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Oh. Oh shit, that looked painful. Silveus grabbed at his arms as if he expected them to be bloodied and covered in feathers. It would turn back, right? It had to turn back. He couldn't live without his arms. His hands, the tools of his craft! How could Faustus just tear them apart like that?
Rossa tensed internally. Faustus was seriously resorting to that? How bad of a pinch was he in? He might actually get caught. No, that couldn't happen, right?
The masked figure gained on Faustus. He rushed up behind him, claws extended.
"You're blocking my shot!" John roared in anger.
The man ignored him. Hawk claws sank into Faustus' back, sharp as knives. For a moment, the masked man was the only one holding them both aloft. He bent down to Faustus' ear.
"Make a pact. Come back and free me from my summons, and I'll let you escape."
Golden eyes flashed for just a moment. He might only be a lesser demon, much weaker than the kind of being they could summon with a sacrifice like this one, but he still held enough power, limited as he was, to let Faustus escape. He'd 'accidentally' block an arrow, fall back in the sky, and let the sacrifice wiggle free to safety. But not without a price. He'd leave a mark--not on the body, but on the man's soul. A timer that would count down the days until it burned away the man's soul to nothing, unless he fulfilled the promise.
Or he could be captured again and take the place of the sacrifice on the table. It did not concern the masked man if this soul wished for death.
[center Hooves tore at bracken, muscle rippling beneath flesh and fur. If he thought this was to be [i his] hunt, he had another thing coming. Power was something one had to earn here, but those who were greedy--well, they tended to come to justified ends. John hissed, avoiding the low-hanging boughs. At some point, they would run out of trees and hit the fields again, and there would be nowhere for either of them to hide.
Faustus was still struggling with each sigil, calling upon old magick to spare this mortal form. He swiped until Silveus' forearms were covered, praying this would work. It [i had] to. He could already see the break in the trees, and with this bastard at his back, he had no other choice. This body [i would] fly today. Be it for the first and last time, even. There was a point in the sky at which his soul had entered this sphere of magickal suppression. Once he was beyond that, he was sure he'd have enough to carry him home.
Arrowheads skimmed past him, tearing at cloth or scoring flesh. He didn't have time to feel it, forcing Silveus' poor legs to their limit. Faustus leapt for the highest bows, launching himself forward with every bound. The break in the trees came all at once, and in that instance he dove, casting himself free of the woods into open air.
If ever there was a true Hail Mary, this was definitely it. Magick exploded all about him in a burst of light, arms reforming into wings in a cloud of feathers and blood. It was temporary but [i damn] was it painful. Bones hand snapped, splintered, reformed and extended. he could do no more than flap and spiral helplessly through the air until they filled. Every beat of those wings was punishment, but he couldn't afford to falter. Anymore mistakes and Silveus--or his mortal form, anyway--was truly going to die here.
John bounded from the line of trees below, bow aimed for the sky. [i At last!] His quarry had come out of hiding, and wounded, no less. He was clearly trying to reach the gate, but if he expected to make it on those wings, then surely he had the will of the Gods. John drew back, steadying his gallop and set loose a shot that pierced through feather, flesh and bone. Their sacrifice's body veered and dipped before climbing higher still.
Ahh. Stubborn, were they? All the better. Nothing he loved more than watch lessons unfold.
Bastion's fists curled and uncurled with nervous energy. This wasn't good. Every moment he spent inside the barrier meant that it was consuming the magick he summoned. "I should go get him. Not to say I doubt him, but [i look]." How was Rossa dealing with this? And where the [i hell] was Angeleau?]
Silveus flinched at the sight of an arrow piercing his shoulder. He put a hand to Faustus'shoulder in sympathy. That was going to hurt when he got his body back.
"What's he doing, that clumsy idiot?" Rossa muttered. "Teleport him out of there already!"
"Maybe he can't," Bastion suggested. Faustus could be thick at times, but he wasn't that stupid.
