All Vast Oceans
Chapter 1

0

When the winds begin to moan
And when your spirits howl and groan
May all your charms of breath and bone
And all vast oceans see you home.

Layeni poem, possible fragment, found in a tomb in the East Fukuharian Islands.
Author unknown.

0

The boy.

Arren quirked a brow and re-crossed his legs as they dragged him into the cell. Wearing nothing but a gauzy red sash that barely clung to his thin hips. Thick, dark, long hair. Closed eyes. A nose that did not quite fit his face.

The guards shackled his wrists, and muttered something in a foreign tongue. One of them nudged the boy's backside with a booted foot, and the boy sucked in a breath and weakly tried to crawl away. The guard said something else, and the four of them laughed. They left the cell, slamming the barred door behind them.

Arren folded his legs beneath him, and breathed in a slow, deep breath.

Don't even think about it. You've barely enough magic to get yourself out.

Still, though. He would feel terrible about leaving someone behind to die here. Here, of all places.

He would wait, he decided, and see.

0

Geth was barely conscious when they threw him into the cell.

His back was a mess. He could feel blood trickling from between his legs, and from his cuts and scrapes. Everything was bruised. Everything hurt. They had tortured him efficiently, for sure.

He tried to move his wrist, and bit back a cry. Definitely broken. Oh, Good Lady above, it was broken.

He groaned. Why had he done it? Master Uzu had been one of his cruelest masters, yes, but maybe if he had… if he had tried harder, been more seductive and pleasing, then Master Uzu wouldn't have threatened them with disposal. And maybe… maybe Wen would still be here…

A sob threatened to rip its way through him. Too old for a pleasure slave. Geth squeezed his eyes shut tighter. Too old to be sold again.

Master Uzu's neck had seemed so weak and pliable under his hands. Geth gently touched the metal collar around his own neck, and grimaced. If he had just squeezed a little tighter, Master Uzu wouldn't have been able to call for help. He wouldn't have been caught. Now he would be killed for sure, a slave trying to murder his master was always put to death, and he had no one to blame but himself.

(please gethy please don't let them do it)

"Hey, kid, you alive?"

Geth tensed, and pushed himself up to his elbows, looking around the cell. A man sat in the corner, his face covered with a hood. Not that it mattered. It was too dark to really see his face anyway. Geth inched back, until he could feel the icy aura of the stone wall behind him.

"Wh-what do you want?" he croaked. He tried to swallow, but it felt as though his throat was coated with sand. He had been screaming for a very long time.

"Nothing at all," the stranger said. He sounded almost cheery. Geth closed his eyes, and tried to curl in a ball. He was wearing nothing but the now tattered red sash that Master Uzu preferred to keep him in. He had only just barely gotten it around his hips before the guards pulled him off of that awful mattress to drag him down to this cell, with his shaking hands and weak sobs. "I'm just curious," the stranger continued suddenly. "What is your crime, if you don't mind me asking?"

Geth closed his eyes. "If it's all the same to you, sir, I'd rather not say. Please… leave me be." He tried to swallow again, wincing against the pain. All he wanted to do was lie there until dawn, when they would come for him again. The last time.

"You're to be put to death too, hm?"

Geth's eyes flew open. How…?

"Just a lucky guess," the man said quickly. "That's what this level of the prison is for, you see. People who are to be put to death. What's your sentence? I think they're going to behead me. Are they going to do the same to you?"

Geth felt sick. "I…"

The stranger gasped. "Listen!"

Geth did. He could hear a faint chiming of bells somewhere out in the distance. He shook his head.

"That sound means the watch is going to change." The stranger stood up, and his shackles dropped from his wrists and clanged to the ground. Geth's mouth opened in shock. "It's late. A good portion of the guards are now on their way home." Even in the dark, Geth could make out his grin. "How would you like to get out of here?"

Too much. This was too much.

"Stranger," Geth said, pushing himself up so that he was sitting on his legs. "I don't know how you did that, but please. No one escapes from this place."

