Creed and Jade went forward again toward the portals, this time moving much slower, anticipating danger. Creed, being stubborn, knew he did not want to back down. He was too close to obtaining a new life with a new race that he was anxious to learn about.

They stopped abruptly at the end of the path. Creed and Jade could see the opening of the portals just ahead. The danger was no longer a feeling, but completely visible to both of them. The tall grand knight, resplendent in gold-plated armor with silver mid-drift, loomed to one side of the portals. On the other side of the entrance stood a beautiful creature, a Spirit of Aura, looking like an innocent maiden, but Creed knew how dangerous she was. The grey stone building that housed the portals stood imposing, even shadowing over them.

Creed momentarily closed his eyes, hoping Vincent was not far behind him. He could not be sure of Vincents fate since he and Jade had fled their domain. But he knew his brothers battle precision powers were strong, even though outnumbered.

Creed looked up to the sky and heaved a deep sigh. He then turned his head to face the portals once more, this time not faltering, not looking away. He gently released his wings to their full extent, but held them downward, knowing this was a sign that he had no intention to fight.

The grand knight took notice of Creeds approach. Now he wondered why he had to fight an unwilling adversary, and a young one at that.

Aura smiled at Creeds approach. Her eyes searched his body. There was no eye contact between them, but she felt drawn to him. Could he be the master she searched for? But she also took notice of Jade and became infuriated. It was not fair that she had a master – wait if he were her master, why would she be behind him? She should be in front, or beside him. Auras mind rushed, trying to comprehend and plan.

Creed did not look strict. He looked kind and a bit weary. She immediately felt love for him, like a mother for a child. Or was it a girlfriend for a boyfriend? Aura did not know; she just knew he was worthy of her and her skill. The untapped power that lay beneath his surface could put a dent anywhere, for sure.

She smiled at her temporary master, the grand knight. He nodded, realizing that she had finally found someone. ”It almost makes me jealous, ” he told her.

”It was only for pretend that I agreed to it until I found my true master, ” she said, looking a bit crushed, ”but it was fun while it lasted, Vaan. ”

Creed stopped about thirty paces from them. ”Let us pass! ” he demanded.

Aura laughed with delight. To her, his voice was smooth and demanding. His eyes held steadfast like she and Vaan were the only ones there. She liked his eyes. They reminded her of a childs innocence, but that voice had such determination, it made her shiver with want, or with a need for his voice to command her.

The grand knight smirked, ”Now, now, lad. You and I both know this isn how it works. If something is guarding something, then you have to fight it. ”

Creed huffed as his feathers ruffled up. ”You have got to be kidding me! ” His angry tone and emotions rang out, infecting all who were near him. Aura clutched her head, passing out from the extremity of Creeds feelings. Jade developed a migraine and struggled to keep herself from lashing out.

The grand knight grunted, seemingly unaffected by Creeds emotion, but acutely aware of their effect on Aura. ”Thats a neat little trick, ” he commented.

[Creeds ability to influence others to feel what he feels strictly pertains to him. It is not usually a Casalyian ability. Therefore it is suggested that it comes from his Nard half.]

Jade hung back but floated over to Aura to make sure she was okay.

Creed glared at the grand knight. ”It is not a trick. What you are feeling is my emotion now? ”

The grand knight stared into Creeds eyes. ”That is impossible! ”

Creed responded with equal tenacity, ”What the hell is this, more persecution? Do you think I am scared? Do you think that you and whoever you work for has the right to stand in my way? ”

The grand knight remained unaffected. ”No, lad, I do not have the right, but then again, I am just following my orders from the council. ”

”I have the papers the council signed! ” Creed yelled, trying to reason with him.

The grand knight grunted. ”I guess there is no more loyalty in this world. But still, an order is an order, no matter if it came from the council or the king. ”

Creed slacked up his emotions and Aura woke up, dazed and weak.

Noticing that Aura was now awake, Jade asked with concern, ”Are you all right? ” Relief filled Jade as she felt in control of her emotions again.

Aura nodded, still unable to think of words.

Creed dropped his suitcase and took off his armor, undoing all of the buckles and making sure it hit the ground with a loud thud.

Aura could not help but notice the body that the armor had freed. Those arms . . . his body . . . everything seemed to bulge in all the right directions.

