Passage: Dark part 1 (revision 1.0)

Notes: this is a complete alternate reality. The world that this takes
place in is Passage, precursor to the Gateway. Both are places that I write
fantasy stories in. I just had to toss the G-boys in and see what they did.
Be prepared for yaoi, violence, sap, OOC-ness, and some yuck factor.

--
Someone was riding toward him; riding hard. Wufei opened his eyes slowly,
letting a soft sigh of annoyance escape from between his lips just as the
horse and its rider arrived in the clearing. As he had thought, the horse
was exhausted; foam lathered its sides. The rider nearly fell off the horse
when he tried to extricate himself from the saddle.

Wufei let out another soft sigh and slid off the rock he had been sitting
on, carefully brushing his pants off. He didn't get visitors very often,
which was just fine with him; there could only be one reason for someone
riding so hard to reach him. "People never learn." he muttered.

The messenger, now steady on his feet, walked over as quickly as his
cramping lef muscles would allow. "Sir, message from the Tiamat."

"I know." Wufei reached around the side of the rock and grabbed his sword,
pausing for a moment to feel the weight of it resting comfortably in his
hand before sliding the sheathed weapon into his belt. "Another war,
right?"

The messenger nodded.

"And let me guess again. Another one of the Eastern demon-summoners."

"No, sir."

"Really." Wufei crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow at the other young
man.

Suddenly finding himself inexplicably nervous, the messenger licked his
too-dry lips. "The Tiamat wouldn't call you for something that simple.
She's not sure what these people are, but we've lost a fourth of the army
already."

"Interesting." Wufei's tightly controlled voice betrayed none of the
surprise that he felt. "Have the others been called?"

"Yes, sir. You know you're always the last one we find." The messenger's
tone was almost accusing.

Wufei smirked. "I like my privacy." /Though not as much as I used to. If I
don't spend at least a few days with the others, I'll start talking to the
trees./ "Anything else?"

"Only that the Master of Dragons is required to respond and make all
possible speed back to Sanctuary, by command of the Tiamat. I am also to
warn you that there are signs of enemy presence in the area, so you might
want to be careful."

Wufei snorted. "I don't think I'll have any problems."

As you wish, sir. Just passing on the message." The man glanced at his
horse.

"Go ahead." Wufei said. "It'll take you several days to get back. I'll let
them know when I get there."

"Thank you sir."

Wufei shrugged as the man turned and remounted his horse with no small
amount of difficulty. He waited until the horse and rider were no longer
visible before he turned back to his rock. The remains of his camp were
still spread around the clearing; only a few pathetic scraps of food, the
ashes of a fire, and his white over shirt hanging over a tree branch. After
putting the shirt back on, there was nothing left to do; the food and the
ashes would take care of themselves, leaving the clearing as if he had
never been there. Time to leave, once again.

"Shenlon..." he breathed out into the air. The softly spoken name took on a
life of its own, filled with meaning that were too complex to belong to
just a simple name. The wind whipped up around him, pulling his clothing
tightly against his skin. "It's time again..."

***

/Hurts...too much...too much...can't think.../

He couldn't run any more. His lungs hurt, burned, like the rest of him, but
this pain was clean and honest, at least...it wasn't pain that anyone else
had given to him.

/Can't...No...have to get help.../

Running through dense forest at night should have been an easy task. Would
have been, if he'd been able to choose his path and pace. If he wasn't
being pursued. If he wasn't hurt. The boy wiped blood from his eyes with a
shaking, singed hand. It hurt so much that he couldn't breathe for a moment
as the burnt skin along his back cracked. He had no way of knowing how
badly he was hurt, but he had a feeling he wouldn't end up living though
this one. He could smell cooked flesh riding on the breeze, and he knew it
was his.

He had to keep running, though. There was no way that he'd give himself
over to the tender ministrations of his captors again, not willingly. No
way in hell.

/Hurts.../

He stumbled over a root and fell heavily on his face. His ribs screamed in
protest, and his back felt as if it were on fire again, as did the long,
burned welts on his arms and legs.

It was sort of funny, he thought idly, but the thing that really hurt the
most was the tiny line of burns on his cheek where one of the soldiers had
tried to take his eye out with a hot poker. The ass had been so drunk that
he'd missed and given him a chance to grab the poker away from him.

