Chapter 8: Two Hearts, One Form
Osric pushed through the crowd as Jasmine stealthily cut her way through. They were almost to the front when gasps were suddenly heard. Osric cursed like a sailor when the crowd started to close in on them. Jasmine rolled her eyes a Osric's colorful vocabulary and made her way through the crowd with Osric now the one trailing behind her.
It wasn't long before the two reached the very front of the crowd. Frantically looking around, Osric squinted and tip-toed but sighed in defeat when he saw nothing.
"I can't see anything," he said as he sat on a stray stool that stood crookedly beside him. "I can't believe that I pushed myself all the way here with all my sweat and-"
"Sshh!" Osric was cut off with Jasmine's soft, calloused hand covering his mouth. He frowned up at her but saw her looking right ahead. He followed her gaze and gasped as well. "What is that?"
He was amazed.
Aloe couldn't move. As the contender drew closer and she slowly saw his face. Though a little peculiar, she figured that nothing was peculiar in Foreasia. When they were already very close, the dragon suddenly opened its mouth and suddenly breathed out its deadly weapon, fire.
It's contender was easily knocked off and Aloe's hands made its way to her mouth. The dragon came closer and closer to the man and that was when Aloe could bear no more. She covered her face with her hands and stood still, waiting for everything to stop and be over with.
Falcon, noticing Aloe's reaction, made to go and comfort her when he was suddenly pushed aside by someone running through the crowd. "Master!"
After shaking off the confusion from his head, Falcon followed the man who pushed him with his gaze and frowned. He saw the tall man run over to the one just knocked over the dragon. There was a few conversation then the tall one suddenly faced the dragon and started spurting off spells of different colors and forms as the dragon slowly started backing off from the inn.
It wasn't long before the tall, young man had already thrown every spell he had and the dragon still stood undefeated. He frowned then closed his eyes with his hands moving in a trance while chanting his mantra. After a few more words, a big blue circle formed around him with foreign symbols ("Just like Aloe's" Falcon breathed.) and a large Chinese dragon with blue eyes rose from the center (the tall man) and started attacking the enemy dragon.
He was still chanting with his eyes closed and his hands rhythmically moving to the Chinese dragon's every move.
"Like the dragon is his puppet," Falcon said to himself as he watched the display of magic before his eyes. His mind suddenly wandered to last night...
He threw open the door of the bar and went in only to see a big black dragon with red eyes toying with a big burly man that looked like a warrior. With the sound of the man's frightened cries and other men's gasps of amusement, Falcon looked around the circle to find a certain girl standing in the middle of a red circle of symbols that seemed foreign, her hands raised up and her eyes glowing red.
"But Aloe never did those rhythmic gestures. Could it be..." Falcon turned his eyes to Aloe who was surprisingly standing up straight, blankly looking at the scene in front of her. Could it be...
Seeing her finally standing up straight, he slowly walked up to her. "Aloe?"
"It's calling out to me," Aloe said in a trance-like voice.
"What is?" Falcon frowned. What was going to happen now?
"The dragon." Falcon turned to the two dragons fighting. Which one?
Falcon looked back at Aloe and reached out to her. "Aloe..."
"He needs me," Aloe breathed as the Chinese dragon was slowly weakening and the tall man in the middle of the blue circle, slowly quieting down as his hands started slowing down. "He's calling my name." Aloe...
Aloe slowly started walking closer to the battle. Falcon, surprised by her words, took a couple of minutes to compose himself before going after her.
"Aloe!" Aloe stopped in her tracks but did not look back. "Aloe, don't do it."
"But he needs me..."
"No, Aloe!" Falcon was in front of her now. He took hold of her forearms and lightly shook her. "You don't know what you're walking into. You have no clue as to what-"
"But I have to help him." Falcon was silenced by the stern tone laced in her voice. "Can't you hear his cries of plea." I need help...Please...Help me...
Aloe looked at him with mixed emotions. "Please..."
Falcon watched the enemy dragon slowly growing victorious. It was a big deal and it did look like he needed help. But everything just seemed so dangerous, even if you looked at it at another angle.
The silence between the both of them was enough for Aloe to walk forward and face the dragon. She said something incomprehensible to Falcon and her eyes suddenly started glowing red. Aloe started getting into a trance and the familiar circle of foreign symbols rounded her feet. Invisible wind made her hair and clothing fly.
The huge black dragon was starting to appear when Falcon suddenly ran to Aloe enveloping her form as the red light enveloped the both of them.
Everything was black. Though his amber orbs searched everywhere, he could still see nothing. The darkness was vast and seemingly never ending. Falcon tried walking but stopped when he realized that he was just walking in infinite circles.
He tried to shoot an arrow, to see if he really was just contained in a small space but when he reached behind him, he was (once again) left unarmed. Falcon cursed silently. He had never left anywhere without his weapon and now when he desperately needed it the most, he doesn't have it.
A bright red light suddenly shone from a distance from where he was standing. It twinkled, as if beckoning him to come to it, to touch it. Falcon ran to the light. The distance seemed infinite. But after what seemed decades, a form started materializing.
Falcon slowly walked towards her. She was glowing bright red so were her eyes. Falcon frowned at this and took another tentative step forward.
"Falcon..." she called out to him. "Falcon..."
Falcon just stared up at her, unsure of what to do. "Come to me, Falcon...I need you..."
And unconsciously, Falcon started walking towards her. He carefully held out his hand to her outstretched one. As their hands slowly made contact, a pair of bright red eyes glowed in the background.
