A/N: Another new story. Pretty serious, but not yet fully developed, as usual. It's just a story I needed to write, that's coming from a lot of different sources. I love fantasy, and though I'm writing something else fantasy, it's not serious fantasy like this one is. I'm basically mapping out a whole world for this, with different cultures, creatures, and stuff that'll pop up later. Random history of teh world, too. It's fun, actually. Even though it's fantasy, it mostly concentrates on romance, which is a change of pace for me. THen again, I'll probably just end up having a lot of stuff inbetween all that anyway. Poop. Oh well, hope everyone enjoys it.

Only one other comment; I don't know that much about military terms and all, and that's too hard to research when all I will do is make a vague reference here and there, since this is not a war story. So, feel free to correct me on anything you see, as long as you know what youĂ­re saying.

-::-::-

My men seem to have disappeared without a trace.

My last memory is of a battle; we were losing. I am at a loss to explain what occurred for me to end with my current state.

I'm alone at sea, drifting on what may very well be an escape boat from one of our home country's vessels--the emblem of my kingdom is carved on its wood.

I have been awake... I am not sure for how long. I feel trapped within an endless darkness. The moon is covered by black clouds, and the sea is eerily calm as it rains.

This weather is completely unnatural.

I write this only to keep my sanity.

Yet I must keep optimistic; I may not have drifted too far off from land. Even if the nearest may possibly be enemy territory, it shall be a welcome site to see. I'll keep the image of lofty, shining shores in mind.

High hopes.

Taverus flinched, the sound of his quill snapping in half ringing loud in his sensitive ears. After a moment where only the sound of rain against wood could be heard, and the slow waves of sea, he abruptly began to chuckle.

As his ironic laughter became uncontrollable, he took a second look at the last line of his messy script; high hopes. Taverus sighed, but with a remaining smile, as he threw the quill into the dark water.

He once again looked up into the sky. It was pure blackness. Murky clouds suffocated the sky, and fat dollops of rain fell from its gloomy heavens. He was already quite drenched, yet not shivering. There was no wind to send a chill through his bones. It almost felt humid amongst the rain.

'Utterly unnatural...' Taverus shook his head in disbelief at the silly storm clouds, his eyes focusing once more on the boat around him. He remembered he had just been searching through supplies on the boat.

Fortunate it was that he had found a quill, an ink bottle and a scrap of paper, just some moments before. It soothed the panic in his system--as with writing, he could always sort his thoughts through, no matter how erratic and confused they were at the time.

Though the quill was now done with, he felt a much deeper tranquility than before, and found himself ready to face quite a long wait for either land or sun to appear. Patience resided in him.

Taverus now searched further through the meager supply box, finding only the expected; but he felt no hunger yet for food, nor thirst (especially with all water surrounding him at the moment), nor any ailments.

He closed the box with a sigh, then leaned back against it to rest. He noticed vaguely the boat's sail was up needlessly. It lay breathless against the wooden pole.

Taverus decided he may as well put it away. As he took the sail in hand, he noticed the emblem of his kingdom, painted boldly on its front.

The mark of Serafina--his heart suddenly quivered, aching for his homeland. The bright color of the emblem was so like the scarlet fields of wild flowers which covered the fields in the summertime. The queen's tower, surrounded by a circle of tree branches, was the image to brand Serafina's insignia.

Taverus sighed deeply as he remembered the city of the queen's tower, Lilika--also the place of his residence and kin. The large city's natural life and state life woven together in beautiful harmony. Stone streets and tall buildings, with trees and plant life cracking through the symmetrical patterns, and allowing the wild beasts (both docile and ferocious) to enter. This was how the citizens have always lived; with civilization and nature as spouse to one another.

The queen's tower itself was tall enough to touch the moon and clouds--and it was certainly an imposing force, standing over the city with high authority. A perfect symbol.

Taverus shook himself from his thoughts of home. He had been away for so long, it became tempting to get lost in memories gone. He had the now to think of.

And as that state of mind came to be, Taverus' eyes darted all around. Serafina's bittersweet emblem was decorated all around the boat, he realized with a start. The tower stood, carved in the wooden planks, painted on cloth--embroidered on his own cloak.

