The Last Singer Chapter 3: Learning

Somehow over the next week, Matriv caught on to how little Senti actually seemed to know about the world. They were watching the children chase each other through the field by the pond when Matriv suddenly decided that he needed to instruct Senti in the ways of life.

A look of confusion covered Senti's previously blank face. "What?"

I said, Matriv repeated himself, I'm going to teach you how to live. You admitted yesterday you don't know very much. I'll teach you!

"Um… ok?" Senti asked. Could someone really be taught such things?

Either way, Senti spent the next two weeks of his life learning random tidbits such as fishing and making jewelry. He spent the majority of every day with Matriv, and found himself thinking about him when they weren't together. The woman who had explained things to him in his dreams had once mentioned "friends". Senti wondered if Matriv was such a thing. He hoped so.

Being able to spend his days with Matriv and the children, Senti could almost completely forget about his life back under Tormen's thumb. He didn't constantly dwell on the thousands he had killed. He didn't constantly wish he had the courage to kill himself, or even die at all. He was happy. Once in a while he would hear a traitorous voice in the back of his head asking him if he was worthy of being happy. Those thoughts were quickly put down by the memory of Matriv's belief in him.

But to be honest, although I've known you a day, I can't see you doing those things. I think you and your power are amazing. Matriv had said that. And Senti hoped it was ok to believe in those words.

There had been a couple of days when Senti had been followed out by men from the palace. He knew they answered to the man who always dressed in dark clothes. He was probably trying to keep an eye on the dangerous Singer for Tormen. Senti easily threaded the air around his followers to make them believe they were lost in sudden darkness, but only long enough for him to make his escape into the town.

Senti looked down at his half-finished bracelet in his hands. Since Matriv had begun teaching him how to work on jewelry, he had wanted to make something to give to his first friend. They had found out the hard way a week ago that Senti couldn't make it all the way to the beach where Matriv collected shells and rocks hidden behind the forest behind the Hold. The orihalcon ring stopped him halfway, much to his disappointment. Therefore, whenever Matriv needed to collect materials like today, Senti would watch his small tent shop. Not that anyone ever stopped when he was there.

He sighed, grabbing a purple stone. He had decided to make the bracelet out of blue and purple. Blue because he liked Matriv's eyes, and purple because one of the colors on his was purple. Senti looked at his own bracelet that he never removed, its green and purple rocks shinning at him. He smiled softly.

Senti! was the sudden silent cry from Matriv. Senti, I have a great idea! Matriv quickly dropped a bucket of various shells and rocks under the counter. Tonight is the gathering!

"Gathering?" Senti raised an eyebrow, keeping his hands steady as he put on the next to last bead and attempted to tie the decorative knot before the last one. He was determined not to mess this up.

Yeah, Matriv answered happily. Well, see, people always hang out on weekends around here in the local tavern, but its never really anything super special. But once a month, everyone in the town gets together and forms a huge party with music, singing, dancing, games, and other stuff. You missed the last one, so you should come with me tonight!

Senti paused in his work, thinking about the general greeting he was always given by the townspeople. Fear, disgust, hate… he was pretty sure he would not be particularly welcome at such a large get together. "I'm… not sure if I should go," Senti said quietly as he threaded the final bead.

Why not? Matriv sounded almost dejected.

Senti looked at Matriv before tying the finishing knot. He wondered if the blue-eyed boy realized he was the only one in the town that wasn't afraid of him besides the group of children and Icary, the youngest girl's mother. "People might not like it," he answered.

Matriv smiled mischievously as he answered, Well they can't say anything if I bring you. Everyone treats me like porcelain since I can't talk. It's as if they assume that I'm not as smart as them because my tongue doesn't work. He laughed mentally. And Cholee and Denz will come too, they'll vouch for you. As will Icary, of course.

Senti was going to argue, but he looked back to his hands to finish his knot. It saddened him that Matriv had become used to people treating him differently. Well, if he could go with Matriv he wouldn't mind. Once the knot was secure, he handed it to the taller boy next to him. "Fine, I'll try and come," he said. "I… made this for you."

Matriv's eyes brightened, whether from his answer to go or the bracelet Senti was not sure, but it still made him happy. Great, Matriv answered, tying on the bracelet. Wow, this is really well made! I'll never take it off. Now we have best friend bracelets!

Senti grinned shyly. "Best friend? Is that different from a normal friend?" Matriv sighed as he began to explain the technical difficulties of various friendships.

