What are you supposed to do when your passions lead you into a dark, scary and dangerous cave? Naturally, you push further. You embrace the adrenaline, and you hold on to the joy of what you may find in these caves. Who knows what you could see in these caves? Forgotten secrets of an ancient culture, or even the priceless treasures of a lost king.
Maybe this was what drove Alexandria Kalian. Perhaps it was the fact that she found a partner who shared her passion, though. All of her time learning about ancient history was only worth so much until she met the man she considered to be the bravest explorer ever. Talus Kalian was the Havtori that stole Alexandria’s heart.
The handsome man was all she ever wanted. He was bright, funny, educated, but most of all, those eyes. Beautiful yellow eyes that pried into her soul every time she stared into them. He left her breathless, and yet he wouldn’t ever miss an opportunity to tell her how breathtaking she was.
Alexandria watched her beloved husband as he slipped his pants on, legs crossed on the bed they had shared the night before.
“Are you going to keep staring at me, or get dressed, Bunny?” His gentle voice carried to her ears.
She blinked a bit, then chuckled, stretching her arms upwards, “Mmmm! Can’t we just lie down for a little longer?”
Talus laughed lightly—a sound that Alexandria could never get enough of—as he walked over to her and gripped her hips, lifting her up as she wrapped her nude body around his fit upper body, “Of course not, Bunny. Aren’t you excited to check out the caves we got word of?”
Alexandria grinned for a moment, her hands reaching into his long hair and tugging at it playfully, “Yeah…” She admitted before laughing a bit, “Okay, yeah, I’m really excited! What do you think we’ll find?!” She asked.
He couldn’t help but stare at her as she smiled brightly, “All kinds of amazing treasure, I’m sure, my beautiful wife.” He explained before kissing her and moving to put her back on the bed.
Alexandria refused to let go, kissing him back, “I love it when you call me that…” She whispered.
Talus grinned a bit before gripping her hips in a place he knew all too well. She laughed out and instantly let go of him, flailing her arms to push him away. Once he was free, Talus moved to the clothes they had left on the floor of the inn room and tossed her clothes over to her, “Get dressed, Bunny! Unless you’re planning to show our escorts your body.”
Begrudgingly, the woman finally put her clothes on; a pair of tight leggings and top that exposed her midriff. Over that, a leather vest was loosely tied along her shape, and a couple of thin leather gloves covered her hands. Talus’ outfit was made up of loose, thick denim pants and cotton shirt. Over the shirt, he wore a sleeved leather vest; the outfit was completed by a pair of leather gloves.
As Alexandria finished putting on her own leather boots, Talus was distracted by watching her as his remained unlaced. She was adjusting her hair into a ponytail before looking over to Talus questioningly, “What…?” She asked.
Talus simply smiled, shaking his head, “Just thanking the Mystic of Beauty that created you is all.” He commented before returning to lacing up his boots.
Alexandria rolled her eyes with a laugh, walking out of the room, “I’m going to eat! Hurry up, you stupid wolf.”
Their pet names were started by Talus, who called Alexandria ‘Bunny’ due to her small size energetic personality. Eventually, she occasionally referred to him as ‘Wolf’ due to his yellow eyes, his dark hair and beard, and the playful fit it had to his nickname for her.
The two had been married for a few years now. They met while attending the University of Pathway. They were inseparable after the first night they spent together.
As Talus made his way to the inn’s tavern, he spotted his betrothed rather quickly, sitting at one of the tables by herself with two plates of food before her. The towering Havtori took his seat beside her and raised a dark brow towards her, “You… going to eat all that yourself?” He asked.
She was halfway through chewing a piece of poultry when she slid his plate over to him.
He stared at the plate for a while, noticing that his plate had a lot more vegetables than her’s, “You… gave me your vegetables again, didn’t you?”
As she swallowed her food, she smiled sweetly to him and nodded shamelessly, “Yeah, I’m smaller! They gave me too much, and you can finish that. You need to eat more veggies anyway.”
He nodded slowly, eyeing the poultry on his plate, then her plate again, “Uh-huh… is that why you took half of my chicken, too?”
She chuckled mischievously but continued eating without another word.
The two finished their food rather quickly and were eventually out in the town the inn was found in. The couple had met up with a group of armored men they had arranged to meet a few days before. The group was forming an exploration party headed into the caves of the nearby Mount Reveri, a long-dormant volcano. Talus had received information from a contact in Pathway City that there was an unexplored cavern in these caves.