Rossa made an annoyed noise. He knew that, of course he knew that. He still couldn't help but be worried.
John ran after the man, bow at the ready. What had possessed the sacrifice? Literally. This definitely was not that broken man's doing. Julia probably wasn't to blame, he knew it, but until he found out who was, she'd remain in her dungeon. He couldn't take any risks anymore.
The man suddenly sped up and leaped into the trees. John spat a curse. How? Magic should be suppressed here! Unless--but he couldn't possibly be a mage of that caliber. Blood magic was far too dangerous for a beginner.
"Out of my way," a masked man snapped. He sprinted past John like the man was standing still, then leaped into the air. Wings sprouted on his back and caught the wind. He flapped after the speeding sacrifice even as talons sprouted on his feet.
John narrowed his eyes. Stealing the spotlight again, after he'd already stolen it with the purging of earthly attachments in the second ritual? Never. He muttered a few words, including the passcode that let him past the wards to use magic. The fae King's fiery strength roiled up in him, channeled into the hunt. His feet became hooved, his legs bent recurve, and he sped after the winged man and their sacrifice into the woods.
Silveus clenched his hands tight, nervous. How was Faustus going to get out of this one? Did he even know where the exit was? [i C'mon, Faustus, find the way out,] he urged silently. Faustus had to make it. That was his body--his fault that Faustus was stuck. They had to get him out!
[center Seeing Rossa comfort Silveus gave Bastion a little peace. As much as you really could have when your brother's soul was gallivanting who knew where. In fact, he crowded in to steal a glimpse as well.
Silveus' slender form was darting rapidly, ducking under branches. What the hell was Faustus doing?
John cast a hard look at Julia, accusation in his eyes. "Take her away. Confinement for her perceived betrayal until we get to the bottom of how this came about." Until then...
John drew a bow from his back and signaled for one of the attendants to announce the hunt.
The deafening blare of a horn cut through branch and brush, the ground beneath his feet reverberating. That couldn't be good. Faustus panted, lungs straining as he launched himself over a fallen tree. Not that he was trying to wreck Silveus' body, but they could always heal him. Getting it back to him was the problem.
[i Surely [b some] magick must be within his realm of use?]
They'd barely touched upon the magick in his veins, and in Faustus' possession, this body was of little help. Something basic, anything with enough fire power to give him a little boost would do. Cold wind whipped at his features and his thighs screamed in protest, unused to such prolonged punishment.
Okay, he knew the blond was an artist, but seriously. He was going to get him out of the house more. Especially if this whole mess meant they'd have to prepared for this kind of thing on the fly. Still, Faustus had to admit that his smaller form was quite fun. When was the last time he'd felt this light on his feet? Plus, everything looked so different through a different set of eyes.
Something whirred past his head, clipping his ear. He flinched, hand shooting up with a swear as he cut off to the left where the trees were especially thick. Bark splintered and flew, raining from all directions.
This had to be some sort of punishment. He'd be nicer, he promised, he just--
Hot pain seared through his shoulder and knocked him off his feet. Goddamn it--so light and his reflexes were still so off. Side effect of using what didn't belong to you he guessed. His back landed hard against a nearby tree, warmth soaking the material of the tunic.
Anger flashed in his eyes despite the pain, fingers reaching decisively for the arrow and breaking it off to a nub. Far off, he could hear the rustle of movement, but no matter which way he turned his head, the sound echoed. How many [i were] there.
Faustus pushed himself up out of the brush and peered down at dirty palms. He couldn't let him die... after all they'd done to find him, there was no way.
Before he could lose anymore time, he was off again, adrenaline blocking out the majority of his pain. [i Sorry, Silveus. I'll fix you when this is done.]
Faustus reached for the wound, teeth gritting as he hurriedly used blood--Silveus' blood of all things, to inscribe a sigil on his palm. God, he was hoping this worked. Fleet of foot could be so fickle, but blood magick rarely failed--even with the blood of a mortal.
