders immediately after. Do not do anything regrettable until a representative comes.”

“I won’t try anythin’, but ah can’t be held accountable if your brother decides to break decorum again,” I replied, earning a pained wince. She disappeared shortly after.

I wondered how much she knew about Delar’s actions. Her body language alone indicated that she was unsure and uncomfortable with anything regarding her brother. It implied a guilty conscious, meaning she might know something.

If she truly wanted to avoid bloodshed, she should’ve went straight to the elders. It was likely I planted doubt in her head and she wanted to confirm if my words were true. A loving sister probably wouldn’t want to risk getting him in trouble until she knew for certain that he needed disciplinary action.

I didn’t think it would take long to convince Delar to come see me, but I still had one more city to destroy before I could declare myself done with my vengeance. Using pressurized water, I left a message on the stone wall informing him that I was off to destroy another territory of his. There, I would wait.

I didn’t say which one in hopes he would run around in a frenzy before he found me. The longer he stayed away from Barcilica, the better. Luckily Barcilica wasn’t his territory, so that should be the one exclusion from the list of possible choices. Usually the entire clan jointly owned the capital; Delar’s only tie to it was the fact that he owned the current human sitting on the throne.

I left as soon as I was done, fearing that the prat might charge over here too soon. Knowing that I was destroying his territories should cause an instant reaction. And, if he still didn’t have a hold on his hormonal emotions, he was going to act irrationally.

It didn’t take more than fifteen minutes to create the same devastation I made in the other cities. I decided to expand the damage to the limits since I had to stay put this time. I gave the humans ample time to evacuate, though there were some foolish enough to try and challenge me. They met unfortunate ends after I gave them plenty chances to flee.

The only structure I left whole was the public fountain. I felt that it was a fitting place to wait for the prat to appear. I treated it as my throne, even though the three foot wall surrounding the water was not a proper chair. I held my chin up, back straight, and my hands resting on my knees as I feigned a confident and arrogant façade. The evil grin never left my face.

For once I was grateful for the long wait. I amused myself with thoughts of what I wanted to do when everything was over. Or rather, what I wanted to do to my sirsa. I thought I had better control than this, but all this excitement was getting me, well, ‘excited’.

All I wanted to do was grab my mate and have my wicked way with her. ‘Tia did admit to feeling the same way during raids, so perhaps it was a natural reaction; or maybe it was some side effect of being Lord of the Sea. It would explain the perverted behavior of ‘Tia’s father.

Luckily I managed to keep the blood from rushing down there, even after remembering the vision of her dressed in the attire I had picked out for her. Not that her dress was revealing, of course, but I knew what was underneath because I dressed her myself. My hands were almost aching to touch her flesh again…

I was rudely snapped out of my imaginative day dreams when I heard a roar of rage. My eyes darted over to the glasses-wearing falucite, standing ten feet away near the wreckage that was once a courthouse. I noted, with humor, that there was no room for talk since he was already rushing towards me. He was likely enraged from both the damage I caused and the wild chase I led him on with my message.

I allowed him to get close before I blasted a jet of water to his midsection, knocking him flat on his back.

“Did that cool ye off?” I inquired as I stood. I wanted nothing more than to defeat him and regain my honor, but first I wanted a moment to let him realize that he had made a terrible mistake in our last meeting.

The prat sneered at me as he pushed himself up. I was a tad disappointed that he didn’t seem surprised with my powers, but I chose to believe that he was merely preoccupied with his anger to notice. I waited for him to straighten, ready to strike him again should he charge. But it seemed that blast did bring him back to his senses- for now.

“You should have stayed down you fool,” the blue haired man growled. “You were lucky enough that your mate rescued you the last time, but I will not give her the chance now. You will die for what you have done.”

I raised a hand to stop him. “Ye should not presume that yer facin’ the same opponent as last time,” I warned, not bothering to cover up my accent. I couldn’t focus past my dislike for him to muster it.

