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Devil's Deal

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-... And that's why Rayla hates water.- finished story Ethair. While Callum looked at him shocked, while Rayla tried to hide her red face in her hands. 


-Are you done?- she asked rising head up. She was blushing very much. Much more than probably even Ethari ever saw. 


-Yes. And I guess your boyfriend really liked this story. - Said Ethari looking at Callum. Callum looked at them with shock on his face. 


-Well... That explain a lot of things.- said Callum, trying to hide fact that he wanted to smile and laugh a little about what he learned now. 


-Indeed. But that is only the beginning.- said Ethari with smile. 


-What do you mean?- asked Callum. Rayla looked at older elf with anger. 


-I think you would love more stories about time when Rayla was younger. Am I right?  - said Ethari. Rayla looked at him with pure rage while Callum smiled.


-Yeah. I would... - Callum suddenly looked at Rayla who touched his side. She looked at him with hate, betrayal and shame in sight.- I mean... Maybe tomorrow. It's already late, and... You know. Rest helps heal wounds.- finished Callum as his smile disappeared from his face. Ethari looked through window. Sun was almost gone behind horizon. 


-I see... Ezran set me up in room nearby. I think that is all for today. Callum, one more thing before I leave.- said Ethari as he got up from chair. 


-Yes?- asked Callum. Ethari smiled looking at them. 


-Sleep in separate beds, please. I don't want you two to be carried out in night. You understand? - said quietly Ethari. Both Rayla and Callum blushed as Ethari chuckled. 


-I... Well... Of course. Separate beds.- Said Callum nodding nervously. 


-Ethari, you had to?- asked annoyed Rayla. 


-I am enjoying teasing you two too much. But don't be angry on me.- Said Ethari with smile. 


-You know I can't.- answered Rayla with regret. 


-I hope so. Good night kids.- Said Ethari. He lowered his head, kissed Rayla on forehead and then headed to the doors.


-Good night Ethari.- Said Rayla as she looked after him. 


-Yes. Good night.- Said Callum. Ethari left and with hands he gestured to Callum that he has an eye on him. 


As Ethari left the room Callum sat down near Rayla. She still looked at him with shame after Ethari told long, quite funny and very interesting story about her fear of water.


-You know, it went better than I thought.- said Callum. Rayla looked at him unconvinced. 


-For you. I am ashamed now totally.- she said as she put her head on pillows with hesitation. 


-Oh come on. You were ashamed before that story.- Said Callum looking at her. 


-I was. Guess why I am now? - asked Rayla irritated. 


-Because I know your secret? - asked Callum. Rayla looked at him with shame. 


-Not yet, because Ethari will throw at you every story about everything weird I did as kid.- said Rayla. Callum could only imagine what could do small Rayla when she was a child. 


-Is it wrong to be interested with things like that about my lovely girlfriend?- said Callum. Rayla smiled involuntary. 


-No... It's just... I feel stupid. - she said looking away from him. 


-It's not. If my parents were here they would do the same. You know what? Ezran and Amaya can tell you about everything I did when I was kid.- said Callum. It was bad idea, but he wanted her to feel good. It was sacrifice worth to be made. 


-I bet it would be nothing compared to mine.- Said Rayla with smile. 


-I doubt, but that's not my story to tell.- answered Callum. 


-I guess so. So... You really want to go to sleep? It's barely evening. - asked Rayla. Callum did that in fact to help her. It's not like he really needed sleep anyway. 


-You looked like you wanted to run away from it. Besides, I missed sleeping with you in one bed. - said Callum. Rayla smiled hearing that. 


-Ethari won't like it. But it's not like we are doing anything bad. Come over here. I'll...- Rayla hissed in pain as she moved her wounded leg. Callum looked at her with concern. 


-If it hurts I can always...- he wanted to back down. He didn't want her to feel pain for him. Rayla however cut him in. 


-No. It's fine. We can both fit in.- said Rayla. Callum hesitated but then he decided to get in. 


-Alright.- said Callum. He slowly laid down near to her. Instantly Rayla put her arms around him. He also put his healthy arm around her. 


-I hope you are still not snoring in sleep.- Said Rayla. Callum smiled. 


-Nobody told me. Nobody actually had how to tell me.- said Callum. After all, he was sleeping alone in his room. Even Ezran moved to their dad old bedroom. 


-Well, I will tell you then.- said Rayla. Callum smiled even more. 


-Nice to know.- Said Callum. Suddenly he felt Rayla grabbing his hand. Callum looked at her - she was next to him smiling.


-What?- asked Callum. 


-I forgot how our hands perfectly match.- said Rayla. 


-And I thought I was one with poor flirting.- Callum joked. 


-Alright, then try to flirt with me.- Said Rayla rolling her eyes. 


