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Siya Ukomo

"I can, and I will prevail."

0 · 198 views · located in Iveir

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

Description

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23 || Homosexual || King of the Fire Nation





Siya is five feet and five inches in height, with a lithe body tone. He is not overly muscular, but toned just enough. He wears black mostly which accents his bodies figure, giving him an elegant look. The long robes of his station are his everyday attire and though the long cloth looks like a single piece, it in fact opens up at his waist into three separate pieces of cloth. Underneath he wears black pants tucked into knee high boots. The black robes are tight across his chest with silver symbols etched along the edge of the sleeves and collar. Siya has deep crimson eyes that have a kind of ‘allure’ to them. Long silvery hair is usually kept in a braid that often falls over his shoulder, coming just passed his shoulders.




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Siya has many abilities with his Fire. The King of Fire can summon large balls of flames that he can launch at his opponents; he can summon a wall of fire as protection to melt down materials that are going to be used against him. In cases of being injured, Siya can cauterize wounds to stop the bleeding, but he is no healer by any means. Should Siya ever be pushed to the point of doing so, he can ignite his whole body and extend it outwards in an explosion that can burn everything around him. This takes a lot of energy and sacrifice to create and it takes a lot to get him to such a point as well. Siya has many skills in the art of wielding his fire magic, and almost anything is possible for him, especially since he has a very vivid imagination.

Aside from his wide range of fire manipulation, Siya does use some weapons. He favors a very light sword, but no shield. His body isn't built for anything more than that. He's fairly good at wielding the weapon, but he's by no means a master at it. When worse comes to worse, Siya will more than likely fall back on the use of his power to protect himself.

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Siya's ability to wield his fire is probably the only thing going for him. Should he run out of sacrifices or find himself in a situation that calls for more energy than he's sacrificed for, he is practically useless in a fight. Siya relies on his fire magic far too much. His skills with a sword leave much to be desired. Though he can wield the weapon, he's definitely not the greatest and can easily be overcome by a far stronger opponent.

In addition, the young King is quite small in stature. He's definitely not rippling with muscle, he's very lean. Therefore any opponent larger than him will have the upper hand against him, especially if he doesn't have the use of his fire. A weakness that can tie into this, is that Siya is a bit naive. He trusts too easily. However, he is not afraid to fight back when it comes down to it (which is a good thing... thank god!). He's especially weak to those wielding the water element and should he find himself drenched in one way or another, it would be very difficult for him to produce a flame.




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His protectors would most especially know that he is not the most timely person. He tends to be late sometimes for his morning audiences and other meetings of importance. They would also know that he tends to sneak out of the palace and visit his city that lays right below the enormous stone structured castle without letting anyone know. Anyone would know that the King is very generous and kind in all things. He has a bit of a sweet tooth as well. In addition, they would know that he yearns for knowledge. All sorts of knowledge. He can often be found in the castles large library, reading deep into the night hours and sometimes even into the morning with no sleep (which would be part of the reason to his tardiness at times). His protectors would know that he is not of royal blood and that the other nobles despise Siya for it. Which causes a bit of distress in the young King.

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There isn't much that people wouldn't know about Siya. He's fairly open and easy to read, just like a book really.




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Siya is quite calm through most things, though even if he's surprised he can work though it fairly well. He does exhibit a wide range of emotions at times, all depending on what's going on around him. Though he can be embarrassed quite easily and this is shown by a slight widening of his crimson eyes and a flush to his cheeks. He smiles easily and likes to talk with people. Because he’s so sociable, his reputation in his kingdom has preceded him, marking him as humble and nice, but also at times, childish. It is a well known fact that he was very young to be a King when he took the throne, and Siya tried his best to counter that by knowing as much as possible about nearly everything.

He studies hard in every subject that he can, he practices with sword play every day and as often as he can, he will take a ride through his city where his palace is located. He likes to keep up with the gossip of the townsfolk. Siya dislikes the thought of being caged up in the castle, a result of his sociable aspect. He likes to be around people, and he would much rather be out and among his people then lording over them. Siya does his best when problems are brought to him, to evaluate each side equally and come to a just decision. This has proven to be most difficult, as he has brought himself up to see the good side in everyone.

It is very difficult to make Siya angry, however, if he is angered he can be a force to be reckoned with. He hates being angry though and does what he can to stay in better spirits. Though on the flip side it is quite easy to make him sad. He does his best not to show it, though and will force a smile to help push it aside. Depending on what has made him sad will depend on how easily he can hide it. Despite his young age, Siya does often display a level of competence that would match someone far older than himself. His studies and the efforts he’s put in to becoming a good King could be said to be the reason why he often surprises many with his deep knowledge, but it also abounds from where he came from as well.

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Siya was not born into royalty. Some of the royal families have had it easy with finding their predecessors because their son or daughter would have inherited their ability to manipulate the elements without a sacrifice. However, the former fire King had not been so lucky. Two of his sons had died, one at birth and the other during a training accident. The third son did not show any signs of being able to manipulate fire without the aid of a sacrifice and as time went on, the King’s wife did not bear him any more children.

So, the former fire King was forced to score the land for a new predecessor. That predecessor came in the form of a very young Siya. Siya had no home to begin with, his parents had lived in poverty and when he was born, his mother had died. Siya’s father passed away when he was seven. Siya knew nothing of the outside world, nothing other than the streets of the lower city. However, one day as Siya was wandering the main road in search of something to eat from one of the merchants that may have taken pity on him, he was suddenly thrown into a fight between several other boys of the streets.

It wasn’t the first time, seeing as the boys were the very same that had always picked on him because of his small size. Not to mention that they had found out that Siya could work fire without the need of a sacrifice. They teased him and called him names, and often fought with him. Siya would have just let them have their way, but they had already been in a fight with someone else before he’d arrived. Thrown into the midst of it, Siya noted the much smaller boy curled in a ball and shivering from fear.

At that same moment, a procession of the Kings guards, and the King himself were heading down the street, unknown to the boys. Siya, angry and afraid at the same time, ignited his fire to scare off the other boys and to help the child before him. The King spotted this and approached him immediately. The boys that had been fighting, were startled and ran off both because of Siya’s fire and also because of the guards.

Siya was taken in then, and raised as one of the royal children even though he was not one. He learned the art of fire, how to control it and manipulate it. He learned how to speak properly and how to read and write. For several years, he learned the basics that he had never gotten to use when he was on the streets. He also learned about the truth regarding the Kings and the elements of the world. He’d even gone to see the former Kings and Queen’s once.

However, he was left alone far too quickly. The Queen fell ill and passed away from sickness, the only son of the King scorned Siya and left the kingdom all together and finally the King had grown too old. Siya was at his deathbed on his eighteenth birthday. The old King parted with him that night, a smile on his face and the orb came into Siya’s possession from that moment on.

During Siya's twentieth year, the world took a turn for the worse. History that had long since been buried brought itself to light in the form of two brothers. Both of which were after the orbs that the four Kings held. The Water King was killed in the chaos. From there, war was nearly at each King's doorstep until one of the brothers, the youngest, finally revealed himself and asked for help from the Kings. Things didn't start off between them very well as the young Prince had taken drastic measures and was actually the one who had killed the Water king, but not on purpose. It was purely accidental. However, saying that to the Kings was almost near impossible and getting them to trust him was almost just as impossible.

Yet, he pushed forward and convinced them to go with him back to his own realm, the realm of Reimrand. Reimrand was like the other side of a coin to Iveirn. Without one, the other could not exist. The orbs belonged in Reimrand and treachery had put them in Iveirn. The effort to return the orbs nearly cost the Princes' life, but with the help of the Kings, they managed to kill the Princes older brother and restore balance. Though that was only the beginning. Currently, Lord Siya and Prince Valrien continue to meet periodically with each other as well as the remaining two Kings to keep things in order.






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So begins...

Siya Ukomo's Story

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Siya Ukomo Character Portrait: Valrien Yustri

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#, as written by Siryn
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Three years ago, I was in the middle of a war between brothers. One was sick and dilusional, he almost succeeded in killing all of us. But the other brother prevailed and with our help we managed to put him upon the throne as he rightfully was to be. He took over Reimrand, a world that is directly connected to ours through a portal on the continent across the sea. Getting to the portal is hell, the tunnels and labyrinth underground could easily kill anyone careless enough to enter without an escort from Reimrand. As it was, we almost didn't make it due to Valrien's brother trying to keep us from getting to Reimrand.

But that is all over with. Now, we are dealing with unhappy people who are confused and afraid of Reimrand, a place that had long since been lost to history and thought to have never existed. With the sudden arrival of Valrien and his people... We have been very busy. Between keeping people from carelessly trying to go to Reimrand out of curiosity, to keeping people from rioting in the streets saying that Reimrand should keep to their own, stay out of our world.

The problem with that is if we close off Reimrand somehow, our own world would die. The reason is because Reimrand is directly connected us, therefore, it provides life to our world. Closing it off would surely end in our demise. Yet, explaining that is harder than it seems. Especially because the main reason for our survival is due to the four orbs that now reside in Reimrand, their rightful home. Those orbs used to be here in Iveir with us four Kings. But Reimrand was dying with out them, hence the reason for the two brothers coming and attacking us.

Admittedly, Valrien hadn't originally chosen the correct path to get our attention, after all he'd nearly killed me. However, he was detained by the old Earth King and forced to explain to us exactly what was going on. Thus we ended up helping him.

But I'm getting off track. The reason for everyone's anger and uprising is because us, the four Kings, kept from them the existence of the orbs. This wasn't our fault though, as for years -decades- we had kept it a secret thinking that the orbs belonged to us, and thinking that protecting it was our job and thus no one else should know of them.

How wrong we had been. It all boiled down to a dirty scheme carried out by a single man from Reimrand that caused the problem of the orbs coming to Iveir and being hidden there. Our reasons for keeping the orbs secret were simply so that Valrien and his family couldn't find them.

But, as I said, that is all over now. Currently the problem is keeping the peace. Which is hard to do, I admit. Which is also why Valrien is constantly seeking our aid, from the remaining three Kings. Oh, I forgot to mention, Valrien accidentally killed the Water King when he came to retrieve the orbs. It hadn't been intentional, but I'm sure you can see the animosity we'd had with him at the time.

Of course, all of that is now null. In any case, I'm meeting him today. He'd already met with Amon many times. I'm not sure he's met with Dhari just yet as Dhari has recently taking the throne for the Earth Kingdom. Unfortunately we were unable to find someone to take the Water Kingdom before
he came, but that is a problem we will have to deal with when it comes I suppose. Whatever the case may be, so far Vinter has not done anything other than occupy the Water Kingdom. That fact crosses my mind often, but I can't honestly say I'm worried... Well, maybe. But it hasn't been the forefront of my thoughts as of late.

Perhaps it should be.

~Siya Ukomo, Utva 456


Siya put down the quill pen and leaned back in the chair. He stretched his arms up over his body and listened to the cracking of his spine as he stretched out. Having been hunched over the desk for such a long time between reading and writing in the book of Kings, he had gotten rather stiff. Letting out a long huff of breath, the young King let one arm fall back down while the other rubbed at his shoulder and neck to try to loosen the muscles there.

With a slight groan he glanced around the dim library that he rather enjoyed staying in. Unfortunately he had to leave it and go see Valrien who was meeting with him. Standing up, he blew out the burning fire that he'd started on the candle hours ago and closed all the books he'd had opened. Siya would put them away later, that or the servants would do so if he forgot which he often did.

Pacing to the door he opened it up and stepped out. Dressed in the long black silken cloth of his station, the shirt clung to his lithe frame nicely, hugging his body. The long stripes of clothing might have passed as a robe, but it wasn't as the strips opened up around his waist to let his legs stride forward without any constriction. Black pants tucked into tall, knee high boots complimented his rather dark appearance aside from his crimson eyes and pure white hair that was braided as usual and hung just a tad over his shoulder.

Blowing at the loose strands of his fringe that got in his eyes, Siya brushed at them with his hands and hurried on to the throne room. He had a terrible feeling that he was late and he was sure Valrien would be upset with him. The two of them were complete opposites after all in most things. Valrien was puntual and rather cold both in looks and personality. He had a sharp tongue which only hid his soft side. Siya, on the other hand, was late almost always to any meeting and was rather warm in personality and in speech.

As he threw opened the doors to the throne room and proceeded to take his place on the throne that he always thought was far too big for him, Valrien did indeed stand in the center of the room with a scowl on his face. His boot tapped on the marble floor, his hands held tightly behind his back as he'd waited. Siya offered a small, sheepish smile as he took his seat. Valrien gave him a rather sour look in return. It didn't offend Siya at all, after all they'd known each other for three years, so there was no offence meant at all in Valrien's demeanor.

"You're late," Valrien snapped with a grumble.

"I'm sorry, I was reading."

The young Prince rolled his eyes and huffed, "As usual. You should really pay more attention to time, Siya."

The young King gave a soft laugh and put his head up on his hand as he braced against one arm of the throne that he sat on the edge of, "They also tell me that I shouldn't walk and read at the same time either."

To that Valrien gave a snort of amusement, "Anyone smart would know that. The amount of times you've walked into things is astronomical."

Siya blushed heavily as he frowned at the other with two different colored eyes, "I doubt you've come to poke fun at how many times I've walked into things."

"Of course not. I'm here because we need to discuss how we're going to keep the ruins closed off so that no more idiots enter there in search of the entrance to my Kingdom. Too many have died already and my soldiers can't keep up with the influx. Rumors are spreading that I'm cursing your lands with those ruins."

Siya frowned, "I'm sorry... I can send patrols of my own to help. We'll have to talk with Amon to see what else we can do to keep wanderers from entering. I don't want to close it off completely."

"You can't close it off completely, you'll destroy Iveir if you do."

"I know that."

"Also..." Valrien glanced around briefly before he spoke, "What are you going to do about this... Vinter?"

Siya shrugged, "Not much I can do really. He hasn't done anything. Perhaps he isn't so bad."

Valrien glared then, he crossed his arms as he frowned at Siya, "That kind of thinking is going to get you killed."

With a sigh, the young fire King shook his head, "I doubt he's there to hurt anyone. Besides, he hasn't sent out any threats, or mobilized an army, or destroyed the Kingdom either. In honestly we can't say anything as of right now because we've been far to busy with our two borders being breached, Valrien. If he hasn't attacked us yet due to our being preoccupied, I doubt he's going to any time soon."

"Damn it, Siya. You and your optimism. Fine. But I still don't like it. No one just goes in and takes a throne because they want to 'help out'. Keep that in mind. Now... As for our problems..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Siya Ukomo Character Portrait: Valrien Yustri Character Portrait: Dream Cella Vetruss

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The journey had been quite long and a bit tiring judging from the distance of her current settlement within the Fire Kingdom. Yet, it was very pleasant to the senses and memories to be able to graze the lands of the Earth Kingdom. Dream does wonder when she would have time again to visit. The times have quite change as the air was filled with political tension and the under wrappings of something beyond fantasy. As such, it was no secret even to the matron about the people's drastic perception of Royalty nowadays. The trust and respect had declined in the recent years. It was inevitable as the world they believed to be correct was rearranged for another. The Kings they had believed for so long brought a change unsought and the fabrics of reality bend into piles of lies.

Truly saddening.

It is why she knew that her King was truly doing his best despite what others may perceive it to be. His sadness and his grief over the loss of his protectors, her predecessors, were not hidden from her that much. The King does not show it or even speak of it. However, it would be impossible for him not to feel it especially how gentle of a soul he is. It is why at that moment she had requested to be his protector. At the very least, she wanted to share in the burden the Fire King seemed to carry so precariously on his shoulder. Though, she knew that there is a great possibility that she was just being presumptuous and rather plunging in such duties without proper thinking proving herself to be inept.

Still, the desire to support is true.

"Lady Dream, we have arrived." At the announcement of the coachman, Dream was taken out of her inner contemplation. By instinct, she muttered a word of apology. "I'm sorry..." Then, she looked out of the window nearest to her. She could see that they were entering the gates of the castle. It would appear that as she was busy tinkering with her own thought. They had finally arrived. Truthfully, she was unnerved by the usage of the carriage. She had told that there would be no need for anyone to accompany her. At the same time, she would find another means of travel. Yet, this was by the request of her King. The thought bring a small smile to her lips before it returned to its distinctive firm line.

With the carriage coming to a full stop, the door had been opened for her. "Thank you." She then stepped out with her elegance completely inherent of her and a beauty befitting of females of the highest status. As such, it was not surprising some of the male guards and stewards who looked at her way had the touch of rose upon their cheeks. Many had constructed various rumors about her being from a fallen noble house or something of those sorts due to her being an orphan. But of course, they remained as nothing more but gossips. And really, it was something that she does not find to be important.

"Welcome back Lady Dream. I hope the journey had been pleasant." One of the castle stewards greeted her as she entered the castle main threshold. She gave the man a small smile, a token for the show of concern. "Yes, it was. How is Master Siya?" The man gave a curt nod to hide the blush creeping to his face because of her smile. Fortunately, she is rather slow on the uptake when it comes to romantic attractions or even the hint of admiration. "He is fine and is currently at the throne room. Prince Valrien has come to see His Highness." Hearing that, Dream gave a simple nod at the information about the King having a guest. It would be best for her to go to where both men were. "Thank you." She then made her way towards the throne room.

Dream looked at the large doors of the Throne Room for a moment. She could not still ponder why such doors are so large. Yet, it was nothing to be concerned of. She then gave it a few light taps enough to alert anyone inside of a presence outside. After so, the doors were pushed opened by the guards standing by. They seemed to have the illusion that she is incapable of opening it. Though, she believed they were being kind and it was a gesture appreciated. Giving them a nod of gratefulness, she then entered the room revealing her presence. Stopping with a bit of distance from both men, she placed both of her hands in front of her and then respectfully bowed her head. "Master Siya. Prince Valrien."

After her greeting, Dream raised her head and looked at her King. "Master Siya, I have just arrived. Thank you for your consideration of letting me visit them." She said that with a tone wrapped in a gentle vigor of sincerity. Her eyes which had been her stigma of being hinted as something not human gazed at the Fire King with appreciation. Then, she cast her attention to the Foreign Prince from another world. She did not have many interactions from people of Reimrand. But, she does not see them as anything to be cautious off. Of course, this is her personal opinion on the matter. "Prince Valrien. It is a pleasure to see you come here again. Please do not hesitate to ask if there is anything you need." Ah yes, she often forgets the fact that she is a Protector not a maid. Though, this is simply her hospital persona piercing through.

Smiling warmly at the prince, she then made her way to stand at the side of her King. For, this is the most appropriate place for her to be. Honestly as well, she wanted to be at this position ever since she had stated the desire to be the Fire King's Protector and that had been granted. So, it was all good for her, no matter what angle is seen. For now, she glanced at her King and then to Prince. That is right... She must have interrupted their conversation. Realizing this, she immediately bowed her head in shame and guilt. "I am sorry if I have interrupted your conversation. I will accept any punishment you deemed fit for my rudeness."

As usual, Dream once more spoke her signature quote, so to speak.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amon Ad-Raza Character Portrait: Siya Ukomo Character Portrait: Kanan Thiyer Character Portrait: Valrien Yustri Character Portrait: Renardine 'Minnow' Lunvari Character Portrait: Rhoven Shaw Character Portrait: Dream Cella Vetruss Character Portrait: Shiro Yukashima

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#, as written by Siryn
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The feel of the younger male against him was welcoming. The fact that Minnow curled up against him and kissed him back made it even more complete. The smaller protector fit so perfectly between his arms. Sometimes Kanan worried he'd crush the poor boy because he was so much smaller than he was. But, Minnow was very hardy and there was no reason to worry. Tilting his head a little, Kanan was planning to taste more of the young healer. Completely ignoring the rain or anyone else that may be around. He was lost in holding the one thing that kept him going.

Until the voice hit the air that had Minnow snapping back to reality and breaking away.

"Keep it toned down out here Kanan! I know you missed'im but some of us do have innocent eyes."

Their eyes met briefly as Minnow looked up at him after breaking the kiss. Kanan didn't miss the look in his gaze and he hoped that his own smoldering gaze got across to the young healer as well. With an internal sigh as Minnow pulled away from him, Kanan turned to look over at Rhoven who had interrupted him. His good eye narrowed slightly at the young boy whom Amon had taken in some time ago. The kid was good at what he did, but it seemed he'd gotten his teasing aspect from Amon. Maybe the young apprentice just was around the King far too much.

"I'm not sure how 'innocent' you really think yourself to be," Kanan answered, his voice low. It was hard to tell if he was teasing or being serious. Until he stepped up to the landing where Minnow had gone to greet the King. Reaching out he took the young boy's cheeks between his fingers and pinched, pulling the skin outward at the same time to give him a funny looking face. When the young apprentice joined with them, Kanan had been unsure of him. But his young look and the way he acted sometimes made Kanan see him as a kid to which he couldn't help but to pick on every now and then. After all, it was pay back for interrupting his welcoming to Minnow.

”I hope everything’s gone well in my absence?”

"Aside from the council pressuring our King to close the way to Reimrand and other petty ideals, all is well." Kanan answered Minnow's question as he continued to pull at Rhoven's cheeks even if the boy managed to free himself, the taller, one-eyed protector would just grab at him again. Honestly it was rather entertaining for the moment and also kept his mind off of sweeping Minnow away to have some much needed quality time together. Alone. Just a little while longer and he would have the young healer all to himself. And neither of them were sleeping, Kanan had already decided that the moment he'd felt the other protectors presence.






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"I know that Amon is fighting with his council as well to keep the borders open. All I'm proposing is guards around the actual entrance. We can't keep allowing people just randomly finding the place. You know how dangerous it is down there, Siya. Too many have died already because they've been lost in the labyrinth and killed by the Drewdan, or even killed by-"

The doors opened and a ringing, song like voice hit the air, cutting through Valrien's speech. "Master Siya. Prince Valrien."

Valrien turned to the voice and watched the young woman stride into the throne room. Siya, who had been focused on the Prince shifted in his seat and stood up to greet her, a warm smile spreading his lips. Coming down the dais, the Fire King welcomed his second Protector as she made her way into the very large, spacious room.

"Dream! Welcome back." Siya said as he followed her back up to the throne where she was headed.

"Master Siya, I have just arrived. Thank you for your consideration of letting me visit them."

"Please, enough with 'Master'," the young King chided though his smile never faded, "Siya is just fine. I can hardly stand being called 'My Lord' or 'Your Highness'... Sire is bearable though. But honestly, just Siya. And you're very welcome. There's no need to even ask as you did. I know it is important to you."

"Prince Valrien. It is a pleasure to see you come here again. Please do not hesitate to ask if there is anything you need."

Valrien shifted a bit uncomfortably. If only Lutchka were with him he'd probably be less on edge. He hated how he'd come to depend on her to keep him in line and from choosing the wrong words. Though it seemed to happen anyway. Especially when dealing with someone like Dream. He didn't know how to answer her, or how to deal with the woman. Hell, it took him three years just to get used to Siya's attitude. With a sigh, he turned away from her so as not to keep eye contact, a deep frown on his face, "I'm capable enough on my own if I need anything. Not to mention I think I'm here enough to know where everything is if I have need of it," he answered stiffly.

Siya gave a soft laugh as he reseated himself upon the throne, just on it's edge as he leaned forward to listen to the rest of what they had been discussing.

"I am sorry if I have interrupted your conversation. I will accept any punishment you deemed fit for my rudeness."

The young King sighed and at the same time Valrien sighed as well, rolling his eyes as he turned enough to look up at her from where she stood next to her King, "You forget who it is you're speaking to, little Protector. Siya wouldn't harm a fly." Valrien huffed in irritation.

With a slight shake of his head, Siya turned to look at Dream and with his usual kind smile he reached out and patted her arm gently, "You've done nothing wrong, Dream. Relax. Your trip has been long. You don't need to be here if you don't wish to be." Siya answered as he turned back to Valrien. Although I must wonder where Shiro is... He is usually always by my side. The young Fire King wondered briefly. Perhaps he would send Dream to find him later. Or maybe Shiro would come in soon.

"As for the patrols you're asking for Valrien. I know that it may sound like a good idea, but it will look like we're trying to control the public and further enforce the ideas that the Kingdoms can no longer be protected. If we're trying to keep them from going into Reimrand, then it will garner more suspicion about Reimrand and our involvement with one another. I would prefer not to do so. The ones that you have already are bad enough. I know that you're only looking out for our people, but I'm not sure having our soldiers out there is the proper way of dealing with it."

"Then if we are not keeping them out, what do you propose we do? Let them run wild down there and have more die because of it? Siya, surely you can't think that my men alone are the only things needed to keep people from dying! And just telling the public that they cannot enter hasn't done anything at all to keep them from doing so!"

Siya sighed heavily, rubbing at his eyes, "What if we allowed them to enter Reimrand, but with an escort?"

Valrien's mouth opened as if he were going to retort with something but he stopped the moment Siya's words sunk in. It wasn't what he'd been expecting the young King to say. Pausing for a moment, the Prince's gaze dropped, his mismatched eyes searching the floor as he thought about that proposal, "That... Could work. It would open relations between the people and show them just what exactly is in Reimrand. The only problem is the land is still recovering. Most of it is back to normal, but there are still some waste lands that could be dangerous. But if they're with an escort than..." Valrien shrugged a bit as he lifted his gaze to Siya's fiery eyes, "I'll propose this to Amon as well and see what he thinks. I think this may be doable. A few years ago I would have said no, but... Reimrand is recovering well... It should be fine."

Siya leaned back a little, a smile on his face as he was obviously happy about the outcome of their discussion. There had been much to discuss, between Reimrand's economy, trades that may be available later on, the people in Iveir in regards to their anger towards the Kings, and finally to the last bit of Reimrand's entrance being patrolled or not. "Good. I'm glad we could figure things out. I would like to meet with Amon as well. It has been a very long time since we last saw one another." Siya mused as he relaxed finally.

"Yes... It has I suppose. More importantly though... How are you, Siya?"

"What do you mean? I'm alright."

Valrien's gaze narrowed, his frown deepening, "You cannot lie to me. You haven't mourned have you?"

Siya went quiet and his eyes fell away from Valrien's. A flash of deep sadness, hurt, and loneliness crossed his face. Though it didn't last long, Valrien caught it very well. His fingers curled tightly and his voice shook a bit as he finally answered after some time of silence, "I'm fine. There's no time for anything else right now. If I stop now..." the shaking increased and it sounded as if he were on the verge of tears. Valrien felt a pulse of guilt, but he knew that the young King had been shoving those things to the side. He didn't want to deal with it. The loss of his protector and lover, the loss of friends on the way. The more he pushed it aside, the more it would build up and it would destroy him eventually. Valrien needed Siya to be strong and though he looked it on the outside, he was far from it.

"Seeing Amon and the others will be good for you. You can mourn then, and you should."

The young Fire King only nodded as he took several deep breaths and finally got that mask on over his face once more. A smile lifted his lips, though his eyes still danced with the pain of the past, "Thank you, Valrien. But I'm alright. If you need anything else, let me know. I'll send a note to Amon. I wish to accompany you there when you leave."

Valrien sighed, but simply nodded in agreement before he turned and left the throne room. Siya was keeping it together very well. That mask of his had to have been something he'd built while the others hadn't been looking. Valrien was hopeful Amon, and maybe even Minnow, could coax it all out of him. The Prince knew Siya would be better once he got through all of the stuff he'd bottled up. The only thing was getting Siya to let it out.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Siya Ukomo Character Portrait: Valrien Yustri Character Portrait: Dream Cella Vetruss

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It always warms her heart to see the smile of the Fire King. That is why when he heard that the Lord Siya does not approve of the manner he was being called in. Dream could not help but bit her lower lip in shame. It had been something inherent of her to always address someone by their given designation. This was proper decorum fitted in the aspect of politeness and respect. As such, it is rather difficult for her to change something which had become a habit. So, she could not help but bow once more in apology. "I am sorry..." She then looked at Prince Valrien who seemed to have chided her about her offer of assistance.

"I apologize for my ineptness." Her eyes lowered in apology. "It was not my desire to envision you as someone unable to do anything." It was then the Prince reminded her that Siya was not the kind to issue punishments. And of course, that was quite true. In the short span of time she had been assigned as his protector, he had always been kind with everyone and had been patient with her. He had never exact any authority that would have warrant as someone to be feared unlike the other rulers, she had heard about by reputation. But, her inner monologue had been halted with a gentle tap on her arm. The words which came out of the Fire King's lips brought a tendril of happiness within her.

"I am sorry for the possible inconvenience, but I wish to stay by your side as much as I can." Dream stated with a bright smile upon her face. That was completely true as she wants to be at his side as much as possible especially during such troubled times. Thus, the discussion between the two monarchs continued. They seemed to be discussing about the portal between the two worlds. There had been reports of alarming activities which endangers the safety of the people and the same could be said of Reimrand. Both were raising valid points to find a middle line to the problem. However, curiosity could not be abated with simple warning. Humans had always been enchanted by the unknown despite the danger it could possess. Rather, it adds to fuel to the fire.

And finally, they did find a solution.

People would be escorted through the perilous labyrinth and have the experience to see what Reimrand is truly about. It also seemed to be a viable proposal to Prince Valrien who stated that it would be presented to King Amon of the Air Kingdom. She glanced at her Lord who seemed pleased with the discussion. This will be one less matter to be worried about. She was not ignorant of the various subjects needed to be tackled especially with the distrust of the people towards the Kings and the sudden introduction of people from another world. After all, Iveir was not yet fully able to learn all of its secret. It would certainly be a lot of work and she could not do anything about it. For, this is all something needed to be tackled by her Lord at some point.

All she could do was to protect him.

The question prompted by the Prince about her master's mourning was true. Being left alone, being the only one to survive, then having to face such problems, it is very hard. That is why she had requested to be by his side upon seeing him again. She was at that point but a Royal Songstress of the Fire Court. But when it was granted, she strive not to falter as much as possible. It is true that many would have seen her as a replacement for the ones who had been lost. However, it was not her intention to be so. Because, she could see that the Lord was pushing himself not to think of anything else. His bonds with those he had lost will not be forgotten. That is why, if she could at least alleviate some of it. She would do so.

Prince Valrien soon bid his goodbye as the Lord inclined that he is fine. As the doors to the throne room closed and the two of them left by themselves, Dream looked over to her King. She knew the sadness and pain inside of him. It was something which had prompted her decision to become a protector. "Mas--." She stopped herself from continuing as she remembered what was said earlier. Taking a deep breath, she began once more. "Siya, you are not alone." Her hand was gently placed upon his shoulder. Those eyes of ombre color gazed at Siya with a delicate reverie. "You should cry if you want to." She softly stated as she slowly walked and stood in front of him. Her hand that was now on his shoulder now found its place upon his cheek. "Stopping does not mean you would not move again even if it is really hard to do so. And sometimes not acknowledging grief is running away from it, running away from them."

Her life was not all roses and rainbows. It had been hard but, she believed that everything would be fine if she just move no matter what. And, it was what she did. To the point, she had learned to dissolve all of her feelings into something distant, something not of hers. It was hard for her to distinguish any difference of her emotions nowadays. That is why when she feels such things, it was precious. "I have been alone most of my life. Then, I was left behind as well. Yet, I still continue to live with the sadness. Even though this is painful, even though it makes my heart ache. Sometimes I wanted to ask God to let me forget it. But as long as I try to be strong and not run away, doing my best, there will finally be a day... There will be finally be a day I can overcome this pain and sadness. I believe I can. There is nothing that can be forgotten."

Dream now placed both of her hands on his cheeks and smiled at her gently. "As long as we live, they will always be there in our hearts. And, I would not deny them my sadness and my happiness of being with them. And perhaps, I would be able to meet them again." She then gently placed a kind kiss on his forehead. Something done to her by the matron when she was young. It was a charm to keep bad dreams away and also a sense of comfort. After doing so, she then took back her hands. "If you wish for no one to see it, I will close my eyes and seal my ears. Just know, I will be here." As if to imply that, she placed her hands over her ears and then blinked her eyes. Waiting for his command, though, she believed to have crossed the line and would probably apologize about it. Yes, she will.

"I am sorry if I assume too much." And, so she did.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amon Ad-Raza Character Portrait: Siya Ukomo Character Portrait: Kanan Thiyer Character Portrait: Valrien Yustri Character Portrait: Renardine 'Minnow' Lunvari Character Portrait: Rhoven Shaw Character Portrait: Dream Cella Vetruss Character Portrait: Harlan Pendrake

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(thanks for doing the collab Qaida! XD)
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"Siya, you are not alone. You should cry if you want to. Stopping does not mean you would not move again even if it is really hard to do so. And sometimes not acknowledging grief is running away from it, running away from them. I have been alone most of my life. Then, I was left behind as well. Yet, I still continue to live with the sadness.

"Even though this is painful, even though it makes my heart ache. Sometimes I wanted to ask God to let me forget it. But as long as I try to be strong and not run away, doing my best, there will finally be a day... There will be finally be a day I can overcome this pain and sadness. I believe I can. There is nothing that can be forgotten.

"As long as we live, they will always be there in our hearts. And, I would not deny them my sadness and my happiness of being with them. And perhaps, I would be able to meet them again. If you wish for no one to see it, I will close my eyes and seal my ears. Just know, I will be here. I am sorry if I assume too much."


Siya listened, watching her partially out of shock and then in a bit of embarrassment. Valrien had certainly struck a few cords that he hadn't been expecting. The loss of composure in front of his protector was not something he had wanted to have happen. Grinding his teeth a little, he started working on that carefully crafted mask of his. Though her words did nothing to help that along. The burn of tears edged into his eyes as he recalled awful, horrid memories that he wished to keep out of his mind for as long as possible.

Yet at the same time, she was speaking the truth. If he didn't mourn, if he didn't think of them, he would be doing them a dishonor. He would be destroying their memory. However, he just couldn't bring himself to do it yet. Not just yet. He couldn't do it yet. There was still too much to be done that needed his attention. That needed him to be in focus. He couldn't afford to lose that focus to the suffering of memories.

With a smile, he reached up and took her hands, gently bringing them away from his face and squeezing them as he stood up from the throne, "Thank you, Dream. I appreciate your offer and your kindness. But honestly, I'm alright. I have things I must tend to. You may accompany me if you wish," he said offering it lightly. Still, his words were a little harder than usual, speaking of his desire not to have that kind of conversation again. With that, he released her hands gently and left the throne room, headed for his study.

~~~

Amon chuckled as he watched Kanan and Minnow separate, his usual smile donning his face as Minnow came up the steps to address him. "Lord Amon~" the younger man said while giving a small bow to Amon. He made to respond, but then he saw Kanan approach them, stopping before Rhoven. the young man held his smile, meeting Kanan's gaze.

"I’m not sure how 'innocent' you really think yourself to be." the protector stated, before suddenly reaching up to pinch and pull on Rhoven's cheeks. Amon laughed at the sight, watching as Rhoven squawked in surprise, quickly reaching up and batting away Kanan's hands. Even as he did so, Kanan continued to try and do so, Amon just shaking his head in amusement at the sight of Rhoven trying to escape the protector.

"I hope everything's gone well in my absence?" Minnow asked while straightening. Amon glanced to Kanan, who spoke while still messing with Amon's apprentice, mentioning how things were still in the rut they were.

Amon nodded his head, looking back to Minnow. "Yeah, the council is still hounding me to close off the damned ruins, lucky me..." Amon said while rubbing the back of his head. He paused, looking at Minnow before the grin returned, "How Could I forget!" Amon exclaimed before suddenly pulling Minnow into his own hug. "I missed my little fishie, and I need a big ol'hug to squeeze out all these negative feelings! Since Rhoven won't give me one and your lover won't do it either, guess it's gotta be you, Minnow." Amon said, chuckling softly before pulling back.

"Gah~! Let go of me! I am not some little kid, now stop," Rhoven's shouting was interrupted when Kanan pulled on his cheeks again, causing the young man to quickly bat his hands away then suddenly duck to the other side of Minnow and Amon, using the Protector and Air King as a shield from the one-eyed man. "Holy hell, man! Uncalled for!" Rhoven pointed an accusing finger at Kanan, frowning at the older man.

Amon raised an eyebrow, lightly pushing Rhoven's head and causing the young man to have to flail his arms to catch his balance. "If you are going to tease people, expect to be teased back, Rhoven. It's the rules of nature, so get used to it." Amon said, grinning at the apprentice who stuck his tongue out at the Air King.

~~~

They had been noticed rather easily, considering none of the five people made any attempt to remain hidden in the early morning light of the next day. They also stood out, considering all of them had cloaks of some kind, four of which had up over their heads. The one in the center had her hood back, revealing a young woman in her early thirties, her brown hair tired up into a high ponytail. Her form was covered in thick plates of armor, every inch but her head and wherever she needed freedom of movement covered by the metal. All of them were dinged, scratched, and marked in some way, showing that they had seen plenty of combat since they were first forged. A black scarf covered her neck, and hooked onto the side of the saddle of her horse was a long halberd, its head having a long axe-blade on one side, with a smaller hammerhead on the opposite. The top of the pole arm also ended in a spear point.

The two flanking her both wore grey cloaks, with hoods up over their heads and a similar black scarf pulled up over their noses so only their eyes could be seen. Each one had a bow slung over their bodies, a quiver of arrows resting on their belts behind them, and a long sword was sheathed at their waists as well. Each of them wore suits of leather armor, it was light, yet provided adequate protection, clearly meant for a group of people that often intended to move quickly and quietly.

The fourth on a horse was hidden completely by their hood and mask, even their arms were hidden by loose sleeves. Their legs were covered by loose fitting pants, yet their feet were exposed, with no shoes or footwear of any kind. No weapons of any kind could be seen on them, nor did the person wear any armor.

