Dragon Rising

Chapter Five:

Departure and Splendor

Keziah was relieved to leave the next morning. He did like being with other people, being a social person, but he also had no respect for theives. Even if Beleila was a sometimes nice woman, she was also sometimes not.

"Vermilion, hurry up," Keziah whined, waiting for the redhead, who was taking his sweet time saying good-bye to everyone.

"Wait, I have to thank someone."

"Thank someone?" Keziah asked, puzzled. "Who?"

"It's no one important," Vermilion waved a hand. "I'll be with you in a sec, okay?"

"Uh, yeah..." Keziah said. "Sure."

Vermilion took off inside the den once more. Keziah sighed and fingered the necklace beneath his gown absentmindedly. A few more minutes wouldn't kill him, right?

"Hello, Blue."

Keziah looked up at the familiar voice of the buff woman now standing before him.

"Uh, hi." Keziah self-consciously brought his hand to his side.

"You know," Beleila began. "I'm a little jealous of you, to be truthful."

"Y-you are?! Why?" Keziah flushed, embarrassed.

"Yeah," Beleila sighed and pulled out a cigarette. Keziah eyed it disdainfully, but he said nothing. "You're a pretty lady. Dainty, delicate, the way a woman should be. Me, I'm hulking and manly. Not many of the men see me as a woman, only as a leader to be respected. Sure, I like that, but I wish a guy would feel for me what your red haired vixen seems to feel for you."

"Wh-what?!" Keziah's blush burned brighter. He tried to hide it by covering his face with his hands and peeking at Beleila from over his fists. "You're JOKING, right?! He's, he's, he's so wild and rude, he has no manners! He only thinks of himself, and he's downright weird! Where's that accent from, anyway? He probably made it up himself, he's that odd! And he's so not cute!"

Beleila smiled at Keziah, a gentle, knowing smile. "I think you like him more than you let on, Blue."

"I-I do not!" Keziah huffed and turned away, crossing his arms. His cheeks burned in embarrassment. /How dare she say that? I don't like that stupid retard! What makes her think that anyway? And what does she mean, she wants a man to feel for her what HE feels for me? All he feels is... Well, there was that time he cuddled with me... And how about at the spring? Grrrr... Now she's brainwashing me into seeing more into his teasing than there really is. How dare they make me question things?!/

"I'm done!" Vermilion said cheerfully as he came out of the den, looking quite cheerful.

"You!" Keziah spun around and pointed accusingly at Vermilion. Vermilion blinked in surprise.

"Who?" Vermilion looked around, then pointed at himself. "Me?"

"Yes, YOU!" Keziah screeched and jumped over, grabbing hold of Vermilion's shirt.

"Now you even have HER saying things! What kinda lies are you spreading about? That I'm some sorta slut? I'm not that kinda gu- girl, you know! I'll have you know I am a proud virgin, and I'm going to stay that way until I'm married. And that's how it's supposed to be, see?"

Vermilion pulled away. "I spread no lies. I have no idea about what you're talking about. You're so weird."

"I'M weird? ME? You're the one living in a valley, all mysterious-like and talking with a strange accent, throwing yourself off cliffs for no apparent reason--"

"Listen," Vermilion grabbed Keziah's shoulders and brought his forehead against Keziah's. Keziah gasped and blinked in surprise. His heart beat faster in his chest, he felt those weird little butterflies. "I have no intention of ruining your reputation, or harming you. When are you going to realize the whole world isn't against you, Keziah? You take everything the wrong way, always wanting to believe that everyone's true intentions are to cause you some kind of harm. Is it because you yourself think like that? That you only want to cause harm? Or do you just think we're not capable of empathy? Tell me, Keziah."

"I-I..." Keziah's mouth was dry. He avoided Vermilion's gaze. "I don't know..."

Vermilion let go of Keziah and walked toward the path leading to the town a few miles away. "Let's go. We'll make it there in just a few hours."

Keziah nodded, still in a daze.

"Bye you two," Beleila grinned. "See ya later. Don't get eaten by the dragon."

