Reforging The Broken
Chapter 4, Haunted Part Two.
Alessia stared at the twitching corpse of the Insectoid and held her stomach. The sight of Sessairs gray-green insides falling onto the ground compounded with the smell would make anyone want to vomit. As grotesque as it was, she found herself unable to look away. Aatazaz called out to her from behind.
”Come, lets get out of here before we receive any unnecessary attention. ” She nodded slowly and managed to tear her eyes off from Sessairs dead body.
Together they climbed to the top of a nearby hill and surveyed the land. As always, the openness of it all made Alessia pause for a moment. The plains were so vast that she felt as though they stretched out forever in every direction. Only the mountains in the distance gave her any sense of perspective; like gigantic lighthouses in the middle of a rolling green ocean. After getting a good look, Alessia pointed off into the distance.
”I left the boy over there. Probably . . . maybe. ”
Aatazaz shook his head and began to walk in the direction she pointed. Alessia threw her arms up in the air. ”I was in the middle of a battle! ”
It took a few extra minutes, but they eventually found the boy. He looked to be around seventeen to nineteen years old, just starting to enter into adulthood. He was lying on his back with his eyes closed, his arms at his sides. His dark brown hair was a mess of tangles, parted down the middle of his forehead. His nose was bent at an odd angle, his eyes had huge dark circles underneath them that contrasted against his deathly pale skin, and his whole face was covered in dirt and mud. If not for the fact that his chest was just barely moving up and down, they would have assumed he was dead.
”Is this the boy? ” Aatazaz asked as he crouched down and put a hand on the boys chest.
Alessia responded with a slight worried tone in her voice. She had failed to realize the severity of his condition in the heat of battle, but she could almost swear he didn look this bad then . . . or maybe hed gotten worse?
”Yeah . . . but is he okay? ”
With swift, sharp, and efficient movements that betrayed the urgency of the situation, Aatazaz began to remove items from a pouch on his right hip. Multiple vials, rolls of cloth, and various other first-aid items. He spoke uncharacteristically quickly and didn bother to look at her while he worked
”No. This boy is dying. Go back and retrieve Snowball and Thornpest, they have most of our medical supplies in their saddles. Ill stay here and do what I can to stabilize his condition. ”
Alessias eyes widened with shock. She couldn smell blood in the air, nor see any wounds at first glance, but she trusted Aatazaz.
”O-okay! Im on it! ”
Alessia rapidly turned around and dashed as fast as her feet would carry her. Aatazaz hastily began to undress the boy to search for any hidden wounds, but paused in shock for a split second. Even Aatazaz, a veteran of multiple wars and hundreds of battles, was shocked by his appearance. His entire body, from neck to toe, was absolutely covered in scars. Some of them looked fresh as yesterday ; others looked years old. He could see many different types: deep slashes, jagged cuts, claw marks, burn marks, whip-like lines—even what appeared as tiny punctures all over him. His hands alone had more scars than most men have on their faces. This boy had been through the deepest depths of hell.
These scars were a sign of torture. The Zelksis warrior had called this boy prey. Aatazaz began to frown deeply, fear trickling into his heart, drop by drop, slowly stealing his hope.
”Damn it. ”
The young man was surely on his deathbed. His heartbeat and breathing were slowing, gradually approaching the point of no return. If this continued, he would be dead within the minute. His body, while utterly scarred and beaten up beyond belief, was healthy though. He may be malnourished and weak, but not to the point of death. There was not a physical reason for his condition, so Aatazaz began to search for a magical one.
”Visus magnificatus. ”
Aatazaz channeled his spirit and spoke in the ancient language, filling his eyes to the absolute limit with his magic energy. After a moment, the magic spell kicked in and the world exploded with vibrant colors. The very air itself, which was normally clear, was now visibly seething with life energy, moving and fluctuating in the air like the currents of the ocean, or the aurora borealis.
