The Mirror Realms: Chapter 5- Night Sprites
This might be quite anticlimactic because the awaited new chapter is quite a 'down' one. Oh well. More to come and big things at that. ;) Chapter 6 brings some new chaos.
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NOTICE: THIS WILL BE THE LAST PUBLICLY POSTED CHAPTER.
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Chapter 5: Night Sprites
Between her mother's healing and her own hard work, they finally managed to make him presentable. Sabine managed to get his hair scrubbed, cleaned and conditioned well enough that even a haircut seemed doable.
Giselle had managed to grow a new layer of healthy red tissue over the worst of his burns and heal his minor injuries, but scars still showed on his skin and the burns would likely take another day or two to close up completely, even more to finish scarring over. For the moment he was simply going to have to settle with half the cabinet's worth of bandages.
He now sat on a tall stool in a just a towel, the clothes Sabine had found for him sitting off to the side, he supposed he was lucky that Mark apparently liked button downs considering his own head was certainly not fitting through anything without buttons.
He watched as Sabine grabbed up the haircutting scissors and a second towel to drape over his shoulders.
"You'll...have quite a time. I'm sure half of it is knots now or short from where it was chopped off..." He was sure he probably looked like a sad rag doll whose hair had been hacked off by an overzealous toddler. "If you manage to make this look decent, I am definitely dreaming." He commented flatly, earning himself a chuckle from Sabine who was dutifully trying to detangle his matted hair.
"-so, I hope you're okay with it being fairly short. Because that's the only way we're going to even it out and make it look good..." She had to swipe at a particularly persistent knot, and tried not to hurt him.
He turned a bit pink "If we could try to keep my scales covered, that would be preferable, I suppose I really can't complain much though if we can't." He was hardly going to make a pretty corpse right now, regardless of what his hair looked like, he rubbed a spot above his horns out of habit.
Sabine froze. "Keep the what covered?" She asked, moving a patch of hair just above his ears to reveal the grey-blue patch in question, even as Caine leaned his head away from her. He seemed embarrassed at her prodding.
"Scales" He answered simply. "Demons have scales...usually around the horns. Sometimes elsewhere." He watched Sabine's face light up as he said it, half in wonder, the other half he guessed was shock. "They're kind of...sensitive. And mine are currently damaged so...try to avoid them if you can, please?" He asked.
"Surprise" He thought sarcastically. "The exiled prince is actually part lizard." That was even more joking, demons weren't lizards at all, just perhaps slightly reptilian and even then, feline was perhaps a better description.
He decided to make conversation to distract them from his patchy, damaged scales. He'd been vying for it earlier so why pass up the chance now? But what did he even have to talk about? It wasn't like their lives overlapped in many ways sans this single encounter. She continued to pull at his hair, making some progress as she went. A window high up on the wall caught his eye, the tops of trees visible through it, vibrant and deep emerald leaves that wavered with the breeze.
Sabine seemed interested, at least. "Well, really, I have no clue how the demon realm is, so...care to share? What's your home like? Is it really not that different? I heard there are dragons and great beasts, and the wildlife is generally scarier...but also that the flora is brighter and more exotic. What little I can get from the erm....from travelers here isn't much." She had to stop herself from saying "from the demons I have met". Her mother didn't know about them. As far as she could tell, the temple didn't know about the little wharf that was just far enough away to be out of the temple patrols' radius. It was home to all sorts of people-demons, humans, faeries, and all sorts of half-breeds. Most of them were too poor to live in safer areas, criminals who had bounties, or some combination of both. However, the wharf had a certain vibe that she was drawn to. She knew a handful of people there thanks to her more adventurous years. Not many, and nobody important, but then, the little people usually knew more than anyone else gave them credit for.
Caine chuckled, feeling chunks of damp hair fall onto his shoulders and down his back to the floor. His hair was an odd texture, she noted, with thick, coarse strands that tried to curl into wild, tight shapes around the bases of his horns and straight up from the crown of his head between the two. Longer strands fell on either side of his pointed ears to peek out from the bottom.
