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Legend of Azaria

by Lilia Peters 5 months ago in Adventure · updated a day ago
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Path of the Guardian

There weren't always dragons in the valley.

Aya let the words echo in her mind as she stepped across the threshold from Earth.

Dragons?

Yes. That was what Kalaghai had said.

She was already terrified of what might be after them. And he had said it so casually - the words rippling from his mouth as though a dragon wasn't a fire-breathing destroyer.

Maybe they weren't.

Maybe dragons weren't exactly what Earth knew them to be.

She clung to hope.

By the drift of her thoughts she hadn't realised they had finally passed through a clearing.

Finally able to see a fragment of the world she had been taken to.

She gasped.

The valley.

The vibrant colours that sparked across a night sky were what first took her breath away.

The swirling shades of blues and greens – the way pink bled into darkness. It was all so very foreign to her. But so very beautiful.

She let out a small huff when her thigh stung where the Vok had clawed at her flesh.

A reminder.

“Are you alright?” Kalaghai asked.

She faltered at his concern.

It had been quite some time since another had cared for her wellbeing.

In the absence of their pursuers, she had almost forgotten all that had transpired. She breathed in air, unfamiliar to her lungs, and took in her surroundings.

The land around her was lush and untouched by darkness. It glowed like time herself had cupped perfection in her hands.

Humming in thought she stared at the small scar above his eyebrow, and the way flecks of light sharpened the auburn in his eyes, “I’ll be alright. It is very beautiful here.” She said.

He followed her gaze to the sweeping mountains and untouched landscapes, “It’s not all this beautiful, I’m afraid.”

She watched him linger in his stare and wondered why the Initiative had captured him. Was it to learn about this place?

“Can they follow us through the…portal?” She asked, the word tasting peculiar.

“They can. The Initiative frequently brandish our land with their taint. Though, I don’t think they will be coming too hastily after what just occurred,” he turned to her to smirk, “It wouldn’t be very smart.”

His rough emphasis on ‘smart’ wasn’t missed by her.

The hatred burned through her skin.

Aya hated the Initiative. But she could feel it in the weight of his words. If the Initiative stepped one foot through that portal – he would eviscerate them.

And she would help him.

~

The ground trembled.

Energy permeated the walls and shook Aya’s cell.

She scrambled to stand and quickly turned to peer through the long glass window.

She shivered in her veins.

“All security please report to sector B. The Vok have escaped!”

The guard shoved his communication device into his pocket and thrust his hand at the door controls.

Was something coming?

What was a Vok?

Her heart thud excitedly against her chest. She held her hand expectantly against it – an attempt to calm – but was only reminded of the deep scarring that now marred her pale skin.

One of the Initiative’s lovely experiments.

They had put something there.

But she didn’t know what.

She clutched her scarring and stared across at the man who had shared some of her time in her glass prison.

He had never spoken a word to her. Only ever briefly regarded her from underneath his tuft of long black hair and sickly pale skin.

She wondered what they had done to him. He had only been with her for three months. They had kept him sedated most days. But in the last few weeks they had let him be. He had begun to sit patiently in his cell.

Waiting.

Now, as the commotion grew louder and louder, he appeared to be intently listening. Head tilted up to his doorway.

“What do you think it is?” Her voice echoed.

He didn’t respond.

He just waited.

She paced back and forth feeling a strange energy.

Then the man stood. Slowly.

She noticed the air trembling.

A stench. A smell she had never smelled before.

She paused.

Her ears prickled with unease as she heard a growl rumbling down the halls.

A feral growl. Unfamiliar. Ravenous.

The ground shook again. This time closer. Screams carried on urgent footsteps until they were silenced.

From her door she could see just down the hall. The lights were flickering. Her stomach dropped when her eyes met a shadow. It was distorted - as though a deformed contortion of body parts had amalgamated.

A guard’s body was flung down the hall. His blood spattered as he smacked and slid against the white tiles.

Her throat wouldn’t swallow, and she nearly choked as she saw a giant, clawed foot emerge.

She threw a panicked look back at the man.

What was he waiting for?