The fifth was the one who was most apparent to the guards at the gates. He did not ride a horse, walking alongside the covered figure and was dressed in the same fashion. His feet as well were uncovered, yet the person didn't seem the least bit bothered by the rocks that they stepped on. On his back was a large warhammer, almost as tall as he was. It was his size that caught the attention of the guards though. Despite the others sitting atop their horses, the fifth's head still came up to their shoulders. It was hard to tell exactly how tall he was, but the guards guessed the man was coming close to eight feet in height, and even under the hood and cloak they could see he had the bulk to match his height.

As they came to the gate, the woman in front held up her hand to signal for the men to stop, having brought her own horse to a stop and slowly stepping down. As she landed on the ground, the thick plates of armor clanking loudly as they did so, she gently patted the horse's neck as it snorted before reaching to the saddle and unlatching the halberd that rested on it. As she removed it, she let the end of the shaft thunk into the ground, kicking up dirt as it did so. Behind her, the other four were dismounting their horses, while the fifth member simply remained next to the other fully cloak individual. With the others off their horses, the guards could now see that the fifth man stood a good foot or more taller than any of the others in the group.

The woman calmly then began walking towards the gates, leading her horse by the reigns as the others follow. She stopped when the guards held out a hand for her. "Who are you and what is your business here?" one of the guards asked, keeping his eyes set on the woman. the other three guards watched the group with some apprehension, gripping, though not drawing any of their weapons.

The woman bowed her head to the guard, straightening and looking at him as she spoke. The guard strained to catch the words she spoke, her Iveirian tongue muddled with a thick accent as she talked. "Buenas tardes, señor. I come bearing a message from Nobles of Fire for his majesty, the Fire King Siya Ukomo."

The guard narrowed his eyes at her, looking to the other guards before back to her. " 'Nobles of Fire'? I'm not familiar with them, ma'am." he said. he had relaxed some, though he didn't take his hand away from his weapon.

"It is a new group, one that has hired us to deliver this message to the Fire King. Por favor, señor, it is important for the young king to receive this." She said, bowing her head to him once more. The guard watched her for a moment, looking to her compatriots before back to the other guards. he then looked to her once more, the woman's hair falling over her shoulder as she kept her head bowed to him.

"Alright then. Let them through, and you'll have to forgive us if we keep a few guards posted. You are...well equipped, and we just need to be safe with how hectic things are around here." the guard said as he stood aside to let them pass. "they can stable your horses for you as you enter, ma'am."

The woman lifted her head up, her hair falling back as she smiled to him. "Gracias, señor. And I understand, we are a bit mean looking." she said before heading on through the gate, four guards from elsewhere moving up around to surround them as they moved through. Their horses were taken to the side, and then the five of them were all led towards the throne room to meet with the Fire King.

"What?" Siya looked up from his books to the young page that had knocked and entered the study. He'd been there most of the morning, in fact he was pretty sure he hadn't even gotten an ounce of sleep the night before. Honestly, he couldn't remember what time he'd gotten up from his bed and left to be in the study.

"Visitors, my Lord. They are requesting your presence. The guards have allowed them in. They're waiting for you."

Confusion pulsed through him. His gaze dropped to the book in front of him, staring at its pages for a while without really seeing it. Finally, he closed it with a sharp snap and got up, "Alright. Thank you. I'll go attend to this," he said with a smile to his page and left the study. He didn't even bother to tell the young boy to retrieve his protectors or even let Valrien know of the new -and rather strange- development.

He hadn't been expecting anyone at all that day. His hall was closed usually on that day, so for his guards to accept them... It must be something very important. Siya worked his way down the hallway at a brisk, fast pace. Still trying to figure out what it would be that garnered his attention, he pushed open the door that led to his throne and entered the room. It wasn't until his gaze fell on the group that his steps were slowed heavily.

A strange sense of dread flooded his chest. It was probably because they looked so... Deadly. Noting the handful of guards also with the strange group, Siya uprooted himself from where he'd stopped and slowly moved over to the throne chair. Seating himself on the very edge of it, his fiery gaze shifted from the woman to the others that were all clad in black and their faces hidden under the dark shadow of their hoods. It took him a moment longer to even address them.

"So... What is it that I can help you with?" he asked as politely as possible, managing to keep the internal tremble out of his voice.

As the king entered, all five members bowed their heads to the king, waiting until he took his seat upon the throne before righting themselves. The woman stepped forwards, stopping at the bottom of the dais. Her armor clanked alongside her halberd as the end of it struck the ground as she walked, and she dropped to a knee in front of Siya. "Disculparnos, su majestad. I sincerely apologize for coming here unannounced, however we were told to deliver this message as quickly as possible by our employers, the Nobles of Fire." she said before waving a hand to one of the men armed with a bow.

The man glanced at her, then briefly looked up at the Fire King before quickly lowering his eyes. The man then stepped forwards, reaching to a small bag on his waist, the guards shifting forwards slightly as he did so, before he pulled out a rather decently sized scroll, wrapped up and sealed with a wax signet. As the man stepped up to the dais, he to knelt down on a knee next to the woman, keeping his gaze to the floor as he held out in his right hand the scroll. As he did so, it was clear that his right hand happened to be missing both the index and ring finger, both missing at the knuckle. He made no other motion as he held out the scroll towards Siya.

"They said it was of grave importance, to be delivered to you, su majestad." the woman said, also keeping her eyes to the dais in front of her and remaining kneeled before him.

Siya's heart lurched into his throat. That accent... he narrowed his gaze. Getting up from the throne, he descended down to take the scroll, speaking as he went, "Nobles of Fire? That name is new to me."

With the scroll in hand, he moved back up to his throne, undoing the seal and rolling the paper out. He paused halfway to his seat, back turned to the group as his mind caught up to what he was reading. ~We of the Nobles of Fire have deduced after the many years of watching the young King Siya Ukomo that he is unfit. Due to lack of good judgment for the people in regards to the arrival of the new realm Reimrand, biased judgments in the past, and a lack of royal blood. All give reasons to seek out a replacement of the Fire King, one of noble or Royal blood, including searches for anyone related to the deceased King.

Siya stopped reading the rest. From what it looked like, it just became more detailed on the reasons why he should be abdicated from the throne. With his heart in his throat, eyes wide in shock and disbelief, he lifted his gaze to stare at the back of the throne that he'd always thought was far too large for him.

His shaking became apparent then. Both hands curled into tight fists crumpling the parchment used to create the document. Why now?! I realize there have been talks of this before, by why now?! This... This is too much. I can't! I can't leave the throne right now! There's so much left unfinished! If I left it... Everything could crumble! Anger rushed through him. A rare kind of rage that he'd only felt a few times before.

It might have been one of the very rare times that he actually looked the part of a King as he straightened his back. His gaze narrowed, glaring holes into the throne before him. Quite a few things that were metal disappeared into blue sparkles of energy that sunk into his body. The paper in his hands ignited with a crack and he held it off to the side without turning around to face the group. The fires engulfed the entire thing, burning it to nothing but ash.

With the flames still licking at his hands, Siya finally turned around to face the group in his hall when the paper was completely demolished by his orange fire. Lifting his head a little, he glowered down at the group as he spoke, "The very idea is preposterous. The 'Nobles of Fire' will not have me removed, nor will they have my throne. If they want it..." his voice dropped a little, "They will have to kill me to get it."

He paused, his gaze sweeping the group before he slowly backed up to his throne and seated himself, still shaking slightly from his anger, "Does that answer your question?"

None of the group moved at the Fire King's show of anger and rage. Rather none of the three at the front. The large one shifted some when Siya had made the sacrifices, however he stopped when the hooded one next to him reached to the side a placed a hand on the giant's arm to hold him. The man responded, relaxing immediately, though he did turn his head to glance at the guards around. Both were still hidden completely by the cloaks.

The woman kept her eyes on the floor, unmoving as Siya spoke to them. the man next to her visibly tensed though for a moment when Siya said he'd have to be killed, but he quickly relaxed his body. As Siya finished, the woman kept her gaze lowered. "Understood, su majestad." She then stood up, stepping back away from the throne, followed by the three fingered man who moved back with her.

"They told me, that if that was to be your answer," she paused, her voice taking on a somewhat sympathetic tone, "That if you were to refuse." She looked up at Siya before bowing her head once more to him, "Lo siento, su majestad, but they said they would remove you by force then. We shall take our leave now; buenas tardes, su majestad." she said, beginning to back away while keeping her head bowed to him. Once she had stepped away some distance from the throne, she lifted up her head and turned to leave, followed closely behind by the group.

Siya ground his teeth as he watched her. His fists curled tightly on the arm of the chair. When she finished and turned to leave, he gave a soft growl of anger to himself, "Let them try it!" he snapped, just loud enough to ring out into the hallway but not to be a shout or scream. He kept his seat as he watched them leave. It wasn't until the doors closed and they were gone that he let out a long breath of air and fell forward to clutch his head with his fingers.

His gaze opened to stare at the floor. Horror flooding his body. What was he going to do? He'd planned to leave for the Air Kingdom but with a threat such as that... Could he really afford to leave?

"Siya. The hell are you doing letting rabble like that shake you up?"

Looking up, he was met by Valrien standing not but two feet from him, arms crossed over his chest, "Valrien..." he whispered the Princes name and then sighed as he leaned back in the throne again, "I... I don't know... How did you even?"

"Your door to this room isn't ever locked," he pointed his thumb over to the door behind the throne, "My apologies, but I was being nosy. Now seriously, don't let them walk over you."

Siya gave a weary smile, "You always were getting into everyone’s business," he teased, "And I know that. I'm not going to let them."

"What do you plan to do?"

Siya sighed, looking over to the closed double doors, the guards still standing on either side, "What I have to. Looks like I'll be preparing for a rebellion. I'm sorry, but... I cannot go with you to see Amon. Give him my regards though, please," Siya said with a smile and got up. Patting Valrien's arm, he left the room, leaving the Prince to stand there with a deep frown on his lips.

"Tch 'Regards'? Yeah... I'll give him your regards, as well as a request to come get your ass out of this idiotic problem," he hissed to himself.

"You sure that'd be the best idea, Vally?" A voice asked, walking up next to the Prince. the brown haired man rested an arm on Valrien's shoulder, leaning against the man while crossing his ankles and watching Siya take his leave.

The man held a bottle in his hand, twirling it around to swish the liquid about as he watched the young king. He then turned his head to look back to Valrien. "I mean, maybe it might be best for Siya to try and handle this on his own? Prove his worth as a king after all to those who claim he ain't one." he finished, lifting the bottle up to his lips to take a long swig from it. As he lowered it, a strange look came over his features before he turned, letting out a loud belch before sniffing the air for a moment, then waving a hand in front of his face. "Wow that was a fierce one..."

"For crying out loud, Harlan!" Valrien shoved his friend off of him after the man had let out the disgusting sound. Rolling his eyes, the young Prince glared over at the royal guard who held the bottle of liquor in his hands, "Yes, I think it's the best idea! Those men meant business and I'm not saying Siya can't hold his own, but I don't think he'd do very well up against them. He's been through too much already, you really think he's ready for a fight?! Hell, he'd probably let them run him through if he had the chance."[

Valrien stopped himself. Taking a deep breath, he reached up and rubbed his hands over his face then through his hair as he sighed heavily, "Look. I'll let Amon know what happened. If he wants to help then great. I'm helping whether he likes it or not. But for now... We have a long ride ahead of us. The sooner we see Amon, the better," he shook his head and he took the few steps down off the dais and strode across the hall of the throne room to the double doors, "Five days, four if we're lucky... He better hold out for that long," Valrien cursed to himself as he too left the room.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Siya Ukomo Character Portrait: Shiro Yukashima

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The door shut with a solid snap behind him. Siya left the throne room with hurried steps, a scowl on his lips, head down, and his stomach twisting in so many knots he thought he would be sick. Take the throne? Overthrow me by force!? They're mad! I need to find out who is behind it... One of the nobles... Someone who has spoken out before?

Siya had his mind completely taken over by other thoughts. Stress, frustrations, annoyances, older feelings he didn't want to contend with. It all boiled just under the skin, and it was everything he had not to show too much of it.

Walking without paying any attention, Siya continued his fast pace down the hall, no destination in mind particularly. His feet just carried him, taking a right turn that would automatically lead him to his study.

Shiro took a sharp breath as he deflected the oncoming attack from his instructor the wood against wood set Shiro back slightly though he moved to strike the older males side, the wood connected to the mans rib cage causing a sharp yelp to emitt from his throat, "Good Shiro, you're getting better" the man said as he stepped out of the circle in which they fought within. The protector gave a soft nod to indicate that he heard his superior and understood "Thank you sir" He muttered slightly short of breath.

Wiping the sweat that beaded along his forehead with his shirt, he sighed and moved his own frame out of the ring, "I will see you next week Shiro I expect you early" The guard gave a nod and turned to leave, he had to find the fire king now that he had been gone for several hours and he was sure the young king would be wondering where he had gotten off too.

Before he went in search for his young lord he had dropped by his own room to change into his armour, sliding of the training shirt that clung to his body from the sweat that binded the material to his chest, when he got it free from his hot skin he sighed in relief. After a few seconds of the cool air drying his skin, he proceeded to pull on his uniform and then attach his armour clipping the heavy metal into place followed by his holsters and weapons. That's better

Leaving his room while shealthing his sword he went to look for the young king, he decided to start with the boy's study and then the library. Quickly the young protector moved through the hall towards the younger males study, quietly his footsteps landed on the ground as he made his way. Soon he caught sight of the young boy and called to him "My lord!" moving into a soft jog he came up beside Siya.

At first Siya didn't hear the young protector. Or rather older protector seeing Siya was rather young himself. It wasn't until Shiro was right next to him that the young Fire King realized he had been spoken too. Glancing over briefly, Siya offered a rather forced smile before his gaze slipped back to the stone floor.

Siya kept the same pace, a rather automatic route to his study. He had been in there so much it could be considered his room. The moment he looked away, his thoughts went straight back to dealing with an uprising. How many would oppose him? How easily would they succeed? Was he ready for something like this? Probably not.

"Damn it..." he hissed to himself, suddenly halting in the hallway. His fingers curled into tight fists as he fought to remain as unemotional as possible. He was failing though. Reaching up, one hand curled into his white locks as he cursed again, "Damn it!" He let out a frustrated sort of growl after that, eyes squeezed tightly shut.

The older male nodded at the young king noting the way the boy's smile was different to his usual one, watching Siya lower his gaze back to the ground Shiro knew that something was bothering the young king but decided against saying anything to the young male as it may upset him further. Walking silently along side the smaller boy the protector was lost in his own thought of his morning and how he probably should of skipped training to be beside the man he was meant to protect.

The guard looked over at Siya as the soft words drifted through the air towards his ears and rested within his own mind, what was bothering the young male was beyond the protector but he knew it was getting to him as the boys hand moved up into his own locks of hair "Siya?" Shiro's voice was soft and barely audible as he reached out to the boy.

Softly the guard moved resting his hand on Siya's shoulder and pulled the younger male towards him "Whats wrong my lord?" He asked as his gaze fell on the kings crimson orbs, the beauty of them almost always took the older males breath away from him and even in the state the young king was in they still managed to snatch Shiro's breath away from his lungs though he made sure to show no sign of this as he awaited the other males answer.

"Shiro," Siya took a deep breath as he uttered the protectors name. With Shiro's hand on his shoulder, Siya found it hard to keep his composure. Why had Valrien asked him such a personal question? Why had he gotten under the young kings skin so easily?

Whatever the case, for some reason Siya couldn't help the tears that welled in his eyes. His breath shortened, his body shook. "W- why?" he took a deep shuddering gasp of air as he stared up at the tall Protector.

"l- I cant.." What was he trying to say? It just wasn't coming out right at all. If only he hadn't let his emotion's pile up like they had. Since the tears had started there was no stopping them now. Leaning forward, he bowed his head, one hand reaching and gripping Shiro by his arm tightly.

"Please, just stand there for a moment." The young king managed through his tear filled voice. Perhaps in a moment he would manage to tell Shiro what had happened, but not right then.

In that moment Shiro was slightly taken aback by the boy's tears, ignoring his normal way of dealing with the king when he was upset the young guard gently moved his thumbs under the boy's eyes wiping away the salty water that threatened to slide down the young males face. He stood there quietly allowing the young king to try and talk through his bubbling emotions that had seemed to just explode all at once in front of the protector.

Watching the smaller male breaking down was killing Shiro inside, after all he was meant to keep the boy alive but he also tried his hardest to keep Siya happy as well. Feeling the gentle grip on his arm pulled the older male out of his thoughts of feeling as though he had failed the younger male that stood in front of him.

Instead of just standing there as he was asked, the protector gently pulled the boy against his chest, his free arm encircling around the boy's waist. Swallowing dryly he sighed softly "It's ok Siya" He mumbled gently to the king as he rested his chin gently atop of the young males head as he held him against his chest.

It hadn't been expected. Being pulled up against his Protectors chest, an arm around his waist. The words spoken to him were like another trigger. The tears came harder, Siya's voice rose as he sobbed against Shiro, unable to hold it in anymore. "I can't! Do This! "he cried out, his voice only slightly muffled by Shiro's chest.

Siya reached up and curled one hand around his protectors neck while the other hand took a fist full of the male's armor, clinging to him.

"I'm going to be dethroned, Shiro!" Siya started, "They want a war with me! They will probably kill me! And destroy everything I have worked so hard to do with Valrien! Damn it!" Siya clutched at Shiro, sobbing and landing a bit of a frustrated punch on his chest.

Shiro froze slightly in place as he felt the young king start to cling to him his words high pitched pleas, his eyes slightly widened at the mention of the young king being dethroned, at a war starting against the small lord, Shiro's arms softly both moved around the boy's body hugging him closer to his protector, Quietly he wished that he could do more for the boy then just stand there holding him but there wasn't much he could do at that moment other then hug his small frame against his larger one.

Feeling the frustrated punch against his own chest almost made Shiro lose his temper to going after whoever made his king feel like this and ending their life, though he thought better and tried to control his temper instead just talking to the fire king instead of doing anything that he might regret, "Siya... I swear to you I will let no harm come to you unless I myself am no longer breathing" It wasn't the first time that the young male had made that promise and it most certainly wouldn't be the last as he had dedicated his life to the young king when he was given to oppotunity at his crowning.

Siya cursed continually, his voice paritally muffled against Shiro. At that point, he had lost all resonable thinking. Everything came crashing down on him then, "I've lost too much to be taken down like this! If I... Lose... Their deaths... his death will be for nothing. I can't... Shiro, help me..." Siya muttered the last part as he became light headed and dizzy. His hold on Shiro loosened and he felt an overwhelming darkness start to take over. To much work, too much stress, his body lost all strength and he collapsed.

The protector nodded slightly at the boy's outburst, his voice was high and loud as he pleaded and cried out about the people he had lost. Although the last part was muttered from the king's lips the guard still managed to hear it and respond, moving swiftly as the young male started to crumble "Siya" Shiro's voice was low as he lowered the smaller males body down to the ground as he held his little frame in his arms "Siya wake up" The guard pleaded as he gently shook the boy, he felt utterly useless at that point like he had failed the boy, he couldn't even stop the king from collapsing on him, "Siya" Shiro repeated and rested the younger male's body against himself "I'm right here, come back to me I'm going to help you I promise" not sure if he could carry through with the promise Shiro just sat there trying to make sense of the situation that was happening before his very eyes.

Someone is calling... the slight drop from consciousness had Siya feeling like he had been dreaming for hours. How long had he been asleep? Was it even sleeping? He couldn't tell. Hell, when was the last time he had actually had a full nights sleep?

It was laughable to think he'd gotten a full nights sleep. As the voice called his name again, his gaze slowly peeled open, languid and not quite there. He gave a moaning groan, shifting against whomever held him. Siya didn't want to wake up, he wanted nothing more than to sleep.

Hell, he couldn't even really move, so what was the point. "Sleep..." he moaned, sounding more like the child he looked like than a King.

The protector wasted no time in moving the king softly into his arms and pulling him against his chest as he lifted the boy from the ground and rose to his own feet. He swallowed softly as he held the young king in his arms as though he was a bride being carried over the thresh hold of a house, smiling lightly at his own thought he spoke to the boy with a gentle tone to keep him calm as he started to walk towards the boy's quarters rather then his study "I know my lord, just wait till we get to your room, stay awake with me til then, tell me a story while we walk" He offered.

To Shiro this wasn't for his entertainment, it was rather him making sure that the young king was alright to fall asleep again, to make sure there was no reason to worry if the younger male went into a soft slumber. His heart was thumping heavily against his own chest as he walked the halls of the large home that they both lived within towards his king's room.

The question, normally strange to Siya, right then it prompted words that he didn't think he would ever utter to anyone, "Reimrand was nothing but a wasteland. We went because Valrien needed us," he wasn't sure if he was making sense, but at that moment he really didn't care because his thoughts were elsewhere, "His brother tried to kill us many times. He almost succeeded quite a few times."

Tears started again, "Renard was everything to me. Beautiful, strong, dedicated. Too dedicated. He put my life ahead of his. And it cost him. Cost us both. He died in Reimrand. Valrien's brother succeeded in what he was trying to do. Renard died... Killed in front of me..." Siya said, his fingers reaching and gripping tightly onto Shiro, "Don't you dare do the same thing," Siya ordered, his voice taking on a different tone through his crying.

The young protector was quiet as the young king told the first part of his story, it didn't really make much sense to the protector but he listened anyway, he was just glad that the king was able to remember and say the story. As the guard carried the boy past each doorway the story got deeper in meaning and Shiro found himself paying full attention to each word that dropped from the other's lips. Not too long after the boy had started his story did they reach the main hall, Shiro knew the home like the back of his hand and found himself taking the longer route in order to hear more of the king's words as if there was something further that he hadn't been told yet.

As the tears started to dampen the young king's cheeks the older male stopped in his tracks and looked down at the younger boy, they way he spoke about the man he had loved and probably still loves made the guard's stomach turn and twist, it wasn't the fact that the story made him feel sick but rather that the story made him upset. Shiro had known about the young king's lover that had been killed but he'd never heard the actual story and it made him feel as though he couldn't even help the young boy through that.

Feeling the other's hands gripping onto the older male he looked into the young male's crimson orbs that were filled with the tears that pained the protector to see. His king's voice cut through his thoughts of just hushing him til they got to the boy's room where the protector could hold the younger boy close as he tried to explain that everything was going to be ok but the tone in Siya's voice had gotten rid of those ideas and replaced them with new ones "I'm not going to leave you, not like that." he had said "Not in anyway" he added as an after thought "I swear" The older male's blue hues searched the boy's face for a sign that he'd heard him as he started walking again towards the room "Let's get you to bed" He whispered.

Siya clenched his eyes shut tightly. Pulling his lower lip into his mouth, he nodded his head as Shiro spoke to him, reassuring him. Shifting around in Shiro's grip, he snaked on arm up around the protector's neck and buried his face into the man's armor. All he wanted right then was to sleep. He hadn't wanted to let the deep emotions rise and take over, but it couldn't be helped. The stress was getting to him. There was too much of it and he didn't know if he could handle much more.

But he had to.

Otherwise, he would lose the throne. He would lose his protectors that he gained then. He would lose everything he'd worked so hard for. Taking a deep breath he forced his mind to go clear. Siya didn't want to think about anything anymore. He let the gentle sway of his body as Shiro walked down the hall slowly lull him to sleep. He was far too tired, far too upset to even fight the darkness. So, the young King let it sweep him away.

If he could... He'd probably sleep forever.

But he had things to do. He couldn't sleep yet. Not yet...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Siya Ukomo Character Portrait: Dream Cella Vetruss Character Portrait: Shiro Yukashima

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Dream was currently sitting upon a bench within the castle gardens. Her eyes gazed at the blooming fire trees with their brilliant shade orange and red hues swaying gently against the sky light backdrop. It was reflected in her ombre orbs with a distant look reminiscent of forlorn. This was probably due to what had happened yesterday. It was indeed presumptuous of her to approach and to speak to her Lord like that. He must be very offended of it and that matter was certainly not to be taken lightly. The Fire King even hinted that in a subtle way towards her in not talking about it. That is why she really does not know how to present herself at this moment. Normally, she would have been by the side of her King at the first thing in the morning.

But... he might not want to see her...

She would not find that odd. It was only right to do so. Her fellow protector Shiro Yukashima should be by the King's side now. It should be fine even without her presence near the Lord. Her appearance might stir unwanted emotions and memories. She did not want that. Did she not vow to protect the Fire King? It was not to cause any kind of pain. She was really a disappointment. No wonder what she does, being alone is a fate given to her. Somehow, she has gotten used to that aspect of her life. There was nothing left to feel about it. Her eyes directed slowly to her hands curled on her lap and slowly melodious words spilled from her lips.

"In the span of time we live out our lives
Calmness sweeps us off our feet
In the end, we're left with memories kept
Locked away, as they spiral down and fade away from thee

As for me, I'll sing the song of now
For that's all that I can do
Though my memories escape me
They're a part of my heart, just as I have thought of you

Her eyes were closed as various memories played within her mind. There were no sense of time in them as they displayed the chronicles of her life. Something which she had accepted as part of her and allowed to be integrated into her very essence. She remembered being asked by many if she had ever been concerned about her past or had been haunted by it. The answer to that was a simple no. It was not arrogance or the aim to fool. She was truly not encased by her past. Instead, she allowed it to live on through her with every chance she receives. It was because she is not strong like everyone else believes. She was awfully weak and could not bear her own worries. So weak, she had forgotten what she had felt back then.

That was the pristine truth about herself and she would not lie about that. It is why she did not wish the same fate for the Fire King. He was capable of more strength than he is able to show now. Hopefully someday, he will be able to realize that even if she is not the one to do so. For that, she will continue to stay with him and will always pray for the time he will be able to finally smile truly. That is one of the reasons she had volunteered herself to be a protector. She felt the urge to watch over him until he is able to fully shine and blaze through this world. It is because she truly believed he will be a wonderful King despite what others may say.

al-a-re la-ye
al-a-re la-yo
al-a-re la-ya-a
al-a-re ya

al-a-re la-ye
al-a-re la-yo
al-a-re la-ya-a
al-a-re ya

Unaware of her surroundings, she had attracted audiences of various kinds. Birds flying above had taken their time to settle on the near branches. Butterflies fluttering about the flowers stilled. Trees seemingly moved to her harmony. Flowers bloomed brilliantly as if soaking her voice with fervor. Wind cradled her form with gentleness and care. The gardens appeared to have gained an aura of ephemeral beauty one that resembles of dreams filled with happiness. It was what she is really able to do when she sings bringing the sense of wishes and precious memories into the threshold of reality even for a moment, to be able to reconnect with them freely.

In the span of time we live out our lives
Calmness sweeps us off our feet
In the end, we're left with memories kept
Locked away, as they spiral down and fade away from thee

As for me, I'll sing the song of now
For that's all that I can do
Though my memories escape me
They're a part of my heart, just as I have thought of you

Just like so, her voice had been carried by the breeze into the various parts of the castle, much like a soothing whisper. She was oblivious to the calming atmosphere it had cast over the entire area. It was rather helpful especially with what had happened inside the throne room without her knowledge. Her song traveled ear to ear as some of the castle servants and guards would look at a far-away scenery. They knew well who was responsible for such dreamlike melody. It gave them a feeling of peace which would have even been heard even by those leaving the castle for their stated purpose, like a lover's murmur.

al-a-re la-ye
al-a-re la-yo
al-a-re la-ya-a
al-a-re ya

al-a-re la-ye
al-a-re la-yo
al-a-re la-ya-a
al-a-re ya..."

Then, the song finally ended as she opened her eyes again. The fire trees seemed to radiate and even brighter hue than real flames itself. It was not frightening, she felt complete warmth from it as a small yet gentle smile decorated her face. It was that point a young male servant came upon her. Actually, the boy was hesitant to approach because he has this feeling that if he did she would disappear like smoke. But, he also wanted to know she was real as anyone can be. "Lady Dream...?" Hearing her name, she looked towards the young boy who appeared to be flustered about something. "Yes? Is there something the matter?" The boy was now a nervous wreck, he actually called out to her without a clear purpose. Stupidity knows no bounds, it seems.

Ah, that is right!

"I have come to inform you that His Highness had visitors earlier from the messengers of Nobles of Fire. Prince Valrien had also already left for the Air Kingdom. Uhm, that is all." The boy quickly bowed and dismissed himself without waiting for Dream's response. He was far too embarrassed already and did not want to stay any longer for he might die. On the other hand, Dream blinked her eyes a couple of time because of the oddness of what occurred. Not because of the boy's attitude but of what she had heard. The King had planned to go to Air Kingdom as well. Then, there was these messengers of Nobles of Fire. What did they intend to deliver to the King? Somehow, she felt great worry and forgot her shame of what happened yesterday. She wanted to see the King and so she did as she left the gardens.

Unknown to her, a pair of eyes was watching her from a distance. They were filled with blooming interest and something meaningful. And like a passing wind, the owner of those eyes vanished without a trace.

On the other hand, she had finally found what she had been looking for as she walked through the hallways of the castle. Actually, she was about to head for the study where the King had been spending most of his days in. It was then she saw her fellow protector and the King together. That was good. At that point, she was hesitant to show herself. The King appeared to be at ease in Mr. Shiro's arms.

There was no need for her and so... she bowed her head in acknowledgement of their presence whether she was noticed or not and then turned her back at them. She would make her way to leave. This was for the better, perhaps.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amon Ad-Raza Character Portrait: Siya Ukomo Character Portrait: Kanan Thiyer Character Portrait: Valrien Yustri Character Portrait: Renardine 'Minnow' Lunvari Character Portrait: Dream Cella Vetruss Character Portrait: Lutchka Zatari Character Portrait: Shiro Yukashima Character Portrait: Harlan Pendrake

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#, as written by Siryn
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He'd fallen asleep in Shiro's arms. If he'd slept with the protector nearby or even next to him the whole time, Siya didn't remember. All he could recall was an upsetting feeling, his stomach twisting into a thousand knots and finally being consumed by darkness after recounting horrible events.

Slowly shifting around on the large bed he'd be put in, he curled his arms up under the cool pillows and closed his eyes again. He relished the touch of the sheets against his body, the cold feel of the pillow cases on his hands and arms, the way it felt with his head pillowed in the fluff. Siya took a deep breath. He felt better. Perhaps even... Lighter? Maybe it was because he'd finally slept for the first time in ages. And not just a few hours. The entire night. Maybe longer.

What time was it?

Siya pulled himself up and forced his weary body that begged to remain in bed, out. Moving to the curtains that had been drawn, he pulled them back and quickly raised a hand to block out the blaring heat of the sunlight that pelted down on his eyes. Letting the drapes fall back, he turned and took a deep breath. Afternoon... How long did I sleep!? he nibbled on his lower lip as he felt a mini panic attack shoot through his chest.

He'd been asleep for that long?! Why did no one wake him? Maybe Shiro kept him asleep. Maybe he needed it. The young Fire King wasn't about to admit that he needed the rest though. So, he set about changing quickly and addressing his elder protector on the matter of allowing him to sleep for so long. Siya sighed as he moved about the room, making plenty of noise as he did so. Cursing slightly to himself on how his protectors hadn't woken him that morning.

At the same time, he felt a bit of relief though. Happiness seemed to pick at his chest. The two protectors that he'd gained... They were sweet to him. Kind. Patient. Most of all... They were so patient. Siya supposed he couldn't have asked for more. With a soft sigh, he hurried to finish dressing so that he could get back to what was important.

Finding out who the hell was after his throne.

~~~

Four Days Later

Siya stood at the head of a huge table, his gaze narrowed in one of his rare shows of anger. His lower lip was currently being bitten by his teeth as he glowered at the map strewn out across the table. The general of his army was standing in the room with him, a sour look on his face.

"Sire... The loyalists city is under seige. At this rate... We'll lose the only thing that stands between us and the Nobles of Fire."

Nobles of Fire... Siya's thoughts went dark. For the past four days, that name had been the bain of his existence. They had made good on their word. Attacking many of the loyalist cities and villages. The people who stood with Siya were suffering. Yet, there he was, standing in the safety of his castle while his people were dying.

Slamming his fist into the table, the little peices that were placed upon the map to indicate his villages and cities, his army and the enemies, went bouncing. Searing pain lanced through his fingers, but he brushed it off, ignoring it entirely as he stared at the map. Taking several deep breaths, Siya managed to calm himself if only slightly.

"Fine," he uttered in a partial growl of rage, "They want a fight with me. They can have it," he snarled.

"My lord," the general sighed a bit before nodding his head. Siya's mind wasn't going to be changed. He wasn't giving up the throne, but he wasn't going to let his people continue to suffer either.

Shoving off the table he'd been leaning on, Siya looked up to his general and both protectors, "Get ready. We're leaving within the hour," he snapped the order and turned to leave to prepare himself for a very long and grueling fight.

~~~

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Valrien pulled the reigns of the horse that he'd been riding hard. The beast panted heavily as he halted the creatures mad dash across the open plains. The castle that stood before him was always such a magnificent sight. Honestly, Valrien would have much prefered that style to the one that he currently resided in in Reimrand.

As the horse beneath him cantered from side to side, Valrien leaned forward and rubbed at the beasts neck, patting it slightly as he took a breath, "Sorry, Amon," he muttered. It was in regards to his rather quick appearance as well as forgoing sending a note ahead of him like usual.

"I'm sure Kanan already know's we're here anyway, so what's the point," he continued with a sigh and spurred the very tired horse forward to finish the trip through the gates. Four days... God I hope nothing has happened in four days... Valrien though as he hurried through the gates, up the gravel and dismounted at the base of the steps that led up to the double doors of the huge palace.

As predicted, the doors opened and a certain one eyed protector came out, a rather concerned look on his face, "My Lord..."

"Kanan, where is Amon? Quickly, it's urgent," the Prince said as he met the man halfway down the steps.

The protector gave him one look, a solemn look, then nodded and turned on his heel to head back into the palace, "This way, my Lord."

Harlan slowed his horse down when Valrien had, keeping his balance up on the creature as it stirred beneath him. He too looked out to the castle ahead of them, then over to his friend. "Nice view, ain't it?" he cracked before Valrien was already spurring his horse forwards. They were apparently not going to wait for the guards or anything, as the two of them rode up to the steps of the palace and were already hopping off.

Harlan looked up as the doors swung open, the one-eyed protector, Kanan, of the Air King was right there looknig towards the two of them. In only a few words though, all three were heading into the castle and making their ways through the hallways.

Amon was for once not sitting within his training room, as much as he would rather be. Instead, he once more was finding himself sitting within the council room, speaking to the congregation. the goodnews for Amon was that it had nothing to do with closing off Reimrand; the bad news was that it instead had to deal with the number of bandit attacks that had been occuring in the villages near the borders, far away from the capital of the Air Kingdom.

"Then it is settled, we can deploy more soldiers to the accosted villages, and hopefully fend off these roving bands of brigands." Amon said, sitting forwards in his seat as he looked up at the others. For once, they were actually finding themselves conversing in a bit of a civil manner, as they all were for dealing with whatever was stirring up the trouble.

Ilder bowed his head to the Air King, having been the one speaking the most. He then sat back down in his seat. "Sound amenable, your majesty. We shall send the notice to the generals as soon as we can. Is there...anything else you wish to discuss?" he asked, a bit hesitant as he knew how touchy the subject he wanted to mention was to the Air King.

His chance was foiled though as Amon stood up from his seat. "That will be all for today, councilers. Good day to you." with that, he bowed his head to them and quickly made his way out of the council room before things could get ugly again. Least this time he was leaving in a...sorta better mood than before. Still though, this bandit issue was the exact thing he hated most, and he'd lost plenty to people such as them.

Sighing and rubbing his face, he simply had his staff resting on his shoulder as decided to make his way towards his favorite place in the palace. Maybe he could get Lutchka and they could have a sparring match. That was always a sure-fire way to cheer himself up.

"Sire," Kanan called out for his king as he saw the man moving down the hall from them. Quickening his pace, Kanan attempted to catch up. Behind him the prince followed at the same pace. "Sire, Lord Valrien is here," he called though he probably didn't have to since the prince was right behind him.

"Amon, I need to speak with you immediately," Valrien said, speaking over Kanan as he reached Amon's side, "It is Siya. Someone is planning to try to usurp him."

Amon glanced back over his shoulder at the sound of Kanan calling out to him, a response on his lips before he turned to notice Valrien and Harlan following the protector. Amon raised an eyebrow, smiling as he turned to adress them. "Valrien! It's good to see you here, how are th-"

Then he was interrupted by Valrien, Amon's smile vanishing all together as a look of confusion replaced it. He let the staff slide down his arm and to the floor as he turned completely to face them. "Wait, wait. Usurp him?! Why? What for?" Amon looked down to the ground, a scowl forming on his face. He then looked back at Valrien. "Because of this whole, Reimrand thing?! Shit...I knew things were rocky but...but not that bad."

"I don't know the reasons. Siya told them he was not going to give up the throne. They're going to take it by force. And the group I saw deliver the message..." Valrien shook his head slightly, his teeth grinding again, "They are not to be taken lightly. Who ever they are, they are going to be strong and Siya is not in the right state of mind to handle something like this on his own."

Valrien looked over to Harlan, hoping the man would help at least a little in the decision process, though he was fairly sure that Amon would agree. After all, it was Amon he was speaking to. Next to the King, Kanan shifted uncomfortably, his pale blue eye trained first on Valrien then onto his King.

"Sire..." was the only word uttered from his lips. It wasn't really a full question. More like prompting Amon to make a decision and quickly.

"That was four days ago, Amon. I couldn't get here any faster. Who knows what's happening there by now. And what about when we get there! It is four days back!"

"Yeah, Valrien ain't joking here," Harlan began, glancing to the prince then back to Amon, "They were some fierce looking customers. A woman covered in more steel than most blacksmiths have, two fellas covered head-to-toe in black, since apparently that's fashionable..." he trailed off for a moment before getting back to the point. "And one of those guys was a fucking giant!! Hell, I'm certain most of us here would barely come up to the guy's chest. He'd break Siya in half with just his hands if he got a hold of the him."

