Author: Viante PM
A story about twin brothers growing up under prejudice against mages. As they are both changed by the ill treatment they receive. Following them into their early adulthood, where their past pushes them both into starting a war they never wanted to start.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Fantasy - Chapters: 18 - Words: 55,986 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 06-17-12 - Published: 01-03-12 - id: 2985359
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
~~~~~~~~~ Chapter 15: Crossroads. Mistaken for a monster. ~~~~~~~~~
A man in a black cloak quickly scurried through a village, he stopped in a nearby alleyway to clutch his growling stomach for a moment. Before shaking his head and sighing lightly. He made sure his hood covered his face as he darted out of the alleyway towards the market.
Elladine was in the market, buying more supplies for her trip. She was cheerfully talking to the guy behind the market stand. "Thank you sir." She said before turning to leave. But out of the corner of her eye she spotted the man in the black cloak shifting through the marketplace. She grit her teeth and clenched her fists. Remembering that night she fought him at Oline village, how bandits lead by a man in a black cloak had killed her parents and countless others in the village under his orders.
She reached up to grab her shield that was on her back. But, before she could do anything the cloaked man suddenly lunged at one of the market stands. A stone wall gently pushed the guy who owned the stand to the ground, being extra careful not to hurt him. The man in the black cloak grabbed as much food as he could within a few seconds before he fell into his shadow. Disappearing from sight as his shadow darted out of the village.
"Hey! Get back here!" Elladine shouted at the cloaked man before running after his shadow. The shadow moved too fast though, and it was out of sight in seconds. Elladine sighed and walked back into the market, 'There's a cave out here, that I used as a shelter last night. I bet he's hiding in there while he plans his attack on this village.' She thought bitterly. She sighed, then turned and saw the blacksmith next to her. She hadn't meant to run to the blacksmith, but it was perfect that it was there. She needed a weapon to kill him with, so she stepped into the blacksmith and bought a cheap dagger.
Elladine looked over the dagger as she walked out of the blacksmith. 'Am I really going to kill him?' She thought. 'Of course I am... He's killing countless other people, if I don't kill him I condemn countless innocent lives to death... That makes it okay to kill him, right? He's a bad person, I'll be saving more lives then I'll be taking...' She thought, a little uncomfortable with the idea of taking a life. But she knew it was for the greater good, so she shook off the feelings and marched towards the cave. 'He's a bad person, it's okay...' She thought.
The man in the marketplace that had been knocked over during the theft got back up and brushed himself off. He went to check and see what was stolen, but noticed a message carved into the stone under his feet. The cloaked man had quickly used earth magic to leave a message behind when he ran. The message was two simple words. "I'm sorry."
It was almost nightfall before Elladine reached the cave, and her suspicions where proven true. The front entrance of the cave had collapsed. It wasn't like that yesterday, the cloaked man must be hiding inside, and using his earth magic to make the cave look collapsed. So others don't find him. 'Clever, but not clever enough.' Elladine thought before she focused. Her body turned into water and slid into the cave through the cracks in the rocks, before reforming.
Just a little ways into the cave, she could see a small campfire. With the stolen food beside it, and the cloaked man asleep on the ground next to the fire. Elladine grit her teeth and pulled out her dagger, before silently walking over to the man. She again, thought back to the night she fought him in Oline village. Remembering how his bandits had killed her parents under his orders. But also remembering, that the man almost seemed like he was her childhood friend, Kaolin. She couldn't believe that the man who had killed countless people was the peaceful and friendly boy she used to know. But all the signs pointed to him.
She gripped the knife tighter and crouched down beside him. Holding the knife over his heart. But was struggling to bring herself to do it. The thought of it possibly being Kaolin made it harder for her to kill him, he used to be her best friend after all. She couldn't believe it was him, but had a sinking feeling it was. She sighed, 'I can't do it... I have to check who it is first... Surely it's not him... There's no way he would ever take a life...' She thought.
She reached her free hand over, very slowly, and grabbed his hood. Her other hand firmly gripping the knife and holding it to his chest, just in case. She had to know who it really was. She very slowly started pulling back his hood, being very careful not to wake him. Then, suddenly the man took a deep breath and gently swatted her hand away, but didn't wake.
Elladine let out a shaky breath and placed her hand over her heart for a moment. That had scared her half to death. Once she calmed her nerves she very cautiously took the man's hood again, and slowly started pulling it off. She gasped and quickly jumped up to her feet when she saw that her fears where true. Taking a step back.
She looked down at the twenty seven year old guy with black hair and brown eyes. Just as she remembered him, it was Kaolin. There was no doubt in her mind. But for the life of her she couldn't understand why he would do this. The Kaolin she remembered was her best friend, a boy who would sooner die before he ever took an innocent life.
