The quiet atmosphere was calling him. He couldn't help himself as he crept down the dirt path that wound its way through the dense trees of the forest. There was a slight mist on the ground, signaling just how late into the night it was. The air itself had a chill to it, like a cold damp blanket draped over his skin. He shivered and wished he'd brought some sort of cloak with him.
There was something different in the wind that night, different in the air. He knew that something was going to happen just beyond the territory he was entering. Perhaps he shouldn't go in then...
But he'd been here so many times before, why should it be different now? No one knew of this place; no one but his mother of course. It had been her favorite place to go. It was where he'd been born. It was where she had died.
The night had a dense quality to it-tangible to his sensitive skin. Dorian couldn't see much beyond the trees blocking his view and he walked a bit slower, wary now of the mist that hindered his vision. And there was that feeling again...
"Is someone there?" he called out over his shoulder as he stopped in mid-step. He didn't really expect an answer, and gods, he hoped one didn't come.
But he'd been here so many times before at night, Why should it be different now?
There was always that feeling in his mind, hanging over him like the mist. Perhaps he would escape it.

Later, Dorian knew that had he bothered to look up as he strode down the path, perhaps his troubles later in life would have been easier to handle. Than maybe he would have been prepared.
But as fate would have it, he didn't. With blue eyes fixed on the path in front of him, he didn't think to look up to see two tall, slender figures resting in the strong branches over his head, blocking out the stars. He didn't see the two pairs of huge feathered wings folded gracefully behind each, almost translucent in the moonlight, and making them look like the very angels of the gods his people believed in.
Of course they weren't. They were nothing of the sort. To Dorian's people they were unnatural beasts. Creatures that were feared.
The two lay serenely in the branches, folding their wings as tightly as possible to avoid drawing the attention of the young mortal below. One looked to the other, touching his companion's fiery red hair that lay on his shoulder. The other looked back and nodded. Dorian had disappeared from their sight. They should move and find him.
Disentangling themselves, they stretched their magnificent wings to full span and beat them slowly, gracefully, keeping right above the tree level.
Dorian stopped at the hidden lagoon, removed his clothes and slipped in without so much as disturbing the water. He stood in about mid-hip, the water just below his naval. There was no greater fetish of his than bathing here. There was just something about the place that entwined with his love of nature and solitude. Fighting the urge to submerge himself in this magical place was sweet torture. It drew him too strongly for him to resist.
The two creatures alighted silently beyond the rocks that surrounded the moonlit lagoon. They lay belly down side by side to watch this young mortal as he dipped jet black hair into the water and flip it back, breathing out loudly and moving to float a bit on his back.
Dorian splashed a bit with his fingers, feeling the coolness start to penetrate to his bones. He wouldn't be able to stay here long; he hadn't expected the night to be so cold. Sighing, he wondered at the feeling he had around him.
The two creatures smiled at each other again. The taller, with the hair like spun gold, sat up and began to move away from the rocks under the watchful eye of his companion.

