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Neido Kumara

"An alpha must always be established."

0 · 221 views · located in Iveir

a character in “Conqueror of the Elements”, as played by Skwidge

Description

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21 || Up for Negotiation~ || Beast Master





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Peaking at 5’ 7’’ and weighing in at 134 lbs. of mostly muscle mass, Neido can be described as sticking out like a sore thumb in any crowd regardless of Iveirean or Remrandian chance. Easy to spot, yet blending in rather well with those around him- he is both an image of striking peculiarity that draws the eyes as well as a vision that disappears as easily as a mirage. His skin tone is a gorgeous tan evenly spread across his body- a fact that whispers of days spent languidly in the heat of a brutal sun- contrasted so stunningly by the white of his hair. His locks seem to be crafted with absolute precision, yet pulled off with no real exertion on his part. He has a jagged frame around his face, his hair parting for the left eye and shadowing over the right one. From brushed straight down at his forehead to styled upwards toward the heavens and down till the nape of his neck, it then settles further down over his shoulders and reaches a few inches below his collarbone. The tips of it seem to take on a subtle pearlescent hue, and it’s remarkably soft.

Another startling feature that contrasts against the darker color of his skin is his eyes. They always seem to be peering out of some remnant of shadow cast by his bangs, but there is no mistaking the bright blue-green hue that lights up his orbs. His gaze can often be remarked as smoldering or intense, with a lazy look poorly veiling a keen intelligence behind those eyes. They are second only to body language when it comes to his most expressive aspects.

Neido is very well muscled, and while his body is toned and precisely trained, there is no mistaking the hard work that’s been put into it. He’s not bulky, but he’s certainly not petite. Rather he’s slim and tall. Neido’s form is adorned with strange and unfamiliar things. His left ear is pierced with a gold band while his right sports a somewhat thick looking gold chain that drapes down to his neck and is securely fastened twice around it. However, the metal links do not end there but continue down his chest to hang around his hips in that same double-wrapped fashion like a belt. He wears a low-hanging off-the-shoulder tunic with his sides, arms, and upper chest (above the pecks) exposed, and an off-white shawl with pale olive green bordering at the sleeves with strange overlapping diamond symbols on it. He’s often found in white shorts that reach down to his knees and he always wears gladiator-style sandals. His shawl is fastened at the waist by a golden belt, and a black scabbard hangs at his hip at all times. There is also a strange sort of ball and chain hooked to the links around his waist and secured across from his sword- it is suspected to be another weapon of sorts.

It is obvious by his dress as well as his coloring that he is a foreigner- a wanderer of the sands.

There are scars along his back in seeming etch-marks. A long, though subtle and faded burn snakes around his torso and dips around his hips, seeming like a vine of thorns, and there are strange runic tattoos stained against his lower back. The inked markings are difficult to see and mostly hidden by his shirt.





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First and foremost, Neido’s greatest strength is the natural inclination he seems to have towards creatures- a skill he has both been graced with and one he has honed throughout his entire life. He’s spent practically his whole existence among animals, beasts, and a variety of creatures that would be hard to imagine to be real if he told you about them. Because of this, he is incredibly susceptible to picking up on other’s unspoken emotions- on their body language.

Another aspect that can be found in those eyes of his is a predatory hunger for knowledge, or a hunter’s astute focus. He’s always been a clever individual, had to be in order to survive, though his hunger spans only to that of beasts, geography, and climates. He’s hardly interested in the stuffy old things of history and mankind, though he does have a basic knowledge of such.

Neido’s abilities are limited, but he makes use of the chain that hangs against his form, as well as the scabbard at his hip. He is an average swordsman, hardly anything to be impressed with, but he makes up for that in creative combinations of his two weapons.

He has power over the metal in his chains, able to extend them and control them to some point on their own. He uses this to his advantage when mastering creatures.

He usually sets himself up on a defensive note to scout out battle territory, and uses his weight to keep on his feet.

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Neido’s earthen abilities are hardly such. They are limited only to the use of molding metals and harnessing alloys for strange uses. However, as listed in his strengths, he knows very well how to use these shortcomings to his advantage.

While he’s tall and slim, he is not particularly agile. He’s nimble enough on his feet, but other than that he’s got a disadvantage against opponents. He also may look graceful because of his pretty aspects, but he’s far from it. He is precise and calculating in strikes, though it takes him a bit of time to plan out his attacks.

Some people may definitely find him strange and unorthodox once they get to know him, as sometimes he seems to forget that he’s in the midst of real people. He reads situations differently than other people, and often times forgets the boundaries that humans have.

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He is very obviously a foreigner, and one from a desert-like place. Neido’s voice carries a subtle accent to it, but one that is hard for people to put a finger on. For those that know of him or rumors of him, he is renowned as a being possessing a one-of-a-kind skillset, a novelty with a power that none have really ever seen before. However, the only really firm knowledge that people have of him are the whispers that follow from where he’s visited and the musings of his abilities.

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It is unknown where exactly Neido hails from, whether Iveir or Reimrand, nor which continent of either. There are, of course, many speculations. He knows much about both worlds, and his power usage is a mystery to any man, so both these things- as well as others- keep his nationality or loyalties uncertain.

Hidden beneath his hair and seemingly seared into his skull behind his ear is another strange symbol, like two sharp P's facing each other with an inked blood droplet between the points at which they meet.

The Runic markings on his body are a mystery even to himself, let alone other people and other people actually catching a glimpse of them. There is also a well of magic within him, as if he were a natural source of it himself. It lays mostly dormant, however, and Neido is completely unaware of it.

The mark etched upon his skull has a very particular and magical aspect about it….

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Neido is first and foremost a confident individual. He finds a novelty about new things as well as people, and loves to laugh, which is often since he’s fairly easy to entertain. However, Neido also knows how to pose as a challenge, and definitely sets his standards high when it comes to seriously engaging with another person- it’s a sort of hierarchal tick he has; it is an animal based concept, and “An alpha must always be established~” as he likes to say. He won’t deal with people if he thinks they’re a waste of his time and he isn’t afraid of letting them know it either- or more like on most occasions he doesn’t always get the concept of sparing others’ feelings.

The foreigner is constantly fending off questions and advances from strangers desiring to know more about him or… other things. As previously mentioned, he has high standards and will only really engage with someone equal or greater to him, or at least posing an interesting cause. Otherwise he’s easy going at first-glance and with initial human interactions, such as bar and inn talk, as well as when first meeting someone in neutral circumstances.

However, he seems to have a superiority complex at times as well…. When certain circumstances are met in certain situations, animalistic proclivities tend to suddenly take control and overthrow his normal judgment. This is probably the time that his calculated, imposing, and dominant side takes its effect the most severely. There always seems to be a sharp burning feeling that accompanies this drastic shift….

Neido sometimes has the worst memory when it comes to simple things. The thoughts just seem to be there one moment and then completely gone the next, as if they had never existed in the first place, and yet they still leave a sense of loss.

For the most part, Neido is an in-the-now kind of guy and lives for exciting moments and new things. His company is usually occupied by the lesser souls of the earth, and it is rare to see him without some sort of creature lurking about his proximity, whether he intends such or not.

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”...I can’t… seem to remember….”

***

Warmth… always warmth. Grainy bits between his toes, the soothing laughter of a woman and the rich bellow of a man…. Comfort and affection… safety. Noise everywhere, loud conversations, a singular source of all light and warmth, a cooling wind and a refreshing liquid. A rough tongue lapping against little fingers with a young laugh produced from it.

-

Darkness… everlasting darkness. The sound of scales shifting almost silently against a rough surface, growls and whines, the feel of something soft brushing past and the furious thrashing of almost mute wings somewhere off in the distance. Hollow, throaty breaths echoing through nothingness. So dark- ridiculously dark. Everything and nothingness all at once- dormancy and death somehow one and the same.

Something drowned out all other noiseless sounds. A deep, mesmerizing thrum- the only thing that was truly existent, it would seem. An invisible wind, the inaudible sound of tiny granules tumbling against a surface with an imperceptible rattle before silence and nothingness took over once again. ’Thrmm…’ It reverberated through corridors and the ground itself, the mumble of the sand plinking across a spans as it was disturbed by another breath in the blindness of this place.

-

Quaking, stumbling, tripping, blind, freezing cold, mute. A stirring at the core with every beat of that sole consciousness that broke through nonexistence- beckoning, calling, enticing. Terror, driving curiosity, desire of company, steps breaking the silence. Hisses that tickled at the edge of hearing and reality, unreal sounds of padded flesh trailing behind sole steps, illusory disturbance of hair by unsubstantial wings, the hallucinatory feeling of something furry brushing past- it wasn’t real, but it existed just as anything else would, impressing itself against a single weak, young, and fragile mind.

Like a lamb being led to the slaughter, small feet encroached upon the boundary between that which is and that which does not seem to be. A singular glow reached out with every bass disturbance, rippling past his mind’s eye before disappearing past where he could not see until the next beckon, and then it would reoccur.

-

Grubby little digits poking and prodding, flaring a sense of deep hostility and irritation that did not seem to be noticed. Sweaty palms handling smooth curves and pointed corners, eliciting a snarl that was neither heard nor felt. Afflicted, attacked, disturbed, awakened; but untold time had passed… lying in wait for so long… the time to strike, to take advantage of that which had been suffered so long for.
-

With an abrupt cry of agony that shattered the unbroken silence, something seemed to latch onto those little fingers with teeth sharper than steel. Something trickled from his hand, numbing cold and sickening. With the invasion, an unnatural chill seeped down his spine, freezing him to the core. He had never known cold like this, never had lost complete feeling of himself except for one keen, sharp sense. It hurt terribly, muscles were going slack without his consent, and he couldn’t breathe. It was as if something were eating him alive.

It ended almost as soon as it had started, but that was not a good thing. From one extreme to another. Heat he knew, from the sun and the sand, but this was not that, it was not natural. It was like someone was melting his skin right off. It was unrelenting, searing into his skin with the terrible smell of burning flesh somewhere in the back of his awareness; it snaked across his body, melting, tearing, and consuming whatever it came across. The pain was relevant: it did not slacken, it did not intensify. At least not at first.

It had started at his hands, had pooled into his veins and ran rampant through his blood and body, piercing through pores and searing skin with something like liquid lava- like blood. The pain was somehow bearable for the first eternity, where it wormed its way up his arms and into his torso, but once it started to claw downwards, Neido could hardly keep the screams to himself. It felt like something was carving permanently gory marks into his skin, as if he were a canvas, his blood was the tool, and pain was the muse.

The lower it got, the more unbearable the pain was. He was hardly conscious to begin with, it was inconceivable that he had lasted this long. The slow approach to his legs suddenly stopped, but the agony did not. It was then that a sharp pain split upwards through his spine and into his neck. It felt like something clamped down jealously, and then everything went blank.