Amon looked between Harlan, Varien, and even to Kanan when the protector spoke up. He then glanced to the ground, rubbing the back of his head before he cast a glance down in the direction of the council room. "Alright then. I can go, ok?" he then turned to look at Valrien. "The thing is, there is no way I could hope to bring my own soldiers though to help. Least not an army." he let his hand drop from his head.

Valrien stood silent for a while as he watched Amon. His chest was already tight from the apprehension, but it grew tighter as Amon said he couldn't bring his own soldiers to help. Still, it was better than nothing at all he supposed. Nodding his head, he swallowed to clear his dried throat, "That's fine, Amon. Siya has his own soldiers to help him. We'll make do with what we can. We should really hurry. I can only hope he hasn't done anything stupid yet."

Kanan nodded at Amon's decision and backed away a few steps, "Sire, I'll retrieve Minnow and Lutchka." the young Protector announced and without waiting, he turned and left them in the hall to do as he'd said.

"I want you to also get the attention of the head of the royal guard. I can at least bring some troops to help..." Amon called out after Kanan. He then sighed and looked back to Valrien.

Valrien turned a curious look on Amon, "Lutchka is here?"

Amon nodded his head to Valrien's question. "Yeah, she arrived a few days ago and has been staying here for a bit. Look I'll have to talk with you about this in a moment. I need to....inform the council and get my own things around. Excuse me." he said before quickly turning and heading down the hallway. "I'll meet you out front the main doors!!" he shouted back as he made his way down the hallway.

Harlan watched the king leave before looking at Valrien. He didn't say anything for a few moments, before finally speaking. "You know exactly what I'm going to tell you to do, buddy. So I'll refrain from that and just tell you, it'll be so awesome when you finally do it...and by it I mean her. Seriously."

Valrien nodded to Amon as he went down the hall to speak to his council. As he turned to go wait for the King as he'd been told to outside the front doors, Harlan's words stopped him cold in his tracks. A bit of an annoyed twitch cut through his demeanor as he ground his teeth yet again.

With a growl of frustration he whirled around and lashed out at the man "Harlan! Will you shut up about that! Damn it this is not the time!" once he finished his tirade, he turned on his heel and stormed out to the front doors leaving Harlan to recover and catch up when he wanted. God, sometimes he just really wanted to punch the man's face in.

Lutchka was busily training outside in one of the outer courtyards to the south of the castle when Kanan showed up. The one-eyed protector was always so quiet that when he spoke up, he startled her a bit. At least enough to make her miss her next hand position on top of the ivy-clad walls. She staggered slightly and a light stab of pain made itself known in her wrist. Nothing too serious, but it forced her to immediately shift her weight and return to her feet with a little thud. ”God, Kanan-“ Lutchka began, but it seemed he was in a hurry. And for good reason. They would be needing to head off to the Fire Kingdom quickly. Lord Siya’s position as king was being threatened, and Valrien was apparently here as well.

Lutchka tilted her head at that, a wry little grin unable to resist settling on her lips, though she immediately reprimanded herself. They needed to move as quickly as possible- Kanan’s tone had projected as much. The ex-protector crouched before hopping off of the courtyard wall, landing on the ground with a light thump. However, with the slight jarring, another little spark of pain returned at her wrist. She hissed quietly, shaking it out just a bit.

However, she moved as she did so, and grabbed the small tunic she had asked one of the servants to leave for her, and pulled it over her upper training garb. She then made a quickly paced run back to the castle.
--
”Not the time for what?” The fire user asked curiously, though her words were slightly muffled. She was using her teeth to gently remove her training gloves while her left hand rubbed at her right wrist. She had only caught the very last of what Chromi had yelled at Harlan, and that was from another room. Lutchka looked noticeably disheveled, with one sleeve askew on one shoulder and her shorts a bit wrinkled- she had had no time to fix them and furthermore didn’t even really notice them.

She grinned wryly at Harlan despite the current situation, it was always a pleasure seeing him as well. He was a wonderful tavern companion and drinking buddy, and he was fool enough to continue to try to bet against her during games, no matter how often the outcome was never in his favor.

Minnow was expectedly in his greenhouse, tending to a particularly poor plant- someone must not have been paying attention when they had walked through to enjoy the greenery, and had stepped on it. It was also slightly withered and just overall a really sad sight to see. It pained Minnow’s heart to see one of his own flora treated so poorly. Or so he liked to be dramatic about it when he could for his own amusement. However, when Kanan appeared from behind a few large trees, Minnow stopped what he was doing with a questioning look on his face.

It was then that Kanan informed him of what was happening, and he immediately shoved the soil back around the plant’s stem- he would have to worry about it another time. In fact, he had done pretty much all he needed to. Standing up from his kneeling position, he dusted off his hands and knees before following after Kanan back to the castle.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Siya Ukomo Character Portrait: Dream Cella Vetruss Character Portrait: Shiro Yukashima

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Turron’s walls were active with movement, its garrison moving around like ants riled from their ant hill. Troops moved back and forth as they moved equipment about, mages moved around as well, archers remained on watch as they stared out at the enemy who was camped less than a mile away from the stone fortifications. From both sides, large rocks flew towards one another as trebuchets fired their payloads at one another. Large stones slammed into the walls, intending to break their way through and make a path for the besiegers when they finally intended to make their assault; of course that was assuming they even intended to.

The attack on Turron had come so suddenly, and with little warning that they had no time to pull food and supplies into the city’s walls, and so now they had little to go on. It was clear the enemy was content to just sit back and starve out the defenders. That or they really didn’t have the necessary forces to risk in a siege.

No mages had stepped forwards yet from the enemy lines to try and force the walls down, because there was little chance of them succeeding before they would be cut down by defensive fire from those atop the walls. The earth mages atop the walls though were busy and active as they did what they could to patch up the holes that were made from the enemy siege weapon fire. They had to be sparing in their magic use though, as their spare metal was in short supply as it was also not a resource they had thought they’d need to stockpile. They couldn’t very well sacrifice their armor and weapons either, as it would be needed if the enemy ever attempted to storm the walls.

Duke Forson moved along the walls, in full armor and gear as he strode along to observe the preparations that were being made. Some soldiers fluttered about as they got catapults and ballistae ready, while some soldiers lounged about, watching the enemy camps in the distance and waiting for any possible movements. The Duke was happy because he hadn’t yet to see any attempt to tunnel beneath the walls from the enemy, though he had his own sappers on standby to head off any possible attempts.

This damned attack had come from nowhere, as it seemed these “Nobles of Fire” had not seen it necessary to announce to anybody that they were on the warpath. Two days ago the Duke had been handling some tax issues that had been brought to his attention, some merchant having been dodging them or what not. Then he got a notice that there was, not just a messenger in his manor, but there was also an entire army marching its way towards his city. He had sealed the gate before the enemy had arrived, but he found out from the messenger that Forson had the choice to both surrender and join the Nobles of Fire, or to be removed and have his city taken. Of course he had no idea what was going on, and when he recognized some of the heraldry that was on the banners of the Nobles’ army, it dawned on him that this wasn’t some group of foreigners storming in. As he learned, they were a group attempting to overthrow his majesty, Fire King Siya Ukomo, and Forson’s city happened to be along the way. Forson had refused to turn against the Fire King, and here he sat now with the Nobles of Fire knocking on his doorstep with siege weapons.

Forson sighed as he leaned against the battlements, looking out towards the enemy. He just hoped that the scouts he had sent out to warn and ask for help had made it to somebody. At this point, reinforcements were is only hope to getting out of this mess. He and his commanders had discussed possibly sallying forth and meeting the enemy out in the field, possibly catch them off guard with a sudden frontal assault. However, the idea was soon scrapped as they could see that the enemy was had already positioned troops in a way that if any sally was made from the front gate, the defenders would be surrounded and torn apart; of course that’d be after they were shot to pieces by catapult and archer fire. Even climbing down from the walls was not an option as the enemy had their own scouts moving all around the walls and Forson’s men would be seen quickly and the enemy would easily move their troops to intercept.

Even trying to distract the enemy with false movements wouldn't do much good, as Forson did not have enough troops to spare to make the feint convincing and attempt an actual assault. Especially not with the eyes the enemy had roaming about. He shook his head before he began moving once more, nodding to soldiers that saluted him as he walked by, giving a simple greeting to those who spoke to him. He just hoped he could figure out a way to save most of these soldiers, or at the very least a miracle could come down and save him and these people.
~~~
“Sir, sir we have just received news that the Fire King is marching here at the head of an army. They will be here by tomorrow morning.” The scout said as he ran up to the two men that sat atop their horses. Both had been observing the walls of the city of Turron, however with the scout running up to deliver the news it drew both of their attention away from them.

Duke Lukair was the first to speak up, a scowl crossing his features. “Is he now? So much for him hiding within his castle as you claimed, Aníbal.” The Noble said angrily as he turned his head to look at the other man. The man had his pipe in his mouth, his armor still polished to a beautiful shine. He turned his eyes to look at Lukair, who was dressed in similar armor, a somewhat ornate set of plate armor over chainmail. It was not as fanciful as the man who had the pipe in his mouth, but it still showed himself to be a noble.

The man patted his horse’s neck when it stirred some, the large warhorse stamping its front hoof into the dirt beneath it. He then let out a puff of smoke from the side of his mouth as he turned and looked to Lukair. “Now, señor Lukair, I never claimed he wouldn’t move. Only that it was improbable. This is hardly a crippling move to us by the young man.” He pulled on the reigns of his horse, the animal letting out a powerful snort as it turned and began walking. “Continue your work here, señor. I will take some soldados and meet the king not far from here. I will inform you if anything changes.” he then stopped the animal, turning to look at the Duke, “And I told you, you need to trust me. I will see to it that you emerge from this war victorious.”

~~~
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The next morning

Siya rode atop the large warhorse that he’d probably only mounted a handful of times. The war horse carried him easily enough. The large animal had probably only been mounted a few times since Siya had taken the throne. Like the throne, Siya felt the animal was far too large for him. However, at the head of his army, he felt more like a King then ever before. Not to mention his anger that was driving his actions.

It had taken him approximately two days to reach the edges of the city limits, a ridge line was where he set up camp. It gave him the ability to see the city walls, as well as the army that surrounded it.

Siya looked down upon the fields with a deep scowl on his lips. Right then he wanted nothing more than to burn every last man standing down there laying siege to his city. It took everything he had not to unleash his fire down on them. Instead, he turned his horse and utter a growling order to his General and Protectors, “Prepare to take them by surprise. We will make a straight shot to the city gates. From there, we will cut down any who get close to those walls. We have to push back the siege, and destroy those weapons.”

As soon as he had the response he was waiting for, he directed his horse to the other side of the ridge and waited for the rest of his men to be ready for the attack. They would come out from behind the hill, charge the enemy and head directly toward the gates. Siya could only hope that the Lord of the city would be ready to assist them in any way possible.

~~~
Aníbal sat atop his horse, leaned forwards some to get a good look out ahead of him. He did not have his pipe in his mouth this time around, and on both sides of him were two women, mounted atop their own warhorses. One of the individuals was the woman he had sent to deliver the rebel’s message. The heavily armored woman had her helmet resting over the horn of the saddle and resting on the pommel.

On the other side of Aníbal sat another woman, her uncovered face riddled with various scars. Her armor consisted of a mixture between metal and leather, with chainmail integrated into the leather in most places except over the joints, though the entire torso was a single chainmail shirt. Her forearms and hands however were completely covered by metal bracers and gauntlets, with the fingertips ending in rounded points. Her shins and feet were covered in similar armor, with the front of the foot ending in a rounded point as well. The plates over her shins were shaped into wedges that faced outwards, contrary to usual greave designs. Her brown hair was cut very short, clearly cut in a way to keep it out of the way.

She glanced at the man next to her before back out towards the army that was camped not far away. The scouts had been keeping tabs on their movement and their size, and it was certainly a respectful force that the Fire King had brought with him. “Qué tienes en mente, hermano?” she asked, drumming her fingers on the front of the saddle as she watched out.

Aníbal sat there quietly for a moment, watching what they could see of the Fire King’s army at the moment. Then a smile came over him as he chuckled, sitting up in his saddle before glancing to her. “Oh, just how upset the Duke is going to be with me.” he said, choosing to stick to the Iverian tongue for now. He looked to the woman before to the more heavily armored one sitting next to him, the smile fading off of his face. “Natalia, Liliana, you two are going to take the read guard and cover our withdrawal. Hold them off and give us time to move things out.”

The short haired woman’s scarred face scrunched into a scowl, “Por qué estamos retrocediendo?”

Aníbal looked at her, “Because I ordered it, now Erlantz and Sendoa will be within the rear guard covering the city. Those in the city will sally forth the moment they see us withdrawing and they see the King’s forces moving forwards.” He pulled on the reins of his horse, turning it around as it walked off towards the innards of the camp. Many of the soldiers already had most of their equipment and things packed up and ready to move, including the trebuchets and catapults. Because they had no intention of storming the walls, they had not begun construction of any towers or rams so fortunately there would be no wasted material there. “Prep yourselves and get your soldados into position.”

The scarred woman watched him move away on his horse, pursing her lips in irritation before she looked back out ahead. The heavily armored woman looked over and chuckled softly, pulling on the reigns of her horse to direct it out to the side. “Come on Natalia, the goods news is we shall still see some combat ourselves. And you know full well brother is just making sure we’ll be set to truly engage them.”

Natalia just scoffed at the remark, grumbling to herself as she followed after Liliana, “Todavía es irritante...” she said, both women spurring their horses into a run to get themselves to where they needed to be quickly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Siya Ukomo Character Portrait: Dream Cella Vetruss Character Portrait: Shiro Yukashima

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It had not been ignored by Dream the anger seeping out from the Fire King. She had stood by his side ever since, regaining her sense of duty and care. His fires were raging and tumultuous, filled with harsh heat. The source of such flames were the group known now as 'Nobles of Fire'. There intentions had been revealed through the invasion of many cities loyal to the crown, piling up deaths whether unnecessary or not. To a gentle yet fiery soul, it would be enough to stoke an inferno. They had declared the abdication of the Lord and if not done willingly, it shall be consummated by force. It was a clear declaration of insurrection to the current one who holds the throne of the Fire Nation.

As who she is, it is something she does not blame towards anyone or bear ill will. She is incapable of it and accepts the current situation as it is. People do things at their own discretion and she was in no position to ostracize them. This however does not mean she would not do what was asked of her especially when the emotions of her King is put into turbulent matters. She of course also have people and things which she deemed precious enough to incite certain degree of feelings. It is of course her notion to remove anything that irks her King. There is no question about that in any sense of the word. Therefore, the Lord had finally made his mind to advance on the front lines, himself. Of course, she shall accompany him to wherever it might be.

"As you wish." Dream said in complete acceptance of the order issued for them to march. Her eyes glanced at her fellow protector, Shiro Yukashima. "Mr. Yukashima, I will be depending on you once again." It was a fact that she is not a physical fighter. Adding to that, her magick would require a length time to initiate. It is why they would rather make a pair in terms of combat. They are able to harmonize their different styles into a cohesive one. But not only that, if she lacks in her duties of protecting the Fire King. She would rely on him to fill that gap. She then humbly bowed her head towards him and then went on her way to begin her preparations. It would be a long journey and she would need ample supplies to fuel her combat abilities.

When the arrangements are done, she met the others at front where she has her own personal steed as well. It was not different or unfamiliar for her. She had been given one and hers was a beautiful, slender-built pinto mare, a reddish brown coat with white socks and stockings, a cream mane and tail with light brown hooves. Approaching the horse, it recognized her instantly. It released itself from the hold of its keeper and trotted towards her. Those blue eyes gazed at her as she placed both of her hands at the side of its face. "I am sorry that we are unable to ride together for some time, Tamina." As if understanding her, Tamina nuzzled its nose to the side of her face. This made her smile which had been a rare sight nowadays.

Her hands reached for her mane where she noticed the presence of a lone eagle feather. It was something she had pinned on Tamina when the mare had been a gift to her. "You still have it." Tamina's keeper has finally approached her and bowed his head in respect. "Good day, Lady Dream. She would not allow it to be removed from her mane." Dream acknowledges the man with a nod. "Good day as well. Is that so?" Her eyes returned back to Tamina as she continued stroking its face with such affection. "I am glad you liked it. I am sorry that we will ride in such a situation." Her voice dropped a degree denoting her dislike for having Tamina marched headlong into a possible battle. But, this is how it is for her as a protector and for Tamina who is a protector's steed. In response, it simply responded with a pleasant bray, as if saying that it was fine. She nodded in gratitude and gazed at her steed's keeper. "Thank you for taking care of Tamina." The man smiled warmly at her. "It has been my honor and pleasure."

The Fire King finally arrived and so. Dream mounted Tamina with the help of its caretaker as she went to the side of her Lord. It was time for them to start their journey and she will do her best to be a worthy protector for her Lord.

Soon enough, they had reached their destination. They even had set up camp where they could see the city walls and the army threatening to tear it down. More than that, she could see the rage being kept inside her King. It was hold back with great restraints. These events were weighing heavily on the King which could only be added to the sadness still haunting inside him. She must erase those who cause turbulence to her Lord's heart and with her abilities she will drown them in the coldness of the water she possessed. The growling order given by the Fire King which held his fiery resolve and anger to those who desired for him to give up the throne. She echoed her affirmation of that order as she immediately went to the side of her Lord.

"Ma-- Siya." Dream called out to the King. She did not want him to plunge into this battle with just his rage alone. It would make him reckless and aggressive which could be taken advantage by those who want his reign to end. "I would not ask you to stave your actions towards those who irked you. But, do not make their desires come true so easily." Her hand reached slowly for his in an effort to calm him even just a bit. "You are not alone. Me and Mr. Yukashima will be by your side. We will be your sword and shield. Depend on us." Lightly patting his hand, she let it go and looked forward. Her ombre-colored eyes held a still seriousness much like a river so quiet, one would wonder what lies beneath its murky depths. There was subtle glow covering her skin. It seemed she is preparing her spells to be unleashed and she will do so once the order to commence attack is stated.

They will soon face the Mermaid on the battlefield and this one will bring the fury of the water with her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Siya Ukomo

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#, as written by Siryn
{Collaboration done with Eddy. Thanks Eddy!}
Siya led the charge, having only listened a little to what his protector had to tell him. She was worried about him, that much he knew. Yet, he couldn’t help the anger. The twist of burning rage in his gut as he replayed the words he’d read from the decree days ago. Siya couldn’t help the anger at all. It was an insult to him and to those that he’d loved who lost their lives. The young Fire King wasn’t going to tolerate it at all and he was going to fight with a ferocity that could only be labeled as the might of a King.

If they did not believe him to be a King. Then he was going to do his damndest to make them change their mind. Siya would prove to them in every way possible that he was a King and he intended to remain the King for many years to come. Nothing was going to stop him. Nothing. Not even the large army that stood between him and the walls of the city that he was going to protect. Even if that army looked to be a slight bit larger than his own. He wasn’t stopping.

Siya spurred the horse faster, charging out further ahead of his ranks. Perhaps a rather bold -and maybe stupid- move. His body burned with the power of his fire. Several things of metal on his person sacrificed into blue sparkles of energy as he prepared to unleash his power upon them. As the flames licked across his shoulders, down his arms and into balls of burning orange and red along his hands, the Fire King stood up in the saddle. If it weren’t for the already very large war horse he was atop, he might have looked far less intimidating with his small size. As it was, Siya wasn’t entirely sure how intimidating he was, but he planned to change that very quickly.

The moment he was close enough, the first bout of fire lashed out at whomever turned to face him. He didn’t aim for any one particular, just aiming for where he would do the most damage. As the small explosions erupted around him, he worked those fires into a frenzy, trying to hurry them along into large burning blazes that would destroy the siege weapons, decimate the ranks and hopefully have them fleeing from the battle entirely.

With that plan in mind, Siya weaved his fire and let it launch from his hands out into the deepest depths of the enemy ranks, going as far as he could reach with his power from where he was on his steed. He spurred the horse further into the mass, trying to open a path to the wall before him. The King’s fire spread from his arms and shoulders to encompass most of his body almost as a shield. The horse beneath him flinched slightly at the display, the heat most likely being the cause of the creatures discomfort, but when it did not burn it, the war horse settled, if only slightly.

The Fire King’s charge had not gone unnoticed as the enemy forces quickly began to line themselves into formations to meet the approaching soldiers. Officers could be heard shouting in the back lines as the front rank filled with spearmen who quickly leveled their weapons forwards to impale the king’s horsemen as they came forwards.

Attacks of various elements could be seen being exchanged between the two lines before they collided, both attempting to disrupt the other’s formations and momentum. It did not stop the Fire King’s troops though as their line slammed into the formation the force of the nobles had taken. The air rang with the sound of metal hitting into metal as horsemen collided with the spearmen, and soon it was followed by screams of both anger and pain. The horses joined the cacophony as they to were harmed by the wall of spears or trampled people beneath their hooves.

The forces of the nobles quickly began to reform their lines to push back the Fire King and his troops, whose charge had certainly shoved back much of the nobles; regardless of the disruption, the forces of the nobles held their ground as they began to fight back against the now imbedded soldiers of the Fire King who were engaging them fiercely.

Elemental attacks did not stop being thrown between the two lines, as mages from both sides continued to bombard their opposites in hopes of forcing a retreat, while other mages quickly moved about to heal those they could; in the case of the nobles, some of their mages were quickly working to try and extinguish any flames that threatened their back lines as well as any remaining equipment.

~~~

Atop the walls of Turron, Duke Forson watched as the reinforcements he had been praying for arrive and charge forwards to meet the enemy. The city itself was bustling as soldiers were quickly moving and preparing to sally forth from the city so that they could support their allies out in the field and drive back the enemy entirely.

He had been somewhat confused a day before when he had noticed the enemy’s trebuchets and catapults had slowed their rate of fire, and by morning he could see that much of the enemy was already beginning to pull back from the walls. Of course, the reinforcements he could see was the answer to that, as clearly the enemy did not want to fight from a siege camp and possibly have to contend with an enemy on two fronts.

Regardless, he was going to move from the city walls to assist his allies outside in the field, and hopefully they could attack fast enough that they just might overwhelm the enemy and hurt them good. At the very least, they could bloody up the enemy and make them pay for choosing to assault his city.

He looked to a sergeant that came running towards him, the Duke turning to fully face him. “Are we ready?” he asked the soldier.

With a nod, the soldier spoke, “Yes sir, waiting for you.” Forson nodded to him and quickly followed after the soldier to where the men were waiting. In only a minute or so, Forson had reached the area where the soldiers were gathering up, pulling himself up onto the saddle of his own warhorse before taking hold of a lance that was handed to him by a squire.

“Our enemy made the poor choice of trying to take our land, soldiers! Now is our chance to bloody them good between us and our fellow soldiers already out in that field!” He moved his horse along the line, shouting out to the men before him as they cheered back. As he made his way to the front, he looked up towards the gatehouse and gave the signal to open up the massive wooden doors. As they creaked, slowly beginning to slide open and grind any rocks beneath them, Forson turned to face his men again, taking a deep breath to shout his words out to them. “For our King Siya and for Turron!” He screamed before sliding his own helmet on, quickly spurring his horse on and rushing on out of the gates and towards the enemy waiting beyond.

Neither he nor his men were deterred by the enemy who had already taken up positions to meet the Duke’s forces as they emerged from the city; honestly it only drove him on more, as it meant he had even less distance to travel before he got to destroy the enemy who had dared to attack the people under his care.
~~~

The screams of the dying, the men in pain, the horses as they tumbled through the forces… It all swirled in Siya’s head. He could hardly keep up with the rush of events. With his men scattered all around him, his lines broken into sections just as the nobles were, he’d lost himself to the fight. It was all he could do because focusing on those screams was sure to send him in a kind of panic attack that would render him unable to fight. It had been bad enough he’d nearly broken down in front of his protectors the day he’d gotten the message.

He couldn’t afford that kind of stumble. That kind of mistake that would render him utterly useless on the battlefield as well as a liability. He didn’t need his men dying trying to save him. He’d lost too many like that before, Siya wasn’t ready to do it again. Then again… What he was doing right then… Weren’t they dying trying to save him anyway? Not in the sense of his life, but in the sense of keeping him as King? Saving him from the bastards who threatened to take it all away from him?

For a moment that thought crushed Siya’s throat and he felt sick on the top of his horse. Siya paused for a mere second in his fight, hand hovering out in front of him as his fires licked at his fingers. Grinding his teeth, he seemed to fight an urge to look around him. Once he got a hold of himself, he continued his assault with his fire. The only problem with his slight pause was that the enemy got closer to him. Hands caught the edge of his long black robe, the split hem that went up to his waist.

A hard drag had the King toppling from his war horse. The animal reared, legs kicking out and knocking over several men before it fell back onto all fours, killing one or two men underneath it’s heavy weight. Siya hit the ground with a thud that knocked the wind from his lungs. Coughing to regain the air lost, he winced as he lay there. Once he managed to get an eye open from all the dust that was kicked up around him, he realized he was surrounded by quite a few men. Anger filled him.

The fires burst around his body, more metal sacrificing and even some of the weaponry that was pointed at him lost their shape as he took them as energy. The fire that raged inside of him exploded out in a heat wave, igniting more of the dry grasses and any who were too close at that moment. The Fire King got back up onto his feet slowly, eyes searching for his horse. Unfortunately the animal had bolted after his display of power, running from the heat of the fire. Siya ground his teeth as he glanced around, fully aware that he was without a weapon, not that he could use one in the first place.

The only thing he had was his fire.

So he wielded it to it’s utmost.

With the Fire King in full fury, several soldiers of the nobles chose to stay clear, simply hoping to avoid being burnt to cinders by the enraged king. Despite his size, he could still produce quite the bonfire. Instead many of the soldiers chose to continue engaging the soldiers of the king.

A couple soldiers however chose to brave the fires, charging forwards with their shields up to protect them from any blasts of fire as they moved forwards to engage him. They did not move to try and surround the young man, as the cluster of the fighting did not give them much room to maneuver, so they were left to rely on their shields to deflect some of the attack as they moved forwards.

Siya’s flame bursts though had caught the attention of one of the officers in charge, the heavily armored woman turning her head to get a better view of the blasts of flames occurring near the front lines. Though it took a moment, her eyes quickly settled on the very King the nobles were attempting to remove. Liliana herself was surprised to see him in the middle of the fighting, but then again she could assume he was hoping to prove people wrong about him possibly being weak and incapable. It was going to be a mistake for the young man, that was for certain.

She turned forwards to see a few soldiers coming towards her, and using her halberd she deflected an attack from one while drawing back on the reigns of her horse. The horse whined in protest, standing up onto its back feet as it lashed out with its front legs and kicked one of the charging soldiers square in the face. The dazed man could do nothing to protect himself from the horse as it came back down on top of him, crushing him beneath it. As the horse came back down, she used the momentum of the fall to swing her halberd down onto the shoulder of the other soldier, imbedding the head of the weapon deep into his torso before she tore it out with a rough tug on the shaft.

She then looked back to the Fire King, and wasted no time in spurring her horse forwards to get closer to him. Hopefully, she’d be able to end this whole mess right here and now.

Siya’s fire lashed out at any who got close to him. He’d encircled himself in the flames and continually twisted around and around in a circle to keep an eye on all sides of him. So when he saw the rider charging for him, he ground his teeth and raised up a wall of fire in front of the soldier in heavy armor. A battle cry from behind him caught his attention and he ducked the hurl of a weapon in his direction.

The head of the axe disappeared into blue shards of energy, fading into his skin to create a burst of fire snaking out from the palm of his hand at the man who had tried to impale him. He turned the bastard to ash and kept turning, his fires growing hotter by the second and any weapons close enough to him disappeared into that blue energy that kept him going.

The sudden burst of flames up in front of her caused her mount to skid to a stop, the woman barely keeping herself from being flung off it and then held onto it as it reared up once more to move away from the fire. Quickly she brought the horse under control, bringing it down and trotting it away slightly from the king. With a scowl, hidden beneath the face-plate of her helmet, she quickly dismounted off of the horse. As she moved, sparks of blue emerged from a bag that hung on the saddle, the energy vanishing beneath the plates of her armor.

As she landed, she brought the end of the halberd’s shaft down onto the ground. As the heavy metal dug into the soft dirt, energy seemed to channel through it and into the dirt beneath it. A few moments later, and a rock spike suddenly shot up from the ground right beneath the flame and shot straight towards the Fire King within. She quickly then began moving towards the king once more, with her halberd held in both hands.

As she reached the spike, she thrust a hand outwards and towards the king. The spike itself then shattered in a blast of earth and stones, all of it flying out towards the king as she continued to close the distance between them, using the sot where the spike had extinguished the flames to give her an opening into the ring.

When the spike came hurling through his fire, it had shocked Siya. He twisted to try to avoid it, but just as he moved it exploded into a rain of dirt and stone. His arms came up, crossing over his face to try to protect his eyes from the assault as the attack rained down on him. When he pulled his arms down just enough to see what had happened, he gave a startled gasp and quickly stepped backward as the figure in full armor came through his fire via the earthen disruption.

Gritting his teeth, he lashed out, sending a flash of fire at her, the ball hurling across the space between them followed by a ripple of fire to try to keep the soldier at a distance. Siya worked his fire as best he could, continually sacrificing as he forced more and more of his energy into his power. The fires burning behind him roared loudly as they increased and inched outward, moving back any who were trying to get close. The line in front of him flickered and tried to rise even as Siya fought to keep the circle going to protect himself.

Her entrance into the circle was greeted by Siya turning and lashing out at her with a fireball, which she swung at with her halberd. The heavy blade slashed through it, dispersing the attack and allowing her to fully enter the circle of flames before the hole she made was filled once more to seal the king in with her.

“I warned you, su majestad, that you would be removed by force should you refuse to abdicate.” She said, raising her voice so as to be heard over the noise of the fighting around them. “ I did not think it would be me though who would be the one to cut you down, though I will gladly do so.” She gripped her halberd in both hands, watching the king for a moment before she shifted forwards towards him. As she did, she made a quick thrust towards his torso with the spear point at the end of her weapon. She did not wait to see if it hit it’s mark as she then pulled it back, raising it up slightly and stepping in further towards him while then bringing the axe-head of the halberd down towards him.

Siya was astonished at the voice. He remembered that voice very clearly. It belonged to the woman who had walked into his hall with her armed companions. She was the one who had brought the letter to him. He couldn’t ever mistake that voice, nor the accent for anyone else. Siya ground his teeth, quickly covering his surprise. As she lunged for him, Siya threw himself back, trying to avoid the very long halberd. Even as he did so, the tip of the weapon sliced through cloth and flesh, though perhaps not as deep as it was meant to go with that initial thrust.

Wincing, the Fire King dropped his hand down to grasp the wound as he lifted the other to let his fires swirl around him in a violent storm. He backed away as quickly as he could, trying to keep out of reach of that deadly weapon. He just barely missed the second attack, the edges of his clothes catching and tearing, but thankfully not skin that time. Panting from his exertion, the amount of power he was spending was making him tired. It wasn’t like the times he’d had the orb to assist in his stamina and energy usage.

He had been perhaps a bit too ambitious with his earlier attacks and display of power. Siya hadn’t thought it through entirely. Not that he’d had a clear head to begin with. His anger, frustrations and sorrows were all building up to the point of exploding. There hadn’t been any room for clear thoughts to plan out an attack. There hadn’t been any room to think through his actions. So, as he stood there facing the soldier who he had found very intimidating and powerful in her own right while standing in his hall days ago, Siya knew that if something didn’t change and soon, he was going to be slaughtered by her.

As her second swing slammed into the ground, she could already feel the heat of flames moving towards her to try and force her back. Quickly she retreated back from the Fire King, a stone wall suddenly erupting between her and her opponent to shield her from the flames. Once she backed away to a distance where she felt safe, she repeated her earlier attack with the stone spike with the wall in front of her.

A thrust of her palm out towards it had the wall breaking into multiple pieces that shot out towards Siya. She did not rush forwards this time to engage him with the halberd, instead Liliana chose to remain back and began tearing small bits of rock from the ground and flinging them towards the king. If he was going to hold her back with the flames, then she was more than happy to fight him from a distance.

Siya took in a startled breath as rock came hurling at him. It was much like the first time with the spike erupted into smaller bits, striking out at him. Though not entirely meant to maim or kill, they were annoying and they were doing their job. Tiring him. Siya did what he could to keep the projectiles from his body. Even so, scratches that burned tore across his face, tore through his clothes and drew long, thin trails of blood. His hands hadn’t stopped moving while she continued to hurl rock after rock at him.

His fires engulfed most of them, but the flames were beginning to die out and there was only so much more he could sacrifice to keep his power going. Siya was panting before the end of it, his body swaying slightly from side to side. He was never meant to have good stamina. He could fight, he’d run for his life a few times, once when he’d been so badly injured he probably could have died from it, but constantly throwing his power around was taking it’s toll. It made him dizzy and it was suddenly very hard to stay standing. With another sacrifice that made his stomach twist violently, Siya hurled a rather large ball of fire at the woman, hoping it would either turn her to ash or at least maim her to the point of no longer fighting him.

Liliana could see fatigue beginning to take over the young king as he defended himself from the rocks with his flames. Her sacrifices however were holding out well for her and could still last for a while longer with her only using the small rocks as weapons. She could already feel the heat of the fire ring beginning to diminish as his energy faded.

With one last burst of stones thrown at him, she choose to attack again and made to move towards him. She was caught by surprise though when the frail king suddenly called upon a surge of energy and threw a large fireball directly towards her. Beneath her helmet, her eyes widened as it closed in on her while she was moving straight towards it herself.

She acted fast, and though she would rather have not had to use her own store of magic like this, she couldn’t possibly jump to the side and avoid the fireball. Her armor and equipment were far too heavy and there was no chance for her to stop her forward movement. Bringing up the halberd in front of her as a makeshift shield, several stones quickly rose from the ground and stuck to her forearms and the shaft of the halberd, quickly forming as big a shield as they could in time.

The fireball slammed into the shield, and the force of the impact easily smashed through the hastily raised shield. She grimaced as the heat of the blast slammed into her, feeling the skin beneath the plates of armor and padded clothes burn. With the heat came the remaining force of the blast, causing her to stumble backwards. She was barely able to catch herself, but she did fall to a knee to fully stop herself from simply being sent sprawling.

Once the blast had subsided, she forced herself to her feet again, using the halberd to help support her. Once back on her feet, she once again took her stance, halberd pointing forwards; she was slouching though, as at the moment her body wanted to relax and recover from the searing heat and the hard impact she had taken from the fireball, as well as her own shield when it had exploded back into her. “No está mal, su majestad.” she said through breaths, “Mi hermano was not lying when he said you had some fight in you.”

Siya watched as she dropped, and for a moment he thought he was victorious. However, when she promptly pushed herself back up to her feet again, he felt a heavy lump begin to well in the back of his throat. Despite her being doubled over slightly from what he could only assume was slight exhaustion or even pain, Siya wasn’t entirely confident he’d be getting away from the fight alive. If he did, he wouldn’t be without wounds. The young King was very certain he was going to have to have one hell of a miracle to survive.

For some reason, he thought of Minnow. If the little healer saw him right then… The blonde might have just killed the Fire King to save himself the trouble. Siya quickly shoved the thoughts aside and tried to focus on the fight. His weary mind was giving way to other distractions, ones that would most definitely end his life he if he kept it up.

And damn her accent. It was constantly reminding him of Damiano. It was grating on his nerves, making him remember things he really didn’t want to. Siya cursed under his breath as he slowly staggered backward. His fires flickered a little while longer in his hands before simply sputtering out. The young King looked around for something, anything, to help defend himself. From one of the soldiers lying upon the ground he spotted a sword. One that survived his random and excessive sacrificing. The Fire King quickly snatched it up and leveled it at her with both hands on the heavy blade. Gritting his teeth, his eyes narrowed at her. He hadn’t answered her and he didn’t intend to do so anyway. All he could hope for was being able to protect himself until someone helped him out of the situation he was in, which might be a while seeing as most of his own men were fighting their own battles.

She couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight of him grabbing a sword to continue his fight with her. Part of it was amusement at the thought of him actually fighting her without magic, yet she had to give him some respect in not just giving up.

Spinning the halberd in her hands, for no purpose but simple flare, she then began to advance on him. She leveled the weapon out so that the point was facing towards him, advancing somewhat cautiously in the chance he had another burst of magic ready to throw at her.

Her advance was cut off when she felt something smack her on the arm, and her arm stung as it was deflected off the thick plates of her armor. Quickly she backed up and turned to see one of the king’s soldiers having moved forwards to engage her now. She hadn’t really thought about it, and she cursed herself for it, but now with the ring of fire down they were no longer cut off from the rest of the soldiers around them. Quickly she parried a second blow from the soldier aside and then quickly slashed him across the head with the blade of her weapon, killing him instantly and knocking him out of the way.

He was not alone though, as now she could feel some of the soldiers on her side beginning to surge forwards as well as some of the kings now filtering into the fight. She growled as she could see she was slowly being cut off from her target. With a shout of annoyance she suddenly slammed the end of her halberd down onto the ground, using the last bit of her own magic to surge it through the ground.

In a violent irruption of rock and dirt, several thick slab of rocks shot upwards around the area she and Siya was in, knocking aside several soldiers from both sides and sealing some within the circle with them. She wasted no time going after those who were not on her side, hoping to clear the area so she could finally cut down the Fire King.

Siya hissed angrily as she returned the blow given to her. He watched, nearly helpless at the fact that she simply tore through most of his soldiers, sealing them in the circle and swinging that horrendous weapon around violently. They fought well, though, his men. Yet despite all their own power and prowess on the battlefield, she outstripped them. The woman was horrifying in power, her speed was even more so. Siya felt his fingers squeezing the hilt of the weapon so tightly that the wrappings were biting into his skin painfully.

As another of his soldiers fell, the young King seemed to snap. Looking off to his right, he forced another sacrifice. As sick as it made him, his world twisting around violently, Siya managed to take it. The fires rekindled and he launched another wave of fire at her. It cut across the ground, igniting anything that was flammable as it went. A second wave followed the first, then a third before the King dropped down to his knees, the sword buried in the dirt as the only thing that kept him upright. Flames flickered along his hand and arm as he glared at the woman defiantly and watched his flames do what he hoped they would.

As she smacked aside another soldier, growling in irritation as she did so, she then looked up towards her target and made to move towards him. Her advance was stifled however, as again she found herself facing the blinding light of flames moving quickly towards her. Shocked, she brought her arms and weapon up to block, trying to summon earth to shield herself as a reflex. With no energy to fuel the magic though, instead she was engulfed by the three bursts of flames as they slammed into her.

The first had her stumbling back, while the second finally had her buckling. She tried in vain to hold against the third, but it finally had her toppling and falling backwards across the ground. When the flames died down, Liliana found herself lying on her stomach, her armored singed from the flames and her body alight with pain from the heat of the blasts. Fighting through the pain, she slowly began to push herself first onto her hands, then onto her knees.

She’d lost hold of her halberd when she was sent sprawling, so she was left to struggle to rise onto her feet with nothing to support her. The thick plates of her armor were making her struggle even more difficult now, especially with her helmet now feeling like it was suffocating her. She quickly yanked the helmet off her head, letting it fall to the ground as she began to shakily rise to her feet, turning her eyes to glare at the Fire King.

Despite the pain, she found herself smiling as she looked at the younger man. “Well done...su majestad.” she said between gasps for air. She tried to step forwards, only for her body to give out and her collapse onto a knee. She hissed at the pain, closing her eyes tightly before looking back at Siya. It was just them now, with the soldiers on her side having been burned to cinders by the flame blasts. She was saved only because of her armor to absorb much of the punishment.

She attempted to stand, but turned her head around instead as she heard the rock wall behind her collapse back into the ground. Through it, her eyes narrowed as one of the masked men that had originally accompanied her to deliver the message stepped through it. In his hand, he had a bow, though it looked as if his quiver was empty as he stepped forwards. She looked at the hand on the bow, noticing it to be the three finger man from before. “Avispón? Qué estás haciendo?!” she shouted back to him as he suddenly grabbed hold of her with his free hand.

His voice too was buried beneath an accent, though it still held a hint of Iverian in it as he spoke back in the Iveirian tongue. “We are retreating, As brother ordered us to do.” He said, dragging her onto her feet as he began to pull her along despite her struggling to get away.

“He is right there! We can end this now, dammit!!” She shouted at him.

“Not without being killed ourselves! Now quit fighting and move!” He shouted back at her as he dragged her along with him. She resisted for a moment more before finally giving up, the pain finally forcing her to submit to his command. As he pulled her along, he glanced towards Siya for a moment, watching the young man before he dragged her out through the hole that had been made in the wall.

Siya watched as someone else entered the circle of stone. He tensed, waiting for the newcomer to aim their weapon at him. After all, it was a bow they were holding. Without his power, he couldn’t possibly put up a fight. Leaning against the sword heavily, Siya glared at the other. However, when the man reached down and pulled the woman up to her feet and started retreating after a bit of disagreement between them, Siya’s gaze grew wide with shock. They’d left him. Both of them, when he was sure they were going to kill him.

Wasn’t that the whole point of having the issued decree in the first place? The whole point to attacking all of his cities and towns? Wasn’t it to draw Siya out from the palace and then kill him as soon as they had the chance? The young King was so conflicted and confused that he hardly noticed the nobles armies withdrawing until a very loud and rumbling cheer rose up from his own soldiers.

As he watched, he let out a long sigh that ended in a groan and simply toppled over in the middle of his circle of scorched earth.

“King Siya!” a voice called from within the circle of stone, Forson quickly moving over to the collapsed man on the ground. His armor was dinged and scratched from the fighting, and he was missing his lance as he quickly knelt down next to the Fire King. “Sire. Sire!?” he called out to him before he looked up at the soldiers who had peeked into the stone circle. “Grab a healer, immediately!” he ordered before looking back down at Siya as the soldiers immediately left.

“Lord Siya, we’ll have a healer for you soon. Just hold on, alright?” He said, quieting his voice and calming himself so as not to possibly panic the injured king; he also removed his helmet as well, revealing his dirt and sweat covered face. He didn’t touch Siya, as he did not want to risk possibly injuring him anymore than he was already, especially since Forson did not have any medical training of his own.

Siya groaned as he lay upon the ground. Slow breaths filled his chest as he lay there. He heard Forson’s voice, but he didn’t have the strength left to even acknowledge or roll over to face the man. So, he simply let his body fade out into oblivion. At least the sleep was peaceful then. No worries, no stress… Just darkness.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amon Ad-Raza Character Portrait: Siya Ukomo Character Portrait: Kanan Thiyer Character Portrait: Valrien Yustri Character Portrait: Lukina Aymidor Character Portrait: Renardine 'Minnow' Lunvari Character Portrait: Lutchka Zatari Character Portrait: Harlan Pendrake

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Duke Forson was leaning over the table they had cleared of items, looking down at the map that had been unrolled onto it. They were in the study of his manor within Turron, which now served as the current headquarters for the army. In the room as well were a few other officers, all of them currently there to discuss their next move. They had sent scouts out to keep tabs on the enemy army, though they were having some difficulty as the scouts were being repeatedly attacked during their runs. Still though, they at least knew where the enemy was and about how large a force they had.

“We should move out soon to meet them; we stay put too long then we give them a chance to take another city or possibly recruit more to their side.” One of the officers spoke up, pointing to a city on the map. “This is the closest city to where we last saw them, and we know they have yet to join the Nobles, but we don’t know how long that will last once they have an army knocking on their doorstep.

Forson looked up at him, then back down to the map. Another officer spoke, “It could be exactly what they are hoping for though. It may be the closest one to them, but it does not mean they’ll be going there. I think we need to figure out where they are going first lest we waste our energy following nothing.”

Forson sighed and scratched the back of his head, looking up at the other officers. “We don’t have the time to wait though,” Forson said. “We need to make a decision on where to go and try to beat them there. If they move we then move to follow them. Regardless, we can’t wait here.”

The others looked at the Duke before looking between each other and then the map. “I’d rather not walk into a trap, Forson.” an officer said, the Duke just hanging his head.

“I don’t want to either, but if we wait, they win. Beyond that,” he looked up at the officer who had spoken, “well beyond that I got nothing. You all know though we can’t waste time.” he said before letting his eyes settle on the map ahead of him.

Siya leaned off to the side in the chair he occupied. Though the Fire King was hardly anywhere near in perfect shape, he’d insisted on sitting in on the conversation. Despite being unconscious for two days in order to regain all the energy he’d pushed to use his fire, he was up. Though most of the injuries were healed -probably when he was asleep- he’d yelled at the first healer to try to take a look at the wound the spear had inflicted on him along his stomach..

He didn’t have time to be babied, not that he wanted it anyway and those healers weren’t nearly as skilled as the one’s he’d been privileged with. His first protector being one such healer, Minnow the other. But Minnow wasn’t with him, nor was his… Protector. It wasn’t like the Fire King was going to ask Amon for his healer either.

With his fingers curled slightly, head tilted into them, he stared down at the paper as well. A deep frown occupied his lips as he sat there, listening to the conversation. Going after the enemy was certainly the first thing Siya was more keen to agree on. Though, he had a dreadful feeling that if they did… He would be losing far too many soldiers to work in his favor. Yet, letting the Nobles take another of his cities wasn’t ideal either, especially if those bastards turned Siya’s own people on him.

Which they would certainly try.

Nothing like a civil war to win what you want in the first place.

Siya sighed heavily and shifted in his seat slowly, “We won’t let them take that city. And no, we cannot stay here. Yes, it’s probably a trap, but if we let them take the city we’ll have even less of a chance to win against them. If we move now, they will be forced to try to think of something. If we give them too much time, they’ll certainly put into place elaborate schemes to destroy us. I won’t allow that,” he said finally, looking up from his focal point on the map to skim the faces of the men around him.

For a mere moment, he felt utterly alone in the fight. Siya cringed, grinding his teeth and shoving those ill thoughts aside. He’d been alone for a long while as it was, what was the difference right then? None. The Nobles thought he was weak and incompetent to be King. So he would show them just how wrong they were.

All of them turned to look at the Fire King as he spoke, listening to his words. Some frowned at the prospect of heading out, as they were comfortable with the idea of holding up in the city of Turron and fighting off any attacks that came. They would not argue with the King though, especially knowing that they were actually the minority.

Forson stood up straight, nodding his head. “The King is right, we move we force them to act rather than us. We can not give them the initiative.” Forson then turned to look out at them all, some nodding their head to him before all their eyes settled back on Siya. “Give us the order to move and we will, your majesty. Until then, we will go and prepare our troops to march.” With that, he bowed his head to the Fire King, the other officers doing the same before they all began making their way out of the room.

Siya only nodded to Forson. He watched them all go, leaving the room and Siya to his own. The Fire King bowed his head forward then, gritting his teeth tightly. As he stared at the map laid out before him, the paper blurred as water lifted from the lower lids of his eyes. Reaching up with one hand he ran it through his hair, gripping the long locks tightly at the top of his head. Deep breaths were slightly hitched by his soft cries.

For a brief moment he considered letting the Nobles have what they wanted. He was tired. Too tired. Siya wasn’t sure he had enough strength left to deal with them. No. He knew he didn’t have enough strength. Had that man not stopped the woman when he had… she would have surely killed Siya. After all, the Fire King had been reckless in his fight. He was still reckless. And he knew it too.

Siya let his tears fall for a moment, then started taking deep breaths. He pushed aside his anguish. It was the last thing he needed to be ruling over him. Siya leaned back against the chair as he struggled to contain his many emotions that were threatening to break out. Anguish and fear. Sorrow and worry. Anxiety. Anger. Hurt. Loneliness. It all piled up at the back of his mind.

The Fire King tilted his head back, the deep breaths shuddering as he managed to take control of himself again. Clearing his throat, sniffing, and wiping at his face, he leaned forward to study the map again. With the mini loss of control, it took him a moment to get his mind back on track. Figuring out the best route to take to get to the next city. When they should leave. How he was going to defend that city. More importantly, how he was going to defeat the Nobles in that fight.

If that was even possible.

Or maybe he should begin preparing for his death. That seemed more like what he was blindly crashing into. For some reason... that thought didn’t bother him in the least.

