Author's Note - Considering this is just drabble from a larger story I'm working on… it is likely not to make much since to anybody else… so I apologise for that.

This is a random scene I wrote for a friend of mine about Aurora, the character I created for her, and her man Jared. Jared has been in love with Aurora since he met her but they've both been to shy to do anything about it.

The scene seemed to switch to focus on Romen and my character Thera for a bit though, and that wasn't planned.

Everything Has A Price

"Stop!" Romen said, snapping to attention and raising a hand to stop the others following him.

"-What is it?" Aurora asked uncertainly.

"Shhh." Romen replied as he intently studied the trees around them. An instant later he had drawn his fiercely sharp, double edged curved blade and was listening intensely. Just beside him, his twin brother Jared has simultaneously drawn his sword and was equally as intent upon their surroundings.

Thera looked about, searching for any sign of what had caught Romen and Jared's attention. She turned her head to look at Aurora as the red-head moved closer to her and clasped her hand around Thera's. It was then that her heart hit her stomach when Jared told them in a low voice "- That clearing we just left a few moments ago…" Thera heard Aurora's sharp intake of breath before Romen finished what Jared was saying with one word that shot both Witches into action.

"Run!"

*

Jared had barely noted that both Aurora and Thera had turned and began sprinting back the way they had just come, when bodies were coming out of the trees at them. He saw Romen lob the head off of the closest one when they were on him, and he knew nothing but the song of his blade for the next few minutes, until all was quiet again.

"Jared?" Romen asked in the way he always did after a battle.

"I'm okay." Jared replied. Both men breathed a relieved sigh, until they heard a woman's scream.

Romen tore past Jared as he ran straight for the clearing they had sent the women to. In a heartbeat, Jared was hot on his heels.

*

Thera spun as Aurora screamed. She froze as she saw several men coming out of the trees, two of which had already grabbed Aurora and were trying to hold her still. The rest began to head for Thera herself.

"Touch her and die." Romen's voice growled from behind Thera, who let out a relieved breath. The men coming at her stopped and shrugged.

" 'Tis not her we're after anyway." The tallest of them said in a gruff voice. "We just figured, since she's a pretty little thing, we might get a bit of a reward if we took her too…" here he smirked at Romen, "But since we're men, we know how lonely you two would be, and men must stick together on things such as this, so … keep your little plaything. We'll just take this one."

"I don't think so." Jared said, stepping forward. Romen did the same thing, however, he put a hand lightly on Thera's shoulder and pulled her back around behind himself and away from the men before them. Thera stood on her toes to try to see over his shoulder, and failing that, she settled for peering around him to see Aurora. Her friend looked utterly terrified. She was standing as still as possible, her eyes wide in fear as she stared hard at Thera, Jared and Romen. Thera saw Aurora suddenly jump and noticed that the man who was holding her had decided to let his hands wander a bit. It appeared that Jared had noticed the same thing, as just as Aurora's eyes closed in mortification when the man allowed one of his hands to begin a journey up the laces on the front of her dress, Jared let out an angry snarl.

Thera flinched. She didn't know how that man could still be standing where he was, because she was certain that if she had have been on the receiving end of that snarl that she would have wet herself and have been running as quickly as she possibly could in the opposite direction. The man holding Aurora just smirked at Jared and traced his fingers across the bare skin of Aurora's shoulder. Jared's right hand, still holding his sword, twitched, but Romen touched his arm.

"Look at the uniforms they wear."

" – I don't care." Jared growled.

"They belong to Mortakai – We can't touch them."

" – Still don't care." Jared replied.

