Flames of Bedlam

Ch1.4 .. Mercy

When I closed my maw around Leviathan’s jugular, I braced myself for the warm, pleasant taste of blood. It was something that didn’t come. Instead, I got a mouthful of salty seawater.

My head jerked back in confusion. Leviathan simply hovered there, only a few yards away, that infernal grin pasted to his fish-lips snout.

I lunged again. Again, as I snapped, I got nothing but a mouth full of water. It was as if this beast was not flesh and bone at all!

I roared in frustration, resorting to brute force, lashing and swinging wildly at him. Nothing connected. He was either too fast, or simply dissolved into nothing the moment I struck.

“FIGHT ME, FIEND!” I bellowed in mounting rage. I’d had enough of his trickery.

“If you insist,” he said smoothly. Apparently, he was tired of this game, too.

I heard a sound, a whip-crack of lightning, and felt searing pain as Leviathan’s barbed tail lashed from nowhere to strike me straight between the eyes. It left me dazed and staggering. I fought to keep my senses, but the blow was so precise, as if he knew exactly the right spot to down a Dragon.

My vision swam and I felt myself sinking into senseless darkness. I knew this was my end.

I awoke to the cliche of water splashing on my face. Talk about adding insult to injury. The water did its job, however, and I sat bolt upright, gasping like a dying fish.

My whole system was in shock. I didn’t know what was causing it. Silence pressed around me. I felt like I’d been gutted and left out in the sun to die.

Surprisingly, I was still alive. After everything I’d just done. After facing… and (I grudgingly admit) being bested by… that beastly sea serpent… Somehow, I woke again.

The memory of my unexpected loss stung. My head still throbbed from the thrashing I’d taken. Groggy, I touched my forehead with one hand, feeling at the huge tender spot. Then, I hissed as it stung.

“You probably should leave that be,” a familiar voice told me.

Still disoriented, I fought to force my vision to focus. I didn’t need to see him. I could smell him. His scent had changed from forest and wood smoke to sea-salt and ocean winds.

I readied myself to the best of my ability. Leviathan was near.

“Stay calm,” he said. It sounded like he wanted to add a trickle of laughter to the words, but they came out forced instead.

When my vision finally served me again, I saw him sitting there. Just plain Levi. Back in his person form. He sat on a log next to a low-burning campfire, cooking something on a spit.

We were alone.

I was alive.

I’d also returned to my person form. But, there was something unnatural and pressured about it. That’s when I first took note of the solid metal cuffs on both of my wrists. Just looking at them turned my stomach. Like they were actively trying to turn my attention off of them.

“You didn’t give us much choice in the matter,” Levi told me as he prodded the embers with a stick. “You’re a blasted Wild One, aren’t you?”

“Choice?” I echoed. My voice was raw in my throat. Raspy.

He motioned to my cuffs. “We usually save those for those who turn.”

“Turn?” I bared my teeth at him.

“Sometimes it brings them back to their senses. I think it’s because it cuts them off from the energies. The influences,” he explained. “Not sure it’ll help you much. You’re in pretty deep.”

I realized then why everything was so still… so silent. Why things felt so strange. It was something the cuffs were doing to me. I couldn’t feel the Flames anymore. I was rendered completely without my power. Without my Dragon.

I was at his mercy.

Like a cornered animal, I tried to find a way out of the trap. Bahamut would be no one’s captive! I could escape and find a way back to…

Back to…

Where would I go?

If the Invaders or Adversary found me like this, they would certainly kill me on sight. If I returned to my army, a writhing mass of monsters and beasts I created, I would fare no better. If I returned to the Glade… the spirits hated me, but perhaps I could find some left over Chaos willing to assist my attempt.

Levi finished cooking the meal and began chewing the meat right off the stick. His unnatural blue eyes slid over to me, as if he could hear my thoughts. Perhaps he could.

“Don’t think about,” he warned me gently.

“Think about what?” I grimaced.

“I know thinking isn’t your strong suit, but running away would only make things worse.” Then, Levi extended a second stick to me. There was cooked meat on the end.

I turned away from it. I was starving, but not for physical food.

“Come on,” he encouraged. “Don’t be that way.”

“Oh, sure. You can say that. You’re not the one who got brained by your beastly tail,” I snapped. I was humiliated about this whole thing, so I decided I might as well complain loudly about it.

Levi took another bite. “If I recall, you’re the one who asked for it.”

“I didn’t mean it in a literal sense….”

“…After trying to rip my throat out…”

I spread my hands, “It was self defense! I didn’t expect you to be a… a…”

He watched me closely, not offering verbal help.

I lowered my arms and furrowed my brow, voice more grave than I meant it to be. “What are you?”

For the first time, I saw Levi look less than confident about his station in life. In fact, he looked shaken. Haunted. He turned away with a murmur, “I don’t know.”

Eventually, I took the meat from him. Levi was a good cook — did I expect anything less than good from Mr. Perfect? — and the meal was delicious. But it didn’t fill the pit of hunger that grew and grew within me. That hungered for crystals and their earth energies.

Conversation was awkward.

Levi tried to maintain his cheerful outlook. But sooner or later, there were things we both had to hash out. This was all just his round-about way to soften it or avoid it.

I disliked avoidance.

“Why didn’t you kill me?”

I dropped the meteor into the middle of whatever sentence he was speaking. I wasn’t paying attention to his trite words, anyhow.

Levi froze, taking in a sharp breath. He knew this was coming. I could see him struggling to find an answer. Perhaps he wasn’t so perfect when he was put on the spot. It was nice to see him squirm a little.

Finally, he lowered his head, his hair falling into his eyes. Aside from the pair of thin, finned Dragon ears he’d acquired after his transformation, his hair had also changed color. It reflected strangely, depending on how the light hit it. Sometimes it looked purple. Sometimes a bit more blue. There were hints of gradient greens. Like the hide of the dragon he’d become.

“I was sent here to stop you.” His voice was grim. More serious than I’d ever heard before.

I snorted at that thought. Until I remembered my current cuffed situation.

When he didn’t offer any other information, I prodded, “Well, that certainly raises a lot of questions.”

“Yes, I know. I figured it would.”

I arched an eyebrow. “Then why cause yourself trouble and tell me the truth?”

Levi leaned back against a tree, propping his feet up. He was uncomfortable, but doing everything he could to not let that show outwardly. “Because there are some things in life that you can spin yarns about. And some things that are too important to fake.”

“Well, considering you beat me over the head then chained me up,” I noted with a flair of dramatics, “It’s only fair you tell me why.”

This actually helped to put him at ease. He saw that though I was wounded and captive, I had some sense of humor to me still. I was quickly learning how to get what I wanted out of him.

“Says the guy who tried to throw me to the Flames of Bedlam and wrest me under his control,” Levi pointed out.

“Well, there is that,” I couldn’t argue.

He sighed and combed his fingers through his hair, gathering his thoughts. “Alright. Let me try to explain.”