He called to the deepest wells of magick he knew, praying the sigil would react. In this form, he couldn't fly, but this would have to be enough. Another onslaught of arrows was close behind, missing him by all manner of miracles as he recited the words, over and over, commanding them into reality.
And then he leapt, fingers reaching for the nearest branch. Light as a feather, he bounded from tree to tree, eyes darting about in the darkness for the potential of sighting one of his pursuers. Who were these people? And what could they have possibly wanted with Silveus?
The world went topsy-turvy. He felt like a fish, hooked on a line and dragged by forces beyond his comprehension. When the world finally settled down, he was in a dark, quiet space. Silveus tried to take a deep breath to ground himself, but he couldn't breathe. Panic shot through him. He grabbed at his throat, then realized--it didn't hurt. He didn't need to breathe.
He was see-thru. Silveus turned his hand over and stared through it at the floor below. What the hell? That... It felt weird. He shivered and shook his head, then rubbed the back of his neck. He still felt solid to himself. But at the same time... not.
Silveus followed Bastion's gesture. Faustus' body? Could he? Wait... He bit his lip and rubbed his neck again. It felt like a terrible invasion of privacy to step inside someone's body. Usually there was a lot of getting to know one another, or at least some foreplay, first.
"Wait... is he in me right now?" Silveus asked. Bastion nodded. Silveus pulled a face, then walked over and slid into Faustus's skin. Fair was fair. If the man was walking around inside him, then he'd return the favor.
It felt... Strange. Warm, like a cozy sweater, and then heavy. He coughed and sat up, hands propped on the floor. He felt... big. His hands were clumsy and oversized, and his legs were so damn long. He scratched at his newly-acquired chest awkwardly. This was weird. This was really weird. It felt like wearing a too-big pair of jeans, but not. He pulled a face, and the muscles responded sluggishly, except for the furrow in his brows. Silveus snorted. That was Faustus, after all.
"What's he doing?" Silveus asked. His voice sounded so weird, deeper than he was used to and a different note. He coughed again, then rubbed his neck. Oooh, that was too weird.
"Do you want to see?" Rossa offered. He had a lesser scrying bowl in his lap, the mirror-surface of the water free of ripples. "Come here."
Silveus moved closer to look. Rossa put an arm around his shoulders comfortingly, and felt the man relax. He snorted to himself and gave Silveus a little rub. It felt good to hold Faustus casually like this, without any of their baggage to complicate things. It wasn't actually Faustus, but still. Sometimes, he missed the guy. Sometimes.
[center The moment Silveus relinquished his body, his soul was snatched through the aether. Honestly, it was kind of messy in some ways—flying through the unknown tugged by an invisible wire. One of the downsides of a powerful warlock having your number was when they called? You had no choice but to answer. At least, on his case, it would work to their favour.
Bastion was awaiting him, seated calmly before the circle he’d drawn, hands raised as he summoned him. It wasn’t until the shadows of the room shifted that he opened his eyes. [i Fates], it had [i worked]. Standing up, he immediately set down an anchoring crystal. “Thank goodness, that bastard was taking forever. You have no idea how long we’ve been searching for you!”
Despite the fact that Silveus didn’t exactly have a mortal body, Bastion still nudged him as though he were flesh and bone. “Since you’re uh... back and thankfully not dead, would you mind just, Uhm—for the time being? I’d really hate to risk them trying to summon you back because you’re—out of body.”
Loosely, he gestured toward Faustus’ lifeless form. He appeared so much to be sleeping. “He’s not using it, and naturally, though we’ll put you back once this is all done with, I promise.”
If Bastion could look anymore unsettled, it would’ve been a miracle. Happy though he was, Faustus was technically still out there.
He inhaled deeply, coughing once to clear his throat. God, taking on a new body was always so strange. He flinched at the soreness and glanced down at pale feet. Huh... the ground was—closer. But did they seriously not believe in shoes? One look at his foot bottoms and he flinched again. He must’ve run at some point.
