We find ourselves back in my elf room. Seeing my mother at that moment scares the shit out of me. The Dread has come with us but he doesn't say anything. He slicks towards the shadows. Something is wrong with him and I know what it is. Seeing my mother again has had an impact on him mentally. He's thinking the same thing that the rest of us are thinking.
"How could she be alive?" I ask.
"And look the way she looks," Maxim states.
She was young. Youthful.
We both jump! Neither of us had said it! It was someone else. We turn at that moment and see a tall figure in the doorway. The slim man squeezes into the doorway. Jharteel. The man who had been guarding me! He was here. My heart sinks at that moment wondering if perhaps this man was about to do something to me. That wasn't the case though.
He looks over at Maxim with softer eyes than he ever gave me.
"You two know each other?" I ask.
Maxim nods, "I grew up with Jharteel. We..."
He pauses. It's a weird pause. It's an uncomfortable pause. The tall, slim elf looks at Maxim in a way that makes me think that there was something there between them at one point. Perhaps it was something there still. It would make sense now why when he met me earlier he was looking at me the way that I thought.
"We taught each other a lot," he states, "Including English. Maxim taught me about the human world."
He pretended like he didn't know English before. I guess that was wrong. He's a strange looking creature. I wouldn't see I was attracted to him in the way that he I was to Maxim. It may have been how androgynous he was. If had a shirt on and wasn't exposing a solid trimmed chest or a bit shorter I would have thought he was a female.
"Jhar used to love all things human," Maxim laughs, "The Elvish folk doesn't have curse words in their vernacular so he wanted me to teach him all the best curse words. He used to mess up all his curses growing up. Fug that. I need to take a Shat."
The two of them laugh as though remembering a time when that was normal.
"Sorry to interrupt," I state, "But why were you spying on us."
Jhar crosses his arms, "You're lucky it was me, Arwen chose to spy on you. If it was anyone else besides me, you'd be dead by now boy."
The way he calls me boy makes me think he's still not my biggest fan. I look over at Maxim. Thankfully after dealing with the Prince for so long, I had become quite accustomed to all these guys who hated me because they were so in love with Maxim. This was becoming second nature at this point.
"Jhar...why are you here?"
"I figured you would be here. I came to warn both of you that you need to leave this place. Arwen and her shadow regime have taken over the Elvish people. With the threat of war, she has offered them the only way to save our people from human oppression. She's going to use dragons."
"The dragons in the Wilds."
"She plans using the Black woman's dragons to burn down everything," he states, "But not all the elves agree. There are some of us who don't want violence. Every day that number becomes less and less."
"By the Black Woman, I assume you are talking about my mother?" I ask.
Jhar looks at me, "The black woman has brought with her fire. That baby in her stomach is an abomination. Something that shouldn't exist."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm risking everything to be here to tell this to your right now," Jharteel states, "But I don't want violence."
There is ruffling in the trees. At first, I think it's just the wind but Jharteel shakes his head as he stares out. I can see how nervous he looks. If there is something he wanted to tell me about the baby in my mother's stomach he wasn't going to tell us it now. Whether it's the wind or not doesn't seem to matter because Jharteel seems spooked.
"I have to go..."
"Jharteel wait!" Maxim attempts to stop him.
That's when it happens. It's a kiss straight to the lips. The elf doesn't just give him one kiss though. He shoves his tongue down Maxim's throat. I turn away feeling the hint of jealousy building up on me. Maxim was attractive. Beyond attractive. And he was single. I shouldn't be feeling any sort of way about this. I assume maybe this was how the dragon's felt though because I wanted no more at this moment than to rage at the elf kissing Maxim.
"Don't eat anything tomorrow. Arwen doesn't appreciate you all snooping around. Nothing will stop her from destroying the humans. Not even her son."
With that, he leaves. He's so quick. He's almost like the wind himself as he floats into the majestic trees disappearing as though he was never here before after leaving.
"That kiss was..." Maxim starts.
"It doesn't matter," I respond.
We had other things to worry about than the fact that yet another boy was obsessed with Maxim. Maxim was the young, beautiful knight that was soft-spoken and handsome. Of course, people fell in love with him. In this case, it wasn't just people either. It extended past multiple races.
Maxim shakes his head, "It does to me. The kiss meant nothing. I know that you don't completely trust me right now..."