"Aye, that's right." The tall man who had spoken before said. "Mortakai owns this territory. Anything in it belongs to him. He's the law here and he's authorised us to take whatever we require from the villages we pass, if you were to give us any trouble while we were acquiring his …" he looked at Aurora "…special request." Although Thera could only see Jared's back she could tell by the tight way that he was holding himself that he had that look on his face. The look both he and Romen got whenever they fought. She hadn't been so very surprised when she'd seen it on Romen's face for the first time, but she had when she'd first seen it on Jared. It was such a shocking contrast to his usual light-hearted self. It had surprised her, and later when she had thought back on it, and she had felt rather silly to have been surprised, Jared was Mysian after all…

The man who was holding Aurora must have seen Jared's look as the smirk fell from his face and he looked around at his companions uncertainly. "We're leaving you one of them, leave us be." The man who had so far done all the talking said with a dismissive wave of his hand. Jared let out another snarl and took a threatening step forward, until Romen grabbed his arm, holding him back.

"You can't!" he said firmly. "They'll destroy all the villages they come across!"

At that moment, Thera felt a tingling on her skin, and as she raised her hands to rub them along her arms to stop it, Romen drew his hands back from his brother's arm so fast it was as if he'd been burned. Jared was drawing power from the Nexus. The tingling across Thera's skin became more intense and she knew that Jared had surpassed her level of Jade Magic. He was still drawing magic and Thera knew he was building it to his own Amethyst level, four levels above her own limit.

Thera saw Romen's eyes flick to her and knew that he had realised the same thing that she just had, that if Jared built to the Amethyst level he was capable of and then released that power, she was dead. "Jared…" Romen said softly, but his brother wasn't listening to him. Thera paused to put a shield around herself. The tingling on her skin lessened slightly, but other then that it was useless. With Jared's power so many levels stronger then hers, her shield was barely enough to cause his power to pause for a moment before it destroyed her anyway. His magic would shatter her shield before it ripped through her body. She would hardly be recognisable by the time it had run its course.

Romen continued to look between Thera and his brother, and Thera noticed the quickly calculating look in his eyes. Jared continued to draw magic from the Nexus, his brown eyes focused upon the man groping Aurora, especially upon the Sapphire stone in the ring upon his hand… the hand that was still stroking the neckline of Aurora's dress. With the Sapphire stone a level beneath the Amethyst, Jared continued to draw from the Nexus until he was channelling enough power to destroy the bastard. Aurora's own Emerald was equal to his Amethyst and so she would not be harmed.

Thera looked behind herself at the trees, wondering if she should run. She dismissed the thought an instant later, she would never be able to outrun an Amethyst power eruption, not even if she had a ten minute head-start. She jumped when Romen grabbed her arm and turned her to face him. Thera gripped his sleeve tightly, she didn't know what to do. "Look at me." Romen told her gently. Thera obeyed, meeting his brown eyes with her own grey ones that she knew betrayed her fear. "Do you trust me?" he asked. Thera nodded.

"Yes." She breathed.

"If I can help you… Would you let me?"

"Yes."

Romen let out a deep breath through his teeth as he ran a hand through his hair. Thera stared at him, now worried about what he was planning to do. "Romen?" she asked.

"I can fill you." He said hurriedly, a hand resting on her shoulder. "I can pour my power into you, so the magic will be strong enough to shield you from Jared's."

"B-But… I only have Jade Magic. I'm not strong enough to host Wine Power…" Thera began, eyes wide, "It'll kill me." Romen shook his head.

"Vivianne believed that you would progress to Emerald. It's equal to Wine. Your body can handle it, if you open to it."

"But I'm not ready. If I was I'd already wear the Emerald stone."

"Thera…" Romen said softly, stepping closer, looking over his shoulder at the muttering of Mortakai's men as they tried to decide what to do about the angry Mysian before them. He looked back to her, his eyes locked on hers. "Please…" he breathed,

"Are you sure about this?" Thera asked.

"No." Romen shook his head. "This is not a common thing, and I've only read about it being done once, but I don't think we have another choice."

"If it goes wrong…" she asked gently.

"I will most likely kill you, yes." He replied. "But if we don't try, that will happen anyway."

Thera looked up at him and nodded. She winced as a wave of scalding power washed over them from Jared. Romen took her hand. "You have to trust me." He told her.