He would stick out like a sore thumb if he ended up in enemy territory, and very easily killed, most likely, given that he was terribly alone. The boastful reminder of his empire blared with intensity now, inevitable death overpowering his pride.

His heart leaped into his throat, and he now thought furiously of how he could hide his ethnic identity.

... Was there a knife in that supply box?

There was, and Taverus had grabbed it without second thought. He put it in both hands, and haggardly drove it into the wood where he stood. There on he made a large gash, piercing the large emblem that lay beneath him.

Without a second thought, he moved on with his cleansing.

As he found any object with the Serafina's mark, he threw it out into the black water, leaving it to be swallowed by the encompassing darkness. Each oil lamp, each bottle, each damn rag had the symbol in some place--some hidden and some blaring back out at him. He threw each object over his shoulder.

Tremors shook him as he struggled to take off his cloak, which proudly bore the image. After he had finally gotten the final knot, he heaved the heavy, water-laden cloak overboard.

He watched now as his cloak absorbed yet more water, slowly wafting away from him.

Taverus looked back at the mess he had made; supplies were strewn about, and splinters surrounded the wound he had inflicted on his boat.

Shame slithered down his spine and sloped his shoulders as he came near the large emblem on the boat's deck. Taverus sunk down to lay against the now practically empty supply box, allowing the rain to soak him once more.

'Cowardice' was the thought beating against him now. The action of throwing away his kingdom's emblem would have seemed sickening one time before, but he had let desperation grip him by the neck and suffocate him.

He silently asked for forgiveness as fatigue took him away from consciousness.

-::-::-

Taverus dreamt wonderful things--his lofty shores, now with an intoxicating melody humming in the distance.

He jolted awake quite abruptly, still hearing the pleasant tune, though somehow more subtly.

He strained his ears, heart leaping when he still picked it up. Taverus leapt up and towards the front of his boat, hearing the song more clearly as moments passed.

A smile crawled across his lips as he listened, the song filling him with so many sensational feelings. Excitement, joy, pride... the melody was so pleasant and empowering at the same time. He felt like the ruler of his own universe, as if he had finally understood it all. Such a light and airy feeling it all was.

Yet one feeling was not so wonderful--and that was the dread for the emptiness that lay at the song's end, should it ever end, and a desire to hear it go on for eternity.

Taverus perked up once more as a light caught his eye. Such warmth came from it... the color of bright jade. It nearly defeated the darkness around, but did not make things clearer--only more dreamlike to Taverus' eyes, only this was not a nitemare. It blinded him from darkness, from harsh reality, the song now clearer than ever--yet he yearned to hear more as he was fed, note by note the melody. He wished to go further toward it, and felt himself doing so.

A piercing screech ended his rapture.

The song cut short of itself, the light was doused, and Taverus realized just what he had been floating toward this whole time--by then, it was too late.

With a deafening crunch, Taverus' escape boat was crushed against a rock cliff.

The young man struggled to keep a hold onto anything as the boat slowly came apart and other parts sank, but it was to no avail. His foot caught hold on a rope, attached to a heavy, sinking beam.

Taverus gasped, plunging into the dark water.

All was dark, but not cold--it was warm, almost. He smiled, in spite of his situation. It wouldn't be such a cold, harsh death... just dark.

And utterly lonely.

-::-::-

"Lord Knox, you sure you are warm enough?"

Knox waved off his overbearing servant, "Leave me, I'm not a child."

His servant huffed, but did not utter one more word as his master walked away.

Knox breathed in the cool air. It smelled fresh of rain, with the constant scent of salt air accompanying it. Though it was indeed quite cold this morning, it was bright and clear, the sun shimmering on the wet grass.

Knox followed the usual path he took for morning walks. He walked briskly, but was in no hurry, only interested in seeing the sunrise at the beach.

The soft sound of waves greeted Knox, softening his features from concentrated to serene. His leather boots crunching against the grass, he walked passed the trees and towards the sounds of the sea.

