Chapter 35

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Chapter Thirty-five

Kaine sat on the floor of his cave, holding his head in his hands. His eyes hurt, his body ached, and his head pounded. His vision was blurry and he could feel his cheekbones poking from under his skin. He did not know how much longer he could stand the pain. It felt like someone was pounding nails into his brain. There was no relief from it, ever. He could not even sleep.

The ground around him was littered with the bodies of small birds and animals. Kaine had tried sacrificing them to appease the magic, but it would no longer be satisfied by small woodland creatures. It was screaming for something bigger, something with a stronger will. The magic wanted a man.

Kaine understood that he was in real trouble. He had never wanted to hurt anyone. All he had ever wanted was to become a Dragon Mage. It was not fair that his dreams had been stolen from him. And by whom, he thought angrily? By that gutter rat with those cursed demon eyes who had no right to even be at the Binding Ceremony to begin with. It was all the boy's fault that Kaine was where he was now: cold, hungry, alone, and in pain.

There was only one thing Kaine could do. He had to return to the Academy of Magic for help, although he knew he would be punished. He was willing to accept the punishment, even if it meant losing his magic for good. Anything they made him do would be worth it if they could take this pain away from him. He was a mage, like them. They had to help him.

Perhaps they would understand it was not his fault. Perhaps with time they would see that he could be trusted with his magic again. After all, he was always their best student. Surely, they would not let a talent like his go to waste.

Slowly, carefully, Kaine forced himself to his feet, leaning against the wall of the cave for support. He cried out and nearly fell as a fresh spasm of pain shot through his head. He stumbled out of the cave and down the hill, resting every few steps.

He forced himself to keep walking. He feared that if he did not get help soon, the blood magic would kill him. He pushed forward, eyes nearly shut, hands squeezing his head, unmindful of his surroundings. He heard a noise behind him and looked back. Dozens of necromancer pets were following him but he was in too much pain to care.

He stumbled forward, the short trip back to the village taking hours longer than it should have. His heart quickened when he got close enough to see the top of Caer Llanwyn's walls. Soon he would have some relief. Once someone saw him they would help him get to the Academy of Magic. He would have to remember to reward that person as soon as he was able.

Abruptly, Kaine's pain worsened. A sound like a siren echoed in his head. The high-pitched noise made the aching in his head even more unbearable. He shook his head back and forth, trying to make it stop but it just went on and became louder the closer he came to the houses.

With sudden clarity he realized that the noise was not in his head at all. It was the sound of someone screaming. He looked in the direction of the sound and saw a woman standing on a balcony, pointing in his direction and shrieking. He looked around for the threat, confused, and then realized that she was screaming because of him. He did not understand. Why would she be afraid of him? And why would she not shut up? Her squawking was only making his head feel worse.

Kaine held a finger to his lips, trying to shush her. Instead of quieting, however, she dove off of the balcony, head first. The screaming stopped abruptly with a loud crack when she hit the ground, breaking her neck. He walked over to her body and stood there, dazed and blinking. Why had she done that?

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