VI: The Kingdom of Light

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Nalin woke with a start. Disoriented, he stared at his feet for quite some time, allowing for his eyes to adjust slowly as everything else fell into place after a short while. A pounding in his skull became apparent and nonchalantly, he ran his fingertips gently from one temple to the other.

Unable to ease the throbbing in his skull, he withdrew and caught sight of red. It was all over, coating his hands and arms, even his legs and torso. Alarm filled him, but it didn't take long for him to realize that the blood had not come from him.

That was right.

Slowly, memories of what had happened trickled into his mind.

He'd ripped the head off some guardsman right in front of everyone. In front of Noir. If anyone had any doubt of his demonic decent, now they had nothing to question. Nalin was a monster and he had proved it.

He didn't know how long he'd been unconscious for. He was imprisoned for certain, but was Noir as well? Or had they already executed him?

Fatigue set in, strong and nauseating. The sudden sickness overwhelmed him, rendering Nalin crippled against a wall.

Questions swarmed through his mind, sending his heart into overdrive, practically throwing itself against his rib cage. Nalin bit the inside of his cheek to keep from panting as something heavy pressed on his chest, slowly becoming similar to the feeling of suffocation. A popping sensation relieved his ears before white-hot pain took him without warning.

Nalin felt like he was burning from the inside out. His eyes shot open even wider and he gasped in agony, bolting upright. Frantically looking around, he took in the unfamiliar surroundings.

Darkness shrouded the entire area, save for an unknown source of red lighting that set the room aglow. Thick metal bars were not but a yard away from in front of him, the remaining sides to his right and left reinforced walls.

Nalin was in a holding cell.

Another bout of extreme heat brought his body to a whole new level of pain, making the thoughts vanish from his mind completely. Tears pricked at the corners of Nalin's eyes as the burning sensation gathered in his throat.

Then, just like a switch, the pain disappeared. Like it was turned off.

"You're awake," someone said, very close by.

The voice drew Nalin's eyes to the far corner of the room, where a figure lazily stood, watching him with gleaming silver eyes. Nalin's heart gave a sudden lurch. It was a magic user. He was the one who was burning him from the inside out.

The man stepped forward into the soft glow of light, revealing himself for Nalin's eyes to dissect.

With hair as dark as the night sky and eyes molten chips of steel, Sir Alpine stood, a lean figure dressed in fine attire, the metallic luster of something bright gleaming at his right bicep. Nalin squinted at the insignia at his arm, trying to translate the foreign symbol into anything his brain could recognize. It was the shape of a flame, that much Nalin knew.

"I find it amusing that you have the guts to stare at me with those miraculous eyes of yours. They gleam with bravery, yet flicker with something that seems to be more fitting for your kind."

Nalin watched as the Keeper cocked his head, much like a predator would to his prey as if it were entertaining him in a peculiar way. Some demon Nalin was--- even if he was half ---his demonic brethren would disown him for his frightfulness.

"Why so angry? Not a fan of heat?" A chilling smile morphed the Keeper's otherwise blank features, an emotion Nalin deemed foreign, for it failed to reach his eyes. His eyes, cryptic pools of melted metal, peered with such intensity that it felt like they were reading into Nalin's soul and dipping into his most sacred secrets.

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