“She can’t be cast from the city,” said a voice with resonant tones. I turned to see that Cassius had entered the room. He wore the black robe with a cross hanging low against his chest just as Hadyn had worn earlier.
Hadyn. Where did he go? Why was Cassius here and Hadyn was not?
Cassius walked towards the high priest, anger clear on his face by his furrowed brow and stern expression.
“Cassius,” the high priest said. “You were not summoned.”
“I didn’t need a summons,” Cassius replied. “You have taken something of mine. I have come to get it back.” I took a step back away from Cassius placing the high priest between him and me. Cassius’s stare met mine, and in that instant, I could foresee my future. If the high priest decided to give me back to Cassius, I was sure I would never be able to get away again.
“I believe you are mistaken, brother. Nothing of yours is in the tower,” said the high priest. He had not lost his temper at Cassius’s sudden appearance in his sanctuary. Instead, the high priest spoke in even tones, but I thought I could hear the slightest bit of irritation in his voice.
Cassius held his hand out to me, beckoning me to take it. I instinctively moved my hands out of his sight placing them behind my back. “Come here, dear wife. It is time we return home.” Cassius took a step forward, and I took a step back knocking the altar from where it stood.
The book fell as the wooden dais toppled over and hit the floor. The sound of the crash alerted the ashen men standing outside the sanctuary doors, and they rushed into the room. The high priest held up his hand to halt their advance. They abruptly stopped and bowed before exiting the sanctuary.
My elbow hurt where it had hit the corner of the altar. Blood flowed from a cut just below my elbow, dripping slowly down my arm until a few drops landed on the floor. It wasn’t until I heard Cassius’s sudden intake of breath that I realized I was in danger. I was in a room with two revenants and their food source was dripping my arm.
I looked up at them, and both of their gazes were locked on me (well, they were locked on my injured arm anyway). Their eyes grew darker in color as their gazes followed the path of blood down my arm. I stepped back again but my foot hit the large book that had fallen to the floor. I landed hard on my side, pain shooting through my hip and up through my ribs.
Cassius was the first to move. His focus was still on the blood dripping down my arm. This was it. I was going to die. Just when I thought I would be able to escape Cassius, to escape the revenants, I was about to die.
It happened so fast, I am not sure I actually saw it. Before Cassius could reach me, the high priest pushed him away, and by pushed I meant threw him away. Cassius flew through the air and landed near the doors of the sanctuary. I had never seen anything like that. I knew the revenants were stronger than humans, but this was otherworldly strength—unlike anything I thought possible.
Cassius was up just as soon as he had hit the floor and running towards me again. He moved so fast that I thought he had actually disappeared. It wasn’t until he landed near the other side of the sanctuary that I realized the high priest had thwarted his attempt again.
Cassius was up again. This time the high priest moved into action. Their movements were so fast that I couldn’t tell where one body ended and the other began. Arms and legs became a blur as they fought against each other, neither of them paying attention to me. Now was my chance.
I pulled myself back to my feet and darted towards the sanctuary doors. Cassius must have spotted me as I tried to escape. I was on my feet one second, close to reaching the large doors, and the next second I was flying through the air towards the painted window.
The air left my lungs as two arms wrapped around me and caught me before I hit the glass. Struggling against his strength, I jabbed my elbow into his side. “Enough,” said a familiar voice.
I had thought Cassius or the high priest was holding me, but I was wrong. Hadyn’s blue eyes gazed down at me as he pulled me tighter to his chest. I stopped struggling, allowing him to carry me from the sanctuary. He didn’t put me down after we passed the red ashen men or when we descended the stairs. It wasn’t until we were on the subway train heading to God knows where that he finally released me.
Hadyn paced back and forth in front of me, his finger touching his brow as he lost himself within his thoughts. “Thank you,” I said breaking the silence between us. He looked up then, his eyes a darker blue than before. His stare was angry as he locked his gaze with my own.
