Harlan Pendrake

"Hey! Hey....! Hey, hey, hey....you...dude...you see the ass..on that chick who just walked by?! No wait...it's a dude....dude you see the ass on the dude who just walked by?!"

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a character in “Conqueror of the Elements”, as played by Eddy V. Sovorov




21 || Bi-sexual || Guard (And Bestest buddy!) of Prince Valrien

Lithe, athletic, and a little lanky, this 5' 8" fella weighs in at one-hundred and forty pounds. He has little body fat on his form, and so though he may not actually have much for muscles, the taunt nature of his skin can give off the impression of being muscular. Regardless, he is built much more for speed and dexterity, his preferred tools for handling a scrap, or a get away if need be. His long, brown hair comes down to his mid-back, however he always keeps it up in a high ponytail, using a small metal band with a metal pin placed through the locks of hair.


He is a decent person in a fight, able to utilize his agility to out maneuver his opponents and strike at vulnerable points. He prefers to slip around his opponents attacks, always staying in close so that he can strike back without having to move into his opponent. Like wise, he makes great use of his good balance and dexterity to weave all around his opponent or to grab hold of them and strike them as needed.

While some may not consider it a talent, he is quite the heavy drinker. Give him any drink and he'll chug it down, enjoying the burn and then the buzz right afterwards. There is no drink too strong for the young man. Strangely, and he attributes it to his heavy drinking, he is not bothered as much by poisons and other toxins. They seem to pass through his system very rapidly, and he can usually get back up to his feet and rolling quicker than what most would expect.

Lastly, and his other strange quirk, is that when he is reduced to a drunken state, though his judgment may become significantly worse, it has the opposite effect on his fighting ability. While in a drunken stupor, he becomes an extremely skilled hand-to-hand fighter, weaving through multiple attacks to strike at his opponents at unorthodox angles or in odd ways. It also has the tendency to throw his opponents off, as he will stumble about, off-balance and confused, then suddenly become the most difficult opponent to simply get a hold of.

Though booze may give him strange fighting abilities, it does not improve him anywhere else. He is not a violent or moody drunk, but he is still tipsy, possibly obnoxious, and a poor judge of situations when he is intoxicated. He is already rather rough when it comes to being polite and acting like any noble or formal person might. It is only made worse when he's drank himself silly. He's best left in a tavern, to drink with people there and to mingle with them. Assuming of course he does not manage to get himself into a fight by instigating a scuffle with some other drunk.

When not drunk, he is decent in a fight, but he is no master fighter. He can hold his own for a bit against more skilled opponents, but inevitably he will find himself being broken down and beaten. Without the drink in his system, he is no match for a true master of combat.

He is also not very adept at using his element beyond basic attacks. He simply utilizes blasts of fire from his punches and kicks, maybe a flame breath if he feels up to it. He has learned to use bursts of fire to act as a shield, but regardless it is not his best talent. Especially when drunk, it is best not to let him use his ability to manipulate fire, as only bad things can come from it.


All there is to say about Harlan is that he is a fun drunk, laughing, joking, and generally being an obnoxious fella. He loves to drink and loves to drink with friends even more. Secondly, being a very close friend of Prince Valrien would clearly indicate that Harlan is also a Reimrandian.
The thing about being a loud drunk is that it is very hard to keep anything a secret about yourself.

there is no other way to put it. There is not a mean bone in this man's body. Sure he may tease and proud, but he never wishes ill will of anybody, even those he gets into fights with at a tavern. He is just looking to have fun and pass that fun and enjoyment onto others. Granted, when drunk others may not view the things he finds to be fun as enjoyable, but Harlan just likes to think that clearly they too need to get drunk and view the world from his point.

Despite his fun loving nature, he can get serious when it comes to helping Valrien. He is a true and loyal friend to The Prince, and would give any and everything to help him. That does include his own well being when he decides to prod at the young prince, especially regarding when Valrien is finally gonna go all the way with the fine, white haired ex-protector of the Earth Kingdom.


So begins...

Harlan Pendrake's Story


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)
"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.


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

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.



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.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Amon Ad-Raza 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
A few days later: Siya's Palace
Valrien dismounted the moment they were within reach of the steps that led up to the large doors leading into the hall of Siya’s castle. For some reason he had a horrid feeling at the back of his throat. A tightness filled with a sour taste that just wouldn’t go away no matter how many times he swallowed. The city itself was far too quiet. Only a few guards greeted them on the way in. Something was wrong.

As he charged up the steps and threw the doors opened, he came to an abrupt halt as he entered the hall. Glancing around wildly, he noted that none of the usual guards were there. A few servants wandered, doing their daily chores, but no one greeted them. The hall was far too quiet, except for a woman standing in the middle of the hall with her arms crossed. Long white hair spilled over her shoulders, yellow eyes glaring at the group who entered. She was dressed head to foot in black, a sash hanging from her belt -a gift from Siya a long time ago. It held the Fire King’s emblem on the edge of it.

“Lukina,” Valrien said, recognizing her immediately.

“Where is Siya?”

“He’s not here?!” The Prince took several steps forward to stand right in front of her, looking down at her as he was just a little taller than her.

She scowled, “No, he’s not. One of the guards said he left, emptied his army out of here too. Said it looked like he was going to war. I was hoping you knew where he went.”

Valrien scowled deeply. He cursed, his language flowing off his tongue rapidly. Lukina gave a confused look before sighing and shaking her head, “Look! We have to find him.”

“Yes! I know that! A heavily armed group came in here a week ago ordering him to stand down from the throne. He refused it of course, but they were damned determined and from what it sounded like, they were going to kill him since he refused. Damn him… Why did he not wait? I told him I was going to see Amon!”

Lutchka followed closely after Valrien as he forced the doors to the castle of the Fire Kingdom open, practically running in. She had a good idea of why he was doing so, though, as it was fairly obvious to everyone that something was off, something was different. Guards were different, it was too quiet, less men, etc. So when they saw the main hall empty except for one particular familiar woman looked rather peeved, it was obvious that Siya had already left, gone on his own to fight.

The woman and Chromi then began a small spat, both confirming the suspicion that the young King had left. It was then that their Reimrandien Prince began cursing in absolute anger and frustration. Lutchka pursed her lips, walking up behind him and placing a rather firm hand on his shoulder. “I think you well know why he’s left without waiting. His throne was on the line, he’s been dealing with other poor emotions. It was only a matter of time before something pushed him over the edge.” Normally she would have teased him, but in this situation, with the Fire King so close to danger and furthermore missing, this particular instance was not really the time for joking.

“He’s fine, I’m sure. He’s got a hard head, don’t underestimate him. Any ideas on where he might have gone off to, though?”

Minnow had nervously been following after the group as they entered the castle as well. He was worried for Siya, that was a given. They may not have been overly close, but that didn’t stop the little healer from caring about him just as much as he did everyone else. Well… almost everyone else. It did not help that the castle seemed remarkably empty, and a young woman was standing alone in the middle of the hall.

The Prince immediately approached her and they had a short though heated discussion about Siya’s condition. With what they said, a little knot twisted in Minnow’s stomach. Siya had gone on without any back up to go fight a war he was in no condition to do so. Lutchka had tried to cheer everyone up, or at least disable the tension that was building from the Prince’s reactions, but Minnow was not really convinced. Sure, the Fire King was a strong individual, that was a given. But he was still grieving, even after all this time, the wounds had not healed, and now his raw emotions were being torn at with the arrival of such a threat to his person.