Kaolin groaned and his hand moved up to rub his face, but he hadn't opened his eyes yet. As soon as Elladine saw him move, she realized her gasp had woken him up. "Oh crap!" She cursed quickly as she panicked a little. Thinking fast she stepped forwards and kicked Kaolin in the groin as hard as she could.
Kaolin's eyes shot open as he shouted in pain. Within a second Elladine had grabbed her shield and dropped on top of Kaolin. Pinning him to the ground with her shield while holding the knife to his throat. "Why did you do it! Why did you kill my family! And all of those people!" She practically yelled in his face.
Kaolin yelped in surprise and shrunk back a little, looking up at her like a hurt and scared puppy. The twenty six year old girl, with blue eyes and chin length brown hair, an athletic and slightly muscular build and brighter travelers clothes looked familiar to him. "I-I d-don't know what you're t-talking about." He said quietly, his voice laced with pain. As his mind slowly came into focus from waking up to such an unpleasant turn of events, he realized where he recognized her from. 'Ella? It couldn't be... Why would she be here?' He thought. Although he was relieved to see his friend had survived the destruction of Oline village.
Elladine pressed her shield harder into his chest and growled, tears forming in her eyes and running down her cheeks. "Don't even try that one Kaolin! I saw you, the man in the black cloak, leading the very bandits that killed my family! I fought you, myself. I saw you using your magic and knew it was you! You even froze when I called you out by name! So don't lie I know you did it!" She argued. But quieted down a little so she at least wasn't shouting in his face.
Kaolin froze when she said her family had been killed. He had liked her family, they taught him how to cook and he had spent a lot of time there with them. Helping them with the shop and bakery. "I'm sorry, very sorry for your loss... But Ella... It wasn't me..." He murmured quietly. "You know me better then that... Someone must be trying to frame me. So people won't suspect them." He said softly. "Come on Ella.. You know me better then that."
Elladine paused for a moment, biting her lip to try and hold back her tears. She threw her dagger aside and wiped away her tears, before getting up and getting off him. She turned her back to him but held out a hand to help him get back up, muttering a quiet "Sorry." She still didn't completely trust him. Everything pointed to Kaolin being the cloaked man, and he had no alibi. But, because of their previous friendship she dropped it, for now.
"It's alright... It's not your fault." Kaolin said quietly. He took her hand and she helped him get onto his feet. "I'm very sorry about your parents, I honestly tried to protect the village. But I lost..." He murmured.
Elladine quickly spun around and punched Kaolin hard in the stomach. Knocking him straight to the floor again. "That's for making me worried to death when you and your brother left the village, I was so afraid you two died out there. And for making me think it was you who hurt all those people." She stated. Then paused for a moment. "Sorry, needed to vent." She added. Holding out a hand to help him up again.
Kaolin groaned quietly in pain as he took her hand again and stood up. "It's alright... I'm used to it." He muttered quietly. 'That much of her hasn't changed...' He thought. Since they first met as kids, Elladine always had anger issues and often vented her anger through hitting things. He clearly remembered that much. "But you should've known that man wasn't me... There wasn't anything I could've done to stop you from thinking that." He said softly.
"You could've been a better person. Like your brother, Seth. Don't you know? He joined the knights and is a hero now. Not some dirty thief." Elladine said rather sharply. "Why aren't you more like him?"
Kaolin grit his teeth and looked away. "Seth is no hero..." He muttered quietly. "I don't understand what he's doing with those knights... But I'm completely sure he's up to no good."
"What are you talking about? He is a hero, he's saved countless lives. He's protecting many people, and risking his own life to do so! Unlike you, you're hiding in a cave and stealing from people."
"He's just not a hero. I can't accept that he's doing good, he has to be doing something bad. There has to be something we're not seeing..." Kaolin countered. He refused to believe Seth was helping people. On the terms they where on when they split up, and the things Seth had done. He simply refused to accept that Seth was doing good now.
"Why can't you accept it? Your brother is a very good and selfless person, you should be more like him." Elladine stated firmly.
"I will never be like that monster!" Kaolin protested. "And I just can't accept it. I refuse. He's a bad person, a monster with a sick and twisted mind. I don't care what everyone else says, I say he's not protecting anyone. It has to be a trick of some sort." He said. 'She'll never believe me if I tell her Seth was the one who attacked Oline village the first time...' He thought.
"You're just jealous that he's a hero. That's why you can't accept it, he's become a better person then you." Elladine argued.
"I am not jealous." Kaolin pouted. Growling quietly when she said Seth was a better person. He was jealous of Seth, but jealous of different things. And that was the last thing he wanted to hear, again.
"You are too! I can tell just by your reaction, you're acting childish." Elladine countered.
"I am not!" Kaolin argued.
"Are too!" Elladine countered without missing a beat.
"Am not!" Kaolin protested almost instantly.
"Are too!" Elladine again countered immediately. "I can keep this up all day." She added.
