IPSUREN (ipsuren) wrote,
IPSUREN
ipsuren

Rise Apocalypse: Chapter 08



     Their goodbyes were rushed that morning. There’d been nothing left to say to Sungmin and Jessica had only smiled warmly at them and pulled Hae close in an embrace and whispered, right up against his ear, “We’ll meet again.”
     She’d left them at the lift, almost identical to the one Hae had used to escape his childhood, except cleaner and all Hae had to do was look up to see that it extended higher. It would be a longer ride than before, although how long, he didn’t know. It was such a long way up to Higher City, miles and miles seemingly unending. As they waited for it to come slowly down, Donghae felt the same apprehension that only these lifts could stir in him. It was the start of a new beginning, yes, but it was also saying goodbye. Donghae wondered how many times he’d have to say goodbye before this was all over. Considering that he didn’t even know what “this” was, he couldn’t even fairly approximate. Hae realized, perhaps for the first time, that even though they were together and moving, as one, in the same direction, he and Eunhyuk were on separate paths. He was on a journey to better himself and Hyuk, Hyuk was traveling to a city he’d never reach. 
     “Thank you,” he said, for perhaps the first time.
     Eunhyuk looked at him, surprised. “What are you saying, now?”
     “I’m thanking you, stupid.” Hae’s smile felt soft on his face, a slight upward pull at the corners of his mouth.
     Hyuk shoved a hand in his pocket, wiped the other one on the front of his shirt. “I said that you could come with me. We said we’d go together, didn’t we?”
     “Yeah, but we don’t have to stop for my education.”
     “Yes, we do,” Hyuk pushed Hae’s shoulder, feigning irritation. “I’m not blind, I can see that you’re special, Donghae. You’re going to be Jezbenite, at least.”
     He reached out with his free hand and thumbed Hae’s cheek with a deep affection and Hae leaned into that touch eagerly.
     “You deserve it,” Hyuk whispered. 
     Hae thought Eunhyuk deserved Aethere, but that didn’t mean he was going to get it. He kept his thoughts to himself, though. 
     The ride from Lower City to Higher was thirty minutes and they spent it kissing. As soon as the doors slid shut, Hae placed his fingers against Hyuk’s mouth before pressing their lips together. Hyuk had a nice mouth, wide and often red. Sometimes, his lips were chapped and Hae would smooth over the chipped skin with his tongue. Even when there wasn’t a sexual charge, Hae liked kissing Hyuk. In the Lift to Higher City, there was no purpose behind their tongues as they touched, no meaning stuffed in the cuff of their cheeks. They didn’t need hebia, just each other. It was contact without gain, rife with affection but not arousal and Hae didn’t really understand why he’d initiated it and certainly didn’t understand why Hyuk was letting it continue. But he did and it continued. Their hands didn’t wander far, Donghae feeling the ridge of Hyuk’s jaw as it flexed against the kiss. Eunhyuk wasn’t touching him, just fisted a hand in the hem of Hae’s shirt and clutched it tight enough where, if Hae’s mind hadn’t been filled up with Hyuk, he would have worried about the fabric ripping.
     When Hae disconnected their lips with a thinning string of saliva between them, he pushed back far enough where he could look into Hyuk’s eyes. They were dark and shaded, full of so many things it would be impossible to identify. He saw the Gutter in them, as Hae’s kiss had left it in his mind. His brother’s face, memories Donghae shared with Hyuk almost every time they connected. But Hae saw nothing of Hyuk’s past in their kisses, nor in their hebia. He saw fragments of things, flashes of light and glimpses of emotion. They always stopped at anger.
     “Hyuk,” he said, gently. “Why won’t you open yourself to me?”
     Hae’s lips were tingling, swollen from the way Hyuk had been sucking them. Eunhyuk was staring at his lips, distracted or avoiding Donghae’s stare. Probably both. 
     “I--” he paused to touch his tongue to his bottom lip, grounding himself and turning away. “It’s--we’re here.”
