Nyklas ran for hours through the dark night, stumbling through the dense forest, his only source of light coming from the sparse beams of the bright moon, high above the trees. His bare feet had gone numb to the pain of stepping on sharp rocks and sticks thanks to the cold. The robe he wore continuously snagged on thorns and branches, ripping in several spots and leaving his body vulnerable to scratches. A stitch in his side had him doubled over, gasping for breath, but still he ran. He had to get as far away from the cultist's camp as possible so they wouldn't have any chance of finding him. He had to keep going, no matter what.
For the umpteenth time he tripped on an exposed root, sending him sprawling into the dead leaves littering the forest floor. The young man let out a frustrated scream, tears threatening to pour down his cheeks as he struggled to get back to his feet. He was so very tired and weak. But he had to keep going.
He started forward again, clutching his aching side, then suddenly lost his footing. He pitched forward without warning and went tumbling down a steep hill, landing in a heap at the bottom. He groaned and sat up wearily, holding his pounding head as his eyes focused. He was surprised by what he saw when the world stopped spinning.
A few yards away from him in a large clearing sat what looked like an ancient, dilapidated stone fort, illuminated by the bright moon. The rock walls were overgrown with vines and cracked in several spots, but they were still standing. It appeared to be a structure made to protect people during a battle; perhaps it had been used during that magic war he'd heard about so many times, which had occurred a little over a hundred years ago. A brief flicker of hope thrummed through the exhausted boy as he stared at the tall walls, maybe he could hide in the ruins and rest for a little while.
Once Nyklas managed to get to his feet, he warily crept toward the building, keeping his eyes peeled for any unexpected traps or dangers he might run into. The last thing he needed would be to crawl into a spider's nest or some animal's hiding place and get bitten. He circled the enclosure, trying to figure out a way to get in. The building seemed massive from far away, but it hadn't taken him long at all to make his way back to the spot he had started from. Something about the place put him on edge, making the back of his neck tingle with a strange prickly sensation.
To his dismay he found no way into the building, other than a glassless window on the second story. Nyklas stepped back and gazed up at the high wall, wondering if he could possibly climb up to the opening. Without another thought, he decided to try.
The vines snaking up the walls were thick and luckily strong enough to hold his weight. Ever so carefully, Nyklas began to make his way up the side of the structure, only slipping every now and then. His fingers cramped and were rubbed raw from the rough vines, but he kept on. In the light of the moon he saw that his hands had been stained with the cult member's blood when he had stabbed the man. The sight made him cringe, but also sent a rush of satisfaction through him; he wanted to put a knife through every one of those bastard's hearts...
Thanatos stiffened and looked up from his papers. Something wasn’t right. His nostrils flared, though he scented nothing strange. Still, something was wrong. He stood quickly, uncaring of the papers that fluttered to the thick rug. He strode from the room. Someone or something was an unwelcome trespasser in his home.
He had to check his boys.
The hinge was silent as he slipped into their quarters. His golden eyes adjusted easily to the darkness. Thanatos drew in a deep breath through his nose. Nothing seemed out of place, but the sense of wrongness wouldn’t leave him. He saw Belial first, a hand and foot flung from under rumpled covers. Ezekiel’s blankets were smoothed and tucked, in comparison. Thanatos couldn’t resist gently stroking soft curls before he moved on. Jinx was curled up tight next to Mavka, who had an arm draped protectively over the other.
Thanatos shook his head and left the room as silently as he’d entered, the door clicking shut behind him. Not there, then, but somewhere. None should have been able to penetrate his defenses. It felt violating to think someone would have been able to breach those measures that had kept them secure for so long, that his home could be unsafe, now. His fingers curled as anger burned in his chest.
Who would dare come here?
A soft thud snapped his head to the left. The study. Someone was in the study. His steps were quiet as a creeping cat as he slipped down the hall. The intruder would pay for disrupting the safety and sanctity of his home.