***

Neido honestly can’t remember anything from his past- from when he was born. Sure, he knows that there was sand and desert, the warmth of a sun… but he can’t remember faces of anyone. He had a mother and a father, could hear their voices and got the impression of their love, but for the life of him he can’t recall any true specifics. He had been with them for a little while, or so he figured, but there were so many gaps and holes…. An entire chunk of history had seemed to have been erased, key important factors that he knew he needed, knew he was missing, yet it never seemed to really bother him.

After all, there was no attachment if you didn’t know anyone, if you never had any connection to anything. There had been a mother and father, yes. But then there suddenly wasn’t. It was just him. Well, him and the creatures of course. They had always been there, no matter what part he tried to remember. Wherever there were holes, he knew that there had at least been lesser beasts there. That was a very solid fact.

He had grown up amongst them, he knew that, knew them- how they worked, how they thought, how they felt. There were so many holes though… anytime it was something important, it wasn’t there. If it answered why, how, or what, it wasn’t there. Information that explained transitions between memories that he could recall: nonexistent. He had known a mother and father, but why was he not with them after that first recollection? He knew that he was a person, knew of humans, and knew how society worked, but how was it that he seemed always separate from them? How had it happened that he knew of histories and had a period of schooling somewhere, sometime, but that it didn’t make sense or line up with the fragmented timeline he had? What had happened to him, that he could not remember, that he was so different?

But no matter. This was just a part of him. He had always known and had always existed under these circumstances. While the beginning is unknown with everything up to age twelve riddled with holes, the rest of it is kept fairly well. Neido wandered alone for a long time, he knew of magic and elements and how they pertained to life, how important they all were. Someone had taught him, he just couldn’t remember who it was. He knew of the balance between magic and nature, and he especially knew of creatures; they were always with him, no matter what. But at the same time, he had been with people, lived with them, learned from them. It was as if he had never been apart from the sanctities of his own kind, had never been alone, and had never been forced onto a split path….

These impossible, warring factors used to drive him mad. It was impossible to have one very specific course, and yet also walk the complete opposite of it at the same time. The worst part was that he couldn’t remember enough of either one to place one as ‘more real’ than the other. They were both true, they were both false. In his existence, they were true. But logically one must have been false for the other to have been real.

But now it’s simply that he forgets sometimes, that there are holes when he tries to remember- as well as an annoyingly strange searing pain in his head- but these are just simple truths to his life at this point. He has long since stopped trying to figure it out- it’s an impossible puzzle, and one that wastes his time. Not to mention it makes him depressed, confused, and angry. Neido simply lives, wandering from place to place to discover new beasts and to learn from them and how to conquer them.

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So begins...

Neido Kumara's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Valrien Yustri Character Portrait: Lutchka Zatari Character Portrait: Harlan Pendrake Character Portrait: Neido Kumara

0.00 INK

#, as written by Siryn

Catacombs Entrance

Valrien dismounted rather quickly and headed for the stone archway that marked the entrance to underground tunnels leading to the doorway to Reimrand. He didn’t wait for Lutchka or Harlan, knowing they would both be right behind him. Fully healed as he’d promised, Valrien moved easier than he had the day they first set out. Descending the steps quickly, he was plunged into darkness that he swept away by lighting the torch to his right.

Taking it out of the brazen holder, he started down into the cold tunnel, lighting a few of the torches as they went, but mostly forgoing the entirety of them. He was in too much of a rush to be bothered by lighting the way. After all, he knew where to go, as did Harlan and Lutchka. They had certainly done the trip plenty of times to memorize it. Already the fact that he’d been gone from Siya’s side for almost a full week was weighing heavily on his mind as he traced the pathways, turning corners quickly and avoiding any of the puddles of water at all costs. The last thing he needed was to deal with a Drewdan in the darkness.

Harlan followed right after Valrien, moving down the steps with the same urgency as his friend had. As he reached the bottom, he too ignited a torch and grabbed it, taking the hint that they would not bother lighting their path with the other torches. So long as they could see the puddles of water to avoid them, it was all they needed.

“So, Valrien. What are we gonna tell people? I mean I know you are Prince and all and can kinda take the orbs if you want, but I think people wouldn’t mind some kind of explanation.” He didn’t look at Valrien as he spoke, as he didn’t want to risk accidentally stepping in a puddle by doing so.

“If your reason is going to be what I think it is going to be, I just hope they’ll be as accepting of it as we are.” he muttered, flicking his hand to a wall torch to light it as he went on by it.

Valrien sidestepped a puddle and continued onward, lighting another torch partway down the corridor as he went. A frown pulled his lips down as he listened to his guard’s question. Harlan had a good point. Even though he was Prince -King? Maybe… He didn’t feel like he was King anyway- that didn’t exactly mean he could go doing what he wanted without some kind of consequence lined up for him.

“I’ll tell it to them as it is. That the Kings of Iveir are in desperate need of the power they once wielded in order to fend off an attacker with powerful allies. Iveir is connected to us much like we are to them. If any of the Kings lose to these… Noble’s of Fire, then who is to say that their next step is to not force their hand onto us? I fear that they will not stop after Siya. Amon would be next and if Siya is the first to fall… How quickly do you think Amon would?”

Harlan moved around another puddle, face scrunching in thought at the question of the Air King. He really didn’t have much of a good answer for the Prince, as honestly Valrien knew Amon better than he did. “I mean, he seems a bit more sane of mind than Siya does. Not to mention he also seems to have a better grasp on this whole fighting business as well. I think you and Lutchka would have a better guess than I would though on how well the bubbly fella could last.”

Harlan stepped over another puddle, coming to a stop though to catch his breath for a moment looking down both directions of the t-section they had come too. “But hey, how about we don’t think of that.” he said, glancing to Valrien with a small smile. “Happy thoughts, remember?” he said with a light chuckle.

The sound of metal landing on stone though drew his attention down the way they had come from, Harlan glancing down the corridor with a confused look. He squinted to try to see in the dim light better, though he couldn’t see anything as of yet. “Son of a bitch, someone else skulking through these damned things again?”

Valrien halted in his steps, back tracking to look down the hall that Harlan was looking down. He caught the dim light a moment after and cursed heavily in Reimrandian. Taking a moment, he stood there for a while, trying to decide what to do. He really didn’t have time to be side tracked, yet he wasn’t compelled to leave the random individual to their fate should they screw up and attract a Drewdan.

Velnias tai, mes neturime laiko tai,” Valrien hissed to Harlan. He stood for a moment longer before he finally gave a growl of frustration and headed down the hall to whoever it was walking around with the light. That time, Valrien did light the torches. Nothing like getting lost in the catacombs.

Harlan glanced to Valrien, then back down the hallway. “No kidding...” he muttered, sticking to Iverian. As The Prince went down the hallway, Harlan sighed and followed after him. The guards at the front were going to get hell for this, from both Valrien and Harlan. Hell maybe even Lutchka might join in on the yelling, because right now they deserved it.

As they came closer to the sound of metal on stone, which Harlan figured was probably the armor the individual was wearing, it went quiet as they got close. They probably heard the group approaching, and it was likely they were also seeing the light of their torch.

Finally rounding a corner, Harlan squinted again to see through the dim light, though with a flick of his fingers more torches burned and lit up the corridor better. As they came to life, he saw a figure suddenly turn to face them, a hand reaching up over his shoulder and resting on what Harlan recognized as the handle of a sword. They did not draw the weapon, but simply let their hand rest there.

The individual was tall, standing close to a foot taller than Harlan was, and had a large frame that was completely encased in a dark blue plate armor. The plates of metal were trimmed in gold, all of them seemed to have sharp, angular like features to them as well. The pauldrons had gold designs traced on them, and from each one hung several red strips of leather with a gold colored stud that weighed them down so that they hung down just over the plates that began on the man’s arms. Harlan could see small spikes that were on the tops of the gauntlets, as well as on the plates covering the elbow and also the besagne that shielded his underarm.

Plates hung from his waist to cover his thighs, with the rest of his legs being covered in greaves colored in a similar fashion, and on the back of his waist hung a red sash, which was clearly worn and ragged at the edges, though the rest of his armor was impeccable. His head was covered by a helmet that hid all his features, save for the few locks of black hair that barely emerged from underneath. In this light, Harlan couldn’t see at all beneath the helmet, though he did hold up his hands when the man reached for his sword. “Hold it, hold it, we aren’t going to hurt you!” he said, quickly trying to stop any violence from occurring.

The man did not lower his hand from the hilt of his sword, which was hidden by his form, though Harlan could see how the large blade came down close to the man’s ankles. It was not the kinda weapon Harlan really wanted to have to deal with, especially since he’d only recently gotten patched up after his last fight. It was also then that Harlan noticed something rather odd, and it was that all the torches next to and behind the man were extinguished. The guard knew they had lit them, and they never went out this quickly.

The man spoke, his voice tinged with a slight accent that Harlan did not recognize in the slightest. It wasn’t like Lukina’s, and the man spoke Iverian fluently. “You are Prince Yustri.” the man said, making a statement rather than a question which seemed odd to Harlan. The guardsman moved slightly in front of Valrien, unsettled a bit by the situation. It was also the tone the man spoke with, as it held a tinge of anger. It almost felt like the man just seemed to ooze malice.

Lutchka did not make comment on Valrien and Harlan’s conversation of Lord Siya being overthrown, and instead kept her focus on where they were going. While Harlan and Valrien both had the passage memorized, it wouldn’t hurt to pay attention just in case. Her knowledge of the catacombs was on par with theirs, but she obviously did not have as much experience in travelling between the two.

When Harlan mentioned happy thoughts, the white haired woman scoffed lightly. “Right, stuck in a dark, dank crypt with the impending doom of snake monsters. Much happy.” She carried her own torch, not bothering to light the sconces on the wall. Other than marking where they had been in some spots, Lutchka didn’t see much point in lighting anything, as they only needed enough light to see where they were going. And avoid the puddles. The many, many puddles….

However, when they heard movement further down the hall that did not belong, Lutchka straightened quite a bit and narrowed her eyes. Was this perhaps another issue of commoners passing between realms?

But when they approached, it definitely was not some simple commoner. The man was tall, almost as big as the man they had faced in battle a week and a half earlier. It looked like he meant business too.

Harlan tried to call out to inform the other of their presence and intentions, but honestly, when was the last time anyone was ever skulking about with good intentions, not seeking to kill one or all of them?

Valrien’s gaze narrowed. He didn’t miss the step that Harlan took in front of him, or the malice in the tone as they -or rather he- was addressed. He reached for his power, just enough of it to let it seep into his limbs, but not quite enough to use right then. His other hand snaked for his sword, though he was unsure as to how they were going to deal with the rather heavily armored man. Yet, there were three of them and one of him. Perhaps they would have a chance. Even so, Valrien didn’t have a good feeling about the man who stood before them.

