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    Demiurge
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Incandescence - 10. Building Blocks

Wren and Loren had been gone for thirteen days. Talon, Suman, and Rah had been gone for three.

As the days passed, I “spoke” with Talon a few times, but we still hadn’t heard anything from Wren and Loren. Eon kept reassuring me that Wren operated that way normally. He wasn’t used to having to report to anyone, so he didn’t. I chewed at a hangnail as I sat in Eon’s office. It was smaller than the war room. A mahogany desk stood in the center. The thing was massive and solid. There were weapons hung on the wall to my left and maps on the one to my right. A mess of papers covered the desk and my brother was in the midst of them, eyes scanning as he looked for something. We weren’t alone. Lyme sat in one of the ornate wooden chairs facing the desk. I sat in the other and Nyx was leaning against the wall with maps, his ankles and arms crossed.

I hadn’t seen either in years. It was strange how their presence dragged up even more memories. It seemed that I had been repressing things much more than I initially thought. Nyx’s golden hair was shaved on one side, hanging past his shoulder on the other. There were black earrings covering every inch of his ears and his blue, purple, and green eyes were bored. Lyme’s unruly hair had grown more so. He had dark bags under his eyes and he was fidgeting in his chair. He’d grown taller, thinner. I wondered if his thinness was due to his inability to curb his voracious appetite for more information. It would explain the eye bags as well. The door opened and Tyren stepped in, dark curls adorned with silver rings. Lyme turned and gave the teacher a tired smile, Nyx just sighed and flipped his hair over his shoulder.

“Can we start now? I’m losing money the longer I sit around.” Tyren frowned softly at him and unfolded a paper from the pocket of his bright red tunic. He laid it out in front of Eon and my brother sighed.

“I’ve been looking for it for nearly a half hour now. I need it for my meeting later.” My brother rubbed his neck.

“Hanja said you’d lose it. He wrote two copies.” Tyren smiled and Eon chuckled.

“Why are we here?” Lyme asked, voice slow and raspy as if he wasn’t used to speaking. He may not be. He used to teach, but recently, he’d closed himself away in an old library somewhere to dedicate his life to learning about some unknown thing.

“Nyx, I’m sure you can guess why you were invited. The antidote you made when Anders had Kalian imprisoned, do you think you can recreate it?” Tyren smiled at the blond.

“I can recreate anything I’ve made.” Nyx shrugged, brushing his fingers over the shoulder of his eggplant purple jacket. Its stitching was black and he wore black underneath. There were brighter purple straps crisscrossing his chest under the jacket and I wondered if he wore something like Suman’s weapon harness. I’d never known Nyx to be a fighter, however. He tugged at a black lacer choker around his neck and sighed even heavier, “If I remember correctly, it was rather weak. It took days to counteract the poison. Not my best work.”

“You were still a student. A boy. Barely more than a child.” Tyren frowned softly and shifted in the younger man’s direction.

Nyx smiled softly at Tyren as he uncrossed his ankles, “None of us were children after that. Huh, teach?”

Tyren flinched and Lyme glanced from one to the other nervously. His hands clutched at the high neck of his chocolate brown tunic. It wasn’t fancy. In fact, it was worn and older. Lyme needed functional. That was it. His plain tan pants and worn boots supported that fact as well. He had money. He had to. He’d helped with the school’s restructure and had been rewarded handsomely for it.

“So, you can improve upon it? That was your point?” Eon asked, eyes skimming the paper in front of him, “How much time do you need?”

Nyx turned to Eon, gaze impressed and appreciative, “At least someone gets to the point. Figures it’s an army general.” He sucked his lower lip into his mouth and tapped the tips of his fingers as if he were counting, “I’d need a few weeks. Two and a half would be the minimum.”

“That’s-“

Eon cut me off, “You have one. One and a half if things don’t go as planned.”

Nyx balked, “Are you insane? I should’ve known. You set things on fire, explode them. Destroy. I create. Creation is harder than destruction. I hope you have the money to back your ridiculous demands!”

“Name your price.” Eon shrugged, unimpressed and unamused at Nyx’s outburst. The blond brought his hand up, holding his jaw as he thought.

When it was clear he wasn’t going to pipe up right away, Eon looked at Lyme. The man jumped and a small smile slid across Eon’s lips, “Now, we need your help too.”

“To help Nyx and share everything you know about the Illiath naval force. Dleth and Serran’s battle practices. Anything you can think of.” Tyren rested a hand on Lyme’s shoulder. He jumped again.

“I don’t need his help. I’m not sharing my money.” Nyx scoffed, glaring daggers at Lyme. Lyme shrunk in on himself, frowning and tugging at his collar again.

“You’ll get whatever you want. Your money has nothing to do with Lyme. Who will also get whatever he wants.” Eon leveled Nyx with a blank look that made the other narrow his eyes.

“Dleth has a library. It’s not open to foreigners. It would never be opened to a Magik user either. The country’s old. I would kill to lay my eyes on the books in that palace.” Lyme’s eyes were bright as he looked around the room. Nyx rolled his eyes. He stepped forward and scribbled a number on one of Eon’s papers. My brother’s lips pursed. Nyx could’ve just written on something important for all I knew.

“That’s it? Done.”

Nyx sputtered for a minute, “I should’ve asked for more.”

“I suppose that means you’ve both signed on to help. The timeline is short. We apologize, but this is a matter of life and death.” Eon explained, hands resting on his desk.

“It always is.” Nyx rolled his eyes.

“If you get me paper, I will start writing.” Lyme said, face determined.

There wasn’t much more to discuss. Nyx left with Tyren and Eon scoured his office for blank

paper. Lyme folded his hands in his lap, waiting patiently as his eyes followed Eon around the room. He sat only after building Lyme a decent stack, “Kal, I have a meeting in…an hour. Military officials and getting our soldiers ready. It’ll take most of the day. Let me know if he needs anything.”