~~~

Amon looked up towards the gate of the city as they approached it, watching the buzz of guards and soldiers. His arrival had not gone unnoticed, not in the slightest. He had seen the soldiers atop the walls run off to grab their superiors at the sight of the Air King and his entourage of at least a hundred armed and armored men atop horses. Least he figured it was his section that drew the most attention considering the banners that held the symbol of the Air King they were displaying.

“It is like looking at a beehive.” Amon muttered, looking to the others in the group before back ahead. Least he’d be getting off of the horse real soon, he thought while shifting around to get comfortable.

Rhoven looked up towards the city’s walls, “Makes me think a little of my home back in Yerlow. Though looks a bit nicer than that place was.” he said.

Amon looked over to his apprentice, smiling a bit sadly. “I do my best to remedy such things, but it seems like I can only do so much.”

Rhoven looked at Amon, shrugging. “Don’t worry about it, Master. In Yerlow, the crime syndicates there are too ingrained to be easily removed. Besides I’ve seen how much of a pain the council can be, so I can see it only being made even more difficult.”

Amon watched the apprentice for a moment, nodding his head and looking ahead, the smile vanishing. Rhoven could try to excuse the king, but in the end Amon was still at fault for it. He was the ruler, and it was his responsibility in the end to be rid of such things. He sighed some, looking down at the neck of the horse as they made their way through the gates. He looked up, watching as a soldier came towards him. The soldier, who was accompanied by a few others, stopped away from the Air King and quickly bowed his head. “Your majesty!” he called, lifting his head to look up at the Air King, glancing towards the soldiers that were at the rear of the line before glancing back to the Air King. “We received no notice that you would be arriving. Do you want me to go and grab King Ukomo?”

Amon looked to the soldier, his smile returning. “Sorry, we came here on a bit of short notice. Not to mention you were not at the castle when we had arrived. And yes, if you could retrieve Siya, that would be greatly appreciated. In fact,” Amon then hopped down from his horse, looking at the guard. “I’ll go with you to him, if that is ok.”

The guard nodded his head. “We’ll have an area set up for your men as soon as we can, please come with me.” he then turned and began walking away, shouting a few orders to some soldiers as Amon followed after him, Rhoven and Harlan following. He looked back towards the red-headed man they had found, who had told them his name had been Farasima, though he had said that was really only a part of his full name. Rather, there had been more to it, though he had not expanded on what he meant by that as of yet.

Minnow, as per his position warranted, was at all times close to Amon when riding. So when they finally ended up at the front gates to the city, he had a front row seat to all of the activity that was buzzing about. Siya was here, of that he had no doubt. Not only had his powers allowed him a very keen sense to the Fire King’s whereabouts, but Kanan had also confirmed as well. The little healer was simply glad that they had caught up to him, and that he was indeed still alive. Though, probably not for long if Minnow got a hold of him and found out he had sustained some serious wounds.

Lutchka had remained towards the rear of the company that made its way up to the gates of Turron, and she was perfectly happy to be so. After having ridden practically nonstop since the little blonde had informed everyone that Siya was nearby- well, nearby being a relative term- she was fairly exhausted and wanted little to do with more action.

She too had been relieved when they had received the news that Siya was alive- indicated by the guards moving about to progress their large group towards the manor he was currently staying at- and was all too happy about the prospect of finally settling somewhere for a little while.

Valrien dismounted rather quickly, leaving his horse in the hands of the other soldiers. His thoughts were only on finding Siya and smacking some sense into the idiot King. He fell into step beside Amon as they followed after the soldier who had greeted them and agreed to take them to the Fire King. Lukina was also right next to them, following just as quickly and with a look of anticipation and worry painted clearly on her face. Following after Minnow was Kanan, who was taking in everything around them, a frown on his lips.

“Many are wounded heavily…” he whispered to Minnow, though he knew the healer’s main priority was Siya, “They suffered a great deal.”

“Who ever these ‘Nobles’ are, they are not to be taken lightly,” Lukina commented as she too was glancing around at the camp and the wounded soldiers.

The soldier brought them to a large house, probably the one that the lord of the city lived in. He pushed open the double doors, his voice calling out into the lonely hall. A huge table was set there in the middle, chairs empty aside from one. The Fire King was leaned over the table, hands in his hair as he held his head up. Whatever he was doing, it was completely thrown out of his mind from the sudden intrusion.

“Sire, his Majesty, Lord Amon-”

Siya took in a sharp breath as he straightened in the chair to look at the group that had walked in with wide eyes. His shock was easy to tell as he sat there for a moment. The King’s sharp movement startled the soldier midway through his speech. Siya shook his head a little, a frown on his lips, “What the hell are you doing!”

He stood rapidly, but was immediately back in the seat seconds after, a look of pain on his face as he sat back down rather quickly. Valrien took in a heavy gasp of air. He was moving across the room rather quickly, a look of anger crossing his face which was only just slightly matched by his worry.

“You idiot! What do you think we are doing? I told you I was getting Amon to come to help you and your ridiculous stupidity led you out here with no help! You’re damned lucky to even be alive!”

As they entered, the scene quickly devolved into shouting as Siya first spoke, then Valrien began to rage as he tended too. Harlan just sighed, slapping a hand suddenly over Valrien’s mouth, while grabbing hold of his arm to stop him. “Can you not yell, for once in your life?” the royal guardsman asked, raising an eyebrow at The Prince.

Amon silently thanked the man before he stepped past the two men, looking towards Siya. “Siya, you should have waited for us. Or at least given us a heads up on where to go. We had to stalk you all the way out to here.” Amon said with a smile, stopping next to the table and leaning against it. He had left his staff with his horse, again as he wouldn’t find any use for it right now. “And I don’t want to hear anything about this being ‘your fight’, because it might be but we are your friends and we are not just going to sit by to watch you be killed.”

Rhoven hung in the back, letting them have their discussion. He looked around, having noted that Farasima had followed them in, the apprentice scowling a bit. He wasn’t sure why he had followed, but it wasn’t really his thing to handle.

Valrien was startled by Harlan’s clamping a hand over his lips. He wasn’t surprised by the guard grabbing him to stop him, that had happened plenty of times before. The Prince knew he could be a little hot headed, flying off the handle at times. So he simply let Harlan hold him back, rolling his eyes at the added addition of the hand over his mouth though.

Siya looked up at Amon as the taller man stood against the table. He ground his teeth visibly as he sat there. He looked tired. Too pale for his own good. Valrien watched with narrowed eyes, but didn’t move. The hand curled around his stomach clenched into a fist as Siya bowed his head in front of Amon. He took a deep, shaking breath before he spoke.

The words, though, made Valrien tremble with rage.

“It doesn’t matter if they kill me, Amon. This… This is just,” he sighed heavily. Siya leaned back in the chair, rested against his arm, “I can’t show them any weakness. If they want my throne, then they will have to kill me to get it.”

Valrien’s inability to control himself spiked. Reaching up he grabbed Harlan’s hand and wrenched it away from him, he took several steps forward -tried to at least- as he shouted again, “Are you kidding me! You want to die? Then what the hell are we here for, Siya? Do we not mean anything to you at all?”

The Fire King looked up, his burning red eyes filled with all kinds of emotions as he stared at the Prince, then looked to the others that stood in the room. His mouth opened and closed several times before he finally gave in to one emotion that Valrien was sure he only gave into because it was easier.

Siya’s gaze narrowed, his breathing shorter than before, “Do not patronize me, Valrien. Every single one of you mean a lot to me, but I have nothing left! I-”

Minnow had been rather quiet during the exchange, really because he didn’t want to get any brunt of the tension that was slowly escalating in the room. He winced once Valrien had reprimanded Siya, and had hidden himself a bit behind Kanan, clutching onto his sleeve and peeking out from over his shoulder whenever he dared to look. But he himself was slowly growing… not quite upset, something worse. It was rare for him to get angry, practically non-occurring.

They were yelling at each other, biting and bickering, and Minnow couldn’t stand it an ounce longer. He suddenly moved out from behind Kanan and balled his fists as he yelled, “Stop it!” Unbeknownst to him, a thick cracking sound rumbled from the floors and a jagged rift appeared in the stone tile.

“Enough bickering, all of you! Are you all really this selfish? This isn’t just about you and your feelings,” An angered, accusing gaze swept across the room, landing on pretty much everyone. “There are wounded people out there, some of them citizens. This is bigger than any of you- you’re fighting for your country, not your title. From what I’ve seen, the Fire Kingdom’s people are quite content with Siya’s rule, so for the Noble people or whoever they are to come in and try to overthrow him isn’t just something that’s based in politics and whatnot. It affects them the most. You guys are too busy with that fact, and I don’t think you’re honestly taking them into consideration to the extent that they deserve to be.”

Minnow finished his little rant with a huff, an angered look still on his face. It was right about then that he realized what he had done, and he took a little step back, his eyes widening ever so slightly. His cheeks heated slightly, but he wasn’t really embarrassed for what he had said- after all, it had needed to be said. Speaking with a less confident but still miffed tone he quickly excused himself, “Unlike you, I’m going to go out and actually do something worthwhile instead of talking politics.” The ‘you’ wasn’t really particularly pointed at anyone in particular. Minnow quickly turned and left the room.

Lutchka had been leaned against a wall, not entirely bothering to speak up since the spotlight was an unspoken thing automatically given to Valrien and the others of higher stature who had a beef to pick with the young king. The whole situation seemed a poor thing, from the exhaustion of both war and travel, the emotions that burned behind motives and memories, and the issue of butting personalities.

Siya was being stubborn, yes. He felt himself down on his luck and unsure as to how he needed to commit to the issue at hand, Valrien was an ill-tempered individual who gods know how he managed to keep his own thrown a few years back, and he only added tinder to the fire. Amon was supposed to be the most mature or most reasonable out of all of them, but he had not spoken up much at all, besides the fact that his gentle approach would not help Siya in his decisions. Harlan didn’t take anything serious, Lukina was utterly silent and pretty well not really present, or at least she was biding her time to take a chunk out of the young King as well, and the others did not really have much of a say or a desire to throw themselves into the loop.

When she had heard the sweet, innocent, and gentle little blonde suddenly yell out, it had surprised her beyond what she could admit. He had caught her off guard, but once overcoming her initial shock and hearing his little rant, she shared his ideals completely.

Kanan took a sharp breath as Minnow stepped out from behind him. The outburst surprised him, and most likely everyone else. The little blonde wasn’t often known to erupt like that, but when he did, he went all out. The air protector simply watched, waiting for the anger to die down. When it did, Minnow did as he usually did. Blushing because he’d stepped up. Then he turned and left. Kanan knew where he was going to go, there were plenty of wounded outside that needed his attention.

Kanan let the little healer leave, knowing he’d want some space for a bit before anyone could talk to him. Despite his wanting to mention the Fire King’s current condition, Kanan also figured that Siya wouldn’t want it. He was too stubborn and after Minnow’s announcement of doing something unlike the others, Siya’s look wasn’t one that Kanan thought could be easily dealt with, even with Minnow’s nature.

Siya’s voice shook, there was anger in it, hurt too. A million different things ran rampant in his red eyes as he stared at the door where Minnow had left, “Then why… Do you think I am doing this? If not for those in my kingdom than for what else? If not for the Protectors I lost. Then what else? You think, honestly, that I’m fighting back because I’m selfishly clinging to my throne?” his gaze swept to the rest of them, his voice had gone to a kind of growl.

“I am taking into consideration my people! I came here to stop the city from falling to them! I came here because everything I have done up to this point has been for them, and for the ones that I lost. They are never going to be replaced. I’ve fought far too hard to let these idiots try to simply overthrow me!” Siya stood again. Despite how painful it looked for him, he managed to stay standing. Tears glistened in his eyes as he sent his hot glare around the room.

“And if it kills me then so be it! I am not handing it over to them on a silver platter because they asked for it! You think I’m not doing anything worthwhile? Then I’ll show you something that is,” he lowered his voice at the end and took a step away from the table. He looked as if he were going to leave the room.

Lukina moved then. Her hand caught his wrist, holding him in place as she returned his hot glare, “You are destroying yourself, Siya. That is not what Minnow meant and you know it.”

Lutchka’s eyes narrowed harshly as Siya defended himself, striking out at everyone else in the process. “No, you came here to allow your emotions to blaze just as hot as your fires. You think none of us noticed the damage that happened out there? The burns? You are not taking into consideration your people if your first notion is to recklessly move forward, to put yourself at so vulnerable a position. Your feelings are leading you, not your mind and certainly not with any sort of concern. You said you were willing to let them kill you, and while a noble and respectable notion in itself when used properly, it is not a good thing in this case. Your people need you, you can’t just recklessly run out into battles. It’s obvious how well that turned out. Not only are you being reckless, but you’re putting to shame the deaths that have already gone into getting you where you are today. If you die before you accomplish what you set out to do, then what’s the point?”

“L-Lutchka…” Siya stuttered on her name. He stared at her for a long while in silence. Lukina tightened her hand around his wrist just in case he made to leave again. Yet, what happened was different from what she expected.

Siya dropped, a gasped sob hitting the air. Lukina jumped at his sudden loss of strength to stand. Kneeling down next to him, her hand released his wrist as he lifted the other to cover his face. She took hold of his shoulder while glancing over to the others in the group. Lukina was at a loss in what to do next with him as the young Fire King started to cry so suddenly.

“D-damn it… I really… Can’t do this!”

“Siya!” Lukina said sharply, unsure as to how to take his words.

He took in a deep, gasping breath. The hard sobs hitting the air as he doubled over. Shaking his head, he curled in on himself, “S-sorry… I’m sorry. I’m sorry…”

Lukina’s hands were hovering over him, opening and closing in loose fists as she stared at him. She looked wildly around the room, silently pleading for someone to do something because she honestly had no idea as to what to do for the King.

“C-an’t… I can’t…” he repeated the words over and over in that gasping voice of his, riddled with tears.

Amon had been completely caught off guard as things escalated rapidly and suddenly. First Minnow’s outburst was very unlike the little fishie he knew and loved. He couldn’t argue against the man’s words, mostly because he couldn’t think of a possible retort. He just watched the exchange of words, from Siya, to Lukina, and to Lutchka. He remained silent the whole time, Rhoven and Harlan without words to say either.

Finally, he watched as Siya collapsed to his knees, finally giving in to the emotions that were tearing away at him. Amon frowned, watching the young man break, Lukina standing next to him without a clue as to what to do about the Fire King. Amon looked to the others, then looked back to the Fire King and walked towards him. He might as well give it a shot.

Amon knelt down in front of Siya, lowering his head some to try and get a look at his face before bringing his own back up, reaching out to place a hand on Siya’s shoulder. “It hurts, Siya. And it will hurt for a while, I know exactly what you are feeling. I lost a lot as well, and it hurts so bad it feels like you are being crushed on the inside.” He tightened his grip on Siya’s shoulder. “That pain is not forever though; it feels like it won’t go away, but it will. Don’t give up, please, Siya.”

He lowered his hand, looking at Lukina for a moment before looking to Siya. “You’ll get through this, especially with us here now!” he said, forcing cheer into his own words and a smile to his face. “You can do this. For your people, and for their memories.” he said, watching the Fire King quietly.

Siya’s voice seemed to rise a little higher as Amon spoke to him. He cried harder, rocking forward once or twice before his body stopped moving entirely. Valrien removed himself from Harlan’s grasp, taking a few steps forward after Siya had dropped. He frowned deeply as he watched the Fire King. Though his fists clenched tightly, he let Amon do the talking instead. The Prince feared that if he opened his mouth, he’d end up yelling at Siya and making it worse.

Valrien wasn’t sure how long it was that Siya cried, down on his knees. But eventually, his sobs grew soft. When he toppled forward onto Amon, Valrien moved again, his hand stretching out for the young King in worry. He came down to kneel next to the young man, hand on his back. He felt Siya’s slow and steady breathing as he rested against the Air King’s chest.

He let out a soft sigh of relief. Kanan’s voice came then, “I’ll find Minnow. He can begin treating Siya since he is… Asleep now.”

Valrien simply nodded, his eyes still trained on the young King. After a while, his eyebrows drew down as he stared at Siya, “How much power did he use?”

It was an idle question, but from simply touching him, Valrien was certain he’d never felt the King’s energy quite that low before. Clicking his tongue in annoyance, he heaved a heavy sigh as he looked over to Harlan and shook his head slightly.

“What do we do now?” Lukina asked softly.

Valrien turned to her, “Let him sleep. He needs it. Minnow isn’t going to let him go gallivanting off either, so we’ll be here for a while. I will give him energy after Minnow has had a chance to look at him. The last thing we need is for Siya to feel like he can go throwing his fire around recklessly again. He’s not in danger right now, but I’m pretty sure he was a few days ago by the way his energy feels right now. Idiot…” he scoffed the last word, glaring at the King’s back.

“He really has lost a lot hasn’t he,” Lukina said, “But so has everyone else… Why has he not moved on?”

Valrien shrugged, sighing again, “One of the Protectors he used to have was someone he was in love with. They were killed in front of him when they helped me regain my throne. He lost the other protector, Asier, a while ago as well. No one knows what happened to him, but we fear that he is dead too. Unlike Amon who has both his, Siya has none left. They both share the loss of the Water King and Earth King,” Valrien visibly flinched at the mention of the Water King.

He pushed past it though to finish the thought, “Iveir is falling apart and… I may be wrong, but Siya might feel like he’s being torn with it. This is his home. He’s lost the ones he’s loved, he has no Protectors, he’s lost friends that were close to him, and now he’s about to lose the only thing that’s kept him in one piece so far. I just wish he wouldn’t close himself off like he has to us.”

Amon watched the Fire King before looking to Lukina. He waited for Valrien to finish, Amon nodding his head. “A lot is being thrown at him, and very rapidly. I think for many of us, we have lost a lot, but we took in piece by piece. I watched my family slowly die off, and I too lost the woman I loved.” he looked down at Siya. “Never in the span of only three years though. So much has been torn from him so quickly, he never had time to let the first wound heal.” Carefully, he took hold of Siya, sliding an arm around the King’s shoulders while slipping another beneath his knees. He stood up, looking at them.

“We just need to be his crutch then, until he finally has a chance to heal and get himself under control. He’s capable of doing it, he’ll just need some help to do so.” he then smiled, “And that, is exactly what we are going to do!” Amon said, looking at everyone. He then looked back down at Siya. “Well, I’m gonna get him somewhere to rest. As comfy and cozy as I’m sure I am, I don’t feel like carrying him around everywhere.”

Rhoven smiled, “But you can think of it as another opportunity to exercise, Master. I think it’d be a great idea to try.”

Amon chuckled, looking at Rhoven. “The idea is not bad, little crow,” he chuckled again at the teen’s pout, “but I don’t feel like degrading Siya by lowering him to the level of lifting weights.” He looked back to the others. “I’ll meet up with you all later, ‘less you wish to help me find somewhere to drop him off.”

Harlan looked at Amon as the Air King began to walk off, watching him for a moment before looking at Lukina. “Speaking of Asier, didn’t you try to kill him?” He then looked around, “Siya ever mention why that guy just kinda...left? Hardly seemed the type to do that.”

“Yes, I did. I thought he was a part of the family that destroyed my home, killed everyone around me. Turned out he hadn’t ever wanted to be a part of any of it. No one knows where he went,” she said, sighing as she stood. There was a far away look in her golden eyes as she stared at the far wall. A frown curved her lips.

“If he told Siya where he went, the King never spoke a word of it. Though I doubt Asier said a damn thing to anyone. Least of all me,” she ground her teeth as she all but spat the last few words.

“Well that asshole needs to figure out his problems and quickly,” Valrien snapped, “If he’s not dead.”

“I doubt he’s dead… I hope he isn’t anyway.”

“When I find him, I’m putting his ass in the dirt,” the Prince said with a growl to his words, “Whatever crazy ideas he got in his head, whatever made him think Siya would be okay without him… I really want to take those thoughts and shove them up-”

“Alright, alright. We get it…” Lukina said with a sigh and roll of her eyes, “Do you ever have anything nice to say or do?”

“Trust me, it takes a lot of work to get those out of him..” Harlan said, crossing his arms.

Valrien paused, then looked away, crossing his arms as a heated blush began to cross his face, “Shut up. Just because I’m a little irritated at that damn archer doesn’t mean I’m cruel all the time. If anyone is cruel, it’s him for deserting Siya when he needed someone. The King doesn’t even have a protector anymore to help him! Siya can’t swing a sword around, or lift a sheild, or do anything with a weapon! How the hell does anyone expect him to do any proper fighting!?”

Harlan watched Valrien, cocking his head to the side. “Well, why don’t you and I do it then? Hell, we could always teach the little squirt how to fight. I’m sure Amon would love to do so as well.” he said, shifting his weight on his legs some. The guardsman turned his head though when he heard a light cough in the corner, looking at Farasima who had been standing there quietly the entire time. He was sitting against the wall, though having grabbed some attention, was now standing up.

“Sorry to speak, I can train him some. My people are skilled horsemen, skilled archers. We,” he then paused, a look of pain crossing his features before he continued, “I mean, the Skis’naturi...are also adept as heavy cavalry. I teach him to shoot a bow, ride horse effectively, maybe teach him fighting from horse also.” He said, going quiet after saying so.

Lukina tapped her lips as she stared at Farasima, “He’s got a good point. The Fire King is not adept to hold a sword. He’s not strong enough for it. His body isn’t built to be up close in a fight like that. He’ll be killed too easily. He relies on his fire far too much. If he could fight from a distance, as Farasima has suggested, with a bow… Siya could become a devastating force.”

“Are they truly good fighters as he says?” Valrien asked Lukina, eyeing Farasima cautiously. He wasn’t too sure he trusted the man entirely, even if they did save his life. But that was just Valrien. His protective side over the group as a whole, and definitely for Siya who was so close to teetering over the edge of darkness.

Lukina laughed, an amused tone to her voice, “You want to test it, Prince? Even if he is not entirely healed, I will bet everything I’ve got on my person right now that he could take you down in one or two shots. They are not called the Skis’naturi for nothing.”

Valrien rolled his eyes, “I don’t even know what that means,” he shot back, giving her a glare over his shoulder.

“It means they’re very good hunters and warriors. Fighting them was not something anyone wanted to do, much less look forward to.”

“Because they can ride a horse and use a bow?”

“Because they could kill several men a top that horse without giving the enemy a chance to even begin their attack. Including those of us skilled in magic. Sacrificing takes a while, conjuring the power to use; another few moments. Within those moments, you could be a pincushion if you’re fighting a contingent of Skis’naturi.”

Farasima coughed some, his face heating up a little as Lukina spoke. “Well, Skis’naturi is name of….of only one tribe. Skis’tatari is the name of us all, but all are skilled at shooting bow from horseback, regardless of tribe.” he said, looking between the two. “Masters of sword and magic, we might not be. But those mean little when you are killed from distance.”

He stepped away from the wall some, hands slipping into the pockets of his trousers. “The names do not translate to Sitillian, much like names of your countries translates to ours.” He looked at Valrien, looking away a moment later. “I owe life to you now, so I want to make up for it. So I do so however I can.”

Rhoven, who had remained within the room after Amon had left, raised an eyebrow. “How about you first explain what the heck you meant by calling Iverian, Sitillian. Less you are now going to tell me you only have a speech impediment when saying ‘Iverian.’” He said while leaning back against the table that had the map on it.

Farasima looked at Rhoven, frowning some, “My Sitillian is not that bad, and not mistake. We come from east, past mountains that separate Nevarre and Iveir from the eastern part of Dhaemar.” He emphasized Iveir as he said it, just to point out to the apprentice he could say the word. “To us, this language is called Sitillian, because Sitillia is one who speaks it.”

Both Harlan and Rhoven looked over at Lukina as Farasima finished speaking. She seemed to know the most about what the foreigner was speaking of, so both figured that she might possibly have an idea of what Farasima might be speaking of.

Lukina shrugged as all eyes seemed to be settled on her. Crossing her arms, a faint color of red dusted her cheeks, “What? I don’t know everything about them. Only that they fought as soldiers in the war during the fall. And that they are exceptional horse riders, archers. They can track just about anything with ease. I’ve heard they can kill a man with a single shot from one of their bows hundreds of yards away.”

She shrugged again as she stood there, finally falling silent.

“So the things you have heard are just stories. Embellishments? Then how do we know any of it is true?” Valrien asked.

Lukina sighed heavily, “Fine. You want to doubt me… Or doubt him, whatever. Then just let him teach the idiotic Fire King who’s so intent on getting himself killed. I guarantee that what you see will be proof enough,” she snapped, “I just don’t want to watch Siya destroy himself. Hell, make him serve Siya. He wants to repay us for saving his life, right? Then serve the King,” by that point she had turned her attention on Farasima.

Tilting her head a little, she eyed the man with a bit of a frown on her lips, “Think you can handle a little fire, archer?”

Lutchka hadn’t really bothered to speak up during the conversation, but she did have a deep conviction when it came to teaching Siya how to fight for himself. Everyone else was so certain of it as well, so it was encouraging. Having seen the Fire King break down like that though…. It brought up memories of her own that she suppressed very tightly. They always brought nothing but trouble.

A look of momentary irritation flickered across her features when Valrien seemed to question Lukina in that ever-present condescending tone he seemed to have. “No, they’re not embellishments. The Skis’tatari are a fairly legitimate people. I’ve been down in the general area. The stuff you hear down there isn’t too much rumor, if you get my meaning.”

The ex-protector looked to the redhead, waiting to hear his answer as well. Undoubtedly, he would agree to it. “Well, he seems to have gotten in exceedingly easier than you did, Chromi~” She grinned teasingly at the Prince- gods, why did it feel so long since she had done something even remotely close to pestering him?

“Yes well, killing a King tends to get a lot of attention, just not the way I wanted,” he huffed in return, looking away as his face flushed heavily a deep red in color.

A serious look filled her face, though. “I’ll stay on with Siya as well. Not like anyone needs me anyway.” A sort of sour look seemed to tint subtly at her visage, and she crossed her arms lightly. “I’ll keep an eye on our redhead as well and I’ll teach Siya some basic defensive moves for when he gets too close to an enemy.”

Farasima looked at them all, before looking to the side some then nodding his head. “I owe my life, if you wish I serve then I will.” he said, looking up at them. “Sorry if I caused trouble.” he said, looking at the sour looks that everyone seemed to be adopting at this point.

Harlan looked at Valrien, rolling his eyes and giving the Prince a light swat over the head. “Dude, do I need to fish that stick out of your ass myself? Because I will if I have to, to atleast see you not/i[] be an ass for once.” he said.

Rhoven looked over at the two men before to Lutchka and Lukina, as well as Farasima. “I will help too. It’ll be nice training for me as well, as I’m sure Master Ad-Raza would say. I think his majesty might be quite excited to drag Siya into a sparring ring” he chuckled and smiled at the thought, as he knew all too well what it was like to step into that area. “Hell, we might just beat all the grouch and sadness out of King Ukomo!”

Farasima looked over at the younger man, smiling a bit but simply moving back against the wall he had stood against. His smile quickly faded, as it was instead replaced with a look of worry. He was not looking forward to having to teach, despite having made the suggestion himself. Mostly because he didn’t know what kind of person he was going to deal with, as well as being unsure of his own teaching ability to begin with.

Valrien glanced over to Lutchka, a strange look crossing his face. The gaze turned into narrowed eyes, “‘Not needed?’” he repeated, almost in anger at the way she said it. He might have said more, but Harlan smacked the back of his head, drawing his attention. Reaching up to rub his head, he gave the royal guard a heated glare, bordering a pout as well.

