Thursday, October 17

Chapter 9

Blazerine woke up in a cold sweat, barely able to see straight, with a splitting headache. And not the normal kind, it’s a surprisingly oppressive force, as if though someone is squeezing her skull tightly, and her brain is screaming no, stop it! 

The sun was blazing down upon her, and all, she could think, is,  'How odd... Why is the sunlight so intense this morning? Wait a minute.' She thought, 'What the hell happened to the roof?' 

Her headache only seemed to get worse, the second she sat up too quickly. And oh boy did she feel nauseous. She sucked in a deep breath of the air and held it in just for a moment, before letting it go. 

"What happened last night?" She asked herself, "And where am I?" 

Her train of thought was interrupted, once she felt herself falling forward. That's when a hand pressed firmly against her shoulder, from behind. At first it startled her, until she realized the owner of the hand belonged to Fenix. 

"Careful gal, we don't want yah to fall off now, do we?" He flashed his pearly whites at her. 

"Fall off...?" She quietly repeated, out of confusion. 

Slowly the confusion turned into nothing but suspicion. Where was everyone else? Looking around, it only took her a minute or two to collect enough information, to at least determine she's no longer at the Ironclad. She's, in fact, riding in an ancient four-wheeled vehicle, which they called a wagon. 

 "I don't remember ever getting on this thing...." She said, with her voice slowly trailing off.

"I just borrowed you." He proclaimed.

"Borrow? Oh, wait you mean - YOU KIDNAPPED ME!" She hollered at him. 

With a creak, the wagon rolled to a sudden halt, and the driver urgently turned around. Immediately Fenix threw his hand over Blazerine's mouth, then he started to laugh hysterically like a mad man.

"She's such a kidder."  Quickly his laughter escalated into half cries of pain, after Blazerine had bitten his hand.  So he positioned himself to look as if he's hugging her, although it's merely a disguise to cover up his head lock. 

Unable to move her head of her own free will, her eyes scrolled on over to the poorly dressed man, who looked like he hasn't eaten in quite awhile. The skeletal structure was prominent throughout his body, especially his face, that seemed to elongate into something extremely hideous, from all the skin pulling tightly against his cheekbones. 

"At times like this... it's good to be cheery." The man dryly laughed. 

Then after a toothless smile, the wagon was off again. 

"Who is this guy anyway?" Blazerine quietly asked Fenix. 

Fenix dropped his arms back down to his sides, freeing her in the process. He made a rather puzzling look, considering he - himself did not know the answer. The most information, he could give, was, "I don't know, it's just some fella givin' us a lift." 

"Wait let me get this straight. I passed out at some point in the bar last night, and you put me in the back of this - this wagon, with a creepy driver? Seriously who does that!?" She cried. 

"Well, technically speaking, you passed out in Leo's bed -" He began.

"WHAT?!" She interrupted.

"Calm your tits woman. What happened is probably the exact opposite of what you're thinking right now." He chuckled. 

"What did he do to me?!" She demands to know.

"The real question is, what did you do to him? There's no way in hell Leo would touch a gal like you. You're not worth him getting exile from the church." He continued to laugh.  

"I only remember little bits and pieces." She said, "Most of it is just a blur." 

Fenix falls back on a hay bundle, before he mentioned, "I can only assume you don't remember the conversation you had with Fauna, do yah?" He asked. 

She simply shook her head 'no'. Then she regretted moving her head at all. 

"First of all... you told Fauna the truth, about me not being her real husband. Secondly, you quote, and quote, told her to take back her life. And thirdly, you handed the bracelet of falsity over." He explained. 

"All of that happened from drinking last night?" She shrugged.

"Your drinking days are over as far as I'm concern," Fenix growled rather stern.

Blazerine plucked a few strands of straw from her hair and muttered, "Don't you think it would of have been, you know, SMART! If we had gone with everybody? Instead of this whole fiasco." 

Fenix felt annoyed by the question. "Leo's injured." He reminded her. 

"Yeah and Lyrist isn't." She began.

"You really think I would leave Leo there by himself? After everything that has happened already!" He cut her off. 

"Alright..." She sighed, "You have a point. Either way... This means Fauna has control over her own actions, right? How exactly is this a bad thing anyway?" 

"Women are unpredictable creatures." Fenix didn't even laugh, when he said it. He sounded pretty serious, which is so unlike him she thought.