With the ability to read the life energy currents in the air, Aatazaz could see the boys soul. There, at the center of his heart, was an extremely weak, small, tiny bundle of mana. Upon seeing such a pitiful sight, Aatazaz felt his heart drop. The soul usually produced large amounts of whatever magic power the race used. In the case of humans, his soul should have been producing a significant amount of mana near his heart, and yet, there was barely anything. His heart should have looked like a miniature star, full of energy and life. The glorious glow it should have had was nothing but a small dim light, a sputtering torch where a raging bonfire should have been. To make things worse, that sputtering torch was getting darker with every passing second.
He was actively consuming mana to stay alive. His soul should be producing mana, not consuming it. This could only mean one thing.
Aatazaz ceased the spell he had been casting, extinguishing the red glow in his eyes. He sat on the ground, closed his eyes, and sighed deeply for what seemed like the one hundredth time today. Aatazaz wondered how he was going to break the news to Alessia.
”Im back! Is he oka- ”
After no more than five minutes, Alessia returned with Snowball and Thornpest. She sprinted up to Aatazaz, full of energy, but began to slow down as she neared the boy. The sight of his mangled, torn, scarred body shocked her so much that she stopped speaking mid sentence. In her mind, she wondered just exactly what this boy had been through. Alessia spoke with confusion and horror in her voice.
”What . . . what happened to him? ”
Aatazaz did not meet her gaze as he spoke, his voice heavy and deep, burdened with remorse.
”This is what the Zelksis do to their prey. His soul is broken, unable to produce mana anymore Once he runs out of mana, he will die. There is no cure. ”
Alessia felt as if she had been punched in the gut. She fell into a silence, neither speaking or moving. Her gaze returned back to the boy. Snowball nudged her side gently as if trying to comfort her. Thornpest trudged over to Aatazaz and lay beside him. Aatazaz closed his eyes once more as Alessia went over and sat next to the boy. She took his hand and squeezed it. Where a warm, youthful hand should have been was a withered, cold husk. With every passing second, it got colder. Alessia searched his body for wounds, but could see none. Physically, Alessia found him to be completely healthy. So why then . . .
”I don understand. How is this happening? ”
Aatazaz opened his eyes and spoke, his voice hoarse with regret.
”The soul needs to harness energy to keep itself existing. Normally, the rate at which one produces energy exceeds their expenditure, but once a soul is broken, it cannot produce anymore energy and must actively spend mana to keep itself together. The boy is barely hanging on with the little mana he has. Once his soul runs out of its mana reserves, he will pass on to the next life. ”
Alessia shook her head.
”Youve taught me the functions of the soul before. What Im confused about is how his soul broke in the first place? Magic that attacks the soul is only heard of in legends ”
”Zelksis are the children of Kali, the Queen of Gluttony. Just as we come from the divine beast and can channel its power, they can channel the power of Kali to consume the souls of others. Through extreme pain, and corruption magic, they can forcefully break the souls of others before consuming them whole. ”
She looked up at Aatazaz, and than back down at the slave boy. Her face gradually fell into sorrow.
”Not only must they go through so much pain, but their soul, their very existence, is destroyed as well? How could the gods allow such creatures to exist? ”
”They are children of Kali, Goddess of hunger and Queen of depravity. She will not allow the gods to destroy her children so easily. ”
Looking like a doused fire, Alessia turned back to the boy and sat alongside him, grabbing his head once more. While speaking to the boy, her voice had lost all its fire. It came out as a solemn whisper.
”Im sorry. I failed to save you. May your next life be long and prosperous. ”
After giving him the customary farewell of her people, she waited for his chest to draw its final breath. She would be there in his final moments, offering what little comfort she could in repayment for her failure. She didn know if he could feel her holding his hand, but it was the only thing she could do for him now.
Her heart was a chaotic storm, all mingling and intertwining with each other. Guilt, sorrow, regret, sadness, remorse, all these feelings swirled inside her like a great tornado of negative emotions, the winds and waters of such a storm eroding at her self control. She wanted to go back in time and save the boy before he was put through such torture, but that was impossible. She couldn help the boy now. To make up for her failure, she could at least comfort him before he passed on. As she watched his shallow breaths, she couldn help but feel a deep, uncomfortable foreign feeling rise inside her. She wanted to leap to her feet and go burn Sessairs body to a crisp. She wanted to stomp all over his ashes. She wanted to curse Kali for her cruel nature. She unconsciously clenched her hands, almost unable to bear it. She only stopped upon realizing she might break the boys hand.