I averted my eyes to the floor, hiding them from his penetrating stare. I couldn’t help but feel as if I had done something wrong.
What am I thinking? I hadn’t done anything wrong unless you call breathing and being a human wrong. Then, by all means, I was completely in the wrong and deserved the anger radiating from Hadyn.
He reached down and tore a piece of cloth from the bottom of his robe. It ripped beneath his strength as easily as a piece of paper being into two pieces. Stepping closer to me, I pushed myself back in the chair wary of what he was going to do.
He bent down on one knee and pulled my elbow to him. I had forgotten that I was injured and bleeding. Cassius had taken my blood on several occasions, but each time he was careful not to spill a drop. My blood would flow through the needle and into the vial. When he was done, he would place a cotton on my arm before placing a wide beige bandage across the small speck of blood. I had never freely bled in front of him as I had done in the sanctuary.
It took Hadyn only a minute to wrap the piece of cloth around the cut below my elbow, securing it tightly with a knot. The subway train stopped and Hadyn ushered me from the unfamiliar platform towards the stairs. He didn’t stop as we ascended up several flights of stairs until we entered into a room with a tall vaulted ceiling. Black walls surrounded large oval windows allowing for natural light to filter into the room.
A large marble statue sat in the middle of the room. An angel with outstretched wings stood looking up at the heavens. In one of the angel’s hands was a shield and the other a sword. At the angel’s feet were children. Some tried to climb up the angel’s legs while others lie with outstretched hands. Their faces were of sadness and pain. It was as if the children were trying to cling to the angel, but the angel would not hold them.
I hadn’t realized that I had stopped walking until Hadyn had grabbed my hand. He pulled me along behind him up several more flights of stairs. Down a hallway and up and two more flights of stairs, we continued in silence until Hadyn pulled me into a washroom.
The room had a mirrored wall on one side and on another was a window (reaching from floor to ceiling) that looked over the city below. We were high up, high enough for me to see the border of the city and the wall separating the revenants from the outside world or the wilds as the high priest had put it.
Hadyn stepped towards the tub and turned on the faucet. Assuming he meant for me to wash the blood away, I waited for him to leave the room, but he didn’t. To my surprise and utter terror, he stepped away from the tub and removed his black robe.
He stood before me wearing only a pair of plain black pants cut low on his hips. His bare chest was carved with muscles only tarnished by the many scars running across his skin. I hadn’t realized that I had stepped closer to him until I was actually touching a long deep scar that ran across his chest. The silver hues of the scar ran from the top of his left shoulder across his pectorals and ended near the bone of his hip. What could have made a wound this bad? How could he have survived?
A tear fell from the corner of my eye as I inspected the depths of the scar. The wound must have been very deep for it to etch his skin the way it did.
“We need to get the blood off you,” Hadyn said, his voice strained. I pulled my hand away from his skin. I was standing so close to him that I could smell his scent. He reached down to grab my robe. It had been spotted with blood from the injury on my arm. Fear ran through me as he began to tug the robe up.
“I can do it,” I protested. His eyes met mine, and I thought for a moment that I could see a blazing fire wrapped in the blue hues. I could feel the power emanating from him as he tugged at the robe again.
I didn’t fight against him as he pulled the robe from my body leaving me exposed before him in only my underwear. The room was cold against my skin, the chill forming goosebumps along my arms. Placing my arms over my chest, I tried to hide my bare breasts. Hadyn’s eyes roamed over my flesh sending a chill through my spine. I turned my back to him and averted my eyes to the floor.
Trembling both from the chill in the air and from the fear of standing in a room before Hadyn while only wearing panties, I wondered if this was how I was going to die. I had heard that the revenant fed from their wives during coitus. The thought of being intimate with Hadyn scared me more than anything I had ever faced.
Hadyn’s fingers touched the top of my panties and grazed my skin as he pulled them down my legs. I didn’t have time to think before he scooped me up into his arms and placed me inside the tub.