"Your mother is plotting to kill me."
"Your mother was involved also," Maxim explains.
"She has to be under some sort of spell."
"Does she?" he asks.
"You controlled your dragon. You said so yourself that elvish magic you can control all animals...even humans for some time."
"For a short period of time," he explains, "How many years has your mother been missing? I know you want to believe that she's innocent in all of this but she looked far from innocent back there. In fact, she looked like she was the one in charge."
"You're lying," I state, "But then again that's something that comes second nature to you."
I say the words harshly and I can tell that it digs deep when I say it. I'm not mad at Maxim. I'm really not. It's just that seeing my mother there plotting with his mother had changed things. It had made things uncomfortable. I didn't know how to deal with it and right now everything was coming to a head.
I think it's almost as though Maxim knows that I feel some type of way about all of this because he makes his way over to me.
"I know you didn't mean that."
"You don't know me."
"I don't. You're right. But I'm learning you. Ever since the first time I met you I've spent all the time I could try to get to know you. And I am learning about you. You've had a tough life and it makes you resentful. You're afraid. You're confused. You feel betrayed. You feel anxious. I need to let you know something though. Something you need to hear."
"You're not alone," he states.
It's a strange thing to say but it isn't until he says it that I feel that emotion bubbling up to the surface. The emotion twists at my stomach. My mother had been alive this whole time. Why hadn't she come to get me? Why hadn't she saved me from getting fucked in taverns for people's pleasure and enjoyment?
Tears are shuffling their way to the top even though I don't want them to. I feel so uncomfortable.
"I feel alone."
"You're not," he responds, "I'm always going to be here for you. I'm always going to stick by your side and no matter how many people let us down---I'm going to be here to pick you up. Every single time. You're not alone."
Maybe it's the disappointment from all the things I'm facing. Maybe it's this feeling deep in my stomach that tells me that he is right about my mother not being under some spell that is changing her personality. She was acting on her own.
All of those things made me feel alone. I found out my mother was alive but I still felt like an orphan. And that's why when Maxim leans over and kisses me in my mouth I don't stop him. His tongue goes to the back of my throat almost immediately.
He leans in squeezing the smalls of my back. He squeezes my ass. He pulls me in almost merging himself into me. He wasn't a dragon but he was attempting at this moment to become one soul with me.
Speaking of dragons.
"He's here," I tell Maxim.
Sure enough, the Dread was there. I'm surprised that the Dread isn't reacting to any of this. It seems to make me more nervous than anything when I see how dull and unaffected he is with this. I look over at him and I can just tell that he's completely in a trance.
Something is on his mind. Something so powerful that he no longer is even worried about me.
"I don't care," Maxim states leaning over to kiss me again.
A part of me would have liked to explore my feelings with Maxim, especially now with the Dread not seeming to care, but something was wrong with the Dread. Something was off and I couldn't just do this right in front of him whether he was paying attention or not.
"I can't," I state.
Maxim shakes his head, "I get it..."
I can tell that he's upset. Not only that but looking down I can see the mound in his trousers. He's hard. He wanted me in those moments.
`I'm sorry Maxim."
"Have some rest. I'll keep an eye out outside. I don't trust them. Tomorrow at first light...we is leaving."
"You think she'll just let us go?" I ask.
He smiles, "Who says we're asking permission?"
It makes me feel better. I felt like I couldn't trust Maxim. Maybe it was all the little white lies he had told me in the past. Maybe it was the fact that he went out of his way to present himself as this perfect noble knight. But there were times, like in moments like this where he would look at me and his eyes would do all the speaking for him. Maxim would look at me and he seems to be letting me know that he had my back no matter what.
As he said:
No matter how many people let me down. He'd be there to pick me back up.
I look back over at the Dread. The other soul in this world that I had hoped would be there for me when I was at my lowest point. The Dread seems to be at his as well.
"You OK?" I ask.
He doesn't answer for a second. Then two seconds. Then almost two minutes pass before he finally parts his lips and says, "She's alive."
The way he says it devastates me. I was used to feeling jealousy when it came to Maxim but it was different when it came to the Dread. He'd always felt some type of way about me. Right here, right now, it was almost as though I didn't even exist. It was almost as though I didn't even matter to him. Maxim had tried to kiss me not too long ago and the Dread didn't even blink an eyelid.
