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Serif and Taz let go of my arms and I throw myself forward but I bounce back from what seems like a solid wall in front of me. I hammer on it and scream his name. “Star… Star… Nooo…”
Someone puts their arm around me and draws me back as a horrendous scream splits the silence and reverberates around the cavern. A single shaft of black light shoots upwards from within the circle and vanishes into the darkness above and then there is silence.
“I don’t know.”
I am too numb to ask questions. My heart is pounding and there is only one thing I care about, that I can focus on. “Star…”
“Hold on Lumin’el. It’s not over yet.”
We all take a half step backwards when something shoots past us in front of our eyes within the golden mist. It is gone before we have a chance to see what it was. But even as we begin to wonder it flashes past again. It soon becomes clear that there is something inside the circle, flying round and round near the perimeter, concealed in the mist.
It seems to me as if it is some kind of bird and it is golden too, like the sparkling dust in the mist; in fact it seems to be gathering the dust to it as the shape becomes clearer and the mist more dense but less sparkly with every revolution.
At last there comes a time when there is no sparkle left in the mist at all and it is just a thick, grey cloud through which the creature, whatever it is, is still flying round and round. Suddenly it flies closer to the edge and we all gasp simultaneously. It isn’t a bird; it’s a dragon, a small golden dragon it’s long, sinuous body undulating as wings of iridescent red and gold beat lazily. It turns its head and two eyes of startling blue pierce my heart.
And then it is gone.
We wait to see it come past again but it doesn’t. It is gone.
“What is it?”
“I don’t know. It looks like some kind of dragon.”
“I know him. I know his eyes. It’s Star.” I say firmly with absolute conviction, however, although I am certain that it is Star, I don’t know what it means.
Shaking myself free of the others I walk slowly to the edge of the circle and raise my hand to lay it against the invisible wall. It isn’t there. Shocked, I immediately step across the line and hurry through the billowing, but now clearing smoke to where Star still lies motionless, bound on the floor.
Throwing myself to my knees I reach out to him. I can barely see him through the smoke. I can’t tell if he is alive or dead, the same or changed.
“Star.” I whisper, the pain in my voice dripping onto his still body. The drifting mist is making it impossible to see anything more than his outline. All my trembling hands are telling me is that he is cold, so very cold. “Star please…” my voice breaks and I feel the tears drip off my chin.
Crawling on my hands and knees I fumble for the cords and release his hands and feet then I lift him and carry him out of the circle. He is a dead weight in my arms.
As soon as we cross the barrier there is a tremendous noise behind me, like a gunshot and I spin to see the star crack right across the middle and begin to crumble, falling into a chasm beneath. I stare for a moment, until the light goes out and we are left in darkness.
“Luma… we need to get out of here,” Serif whispers as more cracking sounds come out of the darkness from somewhere nearby.
“I don’t know and I don’t want to stay here to find out. Let’s just get out of here and worry about what happened later. There are some things we really, really need to talk about.”
Realising that he is right and that we might actually be in danger, I hug Star closer to my body and manifest my wings, flapping them gently so we rise slowly towards the door. Below us there are flashes in the darkness but I can’t think about that.
Serif precedes me and opens the door. As soon as my foot hits the step I push past him and run across the floor to the nearest door. It happens to be the transfusion suite but I don’t care. All I want is a bed to lay Star on. He is just so damn cold and so damn still.
When I lay him down I kneel at his side, rubbing his hand, trying to get him to warm up but he is so cold.
“Luma… let me.”
I look up at Serif and shake my head. There is no way I am going to let him anywhere near Star.
“Luma… listen to me. He’s not ascended; not yet. Azra’el didn’t do his job. You have to let me…”
“No… I can do it.” I am determined not to allow Serif to unleash his unimaginable power on my lover.
“You can’t, Luma. You’re too involved.”
“I did it before,” I say stubbornly.
“I know you did but that was different.”
“How was it different? I loved Astaria too. I loved her and I ascended her and I can do the same this time. I can do it for Star.”
“Luma… Star is not Astaria. Star is very, very different to Astaria. He’s not like anything you have experienced before. You can’t bursa escort do this, Luma, you will kill him and there is a good chance that he might kill you.”
“I don’t… What do you mean kill me?”
“Can we talk about this later? Taz, get him out of here before it’s too late.”