Looking thoughtful, he seemed to be thinking over my words, but that proved to be a delay tactic designed to catch me off guard. He summoned bricks and stone from the rubble and prepared to bury me in it.

“You do appear a little different, but you’re still the weak seafarer who needs to be put in his place!” Delar yelled as the projectiles headed for me.

I raised my hand to form a wall of water and wind, making the first salvo crumble upon it. The latter wave – which came seconds after – was caught up in the spell as I sent it and the elements right back at Delar. Though he was a fast bastard, he couldn’t dodge everything, and whatever shields he could make from earth or wind proved to be no match for my powers.

Facing him for the second time allowed me to distinguish the difference in my abilities compared to the last battle. It hadn’t occurred to me that I had lost most of my powers since ‘Tia became Lord of the Sea, since I usually dealt with weak humans. All my life, my elemental abilities and augmentations came from Elati, and I had them ever since I was old enough to wield them. But once I refused Cyirlie and didn’t make a deal with the goddess, they were reduced so that I wouldn’t be a threat to Elati’s plans.

She didn’t render me completely powerless, thankfully, as she figured that I could at least protect her champion from the lesser threat of humans and demons. But now I was back to my original strength – no, I surpassed that level – I was beyond the power of an ordinary falucite.

I smirked at the wide eyed look of my opponent. I couldn’t allow these thoughts to get to me. I was here for the sake of my woman, and all that mattered was her safety from the likes of that prat.

…That didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy giving Delar the same treatment he’d given me. He seemed more than eager to continue fighting despite my display, and I was more than happy to accommodate. Any words could be exchanged later, if he was still alive.

********************

The ensuing battle felt short even though we did last up to an hour. I had done a rather good job demolishing the city we were in, but our fight managed to make the wreckage even worse. The prat used the buildings and scattered materials around us to his advantage, but they were not enough to breech my barriers.

I was causing the most damage, though most of what I did involved throwing him into the rubble. All his bruising came from the impact, while various scratches he received were from my wind and water cuts. But that didn’t mean I was unscathed; he did manage a few hits, but they were insignificant.

I anticipated someone coming to stop us, but I thought it would be an elder or a branch member, not Delar’s younger sister. I could only speculate what she had done after meeting me, but if she had gone through with her announcement of contacting her elders, then they would be there in her place. My elders never trusted me with delicate disputes among my kind, not when I was her age anyway.

I immediately noticed the urgency in her demeanor as she ran up to Delar. She didn’t seem to realize that she had interrupted a fight, or that her brother was losing in it.

“Delar! Barcilica is flooded over and many humans are severely injured! What do I do?” she asked frantically.

I hid my grin as the prat reacted with surprise. It appeared that ‘Tia-dear had made her move. Given how the sister knew of this, I assumed Delar asked her to remain in the capital in his place. I didn’t anticipate that and hoped the girl didn’t meet my mate face to face. Even though she seemed far removed from the issue at hand, she could mention afterward that the Lord of the Sea smelled like a Xanaturi. That could spell trouble.

“Calm down and tell me what happened,” he commanded gently, apparently forgetting my presence. It was fine with me if he wanted to put the fight on hold. I wanted him to learn what a danger my ‘Tia was to his pet.

“That human you were waiting for arrived, and I didn’t interfere – as you asked – when Bardam greeted her,” she began, clasping her hands over her chest. “I didn’t watch the proceedings. I didn’t think anything would happen. But lightning hit the castle, and tidal waves flooded the streets immediately after. I managed to find Bardam, passed out, on a floating platform. He is still alive, thank the Fates.”

The Fodaren clan followed the Fates as devoutly as the Daedeleth. Well, the clan did. I wasn’t sure where Delar’s loyalties lie since it was clear he was functioning at a different level than his elders.

“What?” Delar whispered before his eyes darted over to me, “You!”

I shrugged and smiled. “Barcilica belongs ta yer clan, don’t it? Ah wouldn’t dare touch somethin’ jointly owned,” I said before I lowered my head. “Me colleague must be behind it, seein’ as she’s greatly pissed that yer pet kidnapped her Phidus buddies.”