Reaching back, Valrien took hold of Lutchka’s hand that was on his shoulder as he took a deep breath, “I know why he didn’t wait. I know very well that it pushed him over the edge. He is strong, but that was years ago, Lutchka. He’s not as strong as he used to be, despite that mask he wears every day. That’s exactly why I’m worried. He left without thinking. Jumped right into a fight he’s not going to win on his own. I’m beginning to wonder if he is suicidal again. Or just plain stupid at this point.”

Lukina sighed and shrugged, “Well whatever he is, we need to find him. I don’t have any idea as to where he went, but we best start trying to find out.”

Kanan moved finally, stepping a little past Minnow whom he’d been standing next to the entire time, “I can try to find him. My reach is limited, but as we move, I’ll try.”

Minnow looked thoughtful as Kanan suggested that. He then spoke up, “It would be easier if I did it. As long as we take breaks while travelling, of course. My reach is longer when it comes to the land. I could probably help direct Kanan with a general area as well.”

Lutchka gave a little sigh as Chromi spoke, but then a wry little smirk was on her lips, and she wrapped her arms around his neck softly. “Ah, you’re such a dork~” She grinned brightly and then stepped away from him with a cheerful look. “I’m sure it won’t be that hard to find him. Couldn’t have gone too far.”

Amon, Harlan, and Rhoven had been right behind the others as they had entered the castle, and much to Amon’s worry they quickly learned that Siya was not there to be found. Instead they had managed to stumble across an old acquaintance in Lukina.

Amon crossed his arms, frowning as he looked to the floor before back up towards Kanan and Minnow. The two’s suggestion to use their powers to track Siya was the best idea so far, at least the best to Amon. He couldn’t think of anything else, other than asking villages every now and then which direction the army had marched in.

He turned his head though when Rhoven piped up. “Asking the servants here which direction the army marched in would be a good start for us. I imagine that somebody has to have an idea about where he might have gone.”

Amon nodded his head, looking towards the others. “Yeah, not to mention there has to be some guards around here who could help point in the right direction as well. Then Minnow and Kanan can begin searching for them. An Army isn’t too hard to find.”

Lukina crossed her arms, nodding, “Yes. That is a good idea. Perhaps the guards at the gate. There is only one way in. I didn’t think to ask since I was in a hurry and just got here moments before you did. In any case, we need to move quickly.”

“We’ll leave now,” Valrien said firmly and turned to head for the double doors of the palace. He led the way with Lukina falling into step on the one side that Lutchka was not on. His steps were quick, driven by an underlying need to be where Siya was at all costs and quickly. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was terribly wrong still, that Siya had possibly perished in a fight he couldn’t win.

Behind them, Kanan followed. He was only slightly upset that Minnow had told him not to, but he knew that the little healer was right. Minnow’s reach was much farther than his, which meant finding Siya much quicker. He had to admit that the blonde’s power was extraordinary when it came to the earth. Kanan might have admitted to admiring it too. Leaning down, he gave a small kiss on the healer’s cheek before whispering in Minnow’s ear, “Do your best.”

The others quickly fell in step behind the Prince, Amon casting a glance to his protectors for a moment before looking back ahead as they moved. Rhoven simply kept close to the Air King, hands resting in his pockets while Harlan moved up closer towards the Prince.

“So, Lukina. It’s been awhile since we’ve last seen you.” Harlan said as he slowly walked up next to the woman. He looked at her with a smile, his hands resting within his pockets as well. “What have you been up to and how are you doing? I hope you missed me as much as I missed you.” He said, to her, shifting to the side slightly so as to be ready to dodge a possible strike.

“Harlan…” She sighed heavily, “How many times must I tell you? I’m not interested. The last man I was interested in disappeared off the face of this planet, what makes you think I’d go for a player like yourself. Love them then leave them, isn’t that right?” she shot back, noticing the slight step to get out of her range. Lukina arched an eyebrow, as if getting a little distance away would save him.

“You realize my scythe can still reach you, right?” she said as she pushed open the doors and started down the steps to the horses that were in the courtyard just in front of the palace.

Lutchka rolled her eyes as Harlan suddenly popped up behind Lukina, hitting on her almost immediately. Gods, that man had no limits. She listened intently to the both of them though, smirking when Lukina immediately dashed any hopes that Harlan might have had. But she had brought up some good points with the whole use them and lose them. But that was just Harlan. It was sad really, he wouldn’t ever get to experience any sort of legitimate relationship- well, probably- but maybe that was a good thing. After all, her feelings towards Valrien had led to little, and it was such a pain to have such an ache.

The ex-protector had a little laugh at Lukina’s threats, throwing a pointed though playful look at Harlan. She then shifted her gaze to the rest of their group that followed after. Kanan and Minnow had said that they would be able to find Siya, and she didn’t doubt it. It was rare to see Minnow take initiative or use his powers for things other than healing. It was a bit of a treat to watch, and she had no idea how he did it. In fact, the first time he had used his other sight had surprised her greatly. She had thought only Kanan had the ability to do things like that, and knowing that both of Amon’s Protectors could do it was a bit of a cheat in her opinion.

Minnow blushed ever so faintly and gave a little cough when Kanan kissed his cheeks. It warmed him though, and he felt confident with the encouragement of his partner. It was true that he did not often use his own power, as Kanan could always cover the need so much easier than he could. But this was his cup of tea, and it would help them find Siya and make sure that he was alright.

The little blonde watched as Harlan suddenly caught up with Lukina and Valrien, and gave a sort of sigh of relief as he hit on her. At least his attention was occupied with her now and thus he wouldn’t be making things awkward for Minnow, as he so often still did.

At the mention of her scythe, Harlan glanced down to said weapon and then scooted away from her a little more, moving so that now he was behind her some. “Oh yeah! Totally know that! And it is not love-’em-and-leave-’em, thank you!” he said while crossing his arms defensively. “Both parties are well aware that it is strictly fornicating and not love making. I am not a heartless person, I’ll have you know.” he said with a grin.

Rhoven glanced at Harlan, sighing and shaking his head. “How many times have you ended up with someone else’s partner? And how many times have you been beaten for that?”

Harlan looked at the younger man and grinned. “If they are with someone when we do the dirty, then they did not inform me that they were dating somebody. I take no responsibility for that because I was ignorant to the fact! As for how many times I’ve been attacked by said partner….several. And only a few have ever won.”

Rhoven rolled his eyes. “Too bad a few more haven’t won. Might knock some of that libido out of you…” he mumbled to himself, turning to look back ahead.

Amon looked down at Rhoven, “From what I’ve gathered, there is no beating that out of him. It’s too ingrained in his psyche.”

Harlan grinned at the two of them, looking ahead while peeking a glance at any ass that he could sneak a peek at, excluding Valrien’s. “Well I’m glad to know you are learning, Lord Amon.”

Lukina sighed heavily as she mounted, “For the love of all Gods, will you keep it in your pants, Harlan? Or I’ll be inclined to relieve you of that burden. And my scythe is very very sharp,” she said as he mounted and gave him a pointed look.

“Just… Go,” Valrien said with a heavy sigh, “We have an idiot King to go rescue, remember? The sooner the better…” With that, Valrien was up on his own mount and spurring the beast to head to the gates of the city at a dead run.


The guards had told them west was the direction the army had headed off to. Where though, was not known. Valrien had to believe that Minnow could find the King’s location soon the longer they travelled in that direction. They’d been moving for a couple of day’s already and he was still holding onto the hope that the young king could be found quickly. They stopped often, allowing Minnow to do what he needed to search for the Fire Lord.