I watched him start a new stack of important-looking papers. He searched through the mess on his desk and when he was finished, started to organize the chaos. Papers were sorted together and set aside and slowly, Eon’s desk became visible. Lyme was lost to us. His eyes were blank as the pen Eon had handed him flew over the paper in front of him. He would pause to underline things or write a different topic’s start in bigger letters. He didn’t ever stop though, his head would nod, tilt to the side, and his eyes would squint. He’d finish one side, flip the paper over and cover the next.

“Amazing.” Eon whispered softly.

“Lyme is a gift. As far as I know, there’s no one quite like him.” I spoke softly as well. It’s as if we thought we’d throw the man feverishly writing off his stride. I don’t think we needed to worry. I stood when he flicked a filled page to the side. The paper drifted to the floor, but Lyme didn’t acknowledge it. He didn’t notice when I picked it up and returned it to the desk either.

“I’ll have someone bring you lunch. Let them know if you need anything else.” I nodded in his direction, eyes still fixed on Lyme. I’d never seen him in action like this. The few times I’d seen him in Tyren’s classroom must’ve been early on in his training. He was remarkable. It hadn’t been an hour, but Eon stood, collecting his things. He patted my head as he walked by and left the room. I stretched my arms above my head and curled up, resting my legs on the desk. Without conversation, this was going to be a long day. I reached across the tether, resting my head against the back of the chair.

I hope you haven’t been having too much fun.

I didn’t receive an answer. I sighed, propping my head up as I resigned myself to boredom for the rest of the day. Lyme’s brown eyes were clouded over, lips slightly parted as they moved. He’d blown through three more pages. I rose to pick those up as well. I had my own work to do. I’d brought some of it with, but I had been trying to avoid it. One last look at Lyme and I knew I didn’t have many options. So, I dutifully pulled out my own paperwork and began running through it. Numbers, statistics, projections Tyren and Hanja had made. The only sounds in the room were my pages turning, Lyme’s pen scratching rapidly across his paper, pages crinkling as they were flipped to the ground, and his soft panting as he used his Magik.

I was startled later as a knock sounded at the door. It was already midday and lunch time. A head popped in and I threw my papers down on the desk as Wyn wheeled in a cart of food. He grinned up at me cheekily and made a dramatic gesture to the cart, “Ta da!”

“What’re you doing? Shouldn’t you be in class?” I asked, even as I crushed him to my chest. I didn’t get to see him much during the day thanks to his classes. This was a rare treat.

Wyn’s grin widened, “I passed Uncle Eon and he gave me a mission. I get a reward if I complete it.”

I laughed and began uncovering the food, “What’s the reward?”

“A short sword lesson.” He nodded excitedly. My nose wrinkled at the thought. Eon had led the boy on a bit. Wyn wasn’t ready for weapons. Eon knew that. I knew that. The gods knew it. Unfortunately, the only one who didn’t know was chattering away beside me.

“Anyway! I have to get back to class before Master Hanja comes to find me. He’s made threats about dragging me by my thumbs. That doesn’t sound fun.” Wyn smiled and turned.

“Why would Hanja have to threaten you? Have you been late to class or skipped before?” Wyn twisted to look at me with wide eyes.

“C-course not Da. I would never!”

“You’re lying.” Lyme mumbled, “You paled, you started sweating, you’ve swallowed about four times, you became louder and your voice went higher in pitch. Your eyes also almost popped out of your little head.”

Wyn shot the man a glare. Lyme didn’t see it. He’d gone back to writing. I crossed my arms and frowned down at the boy, “You have thirty seconds to defend yourself.”

“It was Uncle Wren’s idea!” Wyn whined as he made a break for the door. He slipped through it and I heard his shoes slapping the marble as he ran away from Eon’s office. I sighed and it turned into a groan as I added this new piece of information to the “deal with later” category.

I touched Lyme’s shoulder and he almost jumped out of his skin, eyes bulging as he stared at me, “S-sorry Lyme. Let’s take a break and eat some lunch. You’ve been at it for quite some time. You must be tired.”

“I am never not tired. Exhausted is my permanent state of being. Too many thoughts swirling around up here, you see.” Lyme pressed fingers to his temple and winced. He frowned and set his work aside as I placed his plate in front of him. I returned to the cart for my own and started munching happily on a salad when I sat. I thought it might be nice to catch up, but we’d never been close. I didn’t know what I would say to start a conversation. We were very different people.

“The General is your brother? How? I don’t understand. You two look nothing alike and he is so much more…You are so bright and friendly. You are always smiling and your every emotion is clear.” Lyme was picking at his food, grimacing at the leafy vegetables in front of him. He speared a slice of tomato and clear revulsion crossed his face.

I laughed and nibbled on a cucumber, “Eon and I are very different. We have been since we were kids. We led very different lives. Up until I came to Syrin, we didn’t have much of a relationship at all. I was the younger, annoying, mess up of a brother. Eon’s the perfect solider and son. We didn’t mix well.”

“He is perfect in some ways. I will say that.” I blinked and Lyme clamped his hands over his mouth. He had been watching Eon rather closely earlier. Yuck. Lyme shoved forkfuls of salad into his mouth as he openly panicked. I bit my lip. The boy would never stand a chance with Eon. My brother would probably break the little thing.

“I-is it true that he’s partnered with the monster of Aine?” Lyme asked after nearly choking to death on a spinach leaf.

“Of Aine? Like the mountain range?”

“Well, yes, but where do you think they got their name? It’s from the people who settled there. They’re gone now. Not all of them I guess, since one is here.” My head was spinning. Wren was from the mountains? From a people that didn’t even exist anymore? I knew that he had gaps in his memory and refused to tell us the things he did remember. I wonder if Eon knew this.

“What do you know about them?”

“They were here for a long time, but they were gone before Dimian reached its adolescence. Wiped out by some unknown plague.” Lyme shrugged.

“Plague. The Soul Eater. It had to be.” I worried my lip between my teeth.

“That’s likely. He was found by one of the earliest kings. No one knows why, but they formed an alliance. The monster has been here since.”

I bit down on my lip harder than I intended and winced. Lyme was looking at me expectantly, fork set aside. I released my lip and smiled at him, “Yes, Eon and Wren are together.”