My words confused Delar, but the girl spoke up.

“Colleague?” she repeated, turning to her brother. “Yes, it must be that human. She did this.”

I narrowed my eyes at her for a brief second before I hid my expression. Unlike the others, she was willing to believe that ‘Tia had powers even though she didn’t personally witness them. But she should have sensed that there was a Xanaturi in town, even if she couldn’t pin point the scent coming from my mate. I couldn’t tell whether Delar’s sister was a dense airhead, or a crafty person who knew how to hide information for later use.

“That’s impossible!” Delar snapped, still glaring at me. “You slipped up, Satel. The girl must still be in Barcilica, and once I capture her, you will never see her again!”

He vanished immediately after, leaving behind his stunned sister. I growled once I realized he was right; I erred by allowing him to get away. I chased after the prat, hoping to prevent that meeting between him and my mate.

I prayed that ‘Tia already left with her friends as I blinked in near the front of the palace. Since I didn’t know the town as well as Delar, I knew I wouldn’t be able to teleport directly to where he’d gone. At the very least my presence would throw him off from detecting the scent on ‘Tia.

I quickly raised my shields as waves rushed toward me. As reported, the area was flooded with about two feet of water, and there were unnatural waves rising up to take down anything taller than the flood. Despite the urgency, I took a moment to glance around, making a short whistle of appreciation at the chaos my sirsa caused.

For whatever reason, Elati favored ‘Tia’s body for events like this. It was information fed to me when I became Lord of the Sea, and through it I learned that Elati possessed her whenever she became furious. This was true for ‘Tia’s previous lives as well, except she was never aware of it. Now that she was working for the goddess, she was given a little more control over the phenomenon known as Elati’s Wrath.

Well, it was clear she didn’t have control over the Wrath nine years ago, but I suspect ‘Tia had passed out from grief and shock, so Elati had been able to take over. I couldn’t help but feel slightly irritated that the Lady of Storms viewed ‘Tia as a lowly puppet until this life. She had been treated as a bargaining chip for Rutan, a vessel for Elati, and on occasion she would take on Elati’s responsibility by carrying her voice.

At least my sirsa had more respect now, but I didn’t appreciate what her life had been like. Of course, I couldn’t do anything about it. She didn’t remember those lives, but now, at least, she had me around to treat her like a queen.

I took a moment to gauge the strength of the waves and was able to feel the magick in them. They weren’t very strong, meaning that ‘Tia might not be in the city anymore. If the caster wasn’t around to feed energy into the magicks, then the spell would gradually peter out on its own. Since my mate had strong raw power, and she was bolstered by a goddess, I had no way of knowing how long she had been absent.

I felt some tension leave me. With her out of the city, Delar would be unable to find her. That was one less worry I had to deal with. Instead I was free to track down my target to confront him again.

Unfortunately, it seemed the tables had turned. Barcilica was a large city, and I found myself scrambling to find a trace of him. I wasn’t sure if he had done this on purpose, or if the Maker was tormenting me. After a while of searching, I felt cold dread when I realized I couldn’t smell him anymore. All traces of the Fodaren scent disappeared, meaning he had left the city.

I growled as I teleported back to where we had last met, only to find ruins and solitude. Scowling, I cursed in my mind. Where could he have gone? Back to his homestead? He couldn’t have given up that easily.

Save for running home to his elders – which he probably couldn’t because of his lies – I would imagine the only reason he’d leave Barcilica would be to confront me. But no, if I could smell him, then he would be able to sense me too. If he was after me, he would have sought me out.

I felt a jolt of cold dread. Could he have picked up a clue as to where ‘Tia was headed? She couldn’t be too careful since she had to use other means to travel. Because she couldn’t teleport, she would have to cross the land by her own power, and there were always witnesses around to see her leave.

