Devotion and Desire: Outtakes
This is another outtake from my main story Devotion and Desire. If you have not read that, then this story will not make sense. For those readers who have read it, this outtake happens long before the beginning of Devotion and Desire.
This outtake kind of wrote itself. I'm not sure where the idea came from but I think Marcus knocked me on the head and said 'You should write this down.'
This will be mentioned in the main plot somewhere down the road but not anytime soon.
FYI: I have a twitter account which I will post some goodies about my story. My user name is Alkedema
-Grand Canyon, 1871-
Marcus stood on the edge of an unstable cliff overlooking a massive canyon below. Clay and rocks crunched under his feet as he shifted his weight forward to see the unforgiving pit.
The wind howled past him as the temperature dropped with the setting sun. The orange glow did nothing to warm the frigid air as a forlorn sigh escaped his lips only to be drowned out by the biting weather. The brilliance of the red clay faded in minutes as the sun finally set and night blanketed the cavernous land in looming darkness.
His keen sight could penetrate the lack of light and saw the jagged rocks lining the cliff.
As a demon, the drop wouldn't kill him but Marcus found it tempting. To dive off the cliff into the dark chasm and never open his eyes again would be bliss. But no, that wouldn't happen. He was immortal and a royal one at that. The jump would barely harm him, nothing more than an inconvenience in his cursed life.
The Demon Prince clenched his teeth at the thought and wished death for him was as simple as it was for humans. Envy heated his blood; he had tried dying in various human ways but no matter how many poisons he ingested Marcus still lived.
Even the few diseases that could ail his race never plagued him. He took a step closer to the edge, let some rocks fall with the movement. They disappeared into the darkness below making no sound.
Instead of seeing the blackness of the cavern, Marcus could see the alarmed disgust on countless faces every time one of his own kind looked at him. Bile rose in his throat as he remembered their fear if he walked past them, their hushed whispers as they called him monster. Frightened faces and wary eyes greeted him among the hidden races; even humans were inherently scared of him.
Now, his family's frightened faces joined the sea of others.
Marcus raised his face to the twilight sky as a fresh wave of guilt crashed into him. The remorse burned deep in his chest and he could hardly stand the shame. He had gone years without an incident and then … today ruined everything he had worked centuries to achieve. His good intentions crushed by one, inexcusable slip-up.
His beast was stronger than him.
It took over his body and Marcus could not fight its desire to attack and destroy. The time his beast was free was hazy but when it was over, he saw the ruin that was left and the blood on the ground…
He shook his head to escape the images and reality came in the form of a burning sting across his neck. Marcus felt blood trickle out of the self-inflicted but healing wound. Disgust wormed its way into his psyche, finding room among the self-directed hate he felt.
After today, in a desperate attempt to save his loved ones, Marcus tried to sever his neck with a poisonous, demon-made sword but it failed to do any real damage. No, although it was quiet deep in slumber after its bout of rage, the damn beast would not let him die.
As distracted as he was, Marcus' senses were still sharp enough to smell his brother's scent on the wind as he approached. The much younger demon advanced with no care to stealth and stopped several feet away and eyed the cavern below. "That's a long fall."
Marcus glared over his shoulder at the unwanted interruption and saw Zivan staring back with a hopeful look on his face. Under the countless stars of the rural, night sky, his brother looked innocent like the wide-eyed child he was. Standing no higher than his waist, Marcus saw Zivan wring his tiny hands together in an obvious sign of nerves.
The boy was always skittish around him but Marcus could not fault his wariness. Children were often intimidated by his presence and could instinctively feel the terrifying aura of his beast.
But to give Zivan credit, those blue eyes never wavered even though the Demon Prince sensed his trepidation. Barely ten years old, his little brother would never stand a chance against his temper but Zivan didn't move and Marcus respected the childish bravery.