     The Lift stopped. They’d arrived and they had company.
     

     A crowd of Ipsuren met them at the Lift, looking entirely different than any Donghae had seen thus far. If he wondered where Heechul got his sense fashion, it was here. Instead of tight, fitted leather, they wore loose fitting cloth dyed deep colors. Robes, capes, shawls, wraps, all ornamented with gold baubles and tassels. Their hair was worn long and tied with gems and hempen rope and other things Donghae hadn’t seen before. Their faces, while beautiful, were set in expressions meant to intimidate. Eunhyuk tensed and placed a hand on the back of Hae’s arm. Slowly, the crowd parted as a figure moved through it. In dark purple, it was hooded and Donghae could not see its face save for a thin stripe of chin. The way the rest of the prokji stepped back to let him(?) by, it was easy to see this was a figure of authority.
     “Who are you?” He asked, definitely male.
     Hae knew Hyuk was about to speak up and stopped him by gripping his arm.
     “My name is Donghae,” he announced. “I was sent here by an Isai’i named Heechul, perhaps you’ve heard of him.”
     Someone in the back of the crowd said something but it was quiet and not meant to be heard. Hae could not penetrate the minds or emotions of these prokji; all he felt was unsettled. They were more powerful than he was, far more powerful. 
     “What do you want?” When the hooded okji spoke, Donghae felt goosebumps on his arms.
     “My caste is Kabai, my level is Tseng.”
     Something made Hae reach under his shirt and pull out the crystal Heechul had given him. The trapped flame spluttered with the movement and shone brighter. A couple people in the crowd gasped, but the hooded figure remained unmoving.
     “I was told to seek you out,” Hae continued, “that you could help me progress to Jezben.”
     “Why should we help you?” 
     That’s when Hae knew. Eunhyuk was getting impatient, crossing his arms and shifting his feet.
     “I was Incepted by a Nokhiri named Siwon.”
     No one spoke. The okji in authority finally lowered his hood over messy black hair. He had a wide nose and small eyes, thinly lined with black.
     “My name is Yesung,” he stepped forward and clasped Hae’s shoulder and his hand felt cold as ice. “Siwon is a powerful okji, one we respect. You can stay with me, in my home.” His black eyes flicked to Hyuk as he added, “Both of you.”
     

     His people were Cronian and Donghae quickly discovered that their elevated caste was not the only reason they seemed so powerful. The Cronian were mystics, Ipsuren who honed their abilities in practice of what humans consider “magic.” It is not, however, “magic.” It is a different way of utilizing the powers Ipsuren have. Some Ipsuren use their spiritual education for physical prowess, others for self-awareness and some don’t use it at all. Yesung explained all of that as they walked to his home. One thing that was apparent to Donghae, as they passed dwelling after dwelling, was that the Cronian had a fierce love of luxury. They wanted to be pampered, they wanted to be lavished, and they were flashy about it. Just gold and silver wasn’t enough, they needed to have gems and stones. And, to Hyuk and Hae’s disgust, they discovered that the Cronian needed to be waited on.
     It quickly became obvious how the slave trade had come to boom once they realized exactly how many slaves the Cronian had. Perhaps even worse was the realization that they weren’t even human slaves. They were Ipsuren. There might not have been shackles or chains, and the slaves (or “companions,” as Yesung called them), were well fed and slept alongside their masters (where they could pleasure them in whatever way was deemed fit), but they were not treated as equal. They wore little to no clothing and were covered in paint and gems, like expensive furniture or decoration. Yesung bragged about them endlessly, doting about how beautiful they were and how pliant. Hae could feel Eunhyuk’s disgust as if it were his own and his rising anger was doing nothing to quiet Donghae’s concerns.