She flicked her head back down the hall and watched as a monstrous body with four legs stemmed from the shadows – almost too big to fit between the walls.

Her hands shook.

She ran to the shared glass wall, her throat raspy, “H-Hey!”

He took no note of her.

Aya stepped back.

Her skin prickled.

The man raised his hands slowly, then thrust them down – they cut through the air so fast that she had sworn he hadn’t moved at all.

She startled backward as his hands became engulfed in black flames. They soared down to his forearms and in one swift movement he obliterated the door to his cell.

Aya was shaken.

When his hands had ignited, she had felt something.

A spark.

In the haste of her mind, she scrambled, “Let me out!” She cried.

She didn’t want to die like this.

To be ripped apart. A meal.

Its claws scratched across the floors.

“Please!”

The air still vibrated. And with every step he took in disregard – her rage inflamed.

She bashed against the glass again.

And again.

As the indestructible glass shook. So did something within her.

She felt it spur from the depths of her chest, rippling across her ribcage and down her arms, and as she lifted her hands to rhythmically beat them against the glass one last time, flames erupted from her hands and shattered the glass between them.

The man finally looked back at her.

Her chest heaved.

Swiftly, he moved toward her and hoisted her up by the arm, “Let’s go."

~

When Aya had commented on the beauty of their surroundings as they stepped through the portal, he had to hold in a chuckle. Even as her azure eyes blended in with the fading skies and dew trickled grass, catching his breath, she had no idea.

Azaria had once been a beauteous planet. The wonders of the universe took refuge in the sweet sections of faultless forests and endless oceans. In the divine delicacy of each petal on blooming flowers.

But the Vok had simply taken the havens of their planet and destroyed them.

Demons.

The vilest creatures to exist.

Kalaghai felt his skin prickle as his anger boiled. He had wasted many a thought on their existence. They had taken so much from his people.

From him.

Now this young, clueless girl, had stepped through the threshold to their planet…she knew nothing of what was to come.

Perhaps the reason he found himself rhythmically staring as she lifted each tired leg and pressed forward, was because he pitied her.

Innocence.

She was lucky to have it.

He watched her trudge forward. The Black Swamp almost devouring her legs with each lift.

He had wanted to leave her there.

He should have.

Bringing an Earth human into their world. It was forbidden.

But Kalaghai needed to know if it was a true Valadan that she possessed.

~

Kalaghai had never quite felt like he had washed all the blood from his hands from that day.

When the Initiative invaded the planet Mercury.

He had been tasked with guarding the descendants of the Summoners.

Children.

And he had failed.

Earth’s humans had no trouble annihilating the cries of babes. Annihilating a peaceful people. Unprepared. Helpless.

He stood at the gates of their sanctuary. Guarding. But not guarding. It had been far too long since the Mercurians had seen any kind of battle.

The Vok emerged.

Abominations.

A fog – an air with the stench of a thousand pieces of rotting flesh – rolled across the gates of their sanctuary. And he knew.

The second he saw the decaying jaw of a putrid beast break through the fog he set the ground alight in hellfire. The flames obliterated.

But the other guards…they were not as war ready as Kalaghai.

Their blood was spilled.

Because these Vok were different.

Covered in a different kind of disgust.

It wasn’t until he was down to his last few soldiers – hopelessly fighting beside him – that he realised these Vok were being controlled.

He had briefly noted the bright white emblem that stuck out on the uniform of a group of humans that emerged and crossed the threshold.

Earthlings.

With his rage he took out one human.

Then two.

Three.

He would burn the flesh from them.

He wanted nothing more than to protect the Summoners.

Even as his body became weaker from the extent of power he was using.

Even as his shoulder was almost torn from its socket with teeth sharp and ravenously tearing at his flesh.

Even as the last one of his men’s screams were cut short as their head was ripped from their neck.

Their blood would never be erased.

~

“What did you say the place we are going to is called again?” Questioned Aya.

A brooding Kalaghai clicked his tongue as his feet sunk into the muddy stench.

“An Etherial Tear. We will be visiting a spirit realm. The water there has healing properties and we should be able to gain most of our strength back.”