"I've seen so little of here I'm not sure I can answer you...but yes, we are known for our particularly aggressive wildlife and dragons are a thing that occasionally plague our people's villages. Most are dormant though so it's not as if they're a daily threat to us" He smiled, it was nice getting to remember the parts of his world that weren't full of politics and court rules. A pang of homesickness hit him and he almost didn't catch her response.
Sabine couldn't hide her almost child-like enthusiasm to hear more about his home world.
"-actual dragons-wow! I bet they're super-freakin' cool-man, the worst things we have around here are just manticores or pixies, or the occasional Chimera. I guess a lot of our magical predators get chased out to less inhabited areas by our warriors."
She sighed forlornly, wishing she could see more of the wilder and more exotic creatures. What would it be like to face down a dragon? Or even to come face to face with a fabled basilisk?
She'd mainly evened his hair out so she focused on making sure it looked decent.
"-if there wasn't all the issues of the seal and beasts and rough relations right now, I'd love to go see Haelia. It's like, my lifelong dream to travel all three realms...but mainly I want to see Haelia and the Dreamlands...faeries seem pretty interesting too, even if they are pretty tricky to deal with."
His hair was already beginning to dry at the tips and the edges curled up just enough to look the tiniest bit spiky. He rather liked hearing someone actually excited about his world for once, it did have it's good points, you just had to look for them in unusual places. "I...I sort of miss it, as much as I probably shouldn't. I know I can never go back but I did a fair bit of traveling and..." He sighed. "I guess it's still home, in my mind at least." If he imagined all the people didn't exist it really didn't seem too terrible an idea. maybe if this war didn't happen and he managed to outlive his father or something he could return.
He somewhat doubted his brother, Marcus, was going to kick him out again, although that seemed like a plan with far too many 'if's for his liking. "I could see Marie again" He thought, almost getting excited before it turned to more homesickness.
Caine missed his little sister horribly. A year and a half without her glowing little face made him wish he could just see her one more time. What horrible things had they told her about him? Did she think he was dead or some monster? She was only seven, surely she'd have been spared the truth of her favorite brother's fate. He'd thought about her often at first, eventually she'd slipped from his mind in an effort to preserve the mental image he still had of her.
She finished up trimming his hair and ran a comb through it a few times before handing him a mirror. "It's normal to miss your home. There-what do you think? Did I do a good job?" She asked, grinning widely with her hands on her hips in a proud stance.
He stared at himself in the mirror, his hair one of the last things that he noticed. He hadn't seen himself in over a year, at least not clearly. But the reflection in the mirror was clear and striking, making his words stick in his sore throat and his eyes go wide. He looked a mess, shirtless, scarred and the mass of bandages around his neck . He didn't care to see what was under them.
"It...looks fine. Thank you." He replied after a moment. It only made him look paler, dark inky black strands that almost gleamed purple against blue-porcelain. He grabbed the stack of clothes on the counter and shook them out gently, running his thumb over the material. He almost wanted to run it against his face, curbing it with the remainder there was another person there and it was just a normal shirt anyway.
Sabine was worried about his reaction until she realized he was staring at the bandages. He was nearly mummified. and it was the first time he'd looked at his reflection since the blurry one in the water at the falls. He actually looked rather handsome, if thin, with his hair trimmed up like this and the dirt scrubbed off.
She wondered what he had looked like before they'd starved, scarred, and beaten him. Probably proud and quite dashing. Princes were supposed to be like that, right?
"Don't worry about it. If you don't like it it'll grow out fast enough, I'm sure, and you can get a professional to fix it, okay? In the meantime, let's get you clothed." She smiled and even got one in return.
Giselle had been gone quite a bit, but breezed in at that moment. "Sabine, darling, I have some broth on the stove, could you check it for me-?"
Sabine looked up, surprised, realized what her mom was doing and at first thought it was for her. She wanted to be peeved-after all, she'd been helping her mother heal for years and was professional enough to help a man get dressed without staring at him.