If he kept telling himself that, he was sure he'd eventually believe it.
Tears ran down his face, stinging the myriad of cuts and burns as he
struggled to his feet once again. He had to keep running. He had to escape.

Another tree root reached up to grab his leg, and he went down again, hard.
His vision whited out for a long moment; he could hear crashing, louder and
louder behind him, but his body wouldn't respond.

/Damnit! No! NO!!!!/

Rough hands grabbed his arms, and despite his best efforts, he whimpered.
It hurt too much...God, he was on fire...

"Did we say you could go, pretty boy?" one of the soldiers said in his ear.
The boy shut his eyes tightly. "The boss isn't done talking to you yet."

Somehow, he found the strength, he didn't know from where, to speak.
"Yeah?" he said, his lips cracking. He could feel blood dripping sluggishly
down his chin. "Well, you know what?"

"What, whore?" the soldier laughed.

"Your master can eat shit and die." the boy let out a hysterical giggle
before a large fist crashed into his chin, sending him into darkness.

***

There was something in the wind, something restless. Wufei rolled the
feeling of the invisible strands of air between his fingers as the wind
went screaming by. It never ceased to amaze him how quickly Shenlon flew,
the massive silver dragon weaving her way through the air quickly enough
that he was constantly in danger of being swept off her back if he leaned
too far to the side.

/Something's not right.../

Wufei shook his head. The air was heavy with barely contained energy that
tickled coldly along his skin; it felt like someone was trying to invoke
one of the elements, which was not normally something to be concerned over.
Earth witches and healers drew small amounts of the elemental energies all
the time. This was different, however, he could feel it. It was
stronger...and it was very, very foreign. It didn't come from the other
three...and it didn't even feel like an element to begin with.

An electric shock ran through him. Whatever was going on, it was happeneing
again. "Shenlon...we need to land, now."

|assent|

The dragon abruptly braked, and Wufei hastily grabbed one of the ridges of
her back as he came dangerously close to falling off. The feeling of
gathering power became more urgent. The backs of his hands itched, and his
skin was beginning to feel tight and heavy with the suppressed energy
gathering somewhere below them. The air took on a strange, electric tang
that Wufei normally associated with lightning poised to strike. Without
understanding how he knew, he knew with absolute certainty that he and
Shenlon had to be on the ground before whatever was gathering burst.

"Shenlon, hurry!"

|frantic acknowledgement|

Shenlon turned her brake into a dive, heading toward the ground with speed
that literally took Wufei's breath away as the wind screaming by them stole
the air from his lungs. Right before they hit the green ceiling of the
forest, the massive dragon pulled up in a wing straining snap that left her
rider hanging on for dear life and set his shoulders aching in sympathy.
There wasn't time for that, though; the 'storm' hadn't broken yet, by some
miracle, but the Master of Dragons had a feeling that it wasn't going to
hold off much longer...he'd used up all of his luck a long time ago. "We
need to land now!"

|fear|

Wufei could feel Shenlon desperately searching for a clearing large enough
for her to land safely in while the forest stretched in all directions for
miles, the dark canopy of tree tops seemingly as unbroken as the surface of
a still pond.

|fear fear fear fear FEAR!!!|

There wasn't any time left...Wufei heard Shenlon scream loudly as a flash
of invisible energy slammed into them, stealing the breath from his mouth.
He could vaguely feel himself beginning to fall before his body let out its
own shriek of agony and he was sent spinning into cold darkness...

***

He couldn't remember what had happened. All he knew was the pain. They'd
been thorough, brutally thorough this time; his feet were broken, he knew,
and his legs. He wouldn't be running again.

/I couldn't...hurt...too much.../

He couldn't really understand why they'd done that, in his few coherent
moments. He'd watched them put the last of his caravan to the knife when
they'd dragged him, bleeding but still defiant, back into the camp. The
sight had broken something that not even the pain had...he was too hurt to
run anymore, now. All that was left for him was to die.

/Why? Why are they doing this to us? What did we do?/

One moment, there had been another hot poker, pressing into his hand,
melting its way through as he screamed and screamed with a voice that
didn't exist any more.