     Heechul would have been jealous of Yesung’s home, there was no doubt about that. Patterned silk draperies cascaded from ceiling to floor; dark purple curtains painted with constellations Hae had only read about; thick, layered carpeting; pillows of every shape and color with tassels and bells; low-hanging lanterns that glowed pink and orange and green. It was extravagant and dramatic and sitting in one of the armchairs by the door was, perhaps, the most extravagant and dramatic thing of all. He was an okji with a kind of beauty that Donghae had yet to see. It was different than Siwon’s, which was vastly inhuman and terrifying; different than Jessica’s, striking and breathtaking. Both of those were flawless and this new creature was not flawless. He seemed to have no emotion. It was as if he was a doll, an object to desire and nothing more. More familiarly, he was dressed head to toe in shiny leather. A waist-length jacket in black plastic with a short, angled collar, hair cut short around his ears but with long bangs combed down over his forehead. 
     It moved, sensually, uncrossing its legs. Donghae gasped. Yesung squeezed past him and walked over to the chair, where the okji sitting in it was watching him with so much intensity.
     “This is Ryeowook,” Yesung said, placing a gloved hand on the thing’s shoulder. “He belongs to me.”
     Yesung moved his hand to Ryeowook’s cheek, hollowed out beneath his prominent cheekbones with dark makeup. “Bring us something to drink, pet.”
     And he did, saying nothing.
     For a slave, he was treated as an equal. He sat on Yesung’s lap and combed fingers through his messy hair. He smiled occasionally in a sickeningly sweet way and sometimes slapped Yesung’s arm if he was being rude. That, and he was fully dressed in a fashion unheard of for Cronian slaves. Donghae would have thought he was there by his own free will, had he not known better. 
     As for Yesung, Hae and Hyuk quickly discovered there was something...strange about him. First, he would sniff the spiced wine Ryeowook brought them before every sip and make a face, scrunching up his nose. Sniff, drink. Sniff, drink. Secondly, his eyes never seemed to focus, even when someone was speaking. It wasn’t that he wasn’t listening, rather that he was never really seeing them, merely seeing past them. Perhaps the strangest of all were the faces he’d make at whim. While listening to a story, suddenly he’d push his brows together, then relax. His face would flex mid-sentence and, sometimes, he’d rub his index finger up and down in the crease right above his cupid’s bow, just feeling the indentation there, seemingly deep in thought.
     “How’s Heechul?” he asked, sniffing his wine for the tenth time.
     “He’s doing well,” Donghae told him, distracted by Yesung’s finger, reaching out to point at Hyuk’s full mug. Since he said nothing about it, Hae continued. “He’s a very good teacher.”
     No one was listening to him. Hyuk was eyeing that outstretched hand, nearing his wine.
     “Um.”
     “You haven’t touched your wine,” Yesung said finally, not lowering his hand.
     Eunhyuk cleared his throat and scratched his nose. “I don’t drink.”
     In half the time it was extended, Yesung brought his hand back to his side, where he wiped his fingers on his chest.
     “I liked Garahim, when I went.”
     He was strange, Hae decided. Very strange.
     Eunhyuk, to Donghae’s complete surprise, complimented him endlessly.
     “I think what you do here is incredible,” he was saying with enthusiasm. “So you can, like, see the future and stuff like that?”
     Yesung was picking at the tassels of his shawl, but he seemed to be listening. “Not quite. We read the nature of someone’s spirit, see into their deepest desires, peel away the layers over their darkest secrets and use logic to determine what paths they’ll take in life and what the outcome will be.”
     “Fascinating, fascinating,” Hyuk muttered, cleaning out the shell of his ear with a finger. “It must take so much discipline to hone those abilities.”
     Yesung shrugged, bringing himself back from the distraction of his clothes and, quickly, seeking out another one. This time it was Ryeowook, passing by. Yesung reached out for his arm and pulled him down, back into his lap. The slave giggled like an ohza and picked up Yesung’s mug of wine.
     “Anyone can do what we do here,” Yesung commented, drinking from the cup in Ryeowook’s hand. 