“No…” Gently but irresistibly Serif tears my hand away from Star. “No, don’t… you can’t… don’t make me leave him. Serif please…” As Taz draws me backwards towards the door I stare in abject horror as Serif bends over the lifeless form of my lover and unfurls his wings… all six of them. The last thing I see before the door slams before us is a light so bright it burns itself into my eyes and he is only warming up.
“Star…Star…”I scream, trying to tear myself out of Taz’s grip but it is impossible. I can hear voices from a long way off. It doesn’t occur to me that they are the rest of my household gathering at the terrible sounds of my anguish. Later, I am told that everyone except Bridge and Sacha gathered here in dread fear to witness my madness.
I have no idea how long I fight him. He must be exhausted by the end but his grip never weakens and I never have a chance of breaking free.
Eventually, I start to feel exhausted and the strength goes out of me. I sink to my knees and bow my head. I’m sure he’s dead. No one and nothing can withstand the light of a Seraph, it burns even their own kind, and Serif is the best of the best. It occurs to me, and not for the first time, to wonder what the hell someone like him has been doing with someone like me for the last three hundred years. No wonder he always sounded mocking when he called me ‘My Lord.”
Eventually the door opens and I am too afraid to look up. He is dead. I know he’s dead, I just know it. I don’t want to see the expression on Serif’s face. I only hope that he has left me a body to mourn. Right now I don’t have the strength to…
Serif kneels at my side and puts his arms around me, drawing me close. “It’s alright, Luma, I’m alright. It’s over now.”
I jump as if I have been shot and turn my head sharply. “Star?”
He smiles at me, his blue eyes as bright as ever. I am truly and totally stunned. “But…”
“Don’t ask me what happened,” he says firmly, “because I don’t know. I don’t remember anything after I lay down on that star thingie.” He pauses. “Well, I do remember some things but they weren’t very nice so I don’t want to remember them. I certainly don’t remember what went on in that room but it doesn’t matter because I’m here now. I’m fine. I feel strong and well and… great.”
“But…” I look up at Serif who is standing in the door watching us with the strangest expression on his face.
“Does it matter how or why, Luma?”
I shake my head feeling numb and let Star help me to my feet. I turn to Serif. “Why?”
“And which ‘why’ are we dealing with here?”
“Why have you been hiding here all this time? Why have you never told me? Why have you let me dominate you, called me ‘My Lord’? Why…?”
“Hold on. There are a whole lot of ‘why’s there. The answer is the same though.” He shrugs with exaggerated ennui. “Because it suited me.”
“This is for a different time, Luma. There are things we need to talk about, but not now. Now, I think you have other business to take care of.”
“Luma, what you don’t have is time. Have you forgotten so easily?”
For a moment I am confused and then it hits me, almost knocking me off my feet. How could I have forgotten, even for a minute? “Bridge.”
“We’ll talk tomorrow, Luma. Take care of your family now. Tomorrow is a new day for all of us.”
What the hell does that mean? Ah well, time enough later to find out. Now I have other things on my mind.
Star looks strong and confident as he strides beside me. He is more than that. He owns the space around him. He exudes a sense of purpose, of… completeness. I can’t help but steal glances at him. He is so different and yet so much the same.
When we reach my apartment he stops and turns to face me. For the first time we are alone, for the first time I look into his eyes and see the extent of the change. The red flame is hotter than ever and it is there permanently now.
“Thank you, Luma.”
“I… It was. I’m sorry Star. I should never have agreed to that. The ritual has never turned out well for me but that has always been afterwards. I was sure it would be different with you.”
“And it was… it will be.” He smiles a slow, sexy smile. “I love you Luma, and now I’m like you; we are equals and will love as equals. It’s exciting isn’t it?” His eyes are sparkling with excitement and passion. The numbness is leaving me and I begin to see the possibilities. This time started differently and I am sure it is going to work out differently too. This is the start of a lifetime together and every moment will be a moment to cherish.
“I love you, Star.”
The instant our lips meet I feel the difference. He runs bursa escort bayan his tongue over my teeth and suddenly I am swept with feelings that make me shake. It’s like I have had liquid gold poured down my throat and it burns as it spreads through my body; but in a good way… such a good way. I can’t believe his strength as he holds me hard against him and floods me with wave after wave of that amazing golden energy. I have never experienced anything like it before.