"Where will she even go?" Blazerine wondered. 

Fenix slung an arm over the side of the wagon, as he looked upward at the sunny sky. Quietly he whispered, "I don't know - I don't know." 

----

That evening, the wagon trotted over the foliage of dirt-covered path. Low twigs and vines brushed along at the hem of the wheel's axle.  

Every so often, Blazerine's eyes glanced back with a half-fearful glimmer. Afraid someone might be trailing behind them, but alas, every time she looked, the woods was just dark and empty as it had been before.

"Nothing new..." She mused to herself, aloud, although she was often doing so. 

"Did something happen that I am not aware of?" Fenix asked suddenly out of nowhere.

"What do you mean?" She looked on over at him. 

"Ever since the incident with those cannibals. You seem to be constantly looking over your shoulder, like somebody is watching you." He explained. 

"Maybe it bothered me more than I thought" She shrugged. 

"Still doesn't answer my question. Either way gal, keep a clear head, were here now." He declared. 

With a final creak, the wagon rolled to a stop at the edge of the town called Maiden Hill. A dirt-poor town, where most of its former residents have either fled or have been killed by neighboring bandits. Most of the houses appeared to be abandoned shacks, scattered throughout the small clearing in the woods. 

The man quickly hopped off down from the front seat and shuffled towards the back of the wagon. "We are here." He called out, somewhat nervous. 

Fenix thanked him for the ride, by sparring him three copper coins. 
It was actually the only money he was carrying around. 

'Of all the dumb things he could of have done.' Blazerine thought, 'He could at least bring more than that, but knowing him, he probably spent the rest of it on booze.' 

Fenix took a deep breath of the night air, feeling the cold air filling his lungs as he walked. He loved the nightlife better than a day. People seemed to be much more alive while uptight society slept. The drunkards and loose women were alive and well, when the sun goes down.  

He knew for sure that the mead would most definitely not have the delicate taste of beverages Ironclad had, but the brew would be distinct to the people, a taste of who they are. Why he usually drank, not because he just wanted to get drunk off his ass. It was something he did to make him feel closer - more connected to people. 

He could hear the echo of laughing from the local tavern and grinned softly to himself. How he'd love to stop and get a drink, but tonight wasn't the night he'd be able to enjoy himself. Nor did he think a single ounce of liquor would bring him out of this slump. The only thing, that would make him feel better, was finding Fauna. 

Pausing nearby, he overheard some men inside, talking about how pitiful the harvest was this year. Even before they entered the tavern, folks were giving them looks. 

Blazerine guessed it's probably from the way she carries herself. She did seem like an alien, with her unworldly clothing.  She looked away, trying to pretend there wasn't any attention drawing to her. The stares only seemed to get worse, when they entered the tavern, it noticeably gotten quieter. 

Fenix looked directly at the bartender, realizing he was, in fact, she. He suspects this woman had blossomed in the early years of her youth, then her beauty faded away in adulthood. Lazily he laid his arms across the counter and leaned in closer to the woman.

"Were lookin' for a crazed gal, have you seen one around these parts?" He asked. 

"Crazed girl?" The bartender eyed him suspiciously.

"It's his wife." Blazerine butted in.

"Oh, I gotcha..." The bartender laughed before she spat on the outside of a mug. 

Fenix gave her a dirty look, but she ignored it. For the most part, she looked away, after being grossed out by the bartender so called cleaning methods. Fenix continued on, regardless of her comment. So while she waited, she watched people enjoy themselves.  

Whereas there was one particular man, who stuck with her like glue. The left side of his head was heavily bandaged, down to his brow. And short strands of black hair stuck out in between the folds. It almost looked like his hair had been chopped urgently to help fit the bandage. There was more reason to speculate that's the case because the right side of his head, has a longer length, with a single white streak. Below is a leather eye patch, which has a scar traveling down, all the way through to his cheek. 

His attire was rather different than most, she thought. His bronze leather vest was sleeveless, but around the shoulders, there are swashbucklers to keep it held in place. These also intersect the ones around his waist - to his rugged hide pants, that are laced up in the front. 

A couple more buckles were wrapped around his legs, which stored small wooden boomerangs, tipped with knives at both ends. 

Lastly, his boots were made out of leather, fastened by under lace belt to prevent them from sliding up and down. 