     Donghae was entranced by them. Their open affection for each other, even though one was a slave and the other appeared socially inept. Hae looked at Hyuk who was watching the couple across from them with fierce concentration. Donghae wondered what he would do if Hae suddenly sat in his lap. There would be time, he decided, to find out.
     Yesung told Hae that before he could begin his training he would have to be assessed, but that could wait until the next day. Donghae was eager, but he was willing to be patient as well. Eventually, towards the end of their conversation, Ryeowook came over to Donghae and started fussing with his clothes, unzipping his leather vest and looking at the black shirt he wore underneath, pulling it out from where it was tucked into his pants. It was happening so quickly Hae didn’t really have time to feel awkward.
     “This will not do,” Ryeowook spoke for the first time. Hae was surprised at how pitched and feminine his voice sounded, although he probably shouldn’t have been, considering. 
     Ryeowook stopped to turn to Yesung, a look on his face that was practically pouting with desperation. “Yeye,” he whined.
     Yesung blinked, hard, but otherwise it was as if this was normal behavior. Perhaps blinking was just another one of Yesung’s ticks. Ryeowook made a noise. Hyuk was just staring, as lost in confusion as Hae was. Then, Yesung clicked his throat in recognition as if he’d finally caught on.
     “You should go take a bath,” he said. “Ryeowook will draw one for you. He’ll bring you new clothes, too.”
     “I like my clothes,” Hyuk was quick to point out.
     “You need new ones,” Ryeowook battled him, defiant.
     “We’ll take new ones,” Donghae, ever the mediator. He placed a hand on Hyuk’s knee, halting any further argument. “Thank you for your kindness.”
     And that was that. They were being ushered away, into a too-big bathroom with a too-big bathtub.
     Ryeowook said nothing as he filled the tub with scented water, but he shot them plenty of looks, all of which made Donghae feel like the ugliest creature in Jiscada. He felt better when, as they undressed, Hyuk gave him plenty of appraising leers. Ryeowook would not leave until they’d handed all of their old clothes over (although Hyuk did this hesitantly and not without complaint). The bath water was purple with oil and fragrance, the sides and bottom of the marble tub slippery as they slid into it, but it felt good. They hadn’t bathed since before they left Garahim and, honestly, they were still crusty with sweat and the remnants of hebia with Sungmin. If truth be told, Hae was sentimental enough to feel a tinge of regret as he washed his friend’s scent out of his hair and skin.
     “You miss Sungmin,” Hyuk commented. 
     When did he learn to read Hae so well? Instead of responding, he slid under the surface of the bathwater and let the wet heat surround him. Being underwater is like being in the womb, all suction and the sound of the outside world muffled by your heart in your ears, a steady thrum. His eyes closed, he felt alone, floating in his own veins, pulsing and his lungs expanding loudly. It was a natural sort of quiet, the sound of his own body and thoughts and nothing else. Relaxed, his mind opened of its own accord and he heard things. Hyuk’s voice, saying his name. HaeHaeDonghae. Beyond that was Sungmin and Heechul, Shindong here and there. Some laughter, the sound of Garahim in the morning and the Bazaar at night, loud and vulgar. Then, beneath the laughter and the lust and the taste of food it came, a familiar dead end: anger. But, on the tail end as Hyuk was pulling back, trapped by the numbing static of the rush of blood and breath in Hae’s ears, new words appeared.
     Pekas Geldina.
     Gasping, Hae breached the surface. He was rubbing oil and scent from his eyes and opening his mouth to ask what just what was that but then Hyuk was kissing him and it was so unexpected. Fervent, Hyuk’s lips crushing against his and it was nothing like in the lift because this time there was the taste of sex and desire popping like hot oil between them. They fought with teeth and hands and tongue, sucking on each other’s skin and licking the water off their bodies. In the battle of passion, Hae forgot about what he’d heard, forgot about this new breach in the wall between them, forgot everything except what it felt like to be stuffed full. With every thrust, water sloshed over the sides of the tub and Hae didn’t care about making a mess. When they came, the water glowed gold with the reflection of their consummation. When the haze of their climax lifted, Donghae recognized the feeling of being watched, a sensation becoming increasingly familiar to him. At the same time that Hae felt it, Hyuk tensed around him. 
