A lavish dinner table filled with a range of delicacies and entrees. Sautee qorkos with leafy plants stuffed into it, fried leg of dronnons cooked to perfection giving an aroma of salt and herbs, freshly picked and boiled laraze plants that were chopped into fine slices along with a dip to accommodate them, and plenty of other mouthwatering dishes littered the dinner table.
Sitting in the honorary guest seat directly across from Lord Gelrin, was Kaidus. Lord Huin was directly to the right of the old man followed by his son Vion. To the old man’s left sat Kellian and her daughter Naleen. Seated to Kaidus’s left and right were Horan, Thirn, Daaro, and a couple of the other older knights who had been called to join the dinner.
Not being an official dinner but one among friends and close acquaintances, the need for customs had all but been thrown under the table.
There were many conversations passed back and forth amongst the participants of the dinner, and many had inquired about Kaidus, after Lord Gelrin had introduced the partakers. The lord had made sure to give the reasons as to why he was entertaining a young child–a child he was sponsoring for Zorin Academy. Minus the parts about what occurred in the plaza with the Kalligor.
Kaidus had summarized for the curious: where his family came from before settling in Ferrent, what his family did, his father’s job, his mother’s job, how many people in his family, and so forth. Making small talks here and there while also inquiring into details about the other party’s situations.
“Your father is Troyle the runner up for the competition three years ago?! Coincidences sure are an amazing thing indeed. Did you know he defeated me in the semi-finals?” an older knight exclaimed from beside Kaidus.
“To have made it to the semi-finals, Lord Bulwicent must be quite the admirable knight in his younger days. My father must have gotten lucky.” He replied in acknowledgement to the old knight.
“KYAAKAKAKKAKA! Indeed! INDEED!!! If I had been 5 years young- no even 3 years younger I would been quite the challenge for that youngster! I was already an accomplished knight when our Lord Knight Commander here had just taken his oaths!” the knight boasted while laughing heartily.
A Lord from the 12th ward, the old knight was visiting friends in the 11th ward. A jovial and free spirit who had laid down his swords last year due to old age. The man was someone who spent his free time traveling from ward to ward catching up on old friends.
“Ah, so your father’s Lord Varath’s body guard. I never see Varath without a shadow nowadays. I see.” Another of the knights spoke in realization.
While customary banters were thrown and exchanged back and forth, the quite girl who had been sitting at her mother’s side suddenly spoke up quizzically. “Grandfather, what is the punishment for a student of the Ravon house attacking a guest?”
“What’s this?” Gelrin looked at his granddaughter in surprise.
Kaidus turned to look at the girl. Upon seeing her, she was staring right back at him, hatred in her eyes. ‘Don’t tell me… this is because I denied her accusation earlier?’
Daaro’s posture went straight up, his back as straight as a rod fearing the incoming storm.
Lord Huin’s mouth started tipping upward into a vile smile.
“We’ve already got that sorted out Naleen, don’t agitate your grandfather.” Kellian chided to her daughter.
“No mother, we have not gotten it sorted out.” She stated calmly to her mother. “Again, what happens to a student if they were attacking a guest?” Naleen inquired, looking at her grandfather.
“Well, if it was serious, the student would be stripped of his rank and would have to start over from the basics again for a year.” The old man answered, a twinkle of comprehension surging in his eyes.
Naleen turned to Kaidus. “What if he was your HONORARY guest, and instead of being assaulted by a single student, was rounded up by a group and beaten to the ground?” Naleen hypothesized with as much venom as she could muster in her words, and in her eyes. Her emphasis on the word HONORARY pretty much drove home who she had been coyly insinuating about.
Turning to look at Kaidus, the old commander’s eyebrows twisted in amusement. “Really? Something happened?” Lord Gelrin inquired.
“It was nothing to worry about sir, just some childish playfulness.” Kaidus relayed his opinion of the matter.
Most of the eyes around the dinner table perked up at the proclamation of ‘childish playfulness’ while looking at the child who spoke the words.
“He knocked you to the ground!” Naleen cried out.