"Don't be silly," the stranger said. He kneeled down next to him, and Geth could just make out long blond hair framing the smiling mouth. "Now hold up your hands."

Slowly, Geth raised his hands so that his wrists were proffered. The man placed one black-gloved hand over them, and not a moment later, the shackles sprang open. Geth gasped.

"How… how…?"

"No time for that, now," the man said, getting to his feet. He walked to the door, and pressed an ear and a hand against it. He was quiet for a moment. "Are you ready?"

"F-for what?" Geth breathed.

"To run." The man stepped back from the door, put one hand out in front of him, and drew it through the air in a quick horizontal line. Geth heard a click, and the door slowly swung inward.

Geth's jaw dropped. Magic. It had to be. This man… was he a mage?

Geth eyed him nervously. Mages were not to be trusted.

The man poked his head out the door, and looked around. "All right, looks good."

Geth shook his head. "We… we can't! We'll be seen for sure!"

"You let me worry about that."

Geth shook his head, more furiously this time. "No."

"You want to die here, kid?"

"I'm not a child, mage," Geth said,"and not that it's any of your business, but yes. Dying here is probably the best thing for me."

The mage paused, and looked back at him. He gently pressed the door so that it looked like it was shut, and walked back to Geth. A ball of light formed in one of his hands, and Geth was surprised by the concern in the handsome man's green eyes.

"Do you really mean that?" the mage said quietly.

Geth pulled back so that he was as close to the stone wall as he could get to it without actually touching it. He looked down, at his tattered sash and bloody legs and dirty feet. His cheeks burned with shame. He shut his eyes.

"N…No," he said, his voice barely a whisper. How weak he must seem to this man. How pitiful.

The mage sighed, as though he were relieved. He extinguished his light, and said, "Good. If you want to come with me, then take my hand."

"W…Wait," Geth said. This was all happening so fast. His head was spinning. "Please, sir… I don't even know your name."

The man smiled slowly as he offered his hand. "Arren. My name is Arren."

Geth bit his lips together, and closed his eyes. Too much. This was…

No. Don't think about it, he decided. Just… just…

He gasped in shock when he realized that the mage had disappeared completely. He looked around the cell, absolutely bewildered.

"I'm right here!" a voice said, making Geth jump.

"Wh… what?"

"Hold out your hand."

Geth offered the hand that wasn't attached to his aching, broken wrist. He felt a gloved hand close around his own. And then he saw his arm begin to disappear.

"What's happening?" he hissed, panic shooting through him. He tried to pull away, but Arren tightened his grip.

"Don't resist it! How else do you think we're going to sneak out of here?"

"I… I…" Geth shook his head furiously. "I can't…"

"It's all right," Arren said. "I promise I won't hurt you."

Geth could have laughed. Not the first time I've heard that. He tried to calm himself as his shoulder and chest disappeared. He shut his eyes, and waited.

A moment later, Arren said, "All right, come on. I can only give us both a few minutes of invisibility, so try not to do too much sight-seeing."

The mage pulled on his hand, and Geth followed, reveling in how odd it was to not be able to see himself. It was so dark in the cell; he supposed it didn't really matter.

Out into the large hallway, lit by many floating mage-lamps up near the ceiling. It was freezing, and Geth had to bite his lips together to keep his teeth from chattering.

He continued to follow the invisible man in front of them. They reached a heavy door, and Arren stopped in front of him. They were silent for a moment, and Geth strained his ears to listen for the guard on the other side.

He heard Arren whisper something, and the lock clicked. The door swung open slowly, and Geth followed Arren as he tugged on his hand. Geth felt Arren stop, and close the door behind them.

They walked again, more swiftly this time. They rounded a corner, and Geth choked back a gasp. Three guards were headed straight for them, each armed with swords and each looking particularly angry. Geth felt Arren's free arm wrap around him, and felt himself pulled against the wall.