He went on to stand at a cliff facing the large encompass of water. He looked out, letting a small smile cross his lips; the sun rose from the dark blue water, slowly waking the heavens in contrasting colors of sapphire, and blushing pink and orange.

Knox stepped closer to the edge, chancing a look down to the water. A shallow gasp came from him, and his eyes widened, and then doused in quiet sadness.

A ship's wreckage was directly below him. Wooden planks lay within the rock bed of the cliff, and miscellaneous items were broken or floating in the waves.

Knox shook his head at the dismal display, turning to leave--only to be stopped in his tracks by a soft groan.

'There's no way someone could have lived...' At least if it had happened some hours before. They would have either bled to death from any injuries, or drowned.

He decided to listen again. He could have easily have imagined the weak cry. Knox stalked down an incline, heading to where he could see the rock bed under the cliff properly from the beach.

All the while he listened intently, and was rewarded with the sound of another groan. He walked faster, and came to a halt when he had arrived at the mouth of the cliff at the sandy shore.

Knox's eyes raked the scene, until he found what may just be the survivor--haggardly crawling out of the rock bed, and into the gleaming morning sun, before collapsing on the sand without one look toward Knox.

Knox had deduced from the tenor of the groans that it was male, but his eyes had tricked him for a moment. The first thing that struck him as the stranger emerged into the light was long, golden hair, almost feminine in the soft appearance. The locks curled wildly, and covered his face from Knox effectively as the man collapsed. Both his hair and the man's clothes were drenched, though luckily the man tremored only slightly, as he had a thick, long sleeved tunic to cover his torso.

Knox hurried over after some moments of initial shock. He stopped himself from the impulse of touching the stranger to wake him--he couldn't take the chance of of him being armed and quick to attack--and instead spoke clearly, "Are you all right?" a rather lame question to ask, but it was the only one to come to mind at the moment.

Slowly, the stranger braced himself on his elbows, his head turning to face Knox at last.

The golden tresses fell around a delicately chiseled face. He first looked at Knox in a daze, and then his strong eyebrows strewn together in bewilderment. He tilted his head slightly, which dissolved the previous shadow over his eyes, revealing glittering sky blue irises. They at first came off as rather frightening, being as his eyes were as well pink from either lack of sleep or water log, but as the man spoke he gained some human to him.

"What?" he mumbled, in a blocky sort of language, other than what Knox had spoken. Knox recognized it immediately, and his eyes widened.

"You are a Serafin?" Knox asked, now in the man's own tongue. The man slowly nodded his blonde head, and Knox sighed. This brought up many questions, but none that the stranger could answer at the moment, obviously. He decided to stick to priority--"Can you stand?"

The Serafin now looked at him suspiciously, his blue eyes wavering as they observed Knox. He then tried to get up, more quickly than he perhaps should have, because he fell to his knees within a beat.

Knox began to make his way towards him, but stopped himself as the Serafin hissed a sharp demand, "Don't touch me."

Knox raised an eyebrow, then watched with an even face as the Serafin again began to try and stand, this time slowly rising, his long legs wobbling underneath his slim torso. He used the side of the cliff to leverage himself, and eventually did get himself on his feet, though he still hunkered down slightly.

Knox noticed how his leg muscles twitched in what appeared to be very painful way.

"You think you can walk in that condition?" Knox asked.

The Serafin's eyes now turned both determined and heated. He held one hand on the cliff wall as he began to stagger forward, only to yelp in pain after some steps, clutching his right leg calf.

Knox sighed, stalking up much closer now to the Serafin. He looked into the blond's eyes, kneeling down to his level. As he reached a hand to grab the Serafin's arm, the other man flinched and looked back.

The Serafin's perfect nose flared as he stared at Knox's hand, "What are you?"

"Namir," Knox answered simply.

The Serafin's breath hitched tightly at that response, unconsciously trying to dig himself more into the wall and farther away from Knox's touch.

"If you suspect that I mean harm to you, don't you think I would have tried it by now?"

The Serafin's face softened significantly, and Knox noticed for the first time how his lips pouted naturally, and the round shape of his wide eyes, now glazed in both relief and confusion.

