Chapter 33 - Stolen Blessing
A faint rumble shook the Sanctum, the fine grit of sand that coated the floors and passageways shivered with the vibration. Kitaraiya skipped, glancing back to her brother and meeting his eyes in concern as they rounded a long sweep in the passage that ran deeper into the structure. Moments before as they had descended from the empty shell of a library they saw the faint fall of sand from above and an almost indiscernible echo of voices from deep in the upper levels. With a quick nod they quickly took to the stairs, their steps magically dampened to no more than the faintest of whispers. Upon reaching the bottom they followed Antrandis and Sian’s footprints. Coming to a fork in the passages they slowed, reading the direction before walking at a quickened pace.
“Do you think they have found something?” asked Kitaraiya, her eyes following the footsteps that marked the floor.
She looked across, “Rhy?”
“Possibly.” he said, wincing slightly and pressing a hand to his chest.
Kitaraiya looked at him in concern, “Now? Right now?”
“Don’t concern yourself, Kit. We have a more pressing matter.” he met her eyes with a small smile on his face, “It is nothing I have not handled before.”
Her eyes narrowed slightly before she looked back to the floor.
“That vibration felt like an explosion.”
Rhyker nodded, “Not our assailants either.”
“Thain.” they said at the same time, drawing a quick chuckle from them both.
She walked closer by his side, pressing her shoulder to his, “Rhy, do you think they found more, not-so-subtle messages?”
“I have seen nothing subtle here, Kit. The Copper was venomously angry before she slept.” he said with a frown, “That pin in the wall and the empty rooms are a message. I just have a feeling that we stepped into something far larger than it looked.”
Kitaraiya glanced at him, “Rhy?”
“The dragons were paired off, but there is no evidence that the Copper and Jade... What if this had nothing to do with their relationship.”
She let out a laugh, “What relationship? Just because the – oh.”
“I think we have been looking at it wrong. Our whole understanding of how the eight Sanctums and their inhabitants worked, their purpose is based on the Black and White, Silvast and Sian’s parents.” Rhyker said quietly.
Kitaraiya smirked, “One can’t be without the other, they balance each other. Rhy, we have been over all this before.”
He nodded as he thought, “Something you said: ‘meant to and in the real’, they are two different concepts.” he met her eyes, “Meant to, is what our understanding is derived from.”
“The ‘real’ could have been completely different. The writings from that time state that they are ‘partnered’.” he finished.
Kitaraiya glanced at him, “That word could mean quite a few different things.”
He returned her look, “Who chose for this to happen? From what we know… hell, from what anyone knows, the gods of the old world were the dragons themselves.”
“The dragon gods.” she said, nodding.
“What if they were just like the Hithren? The same as Xiana, Rhuthain, even that bastard…”
“Don’t say his name.”
“What if the dragons were only the flesh representatives of the gods and nothing more?”
Kitaraiya shook her head, “Then the legend of the gods forsaking the world would have a whole different meaning.” she said darkly.
Rhyker’s eyes narrowed as he noted the open door at the end of the passage. Tendrils of sculptured stone ivy started to chase the edges of the floor, running along and creeping up the walls. The ivy wound its way until it reached the two broad pillars standing either side of the door that reached to an increasingly rough-hewn stone ceiling. The warm light from the sconces flickered, making the shadows dance across the ceiling and giving the appearance of a choppy sea.
Kitaraiya shook her head, catching the look of appreciation in her brother’s eye, “I wonder if it is a whole living complex behind that door, or only a room.”
He continued to walk, noticing movement in the room beyond. He signed to her and shifted ahead, his eyes widening as he saw what lay beyond the threshold. Dark green silken drapes hung, shimmering from a centre point in the polished obsidian ceiling, spanning out to white marble pillars set at even intervals around the room. He quickly noted several doors, nothing more than archways leading to short passages that glowed from the soft light of rooms beyond. Stepping into the opulent room, Kitaraiya followed close behind.
