Dream Worlds Are Born

Story 615 ~ Zane Jr & Arthur 2

Zanr Jr soared through the air with his mate Arthur resting in his claws. They were days away from the village outside the castle they lived in. The couple was traveling so ZJ could show him a type of animal he had only just realized his mate had never seen. The moment ZJ realized it he had wanted to go and as always Arthur would follow him anywhere. It was always nice to get away just the two of them anyway. ZJ was flying low since he enjoyed the area, thats how he noticed a ruin that shouldn’t be there. He circled over it, confused. He had been with Arthur thirty years and it had only been fifty since he had been out this way. How had something so large been built, destroyed and overgrown in just that time?

It peaked ZJ’s curiosity enough he carefully landed, placing his mate down before shifting back into six foot, blue eyes blonde he was when he was human. Zane wasn’t always the best at setting his mate down without waking him so he was grateful that he had managed it this time. ZJ was starving due to how much he had been flying lately. He’d find some food, prepare it and then wake his mate to show him what they had stumbled upon. Zane had walked about thirty minuets away from his mate and was growing frustrated that he couldn’t find so much as a small animal or even a tree producing fruit.

He was contemplating going back to his mate and trying a different direction when a fist came into jarring contact with his face. He wasn’t phased, Zane pulled his sword out of it’s sheath, ready to fight. It was a wild looking woman. Her clothes were tattered and her hair looked like it hadn’t been brushed or washed properly in a year or more. Even the way she stood seemed barely human. Zane had to wonder if she had some sort of mental illness and an uncaring family that just dropped her somewhere to die and not be their problem anymore.

“what’re you doing here!” she yelled in Kumig. He groaned internally. He knew the language but he wouldn’t call himself a master at it by any means. This would have been hard to handle even if they both were fluent in the same thing. It took him a second, wanting to be as sure as possible he was saying what he meant to say “I’ve stopped here with my mate, he’s a ways back. I noticed the ruins and wanted to investigate. What’re you doing here?”

“Leave” she said almost emotionally, like she wanted to cry “Hey, if you’re in some sort of trouble we can help. My only stipulation is you don’t punch me again” He hoped he wouldn’t regret it as he sheaved his sword, trying to show her he wasn’t a threat incase he wasn’t even as good at this language as he thought he was. It was a mistake, she was a caster and sent a blue light through him which knocked Zane back into a tree. It hurt like hell, it felt like she had instantly bruised his organs. He groaned loudly and by the time the brightness of it had stopped blinding him she was gone “damn it”

He knelt down, holding his stomach. Just when he thought he was going to be fine he threw up. “damn it” he said again. He had no idea where she had gone and though most would think him crazy he wanted to find her again. She might actually be a little mad and if that was the case it would be cruel to let her die out here. She needed at least some form of help and however violent she was he wouldn’t leave her to die. He began walking back to his mate, wondering what Arthur would think about all this.

His mate was still soundly sleeping so he gently shook him awake, almost throwing up again from the movement. Arthur set up, looking concerned once his eyes focused “you look ill”

“I had quite the encounter while you rested” He explained why he left him and everything about the strange woman. “I mean, she’s obviously been through something terrible or she’s crazy. In either case I don’t want to leave her”

“take something at least to help your stomach heal from whatever she did” Arthur began digging through their bag and pulled out a vial, handing it to ZJ. ZJ downed it then laid down “at least I’m not hungry anymore”

“you probably are but now I don’t want to leave you alone to hunt down something myself”

“I’m a dragon Arthur. Worst case scenario I’ll shift again”

“we dont know what she is or what else is here”

“Arthur, don’t over worry. Find us some food while I let this medicine take affect. I will shift if I feel at all threatened. I just didn’t want to scare her before once I took her in. I mean, she looked so rough.” Arthur kissed his head “I wont be gone long” Arthur flew off and ZJ laid there, begging his innards to stop hurting. Arthur came back in ten minuets “you have to be kidding me. I can’t believe you found something that fast”

“Its just blueberries” Zane sat up, taking some “thank you”

“Next time we land in a weird place could you wake me please”

“I suppose. I was actually kind of proud of myself for not waking you”

“You must be getting more graceful with your landings”

“Are you implying I was never graceful?”