Knox exited his musings to hoist the Serafin from his seat on the sandy ground, wrapping the other man's arm around his shoulders to help him walk.

The blonde passed out as they entered higher ground.

-::-::-

Softness, warmth... and then a bite of pain.

Taverus awoke with a start. His eyes did not stray for a moment, instead staring intently at the dark stone ceiling above him.

His senses did not come all at once. First his sight came, and his mind realized he was not dead, yet not in a place he knew of. Taverus began to rise up from his lying position, then realized it was a painful mistake as it felt like a knife ripped across his back.

Next came his hearing. He heard a fire crackling some feet away. His sense of feeling came as he shifted slightly, conjecturing he was in a quite cushioned and comfortable bed.

Whose bed it was was only one question among many others in his mind.

The room smelled of dust, he realized. It may not have been used in some time. Yet it was still quite warm, and the bed was soft. He opened his mouth, licking his dry lips and swallowing saliva. His mouth was dry, but he tasted a lingering sensation of salt in it.

Taverus' mind became flooded with memories of what had happened. He processed it all slowly.

In his fogged mind, he remembered the dark sea, the rain, and his being alone on an escape boat. Then he recalled the crash, and how he had passed out from exhaustion from under the water.

He thought for sure he had been dead--but he hadn't been. He awoke, seeing the bright shore he had envisioned throughout his whole ordeal.

Taverus' heart swelled at that memory. It was exactly as he had imagined it.

Only more painful.

He now felt an enormous amount of pressure on his upper torso, and ached in what felt like every muscle on his body. His head may have been knocked around some as well, being as he had a headache coming on and he still felt hazy.

It wasn't as hazy as it had been before, however.

Taverus awoke without much recollection to what had happened, only wanting to get himself more comfortable. Lying on rocks in the cold water is not as agreeable as one would think. So he tried to get up, only to find a voice to protest against the painful movement.

He had managed to get out onto the warm sand. It was such a relief, he felt like burying himself in it, relishing in the thought of land--which was an unconscious relief--and partial freedom from the cold.

Taverus remembers only slightly that he had sensed a second presence with him at the time. He managed to crane his head up to look.

His mind now tried to make out the face he saw. It was quite unfamiliar, and he could only remember it slightly. He knew only of the man's dark, wavy locks of hair, and his large dark cloak to match.

He remembered the man's soft voice, and the stunning, smoothly spoken language he heard with it. He recognized it now as Namir, but in his haze, he was dumbstruck, and didn't process the stranger's softly spoken statement at all.

Then the man spoke in perfect Serafin, though with a slight accent. Taverus remembers now only being scared at this point, and realized it came from his fears of landing on enemy territory.

With a gasp, Taverus realized once more that that may have very well had happened--he was in a stranger's house, on what's more than likely foreign land. His brow developed sweat, and he glanced nervously around the room. He stared hard at the dark wooden doorway some feet away.

Taverus almost felt his heart stop when the door opened. He stared, wide-eyed.

It was only an old goblin.

Short in stature, and appearing to be nearly blind to a point where his eyes squinted mostly shut, the withering thing was not much of a threat at all.

It was stout, and no taller than Taverus' own leg. It still had some white, wiry hair left on its head, nesting all behind his ears. The rest of his head and face was made up of deep wrinkles, one large and crooked nose, and two long ears. It wore old, worn and patched up clothes--a browning cloak and leather shoes the only thing visible at the moment.

The old goblin looked at him, and then gasped vocally, "Ohh!" he sounded in a gravely voice, light and suited to his look. His squinted eyes bulged just an inch, "You're finally awake!"

As Taverus continued to gawk, it only laughed again.

"Oh my, yes... the beautiful Serafin," it cackled more, "Dumbfounded, are you?" it then gained a more grave and serious face within a heartbeat, "Your name."

"What...?"

"Tell me your name. The master wishes to know it when he gets back," the old thing turned towards the door, dragging along a long mouse-like tail, fitted with a grey tuff of hair at the end.

"Uh--Taverus."

The goblin quickly nodded, before stepping out of the room with a slam of the door.