Yet, the longer it took, the more anxious the Prince grew. He wasn’t the only one either. It was easy to tell that Lukina was anxious too. After all, she’d pledged to serve him if he ever needed her, no matter what. Even in his darkest hours she would be there. Valrien felt a bit of guilt at the fact that he hadn’t thought of her at first when Siya had been presented with that proclamation of his demise. Even so, he felt that Amon was the best choice and seeing as Siya’s lands had fallen under war anyway… Clearly Lukina had found out.

Kanan allowed Minnow to do the work of finding the King, offering encouragement when it was needed, especially when Minnow didn’t feel the King’s presence after searching as far as he could reach. He even gave Minnow a few of his metal pieces that he wore on his frame for sacrifice purposes. They would serve the little blonde healer far better than Kanan who was currently in no need of them aside from the small few that he sacrificed constantly and unconsciously simply because he was always feeling the presence of everyone around him and a few miles out. It was an old habit, born out of mercenary training and being the Kings protector. No one knew who would come knocking on Amon’s doorstep, so he made it a point to know who and where everyone was at all times.

The road they found themselves on leading west was barren. Dry and flat for miles before hills popped up in the distance. Valrien knew the city that was beyond those hills and also knew it would take at least another day to reach it. He hoped that was where Siya was. If not… Then he had no idea. Along the road, ditches were spread out, some filled with water, some empty and dry.

Some holding a body… Valrien pulled the horse to a stop, staring at the hand that peeked over the edge of the ditch. He looked over his shoulder to the others, Kanan’s gaze narrowed. When he looked at the prince, he shook his head, “I did not feel anything until now,” he said despite Valrien not saying a word, “He’s fading…” the one eyed protector said softly, a bit of sadness to his tone. Valrien started dismounting, cursing to himself. As if he would let them die so easily.

Minnow had been hard at work the entire journey. Although he could not stop as often as he might have preferred, he made do with what he was given. While they knew the general direction which Siya’s armies had moved out, it was entirely possible that the course could have been shifted. It was becoming more and more of a possibility the further on they went and the longer there was no real good signs of any armies that had passed through. But Siya’s lands were barren, different from the Air Kingdom. Despite the probably large body that had passed through the lands, the earth was not disturbed too greatly. It was almost as if someone were masking the trails. Usually Minnow could pick through anything that may pose as a problem, but he was not familiar with this land.

The little healer decided that on their next stop, he was going to focus his sights in different directions. It was obvious that Siya had not passed through this place. Minnow should have decided on that earlier, but for some reason he simply hadn’t. He was about to voice the information when Valrien called a stop.

Minnow had not scoped out this far. He had been tentative the last search, he was less eager to search further out, as there were no signs of an army. It was also difficult to push through and around the unfamiliar lands that had never really had to yield to such questioning. Thus he had not seen the almost lifeless body that was currently in one of the ditches to the side of the road.

Immediately he had dismounted from his horse and hurried over to see. A red-headed man with an angular face lay there, beaten and bloodied, arrows sticking from his form like the spines on a porcupine. It was surprising that he had lasted, considering everything that could have happened to him- he had been here for awhile, under the heat of the sun, with multiple open wounds. The earth desires to take him…. He thought silently to himself. There had been no indication of a soul out this far, regardless of whether or not he had not searched this far. Kanan had not felt his presence either.

“Move.” The little blonde spoke with an authoritative tone towards Valrien. The Prince was not entirely in the way, but that wasn’t any of Minnow’s concern at this point. He quickly shifted forward and unlatched a small canteen of water that rest at his hip. He kneeled down and quickly looked over the man, taking note of every wound that was readily apparent.

He grabbed hold of the guy’s chin, and tilted it up towards the sun. With a gentle though firm hand, he parted his lips and brought the mouth of the canteen to his lips. He tilted it back gently, running a finger over the throat of this individual to encourage a swallowing reaction. While he did so, he made his determinations on whether or not he could be moved in this state.

“I need more water and someone to move him.” That answered that- the man shouldn’t die with being handled and moved out of the ditch. Besides, there was no real way to tend to him in such an awkward position, and dirt and the elements could easily get in.

Amon hated riding horses, he really did. Sure they were faster, and could carry more stuff, but he just did not find sitting in a saddle all that comfortable. He was also nowhere near as graceful on horseback as he was on his feet. Controlling the four legged creatures was just not his forte. He glanced back at his apprentice, not sure how the city-raised teen was so much better at riding and controlling them. Guess maybe Amon could look into lessons from him, give the boy a chance to teach and lead. Not to mention it’d be a good lesson for Rhoven as well.

When Valrien called for them to stop, Amon was more than happy to do so and quickly hopped down from his horse. Of course, it was then that he noticed why they had as he looked to see Minnow moving over to a body that was lying within the nearby ditch. Immediately Amon moved towards them to assist Minnow if it was needed, though he certainly did not touch the injured man, lest he be on the receiving end of Minnow’s barracuda-like wrath. At the mention of water, Amon did not hesitate and moved to his horse to grab his water canteen, holding it out to the young protector. “Here you go, Minnow.”

As he held out the canteen, Amon suddenly jerked his head to the individual when they suddenly began to hack and cough, spitting some of the water out at the simple reflex. As they did so, their hand suddenly shot up and grabbed hold of Minnow’s hand that was by their throat, gripping the limb weakly as their eyes shot open. The man looked up at Minnow, then all around at the others with shock and fright, and in a futile effort, attempted to scoot away as he saw them. “Yas’lak…!” he muttered, “Tema’lee…!” he said in a frantic, raspy, and weak voice.

Amon blinked, staring at the man confused as he had no clue what the man had just mumbled. The Air King was not sure if the man was just speaking gibberish due to his awful condition, or if he was actually speaking some other language.

Minnow had been a bit startled as well when the stranger had jerked up a bit. But in a quick movement, he gingerly placed his hands at the back of the man’s head, making sure that he would back up. Him moving too much would be bad for his current condition. Minnow dipped hs head a bit to look up at the individual, keeping their faces level so that there would not be as much of a reason to feel threatened. Soft little mumbles left his lips, soothing and gentle, though not entirely intelligible either.

Now that he was awake, it would only freak the man out further to have other people touching him, so having one of the others retrieve him from the ditch was a poor idea. With a soft little hum in his throat, he tenderly ran his fingertips along the scratches on the man’s bloodied face, running a little bit of water on the gashes to clean them as well. He was hoping to distract the young gentleman enough for him not to struggle when he felt the earth beneath him shift.

Minnow inverted the curve of the ditch, fluctuating it upwards to become level with the rest of the earth. With the man now level and more easily maneuverable, Minnow gently let his fingers slip away from his chin- which he had previously been propping up to let him drink- and moved around him to get to work on the other wounds there. He would need to take care of the arrows too, and that was not going to be a fun task for anyone involved. If they were not already through the flesh to where the tip was showing, he would have to force them through in order to break them and remove them.

The poor guy probably wasn’t going to be conscious for much longer once Minnow got started on him.

Amon watched as the man struggled for a few more moments, though it seemed that as Minnow continued to give the man a drink and slowly clean the wounds along his face the man began to settle down. The redhead let go of Minnow’s wrist and instead reached up to grab hold of the canteen at his lips, sloppily chugging down the liquid. He stopped for a moment and looked down as the earth shifted beneath him so that the ditch was now level with the road, but it seemed the man had decided that none of them intended to hurt him.

The man, having finished off the canteen, groaned in pain, his body just going limp as he seemed to finally have decided none of them were going to hurt him. By this time, Harlan had dismounted from his horse and watched from a distance, not wanting to get in the way either. People might give him gripe for seeming to not have a care in the world, but even he knew when it was time to be serious. Still, it wouldn’t stop him from asking question. “Any idea who he is or from where?” he said, though as he did he began looking around the area. He wanted to make sure that whoever had attacked this young fella wasn’t going to show up again to try and finish the job.