Arthur smiled as he leaned in, pausing a breath from Zane’s lips which caused him to blush. “Only in your landings my love, but in all other things you’re amazing.”

“Must you tease, I’m injured.”

“You know I can’t help myself.” He pressed a gentle kiss to Zane’s lips. “I love you.”

“I love you too.”

They relaxed there for a little while longer, Arthur making sure Zane had enough to eat before helping him to his feet. “Are you sure you’re okay to go looking for her?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I feel a little sick to my stomach, but I’m okay.”

“Just don’t push yourself too hard, okay?”

ZJ smiled. “I promise.”

Arthur was a little apprehensive about hunting down a woman who had purposefully hurt his his husband twice but he knew Zane Jr was right. If she was mentally unstable or a victim it would be cruel to leave her out here. They didn’t know what she was going through and he had to admit himself he didn’t know if he’d sleep well at night for awhile, wondering what they had left this woman to. ZJ took his hand “You okay?” Arthur instantly asked, being pulled from his thoughts.

“yeah, you just had an uncomfortable look on your face. I’m sorry to ask you to help her but something was off and it’s just not in my families nature to ignore someone who needs help”

“Lets just hope she doesn’t have any magic better than what she already cast at you”

“I can’t imagine that bubble thing you do to people not working, thast what I’m banking on to talk to her if she continues to refuse”

“This place really is mysterious in general. As you said the timeline doesn’t make sense. Fifty years is a long time but there just isnt any way a group built this place and it got this overgrown and ruined in that time. I didn’t see it from the sky to know how big this was but the build alone, unless it was a bunch of incredibly powerful creatures”

“And she seemed, I don’t know, desperate and terrified. She hurt me, but didn’t want me dead.” He rubbed his abdomen.

“Are you thinking slavers?”

“I don’t know, but I hope not. You know how they treat their victims.” He gestured. “She went this way.”

Arthur laced their fingers. “Stay close, I can’t lose you.”

ZJ wanted to reassure him again, but decided to let Arthur fuss. It reminded him so much of how his father acted toward his mother that it sent warmth coursing through him. “This place feels so strange.” Zane said. “It’s like there’s something wrong with the entire area. It wasn’t like this before, but now…”

“It feels distorted.”

“Yeah.”

“Maybe this is here because someone was messing with magic they couldn’t actually handle.” They kept searching, not finding a trace of the woman who attacked ZJ or anybody else. “do you think I should fly above to investigate?” Zane Jr asked his mate who sighed, obviously thinking “yeah but I want to ride up on your back. We should continue to stay close” Zane smiled then walked to an area he had the space to shift. Arthur flew up, settling on his mates back. “alright” Arthur said to let ZJ know he could fly up. Zane felt lucky to have a way to see so much more area at once despite the risk of being so giant. While they could more easily spot things they were much more easily spotted by whatever villainous beings were around here.

The woman’s scent hit Zane’s nose as he swooped low over a patch of the forest. He rose into the air and twisted back around, doing another pass. He didn’t see her, but she had definitely been there. She had to know they were still there, especially with him flying around. He was sure if she really wanted them gone, then she might show herself and attack him again. “There.” Arthur yelled and pointed. Zane followed his finger and saw a flash of something moving through the woods. “I’m going to drop down, you head her off.” Zane nodded and moved as low as he could, slowing so Arthur could jump off his back.

Arthur touched down and started sprinting after the woman as Zane flew ahead of them and shifted in mid air, falling to the forest floor and rolling, coming to his feet and heading straight for the woman. He could hear her breathing and both hers and Arthur’s scents hit his nose as he got closer. “Stop.” He said when she came into view and she skidded off to the left, barely avoiding him as she headed further into the woods.