The contact shocked him, but not enough for him to make a sound. The wounds on his back burned where the mage's arm was against them, but Geth forced himself to not cry out. The guards passed without so much a second look. Geth released the breath he hadn't realized he was holding. He was trembling, he realized, and tried to stop himself. The last thing he needed was Arren to think him too cowardly for this escape.

The guards continued down the dim hall, and Arren waited until they were too far away to hear their footsteps before tugging Geth on.

They spent a good amount of time sneaking past guards and unlocking doors. Geth longed to ask him how he knew where he was going, but held his tongue. They must have been wandering around for ten minutes when Geth began to notice a strange, icy sensation coming over his hand where Arren clutched it. It was almost as though something was being sucked through his arm.

"What…?" he whispered, but stopped when he felt Arren's hand close over his mouth.

"Not here," Arren hissed, and they continued on.

More guards. They must be getting near the entrance.

He was right; not a minute later, they came upon the large double-doors that he had been dragged through not two days ago. He waited for the door to swing open, for Arren to work his magic and get them out for good, but nothing happened.

Very suddenly, he rnoticed that he could see the back of Arren's hood begin to materialize in front of him. Arren released his hand, and looked down at his own.

"Shit," he hissed quietly. He reached into his robes, and pulled out what appeared to be a slim, pointed knife.

"What happened?" Geth whispered, looking around wildly. "Where are the guards?"

"Probably asleep. I cast a sleeping spell a few minutes ago," Arren whispered back. He had jammed the pick into the lock, and was working it up and down. "I used too much magic on our invisibility. This door is sealed, I can't open it."

"A… Asleep?" Geth was dumbfounded. "Wh… when did you do that, sir? I didn't hear…"

"I need you to be silent if I am to unlock this door." There was a hint of anger in his voice, and Geth cringed, and bit his lips together and nodded.

He waited while Arren worked carefully on the lock. He wrapped his arms around himself to try to contain his shivers, glancing nervously down the hall, expecting a guard to appear at any moment. And then…

Click.

"Ah… music to my ears," Arren said. He tucked the pick, or knife, whatever it was, back into his robe, and shoved the door open. "Come on," he said, grabbing Geth's hand again. He was running, now, out across the field. It was raining hard, and Geth's bare feet slipped in the muddy grass. They were already close to the large stone wall that surrounded the prison.

"Sir… how…?"

"I'm really, really sorry about this," Arren said over the rain. They were at the wall. Arren wrapped his arms around Geth again, and this time Geth felt the same icy, sucking sensation throughout his entire body. All of his energy went out of him as though in a breath.

And suddenly, the ground seemed far away. Geth closed his eyes as his stomach churned and he realized that they were flying, Goddess above, we're flying! They sailed silently over the top of the high wall, and down to land neatly on the other side. The rain seemed to have kept the guards inside the four towers rather than on their patrols across the wall, something Geth knew he should be thankful for.

His feet touched the ground, and Geth seemed to have lost the strength to stand, for he dropped into the mud on his hands and knees.

"Oh… oh… wh… how…?"

"No time," Arren said. "They've probably noticed that we're gone. On your feet."

Geth struggled to get to his feet, but slipped, and crashed back to the ground. A horrible pain ripped its way through his stomach, and he gagged as though he would throw up if there were anything in his stomach. Rain pounded on his injured back like tiny knife blades.

He coughed. "P-please, forgive me sir, I… there's s-something wrong with muh-me."

Arren stopped down, and pulled Geth up and into his arms. He put on arm under the backs of his knees, and one at his shoulders so that he was carrying him like a child.

"It's my fault," he said as he started to walk. "I had to draw on your power to get us over that wall. I'm completely out of magic." He sighed as they crossed the last of the cleared field and entered the tree line of Yemilina Forest. "Forgive me. I should not have done it without asking permission first, but I didn't know what else to do. I didn't plan on escaping with company tonight. …should have… more careful… you… we… close to Loneleaf …"

Geth caught only bits of his words as he sank into a sudden and blessed unconsciousness.