“I missed a step in the form he was teaching me, and fell on my behind. That was what you saw.” A calm and collected answer to her outcry.
“Y-y-YOU COWARD! And you call yourself a man?!” She cried out, pointing a finger at him. “I-IF you want to be a knight, stand up for yourself! I hate people who can’t even fight back! Isn’t that why you’re here?” She screamed at Kaidus. “Tell him Vion! You always said a great knight is someone who never lets others push them around!”
“That’s enough Naleen!” Kellian ordered.
“Please excuse us everyone, it seems my daughter is feeling a bit under the weather. I shall escort her back to her room.” Kellian stated. “And Kaidus, please forgive her. She is just a child.” she lowered her head to plea his forgiveness. Recognition of him as a child did not register.
“No offense was taken, please raise your head.” He quickly replied.
“MOTHER!” Naleen cried out again.
With a curt bow to those at the dinner table, Lady Kellian promptly left, leading an angry daughter in tow.
“COWARD!!” Naleen called out as she exited the dining hall.
“HAHAAHAHAH! What a feisty one you got there, Huin!” a remark from one of the knights.
“Honestly, I don’t know who she takes after…” Huin replied, beaten soundly by what just happened.
“Looks like her future husband will be in trouble.” Lord Bulwicent joked with a huge grin on his face.
*AHEM!* Lord Gelrin cleared his throat. With his granddaughter gone, he quickly apologized to those at the dinner table as the banquet resumed. “So… you were accosted by a group of boys, and beaten?” Lord Gelrin spoke to Kaidus, disbelief in his voice.
“Nothing that horrific.” Kaidus replied nonchalantly, while stabbing another piece of sliced meat with his fork before bringing it to his plate.
“If I may ask, why did you not fight back?” Lord Huin spoke.
“There was no need.” A simple reply as he dipped another piece of the laraze into the sauce before bringing it to his mouth.
Lord Huin’s previous smile seem to have taken on a frown. He was still unable to gauge the child’s abilities with his own eyes. ‘Did he know we were there?’ Huin pondered.
“KAYAKAKAK!!! BOY! You sure are something! Surrounded by a group of sword students and there was no need to retaliate? You really are brave, or was it your fear taking hold?” Lord Bulwicent happily threw out what most of them were thinking.
“There was no need as they posed no threat to me.” Kaidus answered looking at the old lord.
“KYAHAHHAHAH!! KYAHAHAH!!! Thank you Gelrin. Thank you for inviting me to dinner. This is the best thing I’ve heard in a long time!” Lord Bulwicent laughed.
“Don’t lie. I heard Ranor knocked you to the ground. That you could barely get up.” Vion spoke with anger in his voice.
‘I see. He must know the other boys, seeing they’re around the same age.’ “Yes of course, that was the case.” He did not want to demean the others in front of Vion, in case this escalates. He opted to hold his tongue and secede to the statement.
“BWAHHAHAHHAHAHHA!! HA… ha… what a good joke boy.” Lord Gelrin mentioned toward Vion. “How about the truth Kaidus? I know you are trying to protect those who assaulted you. Would you be willing to part with the truth if I vow that ‘I Lord Gelrin Ravon, on my honor, will not punish them’?” The Lord asked, his face was red from his outburst of laughter.
“I saw Ranor’s kick and had shielded myself before contact.” A swift and pointed reply.
“Then why did you not retaliate?!” Vion voiced from the side, anger and jealousy rife in his words.
“I did not want to hurt them.” A stoic reply combined with a gaze that overwhelmed Vion and sat him back down in his chair.
Everyone besides Lord Huin, Thirn, Horan, and the Lord Knight Commander shifted in their seat at the child’s tone toward Vion.
Silence prevailed for a matter of minutes as everyone attempted to let the tense atmosphere blow over.
“Well then, please excuse me from the table. I wish to pack up and ready for my trip to the academy tomorrow.” Kaidus spoke up, parting the silence.
“Oh, yes, of course. It sure has gotten late, thank you for joining me tonight. If you need anything, please be sure to send someone.” Lord Gelrin answered.