-Alright... As you want. Ekhm. Lady Rayla, when I saw you...- Callum started to be only interrupted by Rayla laugh. 


-Sorry, I thought you won't act like prince from story about princess closed in a tower.- Said Rayla as she calmed herself down. 


-You wanted me to flirt with you. Let me do my work. So... Lady Rayla, when I saw you for the first time, I knew my life would change soon. After all, you was standing over me with a sword. Then, however we joined into journey to return young dragon to his home, and with it bring peace and friendship to our people. You were bravest of us, most skilled of anyone who was around. Your beauty is unmatched, as it looked like your skin was made by perfectionist artist, your hair was long and clear like the snow. Your hands are soft as they were more like pillow. By this your figure is perfect in shape and with it your face. Along with this treasure, that no one could posses, came brilliant character, finest smile and underrated sense of humour. You, beautiful angel, you let me be with you, sinister mortal even with nothing I could give you but purest love and hope. And all I want you to give is love - I love you Rayla.- Callum finished. Around half of his words Rayla blushed. Callum smiled as she looked at him with amazement. 


-By Garlach. Did you improvised right now?- she asked completely stunned. 


-Nope. Not at all.- lied Callum. He remembered she had birthday some time after him and was preparing for that before she left. In fact somewhere in his sketchbook was full text of what he said right now. 


-Callum, now I feel more ashamed. I wish I could tell more about you and how I love you. - Said Rayla looking at him. 


-You don't need to.- answered Callum. 


-Nope. I have to.- she said with sure voice. 


-Just don't push yourself too much. I know you don't like things like that. After all - poetry is boring. - Said Callum. He already tasted it when Soren asked him an advice about his poetry. And since then Callum really didn't liked it. 


-Whatever. - answered Rayla. 


They were laying in complete silence for long while. Callum embraced Rayla with his healthy arm while she did the same with her arms. It was fine for Callum - he felt alone in one bed after she left. Through last two years he couldn't fight feeling of being alone as he was trying to sleep. That was only making him troubles during sleep and even making him sleep sometimes to even noon. Right now however he felt calm for the first time in years. 


Callum slowly started to fell asleep, happy she was near him. He guessed hours passed, while he enjoyed feeling her on his chest. Suddenly he heard loud sob. He turned to see Rayla wiping tears. He looked with shock at her - he thought she was calm. Why she was crying? 


-Rayla?- he asked surprised. What happened? Why she was crying? 


-I still can't believe you actually forgive me after that...-she said with tears. Callum understood that she has some sort of mental breakdown. He pulled her closer. 


-You know I love you, right?- said Callum as he reached for her forehead. He kissed it tenderly, trying to be as gentle as possible. 


-I know. Just... Be near me when I wake up. I will handle Ethari, just be next to me. I... Don't want to wake up alone. I... Just don't... Want to.- Said Rayla crying into his shoulder. Callum put hand on her back. He understood that she wasn't sure if she would wake up next to him or alone in the forest.


-You won't be alone. I promise you. You'll never would wake up alone.- Said Callum. 


Slowly she started to calm down. Callum however tried to hold her close. In next few minutes he understood that she was asleep. After while he also closed his eyes and fell asleep. 

-So, shortly. You failed to get cube. You failed to recruit that mongrel. You failed to even get rid of that elven slut. And I thought you was more capable than your failure brother.- counted Viren. Claudia could see he was furious, even as he was almost impossible to be seen in this light. She swallowed, knowing that he gave her already last chance. 


-Elf... Used spell. If I had more time, I would...- Claudia wanted to explain herself about her failure. Viren however had no interest about this. 


-Save your excuses.- Said Viren. In seconds Claudia felt chain around her neck. Metal suddenly tightened as her father used spell. Claudia collapsed on the ground of cave, gasping for air. 


-Dad, no! Please... I tried... - Claudia gasped while he was choking. 


-I hear that every time you fail. I don't want to even hear that. I gave you two last chances. Tell me why I should not harvest your energy for Dark Magic?- asked Viren. Claudia started to move her legs, trying to catch some ground as she was slowly lifted up. Her hands were near her neck, trying to separate it from chain. 


-I... Can be useful... Just...- she started to choke. Painc started to overwhelm her as she was slowly seeing dark. 


-You won't be.- answered Viren. 


-You won't... survive without... me.- Said Claudia. After few seconds she collapsed on the ground. Chain returned back to Viren as Claudia was gasping for air. 


-Last chance. I won't accept another failure. And now, go make traps near our base. We are going to have guests soon.- said Viren. Claudia looked at him. His veins were dark, his skin was purple, his eyes were almost empty. That's what remained from proud Court Mage of Katolis. 


-Yes... Father...- Claudia said as he returned deeper into cave. 