"I do."

"Okay – I have to hold you… we have to be close." Romen looked at Thera uncertainly. Thera just nodded and stepped closer to him, allowing him to wrap his arms around her. "You have to open to me." Romen told her softly, "Let me in."

"Okay." Thera closed her eyes and rested her cheek against his chest, as she mentally tried to lower any barriers she may have set up.

"That's good." Romen said, stroking a hand down her hair.

An instant later Thera felt a brush of his power against her. It was hot, so hot. She stiffened, it was too hot! "It's okay. Relax." Romen told her, stroking her hair again. She felt his power brush against her again. Romen lowered his head. "Let me in…" he breathed in her ear. Thera drew a shaking breath and allowed some of his power to enter her. The heat of it brushed through her in blistering waves. She let out a gasp and clenched handfuls of Romen's shirt as she felt her eyes roll back in her head, even though they were closed. Romen held on to her as he continued to pour his power into her. Thera unclenched one of her hands holding Romen's shirt only to grab hold of his shoulder as he forced some more of his magic into her. It was so hot. The power burned through her, breaking down her last defence and rushing to fill every space it could find. Thera let out a cry of pain and her knees gave way. She would have fallen if Romen had not caught her and held her against himself, still gently stroking her hair. "That was good." He told her softly, "You did good."

Thera held on to Romen tightly, her eyes still closed as she rested her forehead against him, trying to steady herself enough to stand on her own. She could feel his power coursing through her, hear it singing in her blood. Outside of that she could feel something else, something of equal power, but different flavour. Amethyst flavour. Jared. She stepped back from Romen and looked around him at Jared as she felt an odd rippling coming from him. It was then that Romen suddenly seized her and pulled her down into a crouching position, wrapped himself around her and threw a shield over them.

Thera peered out the gap from under Romen's arm and let out a gasp at the sight she saw. What looked like purple – 'No' she thought, 'Amethyst' coloured flames were coming at them from Jared, but hitting an invisible shield around Romen and herself, and sliding off it harmlessly. A few moments later, the flames stopped and Romen released Thera. She sat where she was on the ground, stunned.

"Thera?" Romen asked tentatively. "Are you alright?" She just nodded silently. Romen got to his feet and moved toward his brother.

"You stupid bastard!" Mortakai's man snarled. "You have no idea what you have just done!" Thera stared at what was left of Mortakai's men. There were three still standing, two of which were wearing Amethyst crystals, the other was wearing a Wine. The rest were smouldering charred looking things upon the ground. Aurora was edging away from one such thing that had a Sapphire ring poking out of it. Jared walked forward, towards Aurora, but Mortakai's talkative man got there first. He grabbed Aurora by the arm and hauled her to her feet. He then lifted her off the ground by her waist and began backing up, towards their horses.

"No!" Aurora cried, kicking her legs and twisting in an attempt to get free. "No! Let me go!"

"Aur…" Jared made to move forward, but Romen grabbed his arm and held him back.

"No Jared." He said, "I'm sorry. You can't."

Aurora screamed as Mortakai's men tried to force her onto their horse. "Romen, get out of my way…" Jared growled, trying to get around his brother.

"I can't, Jared." Romen replied, blocking Jared's attempts to get around him, as Aurora was lifted onto the horse and one of the men climbed up behind her before kicking the horse into a gallop.

Aurora's desperate cry of "Jared!" caused Jared to take another step forward, desperation on his face. Romen grabbed him again.

"Aurora!" Jared called, shoving his brother aside as he darted forward again, but Romen caught him and held him back.

"No!"

" – please move…" Jared pleaded in barely more than a whisper. Romen squeezed his brother's shoulder tightly.

"We will get her back." He said softly, as he watched the tortured look in Jared's eyes grow stronger. "We will get her back, I promise."

