Here There be Dragonseekers

Antony chuckled but took hold of her hand as they followed Erik and Draiden. Meanwhile, Draiden directed Erik to a little cave that was easily defensible and full of rich soil. As soon as they got settled, Erik began working. River was a mess of scars, but it was the reopened wound and the bite mark on her neck that bothered him the most. He knew that meeting his brother would have to wait. Saving River was more important.

Just as Antony and Ana arrived Erik shed his body to go into River as healing light but when he tried to enter he was forced back out

"She won't let me heal her," he said.

"Draiden, you need to talk to her," said Antony. "My lifemate dragged me out of trouble more times than I can count, now you do the same for her. She thinks she is still under attack."

Draiden nodded and began talking to her, mind to mind.

But when he touched her mind it woke her from her Carpathian sleep, blood started to quickly flow from her wounds and she gasped for air, her wings twisted and flapped opened pushing everyone back away from her, her son was asleep in her arms against her chest. Her eyes opened, they were her normal eyes, the first thing she looked at was her son, almost like she didn't notice anyone else, with her good arm she moved him up close to her face, laying him in between her breast away from her stomach. Suddenly her body jerked and she gasped and started to twist her body like she was trying to turn on her side. her wings cracked under the stress. She cried out in pain and as she did so she flipped onto her side and used her wings to push her son gently away from her

Draiden went to her and said, "River, I have Erik here. He's going to aid me in healing you. Will you allow him to do this?"

"I will also examine your son," Erik said, blocking her view of Antony, knowing seeing him and Anastasia would cause her even more stress. "I will examine him first if you want. You did well in protecting him, but we need to make sure he didn't get hurt while the battle took place to be safe."

River pushed Draiden away and grabbed her throat, she backed up further away from all of the until she hit the carven wall. Suddenly her body burst into her dragons flames, the flames so hot it left scorch marks on the wall and ground, river thrashed on the ground and when she let go of her throat they say them, parasite oozing from the wound in her neck, the where being destroyed by her fire as they come out, suddenly they started to emerge from her wound on her stomach too, they could start to see them moving under her pale skin, there were thousands of them, more then they had ever seen.

Erik slowly walked towards River, wanting to help her. However, something was wrong with Draiden. He was sickened by the sight, but something was drawing him to the parasites. He walked towards them, looking at them almost like he was in a trance.

Antony could no longer stand by. He went to Draiden and got his attention for a moment, then hissed.

"Black magic," he said. "Either a student of one of the High Mages, or worse, a High mage or a master vampire with a shard. Erik, this was more than just an attack on River. Those parasites draw in her lifemate, trying to infect him and turn him vampire, while at the same time, slowly killing her. His only thought is to get to the parasites and somehow place the within his own body." He pointed to the ever growing pile. "Notice they aren't going into the ground to find a new host. They are simply waiting for Draiden to come to them. I believe that is only about a third of what is actually inside of her body. It would also explain why you weren't allowed to heal her."

Erik gaped at Antony. But quickly got over it as he saw he was right. He tried to destroy the ones on the ground, but they were immune to the flames he had sent.

"Our powers won't work," Antony said, shaking his head. "We need someone who can use mage spells, preferably one knowledgeable on how to break them. I believe we must call in Anya."

Erik nodded and sent a call to his mother and brother. Meanwhile, Antony held Draiden back and noticed that Anastasia was staring at him again. He smiled and shook his head.

Rivers hands came up to her head and covered her ears "NO! stop Stop! Ill do it!" she cried. Suddenly the parasites started to reseed into her body, even the ones on the ground crawled back to her, Ana was sickened watching them enter her wounds but no one could get close because of rivers fire. When the last parasite went back into her body the wound on rivers stomach and neck closed and healed like they had never been there, her wings disappeared and her color returned to normal, slowly a mark appeared on her forehead, a branding mark of someone's name, a symbol known by all Carpathians, it was the symbol of Xayvion. River's fire vanished but before anyone could react two vampires were suddenly next to her helping her up. one was a female, another a large male, one that even towered Erik.