     Shhh, he whispered.
     The curtains.
     Hyuk turned and there, standing in the doorway behind the silks, body half dark in silhouette, was Ryeowook. Knowing that he’d been caught did nothing to dissuade him. The surge of his power and spiritual energy caused the curtains to move as if in wind, swirling around him and flapping back sharp, an expression on his face at first solemn and thoughtful. Then, that smile, sickeningly sweet in its kindness. A turn of the curtain later and he’d disappeared without moving.
     Donghae exhaled, unaware that he’d been holding his breath at all.
     “That was creepy,” Hyuk commented drily. 
     Hae slapped his bicep in irritation before thrashing with discomfort, saying “Get off.”
     “Oh please,” Eunhyuk moved to stand and get out, the water was cold anyway. “Don’t tell me you’re mad.”
     “We shouldn’t have done that here,” Hae said. “It was disrespectful.”
     “You can’t be serious.” Hyuk’s eyes followed Donghae as he moved around the room, gathering towels to mop up all the water they’d spilled. “These people are perverts--”
     “Shhh!”
     “--They are!”
     Hae shot him a look, infuriated. “If anything, Eunhyuk, we’re the ones who are perverted, unable to even wait until we go to bed before crawling all over each other.”
     Hyuk smiled at that, borderline evil, and Hae groaned.
     “I can’t help it,” he said, tone slimy, “you’re the most desirable thing I’ve ever seen. I always want to touch you and your hands feel so good when they’re all over me.”
     Hae slapped the towel against the tile floor where it splashed in the puddle. “Can’t you help me clean this up? You’re the obsessively neat one.”
     “But you look so cute, naked and on your knees like that.”
     It wasn’t until after they’d both finished drying the floor that they discovered the clothes Ryeowook left them, folded neatly in a pile by the door.
     

     That night, Ryeowook escorted them to their shared bedchamber, which was just as extravagant as the rest of Yesung’s things. There was no real order to any of the decorations or furnishings, no theme or understandable vision. It was as if an overactive, magical mind spat ideas all around the room. A curtain here, silk there, pillows scattered randomly, a dresser covered in hanging beads. The bed was thickly canopied and the first thing Hyuk did was throw all the pillows off the bed except for two, muttering about how anyone could sleep so cluttered. Ryeowook brought them things to drink before bed; non-alcoholic spiced cider.
     “Thank you, Ryeowook,” Hae told him, smiling kindly.
     Hyuk was sitting on the bed, brooding. 
     Ryeowook reached up and pushed hair out of Hae’s eyes, his fingers lingering lightly around his ear and Donghae found himself drawn to the touch, pushing into it.
     “I could stay,” Ryeowook whispered. “If you like, I could stay.”
     Hae was about to say yes, yes he could stay and it would be wonderful, but Hyuk cleared his throat.
     “No,” he spat, so sharp. “That won’t be necessary. Leave now, thank you.”
     His tone was so acidic Hae didn’t want to disagree and cause unnecessary conflict. Ryeowook bowed away gracefully, but not before sending Donghae a wink. It was a secret shared between them but he didn’t know what it meant. On the bed, Hyuk was glaring at the door.
     “You don’t like him?” Hae began to undress, folding the cloak and tunic he’d been given.
     “There’s something about that one.”
     Crawling across the bed to take his place next to Eunhyuk, Hae chuckled. “You’re so suspicious of everyone. Can’t you at least try to be friendly?”
     When next Eunhyuk spoke, his tone was sad and quiet. “You don’t know how things work, Donghae. You’ve been so sheltered, you have no idea the things we’re capable of...how evil Ipsuren can be. Garahim was a sanctuary.”
     “I don’t understand how you can live your life so untrusting.”