It seemed to take an hour, but Nyklas finally managed to pull himself through the window. He collapsed on the floor beneath the opening, his breathing harsh and panting. His hands stung from gripping the vines and his arms ached from pulling up his own weight. Now that he was lying down, he could feel every little pain in his body from his head to his toes. All he wanted to do was sleep, but he knew he needed to look around first; maybe he would get lucky and find something to eat. From outside, the place had seemed abandoned, but it wouldn't hurt to check for something canned or preserved.
The slender young man weakly pushed himself up to a sitting position and glanced around the room. He had expected to be in a dust filled chamber, filthy and crumbling from age and neglect. Instead, he was surprised to see an abundance of shelves lining the walls, filled with a multitude of books, glass bottles, and other various items. This was no deserted military fort, this was obviously someone's home.
Nyklas stood on shaky legs, prepared to flee through the window, back to the relative safety of the ground where he would have a chance to run from anyone trying to cause him harm, but an item in the room gave him pause. He carefully moved closer to a pedestal in the far corner where a bright glowing orb hovered above the surface of the stone. The sight was breathtaking, making Nyklas feel as if he were being hypnotized by an unknown force. He continued to walk towards the strange object, coming to a stop right beside the pedestal.
The boy's wide eyes gazed into the crystal ball, amazed at the shifting colors moving through the glass. What was this? It was obviously some kind of magical item, that was clear, but what was it used for? Was it possibly something that Nyklas could use to help him in his plight?
The young human slowly reached out a filthy, trembling hand.
"Don't touch that." The words were quiet but cold, the voice harsh with anger.
Nyklas startled with a strangled yelp, jerking away from the speaker. He quickly turned and looked up at a tall man who had been standing only inches away from him. The startled runaway backed away frantically, bumping the pedestal before stumbling further into the room.
The large man sucked in a breath, lunging forward to catch the precious crystal before it could fall to crash into the hardwood floor. His fingers tingled as they touched the cool glass before it slid into his palm. Electricity seemed to shoot up his arm as he clutched the orb. Nyklas' heart had leapt into his throat as he had watched the man move with inhuman speed to catch the magic ball. The young man quickly scrambled backwards, even further into the room to distance himself, adrenaline spiking through his body. The cult had performed rituals a few times before that involved magic. Those had been some of the most painful moments in the boy's life. He couldn't face another night of pain. He just couldn't!
Nyk's back suddenly smacked into something hard. He turned quickly and watched in shock as a large bookcase teetered dangerously. He managed to jump out of the way just before the tall shelf crashed to the floor where he had been standing. The books scattered across the ground, sliding into another shelf, which rocked dangerously from the force. Glass bottles and metal instruments smashed to the floor, sending shards ricocheting across the room in a cloud of multihued smoke and splashes of liquids.
Thanatos' teeth clenched as he gently set the orb back in its cradle. His nose tingled from the scents of the contents of broken vials and dumped treen boxes. The scent of the boy reached him as well. Blood, sex, and strange magic wafted from him. Thanatos felt a stab of desire as he took in the slight, robed figure trying to creep further from him while avoiding shards of glass on the floor. What fool had sent this little wretch to invade his home barefoot?
Nyklas eyed the man across the room warily as he inched back toward the window he had entered from. The room was dimly lit, but he could clearly see the man’s glare leveled on him. He wondered if he would break a leg if he jumped from this high, but he was willing to risk a broken bone to avoid the wrath of another horrible monster. The boy's rapt focus on the man caused him to step on a piece of glass. He yelped in pain as he felt the already wounded sole of his foot slice open. He fell to the floor, but continued to try to move towards the window, determined to escape.
Thanatos' nostrils flared as the scent of fresh blood filled the air like heavy perfume. He could almost taste the boy on his tongue. Human... but more? Thanatos had to know. The scent was confused by old blood on the rags the boy was wearing. The boy seemed human, but the scent caressing his palate was spicy and enticing. The tall man was across the room in a moment, a thick tail of indigo hair flying behind him as long-fingered hands clutched the bloody, dirt-covered robe of the young man trying desperately to creep to the study's window.
