*Swoosh* *Swoosh* *Whoosh!* A familiar sound of metal slicing through air.
Kaidus went downstairs to find Troyle in the living room, swinging his sword with his left hand. Anise was still asleep, and Adalina was busy preparing breakfast.
Troyle was smiling heartily as he moved into different stances, swinging the sword in all range of motions—testing his arm.
Troyle’s injuries were severed tendons in the shoulder along with cuts into the bones. The cause of it was a slash from behind that cut deep into his shoulder blade before making its way out the left side of his shoulder.
The wounds were stitched, and Troyle’s body had repaired itself to a usable condition after 10 years. Yet, the damages have already been done, and the shoulder was never like how it used to be.
The healing process was similar to Naran’s, and Troyle had gritted his teeth through it—refusing to scream out in pain—as if trying to show his own mental fortitude to Kaidus.
“Father. How long have you been at that?” He called out.
“You’re up early.” Troyle turned around and replied with a grin. Beads of sweat were rolling down his face. “I’ve only just started. I was going to wait until I got to Lord Varath’s place, but I never thought I would be able to use my left hand like this again. I couldn’t wait any longer.” Troyle’s grin widened.
“Please don’t overexert yourself.” Kaidus replied.
“Don’t worry. I just wanted to see if I my body can still remembers some forms, that’s all.” Troyle replied, then continued his practice as Kaidus watched.
… *swoosh* *whoosh* step, *swoosh* …
“What kind of style is that?” Kaidus asked after watching for a while.
“My fighting style?” Troyle responded, hearing Kaidus’s question.
“Yea. Last year when I was at the Ravon manor, I watched the knights training. Your movements are very different from theirs.” He quickly made an excuse.
“Have you finally taken some interest in swords?” Troyle asked him eagerly, face full of enthusiasm.
“A little… but mother says she doesn’t want me learning how to fight until I’m older.” He answered, and Troyle made a disappointed face. This was not the first time Troyle had wanted to teach him how to use a sword.
“Well, not like my little mage needs a weapon to protect himself.” Troyle replied with a smirk, recalling what happened the previous day, and what Kaidus could do. “To answer your question, my movements are different because…” Troyle started explaining.
Troyle was an ambidextrous fighter, and fought using a style called ‘The formless Blades’ style which incorporated two swords as extensions of his own arms. The style was an erratic but precise form of fighting, consisting of quick flurries of attack and quick movements, not leaving the enemy a chance to counter. Troyle said his former mercenary captain had made him learn it after finding out that Troyle was just as adept with his left hand as his right.
Although Troyle was only using one sword at the moment, thinking back to the few forms that he caught, Kaidus could picture where the two swords would complement each other—attacking in an elegant flow of blazing fast motions.
“When you’re older, I’ll teach you.” Troyle grinned at him.
“Kaidus, can you come help set the table?” Adalina called from the kitchen, having heard them talking.
“Coming!” He made his way to the kitchen and left Troyle to continue his practice.
Two days later.
‘They should be back soon.’ Kaidus thought to himself.
He was sitting in the living room reading one of the few books procured over the Rjus. It was nearing the afternoon, and his mother and sister should be returning soon from their morning shopping.
This was the last day of Hiso, and he would be returning to the academy soon. The new term starts on the 6th of Guso, so he would have to leave by the 4th to get everything ready for his classes.
Kaidus also stayed home today as he had done for the past couple of days.
Going out the day after the trial, he was accosted in the street by many people asking him about the specifics of the trial. Luckily for him, those who were not there doubted he was capable of healing magic—the rumors were there but the belief has yet to set hold. They goaded him to prove his abilities, but the situation was one where such thing was unnecessary. He had refused the taunts.
Most people in the shopping district already knew that he was attending Zorin academy for mages. It was only a matter of time until the whole of the 3rd ward knew about him, and his peaceful days would eventually come to an end. There was no point in quickening that process by showing them he could heal people. He’s been hiding at home ever since, waiting for the new term to begin.