Claudia got up and walked towards exit from cave. It hurt her that her father saw her as failure. She was always his most dedicated assistant and student. He could depend on her anytime. However now she was failing to complete his task, not to mention his expectations.


Deeply she was glad that she wasn't able to even get rid of Rayla. Claudia didn't understood why - she killed her father, destroyed her easy life in Katolis and turned everyone against her. Or maybe it was just her fault and Claudia was trying to explain why everything was going wrong as she tried to fix things falling down near her. Maybe Callum was not under elfish spell. Maybe that cute little Dragon wasn't weapon. Maybe trapped in coins elves weren't assassins trying to kill King, as Viren was explaing. Claudia was... Doubting. 


She wished she could go back in time and leave with Soren from camp before battle for Strom Spire. She wished she could change that. It was too late for that however. She caused so much pain for her old friends. They were already hostile for her, even Soren. She had no other option but to slow down her fall and death. Everything she was doing was not for idea of safe Humanity her father believed, not Dark Magic as force of expansion for humans, not even revenge on Rayla for what she did to her.


She was doing it because she was afraid of death. Every crime against her morals, every wrong thing she did, everything she has done until now was to only make her wrong life longer. For a month, for a week, for a day, for an hour, for a minute. And she wanted to keep it doing - even in face of fact that this fight was already lost. Her father was already gone - this thing was once him, but now... Claudia regretted even bringing him back to life. It was last time to fall back, after all Soren and Callum could save her before angry mob could do anything about her. 


And yet she was here, alone, sad, hungry and afraid to die. She however knew that she had to do it. To fight.


It was all she could do - fight to live another day.

Sleeping here was not easy task. After all, it was legendary land of monsters, Dark Mages and evil he knew from stories. For now however it seemed fine - humans were not hostile towards him. Even more, Rayla was alright. And with her that boy Callum. He seemed even alright. Maybe he wasn't that bad?


Yet Ethari wanted to be sure that everything was alright. He dressed up and quietly left room. He walked through empty corridors of castle without noise. That was natural ability of Moonshadow elves, and he really loved it.


As he approached room where was sleeping Rayla he decided not to knock. If kids were doing something, he could catch them while that, and if they don't nothing should be wrong.


Ethari slowly moved doors. Those made no sound, what only calmed Ethari.


Elf looked inside as doors were opened only to half. He looked at Callum's bed. It was empty. Maybe boy went to toilet. After all, where he could be during night...


Oh. Right, also here.


Ethari found Callum as he was asleep in Rayla's arms. Kids seemed to be still in clothes so Ethari was sure, nothing happened. Rayla was embracing Callum while he pulled his healthy arm over her.


Looking at them Ethari felt calm. After all he wanted Rayla to be safe. And she was, but (sadly for Ethari) with that boy. He seemed to be good behaved, young man. Ethari so far felt he was perfect match for Rayla. But that will be shown only by time.


-Stay safe, kids. Stay safe. - Said Ethari closing doors.

- Ready men?- asked Soren. He turned around on his horse. 


Thirty soldiers, best members of Royal Guard was behind him on horses. Elite of Katolis Army. Will that be enough to capture Claudia and Viren? After all, no one could knew what would happen during their mission.


Soren took deep breath. He hoped Claudia would not kill anyone of them. He hoped she would surrender. Differently he thought about his father. He needed to die - he is too dangerous to be left alive. And Soren killed him once - second time would not make any difference.


-Ready, Commander.- Said Marcos, his right hand at this mission. Soren pulled helmet on his head. 


Commander. It sounded funny. He never expected to get that far. Maybe he was not that bad after all. All he needed to have as stabile man was now a wife and house - maybe now his father would be proud of him. But could he ever be? After all - Claudia was really his favourite, since beginning. Probably that's why she stayed with him. She was afraid that there would be no place for her in world without their father, without no one to be proud of her.


-Forward men! - ordered Soren. Soldiers moved forward, into the night.

Rayla woke up feeling something large in her arms. She opened her eyes to see Callum. She looked around to see that she was still in Castle's room in Katolis. She felt relief, making her move closer to him. 


-Five more minutes... Please...- murmured Callum as he felt she moved. Rayla looked at him with sorrow and pulled closer to him. 


-I know. Sorry.- she said kissing his forehead. Callum opened his eyes to look at her. 


-It's fine. I told you.- he said with shy smile. 


-What?- asked Rayla. She was just awake and before her mind will work properly it will take some time. 


-You will never wake up alone. I promised and here we are. Prepare for that more often - I am not leaving you. - Said Callum. Rayla smiled heating that. It was so much good that after all of her failures and struggle he still loved her. 


-I know. That's why I love you.- she said pulling closer to him. 


-I know. I love you too. - Said Callum rubbing his eyes just before Rayla pulled him into a kiss.