“I’m not…Being an ass…” he said, though his gaze dropped as confusion spread over his face. He didn’t [i]think
he was being an ass anyway. So then… Why was Harlan giving him that look? More importantly, why the hell had Lutchka said she wasn’t needed? Didn’t she know that he needed her? Had he not made that clear? Did he miss something along the way?

Valrien chewed the inside of his mouth. Was she… Perhaps mad at him in some way? The way she said that seemed to be directed at him. He felt a skip in his chest, a tight feeling. Maybe he would pull her aside and talk to her… Try to make some sense of what was going on. And hopefully without losing his head over it either. That never helped anyone.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amon Ad-Raza 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

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#, as written by Siryn
Kanan had gone to retrieve Minnow. Siya figured that much since he woke up in a bed with only Amon there and neither of his protectors with him. How long had he been sleeping? Slowly the Fire King sat up, groaning as he went. Everything hurt. His head was the most painful, pounding dully as he got into a sitting position. Reaching up, he held his hand up against the side of his temple, wincing and grinding his teeth.

Looking over to Amon, he kept one eye closed as he asked the air King what was on his mind, “H-how long have I slept?”

Amon had been fairly close to dozing off himself, having been sitting cross legged on the floor near the doorway. He’d lost track of time since Siya had fallen asleep, mostly because he himself was struggling to not fall asleep. So when someone spoke up, the Air King’s drooping head shot up straight at the sound, coming back to smack the wall behind him.

Amon shouted in pain, reaching back and rubbing his head, turning around to glare angrily at the wall that had so rudely...been in the way, before turning to look at the Fire King who was sitting up in bed. Amon’s features immediately shifted to their usual cheery features as he sat up more. “For about,” Amon paused, just smiling as he tried to get an idea of how long it actually had been, “For about,” another pause, “bleh~hours. That is how long.”

Looking off to the side for a moment, he then looked back at Siya. “How are you feeling right now?”

Siya sighed. So then Amon didn’t really know how long he’d slept. The Fire King was sure he’d slept far too long already. He needed to get ready for them to move out. They had to go and intercept the Noble’s army before they reached the next city. He was just about to get up when Amon asked him how he was feeling.

He took a deep breath, gaze locked on the sheets of the bed he’d been laid up in. He struggled for the right words, “I… I don’t know, Amon. If you mean physically… I will be honest. I hurt. My body aches constantly. This headache ceases to leave me and let me rest,” Siya took a moment again before he continued.

“But I cannot afford to rest too much. There are things I need to do. We need to move out as soon as possible. The Nobles are headed for the next city and I must stop them before they get there,” he finished and threw his legs over the side of the bed to start getting up and head for the door.

Amon watched as Siya began moving to get up off the bed, Amon standing up as well. “Then you need to take it easy, Siya. I mean, I’m honestly all for going after them, but with how set you seem to be on throwing yourself into the furnace, you are in no condition to do such a thing.” He walked towards the younger man, stopping in front of him with his arms crossed. “Honestly Siya, I think you may just want to rest. Give yourself a break, and let your men do the fighting for a bit, until your body is ready to go back out there.”

He uncrossed his arms, letting them hang by his side. “You have us to help you as well, so there is no reason to run yourself into the ground.” he watched the Fire King for a moment before a smile once again appeared on the Air King’s face. “Not to mention, it isn’t me who is going to stop you in the end. But I will tell you a little secret of mine.”

Amon’s grin only grew wider, “I tend to call Minnow my ‘Little Fishie’ not just because it is a cute name, but also because he can change what kinda fishie he is quite easily. I don’t think you want to see the barracuda side of him emerge again, now do you?” he finished, raising an eyebrow at Siya.

The words of protest began to curl on his tongue, but as Amon leaned forward and spoke about Minnow, Siya’s face paled a little. The blonde healer could be quite the force to reckon with. And the Fire King had already seemed to spite the young man enough. His outburst in the hall was not something Siya had ever seen before, and it hurt to have made the healer so angry to have done so in the first place.

Hanging his head, Siya slowly nodded, biting his lip absently, “I… Will rest then. Only because I do not desire to be flayed alive by Minnow,” the young King said with a frown on his lips. He looked up at Amon breifly before he dropped his gaze again.

“I’m sorry… I know I have not been the best. I just…” Siya ground his teeth again, reaching up and gripping his hair tightly as he took in a shuddering breath, “I wanted to prove something, but it seems I’ve only proven the Nobles correct in everything they’ve said. I’ve been selfish. Utterly selfish this entire time.

“I’ve only been thinking of myself. How much I have lost and no one else. I am…” Siya paused for a moment, a bitter laugh on his lips as he looked up again and held Amon’s gaze, “I’m jealous, Amon. You have Kanan and Minnow. Valrien has Harlan and Lutchka. And yet I am without anything that I once had. Asier left me after we came back. I don’t even know why! I can’t help but to think that he didn’t want to serve me anymore, that I was too weak to even try to protect. Too much of a burden.”

He let out an angry sound as his head dropped forward, “I’m being pathetic, I know. I just don’t know how to deal with all of this. I don’t know what I’m doing anymore, Amon. I really don’t know.”

Amon quietly listened to Siya, taking in the words he said. As his head fell forwards, a sound of frustration escaping his lips as he did so, Amon brought a hand up to rest on Siya’s shoulder. “You’re not pathetic, you are just inexperienced. You never had to feel this kinda turmoil before, so much of it coming at you so suddenly is going to be hard to face. You will figure out how to face it, in time as we all have before.”

He lowered his hand from Siya’s shoulder as he continued, “It might hurt to see what we have and you don’t, but know that many of us had to go through the same thing you did. I don’t have any remaining biological family, and I lost the person I loved as well. Valrien’s only remaining family went crazy and he was forced to kill his brother to protect all of us. Kanan too had to deal with much in his life, and I’m certain that Lutchka, Harlan, and Minnow have all had to do the same. Your time will come Siya, you just have to take the hits and keep on your feet.”

Amon smiled, “And I don’t think...um....Damiano left because of you. He was an officer in your armies for a while before becoming a protector, right? I think if you’d been the issue, he’d’ve left awhile ago. No, something was on his mind. Hell, even if he did leave because he thought you were weak, then it is his loss!” Amon said the last part a bit loudly, his grin growing. “He’s the one who lost out, having run from all the good people here!”

Amon reached up, ruffling up Siya’s hair, his grin still plastered on his face. “You’ll get your due, I know you will. You are too nice a person for fate to be cruel to you forever after all!”

“A-Amon… I,” Siya’s voice failed him as he sat there. Tears were choking him, so the small Fire King simply settled for nodding his head while taking in deep, shuddering breaths in a vain attempt to calm down.

It took him some time before he was able to speak properly again. Slowly, Siya shifted on the bed and pulled himself backwards so that he could lay down again. He was getting weak, light headed even, so he opted for being already laid up on the mattress rather than dropping on Amon a second time.

“Did Kanan go to find Minnow? I really need to apologize to him for making him so angry.”

Amon nodded his head when Siya asked about Minnow, “He did, yes.” Amon chuckled again, “Though I think it might be the both of you exchanging apologies. It is rare to see such a fire in the little fella, and I think he was quite surprised with himself. You’ll get your chance to apologize soon enough though, so just lie down and rest.” Amon turned and walked back over to where he had been sitting, situating himself on the floor while looking towards Siya.

“So then, Siya.” Amon said while looking towards the Fire King, “How about we pass the time with a few stories, hm? I don’t really know much about you honestly, so why don’t you tell me a bit about where you grew up and all?”

Minnow had spoken with Kanan earlier, and that had helped him calm down quite a bit. He didn’t exactly regret what he had said, but he wasn’t proud of it either. Besides that fact, there were other things that were playing heavily on his mind. Things that tended to haunt him constantly nowadays and things that weren’t going to be a help to anyone.

So the little healer was currently walking down the halls in the manor, heading towards the room that he had been told that Siya was resting in. He paused at the door for a moment, readjusting his medpack a bit nervously before knocking lightly.

Amon blinked and looked back up at the door, having cut off the chance for him and Siya to talk. Standing up, Amon then opened the door, smiling at the sight of Minnow standing there. “Hey there buddy. He’s awake now for you.”

Amon stepped back, opening the door completely. “Try not to maul him too much, unless of course he misbehaves and tries to escape. In which case, do what you need to do.” He then looked back at Siya, giving the Fire King a smile. “Remember about what I said, calling him my ‘Little Fishie’.” Amon said with a chuckle before looking at Minnow and giving him a nod and heading on out of the room.

Siya frowned at Amon, his earlier thoughts on how to answer the man’s questions leaving his mind when Minnow showed up. He waited until Amon left before he looked away to the ceiling and spoke softly. Firstly, he had to apologize to the little healer for making him so angry, so that’s what he did.

“Minnow, I’m sorry for… What I did. I didn’t mean to make you angry, or be selfish… I just. Don’t know what I’m doing anymore. Are you still angry with me?” he asked, turning his head to look at the blonde.

Minnow had an uncharacteristically sober look to his face when Amon opened the door. He tried for a little smile, but the bit about mauling anybody didn’t help his thoughts one bit. He was glad that Amon left the two of them. He loved his King, but he could be crass and oblivious quite often.

When Siya spoke up, Minnow was tempted to hold his hand up to quiet him, but he thought better of it. With the Fire King’s apology, Minnow shook his head. “No, of course not. It was not my position to question your means, so I want to apologize too.” He closed the door behind him and walked over to one of the windows, pulling the curtains aside to allow some light to filter into the room so he could see better.

The little healer walked over to the bed and sat down next to Siya carefully, opening his pack and pulling out a few things here and there. He then began his examination of the King, carefully moving about and shifting clothes here and there to assess the damage.

“You had every right, Minnow,” Siya replied softly. He shifted a little to help Minnow lift the shirt so that the little healer could see the poorly bandaged wound in his stomach, over the hip bone, “I just want to say right now, that… I’m sorry if I… Do anything wrong. I’m so lost. I can’t think straight. I don’t know what I’m doing half the time…” Tears curled into his eyes, slowly leaking out as he looked away from Minnow.

He hadn’t told anyone the deeper parts of his thoughts, so as they slowly surfaced to Minnow, he couldn’t help but to cry again, “Staying alive is just as hard. I don’t know, Minnow. It’s never been this hard. I’m sorry,” he said sniffing and trying to calm down again, “I don’t mean to be like this. Just… Bear with me. Please.”

Minnow breathed a soft little laugh that held very little humor in it when Siya mentioned not knowing what to do and apologizing for doing something wrong. “You’re not the only one who feels that way, you know. It isn’t as easy as you think to heal people. Sure, I have experience, but I’m always afraid I might screw something up, especially in Reimrand where I have no skill whatsoever. I’m not a very good protector, either, and to be honest I think I may have put my own King into danger more than once just because I’m so incapable at doing any real protecting.”

The little blonde spoke quietly, running his fingers gently over the torn flesh to check the damage and how badly it had been torn. He frowned gently when tears began to dribble from Siya’s eyes. He leaned forward and gently placed the pads of his thumbs against the corners of his eyes to wipe away the tears.

“Things always get worse before they get better. I would know. We’ve all got scars, and no one’s is worse than anyone else’s, because the skills and personalities we each have put a strong strain on anything we might go through. It’s not all bad, though. You can meet great people along the way, even if that means having to leave others behind. Ask anyone, we all have horrors that wreak havoc in our memories.”

Minnow patted Siya lightly on the shoulder before going to work on his side, reworking the bandages and cleaning out whatever crap the other healers missed. “You need more sleep,” He scolded, not entirely being gentle with the King’s wounds while he tended to them. Siya wasn’t going to get out of it that easily.

Siya cringed on the bed, his leg pulling up as Minnow worked on his wound. He clenched the sheets tightly, squeezing his eyes shut and grinding his teeth, “M-Minnow…” he complained, though he was sure the little healer would ignore his pain. Little pants of pain hit the air in the room as the blonde worked. Siya did his best to keep still but it was a chore in doing so. Silently he just begged for Minnow to finish up quickly.

“Wouldn’t hurt so much if you weren’t getting them all the time.” The healer reprimanded mercilessly. There was a time to be gentle a time to be firm, and this one was for the latter. It seemed the only way he could get people to be a bit more conscious about hurting themselves is if he promised worse pain when tending to them. Normally he was a sweetheart and always concerned with the pains of others, but when it came to stubborn bull-headed people like pretty much everyone he knew at that point, a firm hand was needed.

Siya made a soft sound, a partial whimper of pain as he lay there, shifting ever so slightly as Minnow worked. He wanted it to be over soon, hoping that Minnow would at least spare him from the pain for much longer, “O-Okay… Okay! Ah! That stings… Minnow,” he said, retracting his hand from grabbing the little healers wrist to get him to stop with whatever he was putting on it, “I’ll be more careful! I‘m sorry,” he said quickly hoping to appease the blonde. I’m never getting wounded again… Ever! Not like this… Aah, damn it it hurts! he thought to himself as he prayed for a quick end to the healing process.

~~~

A few Days Later

“Remind me again why I’m doing this?” Siya said with a bit of a clip to his tone.

Valrien rolled his eyes as he led the young man out to the soldiers training area. It had taken quite a bit of convincing to keep Siya from ordering his men to begin marching, even more so to meet his new Protector and trainer, as well as to agree to let Lutchka and Amon train him in a few other things too. Most notably to mention, Minnow was the biggest reason why Siya even agreed to any of the terms.

Valrien grinned despite himself. The little healer was quite the master at making people obey and do what he wanted them to. It made the Prince wonder how in the hell Kanan dealt with the little blonde. Perhaps he would ask when Minnow wasn’t within earshot…

“You nearly got yourself killed, you don’t have any protectors right now, and we have already decided that you’re going to train with him whether you like it or not.”

“I really want to light you on fire right now…”

Valrien scoffed at him, “Yes, well good luck with that, My Lord. Now, go say hello to your new Protector,” the Prince said while giving the young King a light shove against his back.

They had come to the area that would be designated for the King to train in, a tall red-haired man standing there already. Siya swallowed dryly before glancing back at Valrien in apprehension, “What is his name again?”

Valrien sighed, rolling his eyes yet again, “Farasima, don’t you pay attention to anything? Now… Play nicely, don’t threaten him with fire or anything else equally unpleasant… And try not to accidentally shoot anyone, or yourself.”

“Shut up, Valrien!”

The Prince grinned then turned on his heel, “I have a highly volatile woman to go try to appease, so if you do not see me again… It’s probably due to Lutchka burning me to a crisp.”

Siya huffed at him, watching him for a moment before turning back to the red head who was called Farasima. The young King muttered under his breath as he started his approach, “I hope she does light you on fire…”

Farasima was standing in the training area, fidgeting a bit nervously with the bow he had been provided. Next to him sat another bow, leaning up against a wooden barrel filled with a number of arrows for them to use. He was nervous about meeting with the person he was now being ordered to not only train, but protect. He wasn’t sure exactly of how capable he was for such a job, as he had never been the greatest warrior in his tribe. He was a good shot and skilled rider just like any other, but he was no Urda’Reshla, the best the Skis’naturi tribe had to offer as soldiers.

He closed his eyes, as again he found himself circling back to such painful thoughts. Thankfully, he did not have a chance to think on them as he heard the sound of Prince Valrien approaching, ushering along a slightly shorter white haired man. Farasima stood up, glancing down at the bow once more in his hand with a bit of a frown. The other issue he was having is that this bow was quite different from the ones he was used to using. Of course, this one was designed to be used by foot soldiers, where the Skis’tatari man had always used a much smaller bow designed to be fired from the back of a horse.

He listened to the two bicker for a few moments, Valrien finally pushing the King forwards towards Farasima. He couldn’t hear what Siya said under his breath as he approached, he just hoped it wasn’t an insult directed towards him. As Siya moved forward, Farasima quickly bowed to him. “K-King, hello.” was all Farasima could think to say as he kept his head lowered. He figured the best he could do was follow the rules of etiquette he been taught. “I hope you are well, King.”

“U-uh… I-I am alright,” Siya answered, his voice cracking a few times. He looked away, scuffing his boot against the sandy training area, “Please, don’t call me that. Just Siya is okay. O-oh, uh.. My name is Siya, so please just…” the young King faltered and let the rest fall away as he tugged at the end of his braid that hung just over his shoulder.

In the middle of his telling the man not to address him as King, Siya had remembered that he’d in fact never introduced himself, hence the reason for his stumble on his words and speech. He sighed heavily to himself. So much for making an impression… he thought sourly. Looking back to Farasima, he frowned a little.

“Valrien told me you are my new Protector, and that you are to be training me. Tell me, what are you going to train me to do? I heard too that you’re agreeing to serve as my protector because they saved your life. But you do not have to do this if you do not wish to,” Siya said firmly.

At the back of his mind, he chided himself. He sounded almost as if he didn’t want Farasima and he bit his tongue rather hard once he realized his tone. Looking away, he scoffed again, “I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to be so harsh. I just… Never mind. I don’t know what it is I really want right now. Please forgive my poor attitude.”

Farasima blinked, somewhat confused when he was told to drop the formal antics. He lifted his head, looking up at Siya before rising back to his full height. “Apologies, it is habit. We are taught to respect those above us, and Du’Dradasi was said to be strict. We were taught to do to not anger him.”

He listened to the rest of what he had to say, Farasima looking to the bow as Siya mentioned not having to help or protect him. The red-head watched the bow for a moment, spinning it in his hand; he only looked back up at Siya when he apologized. “I take no offence, King.” he paused, coughing and clearing his throat as he caught his mistake, “I mean, Siya. I do have to do this, as I can not ignore what they did for me. I should have died, but they saved me. So I owe them, and they wish for me to help you. I will do it.”

He watched Siya for a long moment before looking off towards the target at the end of the range. “I don’t have anywhere to go, so here is where I’ll stay. I will protect and train.” he then looked back at Siya. “I will train you to shoot bow. Shoot well, hit target, and not be killed back. I will teach you to ride horse well, and to fire from the back. They seem to wish to train you to fight close with opponents, which is good as I am not strong there. So I’ll train you to use this well.” he said, grabbing the other bow that lay on the ground and handing it out to Siya. As he did so, he held the bow quite carefully, offering it out to the King with an open hand and bowing his head slightly as he did so.

“When ready, we begin, Siya.” Farasima said, lifting his head back up once the bow was taken from his hand.

“Du’Dradasi?” Siya repeated the word in confusion as he looked up at Farasima. He sighed and shook his head though, he would learn it later. Just like with Damiano, the man spoke a different tongue and Siya never really asked, just learned it as he went. Some stuff he had a general idea of. Whenever he said ‘mi rey’ he figured the man was addressing him by a title of some sort. There were a few other things, curses and the like but nothing he knew substantially.

This would be the same he figured.

As Farasima reached out and handed him the bow, Siya took it from his hands carefully and eyed it. He didn’t know how to hold it, so it felt awkward in his hand. Thankfully it was fairly light, not too heavy. Siya looked up at the red-head and frowned a bit. Awkwardly standing there with a bow in his hands, he tried to figure out how to use it. Sure he’d seen Damiano use his plenty of times before, but to be handed one out of the blue…

The King tilted the bow back and forth in his hands, trying to discern how to handle it. How would he hold the arrow on the string? Like how Damiano did? Maybe? Could he even do that? Siya nibbled on his lip, eyebrows curled together in concentration. He stood silently as he waited for Farasima to further instruct him. Can’t be that hard… It didn’t look all that hard to do, Siya chided himself.

It occurred to him that he should probably announce that he was ready to being as Farasima had said they would, when Siya was ready for it. He took a deep breath and then spoke, trying to sound not as irritated or anything of the like over the situation, “Alright. We can start.”

“‘The Wise’, or also ‘The Spirit’, is Du’Dradasi.” Farasima said, watching the king take the bow and stare at the weapon. “He was one who united us Skis’tatari, took us and made us stronger than before.” Farasima looked up at the Fire King’s face, then looked back down range. “Many not privileged to know his mortal name, so we call him by what he was.”

He then took hold of his own bow, testing its feel, holding it and drawing it back to full draw for a moment and watching down range. He didn’t have an arrow ready, so after holding it in place for only a moment, he relaxed his arms. He then looked back to Siya. “I hope they not give us strong bows. Might make training hard if they did.”

He watched the king for a moment, observing the young man’s features. Siya was quite the small individual, in both height and physique. He was certainly no warrior, though Farasima was not much bigger when it came to his own physique. He had never been trained yet to don the heavier armor that the Skis’naturi shock cavalry wore, nor did he ever learn to fight in the thick of combat. Regardless, if Farasima could do it, then he figured that even despite the size of Siya, the King would be able to manage it.

The red-head walked over to the wooden barrel that held their arrows, readying it and taking hold of one and nocking it onto the bow string. He looked over at Siya. “Take arrow, you learn first how to hold it on the bow. It is not difficult, even though it may seem so first.” He remained standing next to the barrel, watching Siya. “If you are right-handed, it will be the hand to hold bow. Likewise, arrow will rest on left side of bow. If you are left handed, simply reverse what I said.”

As he held the bow, he had wrapped his right index finger around the arrow to hold it against the bow while with his left hand he simply pinched the end of the arrow between his thumb and index. “This,” he said, lifting his hands to show the King, “Is good way to hold arrow when resting. Combat, usually don’t wait with arrow like this though, as you will fire often and not rest.”

Siya nodded as he watched Farasima put the arrow between his fingers. He tried his best to mimic what he’d been shown. Holding the bow in his left hand, he tried to put the arrow there as well, holding the end between his fingers of his right. The damn thing slipped a few times, falling into the sand and rewarding Farasima with a nice view of a very embarrassed King.

He cursed softly to himself, his face heating and staying that way as he just couldn’t get a good handle on the arrow. Once he did figure that out, he felt a little bit of triumph wash through him. Yet, when they moved on to putting the arrow in the proper position on the bow, the arrow kept slipping down, or off the curved handle. It was constantly moving and never straight like Farasima’s was when he held it.

The worst of it was that he wasn’t even drawing the string, just trying to position the arrow. Siya’s frustrations were coming back as he struggled with it. A furious blush painting itself seemingly permanently upon his face as he glared at the bow as if all his problems with it were the weapons fault entirely. After what seemed like forever, Siya finally managed to get the arrow where it should be and stay that way.

It was all in how he held his fingers, held the arrow and underneath the shaft. Looking over to Farasima, he couldn’t help the slight smile at his second triumph for the day. Though the smile turned to a little frown of confusion, “Now what…?” he asked softly. He knew to draw the string, but how did you aim it? Or was there even such a thing? He couldn’t help but to think of how Damiano had done it so many times before. It didn’t look like he ever ‘aimed’ the thing, just pulled the string back and let it go while staring down at his target.

Farasima watched the King wrestle with just the arrow, trying to keep it simply held on the bow, and as the man’s face began to take a shade similar to the Skis’tatari’s hair color, Farasima couldn’t help but smile. It was simply far too an adorable sight, so much so that Farasima had stopped paying much attention to how the King was even holding the string. After a few moments though Farasima blinked and then quickly shook his head rapidly, getting himself focused again as his smile quickly vanished.

Farasima then walked over towards the King, standing next to him and turning himself to face down range. His eyes though were still settled on the King, eyeing the young man before he then looked down towards the target. “We start simple, we not go full pull. Learning proper technique more important, as full pull is never held. Once you learn technique and how to hold, then you will be able to fire full pull.”

Farasima, held the bow close to his body, his left fingers still pinching hold of the arrow nocked on the string. In a smooth motion, he then extended the right arm that held the bow, pushing it out while pulling his left hand back some, though he never brought his left hand past further than his left pectoral. He stopped his right arm from extending completely, it still having a slight bend in it. “Keep arrow facing toward target, you may not have strong grip yet so bow may pull arrow free of your fingers.” He then looked back at Siya’s face, “If you lose grip on arrow, do not worry.”

He looked back down range for a moment before he quickly turned his head back to Siya. “Forgot to mention, when drawing bow use whole upper body. As you saw, I used arm on bow to push it forwards, my hand with arrow used to pull on string. Neither of us strong enough to use one arm to effectively pull string back. Ok?” He said, his gaze tracing along the path that was the Fire King’s braid before focusing back on the man’s face.

Siya nodded, though he wasn’t sure he entirely understood. Though, when Farasima drew the bow, he got a better perspective. Trying to do as he was told, he pushed on the bow and pulled at the string. At first it was easy to get the string to pull back, but as he tried to get to where Farasima wanted it, he started to shake. Gritting his teeth, Siya tried his best to pull it back a little more. Just as the tall red-head said, he lost his hold on it. The string surprised him as it snapped back into place, tearing through his fingers. The arrow shot forward, not far, but away from him and dropped into the sand.

He wasn’t worried about the arrow though. His fingers stung horribly. A soft cry escaped him as he lowered the bow and quite nearly dropped it entirely as he brought his fingers up to his lips. Putting them in his mouth he tried to ease the burn, squeezing his eyes shut. Once he deemed it okay, he shook his hand as he hissed and glared down at the bow in his hand.

“Is it always going to feel like that?” he asked as he went and retrieved the arrow. Once he had it back and settled on the bow, he looked up at Farasima with a bit of a frown. Siya wasn’t entirely sure he liked the idea of handling a bow. He let out a sigh as he held it loosely, arrow still attached to the string and in place, “Why did it have to be a bow…”

Farasima watched the King handle the bow, observing how he did it. When the bow string suddenly slipped free, as Farasima had expected it to, he was startled somewhat when the king made a light sound of pain, tending to his stinging fingers. The foreigner blinked and let go of the hand that held the string of his bow. “I-I sorry! I should have mentioned that.” He looked away from Siya’s gaze for a moment before looking back at him. He then looked around the area, though in all honestly Farasima didn’t think he’d be finding a glove as he was looking for. “I was foolish, should have given you hand protection. I am sorry, King.” he then looked back to Siya.

He cleared his throat, looking down slightly. “If you wish to, some wear gloves to protect fingers. It will rub fingers raw if you shoot many arrows.” He held up his own hand, showing it to the king. “Skis’tatari live rough life, so our hands toughened by a lot of the work. Still, no shame in using gloves. Performance and results on battlefield more important than your whether or not you can use bow constantly without gloves.”

He then looked back up to meet the King’s eyes, trying to discern if the man was upset with him. Farasima wouldn’t blame him. He’d only taught a few people, but never any full lessons such as now. It’d only ever been peers who were also going through the same training and life as he had been.

The Fire King sighed, “It’s fine. It’s not your fault. I’m just… Not used to handling weapons. I use my fire for everything, to defend and fight. Though look where it’s gotten me,” he said with a sour tone. His red gaze narrowed as he looked up from the bow to the target a little ways away from them.

His voice was like acid, shaking as he spoke and filled with the memory of having that entourage filing into his hall and announcing his dethronement, “Considered weak and incompetent. Unfit for rule. Not even ‘Royalty’. As if they would know or understand why I was even put there in the first place,” he snapped.

Around his hands the flickering of his fires began to curl. The fingers turned into fists of his free hand, having let go of the bowstring, letting the arrow simply drop as he shook slightly. The familiar burn of his anger and reasons as to why he was there in the first place took over again, “And yet, despite fighting off the ‘Nobles’ army with everything I had, I lost too many and nearly got myself killed. Now, does that make you think ‘King’ when I tell you that?”

Farasima watched Siya, taken aback some as the man’s anger seemed to begin boiling forth once again. It was not aimed at the red-head, but still it made him slightly nervous. When the fire began to lick at the hands of the king, Farasima found himself stepping back ever so slightly. It was reflexes that had him doing so, though he didn’t go further than just one step as he caught himself. He just hoped that Lukina had been lying about having to “play with fire.”

Farasima was at a loss of what to say. He did not know exactly what this man was going through and what had happened to him. In truth, he had little knowledge of what the current war was even about. He had simply been brought along with his tribe to do the bidding of Du’Dradasi.

Watching Siya, and seeing the anger only growing more and more, Farasima was struggling to think of how to calm him down. A thought crossed his mind though, a chance to possibly diffuse the situation. Hopefully it wouldn’t mean he would get burnt, so he spoke up despite the awkwardness of what he was saying, given the context. “I like your hair, especially braid.” was all the foreigner said, reaching out to lightly take hold of the end of it. He didn’t grip the braid tightly, rather he just let it rest in his rough hands, looking over the silvery-white locks of hair. “I only wish I could get mine to look so nice.”

Siya quickly lost track of what he was thinking, or even going to say next if Farasima had answered his question. The red-head did speak, but not in the way he’d expected. His mouth opened and closed rapidly as he stared up at the man. Siya could feel the heat of his blush taking over, growing darker than it had been before when he’d struggled with the bow.

His face heated even more to the point of it feeling like his heart had just invaded the skin as Farasima reached out and took the very end of his braid. Siya turned to look down a little, then back up at the man, struggling for words. At that point, he’d completely forgotten what he was so angry about and his fires disappeared in the space of a few seconds.

“I-I… U-um… I-it… T-thank you?” he said, though not entirely sure what he was talking about, “I… Don’t do anything… To it… U-uh…”

Siya couldn’t look at Farasima anymore, far too embarrassed as he said in return, “Y-yours is nice too…” the words barely breathed off his lips as he fidgeted with the bow in his hands.

Farasima watched the man’s face turn a dark red, and the Skis’tatari man couldn’t help but begin to chuckle at the sight. The wide eyes, the immense blush, the stuttering, it had Farasima chuckling. He let the braid slip from his grip, his hand going back to rest on the string of his bow. “Leeda.” he said, “It is our way of saying, ‘you are welcome.’ Yishda, thank you, about my own. It is not as soft as your’s though.” he said.

Watching Siya for a few more moments, he then turned and looked back down range. “Let us continue. You wish for gloves? As said, no shame in using them. Even I would in battle, so I do not have to worry about my fingers.”

“I-I… Y-yes… Gloves… Yes. That. Gloves would help, yes,” Siya stuttered horribly, his thoughts everywhere but on the fact that he was training. Or supposed to be training. Absently, he reached up and touched his hair, was it really soft? He didn’t think so.

What the hell is wrong with me?! Siya snapped at himself internally. A simple compliment, a touch of his hair and he was reduced to nothing but a bumbling idiot. The Fire King tugged at the braid with a little frown on his lips, closer to a pout than anything else, but he couldn’t help it. Looking up briefly at Farasima, he turned away as his face seemed to think it was a great time to ignite just by looking at the man.

He cursed to himself softly, scuffing his boot into the sand. He waited for a glove to be retrieved before they could continue. Slipping it on, it felt odd, but as he held the string and did what Farasima wanted him to do again with the string, it felt better. Especially when the damn thing slipped out of his grip. It was going to take quite a while before he was strong enough to even draw the bow. Yet, the little King didn’t stop. He kept trying. Pulling it back to where Farasima wanted it so that he could show him how to aim the bow.

Once Siya got that down without losing the arrow upon drawing it back, his next task was to go to a full draw and let the arrow fly to hit the target. Farasima was quite good at teaching, at least Siya thought he was. Slow, patient, directing him when he needed it. When Siya did his first full draw, he accidentally had his arm curved in too far and the string pinched the soft skin of his forearm.

Dropping the bow entirely, he’d cradled his arm to his chest, but he knew he’d done it wrong to begin with. As soon as he was over that pain, he tried it again, and again. Siya kept going, managing only to pinch his arm a few times out of the many that he’d fired the bow. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been out in that training area with Farasima, but when he drew the bow again, his arm shook horribly and a burn pulsed through his shoulder. When he released, he missed the target completely and his arms fell limp at his sides. Short breaths of air panting into his lungs as he stood there.

Farasima watched Siya work, again helping him as they went along. As they moved to full draw, Farasima watched the king struggle to hold the bow and aim the shot. He watched the man for a few moments before looking down towards the target. “I don’t know how they do it here, if holding full pull is usual, but we Skis’tatari are taught slightly different.” he looked to the king. “for now, you continue aiming to hit target, but eventually we will move to how we fire.”

He looked back down range, nocking an arrow onto his bow. He figured he’d give a demonstration. The bow was relaxed, as was Farasima as he watched the target. Then in one fluid motion, he drew the bow back to full draw. the moment his left fingers came up by the corner of his lips, the bow fully drawn back, Farasima let the string and arrow go. It sailed down range and hit the target. It wasn’t a bullseye, but it still hit near the center.

He then looked at Siya. “We Skis’tatari not taught to aim, or rather not aim at full pull. We are taught to look for our target, aim with ours eyes only, then draw and shoot. We must, as horseback aiming not usually an option, and full pull is tiring to body.” He drew an arrow and repeated the same quick process, again releasing the arrow the moment it was fully drawn back. It was near the first arrow, Farasima then looking back to Siya. “The grip we use, the thumb and first finger to pinch arrow, is helpful to it because of how clean release of arrow is.”

He let the bow rest on the ground, having finished his quick demonstration. “Of course, if full pull aiming is what you end up comfortable with, then there is no fault in that. Though we may fire more on reflex, even Skis’tatari must aim every now and then. Continue as you were, just wish to let you know what I will be teaching you later. Holding at full pull will help build strength in upper body to fire bow more often.” he finished, a smile forming on his lips.

Siya watched, in awe at the fluidity of how he drew the bow and released it. It looked much more graceful than he felt he was doing. Paying as close attention as he could, Siya tried to think of how it was even possible to not aim and fire the bow all the same, hitting the target nearly in the same spot, or close to it. He found it utterly amazing how that happened. Then again, Farasima had much more practice then he did.

Taking a deep breath, Siya tried to do as he was told and lifted the bow again. His shoulder ached horribly, protesting against the forced motion. When he pulled on the string it was so much harder to draw it back. He got off one last shot before he simply dropped the bow entirely and let his body fall into the sand. Stretching his legs out, he leaned back and went flat into the sand with his eyes closed tightly, “Done… No more… I can’t…” he panted heavily. To think, he had Amon to go see as well.

“All of you are going to kill me,” he muttered with a frown as he lay there.

Farasima watched the king continue, before after a while finally just giving up and flopping over into the sand. It drew a light chuckle from him, as the Fire King just splayed out on the ground. If he’d been under the eyes of the trainers Farasima had been, the poor fella would be getting kicked at the moment, but he was not going to be as cruel.

Instead, he set his bow down and watched Siya lie there, Farasima standing over him with his arms crossed. “Enjoy your rest, I will not try to kill you though, as I must protect you.” He smiled, “Also be careful, I like your hair, don’t ruin it with sand.” he said with a bit of a grin before walking off to grab the exhausted individual some water.

Siya might have stayed sprawled out in the sand, until Farasima mentioned his hair yet again. With a slight flail to his arms, he quickly shot upright, hands reaching up to his hair and staring down at the sand between his boots with a very red face. After a minute his eyes narrowed from the embarrassment.

“Try not to kill me?” he said with a bit of a scoff, “Keep up like that and you’ll succeed,” he muttered to himself as he absently played with his hair. Brushing the sand out of it as best he could, unfortunately now worried about the sand being in it. Damn it! I will find a way to get you back for this… Farasima!

~~~

Amon stood to the side, arms crossed as he watched Rhoven and Siya in the center of the sand ring. As Rhoven had guessed, he was going to be trained alongside Siya, so now the two of them were in the little sparring ring. Amon had made it a rule that no magic was to be used, which Rhoven was quite use to. Honestly the teen was a bit excited, as now he was up against someone he could probably beat without having to be given the victory.

Rhoven’s matches against Amon were always tough, as the Air King was a vicious hand-to-hand fighter despite his apparent distaste for violence. So the only time Rhoven usually ever won was because Amon was taking it easy on him. He hadn’t forgotten the first time he questioned Amon’s abilities, as the Air King let him know real fast just how good he actually was. Rhoven was not going to be getting back his missing canine tooth without some kind of special magic.

The teen watched Siya, moving around the man slowly, making sure his feet never crossed as he did. His hands were out in front of him, not curled into fists and he only stood on the balls of his feet. He decided this time to wait for the Fire King to make a move, see what the man might come up with as an attack. A smile was on his face the entire time as he waited, keeping his eyes focused on Siya the whole time.

When Amon had said not to use magic, Siya was honestly at a loss on what to do. He’d never fought without his fire before. Never. How was he to even begin to try? As Rhoven began to circle him, Siya tried to do the same, moving with him but not nearly with enough grace as Rhoven possessed. He was awkward in the way that he moved, keeping Rhoven in front of him as best as he could, hands constantly shifting, curling into fists and every so often flickering with flame only to be yelled at by Amon to remind him to not use it.

What unnerved him the most was Rhoven’s smile. It hadn’t ceased since Siya had stepped up in front of him. He wasn’t sure he was entirely ready for what they were going to do either. Unlike Farasima, Amon had simply tossed him into the little ring with Rhoven with the rule of no magic. He flicked his gaze over to the red-head before quickly looking away as he was sure to be distracted.

Siya took a deep breath, already feeling the rise of heat in his face as he finally decided on how he was going to attack Rhoven. Stopping, he lunged forward, fingers curled into a fist and directed at Rhoven’s chest. He didn’t want to actually hit the young man in his face, so he avoided that entirely and settled for the larger target, the boy’s upper body. If Siya managed to hit him, he would be utterly surprised, but he wasn’t going to be counting on that.

As Siya came forwards, Rhoven easily slipped to the side of the telegraphed blow. As he moved to the kings side, he then shifted forwards and threw a kick aimed for the Fire King’s lower side, just above his hip. He then quickly slipped back away from Siya, not wanting to remain too close to possibly get struck again. It had always been how the teen fought, poking and picking away at his opponents.

He was not a strong individual, so he had to rely on dodging attacks and striking back during the moments they were vulnerable. Second, he usually resorted to tearing his opponents down by striking at them, then slipping away before they could tag him back. It didn’t always work, especially with Amon who was very proficient in defending and attacking in the same movement, so usually it resulted in Rhoven taking a fist straight to his face or being thrown to the ground.

