Sawyer tells the Lunaros family what happened with their son. Castor reveals his secret to his boyfriend.
“Before the dawn of men, Gods inhabited this world, slowly filling it with their own children. Over time, they started creating animals to keep them company, but of course, each God had their own favorites. It wasn’t long before this turned into a contest of who would create bigger, faster and stronger creatures.
Odum, the God of Death and Underworld, had been in a long-standing conflict with goddess Nammis, for she was the one who controlled the domain of Nature, which he had coveted greatly. In order to exert his dominance, Odum created a flying serpent named Zharo, a natural predator that hunted many of Nammis’ creations.
Although infuriated with this act of insolence, Nammis could not destroy Zharo, for it was created by a God. Thus, she removed its wings, condemning it and all of its offspring to spend their lives slithering on the ground. Never the one to give up easily, Odum blessed its favorite creation by giving it the ability to produce venom, which it would inject into its victims through its massive sharp fangs.”
Alarmed by the noise in their home, the three members of the Lunaros family ran out of their rooms and into the hallway, already wide awake, only to find Sawyer standing there with his wand in his hand. The poor guy was even whiter than usual, as if he had seen a ghost.
“What in heaven’s name is going on here?!” Bryan Lunaros asked, looking around. His frightened wife stood behind him, holding onto him for safety.
“Sawyer, what are you doing here?” Castor asked in surprise. He was still hurt by what his boyfriend had said that night, but seeing him there all shaken up, those feelings had temporarily given way to fear and confusion.
“Cyr… He- he’s gone…” Sawyer managed to utter, glancing quickly between the three people standing in front of him. He felt responsible for not being able to stop the man who took him. First he ruined things with Castor, and now this. He was devastated and knowing he had to give the bad news to Cyr’s family only made him feel even worse.
“What do you mean, gone? Where is my baby?” Alice asked, finally stepping in front of her husband and going over to Sawyer.
“I-I don’t know,” the young sorcerer stuttered. “He’s been abducted. There was this whirlwind that appeared and a man was inside it. He- he grabbed Cyr and they just vanished. I couldn’t stop him, I’m sorry,” Sawyer said, shaking his head sadly. “I tried…”
“Calm down, boy,” Mr. Lunaros told him, patting him on the back. “I don’t understand, a whirlwind? And what were you doing here anyway?”
With a look of deep shame and guilt, Sawyer looked up and his eyes connected to Castor’s for a second, before the other boy looked away.
“I- I came to talk to Castor. I know you told me to wait until tomorrow,” Sawyer admitted, looking at Alice, “but I couldn’t. I just wanted to see him and apologize for upsetting him. I snuck in and this man appeared and took Cyr. He must be some sort of a sorcerer, but I’ve never seen such magic.”
“Oh, Gods, where is my son?!” Alice cried out, looking at her husband in desperation. “How do we find him? Gods, please, keep him alive!”
“I don’t know, but we’ll find him,” Bryan tried to reassure her, but the fear in his eyes gave him away. He was just as scared as his wife, and just as clueless as to what to do next. They were just simple farmers, how could they ever compete with a sorcerer who could teleport?
“What-what did he look like?” Castor asked timidly, casting a quick glance at Sawyer.
“It was difficult to see in the dark, but as far as I could see, he was bald, dark-skinned, and had this big stick with a shiny orb,” Sawyer explained, trying to go into as much detail as he could. “And he was dressed in a long, orange-like robe. Does that help?”
“I’m not sure,” Mr. Lunaros shook his head morosely. They had never met a sorcerer in their lives, other than Sawyer, so the description didn’t help them at all. Hugging his wife and son, Bryan stared blankly into the distance, contemplating how to find Cyr. He had no idea who the monster who abducted him might be, but they would have to start with what they had. They knew he was likely a powerful sorcerer and they knew what he looked like. With that information, maybe they could find someone who knows who the bastard is.
“I’ll ask everyone I know, someone must know who he is and where we can find him,” he added.
“Mr. Lunaros, it could be dangerous, we don’t know-”
“I don’t care,” Bryan shook his head, interrupting Sawyer. “I need to find my son.”