Of course, then she realized her mother might be sparing him the embarrassment and nodded quietly, taking her leave. She'd let her mother help him if he needed it.
Caine was thankful for her leave and sat back against the stool, mostly needing help with getting things unbuttoned as his hands were stiff at the wrists and his fingers clumsy. Giselle made quick work of it, leaving him to get dressed as he seemed to have it just fine on his own. The pajama pants weren't too hard. He was already beginning to wilt when he finally left the bathroom, taking the couple of steps slow, almost testing his ankles again.
Giselle was waiting for him, mentioning something about getting him something warm to eat before bed.
Oh that word sounded fantastic. Actual bed. Uninterrupted sleep on something that wasn't cold and damp, it sounded like a dream come true and in a way it was. He was pretty sure he hadn't been this excited to go to bed since he was a child when a present awaited the next morning on a birthday or something of the like.
Sabine sat in the room to chat with him while he drank the broth she'd brought him. Caine inwardly both interested in it as it was warm and tasted alright but even more interested in passing out for some indistinct amount of time that he would worry about later.
The window next to the bed creaked as a branch tapped lazily against it, making him jump, narrowly avoiding spilling the contents of his bowl. Gods knew, he was so flinchy it even hurt a little. He sighed heavily and sat the almost empty bowl to the side.
"I suppose you have reason to" he told himself. "Your insane uncle will be after your head by this time tomorrow, the moment Makar runs back to his master he'll be after blood." He shuddered thinking about Ravian with that grin that made his blood run cold and any semblance of composure he had left find the closest corner to cower in.
That tapping noise happened again, sounding more like footsteps now. Footsteps of far off boots on smoothed stone tiles inside ancient tunnels.
Sabine was worried by his sudden silence and then talking to himself. He'd been fine it seemed, if quiet, while drinking his broth, and the mostly empty bowl still sat on the tray that was propped up around his legs.
"Like the dungeons of the palace" His tired mind thought again. His throat constricted, the memory of Ravian's last visit coming back to him and causing this heart rate to skyrocket.
"Surely you must know we can't keep you forever, Caine" echoed that icy chuckle. "Sooner or later you'll just be ashes like the rest of the useless trash in these cells. Dear Papa isn't going to do anything for you now. You're all mine." he'd almost purred, the look in his identically ringed eyes the purest form of unrestrained joy that could have made even the most courageous hero wish they'd been swallowed whole by a Carkili, a being who's stomach was made of acid.
"Anything but him" Caine accidentally said aloud, still lost in his own mind while the memory played out for the moment.
Her hand automatically moved to touch his arm, a motion of comfort she'd developed instinctually. Touch meant comfort to her, as far back as she could remember, and maybe it would help him now.
Something in Caine snapped at the touch against his arm, his head jerking sharply to look at her with a deep, almost catlike hiss that made her hair stand on end, his pointed teeth barred to her.
Just as quickly as that inhuman noise escaped his throat, his skin had turned from snow white and blue to the deepest black she had ever seen in her life, the kind of darkness that seemed to suck the light out of other things around it. It flowed down from his hair, over his ears to his neck as well as up from his finger tips, now tipped with razor sharp claws that flailed in her direction. The whole process had taken less than a second, in the mere blink of an eye and her friend, with dull, far off eyes was now replaced with this thin inky monster with eyes like blue fire and molten rings of gold. They never left her, even the whites of his eyes emitting a solid white glow as he hissed again and flexed his shadowy fingers, drawing away from her almost defensively.
A tiny, pitiful and frantic sound of fear escaped her lips as she jerked her hand back and fell on her rear, the tray with the bowl being thrown in the commotion. Porcelain broke and shattered against the wall, falling to the carpet. Her pulse raced in her throat, her eyes wide and starting to moisten as she hitched in a surprised and fearful breath, sucking the air into her lungs.