Logically she would head for the coast, but there were many towns along the coast. The only way he would know where to cut her off was if anyone told him which direction she headed. I needed to get to her first, but I had no idea where she went either. I doubt she returned to the town where we last saw each other. There were cities much closer than that one. I feared that the only way to find out was to go back to Barcilica and find humans who saw her escape.

Or… There was another trick I could use, but I wasn’t sure if it would work. If ‘Tia was in grave danger, I could sense her and rush to her side. However, my sirsa had such good control of herself that it was very rare for her to express that kind of fear. She would only express it if someone dear to her was about to be harmed or if she was close to death herself.

I was able to teleport to her side once before when she wasn’t in peril. It was when I was recovering. I had sensed she was not by my side and sought her out, not realizing that she had been dealing with the enemy. I didn’t think about it at the time because I had been disoriented, but I must have used an ability similar to Maetira’s when she wanted to go to a particular location. Because she couldn’t see or visualize the places she had been, she managed to feel for a person’s presence in lieu of a location.

I wasn’t even sure how to attempt it. Maetira never went into detail about what she did when she teleported, nor could she really describe it. All she said was that she imagined the person she wanted to visit being beside her and willed herself to them. But when I had done it, I only longed for my mate and was beside her the very next second.

I breathed in and out slowly as I closed my eyes and envisioned ‘Tia. I imagined the warmth of her skin and how it felt to hold her tiny body in my arms. Almost instantly a vision came to me of my sirsa standing on a ruined pier, her back to the sea and a blue haired prat in front of her. Both were holding swords as if they had been dueling.

I became panicked and infuriated. Surely Delar had sensed she was part of my clan by now, and I could only assume he was attacking her because her affiliation ruined his plans. Just as he began to rush toward her, I simultaneously willed water to hit him and imagined myself placed between him and my mate. When I opened my eyes, Delar was staggering against the water, and I could hear ‘Tia shift behind me. It actually worked.

I was quickly able to figure out what happened: she challenged Delar to a duel to stall and to give her friends a chance to escape. She was clever as always, though it was a risky move. I didn’t want to doubt my sirsa’s ability, but she could have lost long before I arrived. She did well in holding off against a creature beyond her skill.

But what really got to me was when Delar indicated that he wanted her in a way that was more valued than a pet. When ‘Tia explained that the claim wasn’t romantic in context, it didn’t make me feel better. Surely he knew she was mated, so he obviously couldn’t have her.

It didn’t matter if Delar was entertaining the doomed idea of having her for a mate. I didn’t like how he looked so interested in her. He was probably thinking of ways to use her as a weapon.

Thankfully ‘Tia was able to weasel her way out of another trap by implementing her ingenious ‘loopholes’. It was amazing how quickly she could think of a way to cheat while following the rules to the letter. She was perhaps the best con artist of her time.

She challenged me in the middle of her duel with Delar and conceded defeat after one fake blow. While there was never a situation like this, no one could argue that she had to follow my order after ‘losing’ to me, even if she had a prior challenger. And, it did make sense that I would have to take up the duel in her place now that I’ve won.

I was glad that she didn’t argue with me or insisted to stay. She knew she had to get back to the others and ensure that they were safe. But before leaving, she did whisper ‘Fight well an’ be safe’, which was probably the most platonic phrase she could say to convey her feelings for me.

Delar likely heard it as well, but he remained silent. I wasn’t even sure what he knew about ‘Tia and I; there could be a slim chance that he didn’t know that we were mates.

There was a long silence before Delar inquired, “Why didn’t you say she was mated? I would have accepted that as your answer.”

“Would ye really?” I asked doubtfully. As confrontational as he was when I had first refused him, he probably would’ve assumed I was lying and asked follow up questions to catch me in the lie.

The blue haired man paused. “I would have protested a little, yes, but I cannot pair my pet with a woman who is already bound to another. She smells of your clan, so who is she mated to?”

“That’s none o’ yer business,” I replied immediately. That was a question I would anticipate had I mentioned her being mated from the start. Even if Delar could accept that, had this been mentioned in front of his elders, they would have been curious as well. This would lead them to snoop around in matters that didn’t concern them to satisfy that curiosity.