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"We've already had him at our home for dinner a few times Bardun," Denz was explaining to an extremely large and muscled man who held a dark tan from working outside all day and scratches on his arms. "He's harmless."

"I doubt that," the large Bardun glared at Senti venomously. The extremely large room Senti could see behind the man was still, no one moved or said anything. Things had immediately become this way when everyone realized who had shown up. The Singer. Matriv, who had stood in front of Senti when Bardun walked up, moved his hands quickly making various signs while Senti listened to him mentally chastise the man.

"Matriv, calm down honey," Cholee sighed. "Bardun, this is extremely rude and uncalled for. Not to mention unfair. The Singer has every right to be here just like everyone else." Senti looked at Cholee for what seemed to be the hundredth time tonight. Something seemed off… when he looked at her, it was as if there was an echo inside her. He couldn't figure it out.

Bardun opened his mouth as if to argue when another female voice beat him to it. "She's right!" snapped Icary at his elbow. "You have no reason to try to make him leave! What has he ever done to you?"

Once again, Bardun's mouth opened to argue, and was once again cut off as a blur of red ran between them attaching itself to Senti's legs. "Seenguh! Seenguh!" Vita cried, looking up at him with a grin that covered half her face. "Joos come to seeng to us?"

Senti chuckled, peeling her off his legs and picking her up into his arms. "Maybe later Vita."

Bardun, obviously bothered by the typical extra tone that accompanied Senti's voice, immediately took a step back. "Whatever," he growled, wanting to get away quickly. "If he kills anyone, it's on your heads!"

Vita was attempting to crawl around to sit on Senti's shoulders when all three adults sighed. "Singer, we're sorry," Denz started to say.

"Don't be," Senti smiled. Vita now sat comfortably on his shoulders, grabbing his hair as the reigns. "He's only doing what he thinks is necessary to protect his town."

Icary sighed with a smile, turning around to face the room. "What are you all staring at?" she cried loudly, smacking her hands together repeatedly. "Don't stop dancing now! It's barely even sundown."

Only a few people immediately responded to her call for dance. Over a few minutes, almost everything had returned to the loud and colorful way it had been when they arrived. Senti silently followed Matriv and his family to a back table, grossly aware of the glances, thoughts, and malicious stares being sent his way. Vita climbed down to sit next to her Singer.

After a few minutes, Denz arrived with drinks. "A little Brewbury Ale never hurt!" he exclaimed with a grin. Glasses were set in front of all four older people, and a small cup of juice for Vita.

"Seenguh!" she whispered loudly. "Let me twy joors!"

Senti moved the cup over before Matriv grabbed it, shaking his head. He lightly chopped Vita on the head, wagging his finger. The next few minutes were spent explaining the idea of ale and alcohol to Senti, who sat confused as to what was wrong with sharing.

"Whew!" Icary swept up to the table, her skirts swishing behind her. "Those group dances get tiring after a while." Denz offered her a spare cup as she sat.

"Seenguh! Seenguh!" Vita cried again, openly this time. "Danz wif me!"

"Uh…" Senti coughed. "I've never danced before."

Vita looked shocked. "Seenguh danz wif me," she stated this time, grabbing his hand attempting to pull him off the chair. "Danz! Danz!" Standing up unsurely, Senti blinked at Vita as she stood on his feet and grabbed his hands. "Danz!" she cried again.

Just kind of walk around in a circle but more smoothly, Matriv giggled at him mentally.

Senti slowly turned in a circle, unsure of why Vita still stood on his feet. She giggled as he began to spin quicker. "Up!" she cried, holding her hands up. Picking her from under her arms, Senti raised her higher above his head, surprised at how light she was. Well, maybe all children were supposed to be light. He spun in circles moving Vita up and down with the music.

Once the song was over, Vita ran back over to Icary, asking her mom if she had seen her dance with the Singer. Senti eyed Matriv warily, who was attempting to keep his giggles as quiet as possible.

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"Thank you for walking us all the way home Singer," Cholee smiled before opening the door to their home and dragging her tipsy husband inside.

Senti, who had been intently starting at the girl the entire walk, nodded. "Um…"he coughed, clearing his throat. "Has everything been alright?" he asked.

"As far as I know," Cholee smiled again after dropping her husband into a chair.

What's the matter? Matriv wanted to know.

