DARK MAGICK RISING (Part 5)
Copyright 2016 by M.L. Rhodes
As if in response to his fears, Wesley hadn’t gone far when another wave of nausea hit him. Bent over, his hands balanced on his knees, he drew in several deep breaths, trying to keep them slow and regular until the feeling passed.
Damn it. He didn’t have time to be sick right now. Was it just exhaustion or something else?
Then it occurred to him… When was the last time he’d eaten? Dinner yesterday with his mother, after their talk about him being an ondaen? Probably. He couldn’t remember having had anything since then, nor, come to think of it, had he had anything to drink for hours either.
Somehow, that eased his mind. It was a simple explanation, and an issue he could easily remedy as soon as he’d spoken to Iann. And after that…getting in bed with Wen and closing his eyes sounded better than anything else in the world.
When the nausea had eased enough he could straighten without feeling too horrible, he set off, moving slower than he would have liked, as if a heaviness dragged at his body.
Wen’s tent sat in an isolated section of the woods—close enough to still be within the magick barrier the draegans kept up around the perimeter of the camp, but far enough he had a surprising amount of solitude considering how much the camp had grown over the past couple of months. The draegan lords lived similarly, within the camp’s barrier, but set apart from the other structures for security and, Wesley had to assume, for privacy reasons.
He’d never been more grateful than he was this morning for Wen’s living arrangements. If Wen had been staying with the rest of his family—his mother and brothers—it would have been almost impossible to hide from them what had happened last night. There would have been questions, and Wen’s mother, Marta, who was one of the draegan lord’s closest advisors, would have known something was wrong. Very quickly Wesley’s secret would have been discovered.
After Wen’s calm acceptance of Wesley’s true self, Wesley didn’t think the rest of Wen’s family would hate him or be afraid of him if they found out his true heritage. But it just took one person letting the information slip, and soon others in camp would know. And he was certain not everyone would be as understanding if they found out they had an ondaen living amongst them.
From what little he knew, the ondaen had always been feared. He couldn’t understand why…he’d never had any desire to hurt anyone, except in battle, like the soldier last night who’d come damned close to killing Wen. That man had fully deserved his death, which Wesley had delivered with no regrets. But Wesley would never hurt anyone innocent, so he couldn’t fathom where the old legends and tales came from that said the ondaen were to be feared.
With a sigh, he realized maybe he would never understand it or know the reason. He just had to hope that should anyone besides Wen discover the truth, he wouldn’t be run out of camp or, worse, hunted down and killed like his parents had been. The thought sent a chill up his spine, but he did his best to tamp it down and remember that Wen accepted him, as did his own mother—his adoptive human mother—who’d taken him in and raised him as her own after she’d found his ondaen parents dead.
He was trying not to obsess over the newfound knowledge he was an ondaen, but it was hard not to when there were so many things he still didn’t understand. Like the fact that he—his blood—had healed Wen’s mortal wound last night. He wasn’t sure the enormity of that event would ever fully sink in. What kind of magick could do such a thing?
The dark kind, something whispered in his head. Anything involving blood has to be dark, doesn’t it? But he pushed away the thought, still too unsettled about what he was to acknowledge the possibility. Besides, Wen hadn’t seemed to think it was dark magick, and he knew more about the ondaen, and about magick in general, than Wesley did.
He’d almost made it to the edge of the inhabited part of camp when another pain ripped through his gut without warning. This time, it hit him with such severity he staggered and fell to his knees in the snow. No mere wave of nausea this time, the intensity of the agony shocked him. He wrapped his arms around his mid-section and tried to breathe through it.
It would pass. It had before.
But long seconds went by without relief. Then a minute. Then two. Gods…please…
As the ravaging continued unabated, it became more and more difficult to breathe, as if tight, dark claws squeezed at his lungs, preventing air from coming in or going out. Wesley struggled against the sensation, which only made it worse. His head began to pound from lack of air, causing the world around him to waver in a dizzy fog.
Suddenly, his gut heaved. He bent over, his hands dropping into the snow to support him. He heaved again, and it felt as if the entirety of his insides were going to rip free. But although it was excruciating, nothing came up from his empty stomach.
He realized he was shivering, violently. So hard it rattled his teeth and made his muscles ache. Whether from the icy clothes he wore, or the trauma assaulting his body he didn’t know. All he was certain of was that the demons of hel had suddenly taken up residence within him and seemed bent on ripping him apart.