Finally he lifts his head and smiles at me, lit up. “Now I can give you a taste of your own medicine.”
“Trust me,” I say breathless, “my medicine never tasted like that.”
He smiles his sweet smile but then I have to shake myself and break away from him. He is putting a spell on me. I can’t stand it. If he carries on I am going to cum without him laying a finger on me below the waist. I find myself panting.
“Bridge.” I gasp and the teasing expression immediately drops away leaving him looking contrite.
“I’m sorry, Luma. I’m just… full.”
“Be careful, Star. You’re energy is very strong and you haven’t learned to temper it. You swept me away but Bridge can’t take that kind of power. You have to…”
“Luma; I know what to do.”
“Serif showed me.”
“Serif told you?” To say I am surprised is a huge understatement.
“No, he showed me. Come on let’s…”
“Star, I don’t…”
He turns and smiles at me. “Neither do I but we can talk it through later. Right now there is something we really, really need to do.”
“What are we going to do?” I have to admit that the words came out more sarcastically than I had intended them to. Star looks at me, not with annoyance as he would have been perfectly entitled to do, but with a strange thoughtfulness.
“I don’t know,” he says thoughtfully. “Maybe we can just make it up as we go along.”
Smiling an incredibly sweet smile he takes my hand and leads me through the door. For some reason it feels so good to follow for once.
Sacha is curled up on the bed, his back against the headboard, his knees drawn up. His face is streaked with tears and he is rocking as he strokes Bridge’s hair. For a moment my heart stops and I am terrified that we are already too late.
“Where were you?” Sacha sobs. “I’ve been so scared. You just ran out. What have you been doing? Why did you leave me here for so long? I thought… I thought he was going to… Why did you leave me?”
There is such anguish in his voice I have no idea what to say to him. I was so focussed on myself and on Star I didn’t spare a thought for him. Damn, at the end I didn’t even have a thought spare for Bridge. All the time we have been performing the great drama he has been sitting here, not knowing what is going on; why we have left him; why we have left Bridge to die. He truly believed that he would be left to witness Bridge’s last moments alone and I have never seen anyone more afraid, more distressed; not even when I had orchestrated it.
Even while I am thinking this Star is climbing onto the bed taking Sacha gently into his arms. Sacha clings to him and sobs inconsolably. “He’s dying, Star. He’s dying and I can’t do anything; I can’t help him, I can’t stop it, I can’t… I can’t stand it. Star he… he’s just… He was… he was c…crying. He… he knows. He doesn’t… doesn’t want to die but… but he can’t… hold on. He couldn’t… hold on and I tried… I tried to help him, to hold on… on to him and… and I… he just… he just faded and…”
“It’s alright, Sacha. It’s going to be alright now. We’re going to save him. He’s going to be alright.”
“No.” Sacha looks up at Star, his eyes wide and scared. “He’s not going to be alright, he’s going to die. He is almost dead. His… I’ve watched him and he’s just… he’s just fading away. His breathing is getting softer and softer and I can’t hear his heart beating anymore.”
Star takes Sacha’s hands in his own and stares into his eyes. “Trust me, Sacha. It’s going to be alright.”
Sacha gasps. “What happened? What’s happened to you Star?”
“I’ve ‘become’ Sacha.”
As they speak I sit on the bed, on the other side of Bridge and lay my hand over his heart. It is still beating but barely. Sacha is right; his breathing is so shallow it is barely sustaining him.
“Star,” I say quietly. “This discussion is for another time. He is almost gone. His life is being measured in minutes.”
Star’s head snaps round and his eyes meet mine. “Can you heal him? Can you heal him completely, right now?”
His question and the forcefulness of the way in which he asks it shocks me. “I…”
“Can you do it, Luma? Can you heal him?”
“I could but… Star it would kill him. Even if you could give him enough energy to sustain him you couldn’t give him enough to see him through that.”
Star gently leads Sacha to a chair on the other side of the room and walks towards me. I stand up and he takes me into his arms. “Do you escort bursa trust me, Luma?”