While most non-seafarers had difficulty translating the accent, anyone could make an educated guess based on tone inflections. His subdued and defeated behavior shifted back to anger as he rightly interpreted my reply as a refusal to answer.

“I would accept your answers far easier if you didn’t make it obvious that you are hiding something!” he snarled.

“Why should ah answer that? Ye asked fer somethin’ personal. Did it e’er occur ta ye that it might be information that ah have no right ta give?” I replied incredulously.

He recoiled a little, but didn’t back down. “Maybe so, but you’ve been shifty about the Lord of the Sea ever since she has been brought up. You even told me that you’d kill me if I knew the truth. Don’t I know it now? Or is there something else you do not wish for me to know?”

I cursed myself for saying that to him. At the time I just wanted to threaten and scare him off, but now that I had harmless excuses to tell him, the statement brought me nothing but trouble. I didn’t anticipate that it would expose me like this. I haven’t lied yet, but it felt as if I was caught in one.

“Her bein’ someone’s mate is only one o’ the reasons. There are other facts that ye are not privy to, an’ it was jus’ easier to tell ye no. Satisfied?” I could have lied about my reasons before when I didn’t know any better, but in the end my grandfather’s solution was the fastest and easiest.

I began to wonder if it would have been better for everyone if those undergoing the final stages of puberty be taken off active duty and confined to a solitary place until they controlled themselves. I would have agreed to that; it would have made ‘Tia’s life a lot easier. Delar needed it more than me, since his urge to confront others was painfully annoying. What irked me most of all was that he probably wasn’t aware that he was going through the final stages because of that stupid tradition.

“How could I be ‘satisfied’ with that?” he asked, mocking my accent a little, “I had a real problem mating my pet to another and his sights were set on that woman. All you did was make a fool of me and selfishly kept valuable information from me. Just what is that secret of yours that is so bloody important to keep from others? I think you owe me that much for the trouble you’ve given me.”

I tilted my head and smiled. “If ah told ye, ah really would have ta kill ye. Do ye want ta die that badly?” I responded tauntingly, shoving my hands into the pockets of my coat.

My adversary snorted as he relaxed his sword arm and rested his free hand on his hip. “Please. You cannot kill me. If you did, my entire clan would be out for your blood.”

At least he didn’t seem to doubt my ability to murder him. Come to think of it, he tried to destroy me when he believed there were no avengers who would come for him. There was no question of ‘could or couldn’t’, but if one could get away with it.

“That’s where yer wrong,” I said as I took a step closer to the relaxed falucite. “Ah know the earth gods don’t interact wit’ ye, but the sea gods do come ta seafarers. There be one goddess in particular who decided ta create a champion from a mere human an’ named them Lord o’ the Sea. She gave them powers that no human should possess; ye seen it fer yerself in Barcilica. That’s wot the lass is capable o’.

“The goddess wanted more than just humans ta do her bidding, an’ that’s where ah came in. Since our last encounter at the old crossroads, ah’ve been a spectator tryin’ ta fit in as a seafarer an’ tryin’ ta keep ties wit’ me fellow falucite. Thanks in part ta ye, ah was driven in a corner an’ forced ta make a choice. Now ah’m Lord o’ the Sea too, an’ ah have the power ta back me up,” I said darkly, drawing closer. “Ah could destroy ye, yer home, an’ yer entire clan if ah wanted. But luckily fer ye, ah’d rather avoid wanton bloodshed.”

After all, Elati didn’t want us to commit mass murder, she just wanted a figurehead for all people to blame and hate. I just needed to incite fear.

Delar backed away a few steps, his face twitching a little to hide his expression. His small action proved that I was intimidating him. That was a welcome change from his superiority.

“You’re lying. It’s against the Natural Order and the Word of the Fates for one person to surpass his entire race. You cannot be as you say you are without being an Unknown,” he stammered, sounding distressed.