It was some time before Dorian realized he wasn't alone in the pool. Splashing around a bit, he righted himself and ducked down so the water's surface was under his chin.
The other in the pool had their back to Dorian. A waterfall of thick ivory hair just dipped into the water, and parted as the being moved to display a well-muscled, proudly arched back. That alone told his he should probably make a run for it. This man was powerful.
The man turned his head to look over his shoulder and he smiled enigmatically as his large eyes of indeterminate color narrowed a bit. Dorian furrowed his brows and began to inch toward the banks. He didn't trust this man, for though the other was naked and therefore didn't have any weapons, his beauty was cause enough for suspicion. As well as the fact that no on knew of this lagoon but Dorian. Why was this man here? And why didn't he speak?
But this was no man it seemed. Rather, a creature, whose hair was gold as the sun even in the night and thick as a lion's mane, with dark expressive eyebrows, had something else to him, perhaps something Dorian couldn't see. He knew he was missing some vital part, but he couldn't figure it out.
The being was, however, very tall and proportioned. The arms were long and flyweight muscled as he used deliberate motions to bathe himself. The hips curved just slightly into the water and sloped perfectly into his smooth buttocks from the small of his back and trim, slender waist.
"Who are you?"
No answer. Just a slight smile and a swish of hair.
Dorian moved to get out from the lagoon, his eyes frantically searching for where he'd carelessly flung his clothes. From the corner of his eye, the creature moved and he was quite suddenly swept up in the iron strong arms, held tightly against the slenderness of the wet body of the creature whose magnificent wings were just now becoming visible in Dorian's sight. A Flyer.
Dorian put up the fight of his life. He clawed at the thing, snarling curses while the creature just smiled at him, dodging Dorian's swings at his face. Dorian swore again and renewed his efforts to escape, however, it only seemed to amuse the creature more.
Off to the right, he could see the creature's red-haired companion sitting on the rock watching, a smile on his pretty face.
Dorian growled at him, trying to catch a handful of the thick hair, but he could get no grip on it. It was as if it had a life of it's own!
The Flyer held him tightly as he lifted Dorian easily as a feather and carried him out of the water like a child. He set Dorian against a rock and put on him such a strong mental hold that Dorian might as well have been chained there with thick iron clamps. He couldn't even move his fingers. He watched furiously as the blond Flyer flipped his long hair about, sending shimmering droplets of water in all directions.
His companion handed him a garment to wear, and threw a silvery cloak over Dorian's head. Laughter.
So he was thrown into darkness until the edge of the cloak lifted and he found himself peering into the blond's blue eyes. Dorian bared his teeth again.
"Let me go!" And a few more choice curses.
The blue eyes widened and then the blond smiled. He lifted Dorian again and wrapped him in the cloak like a caterpillar in a cocoon.
As he lifted him up, the blond's lips curled slightly in a gentle smile and he whispered, his voice tinged with an unknown accent. "Sleep."
Dorian's head fell back and his body went slack, unconscious.

Gabriel sighed, staring down into Dorian's peaceful face.
"Come on," Niko said, pulling his arm. "Dawn will come soon and we'll be seen. We should go."
"Niko," the blond one said. "Do you think it was right? I mean, he was so frightened-"
Niko smiled. "More like really, really angry. I do think he could beat Ria in the foul mouth department."
"Ha! Sweet and elegant Ria curse? Whoever heard of such a thing." Gabriel played with Dorian's hair. So dark. He'd never seen such a color of hair on a Flyer. It must be exclusive to humans.
Niko threw his head back and laughed. "Then you haven't seen him angry enough!" He looked to the sky. "Come," he said again. "We should go. Quickly now."
Together, Dorian clutched tightly in Gabriel's arms, they took to the skies.

They flew effortlessly towards the East where the sun was not yet ready to appear. Higher and higher they went, laughing with each other, daring to appear now and then out of the clouds where they could then be seen. There was always danger in that.
They flew up in the heavens where the clouds became sturdy and strong where one who was touched with a little magic could actually walk. A little more above this lay the flourishing Flyer settlement. It was a thriving village built in the sky.

Upon arriving near one of the lofts built for residence in the community, Niko shook his wings violently before letting them fold warmly on his back. He ran a hand back through his thick hair. "I hate going through that layer of clouds. It's always so wet."
Gabriel laid Dorian in the mist. The boy's hair was wet still from the water of the lagoon. Up here it was still night and it was chilly; he should get dry as soon as possible or he'd get sick.
As the blond knelt beside his prize, Niko had retreated to the door of the loft and called into the darkened doorway, "Ria!"
Not long after that, his call was answered by the wail of a child. "Niko!" a young masculine voice called back angrily.
Niko smiled and knelt down beside Gabriel.
A young man appeared from the darkened door of the loft, mortal as Dorian was mortal, dressed only in a thin robe he'd just thrown on that exposed both his sloped shoulders. He wore a gold circlet around his forehead and it glinted with the gold in his eyes.
Niko went to him and put his arm around the boy's shoulders. Gently he kissed the boy in greeting. Gabriel smiled at them wistfully.
"Ria," he whispered, looking back at Dorian.
The boy smiled gently, unwinding himself from Niko and knelt down beside Dorian's unconscious body. He touched Dorian's face with long, delicate fingers.
"Who is he?"
Gabriel smiled. "Just a boy. He lives in that small village were the rivers cross. Niko and I liked to follow him when he goes to bathe."
Ria's tender brow furrowed for a moment. "Then why disturb him? He has a life of his own. Leave him to it."
"Because I want him for my own," Gabriel answered almost sternly. "I've been alone since you've known me and I want a companion."
Ria's eyes widened for a moment. "There are ways to determine who should be your consort, Gabriel. You can't pick and choose for yourself! It has to be from inside of you."
Niko spoke up for the first time since Ria had come out. "It did, my love, it did. He didn't eat for a week after he first saw him. Nearly starved himself to death. Don't you remember?"
Ria smiled and shook a finger at Niko. "You weren't carrying something the size of a watermelon in your belly for the last three months. How could you expect me to remember?"
Niko smiled and patted Ria's flat belly through the thin white silk he wore. Ria sighed. "If it is to be done, bring him in now." He began to move back into the loft. "I don't expect he'll be too cooperating if he's awake.