What was this emotion she was feeling? She had never felt it all her life.
Aatazaz arose from his sitting position and put a hand on her shoulder.
”Breathe, Alessia. ”
Alessia spoke, her voice dripping with malice and murderous intent. Aatazaz could see a white aura beginning to surround Alessia, her wild emotions agitating her control of her own spirit.
”Why do you think Kali made her children like this? What right do they have to take others lives? I wish Sessair was still alive so I could kill him myself. ”
Aatazaz sat next to Alessia and stared at the boy.
”Alessia, focus on your breathing, you
e starting to lose control of your spirit. Don lose control of your emotions. ” Aatazaz said calmly. ”Would killing Sessair do anything to help this boy? ”
The answer came unbidden to her mind. She naturally knew the answer was no, nothing good would come from killing Sessair again. Nothing good would come from making him feel the same pain this boy must feel. It wouldn bring the boy back. And yet . . . she still felt something inside her calling for Sessairs head. She wanted to strangle that man until there were not even any bones left. But as soon as she thought about how much pain Sessair had put this innocent person through, she could feel her hands clench into fists. Alessia had never felt something so unpleasant. She hated this new feeling. It commanded her to rise and seek out whoever was responsible for this.
What was this feeling? It would do nothing for the boy, so why did she lust for violence in such a manner? Alessia looked at her hands, wondering if a demon was beginning to possess her.
”I feel so . . . unhappy knowing that Sessair died quickly. Even if it won help the boy, I want to bring him back just so I can smash his face in at least one more time. Am I evil, Aatazaz? What is wrong with me? ”
Aatazaz put a hand on Alessias back.
e not evil, you
e just angry. Feeling angry is fine, but you mustn let it control you. Anger is a double edged sword; just as likely to hurt you as it is to help you. ” He whispered quietly while staring directly ahead. Alessia continued to stare at her own hand, clenching and unclenching it restlessly. Together, they sat in silence. After a while, Alessia finally calmed down. Her breathing returned to normal. Aatazaz clasped his hand onto her shoulder.
”You are slow to anger by nature, Alessia, but not immune. The deeper the dragon sleeps, the more angry it is to be disturbed from its slumber. You must stay vigilant. ”
Alessia looked ashamed of herself.
”I couldn even begin to call that emotion Anger. Ive never been so angry that Ive wanted to kill someone ”
She turned towards Aatazaz, her eyes reflecting her doubt. Aatazaz crossed his arms and leaned backwards, staring at the sky. After a moment of silence, he spoke.
”For your first time dealing with death, you did well. Count yourself lucky to be gentle by nature. Long ago when I was still young, I lost a close friend of mine. I went on a rampage because of it. I saw nothing but red. I was foolish. Many died to pull me out of battle. If I was not a crimson lion, they would have left me to die. In reality, I deserved to die that day. Losing yourself to rage does more harm than good. ”
Aatazaz looked up at the sky, his eyes gazing at something that Alessia could never see.
”Im sorry, Aatazaz. ”
”Think nothing of it. The death of the innocent should make you angry, but you can lose control. ”
Alessia nodded, accepting the wisdom of her mentor. After another few minutes of silence, Aatazaz rose from his sitting position.
”We should put the boy to rest. Burying the body will help you let go of the anger. ”
Alessia, holding the boys hand, spoke with confusion in her voice.
”But, he isn dead yet. ”
Aatazaz suddenly stopped. ”What? ”
Alessia held the poor boys hand with both her hands now, her expression slowly blooming with happiness. ”He is still breathing . . . wait . . . his hand has some warmth to it as well! ”
Aatazaz approached the boy and looked at him closely. Sure enough, he was breathing with some trouble, but breathing nonetheless. Upon bringing a hand to his chest, Aatazaz could feel that his heartbeat had gone back to normal as well. He was still malnourished, pale-skinned and weak, but he had definitely improved. But why? What had happened?