"Are you still in love with her?" I ask him.
He doesn't answer my question.
"I should go."
"Dread. Ouroboros...what's wrong?"
He crosses his arms, "It's just----"
Something was on his mind. Something was messing with his head and I could tell seeing my mother again had done something to him.
"What?" I ask, "You can tell me?"
"It feels like this is all my fault," He responds.
He shakes his head, "I...I have to go..."
"Ouroboros! Ouroboros wait!"
I'm getting ignored. There is nothing.
The next day Maxim is there for me like he said he would be. Ouroboros isn't. I'm irritated to a point. All of a sudden my mother shows up and it's almost like the Dread has completely forgotten about me. He disappeared the next day as though it was nothing.
"Come on," Maxim states, "We're leaving..."
Maxim is surprisingly silent. He's taken off his heavy armor and lets it dangle. His undergarments seem freshly washed, probably from the river the runs through the Elven woods. The tree huts seem to stretch on forever but it's so early that most of the ancient race seems to be asleep.
The woodland seemed ominously quiet. We paused, now that even the sound of own own footfalls was silent, all that could be heard was the susurration of the leaves in the gusty wind. Looking up, we were transfixed by the myriad of fluttering leaves that danced in the high boughs, making a living roof above them.
"Is it usually this quiet?" I ask.
We were calmed, almost hypnotized, but the longer they stared the more the leaves looked like eyes staring back down at them and the boughs seemed to draw closer, blocking the sunlight as if they were forming a cage around them.
"No," he responds.
He reaches over and offers me his hand. He's nervous. Something doesn't feel right in this place. He knows it and now I know it. I accept his hand. Feeling his skin up against mines feels good. The Dread held me from time to time, but with Maxim, I knew this skin was real. I knew the sweat between his fingers were real. It wasn't just some trick that was in my mind. I wasn't holding the hand of a soul. I was holding the hand of flesh and blood.
And the Dread for all it's might, couldn't have made me feel any calmer.
But all that stops when Maxim stops.
I see why he stops at that moment. He stops, bends over and gags a bit as though stopping himself from hurling. I notice at that moment that Jharteel is there. He has no head.
In the distance, I see a woman, shrouded in black. She had an ax in her hand and the ax has blood on it.
"I never cared much for traitors," the voice states.
"Neither did I," another voice replies.
"The times coming to Arwen. The 86th race were the forgotten ones. They disappeared before the 87th race which was the dragons of the air. The 88th race were the elves of the woods. The 89th race were the dwarves of the mines. They all lived in peace. Do you know what changed all of that?"
"The 90th race," Arwen states.
My mother nods, "The 90th race. Humans."
Hearing my mother talk like this as though she is an exception to humans makes me shiver. She has clear hate for the entire race. Maybe she did have a point. Humans tamed dragons. They created the Dragonov Empire. The conquered the world. It's not hard to tell the women having this conversation. My mother and Arwen. Maxim grip on my hands gets a bit harder when he sees the two women having this conversation.
They meant to leave Jharteel out here. Their spies knew he had come back to warn us. I should have known that they wouldn't have had only one spy.
I walk forward.
It's too late. I'm almost in a trance seeing my mother where she is right now. I find myself just walking over to her. My mind completely blank with the idea of being around her. I needed answers and there was only one person who could give it to me.
When she turns, it seems as though she is shocked. My mother looks the same way I remember her from childhood. Her hair is cut down into wavy curls that seem undone. She has these soft eyes though that look like lakes. Even back then I always thought she was something like a kite, ready to float away and we were the only ones keeping her grounded.
"Oh my god," Arwen starts up.
My mother holds out a hand. It's as though she's commanding Arwen to stop. So many times I liked to think that my mother was the victim but that wasn't the case. Not at this time and not in any other.
"Son..." she states.
Tears are in her eyes when she sees me. She takes a few steps towards me. Sure enough, she is pregnant and pregnant to the point that she is about to explode.
"You burnt down the Wilds," I state, "You killed everyone we knew...why?"
The Dread is there. Sometimes I feel like maybe he comes when I need him the most. Maybe my soul calls out to him and he knows that I need him because in a flash he's there. Silent, but present.
He holds his hand out. He stops me. The way that he stops me makes it clear that he doesn't want me anywhere close to her. Even now my mother has this look in her eyes. She has this look as though she has completely lost it.
