I seized Gluttony and Famine by the lapel the moment they stepped foot into the office. Before the eyes of the shocked office staff, I dragged them into my office and slammed the door close.
"Sit down, you two," I growled. "You have a lot of explaining to do."
"The information is in the company's database," Jarvis said weakly. He wrung his hands, darting frantic looks at Gluttony who remained strangely silent.
"Fuck the company's database," I retorted. "I tried. I couldn't find anything. Damn it, both of us, how much have you been hiding from me? From my father?"
The two exchanged a nervous glance. This time, Gluttony turned ruddy and started choking.
"Oh good god," I rolled my eyes, exasperated. "Calm down. We need to talk. Tell me what I don't know."
Famine became very still. The air in the office grew heavy.
"I believe we need hot tea for this," Gluttony said quietly.
"Your father knew this was going to happen," Famine began, sipping his Earl Grey with a calm I thought was admirable. "He anticipated this. That was why he called you back."
"Explain the gaps in the records," I said flatly. "And what is the Maleficient?"
Jarvis gasped aloud. Cedric poured more tea into his cup. His hand trembled. A drake would never show fear. But these two grown drakes were. It unnerved me.
"Who was the 'dark' Father was referring to in the diaries?" I pushed on. "Who was 'the dark rising'?"
Another exchange of glances and Jarvis turning distinctly pale.
"Bloody hell, what exactly is the Maleficent?"
Gluttony's eyes darkened. "A very very ancient evil. Corruption, if you want to be more specific. What it touches dies. Your father and grandfather allied themselves with the Dökkálfar. They were the 'dark rising' you mentioned. They fought the Maleficent for a long hard war. Of course, our human friends did not notice."
"And they finally closed the gate, imprisoning it to its realm," Famine continued. "Not without losses on both sides."
"Has this ancient evil got to do with the Dark Claws then?" I asked.
Jarvis sighed and seemed to grow taller. He was the braver of the pair. "Yes."
"Why haven't you told Father? That would be our fucking clue!" By now I was out of my chair. Blood roared in my head. I was... shocked and furious and disappointed. I hated the betrayal, the blatant lies.
"He knew, Gabriel Drakeson," Jarvis said. "He knew too much. Only that he couldn't keep them from coming. Now the Maleficent has been let free. He wanted you to deal with the Dark Claws and save those who could be saved."
"The Maleficent whispers lies to drakes who desire the most power, hence the Dark Claws were formed. It leaves darkness in them. Your sister was ... touched by it. It is a blessing she lives and is changed for the better. Not so for the many who live under its terror."
"As for the Dökkálfar..."
I slammed my fist into the table. The wood cracked. "What about them?"
"They are a people who live on honor, but a capricious people who are easily angered. They demanded a blood price from your father..." Gluttony spoke up then. "Your father was under severe pressure. They wanted you, his first-born son. He refused. It ... offended them to no end."
My blood ran cold. There was a question I had to ask. Loyalty was such a rare value. "Are you... Dark Claws?" I said. I heard the ice in my voice and relished it. "Answer me. I would not tolerate dissent. In fact, Father did ask me to flush them out."
Gluttony and Famine went absolutely deathly quiet. It was then Jarvis's eyes twitched, I realized I was staring at one, a fucking Dark Claw. Without a word, I leapt on him and slashed his throat with my claw. Oddly enough, he did not resist.
The corpse thudded on to the immaculately-kept floor. Dark drake blood flowed out from Jarvis's gaping jugular. My claw stained with crimson, I turned to Cedric coldly. "How about you? You knew... and you kept silent. That's not a good answer for me."
"I plead mercy, my lord," Gluttony fell onto his knees, uncaring about the blood. The rich metallic scent filled the air with an odd piquancy. Dragon blood. Drake blood.
"What mercy? You almost destroyed my clan, our clan, you bloody idiot. Father died, because of you. What else can you say? You were not trusted advisors. You are fucking killers."
I inhaled deeply. "But I offer you one thing: assist me in finding the rest of your kind, and I will spare your pitiful life and existence."
Cedric Flamestrike Sutherland bowed his head.
"You killed him?" Filipe was incredulous when I told him what happened. The clan was understandably shaken up now, with two key members closest to the leader identified as Dark Claw. I had Jarvis's corpse removed and his family informed - now that sub-clan had a black mark. I purged their names and deeds out in the Book of Drakes by crossing with black ink. There had been many crosses in the Book, some more recent. Cedric's name - with the cadet clan under him - was now in danger of being ...
"You killed him? Wow!" Filipe shook his head.
"Yes," I said tiredly. With the adrenaline gone, I felt... empty. My heart hollowed out, my spirits flat. My closest advisors had been slowly killing their own bloody clan.
"In case you are wondering," Filipe went back to his laptop, his eyes still fixed on me, "I am not one of them."
"I am telling the truth."
"Show me then," I heaved myself out of the chair and poured myself a glass of cold water. I had too much alcohol in these few months. Too toxic, too poisonous.
Filipe tilted his chin at me. "Watch me."
Outside the wind picked up. Colder and sharp, like winter. We were living in a tropical environment. I shuddered and closed the windows. I stood at a cross-roads. I had rooted out two Dark Claws in my own clan. Now the rest of the clans were looking at me for direction. Perhaps some of them would be afraid.
"You know, Gabriel," Filipe's voice hounded me. "You remind me of someone. Our father."
"Shut up," I muttered, the truth hurting harder than ever.
YOU ARE READING
Halcyon DaysScience Fiction
Gabriel Sutherland must not lose precious time. He has to destroy the Dark Claws, quell the dissent in his own clan, and work with his half-brother who may or may not be his only ally in this drake vs drake war. Who are the Dökkálfar and what do th...