The makeup artist was insisting he settle back down, but he batted her away with more force than intended. “Unhand me.” Tone dark, he moved forward, eyes darting to some big bastard, then Julia, then the other parties. How could he escape? If it came down to fighting, this was going to be a hell of a time.
Big guy looked furious, fists clenched as he approached. “The sacrifice [i will] comply.”
“Oh...” Faustus chuckled. “Actually, the sacrifice will [i not].”
John’s features rearranged, confusion and insult lining his features. “Are you mad? Have you not learned by now?” Disturbing, faceless entities approached with an unsettling slowness. Unhurried. Disgusting. He hated these creatures.
“Well, you see, as it turns out, I know all about your tricks. And now I know your face, too!” He scattered the powder toward the hulking man’s face and ducked around his form to burst into a sprint. At the very least, Silveus had a light form. It wasn’t much to manoeuvre. The creatures were attempting to close off, horrified shrieks at his back as his pursuer shoved his way through two of the attendants.
“HALT, you ungrateful-“
Sorry, couldn’t do that. This was a rental, and as much as he would have loved to stay for chats, he had somewhere to be.
John glowered, suspicion narrowing his gaze. “What on earth. Julia—summon the hunting party. It seems we have an intruder.”
Silveus closed his eyes. He could still see it, so vividly. Logan's eyes. The light fading out of them for the second time, under his hand. "I killed him." There was no question in his mind. It had definitely happened, no matter what Logan wanted to say.
But what did he do? Die? He wanted to. Squander. But Logan had wanted him dead. He'd said so himself.
Unless it wasn't him. Unless this was all a ridiculous charade to force him to want to die.
He opened his eyes. Silveus stood. The makeup artist cried out and stood up with him. She caught his arm and held it down. Silveus shook free. He didn't want to be held down any more. Not by these people. Not by anyone.
Just like Faustus had ordered, Silveus took in a deep breath and sighed out. All at once, he let everything go. Logan. Their past together. His fear of change. His disgust at himself for killing Logan. All of it, gone in a breath. And him, gone with it.
[center Much to his luck, John had yet to really take notice of his presence, but it was definitely a pain in the ass that this spirit was keen on thwarting his plans. Faustus tumbled through open air but quickly found purchase, anchoring himself to a nearby tree. Who in the hell?
Approaching Silveus again, this time from behind, he spoke over his shoulder. “[i I’m not sure what you think you did or didn’t do, but nothing—[b nothing] would have brought Logan back. Whatever you [i killed] surely wasn’t him. He’s cycling now].”
He was so... lifeless. What exactly had gone down here? Silveus seemed so void of life despite the fact that much to Faustus’ relief, he was still breathing.
“[i We can hash things out later, but for now, we have to get out of here. No one is going to be “gone” or dying today. More importantly, I’m sure this is the last thing he would’ve wanted for you. You’re... annoying, sure. But clearly, you were worth a lifetime to him. And that’s enough. So don’t squander it.]” Faustus’ tone was ever soft, a deep contrast to the edge most expected of him.
“[i It’s one thing to have a life stolen, but to squander time... you have no idea what you could miss.]” He implored.
He couldn’t even believe how determined he was, honestly. [i Only for Logan.] It was the only explanation. “[i Please don’t make me beg.]”
A voice whispered in his ear. Silveus flinched. The makeup artist clicked her tongue and grabbed his chin tight to hold him in place. He didn't want to hear it, but the voice kept on. Whispering, whispering, whispering. He recognized the tone. It hurt. Why would Faustus come for him? He was worthless.
"I killed him. I killed Logan," Silveus whispered. Faustus should leave him. There wasn't any point in helping him anymore, now that his hands were dirtied with Logan's blood.
"Shh, shh," the makeup artist shushed him. He closed his mouth and stared dead ahead. There was no point to listening to the voice. It had nothing to say to him. He should go ahead and die here. It would make everyone most happy.