“Funny. People seem to know who I am and yet I have no idea who they are. Mind explaining how in the hell you know me?” Valrien snapped, his tone probably wasn’t helping the situation, but he wasn’t really paying attention to that. He doubted that the one in front of them was a friendly man either way. The Prince curled his hand around the hilt of his sword tightly, easing it out of it’s lock so as to draw it quicker in case he needed it.

“Think you can handle that sword boy?” The man said, his hand lowering from the handle of his sword. He then began walking forwards towards the three of them, Harlan noting that as the man passed the torches, they each extinguished as he did. “I am curious to see if you are worthy of holding the title of royalty. It is not a rank most are strong enough to properly bear.” Harlan let flames ignite over his body, washing the area over with more light. He took his fighting stance as the man approached.

He adopted no stance though, nor did he seem to take any precaution for the three of them. He finally ceased moving only a few feet from them, standing in a neutral and relaxed stance. “Let’s see if Reimrand can produce real fighters, or if you are just a bunch of little children playing soldier.”

Valrien gave a growl of anger, his teeth grinding together so tightly that they might have broken if he wasn’t careful. The young Prince drew the blade, his energy spiking around him as he did so, the crackle of the white light of pure energy flooded his body, but that time, he focused it on his sword. As the white light danced, Valrien brought the sword up, turning his body sideways with the blade up next to his face.

“I’m getting real tired of being talked down to,” he hissed, mostly to himself. Valrien lunged forward, driving the blade with the momentum toward the man and aiming for what looked like the spots on his body that had less armor. Even if all he hit was the metal plating, Valrien would simply just let the energy of his power lance through the thick plates. That alone should be enough to fry the bastard where he stood.

When Harlan felt Valrien suddenly lunge past him, his eyes widened as he went to reach out and stop the Prince. “Valrien!” he called, but the man was out of his reach. The man did not move at first, but as Valrien closed the distance the man simply stepped forwards while also stepping behind himself. He moved fast, fast for someone in full plate, but he quickly caught the arm of Valrien and then dragged the Prince along.

Harlan was lunging forwards as the man guided Valrien straight into a wall. As Harlan closed the distance, the man then stepped to the side to avoid a tackle from Harlan. Harlan noticed that as he stumbled past the man, the room had gone far dimmer as the flames on his body had seemed to extinguish themselves. He caught his footing, turning quickly to face the man who was once again standing in a relaxed stance.

“Valrien, tau viskas gerai?” Harlan asked, once again moving over to the Prince. He flicked his hands down the hallway to light several more torches, and reignited the flames on his body. Again the torches near the man extinguished.

“Attacking a man before he even drew his sword and attacking two on one. So you win by playing dirty then, boy?” the man spoke. Harlan himself growled in irritation, his hands tightly clenching into fists.

Much to her dismay, the Prince seemed to lose all semblance of patience and good nature. As he lunged forward, Lutchka, just as Harlan had attempted, reached out to try and stop him before another incident like the ones he always seemed to get into when in a battle- i.e. getting stabbed or his ass handed to him- happened again. “Chrom-!” The white-haired woman called out, missing Valrien’s shoulder by a mile.

These boys definitely needed a lesson in planning and execution.

With a tense sigh, she pinched the bridge of her nose lightly, though not so much for Valien’s actions as obviously this stranger was not friendly, but more so for the fact that they were getting into yet another fight only a week after their most debilitating one yet.

It was then that Lutchka spoke up in that disarming little way of hers- trying to diffuse the situation. “I don’t suppose that this can’t simply be handled by a little diplomacy and decorum? You’ve both already made a mistake, so I’d call the playing ground even and prime for such actions.”

The man’s head turned, though only slightly in the direction of Lutchka. “Let the boys work out their frustrations. Children learn through their mistakes.” he said, his head turning back again to better face the two of them. He did not move towards them though, rather he just stood there waiting.

Harlan looked over to Lutchka before back at the man, fists still clenched tightly. He did not move forwards though, as Lutchka was right. Honestly, it was probably best for them to not get caught up in a fight again.

“Bauda,” Valrien replied to Harlan as he stumbled a little and ran the back of his hand across his upper lip, just under his bleeding nose. Being slammed into the wall was not the greatest way to start the fight. Lutchka’s voice followed after, trying to appease the situation. He did agree with her, that they were not in the best position for a fight, but the man in front of them didn’t look like he had any intentions of going anywhere, much less letting them leave.

Valrien wasn’t sure he could handle another heavy fight. Yet, he wasn’t one to back down either. It was his hot headedness that tended to get him into the most trouble. Glancing down to his hand that was smeared with crimson, Valrien grimaced as he lifted his gaze to the man and scowled. Flipping the sword in his hand a few times, he reset his body and faced the larger opponent with his back to Harlan, the cracking of his power lancing across the sword again.

“Children hu? Then you must be ancient. Tell me, what the hell do you want? Why are you wandering in my catacombs? You realize you’ve just broken several laws, don’t you? No one is allowed here unless they are escorted by my soldiers, which you do not have with you. Tell me, or I’ll carve it from you.”

Harlan glanced to Valrien before back at the man, fidgeting some because now he was not sure what to do. “If you do not have the strength to protect them, then you don’t deserve them. And if you can’t defend these ruins, then I think I have my answer as to whether or not you are worthy of being considered royalty.”

It was then, as firelight from a recently lit torch down the hall flickered across the man’s form, that Harlan noticed the blood that was slowly dripping from the man’s sword. Most of it was dried to the blade, though a few drops fell here and there. Harlan sneered, glaring at the man. He murdered the guards, that was how he got in after them.

“Pavainikis!” Harlan shouted, lunging towards the man again. As he did, he unleashed a blast of fire directed right at him. As the flames flew towards him, Harlan moved to the side to attack the man from another angle. He was surprised though when he ran straight into a metal gauntlet curled into a fist that met his face.

The guardsman stumbled back, falling right to the ground. As he laid there for a moment, he quickly sat up, bringing one hand to his now bleeding nose, hissing in pain. He looked up at the man, confused as he noticed not a single part of the man appeared to have any marks of fire or heat, like the fire had not touched him at all. As he stood up, he blinked when he felt a coolness on his hand.

He lifted his hand, watching as a few drops of water fell from the skin of his fingers and the leather of his gloves, his eyes widening. “Ah shit…” was all he muttered as he stared at it.

“Harlan!” Valrien shouted as the royal guard lunged forward, fire leading his attack. He watched as the flames danced, then simply dissipated into nothing. As Harlan went in for another attack, swift and agile as always, he was met by a heavy fist that threw him back onto the floor. The Prince let out another growl as he eyed the man with disdain.

“Worthy my ass,” Valrien snapped and lashed out. The slash in the air in front of him was not meant to hit the man, but simply to direct his electrical charge at him. The white light danced, flashing brightly and cracking loudly as it hit the air. Valrien pushed as much energy into it as he was willing to give. If he went overboard, the fight would end very badly for him and very quickly. He let the charge snap out at the man dressed in armor. Following that was the darker side of his natural power. The thick, black power resembled tar as it slid from his arm and hands, stretching out to the one in armor in an attempt to hold him down as Valrien prepared to attack him full on with his blade.

“Kodėl jūsų gaisro neveikia!” Valrien shouted at Harlan as he readied himself while waiting to see what his power would do to the man.

Harlan watched as Valrien unleashed a torrent of power at the man, though he glanced at the prince as he asked the question. “Aš nežinau!” he shouted. He waited until Valrien’s power hit, and then he would attack again.

Harlan was beginning to grow tired of these recent surprises he was facing, and what happened next was only another thing on the list of irritations and shocks. As Valrien’s power was about to make contact with the man, he watched as the power suddenly seemed to fade from existence before making contact. The black power that followed behind it did the same, fading away before contacting the man.

Harlan stared in shock, a defeated look on his features. “You have to be kidding me…” he groaned out, now unsure what to do.

The man did not say anything, instead he simply lunged forwards. Harlan was again caught by surprise at how fast the man could move despite his size and the equipment he wore. Regardless, the man cleared the distance between him and Valrien fast and threw a push kick aimed for the Prince’s stomach.

Harlan moved forwards to attack, ducking under a punch that the man threw. He came up and around behind the man, and doing the only thing he could think of, was jump up onto the back of the man. It was awkward, with the large blade where it was, and it only worked for a moment as the man suddenly moved backwards and slammed back into the wall, squishing Harlan between his bulk and the stone.

As Harlan lost his grip and fell, he felt a hand grab hold of his ponytail and roughly yank him forwards. Harlan fell flat onto the ground as the man casually tossed him forwards, Harlan landing at the feet of Lutchka, groaning and reaching up to hold his assaulted ponytail.

This fight was obviously going nowhere fast. Or at least nowhere in regards to their chances of victory. They just kept seeming to face impossible enemies that they could not best. Lutchka weighed the options swiftly and in a calculating manner as the two boys distracted the knight. With a deliberate little step to the side, she held her still-lit torch in one hand and placed the other hand on her hip.

As it seemed to quiet just a bit- a lull in the fight that would last only a few seconds- Lutchka let the torch slip from her fingers into a rather large puddle of water. As if they hadn’t already probably pissed off the snake demons down here, this certainly would do it. Not only did it disturb the water, but the torch went out with a very loud hiss, tainting the water.

An entirely sorry-not-sorry look was on her face, but otherwise it was blank. One simple word deadpanned past her lips: “Oops~”.

Valrien took in a sharp breath as his power faded out before it could even reach the armored enemy. If his power wasn’t going to do a damn thing, then that meant he was only left with his sword skills. To which Valrien wasn’t horrible at, but definitely not the best swordsman either. Amon was probably far better at wielding one and he didn’t even use a weapon. Valrien had once made the mistake of being talked into fighting the man. Needless to say, the Prince had sorely lost. In honesty, he probably should have taken sword lessons from the white haired, one-eyed protector.

Valrien was starting to rethink not doing so.

He took the heavy hit, turning his sword to try to ease the impact. With his palm braced against the flat of the blade, the steel rang, vibrating horribly in his grip and making him drop the weapon as he went tumbling across the floor. When he stopped, it was definitely not where he desired to be. Splashes of water flew up all around him and he cursed loudly and fluently in both languages.

Shoving himself up to his feet, he retrieved his sword in two quick steps and took hold of it in both hands. Forgoing his power entirely, he struck out at the man who had thrown Harlan. Yet aiming for what he could only guess to be the soft spots as the fires around them had been extinguished. It was hard to see, but having been in the darkness long enough, he was doing a little better than moments ago.

Still, he could only hope to land a strike after the man had been preoccupied with Harlan. As he lashed out, he yelled out a single word for Harlan and Lutchka. He could care less about the man in armor. Hell, he hoped the pain in the ass would get eaten.