"You've been echoing lately…." Senti said softly.

"Echoing?" Denz slurred. "Why you been echoin' hunny?" he grabbed Cholee around the waist. He planted a quick kiss on his wife before using her as a pillow.

Cholee laughed, patting his head. "I'm sorry Singer, I don't know what might be wrong." Matriv's hands moved quickly again as he played out signs for what he wanted to say. "Maybe I'll stop by the doctor's home tomorrow," Cholee agreed. "You're invited to stay the night in our extra cot Singer," she offered.

"I should probably go back to the Hold," Senti sighed. "They'll come looking for me if I don't come home at all."

Matriv left the small building with the blonde boy, staying silent as they slowly walked down the dirt road. Want to go see the lake? Matriv offered. We don't have to stay long or anything. It seemed he could sense Senti's displeasure at having to return.

"I'd like that."

Something that had been bothering Senti for a while rose into his mind. He had noticed it before, but practically all through the dancing people had been doing it. It always seemed to be the same people… but what could be the purpose of this odd action?

"Matriv…" he began once they had sat at the edge of the lake. "What does it mean when two people put their lips together?"

What? Matriv asked, completely bewildered.

"I've seen people do it a lot since I've been here," Senti stated. "Cholee and Denz just did it too, and many people at the dancing place. When they put their lips together, is there a significant meaning?"

Oh… you mean kissing? Matriv coughed mentally. Uh well… it's just kinda something some people do when they really like each other. As more then friends.

"There's something more than a friend?" Senti looked at Matriv in shock.

Er… well… Matriv scratched his head. How did one explain something like this? See… when two people love each other as more than friends then they do what is called 'kiss'. More than friend means like… a boyfriend. Or girlfriend. Or husband or wife. You know… love and stuff. But you can't do it with anyone. It has to be someone that… you know… you're not related to. And is a reasonable age. And stuff.

"Love?" Senti asked.

Matriv sighed. It's…. really really complicated.

"I see," Senti said, still not quite understanding. "So this 'love' is the 'more than a friend' version of like?"

Sure. Matriv picked at some grass. It's like… you would die for that person. You always want to be with them. That sort of stuff.

"Should I kiss you?" Senti asked straightforward.

Matriv choked on the blade of grass he had just inserted into his mouth. W-What?! Um… Well I don't know if… he moved backward sharply when Senti leaned forward.

An inquiring look covered Senti's much closer face. "Hmm… If you are so bothered by this it must be a serious process. I apologize," he backed away, looking down sadly. "I do not think I understand."

Uh… It's ok, Matriv answered.

They only sat for a little while longer before Senti excused himself, feeling badly about the situation. On his walk home, he wondered about the seriousness of this "kiss" process. An odd feeling struck him from his chest… As if he wanted to kiss Matriv. Was this normal? He wondered. Are you supposed to want to kiss a friend? Maybe he regarded Matriv as a "more than friend"? …But what did this mean?

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The questions and problems that came with this newfound notion of a 'kiss' plagued Senti's thoughts for days. He often thought about the consequences or repercussions of kissing while working with Matriv in the jewelry place.

A few days into the week, Senti's work and thoughts were interrupted by an extremely loud noise that echoed throughout the city. A wave of panic rode through the minds of the city, reaching Senti's mind ear with great clamor. Something was very, very wrong.

Senti!! He heard Matriv running down the street towards him. Raiders have attacked east gate of the city! We have to fall back to the high grounds with everyone, come on!

Matriv grabbed Senti's frozen hand, dragging him into the street and away from the center of the city. Everyone from the area was leaving their shops and homes, running in the same direction. While some panicked more than others, a single strain of pure terror reached Senti's mind. The blonde's feet stopped dead, jerking Matriv back with the force.

"Something's wrong… with Icary… Vita…" Senti whispered, trying to sort through the thousands of thoughts and sounds entering his head. Turning sharply on his heel, he ran back into the city with Matriv close at hand. "There's something… I can't hear…"

After what seemed like hours of running, they turned a corner to see Icary curled into a corner between two shops, blood pooling around her. She stared ahead in fury at a heavily muscled man with long black hair holding an axe. "You may as well come along bitch!" he was yelling.

Senti felt his vision go icy as he screamed at the attacker, "STAND DOWN!" The axeman screamed as he felt his will slipping from his grasp, obediently standing aside and helpless. "Icary!" Matriv and Senti helped pick up the injured woman. "What happened?"