     “It is exactly how I’m able to live at all!” Eunhyuk held the back of Hae’s neck affectionately, forcing their eyes to meet. “It is the only way you will survive.”
     Quietly, “Sungmin was always kind.”
     Eunhyuk sighed. “You never saw him with a reason to be otherwise.”
     They lay there in semi-darkness with candles for light, wrapped around each other. Hae’s head pillowed on Hyuk’s chest, the latter’s fingers fleeing up and down his spine. Donghae thought about what Sungmin said back in Garahim, amidst the warm water, bubbles and unspeakable things.
     You must never ask him, Donghae.
     Suddenly Hyuk, “What?”
     “What?”
     “That thought just now.”
     Lost in the memory, Hae must have left himself open. Mentally cursing himself, he tried to think of something to say.
     “It was nothing,” he tried. “Just something Sungmin and I talked about, during my kani.”
     “What did he tell you?” Hyuk’s tone was shaking suddenly, uncharacteristically afraid.
     Gently, Hae pushed fingers through Hyuk’s hair, short at the sides. “Nothing,” he whispered. “He told me nothing.”
     Eunhyuk must have sensed the truth in that statement, for he relaxed, watching Hae’s eyes. 
     “I wish you would open yourself to me, Hyuk.” It was not the first time he said that.
     Like before, there was no response.
     

     They slept late and woke up groggy, rubbing the crust from their eyes and stretching their jaws in yawns. It took Donghae a moment to remember where he was, he was so delirious with sleep.
     “Why didn’t anyone wake us?” He asked aloud, his words slurred.
     Yesung had mentioned an assessment and Hae had thought it would have been in the morning or at least that he would have been sent for by then. Hurriedly, he leapt from bed and began to dress.
     “I feel terrible,” Hyuk said around a yawn, stretching in bed. 
     “It’s weird,” Hae agreed, tying his tunic with gold dyed hemp. “We never sleep in this late. Why now?”
     Dawning at the same time, a realization between them. 
     “The cider,” Hae whispered.
     “Shit.” Hyuk slapped his knee. “How could I not have known?”
     Worrying his bottom lip between his teeth, Hae wondered why Yesung would want to drug them. They woke up in their bed as if nothing had happened, what was the point? Why go through all the effort of bathing them and bringing them new clothes and setting them up in a nice room if only to drug them and kill them? Yet, they weren’t dead and they owned nothing of value. Quickly, Donghae ran to their bag in the corner, unzipping the front pocket and reaching inside. The crystal was still there, warm and glowing in his palm.
     So, really, what was the point?
     “Donghae.”
     Hae jumped and spun around to find Ryeowook in the doorway. In his peripheral vision, he saw Eunhyuk stand up.
     “Yes?”
     “Come with me, please.”
     A noise from beside the bed, where Hyuk was standing, glowering and pushing out waves of dark emotion. 
     “Hae,” he growled. Donghae looked at him, saw his eyes, pleading. “Don’t go with him.”
     You’re overreacting, Hae sent out.
     I don’t want you alone with him.
     “Donghae,” Ryeowook, this time more forceful. “We must go.”
     Hae turned to Hyuk and smiled, trying to send him reassurance. I’m sorry.
     They left together, Hae walking besides his escort, who was smiling with triumph.
     “Your friend is jealous,” was the first thing he said.
     The words were a spike to Hae’s chest, a dagger digging deep. Defensively, he steeled himself.
     “I don’t know what that means.”
     Ryeowook laughed and it sounded so sweet and innocent, willing Hae to forgive him. “Of course you do. You remember what jealousy feels like, don’t you?” 
     They were on the other side of Yesung’s house by then, standing in a dark, windowless hallway. Light glowed from lit candles in wall sconces. Ryeowook was so thin, thinner than Heechul and smaller in frame than Sungmin, with tiny, bony hips. His eyes were submissive with long, thick eyelashes. He looked so breakable, even as he cornered Hae against the wall.
