Ihsan could have taken that which was rightfully his, but it wasn’t right. She belonged to another and while he’d stolen at least a kiss from her, he wouldn’t set about taking her that way. No. She would come to him when she wanted to and when she did, he’d promptly fuck her into oblivion, but until then, he’d wait. He still had Navi to deal with. She’d been filled with such a jealous rage ever since they returned from that pit of darkness. He blamed himself. He hadn’t been honest with himself and her by default. When he held Arya in his arms, pleading for the Gods to spare her life, he knew what he needed to do. He was Malich’s equal, not a submissive. In order to battle a man who’d taken so much from him he needed to go home and reclaim his birthright, a king to fight a king. And when he won, he would come for her, betrothed or not.
Ihsan quickly dressed himself and grabbed his sack. The Majii had cleverly obtained another charge for him. One he knew to be suicide. He wanted Ihsan to assess the threat growing in the Redlands, a threat that killed preceptor Nyx and countless others. No one had come back from this arduous task and neither would he…ifhe were actually going.
Arming himself to the teeth, he checked in with Dax who wished him luck. If he didn’t know any better, he’d think the lieutenant had a soft spot for him after all.
“Leaving without a goodbye?” Navi asked, her face wet with tears.
It broke his heart to see her so heartbroken. He’d come for her too. Not out of pity, but because he owed her that much. Relieving her of the shackles of slavery would be a start. When he was broken she put him back together.
“Never goodbye. Never to you.”
“Until we meet again then.”
“Until we meet again,” he inclined his head.
Navi tasted him one last time. She knew he was heading towards his death and as angry as she was…as much reason as he gave her to hate him, she couldn’t fathom the thought of losing him.
“I may not love you as you love me Navi, but I promise you, if I survive this next journey, I will come for you.”
“If she’ll have me.”
More tears fell from her eyes and she simply nodded. Ihsan kissed her frontal lobe, bid his red brothers and sisters adieu and headed home.
A shadow tracked him from the skies, roaring and tugging on the bond they shared before dropping down before him, chest heaving, and soot filled nostrils billowing smoke. “Go back to your lair Amunet,” he waved off the worried dragon. She wouldn’t budge. Instead, she inclined her head. An offering. She would take him wherever he wanted to go. He’d fully intended to leave her behind, but it appears she has other plans. She must’ve felt him down the bond and understood his intentions.
“There will be no turning back,” he told her. Still she didn’t budge. She didn’t care. “Very well then.”
Ihsan climbed onto her neck and held on as she shot up into the skies as she’d often done. She turned to look at him, a question in her eyes, the same question rippling down their bond. “To the Unseelie Court my love, and I’d like to make one hell of an entrance.”
The dragon roared and pressed forward. They reached the Unseelie Court in record time. True to its name, the entire court was shrouded in darkness, never to see light again. It had been cursed by the God Hades, the sun ripped from the skies, and its people shrouded in a never-ending darkness.
Ihsan had spotted the palace from far away, lit up with torches and sparkling lights of various different colors. It was his stepbrother’s birthmoon. “There,” Ihsan commanded, pointing to the bright lights and the joyous sounds of a birthmoon festivity.
It had been many cycles since he’d seen his mother, since his stepfather had murdered his father and taken his place, since he’d attempted to murder Ihsan as well. A servant had helped him escape, killing another young boy in his stead and beating him so his corpse wouldn’t be identifiable. The servant had passed the dead boy off as Ihsan and smuggled him to the Redlands where he eventually became a slave. Where Malich had saved him from a group of cannibals only to enslave him once again as one of the alumni.
They’d often talk about his birthright, Ihsan and Malich, with the latter assessing the threat he knew Ihsan would eventually become.
The moment Ihsan crossed the threshold of his homeland his power sparked to life. He’d muted it as a child to blend in better and so it had left him. It was foreign and yet home. While he reveled in his power, he heard screaming down below. Citizens noticed Amunet descending from the skies. She landed right in the middle of the festivities with a thunderous thud that shook the very foundation of his family’s palace.
