This isn't truly a crossover, it's more of an AU with heavy influence from Anne Bishop's The Black Jewels series. The only faces that will be seen are from the show, but I'll be using The Dark Jewels mythos more so than anything else.
- TDJ series is a matriarchal society, with Queens being the highest in position. Those with Craft (or supernatural in this fic's case) are part of the Blood. All Blood males have an innate need to bond/serve and protect a Queen.
- If a Blood male hasn't found his bond Queen he will often contract out his services until it happens.
- Jewels are used as a separate power reservoir for the Blood who possess more than their bodies can handle. Not all Blood have enough power to wear a Jewel, but they can still wield basic Craft/magic. Those who are strong enough receive their first Jewel during their Birthright Ceremony. The darker the Jewel the more power the person possesses.
- All Jeweled females are considered Witches.
- Both female and male Bloods have a hierarchy (Witch/Healer/Priestess/Black Widow/Queen and Warlord/Prince/Warlord Prince respectively) which will be explained in more depth as the fic continues.
- Those who are familiar with Bishop's work will know that rape is a pivotal part of her series. I don't have time for any of that. I think it's an overused plot device and rape culture has made too many people think it's a justifiable punishment (and/or they get off on it) for to be included in so much fiction (which bleeds into the real world and has all kinds of uncomfortable implications.) But I will be including some dub-con moments to illustrate how a Blood bound male can be abused by a Lady that is willing to manipulate said bond. Just putting that warning out there.
Other notes of importance:
Italicized speech means people are talking telepathically.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
This wasn't the first time that Greta Martin had dealt with a higher member of the Blood caste. But it was the first time she'd been summoned by one without her mentor there to stand by her side. The hourglass pendant that rested between her breasts, both the top and bottom filled with gold sand, felt noticeably heavy around her neck.
She shifted in the plush leather chair she was perched on, trying not the let the man sitting across from her know just how on edge she was. Nothing about this situation was good. Nothing about him was any good.
There was an air of volatility surrounding him. A sense of barely contained fury that made the fine hairs along her neck and arms stand on end. It flowed and ebbed in the psychic streams around them like a tide, making her heart beat just a little bit faster and sending icy shots of adrenaline at odd intervals through her veins. Despite this she still found him handsome in an old fashioned sort of way, with a slightly pronounced brow and hair grown out long enough to show a hint of natural curls. The pale flesh over his high cheek bones was flushed, letting her know he'd fed recently. His lips, almost unnaturally red and full, were pulled to one side in a condescending smirk. He watched her, amusement reading clear on his face, as she tried her best not to squirm with nerves under his unblinking stare.
She felt very foolish all of a sudden. It was pure rebellion that had her traveling through the threads to the Landing Web in an upscale Casablancan hotel. It was nothing but bravado with a side order of spite that lead her to the concierge desk to announce her arrival, pointedly ignoring the unwanted presence of her brother at her side as they rode the elevator up to the penthouse suite. She thought she had the guts, the imaginary balls to pull this off without breaking a sweat.
It wasn't until she was face to face with him that she started to reconsider her choice. Sure, she'd had plans to get back at her father, who wanted her to slow down in her training before she did something she regretted. And her teacher, Ayanna, who thought she was too big for the Jewels she held. But Greta didn't see it that way. She was the first ever to hold an Opal Jewels in her family, the highest Birthright of any Martin. And she was determined to go even darker when she made her offering in a few months' time. Even if it meant lending her skills without the consent of Ayanna or the coven that was responsible for her tutelage.
But when she answered the anonymous ad online seeking a Black Widow to discreetly weave a web she hadn't been expecting what she'd haughtily walked in to.
A damn Warlord Prince.
Not only that, but a Warlord Prince who possessed Red Jewels which dangled from an engraved metal collar there to let the world know he was a very strong, very disobedient boy.
She sat back in the chair, forcing an air of detachment she didn't really feel. Considering her options, she reached out subtly with her magic, trying to get an impression of exactly who and what she was dealing with. A part of their arrangement prior to meeting was no exchanging of names or background information. She'd been fine with that until she'd walked into the suite and felt the raw power seeping out of him like a leaking faucet. It made both her and her brother pause in surprise as they crossed the threshold.
He'd done nothing but smile at their discomfort, waving towards the unoccupied sitting room furniture and telling them to make themselves at home. He offered drinks and she'd been tempted for half a second to ask for a scotch just to tramp down the apprehension churning her stomach, but both she and Luka settled for bottled water instead. He parked himself on the couch that matched the ridiculously comfortable loveseat she took, crossing an ankle over the opposite knee and did nothing but watch them in apparent glee.
"This is insane, Greta," Luka spoke in her mind, using a personal thread she could only hope the Warlord Prince wasn't able to hear. "We shouldn't be here. And if we make it out of this room in one piece I'm going the ring your neck, which will be better than what Dad is going to do to you when I tell him about this."