/Please...I want to die...PLEASE.../

He'd heard Carine, the caravan's healer, screaming his name, over and over
again...and then she had stopped screaming, something that was even more
frightening than her terrified shrieks. But...perhaps...maybe she was dead.
They couldn't hurt her if she was dead.

/I want...please...I want to die.../

/No./

/I WANT THEM TO DIE!!!/

The immediate pain stopped for a moment as the shadowy figure of a man he
could barely see through his tears stepped back. The crackling of the fire
sounded sharply in his ears. They were reheating the poker.

/Please, someone just make it stop...please...someone.../

They began to burn away at his other hand.

/PLEASE! ANYONE! ANYTHING!/

Then there was light, then nothing but darkness.

***
"God..." Wufei moaned, spitting out a mouthful of leaves without bothering
to open his eyes. "What the hell was that?"

|confusion|

Wufei slowly opened his eyes. He was on his back, lying on top of what felt
like a pile of rocks. Sharp rocks. He was in the forest now, obviously; the
massive trunks of the ancient trees arched up over him, reaching impossibly
high toward the sky. Instead of the dense, unbroken ceiling of the forest
canopy, though, there was a ragged hole letting the watery light of the
stars shine through. Now that he was actually thinking again, he could see
that most of the trees were missing branches, and a few tilted toward the
ground at crazy angels. He closed his eyes.

/It looks like something big came through.../ he snorted softly, then
sneezed as something large nudged his face gently. /Wonder what that could
have been./

|anxiety|

Wufei smiled and opened his eyes again to find himself looking into one of
Shenlon's unbrokenly silver eyes, which was bigger than his head. "I'm
alright." he murmured quietly. The dragon let out a slightly annoyed huff
that blew his hair back. Wufei pushed on her snout with one hand and sat
up, groaning. "I think...Elder Dragons, I feel like someone's beaten me
with a pitchfork." He reached up and pulled a splinter that was longer than
his thumb and nearly as thick out of his shoulder. "God...that was
definitely not the best landing we've ever had."

|annoyance, dull pain|

"Don't complain to me. You've got scales. I've only got skin and a few
shreds of cloth." The Dragon Master poked a finger through a massive tear
in one of the flaps of his overshirt. /Shreds is about right./ Dismissing
the thought in favor of more important things, he spent the next several
minutes extricating himself from the rocks and dead branches he'd fallen
on.

By the time he was done, he'd managed to scratch and bruise the few square
inches of his skin that had made it through the landing whole, and had lost
a good portion of the edges of his overshirt to makeshift bandages. He was
tired, sweaty, incredibly sore, and very grumpy. Shenlon was curled around
several trees with Wufei using her shoulder as a makeshift bed; he'd
decided that they would be better off waiting until morning to try to find
their way to a clearing. Shenlon might have good night vision, but he
didn't, and the dragon was still new enough to him that he couldn't
accurately see through her eyes; their thoughts became too tangled with
each other's for that. Besides, though he would never admit it out loud, he
hurt too much to face a potentially long hike right then.

Wufei slowly drew in a deep breath, ignoring the dull protests of the
bruises on his back and chest. He'd always liked the way the forests of
this land smelled, all green growing things with a hint of rotting leaves
and the sharp scent of evergreens. It was so different from the forests of
his homeland, but the feel of the trees still brought his aging memories
back to life. Home... /No, I'm not going to think of that right now. I'm
not ready yet./ "Shenlon," he said, "do you have any idea what that was?"

|hesitation|

"What?"

|*images* ... *feelings* ... fear ...|

Wufei closed his eyes, quickly sorting through the sensations that Shenlon
was rapidly dumping into his mind. After several minutes, the foreign
thoughts withdrew, and he opened his eyes once again to stare at the dark
recesses of the forest canopy. "When it hit us, for just a moment, you felt
my heart stop. I died."

|assent...fear...|

"That can't be right. Nothing has that kind of power, not even the Elder
Dragons, and I would be the first to know if one of them woke." /Please
God, let me be right.../

|confusion, anxiety|

Wufei shook his head and forced himself to relax...he needed to sleep if he
was going to be of any use the next day. "So much for returning to
Sanctuary. Tomorrow, we will find the cause of this." /I hope.../