     “You remember what it felt like when Donghwa was always with Morla, never paying you any attention.”
     “How did you--”
     “When you’d come back to find them kissing,” he was so close, his breath steamy on Hae’s chin. “Touching. Moaning. Remember how that felt?”
     Cold stone, smooth, hard and thick. Hae’s voice, just like that. “No.”
     Ryeowook’s lips were almost against his now, almost touching. His hands were on Hae’s (when had they gotten there?), holding tight. Hae felt grounded, threatened, cornered. He felt desire. 
     There was a word Hae barely heard, said against his lips around a smile. Liar.
     If your mind is a well of secrets kept under tight lock by a giant, heavy gate, the doors to Donghae’s were being forcefully pried apart. An assault on his spirit, an attack to invade. One of perhaps the most unpleasant experiences one could ever go through is rape of the mind. Externally, they were still except for Hae’s breathing, erratically paced. Internally, a dark force was slamming against Hae’s consciousness, hammering at the walls around his spirit. Probing, it was trying to get in, searching for cracks. Every fear, from the very miniscule discomforts to waking nightmares assaulted Donghae’s mind: 
     He saw his family, dead in the stream of the Gutter. A gang of Ipsuren were crouching over them with hands red and slimy with blood, laughing as they pulled his brother’s insides out red mess after red mess. He saw Jay and Jungmo, whips in their hands. He was bent double over the cold, unrelenting marble of the Kuwaru bathtub, red welts burning and flamed across his back, his human tears mixing with the trail of blood running down the sides of the tub in smears. Heechul, hanging dead from the doorframe of his home, his limbs tangled in his draperies. Sungmin, screaming, wailing at frequencies that made Hae’s head hurt and sear open. He was curled on the floor, alone, his delicate hands cut with glass. Eunhyuk’s voice, so much anger, again and again, Who do you think you are, Donghae? 
     There was screaming, but it took Hae a moment to realize it was his own. There was an explosion of white light within him, his fingers turning to flames, his vision expanding to see everything all at once. He saw the hallway they were in, illuminated now in orange, his shadow stretched long and wide. His hands were bleeding, but the wounds were filled with fire, the way his veins burned with power. Ryeowook hissed and screamed, falling backwards onto the floor and curling in on himself, but Donghae could not stop. He could not stop the torrent bursting out of him, could not stop the madness from taking over, could not stop the onslaught of emotions, so human in their control. The air around him was swirling and everything was moving with it. On the floor, Ryeowook was scrambling back towards the wall, chest heaving. And then, in powerful suction, he vanished.
     The air stilled. Donghae collapsed back against the wall, swallowing lungfuls of air, never getting enough. The fire in his veins just turned to blood, which he was getting all over his clothes. His hands were cut where Ryeowook’s fingers (claws?) had dug into them. Pushing off the wall, full of rage, he began stumbling down the hallway.
     “Yesung,” he growled out. “Yesung! I know you’re here somewhere!”
     As he walked, one foot before the other, bloodied hands dragging along the walls, the world began to shift. It tilted, blurred at the edges, faded to white. The sound of ascension, popping static in his ears, Hae shielded his eyes as he was tunneled through white light. And then he was in a dark room and Yesung was in front of him. The entire room was canopied like a tent in black, constellations painted all around them and Hae couldn’t tell where the walls met the floor and the ceiling began. Yesung was sitting, for once in leather, on a silver throne. His chin was held by a leather gloved hand, his expression dazed but present.
     “Welcome,” he said.
     “Your pet attacked me,” Hae announced.
     “I know, I told him to.”
     Hae wasn’t surprised.
     “You did very well, by the way. Ryeowook is incredibly powerful, it would be unheard of for someone of your caste and level to overpower him like that.”
     “So that was a test, then?” Hae asked around the junction between thumb and forefinger where he was sucking the blood from split skin.
     “Yeah but,” he pushed his eyebrows together again before releasing them. “I didn’t think you’d pass.”
