Walking in Memories
by L. Shannon
Chayse followed his twin brother, Rayce, onto the dark street in front of their current quarters. Rayce was a born leader, with the confidence to do whatever it took for any job. Chayse wasn’t and didn’t, so he followed.
His brother’s shoulders were bunched tight with frustrated energy. The predawn walk to the Red Dragon was short, but maybe it would be long enough to put Rayce at ease.
Rather than ask questions out loud, he brushed his magic over Rayce’s back with a light touch, a reminder that they were together.
Rayce released his bound energy in a sigh of disgust. “I should have just taken the girl’s blood the first time. We might have saved Flayvor by now.”
“We will rescue Flayvor.”
“You’re damn right we will. We’ll strip this girl of every last memory. We’ll drain her dry to get the truth if we have to.”
“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.” Chayse hated when Rayce fell into the grim pit of determination that allowed him to speak about killing an unmarked innocent.
Rayce’s booted feet pounded to a stop. “Damn it, Chayse. You’re Cyvampis. Why do you have to get this way?”
“It’s our duty to kill mortals. You always make it such a fucking tragedy.”
Chayse pushed back his anger. It had no place facing his twin. “Have I ever failed a tasc?”
“No, but you’re a suffering fool to be torn up over ending such short lives.”
“Since when is compassion a bad thing?” Despite his best efforts, his fangs pulsed with anger. “Just because I don’t revel in the kill does not mean I lack respect for our duty.”
“Don’t get pissy.” Rayce grabbed his arm in a fierce grip that might have broken bones in a mortal. “I just hate to see you fight your nature. Being Cyvampis is a blessing and you only see it as a burden. Why can’t you feel the life of it as well as the death?”
“I feel the life.”
“Then act like you do. When we get this girl, don’t let her bring you pain. Let’s just do this well and get the information from her.” Rayce released his arm. “Try to remember whose life hangs in the balance when we catch Clarice.”
“I have not forgotten Flayvor.” The young Synn was like a brother to them all. Saving him and Sayvor had become priority one to the remaining Anom’tan demons in their unit. But there were still limits to what they could do to save them. “I will promise to act the Cyvampis, if you remember Clarice is not a tasc.”
The words hit Rayce with the impact expected. His face lost its harshness and understanding returned to his blue eyes. “You’re right. Clarice is not a tasc. If at all possible we will, we must, avoid causing her any permanent harm, just as Bryck commanded.”
Chayse nodded. He took a step forward, then stopped and waited for Rayce to once more take the lead. He hadn’t wanted to waste time but this discussion was too important to let slide. As desperate as they were to save Flayvor, he couldn’t risk Rayce breaking one of the primary Tascryn laws. To do so would, at best, require harsh punishment which they would share. And, at worst, might lead to them being killed, tasced, for the crime.
He and Rayce were bound. Whatever fate one shared, so did the other. They were twins, as close as any brothers could be, but he still didn’t want to be locked in the earth with Rayce for a thousand years because of his brother’s hot temper.
And that was the standard punishment for an unsanctioned death.
“I feel you, brother. I’m in control,” Rayce growled.
Chayse released his pent up tension. Now they could see to the business of getting the information from this woman and getting Flayvor to safety. The rest of the walk was made in silence and within minutes they reached the restaurant.
The little place sat on the corner of two small streets and the dim exterior lights shone harshly over the ugly green tables left outside.
“Can you sense her?” Chayse asked.
“Yes. She’s moving around inside, downstairs.” Rayce’s abilities were stronger than his own.
He could barely feel if there were people around at all, but he cupped his hand over the door lock. That was his specialty. He could move and tweak the finer details. The inner workings of an old key lock were nothing to manipulate and the lock clicked open easily.
The inside of the restaurant was almost as ugly as the outside. The difference was that the inside was darker, in both the decorations and the lighting.
The one bright spot was Clarice. The young woman glowed among the shadows of the run down place. The dim light clung to her golden hair. The sheer beauty hit Chayse the same way it had just hours before. Even then, in the middle of the night, she had radiated a purity of heat that welcomed him.
She was special. And for her, he would even stand up to Rayce. Surely his brother could see what he saw. Fear for Flayvor sharpened the rough edges Rayce did little to soften even at the best of times.
“Clarice, you lied to us,” Rayce said bluntly.
“I’m sorry? Do I know you?” The woman’s green eyes widened. “I think I’d like to know you…” she purred and reached out for Rayce’s thick arm.
Rayce shook his head. “We were here a few hours ago. Don’t you remember us asking you questions?”
Chayse watched her innocent expression shift to a puzzled frown. She hadn’t been this muddled before. True, Clarice hadn’t given them the information they needed but she’d seemed to grasp the importance of the questions. He looked deeper, touched on her mind and nearly fell back in surprise at what he found.
“Rayce, she is without will.”
“That cannot be.”
But it was. The girl had been broken, her will and personality crushed beneath the heel of a psychic rapist. Chayse couldn’t stop from reaching for the girl. In her, he saw the victim he’d once been.
Rayce grabbed his arm, dragging him back. “If it is how you say —“
Rayce frowned at the interruption. “If it is, then perhaps we — you can help her while we find what we need, but regardless of whether she can be helped or not, we have to get the information from her to save Flayvor.”
Chayse met his brother’s knowing eyes. “I understand.”
Clarice had returned to cleaning tables. Her expression had lost its puzzlement and she once again appeared to glow with some inner peace. Her slender, manicured fingers drew the damp cloth over the table’s surface in steady, smooth circles. Her lips curved up the tiniest bit at the corners and she hummed what sounded like a lullaby.
She looked so very innocent. “I don’t want her hurt.” Not even to save the two Synn demons. Something about this pale beauty captured him and forced him to admit, at least to himself, that he wasn’t willing to sacrifice her, regardless of the results.
“You have the skill to read her. I can, too, but with less finesse. Do all you can to get what we need. Hopefully that will be enough.”
Chayse couldn’t believe his ears. Rayce was giving him permission to lead, to take control and do what was needed. To his brother, control was precious and rarely given up.
“Go. I’ll watch over you both.”
Chayse paused one second longer then went to the girl. “Clarice?”
“Hello.” She released the washcloth and wiped her hands on her short apron. “You’re very handsome.” And before he could think or react, she plastered her body against his, and took his lips in a wild, passionate kiss that shattered his world.