He closed his eyes. Why did Faustus want to help, anyways? The man hated him. He didn't want anything to do with him. Faustus shouldn't have bothered. It was a waste of his time. "You'll be happier when I'm gone," he breathed out.
"That's the way," John encouraged him. Silveus ignored him.
Julia wandered over and pushed Faustus away. Her every move was lazy, but there was real force behind the push. What was he doing here? If John noticed, he'd be trapped like she had been! He had to escape, now!
[center Far more befitting a sacrifice now that he was all made up, no? No sense in offering any less to the powers that be, and for their purposes, this was ritual. And oh, how compliant he now was. John, the brunet from before, appeared once again with Julia close as hand - ever present and ever restless in attendance.
Silveus was dusted once more for good measure, his flowers adjusted, and-
A cloud of mist appeared, barely there but visible. Moments later, Faustus' voice whispered at his ears. "[i Silveus.]" It sharp, demanding of attention. "[i "-eed you to...attention.]" Faint snapping. "[i Listen to me. You have to hear me now. I'm here to get you out of here, but you have to trust me.]"
He couldn't believe he was doing this. Faustus could believe even less that he had managed to [i find] him. It seemed an impossible task when he had first set out. After all, they hardly knew one another, but the monger he searched and the more desperate he became, the stronger the tug. As if someone had been beckoning to him, he'd been pulled firmly in this direction. The power of intent, perhaps? Whatever it was, he was grateful.
He only hoped Silveus would be able to process what he was telling him. What had they done here? What was wrong with him? Anger flared in his chest, but he knew he needed calm. Absolute calm.
The soft sensation of hands, barely there, came to press to Silveus' cheeks. [i "I'm going to take your body, do you understand? I need you not to force me out. One breath in, and you let go on the exhale. Bastion has a circle waiting for you."]
How could he? How could he? He'd killed Logan. That blood was on his hands.
Silveus couldn't feel a thing. He didn't want this anymore. Nothing was worth anything. He'd just die.
Hands plied at his body. He was drawn along through warm, perfumed water. Petals drifted on the surface, and steam wafted through the air. A dozen young women in white robes gently washed him in the milky water. It was like washing a corpse. He floated helplessly. Dead eyes stared at the sky without seeing anything.
They shuttled him along. He was drawn to the shore and dried, then dressed again. This time, in pure, thin white robes that gleamed gold around the edges. They put a wreath of delicate flowers around his neck and adorned his head with dethorned roses. Thin fingered hands brushed perfume around his neck and wrists. Gold jewelry was fastened around his neck, his waist, his wrists.
He stood like a mannequin, motionless. When they were done, they sat him down, and he stared into infinity. Nothing left to live for. He'd had another chance to be with Logan, and he'd ruined it himself. His own two hands had killed Logan this time.
In his head, the crash replayed over and over again. The screech of brakes and the squeal of tires. The crash of metal against metal. Blood soaking into the seat beside him. Silveus closed his eyes and put his face in his hands. If they wanted to kill him, who cared anymore. He'd die. It'd make everyone happy, and he wouldn't have to suffer anymore.
Gentle touches urged him free and sat him up, to continue putting makeup on his face. He sat up and stared again, blank as could be. He was done. Nothing mattered anymore.
[center Hovering perhaps a bit too close to Rossa, Faustus watched him sip at the lemonade, releasing a breath of tension when he seemed better for it. Easing out of his space, he took one look at each one of his brothers and inhaled. “Tonight. You’ll release me and I’ll go to find him.” His tone was absolute. He’d made up his mind. This was the only way to reach him. And it wasn’t guaranteed if he didn’t feel the connection and welcome the presence.
Faustus gazed sadly at the crystal. This was simply a mess. It was his fault. He should have better protected Silveus, and now look where they were. He was to be sacrificed because of his own foolish resentment.