The Dread warns me, "Stay away from her."
"That's my son," my mother states.
I'm shocked when she is looking at the Dread as she says it. The two of them look right at one another. Their faces squared off solid and cold. The idea that my mother can still see the Dread surprises me but it makes sense. They had a bond at one time. At one time they were lovers. I had taken after my mother with the same dragon.
"How are you alive----how do you look...the same?" He asks, "You haven't changed a day."
So it wasn't just me. My mother hadn't grown older. She looked exactly the same that she did back then when I was a child. She had to be in her mid-20s. Her youthful features are her vibrant eyes. Her lips are full. Her figure is slim and athletic. She hadn't aged in a single day and the Dread recognizing it means that it must be true.
It was almost as though she was frozen in time.
Without knowing what the Dread is even saying it seems that Maxim realizes something is off about Nikoletta's appearance as well.
"Mother, you used forbidden magic," he states, "You used Elven Magic to make this happen."
Arwen has been quiet as of now. Maxim and I are both in a strange situation. Both of us squaring off against our mothers in the strangest ways. Both of us feeling betrayed at this moment. I can tell he's upset. He would have rather taken a sword battle with a dozen knights any day than see this.
"All magic takes sacrifice," Arwen explains, "That's the rules. The wild had to be burnt down. Your father had to be killed. All this to keep Nikoletta frozen in time...sleep until we are ready to give birth. I've spent years building an army of dragons to help protect her before I woke her back up. We had to make sure that she didn't give birth prematurely."
Prematurely? It's been years.
Arwen had my mother in a spell for years stuck in her pregnancy.
"Mother those dragons will destroy everything..." Maxim states.
Arwen doesn't seem to care. In fact, by the look on her eyes, it looks like this is something that she wanted, "The Empire stretches from one side of the world to the next. Humans, using their mastery of dragons have oppressed the world. It's time to rid the world of the Dragonov Empire and the world of man."
"I am a man," Maxim states, "You willing to kill me?"
The look on Arwen's face is cold.
"We all have had to make our sacrifices," is her response.
I watch how Arwen sinks off. She might as well taken a sword and thrust it in his belly when she says what she says. The truth is I'm not so far removed from feeling the same way. My mother's eyes may be softer than Arwen's but her actions are just as intense. They had sacrificed for their plans. Arwen and my mother.
"The birth of Nikoletta's baby is a miracle. In her child...the soul of the Great Immortal Dragon will live again."
"Enough of this," the Dread states, "We are passing through. You will not stop us."
"You piece of shit..." Nikoletta states, "After all, you put me through...Did you choose my son to become your lover? You piece of shit."
The way she talks to the Dread is angry. Almost bitter.
The Dread looks back at me, "Go. Take Maxim. It's time to leave."
"You hear me to talking to you," Nikoletta states, "I can see you. You can see me. Our bond was never broken. You used to say that it was the way I smelled that you loved. No human you knew smelled like me. My son has that scent, doesn't he? The scent that just drives you crazy."
At this moment, my mother Nikoletta is the one who seems like she's going in a rage. I grab Maxim's hand and I start walking. Strangely enough, my mother isn't concerned about me or Maxim at this moment. She's angry and all her attention is on the dragon.
"You've lost your mind, Nikoletta."
"You TOOK my mind. You TOOK my life," she states.
She sounds so bitter. I turn back seeing the anger in her eyes at the Dread. As I'm about to leave though I feel Maxim grabbing on my wrist.
I have to understand why she's so angry. I needed to know.
"The Great Immortal Dragon will be reborn inside of my womb. It's ready now. It's coming. It's so close and you're the one who put it there."
I look over at the Dread. We're far away now but not too far that I can't see his facial expression. Perhaps my mother had lost her mind. Perhaps she was crazy, but for some reason, the Dread had a look in his eyes that said it all as well. He had done something. He said last night that he had caused this and I needed to know how.
"I couldn't let you just leave. I was in love with you."
"What did you do?" I ask the Dread.
My mother looks over at me, "Let's just say the elves weren't the only one who did something forbidden."
"What did you do?" I ask the Dread again.
The Dread turns.
And disappears. Just like that.
This seems to anger my mother even more, "He put this baby inside of me. The Dread got me pregnant."
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