Four swordsmen, three archers, and a Hadien local to the area were their escorts and guide. As they left the town of Reval, Alexandria couldn’t refrain from leaning over towards Talus, “Talus. Isn’t this… a lot of ‘escort?'” She asked quietly.
The large Hadien looked back at Alexandria and spoke up in a growl-like voice typical to his race, “Mount Reveri is quite dangerous, Lady Alexandria. I would be a poor guide had I not recommended this much support for you. It is best to have excess protection in the lack of danger than to have a lack of guard in excess danger.”
Talus chuckled a bit nervously, “Well, what Malduk means, obviously, is that it’s best to be prepared for anything. I’m sure we’ll be fine, Bunny.”
Malduk chuckled a bit, “Aye.”
The Hadien’s dark chuckle didn’t sit entirely well with Alexandria, but her husband’s words did make her feel a bit better. They were right, after all. With this many capable fighters, it was unlikely that anything would become too dangerous for them.
The trek took three days in total, by the time the third night approached, the group was setting up camp just a short snowy hike from the icy entrance of their goal. Alexandria was now wrapped up in a blanket. Her leather boots had been changed out for a pair of fur-lined boots. Her vest was swapped out for the same. Her short shirt was now replaced by one of Talus’ thicker shirts. She was sitting by the campfire, sipping soup that Malduk had made from some of the local herbs and a few rabbits they had killed along the way.
Talus took a seat next to Alexandria, his own attire swapped out for furred attire, as well, “Are you too cold, Bunny?”
Alexandria smiled to Talus kindly, “Of course not, your shirt is keeping me warm just fine. Though… maybe calling me that considering our meal isn’t the best option.”
The group all laughed at this, and Talus nodded, “Right, right… well, I still hope it’s not too cold for you, Beautiful.”
She rolled her eyes, nudging him with her elbow, “Alright, stop showing off. The boys are going to get jealous.” She muttered.
One of the guards chuckled lightly, “You two do make me miss my wife and kids… here’s hoping that tomorrow goes off without a problem and I can see my princesses soon.”
Malduk raised a scaled brow at this and peered at the couple, “Ahh, children. Have you two given thought to that?”
Talus almost choked on his cup of soup, “Uhm… well… I don’t know…” He said before looking over to Alexandria, who was staring back at him with a look in her eyes he had never seen before.
Alexandria smiled wide, then looked at the others, “He’d make a wonderful father, don’t you think?”
The others all laughed as Talus’ face flushed red.
“Oh, look! Sir Talus is blushing!” One of the swordsmen spoke out.
“It’s cold up here, of course my face is red!” Talus retorted.
No one brought attention to the blush on Alexandria’s face. How could they? The happiness beaming from her was warming all of them.
Once the meal was done, one of the archers offered to take watch while the others slept. Talus couldn’t help but notice the excitement coming from Alexandria. As he prepared their sleeping bag, she was rocking side to side watching him as she sat nearby. A scarf covered her face, but he knew her too well, “Why are you smiling like that, my love?” He asked.
She giggled, “How do you know I’m smiling? My face is covered.”
“Oh come on, Bunny. I know the shape your eyes take on when you’re smiling. You practically look Ryukonian.” He explained, comparing her to the narrow-eyed people of the East.
Alexandria laughed at that and stood up as Talus finished getting the bag ready. She quickly made her way into the sleeping bag and looked up at him smiling, “You know I love the cold! We get to cuddle for warmth, and I don’t have to worry about getting sweaty.”
He chuckled in response, getting into the bag with her. As he got comfortable, slid one arm under her head and the other around her waist, “Ah, of course. But what if I want us to get all sweaty…?” He whispered.
Alexandria grinned in response before chuckling, pressing her body against his, “Mmm… stupid Wolf. The others would hear us…” She complained.
He kissed her lips lightly and stared into her eyes with a gentle smile, “We can’t have that… the sounds you make are mine and mine alone… ” He stated before moving one hand up to her face, moving the hair from it, “Maybe, though… next time… we could try making our own prince or princess?” The warmth of her face was easily felt now.
Alexandria buried her face into his chest suddenly. She gripped his shirt tightly and finally let out a whispered, “I would love that…”
The two slept with smiles on their faces, keeping each other warm from the harsh coldness of this sleeping volcano’s peak.
The next morning came much too soon. As the sun glared onto Alexandria’s face, her brows furrowed in her sleep. She reached out, “Talus… it’s too bright…” She muttered, feeling only more sleeping bag. Her eyes opened, in search of her beloved to find herself alone, “Talus…?” She said as she looked around. She was alone now, in the camp. None of the men were here. Panic began to set in, “Talus?” She spoke out as she got out of the sleeping bag, “Talus?!” She called out.