Keziah snapped out of his daze.

"You know of the dragon?"

Vermilion paused.

"Well, duh," Beleila laughed. "It's only the talk of the town right now. The dragon's been taking the princesses one by one. Only wants royal women. Lucky me, eh? Don't worry, Blue. You'll be fine. I doubt he's still hungry after eating those spoiled brats."

"Hmm, well, let's go, Vermilion!" Keziah grabbed Vermilion by the arm and sped to their destination.

* * * * * * * * *

The central city of the Enokorian Kingdom was large and bustling with people, as to be expected with a city as large as it was. But there was a lot of whispering going on, too. No doubt it was about the recent dealings with dragons. Keziah rushed over to a couple discussing the rumors.

"I couldn't help but overhear you!" he cried, tapping the girl's arm. She turned around.

"Ohmigawd!" the girl cried as she took in Keziah's gown. "Are you a princess?"

"Um, no. No, I'm not." Keziah smiled shyly. "Actually, I'm just a miller's daughter. But, I've been hearing a lot about this dragon. Can you tell me more?"

"Sure," the girl said happily. "I heard he's making a harem..."

Vermilion snorted.

"What? You don't believe me?" the girl asked.

Vermilion turned away, hiding a smile. "No, no. That's not it."

"Okay then," The girl continued her story, which was outrageous.

Once they were done, they questioned several other people.

"I heard he's doing weird experiments on them."

"He's supposed to be taking them and selling them to another dragon friend of his, who in turn is selling her to the circus. That's what I heard."

"I heard about this rumor that he really does just eat them, plain and simple."

It was quite discouraging, and after a while, Keziah grew tired of the stories and went into a bar to get a drink. The bar was semi-crowded, and abuzz with all things dragon. Keziah ignored the talk.

"None of them match," he whined to Vermilion as they sat at a table together. Keziah slumped over the table and sighed heavily. "This really sucks..."

"Well, this was stupid to begin with. A lady shouldn't be worried about it anyway. Isn't that a knight's job?" Vermilion pointed out.

Keziah glared at Vermilion over his arm. "I plan on slaying that thing."

A strange look crossed Vermilion's face. "Oh?"

"Yes, oh! A-a a girl can do it just as well as any man!" Keziah cried indignantly.

"Well, did the dragon do anything to YOU?"

Keziah sighed in exasperation. "This isn't personal. My uncle requested it. I'm good with a sword, and pretty effemina- er, pretty, and I was the only one willing to traipse through mud to get here. Why? You gonna tell me 'dragons are people, too'?"

Vermilion put his cheek in his hand and stared into space. "No... I wasn't going to say that..."

"Good. Because they're not. They're like every other filthy beast out there."

"Yes. Filthy beasts..."

Keziah looked at Vermilion strangely. "Now, who's weird?"

"You're looking to find the dragon?" a smooth, low voice said from behind Keziah. Keziah looked up, startled.

"Y-yes, I am. Why?"

The man behind Keziah slid into a seat beside him. He was tall, slim, with all black clothes; a long black coat, black pants, black shirt, black boots. He even wore a wide-brimmed black hat that hid his features because his head was lowered. He had waist-long shiny brown hair, tied loosely halfway down his back.

"Because, I'm also searching for this dragon."

Vermilion examined the man, trying to figure out his motives. There was a slight flicker of movement behind him, and Vermilion noticed there was a boy, about seven or eight, behind the man. He was looking at the floor in a subservient manner. Vermilion narrowed his eyes and looked the man over once again. /Is he a slave trader?/

"Well, what does that have to do with us?" Keziah asked.

"I thought you may have a plan of action."

"I do," Keziah admitted. "I'm talking to the King tomorrow. I'm going in the place of his daughter."

"You are?" the man asked, mildly surprised. "You're a brave lass."

"Thanks, I think."

"Do you think my partner and I could tag along?"

"Your partner?" Keziah asked.

The man in black turned and brought the young boy forward a step. The boy gazed at the two people at the table with impassive, but vivid, green eyes. He said nothing.