With Kaidus excused, the dinner came to a close, and the others started parting.
The sky was darkening, and Kaidus returned to his room. Taking off the clothes he had worn to the dinner, he was only in his shorts. He had taken off his clothes to prepare for what comes next.
Sitting back down on the ground, he took a minute to straighten his mind and body. His mana flowed like blood in his veins, roaring to be tested.
Having synched both body and soul with meditation, he manifested a small sword of light in his right hand. He calmed his mind and rid it of any thoughts.
First form – Rezut – he angled his small body giving himself a low center of gravity, ready to counter or parry any attacks from his sides and front.
An easy enough form, which was just a stance for retaliation.
Second form – Thoa – his sword arm extended forward like lightning, a single striking thrust, but three quick hits altogether. First cut slices upward, second following the same trajectory of the first one but in reverse, and third one ending with a thrust.
Try as he might, the attack only struck twice unable to keep up with the speed of the triple strike.
Third form – Hing – a quick lunge, unperceivable by the naked eyes, with a horizontal slash, Or a cross slash with two blades.
He succeeded after a couple times trying to readjust to the speed and infusion required for the footwork, but his childish body had lacked the coordination of where he was going.
Fourth form – Plai – the sword slashes in an overhead arc in front of him and swings backward along with his right hand, his body twists and does a diagonal slash to his flank, followed by a punch from his left hand and a quick backwards round house kick using the momentum of the spin.
A simple set of moves using the weight of the sword and motion to spin him around to drive in the other attacks. He completed the form without problem.
Fifth form – Alvue – a single strike from a standing position. The body is relaxed until the instant the devastating strike is performed. Versatile and able to cut at any angle.
He performed various attacks from a relaxed position to get the feelings back.
Sixth form – Sonis – The final form. The sword is thrown, as if folding together the spaces between, he vanishes and appears where his sword is.
Kaidus throws the sword at the door and catches it before it could impale the door, striking his mana infused hands a couple times before getting the feel for the skill.
Six forms that he had mastered in his quest for vengeance a lifetime ago. They were now a constant reminder of the irredeemable actions he had taken.
He had lived this new life without them, but the earlier event had put him into a different mindset.
Being in a child’s body, he had poured mana into his body and enhanced it to a degree that he would be able to emulate the forms, although not all of them had been performed up to standard.
Having completed his former forms, he moved onto the one’s he had been watching earlier.
There were 8 new forms that he had been watching earlier and were eager to test out. These were the real reasons why he had decided to train his forms. Seeing the students train, he was reminded of the tranquility it had brought him when he was learning.
The ability to close his mind to everything else but the blade in his hands and the sound of it slicing through the air. Parry, counter, attack, defense, blade-lock, high rising attacks, low covers, disarming, killing blows, and everything. Nothing could compare to the fluid movements of the body as it swung around the sword as if dancing along with the Phraes.
But being without training for years and in a child’s body, his body was unconditioned to the strenuous training, and quickly tired out, forcing him to go to bed.
“I can’t believe him! I tried to help him and he makes me out to be a liar! And in front of Grandfather and Father!” Naleen angrily ranted in her room to her mother.
The betrayal of her rescue had angered her deeply, and even after finding out that the child was a guest of her grandfather, her irritable mood had not abstain, hence the outburst during dinner.
“Calm down Naleen. I was there, I saw. He must have had his own circumstances if he was willing to label my cute little baby a liar.” Kellian softly hugged Naleen trying to goad her to an understanding. “Did you notice? All of the other boys ran off as soon as they saw me, but he stood his ground and clarified his position. Not many can do that.”
“But! They were mistreating him!” Naleen declared.
“Be that as it may, he was able to put up with it. He never even brought up the issue during dinner until you stormed into their conversations. Don’t you think you went overboard with what you called him?”
“Hmph! He went overboard! He humiliated me and made me out to be a liar!” she retorted.