Idly he stroked his left bandage hand, before he acknowledge Blazerine's glance. Immediately she turned around, facing Fenix, who shook his head out of disappointment. That action alone was enough of an indication to decipher; nobody has seen Fauna. 

Silently the two of them, stepped outside and stood there beneath the stars.

"My wife? You think this is funny? This is your fault!" Fenix gave her that dirty look again, which she had grown so very familiar with by now.

"Half, I do recall a little somebody who hadn't awoken Fauna up in the first place. None of this would have ever happened to begin with." Blazerine shrugged.

Fenix knew her explanation rang true, but it still ticked him off none the less. 

"Well..." He began, the tone of his voice was soft, like the sound of a whisper being carried in the wind. "Let's go." 

Nobody out on the street seemed know anything about Fauna neither. So they knocked on every door, although most were too afraid to answer. All, they received in return, are intense eyes peering through the cracks of their shacks. 

With no luck, - the two of them wander aimlessly, through the dewy night. Eventually, they stopped beneath a willow tree, which is located upon a large round hill.

Blazerine thought the tree was beautiful, like a piece of art, especially the exquisite texture of its bark. 

"You're acting like you never seen a tree before," Fenix said once the two of them had finally settled in. 

Blazerine slumped back against the trunk, right beside him. She looked on over at him and mentioned, "I never seen this kind before is all. There really isn't much of the environment left, from where I come from." 

"You sure about resting here for tonight?" He asked, "I doubt there'll be much of a difference between here, and one of 'em shacks." 

"Sure, why not? It's nice a shelter, just in case if it rains." She replied. 

That's when she heard it, sounds of heavy droplets bursting upon impact against the leaves.

"I think you're cursed." Fenix busted out laughing, nonstop, and so did she.

In between laughing, she managed to say, "I think you're right." 

For the life of her, she couldn't remember, the last time she has laughed this hard. She was a bit embarrassed by it, but it was a part of her, that has yet been explored. And most of all, it's the very first time, she's standing - well, sitting on common ground with Fenix. 

Sadly,... it all came to a halt, when a chestnut - colored stallion approached them. It breathed heavily, as it sides heaved, trying to catch its breath. Without spewing a single syllable, the eye of the rider drifted down upon them. 

Blazerine recognized the man straight away, it was the bandaged man from the tavern. She rose to her feet but stood there, unsure of what might take place, after Fenix daringly stepped right out in front of him. 

"Who are you, and what do you want?" Fenix asked him. 

"My name is not important, but if you insist - call me Sinner. " The man coldly said, "Now then - introductions are out of the way. I must ask, what are you doing here, by my tree?" 

He gave a look, like this was his solitude, his place of rest and relaxation. Then his eye wandered upward, as if he just noticed the pouring down rain.

"If shelter is what you seek Fenix, come back to my cabin."  He mentioned.

Momentarily he adjusted the rope, which hung around his shoulder. Attached at the ends, are three dead rabbits, dangling from their broken necks. 

"W-wait - how do you know my name?" Fenix asked, "We've never met before." 

"Maybe we have - maybe we haven't. You won't know, unless you follow me." He replied. 

Fenix and Blazerine exchanged looks with one another.

Suddenly, a gray wolf, with amber colored eyes, peeked out from behind the horse. He was growling, and snarling, almost as if though he was going to attack them at any second. 

Sinner knew Argo was on guard because these strangers were near him - his master. 

"Stand down Argo." He simply commanded, and the wolf complied. 

Blazerine felt her muscles go from relaxed to tense, in just a matter of seconds. "For a second I thought we were gonna have to fight off a pack of wolves." She sighed, releasing the final bits of tension, that plagued her small form. 

"Let's go gal." Fenix finally decided. 

The only reason Blazerine could think of, why he would want to follow this stranger back to his cabin - wait she couldn't think of a single one. In her opinion, this is probably going to end up blowing up in their faces, and yet she's following through with it too. But what choice does she have? She doesn't even know how to get back to Ironclad, let alone navigate this pitiful town. 

-----

'Sinner's cabin, looked more like a run down shack, barely held up by plywood.' Blazerine thought, 'No surprised there.' 

Through the medium opening, only one room could be seen. Unexpectedly it was pretty clean, besides the pile of dirty dishes, sitting in front of the lit hearth. Lastly, the middle of the floor had a variety of pelts and hides scattered, some overlapping one another. 