“Easy, Rhoven.” Amon called out. “This is not a chance to tear apart someone, this is just as much a lesson as when we spar.” Rhoven looked at Amon, frowning as he did so before he looked back to Siya. “This is full contact, but I don’t want to see either of you try to really hurt one another.”

As expected, Siya missed the boy completely. With Rhoven’s easy step out of his reach, Siya stumbled. Rhoven was far too quick for him, nimbly getting out of the way of his half hearted strike. What hit him next though was not what Siya had been prepared for. The boot to his side, right above his hip had him gasping in pain and stumbling away from Rhoven.

He tried to catch his balance, but simply ended up in the sand on his side, dust kicking up from his fall. Groaning, he rolled up onto his knees and sighed heavily. He was even less sure about that kind of training than he was of the bow with Farasima. Siya was grateful that Amon had stepped up, telling Rhoven to go easy, though he wasn’t entirely sure how much ‘easier’ Rhoven could get with him.

Slowly standing, Siya brushed himself off, muttering to himself, “At least Farasima is nicer… And I don’t even know him!”

He let out another sigh and stepped up again to face Rhoven. That time he was a little more careful in planning his attack. Even so, he was sure Rhoven was prepared for it. He rushed the boy again, aiming lower toward his abdomen with his fist. He hoped to do something to the kid, if not he was really going to have to start rethinking his plan of attack. That or he was going to lose his temper which was a very big possibility no matter what.

Rhoven watched Siya, watching as he stood back up onto his feet while brushing sand off of himself. He still had a frown on his lips, as he was a bit irritated that now he had to be “nice”. Rhoven didn’t see the reason for taking it easy, as the teen had to learn to fight the hard way. It took several beatings from others before Rhoven had begun to pick up the tricks it took to fight.

As Siya rushed forwards, Rhoven again simply stepped to the side. This time he threw a kick that hit Siya’s outer thigh as he went past. He held back on the power of the blow as he had been told, though it still bugged him a little to do so. He hit hard enough to let Siya know he had been smacked and enough that it would at least sting.

As Rhoven shifted back some, Amon called out. As he spoke, he did his best so that it didn’t seem like he was being condescending as he spoke. “Don’t rush your target, Siya. Especially with your size you won’t benefit from such maneuvers. It will only telegraph your intentions, not to mention it does not leave you with many good ones either.”

He lowered his arms, “Keep your arms up, spread your weight evenly on your legs, and simply move towards Rhoven. There is no need to rush this fight, so be calm, be patient, and don’t get too excited.”

Siya groaned, wincing and grinding his teeth as the kick nailed him again. Stumbling, he managed to keep his feet that time. He turned his heavy red gaze over to Amon, a deep frown on his lips and anger clear in his eyes, “I’m not excited at all,” he said with a clipped tone. With a frustrated growl, he turned back to Rhoven, a little more angry that time.

“Why do I have to do this?” he shot at Amon, though despite his complaint he did as he was told and tried to keep his weight spread evenly, whatever that meant. Siya put his arms up, feeling very awkward in doing so and that damned blush claimed his face again. He cursed himself continually.

Despite being told to be calm and patient, Siya was anything but that. He moved toward Rhoven slowly, still unsure in the way he was moving across the sand and definitely a little more than just slightly embarrassed as well as pissed off. If he could just use his fire, things would be easily fixed. He could send his opponent away from him with the flames, and keep them at a distance.

Yet, as he thought about that, he recalled the woman breaking into his circle of fire. Throwing up her earth at him and destroying his only way to protect himself. The memory distracted him enough, as well as irritated him enough to turn it on to Rhoven without meaning to, “Quit kicking me, damn it!” he hissed as he lunged forward and tried to land another strike at Rhoven.

Amon shook his head some, “When I say ‘excited’ I don’t mean happy, ‘excited’.” He watched Siya do as he was told to and begin moving towards Rhoven. It was still an awkward stance, but Amon wasn’t expecting perfection. It was a start and it was something for Amon to work on with the Fire King.

Rhoven watched Siya, bouncing ever so slightly on his feet as the king moved towards him. He slowly shifted towards him as well, though he couldn’t help but grin when Siya suddenly shouted at him to cease his kicking. The look of anger in Siya’s eyes only egged Rhoven on, so when Siya suddenly lunged forwards, Rhoven quickly shifted himself to the side again, using one of his hands to guide Siya’s attack to the side before Rhoven delivered another kick to the same spot he had just kicked a moment ago on Siya’s leg.

Amon sighed, shaking his head. “That is what I meant by ‘excited’. “ He then started walking forwards. He’d seen enough of what he wanted, so he called out to the two of them before things escalated. “Alright, that is enough. I think we can move on.” he said. He was ready to move to possibly intercept them if tempers got a little too heated.

With his arm suddenly pushed off to the side, Siya let out a soft sound of surprise, followed by a shout both of pain and anger. Hadn’t he just told the boy to quit kicking him? The kick to the same spot throbbed horribly and he struggled to stay standing. Grinding his teeth, he was frustrated and whirled around without hearing Amon stepping close to them. Cursing under his breath he went after Rhoven again, determined to at least smack the boy once. Only once. That was all he wanted to be slightly satisfied for being thrown around like a rag doll.

As Siya moved forwards to do whatever he planned to do to Rhoven, Amon quickly reached his arm out and held back Siya with it. “Siya, enough.” When he heard a light chuckle from the apprentice, Amon turned and leveled a stern look at the teen. Rhoven’s eyes widened and he quickly shut up.

“Rhoven, you go and complete the first group of exercises. You know which ones I am referring to. Understood?” He watched the apprentice hang his head, nodding it before turning and walking off. With his back to the Air King though, he couldn’t help but smile still. Felt good to play around with someone like that.

As Rhoven walked off, Amon then looked down at Siya, slowly lowering his arm. He was still ready to snatch hold of him if he needed to though. “Now, I wanted to see what you did know. Gives me an idea of what we might need to focus on.” he paused, his mouth hanging open for a moment before he coughed some, “Looks like it’s going to be a lot.”

He then brought his arm up to usher along Siya. “We’ll start with a very important strike, the good ol’ punch.” he guided Siya towards a simple wooden post that was wedged into the ground. On it rested a straw dummy that would often be used for practice. It was nowhere near as nice as Amon’s equipment, but it would work well enough. However, he did not stop at the dummy, rather he walked behind it and gestured to the wooden peg that held it up. on the back was another sack of thick canvas, tied so that it was covering the rough wood.

“Now as we practice, be careful how hard you hit this peg. It is going to hurt if you hit too hard. It’ll teach you to control yourself.” He then turned himself so that he was facing the peg. “Now then, first I want to make sure you can curl your hand into a good, tight fist. It may seem straight forward, but I’ve broken my finger before because I didn’t close my fist in a tight enough manner.” he said with a smile.

“After that, then we move on to actually punching the damned thing.”

Siya may have struggled against Amon’s hold, but his build was much bigger than Siya, despite being the same in height. He probably didn’t even find it a challenge. Siya made a strange sound as Rhoven turned and walked away when Amon told him to go do some exercises. His hand clawed at the air, but then as Amon spoke to him, he turned his glare at him.

The young Fire King took a deep breath to try to steady himself so he didn’t snap at Amon too. It was bad enough that he wanted to torch the little apprentice for kicking him. Siya knew Rhoven had done that on purpose. Only because he’d told him to stop. God it was humiliating to be thrown around by a kid.

He followed after Amon once he was released, still grumbling to himself. As he came up to the straw dummy, he eyed it with disdain, wondering how quickly it would go up in flames if he ignited it. But as they came around to the back of it, he was presented with a different kind of tool to have at. He remained quiet as he listened to Amon. At first he was irritated that Amon thought he couldn’t make a fist, but as the Air King told him that he’d broken his finger once, Siya began to rethink his approach.

He was also beginning to notice how angry he was getting with those around him. Siya nibbled on his lip again as the anger turned to guilt. Since when had he been so… Angry? So enraged about nearly everything? He looked away then, unable to make eye contact though he lifted his hand and made a fist to show Amon how he did it.

Amon watched Siya make the fist, the Air King reaching up to adjust Siya’s hand. It didn’t take long, and once he was satisfied, squeezing Siya’s fist to feel how solid it was, he smiled and looked at the Fire King. “There, don’t forget how to curl your hand up like that you’ll lower the chance of you breaking something when you punch.”

He then turned to face the wooden peg in front of them, adopting his fighting stance and raising his hands up. “Next, you need to work on making sure that when you punch, your arm and wrist are aligned correctly. If you hit something solid when your fist is not lined up correctly, you will jammed up your wrist and that will suck just as bad as breaking something.

He brought his arm up, slowly extending out his arm until his fist was resting against the wooden peg. He then looked at Siya then back to his arm. “The top of your arm and your hand should be level with one another. a nice flat plane. That is what you are looking for. As well as having your index and middle knuckle be in-line with your arm.”

He then stepped back from the peg, looking at Siya with a smile. “First that, then we’ll start moving up to you actually hitting it.”

Siya simply nodded and tried to do as Amon did. Amon had to adjust his hand several times, then had him do it again. Siya let him adjust his hand and body as he needed to. Over and over the Fire King put his hand up against the bag until Amon was satisfied he had it right and wouldn’t break anything when he struck it.

That didn’t mean it wouldn’t hurt when he hit the bag, which it certainly did. Siya struck it over and over, trying to get the right level of strength on it. It was difficult, but like with the bow, the little Fire King didn’t stop. Despite his anger and complaints, he never stopped. He kept going, kept training day after day. Maybe it was his determination to do something better, or just a blind drive to keep his mind from other things. Whatever it was though, Siya was slowly rebuilding himself.
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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amon Ad-Raza Character Portrait: Siya Ukomo Character Portrait: Kanan Thiyer Character Portrait: Valrien Yustri Character Portrait: Renardine 'Minnow' Lunvari Character Portrait: Rhoven Shaw Character Portrait: Lutchka Zatari

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#, as written by Skwidge
Valrien went off in search of Lutchka, still worried about her saying she wasn’t needed. It had been bothering him for quite a while actually and he’d yet the time to talk to her. Right then, though, was a good enough time so he wandered around the area hoping to run into her. He really needed to get it through to her that he needed her. That she was ridiculous to think that he didn’t. Hopefully he didn’t lose his head over it, that was the last thing either of them needed.

Lutchka was, like many of the others, training herself outside among the sands. It seemed so fortunate that everyone seemed to love high walls and other such things around buildings, so she was never really short of practice grounds. At the moment though, she was working her way along the thin metal of a spire fence, being careful not to cut herself on the sharp ornamental edges.

It always seemed like she was doing high walks or handstands when training, but it helped when it came to balancing her center of mass. Besides the fact that extreme concentration and discipline came in handy when it came to toning her muscles and stamina.

Valrien wasn’t sure how far he walked or for how long, but he finally found the woman. He should have known, she was always doing some sort of training, that or she had that unquenchable thirst for alcohol. He watched her for a while as she moved her body along the bar, precariously and very precise in her motions. When he started finding his gaze wandering, he cleared his throat and called out to her having watched her for a long while.

“Lutchka, I- Can I speak with you for a moment,” he said, changing his approach rather quickly as he’d been first ready to say that he was going to speak with her. He didn’t want to start things off on the wrong foot, so he quickly switched to asking her permission first. Hopefully that would lower the chances of her turning him into a human torch.

The ex-protector had been so busy concentrating that she hadn’t really noticed Valrien’s presence when he showed up. He had startled her slightly when he spoke up, but she easily caught herself before she waivered. Pausing in her stride, she tilted her head to the side to look over to Chromi. He seemed rather comfortable in his position, which gave her the impression that he might have been there for a little while. A wry little grin played on her lips as she righted herself and hopped off of the gate, careful to make sure that she didn’t get anything caught in the metal.

“How long have you been standing there?” A playful, suggestive look was directed towards him, but she nodded curtly. “Yeah, what’s up?”

Valrien looked away, struggling to hide his faint blush as she asked him how long he’d been standing there. For a while… he thought but he didn’t dare say it. Instead, he plowed right on to the reason why he had sought her out. Flicking his gaze over to her, he straightened and crossed his arms, though still very uncomfortable. He fought for the right words before he could get it all right.

“I… Came to see why… Talk to you about… Why did you say you weren’t needed?” he asked, finally settling with a question instead. It would at least avoid his temper for the most part.

Lutchka blinked lightly, placing her hands on her hips when Valrien didn’t answer, though she hadn’t expected him to. It was then that he asked her why she had said what she did in the great hall, and she crossed her arms. “I was simply stating the truth, Chromi. I’m an ex-protector ex-royal guard ex-commander, it’s kinda obvious how well I tend to do in my positions. Amon has Kanan and Minnow to look after him, you’ve got Harlan who is practically attached to your hip. I’m not exactly needed in Iveir, and I’m not exactly needed in Reimrand either. I really serve no purpose here other than a bit of entertainment.”

Her eyes narrowed lightly, and she shifted her foot in the sand. “Best place I can be right now is with Siya, since he has no one at the moment, or at least until Farasima takes his place with him. Amon handles things well enough on his own, and you’re always disappearing regardless, so there isn’t much need for me or anything I can do.”

Valrien listened, though the more he listened the more upset he became. Frowning at her with narrowed eyes, he finally had the last straw when she mentioned him always disappearing. Reaching out, he grabbed her by her shoulders. He wasn’t rough, but it was certainly firm, “I don’t know where you get it to be in your head that you’re not needed or that there isn’t anything you can do. I only have Harlan. Do you know how many my family used to have? Seven. Seven, Lutchka. I have one. For you to think that you honestly do not have a place is ridiculous and honestly selfish on your end.”

I need you. And as for my disappearing, I’m a Prince, well… King actually… I think,” he looked to the side, eyebrows curling together briefly before he shook his head and returned his attention to her, “Point is that I’m very busy and Harlan can only do so much on his own. If there ever was a time I needed someone else with me, it would be right now, Lutchka. Honestly I cannot think of anyone better, anyone other than you.”

He finished with a huff, his voice having risen a little and clipped with his usual anger. It took him a moment to realize he’d pushed her back up against the wall and was leaning rather close to her having done so during his speech. Valrien’s gaze grew wide as he stared at her, his embarrassment coming in rather quickly as everything he said in his heated anger came rushing to bite him back.

Valrien took in a sharp breath, his fingers tightening on her shoulders just a little before he finally threw everything out the window and acted on impulse much like he always did. His reasoning -or so he was trying to tell himself- was to convince her that she was needed. Even so, that thought quickly fled his mind as he pushed her harder against the wall and kissed her.

Lutchka was definitely offended when Valrien made the assumption that she was being selfish and crass, like everything she had to go through was ridiculous and nothing when compared to what he’d gone through. What else had she known all her life but a wanderer’s life with no one who ever really bothered to care about her in any legitimate way? She didn’t have a place in anyone’s life. She was material when it came to other people, and unwanted in many other situations. While a twisted fact, the ex-protector had also been evicted from what she had grown to love- her position with Taki. She had had no place in the royal guard, nor did she ever deserve her spot as protector. And oh, how well that had gone.

It seemed wherever she ended up, people got killed because of her, just because some seemed to love to play with her feelings, or she could never be strong enough to protect them, or was the sole purpose of their demise to begin with. The white-haired female had gotten her entire family killed, because she had been so stupid. She got her mates killed as well as innocent bystanders, just because of who she was. She had gotten Taki killed because she hadn’t been strong enough or fast enough.

And Valrien thought she was selfish and ridiculous; just because by trial and error and time she had learned her place- and that place was nowhere. She didn’t belong. An angry and hurt expression flushed her face, and she honestly just wanted to run off. Her luck seemed forever terrible. She scoffed when he said that he needed her, and then explained why he was always getting tugged away. “Yeah, just a pretty face to look at, right? And you think I don’t know that? You’re busy as hell, I get it. You have a ton of important things to do,” She spat, You’re a king, and what am I? Just a bloody distraction that’s probably going to get you killed too. Lutchka just couldn’t stand it.

“Why did it have to be you…?” She whispered almost silently to herself, her voice strained as if she were fighting off a cry of frustration. It was then that he spoke up again, looking at her with an intense gaze. His voice was harsh and angry, and his grip tightened against her shoulders. It didn’t hurt exactly, but he was going to leave bruises if he pressed any harder. He was explaining how Harlan wasn’t enough, how he himself was constantly busy, but her attention had been caught elsewhere when he suddenly started advancing on her, pushing her back against the wall, and she was fairly powerless to do anything.

She didn’t want to listen to his words, wanted to make excuses as to how many other people would be better suited to the task, but Valrien wasn’t having any of it. His voice was always so clear to her ears, it was hard to ever ignore his words. Lutchka tilted her head down and to the side so her bangs would hide her eyes, that maybe she could avoid his gaze if he couldn’t meet her eyes. She bit her lower lip harshly, almost hard enough to pierce the skin; anything to distract her from Valrien’s proximity, from his words that couldn’t be anything more than naively placed- just sweet lies.

She had been tempted out of curiosity to look up at him when she heard his sharp inhale of breath, could feel his fingers tightening against her shoulders. She let out a little hiss of pain, but steadfastly refused to look at him. It was embarrassing, only further worsened by the fact that she was never like this- never caught off guard, always confident, always boisterous, always in control. But it was then that Valrien pressed into her, pushing her up against the wall and leaning into her.

His lips pressed against hers, and she jolted ever so slightly, having not expected it. The ex-protector trembled beneath Valrien’s hold. It was about a second of nothing happening before she shakily lifted her hands and buried them in his shirt, clutching the cloth tightly and pressing back against him, her lips moving against his in a seemingly unsure manner at first, almost as if she feared that when she moved she’d break everything and realize it was nothing but a reverie. But the passion and the emotion behind the gesture was not misplaced and soon found its way to the surface.

She felt ridiculously vulnerable and fragile, and it made her incredibly uncomfortable, but she didn’t let it stop her. She figured she’d just let herself break again and feel the horrors of heartbreak and unimportance if this was going to end terribly like it always had in the past- just as long as she got to have him for now.

Valrien felt her give in to him and he was filled with bliss. A feeling that he didn’t think was at all possible as he held her. Dropping his arms, he wrapped them around her waist, pulling her securely against him and tilting his head to better kiss her. The Prince stayed like that for a while before he pulled back to allow breath to be taken by each of them normally. With soft pants of air escaping him, he tilted his head against hers, holding her still and refusing to let go even if she would want him too.

“You are important, Lutchka. I don’t care what you might think, but to me… I’m sorry I did not say it clearly. It’s hard to even… Express myself properly. I’m sure you know that already,” he sighed as memories of his earlier anger toward Siya surfaced. He was worried for the King, but it came out as anger in the end.

“Stay with me. Don’t go anywhere else. Your home is with me, it always has been. And you’re more than just a pretty face,” he said with a frown. He released one hand to lift her head using her lower jaw, “Definitely more than just that. You’re a warrior, Lutchka and I need that. I need everything there is about you. Everything.”

He let a small grin slip as he leaned heavily on her, putting her securely against the wall again, “Just… Try not to light me on fire whenever I piss you off. There’s only so much I can do about that and Harlan will let me burn, that bastard,” he teased softly hoping to make her smile at least a little.

Wherever Valrien touched seemed to leave little sparks of warmth along her body, and she felt giddy as he pulled her into him. She shifted her own hands, resting them lightly against his shoulders but they were still mainly positioned in front of his chest. Lutchka gently rested her fingers against the skin of his neck, quietly angling his head to better reach him.

When they parted for air, her breaths came out in faint shudders, and her eyes were very attentively focused on his. A messy blush was painted against her cheeks, and it was hard for her to keep his gaze when he was looking at her so intensely. When he spoke, that fact only worsened, and she shifted her head to rest in the crook of his neck, inhaling his scent quietly.

It was then that he took hold of her jaw, and she allowed herself to be moved, to meet his gaze even if it was embarrassing. She bit her lower lip as he spoke, and for once she felt like this was where she was supposed to be, and it was a legitimate feeling, one she could put stock in.

It was then that he put her back against the wall, leaning into her and pinning her there. When he mentioned Harlan letting him burn, she couldn’t help but laugh at that, short and sweet. The ex-protector leaned into him, stealing another kiss and nipping his lower lip as she pulled away. She then planted a gentle, passionate little caress of her lips on his jaw by his chin, though the blush still remained as well as the fragile look that she held about her still. He had caught her with her guard down, and it would take a little bit to build it back up. She would let him see this side of her, though.

~~

One Week Later

Siya glared down at the small city that lay before them. Seated up on his horse, he drummed his fingers on the horn of the saddle, anger spiking and growing hotter by the second. He’d known they should have moved sooner, but he’d been wounded and then forced to train. Slowly, the Fire King took in deep breaths of air to calm himself. The city down below was surrounded and under siege, much like Forson had been when Siya had come to their aid.

He glowered down at the fight, watching as one part of the wall came crashing down under the assault. He tensed in the saddle, his other hand tight around the bow that he’d become fairly decent with. A hand on his shoulder had him turning to see who it was that had done that. Valrien frowned at him, sorrow in his mismatched gaze.

“I’m sorry, Siya.”

The Fire King shook his head and took a deep, shaking breath, “This… We need to stop that army, Valrien.”

“I know that.”

“They cannot take that city.”

“I know,” the Prince said with equal venom in his voice.

“We need to be careful,” Lukina said as she pulled her horse up next to Valrien’s, her gaze locked on the large army below, “They must know that you would pursue them.”

“They have probably already made plenty of traps, yes I know that,” Siya said in return, snapping at her without meaning to.

Lukina lifted an eyebrow as she watched the small Fire King, “If you know that, then do not go rushing in there. You will get yourself killed.”

Siya took a deep breath and tilted his head back. He looked to be about to say something, but he cringed and didn’t say anything at all. Lukina, though, was pretty sure she knew what he was going to say to her words. ‘Why does it matter?’ She was grateful he didn’t say them, though still irked that he was thinking them all the same.

Slowly, he shook his head, “I… Damn it. What do you suggest we do then? If we stay up here any longer my city will fall!”

Lukina looked to Valrien who frowned deeply as he gazed down at the fighting, “Draw their attention to us. Make them leave the wall. They want you, don’t they? Even if you don’t get all of their attention, you can at least bring some of them to you. Maybe we’ll get lucky and get a few of their commanders. Kill them and the rest will fall easily.”

“You think that’ll work?” Siya asked, truly intrigued by the idea.

Valrien shrugged, “If they really want to dethrone you, what better way than to present yourself to them on the battlefield? Ripe for the taking. Only problem is they’ll have to deal with us first before they can even touch you.”

Siya narrowed his eyes at Valrien, “I’m not putting any of you in that kind of position.”

Amon watched the city with a scowl, knowing just what it was they were all going to be heading towards soon. More bloodshed and more people dying, just what he hated the most. With an irritated sigh, he leaned forwards on the saddle of his horse, again shifting to get himself a bit more comfortable. He looked over to Siya and the others listening in on their conversation.

He glanced over to see Duke Forson ride up nearby, looking towards Siya. “I cannot condone the action of using King Ukomo as bait, regardless of how many of them it might draw forwards. I think we just move forwards and catch them in the camp and between the walls and us.” he looked out towards the city. “They’ve breached the walls, they are too committed to their action and won’t move away to attack us.” he looked to Siya, “It is your choice in the end, your majesty. But I suggest we move forwards and attack now.”

Farasima was watching and listening quietly, sitting in the saddle of a horse that had been given to him. He was waiting right by Siya, his own bow resting in a holder attached to his saddle, a quiver full of arrows on the other side. Whatever Siya considered, he would remain by him. Farasima didn’t have any military knowledge, as he’d never been a leader of any units. Sure he’d fought here and there, but nothing of this scale.

All he said was, “I will be by your side regardless to do my duty, Siya.” nodding his head some to Siya.

Siya ground his teeth as he listened to Forson. He took up the reigns rather harshly, making his warhorse lurch, pawing at the ground as the creature felt its riders unease and tension. Just before he gave in to Forson, Farasima’s voice took his attention. Looking over to his new Protector, he swallowed dryly and took another moment to work over his options. They weren’t many though and as the sound of the wall crumbling a little more hit the air, he finally gave in.

“Fine,” he growled, eyes narrowed as he turned back to the fight below, “Fight to the wall,” he snapped and spurred his horse forward.

Valrien let out a shout, standing up in the saddle and making as if he were going to snatch Siya back but missing completely, “Damn it!” he turned a sour glare at the Duke, “This would have been easier if he wasn’t so damned pressured,” he hissed and quickly followed after shouting for the King to stop.

Lukina sighed heavily and quickly followed as well. She caught up easily enough to the enraged Prince and reached out to cuff him, “Quit yelling, you want them to turn and kill him once we get down there?” she snapped at him, raising her voice just enough to be heard over the pounding of their horses.

Valrien quickly became quiet, though he still looked rather angry. Reaching to his side, he drew his weapon and lowered his body, leaning forward to help the creature run faster and maneuver better down the slope.

Kanan pulled his sword from its sheath, only looking to Amon after Siya bolted down the slope with his own soldiers in tow, “Sire?” he asked softly though he was more than ready for a fight.

As Siya spurred his horse onwards suddenly, Forson just sighed and hung his head, “Damned King, this is not what I meant.” He turned back to look at the troops behind him, signalling for them to move forwards before he went after the Fire King at the lead.


Farasima was not far behind Siya, urging his own horse onwards to follow after him. He kept his eyes focused forwards, though his thoughts were slightly distracted by his racing heart. If someone had asked if he was nervous, he didn’t think he could possibly lie to save his life. He was very nervous about going into this fight, especially with the responsibility of having to protect the Fire King.

Amon watched Siya move forwards suddenly, a frown taking the place of his usual smile. Seemed Siya still had some aggression to get worked out of his system. Shaking his head, he looked back at Kanan, nodding his head to him before spurring his own horse onwards after the moving King. “Let’s do our best to make sure Siya doesn’t get himself killed now!” He shouted back to Kanan as they moved forwards.

~~~

Aníbal sat atop his own warhorse, decked out in his armor once again. They had just breached the walls of the city, but his eyes were settled elsewhere, primarily the charging forces of the Fire King. Last time, he had ordered a withdrawal of the Noble forces, mostly because he did not feel ready yet to combat the large army the Fire King had, especially pinned against the walls of a large and powerful city.

Now though, he had plenty of warning from large number of eyes he had on King Ukomo’s army. He knew the young king had been coming this way, and now he was going to have to prove whether or not he really had the resolve to win this war. Aníbal looked to his right, his eyes settling on Natalia and Liliana, the first woman sitting atop a horse while the latter was standing on the ground, helmet on her head with halberd in hand.

“Liliana, you are to take your forces and hold off anybody who might try to emerge from the city. We’ll take it once we finish with the Fire King. Natalia, you will go with Erlantz and Sendoa and handle the right. I’ll take the left and center with Emigdio” Natalia nodded her head, Aníbal turning his head to the left, his eyes settling on the two heavily cloaked individuals. One was again sitting atop a horse, only his feet and hands visible beneath the mounds of cloth that hid him. Next to him on foot was the mountain of a man, warhammer on his back. His hands and feet were also the only thing currently visible, and both simply nodded their heads at the ornately armored man.

“What of me?” a voice spoke up nearby, Aníbal turning his head to settle on the three-fingered man who waited nearby. Aníbal frowned as he eyed the brown-haired man.

“You watch the walls with Liliana. I’m not in any mood to trust you with handling the Fire King again, as you failed to do last time.” Aniíbal said.

The man raised his voice in protest, “We would have been killed had we spent those few moments to kill the Siya! I made the choice to save Liliana and I from the Fire King’s forces!”

“Noted, now do as you are told, or I’ll take the rest of your fingers.” As he said the words, Aníbal leveled a heavy glare at the man, who recoiled and quickly went quiet. The general then looked to the others, “You have your orders, now get to it.”

~~~
Siya, Farasima, Lukina

Siya charged down the hill, holding the horn of the saddle as the horse made its way down, sure footed in its own way so Siya didn’t have to do much with it. Once he was at the bottom, the few soldiers closest to him fell under his barrage of fire. He launched out the first strike with three balls of fire, all of them exploding into the earth and throwing the men backwards, ignited.

Once the horse was level and not on the incline, he drew up his bow. He wasn’t very good with it on the horse, but at least he was decent enough to hit his targets, or at least distract them into defending so that his fire could do the rest. After each arrow he let loose, he accompanied it with a barrage of his flames.

Much like the time before, Siya led his army right into the fray, plowing through with his large warhorse and making it very apparent that he was on the battle field. Not that he did it on purpose, he was just too blinded by his own anger and stress to think of anything else aside from burning any man who turned a sword or other weapon on him.

Lukina followed swiftly after him, trying to keep the King near to her side as she unsheathed the scythe that was hooked on her belt. Simply pulling the weapon up out of its holster, she flicked it out with a snap of her wrist and the blade extended to a much larger range. With it, she used it’s wicked end to start tearing through the soldiers that Siya either blindly left behind or just didn’t see at all. She followed after him as best she could, wielding her blade and throwing earthen rocks in the paths of many others to keep them from getting too close to Siya.

Farasima kept close to Siya, easily maneuvering his horse around to keep up with the man. Though the horse was larger and bulkier than the ones he was use to riding on the Skis’ta Steppes, it still handled very well and responded to his commands easily. It also was a powerful weapon in and of itself, soldiers either moving to the side to avoid its trampling hooves, or finding themselves knocked aside as the bulk of the animal slammed into them.

Even before they had reached the lines, Farasima was already firing off shots at enemies, aiming particularly for soldiers that would be close to either him or Siya as they passed by. Despite the power of their horses and being atop them, a well placed swing from a sword or axe could easily dismount the riders or even kill them, should they fall badly; even worse was the prospect of the horse landing on top of them.

He kept his mind on the little training he had received for heavy cavalry tactics when he had been back in the tribe, letting his horse do the work of moving and deterring soldiers. More important were those who threatened the animal. However, once they had moved further into the line of enemies, he quickly looked up at the troops who were readying spears to intercept the cavalry charge. He shouted as loud as he could to be heard by Siya, “Siya! Hit the spears and break them!” he immediately began firing arrows rapidly into those directly in front of him.

He couldn’t stop, as then he’d only be trampled by those behind him. So they had to get through the spears, which honestly Farasima knew was not going to be likely. The first ones in line rarely made it out of slamming into a spear wall.

Siya heard the call, glancing back over to Farasima as the man shouted at him to keep going. He hadn’t even seen the spears until the red-head said something. Turning his attention there, he focused his fires and let fly an eruption of flame upon them in the hopes of either blasting them away or making their spears into nothing but torches that they wouldn’t be able to hold.

In the meantime, the Fire King allowed his warhorse to spur forth, rushing the area he’d just ignited. Siya continually drew his bow, letting off arrow after arrow as quickly as he was capable of and hoping to open up other areas for the rest of his army. As he plowed through the flames that he’d set, the horse leaping as if to jump over a short fence, Siya reached down to grip the saddle in order to keep his place atop it.

Though he’d broken through where he was headed with the steed, something happened to his horse and he couldn’t see it until the poor beast finished it’s leap. Hitting the ground, it gave a scream and stumbled, toppling with Siya still holding on to the horn of the saddle. It took the King a second to realize that his horse had been struck. When he did, he let go of the saddle and tried to get out from under it as it toppled sideways.

With a shout of surprise, Siya hit the ground and somehow managed not to get his leg caught underneath the crumbling animal, though he was sure he came very close to being pinned. Sucking in deep breaths from the sudden fall, the King quickly got back up to his feet and found that he was once more surrounded by the enemy. Yet that time, he had fires already spreading from behind him, leaving it open to his own men.

He couldn’t resist the small grin that took his face. His flames ignited from his hands up to his shoulders and the first few soldiers cocky enough to think they could take him burned where they stood.

Farasima watched as Siya unleashed a blast of flame at a section of the spear wall, forcing a small gap to form. Quickly he turned his horse towards it, still firing arrows at any soldier he saw still standing. When he reached the wall of flames, his horse quickly leaped up and over them, and landed on the other side of the line. Farasima however had to hold tightly to his horse as the animal turned and then stumbled some while avoiding the fallen horse that lay on the other side.

The Skis’tatari’s eyes widened as he recognized the fallen horse, and quickly he scanned for Siya. He found the king engaging soldiers, bringing his flames to bear to attack any that came near him. Farasima looked back at the gap Siya had formed, and he could see fellow soldiers beginning to widen the gap. Which meant he could focus his attention on protecting Siya. He spurred his horse forward, moving towards the enemy.

One soldier was blindsided, knocked in the back by the large horse and then crushed under it as Farasima brought it to a stop, quickly and rapidly firing arrows at those who moved closer towards Siya. As he did so, he shouted once more to Siya. “Siya, over here, get on!”

The Fire King looked up to where Farasima called to him. He didn’t waste any time and rushed over to where the huge horse was. Siya stretched out his hand for Farasima the moment he was close enough. The young King let the man grab him and drag him up on the horse. It was such a fast transition from being on the ground to up behind the red-head that Siya was momentarily disoriented.

It took Siya just a moment to reorient himself and once he was good on his position, he slipped his hand away from Farasima’s waist that he’d latched onto tightly for a moment. Drawing up his weapon, he attempted to fire it again at an approaching soldier. However, with the awkward position of having Farasima in front of him, he missed entirely. With a little growl of anger, he unleashed his fire instead, which to his satisfaction did exactly as he wanted it to.

As soon as he pulled the king up onto his horse, Farasima began moving his horse away from those who came towards him. He couldn’t move too far, but enough to give him a bit of breathing room before he began firing more arrows at soldiers who began moving towards them. Now with support from the other soldiers though, things were a bit more manageable. Still though, this was not a very good place to be for either of them.

To his irritation, he couldn’t make out anyone that seemed to be commanding these soldiers, so really he and Siya were simply left to bombard soldiers at the moment with fire and arrows.

Siya ignited everything that was an enemy, his fires pulsing from his hands as he’d given up on the bow entirely, letting it hang from his leg as he’d strapped it there. If he lost the weapon, honestly Siya wasn’t going to cry over it. He much preferred his fires over any weapon. So he unleashed as much power as he could, constantly drawing on the metals around him, sacrificing anything and everything he could reach out to.

Farasima looked around the fighting, trying to discern the best place for the two of them to move to. Honestly, he’d rather be out of the melee, where he could be far more effective and be moving about while raining down arrow fire. This might be something he needs to discuss with Siya when he got the chance to.

He fired off a few arrows at soldiers that came towards him, though when he turned and fired at one that was rapidly moving towards them, Farasima quickly noticed how the arrows he shot seemed to be deflected. The soldier, wearing leather armor that had pieces of chainmail covering the vital areas, held only a sword in one hand as he charged towards the King and protector. Farasima finally noticed the air that was flowing rapidly around the man as he ran towards them, and quickly the Skis’tatari man chose to try and get him and the king away.

As he made to turn his horse around though, he cursed when he felt a hand grab hold of his leg. Farasima attempted to turn and attack the man, but he was unable to do so fast enough and was quickly yanked from his place atop his horse and fell to the ground. The fall knocked the wind out of him, and Farasima was barely aware enough to move himself away from the horse when it freaked out from having its reigns tugged on.

It seemed to have distracted the man who had pulled him down, as Farasima was able to clamber back to his feet, taking a moment to catch his breath and look for wherever Siya was. He hoped the king had been able to get down from the horse safely, or even better gain control of the animal.

Siya wasn’t sure what Farasima was doing as he turned the horse suddenly. He had been facing the other direction, throwing more fire into the midst of the soldiers when Farasima abruptly yanked the horses reins off to the side. As the steed turned, the young King reached out automatically to steady himself against Farasima before he threw out another rain of fire, his gaze sweeping the area for more targets that threatened to get close to them.

However, as he reached for the red-head, he felt nothing in front of him and the horse made jerky, sharp movements as if something had startled it. Siya took in a sharp gasp of air, leaning forward to reach the horn of the saddle as he had been behind Farasima. He tried to keep his balance, too busy with that to see where his new Protector had ended up.

Like the first battle, he found the long bits of cloth that he wore to mark his station as King being tugged on by a pair of strong hands. Pulled from the horse, he hit the ground with a thud. Thrown down by the soldier who had grabbed him. Grinding his teeth, Siya ignited his hands and arms again, letting the flames lash out and burn the man who was intent on finishing what he’d started.

Once Siya got the soldier away from him, the man screaming and waving his arms in pain from the heat of the fires, he rolled over and got up onto his feet. Only then did he look around frantically for Farasima. When he spotted the red-head, he also spotted a strangely clad soldier, not like any of the ones they’d faced so far. That particular soldier was rushing toward them.

Siya hurled his fire as he moved quickly to side with Farasima. He’d lost his bow in the fall, so he simply resorted to his flames once more. Far more comfortable with that than anything else anyway.

Farasima looked to Siya, moving towards the king as well as he looked towards the swordsman moving towards them. He watched as the man’s progress was not hampered at all by the flames that came towards him, as each was simply swatted aside by a burst of air that surrounded the man.

Farasima held an arrow, but he did not fire it and instead watched the man close the distance between them. He grimaced, really wishing he was better trained in fighting with a weapon because this was not going to be a good fight for the red-head. He tried to fire an arrow at the man when they were close, but the man slipped just out of the way of the arrow and moved forwards to slash at the red-head.

Farasima brought up his bow, letting it take the swing before he quickly began backing away, blocking the rapid and precise attacks as best he could. He knew he had to do something fast, as he was not going to have a bow for long as the metal sword chewed through the softer wood.

Siya gave a shout at Farasima, wordless in fear as the strange soldier rushed his protector. Fires crackled over his body as he lurched forward, throwing his arms one after the other across his chest as if swinging a weapon. The flames leapt from his body toward the soldier. The King began sacrificing the metals around them, weapons that lay in the blood soaked ground, shields, stray armor. Anything he could think of.