The younger demon had no idea how lucky he was and how much Marcus envied him. Zivan was the normal son of the Demon King, whose beast was developing at a natural pace. He didn't have to worry about controlling his emotions to keep the beast quiet and avoid disaster.
Marcus was not so fortunate; it was torturous to look at Zivan and see his own failure. Marcus turned away from the boy and stared at the pitch black opening that was one step away.
"Leave," he commanded his brother. He was desperate for the solitude this cavernous land provided.
"No." That one word was not as tough as Zivan tried to make it and cleared his throat to try again. "Don't you want to know how I found you?"
Marcus did not respond, perhaps the silence would drive the other demon away. Rocks scraped the hard clay as Zivan shifted under the quiet. It wasn't long before the younger demon's limited patience wore out.
"I fake being asleep when it's your turn to read at night. You only tell the best stories when you think I'm sleeping." The rushed confession left Marcus blinking at the unmistakable honesty.
It took several seconds for his thoughts to stop bouncing around in his skull and even then he wasn't sure how to respond. His brother offered comfort but Marcus was unwilling to take it. He didn't deserve it.
Zivan took his silence as an invitation to continue. "You talked about the tribes here and how peaceful they are. You're worried about the Americans coming for the gems here."
He was concerned about the human explorers destroying the land as they had when the New World was first discovered. He remembered the slaughter the Englishmen raged on the native humans all too clearly. Now this 'Grand Canyon' as they were calling it, was in line to suffer the same fate.
Zivan stepped closer and Marcus could feel the younger demon huddle against the chill of the night but that didn't dampen his excitement. "I can help keep them away. Do you want me to scare the humans-?"
"No." his answer was resolute and firm; Zivan would not be involved with the greedy prospectors. "I should not have told you anything. The stories will stop from now on."
Marcus saw his brother jump forward with an outstretched hand, "No! I like your stories-"
The rest was cut off as Zivan slipped on loose rock when trying to reach him. The younger demon skidded off the edge of the cliff and Marcus saw the moment when Zivan realized what was happening. The look of terror on his young face snapped Marcus from his melancholy.
He easily reached down and grabbed his brother before he could fall. He turned from the pit and carried Zivan until they were a safe distance away from the unstable rock face. The scent of fright clung to Zivan as his little heart pounded rapidly. His royal blood guaranteed he would have come out of the fall with only a few cuts and bruises but the boy still feared the thought of death.
Marcus was concerned with how tightly Zivan held onto him and realized that his brother depended on him to protect and take care of him.
The childlike trust in those blue eyes made a knot of shame settle heavy in his chest. Zivan had to have heard what happened at the Estate. How he lost control of his beast and unleashed his power on his family. So why did the boy cling so tightly to a monster?
Zivan sniffed loudly and Marcus assumed he was about to cry but Zivan's thought burst into his mind with a sharp pang of alarm. Blood? There's blood. His brother must have lost his mental shield during his fright of falling.
Marcus set Zivan on his feet and turned his back to hide the blood caked on his neck from the healed wound. Embarrassment flooded his system as his magic quickly washed away any evidence of his desperate actions.
"Go back to the house, Zivan." His desolate tone made it clear that he wanted to be left alone. And given his short attention span, it also served to distract the boy from the blood he saw.
"I don't know how to go back. Gabby sent me here but you need to take me home." Marcus let out a heavy sigh. Zivan's personal caretaker, Gabby, spoiled the boy too much. She should have never sent him out into the world without a guard to protect him.
With a wince he realized that the caretaker would have assumed Zivan was safe in his company. That was a dangerous assumption for someone to make given his current mental instability.
"No. I will send you back alone." Marcus was certain that he would not be welcome home after what happened.
He heard Zivan's confusion and it set his teeth on edge. "But you have to come back home-"
What little patience Marcus had snapped. He whirled around and got in his brother's face so the boy could see his guilt. He did not enjoy the way Zivan jumped back in fear but he had to understand. "I will not go back. I am a danger to the family. I am the monster that hurt our mother."