“You humiliated yourself by being a crass young lady.” Kellian spoke icily, unwilling to spoil her daughter. “Think about it. He was a guest of honor protecting the dignity of the students, and you spoke out of place. Who do you think your grandfather would frown upon?” Kellian added.
“I want you to apologize to him tomorrow before he leaves, and tell him how sorry you are for calling him a coward.”
“Do you hear me, Naleen Shirce Ravon?”
“Uuu…. FINE!” She answered angrily, the thought of apologizing to that boy was infuriating and humiliating in itself.
The Lord Knight Commanded had brought it upon himself to see Kaidus off early in the morning.
He was instructing Kaidus about what to do once he arrived at the Academy and double checking to make sure everything would go smoothly for the boy. Even having Thirn ride on ahead to let the academy know that Kaidus would be arriving that day, and to expect him.
Unexpectedly, Kellian and Naleen came out of the estate. Both were dressed and proper for the occasion.
“Go on Naleen. He is leaving.” Kellian told her daughter
A reluctant Naleen edged forward to where Kaidus and her Grandfather were standing—by the carriage.
She walked up to Kaidus and lowered her head.
“I apologize for calling you a c-coward. Mother told me you were doing it for the sake of the students. She also said anyone who could look her in the eyes and talk to her as equals, was no coward.” Naleen spoke, but without an ounce of apologetic tone.
“W-what is this!?” Lord Gelrin was flabbergasted.
‘Oh? So she realized something’
“Thank you. I too apologize for my actions. I did not mean to disregard your help yesterday. The situation did not call for drastic measures, it was the only way I saw to proceed.” He replied.
“Eh?” Naleen looked up in confusion.
“Please accept this as thanks for your kind considerations.”
Kaidus held out a hand, and the morning mist gathered above his palm. The mist then coalesced and formed into a tiny six petal flower that he had seen during the long trip to Ferrent. The misty flower then started crystalizing and after fully solidifying, fell onto the palm of his hand.
“It is a danach flower. They grow in the forests along the road here to Ferrent.” Kaidus explained with a smile on his face.
“Thank… you…” Naleen said as she took the crystal flower and moved back to where her mother stood.
As he was about to get onto the carriage, the old lord spoke out to him.
“I never did ask you, what were you doing in the plaza, and why did you save me that day?”
“I was there just to watch the demonstration like everyone else. I saw how you took charge prioritizing evacuation of the people before your knights, I saw your single handed engagement against the Kalligor, and your selfless sacrifice for someone you had never met. The world would be lesser if a great man such as Lord Knight Commander Gelrin were to lose his life.” Kaidus replied to the old lord. With a wide smile on his face, he entered the carriage and left the Ravon Estate.
After the carriage departed, another old man came out of the estate.
“It looks like it is time for me to bid you farewell too my friend.”
“Only for a while. Your place is like a vacation home to me. I’ll always be back.” Lord Bulwicent said while grinning.
“Well then, not too soon, I hope. Bring me better news next time, anything but the unruly rumors like the ones this time around.” Lord Gelrin spoke back affably.
The two men watched as the carriage exited the walled gates of the Ravon estate, and watched until the carriage disappeared.
“Gelrin. Tell me, why has this child fascinated you so much? You told me you were merely sponsoring him, but everything so far has been too extravagant. What exactly are you withholding from me?” The old Lord Bulwicent asked the Knight Commander.
“Would you believe me if I told you that, that child killed the Kalligor a while ago during the Knightly demonstration?”
“What? Surely you jest!?”
“No at all Faderan, I’ve seen his display of magic with my own eyes. Even earlier, he created a crystal flower out of mist. I could not fathom how he does what he does. He is the real thing. It is as if he lives and breathes magic…”
“You can’t possibly mean!?” Faderan was trying to connect the subtle hints in Gelrin’s words with various events, legends, puzzles, and rumors in his head.
“Yes… He is exactly what we have only ever heard of in legends… it is my wish to see him wherever fate would take him.” Lord Gelrin spoke solemnly
“Impossible… A Dvitus?” The jovial lord had a stern look on his face, as if witnessing the coming of a new era.