Alessia looked up at her mentors hopeful expression.
”Is there a chance for him to live? Whats happening to him? ”
Aatazaz stared at the pale boy on the ground. ”I do not know. Ive never seen someones condition improve while soul broken . . . Visus magnificatus. ”
Aatazaz regained the eyes of a lion. After a moment, Aatazazs eyes widened.
”By the gods . . . Its a miracle. ”
Alessia felt hope explode within her heart, racing through her like an excited child. Her expression reflected her soaring spirit. Aatazaz stared in confusion and awe. He recast the spell and looked again. He was not mistaken.
”His soul isn producing mana . . . but its not losing mana either. ”
Alessias face lit up with excitement. She basically screamed words at Aatazaz.
”That means hell live, right? ”
Aatazaz nodded. ”I have no idea how, or why, but his soul is being held together by an incredibly dense mass of mana . . . Ive never seen anything like this before. This is nothing short of a divine miracle. The gods themselves must have intervened . . . or the boy is more of a mage than we could ever imagine. ”
The two Zaohin watched as the boy breathed. Alessia held the boys hand tight in her excitement.
”Thank the gods! ”
Aatazazs scratched the side of his head. ”Never In all my years . . . thank the gods indeed. ”
Alessias heart felt as if it would burst out of her chest with joy. Her tail twitched and wagged softly, going back and forth energetically. In her excitement, she failed to notice that the boys hand began to turn white.
”Alessia, calm down. You
e going to break his hand. ”
Alessia suddenly released his hand and blushed.
”Lets get a fire going to warm him up. ”
The sun had gone down and darkness had fallen over the Great Plains of Northern Asteron. At the bottom of one hill, a crackling fire gave its warmth to three people and two hulking beasts. Alessia leaned against the giant white mound of fur that was Snowball, using him as a pillow while she listened intently to Aatazaz tell stories to pass the time. Her body felt heavy from the days battle. The fire crackled, sending embers into the air like tiny red stars, only to be extinguished and swept away by the gentle breeze. Aatazazs voice continued to rumble as he told his story. The grass swayed back and forth rhythmically in the wind. Before long, Alessia found herself closing her eyes.
It had been many hours since they realized the boys condition had magically stabilized, making it around the time Alessia usually hit the hay. Right before her consciousness faded, she heard the boy laying on the ground stir. With a groan, he groggily opened his eyes. In an instant, Alessia was wide awake. His eyes were a striking black, his dark irises just a shade away from his pupils. If one didn look close enough, his iris and eyes both blended together.
Alessia sat up, the weariness gone from her body as if it had never existed. With a smile and cheer, Alessia spoke to the boy.
”Good morning! Well, its actually night time, but you know what I mean. My names Alessia, pleased to meet your acquaintance. ”
The boy stared at the angel before him and said nothing. For just a moment, he stared at her, completely captivated by her looks. Awkward silence dominated the air.
”Um . . . hello? Are you mute? ”
Alessia waited patiently for the boy to speak. A moment later, he did. Whenhe tried to speak, his voice cracked and came out in a barely audible whisper.
”No, I can talk. ”
Alessias face became even more cheerful as she spoke to him. ”Im glad! I can use telepathy magic, so that would have been quite troublesome. ”
The boy looked around with a confused and lost expression on his face. Alessia opened her mouth to speak, but Aatazaz cut her off from across the fire.
”Alessia, relax. Hes confused. ”
Alessia smiled and apologized.
”Sorry! Im just glad hes alive. We thought you were a goner for a moment there, you know. ”
The boy looked up at them with confusion trying to recall what she meant.
”Goner? What do you- ”
The boy suddenly stopped talking and brought his hands to head, clutching it with great force. His eyes went wide and all of his muscles tensed. Memories flashed through his mind. Memories of torture, blood, broken bones, and pain. His breathing grew heavy as random bits of his memories surfaced, surging through every part of his mind like a tidal wave. He trembled in agony as he relived the worst times of his life. A loud ringing assaulted his hearing, like an alarm. His heartbeat pounded in his eardrums, over and over, relentlessly. He couldn hear Alessia, even as she called out to him with volume to her voice.