“We go. [i now]. Angeleau, you stick around this area in case anyone unwelcome should come knocking on Rossa’s door. We prepare the altar in the meantime. I’ll see you... soon.”
Faustus almost sounded unsure of that, but the words had forced themselves past his lips nevertheless. Bastion followed him out the door, cloaking them both the moment they passed the threshold until they got to his car. Faustus folded into the vehicle and Bastion hopped into the driver’s seat.
The brothers busied themselves then with preparations for the ceremony as further preparations took place. Silveus’ third rite was soon to be upon him, and now that he had severed ties, there was only one stage left. To separate him from his mortal flesh. Relinquishment.
Already, they were preparing for his retrieval - a task that wouldn’t be too difficult given his current state. After all, what more had he to live for? Still, the timing was not right. They needed just the right conditions, and anything less may spoil their chances at a successful ceremony. This time... it had to work. They hadn’t much time left for mistakes.
Back at the house they were already in the upper chambers. It was a room reserved only for such ceremonies - where open sky was a necessity. Bastion busied himself with organising the materials just as their mother returned, stepping out of the aether back into their midst. Her expression was started, as if she had been plucked mid-flight right back to the manor.
“Mother, he’s chosen. It’s our best option.”
“At the very least, have an anchor.”
“Are you volunteering?”
“Gladly, but surely you know the risks if he should find himself trapped there?”
Bastion didn’t even want to think of it. “Where are the others? In seclusion. They’re attending the birth of a babe.”
“Good. Better to protect the young one. We don’t need anymore losses on our side.”
Faustus silently lingered near the wall, lost in thought. He hadn’t the energy for all of this conversation. They needed to get this over with. After all, dying was never comfortable. And he sure as hell wasn’t looking forward to it.
He was already moving toward the long, raised stone altar, garnished with herbs and flowers, a brew already underway. One of Bastion’s strengths. He hadn’t the gift for travelling. It would be too dangerous for him. But for Faustus... well, that was a different story.
Gazing up at the night sky, no longer through stained glass but with the clearest view of the starry abyss, he allowed his eyes to slip closed. Bastion worked nearby, having moved to the head of the altar, goblet in hand. “Drink.” He commanded, lowering it to Faustus’ lips.
He took in the liquid, and in the same instant, mist poured from his nostrils, until it converged into a shadowy form nearby, scattered until each particle found its place.
“I’ll watch over you.” Bastion promised.
And then he was gone, floating away on the currents, seeking out the specific glimmer of Silveus’ soul. ]
The light in Rossa's eyes flickered out. He crumpled like a puppet with the strings cut, too exhausted to hold himself up. He'd gone all out for Silveus, and the things he'd seen, the places he'd found himself. Scales crawled over Rossa's skin for a second before he mastered himself with a deep breath, and again his skin was unblemished, smooth.
"It might be too late," he whispered, afraid. Afraid for Silveus. This was too much. He didn't know if Silveus could survive this kind of torture.
One of the brothers offered him a hand. Rossa took it and sat up, back against the wall. "Water, water," he begged, waving a lazy hand toward the pink lemonade he'd prepared ahead of time. He sat there, head tipped back, pink-clawed hands weak, until Faustus brought it over. Rossa elegantly pinched the hot pink straw and took a long sip, then sighed. When he looked up at the brothers, his eyes were serious again. "He's been taken as a sacrifice. They've already put him through the first two rites. Only one rite stands between him and the sacrifice."
Rossa turned toward the one small window at the back of his shop, where the moon was barely visible. It was nearly full. Only a small clip was eaten out of its face. His arm lifted of its own volition and pointed at the moon. "When the Blood Moon sets, it will be too late," a deep voice unlike Rossa's predicted.
He blinked and shook his head. Always at the worst time. Right in the middle of his explanation. "As for who took him... do I even need to tell you?" His eyes flashed from one brother to the next. "That coven truly hates you Ravencrofts. I'm glad I didn't marry in, or else it might be my pretty head on the chopping block instead of that cutie's."
