Katv May 22nd, 2019 (edited) 81 Never
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- The still forest air was suppressing. Dark, cold around him. Every sound of a branch snapping beneath his feet, the wind rustling the leaves of the large ancient trees, it all made his breath hitch. His heart beating erratically in his chest, his senses overloaded, Raen stepped on the path he had walked so many times before.
- Only, this time was different. This time his feet felt like giving out beneath him, his hands shaking – not in anticipation, but in dread – and the dagger that lay strapped to his belt weighted down on his whole being.
- Raen usually loved the forest, the beauty, peace and serenity of it, but today he would rather be anywhere else. Tonight was supposed to be the day he started a new life. A new life with his lover, whose embrace brought his heart joy he had never felt before, whose kisses made his skin tingle with pleasure, whose voice made his very soul melt. Raen thought of his emerald eyes, his loving gaze, the soft touches that made Raen feel like he was the center of Caleb’s world.
- Not once in his life had he experienced fear as overwhelming as in this moment. It made him nauseous, his whole body shook with every step he took, his sight blurred by burning tears. Stumbling through the forest, Raen neared their usual meeting spot. He could feel two shadows trailing him, their magic sizzling in the air around him to make sure he wouldn’t betray them.
- “Please don’t be there”, he whispered, one last prayer. Maybe he would be heard, granted salvation. For the first time he wished, prayed with all his heart Caleb had been caught sneaking out and prevented from coming. But he never was, Raen knew that. He knew Caleb couldn’t be caught, not if it meant he wouldn’t be able to come to Raen.
- Kill him.
- Raen shivered at the memory of those words, falling from the lips of their elder mage – a warlock who was no doubt capable of deeds much worse than murder. It was not only the hatred directed at the fire-wielders that made the elder council give out the order; it was Raen’s punishment. They wanted to make an example out of him, to warn anyone else of what was to come if they chose to fraternize with a fire-wielder.
- Stopping in his tracks when he saw the large willow they always met under, Raen closed his eyes and imagined what their lives could have been like. They could have had a beautiful life together, somewhere far away from this petty place filled with nothing but old grudges and war. A small house of their own, with enough land to farm and keep a few animals, just the two of them with no need to hide away or sneak around in the dark of the night, hidden by shadows.
- Raen felt the two trackers behind him getting impatient, their magic flaring around him near painfully as if telling him to go already. Mages were not known for their patience, that he could be assured of. Ironic, really, given that learning all the runes and spells was such time consuming practice. The soft ground yielded under his foot as he stepped forward, heart heavy in his chest, but his mind clear. It had to be done - the merciful way was to kill him now. He walked closer, alert of his surroundings and parted the branches of the willow that fell towards the ground from the heavens.
- His breath stuck to his throat when he saw Caleb, his determination from earlier starting to crumble. He was stunning, just like he always was. Raen’s heart felt like it was being squeezed in an iron fist, like his breath was being forced away from him. Suddenly nothing else mattered but the man in front of him.
- “Ai’atar”, the name he had taken to calling Caleb slipped from his lips in a breathy whisper. Beloved one, it meant, in the ancient language of the shamans – the forefathers of all mages. Raen made his way to Caleb, laid his hands on his chest, running them up to his shoulders, and he smiled. He buried his face in the crook of Caleb’s neck, breathing in the wonderful, sweet smell of his lover, “I love you”
- The words left a bittersweet feeling in him, a bad taste in his mouth, his stomach churned in the wake of what would happen next. Tilting his head up slightly to look at Caleb, Raen pressed one last, gentle kiss on his lips. He lifted a hand to caress his lover’s cheek, while the other one fell down to grip the dagger on his own belt.
- He knew Caleb trusted Raen and it would be his downfall tonight. With sadness in his heart and fear in his mind, Raen moved his hand from Caleb’s cheek to play with his hair and looked him in the eye, nearly losing himself in the green pools that today, of all days, shone brighter than ever before. He couldn’t back out now, no matter how much he wanted to. Raen drew in a deep breath, finding it hard to get enough air in his lungs. He felt the magic tingle in his fingertips, but this time it felt ominous in a way Raen hadn’t felt in the past. Magic was his protection, a way to defend himself, a way to heal and help others – it had always brought Raen security and warmth when he needed it. Tonight he would be using it to kill.
- “Ile quella”, he uttered out a spell, one that was meant to throw his target’s senses off for just long enough to strike.
- The uncomfortable feeling in his chest lessened as the magic was released from within him – it crackled in the air around them and engulfed Caleb in its’ power. With a fluid motion of his hand, Raen pulled out the dagger he was carrying. With a gasp of panic, his eyes widened and the reality of the situation hit him, the weight of the dagger too real in his grasp. His hand shook as he brought down the dagger, its sharp, menacing blade aimed for his lover’s chest.
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