“Why?” Sariel asked.
Several things went through his mind at once.
Because you’re not afraid of doing what needs to be done.
She wasn’t the only one though. Talithey would do what was needed. So would Take to an extent. But Tali and Take cared about him. Sariel didn’t.
He didn’t want to say that though, and he suspected as much as he wanted to do this alone, having someone else there was smart. They could bear witness incase the plan went awry, and carry back whatever information could be gathered if he himself could not.
He needed Sariel to help him. But he wasn’t sure if he should say that either.
So, he appealed to the researcher in her (he hoped) her natural curiosity.
He meant it though, she was smart. She was an excellent addition to the pack.
Her lackluster response though was… well, he wasn’t sure what to say. It was clear to him she was bothered by the fact she couldn’t get the answers she sought. He was… bad at the comforting though. Take was much better at this. So was Nethrali. Should he put his nose on her cheek? No, she always froze up when he did that. Maybe he should make her a flower crown. That seemed to cheer people up. Yes, he could do that. It would give him more time to think and he needed to do that as well. Yes, he would make her a crown and leave it in her tree.
So with an awkward good-bye he floated to the ground and retired to his room. Much later when the fort was mostly quiet he flew from his balcony into the outside areas and began picking flowers.
It was strange he supposed, to be completing a task as gentle as picking flowers while thinking about summoning and making a deal with an Prince of hell.
But, he was a Blood Hunter.
As those words crossed his mind, the light of the moon caught on the prismatic emblem on his cloak.
That wasn’t all he was anymore. Accepting that would.. take time. And truly the Primsmatic Order fascinated him. More than that, he felt… honor bound to learn more, to find a way to restore it. He wanted desperately to learn more about it’s past, and it’s secrets. To learn more about himself.
But the world was approaching it’s literal end, and he had no idea how much time they had. Priorities must be set, and what he knew himself to be now with 100% certainty was a Blood Hunter.
The idea came to him in the bath. He sat there in the soothing hot water, rubbing his lavender soap bar along the scars on his chest, racking his brain to how they could possibly catch up and get any kind of advantage.
That was when he remembered seeing the Fiend attack the Boggarts cabin, and realized exactly what he could do.
Blood Hunters made pacts with Fiends, sometimes other powerful dark creatures, but usually it was a Fiend who answered their calls. So it was nothing to him, really, to make a pact with one. It bothered in some ways that he’d gotten lucky with Nyx. He knew it shouldn’t, but he didn’t want to be special in that way. He wanted to earn his place as a Blood Hunter and with Nyx at the source of his powers he would not face the struggles other Blood Hunters did.
He supposed it was silly, he should be grateful, and truly he was. He could also reason he was making up for it by well, having to try and save the world.
His gaze darkened in frustration, but more so fear. If the very Gods could not stop this, him ascending would do little. And it would seem this kept happening over and over again and Zildath simply couldn’t abide that. Not this time. They had to stop it. He wanted his pack to live. The world was a dark place but it did not deserve destruction. And if he could stop it, or at least learn something, anything that could give them an advantage by simply making a deal with a Fiend?
He snorted aloud into the night. That wasn’t a choice. Not for a Blood Hunter. That was a Tuesday.
He was comforted by the knowledge that it had been done before, and the Blood Hunter used that power to save others. Master Yorri died a good death in the end as well.
Zildath finished picking the flowers, and sat down in the front temple where Tritheron entered his body, beginning to put the crown together the way that Talithey taught him.
His brows knitted together again as he thought of Talithey. He should tell her. Take too. Even Nethrali. He had never kept anything from the pack. That was Nethrali’s area, and though she had her reasons, the secrets she kept always bothered him. He didn’t like she didn’t trust them enough, especially now. But despite his feelings, he accepted people as they were, and she was no exception. Pack was Pack.
But this plan of his… they would try and talk him out of it for one. Their concerns would be valid. They would want to come with him, and he didn’t want that either. If something went wrong…
…he didn’t want to put Sariel in danger either though. That also posed a problem. He would have to think on this more. And if he did decide to do it, he would have to tell the Pack. Still, he needed to be smart about it. He would wait, he reasoned, until after the Winter Court. If they couldn’t get ahead in the information they were searching for after that meeting, he would take matters into his own blood.
It was possible of course, that the Prince knew as much as anyone else. But, it was also possible he could strike up some bargain to get the minions of one of the circles of hell to start feeding them information and stop working against them. If the Gods above were disappearing it stood to reason the nine hells were sufferings the same fate. What they saw in the berry thicket with the Spiders was proof enough. That meant Zildath had some leverage to get a Prince to work with him, instead of against him. He would need to research more though, and conduct the ritual as safely as possible.
Zildath finished the crown, leaning back to examine his handy work. He made a face. He could never get them quite as circular as Talithey. He’d have to practice more when there was time.
He signed, and drew his claw across his finger. It split open the skin, a drop of red appearing. He turned his finger, letting the small drop land on one of the petals of the crown and spoke quietly in draconic under his breath. “My Blood be your weapon and protector, from the evil that may disturb your sleep, or stalk you in the night while you rest. The shadows will not hide them, not from you.” It was his own version of protection from good and evil.
He watched as shadows appeared, slithering around the crown, then soaking into the petals, cementing the spell. He sucked his finger into his mouth, soothing the tiny wound and stood up.
He walked back through the fort and outside to where Sariel’s tree was, trying to sneakily peer up. She appeared to have her eyes closed, likely in one of her deep meditative states. His wings came out quietly and flapped up once, giving him the height to leave the crown on her branch. Then he flew up higher, higher still until he had a birds eye view of the fort, and the lands around it.
High above the ground, Zildath breathed in the night air and felt another sense of gratitude for what he’d been given. He remembered too what it felt like to be a dragon, and didn’t bother to stop his grin.
After a moment though, it faded as the reality of their situation came back to him.
Time was not on their side. How could he not do everything possible to save this world? Was that not his mission?
Zildath touched the amulet around his neck, closing his eyes a moment. He wanted to be a member of this mysterious Prismatic Order. Selfishly he wanted to be more.
But right now?
He cut open the wound on his finger again and smeared his blood over the amulet. He flew down to land outside the walls of the fort. The cut he made next was larger, deeper across his arm, a second later his bloody palm gripped around the handle of his fiery sword. He walked a patrol around the fort, nodding at the men Arkaos posted when he passed them, his senses tuned and searching, his eyes peering into the shadows, daring there be a monster there.
He was a Blood Hunter.