”Hey, are you alright? Hello? ”
The boy did not respond, shivering as he stared at nothing. Alessia reached and tapped his shoulder, but the boy slapped her hand away.
”DONT TOUCH ME! ”
Alessia recoiled, and the boy shot to his feet. He stumbled awake, slowing gaining speed like a wounded animal running from a predator. Alessias face fell and looked at Aatazaz for guidance.
”Was it something I said? ”
Aatazaz waved his hand as he rose to his feet, dismissing her thoughts.
”The boy is not mad at you. He is haunted by the past. ”
Alessias expression changed to one of concern. ”Haunted by the past? ”
Aatazaz explained. ”When someone experiences trauma which the mind cannot handle, it changes them. At the worst, they can experience hallucinations and paralysis. One of my dear friends from long ago can hold a blade anymore without screaming because of it. ”
Alessias face was filled with sorrow.
”That poor boy . . . . ”
Alessia got to her feet. Nothing needed to be said. Aatazaz knew exactly what she was about to do, and didn bother to argue. Alessia went over to Snowball and scratched him underneath the chin.
”Watch the camp for me, okay buddy? Well be right back. ”
Snowball slapped the ground with his tail and let out a low, sad growl.
”I know, I know, Im the worst, but Ill give you plenty of treats when I get back! ”
Alessia turned and left without looking back. Aatazaz followed behind. Snowball looked sick of being left behind.
The boy fled into the darkness, not caring where he went. He could still feel the burns of oil on his skin, the cuts of the blade as it sliced his cheek, and the laughs of his tormentor. Every step he took was another memory that forced itself upon him. He couldn tell if these memories were even real, but the pain he felt from them was real. He could almost hear a voice behind him, screaming at him to turn around.
”You vile, idiotic worm! Don run from me! Ill punish you for this! ”
”Don you dare try to escape! You are a broken piece of trash, this torture Im giving you is mercy! ”
”D O Y O U H E A R M E , S E R V A N T? ”
Not only that, but something inside him felt wrong. Every breath he took spread pain throughout his chest. Every beat of his heart sent shards of agony through his body. Every time he took a step forwards, he could feel his leg threaten to give underneath him. It hurt so much, but the boy pressed through all of it, fueled by ungodly terror. It pushed at his back, forcing him forwards no matter how much it hurt.
The darkness moved alongside him as he ran. The shadows seemed to chase him, not allowing him sanctuary. The frigid air brushed past him like the cold caressing hands of death. The boy kept running, but could not keep pace with his own legs. Each step he took was slower than the last, until he finally collapsed onto the ground. He was completely out of shape. His heart hammered inside his chest rapidly, sending throbbing waves of absolute misery to every cell of his body. The sweat drenched the rags he wore, which was cooled by the surrounding air, sticking to his body and stealing him of all his warmth. As he lay on the ground, he could hear multiple howls. Were they real or fake? The ground began to shake, announcing the arrival of something far stronger than himself. The boy desperately struggled to stand up and run, but found his arms growing tired and weak. Coming over the horizon, he could see them.
Sessair. For some reason, he had white hair now. Behind him was Ivan. For some reason, he had a red beard now. They slowly approached him. The boy screamed at the top of his lungs, lurching his body away from them. The fear pushed him past his limits. His heart, so strained by this sudden movement, skipped a beat.
”LEAVE ME ALONE! GO AWAY! DONT HURT ME ANYMORE! ”
The boy felt like crying, but barely any tears fell. He was so dehydrated that his body refused to cry. In the direction he was running, the boy could see a group of hungry looking wolves, but he didn care. Anything was better than being caught by the master, even death. He continued to scream at them, telling them to go away, but they ignored him. In fact, they seemed to speed up.
He could almost see the smile on Sessairs face. That damned smile. That bloodlust. That demon was coming for him. He urged his body to move, but his body would not listen. His heart palpitated, his muscles felt like molten metal, his lungs were on fire, his limbs shook violently, and his head pounded. However, all of this pain his body was feeling was nothing to the pain he would feel if he was caught by Sessair.