"River, going to him is not the answer," said Antony. "You know that. If you return to him, it will only make this worse, for yourself and your family. You can stop this. Anya was touched by one to the High Mages, same as you. If you give her time, she will break his hold over you."

The male vampire stood close to her almost like he was protecting her, his gaze went over to Antony and for a moment he could have sworn he saw a sadness in the vampire's eyes as he looked at him, but it was gone when he looked away.
River stood up straight and met Antony's eyes, a parasite could be seen crawling under the skin of her neck "Do you want to know a secret prince..." she said in a disgusted tone " you have helped your people...just not the right ones..I grew up in what you let fester...because of your poor leadership the vampires have grown in numbers and are thriving...you made it possible for things like Xayvion to grow in power as they have....why do you think I detest you....you sat in your home guarded by your hunter while people like me suffered under the people you ignored!" she growled and her eyes flashed her dragons "every death that has taken place since you became prince is on your hands! so dont for one moment think that you even have the right to speak to me!" she growled and went to take a step toward him but the male vampire held her back "make no mistake I would kill you and not because I'm being compelled to but because you deserve it!" she cried fighting against the vampires hold. The female vampire whispered something in her ear that seemed to calm her and she took a deep breath and met his gaze once more. this time he could see past the anger was pain "go back to your hiding hole prince.....you no nothing of the world you helped create let alone how to help me" she said baring her teeth at him

Antony placed himself in a vulnerable position in front of her and said, "You are right, River. I did ignore those who needed me the most. It is partially my fault you suffered." He put his hand up to stop Erik and Anastasia from speaking. "However, you also helped me by forcing me to face them. I won't lie, it hurts like hell. You are also right that I don't know how to help you." That's when he motioned to Anya and Grigore as they entered the cave. "However, this woman does. I am still trying to grasp these abilities, but you have started the healing process by forcing me out of hiding. Now, I can't go back. Believe me, when the pain first hit, I tried. But you wouldn't let me. Healing these wounds has to begin somewhere, and whether you know it or not, you started it. If it ends badly, which it very well could because I am just a man, it falls on me. You helped me when even an ancient such and Anya could not get through to me. Thank you." He bowed to her. "If you choose to accept her help, Anya will heal you and would like to have you act as an advisor. I don't know how to connect to those that have suffered as you have, and would appreciate your guidance in these matters. Like Erik, I would also like to extend my protection to you and yours. This means that the whole of the Carpathian people will protect you and your family, come to your aid when you are in danger, and will always be with you when you need them. River, the whole of the Carpathian people owe you so much, we couldn't possibly even begin to pay it back to you, but please, allow Anya to try to heal you. It will the first step of many to make up the wrongs done to you."

River stared at him for a moment, there was confusing him her eyes and she looked at Anya and the man next to her and then at everyone else, her eyes lingered on Draiden, her Draiden, his past was filled with so much pain just as hers was, seeing him hold their son and knowing how much he had grown and fought to get over her past made her feel pride when she looked at him. River opened her mouth like she was going to say something to Antony, he could see in her eyes it was important but vampires got closer to River, the male actually putting his arm in front of her and moving her back protectively, both of their gazes on the same person Anya. River looked at her, her face once more harden"if you try I will kill you" she said in a threatening tone "what you are doing is cruel and sickening" Anya said with disgust "who are you to judge! you no nothing! yet you speak with such disgust while you look at me!" She cried out "those two deserve to be put to rest yet you keep them here for them and their families to suffer!" Anya growled back.

Everyone saw river snap, they knew the second she did, they could see it. She broke the vampire's grip and was on Anya with inhuman speed, She slammed into her so hard they both went flying out of the cave, going through a wall.

Antony, Erik, Draiden, and Grigore went to the mouth of the cave. They had to find a way to stop them from fighting. Erik and Grigore tried to find an opening to break the two women apart while Draiden tried to keep his son from harms way, should projectiles be used. Antony held on to Anastasia to keep her from getting in the middle of the battle. Then, something clicked.