As if complying with his thoughts, the door soon opened and Adalina walked in. Both her hands were holding onto Anise, and there was no grocery. Adalina had a big smile on her face while Anise has her usual tired look from walking around too long.
“Kaidus, you have a guest.” Adalina spoke, smiling at him.
“??” He looked at her with a look of confusion.
“Please come in.” Adalina motioned for someone else to enter.
A young girl with sleek black hair like Adalina’s, wearing a pretty blue dress–with yellow flower patterns on the skirt–entered the house. It was Celene. Following her, the same woman he had seen with Celene at the trial also entered, carrying a basket of groceries.
“I’m sorry to have burdened you, and welcome to our humble home.” Adalina turned to thank the woman.
“Please, no need to thank me. It was the least I could do.” The woman politely replied.
“Welcome.” Kaidus greeted, having made his way to the door.
“We’re home Anise, time to get down.” Adalina spoke as she set a tired Anise onto the ground. “Please show Mrs. Valnur and Miss Celene to the living room.” Adalina instructed Kaidus as she took the basket off of the woman’s hand. “We seldom get visitors, please make yourselves at home.” Adalina added as she moved to put the basket away in the kitchen.
“Kai-*yawn* …” Anise yawned as she tried to call his name.
“Need a nap in your room?” He questioned his sister, gently patting her head.
“No… Anish don-*yawn* wan to…” She replied, rubbing her eyes in an attempt to get rid of her drowsiness.
“Alright.” He conceded, then turned to the guests. “Thank you for helping my mother. Please, this way.” He thanked the woman and motioned for them both to follow him to the living room.
The Paltos house was not so big that guests would have to be shown their way about. The door outside opens directly into the living room that took up little more than a quarter of the first floor. His actions were nothing more than keeping with propriety.
“Please have a seat.” He showed the woman and Celene to the few chairs that circled a low table.
The living room itself had little furnishing. There were four wooden chairs for the four of them, a low rise table, an earthen vase—with dried flowers—sat on the table, a small shelf in the corner of the room by the window where Kaidus kept a few of the books he’d been reading along with various other small trinkets that belonged to the family. By the shelf, there was a small desk with Adalina’s sewing kit, and Anise’s wooden toys in a small crate under the desk. There were no pictures along the walls, nor were there any luxurious decorations. It was a simple room.
The whole time, the woman was watching Kaidus.
“Is there something wrong?” He asked, as he sat down.
“No. Everything is fine.” She answered, giving him a smile as she and Celene also took their own seats.
“Sorry about the other day. Although it is late, I am Kaidus Paltos. I apologize for dragging your family into my problems.” He quickly introduced himself along with an apology.
“Nice to meet you again Kaidus. I am Mayley Valnur, wife of Joral Valnur, and you’ve met my daughter Celene.” She answered back with her own introduction. Celene sat quietly beside her.
“Gai…dush…” Anise called him as she drowsily wobbled over to where he was sitting. She reached him then slumped onto his legs, as sleep started taking hold of her.
“See? You need a nap.” He told her again.
“No…I-*yawn*…” She weakly tried to counter his statement, but failed to fight back the drowsiness.
“I’m sorry, I must see my sister to bed. My mother will be with you shortly.” He easily picked up Anise, and started for the stairs.
Mayley recalled the events of the 34th, and her reasons for being here.
In the joy of her son’s recovery, she had failed to personally thank the boy for his kindness. Seeing the quick recovery and change in her son, she had spent all of the previous day searching for the boy. This morning—along with Celene, was also spent with three maids combing the streets of the market district and asking for the boy and his family. Luckily, most people knew who she was talking about, and it was a lucky coincidence to have found the boy’s mother in the onslaught of morning shoppers.
Watching the young boy carrying his little sister with ease, it was quite the sight for Mayley. She could see his love and care for the younger girl in his actions and the few words the two had exchanged. The stoic and cold child who easily broke a man’s arm was nowhere. All she could see was the compassionate child who saved her son and daughter.