0

It wasn't until the kid went limp in his arms that Arren understood how badly he had screwed up.

"Shit… kid? Hey, kid?" Gods above, he didn't even know his name. Arren chewed his lip and quickened his pace. He'd seen how bad the kid was bleeding… he should have known better… "Dammit."

He had, he decided, been wandering around in the trees for long enough. He emerged from the trees onto the road that ran from Loneleaf City. There were two deep trenches in the muddy road from carts and carriages. The trenches were filled with water, and Arren was careful not to step in it. He turned against the rain, and followed the road.

It was at least two miles to town, and despite how light he was, the kid was getting heavier with each step. What an idiot he had been to use all of his magic like that. They probably could have escaped without him putting all of the guards to sleep, but after seeing what they did to the boy in his arms, he didn't want to risk getting caught.

He trudged on, shuddering against the onslaught of rain. Gods above, but this was terrible. Oh, Leika would have a fine laugh when she saw him slogging up to the city gates, a mostly-naked boy in his arms.

Arren scowled, and plodded on.

It seemed as though he had been walking forever when he finally, finally, blissfully saw the dim light of the town ahead through the curtains of rain.

As though on cue, the kid stirred in his arms.

"Ah… s-sir… I…" His voice was weak, barely audible over the pounding rain.

"Do you think you can stand?" Arren said.

The boy nodded slowly, and Arren let his feet drop to the ground. The boy wavered, and clung to Arren's other arm until he found the strength to steady himself.

"Can you walk?"

"I… y-yes, sir, I think so."

"Come on, then. We're almost there."

"Yes, sir."

That same, timid reply. Arren grimaced. He would have to do something about that. Later, though. For now…

"Oh!"

Arren heard a splash, and turned around. The boy had tripped and fallen into the wheel-trench on the side of the road. Arren had to force himself not to roll his eyes as the boy clambered to his knees, clutching at the worthless sash around his hips.

"Ah… f-forgive me, sir, I… I stepped on… oh, ouch, I stepped on something and I-"

Arren felt his patience drain away. He bent down, grabbed the boy by the arm, and yanked him up onto the path. The boy made a strangled cry that he obviously tried to muffle.

"I don't have time for this," Arren snapped. He pulled the boy along by his wrist, much more harshly than before. Remi's voice in his head again. So stupid, Nashi, you're so stupid. You saw that collar and you flipped. You assumed. Be more careful, that's what Master Fuka always said, be more careful you stupid reckless fool and look what happened. Look look look what happened. Stuck with a useless sex slave in the rain in the dark out of town, Leika can hide one but no more that's what she said what she said you stupid reckless fool, probably better if you'd just let him die back there-

Arren shook his head. No. He wasn't like that. He couldn't do something like that.

"Sir, please!"

Arren jolted, and looked back at the boy. His long hair was plastered to his body with mud and rainwater, but those were tears cutting tracks through the grime on his face.

"What? What is it?" Arren demanded, more furiously than he meant to.

"Please, sir, my… my wrist is broken, and you're hurting me so badly!"

Arren dropped his arm like he'd been stung by it.

You are an asshole, Nashi.

"Oh… shit… I'm sorry, I… I didn't mean…-"

Arren stopped himself when he realized the lights behind them were moving.

"Oh, Good Lady above, we need to go. Run! Now!" He took the boy's other hand, and took off at a sprint, the boy feebly attempting to match his pace. They were close, so close, but the prison guards with their horses and carts would catch up with them in no time.

The town was just ahead, and Loneleaf, that terrible shithole, never looked so beautiful or promising.

Arren risked a glance over his shoulder. Fuck! They were closer, so much closer, than he'd anticipated. He forced the exhausted, injured boy behind him to run faster.

The wind picked up so that it was blowing against them now, sending the rain sheeting into their faces like icy curtains. Arren put his arm up in front of his face, and squinted against it.