“Drewdan!”

~~~
Neido and Filinian

“Right, once we get further into these damned corridors, we’ll… grab the Drewdan’s attention. You better be worth what we are paying you.” the young man grumbled as he walked through the corridor, the end of his staff tapping lightly against the stone floor as he walked. He moved around the puddles easily, the torches next to him lighting up without any motion on the young man’s part.

The bottom of the staff was made of a red metal, formed and shaped into a sharp blade that had no marks or wear on it. The blade was about a foot in length, where it then connected to a handle that was composed of a shiny, black stone, which had reddish veins that glowed, then vanished as their light diminished only to return in another place. A small ring of red metal separated the stone from the handle, which had leather tightly wound around it before it reached another metal ring and continued on as the black stone with red veins.

As it neared the top, a series of red metal spirals seemed to slowly fade into existence within the stone, before becoming more and more solid and then stretching up off the end of the staff and out of the stone. They formed a tight spiral, with an inch gap between them before they finally curved inwards towards the center. Lodged between the end of the staff and the red metal spiral, was a dimly glowing dark red crystal, completely opaque. It was formed into a perfect sphere though, with no marks on it to suggest it was cut by the simple hands of a jeweler and his tools.

His red eyes glanced to the side at the taller man next to him. “So, basically we need something done with this annoying thing so we stop having morons who go wandering into these tunnels and get themselves killed.” He looked back ahead, stepping over a puddle, making sure his loose robes did not drag though it either. “Honestly I’m perfectly fine with having them get killed, they were dumb enough to wander in here despite warnings, but I guess some people have a conscious and don’t like the idea of people being mauled by a hive-minded snake creature.”

“Guess I’m just a bit desensitized in some regards.” The young man mumbled, an annoyed glare facing forwards and looking under black locks, lightly tinted purple. “Anyways, whatever method you use to make it not a problem works for us. We don’t really need it around, so if you kill it, sweet. If you tame it, sweet. If you scold it to stop killing people, then also sweet. Whatever stops it from eating people is good enough. Just know it is not one single creature, but rather, as I said, like a hive-mind of snakes that work as one. Other than that, well really not much I can tell you other than the fact it doesn’t like fire all that much.”

He looked back to the man, easily stepping over another puddle as he did so. “Think you can handle it then?”

The foreigner of sands had been paying little attention to the shorter man who was with him, guiding him through the tunnels. For some odd reason… they almost seemed familiar to him, and the lightly bronze-skinned man was spending his time trying to place a finger on just why that was. However, it was a futile attempt, and one that would frustrate him, so he simply chalked it up to being similar to other crypts he’s had the genuine pleasure of going through.

With the young man’s words of disbelief, however, Neido’s eyes narrowed slightly in irritation despite the seemingly good-natured scoff that passed his lips. He would not entertain the man with words, however. He had deigned previously that the guide was not worthy of much attention on Neido’s part. He talked a lot. Too much.

It was annoying.

But the foreigner was on his best behavior- the creature that the council had been having issues with sounded very interesting indeed, and Neido definitely wanted to get a good look at it if he could. So he put up with the little buzzing fly that was his guide. In all honesty, he did not have anything against the man personally, he just didn’t find him interesting enough to waste any kind of time or energy on. He was simply doing it out of formalities.

As the other continued to talk and light their way- something that Neido did not entirely require- he was busy gazing over the dank, aged walls that held several different inscriptions upon each one, obviously to the intent of markers to navigate the labyrinth. But that wasn’t all that they were for, he decided. There were the subtlest, almost non-existent pulses or remnants of magic that hung behind the scrapes in the stones.

The man carried a strange staff-like object, but the sand foreigner was completely uninterested with pointless bobbles. He was here to meet the Drewdan Monarch, not chat about how nice the day was or how dark these catacombs were. In fact, Neido quite enjoyed the darkness and confining space- reminded him of… well, something…. He didn’t actually know exactly what, so he just enjoyed the impression he got.

The dark haired man on his right once more spoke up, breaking the silence and the intensity of Neido’s studying of their surroundings. For the umpteenth time, the guide explained why they needed the Drewdan threat to be removed. However, the foreigner had to agree with the guide’s views. Common humans were stupid; they didn’t know their place and they always needed to be reminded of it. That was one of the main reasons he didn’t like being around people.

Neido’s listening ear was rather particular when it came to actually picking up on important information, such as the Drewdan being a hive-minded creature. Then again, he already knew that. In fact, he had been briefed at the very beginning. And then several more times, and then again before they entered, and then once more just now on some of its habits.

The tamer was growing quite tired of having to hear of it- he wasn’t deaf. He understood and memorized the first time it was said. It seemed these people were not confident in their methods of explaining and thus needed to do it a hundred times over.

Neido’s stride was altered when the man spoke flippantly of the creature. To think, they had such a rare treasure right beneath their fingers, and they were treating it as commonly as a piece of metal for sacrificing. That angered him, and irritation was suddenly sharp on his features. However, with the man’s last part, the bit about the Drewdan eating people, Neido almost groaned vocally with his absolute disappointment and irritation of somehow being surrounded by complete idiots.

But he remained silent, giving a silent, large sigh. It would all be in the briefing once he was done with his job. There was no way that he was going to kill such a marvelous creature, and the Reimrandians were absolute fools for not taking advantage of it. He would let them know as much, and without any mercy or tact whatsoever.

As his guide once again questioned his abilities, the beastmaster finally spoke up. “Enough. I’m here to tame, not talk.” The accent on his foreign tongue was charming and exotic, to say the least. The beast was summoned by loud noises, earth shifting, and water disruptions. It did not like fire, which was a no-brainer. No snake monster enjoyed flames. Well, asides from the fire salamanders of Naktuk and the lava serpents of the Abrasi volcanic range.

The young man glanced at the foreigner, scowling some before looking ahead. “May want to tame your manners first.” he said, watching ahead as he continued to lead the foreigner through the corridors of the catacombs. He looked up once more to the walls they walked past, reaching out with a hand and lightly running his fingers along them. He’d been studying such things for most of his life, yet still to this day he understood little of this place.

Filinian sighed, lowering his hand as he looked ahead. Even with the books of Tharak and his notes, Filinian was still left to study a large variety of things. There were so many mysteries to Reimrand, so many unanswered questions. So many legends as well, such as Gairidol who Tharak had sought out.

He glanced up to the staff in his hand before back ahead. He felt that magic would never be fully understood. It simply seemed like every step forward they made, a thousand more were presented to them with no way of knowing what lay ahead. At least it gave the young man something to do with his life.

Neido sneered good-naturedly at the man’s remark on his behavior. He was completely unabashed by it, and his confident grin showed so. He would never take back anything he’d ever say. “I’m a beast master, not a human whisperer.” To think, people actually wanted him to conform to their ways. It was funny in that completely not-so-amusing way.

With the sudden movement of the man as he reached out and ran his fingers along the wall, Neido’s head snapped his way simply for the fact that abnormal motion had been made. His eyes narrowed slightly in an analyzing way, but he quickly relaxed when it was clear that no threat was being made.

~~~

They walked for what seemed like an eternity, but the foreigner didn’t work by time, nor did he mind it. He was content to live in the moment and continue to study recurring symbols and watch the utter stillness of each puddle they passed.

However, at one point while they were walking, Neido suddenly stopped completely, lurching to an absolute stop. He lifted one hand to silence his guide who would no doubt ask stupid questions. He could hear something…. It was only moments after he stopped that the ground seemed to tremble and the earth seemed to give a huge, subtle sigh. Dirt and dust rained down from the ceiling onto anything below it, and the puddles seemed to suddenly have ripples emanating from them, even though there was nothing noticeably nearby.

With narrowed eyes, Neido swiftly looked to the other. “Someone else is here.” Neither one of them had made an error in their steps, and the Drewdan would not move unless provoked, in order to conserve energy since it was a snake being.

The foreigner of sands suddenly darted ahead in the direction that the disturbances were coming from, easily avoiding other puddles and things that could make disruptions.

Their walk was quiet, as neither had anything to say to one another at this point. Filinian was perfectly fine with it, the man next to him wasn’t much fun to talk to anyways. Instead he was content to just observe the walls, avoiding puddles as they moved along. He didn’t notice the man stop though at first, it wasn’t until he turned his head back forwards that he noticed the individual was missing from his peripheral vision.

Stopping and turning to look at the man, Filinian just raised an eyebrow. Though when the ground rumbled, Filinian’s eyes turned back to face the way they were going. He felt the dust fall on him, but he paid little attention to it as he too took notice of the disturbance. At the foreigner’s remark, Filinian scowled some. “Probably some fool who wandered in here.”