"Singer… They…. Vita… They have Vita… And the other children… Please…" she collapsed into Matriv's grasp, a great amount of her blood still on the ground.

The raiders must have split and entered both sides of the city… if the children were playing by the fountain… Senti please go after them! You may be the only one who can do anything against that many men…

"Seenguh!" Senti heard Vita say in his mind. A quick flash to the face of the girl killed at Tormen's hands… No. He would not let this happen. No. No.

"Vita," Senti cried, attempting to lock onto her voice in his head. He ran as fast as his feet would carry him, taking him through street after street towards the outskirts of town. Finding the gate in shambles and surrounded by dead guards, he bolted into the forestry. He could hear her… she was so close.

Silence. There was no longer any terror. Nothing for his mind's ear. Was he too late…?

A glimpse of moving bodies appeared through the trees. A flash of red hair and a scream brought new energy to Senti's tired legs as he broke the line of trees and reached the grassy meadow. A group of almost thirty men approached the next patch of forest, prepared to leave Senti's sight again.

"Sto-" Senti began to yell when pain coursed through his entire body. His heart beat wildly, as if it was fighting to stay within his chest. He screamed in pain, his skin stretching and tearing as wild snaps of blue fire rose from him.

Finally, he managed to roll backwards just enough to be inside the orihalcon ring that surrounded the city area- designed to keep him in place at all times. He glanced up to find all the raiders stopped and staring at him before they began to laugh wildly. He could not hear their thoughts. The ring… it was even stopping his abilities…

"Seenguh! Seenguh!" he could hear Vita's yell clearly and normally. Still trying to fill his lungs with air, Senti's eyes ravaged the scene before him. There… there she was. A tall brown man picked up the small Vita, throwing her over his shoulder as they began entering the forest.

"Stop…" Senti's voice came out in a whisper. Had the orihalcon string in his heart taken so much of his power in its attack? He watched Vita disappear behind trees and darkness, her freckled face flooded with tears as she screamed. "Stop…" his voice cracked.

The face of the innocent girl from years ago rose in his vision. Her blood darkening everything as life faded from her body. The limp feel to her limbs when Tormen threw her corpse on him. Watching… was the same as letting them die. Doing nothing… was the same as killing them. The children… he had to…

A new scream rose from Senti's body. His vision turned white as he threw all of his power against the wall of pain the orihalcon created for him. He could hear the crackling of his skin as his power shone through rivets it created. His eyes blackened as the irises shaded golden. He could feel the edge of the wall breaking. Break, he ordered mentally. Let me save them!

A small rip was all that Senti's power needed in the wall to soar across the space separating him from the forest. "RETURN TO ME," he ordered his voice screaming, deep and echoing across the entire forest and city. "RETURN TO ME NOW." The power in his voice reverberated in the air.

Unknowing whether his voice had reached the men, he waited. The pain crept along the sides of his mind, but he would not allow it to bend him. He would not allow this. He would not.

After minutes of excruciatingly painful waiting, movement appeared. All the men walked silently and swiftly back into the meadow, children in hand. Senti ignored everything other than getting the men to his side of the ring. The moment they were there, he stepped backward, releasing himself from the searing torture.

Falling to the ground with deep breaths, Senti looked about frantically. The children had all broken from their respective captor and gathered away from them. They all stared at Senti with fear. He could feel it.

"Go… home…" he croaked. "Be…. Safe…" he coughed, and felt blood surge through his throat. The children ran crying back towards the high grounds of the city. Spitting the red liquid from his mouth, he stared at the men.

Fear, desperation, terror, anxiety… all these feelings were flooding these people's being. "You will sit… and you will stay… and you will do absolutely nothing," Senti ordered. Although his voice was barely audible, he knew his rule would stick. It always stuck. No one could break his will.

Matriv… he attempted to think as loudly as possible. Please help… his consciousness began to fade. Black began to enrapture his vision and thoughts. Before the final moment of his awareness disappeared, he thought of the kissing. If feeling nothing brought about this deadly loneliness, and then someone touched your life to bring you back… then maybe a kiss was this physical manifestation of this. Thanks. Trust. More than a friend.

Senti thought of Matriv, and smiled thankfully.

--------------------Author Note---------------------------

I know I know, omg an update? really?!

Yes, really. Sorry its been so long. This is a really random update. It's also kind of cheesey. I hope you enjoy.