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Nature Red in Tooth and Claw

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Red Thorn looked in to the dark swamp that was ahead. "Leave. I can take it from here." He told the goblin that was standing next to him. It grumbled, upset about using up so much energy to find this place and not get to see why. Thorn waited for the goblin to leave before he looked back at the swamp. Gross trees and water surrounding a small island in the middle. Thorn took out a small stone from his pocket, rolling the green rock in his hand. He snagged it off of Nessy, knowing she would not want to help him on this quest at all. He threw the rock into the water, making it bubble. As steam appeared, a castle made its way into his view, in the middle of the marsh. Thorn took a step forward, feeling hard ground under his boot. Before he could even take one more step a lizard crawled out of the swampy water. It growled, spreading its wings in an attempt to intimidate him.

 

"Out of my way, las. I'm not afraid to hurt her favorite pet." Thorn said, not even flinching when the beast hissed. It shuffled on the squishy ground before moving back into the murky waters. Yellow eyes watched in the water, beasts hiding their serpentine bodies from sight. Thorn knew they were there. Guardians and pets of the woman he was seeking. He took another step forward. None of the reptiles moved to stop him. Thorn walked on, going to the gate of the castle. There were two bog creatures by the gate, holding up their spears when Red Thorn confronted them. He waved his hand and a knife appeared.

 

"I know your gal. She knows I'm here." Thorn said. One of the bog creatures came forward, but did not get very far. Once they fell, Thorn moved throughout the castle easily. Soldiers and serpents were around the castle, wary of the god walking in their midsts. Yet, they trusted him. The soldiers and pets remembered him from before the war.

 

"I could smell you a mile away, Red Thorn. Actually, ever since you came out of that chained pit in hell." Your voice echoed through the castle. Thorn smirked, pausing in his trek up the staircases. He went faster, knowing all the turns and directions in this castle. The smell of fire-burnt stone that made up the walls. Blood and booze stained the stone floors and wooden tables. The castle was different, though. It still had that burnt smell to it, but now it smelt of incense and herbs. Oils hung from the ceiling in vials, making the air smell less like the fire that heated this whole castle.

 

"So, you've been smellin' me, huh?" Thorn said, opening the wooden door of a master bedroom. Artwork and oils hung on the walls, along with talismans. A fire was burning at one end of the room and a bed was on the other. It was large and filled with pillows. You were laying in the bed, a rag on your forehead. You looked over from your position on the bed, seeing the man standing in your doorway.

 

"Fire, death and sex. That's your signature smell, right?" You smiled a little. "Nessy got to you. That's the only way you could've gotten the emerald. I only gave one to her." You turned your head back to stare at the ceiling. Thorn walked across the room and rekindled the fire. He squatted down, wiping his hands of the ash that coated the wood.

 

"I'm going to lead an army. Your help would be nice." Thorn said, looking over his shoulder. You laughed, but ended up coughing.

 

"Help? You? With a war? Like I don't remember how the last war played out." You scoffed, trying to pull yourself up. Your body ached and hurt as you sat up, looking across the room at the god.

 

"This time it will be different." Thorn said darkly. "I swear."

 

"You betrayed me. You ruined me for the last centuries. I'm stuck in a bed because of you." You said, wearing a thin gown over your body under the covers of your bed.

 

"You didn't heed my warning. I told you not ta force the lock." Thorn said, standing up. The light of the fire moved over his bare upper-half.

 

"I told you not to put the stupid enchantment on me. I told you to take it off, but what did you do? You got banished before you freed me." You said, baring your teeth. Your teeth grew pointed for a moment before changing back to normal again. You felt light-headed and fell back against the bed.

 

"I told you not ta force it. You'll just keep gettin' sick." Thorn walked over to your bedside and kneeled down beside it. You looked over at him, dark circles under your eyes.

 

"Who knew a fancy trinket could destroy a goddess like myself." You sighed heavily.

 

"It's powerful magic, las. Nessy helped me find it. You know, she likes ya." Thorn smirked, drawing circles on your hand. Tracing the black symbols tattooed on it.

 

"That's only because your dick hasn't been anywhere near my body, Thorn." You turned, so he could not see the smile on your face.

 

"I can always change that, ya know." Thorn stood up, looking down at you. He put his hands on either side of your shoulders, watching your eyes on his face.

 

"Take this enchantment off my neck and I'll consider." You said back, pulling the sheets down a bit. A thick, heavy necklace covered almost your entire neck. It was a dull gray metal with two blue gems in it. There was a lock hole in the front, right by your esophagus.

 

"I put that 'round your neck for your own good. Cadros hasn't found ya yet, has he?" Thorn tilted his head to the side. You narrowed your eyes, staring up at the god.

 

"He doesn't have a bone to pick with me. If I gave you my soldiers, then he'd have all the more reason to come after me." You said, reaching a hand up to touch the lock around your neck.

 

"I could give you so much if you agreed to play this war with me." Thorn said, leaning his face close to yours. You could feel his breath warm your face not like any fire could warm you.

 

"How about you give me what you promised before you got yourself banished? If I got all my powers back. . . I'd be more ambitious to help." You said, peering up at him.

 

"I'll get your powers back, las. . . and more." You felt his warm lips press up against yours. It could be seen as an innocent kiss, but this was a pact. A pact to regain power.