ZJ was about to catch her himself when One of Arthurs bubbles captured her, allowing them to catch up. She was fighting with all she could against it and they both felt bad. They didn’t want to scare her, all they wanted to do was help her. Zane tried to catch her attention and she eventually stopped fighting, tears streaming down her face. He carefull spoke her language again “Hey, I’ll have my mate let you go, you’re alright. We just want to talk to you, please, have a real conversation with me this time. I promise we just want to help you. If you’ll only explain we’ll help then be out of your hair forever if thats what you want”

She nodded and Zane looked over at Arthur who let her go. They were both relieved she didn’t run “see? We aren’t bad people, now whats going on with you? Theres obviously something wrong. This whole place is wrong”

“Why wont you just leave?”

“I’m stubborn and don’t know whats good for me, it runs in my family” she looked at the sky “If you’re here much longer you wont be able to leave…you’ll be stuck like me”

“well why are you stuck, do you know? If we can still leave now why can’t you?” He reminded himself to slow down, he was starting to speak much too fast in a language he wasn’t confident in. “because I lost my daughter seven years ago. We stayed the night here and once the moon and stars were alone in the sky this place changed. There will be monsters here, one even a dragon like yourself will fear. They took her and they’ll either take you or your mate. You aren’t the first and they always take one from every group. It seems they enjoy the pain, they want someone to know what happened. I wont leave without her, I’ll die like so many others have before I walk away. She’s an adult but she’s still my baby. Do you two have children?”

“No but we can understand that anyway. We’ll stay and we’ll help”

“You’ll come to regret it”

“I would regret leaving even more. My family never turns their backs on those who need help. Let them come, my mate and I are not afraid.”

“He’s right, we can’t just leave you, especially knowing this has been ongoing.” Arthur added.

“And if we have too, we’ll go and get my father and my uncle Irim. No one would be able to stand against them. They would be wiped from the face of the earth.”

She swallowed. “I just want my daughter.”

“Then we’ll get her back and we’ll make sure you can both leave. I promise.”

“Then I suggest keeping each other close and staying alert, they are much quicker than you think.”

Zane smiled. “I was trained by the best, trust me.”

ZJ was feeling far more confident in his ability to speak this language since they seemed to be understanding eachother well. He looked her over again and tried to offer help as kindly as possible “You know, we have a hair brush and soaps with us if you wanted to use them. I could even help you cut some of those knots out that aren’t going to brush out. I’ve actually cut hair before with my dagger. I can tell you the story while I help you” He hoped he didn’t sound like an ass as he waited for her reply, he truly did just want to help her out. “the waters too far away”

“It’ll still be a few hours before sunset. I wont make you miss it. We could even just do your hair but I dont think I’ll be able to do much with it if we dont get it washed” as it was he was pretty sure there wouldn’t be a ton of hair left. She nodded “I can worry about the rest of me later but I suppose if I do see her, I don’t want to look this bad.”

“Let me fly us to the water, you can direct us.” ZJ said.

“Okay.”

ZJ shifted and Arthur helped her up onto his back. “Hold on.” Arthur said and ZJ pushed himself off the ground. “What’s your name?”

“Terra.”

“It’s very nice to meet you.”

She directed them to a nearby lake and ZJ let them down. Arthur pulled out the small bottle of shampoo they had brought. “Thank you.” She said as she went over to the water. They waited patiently for her to finish and Arthur handed her a towel while ZJ pulled out his brush and his knife.

“I’m going to try not to cut too much off, but it might be a little short.” ZJ said.

“It’s okay, it’s just hair, it’ll grow back.”