He abruptly backed away from the boy. He tried to take deep breaths to calm his temper but thinking about what happened sparked a panic that he might hurt another member of his family. Marcus clenched his fists as he struggled for stoic calm that even as the beast slept, was out of reach.
"But that's why I came." Zivan explained in a small voice, looking up to see if Marcus would interrupt him again. He just looked down at the boy and tried to focus on the chilling air in order to keep the chaotic emotions away.
Zivan straightened up with confidence when Marcus said nothing. "You ran away before you saw what really happened. Mom's okay."
A ringing silence passed between the two brothers before Marcus fully understood what Zivan said. His heavy heart picked up speed and emotion tightened his throat. He only managed a rough, "What," in response.
Zivan's eyes brightened when he realized he had Marcus' full attention. "Yeah, Mom's alright. It didn't hit her because Shadow jumped in the way."
The mention of his horse's name had Marcus struggling to comprehend what Zivan said. Shadow took the blast? That meant… His mother was alright.
The moment those words processed in his brain, he fell to the rough clay as his knees gave out in relief. He didn't notice the chilling wind pick up its ferocity or his brother's questions of concern. All that registered to the Demon Prince was the fact that his mother was alright.
A sob caught in his throat, the guilt so oppressive he found it hard to breathe. He couldn't remember exactly what happened but the image of his mother in the path of his beast's destructive energy flashed behind his closed eyes. He only caught of glimpse of what was happening through the eyes of his beast but he saw the terror on her face, remembered feeling it himself. He never saw Shadow jump in the way. His horse had been loyal to the family till the end.
"I did not mean to-" Remorse choked off the rest of his pitiful apology. Hot tears burned the back of his eyes but didn't fall.
"I know that. We all do." Marcus easily heard Zivan's careful approach but did nothing to warn him away.
The boy knew to tread carefully and speak softly as Marcus wasn't stable right now. "Mom's worried about you. She wants you to come home."
His mother was always the first one to forgive his mistakes and right now, at his lowest moment, her compassion felt like poison in his veins. Violent shudders racked his body and Marcus punched the hard earth in frustration.
Dust rose with each release of his disgust, his anger at what had happened and his determination towards what could be changed. The Demon Prince panted heavily not with exertion but from emotional exhaustion. On his hands and knees in the middle of America's last wilderness, Marcus knew this was his worst moment.
The other incidents happened years ago before his power matured. He was easier to handle then, easier to subdue if needed. But now, Marcus recalled the chaotic moments before his beast took control and how his father and the Royal Guard couldn't stop him. The strongest demons in the world had been there for the incident and yet they couldn't keep him from harming innocents.
Innocents like his mother. The horror of watching his power hurl towards the Demon Queen would forever haunt him. The feeling of helplessness that accompanied the memory rushed to the present and drained him of his internal anger.
He sat on the red earth, wondering if he should take his mother's unselfish invitation and go back home. The safest path would be to distance himself from his family. No one ever knew when an incident like this would happen again, not even him.
The beast was too unstable to control and despite the years of practice, Marcus could not stop the creature when it decided to go on a rampage.
"You're thinking about running away again." The accusation was brutally accurate and unwelcome. Marcus twisted his head to stare at his little brother. He knew Zivan only guessed at his thoughts since he wasn't strong enough to enter his mind.
The boy had no idea how lucky he was that the beast was sleeping. If it was awake, it would not tolerate Zivan's persisting and annoying presence. As it was, this rare moment of solitude gave the Demon Prince precious clarity.
Zivan idolized him, always had and it was something he tried hard to discourage. The destructive loss of control should have gotten rid of those childish thoughts but Zivan was still here. Standing before a proven monster and begging him to come home.
The naivety was heartwarming but Marcus knew it would disappear in a matter of years once the boy understood the terrible curse of Marcus' beast.