The main gate, shut for the night, was just ahead of them now. And there it was, Leika's watch door, it was right there, right there, lit by one small mage-made lamp. Arren turned and headed for it, the boy just barely keeping up at this point.

They reached the door, and Arren released the boy, who promptly dropped, panting, to his knees. Arren began to pound on the door, praying that the girl inside was awake.

"Leika! Leika, you cow, wake the fuck up!"

Arren stepped back when he heard the sound of a key in the lock. The door flew open to reveal Leika, with a scarf over her curly, black hair and a scowl decorating her brown face.

"What, in the name of the Sweet Water, do you want?" she snarled, her pretty features contorting in rage.

"Leika!" Arren threw his arms around her. "You beautiful, magnificent creature!"

"A-Arren?" Leika sputtered, shoving him back. She glanced behind him, and quirked a dark brow at the sight of the boy on his knees. "Um… Arren… who's…?" She saw the approaching lights on the road, and grimaced. "Oh, for the love of… Get inside, I have to deal with this."

"That's just it! Leika, listen," Arren pleaded. He bent down, and heaved the boy to his feet. "Those men are after me, I need you to-…"

"Say no more, my liege," Leika said, ushering them into the room. There was a fire in one wall, mage-made lamps floating at the ceiling, and a desk and several chairs that were all strewn with books and papers. Leika gathered them into a pile on the desk, next to a large vase that held a beautiful, purple flower. "Um… actually…" She tapped her chin, looking around the room. "No, this should be fine. Why don't you let your friend sit down, yeah?"

Arren dropped the boy unceremoniously into a chair by the fire.

"Th… thank you," the boy wheezed, clutching his arm to his chest. Arren felt a pinch of guilt in his chest.

Leika tensed at the sound of pounding on the gates.

"Watchwoman!" came a call from outside. "Open the gates!"

"I need to take care of this, yeah?" Leika said, pulling on a short cloak. She pulled her hood over her head, and picked up a mage-lamp from the table. "Sit quiet and away from the window."

Arren pushed his hood back, and ran his hand through his wet hair. "Yes. Of course."

Leika shut the curtains before stepping out into the rain.

0

Leika Marthana had been the watchwoman of the main gates of Loneleaf City for about three years now, ever since Ma took sick. Ma had come from the Wistian Islands nearly twenty years ago, when Leika was just a tiny baby in her arms, and Da's ashes were still fresh in their vase. The Southern Wists, too, where everything was sunny and sandy and beautiful. Ma never did take to the cold of Perania. Maybe that's why she was so sick, so sick and just couldn't get any better. She needed to work, though, and there wasn't much to be had in beautiful Wist.

Leika supposed that that made her the man of the family, now. She could have laughed at that. But Ma didn't have anyone else to help her, and she was sick now, and Leika had to do her duty. Before, she had just been a nanny for the children of Lord Redstone, the man who watched over the town. Lord Redstone was a kind man, kind to Leika and her mother. That was the thing about Perania; people were just so much nicer there than the Ruian Empire, to which the Wists belonged to.

Loneleaf was an important city, standing right at the border of Honulia and Perania. That made Loneleaf an obvious target for smugglers, the slave trade, the black market, a city where lawlessness could easily take over, so close to such an awful country.

Leika held up the mage-lamp in the rain, and squinted at the cart before her. Too bad she liked Arren a lot more than the laws of the city.

"Can I help you?" she yelled over the rain. A man jumped down from the back of the cart, and approached her. One of the prison guards from the Honulian prison. Arren, what in the name of the Lady did you do?

"Watchwoman!" the man said. "We are pursuing two escaped criminals. Open the gates immediately!"

"You know I can't do that, Honulian," Leika snapped. "These gates don't open until the sun rises. I have been here since the sun set, and I have seen no such criminals." She regarded him warily. "What were they charged with that you felt the need to come barging in here in the middle of the night?"

