“Please come in. He is home.”
Kaidus heard his mother inviting someone into the house. A man and a boy he recognized came in. The man was a 3rd ward patrol, and the boy was a year older than Kaidus himself. They too lived in the Shorza district.
The man carried the boy inside.
“Good evening Mr. Trinis. Hi Tamner.” He greeted the two.
“Kaidus…” The boy replied with his head hung low, and looked to be in pain.
“Good evening…” The man greeted. His face, full of worry and distress. “I am very sorry to disturb you Kaidus.” Mr. Trinis added apologetically.
“Do not worry about such details. My mother has already told me of your plight. Please, come and sit down.” He motioned for the two to join him in the living room. He had heard everything from Adalina this mid-afternoon after returning home.
This was already the fifth time ever since he treated the man from Tal’hrus. People who had no other options were resorting to what they’ve heard and were coming to him for healing.
The second time was a young woman who had witnessed the trial and had seen what he did to Naran’s scars. A large portion of her body was covered in burn scars from when she was a child, and begged for help to restore her body to a more visually appealing appearance, in the hopes of finding herself a husband.
The third was a toddler who had fallen from a carriage and broken her arm along with a shattered shoulder. The girl was barely alive when they brought her to him. He could still remember the young parent’s horrific cries, begging him nonstop.
The fourth was a mother of three who fell unconscious while out shopping and hit her head against the paved roads, resulting in a coma. He had gone to their house to help treat the woman.
Many people saw his abilities as a convenience, and numerous people came to him asking for healing. He refused most of them seeing that their injuries would not impact their daily lives, or that it will eventually heal over time without any problems. Many people became unhappy at his decisions, but they’ve lived their lives up to this point without someone constantly healing their every injury. He himself was not so benevolent that he would treat every single person who came to him, begging him to heal their scratches.
In Tamner’s case, it was an unfortunate accident.
Some of the boys were playing in the roads of the Shorza district, and a runaway carriage had hit two of them—the horse pulling the carriage had somehow gotten loose from its harness as the carriage was traveling through. The other boy got away with only scratches, but Tamner got his legs crushed against a wall.
Choosing to not use the compensation money they received for an operation, the Trinis family had explained their situation to Adalina, and waited for him to return home. The accident happened three days ago, and even with professional treatment, the possibility that the boy would not walk again was extremely high.
They were hoping that he could help them and was willing to relinquish the compensation money in exchange for their son’s health and livelihood.
Kaidus placed a hand on the boy’s leg and willed his mana to begin doing its work. Moments later, the older boy was up and walking about happily.
The man came forward and handed him a small purse. “Please take this. It’s not much, but it is all we have.” The man offered without an ounce of hesitation.
“No, Mr. Trinis. Please keep it. I did not help your son because of the promise of a reward.” Kaidus replied, unwilling to touch the small bag of money.
“This is the money we were given as reparation for the accident. There is 1100 erns altogether, meant to be used for Tamner’s treatment. It would be foolish of me to hold onto these ill-gotten gains after you have treated him.” The man replied tearfully.
“You all have suffered enough. Please use that money for your family.” Kaidus answered, unwilling to accept the offer.
“Thank you, young man… my family will forever remember your generosity.” The man bowed low in gratitude. Seeing this, Tamner came over to offer his thanks, imitating his father.
“Sorry again honey…” Adalina apologized after the guests had left.
“I’ve told you already. You have nothing to be sorry for.” He replied, refuting his mother’s apology. “If I can use this ability to save a few lives, then it is worth it. You did not raise me to be a selfish man.” He gave his mother a wide smile, trying to ease her guilt.
“Look at you, calling yourself a man.” Adalina giggled, picking him up into an embrace.
“…” His tongue had slipped with his choice of words, and he gave her an embarrassed hug back.
Her nature was one of kindness, unwilling to look the other way in the face of misfortune. His mother who saw the world for its magnificence and beauty, choosing to help those in need rather than forsake them, and he loved her for it.
She knew that healing magic took a toll on him and exhausts him, yet she could not turn a blind eye to those who were in need of his abilities. That is why she apologizes.
Setting him back down, “I’ll start on dinner. Can you go check on Anise for me?” She asked, giving him a warm and heartfelt smile.
“Sure.” He replied, making his way toward the stairs.
Kaidus quietly opened the door to his sister’s room, making sure not to wake her up. She had fallen asleep shortly after greeting his return, and was still napping peacefully in her bed.
“Master…” Hasen’s raspy voice echoed in his head as he approached.
