Scene 1.10 - Arik's Concern
The Kindred Fortress:
"Arik, what happened," Ratziel shouted, sounding shaken to the core.
"I told you to leave!"
Crouched over the woman, Arik's hands were hovering just above her body. He stared down at her in shock, overcome with an emotion he barely recognized. He was shaking, unable to decide whether or not he should touch her.
"Is she dead," Ratziel asked him, not daring to move a single step toward them.
"She's something," Arik breathed as his eyes took in the incredible sight unfolding before him.
The woman's entire body was aglow in a fiery light. The energy she'd absorbed was coursing wildly throughout her system. Her veins shone through her skin, as though she'd been set on fire from within. It was her eyes that held him riveted to the spot over what he was witnessing. The bandages were dark and appeared burnt, but behind the wrappings, the orbs of her eye sockets were glowing bright orange.
Human? In what possible sense could this woman be human?
"She's not dead," he determined at last. Somehow, she had managed to absorb the energy into her system that would have killed them all. "She may well be dead soon though," he grated with great concern.
He couldn't let that happen. Filled with an urgency to finally move, he lifted her without regard for the overload of energy that was still coursing within her.
"Stay here," he warned Ratziel, unable to disguise the hostility in his voice. "She may have inadvertently awakened the others. If she did, don't let them anywhere near her." Staring down his long-lived friend in a deadly serious light, he swore, "If anyone dares defy me on this…"
With those words left hanging in the air he took off, moving with all the preternatural speed he possessed. The healing springs were only a short distance away, but he felt it essential to get her there as quickly as possibly. He was only vaguely aware of how much brighter the winding hallways were lit as he traveled.
He entered the cavernous room of the underground springs with haste. He could feel the bed of crystalline rocks hailing to him as he moved toward the water, but he ignored the sensation. The healing rocks would most certainly help, but it was the cold water he was after right now. He had to extinguish the raging heat within her body! How she had survived the fire this long was truly a miracle. There wasn't even time to wonder how she had done it.
He descended the rock steps into the swirling tide pool of water. He dropped down quickly to submerge her body within the depths of it. Not a hint of movement suggested that she'd registered anything that was happening. There was no way she was going to survive this. He knew it in his soul, not even giving himself the slightest bit of hope that he could prevent her death.
Shaking his head, he wondered what level of stupidity had made her so reckless. Why would she sacrifice her life so needlessly like that? It would end up being one more death that he'd been unable to prevent. He should have never let her wander off alone like that. What had he been thinking?
Pushing her deeper within the water, he closed his eyes as he cradled her head in the crook of his arm. For a brief moment, he stroked the red skin, bereft to know what more he could do. In that instant, it was his body that seemed to grab hold of the connection between them. The energy radiating within her skin was clinging to him, invading his fingers. It took no conscious effort on his part at all to draw it into his being. It was a natural function of all Kindred, drawing energy from one being into the other.
Without hesitation, he reached down and snapped the thin tie that bound the linen gown at her waist. Peeling it from her shoulders, he found a second one layered beneath it. With a hint of aggravation, he searched to find the strings tied behind her neck. He ripped those apart as well, working quickly to strip the fabric away from her skin.
He submersed himself down within the water now, pulling her body flush up against his. He pressed the palms of his hands across her back, feeling an intense heat beginning to radiate from her bared skin into his. The burning energy trapped within her entered his system, shooting up his arms and through his body in a powerful rush. It was the purest form of energy he could ever remember feeling. It was nearly blissful to him.
This was going to work, he reassured himself. There was no amount of energy in the world that could kill him. Unlike her, it was not going to burn him up from the inside out. They just needed greater contact.
Reaching a hand up over his shoulder, he pulled the material of his shirt up and over his head. Casting it away, he pressed her skin deeply against his, holding her to him as closely as possible. He gasped audibly. It was a shock to his system as wave upon wave of the overheated energy began washing over him. It raised his blood pressure and he suddenly felt close imploding as it filled his entire being from head to toe. He'd been on the brink of starvation mere hours ago, now gorging himself on more energy than he would have consumed in a decade.
As satisfying as it felt, he allowed himself to begin releasing it into the surrounding water. It would be absorbed into the natural rock crystals, stored for later use should they need it then. What she was supplying them with right now could keep them awake and alive for years to come.
In the peaceful harbor of the swirling tide pool, Arik continued to massage her skin. There seemed no end to the energy raging within her. She was finally beginning to cool, however.
As he leaned back against a sloping wall, his mind drifted back to a time when female Kindred lived among them. Those able to harvest the kind of energy from the environment that this woman did were few and far between. The silly fool had nearly killed herself in the process. No doubt she had ended the lives of every sea creature in the vicinity to do it, but all from within the body of a human? How was that possible?
Her color had returned to a more natural hue, yet there were still parts of her body that remained incredibly hot to the touch. There were far more efficient methods to encourage her body to cycle out the energy on its own, he knew.
Pulling her from the water, he laid her down on the dry bedrock and cradled her head in his hand. He braced himself over her without bearing any of his weight upon her.
Lowering his forehead to touch hers, he attempted to connect his energy system with hers. He felt his firing up, beginning to race in a wild rhythm all its own as he tried to corral it. Hers would naturally attempt to mimic his, just as his system was currently trying to mirror hers.
Focusing his thoughts on releasing the overload of energy within himself, he lowered his lips to her temple and brushed a light kiss over the center of energy located there. He was breathing in ever so slightly, drawing from her the pent up energy there. He moved lower to the skin at the base of her neck, tilting his head to brush his lips over an overheated part of her skin. Encouraged to feel her it cooling so quickly, he felt incredibly relieved.
Such a simple act, he mused in spite of himself. So simple and yet so complex… A mere kiss was able to draw out the remnants of what was so toxic to her body, entering his in the most natural way possible. God, how he'd missed something so simple and exquisite as this.
He drew in another breath as he worked his way down her body, settling once again just below her ribcage. There he found another hot spot and he drew upon it with his lips, inhaling deeply of her this time. Each time he took from her, he immediately forced himself to release it back out, knowing her system would begin to follow suit.
His hands drifted down her body, working all the while to help speed the process along. Eventually, he had descended to the skin just below her navel where she was still clothed. No, he would not go there…
Rising slowly up her body, he returned to where he'd first begun. Lying over her, he pressed his lips to the softest skin he'd ever felt at the hollow of her shoulder. His hand was still traversing the skin at her side. Slowly wending it's way down to her hip.
The sudden stillness of her breath caught his notice then, hitching for a moment in her throat. Then he became aware—she was conscious...