One hand went to the wrist of the one she'd jerked back, cradling it protectively as her eyes never left his. The adrenaline coursing through her had her whole body shaking, and yet she couldn't make herself move. His gaze had her pinned, that terrifying blue flame with the molten rings. Her senses had sharpened with the rush of adrenaline, and she heard movement upstairs. Her parents must have heard something. The thought was far away as she focused on the inky monster that had somehow replaced the friend she'd rescued just that day.
"Caine-?" her voice was a tiny, frightened whisper. She was afraid if she raised it any higher he might attack her.
His gaze finally left her face, instead tilting down with slitted pupils the size of pins at the thin rivulet of blood that trickled down her arm. His burning eyes widened, the inky black substance that had covered his skin retracted steadily until it was no more. Instead was the same young man she did know, or at least had thought she did. Pale as the moon, wide eyed and concerned as he realized slowly what had happened.
"I..I..." He started, beginning to move to show her he was normal again before thinking better of it. "I'm so sorry, Sabine, I didn't mean to- That, that's..." he stuttered, hearing the footsteps now at the edge of the hallway. Oh gods, what had he done? Shattered pieces of the bowl sat scattered across the wood floor, his friend still staring at him in fear. "Sabine-" He sounded hurt, aching at the thought he may have ruined everything.
He never wanted to hurt her, ever, not even on accident. Not even if his full form, the thing that made him a noble beyond simply blood, was trying to protect him. The full form of a noble was their secret weapon, their overkill, their instincts and magic and perseverance all rolled into a single form that allowed them access to all of it, no holds barred. Well, those who were old enough to control it anyway.
His apologies fell on half-deaf ears. She could still hear her own heart racing. She was scared. Of him. Thinking about it, she knew he'd not meant it. It was instinctual. She thought back to something she'd once overheard a particularly drunk patient of her mother's say in passing.
"Demons are all monsters, the lot of 'em. Predators to the core that're smart enough to talk to ya and getcha thinkin' they're people like you an' me-but don't ya be fooled!" She had rejected the comment whole-heartedly then, and still now she hated how ignorant and hateful it sounded, but some part of it echoed in her ears.
She heard her parents' thumping footsteps hurrying down the hall. Something in her realized that they'd not like this turn of events, her father especially.
She lurched over to the shattered bowl and picked up a sharp shard, using it to slash the cut on her hand and deepen it, making it look less like a claw had caught her and more like a shard of the bowl had cut her on accident.
Blood was splattered on the bowl now, and she used her clean hand-after a moment of eye contact with the sheepish Caine to toss one of the extra throw blankets onto the bed. It landed perfectly, hiding the hand that still had a bit of her blood on one finger.
She was looking towards the door just as it burst open, Caine jumping again.
"Sabine! Oh goodness-what happened?! You're bleeding!" Her mother fawned immediately.
"I'm fine, really mom-it was an accident. I startled Caine, he jerked and the bowl hit the wall. I went to pick it up bare-handed like an idiot and I cut myself-see?" She showed the cut-which was mostly covered by blood and not really discernible.
"-I'm not the brightest in a situation like this, it seems." She joked.
She'd kept close enough to the truth she wouldn't have trouble recounting it the same way later, or so she hoped. Startling him and him breaking the bowl was fine as long as they didn't know he had clawed her. They had plenty of bowls and she knew neither parent would blame him if she had simply reacted and cut herself.
Her mother hurried her up.
"Well, let;s wash it off and heal it, and get this mess up-"
Mark waved them out and Caine's heart sunk. "I'll get the mess. Make sure she's alright."
As his wife and daughter left the room he looked first at Caine curiously, then the tray, then the bowl on the floor. He knelt by the shattered bowl and seemed to be staring at the blood and the positioning. He said nothing.
"...I'm sorry about the bowl..." He said quietly after a moment, looking dejectedly at his limp fingers in his lap. Apologizing for anything else just seemed incriminating and Caine could just barely speak to Mark as it was without squeaking. He got lost in his own head sometimes recently and now it scared even him. He wondered what Sabine thought now, did she fear him? Did she not trust him anymore? He drooped slightly, thinking about it only made it worse.