     That irritated Donghae, infuriated him. If Hyuk knew, he’d kill him. “What would have happened if I didn’t?”
     Yesung wasn’t listening, now. Distracted, he was pushing the skin above his lip with his index finger. Just pushing it, staring into space. Hae shifted, placed a hand on his hip.
     “I’m bleeding on your carpet.”
     Yesung looked up then and scrunched his nose in confusion. Clarifying, Hae held out his hands, red with blood. Eyes wide, Yesung jumped up, making tsking sounds as he grabbed Hae by the wrists. To Donghae’s disgust, he rolled a modicum of saliva around his mouth before spitting it out onto Hae’s palms. About to pull his hands away, Yesung caught him and covered his cuts with his own. Warmth spread through him, getting hotter and hotter until it burned and then, ice. When Yesung released him, there was no sign that Hae had been injured at all. Only the blood remained, which he knew he’d have to wash off before returning to Hyuk.
     “Why did you poison our cider last night?” Hae asked.
     “I told you, you needed to be assessed.”
     “But nothing happened!”
     Yesung looked at him, pointedly. “That you remember.”
     Hae shivered. Shisus.
     Yesung was staring at him, more specifically his lips. “I could teach you things you’d never learn in regular caste progression. We all have darkness inside us, what better way to utilize it than to control it?”
     Donghae backed up, crossing his arms defensively. “The dark arts. I should have known.”
     He’d read all about it in Heechul’s books, those few Ipsuren who stray from the path and meddle in things they shouldn’t. It makes them insane. Actually, it explained a lot about Yesung. The okji had seemed crazy from the beginning and he had an aura...Donghae shivered with realization. Suddenly it made sense, the constellations, Ryeowook. 
     “Thank you for your food and wine, Yesung.” He was about to leave. “I’ll be going to find someone else to instruct me, I think.”
     “Wait. Fine.” Petulant, grumbling. “No tricks, no secrets, nothing out of the ordinary. I’ll teach you the normal way, but I won’t raise you to Jezben.”
     “And why not?”
     Donghae’s stomach dropped. Yesung smiled, but it looked out of place on him. Too cheery, Donghae thought.
     “How would you like to skip the fluff and go straight to Buomi?”
     “Buomi?” Not possible. “That’s Isuda! I can’t!”
     “Why not?” He really didn’t seem to get it, the smile on his face falling quickly, his expression resorting back to nothing.
     “I’m not ready!”
     Yesung laughed, a fast, loud string of hahahas that made Hae wince. When he’d finished, he blinked a few times, hard. Then, “Oh, you were serious.”
     Donghae just stared at him.
     “You are ready, Hae. You were Incepted by Siwon and I saw him in you, when you fought off Wookie.”
     Wookie? Seriously?
     “Some of the power you exulted, that was Isai’i stuff. You have the power already inside you, it’s just lying dormant. You need to learn how to control it and I think I can teach you. Heechul sent you to me for a reason.”
     If there was any specific thing Yesung said that convinced him, that was it. He took a deep breath.
     “Okay. When do we start?”
     Yesung clapped his hands together, the sound muffled by his gloves. 
     “Right now.”


A/N: My name is Donghae. Let's party tonight! 
no, seriously though, sorry YeWook fans. I personally like them in this fic, but then again I just like batshit crazy characters to begin with, so my opinion is forfeit.

Tags: book: rise apocalypse, chapter: 08
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  • Rise Apocalypse: Chapter 13

    WARNINGS: Rape, violence, character bastardization In tragedy, time stands inconceivably still, locked in continuum like the edges of puzzle…

  • Rise Apocalypse: Chapter 12

    The slow transformation of days to weeks happened gradually and without notice. Altair grew used to the three outsiders and their presence in…

  • Rise Apocalypse: Chapter 11

    Yeah so this is the most NC-17 chapter yet. Oh, and don't skip the last 1,000 words, even if you're not into it. They decided to…