"Fine, then. Don't come home." The taunt ended in a high pitch giving an abundance of evidence to the lie on Zivan's breath.
The transparent mask the boy adopted was lined with indifference and nonchalance. Two emotions Marcus could plainly see that his brother didn't feel. At least the young demon was good at diverting his attention from unpleasant topics. Marcus could feel the oppressive weight of the incident lighten slightly.
He shifted to sit in a more respectable position on the rough clay. With his arms propped on his knees, the Demon Prince raised one eyebrow to his brother with a small but genuine burst of curiosity.
Zivan crossed his arms in a false show of bravado. "If you don't come home then you have to teach me how to fight. That way if this happens again I can do something about it." Zivan's voice was filled with eagerness and Marcus was quick to stop his brother's foolishness.
The answer was swift and final. "No, you are too-"
"Young. That's what everyone says." Zivan harrumphed and stood closer to Marcus making their eyes level. "I thought you were different from everyone else."
His answer came automatically, "I am but-"
"Then you won't be like them and say no, right?" Zivan's eyes were wide with hope and his little hands were clenched tightly in front of him.
The Demon Prince respected Zivan's resolve. He was clever when he wanted something. His brother grew anxious when Marcus didn't respond and tried a different tactic.
"How about you teach me how to fight and I promise to be your loyal brother forever." The pleading in his voice made Marcus pause in his refusal.
The boy was so eager to please that he found it difficult to say no again. Zivan would soon mature and grow out of this fervent want to have his older brother's attention but in this moment he felt compelled to agree with the boy's demand.
They never had the chance to really bond as siblings should; the last decade passed by in a blur. Marcus was busy being groomed for the throne and Zivan was just a child learning and discovering his demon nature. Perhaps this was a way Marcus could strengthen his control. Training the boy would require a great deal of patience and he needed an iron clad will to fight his beast. During the creature's slumber would be an ideal time to start sparring with Zivan.
As old as he was, Marcus could admit that training Zivan would restore his confidence; the support of his family could help him overcome this incident.
The Demon Prince was willing to mend his destroyed pride and face the consequences of his actions. He had to clean up the mess he created. Despite their differences, he hoped his brother would stay by his side through it all.
He gave Zivan his hand and maintained eye contact, respecting the other demon's tenacity. "Deal." Marcus promised without completely believing the boy would always stay on his side.
Zivan gripped his outstretched hand with both of his small ones. He enthusiastically shook Marcus' hand, "Deal."
The boy kept pumping his arm up and down for longer than necessary. "And you won't tell Mom and Dad, deal."
It was only after the final condition did Zivan let go of his hand so Marcus was forced to accept all the parts of their pact.
Regardless of the lateness, he still responded. "I promise," he pledged with sincerity. Marcus would not betray Zivan's trust; no matter how misguided he thought it was because that confidence poked a hole at the oppressive weight of what happened. It was a new experience for someone to rely on him so blindly but Marcus was willing to step into the older brother role Zivan needed.
The boy grinned at his success, "Good, they don't want me to fight but it'll be our secret. Can we go now?" Zivan said, stepping back and rubbing his hands together to ease the chill of the air.
Though he wasn't as enthusiastic about leaving as Zivan, Marcus nodded. It was time to return home. He rose from the dirt and turned to look at the cavernous landscape. The night hid all the red clay that dusted the area but he could see the spot on the cliff where he once stood. That moment on the edge was over and he mentally threw away the weakness of his failure.
He would find a way to completely control the beast. There would be no more episodes where he harmed innocents ever again. That was an oath Marcus swore to keep.
AN: As always I would love to hear what you thought about this chapter. I am inspired by your reviews so please don't be shy.
A little background history into the setting of this outtake:
Major John Wesley Powell led the first expedition down the Grand Canyon. In 1871 Powell first used the term "Grand Canyon"; previously it had been called the "Big Canyon".
Thanks for sticking with the story.
Till next time,