He felt a slight rush of air, though he didn’t have to glance to the side to see what it was because he could see the beastmaster bolting on ahead. Filinian blinked, before shrugging and quickly following after. He however couldn’t ever physically keep up with the man, so he took a route he was more comfortable with. The gem on his staff glowed brighter, and light gusts of wind seemed to blow around Filinian, lifting the young man up off the ground by a few inches before he went after the man who had ran ahead.

~~~

Whatever attention Harlan had been giving the knight they were fighting, it was now directed at the sounds of something large moving in their direction. It seemed to have grabbed the attention of the knight as well, who had turned his head to look in that direction.

Harlan was resting on one knee, an arm holding his torso which had begun to ache once more after a few more blows from the armored fists, knees, elbows, or kicks of their opponent. The man hadn’t even drawn his sword during their fight, and he then glanced back to the knight who currently had a tight hold on Valrien’s sword, the blade locked within the gauntleted grip of the knight.

The knight watched in the direction of the noise, and with little effort yanked on the sword of Valrien’s to drag the prince in the direction Harlan rested. Harlan quickly moved to catch Valrien before he fell. Harlan began looking between the knight and the Drewdan that was coming their way, now unsure of what to do. “Šūdas…” Harlan growled, looking back at the knight.

Valrien struggled with his blade, trying to pull it back but to no avail. The man they were fighting was ridiculously strong and bested both him and Harlan easily. Valrien was starting to get real tired of having his ass handed to him constantly. Grinding his teeth, he tugged again, putting a little power behind his pull but he found himself hurled off his feet and to the other side of the corridor.

Instead of solid rock, though, he slammed into Harlan who seemed to be prepared for him. Kept from falling flat on his back that time, he huffed heavily as he nodded a thanks to his guard before glaring at the knight standing in front of them. Then he heard the hiss of the Drewdan.

“Damn it! One thing after another,” he growled to himself as he glanced over to the snake creature that was tearing down the corridor for them, “This is just fucking great,” he snapped as he tried to figure out their next course of action. He too looked between the heavily armored man and the snake, wondering what the stranger would do with the Drewdan barreling right for them.

Neido made quick work of the corridors, despite the fact that he should not really know how to navigate them. But by that time, he had memorized the keys that were important to understanding the winding labyrinth. Plus the fact that it was hard to stop feeling the presence of an awakened beast, especially one as fearsome as the Drewdan seemed to promise.

A wicked little smirk seemed to tease the foreigner’s lips at the prospect of such a challenge and the inevitable conquering that would come of it. The further he slid past corners and tight passageways, the stronger he could feel the presence of the creature, and the closer he knew that he was getting.

From a rather tight offshoot shortcut, the end of it suddenly opened up into a much larger hallway. The hisses and growls and low screeches that the beast was making were very clear and concise now. The tamer’s eyes narrowed, taking in the scene before him in the dark.

A massive snake monster was just converging on what Neido knew to be its prey, and, seeing as it was his job to clear the menace and keep people from getting eaten alive, he did not waste a single second in beginning the age old ritual he had grown so accustomed to. His jaw set and an excited smirk played against his lips.

As the beast reared intending to propel itself forward as a writhing projectile of a thousand mouths and twice that in fangs, the sand foreigner took one confident step forward before a rather prominent sound of chains rattling together sounded from behind the Drewdan. It did not distract the beast however, but nor had it been meant to.

What did catch the beast off guard was its sudden forced impact into air as it was stopped right in its tracks. A sound of choking and cut-off hisses hit the air then. Serrated chains dug painfully into scales and hooked into the flesh beneath, crisscrossing between heads.

With a single fractional tilt of his wrist, the metal tightened further, constricting the beast even more and forcing its many heads backwards, decapitating several of them in the action. The creature was confused and caught off guard, but it only took it moments before it reacted. Absolute rage suddenly filled the Drewdan, and it turned abruptly, intending to face its foe and devour him. It was a poor choice of motion, as several more small heads were severed.

As the creature drew closer, Valrien had let out several curses yet again, growling them after grinding his teeth hard. Eventually, he simply turned from the fully armored man and made to deal with the snake like creature that was intent on having them all for lunch. Yet, as Valrien turned and lifted up his sword, power crackling along it’s blade, something else stopped the Drewdan.

The Prince watched in shock and awe as the heads of the creepy thing began to sever. It screamed out in pain and rage. Twisting around to try to attack who had stopped it, it lost even more heads in the process. Valrien winced despite himself. The thing was certainly one of the more uglier of the Drewdan that he’d ever seen.

So preoccupied by the display of the Drewdan being torn apart and kept from eating them, Valrien forgot about the man for those several minutes. He’d simply stood and watched until he hissed in shock and twisted around quickly to face the man yet again hoping that the armored bastard hadn’t taken that chance to sneak up on Harlan or himself.

Harlan’s attention had been turned away from the knight and back to the Drewdan when he heard the thing roar in pain. Something had grabbed its attention, as it wasn’t moving towards. In fact, it looked like it was attempting to turn around to face something else. The guardsman noted that several heads had been severed from it, which Harlan wasn’t going to complain about.

He turned back to face the knight though, who’s attention seemed to be on the Drewdan rather than any of them. His head was cocked slightly to the right, though he did nothing else. Harlan watched the man, before looking back at the Drewdan then back. “Hell with it! We’ll deal with you later!” He shouted at the man before he turned and threw a fireball aimed for the Drewdan.

On the other side of the creature, Filinian quickly came to a stop away from the foreigner, who in his hands were several chains as he grappled with the beast. Filinian floated there for a few moments before looking at the Drewdan, frowning some as he tried to figure out what he could do. He could assist, but he figured his best option was to wait until the foreigner either requested it, or looked like he was about to be smashed to pieces.

Regardless, Filinian’s gem glowed once more, and in a quick flash of red light, the man’s robes were replaced with an outfit more suited for fighting. It was overlapping scales of red metal, that was attached together by leather between, the leather coverings most of his joints to allow easy freedom of movement. His torso was covered by a full cuirass of only three plates to allow it to bend and move. His forearms and hands were covered by gauntlets, while his upper arms had the similar red scales as well as small pauldrons to cover his shoulders. His shins and feet were covered by greaves, with his knees covered by plates and his thighs covered by the similar red scale armor.

Once the light died down, Filinian made a quick waving motion with his free hand, and before him he watched as, in another quick flash of red light, a thick, leatherbound book appeared, its pages opening to reveal worn and old paper within it, Reimrandian words covering each page with other odd symbols spread throughout it. The book hovered in front of him, seemingly held up by an unseen force, remaining open in front of the mage.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Siya Ukomo Character Portrait: Kanan Thiyer Character Portrait: Valrien Yustri Character Portrait: Lukina Aymidor Character Portrait: Renardine 'Minnow' Lunvari Character Portrait: Rhoven Shaw Character Portrait: Lutchka Zatari Character Portrait: Harlan Pendrake Character Portrait: Neido Kumara

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#, as written by Skwidge
The Drewdan were not clever beasts, it would seem. Or at least this one wasn’t. The beast was easily distracted, and it did not appear to learn from its mistakes as it once more shifted violently in one direction, as the passageway lit up momentarily from a ball of fire. The thing pulled against the chains, attempting to once again change its direction and focus.

Neido’s face turned into a bit of a glower, eyes narrowing and putting some real force into his pull. The snake monster was his, and he would let the foolish creature know as much. Having removed quite a few of the heads that squirmed about from its top, the chains shifted from their serrated jags to something less severing. Lobbing off heads was all good and well, but this thing needed to be taught its place before it was dismissed from existence.

Small, sharp spears replaced the previously serrated edges, stabbing straight through necks and heads before the ends melded into hooks to latch onto flesh and scale between links. Neido spread his feet a bit, suddenly jerking backwards and forcing his strength into the motion. With his own strength, of course, he would not be able to best the creature, so it was then that he willed his power to further split chains. The metal shot into the ground, burrowing deep before setting. Using mechanics and force, Neido forced the beast down.

“Τώρα.” He glanced back at his guide, who seemed eager to help in the endeavor. Who was the foreigner to keep him from getting a taste of the battle? Besides, whoever was on the other side of this Drewdan had already interfered, so it was of little concern to him if others wanted to dispatch of the thing.

“Fire.”

Harlan was curious as to what the sound of metal hitting stone was, but he paid it no mind as nothing seemed to be attacking him (with metal objects at least) at the moment and they needed to worry about the Drewdan. He was also curious as to what the flashes of red light had been on the other side of it; he figured it must be whatever was grabbing its attention.

It was an opening he would not waste though, and quickly he began to hurl fireballs repeatedly at the creature, hoping to burn the thing to cinders before it turned its attention back to them. He was glad that it seemed the knight had ceased his attack on them as well, though whether the man was still there or not, Harlan had no idea.

Filinian had the book hover to his side where his free hand was, and it hovered over the pages as he watched the foreigner do his work. It was certainly interesting to see what the man could do with the metal of the chains. It was these kinds of things that made Filinian so interested in magic. When the man spoke, in a language Filinian didn’t recognize, the young mage looked to the foreigner. All the mage needed to hear though was the word fire, and he nodded his head before looking back up at the Drewdan.

Swinging his free hand around in front of him, the book following the movements, both began to glow with red sigils, the orb atop his staff also beginning to glow brighter. With a few rapid hand motions he then drew his hand back towards him, then thrusted it out straight towards the Drewdan. As his arm reached full extension, a bolt of dark red flames shot from his hand, sailing towards the Drewdan and slamming into the creatures.

It did not dissipate though, rather it seemed to explode and drape the red fire across the form of the Drewdan, clinging to the snakes and beginning to burn away whatever parts it touched. Another quick movement of his hands, and an orb of fire formed within his hand, about two feet in diameter. Quickly he waved the freehand out towards the Drewdan, the orb flying out towards it, its own dark red and black flames lighting up their area of the corridor as it flew into the center of the creature, forcing it’s way through.

There, Filinian first directed the book to the side before he began moving his freehand to the side, watching as the orb of fire then began forcing itself in the same direction, following the movements of the young mage’s hand.

Valrien stopped in his tracks, ready to tear into the creature even more until it went flopping down into the floor, brought down by something that sounded akin to metal moving. He glanced over to Harlan before looking back to the creature. His royal guard was hurling fire at the blasted thing, and in the next moment, more fire joined his, an orb to be exact. He knew that color though.

“Filinian,” he muttered at first, then shouted the young mages name over the din of fighting, and the creatures screams, “Filinian!”

Valrien ducked under Harlan’s hurling of flames and rushed around to the opposite side of the hall. He tried to see past the creature that was being held down. Pressing himself against the wall, he caught a glimpse of someone working the chains. It was not anyone he was familiar with. But, if they were with Filinian, then he had not much to worry about in regards to who the newcomer was.

If Filinian trusted them enough to bring them into the corridors, then Valrien would trust the mage’s judgement. He called out to the mage again, “Filinian! What is he doing?” he asked, curious as to why the creature had chains all around its throat but it wasn’t dying.

Filinian continued to direct the orb in its work, his attention focused almost entirely on it, so when his nme was first shouted he didn’t even notice it. It wasn’t until it was called again that he saw who it was, and it only made the mage scowl. “Valrien?! Really?! You are the one who disturbed it?!” With a sigh, Filinian went back to attacking the Drewdan with the orb of fire.

“Well, I think it would be easy to infer that he is pinning the thing in place for us to have an easier time attacking it and/or attacking it himself! Might be best if you just attack it as well, you know, help fix this mess quickly!” he shouted back.

Lutchka had remained rather distant during the whole shenanigans that ensued. However, when the Drewdan had shown up, she had readied herself as well to fight off the beast. At least they didn’t have to deal with Sir Knight now. Unfortunately, it had been a rather equal trade-off. The Drewdan was no easier to fight.

Lutchka braced herself, readying to begin distracting and burning the thing first chance she got, but it seemed as though something had other plans. For the Drewdan suddenly stopped in its advance, and unnaturally at that. It was then that she could hear the grinding of metal, and the angry screams of the creature as its heads slid off of their necks to fall to the ground with a sickly slap.

The catacombs had never acted strangely in any way that would warrant such a bold reaction when it came to the Drewdan, but Lutchka had absolutely no idea what could be going on. Not that she was gonna complain about it or anything, but with the arrival of unknown chains could very well mean the arrival of a new foe they would have to fight as well.

With the beast cleverly distracted, Lutchka joined Harlan in his attempts to flay the monster, summoning her own flames to aid in burning it to a crisp. It wasn’t until Valrien mentioned the name Filinian that she paused. Fili was back? That brought a huge grin to her face, but in a moment it sobered. Filinian couldn’t use magic with metals, could he? So then, who was with him?

Neido couldn’t help but grin at the display that Filinian gave with his magic. Perhaps the boy had proved him wrong in his former assumptions of the mage not being a person of interest. It did not really matter, though, as he still didn’t particularly enjoy the guy in any sort of aspect. He talked too much, seemed weak. Pointless chatter and subordination. Not too interesting.