Mark looked up, a little distracted as his eyes calmed. "It's nothing. A bowl can be replaced...Other things cannot. Take care where you let your control slip." He said it without inflection, but there was the slightest of suspicion in his tone as he collected the shards on the tray and took it with him. "Get some rest. It'll help heal your wounds faster."
The door closed solidly behind him.
Caine let out a relieved sigh after a moment. He was too exhausted to dwell on it long, the pull of sleep was gravity to his heavy head. If one were to open the door they'd have found the demon practically face down in the pillow, his horns and mop of black hair the only real parts of him visible above the covers that he clung to in his arms. If this wasn't heaven to him he wasn't sure what was.
The next morning Sabine helped her mother prepare breakfast almost anxiously. She'd not been able to sleep well the previous night due to her discomfort over the way she'd handled the previous night.
She'd been too cowardly to go back in after her hand was healed up and talk to him. There was now a tiny, faint blue scar on her hand where he'd cut her. Where only the bowl had cut was unmarred, but despite her hurry to heal the cut it had scarred where he'd sliced her. She wanted to tell him it was alright, that it wasn't his fault and she knew that, but...she was scared if she spoke to him he'd see that now she was a little bit scared of him. She kept telling herself it was fine, he'd never do that on purpose, but every time she thought about that inky form she felt her heart start racing and her throat close up.
She moved down the hallway, another tray in hand, trying to build herself up with each step she took. She could do this-she had to talk to him about it.
She knocked at his door tentatively at first, then firmer. "Caine? I've got breakfast. You awake?"
Caine wasn't, really, but he was sitting up after a minute, although likely the groggiest he'd been in his life. "Come in..." He mumbled loud enough after a second, sleepily rubbing at his eyes. Sleep was wonderful. Waking up wasn't so much. He was sure he looked just as disheveled as before, with wild, frizzy hair, his shirt wrinkled and partially unbuttoned.
He blinked away some of the sleep as she came in, the reality of last night making him wake up a smidge quicker. "Good morning..."
Sabine balanced the tray on one hip as she closed the door solidly behind her and came to arrange it on his lap, setting up plates and putting some milk in the tea.
"-There. I hope you like your tea like that, but I don't know how different our tea is between worlds. I'll eat whatever you don't-mom wanted you to try a bunch of different things." The tray was laden with fruits of all sorts, meats, eggs, a bowl of oatmeal, and some toasted bread with a choice of jam or butter to put on it.
Caine stared at the tray of food like if he blinked it might disappear. He didn't know what half of it was but it smelled wonderful and he wanted all of it anyway -except perhaps the oatmeal, he'd had quite enough of that consistency- He drew his legs up to him, sitting cross legged to give Sabine space to sit down. "Oh...well, this looks wonderful. I don't know what a lot of it is but.." he shrugged, pausing as he stretched his pale arms over his head with an almost feline yawn given his teeth.
He picked up the cup of tea and stared into it's murky depths. He loved the smell of tea. "Thank you... and thank you...for last night too. Really, I don't think I can apologize enough for it..." He eyed the light blue scar on her hand and visibly winced. Nobles left blue scars, hers would be the first ever left by him.
She saw where he was looking and covered the scar with her other hand instinctively. "-I...I know it wasn't on purpose. I got careless. And I...I didn't want you to lose your chance at a haven just because I wasn't being careful." She chose her words cautiously, but it still sounded too stiff. How could she ever redeem herself after screwing up so badly? She'd known he was damaged emotionally and she'd not been careful around him. She could have lost him sanctuary that night if she hadn't acted on instinct to cover it up.
He just shook his head and drank some of the tea while he woke up more, he looked like he was enjoying it. He plucked up a strawberry.
"It's my fault, definitely... What you saw was something we call our full forms... It's something only nobles have and we typically only use it if we're in a lot of trouble. It's very...taxing." He seemed distracted by the piece of fruit he'd picked up, eyeing it curiously. "I haven't a clue what this is but it's fantastic."
