Robes of Red & White
Chapter 10 of ADWF from Captain Brannon's POV
“You cannot bear witness to the ritual,” Brother Bastien had said. “It is a holy occasion, meant only for the eyes of the Brotherhood. We will report back to you when it is done.”
The captain had narrowed his eyes at the priest. He was not inclined to believe in the holiness they professed. Half of it felt
contradictory, the rest of it felt like heresy. Like they were going past the bounds of humanity and attempting to tap into magic themselves.
They denied it, of course. And who was Captain Brannon to question them, when it was Emperor Laurel himself who approved the sect?
“The success of their experiments means they will be able to confirm or deny the powers within the Fae,” the emperor had told
Captain Brannon when he’d dared ask. His face had been hidden beneath his veil, and yet the captain didn’t need to see his expression to know he wore a mask of anger.
Captain Brannon knew not to question him again.
It was why he put up with the Brotherhood. There were temples all around Illyk in every kingdom. Each temple boasted different a different group of priests. Each one more pretentious than the last. Every year, the Brotherhood recruited humans for their factions. Young men to carry on the gospel of the gods and of the emperor.
Their purpose was still unclear, except to preach humans’ superiority.
Captain Brannon didn’t need them to preach that to him to know it was a load of horse shit.
He hated the Fae race as much as anyone, but humans were not wholly innocent or superior. Humans were nothing. It was the Fae who acted like gods. It was Fae who held immeasurable powers within themselves that could eradicate entire cities.
It was up to humans to stop them before they got too powerful. It was up to Captain Brannon to gather them and feed the steel of his blade.
It was his job to watch them die.
Like so many humans had died due to their careless magic.
Flaring eyes flashed through his memories. A dark rich color, shining like the embers of a fire. Long hair that swept in shadowy waves down golden-brown skin. A smile pulling at a plump mouth.
There were soldiers in his ranks who sought out Fae and half Fae in brothels to fuck. They found a particularly cruel enjoyment in sinking their cocks into exotic women. Captain Brannon thought they were disgusting.
Though he had to admit to himself, however he loathed to, that the Fire Dancer from Piriguini’s Circus, Shula Azzarh, did something to him. She was a witch with pathetic, sad eyes that forced his caressing hands to touch her gently. And if he was the type of sick monster to fuck Fae women, then she would be the first he’d take.
But she belonged to the emperor. He would not damage his property more than his fool of a soldier who beat her had already done.
And if the priests were as smart as they claimed to be, they wouldn’t be damaging his property either.
He paced the floors, impatience pushing at his every stride. They’d already been alone with her for an hour. What could they possibly have been doing that required so much time? He was eager to take her to the emperor, but Emperor Laurel wanted solid confirmation that she was what they suspected she was. And only the Brotherhood could do that.
How, he didn’t understand. But he would.
Footsteps pounded against the floor. The captain whirled, brandishing his sword within seconds as he watched three priests approach.
Brothers Lincoln, Mathew, and Malcolm. Their wrinkled, withered faces were red and sweaty. They panted, each speaking over one another in quick, clipped tones.
The captain couldn’t understand a word of it.
“What?” he snapped.
“The Fae…” Brother Lincoln wheezed. “She—”
Captain Brannon did not need to wait and hear the rest. His feet carried him quickly. He ran down the dark halls, taking screeching turns and sliding against the floors until he ran down… down into the catacombs.
He was greeted with blood.
It pooled against the floor, slipping into the crevices of the symbols etched onto the ground. It swirled over the twin flames etched in circles, making the floor look like it was burning. Sprawled beside the symbols, was Brother Lara. His head faced the ceiling, his neck arched in a way that showed off the open flaps of skin and the blood pooling from the deadly wound. He wheezed, still holding on to whatever scraps of life he had left.
Another brother lay closer to the entrance. The front of his robes oozed crimson. It spread, a stain all around his chest. One look, and Captain Brannon knew he was dead.
Brother Bastien was praying and making several hand gestures.
The Fire Dancer was nowhere to be seen.
“Where is she?” Captain Brannon marched towards the one brother that remained standing and gripped him by the front of his robes.
He whimpered before he seemed to compose himself. He stopped his insufferable blubbering and pushed against the captain’s armor.
“Unhand me at once, you oaf!”
“Where the fuck is she?” He never lost his composure. Ever. But the thought that the tiny slip of a woman had gotten past three priests and rendered two of them useless, while injured, poisoned, and chained in iron, sent the blood rushing straight to his head.
And to his cock.
He was a sadist for even thinking it, and he would repent for his treacherous body later. For now, he had to find the Fire Dancer. She couldn’t have gotten far.
Then again, he thought she couldn’t have escaped this place.
He’d been wrong.
The emperor had been wrong to place his trust in this group of silly men. With a curse, he shoved Brother Bastien away. The priest slipped over blood and fell onto his ass beside Brother Lara. He let out a sound of disgust, turning towards his wheezing companion.
“He’s still alive,” he whispered.
Captain Brannon scoffed. “And will suffer tenfold when the emperor realizes what you foolish heretics have done.”
Fear sparked in the priest’s eyes but Captain Brannon turned away from it and rushed up the stairs. His soldiers met him at the top, confused yet prepared for his orders.
“Ready the hounds,” he commanded.
The Fire Dancer was on the run. His own blood boiled beneath his skin. She’d gotten away. She’d fled. That slip of a girl had fled and Captain Brannon vowed he would bring her back.
And he would punish her.
His cock stirred to life beneath his armor as he remembered her hint of a smile she’d given him when they’d met. He shoved the image away with a growl. The witch. Already she’d invaded his mind with her glamor and beauty and he knew she would stay until he caught her.
He would not rest until he found her.
He would not rest until Shula Azzarh was once again within his grasp.
“We have a Fae to find.”