However, his focus was interrupted when someone came lurching around the beast. A poor decision, as the Drewdan could have possibly lashed out at him from the distance had it not been so preoccupied with the rage it possessed towards the foreigner of sands. When he heard his objectives being questioned, however, his glance narrowed harshly and with an indignant pull of the chains, the beast lost its footing and crashed to the ground.

The fire was doing its trick, sinking into the flesh of the beast and causing the scales to slowly melt. It was also blinding the creature in its work. His guide seemed to know this stranger, however, and neither seemed particularly pleased to be seeing the other- more like burdened as one would be with the task of looking over a small child.

When Filinian berated the other in his own little way, Neido couldn’t agree more with having the thing put out of its misery. Besides, he had bigger and better things to get to, such as the monarch.

Valrien rolled his eyes at the young mage, a scowl on his lips, “I didn’t do it intentionally, Filinian!” he snapped back, but drew his blade anyway. He took a moment and seemed to rethink his next plan of attack. The Prince growled to himself as he sighed heavily. The fires from Filinian and Harlan were definitely doing most of the work. A little longer and the creature would be dead.

So Valrien took a step back and motioned for Harlan and Lutchka to do the same, “Move back. Away from it, Filinian, tell your companion the same,” Valrien ordered and opened his free hand, the one holding the sword held loosely down at his side. All around him the pure energy that resided inside him pulsed and conformed along his hand.

The white magic cracked wildly in his palm. The Prince let it build, also waiting till everyone was clear. The last thing he needed was anyone caught in his deadly touch. When he was certain, he let the power lash out, arching from his hand and arm to snap across the creature. The fires that had thoroughly weakened it expanded from his pure energy and the creature glowed a brilliant red color, looking as if it were going to explode.

Harlan looked to Valrien at the mention of Filinian, blinking before looking at the flames assaulting the Drewdan. He’d been so busy attacking it, he hadn’t recognized the familiar dark red magic that Filinian called upon so often. “So the little squirt decided to show up then?” Harlan said with a grin.

He heard Valrien’s command, and he looked to the Prince to see just what the man was planning. At the building of energy, Harlan took the hint and quickly moved back away from the Drewdan. He took this chance to see what had happened to the knight, and thankfully it seemed the man had chosen to leave rather than contend with the group and the creature.

It was Filinian’s turn to roll his eyes at the Prince’s comment, “Well I sure as hell hope you didn’t do it intentionally or that’d be even more foolish!” he yelled back. Though at the Prince’s suggestion, he could see the building of energy in the Prince’s arm and hand. Filinian frowned some, as such an attack was hardly needed but he wasn’t going to be able to stop the Prince.

Thee mage looked to Neido, calling out to the foreigner. “You might want to back up, hunter! The Prince was never well known for his self-control and you may just get caught in the blast!” Filinian floated backwards, moving away further from the Drewdan. Within it, the fire orb he had been commanding extinguished, though the flames he had initially shot were still doing their work.

To assist further, he waved his hand upwards, the gem of his staff glowing once more as a barrier of reddish energy formed between him and Drewdan. He made sure to leave enough room for Neido to slip behind it if he desired to do so.

The two of them continued to squabble over rather pointless matters, so Neido quickly tuned them out. It wasn’t until the stranger spoke out in an authoritative tone that the foreigner glanced back at him. His eyes were harsh and calculating, though any disapprovement was quickly quenched after he had analyzed him for a good few moments. He was haughty and rash, that much he could tell, as well as the tone Filinian took with him.

But he did as was requested of him, and the chains suddenly broke off of the creature as Neido backed away from it and next to his guide. There was little threat of the thing getting up at that point to try and attack any of them- it was already pretty much dead by then. Crossing his arms, he looked at Filinian questioningly. The stranger was a Prince? It clicked in his mind shortly after the thought. This must be Prince Yustri then, of Reimrand. Or King Yustri was it now? He didn’t know and he honestly didn’t care.

“If you had that kind of power, why not kill the beast yourself?” He glanced down at Fili accusingly. He had practically wasted Neido’s time, though the foreigner was still content with the fact that he got to catalogue a new beast. “ηλίθιος.” He leveled the insult at the man in his own tongue.

Lutchka quickly backed away in step with Harlan as Valrien suggested they move back. It was apparent what the Prince was planning on doing, though perhaps a bit overkill. It didn’t matter, the damn things deserved a painful death.

As the foreigner stepped up next to Filinian, the mage glanced over to him as he was asked why he’d never bothered with the Drewdan. “Simple, I didn’t care about it. I never cared for it to be killed, it was all the others who wanted it dead. Personally I think letting it eat the idiots who wander in here is a good idea, but seems I’m one of few who think that way.”

He looked towards the Drewdan. “Hell I’m here just to get out of the castle. They said you needed a guide, so I figured sure, I’ll ‘guide’ him. An excuse to go running off somewhere exciting.”

Valrien only let his power stop lancing through the creature when it did explode into nothing more than bits of burned flesh and ash. Taking a deep breath, he took a shaking step backward. Curling his hand into a tight fist, he worked the pure energy back into control, settling it deep into his body. Once it was gone, he shook his hand a few times and sheathed his sword. He kept his breathing seemingly normal, though it was a little on the short side.

“Filinian, care to introduce us to the newcomer?” he called out, crossing his arms loosely, “He better not be with that armored bastard a moment ago,” he said and looked back into the hall where the man had been before but found no one standing there. He ground his teeth tightly, jaw clenching as he waited for an answer. Once he got it and was satisfied, their little sidetrip was going to end and they were heading straight for Reimrand. No more stops. For anything. If anyone was stupid enough to go into the catacombs right then, Valrien wasn’t going to care at that moment.

Let the Drewdan kill the idiots. The Prince had far too much on his mind and plate to deal with than some crazed fool looking for an adventure.

As the creature exploded, Filinian’s barrier held strong, absorbing the chunks of flesh that flew towards them and slammed into it, shielding the mage and Neido from the assault. Once the bombardment was finished, Filinian lowered the barrier, as well as letting himself float back down to the ground. When he heard the rather grating voice of Valrien speak up, shouting in the angry and condescending tone that his voice seemed to be forever stuck in, Filinian simply frowned.

“I think I’ll let him introduce himself, though I doubt he is with any ‘armored bastard’, as you so eloquently put it.” he said back, his own tone expressing his irritation. That Prince never seemed capable of speaking nice about anybody.

An irritated look shifted along his facial features as his so called guide answered his somewhat rhetorical question on why they hadn’t killed the creatures beforehand. Well, he was somewhat glad that the man shared his ideals on not killing everything that gave you an issue, but Neido got the distinct feeling that he wasn’t thinking along those same lines. Especially since Filinian had said that no matter what Neido did to get rid of the menace, it was the proper way to go about it.

With the man then saying that he had used Neido as an excuse to get out of the castle, his eyes narrowed and a threatening look seemed to immediately fill his face. With a quick, precise motion, his hand was suddenly at the back of the man’s head, fingers tangling in the hair to gently tug his head back to force him to look up at him. The foreigner stared at him for a few moments, eyes looking over him critically, before a large grin filled his face and a completely harmless chuckle rumbled past his throat. With a light pat and humor in his eyes, Neido shook his head.

So Filinian wasn’t completely helpless- he could take advantage of people and play the game correctly. Neido liked that. With the rather bright and loud explosion of the beast, Neido simply crossed his arms, not even phased by the sudden tremor in the surrounding area.

With an unconcerned little sigh, Neido brushed his fingers through the hair of his bangs, though he paused when the Prince addressed him with contempt. Eyes narrowing once more, he flicked his hand the rest of the way through the white locks and closed his eyes with a small ‘tch’. He then crossed his arms and tilted his chin up, examining Valrien like he did every other person when he first met them.

After his short calculations, Neido then spoke up to introduce himself as the man had so kindly asked him to do it. No, instead Valrien had snapped at Filinian demanding the information. The sand foreigner leveled his jaw a bit before finally saying his name. “θηριοδαμαστής.” Neido did not deign to use the Reimrandian tongue, and instead spoke his name in his own language. He smirked lightly, soon tilting his head a bit to speak into Filinian’s ear. “You mean to say this pup runs your lands?” It was spoken in a disbelieving tone- mocking though playful.

As the beast exploded, Lutchka sent up a wall of flames to turn the bits of flesh raining about into cinders before they could touch either she or Harlan. Once that whole deal was finished, an excited look filled her face and she practically bounced over to Filinian. “Fili!” She chirped, coming to a stop in front of him and bending slightly at the waist, folding her hands together behind her back with a bright smile on her face.

“It’s been forever!! … Who’s your rather attractive friend?” A mischievous sort of little smirk played across her lips as she straightened and looked over at Neido.

Valrien’s eyebrow arched as he stared at the man. He said… Something to him, but he didn’t know what it was that had been spoken. With a sigh, he reached up and pressed his palm into his forehead, his jaw tight again. After a moment of contemplating it over with himself, he lowered his hand just in time to see Lutchka bending in front of Filinian, a bright smile on her lips as she greeted the mage.

The Prince felt his face heat, eyes grow wide for a second at the display and then an irritated look cross his face along with a sigh. Hadn’t he confessed to her? Kissed her even? Then went and almost got his ass kicked a few moments ago. And there she went all happy with the mage. He was so damned confused. Did she like Valrien or not? Or was he just a toy for her to play around with whenever she felt like?

Did he even dare touch that subject? Her temper was just as hot as her fire and last time he checked, she could put a full grown man into the ground in seconds. He’d already had his beatings, he didn’t need any more. Valrien pushed it aside for the moment. He’d figure her out later. Maybe he was just overthinking. After all, he’d just finally admitted to himself that he was in love with her.

That was hard enough. Not to mention he was totally inexperienced in that whole field and asking Harlan was definitely not going to help him. He already knew what his royal guard would tell him and he doubted Lutchka would so easily go along with Harlan’s advice. Maybe. Possibly. Would she? He glanced over at Harlan and quickly threw the thought aside. He’d ask the man later.

“Filinian,” he cut in after he and Lutchka threw back a few words between each other, “I trust you to have not brought in some random straggler. We’re in a hurry. Heading back to Reimrand for the orbs,” he said figuring that since the other man hadn’t spoken in Iverian, he did not know it, “Would you be willing to go with us? And perhaps return to Iver? I have need of your many skills, Filinian.”

When a hand grabbed hold of his hair, tugging it back so that he was forced to look up at Neido, Filinian gasped in surprise before his eyes narrowed. His free hand began to glow red, the mage sneering at the foreigner. He wasn’t sure what the hell the man was about to do, but he wasn’t going to let him just push the mage around.

When he suddenly let go, patting Filinian’s head with a chuckle, the mage just stared at the foreigner with confusion. He dealt with strange people all the time it seemed. Eyeing the man for a few moments, he turned his attention back to Valrien. A voice in his ear had him turning to look at Neido once more, though this time Filinian chuckled dryly at the comment of Valrien leading. “Don’t get me started, we’ll be here all day.” he muttered back.

Then there was a bright and chirpy voice that called out to him, using a shortened version of his name that he would rather people didn’t. He went to look at what it was, and recoiled slightly when suddenly he came face to face with Lutchka. He stared at her for a moment before chuckling softly, a genuine smile forming on his lips.

“Yeah, it has been Lutchka.” Filinian said, finally relaxing completely. He adjusted the staff in his grip slightly, the gem atop it having finally ceased glowing entirely. “This is Neido Kumara, the fellow Valrien’s council hired to finally deal with the Drewdan ‘problem’.” He did the finger quotes as he said the phrase problem.

“Well hello then, Neido~.” Harlan said, walking up with his hands in his pocket. He smiled, giving the foreigner a look over before he stopped next to Valrien. He leaned over to Valrien, “Your council really knows how to pick’em, that’s for sure.” he whispered to his friend.

Filinian glanced at Harlan before back to Lutchka, about to say something before Valrien’s voice cut in, causing the young mage to go from smile to scowl in a matter of seconds. The mention of the orbs though drew his attention, and Filinian looked over at Valrien. “The orbs? What the hell do you need the orbs for?” He moved by Lutchka, walking towards Valrien and stopping in front of him, leveling a glare at the older man.

Valrien sighed heavily as Harlan walked by with that tone of his. The Prince knew where that one was going and rolled his eyes, “Yes, yes, enjoy trying to seduce that one, Harlan,” he replied and shook his head.

When Filinian came storming up to him, Valrien frowned as he watched the mage. The irritation from him was expected, after all it was the orbs they were talking about. But, Valrien was betting on Filinian’s care -or so he hoped- for the others to help win him over. He knew the mage cared little about the Prince, that wasn’t the problem. Annoying that Filinian hated him, sure, but then again, Valrien wasn’t entirely innocent in that aspect either. He knew he wasn’t the nicest person.

“Because. Someone is targeting Siya and they’re succeeding by a landslide. They are insanely powerful, Filinian. Hell, I’m not even sure with the assistance of the orbs we’ll stand a chance, but it’s better than just letting them kill Siya which they have quite nearly done several times now. And they will not stop there. Amon will go next. Then us. I want to stop them before they get that far. Siya is far enough in my opinion and they shouldn’t have even attacked him in the first place. Whatever they’re after… We can’t let them have it. Even if it is just Siya’s denouncement. I won’t have it. Hopefully neither will you.”