Suddenly, around the corner of a large rock, Talus ran out, “Alexandria!” He called out in a panic.
She sighed out in relief, dropping to her rear on the soft snow, “Idiot…” She let out weakly.
Talus ran to her, kneeling down to grab her and hold her close, “Bunny, what’s wrong?”
She sniffled lightly, wiping her eyes, “I thought you left me alone here, you idiot!”
Talus sighed a bit, kissing her forehead, “Don’t be silly… I would never leave you, my love. No matter what.”
She sighed out in defeat, lowering her head, “Look at me… talking about having children and I’m acting like a child myself.”
He chuckled lightly, lifting her head to look into her eyes, “Stop… I have no doubt that you’ll make an amazing mother.”
She suddenly kissed him deeply. As the kiss broke, she pressed her cheek against his own, “Stupid Wolf… I love you…”
“I love you too, my little Bunny.” He responded.
As the two rose to their feet, the other members of the party came around the corner, holding the corpse of a goat, “No worries!” One of the archers announced, “Turns out her yelling didn’t spook him. We’ve got breakfast!”
After the party spent some time skinning and cleaning its kill, Malduk made breakfast for everyone. Most of the goat was wrapped up for a meal for later, but the party was able to enjoy a delicious start to the day. Soon enough, the entire group was taking down their camp and making their way to their goal.
Malduk took point in the caves, being the only one able to see clearly in the darkness. The swordsmen all walked alongside Talus and Alexandria while two of the archers took the rear, the other walking just behind Malduk.
The group walked through the cave system for a few minutes before they arrived at a wall of solid ice, “This is it, then?” Malduk asked.
Talus nodded, walking ahead to stand beside Malduk with his lit torch in hand, “Yes. This is it. Behind this wall, there is supposed to be what we came for.”
Malduk nodded, looking back to the swordsmen, “Well then, men. Show this wall who the boss is.”
The swordmen all nodded, putting down their gear and swords to draw their pickaxes. Swing after swing, the ice was chipped away at. They were at it for thirty minutes before they took their breaks, being replaced by the archers and Talus.
Malduk was sitting next to Alexandria, who had her focus on a notebook, “Interesting read, Lady Alexandria?” He asked.
Alexandria looked up and smiled kindly, “Ah, well, I’d like to say so, but it’s just my notes about this place. The information we got says that behind this wall of ice is where the general of an ancient warrior tribe kept all of his treasure.”
Malduk chuckled, tapping his chin with his sharp, claw-like finger, “So we’ll all be very rich if this information proves true, then?” He asked
Alexandria smirked slightly, raising a brow at Malduk, “Is that the only reason you agreed to help us, Sir Malduk?”
Malduk laughed lightly, “I suppose it’s part of it… there is a beautiful female back home. I come from a poor family, so I was hoping that this treasure would help me catch her eye.”
Alexandria giggled lightly at this information, “You shouldn’t try to impress a woman with treasure, Sir Malduk. I’m sure if you simply sat down and spoke with her, she would adore you. You’re a kind man and educated! Any woman would be lucky to be looked at by you, that way.” She explained.
Malduk smiled, a facial expression that rarely fit those of his race, “You are kind, Lady Alexandria. If I may be so bold as to say so, I truly envy Sir Talus for finding someone like you.”
Alexandria smiled wide at the compliment, then looked over to Talus, who was busy swinging a pickaxe, “Nah… I’m the lucky one who found him. Now I’ll never let him go.”
Suddenly, the men all stepped back from the ice as it began to snap and pop. Cracks spread through the ice slowly before settling. The party all looked to Talus, nodding in approval. The man grinned and took one last swing at the ice, shattering it to reveal a dark cave.
Malduk was the first to say anything, “By Hadie… this is magnificent…”
The others ventured into the cave, their torches reflecting off of various metals and gemstones scattered throughout, “Boys…” One of the archers spoke out, “I think our days of exploring are over…”
Talus and Alexandria were as wide-eyed as all the others as they stepped in. Alexandria was gripping Talus’ hand tightly; a mixture of wonder, excitement, and anxiety was filling her, “T-Talus… this is…”
“Amazing…” Talus finished her sentence.
Before them was a room filled with random treasure, thrown all about. As if someone had collected this without any real goal, it was gold piled on silver on every color of gemstone imaginable. One item stood out amongst them all, however. An onyx figure on the top of the pile of treasure looked much like the fabled creatures of the past.
“Look at that onyx dragon! Its eye is beautiful!” Alexandria called out.