She cracked a smile watching him discover strawberries. It seems he'd found a favorite thing. "it's a fruit called a strawberry. You can eat it raw, cook it in sweets, make jam with it, or even mix it with yogurt and other stuff to make a parfait. Or you can blend it in with other fruit to make a smoothie. It's all good stuff, I swear."
Her mind dwelled on the information about full forms. "...Did something happen to trigger it? I need to know...I helped you walk all the way here, but suddenly you just...snapped. I need to know why to keep it from happening again."
"It..." He picked a leaf out of his mouth from the strawberry and put it on a plate before continuing, noting that that bit wasn't edible. "I was having some kind of moment that stressed me out and it thought it was protecting me. You see... nobles go through what we call 'provings', sort of a rite of passage. One at 17 where your magic has formed enough to give you a full form. and another later when you've mastered it enough where you control it instead of the other way around. I've only completed the first... so I haven't the best control over it but it only really shows itself if my instincts think I'm in mortal peril...It's a last ditch effort."
She felt a little better already knowing more, some of her irrational fear receding. She was still a little cautious-and would be, for a while. It was only reasonable.
He shook his head and smiled cheerily seeing her expression.
"No worries. I believe it's a learning curve for us all."
The next few hours were spent in the cozy living room, Sabine and Caine chatting with her mother until a deck of cards made its way out, Caine rifling through them curiously. They had different numbers than what he was used to but he was sure could adapt a few games to this world. His grin widened. "The only question now is how nice do you want to play?"
Giselle smiled wryly. "No gambling, at the very least. Not in my house. As for anything else...well, teach us the rules and we'll see."
Sabine grinned as well. "Does that mean cheating is encouraged?" Giselle shot her a look and her smile turned sheepish. "Uh, not that I would cheat."
"Very convincing." The sarcasm in her mother's voice was palpable.
Caine chuckled and set the cards on the table. "I think I know a few of the family friendly sort..." He and Sabine shared a half knowing glance. Demons considered most things down and dirty as fair game. To be labeled a cheater one must have been truly the shadiest type a person could be.
He went on to explain the game and it's objectives, a simple children's game he often played between lessons with his siblings. After awhile they had finally built up to more challenging versions, Caine leading by a decent margin but Sabine not far behind.
"Cyvergri!" he muttered in Venetic, setting his hand down with a sigh. He flipped the cards over after a moment once they'd looked up. "I win." He smirked, shrugging. "You aren't half bad at this though. I'm impressed even!"
Sabine nearly growled with frustration, throwing her cards down. She was having fun, of course, but she had to act mad. It was a point she had to make. "Don't patronize us!" She couldn't stop a grin from spreading. "-you jerk-you were palming cards the whole time, weren't you? There's no way you only did it that one time that mom caught you."
Giselle cut her eyes at her daughter in amusement. "Says the one who dropped a card from her sleeve reaching for a draw."
"Hey! That was one time-"
"-that you were caught. Don't play that game with me, missie. I raised you, I know when you're hiding something."
There was a knock on the door, and Giselle waved Sabine back down onto the floor. "I'll get it. You two deal the next hand...no funny business with the cards while I'm gone." She laughed and went to answer it.
She came back momentarily leading Sir Lucas behind her, him handing her a journal. "-here's the info you requested-oh! Hello there, Prince, Sabine. Playing a hand of cards?"
Sabine grinned up at the older man. "Yep. Caine taught us a game from his world and is currently thrashing us all..."
Giselle set the journal aside and replied smoothly. "-it helps when you've got deceit on your side, and a quick hand." She didn't seem to mind much, though, smiling a little even.
Jude chuckled. "-I see. Played in the Haelian style, too then."
Caine's grin told mischief verging on blatant cockiness. His features were almost impish at times with his upturned nose, slanted eyes and a crooked smile. Sir Lucas had been exactly right. The demon shrugged non-committally and smiled, "Our rules, I suppose. I'll play by the rules if we move to Earth games, I swear." He promised. That was mostly true, he'd try anyway.
