Parallel

BY : Alasdair-you
Category: Original - Misc > -Slash - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 988
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

RORY

The air bites at my fingers so that they're nearly numb.  It stings my eyes as the rain does, pouring down from a sky as black as pitch.  I can't see ten inches in front of my face and I can't hear Jonah shouting at me to run faster, though I can feel it in my chest that he is.  It's sitting right next to my heart, that sensation, while near-paralyzing fear and revulsion claw at the inside of my ribs.  

Breathing doesn't even seem important right now.  I won't be doing much of it if the White Guard catches up to me.  Or, at least, I won't be doing it for very long.  I'll be drawing my last breaths on a pyre in the capital in front of a crowded market square while the lot of them scream for an executioner with all the bloodthirst religious zeal can muster.  It's funny how fast your neighbors can turn on you when they realize you're different.  Humans fear the abnormal more than they fear plague, flood waters, and swarms of locusts.  They understand those things, or at least, they think they do.  They can blame them on the gods, or the creatures they worship as incarnations of the gods.  Floods?  Slaughter a lamb in the river to appease a water spirit.  Plague?  Send your youngest to the temple to become a priest or priestess.  They think that they have answers.

And then they're faced with the other races...with dwarves and elves.  They can scorn them and treat them as outcasts, repel them from their communities until the kingdom is divided into serfdoms that rarely mingle and wage raids against each other.

It is worse than that though because hiding among their neighbors and their kin are those among the sentient races born touched.  Cursed.  Afflicted.

Those born with magic, the worst of the pariahs...necromancers, dream riders, shapeshifters, veil breakers...Parallels.

I can almost hear Jonah when I plunge through a shallow riverbed, banishing the thought of my own body used for tinder by a group of zealots.  His fate won't be any better than mine...a foreigner aiding a traitor and a treasonist.

The water gnaws at me, frigid and littered with chunks of ice.  It invades the leather of my boots, despite them reaching my knees.  I can see my breath in front of me, shallow spouts of vapor spurting in gusts from between my lips.  

Run, Rory.  Don't look back, don't slow down, don't think.  Just run until you can't anymore and then find it in yourself to keep running.

I remember that warning so vividly that I can hear him say it, even now, weeks later.  

My legs are burning and my lungs are shrieking in protest, in part because I've been running since before sundown in a raging thunderstorm and in part because it's so fucking cold.  When I'm not pounding through frozen mud and muck, it's slush and snow.  Behind me, the howls of hunting hounds are barely audible above the crack of thunder.  Every minute or so, the swamp round me lights up with the crack of lightning and for a moment, I can feel Jonah at my side and I wonder what he's thinking.  What he's feeling and if I had a moment, I would find out but I don't have any moments nor do I have the energy to do such a thing.

I almost miss his incessant need to cover our tracks.  Right now, neither of us care.  They're on to us and we won't worry about that until we have a minute to do so.  Or, at least, I won't, but Jonah grabs my arm before I make the shore and pulls me back, urging me to keep running forward.  Through the water.  It's so cold that I can't feel my feet anymore but losing toes is better than a pyre or the horrible unknown of what will happen to him if we're caught.  

His hand is on the hilt of his blade.  On a good day, I would put my money on Jonah against the whole brood of them and their dogs but it's not a good day.  

Faster.

I'm not like Jonah though.  He has stamina and endurance that I don't possess.  I'm human, he's not.  I don't have much left in me and he sees that.  I can feel his eyes on my back.  He has pushed me in these weeks.  I could have never done this before I met him but I am, in no way, able to keep up with him and he knows that.  I gather my resolve and push harder with a strangled gasp exiting my throat.  

I can feel the dogs behind us too.  They splash through the water, baying and snapping at our heels as exhaustion slows me down.  

I can't be responsible for Jonah dying or, worse, rotting away in some human king's dungeon.  I can't even recall what land we're in anymore.  He's the reason I've been able to survive these few weeks since our original flight.  

I have to keep running.  Fear tells me that I can't.  That this is my fault and he's tangled in this mess because of me.  Guilt bellows in my chest already, louder than the thunder and the hounds combined.  I can feel my eyes sting and I can't tell if it's because I'm so out of breath that I might suffocate or if it's tears over what I know will happen when we're caught.  

Jonah grabs my arm again and pulls.  My legs nearly give out at the backward movement.  "We can't--stop!" I practically shriek in protest and he shakes his head.  I hear the ring of steel as his sword slides free of the hilt at his hip.  There's a humming in the air around him and his eyes brighten.  He's angry.  I can feel it in the way the temperature around him heats.  The tips of his pointed ears protrude from a head of chestnut colored curls that burn red in firelight.  "Jonah, no."

"No choice," he answers bitterly and then he's gone, a flash of cold steel and the force of the vaccuum created by the speed of his departure.  I hear the blade cut through bone and sinew, crunching and then splattering blood.  A horse screams as his rider topples to the ground.  There's a thunk and he hits the water with a splash.  I can barely make out the dark shape of him with my human eyes.  Jonah can see it all though.  There's a dark shadow of him atop that horse for a moment and then he's gone.  A dog squeals and is then silent while the rest of the pack scatter, terrified by the specter in their presence.  What Jonah can do horrifies even me.

He's too hot-headed though.  He says that his commanding officer has told him that a thousand times and I agree, though I've never met the man.  Jonah rushes and rushing gets him into trouble.  He hasn't considered that most of this  mob isn't comprised of angry peasants with pitchforks.  These are soldiers, knights trained to combat Spectrals like him.

I can feel the irelite in my stomach.  It's nauseating when it's present in large quantities.  It radiates an energy...pulsing and hot, like the pain from a toothache made corporeal.  I can taste it in the air as Jonah slaughters a pissed off peasant wielding a scythe.  His head thumps onto the ground and begins rolling downstream, a sickening looking bauble for some poor fisherman to find in the morning.  I can't think about that though.  I only think about Jonah and the sound of him vaporizing and reappearing again, right on the rear of the horse that holds the rider wearing the irelite armor.

I see it before he even seems to know it's happening.  The strength and speed he has evaporates.  He's not even strong enough to hold his blade.  It clatters against the rocks and the horse bucks, spinning and tossing him like a rag doll.  A farmer with a blackjack runs at me and I duck as Jonah hits the rocks on top of his weapon.  He has taught me basic combat.  I dodge, leaning back and grabbing his wrist to disable the weapon.  I drive the heel of my palm into his nose and mouth until I feel warm blood gush over my skin.  I pull him down until my knee connects with his chest.  

The knight wearing irelite has lifted a spear while Jonah lays stunned in the water.  

I am out of options.  

The only friend I have left will die if I don't do something.  A world without Jonah isn't a place I want to live in.  If I could make them see reason, make them understand who he is instead of looking at him like he's an animal, I would.  I'm not a killer.  I've put myself in irelite shackles my entire life to prove that but I pull one of the cuffs off in that moment.  

It's as if time slows.  I see the knight finish lifting his spear and I slide like a child playing a ball game to reach Jonah before it impales him.  "I'll leave you standing on this pike, you elvish prick!" I hear him scream as he drives it down.  My fingers dig into Jonah's chainmail.  My other hand is wrist deep in silt for a fraction of a second and then I lift it, sans cuff, and the world in front of us explodes into blue light.  The spear disappears.

"Breaker!" someone screams like their blood is boiling.  "Run!  Run!"

And then we fall through it after the spear, spinning downward through the dark until we hit the ground and the world goes entirely black.



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