Chapter 15

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Alaya took Dyson back to her estate after the healer cleared him, however, not by mirror but by regular road instead. There was nothing physically wrong with him and even though he could surprisingly see the worry in Alaya's eyes, he knew with a certainty that there was nothing wrong with him as well. He just couldn't tell her how he knew. Him keeping his thoughts and emotions bottled up was part of the reason why she kept a close eye on him for the first couple of days of the journey, as if he could break any minute. She kept asking him if he needed anything and was insistent on being the only one to take care of him, even though he was more than fine. When they finally arrived back at their place, he was relieved to get some space between him and Alaya and for her to actually give it to him.

Things had changed drastically since the last time he had been near the farm grounds. The faces that greeted him were still the same, but the way they regarded him couldn't have been more different. He sensed something that almost resembled respect but was slightly tinged with fear as they tipped their head to him like a tiny bow wherever he went. It was nice not to be ignored anymore, to get some sort of acknowledgment that he existed, even if it was tainted by the fact that they were now afraid of him. The legend of his true ascension had travelled faster through the country than him. Nonetheless, Alaya wanted to throw him a feast with all her immediate subjects to celebrate just in case anyone still didn't know about what had happened to him.

He supposed he should give Alaya more credit. She had been nothing but kind and sincerely concerned for him ever since the cauldron, but he couldn't shake the feeling that he should always be on his toes around her. There were no more guards when he roamed the halls. He could come and go as he pleased, do whatever he wanted, without anyone even glancing his way and it almost felt like freedom. Almost.

Back when Alaya had claimed him as her property after he was done with his training, she had treated him like a servant to tend to her every whim. He soon learned that she fancied him and he used that to his advantage, ever careful not to draw her wrath upon him. At that point, he had lost hope of ever seeing Kasia again, but it still made his skin crawl that he shared a bed with Alaya instead. But it was easier that way, to wait and hope she would get bored of him as her plaything. Yet she never did. There were rumours of her fierceness in battle and her swift justice should anyone cross her path. But to him they weren't just rumours, he had seen her temper first-hand and was always the one to listen when Alaya didn't dare trust anyone else with her thoughts and fury. After all, he was merely a human and who would possibly believe his word over hers should he ever betray her? She made him her confidant, but also reminded him that he was only human with every breath he took. Dyson knew she tried to keep the violence out of her home estate, but he still remembered the day she dropped a farmer mid-flight and his blood splattered on the ground. Even now, there was something decidedly different about the spot and people easily averted their eyes because the image was branded in their minds. It was a warning not to steal from her or to pay with their lives if they did and as a warning it clearly had served as no one even dared think about any such action afterwards. He knew what she was capable of. He knew that he was expandable to her like everyone else who wasn't a pure and powerful Velcry. Was he meant to forget about that now that he himself wasn't "just" human anymore?

All his hesitation towards Alaya's sudden change from jailor to caring partner was why he remained silent about his new gift. During his time in Arcadia, he had always been fascinated with Velcrys, their culture and vast variety of abilities, but could never quite grasp the magic behind it. There was always this veil that separated him from truly seeing what was happening around him. The cauldron had changed all that.

As he watched his surroundings, he slowly learned to interpret his new skill. When the farmers used their magic to keep the crops alive, they emitted a brown hue dotted with blue drops. When Alaya was ready to burst out her wings, she gave off an almost steel-like glow laced with needles, however, when she just used her eagle eyes to see farther into the distance, the needles were replaced with circles. Every kind of Velcry-power had its own colour. Every single nuance within that power had its own shape. Most people maybe wouldn't have found his new ability particularly interesting, but Dyson was beyond fascinated with every facet he discovered. Whereas he first thought he could only use his gift when Velcrys were actually using their powers, he soon found out that he could already spot the faintest glows about them when they had merely made the conscious or unconscious decision to use it in the new instant. While he had hoped for something less passive for himself, he relished knowing so much more now. Deep inside him, he knew this could be extremely useful if he only found out how to properly use it.

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