As the distant sound of the horses hooves faded completely Jared stopped fighting his twin and instead sank to the ground where he sat silently. Romen stared at his brother for a moment before looking to Thera where she still sat upon the ground. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine." She replied, raising a hand to touch the Jade stone at her throat, however, what her fingers brushed was not the familiar round stone she had worn before, but a flatter stone. Thera frowned and looked down at the necklace she wore. It was the same silver chain, but the pendant on it was no longer a Jade stone. "Oooh." She breathed. She looked up at Romen for a second, her eyes wide, before looking back to the stone she now wore, tracing her fingers over it gently. It was oval shaped and dark green. A Malachite Stone. However, this was unlike any Malachite stone she had ever seen, this was a Malachite stone with flecks of Red.

*

Romen knelt by Thera for a few moments more before he realised that they should leave. He sheathed his blade and looked over at Jared who was pacing back and forth tugging on handfuls of his hair and muttering to himself. Romen let out a slow breath and then helped Thera get to her feet and made sure she was steady before he released her and turned again towards his brother. He moved slowly over to Jared and laid a hand gently on his shoulder. "We have to go." He told him softly. Jared turned to look at his twin.

"If they hurt her…" he breathed in a deadly whisper. Romen gave his brother's shoulder a sympathetic squeeze but couldn't think of anything that he could say. Jared had never been good at standing by while people he cared about were made to suffer. Well, to be entirely honest, neither had he, but Jared was the more open of the two and didn't know how to hide his emotions. Jared put his hand over his brother's on his shoulder and just nodded at Romen.

"We have to make camp for the night." Romen told him.

"Yeah," Jared agreed. "Thera doesn't look too good." He said, glancing over at her. Romen nodded and Jared bit his lip before walking over to Thera. "I'm sorry." He told her softly. "I didn't think…"
"It's fine." Thera replied gently. "You were just trying to protect Aurora."

"I could have killed you." Jared said, shaking his head. "I should have thought about what I was doing."

"Well I'm not hurt." Thera replied.

"Only thanks to Romen's obsession with old magic." Jared replied. Thera raised a hand to her new Malachite stone and nodded. Jared patted her lightly on the head as Romen came over and suggested they look for the stream they knew was nearby to make camp so they had access to fresh water. Jared grabbed the reigns of two horses that must have belonged to some of Mortakai's men that he had killed earlier. Romen put an arm around Thera's shoulders to make sure she stayed on her feet as they headed off into the trees in the direction of the light rushing sound of water they could hear.

Not long later they had chosen the spot they would spend the night in and were getting ready for nightfall. Romen began building a fire as there was already a cold breeze rising and they knew it would only get colder. "Why don't I light the fire?" Thera asked "I can do it much faster…"

"You need to save your energy." Romen replied. He watched as Jared continued to pace while Thera huddled on the ground, a moment later she got to her feet and announced that she might as well go and collect some water for them. "No!" Romen exclaimed, stopping what he was doing and looking at her. Thera raised an eyebrow at him. "I don't want you wandering around by yourself in the dark." He told her softly. "Mortakai's men may still be somewhere nearby."

"I'll go." Jared replied tonelessly, as he picked up the water canteens and headed off towards the stream.

As he walked, his mind ran over what Romen had just said "Mortakai's men may still be somewhere nearby." He wondered about how possible that might be. Would they stop so close after their narrow escape? Their crystals of power may be strong enough to withstand his but he was Mysian and they would certainly lose if they did battle with him hand to hand. Then again, they might be trying to hide in plain sight, making him think that they'd never stay so close to a threat so that he would never expect to find them. Jared looked up as he felt cold seep into his boots and realised that he had just stepped into the stream. With a soft curse he stepped back out of the water and bent to fill the canteens. A howl went up through the trees as Jared turned to make his way back to the campsite. He paused and listened for a moment, hoping that whatever it was would keep its distance for the night, before he continued back to Romen and Thera to see that Romen had gotten the fire burning nicely.