"Nice cabin." Fenix chuckled although Blazerine elbowed him in the side, trying to indicate he should watch his tongue. 

"I know it's not much, but its home." Sinner smiled sadly.

Once inside, the three of them sat in a rather triangular fashion. Fenix and Blazerine, were right next to each other, with Sinner sitting directly across from them. 

It was quiet other than the loud obnoxious slurps of rabbit stew, that Sinner had prepared. The meal was a small bowl filled with mushrooms, roasted garlic and pieces of rabbit meat. It wasn't much, but it still was better than nothing. 

While eating, Blazerine noticed Sinner is holding his bowl rather oddly, with his bandaged hand, by only using his thumb and index finger. Could he possibly be missing the rest of them? 

Sinner only ate a little to please the hunger in his stomach, before he gave the rest to Argo. 

The silence was finally broken by Fenix's question, "So how do you know me old man?" 

Sinner laughed at his choice of words, 'old man.' 

"Tell me first - what brought you here to Maiden Hill, of all places?" He asked. 

"Were looking for my wife," Fenix said, quite bluntly.

Blazerine was so shocked, she dropped her bowl, while spitting the contents of the soup, out of her mouth, and all over Sinner's face. Having no idea what to say, she stood up, trying to think of something, or anything to make the situation better.

The intensity sided quickly, when Fenix blurted out, "Women can't ever hold down anything."

Sinner agreed, "Ain't that the truth. See 'ere!" 

They tapped their bowls together, toasting one another, before sipping down the last of their stew.

Shaking from embarrassment, Blazerine managed to say, "Y-you guys are both sick!" Then she stormed out of the shack, not even caring about the rain. 

Outside, she stumbled and splashed into a puddle of dirty water. In its reflection, the moonlight danced in front of her eyes. As she watched, she began to wonder why she felt hurt by Fenix's statement.  I mean - she should be used to his crude, and thoughtless remarks by now, but yet it still hurt. Is it because she felt like they bonded although it was just for a second? 

----

The next day, the sun had risen, and all the rain left over from last night, mingled on each blade of grass, like freshly made dew. 'It's just like any other morning,' Sinner thought, except for the girl he found sleeping in the mud, outside of his house. 

Blazerine was huddle with her face pressed against the top of her knees, and her arms were wrapped securely around her bent legs, which she hugged close to her chest. 

He stood there for a moment of silence after seeing such a sight. He couldn't help but grinned broadly as he watched her sleep. Right there and then, he admitted that she was something else. He wasn't sure what, but it was something different in particular. 

"You could have come back inside." He laughed. 

Reaching down with his uninjured hand, he grabbed her shoulder and shook it. 

As soon as Blazerine opened her eyes, she regretted it. 'Oh, great I'm still here.' she thought. She closed her eyes tightly now, not wanting to get up. 

"Rise and shine darling~" Sinner sang, still shaking her shoulder. 

She waited a few moments, before she opened her eyes again, letting them finally adjust to everything. 

"Alright - Alright... I'm awake." She irritably mumbled. 

Regardless of what she thought, he crouched down low, and took a hold of her forearms, and lifted her up with him at the same time.

"You don't belong in the mud." He commented. 

Blazerine felt uncomfortable with Sinner. It wasn't because he was mean or grouchy. It simply because he's nice, too nice. For some strange reason, the whole scenario with the Mournful Moon Inn, was starting to replay in the back of her mind, like a cut scene from a movie. 

Looking away, she asked, "Where's Fenix?" 

"He's still inside resting." He replied. 

Her expression softened quite a bit, when she received the answer. "I'll go wake him then." She wearily smiled. 

Sinner moved his arm out in front, to prevent her from proceeding to the door. Tilting his head to the side, he said intimidatingly, "You're not helping him look for his wife. Hell... I bet there isn't one to begin with." 

"Well," She hesitated, "Yes and no - it's complicated." 

A vein felt like it was about to burst in Sinner's eye when he heard the words. And his face drastically changed for the worse. "It's complicated, huh?" He repeated with an irritated scowl.  

Blazerine flinched a little at his attitude, but she managed to find her very own. "Don't THINK for one minute I've bought your nice guy act." She sneered, "I'm onto you." 

A staring contest seemed to commence unannounced as Sinner carefully watched Blazerine. She stood there angrily looking back at him with fierce eyes. 