"This is Silence," the man said. "He can't speak."

Keziah's eyes grew wide with shock, then he looked at the boy with sympathetic eyes, smiling gently. "Really? How did that happen?" Keziah's eyes went back to the man.

"I'm not sure," the man said. "I found him like this a month ago. He hasn't said a word, so I assume he can't speak. But it could be that he has no desire to speak." The man looked sadly at the ground.

"What's your name?" Keziah asked.

"Ah. It's Three West."

Keziah's eyes widened in shock again. "Th-Three West? The famous assassin?"

Three nodded.

Keziah blinked.

"Can we trust you?" Vermilion asked, eyes narrowed suspiciously.

Three looked over at Vermilion, as if seeing him for the first time that night.

"Yes, you can trust me."

"I hope so..." Keziah muttered.

* * * * * * * * *

The party of four decided to get a room together to cut the costs. Keziah was a little edgy ("We have to share a room with an assassin?! This gets even worse!!") but Vermilion didn't seem overly concerned. He merely kept a careful eye on the dark assassin. The kid seemed no threat, he was very thin and frail looking, with a delicate, feminine facial structure, a tiny sprinkling of freckles across each cheek, and large, sad eyes framed by golden lashes. His hair was the colour of wheat, a colour far too light to be brown, but a shade darker than blonde. And it was long, nearly as long as Vermilion's, it hung in twin braids down his back, all the way to his ankles.

Currently, the child, Silence, sat in a chair beside the window, staring at the ground with his hands in his lap. Three was lying sprawled on the bed, his hat over his face. Vermilion was sitting on the edge of the bed, chin in hands, thinking. Keziah was using the indoor bath.

Vermilion had grown rather accustomed to human speech, and was slightly disturbed by the silence (pun, pun, pun!) of his new companions.

"So, Three. What do you want with the dragon?" Vermilion asked, turning to the man in black.

"If I tell you, I'm sure you won't want me along."

Vermilion frowned. "Why?"

Three didn't respond.

Vermilion glanced at Silence. Silence was looking at him curiously.

"How about you?" Vermilion asked. "Do you know?"

Silence averted his gaze and briefly shook his head. Vermilion got the feeling that it was a lie. Or something. What did one call a lie that wasn't really spoken, but was still untrue, anyway?

"Okaaay, how about we just sit here and be quiet?" Vermilion suggested, expecting someone to catch the sarcasm. Neither did. The room fell into a deep silence again. Vermilion sighed and let his chin sink to his hands again. He missed Keziah already.

Silence curled up into the chair and stared with fascination at Vermilion.

"What?" Vermilion asked.

Silence stared some more, looking a little puzzled.

"C'mon, I know you aren't a moron," Vermilion said. "Even if you can't talk, you can still communicate."

"Leave him alone," Three grumbled.

"No! That's the problem with him, isn't it, Silence? Everyone assumes that just because you're mute, you're stupid. You're probably quite smart. Can you read?"

Silence hesitated, then nodded slowly.

"Good! Good!" Vermilion cried, excited. He took the hotel paper and quill pen, dipped it in ink and hastily wrote something. He turned it up for Silence to see. "Do you understand this, Silence?"

Again, Silence was hesitant, but he eventually nodded again.

"Show me that you know."

Vermilion passed the paper and pen to Silence eagerly. Silence took the pen in his trembling left hand.

"You're a lefty, eh? I'll have to remember that..." Vermilion murmured.

Silence drew something on the paper and shyly showed it to Vermilion. Vermilion was stunned. Under the word he'd written, which was 'dragon', was a tiny and detailed drawing of a beautiful dragon. It didn't stun Vermilion so much that the child could draw so wonderfully as it did that he knew so well what a true dragon looked like. Not horrible and monstrous, but free-spirited, fierce and lovely.

"Have you seen one, Silence?"

Silence didn't respond with a nod this time, or even a shake of his head. He looked away, down at the worn rug beneath his feet.

"You had to, to draw one this well."