Jared put the now full water canteens with the rest of their supplies and then sat by the fire with the others. He stretched his feet closer to the fire in an attempt to dry his boots, then looked up as he heard Thera giggle. "They'll dry faster if you take them off and leave them by the fire." She told him with a smile. Jared just nodded and pulled his boots off and did what she said.

"What did you do? Walk into the water?" Roman asked with a grin.

"Pretty much." Jared replied. "Wasn't paying attention."

"Aurora will be fine." Romen told him seriously. "If Mortakai wants her then his men won't hurt her. We'll get her back."

"They're not that smart." Jared retorted. Romen busied himself by going through their supply bag and pulling out the last bit of a loaf of bread. He broke it in three and divided it among them, giving Thera a stern look until she began to eat it. He then looked at Jared.

"We can search for their tracks tomorrow. As long as we don't leave any trace then Mortakai can't take it out on the villages."

"That's too long." Jared replied in a soft voice. Romen looked sadly at him and shook his head gently.

"It's the best option we have." Jared just let Romen think he had convinced him, and allowed him to move on, handing Thera a water canteen. However as Jared pulled a blanket around himself he breathed very quietly

"I can think of a better option."

Jared sat quietly for the next hour or so with the blanket pulled tightly around himself. He watched as Romen collected another of the blankets for Thera and made her wrap it around herself as she sat by the fire. He vaguely found himself considering how he had never seen his brother so attentive to anybody before and then he realised that Romen was actually in love with her. He watched them for a while longer, watching the expressions on Thera's face whenever Romen fussed over something or other. She looked amused at first and then hid it quickly and let him fuss for his own benefit, Jared wondered if Romen knew she was letting him do it. Jared couldn't help but smile when Romen asked Thera if she were warm enough and she turned her head to look at him and just nodded at him with a smile. Romen nodded and wrapped an arm around her shoulders anyway. Jared smirked at the amused look on Thera's face again before she shook her head and leaned into him, smiling softly. He watched as Romen's expression changed from concern to pleasantly pleased when she didn't try to pull away and then when she leaned into him, he looked gently down at her, his expression turning to something extremely tender. Jared smiled at his brother when Romen looked over at him. A moment later Thera yawned and Romen suggested they should all get some sleep.

Jared watched as Thera lay by the fire and a few seconds later Romen lay beside her. He stayed where he was until he was certain they were both asleep and then he crept to his feet and over to the horses. Pulling himself into the saddle of one he made sure the other was still securely tied before he turned his horse and trotted off into the trees in the direction they had seen Mortakai's men take Aurora earlier. Jared rode for about fifteen minutes until he finally saw a faint glow from a fire up ahead. He dismounted, tied his horse up before creeping closer to have a quick look at the situation by the fire. He saw three men all sleeping soundly and Aurora curled on the ground by the fire. Jared clenched his hand with his Amethyst ring on it, causing the stone to flash as he drew power into it. Focusing his attention on the closest of Mortakai's men he sent a scalding focus of power straight at the man's heart. The man didn't even open his eyes before his heart exploded in his chest and he was dead. Jared was about to do the same to the next man when he awoke and discovered his friend and then awoke his other comrade. The two men then started towards the trees where they obviously believed the attacker to be hiding. Jared drew his sword and decided to make some noise to bring them to him. The first one reached him within a manner of moments and Jared had sliced through his throat an instant later. The second one came flying towards him brandishing his sword and Jared barely had time to defend himself, however he had disarmed the man a few moments later and had run him through not long later. Jared looked back towards their fire. He couldn't see any more of Mortakai's men, but he was sure there'd be more not far nearby. With that thought, he hurried back to his horse, quickly got himself into the saddle and rode into the campsite. He dismounted quickly and dropped to the ground by Aurora, reaching a hand out to shake her awake.