“Anything happened while I was away?” He questioned the entity.
“Good. Keep watching over them.” He replied, glad that Hasen is being vigilant.
“I called for your brothers.” He spoke up.
He attempted to resummon his remaining familiars four nights ago, but have yet to receive any answers. The connections with them were almost nonexistent, and it took all of his mana to reach out to them through Lagus—wherever they were. He could not feel them within Lagus, meaning they were still out in the world somewhere. Even without answering his call, he knew that they were still alive.
“At last… how… may I serve…?” Hasen excitedly inquired.
“I am planning on leaving Ferrent for a duration of time. I do not know how long the journey will take, but you will stay here and protect my family in my absence. Eliminate any threat that would harm them.” Kaidus commanded.
“By your will… Master…”
“Kai! Wake up!” Anise was pounding his chest. It was the morning after his return home.
“You’re getting stronger. That really hurts.” He grinned at his little sister, rubbing where she was hitting him. In the darkness of the room, he saw her shooting a devious grin back at him.
This was his usual morning routine now. Taking their mother’s words of not letting him become lazy literally, Anise had taken it upon herself to wake up at or before the break of dawn to gloriously keep him from oversleeping. Instead of waking up early to do his morning meditations and exercises, he had moved it to after Anise had fallen asleep for the night.
“Are mother and father awake yet?” He questioned the energetic girl, seeing that the room was still quite dark.
“Nope!” She replied triumphantly.
“Can I sleep a little longer?” He asked.
“NO! Mommy shays Anish keep you from be lazy!” She quickly refused, shaking her head.
“Then does Anise want to take a nap with me?” He moved over and brought up his blanket to make room for her.
She looked to make sure he wasn’t lying. “UHN!” Anise grinned happily. She immediately crawled into his bed, hugging him tightly.
Soon, both siblings were back in dreamland.
“MASTER!” Hasen’s raspy voice jerked him awake.
*CRASH!* his window exploded.
A cloud of smoke erupted between them and the window, blocking the shards of glass flying in the air. The crash had also woken up his sister.
In front of him was a floating dirty brown rag with an excess amount of tears and holes. It billowed ceaselessly as if a strong wind was blowing in the room. “The Elusssssssive Winnndddnnd, Foreverrrrrrrr At Yourrrrrr Serrrrrrvicccccce. Masterrrrrrr.” It hissed.
“Brother…” The ring around his sister’s neck spoke in his mind.
He grinned at the intruder. “Zion.” A single name came out of his mouth.
The rag swooped around the room at his word, and Anise’s face lit up at the display as she continued to hold him tightly.
As usual, his wife was already up and preparing breakfast. Troyle got off the bed and headed downstairs to freshen up.
*CRASH!* halfway down the stairs, he heard a loud noise coming from his son’s bedroom. Scrambling, he charged toward the boy’s room.
“Kaidus?!” He barged inside, yelling for his son.
“Good morning father.” He was greeted with a blank stare from his son. His daughter on the other hand, was giddy with excitement.
“What happened in here?!” He asked, eyes widening at the shards of glass on the floor before noticing the ugly rag flying around his children. “And what is that thing? Are you doing that?” He questioned.
Moving objects with magic was simple to his son. He had witnessed it many times before, but this was the first time something had broken. It was unlike his son to do such a thing.
“Daddy! It talk!” His little girl’s face was beaming with excitement as she spoke.
Suddenly the rag stopped flying about and fell onto the ground, becoming motionless.
“Sorry. I kind of got carried away.” His son apologized. “I’ll fix it right away.”
With those very words, the pieces of glasses on the floor rose up and shot toward the window. The shards melded together, reforming into a perfect pane of glass. Within seconds, the broken window was fully restored.
“Be more careful next time. You both could’ve gotten hurt.” He scolded.
“I will. Sorry to worry you.” His son replied apologetically. Taking another look at his daughter, Anise had gotten off the bed and was looking at the rag on the ground, curiously poking at it with her finger.
“Anise, don’t touch that.” He scolded her.
“Hm?” She looked back at him and poked the rag once more before stopping.
“Breakfast should be ready soon. Come down and wash yourselves before your mother starts going on about how cold breakfast has gotten.” He gave the two a loving smile as he left them.
“We’ll be right down.”
A thought occurred to him as he made his way downstairs. The shattered glass was on the inside of the room, meaning a force had entered from the outside. ‘Daddy! It talk!’ he puzzled over what his daughter had said as she watched the rag dancing about.