When Dorian opened his eyes he could focus on nothing but the piercing pain in his forearm. Among silken sheets he doubled over, clutching his aching limb to his chest and groaning softly. As his vision cleared, so did his memory.
He sat bolt upright, forgetting his arm and violently upsetting his head. He moaned softly again, slumping over and holding his head. He rubbed his temples, eyes closed, oblivious to anything around him as he concentrated on easing the throbbing pain in his head. What the hell had happened to him?
He could hear nothing as he looked about the room he was in. It was incredible, like nothing he'd ever seen before. The walls seemed to made of something like pearl, sparkling in the early morning light. The floor gleamed with a luster that Dorian had never seen. As he set his feet upon it, he found that they were as smooth as silk, but gave way just slightly, then appeared to be solid again. Out to where the room widened was a balcony that he could walk right out onto. He did so, not entirely noticing that he was naked.
He looked out to find he was high above the 'ground' where he could see beings walking. Some had wings, but others looked and walked through the mist like normal people. His eyes picked out instantly that there were no women in sight.
Here and there he could see the boys being carried by Flyers, and many were laughing.
Dorian saw Flyers looking at him from where they flew or up from the mist. Modestly, he pulled a blanket from the bed and ventured out again, drawn by the gaiety of the whole place that made him forget his fear for a moment. The entire place was surrounded by what looked like actual stone, but he couldn't be sure. The same rock-like material had been used to construct the numerous houses like the one whose balcony he was standing on now. Why was no one else frightened by those magnificent creatures as he was?
He heard a soft rustling sound behind him. Dorian spun quickly and backed up against the bars of the balcony, clutching the blanket around his body.
"It's freezing out there," a husky tenor voice said. It sounded as if the speaker had only come into his man's voice. "Get in here before you get sick."
However, the command in the voice made Dorian comply. He crept back through the silk curtains that blew softly in the air and back into the room.
Standing by the door to the room, barefooted on the tile floor, was the one who'd commanded him so strongly with such a young sounding voice. He had a tray with a bowl in his hands and this he set on a table near the bed. "Sit down," he ordered, gesturing to the bed. Again, Dorian complied.
He could not take his eyes off the boy for even a moment. The presence he carried with him demanded more respect than his young looks seemed to deserve. Dorian wondered if he was really as young as he looked.
The boy brushed his sandy colored hair behind his ear. What a strange color, light near the roots yet the longer it was, the darker it got. It reminded him of a wheat field. Gold eyes studied him from head to foot.
Satisfied with Dorian's appearance, he took Dorian's arm without warning, immediately reminding Dorian of the shooting pain there as it renewed itself when the boy pressed with his fingers.
"Hold still," he said, a little irritated. He held Dorian's arm more firmly and had pierced the skin with a small sharp knife before Dorian could. Dorian let out a little cry and the boy looked at him, a little smile on his face. Was he enjoying this?
Blood dripped into the bowl that the boy held under the wound in his wrist. Dorian bit his lip in pain and saw that the liquid was already red before the boy added his blood to it. It looked very much like blood. But whose?
The boy bandaged his wrist up and stirred the contents of the bowl with his finger. He wiped his finger clean carefully before pouring some into a clear flask.
He held it into the newly shining sun in the room and the red glittered beautifully. "Drink it," he said, handing it to Dorian. "Drink it all."
Dorian looked at the flask and the blood in it. "What for?" His voice was shakier than he'd wanted it to be. Drink blood? You've got to be crazy.
The boy crossed his arms and glared at him, saying nothing. Not someone to argue with.
Dorian closed his eyes. If they were going to kill him, they would have done it already, Wouldn't they? But...but, blood? His own? And the gods knew who else's... Closing his eyes, he drank it all, surprised at the blandness of it.