"And why is that?" He asked, continuing with the same tone of voice. 

"Am I suppose to think its coincidence, that you happen to capture 'three' rabbits." Her expression darkened upon the statement. 

The frown Sinner currently wore seemed to somehow get deeper, once the corners of his lips pulled into a frown. "You really think 'three' measly rabbits is enough to sustain a man's hunger?" He questioned. 

Then his grin stretched from ear to ear. He felt like a child who cracked a joke at someone else's expense for the first time. It was so unlike him, yet he found a bit of humor in it regardless. He loosely covered his mouth, trying to contain his laughter to the best of his ability. His shoulders bobbed as he quietly snickered to himself. 

Blazerine knew he had a point. Was she overlooking everything out of paranoia? 

When the door opened, Sinner moved aside. And out came Fenix, letting his presence be known with a loud obnoxious yawn. His fingers rubbed at his eyes in an attempt to somehow 'rub' away the drowsiness that threatened his consciousness. 

With a few grunts and groans, he managed to say, "I'm ready, let's go."

"Go where...?" Blazerine asked him, "Did you even find out how this guy knows you?" 

"Yes I did." He sighed, a hint of disappointment snuck into his tone. 

"Well? Who is he then?" She pressed on. 

"It doesn't matter." He growled, "Look, Sinner knows some folks who can help us track Fauna down."

"Track?" She repeated with an arched brow. 

-----

Although the sun was shining, it was still cold. It was too cold. Yes, Blazerine knew the irony of her feelings about the weather. That didn't make the sentiment any less true. It doesn't explain the fact, that she's following Fenix and Sinner further into the woods.. 

From time to time, she made comments like, "Don't you think its weird that we are meeting a bunch of people out in the middle of the woods?" And, "How are they going to track down somebody, they don't even know, let alone know what she looks like." 

No matter what she said, nothing seemed to be getting through to him. Nor did he actually say anything in return, he just kept walking. 

'I just can't help think - this town is filthy, it's littered with homeless people, who are probably as desperate as Fenix. Which makes me wonder even more so about Sinner, but it should be alright, right? I mean Fenix knows him... somehow. He wouldn't be doing this otherwise' She thought, or well that's at least what Blazerine told herself. 

The water of the river lapped against the rocks lining the bank, creating a sound that made Fenix feel comfortable, it was a familiar noise. Then suddenly he's distracted by a crunch of dead leaves. 

"It looks like they've found us." He said. 

Agro started barking viciously while digging his claws deeper into the soil. And to Blazerine's surprise, he received some in return. He became more wild, once the seven men stepped out from their hiding places. They surrounded them on all sides, loaded with crossbows; aimed for the kill. 

'Not only these men looked shady.' Blazerine thought, 'But their apparel was suspiciously similar to Sinner's clothing.' 

"I'm here to drop off one." Sinner announced.

"What? What does he mean by that?" Blazerine was quick to ask. 

"Just 'one'? The number is supposed to be two." The man sneered as his lips curved up into a playful, yet terrifying grin. 

Someone in the group hollered, "Nobody ever changes a deal with Feng after its been set into motion!"

"What deal?" Fenix demands to know. 

Sinner simply ignores Fenix question by stating the following, "The candidate fit for the recruitment test is the girl."

"Fenix..." Blazerine wearily said. 

A third voice shockingly gasped, "Is he the crazy? Feng won't hear of this!"

"Cado, I am Feng's right-hand man. So you will do as I say." Sinner snarled. 

Cado chuckled darkly, those lips that once held a terrifying grin, now held a sinister smile. "You know the law." He began to say, "Each one of our brethren must bring at least 'two' bodies for the recruitment test, every month. For disregarding our oath, you're hereby revoked of your rank. We can end your life, right here, right now, unless you're willing to be reinstated, by reattempting the recruitment test. However, must I remind you. You barely made it through the first time." 

"I understand the oath." Sinner grits his teeth slightly, before he continued any further, "Just leave him out of this." 

"You're no longer in any position to be barking orders." Cado spit in his general direction.

Somebody asked, "What's so special about him, huh?"

The one beside him suggested, "Maybe we should split his neck clear open, from ear to ear, and forced Sinner to watch." 

Cado notices Sinner's reaction, then he started laughing hysterically. "How amusing, he's - he's the one, isn't he? The son you sold off into slavery!" 