He couldn go back to that torture. He would rather die, but his body did not care. He body failed him. After only taking a few steps, he began to stumble. Eventually, the boy collapsed to the ground again, falling face first into the mud. His body gave out on him. The boy tried to drag himself forwards, but it didn matter. The boy realized that a pack of wolves was in front of him.
The boy stared at these ravenous beasts, their maws bloodied, their bodies scared and scrawny. Compared to Sessair, these beasts were nothing. The boy extended his head upwards, stretching his neck so that the wolf would get a clean bite.
One of the wolves took the bait and lunged at his throat, its bloody jaw agape as it threw saliva everywhere. Its yellow teeth closed in on him. The boy closed his eyes, praying that the wolf would give him a painless death.
But his death did not come so easily. A blue blade flashed in front of him, drawing a gorgeous arc in the air like a blue crescent moon, cleanly decapitating the wolf. Its head fell to the ground with a thump, spraying blood all over him. Its eyes twitched up to the look at the boy, even while decapitated. Its red eyes stared at him menacingly, but after a few seconds, they completely glazed over. The remaining wolves all froze in shock as the boy looked up at the source of the sword.
The master stood over him, his long white hair flowing in the soft breeze. He didn know why the master had long white hair now, but he didn care. The terror filled his heart, threatening to drive him insane. The boy felt his heart wither. He curled up into a tiny ball, holding his head to his knees while he shivered. He whispered to himself.
”Leave me alone Leave me alone Leave me alone Leave me alone Leave me alone Leave me alone! ”
After a moment, he heard the masters voice. It sounded strange. It used to remind him of metal grinding on metal, but now it was like flowing water. Almost gentle.
”Please, just listen to me! Im not who you think I am! ”
”Liar! Liar! Get away from me! ”
The boy shouted, shaking his head side to side, refusing to look up. He tried to crawl away, but nimble figures took hold of his head and forcefully pulled him upwards.
”Look at me! ”
The boys eyes widened. How had he not noticed it before? This face wasn the face of the master. It was the face of a gorgeous angel. But that was impossible—
”W-what? You aren . . . ”
The boy broke off, unable to form a single word. His mind ground to a halt. The girl kept speaking. Her voice was calming.
”Im not the person you call master. My name is Alessia. Not master, Alessia. ”
The boy looked at her face. She wasn the master. The boys breathing began to calm down.
”Alessia . . . ? ”
His voice was barely above a whisper. Alessias response was a nod.
”Yes. Im Alessia, not Master. Now please, can you tell me your name? ”
The boy was silent, but after a moment, he spoke.
Alessias expression faltered with pity.
”That can be . . . is that what they called you? ”
The boy nodded.
”Is that a bad name? ”
Alessia looked at the boy, her eyes overflowing with sadness. Her sorrowful voice came out in a whisper.
”You have to have another name. Try to remember ”
”But thats the name that master gave me. I don deserve any other name! Im a wicked thing that only exists on Masters mercy! ”
As the boy basically screamed at Alessia, the memories were surging back. The brief moment of calm the girl had given him was fading. The pain returned like a bolt of lightning the moment he thought of the master; what the master had done to him. His ears began to ring. His mind threatened to shatter. He brought his hands to his head, pressing against his eardrums, trying to block out the noise, but the sounds continued. Before long, he began to hear even more sounds.
The popping and bubbling of the oil.
The snap of the whip.
The hiss of his blade.
The sting of the hot steel.
The crack of his bones breaking.
The rashes he had on his wrists and ankles from the tight chains.
The laugh of his tormentor.
By the gods, that laugh was the worst sound. His laughter at the boys pain was like the laughter of the devil himself.
Everything came rushing at him at once, causing him to collapse back onto the ground. He let out no sound, unable to snap out of his flooding memories. He tried to fight it, but his body refused to obey. He was frozen, trapped in his own nightmares. Thats when suddenly he could feel a stinging pain across his cheek. It didn hurt. Compared to everything else he had endured, it was laughable, but the physical pain snapped him out of his stupor. The girl who called herself Alessia grabbed his hand. Her hand was warm.
