|Passage to Ithorah
Author: Sombrette PM
Young Huntress Roeve finds herself traveling with an unlikely group on a journey that will shatter myths that have been told for centuries, on a journey that will shed light to her hidden past and bring consequences for her future, all the while leading to the Battle for Ithorah.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Adventure - Chapters: 4 - Words: 18,782 - Reviews: 80 - Favs: 20 - Follows: 31 - Updated: 11-21-12 - Published: 09-30-12 - id: 3062085
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Passage to Ithorah
Celebrations: Day I
Roeve pulled her goggles over her head, letting them hang around her neck. She braided her hair over her shoulder like she usually did, tying it off with a silver string. Her eyes searched the dresser top, finding the metal band and pulling it over her forehead, pushing her shorter hair back and away from her face.
Roeve walked over to her wardrobe cabinet, sifting through the clothing in no hurry. She eyed a forest green fitted tunic for a moment before grabbing it and pulling it over her head. She wore a pair of beige shorts since the day was going to be sunny and hot and skipped the long boots she usually wore and chose some tattered ones that stopped just under her knees, buckling them slowly while sitting on top her window so she could see the streets ahead filled up with the city people and outsiders.
From her window, Roe had the view of the street leading to the Arena and it was bustling. Colorful banners were strung in the air over the streets, some even hanging over the buildings themselves. The stones that made up the walkways lining with streets were painted freshly, all different colors as well. It was done by the children as was tradition. It would fade in a few weeks time though. There were also copious amounts of Guards out today which marked the first day of the three day Celebrations. A section of Guards formed a slight wall in front of the Arena, disallowing anyone to even think about entering. The large building would not be opened until the third day.
But Roeve looked away once her boots were buckled and clipped a few mismatched bracelets on both her wrists, spinning each one after to hear them clink together.
Roeve stood then and glanced around her quiet room, her sights landing on a small ceramic bowl that rested on her bed stand. She eyed the silver contents, taking her bottom lip between her teeth as she contemplated then gave a small huff and reached over, grabbing a handful of the silver coins and stuffing them in her pocket before she changed her mind.
Roe made her way out into the hallway, closed her door with a quiet click and walked over to the stairs, tapping down quickly with a bounce in her step into the foyer and to the large front doors. Just as her hand closed on the curved metal handle a clearing of a throat sounded from behind.
She glanced back, seeing Jausep leaning against the doorway to his office with crossed arms.
"Going out already?" he asked.
"Yea, might as well." She shrugged a shoulder.
Jausep stared at her before glancing at the stairs. "No Zeke?"
Roe smiled sheepishly. "He left a while ago."
Jausep's brow lifted amused. "He left you?"
"It's alright, I think he wanted to go to The Bar first anyway. Seeing as how I have no intention of going there on my day off, it's better this way."
Jausep smirked, looked his shoulder for a brief second into his office, before turning his sight back to Roe. She waited patiently for him to speak again.
"Come with me to check up on how the Arena is setting up, after we can walk around the streets and see the festivities," he said as he pushed himself from the door frame and crossed the foyer into another archway that led to the Arena.
Roe tilted her head in surprise. "You want me to go with you?"
He looked at her again. "That's what I was hinting at, yes."
She eyed him for a moment, and spoke again with hesitance, "Don't you have someone else to... I don't know... spend your time with?"
Jausep surveyed her as he smiled a smug smile. "I have many people who I can spend my time with. Though, perhaps today I desire more... calming company. When's the last time we went to the Celebrations together?"
Her teal eyes searched his green as she swallowed thickly. He was a flirt, that was a widely known fact. It wasn't until recently did the Guild leader include her amongst the women in which he did so with. And while it was nice to be flirted with, and she knew he wasn't serious about it, she didn't know how to deal with it when it came to him. Yes he took her in when she was twelve, but he was anything but parental towards her. He treated her like all the other Guild members, expecting her to pretty much handle herself, which she did, and because of it she was very independent. He gave her work when she was old enough, and taught her how to hunt when she was even older. Always stern with her Juasep was. But she owed him a great deal, and she trusted him more than anyone.