He even tried for the chainmail that clung to the soldier who was fighting Farasima, but he found he couldn’t touch it. Siya couldn’t get a hold of that metal to sacrifice it and it unnerved him slightly. As he continued his assault with the flames, he felt his familiar headache coming from wielding far too much energy. Grinding his teeth, he began backing away from the man, his gaze dropping to search for a weapon, anything that he could possibly use. Anything to help Farasima.

Dropping to a crouch, Siya hefted up a sword in his hands. It was awkward and large, heavy as he had to hold it with both hands. Yet, it was better than nothing as that was what he’d been a moment ago. Weaponless, and slowly losing the ability to keep his fires going as they flickered weakly across his hands. Panting and tired, Siya forced his body to rush forward, swinging the blade with everything he had to get the man to back away from Farasima.

Farasima’s bow finally broke as the sword collided with it once more, the red-head recoiling and shielding his face as the pieces of wood shot in random directions with immense force due to the string on them. Then he felt a heavy impact to his stomach as the soldier delivered a hard spinning kick to his gut, knocking the man aside.

The soldier did not move forwards, as he had to face and deflect the blasts of fire coming his way from the Fire King. Their wild nature though was easy enough to slip past, and once they were finished he then watched as the white haired man grabbed a sword far too heavy for him to use and made a clumsy attempt to slash at the soldier.

The soldier hesitated, though the swing hardly hit him as he easily deflected the sloppy attack to the side. Though he had a chance, he did not slash back. He instead watched the Fire King for a moment before shaking his helmeted head. As the man looked over towards the red-head who was getting back to his feet, grabbing a sword as well though in a manner almost as sloppy as the Fire King, the soldier simply looked back to Siya.

His Iverian was buried deep in a Nevarren accent, even though he spoke the words fluently otherwise. “I can’t kill you, not like this. This is just slaughter, and I am not a butcher.” Despite his words, he suddenly lunged forwards, delivering a hard kick towards Siya’s stomach with a blast of air behind it.

He turned his head, bringing his sword up to parry a sword strike from Farasima before using the flat end of his sword to smack the red-head across the back of his head. The Skis’tatari stumbled forwards, falling to a knee and clutching the back of his head as his vision swimmed from the blow.

He looked over towards Siya, speaking up to be heard over the fighting around them. “You lost this fight, Fire King. Flee now before my less merciful siblings find you.” He then turned and ran off away into other parts of the fighting, Farasima turning to look back at the man as he ran off, confused as to what had just occurred.

Siya’s voice was stolen from him. He was enraged at the man for refusing to fight him, yet in the next instant, the attack the soldier threw at him, sent the small King flying backward. With the air effectively knocked from his lungs and what tasted like copper in his mouth, Siya hit the ground with a hard thud that seemed to feel as if everything had broken all at once.

The sword in his hands went flying out of numbed fingers as he was unable to hold it anymore. Dizzy and seeing white slowly flood his vision, Siya hardly caught the words. They didn’t register or make any sense until after he regained his senses, which at that point Siya had simply wanted a dark void. Everything hurt from that kick he’d taken. It was blinding pain, one that had his eyes squeezing shut.

There was indeed blood in his mouth then, whether he bit his tongue, mouth, or lip… Or just simply coughed up blood from the strike, he didn’t know. Only that he could taste it. It was about then that he also registered the fact that man had told him to flee from the battle, which only served to make Siya even angrier, despite the fact that he couldn’t even get the strength to roll over and get up.

The Fire King coughed, the taste of the hot copper in his mouth clearly coming from his throat then. Siya’s fingers clawed at the dirt, frustration reigning over him. After some time, he finally managed to roll himself over and push himself up onto his hands and knees before struggling to stand. Siya didn’t even get up off the ground once he was on hands and knees. Lifting one arm he curled it up around his stomach, groaning and watching the dirt beneath his other hand swirl. After that, he simply toppled back down onto his side, curling in on himself in defeat and struggling not to lose his emotions over it either. Not on the battlefield, not until he was in private where he could cry and scream with no one to hear.

Farasima didn’t have time to worry about what had just occurred, as he need to check on Siya. He quickly got onto his feet, stumbling some as he was still slightly dizzy from the blow to his head, falling to his knees next to Siya. “Siya! Come on, you need to get up!”

He reached down, grabbing hold of Siya and carefully pulling him up onto his feet. He looked around, noting how the Fire King’s troops were beginning to pull back from the fight now, which was a clue to the red-head that they needed to get out of the fight soon.

Kanan, Amon, Rhoven

Amon was riding alongside his contingent of guards, who were also buried within the ranks of Siya’s soldiers. He had lost sight of Siya once they had moved along, but he would have to trust Lukina and the new protector to shield the foolish king. It did not take long for them to reach the enemy lines, and as soon as they did Amon began directing his air magic to knock around those who got close to him. Wind blades had never been his favorite kind of attack, like Kanan used, so instead he resorted to simply blunt force trauma in blasts of air.

Once they got imbedded deep into the enemy, Amon quickly hopped down from his horse to engage enemies. He had little ability to fight from a horse effectively, so he would fight where he was comfortable. He immediately had to begin defending himself from soldiers that tried to take a swing at him, but he was able to block, parry, and deflect attacks coming his way. Sometimes he would trip or throw his opponent to the ground, while with others he hit them with powerful gusts of air to their torsos or head.

Rhoven was not far behind his teacher and king, hopping down off of his horse and planting his feet onto the shoulders of an unsuspecting soldier. With the sudden weight, the man fell over backwards and fell to the ground with a heavy thud, and he got no chance to react when Rhoven drove his short sword through the man’s throat.

Quickly he moved from that soldier to support Amon, dodging and weaving around attacks while slashing at weak points in the armor of those who tried to kill him. Sometimes he would manipulate the air to knock around a soldier or to even vault over them.

Kanan followed after his King just as Rhoven did. He knew where Minnow was as well and was more than confident in the little healers ability to keep himself safe that he wouldn’t have to worry. Too much, anyway. He still kept his air rippling out from his body to make sure he knew exactly where the little blonde was at all times. If the healer fell under attack, he would alert his King and he was sure that Amon would go to the man’s aid should he need it.

The air Protector made good use of his wind blades while atop his horse, knocking into large quantities of the enemy. However, he followed Amon’s dismount once they were in the thick of the fight. Unleashing a torrent of air, something he rarely did, the tornado lifted and knocked through a good chunk of the soldiers from the other army, throwing them away from Amon, Rhoven and himself. It was only to give them a little breathing room to deal with the enemy in a much swifter manner.

Sacrificing more of the metals that hung on his body, Kanan twisted his blade in his hand, flipping it around once, twice, then lashing out with it and throwing more of his wind blades at the first set of soldiers to charge at him. With those cut through by his power, he turned to face another that came up on his blind side. Thinking they could catch him off guard, Kanan allowed them close enough and in one split second, swiftly pivoted and shoved his large blade through their torso with the help of his air to push the weapon through the metal of the armor the soldier wore.

Setting up a rhythm, Kanan kept Amon behind him at all times, using his torrent of air magic, the tornado to throw a few of the men when things began to get a little crowded, and slicing through those that charged at them from a distance, keeping Amon’s back free and allowing the King to move far easier than he would have been able to otherwise.

Amon has lost track of the others as the fight had raged, though he still had Rhoven and Kanan near him to assist. The three of them were able to hold their own, but Amon was beginning to notice how things were tipping against them by this point, as he could see that his own troops and the Fire King’s were beginning to falter.

“Master! I may not be a soldier, but this does not look good for us!” Rhoven called from behind the Air King, Amon deflecting a sword swing from an enemy soldier before knocking them away with a quick blast of air. Amon did have the experience though to see that this was a fight that was not going well for them.

He looked around to try and see if he could spot the Fire King, though at the moment he was having some difficulty given them being on foot currently. He looked back towards his guards, before looking at Kanan. “We need to find Siya and make sure he retreats with us! We have to get out of here now!” he said to the protector before going back to defending himself. “He can’t be far from us!”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amon Ad-Raza Character Portrait: Siya Ukomo Character Portrait: Kanan Thiyer Character Portrait: Valrien Yustri Character Portrait: Renardine 'Minnow' Lunvari Character Portrait: Lutchka Zatari Character Portrait: Harlan Pendrake

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Valrien, Harlan, Lutchka

“Damn it!” Valrien cursed to himself as he had tried to keep up with Siya but the young Fire King had gotten a good headstart on him. How Lukina managed to get to him, or somewhat close he wouldn’t know as the armies began their clash and tangled together. He found himself struggling to stay atop his horse and fight the men below with his sword. Cut off from Siya, he focused on keeping himself alive as he fought with the men beneath him.

The natural energy of his own power curled into his hands and he used it to blast those that got uncomfortably close to him, trying to keep them at a distance. He didn’t like fighting atop a horse, so eventually he simply slid off of it and took his blade up better than he’d been wielding it while on horseback. As Valrien dropped down to face the army on his own two feet, his power radiated off his body in waves.

He used his pure energy to electrify any who got too close and to shove them away from his body, most especially from behind him as he wasn’t fast enough to turn and face them should they come at him from behind. He was also reliant on Harlan and Lutchka to help keep his blind sides covered while he faced off with the armored men before him.

Even so, as he fought harder than he’d done so before, he kept looking for Siya to make sure the young, brash -idiotic in his mind- King was still alive. Though he didn’t have to look far as the fires were beginning to rage again and the explosions told him that the Fire wielder was just fine.

For that moment anyway.

To be honest, these were not the kinds of fights Harlan enjoyed, mostly because these kinda battles were not conducive to using only his fists. So he instead launched flames at nearby enemies, being careful not to exhaust himself of his own stamina as he did so. Once Valrien dismounted, Harlan did so soon after and began engaging any soldiers who were foolish enough break off from their formations. Still, their armor made things a little difficult for Harlan to harm them.

He snuck shots of flames into cracks where he could, or would use the poorly controlled swings of enemies to grab them and then slam them to the ground with a heavy throw. As useful as armor was to protect against outside blows, it only amplified the blow from a fall and Harlan had seen some people simply die or be removed from fights by a good throw to the ground.

As his attacks on the enemies continued, Harlan occasionally glancing over to Valrien to make sure his friend was ok, something moving to his side caught his eye. Harlan instinctively moved back away from it, and was glad he did when he saw the heavy head of a hammer slam into the ground where the guard had been standing. Hard dirt cracked and flew up as the hammer forced dirt out of its way before it came to a rest, though Harlan stared in shock at the man wielding it.

His eyes settled on a man who was massive in height, the top of Harlan’s head barely reaching the man’s chest. He noted how the man’s muscles were taut and thick, an arm almost as thick as Harlna’s torso was. In his hands was a massive warhammer, gripped in both hands by the wall of meat that was growling and staring daggers at the guardsman.

The thing that unnerved Harlan the most was that, the man only had black, loose pants on and nothing else. However, on the man’s body there were several thick, metal plates that clung to his arms, torso, shoulders, even on the man’s face covering the sides and the top of his head. Each of these plates though were held on, not by leather straps, but rather they were threaded through the skin, each one held by strips of the man’s own flesh. There were also sharp, double sided hooks that were threaded through the man’s flesh at various points. There also appeared to be a strange distortion coming off of him, almost like he was radiating immense heat.

Harlan only got a moment to really view his opponent before the man roared loudly and lunged forwards, swinging the hammer down at the guardsman who quickly moved out of the way. He had to shield his face as more dirt was kicked up when it landed, and Harlan had to duck under a horizontal swing that followed right afterwards. He saw his chance though, and lunged in, aiming a punch right at the solar plexus of the man.

When his fist collided with the flesh of the brute, instead of the satisfying feeling of his fist sinking deep to the vitals within, it felt like Harlan had punched a solid wall of rock. He recoiled, shouting in pain and gripping his injured hand, quickly backing away from the man. He jumped back again to avoid another swing of the massive hammer, now on the defence as he did whatever he could to not be pulverized into a bloody pulp.

Valrien just barely caught the shout from his other side. Twisting to see which of his companions it was, he was met by the very burly, intimidating sight of a man with a massive weapon. At first he looked to be heavily armored, until the Prince got a better look at him. Turning fully to face the next opponent as they swung their weapon at Harlan, Valrien felt his chest clench tightly. What the hell is that!? he thought in shock.

He wasn’t entirely sure how to even begin to combat that… That… Thing standing before them. Yet as it came at Harlan again, Valrien couldn’t just stand back and watch. With a shout he lunged forward and aimed his blade at the thick arm that wielded the weapon that could easily cleave a man in two. Valrien struck out with the blade in the hopes of slicing open the flesh and making it hard to wield the heavy looking mace.

“Harlan, torch him!” he ordered as he attacked.

Lutchka followed closely after Valrien and Harlan, pulling up and covering Chromi’s left side at a tight position. There was only so much space between the three of them- enough to trap soldiers between the heavy bodies of their warhorses- and they kept a tight reign of what was going on around them. When it came to fights on horseback, she wasn’t unskilled. She mainly relied on her fire magic to do anything. When it came to wars and armies, she had to rely on her brothers-at-arms, because her fighting style was more one-on-one. Anyone who dared to get close to the left flank or arc, she would take care of them, blasting both very direct and vast waves of fire at them.

For those that managed to weave past, she would focus hotter flames on them, immediately heating up their metal armor to unbearable temperatures. Shortly thereafter, Valrien dismounted, soon followed by Harlan to take on those on the ground. However, Lutchka remained seated atop her horse. She would not give up the position as long as it benefited her.

Soon Harlan was faced with some monster of a man, and not just monstrous in his size. How none of the ingrained bits of metal in his flesh didn’t get infected or painful, she had no idea. While Harlan dodged the large swings from the man’s warhammer and Valrien suddenly rushed in from the side to lash out with his sword, Lutchka turned round-about and coaxed her beast to run him down from behind.

Harlan barely dodged another swing, this time stumbling over a body and causing him to fall over. He rolled to the side to dodge the swing of a hammer he was expecting, but he didn’t feel nor hear it crash down into the dirt. Once he was done, he then looked at the man. He saw Valrien slashing at him.

As the sword came down onto the man’s arms, he simply growled and looked at Valrien. The blade sunk into the flesh, but quickly its progress seemed to stop as it met rigid material. Roaring, the man let go of the hammer with one hand, reaching out to grab hold of Valrien’s head with his massive hand.

His reach was halted when the heavy warhorse slammed into his back, which seemed to only knock him off balance and cause him to stumble forwards. The man managed to stay on his feet, and his gaze settled on the horse and its rider as they continued on, the man once more letting out a guttural and feral roar of rage before he suddenly gripped his hammer with both hands. Seemingly oblivious to the wound on his arm, he wound back on the hammer then threw it with all his might, aimed for the horse that held the white haired woman.

As he released the weapon, he then felt a ball of fire slam into his back. His head turned to face the source, Harlan standing there with fire burning on his hands and arms. Harlan’s cocky expression though was gone as he saw the wound on the man’s arm from Valrien’s attack rapidly beginning to mend itself shut, the burn across his back from the fireball also seeming to fade away.

“What in the fuck are you?!” Harlan shouted before he began throwing more fireballs at the man, who quickly began charging towards the guardsman.

Valrien’s heart leapt to his throat as he watched the ridiculously large hammer head for Lutchka and her horse. Turning to aid her, he threw as much power as he could at the weapon, hoping to knock it off its path of flight toward her, all the while her name on his lips as he shouted, trying to get her to duck or something else to get out of the way of the weapon.

As he threw all of his power at the hammer, he was slightly distracted by Harlan’s shout toward the huge man. Caught between Lutchka’s danger and Harlan’s, the Prince froze only able to watch as the hammer flew, his power ready to hit it and hopefully knock it away, and with not enough time to go after Harlan who faced the barreling monster that was headed right for him.

Lutchka had thought that surely her running down the large brute would do something, and it technically did as it threw off the guy from crushing Valrien, but he seemed to only stumble to the side. There was no banking the horse, so she had to run it off before she could try to turn around and assess what to do next.

She definitely knew she would not be getting away unscathed either, but she hadn’t expected the monster to throw his bloody hammer at her. Valrien’s cry had alerted her to it, and he had managed to tilt the large weapon off its course enough that it wouldn’t hit her square on, but she couldn’t escape the breadth it covered.

With the harsh metal crashing into the flank of her horse and angling down into its hind legs, the beast went down with a harsh, throaty cry. Lutchka of course went down with it, but she had managed to get purchase against the stirrups of the saddle and launch herself forward as the warhorse collapsed beneath her. She landed easily on her feet in a sort of crouched position, but the momentum wasn’t something she could avoid.

Taking a few extra steps, she barrelled right into an enemy soldier, taking him down in surprise. She made quick work of him, having no consideration or mercy as she placed her fingers harshly against his face and let her flames lick beneath the pads to burn into the guy’s flesh, rendering him dead in moments.

The white haired woman quickly rose, twisting around to make sure that no one else was in her proximity, before trying to glance back to where Harlan and Valrien were.

As his attacks hit the man and seemed to do nothing to halt his attack, Harlan had to dive out of the way to avoid being slammed into by him. As he rolled over his shoulder and up onto his feet, he turned in time to see the man having stopped his attack and now in mid-lunge at Harlan with a punch. Despite the heavy burns on his body, the man seemed not the least bit bothered by them as he attacked the guardsman.

Weaving around and past the attacks, Harlan attempted another punch aimed for the lower ribs of the man, but it only felt like punching a rock once more so instead he resorted to throwing blast of fire at him. His attempt to dodge was hampered by the bodies lying around, and one missed step saw Harlan’s hand getting caught in the vise like grip of the man.

His arm was alight in pain, and though fire still coursed over him the man ignored them as he lifted Harlan up off the ground with no effort. In the air now, Harlan felt a fist slam right into his rib cage, forcing a pained and ragged cough from the guardsman. He was barely able to dodge a second swing when he brought his legs up to wrap onto the arm that held him in place, and he thrust a hand out towards the man’s face.

This blast of fire had a bit more effect, as the man roared once more in a rage, bringing his free hand up to his face. Harlan didn’t have a chance to gloat as he felt himself be thrown through the air. As nimble as he could be, the pain in his chest and the way he had been holding to the man when he was thrown didn’t offer him a chance to fall in a way to catch himself. Instead he came down hard on top of someone, both of them slamming to the ground and the guardsman rolling off and to the side while clutching his abdomen in pain.

The Prince let out a strangled sound, one between anger and horror as Harlan was lifted off the ground, quite literally snatched up as the nimble royal guard tried to get out of the way of the large beastly man. Valrien watched horrified as his friend took a heavy hit to his body, barely missed another attack and was flung so far in the air that it made the Princes’ blood freeze with fear.

The man howled in pain, clawing at his face at what Harlan must have done to him, but Valrien wasn’t concerned with that at all. Rather he was far more concerned about Harlan. He charged off to where the man had fallen into the midst of a few soldiers. Valrien’s power lancing off his arm as he barreled through. He was hardly keeping it all under control, the boiling power that was beginning to grow due to his high levels of stress and fears.

Slicing through several of the soldiers without a second thought, he made his way to Harlan who was on the ground and hadn’t gotten up yet. It scared him, and so he fought harder, faster to get to the guard. Finally he was right next to the man, sending a heavy punch into a soldier’s face that stepped too close, fueled by his raging power to send the man flat on his back and probably with a snapped neck due to the force of Valrien’s attack.

Dropping down next to Harlan, he touched the guard’s shoulder, gripping him tightly as he peered over the man’s shoulder in worry, “Harlan! Are you alright?”

Harlan didn’t even notice the soldiers being attacked around him, when something grabbed his shoulder. He quickly brought his head up to look at what it was, a hand ready to release a blast of fire at what he thought was the man he was fighting. When he saw it was Valrien, he sighed in relief, though immediately regretted it when a sharp pain shot through his torso.

Struggling up to his feet, one arm around his stomach while the other gripped Valrien for support, he looked off at the man who still seemed to be occupied by the burns to his face. Or rather he was futilely looking around the area for them despite his eyes seeming to have been burnt closed by the blast of fire. “Fuck...no.” Harlan said, grimacing in pain again. “I think he broke something with that punch.”

The man stopped moving, and Harlan watched as metal around the huge man disappeared into the blue sparks of energy that Harlan recognized as a sacrifice. “Oh please no…” Harlan muttered, watching as the sparks sank into the man’s body. A moment after the energy sank into his skin, he watched as water seemed to form from the air and into the man’s hand as he brought it up to his injured face.

Harlan groaned in defeat, watching as the man held his water filled hands to his face before slowly lowering them, the burns and injuries seeming to have been washed away as he blinked a few times to recover his sight. His eyes then settled on the Prince and the guard, a look of pure rage forming on the brute’s face before he roared and charged right towards them once again, the water falling from his hands as he did so.

“Dammit all!! What the fuck are you?!?” Harlan screamed, quickly moving away from Valrien to be ready to fight, despite the pain in his body.

Valrien cursed, but in their own tongue, letting the words slip off his tongue rapidly as he too turned to face the brute. Lifting up his sword, he held it up next to his body as he adopted a defensive stance. Spreading his legs, he crouched down slightly, while glaring daggers up at the huge monster of a man. Valrien let his power boil. If he was going to let it go out of control, right then was a pretty good idea.

“Harlan,” Valrien called out to his guard, “Find Lutchka! Don’t get close to me, I don’t want to hurt you or her. This bastard is about to feel everything I have,” he growled the last part to himself as he let the dark energy begin to curl along his body. The pure energy riddled like flames around him, though not red like Lutchka’s or Siya’s. His was far more out of control than theirs and he was letting it do so on purpose.

Harlan jerked his head to Valrien, staring at the man in disbelief. “You think I’m gonna leave you alone with that freak?!” Though when he saw the sudden release of magical energy from Valrien, Harlan quickly backed away. He had brought his hands up as a reflex to shield his face, though upon lowering them and seeing the whirl of energy around the Prince, Harlan growled in annoyance. “Dammit all you idiot. You better not get yourself killed or Lutchka and I are going to fucking bring you back and kill you again! Especially after you finally opened up to her too!” he called out. Even in this kinda situation, he just couldn’t always resist even a little tease.

Looking at the man closing in on them, Harlan began to move himself so that it was Valrien who’d be in the path, as was intended anyways. Once an opening was made, then he’d make a run for Lutchka.

The man paid no mind to the swirl of energy around Valrien, he simply came rampaging forwards. As the distance closed, he brought his arms to the side, hands outstretched to try and grab hold of the prince and tear him apart with his bare hands.

Valrien tightened his hands on the blade as he held it up, the weapon leveled with his cheek. His gaze never left the man who barreled toward him. With the arms outstretched as they were, it might have been comical for him, if he weren’t the one facing the overly large beast that lumbered toward him with quite the speed and power that one would not expect from a being of his immense size.

The Prince stood his ground and once the brute was close enough to him, hands starting their swing toward him, Valrien lunged forward and let all that power that had been boiling under the surface erupt forth. For a moment, the Prince forgot how utterly shocking it could be to have so much energy ripping through him. The blade wobbled slightly as he shoved forward, hoping to pierce the creature in front of him, and if not, then to at least injure him enough to quit fighting with the torrent of pure, unbridled power that was tearing through Valrien and rippling outward like an avalanche to touch anything that was near him.

The man did not reactt to the prince’s sword, rather he reached out to grab hold of Valrien as the prince moved forwards. Though as the blade cut into his flesh and the large man’s hand latched onto the shoulder of the prince, as well as onto his head, he roared in anger and pain as the blade cut deep and released its energy into the man.

The man’s body tensed up, his hands doing the same as it surged into him like a blast of electricity. As the energy began to subside, having run its course, the man’s legs gave out as he fell to his knees, his hands losing their hold and falling to the man’s side. Even on his knees though, he was still as tall as the prince was. Ragged breaths came from him, pain in each one as he sat there.

Harlan by this point had run past to let Valrien handle the large man, so he did not see the sudden increase of distortion around the man. The heat-like ripples only grew in intensity, yet it gave off no heat to the prince as it did so. As it grew in intensity, the large man seemed to recover quicker from the ordeal, lifting his head up to glare at the prince. The refraction of light seemed to flow off the man and through the air, vanishing out of sight due to the man’s position in front of Valrien.

With a deep throated growl, the large man began rising back up to his feet, hands suddenly latching back onto the prince as he began to crush the shoulder and skull that he grabbed in his hands with a strangely renewed strength.

At first Valrien thought that his attack had done something to the thing. Although his heart had certainly lodged into his throat when the beasts hands wrapped around his shoulder and head. The Prince ground his teeth together as they started to squeeze. However, as his power rippled out and grew, the brute of a man dropped to his knees, the grip on Valrien’s body leaving and allowing the Prince to breathe better.

Stumbling slightly, dizzy from the major pulses of energy that left him, Valrien stared at the man in front of him, hoping that he’d done enough to stop the insane thing from fighting anymore. His hopes were quickly dashed as the large hands latched onto him again, squeezing tighter than before. That time Valrien did let out a shout of pain. Every ounce of power he possessed was forced out in a desperate attempt to get the thing to release him, at least his head anyway.

His shoulder probably couldn’t be saved, but at least he could save his life. Or try to rather. Valrien wrenched at his blade, yanking it back in a wild desperation that was uncharacteristic to him, but with his head being squeezed tightly, he had grown rather desperate in getting free. Swinging the blade as best he could before he lost the use of his shoulder, he attempted to free his head from the deadly clutch of the man’s hand by slashing at the brute’s wrist. Valrien attempted to direct his raging power up toward that arm as well, but that was difficult in and of itself.

Nearly impossible really with how he’d let it all go, every ounce of control simply to have that much power in the first place. So the most he could do was try to hack at the thing while he still could with both hands, until the crunch of bone ripped a scream of pain from him as well as the inability to use that arm.

The man simply continued to squeeze with his hands, feeling the bones beneath his fingers beginning to give. Yet he didn’t smile, instead he only continued to growl and grind his teeth together as his grip tightened more and more. He ignored the first few slashes at his wrist that held the prince’s head, however once another burst of energy was released into the hand, the man recoiled again.

His body tensed once more, the prince’s shoulder snapping under the sudden increase of pressure from the man’s grip. However he pulled his hand back from Valrien’s head and away from the attack. Growling again, he then turned and threw the prince aside and across the field. As he did so, he looked at his injured arm for a moment before he began stalking once more towards him.

Harlan, who had been making his way towards where Lutchka had been, stopped when he not only heard, but felt the immense surge of energy released by Valrien. When he turned to see the large man collapsing to his knees from the blast, he smiled some. It was gone the next moment when he saw the brute rise to his feet, grabbing hold of Valrien.

Harlan went to run to help, but something caught his eye. He noticed the heat-like waves radiating off the man, and it flowing through the air. His eyes followed it for a moment, the guard’s eyes narrowing when they settled on a figure who was watching the two fighters intently. The man was much shorter than the larger one, definitely of average height. Yet his body was covered in the same plates of metal and barbs, with only a loose pair of black trousers covering his legs. The wave of “heat” seemed to flow to the man, whose hands were up and pointed towards the two fighters.

Harlan glanced back to Valrien and the man, noticing the man recoil then suddenly throw the prince aside. Harlan immediately began running towards the prince, calling out to him as he did so. “Valrien!!” When the prince landed, he quickly knelt down next to him, though he did not touch him as he looked him over. “Don’t you dare be dead! You hear me, Valrien?!”

Hitting the ground was not pleasant. Especially when being thrown by a huge monster of a man. Even more so when having the bones in your shoulder crushed. Valrien hit the dirt and gasped in a breath of pain, just barely able to keep another cry from leaving him. When he came to a stop, he was flat on his back, eyes closed and grinding his teeth. Everything ached, and all the power he’d unleashed seemed useless against the bastard who was intent on crushing him to death.

He was going to have to come up with another plan. Which he was slightly in the middle of doing when he heard Harlan’s voice right next to him. Peeling open an eye, he frowned up at his royal guard, “I’m not dead you idiot!” Valrien winced, closing his eye again, soft curses in their language flowing once more.

“Bastard… My shoulder is ruined… And nothing is doing a damned thing against it! What the hell is that thing? Fuck!” Valrien cursed, in Iveirian, which was rare for him. But he was frustrated and worry was starting to take over. If Harlan and himself couldn’t defeat that thing, then what happened when it got to Siya? Or Amon? Would any of them survive? Valrien was pretty sure he knew the answer to that and he didn’t like it one bit.

He hated to admit it, but it was starting to look like a fight they weren’t going to win. He opened an eye again to look up at Harlan, “We’re not winning this, you have to get Amon, tell him we need to retreat. Especially Siya. That hot headed idiot…” looking past Harlan, he reached up with his good arm as best he could and shook the man, “Get going! Or that thing will kill us both!”

Harlan took hold of Valrien’s arm, dragging the prince up onto his feet and supporting him. He then looked at the man, who was currently contending with soldiers trying to stop him. Again Harlan’s eyes followed the strange trail that came off the man and towards the one who seemed to be manipulating the energy, or whatever it was.

The smaller man though was focused on Valrien and Harlan, a sadistic smile on the man’s lips. Harlan only scowled back. “That man, right there.” he said while pointing to him, “He’s manipulating the larger one, or doing something to him. I don’t know what it is, but I can only imagine it’s making the big guy this bad.”

“Shit,” Valrien cursed as he leaned heavily on Harlan, though he tried not to as he knew the man was wounded too. He looked to where his guard pointed and spotted the man easily enough. His gaze narrowed.

Na tada, manau, kad jei mes sunaikinti lėlių meistras lėlių išmes?” he asked in Reimrandian. Valrien wasn’t sure why he slipped entirely into their home tongue, but he did and it felt good to speak the threat like that.

He took one look at Harlan before settling his gaze on the bastard who was manipulating the large man as the guard said he was. It took Valrien a moment, but he finally noted the waves of power. They looked like heat streaming off of the huge brute’s body, streaming backward to the smaller male standing quite a ways back from the fight.

Reaching down, Valrien pulled the knife that Harlan kept on his person from it’s sheath on the belt, “Aš skolinimosi tai,” he said simply and detached himself from the royal guard to head for the puppeteer.

Aš neįsivaizduoju.” Harlan responded in Reimrandian. It also felt odd to use it again, especially now. But he figured it was to hide their intention from the two individuals. He then felt a hand grab something at his belt, drawing a look of confusion from the royal guard who looked at Valrien pulling the knife from his belt.

Skolinimosi ?! Palaukite, ką ?!” When Valrien suddenly broke away from him and made a go towards the puppeteer, Harlan was shocked and confused. He knew he had to help somehow though, and when he saw that the large man was suddenly sprinting towards Valrien to intercept him, Harlan willed himself to run as well. He had to stop the larger man from getting to Valrien while he dealt with the controller.

As the brute came towards Valrien, Harlan managed to throw a series of fireballs aimed towards the upper torso of the larger man, the flames licking at his face and causing him to recoil for a moment and shield his eyes. It didn’t damage them as they had before, but it had disrupted the man’s attack and gave Harlan a chance to assist further.

The guardsman quickly ran forwards, and in a move even he considered to be stupid, jumped up onto the back of the large man and grabbed onto whatever he could, which happened to be one of the metal pieces threaded through his flesh. In a roar of anger, the large man thrashed around hard, easily throwing the guardsman off of him though causing the metal piece to rip free of where it was held.

Harlan landed, rolling across the ground for a moment and came to a stop, groaning in pain and holding his abdomen as he looked up at the large man, who was moving towards him once more, this time his head bleeding from the wound that had been ripped open by the piece of metal being torn free.

Silently, Valrien thanked Harlan for distracting the large brute. He hoped that the royal guard didn’t get himself hurt further or killed otherwise Valrien would just have to make his earlier threat toward the Prince come true on Harlan himself. The Prince moved as quickly as he could, the chance of surprise at the puppeteer not really something he was putting all his hopes on.

Still, he wasn’t going to just waste the opening either that Harlan had given him. With just the little knife in hand, Valrien utilized the elemental powers that he wasn’t all that great at. Earth was the better one, so he resorted to that as a major distraction toward the puppet master. At least he hoped it would be.

Throwing up a wall of rock that made him slightly dizzy from the effort, Valrien broke into a kind of run, only hindered by the fact that the jarring motion ripped through his ruined shoulder. Letting water ripple around his hand, he formed a ball that enveloped the blade as he rushed his own wall. He was sure the solid build of rock wasn’t going to be standing for much longer with the puppet master on the other side.

However, when the man brought his wall down, he was going to have a nice surprise hurled right at him in the form of a blade sheathed in water to conceal it. Valrien could only hope that it would hit it’s mark.

Harlan could barely manage a cry of pain when he took a powerful kick right to his already injured ribcage, lifting him into the air for a moment before he came crashing down to the ground. He tried to move, but the pain in his torso was too much for him to get past at this point, and he could hear the brute moving towards him once more.

Lifting his head up to look at him, he struggled to get himself back up onto his feet to meet the man. He noticed though that the man had stopped and was looking off, and with a sneer turned to face Harlan once more. The guardsman couldn’t really fight back as he was once again grabbed and effortlessly lifted up off the ground by the large man. Like a ragdoll, Harlan found himself being thrown through the air again.

He had no idea that the target was Valrien at this point, as everything was simply a blur for him as he flew through the air. It was not the prince he slammed into though, as rather he felt his back smack into something hard and as he hit it, he felt rocks and stones tumble down on him as the surface gave way from the impact of his body hitting the rock wall.

As it collapsed, the man on the other side, surprised to see the wall break in a manner, stepped back but thrust a hand out towards the prince. In a cacophony of flesh tearing and bones breaking, out of the man’s palm a large, grey, bone-like spine shot out from it, tearing through his palm and facing out towards Valrien for the prince to impale himself on.

The last thing Valrien had expected as he began to work to weaken his rock wall to bring it down, was Harlan to go flying through it. As it came crumbling down, it was the simple fact that his friend and royal guard had gone smashing into it that had Valrien slowing just a bit as it happened.

Which in turn, helped him in the end. Already committed to his forward momentum, Valrien continued with the plan, despite Harlan having been used as a battering ram. He was utterly pissed off and wanted revenge for that, so he threw the ball of water with the knife curled up inside of it anyway.

Yet, as he threw it, he was taken by surprise as pain lanced through the lower part of his rib cage, probably going right between a few only out of sheer luck instead of being shattered. Valrien managed to stop himself before he was completely impaled by the sharp… bone? Valrien’s eyes were wide as he stared at the grey thing that had shot out from the man’s hand.

Kas ... pragaras yra tai, kad ...” he uttered, and dropped down to his knees while grasping the strange thing that was stuck in him with a groan. Wincing, the Prince looked away to try to see Harlan amongst the rubble of his rock wall, calling out to him frantically in their own tongue, yelling at the man to get his ass up and run because what the freak puppet master had just done, shook Valrien to his core.

They weren’t winning that fight. None of them. Honestly, it terrified the Prince.

The man’s words were accented as many others were, in the Nevvaran tongue as he spoke. As he did, despite the metal in his body and bone-like spine emerging from a bloody wound in his hand, his voice was calm. “That, Prince Yustri, is the next step in Dhaemaran work. Just as you Reimrands evolve your magic, so can we. And I was the one to do it” Slowly the spine began to retract into the man’s arm, the sounds of bone shifting and rearranging being heard from the arm as the spine vanished. Behind it, the wound slowly closed and the man lowered his arm.

He looked over to Harlan, who was no longer moving nor responding to the Prince’s words as he lied buried in the rubble. The man then looked back to Valrien, though his eyes slowly settled on the knife that was currently imbedded into his upper chest. The bladed instrument seemed to not bother the man in the slightest as he looked at it. “So, what is your plan now? If you thought pain was going to assist you,” He looked to Valrien, “Then I think it is quite clear that you were wrong.”

He looked over at the large man who had walked over next to him, the man then looking back down at Valrien. “I am not called ‘El Agonia’, ‘The Agony’, for no reason. Pain, Prince Yustri, is our greatest ally.” He then reached up, grabbing the knife and sliding it out of his flesh without any real thought, before he thrust it down and jammed it into the already broken shoulder of the Prince.

“But you can keep the knife. I have plenty of my own.” He then looked over to the large man, nodding his head to Valrien. “They are your’s to finish, Sendoa.” he then looked back at Harlan and Valrien as he stepped back to give the brute room to easily reach down and grab both the guardsman and prince by their throats, lifting them up off the ground.

Lutchka

Another opponent though had taken the opportunity to attack Lutchka as she stood separated from the others. A brown haired woman, the one whose face was riddled with scars and wearing gauntlets and greaves of metal was nimbly moving over and around soldiers, her own fire licking at her hands before she vaulted up and over the injured horse that had been knocked down by the hammer.

As she moved through the air, she fired a rapid series of fireballs aimed at the white-haired woman before landing on the ground, rolling up to her feet, sprinting right towards her once more.

Lutchka turned just in time to spot the other woman currently sailing through the air towards her. As the fireballs were launched, Lutchka made quick backward steps, evading them all. As the stranger landed, she seemed to just power on through towards her. Lutchka remained where she was, sprea*ding her feet enough to keep her balance and bounced lightly on her heels to better allow for concise movement.

As the woman came towards her, Lutchka set up a barrage of her own flames, lapping in jagged formations along the ground towards the female in hopes to throw her off a bit. As she approached, however, the ex-protector made a swift move to the side, turning in a fluid motion and shifting her hand along the arm of the enemy, her hands suddenly angling down at the wrist to send a heavy jab with fiery fingers at the exposed part of her elbow.

She ducked low and pushed off of her, anticipating the return offense, bringing her arms up to block her torso but mostly her face.

The woman nimbly slipped by the the fire sent her way, weaving around them and even hopping over some to then roll by others. As she finally closed the distance, she felt as Lutchka slipped to the side. She felt a heavy hit to her elbow, and it made her grimace as the sharp shock of pain shot through it.

As the blow landed, she then spun once again to face the white haired woman, though she instead ducked very low and swept out with her leg, the wedge of metal on the front of her greaves facing towards Lutchka’s legs. Whether or not the kick hit, the woman was then standing up and continuing with her spin to then deliver another kick with the same leg to the torso of Lutchka.