"One was charged with attempted murder," the guard said, "and the other was a thief. Both were to be put to death at dawn, and both are very dangerous! They harmed many guards during their escape. Use your head, little girl! We need to recapture them, or who knows what they'll do?"

Leika refused to allow her surprise show. "I can't-"

Without warning, the guard drew his sword, and pointed it at her. "I command you to open this gate!"

Leika gritted her teeth, and any trepidation she felt was replaced with rage. She reached into her robes, and pulled out her knife. "You have no authority here, Honulian! Remove yourself from this side of the border before I wake the city guard and have you removed! Yeah?"

Another one of the guards appears behind the first, and spoke to him roughly in Honulian. They argued for a moment, before the first guard looked back at her.

"V…Very well," the man said, sheathing his sword. "We will return in the morning, woman."

"Oh, please, do," Leika said. She did not put away her knife. "I look forward to it."

The second guard grabbed the first's arm, and pulled him back to the cart. Leika stood, watching them until they disappeared down the muddy road. She spat into the mud, and returned to the room in the wall.

0

Geth watched the dark-skinned woman stormed out of the small room, slamming the door behind her. He tried to stop his shivering when he noticed that Arren was standing like a stone near the door, completely unmoving. This man must find him so repugnantly weak. Geth felt his face redden, and not from the cold. He did not like to appear weak.

The pain from the wounds on his back was bad, but the pain in his foot was blinding. He nervously tried to flex his foot, but the pain only intensified. He bit down on his lip, and clenched his fists. At least it was warm. He forced himself to focus on that. It's warm, here.

His wet hair was plastered to his face and his back, and he tried to gather it into a braid over his shoulder, but his hands were shaking so badly that he abandoned his task. He made certain that his ears were completely covered before he pushed his bangs out of his eyes. His hand came back muddy.

I'm a mess, he realized, looking down at himself. The rainwater and mud was mixing from the blood from his cuts and from the marks that the whip left on him. He wiped futilely at his arms and legs, and snuck a glance at Arren.

The man was about his height, with long blond hair that passed his shoulders, and eyes as green as spring leaves. Arren was broader than he was, and looked stronger. More confident. His clothes were simple and dark, and what Geth had taken to be a cloak was actually little more than a wide, gray scarf wrapped around his shoulders and head.

He was also very handsome. Geth nervously twisted the metal collar around his throat, and felt his blush grow stronger, and was almost thankful for the muck that covered his face.

This man had just saved his life. The fact settled over him suddenly, and Geth swallowed. My life is his, now, he realized. What would he want with it?

Geth wrapped his good arm around his bare legs, held his hurt wrist against his chest, and stared at the fire. When he looked back at Arren, he was standing over by the desk, staring at the top paper on the pile.

"Uh… s-sir…?"

Arren looked over at him, his brow knit.

"M…may I ask… where are we going? And that woman. Who is she?" Who are you? He wanted to ask, but resisted.

Arren sighed, and walked over to the other chair in the room. He sat down across from Geth, and rubbed his face.

"Leika is an old friend of mine. She will not betray us." The steel in his voice almost gave Geth comfort. Almost. "And about where we're going…Tonight, or in general?" he said, pulling off his gloves.

"Uh… b… both?"

Arren nodded. "I would be concerned if you weren't interested. Tonight, I aim to stay at an inn, probably lay low for a few days until they stop searching for me." He inclined his head. "Or, I should say, us."

The voices outside escalated. Arren paused, and listened for a moment.

"After that, I'm headed for the capitol. I assume you have family you would like to return to?"

Geth fists tightened, and he looked down at the rug on the floor.

"Ah… n-no, sir, I am quite alone."

Arren was quiet for a moment.

"I'm sorry," he breathed. Geth closed his eyes, and shook his head.

"No offense taken, sir. No need for an apology."

"No, I mean, I'm sorry because… hey, wait."