Valrien shook his head, having stepped out of the way of Minnow when the young healer told him to move. It wasn’t a growling order, just a request. The Prince watched, a frown on his lips as he stood there. When the young man woke, it startled Valrien, especially when he latched onto Minnow. He almost lunged forward, but as Minnow did not seem disturbed, then it was alright, especially when the man snatched the water and then went limp on the ground. Valrien couldn’t tell if he was still conscious or not as Minnow walked around him, working out a plan no doubt on how to get started on healing him.

“Minnow, if you remove the arrows, I can close most of the wounds with my energy. The deep ones especially,” Valrien offered, taking a few steps closer so the little blonde healer could hear him.

Kanan, who had also dismounted when Minnow had, rested his blade down at his side, having drawn it at some point. He was keeping an eye out around them and if Valrien concentrated enough, he could feel the one eyed protectors air magic rippling outward as he searched for any signs of the attackers remaining nearby. The Prince glanced over at Harlan who asked the question but it was not him who answered.

“He isn’t from here,” Lukina said. She stepped closer, crouching down to get a better look at him, a frown on her lips, “He’s a long way from home, actually. One of the tribes, possibly. Yes, from the Steppes west of Nevarre. His people were there when Nevarre fell. What he’s doing here, though…” she shook her head, sighing.

“When who fell?” Harlan asked as he looked at Lukina. The name did sound familiar, but he was usually stuck in Iveir or back home in Reimrand so he really was not too familiar with any of the places of Dhaemar.

“They are our Western neighbors.” Amon said, looking away from the barely conscious man over to Harlan. “We really don’t have any dealing with the nobility in that area beyond simple trading arrangements. So, I'm not familiar with the whole fallen part either.” he finished while looking over at Lukina. He glanced down at the man when he groaned in pain, a grimace on his face as he shifted about. “I am not familiar though with the steppes Lukina mentioned, either.”

“I see then…” Harlan said, looking at the injured fella as well. Harlan was quiet for a moment before looking towards the others with curiosity, “Wasn’t that Asier fella from Nevarre? I think somebody mentioned that before when he spat out another language other than Iveirian.”

“Asier...that was the name. Cripes I could never remember what name he went by after he changed it.” Amon said while scratching his head. “But, yes he was from Nevarre. Really All I knew about the fella.”

“Nevarre was taken over. Invaded by a powerful man. We consider it the fall of Nevarre. Especially if you were there to see it. I heard of it, but I was not there. Well… I was in the middle of leaving Nevarre when it was taking place. But that’s not important. What is, is that I’ve seen his kind before. The Steppes are where many different tribes reside. Unfortunately, I’m not versed in his language. Maybe we’ll get lucky and he knows Nevarre, or Iverian.”

“Then I guess we need to heal him,” Valrien said and looked to Minnow again, “As I said. I can heal his deeper wounds quickly. It’ll make it easier on you and him. You’ll just have to remove those arrows for me, I’m sure you’ll make it less painful than if I did it,” the Prince said carefully. He didn’t want the little healer to feel as if he were trying to take his job, but he knew that he could help and make the process faster, thus he offered.

Minnow nodded when Valrien said that he could heal the man. It was a good thing, really- the guy needed it. It was too bad that their sacrifices didn’t range into wood, elsewise this would be a simple task. Minnow once again looked him over before deciding on which shaft to start with. The ones that hadn’t gone too deep he could pull back out- anything that hadn’t hit an important organ or got caught between something or other.

The little blonde healer quickly got to work, starting on the first of the six arrows that were lodged in the man’s flesh. The first four were simple, but the other two, one through his arm, the other through his side, would be the ones that were the most painful. If Minnow tried to pull either on of them out the way they had entered, he would risk tearing an important tendon. So instead he forced the weapon forward to finish its path, peaking the tip out to the other side. With that, he broke it in half, and removed both sides.

Once he had finished, Minnow nodded to Valrien. In all honesty, he wished that he could have done a lot more for the man, but there wasn’t much that he could do. He was not equipped with the proper equipment at that particular moment.

Amon choose to look away as Minnow began his removal of the arrows. He’d seen enough of it for a lifetime, so he had no desire to see it again. He could hear the man’s breathing increasing as Minnow pulled free the arrows, the man groaning and gripping whatever he could get his hand on as the healer worked.

Harlan glanced over as Minnow worked at the last arrows, mostly because now the man was much louder as the arrows were pushed through him to make the removal more clean. Clearly it also happened to be a bit more painful, as the man cried out in pain as the arrows were extracted. As Minnow pulled free the last one, the man went completely limp, no longer having the strength at all to support himself in any fashion as his breathing remained heavy, it sounding like a hiss as the man breathed through clenched teeth.

The Royal guard had to admit, he was surprised that the man was still awake. Harlan probably would have chosen to fall unconscious rather than deal with the pain, or at least he’d do that if he was sober. He looked to Valrien for a moment before going back to scanning the area around them, even though Kanan was certainly doing a far better job at keeping tabs on the surrounding area and any possible intruders.

Valrien grimaced as the poor man was subject to having Minnow removing the arrows from his body. Once it was done, though, he was more than grateful to kneel down next to him and press his hand against the stranger’s body. His energy flooded his arm, the white color sinking down into the red-head’s frame. Valrien concentrated on healing the wounds, pulling together the deeper ones and repairing the arrow wounds. Especially the ones that were through and through. The Prince worked hard and quickly to stop the bleeding. By the time he was done, Valrien had a sheen of sweat across his forehead.

He let his body fall back once he’d healed most of the wounds. Sighing, he leaned his head back, “There. That should help a lot. More water too,” he said over his shoulder to any who heard and cared to get a canteen. “I’m sure he needs it far more than we do.”

The young man’s breathing was still heavy, despite the healing energy that washed over his body. He visibly relaxed though, all tension in his body fading as the pain he was in faded with it. He did not stand up, rather he remained lying where he was, eyes closed now.

Harlan walked over to Valrien, kneeling down and placing his hands on the Prince’s shoulders to steady him. “Good work. You create such a show of being a mean fella despite that soft side in you.” he said with a smile, carefully helping Valrien back up to his feet. He looked over at the man, watching as he finally opened his eyes to look towards the rest of them.

“Water...more, please…” he said between breaths, remaining where he was lying though as his body recovered from the fatigue and shock it had been put through recently.

Minnow watched carefully from a distance as Valrien went and did his work. It was fascinating, really, that the man had that kind of magic that could heal without the use of anything but its source. The little blonde healer moved back to the redhead as soon as he could, though, and while he saw the slight fatigue that preyed upon the Prince from his workings, the foreigner much more likely would need his attention.

Lutchka moved over to the little group and unfastened her own canteen, holding it out to Minnow to give to the man. As the blonde did so, she squatted down and put her hands on her knees, checking out the new guy with a good-natured little half smirk. “Seems like he knows our tongue well enough.”

Minnow nodded in agreement, though his eyes were sharply focused on the man as he began to chug the liquid from the container. He understood the first time that he had allowed some to go to waste, but now he would not be so lenient. Once a trail of water trickled down his lips, Minnow cuffed him over the head lightly with a little growl. Despite being so small and unimposing and frankly utterly cute, Minnow could definitely be a little spitfire. “Slower.” He said in an authoritative tone, but soon leaned back to give the man his space and show that he would not strike out again, despite his givings being stern but still rather gentle.

“Minnow.” Lutchka said suddenly, her eyes narrowing and gazing up at the mountains in the distance. The little healer turned his head to look at her and give her his attention. “There’s been a fire in the air.”