Lucas chuckled. "I'm sure." his tone was wry.
Giselle smiled. "Come on, Jude. Weren't you saying this was your last stop today? Why not stay a bit and play with us? We so rarely have the chance to spend any quality time since you got that promotion."
He shifted awkwardly. "Oh, I wouldn't want to intrude-"
Sabine looked to Caine. "I don't care if he stays. He's not around nearly enough anymore, if you ask me. Caine?"
Caine didn't particularly care one way or another. He seemed nice enough and if he was interested then he didn't see the harm in it. "Sounds fine. More fun with more people."
Lucas shrugged but Giselle took his arm and led him to the couch.
"Come on, just a little while-it'll be fun!"
And it was. For a while after that they played, and even though he feigned ignorance of the game at first it turned out Sir Lucas did indeed know how to play, and soon he was right behind Caine in terms of Wins.
Sabine groaned. "They're both good at this! Sir Lucas, you should have told us you knew the game-"
"My apologies. Normally I would have, but you see, that would lose me my edge." His hand shot out and caught Giselle's wrist suddenly. She froze, eyes wide.
"-Why, Master...I'm disappointed. The very one who chastises the rest of us for cheating...has tried it for herself?" He plucked a card out from her hand.
"You could have played this the last hand and didn't, It's not your new card, because I watched you draw one, and you have to play the card if you have it....so you cheated."
Sabine gaped. "Mom!"
Giselle's smile snaked up, "it is just a card game. And how can I beat cheaters if I don't get my hands a little dirty?"
Caine laughed with them, glad for the moment of joviality. "No blame here..." He looked a smidge sheepish. "I'm pretty sure I've fibbed on every hand we've had this round. Now imagine a table of people who are better at it than me. Abel could win a hand in mere minutes."
Sir Lucas nodded sagely. "I had suspected you were, but I wouldn't accuse you without being able to prove it, and you were quite slippery. I couldn't quite catch you." His tone sounded mildly approving and amused.
Giselle sighed and put her hand down. "It's just about time for me to start getting dinner ready. You kids can keep playing if you like, but I think I'll get started. Jude, would you like to stay for dinner?"
He smiled sheepishly. "Thank you, Master, but I'll pass. I have, uh, previous engagements that I can't miss."
Giselle's brows shot up, and then her eyes lit up. "Jude, you dog! You've got a date, don't you? Oh, you've got to tell me! Who is it? What lovely person have you been seeing behind my back? Oh, you never dish! I'm sure you'd love your old master to die thinking you were forever alone-"
He laughed nervously and waved her down some. "Please, it's nothing like that. I'm much too busy to worry about romance at this moment. Really, it's nothing big."
Giselle gave a heavy, burdened sigh. "Oh, I know you'll do it on your own time, but I was just hoping I'd get to see my cute little pupil bring home a beau before my time came-"
"You're quite young, yet. Perhaps one day I will. Until then, I do need to get going-" Jude excused himself.
The front door opened and shut, footsteps echoing in the hall and muffled hellos as Mark had apparently just arrived. "I'm home, dear-sorry I'm late. We had a bit of a run over at the tem-" Mark froze at the sight before him, the coffee table scattered with cards and the living room populated with people. "I see we had a party." He said, bland commentary as he took in the scene.
Giselle laughed and went over to kiss him on the cheek. "We were keeping ourselves entertained when Jude showed up to bring me some research I wanted. I convinced him to stay a little longer."
"I take it you two had a fun day?" He asked the youngsters, slipping his tie and suit jacket off and hanging both over the back of the couch, sitting on a free spot.
Caine simply nodded, having gone noticeably quieter upon Mark's return. The sense of anxiety had returned to sit in his throat and he wished it would leave him to enjoy the night he had left. Mark made him think too much of Ravian, apparently authority figures did that to him now.