“Oh.” The man nodded and dragged his papers back, starting to write again. I frowned, head tilting to the side. I had expected more of a reaction. Perhaps my group of friends were more dramatic than I realized?

Lyme’s handwriting spanned nearly thirty papers by the time he was done. He had more to write, but his hand had started cramping terribly. It was so bad that it seemed to have locked itself into a writing position. I mumbled a spell as I moved my fingers over Lyme’s. It didn’t help much. His fingers relaxed a little but were still rigid.

“It will pass.” He assured me, patting my cheek as I stared down at his hand with concern. I met his eyes and memories flooded back. Meeting them, watching them learn from afar, and wishing I was closer to them. Orange hair slipped through my mind and something on my face made Lyme frown.

“Back then, when whispers of a resistance started going around, I was terrified. Ajul wasn’t. She jumped at the chance to help. I was a coward. I did everything I was told and kept my head down. The others were strong. I cowered in the corner and let them fight the battle for me. I let you and your friends fight for me. I…I am glad I can help this time.” He was whispering at the end, face sad.

“Tyren told all of us what happened. How you saved her from more suffering. I can see that you still carry her death like I do.” Lyme smiled and took my hand, “It wasn’t our fault Kalian. None of it. All the blame should be laid at Anders’ feet.”

I was shaking. I could feel it as I struggled to get words out, “I choked her to death. I murdered her Lyme.”

“Hanja said she was broken. Not only physically, but mentally. She wasn’t ever going to be Ajul again. There was so much damage that he told us she wouldn’t have left that room alive anyway. Anders would’ve made her last moments awful. You gave her peace.” Holding myself together wasn’t working. There were tears escaping down my cheeks as Lyme’s fingers tightened on mine. I remembered her hands gripping at her clothes, struggling not to fight me as I cut off her air. She’d made a choice in the end. That didn’t make it better.

“Kalian, you’re a hero. You can’t carry every death with you. It will eat you alive.” Lyme smiled, “By the sounds of it, we are on the cusp of war. You have much to defend. Reopening old wounds will lead you to more that you might’ve avoided. Ajul is gone. She’s at peace. We lost friends, but in the process, you saved thousands.”

I pulled him to me for a hug and tried to stop crying so I didn’t get any tears on his shoulder. He patted my head and I let him go, “Lyme, it’s really good to see you again.”

“I am sad we were not closer in the past. I envied your personality. Everyone is so drawn to you.”

“Unfortunately, it’s not only friendly people who are drawn to me.”

 

It was midday. I had guided Lyme to the dorms to get some rest, leaving his papers in a neat stack on my brother’s desk. I worked my way through the former palace, ignoring whispers and pointing. It was unsettling. The students tended to look at us like we weren’t people. They placed us all on pedestals and walking through communal areas meant we drew attention. It was far different from the first time I’d walked through the courtyard alone. I’d been lost and confused. Stressed out of my mind as my unwanted wedding approached. I could almost laugh. The problems from back then seemed so small after what I’d been through. Panicking over being late to class?

I smiled and wove my way through the young Magik users, pausing at beautifully carved yellow doors with all manner of wildlife carved into the wood. Foxes, bears, tigers, and even a bob cat. The predators, I saw, had metal glimmering in the irises. Tyren was teaching. I crossed my arms and leaned against the doorframe as I watched. This set of students were young, Wyn’s age. First years. A metal bird swooped over their heads as Tyren gestured wildly. They all gasped in awe and wonder, eyes as big as saucers. I’d missed most of the lesson, but he finished it up by letting the bird glide down. It was small, a finch. I held out my hand and small metal feet landed on it. The kids stared and then seemed to realize who I was. There were more gasps and Tyren laughed as he sat on his desk.

“Ah yes, my former student seems to have successfully stolen the show.” This earned their attention and Tyren was peppered with questions about teaching me and how I was as a student.

Tyren threw his arms wide dramatically, “You’ve heard all the stories, I’m sure. Our savior had a short time to learn years’ worth of skills. He excelled and fought off the cruel dictator. Also a monster, king, and stubborn suitor.”

I laughed and the kids fired off more questions. One was shouted about the rest, “Can you light the room like you did at your wedding banquet? My dad still talks about it!”

The children’s’ attention slammed down on me as they all eagerly waited for my answer. I chuckled and looked to Tyren. He’d crossed his legs on the desk and laughed, shrugging and nodding. The bird flew from my hand to perch on Tyren’s desk. The thin wire securing it to the ceiling wobbled a little. I lifted my hands and shook my arms a little. Palms up, I took a deep breath and light burst from my hands before drifting out to bathe the room in golden warmth. The room had gone very quiet and Tyren’s eyes were closed as he leaned into the warmth. I let my Magik pulse once more through the room, brighter this time. Then I let it go.

Chaos.

The room erupted in complete chaos. Tyren was desperately trying to shush them, glancing nervously towards me and the door. I found out why when someone brushed up against my shoulder, “Do you mind? I have students trying to learn.”

Hanja’s raised voice made me question every life decision I had ever made. I almost cowered away from him the way the youngsters were. Tyren cringed, “Sorry, Master Chirurgie. We will do our best to not disturb you again. Right?”

There were emphatic nods from the whole class. They didn’t distract from a snotty voice in the back, “Why do you hate fun so much?”

Paras sat near the back, ends of his hair singed and feet on his desk as he scowled at Hanja. I winced as Hanja stepped into the room. Tyren hopped off his desk, “Paras, feet down. Apologize now.”

“But Master Tyren, he’s so mean. To you especially. He picks on you. We all see it.” The boy whined as he dropped his legs, folding them under the desk. I smirked and Hanja sent me a glare that could kill.

“He does not pick on me. Apologize Paras. Now please. Class is almost over.”

“But I’m not sorry. You want me to lie?” He pouted up at Tyren and I watched my teacher struggle not to smile. I was doing the same. No wonder the boy got along so well with Talon. So much attitude. Paras’ pretty orange eyes rolled and landed on Hanja, “Sorry.”