Now normally, it would be near impossible for anyone to detect such a thing, but fire users tended to have a keen sense for their own element, plus with the air travelling downwind, it brought certain scents with it. It was incredibly faint, but Lutchka had also been thinking that Minnow should do another search again, just in case. She had seen the growing hesitation and slight faltering with each passing attempt, but she was confident now.

The boy nodded and got up, moving a little ways away from the group to where their noise wouldn’t bother him too much. Not that it was an issue, but it was weird having other people watching him do it.

He leaned down and easily unlaced his boots, removing them before slipping his socks off as well. The only negative part about this ability was having to put his shoes back on with dirt on his feet- not that he minded that so much, but it grew quickly annoying if he sweated at all.

He dug his toes into the dirt and closed his eyes, honing in on his ability. Blackness dominated his vision before landmarks and plants began to appear in smoky white tendrils before solidifying to a certain amount. He moved his gaze forward through the earth towards the mountains.

It took a little while, but his eyes suddenly shot open. “It’s there. The next civilization over.”

Amon watched the red head take the canteen and begin chugging the contents, the Air King smirking slightly when he saw the stern side of the little healer appear. The red-head recoiled some when Minnow gave him a light thump on the head, even though it didn’t hurt. He just stared at the blonde, confused for a few moments before he began drinking the water more carefully at the command to do so. Slowly he began to sit himself up, doing so in a careful manner that showed he was still somewhat sore and weak.

Amon and Rhoven just watched, the two of them looking over to Lutchka as she mentioned a fire having been nearby. Rhoven raised an eyebrow, confused as to how she could guess that, or even what she meant; a quick glance to his master though only resulted in the Air King just shrugging. As Minnow moved to begin scanning the surroundings once more, Amon turned to look at Valrien to make sure he was doing alright. Harlan was helping The Prince still, so he turned his attention back to the red-head who was sitting in a slouched position, legs out in front of him. The canteen rested in his hand, the man still just sitting there and recovering.

The red-head looked up at them all, peering through his bangs as he finally got a good look at them all. He remained quiet for a few moments, though he seemed to finally work up the courage to speak. “Thank you...Ti’maji..” He said, bowing his head to them, his voice thick with an accent as he spoke the words. “I would,” he paused for a moment, “I be dead if not for you. I thank you.” he said, looking back up at them and taking another drink from his canteen.

Rhoven smiled some, “Eh, we aren’t the types to let someone just die off like that. Some of us here are too nice for their own good.” he recoiled when Amon gave him a light swat over the head, turning to look at the Air King.

“There is no such thing as being ‘too nice’, Rhoven.” Amon said, giving the young man a grin when the apprentice stuck his tongue out at the Air King again. “Don’t forget that, my little crow.” he chuckled at the pout the teen gave him. He then looked over to Minnow at the mention of having found something, Amon’s smile only growing in size as the exclamation. “Thank goodness!” he said, then turning to look at Kanan. “Let the captain know, we are close. We aren’t going to stop again until we reach Siya!”

The red-head watched them all, taking another drink from the canteen. “I ride with you people? Please?” he then frowned, looking down some. “I no where to go now.” he said in slightly broken Iverian.

Valrien accepted the help from his royal guard, though his frown was very much present as he glared over his shoulder at the man while Valrien was helped up to his feet. If he’d the strength or energy to do so, he’d have launched a strike at the man for the little tease. As it was, he was dizzy and tired, so he simply rolled his eyes and sighed. Heading over to the horses, he leaned up against his steed, resting his head into the crook of his elbow against the saddle.

Harlan stood next to him, making sure the Prince didn’t fall over. With the headache beginning to pound, Valrien shifted and asked his guard for water quietly while the others chatted amongst themselves. He wasn’t really paying much attention anymore, just focused on getting his energy back because he had a feeling he would need it again if the man’s attackers were still nearby.

It wasn’t until Minnow said something about fire that Valrien perked up. Amon’s excitement got to him. Straightening off the saddle, Valrien looked over to the Air King with hope in his gaze, “Siya? You’ve found him?!”

“It seems so,” Lukina said from behind him, “Lutchka sensed fire I’m assuming. No one lights a fire quite like Lord Siya does. We should hurry though,” she finished turning to the young man on the ground still. Though she frowned a little, her voice was soft none-the-less, “He can ride with me. Let’s just hope that there’s something left of that city to utilize…”

Lukina didn’t wait for anyone’s approval. She simply moved and reached out to help the red-head up to his feet and to her horse. Lukina wasn’t wasting anytime with that. The sense of urgency seemed to stretch from one to the next. Valrien was up and mounted almost before anyone else, ready to spur his horse into a dead run the second they were all mounted.

Kanan waited for Minnow to replace his shoes and come close before he snatched the little healer and hugged him quickly, “Well done. We will see him soon,” he whispered for only the blonde to hear before he released the healer and took to his own horse as well. The air protector let his power spread, once he was mounted. He didn’t have nearly the range that Minnow did, but he wasn’t going to be useless either. Several of the metals on his person sacrificed, falling into those blue flakes of energy that absorbed into his skin.

In the next moment, the air around the group seemed to centralize and spread forward in a collected mass. Kanan sent his senses along with the air out as far as he could reach. He would search specifically for the King as they rode in the direction of the fires that Lutchka had sensed and Minnow had felt. His hands tightened repeatedly over the reigns of his horse in his slight anxiety to reach the Fire King, hopefully before anything dire happened.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


Characters Present

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

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Valrien leaned heavily on a tree. Though most of the retreat had been successful, they were no where near set up like he wanted them to be. Valrien had woken up sometime after having the knife shoved into his ruined shoulder. With Minnow’s horse having taken them quite a distance from the battlefield. He’d insisted on at least directing people where to go and set up for Minnow to begin working properly.

That was the first thing to be done. Only after the huge tent for the wounded was pitched and readied had Valrien allow himself into the hands of the little blonde who was probably very pissed off with him in doing more work in the first place. Valrien ignored it to the best of his ability though, but he was more than grateful to have something to lay on once he finally deemed the tent good enough for the little healer to perform in.

Valrien felt as if he’d been torn apart and then hastily put back together. Everything hurt, breathing hurt too. The Prince was sure that his short trip from the horse to the tree hadn’t been too strenuous when they had first arrived to the hilltop quite a ways from the burning city. Though he was pretty sure Minnow had an entirely different set of ideas for that one. Yet, he was far more worried for Harlan, the Fire King who had dropped into a coma like sleep, and anyone else who looked worse for wear than he did.

He could only hope that Minnow had enough helpers to get through it all. Either way, he handed himself over to the blonde and dealt with the pain that came with irritating the little healer as he removed the knife, cleaned the wounds and bandaged his upper body. His shattered shoulder would have to wait for Valrien’s own strength to return so he could heal that with his pure energy. Otherwise, Minnow did whatever he could to ease that pain and made the Prince lay down, which he gratefully did.

Upon hitting the little make-shift bed after Minnow had bandaged him, Valrien fell asleep right after.

Minnow had defaulted to a position of ‘head healer’ or ‘overseer’ when it came to the massive amount of injured souls in the tent. He silently thanked whatever was out there watching out for them that he had brought many different seeds and herbs with him. Not only that, but it was a huge relief that there had been a few other healers in the company besides himself.

It seemed as though the little healer was off-limits when it came to the majority of the wounded. Unless they were seriously injured, his attention was pulled towards Valrien, Harlan, and Siya. He had tended for only those three, as well as some nasty other cases, but the majority could be handled by the other menders.