He returned his cards quietly back to the top of the stack on the table. Something nagged at him, his senses specifically, the invisible feelers that made a magic user aware of the energies that surrounded them. An almost foolproof "sixth sense" into the magical world. Everyone's were different and one's senses could easily mean the difference between life and death if they were good enough. Caine had always been blessed with magnificent senses. seldom did things slip from him and the more familiar he was with something, the better it was for him. Now something far off nagged at those same senses, telling him to pay attention, beckoning more of it by the second.
He went rigid as it grew, sitting up straighter as he realized it almost definitely wasn't an angel but something much more familiar to him. Something sickeningly demonic. "...Does...anyone else feel that...?" He asked after a stunned moment of denial. Perhaps his senses were playing tricks on him after so long blinded by the chains. Perhaps he was being paranoid.
The world was full of perhapses and perhaps nots but that was one he almost surely couldn't be mistaken on.
Sabine looked confused.
Mark, however, was also rather tense. "I was hoping it was just my imagination." His voice was terse.
Sabine looked between the two of them. "Daddy? Caine? What is it?"
"Nothing, sweetie. I'll take care of it. It's just something with work."
She scowled. "-Dad-"
"It's alright, Sabine. I promise. If I thought you needed to know I would tell you. It's nothing serious. It'll be handled within the night."
He stood and slung his jacket back on, tossing his tie over his head and tightening it before reaching in his jacket pocket and bringing out a mirror. He looked over to Caine. "Don't worry about it. So long as you're in town nothing will come of it." His tone was unbending but also strangely comforting.
Sabine watched him walk out to make the call, looking over to Caine. "What was it? What had you both upset?"
Caine wasn't going to lie to her and shook his head, trying to shake the unease with it. "Something with a demonic aura is lurking about...unsurprising I suppose since it's been a day. They would have realized my absence a couple of hours ago..." he replied quietly still. He half shrugged.
"Dad and the other guards won't let anyone get to you. I promise. So long as you're here in town you'll be safe. I know dad can be kinda standoffish and seems mean, but he won't let you come to harm while you're here. I mean it. I know him." She stood and offered him a hand. "You look tired. If you want to go lay back down in your room I can bring your dinner up to you when it's ready. Besides, you'll need your rest for tomorrow."
Okay. Okay, okay, okay.... I have a full afternoon today. Again. So I haven't reread chapter four yet. I wanted to see what the next series of events would be first, but I'll go back to it when I get home later.
That said, this was an excellent chapter in my opinion. It gave some good insight into your characters, it was fun, and ended on a very intriguing note. No complaints.
As for criticism, I'm happy to say that there was absolutely no confusion with dialogue in the sense of knowing who is speaking. I will say that... I had some trouble figuring out at parts with Caine when he is just thinking something, or talking to himself.
I also think you should use Caine's name somewhere at the beginning of the chapter because you use "he" and "him" for paragraphs with no indication of who it's referring to. Yes, I could figure out it was Caine, but it's nice to make things clear.
Other than that. Fantastic chapter. Can't wait for the next one. :D
@blackbird I'll go fix that momentarily and make a note for later, thanks for catching it.
I agree with @Blackbird. I actually had been planning on bringing up Caine's thoughts being confused with dialogue. This is the only part I can remember off the top of my head tho:
"Surprise" He thought sarcastically. "The exiled prince is actually part lizard."
Again about having lull chapters-- it's only a bad thing if nothing happens. And you had plenty happening in this chapter. You had characterization, relationship developments, and you were setting the scene for future chapters. And building cliffhangers you cruel, cruel people -.-
Anyway. Loved it. <3
@typical_demigod I juuusssst fixed it. It was some formattting from italics that didn't transfer over.
Also the good news is that since Sam and I aren't going to be posting public chapters anymore and instead sending them straight to you, there's going to be less annoying format fiddling to do to make it appear correctly here.
We have about up to chapter 7 or 8 written and we're working on getting those edited. More to come for you two (and whoever else wants to can PM me) soon.