“Rhy, its…” she said, her words faltering as she took in the bed and lustrous polished wood furnishings, “How?”
“Stasis, potentially. Like at Scarosant.” he said quickly as his eyes were drawn to movement in one of the arches.
Kitaraiya swept into the room, her figure accentuated by the light and shadows. Her eyes catching Rhyker’s gaze and following his nod to the passage. She quickly glanced at the large bed situated among the transparent silken hangings that gave the allure of mystery and sensual promise. She shook her head, a broad smile breaking across her face.
“I like her style.” she glanced at Rhyker, “I like it a lot.”
He raised an eyebrow and passed her as she ran the silk through a hand.
Sian suddenly entered the room from one of the passages carrying a carved and heavily lacquered wooden box.
“Mama, what is going on here?” Kitaraiya said, following Sian across the room.
Sian looked at her and Rhyker, “She protected her suite, she returned after the world turned to ash. She returned here after she was attacked and,” Sian’s eyes narrowed, “After that bastard Jade…”
Kitaraiya stared at her in worry.
“She returned here a number of times after the Sanctums were abandoned.” she glanced across at Rhyker, “Yes, stasis.”
She nodded to another arched opening, “Rhy, you can do it.” she said under her breath, holding out her hand to him.
Kit watched the gesture as her brother held Sian’s hand a curious expression on his face, “Its blood, isn’t it?”
Rhyker kept his eyes on Sian, feeling her presence in his mind, her voice coming like a whisper, “In there is her blood, she was attacked by the Jade and she returned to nurse her wounds. Rhy, it is still warm. Only a few moments ago she left this room and sealed it, while outside tens of thousands of years passed. You know what is possible; this is your and Kit’s chance.”
Rhyker’s face drained of colour, “The blessing of…The one we read about.”
Sian nodded, “The blood of dragons was a part of what made the Aletere.” she pointedly glanced at Kitaraiya
“If the histories are correct…” he looked at Sian in concern, “You want me to risk Kit losing control?”
“Yes, it is a risk; every step we take is a risk. What I do know is that neither of you will get this opportunity for a long time, maybe never again. There is no better place. Everyone here can subdue her if needed. She will be contained within the Sanctum.”
Kitaraiya watched the exchange, concern etching her brows while she observed the play of fear on her brother’s face. She glanced at the passage Sian had gestured to then back to Rhyker.
“But we will need Silvast, we will need her to…” he stopped as Sian shook her head.
“Son, apart from the ceremony described, which was nothing more than theatrics and pomposity, what was it really?”
Rhyker’s sharp blue eyes were on her emerald.
“The both of you, now before it is too late.”
“Mama, they are in the upper halls.” Kitaraiya said, “We need to…”
Sian smiled, her eyes still on Rhyker’s, “We know, Kit. There is time. Once you have finished in that room, go and find Silvast and Rhuthain.” she looked over to Kitaraiya, “We will be right behind you.”
“Get her away from here, find a room and barricade yourselves in if you have to. We will dispose of the locals.” Sian said before withdrawing her hand from Rhyker’s.
He stared at her and nodded slowly.
“Your father is waiting for you. Quickly, before it is too late.” she said, guiding them both to the short passage.
Kitaraiya looked at Rhyker and the set of his jaw as they passed under the arch.
“Rhy? Its blood, I can smell it. Rhy, what did you and Mama talk about?”
He glanced at her quickly before leading her through to the next room without speaking. What lay beyond took him by surprise.
“By the... What happened?” he growled.
Antrandis was nearby the far wall, squatting and inspecting something at his feet. The room was for bathing, a generous pool was sunk into its middle and steam still rose off its bloodied waters, tendrils of deep red running through it and settling, giving the air a heavy metallic tang. A large mirror was on one wall, a basin and small pedestal table to the side littered with saturated towels, bandaging and scattered fine copper scales. Semi-congealed blood, still a deep and vibrant red clung to the edge of the basin tracking her fingers where they had rested while she had tended to her wounds.