“For what?” Hanja snapped.

“Telling the truth.” Both Tyren and I winced as Hanja crossed the room and hauled the boy up by his upper arm.

“I’m taking this one.” He explained as he dragged the now wide-eyed boy from the room.

“Remember that he’s a child Hanja!” Tyren called, resting his face in his hands for a moment. The other kids looked scared out of their minds, “Class is dismissed. Please remember to respect the other teachers and your elders in general.”

For a moment, none of them moved. Frozen in their seats by fear. Then, one was brave enough to move and they rushed from the room as fast as they could. I stood to the side before I could be run over and watched them hustle down the hallway. I noticed they gave the nearest classroom’s door a wide berth and slowed their pace. Trying to be quiet.

“Has Hanja always been this terrifying? Poor kids.” I waved when the halls flooded with kids when the other teachers let their classes go. One student stuck out. Wyn smiled and waved back. He waded through the other kids to stand beside me. I wrapped my arm around his shoulder as we walked into Tyren’s now empty classroom.

“Master Hanja let us out earlier because Paras made him angry again!” Wyn grinned.

“Again?” I frowned.

“Yes, again. Normally it’s in the hallways. Those two do not get along. Not at all.” Tyren shook his head as he stepped forward, running his fingers through Wyn’s hair adoringly. The boy swatted at his hands and my old teacher laughed.

“It’s because Paras is an obnoxious, juvenile, delinquent with a penchant for disrespecting his elders and surroundings.” Wyn nodded seriously, face grim.

Tyren held his chin gently, “I mean this with all the love in the world, darling. I do not ever want to hear Master Chirurgie’s words come out of your mouth again. It’s unsettling. One of him is more than enough.”

Wyn pouted, “but Paras is loud a-and annoying!”

“You only think that because he’s loud. Loud equals annoying in your head little love.” I sighed as I stretched my arms over my head.

“Now, what do you need Kalian?” Tyren smiled even as Wyn’s pout deepened.

“Lyme was able to recall a lot from his mental library. There was so much there that it was nearly overwhelming. Do you think Nyx will be able to deliver his antidote in the short time constraint?”

“Nyx is brilliant. Difficult and ornery, but brilliant. There’s money involved. Quite a bit of it. If anyone could do it, it would be him.” I nodded. It was odd to me that Nyx was so driven by money. He’d seemed so different when they’d come to me in my cell. He’d been so determined to fight for his country and people. Had that fight changed him so much? I frowned, guilt rising. We hadn’t moved fast enough. We’d tromped around the countryside for too long. People had suffered. If we had returned earlier, would Nyx be different? Would Ajul and Athel be alive?

I needed to stop. It didn’t matter. I couldn’t go back in time and change how things had gone. If that was possible I’d had done it years ago.

“Nyx is already in one of the labs. I’m not sure that he ate lunch. It’ll be alright, Kalian. He’ll figure it out.” Tyren smiled, poking at Wyn’s frown. The boy glared harder, desperately trying to hide a growing smile.

“Let’s hope so. Tyren…”

He looked over at me, nodding, “You’re nervous.”

“Yes. Very. I never like it when Talon and I are apart, but something feels worse about this time.”

“Did Eon tell you that he received an invitation to speak with Serran’s military leaders? It seems as though they are trying to pull everyone from Syrin. Hanja is not weak, but he doesn’t have offensive Magik.”

“If he was left alone, they’d take the city.” I chewed the inside of my cheek as I thought. This validated every bad feeling I had been having. If they weren’t plotting something, why empty Syrin of its strongest protectors? We’d been playing right into their hands from the sounds of it.

“I am beginning to think that losing some of our element of surprise may be worth it. Your sister made a good point, but I agree with your reservations. I will discuss it with Eon and Hanja. Head home for the day. This one has homework, I’m sure.” Tyren grinned and caressed gently down the back of Wyn’s head. The boy allowed it. Solely because he looked upset.

 

*

 

We were headed home now, walking through the layers. I’d managed to convince Wyn to hold my hand. I was positive he was still worried about me and took pity. He knew I took everything harder when Talon was away. He also still seemed troubled by the conversation Tyren and I had earlier. It’d been hours since I’d reached across the tether in Eon’s office while sitting beside Lyme. I still hadn’t heard anything. They wouldn’t have arrived yet. They would still be on the road. Wyn tightened his fingers in mine. My hand was sweaty now.

Talon had his hands full with Suman. That was it. He didn’t have enough time to reach out because his cousin was constantly keeping him on his toes. I swallowed hard and rested my head on Wyn’s as we walked. There was a reasonable explanation. I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. It would make it worse. I swung our linked hands as we approached home.

“Dad should come home. You should make him.” Wyn said. He’d broken the silence we’d established since heading for home. I was apt to agree with him, but I couldn’t do anything if Talon wasn’t answering me. Wyn did not need to know that Talon hadn’t answered me today. The boy would throw a fit.

Talon?

I wished for about the hundredth time that I could form connections with my entire family. I was nervous about Wren and Loren. It would make things so much easier if I could keep tabs on everyone. I tightened my grip on the hand in mine. I was sure Wyn would bring it up again and that meant I’d need some excuse for not demanding Talon return to us immediately. Sighing, I was relieved when The House of Waves came into view. That relief quickly died when I began noticing little things. Something had destroyed the flowerbeds near the front door. Said front door was ajar.

“Stay close to me and stay quiet.” I said.

Wyn didn’t argue, for once. He just stepped closer as I approached the house. There was blood dripped up the walk. More of it was smeared on the door and its handle. I reached behind me, gripping Wyn’s wrist as I nudged the door open with my foot. At least I didn’t have to look very far.

Amaris sat on the steps, panting and covered in blood. Wyn made a distressed noise and I pulled him closer as I looked around. Amaris’ head lifted, “Welcome home. Someone not very nice knows where you live.”

“Where are they now?” I scanned Amaris. Her side had a decent-sized gash and there were cuts all over her upper body. Her cheek was also already showing signs of bruising.

