(Damon’s Manor, Kaleion, A Long Time Ago)
Reviewing his second surpris e for Chara, Damon worked feverishly at his desk in his hidden study, ensuring all of his best weapons were at his disposal. The Dragon of Darkness had provided Chara’s location, and she wouldn’t remain there forever. He had to strike soon, to right this most recent wrong she had visited upon him and eliminate this painful thorn in his side once and for all. Damon’s Surprise, as the spell was titled, only worked on the undead, and specifically only one type of undead, but it was beyond lethal, and if Damnation failed, this would not. Only a slight variation on Damnation, it was meant to snuff their lifeforce out of existence—just as useful as decapitation, but without the need to get too close where Chara was more physically lethal.
Gating the symbols through his right index finger, he made yet another improvement to the spell just for Chara. The more limited its scope, the more potent he could make it.
“Always working so hard.” He recognized the soft, sensual, feminine voice immediately as Illirian, and didn’t bother wondering how she managed to get into a study only he should know how to even find, let alone enter. He knew better. Illirian was one of few in existence more powerful than he or Kellen, and he never underestimated her. He often wondered the limits of her power that only seemed to find their thresholds politically.
Turning to acknowledge her, he began putting on a shirt to cover his scars. Illirian, stepping forward, stopped him from covering himself. “Don’t. You don’t have to do that with me.” She was close now—too close. Her sweet perfume filled his nostrils, with her lush body so close as to touch his.
“Did you need something,” he asked, looking her right in her golden eyes, allowing his black eyes to follow and trace her curves.
“You MUST stop using Damnation,” she implored, tracing physically the scars across his clavicle that were more scars on his soul. “Are you sure you don’t want me to Heal these?”
“They can’t be Healed,” Damon proclaimed flatly, recalling all the times he had tried. Perhaps if they were physical scars, they could be. He knew them to be physical manifestations of an internal wound he could not even access or discuss, let alone Heal.
Wanting to weep for him, she understood him better than anyone since Dallia, but he wouldn’t accept her pity. That would enrage him. He accepted her presence, and sometimes her closeness, but love between them was as forbidden one becoming the other as love often required—at least so in part. Even the greatest changes in Damon’s behavior wouldn’t allow it. He was condemned, but she always thought there was a way inside Damon that would allow her to minimize the casualties of his destructiveness. If love were the only way in, surely wouldn’t that be allowed or at least justified?
“I will use whatever I must to destroy Chara. She must be dealt with. Permanently!”
Delicately caressing his che st, beginning to run her golden fingertips along his shoulders, Illirian argued, “I’m only saying, it would be in your best interest to use whatever means you have, other than Damnation, to bring her down. Have you thought about putting her in Stasis…?” She paused, her fingertip now on one of the heels of his scars where the whip had crossed in slashing directions on his body, “…I could even go with you. She wouldn’t stand a chance of getting away in combat with both of us.”
It was a more than fair offer, and Damon was considering it, whilst wishing Illirian would stop tracing his scars. He hated being touched there, by anyone. “Thank you for your offer, but if I don’t personally take care of this problem, I’ll regret it for the rest of my life. And yes, I have considered using Stasis, but that isn’t punishment enough for the wrongs she’s brought upon me—the wrongs she’s brought upon Dallia. You know what Dallia meant to me! You know I’d been trying to make peace with Chara! Why did she have to destroy Dallia that way? You weren’t there. You didn’t see what she did to Dallia. I hope you never have to experience anything like that.”
She hadn’t been there. She hadn’t seen the bile of Chara’s work. She’d failed Damon in that way. Even now her mouth worked trying to find the words to get him to let her in. She desperately wanted to help Damon. It was best for everyone if she could find a way in, but she’d seen Damon’s obstinance before. His ownership of a problem was absolute, and this was by far the biggest problem—the heaviest of all burdens. “Does personally have to mean, without the help of others?”
“In this case, yes!” The look they shared—locked in a loving, caring glare—transcended mortal coils of good and evil, creating new shores of bonds everlasting between them. “…but, thank you, Illirian. Thank you. I mean it. Your offer means more to me than you’ll ever know. It means a lot to Dallia too. She thanks you…from her grave.” This time his mouth worked to struggle through the memories of Dallia. “I’ll only use Damnation if I must.”
“Every single time you use Damnation, you bind your soul with a shadow even I cannot undo. I know you are committed to Banthis now, and I know you think that life with her could give you what you want, but I also know you are not fully the darkness personified you try so hard to be. You were not made to be this Damon, but with each casting of Damnation, you revoke another thread holding you to this plane of existence. I don’t know if you’re doing this because you feel justified from what happened to you as a child, or what happened to Dallia, but there is only so much forgiveness left in all Creation for you. He will not allow you to continue ripping his children out of their designated fates.”
Removing her hand from his shoulders, Damon threw his shirt on, turning to face her, “Thank you.” He paused, looking her in the eyes again, “Thank you for trying to protect me, but please do not ever risk yourself, your future, or your forgiveness for me. I’m not worth it. Your life—your future—is more important than mine. You’ve done more than enough for me already.” Placing his right hand on her chest, in between her breasts, the extent of his palm barely touching her pale peach summer dress, Damon sent Illirian to the most remote—though still safe—place on Kaleion he could think of.
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