His armor was long and thin. It was made out of Dirlithium, a metal only known to the Casalyians. It looked like an average piece of cloth, but Dirlithium was the pride of the Casalyians, easy to put on and even comfortable to move in.

[Dirlithium is considered to be an extremely light, nimble armor. The lightness of the armor does not affect the sturdiness of it. In fact, Dirlithium is known to outlast most heavy armors.]

The knight considered Creed crazy for taking off that kind of light armor. ”Did you bump your head or something? That kind of armor would have protected you, not to mention, its hard to find quality work that grand in this day and age. ”

”Lets just fight. ”

The knight nodded in agreement, ”My name is Vaan, by the way. ” Vaan moved quickly, seeming to disappear. He reappeared suddenly in front of Creed and swung his giant ax – and it made contact. Creed hit the ground with a sickening crunch.

Creed stood up but not without damage to his wings. He started to heal them, hoping to bring them back into a healthy shape.

Vaan did not want to waste time. He went for Creed, who stupidly took another hit while trying to heal. The hit planted Creed into the ground. Vaan began to beat him mercilessly – hit after hit – aiming anywhere he could get. He then yanked Creed up by his bloody shirt and pounded him in the face.

Creeds jaw turned sideways as he spat up blood.

Vaan felt guilty, fighting an unwilling opponent. He wondered if maybe baiting him would make him fight, so he released Creed. ”Come on, child. I thought you said lets fight. ”

Creeds face remained turned. ”I said lets just fight, not that I wanted to fight. ”

Vaan wanted to choke on his own words, ”So you
e just going to let me beat you around? ”

Now Creed looked straight into his eyes. ”I never said that either. ”

Confused, Vaan yelled, ”What the hell, lad! ” Vaan reached out to grab him, but Creed clutched Vaans hand instead, using it as a lift to stand. The show of strength stunned Vaan. He did not even think of escaping.

Creed took this chance and bent the hand backward, forcing Vaan to take a step back.

Vaan, knowing that there was no way to avoid Creeds iron grip, winced in pain. He expected Creed to deliver a gnashing blow, but Creed softened his grip and released him.

Completely stunned by the turn of events, Vaan spoke with lost dignity. ”Why, lad, if it were me, I would have let you writhe in pain and probably have broken your hand and arm. ” He dropped his ax.

Creed turned his back to Vaan, knowing that it was not the brightest move. ”That is the difference between you and me. I am not willing to hurt you or anybody else for that matter. I want to make a difference in our everyday lives, so Casalyians can learn to be a better race of individuals. ”

”Lad, ” Vaan said humbly, ”I admire your audacity to do something like that, but ask yourself, is it worth dying for? Is Casalynn worth saving, after all they did to you? Are you willing to save a race like ours? I don think we need saving. I think we need more individuals with open minds. And what does going to the Humanoids have to do with that? ”

”To prove that Casalyians can live with them, I guess, ” Creed explained. ”In reality, my original reason was not so just. I have thought about it before, going to live with the Humanoids to escape my harsh, unfair reality. But then what good does that do me? No good actually, just thinking of myself; so then I thought some more. Wouldn it be great for Casalyians and Humanoids to get along? And maybe then they would not hate me as much. Maybe the Humanoids and the Casalyians could teach each other about themselves. ”

Vaan just shook his head in disbelief. ”Kid, you
e living in a dream world. ” He pulled out a sword and rushed Creed, stabbing him in the back. Vaan gave a mighty heave, pushing the blade all the way through, and then withdrew his weapon slowly.

Creed turned around to face his foe and fell to the ground, his knees hitting the metal plate with a huge thumping sound. He tried to manage a laugh, all the while spitting up blood.

Vaan smirked. ”Lad, I don get you. You
e the one on the ground bleeding. I don get whats so funny. ”

Creed tried to stand.

”Stay down! ” Vaan shouted.

Creed unleashed his full ability of healing by saying, ”Full admission. ”

Jade reeled with disapproval. Full admission was for a higher class of fighter or certain breeds of monsters. That did not matter to Creed. He was another breed of Casalyian, a much more powerful breed.

The Spirit of Aura gasped in disbelief. ”That is not possible! He is not a monster. He must be one of the elite. ”

”No, he is not! My master is elite! Creed is half-Nard! ” Jade swirled her floating mass to face Aura.