Rossa closed his eyes and sighed out, then sipped his lemonade again. He'd gone all out for Silveus. Done the best he could. It was up to the brothers now.
[center To an outsider it would appear such a simple test. One he was surely capable of passing had he the insight to see beyond trickery. But Silveus had lived his life as a mortal, so the odds had been stacked from the start. Logan’s lifeless form bled into the ground, eyes devoid now of any warmth.
The mystery man wiped his blade clean and sheathed it once more, disappearing almost as quickly as he had arrived earlier. Silveus needed time to think about his actions after all, didn’t he. So perfectly executed, though, he had to admit. They’d experienced much more difficult sacrifices. Some were too smart and had to be killed under the circumstances. But this one... he was so blind to the threats of magick. It was... pitiful, really.
Chuckling darkly, he approached the small compound where their coven’s main base was located. It was something of a beehive. How many rooms it contained, who knew, but it appeared endless to someone unfamiliar with its secrets.
The second rite... sever all ties. Completed without a hitch. Damn, if only things could always be this easy.
Faustus trembled with impatience, feathers still occasionally fluttering away from him. He needed a broom, to clean this up, but he couldn’t pull himself away from the circle. True, he wanted to find Silveus, but he was worried for Rossa. He always did when he was channeling so much magick. It could really leave a mark if you weren’t careful, and he never wanted to witness that kind of devastation again. Especially not to Rossa - even if they were no longer cuffed to one another, he cared for him.
You know, despite the attitude and the nagging, and him very blatantly ignoring him when he saw fit. Some of that was his fault, he guessed.
He dared not speak a word for fear of distraction, but the tension in the room grew thicker with every passing moment. What did he [i see]? Had he found Silveus? He would go and fetch him now, if only they would tell him where to go. And what was to happen to him if they didn’t? He shuddered internally at the thought. He was a little shit, sure, but he didn’t deserve that.]
He charged up the hill. The monster Logan tangled with the other Logan. Blood splattered. Teeth and claws clashed against metal.
Silveus stood frozen. He couldn't run. He couldn't step in. He didn't know what to do. Which one was the real Logan?
It couldn't be the monster. Logan would never act that way. He would never denounce Silveus like that. [i And the other one--he called me Sil.] Logan's nickname for him. No one had used it since the man's death. There was no way anyone could know that but Logan.
The dagger flew free. It clattered to the earth by his feet. Silveus looked up. The two Logans were locked in combat, but the one with claws and teeth had the upper hand now. It pinned the other Logan--the true Logan--in the mud. Teeth flashed. It darted toward Logan, maw wide.
If he didn't move now, he'd be too late. Silveus snatched up the dagger and raced at the pair. He raised the dagger and slammed it down into the monster's back. Blood gushed out, black blood that splattered over the other Logan.
It turned to him with oddly human eyes. "Why?" it asked.
The teeth turned smaller. The claws fell away. Logan fell to the ground, as human as the day he'd died.
Silveus stared. What was this? [i What did I do?]
The remaining Logan cackled. His form twisted, became that of a man Silveus didn't recognize, someone he hadn't seen before and yet who seemed familiar. "You fool," he laughed.
Silveus fell to his knees. He stared at Logan's still body, skin so pale, the dark wound in his back, the dagger still stuck through his back. [i No.] The blood drained from his face. The world wobbled around him, in and out of focus. [i I didn't. I couldn't have.]
Logan reached out for him. His lips parted, about to form a word.
The man yanked the dagger from Logan's back. Logan's eyes rolled up, and he fell still.
Silveus screamed and lunged at the man. The man slapped him back like he was a child, without exerting an ounce of his strength. "You have passed the second rite, betrayer," he intoned. His voice was steady, but his lips curled with a cold humor. "Await the third rite."
He didn't hear a word of what the man said. His heart pounded in his ears. [i No. No. No.] He hadn't.
But he had.
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