Guards quickly surrounded the dragon only to be met with fire. Ihsan searched the crowd for his mother and younger sister. He found them cowering behind his stepfather and stood. Gasps and murmurs erupted all around. “Amunet,” Ihsan called to her, sending a command down their bond. She fashioned her wing into a slope and allowed Ihsan to walk the length of it until his feet touched the ground.
“What in the Gods?” His sister Imani gasped, clasping a hand to her heart.
“Not quite deer sister,” Ihsan smiled.
“Ihsan?” His mother spoke barely above a whisper. She stepped out from behind his stepfather and went to take a step towards him but his stepfather stopped her. Sensing his irritation, Amunet roared.
“The prodigal son returns,” his half brother Lenux eyes him incredulously. “Last I heard you were dead.”
“You can thank your father for that and for all that comes next.”
“Exactly what does that mean, boy?” His stepfather Lucien demanded, signaling to his soldiers.
“It means I’ve come to reclaim what is rightfully mine. What you murdered my father for, and tried to murder me to keep.” Ihsan took a step forward.
It was no secret he’d murdered Ihsan’s father and coveted his mother long before that. She fell prey to Lucien’s influence, seduced by his charms, and had turned a blind eye when his father was murdered. Everyone knew how Lucien came to power, but no one dared to challenge him until now.
“If you were wiser, you would have stayed away young Rayne.” Rayne. His father’s namesake. A name that struck fear across the planes before he’d been murdered by 3 small drops of poison. “You will find this is no longer the Rayne Dynasty, it is mine.”
Ihsan called to the power in his veins, his father’spower. Darkin. Darkness surrounded him. Amunet roared warning, soldierson all sides. He conjured a shadow into the palm of his hand, and watched it grow, eyes locked on Lucien’s. While Lucien was deadly, he held no power. He was a lowborn slave who aspired to greatness and achieved it by murdering those who stood in his way, including Ihsan’s father. He didn’t know true power. Not like Ihsan.
“Call off your men and spare their lives. I’ll grant you the same mercy,” Ihsan offered.
“I’d rather die a King than go back to the way things were,” Lucien seethed.
“And so you shall.”
Ihsan readied to strike but his mother put herself between Ihsan and his stepfather. “He denounces the crown. It is yours son,” she spoke for him. “Just please…please leave him in tact. Allow us to live out our days in peace. Grant us land, coin, and title, and you will never have to set eyes on us again unless you wish it.”
He looked to his sister Imani who had tears in her eyes. She nodded to him, begging him to grant their mother this mercy. He thought on it for a moment before speaking, “Very well. Imani and I will remain in the palace, our father’shome. If you wish to live out your days with him, then you, your mate, and his son must leave immediately. Your husband and his son are not to return without invitation or I will have them murdered. You, should you wish it, are welcome here whenever you like.”
His mother nodded, urging Lucien to leave, her eyes on the coils of power now dancing in the palm of Ihsan’s hand. She knew what that power could do. She’d seen his father wield such power, so had Lucien as his father’s right hand. Its how he got close enough to kill him.
“If you think my soldiers will fall in line and lift a finger against me, you’re more delusional than your father.”
All over, shadows reached up from the ground, gripping the feet of every soldier and dragged them before Amunet. “Ignis,” Ihsan gave the command. The dragon reared back, and breathed fire onto the lot of them, reducing them to soot and ash. “I’m afraid this birthmoon celebration is over as we do not honor the sons of murderers in this court. Leave…now, while you still can.”
His mother took her lover’s hand tugging and pulling him towards the palace. They gathered what they could and loaded up a passenger car. Before they left, however, Lucien issued one final threat. “You should kill me. If you think this is over, you’resorelymistaken. Even if it takes me until my dying breath, I. Will. End. You. Just as I ended your father.”
“And you would choose this man over your flesh and blood?” Ihsan ignored Lucien, sliding his eyes to his mother instead. “You know what he’s done and you’d still share his bed?”
“Love is insanity son,” was all she said in return.
With no more words between them, his mother dragged her raging lover from the palace. Imani collided into him, wrapping her arms around him, tears falling from her eyes. “Oh how I’ve missed you brother,” she whispered to him in sobs.
“And I you.”
“Not to change the subject, but a dragon…really?”
Ihsan simply smiled and hugged her tighter.ns 184.108.40.206da2