The outcome of this battle had put him in a rather sober mood, and Minnow was honestly worried and anxious when it came to the safety of his friends’ lives. This was not going well at all, and with what Harlan and Valrien had suffered, the enemy was no joke and it would probably only grow harder and harder to get an good grasp on the situation.

With a shaky sigh, he returned to his current task. It was rare for him to have to manipulate plant life, as he was so adamant about caring for it in nature’s own way, but this was one of those sparse moments when it was needed.

He was currently planting seeds carefully in small makeshift pots, encouraging each pod and seed to proceed through its growth stages quickly. He was to provide the other healers with the needed herbs and remedies to care for the wounded, as they were running low once again. Once he finished, he would go back to check up on Siya and Harlan. Bandages probably needed to be swapped, and he did not want either to be uncomfortable or allow their bodies to falter in their functioning, so he would create more salves and consumables.

He would have included Valrien in that list, but honestly the blonde did not want to disturb the Prince. His wounds had been bad, and the last time he had checked, Valrien had finally fallen asleep to allow his body to regain its energy. He could do the dressing later, so he returned to focusing on the task at hand.

Lutchka had not had the privilege of getting to see Amon’s little healer, but she knew he had much more important people to tend to. Besides, her wounds were limited only to burns, albeit painful ones that bordered between degrees, so she did not need the attention of the much better skilled healer.

She was in the middle of rubbing aloe onto the marks when she decided she had had enough of the stuffy tent and the groans of the supposedly ‘dying’. The ex-protector took deliberate steps, ignoring the majority of the discomfort and burning that came with the movement. She probably shouldn’t be stretching the skin and tempting the burns to get any worse, but she couldn’t stand in there for another moment.

However, as she was heading towards the entrance of the tent, she caught sight of Valrien and hesitated in her steps. She opted that she would go check on him, then leave- probably go take a nap somewhere nice and not muggy and loud.

Amon and Rhoven seemed to have been the lucky ones of the bunch, as neither of them had suffered many wounds during the fighting or the escape. Still, while the teen could feel proud of the fact he had made it through such a battle in good condition, Amon could not feel the same. Several of his friends had been badly hurt, Valrien and Harlan especially. Even Lutchka had been burnt quite a bit. Siya was out cold at the moment, and honestly had it not been for Kanan, Amon was certain that they would not have gotten the Fire King out of there.

He laid his head back against a tree he was sitting against, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. He then opened them and let the air out from his lungs in a long drawn out breath. He then looked around the camp, the people moving about, then looked over to Rhoven who was sitting nearby, running a whetstone along his short sword.

The Air King stood up, drawing the attention of Rhoven, “I’m going to go check on the others. See how they are coming along.” Amon said as he began to walk.

“Alright then, but I don’t imagine much has changed, Master.” Rhoven said before he went back to his work, humming a tune quietly to himself as he usually did when he was sitting around.

“True, but you know me.” Amon responded with a small smile before he made his way towards the tent. He braced himself for the sounds, something he hated to listen to. He would bear through it though, to be able to check on his companions. As he stepped inside of the tent grimacing immediately, his eyes scanned over everyone. Minnow was the first he spotted, but he couldn’t interrupt the young healer right now. So he settled for the next person he spotted, which was Valrien lying down on a cot. He wasn’t sure if the prince was awake or not, so he figured he’d go and check.

As he made his way over, he spotted Lutchka moving towards the prince as well. As they got closer, Amon nodded his head to her. “Hello, Lutchka. I’m glad to see you are not bedridden.” he managed a small smile once more, stopping next to Valrien and looking down at the prince.

Kanan followed after his King, staying silent but close by. He knew that Amon wasn’t enjoying the outcome of the fight at all. He also knew that Amon never really enjoyed it even if they did win. Something was always lost no matter what. Even to Kanan, he didn’t enjoy the fighting in the least. War was the last thing he ever wanted to be a part of, yet it was so familiar to him. At the back of his mind, though, there was never a ‘winning’ side. Everyone lost.

People were killed.

Sacrifices were made.

Kanan despised it. He wasn’t sure how Amon felt entirely about it, but he figured that the man might have had the same ideas. The protector just never voiced it aloud, neither did his King. It was a mutual thing, to which Kanan was happy to simply have an inclination of. He also knew that Siya did not like war either. Which was probably part of the stress that piled up on the young man’s shoulders. Part of the reason’s as to why he was so angry all the time. Kanan couldn’t remember a time when the young King was so upset or enraged.

For the past several years, he couldn’t recall having seen Siya smile like he used to. He glanced over to Amon and frowned a little. He hoped that his King would never lose his smile or warm personality. It was a major part of why Kanan stayed to serve his King. He felt… Accepted despite where he came from and the curse of his eye. Amon had made the air kingdom a home to Kanan.

As the man got up from the tree he’d been sitting up against, the air protector tensed up for a moment, but relaxed as he simply went to the tent that had been hastily put together for Minnow to work in. Though Kanan didn’t exactly like the answer from Rhoven, he did agree, though he would never speak it. He was sure nothing had changed since the last time Amon had walked in to see everyone. Which hadn’t been long ago. All it was probably doing was hurting his King more and he hated that.

Pushing open the flaps of the heavy canvas, the soft moans of pain, a couple of higher pitched cries of agony clipped the air and had Kanan cringing from the sounds. Every muscle went taut as he followed Amon inside. The first one they saw was Valrien, laid up on one of the beds. Amon headed that way. Kanan looked around, easily spotting Harlan, then Siya and Farasima.

When Amon spoke up, he looked over to see Lutchka nearby as well. With his King speaking softly to the woman, Kanan slowly slipped away to take a look at Harlan. He grimaced as he gazed down at the man who was completely unconscious, wrapped up in bandages. Bowl’s of Minnows salves and ointments sat next to him, old bandages as well tossed in a crumpled pile. Kanan moved on to Siya who was just the same. Fast asleep, bandaged from whatever wounds he’d sustained.

The air protector let his hand hover over Siya’s chest, a ripple of air spreading out over the King’s body. Kanan let out a soft sigh. The young King was very low on his energy. But that was most everyone in that tent. Retracting his hand, he straightened and stared down at the Fire King for a while.

Farasima was seated on the ground next to Siya’s cot, head leaning against a tent post that was near them. He happy about that, as it at least allowed him to relax, to a degree. Still though, with his head bandaged up and a slight headache thumping in the back of his cranium, it was hard to completely relax.

He opened his eyes to look at Siya, the red-head’s face showing nothing but disappointment and sadness. Not at Siya though, rather at himself. First day being a protector for the man and Farasima had done, frankly what he considered to be a lousy job. It had started well, but one soldier with wind magic and a sword suddenly put them both into a corner and had them on the ground in defeat. Hell, they’d probably be dead had the man chosen not to spare them.

He looked up when he noticed Kanan, the one-eyed protector of the Air King, heading their way. After having looked over Harlan, then standing over Siya and observing his condition, Farasima couldn’t help but sigh. “I am not good at protecting, am I?” he simply asked while looking at Siya.

The one eyed protector glanced over to where the red head sat. He watched the man for a moment before shaking his head in disagreement, “I’m not a good protector either,” he answered softly, his eye turning back to Siya’s still frame. He waited a moment before he spoke again.

“My King was defeated once. I was not fast enough. Nor strong enough. He was defeated a few times, actually and wounded. I was unable to get to him, or I was simply overpowered by someone else. None of us are perfect. But without us… There would have been many times our Kings would have been killed.”

“I try not to think of how many times I’ve failed, but simply how I can keep him alive to the best of my ability,” Kanan finished after another long pause of silence. To that, he looked over his shoulder to his King who stood over Valrien on the other side of the tent.