“But?”

He stopped walking. A large oak tree dangled in the distance, quite out of place, and he appeared to be staring at it sharply. He breathed, “You have a Valadan. That is what they put inside your chest. Earth humans are not meant to have Valadans.”

Kalaghai began to walk again. Slower than before. And Aya fleetingly thought that he looked more exhausted than she felt. But she didn’t dare comment.

She had thousands of questions to ask him. Her mind reeling. But still not quite sure whether she could trust her new friend she quietly questioned, “What are you saying?”

He turned back to her and she, for the first time, saw his face completely as the light of the setting sun brushed across sharp cheekbones and haphazard stubble. It was almost a beard – something to hide more of his face.

“I am saying that I do not know what will happen to you in the Etherial tear, nor in the water. Azarians have a different genetic code to Earthlings. The Etherial’s will decide whether they heal you or hinder you.”

She sighed.

~

They passed through the threshold and Aya felt like she could breathe again.

The air crisp and sweet.

The swamp had been bad.

Her eyes became mesmerised by the delicate flow of water as it rippled down the jagged rocks and fanned out to kiss the edge of the grass.

Glowing lights were suspended completely around her. Blue. Green. Yellow.

“Those are the Etherials.” Said Kalaghai from behind her. His voice sounded tired as it crackled, and she turned to see him removing his putrid shirt.

She blushed, “O-Oh,” and turned back, focusing on the lights, “They look like fireflies.”

He hummed.

Aya decided to take a seat by one of the trees closest to the water’s edge.

She was still unsure.

She clutched her knees and bit her lip in thought. After all that had transpired, was she really prepared to step into magic water, in a foreign land, with a foreign man and hope that it didn’t kill her?

She had just escaped.

She peeked to her right, where she caught the scars etched in Kalaghai’s back as he began to submerge himself in the water.

She wondered if he even wanted her to survive.

He had almost left her behind.

Her eyes became glued to the rhythmic pulse of the water as his movements disturbed it.

She noted the release in his shoulders.

The way his body fractured against the calm.

Whatever the water was doing to him seemed good. And the Etherial’s must’ve liked him. They had swarmed around him as he had stepped in and now, though it was quite dark, their light illuminated his skin and refracted against the water in greens and pinks.

Aya had nowhere to go.

She had no one.

The Initiative had taken everything from her. Everyone.

And Magic. It had been something she had dreamed about as a child. If she had the power of a Valadan she could’ve saved so many lives.

So many other children.

But now.

Now she possessed power.

If she could learn how to use it, maybe she could bring the Initiative down.

She didn’t really have any other options.

Did she?

~

“Well. Are you coming?”

Aya lifted her chin from her knees and regarded him with a fearful gaze. But deep in the pit of her stomach something made her move her legs.

“Yes.”

As she stood, she regarded herself and cringed at the state of her Initiative tattered clothes.

They were already rags at best.

Now they were torn, wet, stained, muddy pieces of material barely leaving imagination to the eye.

She didn’t have time to be mortified.

She might be about to die.

She looked at him, catching his eye as she clutched at her shirt.

He just nodded. Turning away from her as she undressed.

At least he had manners, she mused.

He was going to leave her for dead, but he had manners, at least.

One step.

Two.

Her toes tickled as the water lightly touched them.

Not dead yet.

She took a few more steps – her heart racing – and submerged herself to her knees.

Kalaghai still faced away from her but hearing the catch in her breath he turned to her.

She wasn’t offended.

He reached out a hand and magnetically she took it. He slowly pulled her forward until she was tucked under the water just to her shoulders.

The rush of euphoria overwhelmed her. It spread from her toes to her knees to her chest and caused her skin to shiver.

She still held his hand.

Her eyes had closed. And she couldn’t bring herself to open them.

“What is this?” A whisper.

He hadn’t let go of her hand and she could feel searing heat from his grasp.

His voice was deep. Quiet, “The water is healing you.”

She shook her head and opened her eyes – they glimmered in the lights – “No,” she said and loosened her grasp and slid it up his arm.