“One of them is pinned to the wall in your study. The other got away. Teleported.” Something inside me shifted uncomfortably as I remembered that teleportation was common. Mallex was the one who’d explained that to me when he’d captured us. I shook my head. The way he still wormed his way into my thoughts after all these years was disgusting.

I dragged Wyn with as I rushed forward, hesitant to have him any distance away from me I knelt and set about healing the worst wound that covered Amaris’ ribs and hip. It was bad. The edges of her skin looked melted and it took a lot of my Magik and concentration to get the wound to pull back together. The smaller cuts were simple and took barely any time. Her side worried me. If I hadn’t come home right then, there was a good chance she could’ve bled out.

What were they thinking? Even with Talon gone, attacking our house was a suicide mission, “Wyn go get water and a rag please. From the kitchen.”

“The house is clear. Lydia and her husband are gone. They made a trip to the market earlier.” Amaris glanced after the boy, “You’re home early.”

Her words sunk inside me like heavy stones. I was. She was correct. Normally I wouldn’t make it home for another couple hours. Wyn was almost always home first. Which was fine when Talon was here. I rested my bloody hands on my knees and gripped the light fabric of my trousers. What if Wyn had returned home alone? What if Amaris was still on mission for the Verseckt or simply not been here? She wasn’t supposed to be home yet. She’d been pulled out when someone had blown her cover.

Amaris wiped at her cheek, smearing blood in the process, “They know our routines. They didn’t think I’d be here and they knew Talon wouldn’t either. You and Tyren are supposed to leave in a couple days for the coast. Don’t.”

I nodded, “Tyren and I spoke about it today. I agree. I don’t know what’s being plotted, but they made a mistake if they decided to target Wyn.”

“There were only two. Both were Magik users. The one in the study threw a lovely yellow and black acid. Then the teleporter…do you think they were trying to take him?” She swept her hair away from her face, gathering it into a messy ponytail. I held off on answering as we heard feet scampering back to us. Wyn held out a bowl of water and towels. Then he helped me clean the blood off Amaris.

Talon I need you to answer me. Now. Right now.

Silence for nearly five minutes in my head. Amaris kissed Wyn’s nose and the boy shoved at her face. Lightly enough to not actually put much distance between them, I noticed.

Sorry, yes? I jumped us. Sumerion is insufferable and the argument he and Suman got into today was a mess.

Come home. All of you. We shouldn’t have spread everyone out.

We are almost done. I will jump us home tomorrow. I don’t think I should use Magik again today. I’ll be useless for a day or so when I jump us back, but it’s faster. Did something happen?

I think they’re targeting Wyn. Someone attacked the house.

The tether fell quiet suddenly and stayed that way long enough for us to clean the blood from the door. Amaris changed and we all sat on the stairs. The carpet in the middle was stained with blood. So was some of the floor where crimson had soaked into the wood. I tucked my hands between my legs as they shook. Wyn was pressed between Amaris and me. My friend was trying to cheer him up, but his eyes stayed on my face. A thought kept repeating over and over. What if he’d been alone?

What if Wyn had been alone? A twelve year old against two adult Magik users?

“Da, are you hungry? I can get you a snack.” I closed my eyes and pulled him to me, resting my forehead against his.

“Kalian, he’s okay. He wasn’t here.” Amaris whispered softly on the other side of the boy.

“I know.” I did. I knew that he was fine. He’d been with me after all. It was all the what-ifs that I was having a hard time stomaching.

All three of us jumped as the front door slammed open. Talon leaned against the frame heavily. He was panting hard, sweating, and covering his mouth as his body heaved. My partner was deathly pale and I could see Suman and Rah behind him.

Suman looked disturbed and Rah looked annoyed, “I told you that much jumping with so many people in one day wasn’t going to go well. You wiped yourself out completely. Not safe Talon.”

Talon’s body jerked as he tried not to heave again. His eyes were crazed, but when they settled on Wyn, then me, he calmed and leaned more heavily against the opening. I was on my feet and across the entryway fast. My hands went under his arms as his legs gave out. Talon was not light and as he sagged, I struggled to keep him upright. To my surprise, Suman’s arms wrapped around his waist and we hoisted him up, the door helping us. Talon’s head lolled to the side and I rested mine against his so it wouldn’t fall the other way. Lyrah’s face was worried now, pulled tight with concern as she strode forward to help. Together, the three of us managed to move his dead weight to the sitting room. They helped me get him on the couch and I lifted his long legs onto it. He was unconscious and still panting.

“I’ll go get more water and another rag!” Wyn announced and scurried from the room. Part of me registered Suman following close behind the boy. Good. I didn’t even feel comfortable letting him move around our house alone now.

“I tried to stop him Kal, but he got this look on his face and I knew it was over. I’ve been on the receiving end of Talon’s anger when you were taken. This was that, but even worse. I’ve never seen him so angry. I licked my dry lips. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that he wasn’t just angry. Like me, Talon had been terrified. He simply hid it behind rage. Rah shook her head, gently brushing sweaty hair away from her brother’s closed eyes.

“I asked him to. Someone attacked the house. We think they might’ve been here for Wyn. Luckily, they found Ris instead.” The two women exchanged a glance and I tipped Talon’s head up a bit. The initial jump to Dleth might’ve been rough, but to then come all the way home in the same day? There was a good chance Talon wouldn’t wake up today. Or tomorrow. Wyn came back into the room, rushing so much that it caused him to stumble. Suman fluidly snatched the bowl of water away to keep him from spilling it and caught his upper arm to catch him before he face-planted. Then he followed the boy to the couch.

“Wyn, dear, come with me.” Rah smiled at the boy and tried to steer him away. He wasn’t having it. His eyes were glued to Talon’s prone form.

“He’s fine. Just taking a nap because he pushed himself too hard.” Suman poked the boys’ cheek, “C’mon kid. I’ve got something to show you.”

Suman and Rah coaxed Wyn from the room and I dabbed gently at Talon’s forehead. Amaris sat on the nearby coffee table, chin in her hands as she watched me, “Gods, he loves you two, huh? Still so stupid, but in a new evolved, family man kind of way.”