Adalina quickly came out of the kitchen with four cups and a pitcher of water, along with a plate of thinly sliced dronnon jerky.
“Please help yourselves.” Adalina spoke as she sat the plate of snack onto the table and filled the cups with water.
“Thank you again for allowing this untimely visit.” Mayley gave a word of thanks. They had already talked and gotten to know each other on their way back to the Paltos house.
“No problem at all. As I mentioned earlier, we seldom get any visitors.” Adalina responded with a smile. “You said both Joral and yourself grew up in Ferrent, were you two not born here?” Adalina continued their chat from their walk home.
As the two continued their conversation, Kaidus returned.
“She looked really tired, is she sleeping now?” Adalina asked as Kaidus sat down with them.
“She is.” He answered.
It was not a rare thing for Anise to fall asleep after tiring herself out walking around with Adalina.
“You remember Mrs. Valnur and her daughter Celene from the trial. They’ve come to talk to you.” Adalina explained.
“I see.” Kaidus replied. “How may I help you?” He asked Mayley.
“Forgive me for the delay, but Joral and myself wanted to thank you for what you have done.” Mayley spoke and bowed in gratitude. “Joral wanted to be here, but his work has kept him. He wanted to entrust you with this.” Mayley reached into a side of her dress and pulled out a dazzling gem. The gem was small enough to fit into the palm of Mayley’s hands, but unlike normal gems, this one was flashing a violet light periodically.
Gemstones containing fragments of spirits within, they were extremely expensive with the lowest grades valued at around 5000 erns, while the highest grades were up in the hundreds of thousands. The grades, being determined by the size of the gem, their luster, clarity, and type of spirit fragment inside.
‘A Phraestone…’ Kaidus thought to himself, remembering how they are created.
Mages at the pinnacle of magic, greedy for even more power enslaved the helpless Phraes, forcing them to rip apart and bind their elemental cousin’s essences into these gemstones. Everything for the sake power, at the cost of the elemental’s life.
Jaes were designed as single-use elemental attacks, or to amplify a mage’s spell of the same element exponentially. Coincidentally, the grades also correlated directly to the strength of the gem when used for magic. Higher quality gems exuded more light and their gems were clearer and more transparent.
Yet he doubted the world right now had such knowledge of their creation and use. Even the Phraes themselves were so scarce now that he had yet to see one ever since being reborn, unlike before where the friendly spirits coexisted with the races throughout the seven continents. All the books he had come across had detailed only how they might be used in ancient days—none having anything to do with magic, and many theories about how they might have been made. The books only mentioned that all the Jaes in the world were found, nothing about being created. Jaes themselves were later circulated into the world’s economy amongst the rich upper class because of how beautiful they are.
The Jae Mayley pulled out was of a lower grade, but would still probably be around 20000erns if sold. It was beautiful, and had the violet hue of one containing a lightning spirit fragment. Little sparks of bluish-purple lightning flashed every now and then within the stone.
“We would like you to have this. Although this could never cover the life of our two children, it is the only thing we have of any value.” Mayley got off her seat and came up to presented the gem to him.
“I apologize, but I cannot accept… I did not help because I desired a reward.” Kaidus spoke, unwilling to accept the small fortune that was offered. Not because he knew of their origin, but because anyone would have helped in that situation if they could.
“It is not a reward. It is a gift, freely given.” Mayley countered. “This has been in Joral’s family for four generations. It was meant to be used in emergencies when the family business first began, but there has never been any need for it to be sold. The Valnur house is quite well off now so such insurance has become unnecessary. It is something of a family heirloom, and the only thing that holds any sentimental value to Joral. He wishes for you to have it.” Mayley clarified.
“More so now, I cannot accept such a precious thing.” He was not about to deprive the family of something so precious.