~~~

Siya and Group

The Fire King strode through the hall of the palace. He had a meeting with Amon, more training, and he really didn’t want to. Hell, he didn’t really want to do the archery either. Siya felt like he sucked at it. Honestly, he much preferred his fire, but after having Minnow yell at him after waking up from a couple days of being unconscious, he didn’t think he wanted that to happen ever again.

At the back of his mind, he realized how stupid he had been when charging into the fight. He’d nearly gotten everyone killed and he couldn’t fight the guilty twinge that flooded his chest. So he did what he was asked to do. Trained in using a bow with his new protector and trained in hand-to-hand combat with Amon and his protectors. Siya wasn’t sure which of the group he preferred most out of the Air Kings entourage. Kanan was not as harsh on him as Rhoven was. But he was just as good and not once had Siya landed a blow on the one eyed man. Even when he came at Kanan from his blinded side.

Rhoven was a pain in the ass simply because it seemed the young boy enjoyed winning the fight several times over despite being told to go easy on Siya. Amon was no easier. If anything, he himself was harder than the two of his protectors combined. Yet. Despite all of the failures against the three of them, Siya had been learning a few things. How to punch correctly was one of them. How to move his body was another. Timing his attacks was slowly coming along. Power and actually taking one of them to the ground was the next step, but Siya felt he would never get there.

“At least Farasima is nicer to me,” he muttered under his breath as he left the hall in search of just the one he’d spoken of. The red-headed foreigner was probably the only one that Siya had gotten used to have training him. He didn’t mind the taller male, he was nicer and in a way far more calming than anything else. For the past few weeks since leaving the battlefield, Siya had found he rather enjoyed the man’s company. Which was a rare event as lately the young Fire King didn’t seem to enjoy anyone, not even the kindness of his long time friend Amon.

Though that was changing too. Siya could tell he was a little less angry than usual when dealing with Amon. In a way he kind of liked the fact that he didn’t feel like burning the poor man to ash. On the other hand, he felt guilty also for thinking those thoughts in the first place. Whatever had caused the change, Siya wanted more of it.

Farasima sat on the ground, looking over the bow he was currently in the process of making. It was quite a bit smaller than the ones the Iverians used, but from having used theirs, he knew the one he was making would be just as good. Hell it’d work better on horseback, given its size. It was being built in the style that the Skis’tatari used, with a variety to materials beyond just wood. The prominent parts would be the horn and sinew, but given the cattle around here it was actually fairly easy to get ahold of them. So he spent what off time he had to work on the bow, and he was fairly close to being finished.

He smiled rather sadly at the bow in his hand, as it was a something of a reminder of what he no longer had. That was a tribe to return too; he was an exile now, and exiles were rarely, if ever, allowed to return. Letting out a sigh, he set the bow down next to him and streched his arms up above his head, looking around for the Fire King. They were to practice today and Farasima was looking forwards to it.

He enjoyed watching the silver-haired man try to work the bow. Farasima didn’t necessarily want to see him fail, in fact it made him feel good as the King showed improvement. It was just too enjoyable to watch the man get all flustered. He was adorable when he got so, and it made Farasima laugh. Which only seemed to flustered the king more. It was a hilarious cycle that would occur.

He looked up when he saw the Fire King approaching, Farasima rising to his feet with a smile as he picked up the two Iverian bows next to him. He let one rest on the ground with his hand atop it while he let the one he was going to give to Siya rest on his shoulder, the end of it sitting in his palm. “Siya, eeshla’mastoona, good to see you.” he couldn’t help but slip in a little Skis’tatari. He may have been exiled, but he wasn’t going to abandon his heritage.

“Hope you are ready for training. Should be less painful than work with the air folks.” he said, holding the bow out to siya as he approached. “Warm up as usual, warm up bow as well. Remember, don’t fire a bow cold unless absolutely necessary. Increase life-span of bow.” he said before he stepped towards the target range.

Siya let a smile form as he reached Farasima. Taking the bow from the man, he did as he was asked and went through the motions that Farasima had taught him a while ago. In a way, simply drawing and letting down after stretching his own body was relaxing. It made it easier to breathe. Or maybe that was just the Fire King’s opinion.

“I think this is the only thing I’ve gotten somewhat decent at,” Siya said as he stood there under the brilliance of the sun. A heavy sigh filled his chest as he drew it back and held it, trying to get the feel of how he should be aiming down, “Amon’s methods are… Difficult. He’s not really an explainer. He does better showing. It’s hard to follow that way. And Rhoven…” Siya shook his head as he rolled his eyes.

“He toys with me. I know he does. God, I cannot wait to put him down in the sand. The kid is younger than me too! It’s not fair,” he grumbled, a frown pulling his lips while puffing out his cheek a little before he lowered the bow and looked up to Farasima a little, “And don’t even get me started on Kanan. He’s nice enough, but its so frustrating that all he does is redirect me. How do I ever land a hit on a man who's so good at simply throwing you aside? Not to mention he’s only got one eye.”

Siya stopped talking then. He felt heat rushing across his face as he realized he’d been venting to Farasima in pure frustration over his training regime. He tapped his finger on the bow, looking away and scuffing his boot into the sand due to his unsettled nerves.

Farasima began warming himself up, as well as drawing his bow back in greater amounts to loosen it up some. He looked at Siya as the Fire King spoke. “You are improving, Remember first time shot bow, hit dirt plenty of times.” he smiled, “Now you usually hit dirt near target!” he chuckled at his own joke, having spoken once the king had finished his venting. He noticed the red tint to the Fire King’s cheeks again, and it only made the Skis’tatari man chuckle more.

Stepping up to the range, Farasima grabbed an arrow and quickly fired it down range, hitting the target near its edge. “Amon seems like man who has trouble explaining what he knows. Showing and hoping you pick it up seems to be best way for him to teach. I known people like that, not always most effective way of teaching but if you learn, then good.” He fired another arrow down range, hitting near the same spot. It was nice that he was grouping his arrows, but he’d rather hit near the center where he wanted it to land.

“Rhoven is young man, still child for most part. This an ego boost to him. Do not forget he trains with same people you do, so chance to succeed and no longer be weakest can drive people to be… a little cruel.” He fired another arrow, this time hitting closer to the center. Farasima then looked to Siya, “And I have secret to hit man who is so good he can re-direct you very easy.” Farasima spoke with a grin, “You get better than his ability to re-direct.”

Again, he chuckled, though he felt a little silly laughing at his jokes as he was. Still, he was in a good mood. “You will get there. As some say, the biggest tree not appear as tree. It was but small seed that fought to survive and grow. Do same, and you to will be the biggest tree.” he then turned back to fire another arrow down range, a smile still on his face.

“Also, might want to tuck braid in shirt, less you catch it on bow or arrow and ruin it. Braid too nice to ruin, it would be shame.” He loosed another arrow, watching it hit just below the center of the target.

Siya listened to his protector, also drawing his bow and firing it. He scowled though at the comment of hitting the dirt closer to the target, though it was mostly true. The arrow hit the very bottom of the target, just barely hanging on by its tip. He sighed, though he drew it again. Farasima’s laughter though wasn’t irritating him despite his comments on Siya’s rant. He found himself having a difficult time hiding his own grin at some of the jests the man poked at him. Then he got to the part of his braid and every time Farasima mentioned his white hair, Siya was thrown into a fluster.

His face heated considerably and the arrow that he’d been concentrating on went flying in a random direction as he lost his hold on the string simply from that small comment. Lowering the bow, he reached back with his gloved hand and hastily tucked the thick braid under the collar of the black shirt he wore. Siya kept his gaze off of Farasima, trying his best to not blush like an idiot and get back to his training.

“Honestly, your about as helpful as Amon is when it comes to fighting Kanan or Rhoven,” Siya said with a slight shake of his head and loosened another arrow down the range only to knock off the first arrow he’d fired into the target. Both went tumbling to the ground. At least he had a few on the target though, which was much better than he could say he’d done when he first started.

Farasima ceased firing to watch Siya shoot. He easily spotted the increase of red to Siya’s face, despite the man’s attempt to hide it. With his somewhat pale complexion and white hair, the blush contrasted considerably and made it near impossible to miss. He didn’t say anymore jokes, as he was certain the King might die of embarrassment.

As he watched the king fire another arrow, hitting the previous one he had shot and knocking it off the target, Farasima set his bow down and stood just behind Siya. “I do not fight with fists, and only little training with sword. I can only help there so much.” the protector said. “Now, draw back again and I will assist you. Take time to aim, you still ways from shooting like I do.”