“He’s not stupid and this isn’t new.” I mumbled.

Amaris sighed as I continued cleaning sweat from what skin was exposed. He shifted and groaned softly and I ran my fingers gently over his scalp. I wish I could fix it. There was no healing this. Talon wasn’t injured. Just exhausted. As far as I knew, there were no Magik users who could replenish other users who’d burned through too much. Perhaps that was a question for Lyme.

“I suppose Hanja, Tyren, and Eon will want to know what’s happened.” Amaris said. I was thankful. Both of us knew I wouldn’t be able to leave either Talon or Wyn. Probably for the foreseeable future.

I heard Lydia and her husband come into the house. Rah intercepted them and explained what happened. I sat on the edge of the couch now. I’d covered Talon with a blanket and I still stroked my fingers through his hair as if in a trance. We would not separate again. No matter the reason. The element of surprise wasn’t important if it cost me a member of my family.

“Shall we move him to your bed?” I looked up at Eon’s voice and nodded as he walked slowly into the room. I blinked and rubbed at my eyes. How long had I been trapped in my thoughts like a self-induced trance? His face didn’t give much away but I could see a glint in his eye, the tightness in his jaw. He was concerned. There was anger as well.

Eon took most of Talon’s weight and I grabbed his feet so they wouldn’t drag, “Where are the others?”

We carried Talon carefully up the stairs and Eon jerked his head to the windows once we’d reached the top, “Yard. Suman’s teaching Wyn and Rah how to flip. It’s not going well. I think Rah’s boots and skirt are disadvantages.”

“Rah learned how to fight while still partially blind. There is no obstacle she can’t overcome.” I smiled and Eon chuckled softly. He knew firsthand. Eon had been the first to step up when a still almost fully blind Rah had asked to learn to fight.

After we got Talon in bed and under the covers, I drifted to the bedroom’s windows. Eon stood beside me and a smile pulled at my lips. Wyn was pointing to Suman accusingly and the man had his hands raised, palms up as he shrugged. Rah had tied up her skirts and was frowning down at her legs as if they’d betrayed her. Suman held up a finger and stepped away from the boy. He broke into a short run and then raised his hands above his head and flipped. He made it look easy. He straightened and held his hands up. Rah clapped politely and Wyn pouted more.

“Amaris said they seem to have a lot of knowledge regarding our day-to-day movements. That’s troubling. It leads me to believe that they’ve infiltrated the city, or they have someone on the inside.” Eon said as we watched Wyn flop onto his backside. Rah almost managed on her next attempt but then her legs fell to the side. She sat in a huff-much like her nephew-before getting back up to try again. Suman was laughing, a genuine smile on his face as Wyn chased him around the yard. He’d apparently given up trying in favor of assaulting his teacher.

“You think there’s a spy among us?” I asked, still facing the window. My arms crossed over my chest.

“Maybe. The enemy knows things they shouldn’t. Without Suman’s intel, we could very well have walked into multiple traps. No one outside of our inner circle knows about your connection to Talon. They wouldn’t account for the Verlorens returning so suddenly. There’s also no way they could’ve predicted Amaris’ early return. Their information is good, but it’s not perfect. My guess is it’s someone close but not that close.” Eon sighed, glancing back to the bed where Talon was still out like a light.

“So, the person wouldn’t have been part of our original group.” I said.

“I think we can safely rule out Rah and Loren this time as well.” Eon said, turning to face me.

“But not Suman?” I frowned up at him, “He wouldn’t target Wyn. He wouldn’t hurt him, Eon. I know it.”

He tilted his head to the side, rubbing a hand over his chin, “Fine, but that only narrows our suspects even more.”

“We can’t be sure it’s someone on the inside. There are three countries at work against us. It’s foolish to think none of them would have some kind of spy network.” I rubbed my forearm gently as I thought.

“Wren is better at catching the sneakier goings on. He’s been doing it for hundreds of years after all. Without him, it’s possible we missed something. We have proof of that here. No one should’ve been able to come into your home. So yes, we’ve missed something. I’ve missed something.” Eon’s voice took on a hard edge and he sighed.

“It won’t happen again. Once Wren and Loren are back, we’ll be a complete unit again. There’s very little that can stand against our chosen family.” Eon nodded and we both turned back to watch the happenings outside. My hands were still shaking as I held them at my sides. It wasn’t from fear.

There wasn’t a time I could remember being this angry. Coming after Wyn would be the first mistake they made in this war. I would make sure that whoever was responsible paid for it.

Dearly.

Hiya 👋

I'm shooting for Wednesday updates for this.

That's what I'm hoping for anyway, but I am working on three stories simultaneously. I'm trying to set up a concrete posting schedule for this and my other story, I Hate This Town. Hopefully Wednesday and Saturday. 🤞

Bear with me😅

As always, thank you for your comments/reactions/ theories. I love reading your thoughts!

🖤Demi

Copyright © 2021 Demiurge; All Rights Reserved.
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Man, they fucked up royally by going after the kid. Screw swords — someone  should get him working on vines that choke and plants that like to eat flesh.

I’m excited to see the band back together! (Well, when Loren and Wren return from spying.)

Edited by Geemeedee
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Anyone else wanna see wyn and paras catch feelings for each other? Anyone? No? Just me? Ok then...😭

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11 hours ago, Geemeedee said:

Man, they fucked up royally by going after the kid. Screw swords — someone  should get him working on vines that choke and plants that like to eat flesh.

I’m excited to see the band back together! (Well, when Loren and Wren return from spying.)

I absolutely agree, kalian can't baby him forever. Losing his childish innocence is worth being able to defend himself and others, they can't be at his side every second of every day to watch over him. Kalian would regret it for the rest of his life if wyn was killed simply because he didn't know how to defend himself, as per kalian's orders no less.

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drpaladin

Posted (edited)

13 minutes ago, VBlew said:

Very bad move trying to abduct Wyn.

wondering if there is a magik way to find the traitor?  And figure out who has the teleportation magik, there can’t be that many of them, but they could be from one of the other countries.