He quickly removed any further thoughts from his mind. His son was enough of a mystery. There was no need to cram more questions into his head.
Thinking back: Kaidus was always an oddball, but ever since Anise was born, the boy had changed quite a lot. He was more emotional now than when he was still Anise’s age. Hints of embarrassment, joy, anger, disbelief, curiosity, etc.…
Normally sporting an impassive face along with a calm attitude, his son usually came off as a cold and indifferent child, but after all these years, he could read the boy almost as well as the boy read books. A pause in his words, a pitch in his voice, a strange nuance depicting unease, a hesitant answer, a twitch of the eyebrows.
His son was obviously hiding something, but it did not matter to him. The boy will surely tell him whenever he was ready. Until then, all he can do is be a parent to the child as he had for the past seven years.
Heading toward the washroom, another smile crept onto his face as he thought about how inseparable his kids were.
With their father gone, “Go and wash up before breakfast.” He instructed Anise.
“Anish wanna shtay!” And she refused, eyeing the rag on the ground.
“I thought you were a good girl? Good girls listen to their brother’s don’t they?” Kaidus coaxed.
“Muu…” Anise puffed her cheeks, ready to pout.
“I’ll show you later.” He smiled back at her.
“Promishe?” She stared at him inquisitively.
“I promise. Now go.” He grinned.
“Okay!” Anise happily bounded towards the door and downstairs.
‘Master…’ Hasen’s voice echoed in his mind.
‘Stay with her.’ He directed back to the ring.
“Zion.” He spoke after closing the door.
“Massssterrrrr.” It hissed, shooting back up and encircling him. “You Look… Difffffferent.” It added with an impertinent tone.
“Will that be a problem?” Kaidus questioned. His hair was now a light silver and he emitted a torrent of mana outward, suppressing the elemental’s movements.
“No Masssssterrrr. Zionnnn, The Everssssstorm At Your Sssssservicccce.” In a display of obedience, the rag stopped moving and lowered itself to his level.
“Surely you heard my summons. Where have you been?” Kaidus questioned.
“Riding The Winnnnd, Resssssstoring Myssssself.” It hissed without delay.
Zion was always like that. A free spirited elemental whose enjoyment of its freedom was only second to its loyalty. “Where is Vishan and Feziel?” He inquired, giving no further thought into his previous question.
“Thissss One Isssss Unccccccertain.” It replied.
“Where have you been? How long has it been since Veratoraliz?” He asked, hoping to get some answers.
“Thisssss One Hasssss Been Sssssslumbering. It doessssss not knowwwww.”
“…” Another unknown. “Conceal yourself for the time being. We will talk later.” He commanded, about to head downstairs.
“Masssster. I Senssssse My Brotherrrrrr… I Too Sssshall Followwwww…”
The rag distorted and shook itself in the air before crumpling itself into a ball. A violent gust of wind gushed forth from within the ball, and in a flash of light, the cloth unfurled outward, revealing a small clear ring floating there. The rag caught fire, and was incinerated instantly, leaving nothing behind.
“You will not make a sound.” He told the ring as he grabbed it out of midair and placed it in his pocket.
Breakfast was roasted venison with steamed Laraze cut into small bites to be dipped in thick visouris sauce. A bowl of mashed mulse sat in the middle—sprinkled with salt and pepper to give it flavor—while a pot of meaty stew sat next to it. There was also his favorite roasted derilt root with plenty of Dronnon butter to the side. To wash them all down, two jugs of fruit juice sat on opposite sides of the table.
Kaidus took his place at the table for breakfast.
“Is this the last of the Oshun meat from last night?” He asked, taking a slice of the roasted venison.
“It is. Go ahead and eat up.” Adalina answered with a smile.
The meat had been the topic of conversation last night at dinner.
For the past four days, a pair of Oshuns had been raiding one of Lord Varath’s newly planted lisal field, aggressively attacking those who tried to fend them off. From what Troyle said, one of them had skewered a Kaltier with its majestic horns and injured a few of the guards—who were trying to trap the beasts and defend the field—before backup was called in. Backup, being a team of seven of Lord Varath’s trained guards, a hired mage, and Troyle.
Cooperating with those who were already on guard outside of Ferrent, they were able to subdue the two large deer while only incurring minor injuries during yesterday’s clash. The two Oshun were divided amongst those who had helped in their subjugation, and being one of the two who played a key role, Troyle had been given a modest portion of the deer.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to finish all this.” Kaidus joked back to his mother, motioning to all the food on the table.