This caused Falcon to jump back in surprise but Aloe gently caught his hand and slowly came closer to him. She circled her arms around his neck and rested her head on his shoulder. "Don't be afraid."
Falcon stood frozen in her embrace, still staring at the intimidating look of the red glowing eyes. Aloe closed her eyes, feeling his fear and confusion. She held him tighter and whispered in his ear. "Relax...I'm here..."
Then suddenly, Falcon relaxed in her embrace. His arms started to circle around Aloe's waist and his eyes start to close in a trance-like state. Aloe returned her head on his shoulder just as Falcon's arms rested on her waist.
After a split second of their position, Falcon started glowing bright green. His eyes, once a golden amber now a bright green, suddenly opened. The glowing red eyes behind them was slowly coated with a green glow.
Aloe raised her head from his shoulder and looked him in the eye. "This is our battle..."
And the green glow surrounding the orbs materialized into a glowing green wolf with blood red eyes baring its vicious fangs...
Falcon slowly came to the conscious world and slowly opening his eyes, adjusting them to the light that suddenly flooded into his sensitive pupils. He frowned at the small bulky blur that seemed to hover over him. When he suddenly sensed that something from the bulk was coming towards him, he suddenly shot up with a short but loud scream.
He thrashed his arms about, making sure that he was safe from any foreign objects coming his way and also due to his temporary semi-state of blindness. When his vision was free from the distracting blur, the said bulk was smiling amusingly at him.
"Calm down, boy. There are no harmful beings here out to hurt you," Falcon suddenly ceased his thrashing and looked toward the speaker who was surprisingly the old man who was fighting off the dragon a little earlier that day.
The old man chuckled at Falcon's raised brows and slowly trotting to the nearby chair all the while saying, "You don't have to worry, my boy," He then hoisted himself into the chair with his cane as his twinkling eyes bore into Falcon's amber gaze. "An old man would never hurt someone who is left defenseless and obviously injured."
At the mention of an injury, Falcon quickly checked himself of any injury. When finding none, Falcon turned back to the old man with a slightly suspicious frown. The old man gave him an amused shake of his head and set his cane to one side, indicating a long discussion of something that seemed very important.
"I want you to answer my questions honestly." Falcon, after half a minute of contemplating, nodded and moved to listen. "Very well. Tell me, do you feel any bruising?"
Falcon was slightly taken aback by the question but after silently poking himself almost everywhere (not letting the old man see as to not to hurt his pride) finally shook his head. "No."
"How bout any wounds?"
Again, Falcon shook his head, suddenly regretting succumbing into this old man's wishes of interrogation. The old man nodded his head gave off an old sigh (you know, the sighs old people sometimes emit) as he closed his eyes and bowed his head, He then gave Falcon a slight shake of the head before continuing.
"Young hunter," Falcon suddenly sat up straight at the sound of the familiar nickname. He didn't know why but somehow, that infamous nickname of his gives him an impression of sudden importance. "You are not feeling deep enough. You're training is still insufficient."
Falcon was once again taken aback and it annoyed him. He never liked being surprised. He always wanted to be in control. And somehow, this old man managed to surprise him twice that day.
Another thing that annoyed him is this old man's judgment of him. How dare he judge him in a way where clarity is a vague perspective. He was trained by the greatest trainer he has ever encountered and here is an old man out of nowhere telling him that his training is insufficient.
Falcon frowned at the old man, his fists clenched tightly under the bed covers. The old man just raised his head at Falcon and fixed him with a serious gaze. "A true ruler never cracks at criticism, no matter how big or small it is. A true ruler always takes them with straight posture and a disciplined heart."
Falcon's eyes widened at this statement. He slowly unclenched his fists and slumped in defeat. Not in any circumstance did anyone make him feel so guilty of himself. he bent his head down, afraid to show his emotions to the strange man in front of him.
After a while, Falcon heard soft creaking sounds then footsteps accompanied by the tapping of the cane as the old man got off his chair and balanced himself with his cane. Aware of Falcon's guilt, he went on. "But of course, not every ruler is perfect."
This made Falcon look up slowly. He saw the old man standing at a corner of the room serenely and looking out the window as if meditating in his own stance. Falcon couldn't stop staring at this old man. There was something about him that confused Falcon so much.
Feeling Falcon's gaze, he turned his old gray eyes to the confused hunter and smiled an amused smile. "The view is exquisitely beautiful. Would you like to join me?" he said, gesturing the view seen within the frames of the window.
Falcon didn't budge but just stared straight at the old man.
"Come now. I couldn't keep this wonderful view all to myself now, could I?" The old man's beckoning gaze made Falcon rise from his place on the bed and slowly walk towards the old man with twinkling eyes.
When Falcon looked out the window, he saw a view so breath taking that he was rendered speechless. The old man beside him inhaled deeply and exhaled gladly. Falcon, hearing the breathing, turned to his right with softened eyes.
"It has always been a weakness of mine, these beautiful sceneries. I could never say no to them." Falcon gave a small smile to the old man, who was obviously very relaxed just looking at the scenery, and decided to look at the view himself but as his eyes wandered around the grounds of the inn, he saw something that made fists and strangely his heart clench in both anger and...something else.
The old man, sensing Falcon's anger, looked from him to his line of view and blinked. "Well, what do you know..." Falcon didn't move but just looked darkly at the couple below. "The young sorceress is already up and about."
Yes, very up and about, Falcon thought to himself as he watched Aloe smile and laugh with someone other than him.
And for some reason, it hurt him...badly.
End of chapter eight...
Next chapter is more of Aloe's point of view.