[ A TO Z ]
last edited on ZLT: 29.02.19
DRAEI IS HOSTED AT ZHANLANN
She staggered back with a distressed wail, the dialé in her hands. Fingers trembled, lips quivered, and in the darkness, the dialé clattered to the ground, as did her tears, sliding down without a whisper of sound, mingling together with the ever-growing puddle of gold.
“That wasn’t me, I didn’t do that.” She denied, her voice rising to a shriek. “It wasn’t me, I really didn’t do it.” She shook her head frenziedly, but her bloodied fingers, her tattered dress drenched in gold, and the dialé by her feet told him otherwise.
His heart lurched at the sight of the puddle of lustrous gold—an aristocrat’s blood. Dread flooded his veins, who had she killed? Avalon forbid if the counsel found out, her wings would be clipped—or worse torn off.
His heart clenched at the sight of her trembling frame, and he stepped out of the shadows. He had to get her out.
“Draei.” She gasped, and stumbled backwards, foolishly trying to hide the shimmery gold that had stained her hands.
He caught her hand and yanked it up, ignoring her whimpers as he fixed his hardened glare on her.
“I didn’t do it.” She cried out, her tears spilled out; he wasn’t sure whom she was desperately trying to convince, herself, or he. “Please, Draei, I didn’t…”
“Didn’t do what?” He stared at the dried blood, already fading to dust. It glistened lethally before sprinkling onto his blazer.
“I didn’t, I swear, it wasn’t me,” she whispered hollowly, her voice wobbling with tears as she backed away, and he matched her step. She was lying, and she knew that he knew she was lying, and that sent a chill rippling along her skin. “It really wasn’t m—” Her sentence broke off as she stumbled backwards and yelped, the dialé on the floor digging into her bare foot.
Still holding on to her arm, he leapt forward and swung her around, his arms circling her waist just in time to catch the quivering figure from collapsing. She gripped his blazer and took a shuddering breath. Even through the dress, her skin tingled where he’d held her. The glittering dust on her tattered outfit was smattering all over him—no, that was not good.
“Your foot.” He reached for her leg, but her hand closed over his and shoved it back. “I’m fine.” She mumbled, her voice barely audible, “Really.” Not.
The iron from the dialé was already taking its toll on her. She hissed in pain as her foot burned from its contact with the blade; her eyelids felt as though it was being dragged down by weighs.
“No, you’re not.”
“Please don’t, Draei.” She murmured against his neck, gritting her teeth at the fiery pain catapulting up her leg. “Please.” She mumbled, and grasped his arms.
Her blood. He mustn’t find out. If he found out—if he found out, she might as well be dead.
“You’re blee—“ he froze. He stared at the iridescent indigo liquid oozing out her cut. Her stomach clenched in fear, and her eyes dropped to the ground as though it were weighed with stones.
“You’re a highborne.” He shifted his gaze to stare at her, his grey eyes dimmed before darkening ominously.
His dropped his arms.
“Draei, please…” Her voice faltered from the rippling agony marching its way up her ankle. “Listen, I—I’m sorry, don’t go…” She gasped, her vision swayed dizzily, she tried to straighten her wobbly knees. “Draei, wait, no, it’s a tr…” She stretched her hands out, trying to reach for him, but he was too far. No, she had to stop him, he was walking into a trap.
She tried to take a step forward, only to collapse when her foot made contact with the ground. Black spots dotted her vision; her foot throbbed with white, hot agony, like someone was drizzling acid down her leg. The iron, it’s the iron. The effect’s too fast, it shouldn’t have been so fast.
Her mind reeled in pain, her wings weighed down from behind, dragging on the floor after her. Her heart tapped a panicked staccato. She was too late. She watched his retreating silhouette, wanting to scream at him to come back, to stop. Her mouth opened, but no sound came out. Buzzing filled the dark spaces in her skull, and it stung like stepping on a bed of nettles, her hand inched forward along the ground, tiredly, her eyelids drooping.
Behind the pain crawling up her legs, the lethargy weighing down on her, her mind absently registered the rippling air around her—someone was coming through.
Dread settled at the bottom of her stomach as the tips of her wings shivered in foreboding. Something tugged at the edge of her hearing, something that sounded far away. She fought to keep her eyes open, stiffening when she caught a vague echo of the scraping of boots somewhere beyond her. Yes, boots, multiple pairs.
The tapping of the shoes against the floor reverberated around her head, along with the clinking of metal. Her skin crept with warning. Metal… and boots, could it be?
Another wave of heat scorched through her leg and she whimpered. She could hear shouts now, and metal, yes, the sharp sound of several swords drawing. And that meant one thing—the Winter Knights were here.
She flinched when the clanging of metal swords sounded, and she struggled to open her eyes, willing her vision to clear. Why was she so weak? She wanted to shout at herself. Yet, deep in a remote corner of her mind, she knew she was fading.
There was movement along the fringe of her swimming vision. She could make out the vague outline of Draei’s custom made boots, the kind with its buckles polished until they glistened. Her panting breath caught when she saw the kaleidoscopic sparkle of his wings hanging down.
Draei never unraveled his wings. Never.
Bursts of gold and red popped up behind her eyes. She clenched her fists, her fingernails digging into the palms of her hand, hunching over in a fetal position. She titled her head, blinking and gasping to make sense of what was happening.
The clattering of metal, like a sword dropping onto the floor, resonated in her head, except it multiplied tenfold, wrecking a havoc of a noise in her head. Could that sword be Draei’s? She strained her ears, clinging on to consciousness by a bare thread, what was happening?
“…order of the court…Vaan de Luc…dead…”
She stifled a gasp at the mention of the disintegrated aristocrat.
“…Andraei Dive… by… charged wi….”
Charged? What was Draei charged with?
Her whole frame trembled under the agony and horror, it took all her energy to grit her teeth and not cry out in pain. She tucked her head in her arms, pinching herself to keep the stupor at bay.
Listen to them! What were they saying?
No! He didn’t do anything. He wasn’t the one who did it!
She wanted to scream, she wanted to shriek her lungs out, but no sounds came out. Not even a pathetic whimper. She strained her ears, waiting for a sound, a word, waiting for him to hurl his protest at them, for Draei to deny the accusation, for him to beg his innocence. Anything.
The silence stretched on, and in that count of stillness, fear shimmied up her wings.
Why wasn’t he denying it? A metal click broke her out of her momentary pain, followed by his growl of pain. They were clipping his wings. Terror rose anew in her, she tried pushed herself up, her head only lifting weakly a few inches of the ground.
“Draei.” Her mouth formed the words, but her voice was caught in her throat. Almost as though he could hear her, the metal chains rattled, and she could feel his gaze burning into her.
“I’m sorry.” She whispered to the ground as a shudder of electricity graced the air. Power radiated from the opening of the portal, she could feel it, the rush of warmth vibrating through her being, her wings lifted a little at the familiar gust of winter warmth. The tiny tintinnabulation, faint as fairy bells, signaled a phaeton coming through.
Her eyes closed, something cool pressed against her cheeks, and a whisper of wind whistled past her ear, she felt herself being lifted. Too lethargic to hold fast to her drifting conscious, she let herself drift into hazy oblivion.
DRAEI IS HOSTED AT ZHANLANN
A/N: Almost everything in A to Z are written in 2015…