The question made Blazerine bit the inside of her cheek.

Fenix knew their lives were now in the hands of these men, because for one; they're outnumbered. Two; An arrow could reach them, way before he ever gets a chance to swing his battle-axe. 

Sinner secretly signals Argo, indicating he should return home. Immediately he took off running, taking a single arrow in the back. To everyone's surprise, he kept going, despite the hit. 

"Don't bother - just take these three and let's get on with it." Cado instructed. 

A metal fastening encircled and confined their wrists and ankles. 
They were all shackled in chains, which was connected to one another, making them linked together. 

One by one, they were forced inside a enclosed cart, built with iron steel bars. 'It might as well have been a mobile prison cell.' Blazerine thought. 

She helplessly looked down at her new jewelry accessories, cold black heavy shackles.

"It looks like were the ones who need to be found now." She sighed. 

Fenix knew the tarp being pulled down from the top was to disguise the cargo which was "them." This situation seemed awfully too familiar with him. Literally he started shaking, while recalling the event. 

Seeing Fenix's breakdown could melt even the coldest of hearts. It was such a vulnerable moment. And Blazerine could understand why he broke down the way he did. The very man who brought him into this world had sold him off into slavery, now has done it again. 

She rubbed Fenix's shoulder in an attempt to comfort him. The only reaction that came of it was tears. Blazerine's facial expression softened as she watched him fall apart. Okay, ‘fall apart’ is the wrong choice of words here. I mean - Fenix wasn't the kind of person who blatantly spoke of defeat. Instead, he usually would cover it up, stay strong - not showing weakness... well, but now - he must be hurting really bad. 

"What's wrong with him?" Sinner asked out of nowhere. 

"You're what's wrong with him!" Blazerine angrily yelled. 

He hushed her by saying, "Keep your voice down. It's better not to draw any unwanted attention to yourself for the time being."

In the head of the moment, she disregards his warning and said, "If I were Fenix, I wouldn't ever forgive you. But it's his decision whether he does or not. The truth is, everybody is going to hurt you at one point or the other. You just gotta find the ones that are worth suffering for. And believe me, you're not one of them." 

"It's doubtful you'll even be sent through.... you'll probably become a servant; who satisfies the needs of the pack." Sinner mentioned.

"Who exactly are these people anyway?" She frowned. 

"Were a revolutionary force of bandits, who have carved an illicit place in this world. Their motto is, you either join them or die." He replied. 

"Sounds like a nice crowd." She said sarcastically, "Although you would think such a group would have a name." 

"There once was... but those who spoke the name, were put into jail for the minimum of seven years and were tortured. Others, who are simply acquainted by chance are hanged if they're lucky.

It's because the nobles mock contempt, for they see themselves as the ones who prey upon all those who isn't from a royal blood line.  Royal blood line, HA! Hypocrites is what they should be called. Their pedestal once upon a time was fought for and won over by strength. 

Down along the line, the generations of children were raised by maids, servants.... Which only taught respect is gained by how much coin you have in your pouch? They never knew what strength is, nor what it is to have it." He explained. 

"There isn't much of a difference." She argued, "Both strength and money are a source of power. Even though the nobles have looked down upon you once, they have all the reason to now. You guys are kidnapping innocent people for your cause. People who don't want to even be evolved. And in this case, your own son." 

"Not kidnapping - killing." He corrected her, "It's a battle to the death."

"To the death?!" Her voice jumped up a couple octaves.

----

Leon was almost asleep, so close it wasn't even funny. But he clenched his teeth for a fraction of a second, before wriggling around frustratingly in the blankets. Sure enough, the sun peaked over the hills, shinning its light through the window. All, it did, was piss him off, for another day has passed. He's been miserable for three days, being confined to this wretched bed.

During that time, Lyrist would stop by to leave him something to eat, or change the bandage on his leg. However words were never exchanged, even when he managed to walk, well sort of with a bit of a limp. There's no telling if he would have it the rest of his life, or if it will eventually fix itself on its own. Whatever the outcome may be, he's just glad to be finally moving about. 

With a short sigh, he ran a hand through his bangs and pushed them back, although they swooped down across his forehead again. Never before had Leon felt so much pressure weigh on his shoulders. The thought of something happening to Blazerine under Fenix's care didn't settle well with him. Call it high moral fiber, call it love? Call it whatever you want. 

