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Shêtân is bound with chains, ropes not strong enough to hold him, but the metal still creaks and moans under the weight of his rage. His coat is blacker than the dark around him, the velvet covering absorbing what little light there is.

The men that bound him have seen his jaws run red with blood, and they have tasted the acrid steam of his breath on their throats.

Tariq trembles with relief as he closes the iron door and bolts it from the outside. He has posted guards at every entrance. He has done all that he can do. Tariq's superiors want the beast alive, and they will stop at nothing to get it. Tariq faces towards the east and offers a silent prayer for protection.

Shêtân screams, an unearthly howl to match the rising winds, and it chills the soldier to his soul. He checks the lock one last time, just to reassure himself. Their journey is over halfway done. He has done all that he can do. Now it is up to Allah.


Everything is dark. The ship tilts severely to one side and Shêtân falls, screaming again as the silver links of the chain sink into his hide, holding him fast in a way he has never been held before. They burn him, cutting deeper as he struggles. He can't move, and he doesn't have conscious thought enough to breathe. There is only screaming.


Falling. The salt in the water is like acid in the wounds the silver has made. Even as Shêtân drowns, he hungers. Everything is pain and light and shadow.


Small hands push the silver away, soothing, rubbing at his wounds carefully with seaweed. Shêtân opens his eyes and sees a green eye, a mop of black hair. Freckles. He can smell the boy's blood, hear his fragile heartbeat. This is no soldier.

The hunger rises strong, deep inside, but when the boy pushes the last of the silver chains away, Shêtân runs.


There is no escaping the wasteland. No busy market streets, no vendors, no urchins to steal away into holes and sewers. No people but the boy.

Shêtân waits, watches. His wounds are healing, but he is starving. The boy makes camp on the beach and Shêtân listens from the dunes, the rush of the boy's blood calling him like a siren's song.

It calls the serpent, too, but Shêtân cannot allow that. The boy is Shêtân's, an no one else's.

After, the boy extends a hand to touch his face. Without the beat of the boy's heart, the island would be too silent. Maddening. Shêtân decides to stay.

Alec Ramsay smiles.

"Easy, Black."