Impulsively.

Fever followed her fingertips as they trembled against the energy that hummed between them, “This.

He stared down at her hand as though he hadn’t noticed it before.

How had he not noticed the hypnotic pull that resonated in the depths of their skin?

He grasped her roaming hand to stop her.

Looking at her as though he were going to say something. Instead, he pulled her closer.

Her heart was erratically beating against her ribcage. It needed her to feel his skin.

His face was inches away.

His breath touched the side of her cheek.

Her mind shuddered.

She was intoxicated.

His voice was etched with restraint as he said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

But he couldn’t fight it.

He pulled her forward, a rush of water rippling past them, and he held her body against him as his hands travelled up her back, bringing his thumbs across the soft skin of her neck and into her hair.

She released a slow breath.

Her hands ached as they lifted to touch the scarring in the middle of his chest. It was like hers. But she was too taken by the air. Too captured in desire to focus. She could feel the whispers of euphoria beneath his chest.

Suddenly her back was pressed against the rivers wall and her lungs heaved as he paused to stare.

Her breath hitched.

Trapped in the depths of autumn that bathed in his eyes, she couldn’t move.

He was slow. Still fighting. Still willing his hands to stay put.

Each movement emanating something akin to a growl from him until his lips were inches from her own. Just touching.

The movement was so delicate that her eyes fluttered in reaction.

A taste.

Again. He inched forward, letting his lips barely caress her own. Featherlight.

And then the onslaught began.

Kalaghai's lips were fierce as they fell upon hers. Tight. Fast. They moved sensually against her own and she kissed back with just as much fervour.

More.

He shoved her back.

Pressed into her.

She could feel every part of him against her.

When his tongue touched her own, she wanted to taste every corner of his mouth, but succumbed to the searching of his own. Intertwining hers with his.

Her skin was fire as his hands roamed. And roamed. And roamed.

He touched every stretch of her body as she came apart.

She pressed into him.

“Aya,” he breathed, and her body melted into the water, “We have to stop.” He sighed.

She couldn’t hear him.

She could feel him.

The warmth. The way his pulse pressed firmly against her mouth as she tasted his neck.

She had fallen into the divine and she needed more.

Much more.

“Aya.”

Her name was lost to the ripples of the water as she linked her arms around his neck and brought her mouth back to his.

He groaned.

And ripped himself away.

It was so quick. The rush of wind that was taken from her lungs as she was propelled from the water. She crashed into the ground and gasped for breath; coughing and sputtering as she sat, sprawled, inches from the water’s depths.

Her mind finally came back to her.

What had she just done?

~

The words between them were far too few a day after they left the Etherial Tear.

Aya had no idea what had come over her. She could only assume that the Etherial’s had done something to make her react that way.

She shivered as she recalled the feel of his beating heart when she brushed over the scar on his ribcage. It had been a similar scar to hers, but in the haste of their passion she really hadn’t stared at it for long.

Now, she tried incredibly hard to remember just how similar it was to her scar.

Instead of asking him about it she said, “Where are we going?”

He kept his pace ahead, “I am taking you to Medeis Academy. It is the best place for us to find answers.”

She pushed a strand of dirty brown hair from her face, “Answers about why I can use the Valadan’s powers?”

He nodded.

~

The rain started to trickle from the sky as they finally found their way into an open clearing.

A footpath that smelled of wet brick led into the distance.

At the end of it the tips of towers peered out over a sheen of fog.

Kalaghai cleared his throat, “Once we get to the Academy, we can see the healer. She may be able to tell us more about your condition.”

She wondered if the other people there would react as calmly to her abilities as Kalaghai had. Or would they want to experiment on her just like the Initiative?

Her face crumbled in thought.

“They won’t poke and prod you too much.”

She exhaled.

~

It quickly filled her bones when she finally realised.

Fear.

Her head was spinning. Body frozen.

Kalaghai spoke shakily, “They shouldn’t be here.”

She could see them.

Three of them – their gigantic bodies, glowing red eyes and rotting flesh, all visible even through the fog. Which was just as putrid as she recalled at the Initiative.