“Trust you? Of course I trust you but your abilities are too new; too raw. You can’t…”
“You’re right. I don’t know what I can do and I don’t know how I can do it, but I know that I can. I really do Luma. Somehow… somehow I know I can do it. I am a… a…” He lowers his eyes, struggling with something and I know what it is. Suddenly something clicks into place and I understand.
“You can do it, Star. I know you can do it. Listen to me… I didn’t realise it, not until right now. You are part dragon, Star, you know that don’t you? You know it now.”
His eyes snap back up to mine. “It’s true? It’s really true? I thought… I mean I thought that it… but it seemed so…”
“Trust it Star; trust your inner knowledge. You are what you think you are. I’ve seen it, Star, I saw the dragon and I’ve seen the golden energy in you. Dragon energy is healing. There hasn’t been a true dragon in centuries; millennia and there are few alive today who knows what it means to be one: fewer still who remember. I didn’t remember, not until just now. You can do it, Star. No one else can, but you can.”
“I know.” He looks scared to death but he is resolute nevertheless.
“Do you know how?” He shakes his head and I nod mine. Suddenly filled with a new sense of purpose I strip the covers off Bridge and slide my arm under his shoulders. I suppress a shudder at how cold he is.
“Put your hands on his belly, both of them: concentrate on directing the energy down into the base of his spine and through the rest of his body. Once you’ve tapped in to his energy tree you will feel it; where it needs to go.”
“There’s a network of energy lines, like veins, that branch through the body. It radiates out from the base of the spine which is the trunk of the tree. The top half of the body holds the branches and the bottom the roots. You need to establish the roots first and then build the branches. Once you see the network you’ll see where the channels are blocked and broken.
“Don’t let too much energy flow out of you too quickly or you’ll overwhelm him and he’ll die. It will feel at first that you are not achieving anything; that the energy is going into him too slowly and there will be a huge temptation to push it in, to make it flow faster and harder, but you must resist that temptation, you must. Let him draw the energy rather than force it on him. Once you make the connection his body will draw what he needs.
“This is your skill, Star. This is what you do; what all dragons do. We have strength and control, you have wisdom and healing. Use your skill well.”
Star stares at me, his eyes wide. Carefully he gets up onto the bed and positions himself between Bridge’s knees. I see him shiver at how lifeless the limbs are as he moves them. Bridge is a broken doll. Star closes his eyes and centers himself. Slowly, his face intent and a study of concentration, he bends forwards and lays his hands palm down on Bridge’s abdomen.
I am about to bend my own head when I catch a spark of gold and I turn to see a golden glow emanate from below Star’s hands and spread over Bridge’s stomach. Bridge moans and squirms weakly. Mentally shaking myself, I lower my head. When I enter him he gives a little cry and his body tenses, his back arching.
I can hear someone speaking gently close by. “Hush darling. It’s alright. It’s going to be alright. We’re here now. We’re all here now and we’re going to make you well again. You’re going to be alright Bridge. I’m here. We’re all here.”
Surprised I look up into Sacha’s eyes. He is holding Bridge’s hand, close to his side. I nod once and then close my eyes and sink.
This time I don’t have to hold back. I don’t have to be careful that I don’t put him through too much. I can taste the golden energy in his blood and it is intoxicating even to me. I drink deeply, deeply, saturating him with healing, drawing out the sickness. I feel his body strain, his breathing quicken, his heart pound. I feel him shaking. I feel him jerking. I feel him gasping for breath. I hear him cry out, whimper, pant. I feel him struggle weakly. I feel him hover on the edge. I feel him fall and then I feel him soar.
When his blood tastes clean I lift my head and lick my lips. Sacha’s eyes are wide and scared. I can see that Bridge is holding on so hard his fingers have turned white. Star still has his eyes closed, concentrating and the golden glow seems to have spread. As I watch the light starts to fade, the edges first with the area around his hands still bright. It is as if he is sucking the light back into his hands… and then it is gone.
With a deep sigh Star sits up and opens his eyes, blinking. He looks tired; exhausted. For a moment out eyes meet and he grins at me. I smile back, my heart expanding.
“Bridge… Bridge don’t…” Sacha’s soft voice breaks the spell for both of us and we look down. Bridge is still gripping Sacha’s hand and it looks painful. Sacha has borne it as long as he could but there are tears slipping down his face now and blood on his lips where he has bitten them. I am going to have to remind myself not to underestimate Sacha.
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