Farasima looked up at Kanan as the man spoke, though his eyes settled back on Siya. Despite the protector’s words, the red-head’s feelings didn’t change. “Your king not injured in fight. One man defeated us both, with only wind and sword.” He brought his knees up, crossing his arms on them and resting his head against his arms.

“I never was strong warrior, never made it through training completely either.” he said, not really caring all that much if Kanan was really listening at this point. “Not sure if I should protect him, maybe I should only train him as that I can do. I am no Urda’Reshla, that is certain.” he then lifted his head enough so that he could look over his arms at the Fire King.

Kanan arched an eyebrow as he listened, his gaze on Siya for the majority of the little speech before he finally turned to look at Farasima. A frown pulled on his lips. If it was one thing that irked the air protector it was the fact or simply the idea of giving up on something. He didn’t like the thought at all of the red-head giving up on Siya. The King had more than enough problems on his plate to begin with.

The air protector stayed silent for a while longer before he knelt down in front of Farasima, “So you would leave him alone on the battlefield?” Kanan started, eyeing the man carefully.

“Tell me, what did you see today? What did you think of him today?”

Farasima looked at Kanan, raising an eyebrow. He was a bit confused as to what the man meant. Lifting his head so his arms did not muffle his voice, he kept his eyes on the other man. “I do not want to leave him alone. I merely suggested maybe another be found to replace me.”

“As for what I saw?” Farasima paused, scowling some, “I am, well I’m not sure what you ask. I saw young man filled with anger, who has trouble controlling it. He feels immense hatred, and it is going to kill him if he does not tame it.” Farasima looked over at Siya. “He is not a man who can use hatred as tool.” He then glanced back at Kanan before looking away quickly.

“Siya was not always the strongest fighter, or the best. He wasn’t very good at controlling how much fire he used, but he had a better handle over it than he does now. He would get angry, yes, and sometimes he let it get the best of him. But this. This is not the Siya that we know,” Kanan glanced over to where Amon and Lutchka were with Valrien, then looked back at Farasima.

“You are right. His hatred will kill him. But he will not listen. We have tried, but he pushes us away. Amon can only do so much. He is a King as well and has duties of his own. As do Minnow and I to protect him. We cannot protect Siya. Lutchka is with Valrien and though the Prince likes to think he can take on everything and fix it, he cannot.

“Siya lost his protectors. They were either killed in front of him, or simply left. We lost many. Too many and he does not know how to deal with it. There is no one else, Farasima. Either you protect him, or you don’t and he dies. Do not leave this half finished,” Kanan’s gaze grew sharp, narrowing at the red-head, “None of us may have been bred to be ‘protectors’. We certainly aren’t perfect, but if you were not with him today out there… I do not believe he would have come back still breathing,” Kanan finished and he stood up.

The air protector took a breath. It had been a while since he’d spoken so much and out of passion rather than critical thought. He looked over to Siya, that frown still on his lips. The one-eyed male seemed to have something else on his mind, but he let out a low sigh and didn’t speak at all, choosing to remain silent after his little, rare, lecture.

The Skis’tatari man listened to Kanan speak, his eyes settling on the ground before he let his head rest against his arms. So he was the only option left for the Fire King then? Fate always seemed to have interesting ideas for the mere mortals of the world it seemed. “Less than a month ago, I was nearly killed by my own people. Now I am protector of a king to a land I only knew name of.”

He looked up at Kanan again, “Point taken, protector.” Farasima said quietly, his eyes then settling back on Siya. He watched Siya for a moment before glancing back to Kanan. “What of Nevarren woman? Is she not protector of Fire King?”

Kanan shifted slightly, taking a moment before he answered the question, “No. She is not. Lukina serves more as an ambassador or something along those lines between the King and her home. She still has her own agenda, too, as I’ve heard. Revenge of some sort that has not yet been carried out. She’d sworn it years ago, but has yet to have finished her goals. But she’s sworn loyalty to Siya and should he ever need her, she would be there. Which is why she is with us now. But once this is over, she will most likely leave again, to finish what she started years ago.”

The one-eyed protector looked back to Farasima before he turned and looked to be ready to go back to his own King’s side, “Can I trust this suicidal King to you? I will not ask it again, nor will I lecture you over it once more either. But I must know if I should prepare to lose someone else, or have the hope that he’ll make it through this with someone by his side and helping to keep his head on straight. At least, trying as hard as you can to do so.”

Farasima nodded his head slowly, before resting his cheek on his arms and watching Siya. “I will do best to help him then. However much it might be.” He did not say anymore after that, rather he just kept his eyes on Siya. What could he do to help the king? They did share some commonality in loss, but beyond that Farasima had no idea what else he could possibly do.

Sighing in defeat, he buried his face back in his arms. Hopefully, once his aches and pains had settled, he could think of something. Until then though, he figured he’d just grab some sleep himself. Stretching his legs out, he laid himself down on the ground, removing his jacket and folding up to use it as a makeshift pillow which he rested his head upon.

Two Weeks

Upon recovery, the armies withdrew back to Duke Forson’s city. There Siya finished his own recovery from the massive loss of energy, sleeping often, eating more only because Minnow was a terrifying force. He still couldn’t get over the fact that such a petite looking man could be so damned intimidating. Even if they weren’t too far apart in size and stature. Minnow was far more terrifying than Siya thought he could ever be.

So he followed orders given by the blonde. Eat. Sleep. Rest and heal fully before any training was to resume. The last thing he needed was his head shoved into a tabletop again. He could still recall the heavy sting that had left when he’d dismissed Minnow entirely and went and did… that.

Siya sat in one of the chairs next to the huge table in the main hall, simply resting off onto one arm, his gaze on the wooden table before him. He wasn’t really thinking of much, partially dozing off as was what happened often and mostly after he’d had a cup of the tea Minnow made him drink every day since his little coma-like sleep. Siya had probably frightened the poor healer with that and he did feel very bad for it. The Fire King wasn’t usually one to go out of his way to worry others, and he honestly hated it when they did worry for him. It made it feel like he was a burden.

Which in honesty he probably was. Especially through the past few years.

He sighed heavily as he sat there, staring off into nothing.

“Siya? Are you feeling alright?”

The King looked up to who spoke and nodded a bit once he settled his gaze on the mismatched one’s belonging to Valrien. The Prince frowned at him but didn’t pressure him. Instead, he drew out the chair across from Siya and sat down, leaning against the table and intertwining his fingers.

“I’m preparing to go back to Reimrand. A couple of the horses are already saddled and ready with supplies. Harlan and Lutchka are going with me. I wanted to let you know that we’ll be back as soon as we can. I’m going to get the…” Valrien looked up to the new protector and cleared his throat before glancing to the King again.

“Get what, Valrien?” Siya asked, the weariness in his voice very clear. Damn that tea… I swear, Minnow. Quit making me drink it, he thought sourly though he would never say that aloud to the little blonde.

“The orbs, Siya. We need them.”

That seemed to wake him up a little. Sitting up straighter in the chair, Siya let his hand fall, the one that he’d been using as a pillow. His gaze grew wide as he watched Valrien. For a while he was silent before he finally spoke, shock lacing his words.

“But… Valrien… Reimrand will-”

“No. No it won’t. It took decades to nearly destroy it, Siya. Reimrand will survive without the orbs for a little while. Trust me. They used to be carried over here before my family was thrown into civil unrest, so I’m sure they will be fine being over here again for a little while.”

“But, what if this isn’t finished in a ‘little while’?”