He was standing behind her and the protective hand he'd placed on her shoulder earlier tightened to emphasize his point. Despite the slight discomfort she was glad he insisted on traveling with her once he figured out what she was up to. He was the incentive she needed to see this through to the end. Leaving would be the smart thing to do and she knew it. But she wasn't going to run back home like a frightened dog with her tail tucked between her legs. Not as long as Luka was a witness. There would be no living with him afterwards. He would use the act as a counter to every irrational thing he thought she planned to do in the future. Her pride couldn't take it and it would be just another entry in The Greta Martin Compilation of Bad Decisions book her family catalogued that was slowly turning into a tome.
"Chill, Luka. I've got this completely under control."
"By the Darkness, you have got to be the most bullheaded girl I have ever met!" She could practically feel his eye roll. "There's a thin line between ambition and grade A stupidity Greta, and you've finally crossed it."
"And the harder you guys keep trying to hold me back the harder I'm going to push. It's a fact you just don't seem to understand. This isn't me rebelling. It's me once again trying to rise to my full potential and my family, the people that are supposed to love and support me telling me my aspirations are wrong."
She paused, taking a calming breath even though she wasn't speaking out loud. "So could you please for once not ride my ass and just have my back? Because I can do this."
He was giving in. She could feel it.
"I hope you're right. 'Cause all that drive you have won't mean squat if you get us both killed by a disgruntled Lord that obviously has some anger management issues."
At her brother's words her gaze, which had been holding the strangers eyes, moved down to the ring around his neck. This was the first time she'd ever seen anyone wearing a Ring of Obedience, human or Blood alike. Most courts considered the act barbaric and had moved on from the practice, using it only in the most extreme of cases. Though there were a still a handful of Queens that tended to lean towards a more… sadistic way of ruling. She wondered who the Lady was that bound him. Was she one that thrived off pain and blood? Or was the collar put there because he did?
Either way it scared her more than the Jewels that he possessed. Warlord Princes where predatory and aggressive by nature, requiring a delicate hand at keeping them reigned in. Greta was well versed in the rules and protocol necessary to control that hair trigger of theirs. Though she'd never been face to face with a Warlord Prince long enough to put them into practice. And certainly not one that had to be controlled to such a degree. She'd always been abrasive and proud of it, bulldozing her way into getting what she wanted when and how she wanted it. This was a time she almost regretted that quality. She wasn't sure she had enough tact to keep him from rising to a killing edge and painting the walls with her and Luka's blood.
As if reading her thoughts, he reached up with one hand to finger the delicate silver around his neck. "Does this bother you, Journey's Maid?"
She swallowed and Luka tensed behind her. There were several ways she could play it but she figured honesty was the best way to go.
Clearing her throat she shrugged. "I'd be lying if I said it didn't."
He chuckled, a rumbling sound that seemed to resonate from deep within his chest before leaning back onto the couch. "Truthfully, it bothers me too. It's one of the reasons I require your service."
She frowned. The only persons that could remove the collar were the Queen who melded it to him or a particularly talented healer. She was neither of those things.
Luka seemed to be under the same train of thought because he spoke for the first time since politely asking for a drink. "I thought you needed a Black Widow?"
"Then you should find another Witch. She doesn't have the Craft for what you're looking for."
Greta bristled, sending a sharp mental jab her brother's way, aggravated with his habit of speaking for or over her when he damn well knew she had a mouth big enough to do it herself.
"I'm well aware of this, young Prince."
The man glanced at Luka and smiled, reveling hidden dimples that seem to take years off his face and she wondered briefly just how old he was. It was hard to tell with Blood.
They didn't age like humans did.
"I only wish for her to walk the Twisted Kingdom and to weave what she sees, just as the ad stated. It's my hope that what's revealed will eventually lead to me being rid of the oppression of this collar."
"Yes." She nodded. "A vision web. But of what?"
"A myth. Another impossibility that everyone insists doesn't exist." He sighed and looked passed them. "And maybe they're right."
The last words were spoken almost as an afterthought, but the ache the admission caused was clear in his voice.
"You'll have to be a little more specific than that," she said, still wary but more curious than she'd been since she walked through the door.
That worked to draw his attention back to her and he sat forward suddenly, the movement fluid but unnaturally fast. She reflexively flinched back and cursed herself for showing that bit of weakness. It didn't seem to matter because he was leaning over to present his hands, the palms facing up.
For the first time since her arrival he lost the air of someone that was privy to an inside joke, the look in his eyes almost beseeching.
"I mean you no harm, Journey's Maid. See me. Know me and you will find my words to be true."
Touching a stranger was an intimate act for a Witch. There was so much she could glean from the simple act of pressing skin against skin. And here he was, a Warlord Prince and a stranger, willing and ready for the act. Even more surprising was the fact that the soft, unprotected flesh of the inside of his wrists was bared. She was taken back, only able to count on one hand the amount of times someone had offered themselves to her that way. Because she was a Black Widow and they were toxic, each and every one known by their naturally black nails and the lethal venom both ring fingers contained. Potent enough that even she had to drain it on occasion or else suffer the effects of her own poison. One prick and she could end him, leaving him to die a slow, agonizing death with no hope for an antidote. He was alone and, judging from the secrecy of their meeting, he probably hadn't told anyone where he was and what he was up to. Which meant he'd be left to rot until someone thought to look for him or the hotel staff was notified by a neighboring room of the smell of his bloating corpse.