“It is because it holds such value, that we are giving it to you. What you did for our family, is beyond what this little gem could replace. Please take it.” Mayley pleaded.
“… Very well. Thank you, for your generosity.” Kaidus replied as he reluctantly brought forth his hand to accept the gift. He could see in her eyes that Mayley would not take no for an answer.
“Thank you.” Mayley happily echoed, returning to her seat.
With that over with, Mayley questioned Kaidus about various things as Adalina supplemented his short and precise answers. Celene quietly spectated when she was not the one being questioned, interjecting here and there to reprimand her mother when Mayley starts talking about embarrassing things concerning her.
“How about joining us for lunch?” Adalina asked as noon came around.
“If it is not too much trouble, we would love to.” Mayley replied.
“None at all. Please relax as I prepare us lunch.” Adalina got up to go cook.
“I do enjoy cooking every once in a while. Allow me to assist you.” A candid smile on her face, Mayley also got up to go help.
“Have you been well?” Kaidus spoke, breaking the silence. With Mayley and Adalina cooking, and Anise asleep, it was only the two of them in the living room.
“Y-Yes.” Celene answered, she was getting nervous.
After the trial, after spilling the truth, she abruptly stopped dreaming about him. As if her fear and anxiety was the reason behind it all, the dreams had vanished when the truth came out. She thought she had grown stronger after the ordeal, but seeing him sitting casually across from her, her head was racing and nothing comprehensible was coming to mind.
“Did you see the Lippars migration around ten days ago?” Kaidus asked, trying to make conversation.
“N-no…” Celene answered, disappointment in her voice. The migration had occurred shortly after her incident, and she was too scared to either go outside or look outside.
“Oh. Well, you can always see them when they leave.” Kaidus spoke cheerily, attempting to cheer her up.
“Uhn. Yea…” Celene replied. She wanted to talk to him about the dreams, but she was afraid of what he might think. There were so many things on her mind, she wanted to just talk with him, she wanted to be friends, to ask him questions about himself, any questions, but the words were not coming out.
Kaidus made small talk asking about the Dryva district school, her favorite colors, food she likes, friends, her family, and various things that elaborated on the subjects they had talked with Mayley earlier about.
With Celene not talking much, the majority of the conversation was him awkwardly talking as she listened. Kaidus kept at it, abiding by the rules of ‘it’s a host’s job to entertain his guests’, until Adalina and Mayley called them for lunch.
-In a different corner of the world-
“Zavon… why have you called for an assembly with such haste?” An old man asked the seven hooded men in front of him.
One of the figures took a step forward. “Master. My agents in Ferrent relayed to m-”
“You sent agents into Ferrent? After I called to cease the activities around there?” The old man interrupted. He gazed coldly at the man call Zavon.
“Apologies master. I only sent them in after we lost the familiar to keep watch and relay information. They are not to do anything that would rouse the suspicion of anyone even if it costs them their lives.” Zavon quickly tried to placate his master’s growing irritation.
“You are naive… just hope your agents do not get caught alive, or we may have trouble on our hands.” The old man spoke solemnly, then motioned for the man to continue his report.
“My agents spoke of a new mage, capable of healing magic. Although inconclusive, this particular mage is believed to be able to do more than heal himself. From asking around, my agents believe that this mage can possibly share his gifts with others.” Zavon ended his report. His eyes not wavering, stared right back at his master. The old man’s face lit up and Zavon could see the plans being constructed in that ever calculating mind of his. It was the reaction he wanted.
“… That is quite the news. How many agents do you have stationed in Ferrent?” The old man asked Zavon.
“I have eighteen altogether. Two in each of Ferrent’s lower wards.” Zavon replied.
“Have them confirm the mage’s identity and abilities. If he truly knows healing magic, see if they can bring him to our cause. If not, dispose of him.” The old man commanded. He knew what powerful assets mages with recovery abilities can be. Nylen made sure he knew that.
“Yes master.” Zavon answered as he stepped back in line with the other figures.