The boy let a little smile play on his lips. Was something supposed to happen to him now? Dorian didn't feel a thing in his stomach. As the strange boy stood up, Dorian, perhaps for the first time, noticed he was very slight of build. His legs were long and minutely curved, his arms thin, perhaps even a little bony, as were his shoulders. His belly, however, was flat but for the slightest hint of a round swelling.
Apart from his gauntness, the boy stood as tall as Dorian. He took Dorian's hand and pulled him up. "Put this on," he said, handing Dorian a folded garment.
Dorian held it out in front of him. "I don't know how," he confessed. At this, the boy laughed.
But it wasn't spite laughter. It was merely amusement. He took the garment from Dorian and, a smile still on his full lips, pulled it over his head. It was so light that he felt as if he wasn't wearing anything. It only covered one shoulder, for it passed under the other arm, leaving that shoulder completely bare. The boy tied several thin sashes about his waist to hold the material closed.
Then, he stood back, his hands on his hips, appraising.
Dorian sat back down on the bed, folding his hands demurely in his lap. "Are you going to tell me where I am?" he asked softly. He looked up at the boy. "And who you are?"
The boy brushed his hair back again. He glanced towards the door and sat down next to Dorian. "My name is Ria," he said. He glanced at the door again. "I think you know where you are, you've just never been here before. Where do you think you are?"
Dorian looked out towards the balcony. "A Flyer settlement?" It was all he knew. His mother had never told him anything about those elusive, almost mythological creatures that were often blamed for colossal supply theft in the larger villages. It was said that they would come down in the night and take what they could. It was a prize to be able to kill one with spears or arrows.
But something else about them had frightened his mother and he wished he'd known what.
Ria put his hand over Dorian's.
"But do you know why?" he asked, looking with Dorian at the balcony doors and their billowing drapery.
Dorian at once felt the uncontrollable urge to weep. He shook his head. He was suddenly so scared at what Ria's answer would be.
"To be what I am," Ria said.
Dorian looked at him. "What are you?"
Ria looked at him and smiled almost sadly. "A life-bearer," was all he said. He stood up in front of Dorian and crossed his arms over Dorian's head.
"But what do you mean?" Dorian pleaded. "Tell me!"
But Ria said nothing. He closed his eyes and said words that meant nothing to Dorian. It sounded like a prayer, or maybe even a blessing. Who knew. Ria knew.
When he'd finished, Dorian pleaded with him again to tell him more on what was to happen to him. He was sure Ria was mortal like he. But Ria only shook his head, saying only that he could not say more, that it wasn't his place.
As Ria moved to leave, Dorian caught his slender arm in one last attempt to get answers from this boy whom he could easily crush with one blow. His grip obviously caused some pain as Ria winced and twisted violently to get out of Dorian's grasp.
"All will be revealed to you after your final covenant has been made!" He finally freed himself. "Your heart has been converted, your soul just by the taking of your mixed blood and now your body must be blessed. You must still consummate you bond." He straightened himself and fixed Dorian with a cruel glare. "You must never grab me like that again. Niko doesn't like it."
Converted? Consummate? What did it all mean? What kind of torture requires your heart, soul and body to be blessed first? He felt it fruitless to voice these questions, as Ria surely would not answer them as he had not answered any of Dorian's other questions.
"Who is Niko?"
Ria smirked rudely, evidently very upset at being grabbed at. "As I said before, all things will be revealed to you and all questions answered after your body has been sanctified and the seed conceived. I must leave you now, I've said too much already."
With that, he was gone.
The seed conceived? Dorian sat back on the bed, nursing his cut wrist, his mind so full, he longed for just one moment to breathe easy.
But he had a long time to sort things out. The door was locked; he'd tried it more than one time, to jump off the balcony would be suicide and to try to scale the wall would be impossible. More than once, he thought he'd heard laughter far away outside his door, and maybe even what sounded like the cry of a baby, the childish laugh of a newborn.

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