I smirked. “Who said the Fates didn’t order this? They only guide our way, not dictate our lives. And fer yer information, it’s against the Natural Order to surpass the Maker,” I countered smugly. Though Elati was a Fatesbane in name, she never once said we were truly going against the Word of the Fates; we were merely antagonizing the believers so they wouldn’t oppress the masses.

“An’ if ye still don’t believe me, look at wot’s become o’ Barcilica. The human Lord o’ the Sea flooded it- there be no disputin’ that,” I added.

Delar seemed at a loss for words. He was wide-eyed and shaking before he clenched his fists and glared back at me in fury. “You’re an abomination and you must be destroyed!”

I wasn’t sure what he was hoping to accomplish as he gathered as many earthen materials he could find in his range. Did he honestly think he could defeat me? I didn’t give him a chance this time; before he could let loose his spell, I willed the sea to surround and trap him in a perfect floating sphere. Instantly his projectiles fell as he focused on trying not to drown.

I could see him clearly in the center of the sphere, trying vainly to swim out. I watched his attempts with a grin while keeping my cool stance. I took pleasure in seeing fear in his eyes and briefly wondered if that was how I looked when he tried to take my life.

However, unlike him, I had no intention of actually drowning him. I wanted him to fear for his life and understand how I felt that day. There was no pity within me as I watched his hands travel up to his throat. It was only when I saw bubbles escape his mouth that I decided to let him go.

I threw the sphere into a distant stone wall, the water splashing in all directions. His back painfully made contact with the solid structure before he slid down to a sitting position and coughed the water out of his lungs. I slowly walked to him, forming a sharp spear of ice as I did so. I waited for his coughing to subside before I sent the weapon to stab him in the right shoulder.

The wound I inflicted wasn’t life threatening, as our bodies healed faster than that of humans and demons, but it was enough to put him out of commission for a while. His face contorted in pain as he weakly reached for the ice, only to flinch away from the coldness of it.

“You…you didn’t display this power before,” he muttered hoarsely, glaring up at me from under his light blue bangs.

“Ye mean from the last battle?” I said. “Ah wasn’t even tryin’. Ah figured ye would feel better to be defeated after a long drawn out battle wit’ an equal.”

Even though it would have been terribly satisfying to defeat him in seconds, I wanted to let him retain some pride, or else he would be bitter and wish to fight me again. I certainly wasn’t afraid to face him again, but I had other jobs to do and other people to annoy. I couldn’t play with him all day every day.

Unfortunately I incited his wrath and encouraged him to fight me despite the show of power. I had no doubt he was afraid of me now; the fact that he wanted me gone so desperately was proof of that. Only scared people attacked blindly.

“You bastard,” Delar growled.

I wasn’t offended with the insult and feigned a serene smile. “Luckily for ye, ah’m feelin’ generous. Ah’m goin’ ta spare yer life so ye can go back ta yer elders an’ deliver a message fer me. Tell them ’bout how ah’m Lord o’ the Sea, an’ that as long as they’re willin’ ta work wit’ me, there won’t be any trouble,” I said, and then leaned closer to his form and muttered darkly, “An’ ye better tell them the truth if ye know wot’s good fer ye. Keep in mind that ye’ll be sendin’ them ta their deaths if ye convince them ta fight me, so don’t risk it.”

“Damn you Satel!” Delar cursed loudly as I turned and walked away. “I swear I’ll find out your secret and ruin you!”

I smirked at him from over my shoulder. “Do try ta value yer life more. Ah jus’ made ye a messenger, so ah can’t kill ye today. Mebbe next time, if ye piss me off,” I promised before I teleported away. I heard his furious yell as I left.

So began the war. I hoped his elders would be reasonable and try to avoid fighting me. I wasn’t worried about defending myself and my mate, but I would feel responsible if the numbers of my race were reduced because of reckless fighting. I just wanted to be feared and hated. I have to prove I was no one to mess with.

But as for Delar, he was determined to learn my secret. While he hadn’t assumed ‘Tia was my mate, there were still other clues that could lead him to the truth.

To the Title Page

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