Taverus stayed frozen for a moment before slowly turning his head to the side.

He shook his head, and chuckled slightly--only to grimace in pain as the laughter caused an uncomfortable irk in his body. His eyes instinctively roamed the room more.

There was a fire burning actively in the worn out fireplace. The room was decorated in both black stone and dark wood, with midnight blue as an accent in the fabrics.

Taverus thought. Some kind of noble must have taken him in--but that goblin certainly couldn't have been of any status. He shook his head again, remembering that it had mentioned a master.

He never knew of any goblin that would serve a house, because usually they were loners in a wood, and were practically hermits sometimes. What kind of house had a goblin under its rule?

Taverus allowed his thoughts to settle, and his eyes then too. They locked on the window to his right. A great tree blocked most light from coming through, but when a gust happened to roll by, it shook its branches to reveal bright sunlight from outside. He blinked as the rays reached his eyes.

Taverus felt himself jump slightly as the door clicked open again once more. He slowly sat up to see who now had entered.

His eyes narrowed when he saw no one there, but only heard two voices uttering in a strange language, slowly getting louder as it echoed from the other side of the wall, then stopped as two bodies entered.

It was the old goblin again, and now with him, a tall, dark figure.

The goblin smirked and hiccuped a small laugh again, most likely because Taverus found himself staring wide-eyed again, now at the dark, cloaked man.

"Forgive me if I have disturbed your rest," the dark man stated, in a quiet, yet oddly not at all eerie voice, which was what Taverus had honestly expected from his first impression of the man.

Taverus stared, now taking in the man slowly. A dark cloak covered most of his body, and most likely made him look broader than he actually was. The only parts he could see of his skin was one pale hand at his left side, and part of his face.

His face was delicate, yet grave, and full, but pale as the moon, unblushing. One eye was visible while the other was covered in a dark shadow and his own hair. His unhidden eye was light green, with a slim, almond shape. His face was framed by black hair, dark as his own cloak, cut just past his ears. His hair was curly, but more wavy and limp when compared to Taverus' own mass of hair.

"As well," the stranger began again after a small pause, "forgive me for sending a creature such as this to check on your status; he must have shocked you in some ways, I'm sure."

"I didn't do anything," the goblin snarled at the man.

"Leave me, Hagop," the man stated cooly, "You're not needed at the moment."

The goblin complied, but not without uttering inaudible curses as he left the room.

Taverus watched the scene still with large eyes.

A moment of silence passed. Taverus wondered if the man had anything more to say besides all that. His eyebrow quirked when he still said nothing after a moment.

Instead the man had taken to staring out the window himself. His gaze eventually led back to Taverus, and their eyes locked.

"Well?" Taverus spoke.

The man was quick to reply, "You may ask any questions that come to mind, and I'll answer them to the best of my ability."

Taverus scowled--but more in confusion than irritation. He decided to comply, however, being as he did have many questions, "Where am I?"

"The house of Knox."

"Is that your name as well?"

"It is."

Taverus nodded slowly, "You are the master of the house?"

"I am."

"And what kingdom are we in?"

"The kingdom of Morag... I expect you have not heard of it--"

Knox's answer was interrupted by Taverus' sharp gasp.

"Morag??" Taverus reiterated, and Knox nodded, "How?! I was at the coast of Dugan... according to my last memory..." Taverus raised a hand to rake it through his curls, mind and heart racing.

He turned his gaze back to Knox after a moment, seeing the man's face soften to his own curiosity, "Dugan? Of the mainland?"

"Yes..." their eyes met once again. Both pairs were searching, yet hesitant for the answers they both expected.

"That's... quite a long way away," Knox's gentle voice finished for him.

Taverus looked away quickly, "Are you... Namir?"

"Yes."

His breath hitched. He spoke again, slowly, "And you must know of my blood, being as you already know to speak Serafin in my presence," Taverus smiled coyly now, then looked the Namir man in the eye. His tongue switched to another language--"But you needn't worry. I understood every word your goblin spoke to you and myself."