“That’ll only mean we won’t have to go out shopping for lunch and dinner later. We can spend the whole day inside.” Adalina replied with a grin.
“NO! Anish want go outshide!” Anise exclaimed, raising her face up from her bowl.
“I want ‘to’ go outside.” Adalina corrected her daughter’s words with a smile.
“Anish wantsh to go outshide!” She repeated. This time, grinning back at their mother.
“Hahahaha!” Troyle started laughing.
His parents have been trying to teach his sister how to speak properly, but for some unknown reason, she always refers to herself in the third person. No matter how often they’ve corrected her, it always comes back as “Anise this” or “Anise that”, making for entertaining conversations against the girl.
“Hehehe. I wonder when you’ll stop referring to yourself like that.” Adalina giggled, patted the girl’s head.
Already forgotten about why she was shouting due to the outburst of laughter from her parents, Anise’s face became rife with happiness at her mother’s display of affection.
Breakfast ended, and Troyle was already gone.
Chores around the house were already dealt with, and Adalina was reading to Anise as they spent a lazy morning together in the living room.
Kaidus held a book in front of him, but his eyes stared blankly at the pages. His mind was racing.
After a long while of inactivity, he finally stood up and went over to his mother and sister to join them.
Sticking to his commands, Zion never made a sound.
Two days later, and evening outside of the Paltos house. Kaidus was giving an early goodbye to his family.
Troyle already returned from work, and they had just finished dinner together. There was still a whole day of the ryes left, but it was time to begin his plans.
“I’ll be gone for a little longer this time. Remember what I told you?” He asked Anise, kneeling down to eye level with her.
“Uhn!” She nodded with eyes full of determination.
“Alwaysh shtay with mommy, and alwaysh wear thish!” She replied, pulling out the necklace with the black ring to show him.
“Good girl.” He patted her head then gave her a hug. Those were the very words he told her when he first gave her the necklace.
Last evening during dinner, he had told his parents that: due to being a second year student and many things starting to happen for him at the academy, he would not be able to come back home for a while.
Both Troyle and Adalina took his words understandingly.
Surprising enough, Anise did too. Instead of crying, she told him that she was a big girl and she wouldn’t cry as long as he keeps his promises, yet he could see her cute little face fighting back the tears, trying to be strong. To make up for it, he had given her a grand display of magic and stayed with her the whole day today.
“I’ll come back whenever I can.” He told Adalina and Troyle once again. Giving them each a goodbye hug before stepping into the carriage.
He did not want to lie to his parents, but what he was about to undertake was something he did not wish for them to know. It was way better for them to remain ignorant of it for their own safety—for the time being.
The academy on the other hand, was a different story. All he did was leave a note with Zeeke that said he would be taking a leave of absence for a while. The note was to be delivered to any of the masters should they start asking for him. Many of the masters knew how capable he was, and he was hoping that they would not worry about his sudden disappearance. The nature spirit looked intelligent enough and seemed to be able to understand him, so he was only mildly worried about it losing his note. He did not tell anyone else in case they start asking him questions about what he is doing.
Passing through the Shorza district, his carriage took a different turn in the road. It did not move towards the 11th ward gate, but made a drastic turn elsewhere. After a while, the carriage came to a stop in front of an Inn. It had taken him around the Shorza district, through the Hennelain district, and back towards Ferrent’s outer walls.
Getting out of the carriage, he thanked the driver and waited until the carriage disappeared. Not going into the Inn, Kaidus faded into the shadows of the incoming night, and moved into the alleys and far away from where he might be discovered. He waited until darkness had truly set in, then pulled out the two rings in his pocket.
One made of metal, and too big for his small fingers.
The other, a small clear ring that fit him perfectly.
Looking at Zion’s form, he shook his head, dispelling the thoughts of what may have happened to the other two familiars. He had waited long enough, and there was no use in wondering about it any longer. The three of them being here would make this drastically easier for him, but he had already resolved himself to move forward even without any of them.
‘Zion should be more than enough. I will try to reach the other two again after this is over.’ He thought to himself.
“It is time.” He spoke in the darkness of the alley.
“The Tempesssst Obeysssss.” The clear ring shattered as the voice hissed out. A gust of wind burst forth and encircled him.
Kaidus brought forth his hand and a large cut appeared on his palm. With a thought, his blood flowed out and the tempest greedily sucked it up. The gale calmed down and merged together, forming a cloak around him—dyed red with his own blood—and concealing him in the darkness.
Illuminated by the moonlight, a blotch of dark red shot out of Ferrent and vanished into the night sky.