Unfortunately, Kalian remembers Mallex telling him teleportation was common. Perhaps there is a way to track and block it.

Edited by drpaladin
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3 hours ago, SnowBear said:

Anyone else wanna see wyn and paras catch feelings for each other? Anyone? No? Just me? Ok then...😭

Reflections of Hanja and Tyren? Hmmm, I see more of Wyn and Lyme. Wyn would calm Lyme and Lyme would answer so many questions from Wyn’s intrigued mind.

200.gifOrbromance GIF

Edited by Philippe
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4 hours ago, VBlew said:

Very bad move trying to abduct Wyn.

wondering if there is a magik way to find the traitor?  And figure out who has the teleportation magik, there can’t be that many of them, but they could be from one of the other countries.

Suman should share some insights into this event; his methods fooled all but Wren. Assuming he is trustworthy and not part of the master plan…double agents are indeed well disguised in their stories and their deeds. 

Edited by Philippe
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  Why hasn't anyone went to investigate the guy nailed on the study wall yet? I would have checked that body over fast to see if there was any information on him that I could get, such as his manner of dress to figure out what country sent him, anything to identify i.e. weapons, jewelry, tattoos... Just in case someone decided to teleport back to snag that body to take it back with them. Is there no way that they can set wards around their house to prevent people from entering? Like in a magical alarm system? Or deterrent?

Doesn't Eon and Wren have a 2nd in command or aide-de-camp (for the General's) or something like that for when they are indisposed? Someone else who is a backup line to communication to their other operatives? I understand that they are all powerful, but that doesn't equate to infallible. They have no security as visible and high profile as they are? Wren hasn't thought about assigning hidden security? Wouldn't the spymaster have captains or lieutenants of his own? Current and past operatives that he could rely on? For example, who pulled Amaris out, if she didn't and wasn't able to report to Wren that her cover was blown and he was on a mission of his own? However, I'm ever so glad that she actually made a home early, and that Kalian made it home early enough to heal her so she didn't bleed out.

I would say that they need to immediately and post haste, start investigating the limits of Wyn's powers- teach him how to make maybe some sort of poisonous plants with his plant magik, and see if he can use stone or metals, but definitely start some sort of offensive and defensive Martial training. Perhaps people who are giving away their normal movements are some of the people who are picking on Wyn or bullying him? If we know that they have a decided animosity, perhaps that would be a good first place to start? People who already watched the families movements closely? Perhaps the people they delegate to the most, the ones who would have knowledge of their schedules and movements?

For the record, the classroom scene, especially with Hanja and little Paras (mini-wannabe-Talon-gods-help-us)... I was dying. I love the naivety that he doesn't understand Hanja's "picking on Tyren" 💀💀💀💀... I have a feeling that he might have the same problem in showing his affections the same way one day to his significant other😈. I can imagine it. Hanja really has a way with the kids, huh? And Tyren, when he addressed Wyn copying Hanja's words about Paras verbatim? I swear to all-I was laughing so hard. I could just perfectly imagine that. I love that both of the adults were trying to keep a straight face, and they were both cowed by Hanja. As powerful as Kalian is, I think it's hysterical that he still backs down to him, and he actually said he was rethinking all of his life's choices. 😂😂😂💀

It's nice to see that Kalian is reaching out, to former classmates and trying to make new connections. That was a very deep scene between him and Lyme. I find it interesting that everybody knows what he did with Ajul. We knew he would carry that weight forever. That would stay with most people forever if they were put into a position like that. That's not something one could easily get over or past, if ever. Somehow, I don't think his actual memory of Nick's is complete. Wasn't he the one who used to make poisons, since he said that they were worth the most money? I think he's always been materialistic. However, are they sure that he is still on their side? I also had a question about who's going to sample these antidotes? To do so they would have to have a sample of the anti-magic serum that was used on Kaylee and before. Or something similar. And that brings up the reverse side of the coin. Who have these countries been torturing, capturing and experimenting on to even come up with these anti-magik serums?! However, I think my favorite exchange with one of his former classmates was part of the conversation with Lyme. I also got a very good laugh out of thought of Kalian and imagining his brother Eon with someone else other than Wren. He knew that his brother would "break" anybody else-yeah, it can't be comfortable knowing those kinds of things about your brother's bedroom antics. And if he didn't- his brother's partner the "Monster of Aine" would. My greatest ship *sighs dramatically*.

I've said it before and I will say it again.I think Kalian could be a weapon of mass destruction. Or creation. Just never fuck with his family.

Now that there's been an attack on his home and child, I wonder if he intends to actually push the limits of his power to find out what he's fully capable of...YET. I don't think he has a first clue what he's actually capable of...YET . His power was gifted to him from a supreme being. Can he delve into others minds? Can he root out the corruption the way he was able to travel down through his mind and Anders? Maybe he can form those connections with his designated family. We have seen him heal an entire room and even resurrect people. I also had a thought about the water magic that his sister uses. Anika owes him- desperately-so we should most definitely make use of this bitch-yep I still hate her no matter what. The human body is made up of mostly water. Maybe she should rethink and see if she has any sort of exploding magik like their brother, and see if she can freeze the water in the human body to kill somebody or make it explode or boil? They need to adjust their offenses, quickly apparently. Especially, if there is an impending assault that could be coming from an naval fleet of unknown proportions. I wonder if they do have somebody who amplifies powers, not just restores. Maybe some of the people who are actually considered "matchlos", but they're wells of power to be drawn upon- almost like a passive power, something they can't control actively, but others can pull from without actually harming them and they can supplement others with it?