Aurora jumped when he touched her and she was about to pull away when she saw it was Jared who had a hold of her and instead she threw herself into his arms hugging him tightly. Jared held her for a few moments and then pulled back to look at her. "Are you okay?" he asked desperately, raising a hand to her cheek and quickly brushing her long hair back from her face so he could see her better and see if she was hurt. Aurora just nodded, her eyes locked on his and an instant later Jared pulled her to her feet. "We have to get out of here." He told her quietly. He swung himself up onto his horse and then pulled her up in front of him, before kicking his horse into action and galloping off into the trees. He had to force himself to focus upon staying on the horse and guiding it through the trees and not become distracted by the feel of Aurora in his arms. He did not find this an easy task.

Jared guided his horse to a quiet clearing by the stream and dismounted. He had decided not to go straight back to Romen and Thera right away on the chance that some of Mortakai's men were following him, and so he had decided that he and Aurora would stay away for the rest of the night and rejoin them in the morning. After checking to make sure there was nothing dangerous in the immediate area he lifted Aurora down from the horse and looked at her. "Did they hurt you?" he asked gently, brushing her hair back over her shoulder.

"No." Aurora replied, shaking her head and looking up at him. Jared smiled at her and stroked his hand down her hair, smoothing it softly, for a few moments before she suddenly stepped into him, hugging him tightly. Jared's arms came around her, holding her gently as he continued to stroke her hair. He closed his eyes as he felt her rest her cheek against his chest and delicately trace her fingers across the material of the back of his shirt.

"I'm so thankful you're okay." He told her softly, his hand still stroking her hair.

"I thought I'd never see any of you again." She replied quietly, then looked up at him and added "I'm so glad you came for me…"

"Hey," Jared responded "You didn't think I'd just let them take you, did you?" he asked.

"I didn't want to get my hopes up." Aurora replied softly "In case you didn't come…"

"Aurora," Jared said firmly, as he looked down at her and raised a hand to trace his fingers lightly down her cheek. "I will never let anybody hurt you." He told her "I will always be there to help you no matter what. You hear me?" Aurora nodded and smiled at him. "You make sure you remember that." He told her with a smile. "Because I know Mortakai and he is not done yet. He doesn't give up that easily." Jared wished he hadn't said that as the smile immediately fell from Aurora's face to be replaced by fear. "Hey, no…" he said softly, resting his hand gently against her cheek to make her look at him. "I won't let him hurt you. I promise." Aurora nodded again as she looked up at him.

"Thank you." She breathed.

"You don't have to thank me for anything." Jared replied softly. Aurora gave a light smile and Jared hesitated for only a moment before he bent and lightly kissed her. He was extraordinarily pleased when he paused for a moment to see if she would pull away from him, and she did not. So, when he felt her take hold of a handful of his shirt and pull him closer towards herself he smiled and deepened the kiss, tangling a hand in her long red hair as he tried to get even closer to her.

A few minutes later Aurora pulled back and looked at Jared. "Can I make a fire?" she asked him softly.

"Yeah, I guess so." He replied "I think if they had followed us we would have seen them by now." He bent and picked up a few sticks and then chose a spot for the fire and put them there before he turned to find more wood. Not long later they had a nice pile of wood and Aurora looked at it for a second before flicking her fingers at it causing it to erupt into flame as strong as if it had been burning for hours.

"I'll bet that's handy." Jared said with a grin as he pulled a blanket down from off the horse and draped it across Aurora's shoulders. Aurora twisted around to look up at him and nodded.

"It is." She agreed. Jared lowered himself to the ground to sit beside Aurora and gently put an arm around her, drawing her closer to himself to keep her warm. He smiled when she snuggled into him, resting her head against his shoulder as she stared into the flames.

"We'll head back to Romen and Thera in the morning." He told her softly.

"Okay." She replied gently. Jared remained silent for the next few minutes and then the next thing he knew Aurora had fallen asleep against him. He smiled and gently lay her down, close enough to the fire to keep warm yet not too close so she wouldn't get burned. As soon as he saw she was fine, he lay beside her and allowed himself to fall asleep in the warmth of the fire.