So, when he flirted, she didn't know what to do about it. Especially when he was—as Zeke once put it bluntly—'An ass' to her on a good day. He was, he had a temper and she usually sparked it with her own slight attitude. Working at the Bar gave her an attitude and he didn't like it. But when things were good, like when she had her rent paid and she was free to hunt when she liked, they'd get along just fine. Unfortunately those instances were becoming rare.
Roeve sighed as she dropped her hand from the door handle. "The last time we went was when Minep forced you to go with me, that was seven years ago."
He raised a surprised brow. "Huh... that long?" She nodded. "I remember that..." He gave a dramatic shiver, causing her to smile. "Minep's not pretty when she's pissed. So... you going with me, or what?"
She mulled it over, trying to ignore the flutter in her stomach before giving a slow nod. "I suppose... but if you plan on going into The Bar, I'm leaving you and going off on my own."
Jausep gave a side smile. "Don't worry, I have no intention of going in there either. I'm not in the mood to be bombarded today." He tilted his head, gesturing for her to begin walking with him as they were to make their way into the Arena.
She glanced sidelong at him while they walked through the staff halls. "Your fans will be devastated, I'm sure."
His lips curved upward at the corners. "How unfortunate."
She huffed a small laugh as she shook her head lightly.
Jausep turned down another hall with a door at the end. He opened the large door, the wood giving off a groan at the hinges, and swept a hand for Roeve to go first. They were in the staff section now, a few workers were lounging about some couches and chaises, but upon seeing Jausep, they hopped up and scattered to go back to work.
He kept walking through a few more doors and hallways, going up a decent amount of stairs until they arrived at a metal door. He punched in some things at the screen causing it to slide open with a whoosh and strode through, Roeve following quietly in tow.
The room was the coordinating section, people sat at long tables with parchments in front of them, all discussing. The wall to her left was pure glass which showed the stadium of the Arena. She walked over to it as Jausep went over some things with his staff. Stopping just in front of it, she placed her hand against it as she looked down at the large circular staging area. She recognized some of the Guild members as they set everything up, some moving obstacles around, others preparing some Beasts for the shows tomorrow.
Roeve looked up at the many, many stone benches that worked their way from the bottom up, circling the stage. They'd be filled completely on the last day with thousands of people all here to watch the entertaining shows the Arena provided. While it was nothing new for the Arena since it was always crowded on the weekends, the Celebrations brought foreigners from other cities in and Jausep made it a point to go above and beyond for the festivities, using the greater Beasts instead of the typical ones that were shown on weekends.
Down below, a loud roar bounded up, bouncing against the glass. She saw four members trying to steady the Beast, one of them falling when it reared and pulled on chains. He lunged for the member, his giant jaws snapping as he did so, and just as he came close, he froze and yelped. His neck sparked with blue electricity around the steel collar he wore, another Guild member holding the cylindrical metal stick in his hand, the same the Guards used on the Roads.
"Think you'll be up to doing a demonstration tomorrow?" a deep voice came from her side.
Her eyes snapped up to see Juasep standing next to her, his gaze fixed on the Guild members struggling to calm the Beast.
He nodded. "You haven't done one in a while."
She held her arm by the elbow as she looked back down to the stage. "I don't think I want to do one on a celebration day. Maybe next weekend."
"What's wrong with doing it on a celebration day?"
She sighed. "With all those people watching, I might mess up. It will be more embarrassing than usual."
Jausep's lips quirked. "You wouldn't be alone. I'd be there."
Roe looked at him in surprise. "You want me to do a demonstration with you?"
Jausep rolled his eyes. "How much more obvious must I be when I ask you something, Roe? Yes, I want you to do a demonstration with me. It was originally going to be with Zeke, or anyone else who could use a bow. But, I figured you're just as good as him, well... maybe not as good as him, definitely nowhere near as amazing as me." She smiled and rolled her eyes. "Anyway, you're good enough. Zeke's doing three shows before, so he could use a break."
"What beast would it be?"
He glanced sidelong at her. "A Vectian."
