Chapter 17:

Contract with Adrik

Vampire Lanterns

As he was walking out of the castle with tremblind Petrona in his arms, he contemplated, where to go with her. He couldn't show up in the Elf town with a barely clothed woman in his arms. A beach came up on his mind; he saw it, as he was flying over.
He turned on his heel and went there. It was the best place to collect themselves, also hide, if needed. Petrona was clinging to his shirt with both her hands. Her face was buried in his chest. She was hurt and in a state of shock. He was glad, they didn't harm her any further and was mad at himself, that this happened on his watch.
At the beach, he noticed a cave. He sighed out of relief, because they could take shelter inside. He put her down, but she still held to his clothes. Even, when he planned to make fire, so she would be more warm and comfortable, Demyan didn't rush it. He sat down next to her. Petrona rested her head on his arm. He put his hand around her shoulders and stroked her hair. Until that point, she didn't speak a word. It worried Demyan.
She was in the clutches of those men just around an hour, but still, they managed to physically abuse her and the brat of an Elf prince, was going to do nasty things to her. His eyes glowed gray in the darkness out of fury.
Suddenly he heard a commotion from the outside and he glanced at the exit of the cave. A dark figure was standing right at the entrance. His eyes were glowing in a misty deep red. Demyan looked at sleeping Petrona.
He carefully placed her down and walked outside. "Why are you following us?" Adrik pushed some wood into his arms and took a bag from his shoulder and threw it on it. "I guessed, you will need all of this."
Wood and women's clothes? He put that stuff aside. Demyan glanced at him suspiciously. "So, what do you expect from me in return? I know, this is not from the good of a demon's heart." Adrik nervously chuckled. "Well, you can see right through me! Don't worry, it's not a soul I am after..."
Demyan, still unconvinced by the demon's claims. "So spit it out. What do you want from me?" Adrik casually sat down on a rock. "I wish for an alliance with you. I am tired of constantly fighting and defending our territory. I will try to overthrow my old man and then, we could have a more peaceful life."
Surprised by Adrik's proposal, Demyan still was wary around him, but he had a point. For centuries, they all were on war terms and joined neverending campaigns. It was draining for Demyan as well. "If we will be on good terms, what do you expect from it?"
Adrik smiled. "I see, this time it's easier with you!" Demyan looked at him. "What? We never met before." Adrik froze. "Riiight! So I can supply you with blood and you can send us some obsidian in exchange.
I know you own the biggest mines in the Waste Lands. And we can trade many other things. We will figure that out later of course. So what do you think?
" Adrik summoned a contract with a feather for signing.
Demyan snatched it out of the air and read through it. He used his magic to check, if it had anywhere hidden clauses. Adrik was smirking but still... "You are being rude in not trusting me." Demyan glared at him. "I am not stupid of course. I won't trust a demon, just because he says he is nice."
At last Demyan signed it. The document disappeared in a small fire cloud. They became official partners. Adrik smiled and put his hood on his head. "You should go inside, the young girl is about to wake up. We will meet very soon." He made a step backward and disappeared in a dark mist. Demyan changed into his human form.
He stepped inside stacking on wood and making fire. Petrona sat up with a blank expression. Demyan was observing her and contemplating, what to do. She did cling to him, when he took her out of the castle, but she was in shock.
Now back by her senses, he might be scary for her, because he is a man. "Don't worry, I won't intrude on you. You still must be frightened." Petrona shook her head. He was stunned. "How so? Are you not scared of me?" Again she shook her head. Demyan smiled and sat next to her. Petrona buried her face into his shoulder.
For a second he was thinking about hugging her and eventually, he did. She needed to be consoled and to feel safe. "I am glad you are not afraid of me." Well, she has no clue, what he really is, but...
She looked up at his worried eyes. "You are the one, who always protects me and I must thank you, your Highness, for your courtesy! Don't worry, tomorrow I will feel better. I had similar experiences already, so not a big deal." What did she just say? Not a big deal??? How much must she have gone through, to say such things?
The illusion of the Lush Lands finally reached the final straw and popped. "I always admired the Lush Lands and wished to visit this place. But staying here just several days made me realize, how cruel the life of many people is in this place.
Weird laws, which demote people for things they can not control, behavior, which is unhonorable... I just simply can't comprehend that."
Petrona sighed, she understood how the Lush Lands look so utopistic for outsiders. "Yes, there are so many bad things here, but also good and beautiful. You can't have just one thing without the other. The world would lost its balance, you see."

Demyan looked into the fire and he understood, what she meant. He kept holding her in his embrace, until they both drifted into the dreamlands.