“Of course, I’ll help however I can,” the boy nodded.
“Thank you,” the man replied, turning to his wife. “I’m going to get dressed, I don’t think I’ll sleep anymore tonight.”
“I’m coming too,” Alice nodded. “Sawyer, if you want to stay…”
“Yes, I’d like to speak to Castor, if that’s alright,” the boy said, turning to his boyfriend. Hopefully he is still my boyfriend after tonight, Sawyer thought.
“I don’t think now is a good time,” Castor spoke softly, turning to go back to his room, but his mom’s words made him stop.
“Boys, I don’t mean to intrude, but I think you better resolve whatever is going on between you. I can’t deal with you too right now, I just can’t…”
With that, Mrs. Lunaros left, leaving the two boys standing alone in the dark hallway, just a few feet away from each other. Sawyer timidly looked at Castor and gathered the courage to speak first.
“Cas, I know you’re upset about Cyr, but can we please talk? I need to know what happened tonight.”
Afraid he would give in and forgive him for everything if he saw his boyfriend’s pretty face, Castor kept his eyes firmly fixed on the floor, refusing to even look at the other boy. What was the point in talking? Sawyer was perfectly clear. Snakes were horrible creatures, and he was right! Nobody liked them. Since the beginning of time and the myth of the serpent Zharo, they were feared and hated in equal measure.
“I really don’t want to talk,” Castor replied, his voice trailing off. “I think it’s best we don’t see each other anymore.”
He turned to enter his room, but Sawyer grabbed him by the arm, stopping him.
“Don’t say that, please! Cas, my feelings for you haven’t changed.” With a pleading look in his eyes, the sorcerer continued. “Cas, are you… are you a shifter?”
Freeing his hand from Sawyer’s grasp, Castor silently went to his room and sat on the bed, sobbing. Sawyer followed, lighting a candle that always stood on the simple wooden table near the window, before joining his boyfriend on the bed.
“You don’t have to hide these things from me.”
“How can I not? You said it yourself, snakes are horrendous,” Castor replied, wiping his nose with his sleeve.
“So you’re a…” Sawyer asked, receiving a sad nod in response. Feeling fearful and curious in equal measure, he didn’t move from his position on the bed. His eyes were fixed on Castor’s, and his hand rested on the boy’s shoulder.
Could he ever love a snake? True, Castor was so much more than that, but there will always be this part of him. This inseparable part of him that is so terrifying and abhorrent.
“What are you thinking right now?” Castor asked, unsure if he wanted to know the answer.
“Would you… uh, would you shift for me?” Sawyer finally asked. If they were ever going to move forward, he needed to face this head on.
“Are you sure?”
“I am,” the sorcerer nodded.
Castor got up from the bed and Sawyer followed, standing a few feet away. After a simple nod, the dark-skinned boy suddenly vanished, in his place a large, dark brown snake with a bright red tail. Sawyer instantly recognized it as the infamous Crimson-tailed Serpent. As the snake raised its upper body and opened its mouth, revealing its large fangs, Sawyer instinctively stepped back without thinking. It took him a moment to realize what he had done, but it was too late. Castor had shifted back, a gloomy look of disappointment on his face.
“You’re afraid of me. I knew it,” he shook his head sadly.
“I’m sorry, I just- I wasn’t thinking,” Sawyer pleaded, trying to approach him, but Castor pushed him away.
“Just go!” the shifter shouted angrily. “Or do you want me to call my parents to kick you out?”
“Ok, I’ll go. But I still love you,” Sawyer whispered as he left the room.
Without a reply, Castor closed the door in his face before returning to his bed. He curled up clutching his warm blanket, before crying himself to sleep.
“Sweetie, wake up,” a female voice awoke Sawyer from his sleep.
He felt a hand stirring him gently, and as he opened his eyes, he saw his mom standing above him.
“Time to get up, it’s already noon,” Tilla Brocas said, smiling at her son.
Lifting his head up, the boy saw the large book about snakes lying open on his chest. He must’ve fallen asleep while reading it last night. Now that he was fully awake, it all came back to him: the evening at the campsite with friends, which started so great, but ended up terribly; Castor running away from him; Cyr being abducted, and the talk with Castor.
