Monday, April 15, 2019

The Shalafae Archives - Changed

Morrigana purred as her father nuzzled her hands. “They still won’t close?” Shalafae asked, licking the puncture wounds in her palms.

The hybrid sighed. “They’re getting better. Slowly.” Shivers raced up her spine as Ulrin drank her blood. “Though, they itch something fierce.” He doesn’t need to know they keep me up at night, that I hear that sword singing to me.

He held her closer, their bed warm with the curtains closed, and paused in his feeding. Her father stared at her with a musing frown, fingers tracing veins beneath her milky skin. When he spoke, much of his weariness came through. “It’s one of Stormbringer’s ways of getting you to use it again. The itching will go away if you just pick it up, and it seems like it will never end.”

Ulrin closed his eyes, and their link told Morri that he was remembering his early days with the Chaos swords. She felt his addiction to them, that original need that had only been suppressed but never beaten. And she felt his sorrow that she should share such an experience.

Still weak from the recent assault, Ulrin returned to feeding on his daughter.

Morrigana sighed and trembled, aware of the pull of energy as he took. Two weeks since she’d wielded Stormbringer to end a battle, and he still wasn’t back on his feet. Intermittently conscious with with great weakness, his health was cause for concern. Especially since none of them could explain what had happened, why his very soul seemed so wounded. Ulrin didn’t need to feed all the time normally, but he’d been nearly empty lately.

For a few days, she’d been certain she was empty too.

Not that she would admit it. Especially when her father needed her so much. Aunt Kyra was researching the incident, finding out exactly what had happened, and Elthanael was managing the clean up. War still threatened to break out, and the school was falling apart without Shalafae to be the headmaster. There was too much to be done for her to whine about a little tiredness.

Lord Shalafae slipped into sleep, and she sighed in relief when the draw of ki stopped. Morrigana had no reservations about feeding him, but he’d been taking too much in his need. So many ages since he’d actually depended on an outside source to boost his ki, it came as a surprise to both of them. Not that he talked about his wounding, or why it was so hard to recover.

He’d fed so deeply this time that she was dizzy as she got out of bed. The half-dragon intended to go hunting to replenish herself. Fresh meat would take much of the edge off, would restore her strength so she could finish some tasks around their property.

Kyra stepped out of the aether in a puff of honeysuckle scent. Morri’s vertigo grew stronger when she stopped before her aunt. “How is he?”

Weakness stole through the assassin. “Sleeping. Feeding well.” Her heart raced and vision swam.

Kyra reached for her niece. “Are you all right?” Her concern followed Morri into darkness.

***

She came to slowly, reluctantly. Morrigana ached all over, and the heaviness of her limbs suggested she needed more sleep. The hybrid rolled over and snuggled deeper into the pillows to do so.

Kyra touched her forehead, keeping Morrigana awake. “You need to drink this. Sit up, dearheart.”

Groaning, the hybrid struggled to a sitting position. White hair straggled into her vision; being albino still caught her by surprise. “What is it?” Morri asked as she took the large mug.

“Milk and honey. And some herbs I haven’t used in a very long time.”

She took a long drink, recognizing the thickness of cow’s milk. “Why haven’t you used them?” The hybrid immediately began to feel better, aches and weariness leaving. Morri gave her aunt a grateful smile.

“Because your father grew strong enough to not need them.” Kyra moved closer to stroke Morri’s back.

The hybrid paused with the mug half way to her mouth. “You mean when he was young and didn’t produce his own energy?” Wasn’t I just thinking about this? Warmth spread from the older woman’s hand.

“Yes. It’s a shame I didn’t recognize the signs.” Kyra fed more energy into her niece. “It didn’t just change your color. It changed aspects of your physiology.”

Morrigana took another long draw of her aunt’s mixture. It was Stormbringer, her father’s cursed sword. There was a dark history surrounding the sword, and it had already tried to kill her once.
Was molding her into her father an attempt to kill her, or to find a way to be used again?

Another sip filled Morri with heat, and she settled back in the pillows. Only then did she realize she wasn’t in her and her father’s bed. “Why am I here?”

Kyra took her free hand and began stroking Morri’s palms. The hybrid’s wounds itched sharply, and she bit her lip as her aunt healed the puncture marks. Annoying little holes where Stormbringer had joined with her, they were channels for the sword to feed her while taking her blood. Damned if I will ever willing pick up that sword again.

As healing energy stirred, Morri realized how empty she really was. She hadn’t just been a little tired or a little hungry. Ulrin really had been draining her, drawing on her limitless depths of energy that weren’t so limitless anymore. But he needed it more than her, needed to be strong if he were to beat their faceless enemy.

“I couldn’t let you stay near Ulrin. He would have kept feeding, and you’d have allowed it.” Kyra spoke quietly, and it almost hid the tremors in her voice. “You need to be nursed back to health before you can be allowed out of bed.”

She growled at Kyra. “I’m not staying in bed.”

Blue eyes were sharp as Kyra glared. “If you want to make it through this, you damn well will stay at rest.”

“I’m not a mewling baby. There are things to be done, and I can’t just lay here and act helpless.” Morrigana’s hand twitched as itches turned to aches. The sword’s song sounded loudly behind her eyes, and her anger increased. She’d known picking up the Chaos blade could kill her, but she’d done so willingly. It was the only way to protect her father and family.

Kyra’s voice was restrained, but the anger was still there. “When Ulrin awakes, I am certain he will say the same thing. You are not to put yourself in further danger.”

What was unsaid was that Morrigana might always be in danger from this change. They’d all already come to the conclusion that none of them could correct her coloration. If neither a Chaos lord like her father nor a healer like her aunt could change something as simple as forced albinism, what chances did they have to fix her energy channels?

The hybrid grimaced and finished the rest of her drink. “So this is what I get for saving the day?” Even in the middle of their frustration, the women managed to laugh.

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