The Centurion Cycle Book Five: Of Shadow and Fire

Chapter Ten: Forced Departure

"Gideon no!" Jason screamed sitting up with a start from another one of his nightmares.

"Jason," a strong baritone voice spoke from the open doorway.

Recognizing the voice Jason rushed from his bed embracing the man tightly his face wet with tears. "Don't do it, Gideon. Don't," he wept.

"Jason the voice said again, stepping back so both of them were now in the lantern-lit passageway.

Opening his swollen eyes Jason saw a bewildering sight. The man he held was not Gideon but nor was his completely Julian either. Where Julian once had dark brown locks of curly hair there were now bands of blond hair mixed in the now the less wavy hair. Where Julian's eyes once had been brown were now blue ones. Julian's skin was also darker, his frame taller, his muscles more like those found on a Centurion youth. "What is this?"

I'm sorry Jason. I tried to stop him but he insisted there was no other way." Julian said hysterically falling down to his knees in front of his king and god.

"Gideon's gone?" Jason said collapsing against the wood panelled wall behind him.

"Yes but not before telling me horrible, terrible things, things I don't fully understand."

"He knew," Jason whispered before he looked back at Julian. "What happened to you?"

"Before he left he gave me a vial of anima. He told me it was his only that its taint had been removed. He insisted I take it."

"He didn't want to leave me?" Jason sighed.

"No he didn't but he didn't think he had any other choice. He had to make some sort of bargain. He called it a devil's bargain."

"I understand," Jason said as he stumbled back onto his feet. "He didn't want to leave me so he gave a part of himself to you."

"Yes," Julian nodded, standing up as well.

"Please come inside," Jason said as he slowly walked back into his cabin.

Sitting down on the edge of his bed Jason rested his head in both of his hands he felt Julian sit next to him. Taking in a deep breath he was hit by a sharp pain when he noticed Julian even smell like his old friend. "I am sorry Julian. I know you didn't ask for any of this."

"I am sorry for Gideon and your pain but after I took his anima I suddenly understood what was between you two. I feel I've been given an honor I don't really deserve."

"If Gideon insisted you take something so precious you must be worthy," Jason said patting Julian's leg. "He and I once dated. We used to get in such trouble for breaking all the rules." Jason said in hope of lifting his own mood.

"Rules?"

"Yes... silly rules that were placed to make it hard for Centurions to get close to their Legatio cousins."

"Will we have to follow the rules?" Julian said in Gideon's rich voice.

"Who are you?" Jason said looking Julian directly into his eyes.

"I, I really don't know anymore. One moment I only knew you as my king but now I feel as if I know you so much better. Gideon is more than just a corner of me but the part of him he gave me is spreading out through my entire being. I guess I'm trying to say I'm not really Gideon but I'm not really Julian anymore either."

"He must not have given you normal anima."

"He said it contained all the best parts of him."

"I can see that," Jason said with a weak smile. "You must be tired. You should go get some sleep."

"Must I leave?" Julian asked. "Gideon wanted me to remain by your side."

"What do you want?"

"I want to be with you, Jason." Julian said a desperate look on his face. "I don't understand what's really happening to me I just know I don't want to leave you."

"Then stay with me," Jason said as he crawled back into bed.

"Thank you, Jason," Julian said lying down next to Jason, their eyes meeting.

"I don't know if I can fall asleep," Jason confessed after a long silence.

"I know I can't. I feel as if I was away from you for a long time. I am afraid of falling asleep least this turns into a dream."

"What are we going to do about that?"

"We can talk. I do have a lot of questions. It would help a lot if I could figure out what part of me is Gideon and what is still me."

"Then we'll talk," Jason replied fighting a deep urge to kiss Julian just to see if it reminded him more of Gideon.

"First of all why do I suddenly have this sudden urge to pick up a sword?" Julian first asked triggering a soft chuckle from Jason.

"Well you see Gideon was a Centurion..." Jason began as they talked all the way to dawn.

___________________________________________________

"Well, Aidan what do you have to say for yourself," Amplexor demanded. Outside the palace, pensioners were rioting.

"What do you want me to say? That you're right, that I should have invaded Qul Tos when I had the chance?"

"Every day you delay Qul Tos becomes stronger. Jason..."

"Is a mere boy, you've told me yourself."

"He might be a mere boy but his influence among his people is growing. Soon his people will become his devoted followers, a threat, unlike any the church, has ever faced."

"Maybe we should content ourselves with the invasion of Aquanos."

"Aquanos is a mere plum... Qul Tos, however, is the entire orchard. I must have Jason's anima and soon."

"Then why don't you harvest it yourself... oh I forgot Angel's Bane is useless in your hands."

"Do not mock me, Aidan. That is if you have any love for Dorian that is."

"So you will threaten the life of my Demon? Beware Amplexor you gave us the Angel and Demon's Banes. We could always use them against you and your sleeping lover."

"Do you think I've not taken such precautions against such action?" Amplexor said as he took hold of the opal pendant around his neck. Rubbing the white stone he watched as Aidan bent over in pain, thrashing on the floor. "You see while you were in the tank I had something implanted inside you... something to ensure you could not turn against me. The same is true of your friend Dorian. Now will you listen to reason or am I just going to have to leave you like this?" Seeing Aidan nod in submission Amplexor let go of the pendant. "I hope you know I didn't enjoy doing that. I didn't enjoy it one bit but I will have your cooperation Aidan, one way or another. Do we understand?"

"Yes," Aidan moaned still curled up in a ball on the floor.

"Good, then this is what you'll do. You will unleash your lover and his Spawn onto the rioters and regain control of the city."

"That will involve killing thousands."

"You could always imprison them in the caves beneath the palace."

"So you could have them. What would you want them for?"

"You will need soldiers for your war with Qul Tos... ones who can match the Centurions in battle."

"So you will train them?"

"In my own way. It might take me months or even years to give you the soldiers we'll need."

Aidan stumbled back onto his feet, glaring at Amplexor. "It will be as you ask... for now at least."


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