I wish I could somehow go back in time, Sawyer thought. I would do it differently this time. I would not be afraid.
“Hey, what’s the matter,” his mother asked, seeing the look of pure sadness on her son’s face. Even though he tried to mask it with a smile, she knew him better than anyone - other than Castor.
“Mom, something terrible happened last night,” Sawyer admitted, finding the courage to look her in the eyes.
He decided she did not have to know about his falling out with Castor, but he had to tell her about Cyr. Maybe his parents would be able to help him somehow. After all, they were influential merchants who travelled on many trading routes, visiting numerous cities and countries. Whenever either of them would return from their travels, they would bring Sawyer a souvenir and tell him wondrous tales of foreign people and exotic places they’ve been to. The boy enjoyed it greatly, wishing he could go with them, but he was always too young.
“What is it? Are you alright?” Tilla asked, sitting down next to him and placing a palm on his forehead.
“No, mom, I’m fine,” he replied, removing her hand. “It’s Castor’s brother, Cyr. He’s been abducted last night.”
“Sawyer, do not joke with me! Is this true?!”
“Yes,” the young sorcerer nodded.
“But how? Where?” the woman asked, her mouth hanging open in shock.
“There was this man… we believe he’s a sorcerer. He appeared in their home last night, grabbed Cyr and just vanished,” Sawyer explained to his mother, who was having a hard time processing everything.
Although she and her husband were never really close to the Lunaros family, the fact that their sons were dating meant the two families were on friendly terms, sometimes visiting each other. The fact that something like this had happened to Cyr shocked her. What it had been Castor, Sawyer would have been devastated, she thought. Or even worse, what if it had been my son?
After Sawyer explained to her in detail what the man looked like, Tilla merely shook her head in sadness.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know who that could be. I’ll go and ask Gerard right away. We’ll do anything we can to help,” the woman said, leaving to look for her husband.
With a sigh, Sawyer got up from the bed, grabbed his wand and went to the window, looking at the orange trees in the yard.
“Alright, how did Esthor do this?” he muttered, trying to recall the summoning spell.
For all the time he was in Alduin, he never managed to make it work, but he was desperate and needed to try. I’ve got nothing to lose, he thought, blowing on the window, creating a mist. Mumbling a spell, he wiped the mist with his hand and called out the name of his teacher.
“Esthor! Are you here? Esthor, I need you! Please, show yourself!”
Staring at the window, he expected his teacher’s face to appear, but there was nothing but the same old view of the trees in the backyard. There was no reply or any sign that his spell had worked.
“Damn it!” the boy yelled, slamming his fist on the table in anger. “I can’t even do this right!”
Moments later, he heard footsteps approaching and tried to calm down. He didn’t want his parents to see him like that.
A tall, burly man entered the room, rushing to his son and wrapping his arms around him.
“Son, are you alright? Mom told me what happened!”
“I’m fine, dad, but Castor and his family are not.”
“I’m sorry about what happened, but your description of the man sounds quite familiar,” Gerard said, giving his son the first ray of hope that day. The boy’s eyes momentarily went wide, as if he had just found the greatest of treasures.
“Really? You know who he is?!”
“I think so. Last year, when I went to trade with caravans in the desert lands in the east, I saw the sorcerer living there. Macarius Daye.”
“I’ve heard of him!” Sawyer exclaimed excitedly. “Esthor told me about him in our classes! He lives in … uh, Desoloth ta’Pah, in the northeast. He’s a master illusionist.”
He remembered reading about the man in one of Esthor’s books on modern sorcerers. Macarius was mentioned as a reclusive man living in a desert land in his Citadel of Bone, rarely ever leaving it. Although not proficient in destructive magics and conjuring - which were Esthor’s area of expertise - he is said to be a master of illusions and trickery. However, the book did not mention anything about him being evil or doing any type of dark, sinister magics. It merely stated that little is known about him.
“I don’t know much about him,” his dad admitted. “He appeared one day at the Sonoraj Oasis, purchased some items and left, barely speaking a word to anyone. Why would he abduct that poor boy is beyond me.”