“Do note though, you are hitting in a grouping. Hitting same arrows means you are gaining consistency with shots. Grouping arrows very good, as it means you just need to work on placing them where you want.” he waited for the King to draw back the bow, where he would then adjust the man’s stance and draw to help aim the arrow better.

Siya let out a low sigh as he stood there, letting the bow hang in his hand while Farasima moved behind him. He took in a nervous breath as he looked over his shoulder to where Farasima had gone. Narrowing his eyes a bit, he stared at the man for a moment before drawing up his bow as he was asked to. Pulling on the string, he drew it back to as far as he could manage which was just past his nose and held it there with the arrow wobbling a little as he tried to hold still.

He wasn’t sure how in the hell he was getting a grouping, but if Farasima said it was a good thing, then he would go with it. Siya took in a deep breath, steadying his aim as best he could, shifting his body around but not quite sure still on how he should be standing exactly. He’d tried to copy Farasima to the best of his ability, but it just felt awkward to him still. Though, he thought he’d gotten pretty good as far as standing and drawing the bow to full draw. That in and of itself was an accomplishment in his mind.

“T-there,” he said, his voice slightly strained as he held the bow, “Now what, Farasima?”

Farasima watched Siya draw the arrow back and hold it, struggling against the pull of the bow. It was expected, as the king still had yet to develope the strength to fight the bow for very long. He observed the King’s form, and stepped around so that he was now in front of Siya. Reaching up, he straightened out the arm that was pushing on the bow, turning the arm slightly so that the King’s elbow would not snag the string as it went by.

With that, he then reached up to the arm that held the string. He lightly grabbed the arm, pulling back on it some and guiding the King’s hand so that it rested right at the corner of his lips. He then pushed the King’s string arm so that his elbow was slightly flared out. Farasima scratched his chin, walking around Siya and grabbing hold of the King’s waist. “Straighten your body” he said, pushing on the Fire King’s lower back and waist. He then reached up, grabbing hold of his shoulder and guiding him back so that his torso was straight.

He then walked back in front of Siya, watching his face as well as where the King’s eye rested. “Alright, look down shaft of arrow, then fire at target. Aim high, arrow drops somewhat quickly.”

The least he’d expected was to be touched by the man. Siya didn’t mind it when Farasima adjusted his hold on the bow, moving his arm around. Nor did he mind when his new protector adjusted the hand holding the string to a better position. He felt better with just those two adjustments. However, when the man came in front of him and abruptly grabbed his waist and began moving him, Siya let out a sharp yelp of surprise. The squeaking sound made him blush furiously, turning redder than a beet.

It was made even worse when Farasima pushed against his lower back, moving close to him and adjusting his body that had gone thoroughly stiff from the sudden mass of touching. It was a miracle he didn’t loosen the arrow. In fact, Siya was pretty sure the only thing that kept him from releasing it was that every muscle in his body had just about locked upon the contact around his waist. He could hardly breathe as he stood there, trying to focus on what Farasima was telling him and not the touching.

Siya took in a sharp, shuddering breath as he avoided all eye contact with his protector and simply fired off the arrow without really thinking about it. It was a little high, but at least it finally hit the target. The Fire King might have been proud of that, if he weren’t struggling to bring down his racing heart and the burning in his face. Quickly lowering the bow, he took a shaky step back and looked everywhere but at Farasima.

“T-that… H-helped. Yes. A lot… It helped a lot. T-thank you for tou- moving me! Moving my… U-uh… Adjusting my… Um… I-I… In…” Eventually he just stopped talking while he fiddled with the bow and looked down at his hands while fighting off his raging nerves. The tension just seemed to skyrocket and his mind was all over the place. There was no way he could say anything to Farasima that wouldn’t sound utterly wrong coming out of his mouth right then.

Farasima hadn’t even noticed Siya’s face and posture the entire time, and it wasn’t until he looked away from the target with a smile that he noticed Siya’s behaviour. “Well done, Siya! Well done!” he blinked as he saw the king back away and look at everything but him. The red-head cocked his head to the side, confused a bit.

“You are...welcome, Siya. Something wrong?” He watched the man for a moment, noting the intense blush on the king’s face. Then it dawned on him, and Farasima blinked and turned slightly red himself. He hadn’t really thought about what touching the man might do. The king was already easy to fluster by mentioning his hair, but touching him?

Coughing, Farasima looked back down range, pointing to the target. “Just uh...repeat it. Remember stance and….the uh….um….posture! Remember posture.” Farasima said, keeping his eyes down range.

Siya hardly heard the praise, when he heard the question of what was wrong, he tensed and glanced up at Farasima briefly before quickly looking away. It didn’t take long for the protector to realize what it was that had affected Siya so badly for he began to stutter too. Not quite as badly as Siya, but it was there.

“Y-yes… Repeat. Stance. Posture. Remember how to stand… G-got it. I’ll remember it. It shouldn’t be hard… I think I… Got it now. Your touch- help! Assistance! It- I got it…” Siya flustered around trying to get his mind off of how he was able to shoot so well down the range. It was rather difficult though and he played with the bow in his hands a little bit more, twisting the handle around, thrumming the string repeatedly as he fidgeted.

He looked up to Farasima a couple of times only to quickly look elsewhere, mostly down the range to where his arrow sat nice and pretty against the target. He hadn’t really been paying attention to where it had hit, but looking at it right then, Siya had to admit it was a pretty good shot. Tilting his head a little, he figured he could do it again.

“I think I can do that again… Maybe,” Siya said softly, “I wasn’t paying attention to where the arrow went though,” he confessed, a frown on his lips, “You uh… D-distracted me…”

“I apologize for doing so.” he said, also keeping his downrange. He glanced to Siya before back down range. “You are welcome. N-now. Once again.” He looked back at Siya to watch him take the shot. His mind was a bit distracted though as he watched King prepare, as though he did observe the man’s posture, his eyes wandered some as well.

Looking back down range, he spoke again. “This time, I will let you go alone. Practice, see where arrow land. Then try to hit there again. Do not change how you shot, you want consistency and accuracy. Takes years before you can fire from different positions easily. Even I am bad firing away from normal position or from horseback.”

Again his eyes turned to the king, and he found himself wandering over the Fire King’s form. It took Farasima a few moments to focus his attention where it needed to be, forcing himself to look back down range to see where Siya would hit.

“S-sure… Yes. I’ll try to do it again,” he answered and took a step forward to stand where he had been a moment ago. Lifting the bow, Siya tried to find the stance that Farasima had put him in. It was difficult as his mind was complete chaos. Everything but how he had been standing before and the only thing that came to mind was Farasima’s hands along his waist as he adjusted him to stand properly.

Siya’s blush couldn’t have gotten any deeper. He drew back the bow. Probably the only thing he could remember from the short, and rather personal lesson, was where the string went and how his arm was held. Everything else went out the window. Blown apart by his own overly active mind. The arrow flew, far too soon and he knew it when he released. The damned thing went over the target and off into the sands somewhere down range.

Siya scoffed and lowered the bow. He cursed several times under his breath and not just because he hadn’t hit the target. The Fire King was distracted. Far too distracted right then to even attempt to fire the way he had a moment ago. He still blamed Farasima. With a frustrated sigh, he frowned at the target, avoiding Farasima’s gaze yet again.

Fingering the bow, thrumming the string slightly, he looked up at Farasima for a quick second and then nibbled on his lower lip before he even managed to get the words out, “F-Fara-sima… A-again… Try that again… I-I will… Try not to be… D-distracted by your… Just… Help… A little, please. I forgot how to stand…” he blurted out the rest as quickly as possible as he shifted slightly from foot to foot.

God what in the hell was wrong with him! He chided himself internally as he stood there.

Farasima watched as Siya missed, horribly this time. He looked at the king, frowning a little before quickly looking back down range. When he heard Siya’s question, he blinked, glancing over to Siya once more. If touching him the first time had distracted him so much, then how did Siya think he’d be able to handle it again.

Still, if that is what Siya desired, then so be it. Least that was what Farasima told himself. He waited until Siya drew the bow back once more, and again he helped guide the King into the proper posture. Again he pulled at his waist, pushed on his back, and even grabbed his chest and upper back to also make sure his whole torso was straight.

As he did, he did his best to focus on his work, but even Farasima couldn’t help but think of the lean figure of the king. Shaking his head, trying to stop any thoughts before they took hold, Farasima quickly finished and stepped back, focusing down range. “T-there. there you are, S-Siya.”

Siya stood as still as he could, allowing Farasima to direct him into the position he needed to be in. He focused on the way his body was moved, where his protector put him. It was a little easier that time, until the red-head grabbed at his upper body. Siya sucked in a sharp breath, just barely holding back yet another yelp of surprise. He tensed, crimson gaze wide and slightly unfocused as he stared down the shaft of the arrow.

His mouth was dry, mind chaotic once again. Every muscle was tensed up after having been touched yet again, but up along his chest. Siya was all too eager to release the arrow. When he did, it hit the target, but lower than the first one, still under the circular ring. He was shaking then, trembling breaths filling his lungs as he quickly lowered the bow and stared down at the sand.

He opened and closed his mouth several times before words even formed and squeaked out from between his lips, “I-I…” he shut his mouth, a strange sound emitting from his throat after his voice had gone a little to high. Siya took a moment before he attempted to try again. It wasn’t like he had a particularly deep voice to begin with, but it didn’t help that his softer tones had gone really high pitched right then.

“U-um… I think… Think that’s enough for now… It’s um… Hard to draw. Draw the bow. I think… I think maybe I will do better tomorrow. That’s enough touch-teaching! Teaching… Today.” Siya all but shouted the word ‘teaching’ to overcome the first one he’d said. It kept slipping out of his mouth and he groaned inwardly. Cursing to himself under his breath, he lifted up the bow to hand it back to Farasima.

“Its time… Anyway. To go see Amon. I think…” Siya heaved a heavy sigh as he struggled to regain his lost composure. Damn that red-head! “U-uh… Would you… Come with?” Why am I even asking as if he isn’t allowed to or wouldn’t anyway! Siya frowned, kicking the sand again and crossing his arms tightly to keep from the nervous tug of his braid.

Farasima watched Siya fire the arrow, watching as it landed in the target, but not near the last arrow shot. He had noticed the tense of surprise the white-haired man had made when Farasima’s hands had touched his chest. So much for not being distracted. When Siya dismissed training for the day, Farasima couldn’t agree more. Both of them seemed so sidetracked at this point, that training wasn’t something they were going to do very well.

He looked up and nodded his head at Siya when he mentioned going to see Amon, though when the Fire King asked if he would come along, Farasima blinked. He hadn’t expected such a question from the Fire King. Swallowing the lump in his throat, Farasima quickly nodded his head. “Y-yes, I will go with you.” he said. He then looked to the target down range. “Lead way, Siya.”