Her head snapped up and her brows furrowed. "Isn't that a bit... below you?"
Jausep grinned. "Yea, I'd say it is."
"Then why..." Roe shook her head harshly when a thought crossed her mind. "you're doing this on purpose aren't you? Because of the one I led to the Roads."
"You catch on quick," he said sarcastically. "I figured it would give me a chance to show you how it's done while also doing a show. I don't have the time to be going out and training you like I used to. Kill two birds with one stone." He placed a heavy hand on the top of her head and ruffled her hair. "And I thought it would also give you a chance to shove Kole's words up his ass."
She couldn't help the grin that took over her features. "Alright, I guess I could do it. And maybe pay off my rent with the earnings too."
Jausep began walking back to the exit. "Don't get ahead of yourself, it still wouldn't be enough to cover three weeks, until then, you're stuck in The Bar."
Roeve sighed dejectedly as she followed him out.
Zaeden lay flat on his back atop his bed, staring at the ceiling with his hands tucked under his head, his mind constantly returning to the conversation he had with that male Kole in The Bar.
He swore his heart stopped when he listened to the boy. He knew she looked familiar! But even if Zaeden placed her face on his own, he'd still doubt she was who he thought she looked like. It just wasn't possible.
Roeve Thelle, she called herself. He never would have guessed. Gloomy teal eyes, a pair he thought he'd never see again, a pair he hadn't seen in twelve years. Though they weren't the same as before. Before they were innocent and wide with wonder, happy and childlike. Now though, they were sad, they were hardened, they were not innocent, they were different, a different person, a different soul. But they were hers, older, but hers. And she herself, grew up to be lovely if he did say so himself. She was a Huntress, the pretty girl Davette had said, part of Jausep's Guild. That surprised him greatly; what she had become.
For the first time in years he felt a sadness creep up into him but he immediately shot the feeling away. Though one thing was for certain, he had a lot of thinking to do and no matter how much Ryne wanted to leave this city, Zaeden wasn't going anywhere until he figured out some things.
He shook his head clear then, and sat up and off the bed. He dressed slowly, in a lazy outfit consisting of a loose tunic and trousers. He pulled on his black boots, he paused with he remembered something and grabbed the small covered basket that was sitting on top his dresser before making his way out of his room and into the corridor, heading down a few and landing in the cockpit.
Ryne was there already, his feet propped up on the co-pilot's chair as he held a mug of tea in his hands. His steely eyes were gazing out of the window, watching the ships and people go about their business. The docks were packed full with ships of all sizes. There were many gazes that traveled to the ship the two friends were occupying, and Zaeden knew Ryne's pride was swelling because of it, though he couldn't deny that the ship was a damn amazing sight.
Zaeden kicked Ryne's feet off of his chair and plopped down with a sigh. He glanced at his friend, taking in his features.
His grey eyes were brighter today, his scowl wasn't so deep, his posture seemed better too, not so stiff as it usually was when he was in pain. His features were relaxed, almost lazy, causing Zaeden to smirk.
"Feeling better, Rynie boy?" he teased.
Ryne rolled his eyes as he glanced at him. "Yes."
Zaeden sighed again, of course he was feeling better, after sucking down that vial he was bound to feel better, but it wouldn't last long and in the end, drinking that crap wasn't worth it at all in Zaeden's opinion, it wasn't worth the risk. But Ryne never liked to hear it.
"What's that?" Ryne's deep voice asked, bringing him out of his thoughts.
"What?... oh this." Zaeden placed the basket on his knees and pulled the cloth of to uncover the items inside. "Went to a Healer yesterda-"
"Zaeden..." Ryne growled but stopped when Zaeden held up a hand.
"Yea, yea, don't start. I just told her about the aches and pains. I didn't say anything else other than that."
Ryne shook his head, his scowl deepening and his features blaring annoyance, but he remained silent.
Zaeden held up a vial of green potion. "You obviously know what this is, there is six of these little buggers."
"They don't work," Ryne ground out.
"She thinks it might be because you take too many, space them out and they might."