“I need to go and tell Castor’s family! Thank you, dad, thank you so much!” Sawyer hugged his father tight, almost crying with joy.
“Be careful, boy,” Gerard patted his son on the back and wished him good luck.
The entire Lunaros family sat nervously on a simple bed covered in several thick blankets, listening to Sawyer’s words. The boy tried his best to tell them everything his father had told him about Macarius and everything he read about him. While Bryan and Alice started discussing what to do with this information and how to get their son back, their other son sat silently, not uttering a single word, seemingly deep in thought.
Ever since Sawyer arrived to share the news, Castor refused to speak to him except for a simple “hi” when the boy entered the house. It’s what I deserve, the young sorcerer thought, silently cursing himself for reacting the way he did the night before.
Sawyer finally looked at him, but Castor did not return the glance. Instead, the boy stood up and turned to leave.
“I’ll be in my room,” he said quietly, addressing his parents, before he left.
“Sweetie, did you two not work it out?” Alice asked, looking compassionately at the boy who just shook his head in resignation. “I’m sorry. I know you care about each other and I’m sure you’ll sort it all out.”
“Thank you. I hope so,” Sawyer replied, wishing he had some of the faith Castor’s mom seemed to have.
That evening, he returned to the Lunaros farm, but did not enter. Sitting on a bench nearby, he wondered if he should be there in the first place. Castor doesn’t want to even look at me. What would I say to him? How do I convince him that I’m not bothered by his animal form when I’m not even sure of that?
With no answer to any of the questions swirling around in his brain, Sawyer sat outside as the day slowly turned to night. All the lights had gone out, with only the moon and the stars decorating the night sky.
Suddenly, hearing the back door unlock and slowly open, Sawyer jumped up as quietly as he could and went to investigate. What if it’s that man again, coming to take Castor? I can’t let that happen!
As he turned the corner, his wand ready in his hand, Sawyer was shocked to see none other than his beloved, closing the door and sneaking out.
“Castor, where are you going?” he whispered, making the other guy jump in fear. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”
The dark-skinned boy fixed his red cloak, barely looking at Sawyer.
“It doesn’t concern you,” he replied curtly, proceeding to leave the farm, but he could hear footsteps following him.
“Do your parents know you’re leaving?” the sorcerer asked, hurrying to keep up.
“Yes,” Castor replied after a pause.
“So you wouldn’t mind if I went back and woke them up?” Sawyer was insistent. Stopping in his tracks, Castor turned around to look at his boyfriend staring back at him in defiance. “They’ve lost another son, how do you think they’ll feel when they wake up tomorrow and see that you’re gone as well?”
“They didn’t lose Cyr!” Castor said angrily. “And I left them a note. I need to go and find my brother.”
“Then I’m coming with you,” Sawyer replied, stepping closer and attempting to take the boy’s hand, but he pulled back.
“No, you’re not,” Castor shook his head, turning to leave.
“Like hell I’m not! There is no way I’m letting you go alone. Cas, no matter how you feel about me right now, you know I...”
“Sawyer, please. Stop following me.”
“Or what?” the sorcerer asked, standing in front of Castor.
“Or... I’ll turn into a snake and bite you.”
Despite the venom and anger in Castor’s voice, his eyes told a different story and that was enough for Sawyer. He had made his decision anyway, and there was nothing that would have deterred him.
“You wouldn’t do that. I know you.”
The sorcerer knew very well that even though Castor was angry, he wasn’t mean, unlike his twin brother. I’ve never heard Cyr say a nice word to Castor, he thought. And now we have to go and rescue him.
Turning around, Castor resumed walking down the narrow dirt road that lead out of the town. “Fine,” he sighed. “Go wherever you wish. But I don’t want to see you or talk to you.”
Lighting the way with his wand, Sawyer quietly followed, making sure to stay behind at all times. So maybe he refuses to talk to me now, but I have time. I’ll wait. Besides, wherever Cyr is, we have better chances of finding him together.
Big giant thanks to the people reading, liking, commenting, etc.!