Zane smiled, he felt more at ease going into this since she was at peace. Some women were more attached than others. He worked out knots as carefully as he could then assessed just how short it would need to be to end up even once the knots were out. Once he had a good idea he thought about one of his younger sisters, Luella. She was always changing her hair. She’d only let it grow long so she could have a new short style later. He finally settled on one when she looked over, obvious worry on her face about the time. He began cutting and once he was done he pulled out a mirror “I hope it’s okay, my sister Luella has done this to her hair a few times”

“Thank you, it’s great. I kept more than I expected”

“My mom has quite a few tricks. Most knots can be undone. I only had to cut out parts that were just truly dreads at this point. If done on purpose dreads can be cool but”

“It’s wonderful, lets go back”

“Okay” He shifted into a dragon and Arthur helped her onto his husband again. Zane and Arthur guessed they didn’t have much time left as they landed and noticed how dark it was getting “what should we expect?” ZJ asked and she looked him in the eyes “its different every night”

ZJ and Arthur stood back to back, Terra to their side. The moment the sun had dropped completely from the sky, they began to hear things moving in the darkness. “They’re here.” Terra said, her voice quaking with fear, rage, and anguish.

“It’s okay.” ZJ said, “Just stay close.”

“Just stay close.” A voice echoed back from the darkness, its tone mocking.

“Show yourself!” Arthur yelled.

Something came barreling out of the darkness and straight at ZJ, obviously trying to surprise him, but his night vision, mixed with his father’s speed and grace allowed him to twist out of the way and strike at the creature with his blade. “Arthur?”

“Still here.”

“If it takes you, cut your hand, I’ll do the same.”

“I will, just don’t get caught.”

“No promises.”

The land rumbled and the energy around them began to change so violently they felt sick and disoriented. Zane Jr heard Terra cry out angrily. It seemed as though she was struggling with something and his concern for her helped him fight through the disorientation. He attacked what was hurting her and everything calmed “you weren’t kidding when you said this place changes” the ruins weren’t ruins any longer, it was a city. “we;re all still together” Arthur had only just finished saying when she sped off. He sighed in exasperation as he gave chase, ZJ following. Both men assumed she was best to lead this charge anyway, she had been coming here over and over for quite a few years now while this was their first time.

Something wet wrapped around ZJ, squeezing much too tight. His own blade cut him as he pulled it from its sheath. He should have been more careful but he was far more concerned this thing was going to bust something within him. He felt his mates magic as Arthur attacked it and to his slight surprise Terra hadn’t left them. They were there to help her but given their interactions so far and how wild she was from living alone and grieving for years he knew he shouldn’t assume anything when it came to what she might do.

“Are you okay?” Arthur asked once ZJ was completely freed. “You’re bleeding.”

“Dad keeps this thing sharp, but I didn’t lose any limbs, so I’m okay.”

Arthur ripped a piece of his shirt off and wrapped it around his wound. “There.”

ZJ gave him a brief kiss. “Thank you.”

“We should keep moving.” Terra said, her eyes wild as she looked around. “More will be coming.”

“Sorry, lead the way.” ZJ replied and they were off again. He could feel something else coming from behind them and he sheathed his sword and twisted around, shifting into a dragon and blowing fire at the creature. He roared his defiance as the thing retreated and he decided to stay in this form. He could easily keep pace with both Terra and Arthur, plus he could shield them if he needed to.

They came to a halt when Terra gasped and inhuman, almost demon like cackling caught their ears. ZJ and Arthur followed Terras gaze with their own. A creature floated over a rooftop that neither Zane nor Arthur had seen before. “terra” The voice was more ghostly now. As she responded hounds that looked like they were made of mist came to the creatures sides, their long, pointed tongues lopping out of their overly wide canine grins “did you bring these men to trade for your daughter” It asked in the language Terra had been speaking “I love her but no, I could never make another family suffer like me. Give her back”

“I do not give, I only take or trade, you know that”

ZJ shifted back, pulling his sword free. “We aren’t trading anything. I’m only giving you one chance. Give Terra’s daughter back or we kill you and take her back by force.”