Zaeden ignored him as he picked up the three larger bottles. "She said this one's to be had before you sleep." He shook the blue potion. "And this fella is to be taken lightly." He pointed out the golden potion. "It's different than any others I've seen you take."
Ryne shrugged, turning his attention back to the cockpit window. "Doesn't matter. It's not going to work."
"You don't know that," Zaeden pointed out.
"I do know that," Ryne snapped at him, his grey eyes flashing to a dark silver, "nothing works, Zaeden, nothing ever works. There is no potion that will make it better. The only thing that helps is—"
"You can't keep taking that, Ryne!" Zaeden argued with irritance. "It can kill you."
"Good," Ryne mumbled, rubbing his thumbs against his temples in deep circles.
Zaeden rolled his eyes at Ryne's dramatics, they had been having this argument for years. Ryne never let up, and Zaeden never stopped bugging him about his condition. He only wanted to help, they were friends of the best kind. Though, their personalities differed greatly, they had been through enough to stick together like brothers. Their home was the ship and the sky was their way. How anyone other than Zaeden could be Ryne's friend was beyond him, the other male was a stiff, a grouch, a jerk, and a broody son of a bitch to top it off. All Ryne did was brood! While Zaeden was as upbeat as he could be, it was just how he was.
He also knew Ryne hadn't always been that way, from the few tales the pilot would tell of his past Zaeden gathered that his friend had been much like him before. But, that was before the Uprising that had occurred in Zaethius twelve years ago.
That attack changed a lot of people then, even Zaeden, who at the time was not even a dweller of Zaethius. He was just a twelve year old boy who didn't fully understand what an Uprising was.
All he remembered was that day he woke to find his mother crying in the parlor while his father stood tall near a bayed window, hands clasped behind his back, watching the outside. He remembered his mother telling him of the attack in the sister city of Quasam and how many, many people had died. It was when his mother told him of the death of one family in particular, an important family to the city, a family he knew well, that he realized the severity of the situation.
Even though his own family had not been attacked, had not been part of the fight, they had changed that day. His father had become more distant, his mother cried every day, and he was silent because he didn't know how else to be. Death was not a familiar concept to him at the time, he knew what it was but he'd never known anyone who had died. Until that day... and it changed everything.
A lot of things changed. And one glance at the pilot at his right was all it took to see that the effects of the Uprising were still constant, still continuously suffered. Ryne suffered everyday, all the time, and it wasn't just physical, the male had lost much the night of the attack. A piece of him, half of him to be exact really, and the male never learned how to cope with it.
So Ryne tended to brood... all the time... and Zaeden was used to it.
He sighed as he sank into the backrest of his chair. He did wish that his friend wasn't such a downer, it made his optimism kind of pointless.
"Not good, Ryne, not good," Zaeden stressed before spinning around in his chair and plastered a smile on his face. "Let's not start the day off with you pining for death. Alright, mate?"
He got no response from the other male, and he spun in the chair for a few moments while he contemplated.
"Wanna go down and get somethin' to eat? I bet there are tons of stalls out already as day one of Zaethius celebrations begins."
Zaeden threw his hands in the air in frustration. "You don't have to actually enjoy yourself down there, it's just to get some food. You know there's bound to be something good. They go all out, mate."
"I'm not leaving the ship," Ryne said blankly, not even sparing Zaeden a glance as he held his cup of tea on his thigh."
Zaeden frowned as he stood. "Fine, sulk here then. I met some people yesterday who'd love to join me for the festivities."
The brigand rolled his eyes and made his way out of the cockpit and back to his cabin. He changed again into a more presentable outfit after sifting through his clothes for a few minutes. After he had tugged on his boots, he slipped a blade in a strap hidden behind his calf.
He knelt by a chest at the foot of his bed, unlocking it with a key he kept around his neck at all times. He shoved the lid open, the hinges groaned as he did so, and reached into the chest. He brought out a smaller box, a strong box, and unlocked it as well, taking out a pouch of coins. After closing the chest and locking it, he tied the pouch to his belt, checked his face in a mirror above his dresser, and strode into the corridors.