"What is it?" Three asked. He couldn't see what it was at the angle he was at. Vermilion handed it to the tall, black clad man.

"What language is this?" Three pointed to the word above the dragon. "I can see what it means by the picture, but it's unfamiliar to me."

Vermilion stared at the man in confusion, then took a look at the word again. A chill ran down his spine. /I wrote it in Dragonian,/ he realized. /How was Silence able to read it?/ Vermilion took a look at the little boy, who was now chewing the end of one of his braids nervously. /He couldn't be.../

"Silence, I ask you again, have you seen one?"

Silence chomped harder on the braid.

"Hey, I asked you a question," Three pressed. "And leave the kid alone. He's probably gone through a lot."

"It's just a really old, arcane language," Vermilion said, knowing if he named it, it would instantly be matched to the species that spoke it. "It's strange that he knows it, when he's so young. Do you know English, Silence?"

Silence pulled his braid out of his mouth and shook his head.

"Well, let's check. Three, write the word for some animal in English."

Three wrote the word 'dog' then handed it to Vermilion, who in turn, showed it to Silence.


Silence shook his head.

"Hmmm..." Vermilion wrote the number five in both languages and slid the paper to Silence. Silence looked them both over, then drew five lines under the Dragonian word. He scribbled something under it and handed it back to Vermilion. The note said, 'I only know how to read and write in one language, sir Red.' Vermilion chuckled a little. The word for red in Dragonian was no different than the one for Vermilion. So it technically could be read either way.

"How did you learn this language?"

Silence stuffed his braid into his mouth.

The bathroom door opened then, and Keziah yawned as he rubbed his wet hair in his towel. "Why aren't you guys sleeping? I'm tired..."

"We're going to bed now," Three said, with a warning look at Vermilion. "I know poor Silence is bushed, aren't you?"

Silence nodded, cuddling in the chair.

"Sleep in the bed, Silence," Keziah offered. "I'll be sleeping on the floor anyway."

"Forget it," Three intervened. "He prefers his space. I've tried. The only way he'll sleep in this bed is if he's alone, and even if we all get on the floor to let him sleep in it, as long as he knows there are people on the floor, he refuses to do so."

"Um, alright..." Keziah said. "Then I'll make up my bed."

Keziah set to making a comfortable space on the floor. Vermilion eyed the assassin, then pulled the covers around himself, lying beside the other man. Three rose an eyebrow in Vermilion's direction, not used to sharing a bed with a man, but said nothing as he rolled over and slipped beneath the blankets as well.

Silence pulled a small blanket he'd been sitting on around himself and closed his eyes after one last look at Vermilion. Vermilion analyzed the boy once more, found no new answers and also let himself wander into sleep.

To be Continued!!


StarBurst73: Heheh. I love drawing the romantic tension out veeery slowly. ^^ Can you tell?

DistractedInnocence: Eheheh. I'd love to see the look on Vermilion's face when someone comes up behind him and kisses him. ^^ That'd be funny. It's fine that you didn't review. Please review this one? ^^

Sea of Crystals: Krantz is horny bastard, ain't he? ^^ But it was fun writing him. He does come back, ya know. But, Vermie's all Keziah's.^^

Requiem Dream: I'm too slow at the affection, aren't I? But it'll be sweet when it happens, right?

Demented Weesil: Ah, I do the very same thing! My brothers think I'm insane. ^^ I'm like, "Look, look! He gave him that look! *mad giggle*" Then not 10 seconds later, "Ohmigawd! That's so sweet! A FRIEND wouldn't do that!!" BWAHAHAHAHA! I love them. ^^ Suggestions for anime? Have you seen Gravitation? Or Weiss Kreuz? Or Fruits Basket? Yum! Those are all good ones. All good for couple spotting. ^^ And in Gravi, they actually KISS!! *gasp* I didn't have the anime problem in school. I had a whole group of friends. Lucky? Not usually, but for once, yes!

ShadowSilence: Teku!! Your name is cool! It's actually the merging of two of my characters! Silence in this fic, Shadow in Sun/Light. How funny!

Please R&R!!