Chapter 9 of ADWF from Ryker's Familiar's POV
The looming human temple was like most human buildings. Tall, made of iron, and distinctly unimpressive. She supposed it could have been construed as ominous due to its location and the darkness that slanted across it.
But, she was a cat. And like most days, she found herself bored.
Ryker’s familiar hissed as she was jostled from her perch on his shoulder. Her claws dug through his heavy cloak, piercing the scarred skin of her human beneath, before she took a leap to the ground and curled her body around his legs with a purr.
They’d stopped within the shadows that the temple casted against the ground, staring up at the stained mosaic glass as if it held secrets. Though what secrets a building such as this held, she would not know.
She rubbed herself against Ryker’s ankles then slowly blinked up at him. He was not listening to his Fae prince, but to her own voice echoing inside his mind.
She often spoke to her chosen Fae, but only when she felt like it. Sometimes he demanded answers of her in his irritated, growling tones. The disrespect in that went punished with a swift paw to his glass vials of potions and poultices for the sick.
The shattering of glass was always a very satisfying sound.
“This place reeks of blood,” she purred within his thoughts.
Ryker never appeared overly startled by her voice within his mind, even though she seldom gifted him with it. Being her chosen Fae should have been gift enough, truly.
“The iron prevents my senses from fully reaching out,” came his reply.
“Hmm, shame.” She sat and licked her paw before swiping it across her face.
Her nose twitched and she glared up at him, the meaning in her eyes clear. “I am not your lackey.”
He held back his growl, though she was sure it pained him to be so silent this night. He stared at her a moment longer before resigning himself to the fact that she would not do as he bid. At least, not when he asked it of her.
She was not some trained bitch.
She had her pride.
“How do we get in?” Clay, the Sapphire Court Fae, and the most beautiful of them all, asked on a low whistle. His bright eyes ate up the length of the building, his nostrils flaring as he scented the sharp tang of iron in the air. “Maybe we should have brought Uric…”
“No,” Prince Valerio interjected. “We cannot rely on Uric’s magic. Not when we do not know what lies inside. I will not risk him getting trapped within an iron cage, or his magic failing within those walls.”
Oh, but Fae were so very boring.
“I will go,” she whispered into Ryker’s mind.
His head whipped down, his stare penetrative. She ignored him and leapt up onto his shoulders. He did not hiss in pain, for she knew he’d suffered much, much worse than this. He did, after all, have the scars to prove it. Once she had the higher ground, she made a second leap, landing on the wall and walking along the edge of it.
“I will find your Fae,” she told Ryker. “And when I do, you will thank me.”
Before he could reply, she was already trotting away.
It did not take so long to circle around the temple, and it took even less to find an opened door near the alley. It was cracked slightly, as if some human had hurried out and carelessly left it open, and she squeezed her body through easily enough.
Darkness greeted her within. No lights beamed from the sconces in the walls but then again, she did not need it. There were so many twists and turns throughout the temple, but she did not fear getting lost. She let her nose guide her, following the scent of fresh blood. Traces of it pricked at her nose, making it twitch. There were much older trails, fainter scents, but it was the sharper one she followed closely.
Her paws padded slowly against the marble flooring. Noises of humans echoed from far away, though she did not cross anyone’s path.
It was for the best, she supposed. She did not feel in a particular mood to dirty her claws against human flesh tonight. She wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible.
She needed a nap.
With a soft purr, she continued onwards until she heard them. Footsteps. Heavy breathing. Her ears twitched as the sound of clanking reached her, followed by that sharp scent of blood. It was coming closer, closer…
And then she saw her.
The Fae woman’s hands dripped blood, and her body nearly glowed like an ember in the darkness. Her hair was unbound, clinging to oil-slicked skin that was transparent against a scrap of cloth she wanted to rake her claws down.
She blinked and the Fae woman’s steps fumbled, faltering for a single second as she took in the slit pupils and glowing eyes in the darkness.
The thought echoed through the woman’s mind and the cat wanted to growl, but more importantly, she stared at the curiosity of a Fae.
Usually, familiars could only read the thoughts of their chosen Fae. Ryker was her chosen Fae and yet she’d heard this female’s thoughts as clearly as if she’d been within his mind. Her head tilted a fraction. A strange energy pulsed from the female, one the cat couldn’t discern where it came from or what it was.
It was a similar vibration to Ryker’s.
It was all starting to make sense.
The eyes of a demon lead to freedom.
The cat turned from the female with those words of her thoughts echoing loudly. She knew the Fae would follow her as she led her back to Ryker.
And she did.
“I found her,” the cat whispered into Ryker’s mind. “We are coming.”
They took their twists and turns and when she slipped through the door, the Fae woman followed, running blindly. Likely tasting freedom upon her lips. But she didn’t see Ryker step out from the shadows and so her body rammed into his.
As soon as their bodies touched, energy crackled around them. A bolt of raw magic that shimmered in the air, visible only to those with the sixth sense. Familiars, animals, and those with the sight. They bounded off of each other. Ryker’s hands came down. She struggled, tearing the hood from his head, looked up, saw his ears, and froze…
The cat purred, satisfaction swelling in her chest. For a moment, the two became lost in one another. Gauging the strange sensation that pulsed between them, working out what it meant. The truth of bonds that were not easily broken.
You see, the cat had found Ryker long ago. Back when the scars and pain of his sister’s death still pulsed against his face. Back when he was weak. Back when he climbed that mighty oak tree and tied a thick rope against a branch to hang his own noose.
She’d felt the connection before he’d even seen her. She’d known, as energy surged through her body and clicked to place in her soul, what the Fae was. So she prowled towards him. He’d looked up, startled at her presence…
…and promptly fell from the tree.
She’d watched over him since then. She watched him pull his broken pieces together and go through life with a single-minded goal.
Only she knew what loneliness lived in his depths.
Only she knew what he really, truly craved.
And now, she was here. The cat had led her to him, and surely, they would recognize it and embrace it and find their happiness.
Or so she’d hoped.
“Who are you? You know what… scratch that. I don’t care who you are. Move! I have to leave.”
What blind fools, to be unable to see what was right in front of them! The hairs on her body bristled with annoyance and when the Fae fainted and Ryker lifted her into his arms, the cat jumped back onto his shoulder, digging her claws in with just a little more force than necessary.
“Fool,” she whispered into his ear. He glowered, but said nothing. She had the sudden urge to tell him what this Fae woman was.
Who she was. His mate. But she stopped herself. That was something the idiot was going to have to discover for himself. And when he did, surely he would not be so idiotic as to push her away.
But if he did, well, then Ryker’s familiar would just have to find a way to bring them together.