He could see Ryne's feet propped up on the co-pilot's chair, but the male himself was blocked by the back of his seat. Zaeden leaned up against the archway to the bridge and spoke.
"Sure you won't come, mate? S'jus' food..."
"I'm not leaving the ship," Ryne's deep voice drifted over to him.
Zaeden shook his head in disappointment. "Suit yourself then. I'm off."
The pilot gave him no response, so Zaeden left the ship quietly and weaved his way for the stairs that led the to city below, The Bar his destination.
Roeve was found walking in the crowded streets, pausing now and then to wait for Jausep as he was halted by the city people. They would call to him, some gushing their awe of the Guild Leader and Arena title holder, some praising him, others criticizing , and a few openly flirting. He would cast apologetic glances at Roeve who stood off to this side silently, but she knew they were only for her benefit. He adored the attention, loved it, even though he denied it.
She had her goggles on, giving everything a tinge of a blue hue. They were no longer in the Lowest District and had moved up into the Central District where the Ceremonies would be taking place tomorrow. There were stalls placed everywhere and the decorations brought much color to the city, it was very lively. Music was being played, and people were dancing and laughing in the enormous square, thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Roeve's eyes flitted over toward the Guild Leader once more and he seemed to be in deep conversation with two males, who, if she had to guess by the look on Jausep's face, were giving their opinion on the Arena and it probably wasn't a good one.
She wandered away a couple of steps as she waited, eyeing the stalls. Her fingers spun the bracelets on her wrist idly as she continued further into the square. She weaved through the people, and stuck closer to the walls of the surrounding buildings.
It was when her eyes had landed on a large canvas did she stop.
There were many canvases hanging from all sorts of buildings, in the Lowest District most of those held pictures of the Guild, or Arena, and even Jausep. But further into the city, towards the Central District, the canvas pictures turned into pictures of the city itself and of prominent figures. People of the Court mostly, though now, with the tomorrow's Ceremonies, many of the canvases held an image of a male who was most likely going to be named the city's new Archon.
She didn't care for who he was and she'd only heard his name a couple of times. It really didn't matter, he'd be out of the position probably within the year. This city couldn't keep an Archon, not since the attack twelve years ago. The pressure got to them, and she was sure the death threats did even more so. So for now, the city was run by the Court, which had enough fire under them as it was.
But, the Ceremonies, traditionally, were to honor the fallen. To have a day of remembrance for those who were lost that night of the Uprising.
It was a three day celebration; the first, was for a day of enjoyment and festivities, the second, was the Naming Celebration and also the day to remember, and the third, because of popular demand, was for a grand show in the Arena to end it all.
She never really liked the second day.
Her eyes drifted over the canvas that held her attention, it was big, the length of the building in which it rested on. It was a portrait of a family who had perished in the attack, it was of a tall, imposing man who stood strong in the center, his chin tilted up, looking down at those who passed by, his armor was as intricate as it could get, and shined like a moonstone did in the light. His expression was haughty and aristocratic, stern, hard, like marble, with two piercing aqua eyes that looked cold as ice.
That man, was the city's last notable Archon. He held the title for eight years before the attack happened.
The next figure in the portrait was a woman, and she sat in a chair just in front of him, her hands clasped in her lap. Rodane stood with his hand clasped over the winged back of the chair. The woman, his wife, held deep blue intelligent eyes, she was lovely to behold.
Her figure was clothed in a white dress that gave off a brilliant sheen, with a golden sheer scarf wrapped loosely around her neck. Her dark maroon hair hung in long curls over her shoulders, held back by a metal head-piece that matched her dress. Her features were serene, the complete opposite of the man standing behind her. Her eyes were kind, and her gentle lips curved into the smallest of smiles. The woman was a dreamlike figure, and she was dead.
Roeve's eyes then moved to the last occupant in the portrait, a child.