Geth look up at Arren, and Arren slid a hand under his chin, tilting his face up.

"Your eyes… they don't match!"

"Oh!" Geth could have laughed. What a thing to notice at a time like this! "No, no they don't."

One of his eyes was blue, and the other was brown. Mismatched eyes were a common thing among his people, but he wasn't going to tell Arren that.

"Wow. I don't think I've ever met a person with eyes like yours before," Arren said, smiling, and pulling his hand back.

"Some say they're good luck," Geth said. "They made me very expensive at auctions."

"…Oh," was Arren's reply. Geth blushed again, and looked away.

What a thing to say! They made me expensive. Geth, you're a fool, he thought.

"Um… I-I've just realized something," Arren said, reaching out, and touching Geth's shoulder. It was an obvious attempt to change the subject, and Geth appreciated it.

"What is it?" Geth said, looking up.

At that moment, the door opened, and Leika walked into the room, pulling off her cloak.

"They're gone. But they'll be back again tonight, I think," she said, shaking the rainwater out the door before hanging the cloak on a hook. She noticed them, then. "Oh… I'm interrupting something, yeah?"

"No," Arren said gruffly, before standing up. He clasped her arms. "Thank you, Leika. You've saved our lives tonight."

Of all things, the rather threatening woman grabbed the sides of her robes and curtsied. "It was my pleasure, your grace. No, my duty! As a woman of Perania. I-"

Arren cleared his throat, and shook his head once. Leika raised an eyebrow, and glanced at Geth.

She straightened. "Oh. Uh… I mean… it was no problem."

Arren smiled. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

Leika leaned back against the door, and shrugged. "Ma is sick."

Arren nodded. "I know."

"She needs an intensive healing… one we can't afford."

Arren frowned. "The Healers at the temple can't help?"

Leika shook her head, and pulled the dark red scarf from her head. Her hair was jet black and very curly, and it tumbled down her back in a thick wave. Geth thought it was lovely.

"No, 'fraid not. We need someone who practices professionally, not some dabbler who uses her gifts for the Good Lady. Yeah?"

"Yeah," Arren said. He smiled. "Consider it done. I'll send a message to my mother immediately."

The woman clapped her hands together. "Oh, ahashi! Thank you, Arren!" She threw her arms around him, and squeezed tightly. Arren patted her back.

"It is the least I can do," he said as they parted.

"Please," Leika said. "You should stay here tonight. I can't shove you out into that storm!"

"No, no," Arren said. Geth's stomach clenched. He dreaded the prospect of returning the rain, dressed as he was, with so much pain assaulting his body. "I couldn't possibly impose on you any longer."

"Then go to my house! Ma's there, she'll let you in. She's probably awake anyway. It's only…" She trailed off as she reached into her robes and pulled out a watch on a thin chain. "Oh, bless the Breath, it's three hours past midnight."

Geth rubbed at his eyes. No wonder he was so tired.

"We'd best get on, then," Arren said. "Thank you again, Leika. I'm sure we'll see you soon."

"You be safe out there, Arren," Leika said. "If you need anything, or if you can't find a place to stay, just go to my place. All right?"

"All right," Arren said.

"Promise me?"

Arren nodded. "I promise."

Leika led them to one of the three doors in the small room. It opened to reveal the town, rain and all.

"Welcome to Loneleaf City," Leika said to Geth as they left the room. "Leihasan, you two."

Geth assumed that this was her language for "Goodbye," for she promptly shut and bolted the door. He wrapped his arms around himself and shivered. It was just as cold on this side of the wall as it had been on the other.

Arren pulled his already sopping-wet hood over his head. "Come on."

He started for the road, and Geth followed, limping and silent.

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I think most of the names are easy to pronounce (that's how I like 'em), but if I'm wrong, comment and I'll make a pronunciation guide in the next chapter. I feel like this is a weird place to stop… but I'm going to do it anyway.

And also, review?

XOXO,
Mango

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