A Different Kind of Wingman


Nethrali huffed as soon as she caught sight of Akiros. “I’m going to murder Zildath.”

The aasimar laughed and finished his ascent to the roof. “While I believe you’re capable of it, why does my presence spark the need for murder little outcast?”

At his words Nethrali slammed both her palms into the roof and said in celestial “Don’t fucking call me that. I know what I am and I don’t need the fucking reminder.”

Akiros paused and looked at her like her anger was misplaced. “Nethrali, do you still not understand? I thought talking to Caprean would help.”

She fought back her own magic but not before some blue flames danced across her skin. “Understand what? That even in Loki’s demiplane I was a fucking oddity?”

Sadness dripped from his words as he responded. “No Nethrali. The word for what you are is dangerous. Even thinking it would get a being tortured in some circles. So Loki made up his own word for it. You might be an outcast but that’s precious, child.”

Tears slipped from her eyes and she knocked them away angrily. Her voice was softer than a whisper when she responded. “I just want to be normal. Being thought of as a tiefling was bad enough but this is so much worse. I never asked for any of this.”

Akiros reached over and placed his hand on the top of her head just past her horns. “We never ask to be born Nethrali. We just are. For what it’s worth, I don’t think there has been another like you born in all of creation.”

Her eyes glowed like amber on fire. “Yes, that’s just fucking perfect. I get to be an outcast among outcasts. Thank you so very fucking much. I’ve lost enough don’t you think?”

Lightning flashed in Akiros’ eyes. “Don’t try that with me child. You aren’t an idiot and acting like one is more than beneath you.”

Nethrali jerked away from him and jumped to her feet. “Fuck you. I never asked to be this thing that scares even Bloodhunters. I didn’t ask for this power and now I’m fucking stuck with it because if I deny it I lose the first two people that ever gave a damn about me. You think this is easy? You do it then Akiros! You fix this reality we’re trapped in, because I don’t want to.”

Akrios’ hand snapped out and wrapped around her wrist, his words like acid on her flesh. “If I could take this burden as my own I would and don’t you doubt that for a moment. But fate chose you Nethrali, so you’re going to need to grow up faster than you already have and face facts. You can’t sit around drinking rum all day and pretending that things aren’t as bad as they are. Devlin and the rest of your ‘pack’ might coddle you but I won’t. You need to get ready for war and if I have to drag you into the right headspace I will, because everything I loved fell into Limbo right along with my home and you actually have a chance of preventing it from happening to someone else!”

She fought against his grip for a time and then fell forward into his chest and sobbed hysterically. “I don’t want to do this anymore. I promised Nyx and Fomher I’d save them and I can’t. I don’t even know where to start. I couldn’t even save Talithey when she was right in front of me. Zildath left himself exhausted for days after hours excruciating pain to save the rest of us. Take almost died twice right in front of me. Sariel almost lost two different people she cared about outside of the pack. What in the 9 hells am I even good for? I haven’t helped them at all. I just want my life back, the one where I had no idea the world was ending all around me. He should have let me die like I begged him to. Why didn’t he let me die? Why?”

Towards the end of her tirade she was speaking in Infernal without realizing it and full bodied sobs wracked her frame. Physically she was fine but emotionally she felt worse than she had after watching her father die just over a month ago.

Akiros hugged her to his chest and sighed. This is why he kept the kitchen stocked, so she wouldn’t reach this point. He knew how close she was with Devlin and Sariel and he also knew she never let them see her like this.

Even her screams of anguish were soft like she didn’t want to disturb the rest of the world with her pain. He didn’t want to know how much someone had to be abused before they were mostly silent even in their most painful moments. “I don’t have an answer for you Nethrali but I can guess.”

She hiccupped and glared at his chest as she gasped out. “Because guesses have done so much for us up to this point.”

He huffed and shook her gently to get her attention. “Don’t be rude. What decent person could see someone in anguish the way you probably were and just leave them, hm? Would you have left someone there to die in that moment?”

Nethrali tried to pull away but with her body still fighting her and tears still falling she couldn’t break his hold. “Yes because I’m nowhere near as noble as any of you assholes think and I wanted to die. I tried to walk away from the gate to begin with. I didn’t want to come back and I should have listened to that instinct. I don’t want this responsibility.”

Akiros sighed and ran his fingers through her hair. “Sometimes we don’t get the things we want sweetheart. You’re here, whoever it was didn’t let you die and you do have this responsibility. There are people counting on you and people counting on the fact that you’re coming home. It’s not fair, even I can admit that, but it’s the hand you were dealt, so you need to get yourself together. This isn’t something you can just ignore, little outcast.”

At his words Nethrali cried harder than she had since they’d all been brought back from the dead. Akiros wasn’t sure how long she cried but he really didn’t have anything else to say and it seemed to be what she needed so he just let her. It took longer than he’d expected but eventually her sobs turned into gasps and those turned into soft little hiccups until she was quiet and breathing normally.

She didn’t move once she’d gotten herself in order. In fact she’d fallen asleep. He thought about putting her in her room but instead just laid her on the roof gently and left to grab a blanket then tucked her in and watched over her after he’d let Devlin know where she was.

The boy usually checked in on her at the fort even though her room was hidden. He didn’t leave until the sun started to rise and then he just wrapped the blanket around her tighter and quietly left the roof. The poor little thing was filled with so much pain and while she’d made friends with the rest of their little group, he didn’t think she ever really let all of herself show, except maybe with Sariel or Devlin. Even then he suspected she held back just a bit. He didn’t want to know the things she’d experienced that caused her to be so afraid of everything and everyone, because he knew it would just break his heart. With a sigh he went down to restock the kitchen, grabbing one of the vegetarian quiches she’d made earlier and heading to his own rooms for a light nap. He hoped she’d find the peace she needed eventually.

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