He stopped, feeling the grip of Kitaraiya’s fingers digging into his arm.
“What is this?” she hissed.
“It’s a chance we must take.”
She stared at him, her eyes glowing slightly, the smell of fresh blood drawing a barely reigned in feral expression to her face.
“The Blessing of the Dragon gods.” he said.
“It is not a blessing if we simply take it, brother.” she replied cagily.
Kitaraiya released him and stepped over to the basin, her eyes taking in the blood and torn scales that pooled in its confines. She brought her hand close, the dragon’s blood suddenly reacting to her proximity, churning sluggishly in response to the beat of her heart.
“Gods.” she whispered in fascination, watching as the blood glowed gently and followed the movement of her fingers.
“Kit, it was only called a blessing, because only they could grant it.” said Antrandis as he stepped up beside her.
“Papa, should we? Is it not wrong to just take it?”
Antrandis smiled watching her, “It is words like those that give us hope you will return to normal.” he came in closer, “Sometimes Kit, you have to take the chance when it sits unguarded before you. If I could have given it to you, I would have already. Silvast, a dragon herself has tried with Rhy, but it failed as she is not of the old world. Does that not prove you are worthy, if the child of a god and the child of the dragons that created your kind believe you to be so?”
She glanced at him, meeting his stormy blue eyes momentarily, “It is supposed to make us more, only given to those of the royal lines. To demonstrate we were appointed by the gods themselves. But what will happen to me? Will it make me more than what I am, will it cure or break me?”
She looked to Rhyker, “I swore I would only drink from Rhy, to keep my other self restrained, to keep others safe, to keep my sanity and to keep me safe. But if the dragon’s blood of old is in my veins, then in some distant way they are family.”
“Rhy, I will only do this if it is mixed with your own. Keep me safe. Promise.”
Kitaraiya saw his nod before looking to Antrandis, “Rhy first.”
She felt her brother come to her side, the warm blood in the basin slowing as it cooled. His eyes started to burn, the embers flaring into flames and the blood glowed in anticipation.
“From the text, you are to imbibe it. One drop is all, and with that your truth and purpose will become pure. As the balance of light and dark proclaimed in the times of what was, you will become more than you have been and become at one with the power within you, you who are the direct descendants of the trident.” said Sian quietly, her eyes on the twin siblings of the Aletere that they took in as their own.
The moment Rhyker’s finger touched the slowly churning blood, a calming glow built in it and steadily beating ripples flowed out to the edge of the basin. With a drop and more on his fingertip he brought it to his lips, hesitating for a brief second before its coppery, metallic tang hit his tongue and filled his nostrils. Swallowing as it mixed with his saliva, it left a burning trail down his throat.
Kitaraiya watched him carefully; her eyes on his as he shook his head slowly and shrugged. She looked at the blood as it calmed again, an undeniable hunger within her as she lowered a finger, its surface once again starting to churn and glow. She fought the urge to snarl, hearing her brother prepare for her makeshift meal.
With a drop of the bright glowing blessing of the old gods on her fingertip, she turned and met Rhyker’s eye and nod. Tilting his head to the side and exposing his neck, he waited. She drew in close and smeared it, the droplet burning bright on his skin before she embraced him, her teeth setting and lengthening in the scant moment before she pierced his flesh. The warm sustenance of his life mingled with the blood of dragons, flooding her mouth with a velvety burning wetness, immediately setting her nerves on fire in a mixture of heightened pleasure and guilt.
Forcing herself to stop, a tear tracked from an eye, mingling with his blood as she whimpered into his shoulder. With weak legs, she felt his arms around her and holding her closer, keeping her upright. She quivered slightly as the spasms calmed, her eyes blazing white behind their lids.
“Thank you, Ven.”