Talus stared at the dragon, almost frozen in his path, “Wow… ” He whispered.
The dragon figure had one golden eye, and the other was a unique, dark amethyst. The light around the amethyst was seemingly absorbed as it cast purple shadows out around it. It was the very definition of alluring.
As someone who loved different stones and crystals, Alexandria was absolutely enthralled by it. So much so, that she hadn’t even noticed she had let go of Talus’ hand at this point, walking towards the figure. This was the one treasure. This was what would make her known far and wide. It was practically calling to her, speaking her name and promising her everything she ever wanted. In the depths of the dark gemstone, she not only saw but also heard the future she had dreamed of. It bore itself into her very soul, wrapping around her body and caressing her gently. This frigid embrace was filling her with a beautiful passion. This was unrefined, unadulterated, unimaginable and undeniable, raw darkness.
Malduk’s voice broke through the cave in panic, “No! Lady Alexandria!”
Talus’ trance was suddenly ended when the Hadien’s voice echoed out. His eyes widened, and his breath came back to him, “ALEXANDRIA! DON’T TOUCH IT!”
The voices were too quiet, though. The stone spoke out much louder. Before Alexandria knew it, the stone was taken from the onyx figure and in her hand. She was suddenly filled with the darkness of the amethyst.
The others locked their gazes towards Alexandria when they heard her painful screams. Dark, purple energy shot out of the stone and wrapped around her, seeping into her very being. Her screams echoed out of the caves and throughout the entire volcano. The screams were full of agony and pain, as they continued, they were twisted. For a moment, she forced her gaze to Talus, tears streamed from her eyes. She screamed out to him for help, she begged him to make it stop. Eventually, the truth set in and through her painful screams, she let out what she honestly believed to be her final words, “TALUS! I LOVE YOU!” Her voice was akin to a twisted roar now.
The aura of darkness spiraling around her exploded suddenly. All the treasure was blown away, and the men were all launched into the walls of the cave. Screams of the men filled the caves alongside monstrous growling and roaring. The sound of snapping bones and blood splattering came clearly to Talus’ ears as he sat there, staring at the scene of a vicious monster tearing everyone apart brutally, “B-Bunny… BUNNY! NO!”
The monster stopped suddenly, its long, amethyst-colored body shifted slightly as its claws moved it along the bloodstained treasure. It inched towards Talus, amethyst-colored eyes stared into his very soul.
“You… you’re not… ” He inched back, tears trailing down his face, “You’re not my Bunny… you can’t be Alexandria! YOU’RE A MONSTER!” He cried out as he turned, forcing himself to his feet.
Malduk and one of the archers watched in shock as Talus was tackled down by the monster and devoured. The archer readied his bow, but Malduk gripped the man’s arrow tightly, “No. We leave. Now.” He growled out, glaring at the man.
The man looked to the Hadien, then to the monster that was attacking them, “But… no! She killed everyone! We have to kill her!”
The monster snapped its gaze on the two and roared out. At that moment, Malduk grabbed the man’s armor, throwing him out of the cave, “RUN, YOU FOOL!” He roared out before turning to face the monster.
The creature charged at Malduk, who was able to stop her in her tracks, her claws tearing through his thick flesh. Malduk let out a painful roar before locking his eyes with the eyes of the monster, “Lady Alexandria…” He growled out weakly, “You were a kind soul… forgive me.” He stated before closing his eyes. The blood she had drawn from him suddenly began to boil, “Hadic Magic… Astemeh! Parush!” At that moment, Malduk’s entire body exploded in a surge of magical energy.
“Alexandria!” A familiar voice called out.
As Alexandria’s eyes snapped open, she suddenly saw the face of Zavier. Her nails were clawing into his chest, blood was trailing down his muscular stomach. Alexandria’s gaze widened when she realized what she was doing. She pulled her hands away from the silver-haired man’s body and pushed herself back to the edge of the bed they shared. She looked at him mortified, “Zavi… Zavier…” was all she could say as she visibly shook.
Zavier didn’t flinch. He immediately pulled her close to him, against his body, “Shh… it was just a dream.” he said, stroking her hair.
Alexandria broke down into tears, sobbing uncontrollably, “I’m sorry… I’m sorry…” She repeated again and again in her cries as she curled her body up as tightly as she could.
Zavier shook his head, slowly, “Shh… it’s okay… I forgive you… you’re okay, Alexandria… everything is okay…” He tried to console her, though deep down inside, he could feel it. She wasn’t only apologizing to him. It wasn’t his place to pry, though, and so he held her against him throughout the night, refusing to let go of her.