"No!" Nyklas cried out, frantically trying to crawl away.
He felt the robe begin to rip where it had previously snagged on a branch, but he didn't care; he had to get away. Without thinking, he quickly turned and kicked out at the man, desperate to make him let go.
Instinct drew Thanatos back at the last moment, barely avoiding a blow to a very sensitive area. If the kick had landed it would have likely doubled him over in pain and let the brat escape, the kick had been sharp and swift. Perhaps the boy wasn’t just a useless little runt sent on a fool’s errand. Thanatos used his grip on the ratty robe to reel the boy in. Nyklas let out a scream of frustration that his foot didn't connect with his target. He quickly rolled as the man pulled him closer, ready to slip out of the robe if necessary, but then his eyes suddenly landed on a particularly long glass shard. He reached out and grasped the sharp weapon, uncaring that the sides immediately sliced his palm, then lunged toward the bastard who had grabbed him.
Thanatos hissed as hot pain sliced across his cheekbone. How had the little beast moved so fast? He had just been trying to get a hold of the boy, without hurting him, but that changed as he felt blood trickle down his cheek. Enough. Thanatos' clenched fist snapped out, catching the boy across the temple. White spots flashed in Nyklas' eyes from the force of the punch, dazing him momentarily. Somehow he managed to stay conscious and quickly tried to fight off his attacker. He kicked out again, managing to catch the man's kneecap with a sharp blow.
Thanatos' eyes widened. The brat should have been out like a light after a hit like that. Perhaps whoever had sent this boy wasn't such a fool, after all. However, it wouldn't be enough to gain the little wretch his freedom. Thanatos watched as the boy shook his head like a horse shaking a fly. The movement seemed to throw his scent straight to Thanatos. The tall man bit back a moan as lust filled him and his cock twitched with interest. A trick, he thought, to weaken his defenses. It wouldn't work, no matter that he'd rather bend the boy over the back of the ottoman than question him. Perhaps the former could come after the latter…
Nyklas realized with dismay that the kick didn't seem to effect the man at all. He continued to glare down at Nyklas, easily pulling him even closer. As much as the boy hated the idea of running through the forest naked, it was his last hope if he wanted to get away. He jerked hard on the robe and winced as the sound of tearing cloth filled his ears, a second before he hit the floor. He quickly scrambled onto his hands and knees and began to frantically crawl towards the window again.
Thanatos chuckled at the wily boy, he reminded Thanatos of a little brown fox. His gaze took in the overly thin, but still appealing form of the young interloper. He knew he could reach the boy in a flash, not worried he’d escape. His lust flared as his eyes caressed a pale ass begging to be groped, perhaps smacked once or twice if the mood was right. This skinny brat made him hunger, Thanatos thought with a smirk. His amusement quickly died however when he saw the mark permanently inked into the flesh above those delicious cheeks. He growled low and lunged forward, catching the boy’s arm and yanking him up to face him.
“Where are the rest?” Thanatos demanded. “I know you fanatic vermin run in packs, too cowardly to ever stand alone.” The large man gave the boy a small shake. “Where are they?”
Nyklas cried out, trying to jerk out of the man's painful grip.
"Let go!" he screamed, kicking out in a vain attempt to get away.
The kick was quicker and stronger than Thanatos expected, surprising the bigger male. He hissed as sharp pain radiated from his dick and balls, seeming to drill into his spine and then arc back again. Nausea cramped his stomach and all his muscles clenched reflexively, his hand nearly snapping the boy’s arm. Thanatos roared, showing canines that were longer and sharper than any human’s. He flung the boy away from him, snarling with rage even as Nyklas sailed through the air.
Nyklas hit the wall hard, only to bounce off and slam into the floor. His head smacked the wood and bright white flashed in his eyes before everything abruptly went dark.