Kaolin huffed quietly in protest and turned away again. Although Elladine responded to that by huffing back at him, louder then he did. Making him turn back to her and stick out his tongue in defiance. But she just replied by sticking her own tongue out right back at him. Kaolin pouted, then stuck out his tongue further, before Elladine did the same. Their argument quickly changing into a contest of who could stick out their tongue the furthest.
They stayed like that for a moment, before they both stopped and laughed lightly. "There we go, that's more like the Kaolin I remember. The cheerful and playful boy. Not the moody angry guy" She said. "What happened to you? Why aren't you with Seth? Did you two fight?" She asked.
"... Exactly how many questions are you going to ask?" Kaolin asked. "Are you going to give me a chance to ask questions?"
"About a million. I haven't seen my best friend in years, of course I have a lot of questions. Especially with the situation you're in." Elladine stated. "And yes, I just let you ask two. Now get to answering." She added.
Kaolin sighed, "Yes, me and Seth had a fight." He said, opening his cloak and pulling the collar of his shirt down a little to reveal the scar from the stab wound on his shoulder. "I lost." He stated.
Elladine gasped and her eyes widened, she never would've guessed they had been in a physical fight. But she waited for him to answer the rest of her questions.
"I'm here, in a cave as a thief. Because I needed time to recover after that. So I went into hiding." Kaolin said quietly. "I've been recovering and training. I'm sure you know, from what happened in the village, that I'm a mage." He said quietly. "Then, for some reason the animals in this area have all fled... I can't find any of them anywhere. So I had to steal food... I didn't want to... I had no choice..." He murmured.
"Well now you got me with you, so I can buy us food and supplies. I have a little money." Elladine said simply.
Kaolin shook his head. "No. I travel alone. I need to stop Seth before he does any more harm..." He muttered. "I may even have to kill him."
"Whoa, whoa whoa, slow down there buddy." Elladine said. "First off, I said I'm with you. I didn't ask if I could join you, you don't get a choice. Secondly, there will be no killing or stopping of your brother. Just because you're jealous of him doesn't mean you can just kill him. If you're even going to think of that, you have to come up with a really good reason for it." She stated firmly.
Kaolin growled quietly in protest. But Elladine just growled back at him louder then he did. "You're not coming with me."
"You don't have a choice. Don't make me tie your arm to mine again, you know I will do it." Elladine countered. "You need my company so you don't become a cranky old man again. Plus, you have to prove to me that you're not this cloaked man."
Kaolin gave he a rather annoyed look when she called him a cranky old man. "How do I prove that?" He muttered quietly.
"Simple. You're going to stay with me. If he attacks while you're with me, you have an alibi." Elladine said cheerfully.
Kaolin sighed in defeat and fell back onto the ground, landing on his back and just lying on the ground. "Fine..." He muttered. Knowing there was no way he could win an argument with her, she was even more stubborn then he was.
"Good!" Elladine chirped cheerfully.
Kaolin glanced at the entrance of the cave, remembering he had collapsed it. "How did you get in here anyways?" He asked.
Elladine chuckled lightly. "Took ya long enough to notice that." She teased. "Actually, it's a kinda funny story. Me and my family where mages too, it seems we where both mages and we where both keeping it a secret in feat that the other would reject it." She said.
"Really? Wouldn't my trainer have said something?" Kaolin asked in disbelief.
"No, my family made him promise not to tell anyone." Elladine said.
Kaolin nodded. "What elements do you use?" He asked curiously.
"I use water, like my father did. Although I'm starting to learn a little Aether magic, but I'm not good at it yet." Elladine answered. "I'm sorry, I couldn't stand up to the villagers with you. But my mother forced me to keep quiet."
Kaolin shook his head lightly "That's really surprising. But nice and a bit funny." He chuckled. Although he yawned after saying that. "And don't worry about that, I understand." He added quietly.
"Yeah, it's kinda funny that all that time we never knew." Elladine chuckled. Then noticed him yawn, "Are you tired? I'm sorry for waking you, you can go back to sleep." She said softly. "I'm a bit tired from tracking you all night. So I think I'll go to sleep too when you do."
Kaolin sighed lightly, but nodded. "Yes, I am tired. And it's alright." He said. "I think I'll get to sleep now, we can talk in the morning." He said softly before closing his eyes.
Elladine smiled and nodded. "Goodnight then." She said, getting up and moving to the other side of the campfire, before she took out a small mat from her bag and laid it down on the ground. Then laid down on the mat.
"Goodnight." Kaolin murmured, already drifting off to sleep.
Elladine looked at Kaolin through the campfire between them and chuckled lightly. 'He's already falling asleep. He must be really tired, hopefully he's not mad at me for kicking him...' She thought. She laid on her back and looked up at the ceiling of the cave. Before closing her eyes and also going to sleep.
Next chapter: Revisiting the mountain.