The creature laughed again and grinned. “What a beautiful creature you have brought me Terra. I’ll be happy to add it to my collection.” It pointed. “Bring me the dragon, kill the others.” The hounds jumped down and ran at them.

“Terra, follow us and when you see an opening, run ahead. Arthur and I will take care of these hounds and their master, you need to find your daughter.”

“I don’t want to leave you.”

“Don’t worry about us. My father is the greatest assassin in any world and he taught me well and Arthur is an amazing fighter.”

“Alright, just please don’t get yourselves killed.”

Terra felt more hope than ever that she was actually going to see her daughter again. She did what she was told and left the two kind strangers to fight her fight. Arthur had to attempt locking him away in the bubbles he could make but to no avail. He wasn’t surprised but it was something he could never resist at least attempting since it was the easiest way to handle anything annoying. They were sturggling enough with these hounds that could somehow hurt them but seemed impossible to harm when the creature that commanded them appeared behind ZJ. He grabbed a handful of hair and was attempting to whisper something when ZJ elbowed him in the stomach and quickly slashed at him.

This laugh was far more creepy as it moved for a hound to jump on him. Zane wondered if his flames might hurt them. Irim was such an incredibly powerful dragon and they had all become what they were due to his blood. He breathed fire directly into one of the hounds mouths as it opend its jaws and a feeling of triumph washed over him, that actually hurt it. It fell to the ground and ZJ breathed fire at it again.

The creature hissed in a rage. “How?”

“My father is the assassin Zane Koopman, my uncle the great dragon Irim, and I will kill you before I let you take anymore people.”

Arthur had never felt more proud of his mate and actually smiled. He was sure he didn’t realize that in those moments, he sounded exactly like his father. “I’m right here with you baby, whatever you need, I’m ready.”

“I know, I love you, Arthur.”

“I love you too.”

The demon came for them again, this time going for Arthur. Arthur put his bubble around himself as ZJ blew a stream of fire at the creature. The bubble protected him and the creature growled as he retreated, his skin burned. They could feel the rage coming off of it, but at least they had its attention and it had forgotten about Terra.

“you’ll be mine blondie” it snarled, vanishing only briefly before coming back with three unsettling beings. Their skin was an off white and they seemed to have some sort of writing all over their bodies. Beyond that theirs fingers were overly long and they had jagged nails, all of which looking incredibly sharp. Its eyes were a bright red and their heads seemed open, almost like a crown of horns radiating a red light. They didn’t have noses, it seemed to be just another hole glowing red.

All three lunged at the bubble and to Arthurs shock they actually broke it. Two had grabbed onto ZJ while the other fought with Arthur. Zane Jr began shifting into a dragon again, planning to just eat the things but when he tried he only succeeded in breaking a few teeth. Their bodies had felt like stone in his mouth and ZJ wondered if they were real creatures or stone brought to life.

He threw one, his tail catching another as he turned to aid Arthur. The two were back, even as he wrapped a clawed hand around the one attacking his mate and he found himself spinning in circles, trying to dislodge them. He was suddenly being brought down and his body shifted back as the things pinned him down. He could see Arthur start to move forward and he yelled at him to stay back. “Just stay away.”

“Zane.”

“Stay back.”

Arthur was fighting his every protective instinct, but he managed to stay planted where he was. “Oh, poor little dragon.” The creature was standing over him, a grin on its face. “Now I’m going to make you watch while I gut your precious little mate.”

“Arthur, put me and them in a bubble.”

The creature laughed. “Do you really think he can keep us here? Pathetic little thing.” He bent down and brushed ZJ’s cheek.

“Arthur.”

Arthur created a bubble big enough to trap ZJ and the monsters in. He was terrified for him, but he knew he wouldn’t ask him to do it if he didn’t have a plan. The creature laughed and started to command one of his monsters to break it when ZJ started breathing fire. It set everything inside on fire except for ZJ and the things holding him loosened their grip as their master began to panic.