Familiar and terrifying.

How could she hope to defeat them?

She was helpless.

With no idea how to access the powers her Valadan granted her and no weapons, she would be useless in the battle.

“W-What do we do?” She asked. Afraid.

“We run for the gates.”

~

The thick fog tried to suffocate her.

Weighted breaths strained against her chest.

She willed her legs to move fast.

But everything burned.

The growls were so close that she could feel their desire to devour.

Kalaghai was ahead with hands ignited in black flames.

They quickly spurred out to his left and right to deter the closing demons.

He veered to the left or quickly dodged to the right as he shot flames from his hands – each movement a deliberate calculation as he hit the enemy.

But Aya hadn’t realised.

Just how close the third one was.

It swiped at her good leg – taking some skin from her calf with its claw.

She screamed. Limping behind Kalaghai as blood gushed from the wound.

Kalaghai was rhythmic as he turned back to her and grabbed her hand. He tossed her forward. She stumbled.

“Get to the gate, you’re almost there!” He yelled.

And he turned back to propel flames in the creature’s face.

Its cries reverberated behind her.

She crossed the threshold.

Feeling her body shimmer through a force field.

She turned back.

But Kalaghai wasn’t there.

Her stomach knotted.

She thought he had just distracted it.

But the monster had been too much.

Too close.

“Kalaghai!” She cried and her voice was lost to the thundering sky.

Her heart ached as she watched his body skid across the muddy field forcefully.

The demon sneered.

Blood dripped from its face.

Her eyes darted back to Kalaghai, and she saw the torn flesh on his left shoulder.

The demon stalked him.

She had to do something.

Her chest was heaving.

She closed her eyes.

Breathe.

Aya stepped back through the gates.

“Hey!” She screamed.

It took no note of her.

She began running, “Leave him alone!”

It turned.

Saw her bounding across the field toward him.

Then it started running.

Aya forced her legs to move.

As she drew closer, she picked up her pace – half limping through the pain – and just as the creature lifted a claw to swipe at her she dropped and slid across the mud past it.

She was by Kalaghai’s side in an instant. Pulling him.

She hadn’t realised how bad his wound was.

“You should have left me.” He coughed – blood dripped from his mouth.

The creature turned. Sneering.

It hissed.

They couldn’t run.

It was too close.

She squeezed her eyes. Her blood boiled.

“Just go.”

She shook his voice away.

The creature dived for them, and she shoved Kalaghai back – holding her hands up and screaming from her gut.

An instantaneous heat dispersed from her chest and rushed toward her hands.

The fire that emanated from her blasted the monster back and it hissed as its mangled fur was burned.

It came for her again but this time the Valadan didn’t work.

She shook her hands, “Come on!”

She released a guttural scream as its claw pierced straight through her already bleeding leg.

She collapsed to one knee.

Kalaghai was struggling to push himself to stand a few metres away from her.

She was not going to die here.

She hissed. Blood dripped from her thigh to her ankle.

The rain was burning now.

Loud.

Tumultuous.

She closed her eyes again.

Knowing the monster was close.

She felt the vibrations in the air. In the rain. In the earth.

She lifted her hands feeling the hum of energy nestling in her palms.

She called to the Valadan and it violently responded.

Her hands held black fire and as fast as she grasped it, she lifted it vehemently, propelling it at the demon – her chest rumbling.

The creature’s head exploded with the impact of the flames. Pieces of its flesh burst across the field.

Its body collapsed and dissolved before them.

Aya turned to see Kalaghai finally standing.

But her eyes were drawn to his chest. It glowed orange – as though his Valadan were burning through the surface of his skin.

She hissed. Looking down to see her own mirroring his.

She seethed as it sizzled.

Kalaghai stumbled toward her and grabbed her hand roughly.

“Aya, that’s mine.”

Adventure

About the author

Lilia Peters

I have been writing for most of my life - little bit of blah a little bit of that's not too bad....

Usually I write in the Fantasy/romance and horror genres.

I also love to read Romance, Crime Fiction and Fantasy genres - anything really!

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