The water licked my skin as I sank further into the tub allowing the warmth to penetrate the cold. He pulled my hair to the outside of the tub and took a seat on a short stool behind me. My body relaxed as I soaked in the water. The soreness of my muscles dulled to a small hum as the warmth sunk into my skin.
Hadyn grabbed a comb and began to detangle the knots in my hair. It was strange, sitting in the tub with Hadyn sitting behind me combing my hair. All the fear I had felt just a few moments ago was replaced with a sense of security. If Hadyn had wanted to hurt me, he wouldn’t have saved me from Cassius or taken me from the high priest’s sanctuary. I could have died in the sanctuary if Hadyn had not carried me away.
Grabbing a small blue bottle, Hadyn poured some liquid into his hands and ran it through my hair. I couldn’t place the smell of the liquid. It was floral with earthy tones, like that of pine or birchwood. It was nice, soothing. After he was satisfied that the liquid had fully covered my hair, he set the comb down and grabbed another bottle.
“Give me your arm,” he said as he moved to the side of the tub. I lifted my injured arm from the tub and held it out to him. He untied the black cloth he had wrapped around my arm earlier and tossed it aside. While gently holding my arm, he poured the liquid from the bottle onto my skin.
It stung as it touched my injury causing me to wince. “What was that?” I asked as he released my arm.
“It’ll keep away infection,” he replied as he put the top back on the bottle. My breath caught in my chest when he reached for a rag and dipped it into the water of the tub. “Keep still,” he commanded as he placed the wet rag against my skin.
A mixture of emotions flowed through me as he washed the blood from my arm.
He worked slowly as he washed me. I thought he was going to stop after he had cleaned the blood away.
I was wrong. After he washed my arm, he moved to my shoulders and down the other arm. “Stand,” he commanded.
“I…” My heart pounded in my chest at his command. I was already nude in front of him, and he had already seen everything, but that didn’t mean that I want to stand and put myself on display for his amusement. I mean, yes, I was nude in the tub and he could see my body through the water, but I felt like the water was a sort of barrier between his gaze and my nakedness. If I stood that barrier would be gone.
“Stand,” he commanded again. I was conflicted. I felt like I shouldn’t obey his command, but at the same time, what choice I have.
Mustering some courage, I took a deep breath and pulled myself to my feet. The water of the tub reached just below my knees. There I stood in front of Haydn not knowing to expect.
To my amazement, he continued to wash my body. I held my hands up to cover my breasts, but he clucked his tongue at me and I dropped them back to my sides. He washed every inch of my body, including the intimate areas no one had ever seen or touched before. I felt weak and vulnerable by the time he had finished
Scooping me from the tub, he stood me in the center of the room. After drying my skin with a towel, he draped my body in a plush white robe, the softness a sweet caress on my freshly washed and sensitive skin. Grabbing my hand, he led me to another room.
A bed rested against the far wall with covers of dark red. Red drapery hung from the bedposts hanging down like curtains would a window. My heart raced in my chest as he closed the door behind me.
This was it. This was why he washed me and smeared my hair with fragrance. I was fearful of taking another step forward, but I also felt a tinge of excitement. I didn’t want to give myself to the revenant, submitting to their will. But Hadyn was different. He was a revenant, but he was also more than that.
I had threatened Cassius that I would take my own life before I would be intimate with him. I should be the same with Hadyn, but the sight of the bed and the way his hand held mine, gently as if I were fragile, had caused me to not act rashly.
Hadyn scooped me up into his arms and carried me to the bed. I didn’t fight against him, but I also didn’t want to give in so easily. I was not ready to give myself away. Not to a human nor to a revenant.
The covers were soft against my back as he placed me atop the covers, my body sinking into their softness. “What are you doing?” I asked in alarm when his fingers began to pull the top of the rob open.
“I should make you my wife,” he replied. “Only then will Cassius release his claim on you.”
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