”Its alright! Its okay! Everything will be fine! Please, listen to me! ”
Her words soothed his raging heart. The feeling of her warm hand kept him seated in reality. The sounds and memories began to fade, replaced by the quiet ambiances of the plains. Alessia released his hand with slightly blushed cheeks.
”Sorry for hitting you like that, but I didn know what else to do. Are you alright now? ”
”Im sorry . . . it just hurts so much to remember . . . even now, it hurts. It hurts so bad. Why does it hurt? ”
The boy put a hand on his chest. With every beat of his heart, inhale of air, or clench of a muscle, he could feel pain. Pain that far exceeded her slap. It was as if simply existing took monumental effort. From behind, he heard a deep masculine voice speak accompanied by a hand on his shoulder.
”Tace et in pace. ”
A soothing feeling washed over him, like stepping into a warm bath.
”Im sorry I don know a stronger spell for your anguish, child. We beast-men are quite limited in our spell variety when it comes to these things. ”
The boy sniffled and turned around to see the face of a hulking beast of a man with a red beard and hair. He had an equally huge blue tinted ax strapped across his back. He was on one knee, so that he could be at eye level with the boy.
”I know you have gone through a lot, more than we can imagine, but know that you are safe now. My name is Aatazaz, a crimson lion of Clan Felina. I can personally guarantee that absolutely no harm will befall you. Be at peace, boy. ”
The boy nodded his head hesitantly. He was gradually calming down, but he was still shaking slightly.
”Th- thank you. ”
Aatazaz continued after a moment of silence.
”Can you remember your name now? ”
The boy shook his head violently.
”No! I mean, Im sorry for shouting. . . It just hurts too much to remember. I can . . . I can remember. ”
The big burly man brought a hand to his beard stroking it as he looked at the shivering mouse before him.
”Well, we have to call you something and Im not arrogant enough to name someone Servant. Is there anything you might like us to call you? Or something youd rather not be called? ”
The boy stared at his hands.
”Um . . . I don know. ”
He turned to look at Alessia, seemingly searching for guidance. Aatazaz sighed.
”Well, I guess we can figure that out later. For now, lets get you back to the fire, you look freezing again. Your body seems to be too weak to be in this cold in those rags. ”
The boy nodded nervously before trying to stand. Pain spiked through his body, causing his legs to spasm. He would have fallen to the ground, but Aatazaz caught him, wrapping his arms under the boys armpits.
”Ill carry you for now. ”
With the help of the red bearded man, the boy made it back to camp. The moment he touched a bedroll, the boy passed out. The stress of the day had probably tired him out. Alessia and Aatazaz were left alone in the dark as the fire had begun to die low. Alessia was the first to speak, careful to lower her voice to not awake the boy.
”What do you think? ”
The beastmans voice was full of sympathy. ”He has it bad. Most people never recover from such a terrible ordeal, but only time will tell. ”
Alessia sighed, somewhat dejected by these words.
”I just wish there was something we could do for him. ”
Aatazaz nodded. ”Indeed, but Zaohin spirit magic isn exactly meant to work on humans. They function off mana, not spirit. We need to find a human mage. They will know what to do with him there and take care of him. ”
Alessia nodded. Aatazaz took out a map and laid it out before them. It depicted the kingdom of Asteron. He pointed to a location at the very northern edge of the map.
”We can head towards the city of Irin near the base of the mountains. Its only a short detour away from our path. ”
Alessia nodded again, but she had a question.
”Aatazaz, what do you think that Zelksis was doing here? ”
Aatazaz shrugged his shoulders. ”I do not know, but it is best to forget about it for now. Get some sleep and ponder it in the morning. Ill take up the first watch. ”
e the one who fought Sessair. That couldn have been easy, Ill take the first watch. ”
”Ill be fine. Get some sleep, Ill wake you once its your turn. ”
They went back and forth, but eventually, Alessia relented and climbed into her own sleeping bag. In no time at all, she was snoring, sound asleep. Aatazaz stared at the boy who called himself Servant as he slept and wondered.
Just what the hell are you?
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