She looked down at his exposed skin, the blue veins visible through skin so sallow it was almost translucent. Luka was protesting loudly in her head but she ignored him, reaching across the coffee table that separated them with her much darker hands. She was conflicted, her conscious almost torn in two over what she was getting ready to do. Touching him would change her life; she could feel that down to her marrow. But she was going to do it anyway. It was almost as if she was compelled. Like every fight with her father and Ayanna, every bold move against their wishes had led her to this moment. To meeting him and finally being pointed to a life's path that didn't end with her interpreting dreams and reading palms as parlor tricks in some aristos court. Whatever she was about to get in to was bigger than her family's aspirations for her and most likely dangerous. Deadly dangerous. But she was thirsty for it and the Lord sitting across from her was a very tempting glass of cool water.
She licked her lips as her hands hovered over his, steady despite the excitement of her nerves. She took a moment to admire the difference between their complexions before placing her palms on his.
The vision was instantaneous and brief, but it was enough to leave her breathless.
She found herself standing at a precipice, the ground below her filled with the bodies of fallen men and women. The smell of the dead and the condition they were in turned her stomach sour. She looked to the horizon, fighting nausea and gapping at the scope of the mêlée aftermath laid out before her.
What she mistook as a cliff's edge at first was not. It was a crater, a gapping maw gouged out of the earth by some unimaginable force. And he was in the center of it, mouth dripping with blood from the carnage surrounding and covering him.
She knew this place, knew the massacre that happened there. It was still in the memories and haunted expressions of those who had lived through the war of all wars and survived to see its end. Yes, she knew that story well. The final battle that turned the tide and tore the last remains of the Dark Court apart.
But she didn't know what he was.
His true face was all wrong. The puckering veins around his eyes were normal enough, but the color was off. They were gold instead of bottomless black and glowed fiercely in the waning sunlight. And now that she looked harder, seeing him clearly despite the distance stretched between them, he had two sets of fangs too many.
He wasn't just Blood or Vampire. He was something new. Something wrong. An abomination. An impossibility, as he said earlier, that shouldn't even be extant but none the less was present and breathing before her.
The potential of the revelation, of the chilling and vicious nature of his uncontained power, overwhelmed her and she pulled away from his touch with such force that her brother had to steady the loveseat to keep it from tipping over.
She knew what he wanted, or who he needed now. The collar around his neck was just a placebo, a pitiful attempt to make some Queen believe she had him in check. There was one only one being that could do that and She was dead. Though there were rumors and whispers that passed the lips of Blood that were sick of the hedonism that was so prevalent in post war courts. The history books, always written by the winning side, lied, they said. The war wasn't over and She hadn't been destroyed like they wanted everyone to believe.
She jerked back into the present. Luka was kneeling at her side in an instant, distress and worry clear in his voice. "Are you alright? Are you hurt? What the hell did you do to her?"
He was snapping at the Warlord Prince now, his fear for her overriding any self-preservation he should have about not ruffling his feathers.
"I- I'm okay," she gasped out, placing a hand over her heart to feel its erratic beat.
Luka frowned, grabbing her by the upper arms and pulling her to her feet.
"I'm getting us out of here."
"Fuck no! I was stupid enough to indulge you for this long. I don't know what you saw but the look on your face was enough to let me know we don't need to have anything to do with him or what he wants. Now let's go!"
He was tugging her away from the sitting room with little success and she finally ripped her gaze from the man watching them to give her brother her full attention.
"I said I'm fine!" She glowered, yanking her arms out of his grasp. "You can leave if you want but I'm staying here. I have a job to do."
Luka narrowed his eyes at her. "This is insane."
"It's what I want. You don't like it, then walk."
She sat back down and crossed her arms, setting her jaw to get her point across even more.
"I believe she's made her decision, young Prince."
Luka gave them both a look so cutting Greta almost felt bad for giving him the ultimatum. After a long moment he exhaled a deep breath and returned to his former position behind her, this time leaning closer to her with both hands resting on the back of the chair.
"So, Black Widow, shall we get started?"
"It's Greta," she said. Things were way beyond anonymity now.
"Ah, derived from Greek. Means pearl. It suits you. I like it." He tilted his head and gave her an appraising look. "I like you."
She felt her face heat up and heard Luka scuff behind her, but that didn't stop her from giving him a saucy smile.
"And what should I call you?"
"Nik is fine."
She crossed her legs and leaned back on the loveseat. "Well, Nik, let's see what I can do about helping you find your myth."
He smiled, those dimples appearing again and she had a sudden feeling that he would be in her life much longer than the time it took her to walk the Twisted Kingdom for him. Though having him there just might cut her time on earth drastically short.