Shortly after, he climbed into his armor, although the chain-mail was damage near his knee, it was still usable. Above all, his sword became a walking cane. It seemed a bit cocky, but at least it would get the job done. 

He left the Ironclad, knowing Fenix and Blazerine weren't the only ones that needed to be found. He didn't have the slightest idea where Lyrist could be, nor what he's been doing in his spar time. 

Leon had become quite certain that everyone knew he was a Templar. The crowd was overwhelming enough as it was, but it just kept growing in its vastness. People were reaching out for him, begging for theirs troubles to be resolved.

It was the only time he wished not to be a Templar because if you help one, more come flocking. And who was he to deny so many?The problem is, they asked for help with minor things, which aren't of any importance. In other words,; they're just lazy. 

An elderly woman held out a chicken to him and yelled, "My chicken's talons need to be trimmed!" 

Leon bowed his head slightly, before closing his eyes. He prayed to himself, that some divine messenger would tell him if he's doing the right thing. The very moment he reopened his eyes, there was a split in the crowd, which revealed Lyrist, peering back at him. 

Though Lyrist's gaze was shielded from the worst of the day's glare by his hood. He still could feel the sun ruthlessly beating down on him. The only shadow around him was the one he cast; from the fluttering fabric, of a light flimsy brown shawl, that's wrapped around his face. Unexpectedly it contrasts delightfully with his blood stained clothes. 

He listened attentively to what sounded exactly like a bunch of naggings. None of it seemed genuine, or even heartfelt, for they were just demands. 

Leon called out his name, allowing his voice to boom throughout the crowd. Slowly some began to disburse as he maneuvered his way on over to him. 

"Didn't you hear me? Why aren't you speaking to me?" Leon's voice was without anger, but it sounded like it had been filled with confusion instead. 

Lyrist didn't say anything, so Leon reached up and clenched a single gauntlet around his shawl, pulling him closer to his helmet. 

"Are you testing my patience?" He asked him. 

A shocking reaction overcame the town folks. This made Leon regret his actions immediately. Templar's suppose to uphold the peace, not create personal vendettas. If this were to get back to the church, he would most defiantly be in trouble.

Surprisingly, Lyrist did not suffer a sore neck, when he was released from the grip. Regardless of the situation, he calmly removed his earrings and handed them to Leon. Then he motioned toward his ears, indicating he should listen. 

"Not here," Leon said, before leading him down a dark alleyway. 

Once the two of them were away from prying eyes, he took off his helmet and gave it to Lyrist to hold. He listened closely to one earring, while speaking to the other. 

"Hello...?" He began, "Yeldir are you there?" He asked.

"Hello, I can hear you lad. Hmm - what was I suppose to tell you again?" Yeldir paused only momentarily to think.

"How could you've forgotten about long ears already?" 

"Ah... yes, thank you for reminding me." 

"Whatever... you imbecile."

"You see, Lyrist cannot communicate with you, because the device Blazerine wore over her eyes, was somehow able to transmit his silent language to your hearing perception." He explained, "The only reason why I am capable of hearing him -" 

Leon interrupted by saying, "Yes I know, it's because you were an elf in one of your past lives etc... Yet it still makes no sense. How would that affect your hearing?"

"I have my ways." Yeldir sneered, "Look, you may not understand Lyrist, but it doesn't mean he can't understand you." 

"Well, he sure does have a bad way of showing it." Leon bluntly commented.

"He's still adjusting." Yeldir protested. 

"I don't appreciate the fact that you know more about the companions I travel with than I do. So for a future reference, the both of you better keep me informed." Leon sternly said. 

"Maybe next time you'll inform me of the disaster you've unleashed upon us all." He replied. 

Leon angrily tossed the earrings aside, while yelling, "You told Yeldir everything, when I specifically told you not to! Do you understand what you've done? You've betrayed my trust!" 

Lyrist's eyes were trained on him with varying degree of expressions - between despondency and anxiety.

Leon noticed the wooden sword strapped to his back, before he stated, "I hope you know, trust is difficult to gain, but it's much more easily to lose, than it is to win back." 

Lyrist looked shock, when Leon simply took his helmet back and said, "If you're going to continue down this path, don't bother coming." 













© Tiffany Ann Adkins 2015 - 2019