A girl, who stood beside the chair, her hands clasped together on the arm rest. Her dress was similar to her mother's with small alterations. The child was of eight, and her face was of youthful jubilance, with eyes like her father's, but dulled, calmed by her mother's shape. Her head was tilted in a pose that spoke of elegance, most definitely taught as soon as she began walking. Her wavy hair, the color of her mother's, and pulled back by two golden clasps just above her ears. Her lips were pulled in a smile, but like her mother's, it was only a slight one. If their smiles were bigger, it would make the portrait unbalanced due to the man's almost scowl.
Daughter of the last Archon, and presumed to be dead.
It was a mystery, one that hadn't been solved.
And if Roeve moved her eyes to stalls that carried books and parchments, she'd no doubt see some book about the lost girl. There were many, tales about the possibilities of what became of the child. It was an ongoing fad, it gave people something to entertain themselves with. She'd read some herself even, some were actually a good read.
Some were speculation, most were fiction; fantasies and dramatic tales. Tales of how the girl might have been captured instead, and lived her life as a slave. Some where she'd gone into hiding, and trained herself into a warrior to wreak vengeance for her family's demise. Others were of romance, of the girl growing up and finding the handsome hero.
But that was the point, the fantasy tales gave people some entertainment. A story to tell young kids, and it was entertaining, because it was still a mystery. Any of those tales could be close to the truth. Sometimes even she found herself wondering where that elegant child in the portrait with the gleam of mirth dancing in her eyes had gone.
But Roeve stopped her thoughts about it as she drew in a deep breath. Her shielded eyes lingered on the giant portrait as her hand moved over to her other wrist, spinning the bracelets.
Zaeden thanked the vendor, placing a few Ribbys onto the stall surface and grabbed the wrapped meal he'd bought. He walked around the Central Square, dodging people who went this way and that. As he walked he began unwrapping his meal; a fresh seasoned slice of bread filled with Vectian meat. He chewed while walking, watching the people enjoy the festivities, listening to the music as he meandered the square.
He was suppose to have met with the boy, Kole. But the male had apparently been busy in the Engineering District, so they agreed to meet later in The Bar. Zaeden had a few things he wanted to discuss with Kole regarding the stone.
He had been watching a couple dance, not paying attention to where he was stepping and bumped into someone abruptly. He managed to steady himself in time, but his food flew out of his hands and onto the floor.
"Damn, I just bought that..." he muttered before glancing up to the person he'd run into. A man whom did not look too pleased.
"Watch it, will you?" he grumbled before stalking off.
Zaeden made a rude gesture at the man's retreating back before he knelt down to pick up his fallen meal. When he stood, he looked around the square for a place to dispose of it, and his blue eyes noticed a figure just a few paces ahead of him. Her hair was what caught his eye, for he remembered it from The Bar. Styled the same way, braided over her shoulder. The girl, Roeve Thelle.
He surveyed her for a few moments, she had her side to him, and on hand was clasped around her wrist as she looked on at something. He followed her gaze and saw that she seemed to be staring at a canvas image hanging from a building on the opposite side of the square. He knew that image, everyone did. They put it up every year, to remember.
He began striding towards her, dropping his tainted food on a bench carelessly. When he approached, he stopped a few feet to her side, and she hadn't seemed to register his presence. Zaeden realized that half of her face was covered by two blue oval lenses that were her goggles. He'd seen those type on the Guild hunters before, which he had found out were very necessary in the plains, due to the knife edged grasses.
His eyes darted to the portrait for a second, and he then spoke.
"Tragic, isn't it?"
The girl jumped a little at his sudden voice, and her head swiveled to him. Her goggles made it impossible to see her eyes, only her nose and lips were apparent, and from those, he couldn't really guess her expression.
She only faced him, not saying anything, her lips were neutrally set, not smiling, not frowning.
He waved a hand toward the canvas. "What happened to them, I mean."
He became uneasy at her obscured face as she continued to presumably stare at him. But after a tilt of her chin, she gave him her side once again.
"You must be from the Empyrean District if you hold that opinion," she said in a blank tone.
Zaeden walked a little closer. "What makes you say that?"
"You have an accent for one, and two, only the ones loyal to the Court, who, everyone from the Empyrean District is, feel that their... death, was tragic." She gestured to the portrait without looking at him.
