Ky had to be hearing things. Drain him dead? There was no way Magnificent Night would ever hurt him like that. “What?”
“It’s probably not a huge loss. I mean, you seem to be really fucking simple.” The stranger smiled cruelly, his blue eyes narrowed as he glanced up from the black link in his hand. “Did you dress in the dark? I pity the sorcerer who has a mess like you for an apprentice. He must be just as foolish or fucking desperate.”
Ky inhaled sharply. He grabbed the other’s wrist, forcing him to either let go of his link to Magnificent Night or continue the contact. His classmate withdrew as if burned and huffed loudly. “I don’t know what your problem is, kid, but I’m not an idiot, and I don’t like being called one by a total…”
“Mr. Scion, let’s talk about these fascinating pieces you brought in today.” Ky snapped his mouth shut at his teacher’s voice, his gaze fixed on his classmate’s condescending expression. “I’m so glad to meet you. Ever since I saw your portfolio, I’ve been excited to have a conversation about your use of color. Excuse us a moment, Liem.”
His new art teacher, Ms. Mahoney, swooped in and led Ky toward his paintings and away from the silent Liem. Ky felt flushed, angry and confused. He glared over his shoulder at the rude jerk, who smirked superiorly back. What an asshole. He barely said two fucking words to Liem, and the guy just outright insulted him. Who the fuck did that?
Ky tried his best to focus on Ms. Mahoney and her very helpful critique of his work, but he couldn’t get the stupid ass out of his mind. Liem’s words spun in his head again and again. He had to be wrong; Magnificent would never harm him. Never. But… Ky didn’t really understand the link. He didn’t even know how it came to be. He barely knew anything about the Relics besides what Lovely told him, and what he heard the catboy argue with Feral over.
Could Liem be right?
Ky peeked over to where Liem was standing next to the table with a still life set up. Liem was looking down intently, and his lips moved like he was talking to someone. Ky edged sideway and nodded mutely to his teacher while he tried to see exactly what Liem was doing. Ky bit his lip when he caught sight of a pair of ears similar to Feral’s but pure black with silver piercings.
Liem brought a demon to class, very likely the same one who modeled for his paintings. Shaggy black hair covered the Relic’s face, his body pale and long as he hunched forward on the floor with hands braced to keep from falling. Behind him was a curl of a wolf tail, and elegant black, leathery wings instead of feathers sprouted from his back. Ky couldn’t hear what Liem was saying, but the Relic looked sick, exhausted, and barely able to sit upright as he swayed on the floor.
Liem abruptly leaned down and yanked hard on the Relic’s ear. Ky flinched at the pained noise the wolf demon made and quickly looked around to see if anyone else heard. No one even looked Liem’s way. A group chatted obliviously, and Ms. Mahoney pointed out the parts of Ky’s technique she found impressive. Out of the entire class, it seemed only Liem and Ky were able to see and hear the demon.
By the time Ms. Mahoney finished her critique, her main hope being he would try some more structured, realism inspired pieces to broaden his abilities, Ky was ready to find something heavy to beat Liem with. Liem kept pulling on his ears while the demon whimpered in pain and struggled not to fall over. The Relic was clearly starving, the strong, toned muscles on his form doing nothing to hide the ribs peeking through. Ky’s glare grew when Liem glanced his way. The student smiled chillingly right before he deliberately grabbed the demon’s nipple and twisted. The wolf demon arched and howled in pain, the movement finally revealing his face.
The Relic’s eyes were ice blue fringed with heavy dark lashes and filled with a wildness that made Ky uneasy. His fangs were long and sharp like he was waiting for prey. He was handsome under his bruises, his body and face littered in purple and blue welts. Even here, in a classroom of students, he was naked with only a heavy black collar around his neck. It was just as outrageous as how Liem was mistreating him.
Class was almost over. Ky grew more and more unsettled with each whimper of pain the wolf demon released. He had a feeling Liem was doing it just to piss him off; he kept grinning Ky’s way to watch his reaction to every cruelty. Liem was a terror and he couldn’t wait for class to get out so he could tell him as much.
There was a flash of silver, and Ky turned his gaze from the broken demon on the ground to meet Liem’s wicked eyes again. Liem slowly unfolded a pocket knife; his expression made it clear exactly what he intended to do when he reached for the demon’s ear.
Motherfucking psycho creep…
It was the last straw. Ky snarled as he stomped across the room. He grabbed Liem by the wrist hard enough for the knife to fall out of his hand and clatter to the floor. He was seconds away from teaching the stupid little dick what it meant to treat Relics as less than human, no matter how many people in the class thought he was crazy.
A deadly growl filled the air. Ky swallowed hard when the wolf demon unfurled from his crouch and towered over him menacingly. Liem smirked and whispered smugly, “Let me go or my pet is going to kill you.”
“You’re totally fucked in the head,” Ky hissed under his breath. He glared at Liem but all his senses were on the growling demon. Feral could have clawed Ky to shreds, and this wolf demon was much larger than the coyote. Sure, Feral might have seemed crazed when they first met, but the wolf demon was nearly foaming. He was starved, abused and showing signs of animalistic behavior. Whatever Liem did to the Relic, it turned him more berserker animal than anything else.