“Then I’ll figure it out. Damn it, Siya! Just let me do this. We need those orbs. You do not have enough power to deal with those bastards. Neither does Amon! And hell, neither do I! And I have natural energy that none of you even possess! I couldn’t do a damn thing about them! Whoever or whatever they are, they are nothing like what we’ve faced before. You thought my brother was bad, Siya… These people are worse. Much worse.”

With a sigh, Siya closed his eyes and let his head tilt back into the chair. He could almost feel Valrien’s impatience as he waited for the little Fire King to agree with him. Finally, Siya simply nodded at Valrien though he felt a pang of fear and worry pulsing in his chest.

“You’ll come back-”

“Yes, Siya. I will come back. I promise,” Valrien answered, his voice firm and holding a note of anger.

Probably at the fact that Siya would even dare to question him. The chair Valrien occupied shoved away from the table as he stood. Opening an eye, Siya watched him get up and turn to head for the doors of the room.

“Be careful, Valrien.”

“I should be saying that to you,” the Prince tossed back with a scoff and left.

Siya sighed and ran a hand through his hair as he sat there. He hoped that Valrien was right about getting the orbs and having a chance at fighting back. So far, it had been nothing but defeat and both times had come pretty close to his being killed. Somehow, though, Siya had gotten very lucky. The Fire King was sure that his luck wouldn’t last much longer despite everything that had happened. In fact, he was nearly entirely convinced that the next time he faced the Noble’s on the battlefield, if he wasn’t fully prepared for it… Siya was going to lose much more than just a city.

Harlan was waiting outside, sitting on a fence near the stables. In his hand he had one of his favorite drinks, a simple yet dry wine that he was drinking from the bottle. His usual chipper attitude was replaced with a more sour mood, a slight frown on his face as he sat there with his eyes focused on the ground. He was unhappy with the current circumstances, firstly that he and Valrien had been so badly beaten and battered in the last fight; second and most irritating, was the fact that they needed to go grab the orbs to combat these people.

Taking another sip from his bottle, he then looked over at the horses as they waited for their riders. Harlan was beginning to wonder if he was ever going to be able to have sometime where there wasn’t a major crisis at hand. So far, his life had been growing up in a dying world, followed by contending with his best friends insane brother, than dealing with a mage controlling an army of pig-men, and now this.

Just when were they finally going to get a chance to finally enjoy things, rather than worry about not dying each day? As he shifted, he hissed in pain when he shifted bad and aggravated his still sore torso. In irritation, he finally just threw the bottle he had onto the ground, letting out a series of Reimrandian curses to accompany the shattering glass. He, carefully, hunched over and took hold of his head, growling as he just remained there.

“Just one damn year where I don’t have to worry about dying would be nice.’ he grumbled, remaining as he was. It didn’t help as he thought about how this horse ride also going to be miserable. Given the pace they were going to have to move at and how sore he still was, it was just going to be repeated jolts of pain most of the way.

Valrien stopped short as a bottle went shattering across the ground. He stared at the shards that were splattered all over, some tumbling close to him after it had been thrown rather aggressively. The Prince frowned at his friend who was doubled over and seemingly cursing to himself. Valrien headed over to his royal guard and childhood friend, a sigh on his lips as he got close enough for the man to hear him.

“That was a waste of alcohol,” he commented lightly.

He didn’t want to bother Harlan all too much though seeing as the poor man was still in pain and not in the greatest mood, so he hurried along to the next part, “You should get something from Minnow to help make the trip easier. I’m sure he has something to numb the pain. I would heal it for you, Harlan, but I’m still a little shaky after letting loose on that bastard. Maybe tomorrow, I’m sorry I can’t do it right now though, but I’m almost fully recovered. Then I can heal us both up to perfect shape again.”

The Prince tried to sound reassuring, but it wasn’t really his strong suit so he figured it had come out a little harsh like most times. Valrien swallowed dryly then pushed on, “Siya agreed for us to go. Not that I would have listened if he’d said no. We need those orbs. They’re the only chance I can think of that’ll give us an edge. We need that desperately if we’re going to win this.”

Valrien heaved a sigh again, kicking at the moistened dirt, “I should have made him promise not to get into any trouble while we’re gone… Let’s just hope that Lukina and Farasima will do that for us.”

Harlan didn’t look up when he heard Valrien, instead he just let out another sigh. He eventually turned his gaze Valrien, listening to the Prince speak. “Alright then.” the guard spoke softly, looking back down at the ground. He remained quiet for a few moments, not actually moving to go find the little healer before he looked back up at Valrien once more.

“Are we ever going to get a chance to just finally… To just relax?” Harlan asked. He didn’t really expect Valrien to have an answer, but at this point he just wanted to hear some kind of answer. “I don’t think there has been any time where we were able to really just relax. To not have something on the back of our minds.” He then looked back down to the ground.

“I just want to finally be able to go to sleep without thinking about the next day and what I need to worry about to not get killed.” He ran a hand through his hair, stopping before he hit the clasp that held it in a ponytail. “Am I the only one who feels this way?” he asked, looking back up at his friend.

Reaching out, the Prince took hold of his friends shoulder and squeezed gently, “You’re not the only one. I’m tired too. I don’t want to keep wondering if tomorrow is the day I get to watch everyone die and follow them in death, or if I will have to stop some assassination, or deal with some crazed bastard who thinks he is better than anyone else. I know what you’re feeling. I’m feeling it too and I am very positive that everyone else feels the same way.”

“I want to sleep too. For weeks if possible. No more problems. No more death threats, no more ridiculous idiots who because they don’t like their King are trying to overthrow him.”

Valrien took a moment, realizing he was babbling. Letting his head hang forward, he closed his eyes with a heavy sigh, still holding Harlan’s shoulder but careful not to lean heavily on the royal guard. Finally, he looked back up and patted Harlan, “We’ll get that chance though. I have to believe we will otherwise I don’t think I’d ever have been able to keep going like I have. Just a little longer. Can you do that?”

Harlan watched Valrien, glancing at the hand that rested on his shoulder before back to his friend’s mismatched eyes. It… felt nice to know that he was not the only one who felt tired of all this trouble and turmoil. Harlan seemed to relax, letting out a sigh, though whether it was relief or exhaustion even he wasn’t sure. He let his head hang for a moment, watching the ground before he looked back up at Valrien.

“Yeah, I can.” he gave a small smile, patting Valrien’s hand as he stood up. He was careful so as not to cause any pain in his torso. “I guess I’ve done it for this long, so a little longer won’t kill me.” he said softly. He then looked over to the horses before back at Valrien. “I’m gonna go find that adorable little blonde and see if he does have anything that might make this journey a bit easier for me.”

He then stepped past Valrien, walking towards the manor while muttering. “I could probably also grab some extra wine bottles too. Wouldn't want to run out half-way to Reimrand now.” he said, his smile only growing.

Valrien watched his friend go. He was happy to have at least eased the man’s turmoil of thoughts, but his own were not far from the same. The Prince was tired. Far too tired. He wanted an end to it all, a minute to simply rest and enjoy the life he had with the many people that he met and had come to care for. Yet, it seemed that fate was not so kind to any of them. He would have to make the trip to Reimrand a quick one. He would be far too worried for the Fire King as well as Amon to think properly.

He wandered over to the horse and pulled himself up on it, careful of his own injured body. Once he was settled in the saddle, all he had to do then was head over to where Harlan had wandered off to in search of the little blonde. From there, he would also pick up Lutchka. Then they would set off. The faster they made it to Amon’s territory to take a ship, the faster he could be returning to Siya’s side.


Characters Present

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

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#, as written by Siryn

Catacombs Entrance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These boys definitely needed a lesson in planning and execution.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Valrien was starting to rethink not doing so.

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

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

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


Neido and Filinian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was annoying.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


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.”