He smirked, crossing his arms. "I'm not from the Empyrean District, and I am not loyal to the Court. And while I do have an accent, I must point out that you do as well."
The girl shot a look at him, her lips in a frown, and she took a moment to answer, probably to actually think up an excuse.
"I don't have an accent..."
He chuckled as he shifted from foot to foot. "You do, but I'll give it to you and say you hide it very well."
He saw her sputter for a response and his smirk widened. "S'alright, I understand why you'd cover it up if you live in the Lowest District... I know I've gotten pissed on a few times from some of the more... vocal people, jus' 'cause of how I speak. Like you, they assume I'm from the Empyrean District. I'm from Quasam actually, not that that is much better."
She was facing him again, and her head had tilted to the side in thought. "How'd you know I live in the Lowest District? I've not met you before..."
Zaeden feigned a hurt expression. "You just met me yesterday, don't tell me you've forgotten already."
"You're Kole's friend..." she said, he detected a hint of bitterness in her voice.
"Zaeden," he introduced himself, stepping forward and extending his hand. Her head dipped to look at it, and her hand twitched at her side.
Eventually she slipped her hand into his and shook it hesitantly. "Roeve..."
His eyes were on the blue lenses of her goggles, but his sight couldn't penetrate them. They were not opaque and he really wanted to see her eyes. It was surreal; standing there with her after all this time. And it was bittersweet, for they weren't who they used to be. Both of them had changed, into completely different people. New people...
She'd grown up, she wasn't who he remembered. And he wasn't sure if she remembered him, but it didn't matter, he wasn't about to broach that subject. She assumed he believed her when she said she was Roeve, and he would let her. Even if he knew differently.
"Roeve," he repeated with a nod, "so, are you excited about tomorrow's Ceremonies?"
She released his hand and shrugged. "Not really, I'm not sure I'll even come out and watch."
"Not looking forward to the new Archon?"
"It doesn't matter to me. He won't last, no matter what they keep saying. And he'll be out of the position before he could ever be a proper Archon and make real changes to the city."
"Don't know 'bout that. This, Adrone Vaelorus, looks more sturdier than the others. More alive really, the last looked like a corpse, he was so old."
Her lips tugged into a wry smile as she shook her head.
Zaeden cleared his throat and crossed his arms. "So, I'm actually meeting with Kole in a bit. I was thinking of heading to The Bar to wait, would you like to join me?"
He found that he wasn't quite done with this girl yet, and he still had a lot to figure out, and most involved the girl. And he vowed to stay in Zaethius until he did.
She started rubbing her arm and glanced at the square. "I don't think so," she said, and he tried to hide his disappointment, "I'm waiting for someone as well. And I told myself I wouldn't go into The Bar today. Plus," she added with a wry tug of her lips, "I doubt Kole would be too happy seeing me talking to his new friend."
He opened his mouth to argue he didn't really consider Kole his friend but a voice cut him off.
"Roeve, damn it. I swear you left." Zaeden turned to see the approaching figure, and his brows rose at the sight. It was the infamous Jausep, and he stopped by the girl. "I said I'd only be a few minutes."
"I was tired of standing there," Roeve replied with a shrug of her shoulder.
The other male then noticed Zaeden, and he casted a suspicious look towards him. "Who's this?"
"Friend of Kole's."
Zaeden saw a look of annoyance fill Jausep's face, he wondered why Kole seemed unpopular amongst the two.
He made to introduce himself but Jausep spoke then.
"Right, well let's go. If I have to hear one more person bitch about the Arena, I'm going to gut someone," Jausep grabbed her by the elbow and began tugging her away. Zaeden only watched, and Roeve turned her head over her shoulder to face him and gave a hesitant wave, which he returned slowly.
When they disappeared in the crowd, Zaeden realized he was frowning. He shook his head to clear his thoughts, he caught the portrait again, looking at it for a few moments. He gazed at the aqua eyes of the child and shook his head again before he turned on his heel and weaved his way through the people.
He'd go to The Bar to wait and to think...
Author's Note: Thoughts? Comments? Feedback is appreciated :)