”No! He can be! He looks nothing like them! Those things are hideous! He is nothing like that, he is beautiful! Plus, they do not have full admission! ”

Using his speed, Vaan tried to land a hit on Creed. But Creed dodged, leaving only a blurred image of him.

Vaan was caught off-guard, but recovered instantly. He went after Creed again, this time successfully hitting him, or so it seemed. His fist barely connected to Creed.

Creed leaned back and then delivered a smashing head-butt. Vaan quickly recovered, but it was too late. Creed moved closer and punched him in the gut. It did not do much damage because of the armor. Vaan barely felt it.

This time, not holding back, Vaan returned the hit.

Creed went flying across the path and hit the edge of the portals, sinking down. The pain became intense. His wings felt broken. He landed near Jade and Aura.

Aura leaned over him and gently whispered, ”Give up. ”

”I cannot, ” Creed murmured, gritting his teeth.

Vaan rushed over to Creed, picked him up, and with a giant heave, threw him away from the portals. Then he faced the portals, confident that Creed would not get up.

Creed laid there limply before he tried to stand. He pushed himself up, trying to breathe. His wings touched the ground at an odd angle. Creed attempted to push his wings back, but they would not co-operate. He fell, hitting the metal ground.

Impressed with the lads tenacity, Vaan implored Creed, ”Stay down! ”

Creed replied in a raspy voice, ”No. ” He pushed his top half up, holding his shuddering shoulders.

Shrugging his shoulders, Vaan shook his head and picked up his ax again. ”Suit yourself! ” He used his speed again and hit Creed in the back with the handle of his ax.

Creed let loose a sharp exhale but did not fall.

Vaan hit him again, then withdrew.

This time, Creed fell, holding his shoulders and just staring.

The stare creed gave made Vaan question everything. Whats up with this kid, this brat, he thought.

”Grand Knight, have you figured out yet that I have not really fought back, or why I have not healed again? ” Creeds breathing showed how much pain he felt.

Vaan stared at Creed quizzically, ”No, I have not, so tell me! ”

Creed looked at Vaan and then turned his head down, his bangs covering his eyes. ”Because I wanted to show you how far I am willing to go, ” Creed spoke with determination. Suddenly, he called out, ”Full admission, ” again. After successfully managing to pull it off, Creed stood up tall as though nothing were wrong with him.

”This must be big, whatever you
e going to do. ” Vaan sighed.

Aura stared in amazement.

Jade swayed from side to side, trying to decide whether she should enter the fight or not.

”I want to prove Casalyians and Humans can live side by side. I want to show the Casalyians there is more than their world, ” Creed spoke, fully healed. ”Despite the injuries, despite the insults, I want to prove myself better than them. I will not be beaten into submission. ” Creed moved with incredible speed. He was now in front of Vaan, and his hand was in Vaans face.

Vaan found himself trembling. Creeds tone became passionate. ”They cannot tear me down . . . they cannot tell me what to do . . . they cannot break me. I am not some toy to juggle around for their amusement. If they did not like what I was doing, then why did they stamp the document? ” Creed asked, then called out, ”Flante Aeris. ” A sudden blast of air came from Creeds hand, striking Vaan.

The explosion of air caused Vaan to fall back. He stood up and lunged for Creed.

Dodging the challenge, Creed jumped out of the way. He lightly touched the ground, but rapidly jumped up again. This time, Creed spread his now healed wings and took flight.

Vaan let out his gold wings, making a running jump into the air in pursuit. He swung his ax around wildly with Creed dodging every move. Their wings now dictated the lofty experience.

[Flante Aeris is a blast of air meant to knock the opponent back. Full admission is a full-on heal, no matter the damage. Physically, the person is in perfect shape. Internally might be a different story.]

Creed finally noticed a pattern in Vaans wild movements. Skillfully dodging the swings, he landed a mighty blow directly to the knights head. The golden wings went limp, lifeless. The knight fell hastily to the ground, his heavy armor smashing around him, unable to stand. He removed his armor with trembling hands.

Making a swift downward dive, Creeds pure white wings landed a final blow to the knights stomach.

Vaan fell, this time not willing to fight anymore.

Aura stood and floated over to Creed, amazed at his skill and power. She knew she wanted to be with him forever.

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