Having looked over the woman in the sparse moments she had between hits and the fervor of battle, Lutchka had determined that their fighting styles were similar. She was prepared for a leg swipe, as that would have been what she would have gone with. She took a low hop over the wide swing of the leg, but the white haired woman had been slow on the rebound, as the brown haired female straightened herself and continued her kick, slamming her foot into her side.

It had managed to hit a small part of her arm that was still somewhat in the way, but the main brunt of the hit met its mark. A hiss of pain escaped Lutchka’s lips, and that jar threw her off balance a bit. She was quick to recover, however, and took quick back-steps, suddenly bringing her fingers to her lips and sending a wide barrage of fire towards the other woman.

As her kick landed, Natalia brought her foot down to recover her stance and began moving forwards the moment Lutchka backed away. Her attack was thrown off though when fire suddenly came her way, forcing her to instead slip to the side to avoid the initial blast of the flames.

As she recovered herself, she then thrust her hand out to release her own gouts of flame to intercept the ex-protector’s. Natalia kept her flames burning as she began walking towards Lutchka, ignoring the searing heat of all the fire as she moved forwards.

With the barrage of flames that suddenly came her way and pushed her own fire back, Lutchka quickly slipped backwards as the other approached. She wasn’t just about to leave herself completely open. However, after taking swift little hops backwards to put a proper amount of distance between them again, Lutchka suddenly dropped to her feet and released another direct stream of fire at the woman’s feet.

Natalia’s fire kept the other woman’s at bay, keeping her from being burned by them as she slowly moved forwards. She frowned a little as she saw Lutchka move back further, irritating the scarred lady as she wanted to get face-to-face with the enemy.

With a quick flourish, she blocked one last gout of fire with her own before she went charging through the flames as they dissipated. However, as her eyes settled on Lutchka, having moved past the bright light of the dying flames, it was then that she noticed the flames coming straight towards her legs.

Reacting quickly she jumped to avoid the flames, feeling the intense heat lick at her legs. As she came down, she found herself landing on a dead soldier and losing her footing. She managed to tuck her shoulder so that she didn’t land hard, but given the conditions of the ground here and the obstacles in the way, she ended up coming to a stop when she rolled into another body, bringing her to a stop on her back and scrambling to get back onto her feet.

Lutchka watched with a sober sort of satisfaction when Natalia had been caught off guard and had to quickly jump to the side to avoid the unbearable heat of her flames. So far her opponent had not proved to be a worthy match, but the ex-protector hoped that it would stay that way.

Seeing an opportunity when the enemy went down, Lutchka took the chance to advance as the girl seemed to be turtle-backed against a dead body of another soldier, scrambling about to get back on her feet. Flames licked at the pads of her digits, eagerly straining to taste the flesh of anything around it and singe it to a crisp. With a light swipe of her hands, she sent the blaze onwards to the body that the girl had been caught up in.

It would be a mistake to sacrifice her upper hand and try to converge upon the enemy at this point, so if the girl managed to get up, Lutchka would assess her options and probably then move in to try and hit more pressure points.

As she struggled up onto her feet, growling and vowing to burn just about every dead body she came across after this, Natalia could see the bright flames moving towards her out of the corner of her eye. This time, being far more wary of where she was moving, she once again slipped to the side to avoid the blast of fire before throwing her own flames back at the other woman.

She fixed her stance, keeping her feet solidly on the ground as fire burned off of her own arms and legs, “Fuego no es un amigo en esta lucha, niña!” She shouted out at Lutchka, a smile crossing her features before she began unleashing her own blasts of fire at the ex-protector. “Usted está luchando el fénix!”

The flames ignited on the dead bodies, sending them ablaze and hopping from one carcass to the next, following after Natalia. Lutchka had been enough places and had been around Amador enough to know the language a bit. She scoffed, however, looking completely unimpressed as she took quick steps back and brought up her own defensive stance.

“If you’re a phoenix, you’re a newborn, one who has no experience with what they’re doing.” The woman seemed to find this all fun and games, simple entertainment. But she was losing and furthermore not that big of a problem for Lutchka. “Give me something actually exciting~” She drawled boredly, eyes keen and attentive when fire flickered along the enemy’s arms. If Natalia wanted to trash talk, Lutchka had no problem fulfilling the request, despite the fact that she didn’t exactly deserve it.

Lutchka side-stepped the fireballs, quickly maneuvering around the field of battle and amidst the many dead bodies that littered the earth. Her fingers shifted subtly, manipulating the fire that still ate through whatever it could find, swiftly approaching the brown haired female from behind.

Natalia smiled some, keeping her stance settled as she watched the other woman begin moving around her. She could feel the flames all around her, and it was exactly where she loved to be. She began knocking aside flames with quick flicks of her hands, throwing small ones as return fire before she began shifting around and over the dead that littered the ground.

The flames she couldn’t be rid of she simply maneuvered away from, aiming a few of her own in the path Lutchka was taking to disrupt her movements. She waited for a few moments, getting a good look at what was before her on the ground; a few moments later, she drew both arms into her tightly then thrusts them out in front of Lutchka, unleashing a powerful burst of flames before breaking into a sprint right towards her. “Ahora bailamos!” she shouted as she ran forwards.

Lutchka was quick on her feet, so being forced to change paths was not a problem for her. She could sense the heat just as well the other, and the flames hardly bothered her either. She had worked in the forges for a good time, and the temperatures there were far worse than anything Natalia was throwing at her.

The girl then shot forward a makeshift wall of fire, and Lutchka took a few quick steps backwards to get out of the way. Her foot caught on a protruding rock, and she fell backwards, however. She remained on the ground, though, and waited the few moments it would take for the other to arrive nearby. As soon as she did, Lutchka brought her hands up in front of her face and sent some searing flames right up into her face.

It was then that the ex-protector rolled away and curled her legs in a bit to get them under her and return to her upright position. She did not stop her firing, however, as she continued her assault on this brown haired girl, sending several streams of the blazing element in different directions around the girl, some on the ground, but mainly through the air.

She clipped off, manipulating whatever would bend to her will to throw her opponent off or force her to make a move that she did not want to. It was then that Lutchka followed in after her attacks, closing off the distance between them.

As her wall cut off Lutchka’s movement, she saw the white-haired woman trip over something and fall backwards. Natalia immediately picked up her pace, and when she felt she was getting close used one of the nearby bodies to give her a boost and jumped up off of it.

As she came down towards Lutchka, it was then that Natalia saw the large blast of flame coming right towards her. Shock was not the emotion she felt though, rather excitement as she brought her arms together to absorb most of the blast and slammed right through the flames. All of her body was literally burning with pain, the heat and flames singing any and all they touched. Even when her feet met the ground, Natalia simply kept pressing through the flames.

Once the flames subsided, Natalia finally lowered her arms, a laugh escaping her lips despite the flames that were not her’s that burned on her body. Even a part of her hair was alight, but as she saw her opponent coming towards her, there was nothing else other than tearing into her opponent that was on her mind as she threw a kick aimed for Lutchka’s stomach as the distance was closed.

Lutchka had been bracing herself for the inevitable retaliation that would come as she pressed forward, but she did not stop. She simply edged her foot to the side a bit as she came into contact with the kick, taking the brunt of the attack. The momentum of the leg as it came into contact with her lower hip caused her to lurch to the side, but she had been planning for that to.

At the last moment, the white haired woman used her own momentum to take a little hop which in turn was actually a jump from the force behind her, bringing her own leg forward to slam into Natalia’s stationary foot and she wrapped an arm around the girl’s side as she shifted her entire weight into the fall, taking down the girl with her.

Fire burned in an absolute rage on her form as she did so, lashing out at the other body. It was a risky move, as she could land wrong or even give her opponent the upper hand positioning-wise, but she needed to put the girl in her place.

They landed with a hard thump, and Lutchka made quick work at trying to disentangle anything that had gotten locked up with other limbs, and she quickly sent her knuckles forward against the girl’s neck, aiming directly for a pressure point.

Despite her kick landing and landing good, Natalia then felt the woman come crashing into her. Both of them came down to the ground with a heavy thud, and Natalia could feel the fires of the woman beginning to burn hot. If that was the dance she wanted, then it would be the dance Lutchka would get.

Latching tightly onto her, Natalia quickly ignited her own body and moved to climb up over the other woman. “Ser consumido!” Natalia shouted before she let loose all her energy into one last blast of fire, before she felt a fist slam into her neck and right into a sensitive spot. With one last chuckle of a laugh, the pressure point and expenditure of all her energy in the last burst of flames finally had Natalia falling over to the side, struggling to keep herself conscious.

Just as the ex-protector had feared, the position had not ended very well. Other than the fact that she had indeed bested her opponent, she did have to pay a price. The assailant’s fire fought ravenously against her own as Natalia forced a last ditch effort to harm her. Lutchka moved her hands up to shield her face from most of it, and she somehow did manage to conjure just the slightest bit of her own to lessen the blow. She did not have more time to react than that, however, and the fire bit at her skin, leaving angry pink marks behind.

Fortunately, having hit her mark, the woman fell back, and the white haired woman quickly scrambled backwards away from her enemy, lest she somehow manage to conjure something more to catch her off guard with. However, instead of going in to further attack her opponent, it was then that Lutchka remembered Harlan and Valrien, still having to battle against that brute.

Come to think of it, she had distinctly felt different measures of energies shifting along the battlefield, and that troubled her deeply. With one last somewhat unfocused look towards the woman laying on the ground, Lutchka left her and called out loudly to Minnow, willing herself to mark the earth with something he could see.

The little healer had been in his grove the entire battle, somehow undisturbed by any soldier. His main focus had been in the general sense, ensuring that the majority of their main soldiers had the upper hand in the fight. It was not until the tides began to change and unfamiliar powers were vibrating through the earth and air that he turned his attention elsewhere.

He was far ahead of Lutchka when she called out to him. He had mounted his own warhorse, finally allowing the beast into the fray, though it would not be doing its duty like it wanted to. He passed swiftly by Lutchka, leaning over and offering a hand as leverage for her to get up onto the creature.

She did so, but not without a bit of trouble. However, she sacrificed her own comfort so as not to strain the little healer or pull him down, and was soon atop the horse. After having sacrificed all of the metal off of the dead bodies that had been around, as well as what she could from an almost unconscious Natalia, she urged Minnow forward to where Valrien and Harlan were currently being hoisted.

While everyone else might have been war torn, Minnow had hardly even really done anything other than sacrificing metal here and there. He urged the horse faster and faster, running down stragglers and barrelling towards the large man.

As they neared, Minnow’s eyes narrowed harshly and his fingers twitched beneath riding gloves. The earth jumped at his nudge, suddenly lifting from behind the man. In one powerful, sharp stride, the earth had pulled into a dangerous point that tore into the back of the creature who somehow called himself human.

At the same time, the earth shifted without warrant beneath the brute’s feet, one concaving in on itself and bringing that man’s foot down with it, while the other jagged up as well at a precarious angle, forcing the man to inevitably drop his prey.

Minnow did not allow the man to recover in any way, shape, or form, as the earth wobbled unnaturally beneath his feet, shifting backwards and further into the spike of earth and rock that was behind him. Once he had managed to put a proper amount of distance from the enemy and the Prince with his royal guard, he erected a wall, much like the ones he had used in the rebuilding of the walls in the city, one where, should the man free himself and try to move forward, would sink his hands into and hopefully find them stuck in the suction for awhile.

In any case, it bought them enough time for Lutchka to hop off and assist Valrien and Harlan onto the back of the horse. Minnow helped as well, manipulating the earth further as best he could, but by this point he was waning on his abilities. The sudden use of so much of it would take a toll on him, but that wasn’t important at that moment.

Lutchka would have to fend for herself, as the horse- despite its massive size and power- could only carry so much weight. Minnow hardly weighed anything to begin with, so that was why the horse had little problem hoisting the other two men.

The ex-protector made quick work of backing away, however, and just for good measure sent up a pillar and wave of fire with the last bit of energy that she could expend towards the enemy.


Minnow

Minnow had taken up his own position in the battle. He was far away from any action, as he was more of a hindrance than a help when it came to anything physical, and set up in a deep grove of trees nearby. He had made sure that the entrance to such was wickedly difficult to get to, as bushy thorns and brittle, harsh briers were thickened around the bases of the trunks. He was barefoot once more, to ensure that he could reach as far out as he could, using his second ability to his advantage.

A small bag of metal spheres lay at his feet as well, as he could not afford to run out of energy at any one point in time- he was to be a defender as well for the city, rebuilding the walls as they were barraged with weapons. He had only recently learned that he could mould the earth while sensing it out, which was a huge help, but it required excessive amounts of absolute concentration. If it was broken, it would be difficult for him to resettle and resume.

As the walls were falling, he would raise the earth below, tapping into the moistness of the soil beneath to produce a sort of sticky, firm mud. It was a three-layered barrricade, with hard packed earth at the back, where the inside of the city was, treacherous mud in the middle, and firm earth on the outside. Should their weapons break through the first, they would sink into the second and get sucked into the mix. It would be like quicksand, remorsefully difficult to power weapons backwards out of it, and time consuming to wiggle them through. If they somehow managed to get past that second wall, they would be met with the third stage, solid and rock hard.

That was mainly where his focus was at, but whenever he had time to stray from the job, he would help about the battlefield, erecting walls and mounds to trip up enemies and protect their men.

Minnow’s own warhorse was settled in the small grove, quite a bit upset that it couldn’t go out into the fray and do what it was raised and bred to do, but Minnow needed something large to protect him if anyone managed to get past his defenses, though unlikely that was.

The Retreat

Kanan reached out with his air magic, searching for the young fire King quickly. When he found him, though, he didn’t like what he felt. Snapping open his good eye, he looked in the direction of where the King was. A deep frown settled on his lips as he eyed the mass of soldiers around them. Many of them were the Fire King’s men, already on a retreat. The rest were Amon’s men, starting their own retreat. The soldiers for the Noble’s of Fire looked as if they were going to give chase. So, the air Protector sheathed his sword and sacrificed almost everything that he wore metal wise.

The huge amount of sacrificial energy would most likely have been enough to alert Amon of what he was doing. Kanan rarely ever did such a massive spell, but it was needed right then. Directing his attack toward the mass of soldiers chasing after their men, Kanan unleashed a heavy torrent of air surged around him first before Kanan sent it rushing out. The dark mass of power was a tornado the size of which Kanan had only used once before in his life.

It created a roar so loud it was like thunder repeating itself, or an earthquake that was rumbling right in your ears. But it’s purpose was painfully obvious. To throw back anyone who attempted to come at them. Unfortunately, that was all it would do. None would die from it, it wasn’t meant to harm or maim. Simply to push back.

Kanan let it rip through the majority of the enemy soldiers, knocking them back like little trees being uprooted. When he finished, he stumbled a bit, tired from the exertion, but not quite done. There were still some soldiers that he didn’t hit, mostly because they were too close to their own armies. So he dealt with them, heading off in the direction of where Siya was.

When he found the young King and his new protector, Siya was hung up on Farasima’s shoulder, held up only by the foreigners sheer willpower. It was clear the King wasn’t moving anywhere on his own with the way he slumped on Farasima. It made Kanan slightly upset with Siya. That reckless attitude of his was going to be the death of himself and everyone else around him if he didn’t reign it in quickly.

Reaching out, he pulled up Siya’s other arm over his shoulder and assisted the new protector in the retreat.

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.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amon Ad-Raza Character Portrait: Siya Ukomo Character Portrait: Kanan Thiyer Character Portrait: Rhoven Shaw

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#, as written by Siryn

Siya turned and headed for the practice grounds where Amon and his protectors would be. Though his thoughts were definitely not on the combat training he was about to embark on with the Air King’s protectors. No, his thoughts were locked on the red-haired protector who followed after him. God, what was wrong with him? Siya’s thoughts were all over the place as he walked briskly to the training grounds.

He was so lost in his own chaotic mind that he missed the fact that the sandy training ground was empty. It took him a moment to realize it as he stood next to the wooden gate that encircled the fighting area that Amon utilized often. Looking up when he didn’t hear Amon’s cheery voice greeting him, he felt a surge of fear rush through him at the sight of no one being there. Amon was always there. Never once did he miss a training day with Siya. Ever.

So then… Where was he? Looking around, Siya tried to think if Amon had said anything to him about not seeing him that day. Or if they were going to do it later. Or if he was just too early. But none of that seemed to settle well with him no matter how he thought about it. He leaned against the wooden railing on the inside of the training circle, smacking his hand against it in frustration.

“Something isn’t right,” he said, glancing to Farasima before looking around again.

He was just about to leave the circle and begin hunting down the Air King in the city when pain lanced up his arm. The wood gave a sharp thud as something smacked into it, but it was that something which had Siya’s voice cracking into the air as he screamed and dropped into the sand. Pinned to the wood, he grasped his arm with his free hand tightly.

The pain was blinding, lancing out from his wrist. Sharp gasps and cries left his mouth as he knelt there, holding his arm tightly. He managed to look up at what it was and only grimaced at the sight. A strange gray like spike protruded out of his wrist and headed backward. Turning as best as he could whilst moaning in pain, Siya tried to follow the path of the strange spike that pinned him to the wood fence.

He caught sight of a man not to far away, on the other side of the training arena. Siya watched as the one who shot the spike at him turned and fled with something over his shoulder. A rather large something that vaguely resembled a body to Siya. Horror flooded him. Amon! Panting heavily, Siya ground his teeth. Turning back, he bent his head against his arm, his voice still slipping past his tight throat to issue out sounds of pain.

Farasima kept his eyes on the ground most of their walk, though he would glance up at Siya occasionally. He wasn’t sure what he was looking at him for exactly, but he just couldn’t help it at this point. As they entered the training area, Farasima also noticed the strange silence. Looking up, he noted how the ground was certainly disheveled and messy, as if somebody had been sparring within it. It wasn’t really odd, but still things felt off. When Siya mentioned it, Farasima nodded and went to say something when he heard the whiz of something flying through the air. It reminded him of an arrow, but the thunk of it sticking into wood indicated it was a bit heavier than an arrow.

Then he heard Siya scream, and Farasima’s eyes settled on the greyish-bone-like spike that was through his king’s wrist and had it pinned to the wooden post. His eyes widened, quickly moving over and grabbing it, but he stopped himself before he just ripped it free. His eyes turned to see what had done it, and he caught sight of several individuals fleeing.

He wanted to pursue, but he couldn’t just leave Siya here. Looking back to the king, Farasima stood there for a moment, trying to get an idea of what to do. Finally, he looked at Siya before his eyes settled on a nearby sword. Quickly running over and grabbing it, he looked to see if there was something better suited to his plan, but the sword would have to do.

He ran back over to the post, looking at Siya. “Sorry, this might hurt.” he said before he took a heavy swing and began hacking away at the post. He didn’t dare rip the spine from Siya’s hand, nor try to pry it loose. So he would just cut off the part the spine was stuck to. There wasn’t anything he could do about the jarring motion each time he struck, but he worked quickly.

When he finally cut through, which thankfully was easy given the post had deteriorated with time, He quickly dropped the sword and move to Siya. He gently supported the spine and wood, looking up at Siya. “You need healer, now.” he said, glancing back at where the people ran before he snaked an arm around Siya’s waist to support him. He still supported the weapon piercing the King’s arm as he forced Siya to walk with him. “You’ll be ok, Siya. You’ll be ok!” he repeated as they walked.

He took one more glance back, the people having vanished from sight. Just who in the hell was that and what were they after?

Siya saw stars as Farasima hacked the post apart to free him from where he was trapped to it by the thick, gray looking spine. He shook horribly, his vision going white for a moment as he moaned in pain, doubling over as his protector worked to free him. Gasps or short cries came from him when the jarring got to be too much to handle, but for the most part, Siya managed to keep from screaming again.

Then he was freed and would have dropped to the sand if Farasima hadn’t moved quickly. Grabbing him, he lifted Siya up to his feet and forced him to walk, holding his injured arm to help with the jarring motion. The Fire King still hissed in pain either way, grinding his teeth as they left the training area. He could only nod in response to the man who repeated the words that he was okay.

Once they were in the main building where he had been staying with Lord Forson, the healers were called. Laid up upon the bed in the room he’d been given, Siya sat up against the headboard, eyeing the healers who came rushing when the soldiers had seen him with Farasima. The only problem was that he did not see Minnow and it was making his heart race.

“M-Minnow?” he asked, his voice clipped.

Two of the healers looked back and forth between one another and shook their heads at Siya, “We could not find him, we looked for him but he was not where he usually was in the garden. So we just came,” the woman answered as the man took his hand and examined the spike lodged in it.

Siya’s breathing caught, hitching horribly as he looked wildly at Farasima, “They… Took them… They took them!”

“My lord!?” the woman sounded worried and confused as the Fire King tried to get up, his frantic cry startling the group that had come into the room. She lunged forward and put Siya back against the headboard via his shoulders, “My lord, you must calm down! You have to be treated first!”

Siya let out a growl of anger, glaring up at her, “Just pull it out! I have to go! Those bastards took Minnow and Amon!”

“Hold him,” the man on his right said as he gripped the spike-like thing in his hand and prepared to tear it out just as Siya had ordered them to do, though the healer didn’t look at all pleased with the idea.

Farasima handed the Fire King over to the healers once he had made it inside with them. The red-head stood back as he let them do their work, as he would simply get in the way otherwise. As they worked, he caught Siya mentioning Minnow, the blonde healer that accompanied the Air King. He glanced around, though when one of the healers mentioned not knowing where he was, Farasima looked back to Siya.

He moved to hold Siya down when the king went to sit up, but stopped as the healer was able to hold him in place. However his eyes widened as Siya began shouting about Amon and Minnow having been taken. Then he saw one of the soldiers reaching to pull the spine out, and Farasima quickly moved forwards, grabbing hold of the man and stopping him.

“No! No don’t do that!” he said before he looked at Siya, “Siya, You aren’t thinking. You are hurt, you will not help by damaging arm more and then running off with gaping wound!” He did not turn his eyes from the Fire King, regardless of what glare the man gave the protector. “Deploy scouts, deploy guards, but you stay. Fix wound.” he said, hands still holding the wrists of the man who had moved to pull the spine free.

“I will not stay! They are testing my patience and now they’re testing my fury. Taking what I care about most is the most vile thing they could possibly do to me and I will see them burn for it, Farasima!” Siya all but screamed as he leaned forward, forcing the woman to put a little more weight down against the King.

Looking over to the soldier, he narrowed his eyes, “Take it out now! Bandage it, or whatever, I’ll burn it if I have to! But I’m going after them!”

“Siya! This is what they want!” Farasima said back, raising his own voice a bit though not so he was yelling. He looked at the soldier, not removing his grip on the man before on Siya. “They want you to act hasty! You move quick, you move sloppy, and then you are their prey.”

“If they wanted Air King dead, Air King would be dead! They would not drag him away to then kill!” Farasima gave the soldier one hard look, trying to dissuade him from removing the spine so haphazardly. He then let go, moving around so that he was on the opposite side of Siya from the healer. He then looked at her, reaching forwards himself to grab Siya’s shoulders. As she let go, he placed his hands on the king.

“We have time to think. We must use it, or prepare yourself for a burial.” he again kept his eyes on Siya, readying himself to push the king down if he needed too.

Siya struggled visibly. Grinding his teeth, he managed not to yell again at Farasima. Letting his head fall back against the headboard, he took in short heavy gasps of air. The frustrations were building up again. His nerves were all over the place, anxious to go after his friends who were the only ones to put up with his ridiculous nature as of late.

His shortened breaths grew thick with emotion as he struggled even more, a tremble setting in. Looking back at his new protector, he shook his head slowly, crimson eyes filling with hot tears, “Why… Why can I not do anything! Everything I try to do ends up in disaster and I am constantly losing the things that I want to keep!”

His hand snaked out to clutch Farasima’s clothes tightly. He might have tried to push the man away, but there was no strength in his hand so he simply held onto him instead. Bowing his head forward, he fell silent, wanting to simply curl in a ball in a dark corner. The healer next to him sighed, low and slightly in relief.

“I’ll start working to remove this. It’s not going to be pleasant though,” he said softly, mostly to Farasima as it seemed Siya was no longer listening.

“Get cloths and bandages, hot water, herbs from the storehouse, start making salves and pastes. Quickly,” the woman began barking orders and the room was almost a controlled chaotic mess.

Siya paid no attention to any of it. Until the man who was examining the wound moved the post that he was still connected to. The King gave a sharp yelp, kicked slightly and tried to pull his hand away, only to have it held tightly by the man who muttered a soft apology. Siya gave him a half hearted glare.

When tears began to fall from the eyes of Siya, Farasima looked away. It hurt to see a man reduced to such a state, especially the one he was trying to protect. He felt a hand grab a tight hold of his shirt, Farasima looking back up to Siya as the king seemed to curl in on himself, trying to hide from everything.

Reaching one hand up to grab the one in his clothes, and the other hand resting on the same shoulder, Farasima spoke in soft tones. “They are not lost. This war is not lost. We still fight, means we can still win.”

He tightened his hold on both the hand and shoulder, “Please don’t give up. For them and for all Fire Citizens, don’t give up.”

Siya looked as if he were going to say something against that. He shook his head instead and simply dropped his gaze as he took in deep breaths to calm himself. Slowly he stopped crying, but he didn’t let go of the red-head as he leaned against the headboard of the bed.

“I will… Try to keep going,” he answered softly.

“Sire,” the healer that still held his hand called and Siya glanced to him briefly, “Are you ready?”

The King nodded solemnly, though his hand tightened on Farasima’s shirt without meaning to. The woman came up next to the one holding his wounded wrist and leaned over, pushing a cloth into Siya’s mouth without waiting for him, a simple, “Bite on it,” ordered to him.

The male healer, laid his hand on the wooden post and several pieces of metal sacrificed in the room. The wood reworked itself and fell from the tip of the spike. He frowned as he further examined the spike, Siya wincing every so often as he watched for a little while. Eventually he had to look away as the sight of the strange, thick thing sticking out of his wrist was making him dizzy.

“I’ll try to be gentle, think you can keep him from moving too much?” the man asked Farasima. He waited for the answer and then once he had it and Farasima was ready, started easing the spike out of his wrist. Siya knew then why the cloth was shoved into his mouth as his teeth ground into the cotton piece, his scream muffled. His first instinct was to pull away, which he desperately tried at first, but then simply settled for kicking and shoving at the mattress when he couldn’t go anywhere.

Farasima smiled softly at Siya’s words, though his smile dropped when he looked to the healer mentioned that they were ready to remove the spine. When he was asked to hold Siya in place, Farasima nodded and let go of the hand he had been holding to grab hold of Both of Siya’s shoulders.

Once he had a firm hold, he nodded his head to the healer before holding Siya down as the spine was slowly withdrawn from the wound. The muffled screams of pain had Farasima looking away, uncomfortable with the sight. He did his best to keep Siya from moving too much, though the king was still struggling fiercely from the pain.

It wasn’t until he got the ok from the healer that Farasima was able to look back at Siya. He did not let the king go, in the chance that the man might try to move again just out of reflex. He would wait until the healers were finished bandaging the wound before he let go of the Fire King.

Siya was in a daze as the spike finally came free. His voice was hoarse as he fell back against the headboard, every muscle aching and his body feeling like he’d run a couple of miles at a full sprint. Dizzy, tired, still overcome with worry for Amon, Siya took in deep, heaving breaths as his head lolled off to one side. He didn’t move, never let go of Farasima as his eyes drifted closed.

He made soft sounds as the healers worked to clean the wound to the best of their ability. He could feel stuff being put over it, but he didn’t even want to look, to afraid of what sight he would see. Siya jumped at the pin prick of a needle, but it all went numb soon enough so that he didn’t feel the wound being stitched up. The bandages came next, tight around his wrist and hand, keeping his hand straight and set forward. Next was a sling of some sort and his arm was hung next to his chest.

“Do not move it or agitate that wound in any way, my lord. Once Minnow has returned he will most likely do a better job at getting it to heal faster, but for now… You will have to make do with one hand,” the male healer said, his voice clipped as he took that overly serious tone with Siya. Reaching out, he pulled the cloth from Siya’s mouth who let it go and simply nodded to the man, far too tired to even attempt arguing with him.

“If you feel any pain or discomfort, let me know. I’ll do what I can to ease it,” the healer continued as he began washing his hands in the bowl of water on the table next to them.

Siya again simply nodded before turning his bleary gaze to Farasima, “Send… Scouts. Find them. Please. And find Kanan, he can use his air magic to locate Amon. Send for Lukina too… I need both of you. We have to plan, like you said… I won’t leave Amon and Minnow in their hands for much longer,” he ordered, though the usual authoritative voice was weary and filled with the desire to sleep for days if he could, though he knew he wouldn’t.

Once they were finished, Farasima finally relaxed his grip on Siya’s shoulders. Though when he tried to move, he noticed the king still had a hold of him. Glancing to the healers with a bit of a blush at the action, Farasima caved and just choose to sit down next to Siya. He nodded his head to the healers, watching as they left before he looked to Siya.

He watched as the Fire King lifted his head up, looking at the protector with a tired look to his eyes, speaking in a tone to match. Farasima nodded his head, looking up at the soldiers. “You know better where they are. I stay and make sure he does not hurt himself.”

As he watched the soldiers leave, he then turned to look back at Siya. He watched tired man, wondering what to do. He figured speaking would do him some good. “We Skis’tatari live hard life, forced to roam to pursue animals we hunt and to find new grazing grounds for herd. Few of us have true home, forced to constantly be active.”

He absently began playing with the King’s braid, lightly running his fingers across the hair as he continued. “Some of us resort to raiding borders to survive, my tribe did same. Though life was hard for many, many years, good things came to us. Du’Dradasi finally come though, unite us, make us strong, and most importantly give us place to call home.”

“That home was greatest thing to us, for we lived difficult lives on the move, all the time. To finally have a place to call home, it was made all the better by what we Skis’tatari endured. It made home truly special to us.” he continued to hold the braid, being careful to not tug on it as he sat there.

Siya might have moved or even made a soft sound as Farasima reached out and promptly began playing with his braided hair. Yet, he had no energy to do so, aside from a very light dusting of red across his face. His gaze though, went to the end of the bed as he listened. The soft brushing of fingers along the braid tugged the strands in a way that was quite soothing and Siya was beginning to enjoy it as well as start to doze a little.

His breathing was growing slower, heavier by the second but he managed to stay awake until his protector finished talking. Siya sighed deeply, shifting his body slowly to try to find a better position without pulling his hair from Farasima’s grip as he was enjoying that too much.

“Then… Are you telling me that it gets easier? Because I really don’t think it will,” Siya said softly.

“I thought it was hard when Valrien first showed up and his brother threw everything into chaos. But… I had Reynard then. He and Damiano helped me get through it, as did Amon and Taki. But then… Reynard was killed, and Taki too. Damiano stayed and we ended up in turmoil in Reimrand, trying to help Valrien. Ever since Reynard died, things just seemed to get harder. I lost what I was doing. Damiano left for some reason, he never said anything and then I found myself struggling and now with this. A signed paper for my denouncement,” Siya stopped talking for a moment.

He took a little while before he started again, simply breathing and thinking things over, “Valrien said that… I needed to properly mourn. Especially for Reynard. I was in love with him after all. I thought I did, but… Maybe I didn’t. Or maybe… I just don’t know how to,” Siya closed his eyes quickly, his jaw tight as he sat there. He’d already done enough crying, hadn’t he? Was there really a need for more? It was so frustrating.

Farasima listened to Siya speak, watching the King with a bit of a pained expression. He knew the feelings of the King. In his own way at least. “Siya, I lost my family and clan. You are not alone in loss. They found me on side of road, dying because Skis’naturi try to shoot me dead, I am exile of my clan now. No longer one of them.”

“I still hurt when I think of lost family. I too must mourn my loss as well.” he looked to the floor, sighing and closing his eyes. He opened them after a few moments, looking back at Siya. “What I tell you earlier, I say to let you know that things you want, the end you desire, it means much more when you must endure for it.”

“Our home was precious to us Skis’tatari because we never have home. My grandfather’s father never have home, neither did grandfather, so when we finally, finally have home, it… I can’t describe feeling. When you get what you desire, after all this trouble, it will be more precious to you than you ever thought it could.” he had wrapped part of the braid around his index finger, again being careful to not tug on the locks of white hair.

He slowly looked to the ground, sighing again. “Even though I lost that home, I still happy to know I had one. I had something my grandparents never have. It was… nice to have for time I had it though. Still a part of me, even though clan has exiled me.”

Siya turned to look at Farasima as he answered and began talking. He nibbled his lower lip while fighting off the heat of tears that were not for himself but for the red-head sitting next to him. The King took a deep breath at the end, sighing heavily as he shook his head, “I’m sorry, Farasima… I’m very sorry. I… Don’t know when I became so self-centered. This isn’t like me at all… I can’t imagine having been exiled, and nearly killed.”

Siya shook his head, letting go of Farasima and wiping at his face as he spoke again, “I’m sorry you lost something that important. What will you do? Don’t you want it back? What is it that you desire, Farasima? I-... I know it might not mean anything or much, but maybe I can help you get it back? Would that even be possible?”

Farasima smiled sadly, shaking his head as he looked back up at Siya. “No, chance of returning not likely. Exile one thing, they try to kill me is another. They… they don’t want me back ever. I refuse to fight the fight they part of.” he chuckled a bit, rubbing at his eye for a moment before looking back at Siya, “Seems petty, but when little disloyalty can ruin clan, punishment will be very severe.”

He rubbed at his eye again, noting how tears formed slowly in his own eyes. He had let go of Siya’s braid, and fortunately he was able to hold back from crying too much. It was still annoying to have his eyes tear up like that. “So, since Prince and others save life, I owe them. They told me to protect you, so I shall protect you.”

He managed to smile at the Fire King, “And don’t say, you go free if you wish. I have nowhere else to go, and I am cozy here now. So I shall stay to protect you. Especially because you need protection, from enemy and yourself.”

Siya frowned a little at the mention of needing protection from himself. He gave Farasima a half glaring look, but it faded out with a sigh. After all, his protector was right. Siya had been on a destructive course for quite a long while, it was almost pure habit to put himself directly in the path of harm simply because he’d been doing it for so long. Most of it was with the intention of letting it kill him, yet… Somehow he was still alive.

Siya chalked it up as cowardice.

He was only alive because he just couldn’t let himself get killed, or rather kill himself- because that was what it was in the end. Committing suicide in the most roundabout way possible. Thinking over it, Siya felt guilty from his actions. Guilty for allowing himself to fall so far, for hurting those around him. With the thoughts came the grief that he’d been pushing aside for years.

His hand tightened in Farasima’s shirt as he pulled himself toward the man. He didn’t think about it really, just simply fell against him as he cried. Everything he’d bundled up came falling out right then. All the fragile masks he wore broke. There was mourning that Valrien had told him to do. The mourning that Amon had advised him to let happen in order to feel better. Everything he’d ignored, everything he’d done that simply just hurt everyone else, or made them worry.

Siya let it all out right then. Fed up with everything. He was tired. Even if Farasima didn’t really want him to, he buried himself against the man, clinging to him as he wrapped his arm around the man, the one in the sling crushed up against his body as Siya lay on the red-head. He continually sobbed out the words ‘I’m sorry’ as he cried.

It took a little while, but he finally felt better. His sobs slowly ceased and he ended up just leaning on Farasima, taking deep, hiccuping breaths. Once that settled, he spoke softly, “Tomorrow. I want reports on where Amon and Minnow are. You and Lukina I will meet with and we’ll start planning. The Nobles of Fire want something. You’re right. They wouldn’t just take Amon if they were planning to kill him straight away. We have to figure out what it is they want.”

Siya let out a long sigh, then slowly pulled away, “I’m sorry. I know that what you dealt with the past several weeks wasn’t the best. I was difficult and probably irritating. But, I feel a little better. I will do better. Get back on track. Will you help me do that? And you have full rights to be harsh with me if I start to go astray. I don’t like what I’ve been like for the past few years. I need to get my head on straight again. Starting with this problem right now.”

Farasima flashed him a small smile when Siya glared at him. However, he hadn’t expected what came next, and that was the Fire King wrapping his good arm around the protector and leaning against him, beginning to sob as he did so. The red-head remained there, eyes wide and shocked, but slowly he began to come out of his stupor.

Hesitating for a moment, he then put an arm around Siya as well, just staying quiet and letting the man express the grief he was feeling. Words wouldn’t help, or at least no words that Farasima could think of. So he simply remained quiet, again hesitating for a few moments before wrapping his other arm around the Fire King.

He remained quiet for the whole period, and he didn’t say anything as Siya’s crying began to settle. After a moment of silence, the Fire King finally spoke, and Farasima simply nodded his head in agreement to the request. He loosened his hold on Siya as the man pulled back, Farasima’s arms coming back to his side.

“As long as you truly settle your mind, then forgive you I will. Don’t react to them, because then you fall into their traps and pits.” Farasima smiled, “And I will gladly help you get back on track. I will do my job as protector. Starting with this problem.” he said, repeating a few of the words Siya said.

Siya nodded, a very faint smile upturning the corners of his mouth, “Thank you,” he said. He let out a long sigh and started to shift his body, scooting down on the bed so that he could lay down properly. He was tired from all the crying and from the earlier pain of having the spike removed. The Fire King just wanted to sleep. As he settled against the many pillows, he yawned and curled up in a slight ball on his side, laying on his good arm while the other just draped over his body.

It didn’t take him long to fall asleep. The cool feel of the pillows under his hand helped to usher him along. He wasn’t sure if Farasima stayed there or not, he sort of hoped the Protector would, if not for a little while. Siya allowed himself into the deep sleep that beckoned him often but he’d always fought off. It felt good to sleep, much better after having released all of that frustration, tension, grief… He felt much better.

~~