Yeah, if you can't tell, I'm really into this series and your stories. Like I said, you've built a whole world and I'm totally enthralled. This series has been going on for a while over many countries and the whole continent and whatnot. You've built the world and left a lot of lines open and a lot of ways that this could continue and grow as all of your characters are so unique and ever evolving. For instance, I've noticed that Kalian is able to jump more and Talon is able to do it more, even without the corruption that was supplementing his power, since they seem to use it more since they are together and joined. Was that on purpose? Definite complex individual personalities (and I think we all have our favorites). It's a credit to you that I'm this hung up and don't really want to wait till next Wednesday for the next chapter. Sorry. That's your fault. I blame you. I keep getting stuck rereading them.😂😂😘 Seriously though, thanks again. Although I'm still wondering where the baby girl went? Some orphanage? Doesn't seem right with our group of friends who like to adopt strays... One other thing. Wyn once complained he had to learn about all of the Gods and Goddesses. That there used to only be one. With the advent of all these new religions or deities, I assume that came about when the humans first harness the magik? Do none of them have prophets or seers to guide the people? I'm surprised we haven't seen more priests or priestesses, or acolytes/paladins trying to inject themselves into the political landscape. Or at least as a guidepost for the people. Or a guide for the leaders and the crusaders. Just a random obscure thought, since you were nice enough to inject that little gem into the story. You just fully fleshed out this world, so naturally I'm going to have questions, and I'm going to ponder the story in each detail. Sorry once again, but this is your fault. My obsession with your characters in this story of this world is entirely your fault. Lmao.

 

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*Nyx, not Nicks & *Kalian not Kaylee. 

Stupid fucking autocorrect. Ugh, whatever! Y'all knew what I meant. Right?! no? My bad.😁

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@marsnvic I’ve never felt so validated and guilty at the same time. I’m glad I’ve got you hooked😉

*struggles to kee things to myself as people point out things I’ve tackled in upcoming chapters*

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Thank you.You know how it is in High school movies,especially the sports themed ones?.So in this case you would be the quarterback..and am the overly optimistic cheerleader😂🤣.I guess all am saying I really appreciate all your efforts...opening us up to these worlds that you have created. You do not have to rush your schedule on our behalf. Just go at it when you can...and we shall be here waiting for your updates. Thank you

P.s......I do not remember being that hot headed like Paras..hihi

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1 hour ago, Demiurge said:

@marsnvic I’ve never felt so validated and guilty at the same time. I’m glad I’ve got you hooked😉

*struggles to kee things to myself as people point out things I’ve tackled in upcoming chapters*

I'll sit back down and shut up now. That was a very polite way to school me and tell me to keep my mouth shut and comments to myself. I can take a hint. 😂

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@marsnvic I’m not nearly that aggressive. Well, in this kinda situation. Just trying to reassure you that I’m not flying by the seat of my pants.

Also don’t you dare keep your comments to yourself! I love reading them! I just don’t want to spoil my own story.

@Seraph28 coming in hot with that sports ball reference…😅

Also, Paras is my sweet little feral gremlin. I love him. Adult him is even better

Edited by Demiurge
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10 hours ago, Philippe said:

Reflections of Hanja and Tyren? Hmmm, I see more of Wyn and Lyme. Wyn would calm Lyme and Lyme would answer so many questions from Wyn’s intrigued mind.

200.gifOrbromance GIF

Isn't lyme the same age as kalian? Wyn would be dating someone the same age as his dad 💀

I was thinking more "opposites attract" kinda like wyn's own parents. I think as a pair, once they break down each other's walls, wyn and paras could be the next power couple in the years to come. 

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5 hours ago, SnowBear said:

Isn't lyme the same age as kalian? Wyn would be dating someone the same age as his dad 💀

I was thinking more "opposites attract" kinda like wyn's own parents. I think as a pair, once they break down each other's walls, wyn and paras could be the next power couple in the years to come. 

LOL, I understand.

The opposites attraction thing may possibly play in to this, but how will that partnership work amongst the family of…overly protective monsters, generals,…dukes. Of course, they have tolerated Loren and now Suman to some extent, but remember Wyn too has a temper when things don’t go the way he desires; kicking Talon on introduction, dropping the stonework on him in sport, asking Kalian to slice Talon’s UnKingly dad, etc… so is he really that opposite?

While the age difference would seem larger at first thought, I remember Kalian being much older than the other students, but still only approaching 18; Kalian was very late to develop any powers, and five years younger than Eon/Talon/Mallex.

I believe that put the other students generally around ten, so around 7-9 years younger than Kalian. Likewise, Meep was an undereducated street urchin…thief, and barely old and independent enough to survive; around 5-6yo.

We start this book with Kalian 27, and Wyn 12; so Lyme may actually only be 6-8 years older than Wyn, Lyme is likely a teen or no more than 20. Kalian would in most cases not be old enough to be Wyn’s real dad, but needed the established rules of parenthood to guide Wyn away from his individualistic/survival ways…too old as brother, too young to father. 😆 

 

Edited by Philippe
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 I wish I could fix it. There was no healing this. Talon wasn’t injured. Just exhausted. As far as I knew, there were no Magik users who could replenish other users who’d burned through too much.

With training and a few more years under his belt, Wyn possibly could. I'm still unconvinced that the boy's Magik is limited to plants. I suspect he can manipulate life energy -- vitality if you will -- and that he is capable of far more than his parents and teachers know.

Even if Wyn can't re-invigorate Talon on his own, I bet he and Kalian, working in tandem, could. Speaking of which, do we know if folks have tried combining their Magik in order to produce compound effects?

Lyme's crush on Eon is adorable. Lyme himself is adorable. If I wasn't convinced Wren and Eon would break him, I'd ship them as the throuple to beat. Between Eon's military know how, Wren's subterfuge, and Lyme's knowledge vault and unrivaled perception, there isn't a situation they couldn't dominate. Maybe Lyme could satisfy Eon's soft dom cravings? Hehe.

Going after Wyn was either ballsy or desperate. Sure, it threw our heroes off their game (and potentially incapacitated Talon) but the push back will. be. spectacular.

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On 1/28/2022 at 1:53 PM, Demiurge said:

@Dannersthat is assuming Eon has soft dom cravings 😂

So you're saying it's possible!

spank me GIF

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17 hours ago, Demiurge said:

@Danners I dunno 😅

I’d be scared for Lyme. 😬Scared Season 4 GIF by The Good Place

I'm scared for every character in your stories. You, good author, do not pull your punches but I . . .

there is screwed up GIF

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