"Stop!" he yelled out, his order keeping even the vampires from moving to River's side.

He walked down to the women and looked them over, helping both of them up so they would be standing. What he had seen made him smile while also shocking him. He then moved to River's right side and he shook his head.

"Father always said Ivory had her own way of doing things," he said before looking at Anya. "You were about to lose this battle. If it was based off of skill alone, you would have won, hands down, but River is the daughter of Razvan and Ivory. She is a natural strategist. She doesn't even realize that's what she is doing in the middle of battles. The outcome of this fight was decided before it even began." He then turned to River. "As for you, we should have found you far sooner. I am sorry you suffered for over 100 years. It should have never happened. However, your mother gave you a present. The fourth set of her wolves lies somewhere within your home. One has made itself small enough to be considered a birthmark behind your right ear. Congratulations. I have a book in my home on how to care for them, written by Skyler Tirunul, your half-sister. She and Ivory collaborated on the book so that future generations who were trusted with the care of these Carpathian Wolves would know what they had to do to care for them. Your family just got a whole lot bigger."

River took a step back "I don't know these names you speak of....my father died in the cave to help me escape....the only family I have now is Dradien, my son and Marcus and Malana" She said looking at Anya "you migh want to check your footing " she said with a smirk. Anya looked down to see her foot was not even an inch away from a ward trap. She looked up and growled "if what you say is true Antony we cannot allow her to be controlled by Xayvion," Anya said in a serious tone. River laughed "you have no idea do you....these parasites are not from Xayvion or a vampire" she with an unsettling smile "their mine" Suddenly Ana cried out, everyone's head turn to look to see the large male vampire behind her with his hand around her neck and the other one around her waist "It would be wise for no one to move" River said in a dark tone

"But is this what you really want?" Antony asked. "Alone? Fighting for survival? Do want your son, your greatest gift, to learn there is no such thing as a life, just survival? No one can be happy just surviving day to day. He is only hours old and he is already treasured by the Carpathian people." He put up his hands. "I know we didn't try hard enough to save you. The whole of the Carpathian people know this, and we regret it. Whether you control these parasites or not isn't the issue. It is that they were first created by dark magic put into you by Xayvion. And I am not saying that the people you named aren't your family. I'm saying they should be included with your other family as well. If those people raised you, and you loved them, then claim them as family. Anya's uncle, Gary, used to be human and a Jaguar, but he is no less her uncle. She still loves him as an uncle. But don't try to fight Xayvion alone, or with vampires. You will only end up alone, running and fighting. There will be no end to it." He looked at Anya. "I know I am right, but a full century under a High Mage's terrany will change even the most battle hardened hunter, as you well know. Your sister, Anastasia, never got over what Xavier did to her and it was regrettable, nor have you gotten over being under his thumb, but both of you grew stronger because of it. However, you also had family to turn to when you needed it. River has not had that luxury. Both you and River carry the burden of knowing how the High Mages treat their victims. I'm surprised you don't count her as a sister. What she can do, her abilities and the use of strategy on the fly, they are assets to the Carpathian people. But you, an ancient, are failing to see beyond your disgust of this control that she had to forge in the pits of hell. If she had been given the chance to learn in a safe environment, think of how she could have helped our brothers, preventing them from turning, or aiding to give them hope. Instead, Xayvion twisted that gift, forcing her to use it to survive rather than aid. I did no better when I first found out, but now, I can see, if given the chance, River can turn this ability back on her tormentor. She needs to only have to courage to accept the help of those who failed her in the past." He looked back at River. "I know you have that courage. Defy him once more. This is a battle you can win, but you can't do it alone. No daughter of Razvan and Ivory, though you do not know of them, could be anything less than courageous. In fact, I'd say, Xayvion fears the power you have and that is why he did what he did. If you found out the true power you have, you could end him for good, and he can't have that. Let us fight along side you, give you strength in this battle. Then, your nightmare can finally end, and Marcus and Malana can finally get the rest they need, knowing you are safe and happy."

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