Ky reluctantly let Liem’s wrist go. He kept his chin raised defiantly and teeth grit in anger. “You have no right to treat a Relic like this. He’s an intelligent person, not some toy you can cut up for sick kicks. I don’t know who the fuck you are, but you should know he’s just as equal as you.”
Liem’s rich, blue eyes widened in surprise before he let out a loud laugh. “Holy fuck, you’re one of those types! What a total retard. You’re jeweled, which means if your demon gets hurt, you’ll get hurt too, and you’ve got a black link that will probably kill you before the week is out.” Liem grabbed the wolf demon by its black, bushy tail, and pulled hard. “Demons aren’t people. That you treat them like people is why they’re going to kill you. You need to show them who’s in charge or they’ll destroy you like the weak, pathetic imbecile you are.”
Ky stood taller, and his anger grew as Liem laughed in his face. He could hear the other students gathering their things. The class let out for the evening, and the teacher encouraged them to leave their portfolios and compare them later to their homework. It barely registered past the red throb in Ky’s head. He couldn’t remember ever being so angry before in his life. Even if the wolf demon was nothing more than an animal, the way Liem was treating him was beyond monstrous. Up close, Ky could see more bruises, a few burns, and long scars where a blade drew deep across the pale flesh. Liem was fucked up, and Ky was determined to find a way to get the wolf Relic away from him.
“You’re wrong,” Ky said once his throat wasn’t so tight with anger, and the sounds of the class leaving died down. “Lovely would never hurt me, and I would never put him in danger whether we were bonded or not. The same with Feral; after talking with him I know he’d never hurt me again. The demon black linked to me? He just needs my help. He’s not going to hurt me either. He’s trapped in chains I can’t open but I don’t mind feeding him so he’ll stay strong, alive. Your Relic is starving. All you’ve done is hurt him the entire time you’ve been here. What the fuck is wrong with you?”
Liem huffed and folded his arms over his chest. He glanced disinterestedly at the wolf demon beside him. “What, like I’m supposed to feed him?”
“Yes!” Ky snapped. “You put a fucking collar on him so he can’t do anything for himself. You have to feed him, or he’s going to die!”
Liem looked unimpressed, his eyebrow raised in the face of Ky’s righteous anger. “So? Feeding a demon only makes him disobedient. I don’t want him strong enough to fight back. Eventually, Fido will learn to be meek around me. I might feed him more, then. Maybe. His magic is still strong either way, so what does it matter?”
Ky was starting to really understand how Liem saw the Relic and it was only making him more upset. “And if he’s dead? How’s your stupid magic, then? He’s not a fucking battery; he’s a person!” He turned to the demon and tried not to flinch under the manic, cold glare fixed on him. “You called him a pet. Even a fucking child knows enough to feed their pets. You have to be the shittiest sorcerer ever to fail at something so simple as taking care of the creature who gives you magic.”
Liem was as childish as Ky assumed, and his face twisted in rage from the insult. “I’m a skilled sorcerer. A powerful one!” Liem lifted his chin and pointed to the link on his collar. “I have a red link, unlike you. Fido thought he was a warrior when he got here and now he’s completely dominated by me. What, you think you’re stronger? You don’t even have a wand on you. You didn’t bring any demons to defend you. You’re completely weak and helpless with nothing but a lame, white jewel on your collar that shows just how stupid you really are!”
Ky took a step back when Liem raised his hand, and a wand fell into his fingers from out of his sleeve. How did Liem know he didn’t have Anselm’s wand on him? Ky didn’t know what exactly the wand could do to him, but given Liem’s horrible nature, it probably wouldn’t be good. “You can call me whatever you want, but it doesn’t make what you’re doing right. You don’t deserve to be bonded to a Relic if that’s the way you treat him.”
Liem narrowed his eyes, and a grim smile split his face. “Only weak, pathetic sorcerers would ever bind to a demon the way you did your jeweled one. I know what happens to weak things, they get devoured by the strong. You think Fido is so fucking sweet and should be fed? I’ll show you firsthand what it’s like to die from a demon’s fangs.”
Ky inhaled sharply and turned as the door across the room slammed shut. “Demons don’t kill,” he whispered. Liem lowered his wand as he turned back slowly. Ky flinched when he met Fido’s very crazed, ice-blue eyes. “They feed off of energy. They don’t need to kill to…”
“You keep telling yourself that, dumbass,” Liem said with a snicker. “Fido’s hungry and he’s as mean as they come. I watched him tear apart a cat a month ago. He doesn’t care what you are just as long as he gets some food.”
Dread twisted in Ky’s stomach. He stumbled back when the tall demon lurched forward with a bloodcurdling growl. Fido might have been weak and abused, but he also looked mean as fuck and really, really hungry. Ky knew the demons at his home ate rats. He damn well knew Demencious, the horrible overseer, ate other Relics, human beings, and animals to stay alive. Ky didn’t want to believe it was possible, but he couldn’t dismiss the reality this wolf demon looked like he would be more than happy to kill him if he could finally eat.