Knox raised an eyebrow, but then smirked, "May I ask you a question now?" Taverus felt an odd feeling in his stomach as the words were said. The man's soft voice sounded more natural speaking in his own Namir words, and they held more confidence while said.

Taverus nodded as an answer.

"Are you a leader of a Lilika army, and go by the name of General Suelita?"

Taverus gasped.

Without missing a beat, he vaulted out of bed, grunting loudly as his body hit the hard ground.

The cloaked Namir made way towards his crumpled figure, only to have his helping hand pushed away by Taverus.

"Don't touch me!" Taverus gasped, forcing his body up and towards the wall far too fast, bumping his head against the hard stone. "How do you know?!" he demanded through gritted teeth. He didn't allow his eyes to shut in pain for more than a second, and watched every move the Namir man made.

Knox only stared on, slightly ruffled, but holding a calm face as he answered.

"I'm a former strategist for Dugan. Once I fought against your forces. Your army was a force to be reckoned with--I was told to look into the squad's leader in particular to develop a plan."

Taverus breathed heavily, look still weary.

"I didn't recognize you at first. We've never met, but I knew what you looked like. Your famous for your hair, I'll have you know," he smiled very lightly, "But I realized it as soon as I learned your given name..."

"Why didn't you kill me? ... Why won't you now?"

Knox's one visible eye widened, and he raised an eyebrow, "Why would I do that?" he asked silkily.

Taverus' eyebrows wove together, "We're in a war. I have reasons to kill you--and you me."

"What are those reasons?"

Taverus scowled more, "You are against my country, I'm against yours. I kill your people and you kill mine."

"Perhaps. But are either of us in that position now?"

"What?"

"You're stranded. You're not killing my people now, and you're in my country and currently not doing any damage to it," Knox shrugged, "And I've been out of combat for some time. In both our conditions, we're no threat to each other."

Taverus' look finally softened, but not in relief. It softened in odd melancholy--or perhaps guilt, he considered. He still felt some distrust for a man who had saved his life.

"I have no reason to harm you."

Taverus slowly looked away, and allowed Knox to wrap an arm around his shoulder. He was quickly swept back onto his feet. Knox was stronger than he appeared, even though Taverus could feel a thin frame under the cloak as he was led back to bed.

Taverus grunted as he was let back down. Every inch of his body hurt.

"What's wrong with me?" he asked wearily, then slowly looked down. His tunic wasn't on, but he still had on his long underpants. His upper body was covered in large, black, blue and brown bruises. He moaned at the sight.

"I believe you have sprains in your legs, perhaps a few broken ribs, but as for the rest of you, its mostly muscle damage."

"Have you called a healer...?" Taverus asked hesitantly.

Knox stayed silent for a moment, "That would be unwise."

Taverus cocked his head, "Why?"

Knox looked again to the window. Taverus' breath hitched, as Knox's hair finally unveiled his left eye. It was a lighter color than his right--almost a poisonous yellow, with a much smaller, longer pupil, sharp and vertical in shape as a thick needle. He stared awestruck until the Namir man spoke once more.

"Healers here would kill you--as well as anyone who knew of you," Knox finally stated, looking back, "I would be killed too. At least that is what I would assume; it would either be an act of vigilance or directed by the law, depending."

Taverus gulped, "How many other servants do you have..."

"Only Hagop, who could care less of your presence, and Milina, who would never mean anyone harm. And as I said, I myself have no reason to hurt you."

"How long shall you keep me?"

"Until I am sure you're healed," Knox smiled lightly, "You will not be a burden, I assure you," he looked away again, "I dare say you may keep me some company..."

Taverus felt his face gain some warmth at the idea. Though he still felt slightly uneasy, in a Namir country, in a strange house with what seemed like a very strange man, he had an inkling it would get better. He would not rush to depend on this person, but befriending him would be an interesting journey to embark on during his recovery...

-::-::-

A/N: I'm attempting many different things at once with this story, so please review so I can properly get an idea of how I'm doing, yeah? It only takes a click to review, so don't hesitate... I need feedback, and I'd love to hear what everyone thought. Thank you for reading, and I hope you stick around for the next update.