|Suitable for All|
This is Fantasy Boys XXX drabble entry for the 30th Drabble Cascade.
The prompt word is 'stake' how could I not run with vampires? ;) P.S. I also have a new book out this week - Cat's Confidence, #3 in the Chronicles of Charlie Waterman - fantasy, YA.
Pel couldn't move. The chains manacled to his wrists and ankles were at full stretch and he could barely breathe, let alone do anything else as the spells etched into the metal left him helpless. They had bound his mouth as well, so he could not speak; nothing could save him.
The man standing over him had once been no more to him than the friendly old baker he nodded to in the mornings, now the man was his executioner. He could feel the stake digging in to the skin over his heart; it was made of ash and it burned. As soon as the baker hit the other end with the mallet it would split his body like butter, the magic of the wood carving into his flesh like the sharpest knife. It would destroy his heart and his life would be over. He knew the rules as well as those ready to kill him.
"Stop this!" The roar came as the door to the barn was thrown open with a loud crash.
The men around him froze and for the first time since they had bound him, Pel dared to hope; just a little.
"But, My Lord," the baker said, "he is of the undead."
"We saw him taken, My Lord," another added.
"He was bitten," a third confirmed.
"He rose and drank blood from my cow," added a fourth.
"Fools," Regaer, lord of their province, told them bluntly, "release him immediately, before I have you all arrested."
"But, My Lord," the baker insisted, "others have died."
"And Pel did not kill them," Regaer replied. "The rogue who did is right now hung in my courtyard waiting for the sun."
"He has fangs, My Lord," one of the others said, "we have all seen them."
If it had been a lie, Pel would have been more hopeful, but everything the men said was true. Six nights ago he had been attacked and five nights ago he had risen from his deathbed in need of more than mere bread for sustenance, but he had never harmed anyone or anything. The cow was fine, although he had fed from it.
"Imbeciles," Regaer said, "if you understood the lore you would know there are those whose souls are black, who become murderous fiends when bitten by vampire kind, and there are those whose souls are pure, who become something else entirely. Release him this instant before I lose patience."
The baker, still holding the stake looked down at him and Pel stared up, mutely.
"Now!" Regaer roared.
The chains went loose and his back hit the mill stone over which they had suspended him.
"Give me the key to the cuffs," Regaer said, "and get out."
The men looked nervous and worried, but obeyed.
"Oh, my sweet Pel," Regaer said, unlocking the manacles on his wrists and helping him sit up, "what have they done to you?"
His clothing was in shreds where they had tested him with fire and iron and, as shock seeped into his system, he began to shake. Burying his head in Regaer's shoulder, he let his lord and lover undo the gag as he tried to hold his composure for a little while longer.
"Let me look at you," Regaer said, pushing him back a little once the gag was free. "Are you hurt?"
"Healed," he replied in little more than a whisper.
His skin had blistered when it had been branded, but his new state of being had let it leave no mark. The memory of the pain, however, that would stay with him for some time.
"Did you not tell them you were mine?" Regaer asked, smoothing his hair back from his face with gentle hands.
Pel shook his head; "They would have asked too many questions."
Regaer had found him the first night after he had bitten the cow, like calling to like in their beings, and Pel had been with him since. He had only returned to his home to pick up a few meagre possessions, but someone had to have seen him.
"Silly boy," Regaer told him, kissing him gently, descended fangs nipping lightly at his lower lip to draw just a drop of blood, "it is high time I educated them in the realities of this world anyway. I have hidden away too long and it is time my people knew of my true nature. They are lucky I do not execute them for touching you."
The pain and terror was still too close for Pel to feel forgiving, but he did not want anyone to die. He let Regaer remove the bindings from his ankles and then he accepted his lover's embrace as he was pulled to his feet. All he wanted was to go back to the keep, wash the memories from his body and fall into bed with his bloodmate. Everything else could wait.