"Ohu heïr eitü neiviy onu, nohsah glehn ühn sehsii."
Gayge ran through the rain slicked streets of Ritrea, his home. Each stride sunk his feet deeper into the muddy soil, though he didn't stop. He ran further, pushing himself against the rain that was like splinters to his frozen body. His legs had become stiff and tired, his muscles tender, and with each step a wracking pain radiated throughout his body. A sharp stab forced its way through his side, causing him to double over, but he forced himself forward.
Above, he could see the sun deteriorating the clouds, though it would only make him easier to be found. His safety would only last so long.
He held tightly to his side, forcing himself more than ever to make it to the forest beyond the gates. He darted past the two, towering pillars and into the dense foliage, where still the scent of burning embers and ash were fresh in the air. His only focus was set on making it to a nearby village where he could get help.
His breaths were coming in short gasps where each movement had become viable only by effort. Vaguely seeing the path before him, he ran the practiced distance to the tall oak tree resting at the foot of the watch tower. From there he should be able to glimpse the general direction of the village. His main concern now was to make it to safety.
He rested his head on the wood, his body straining to hold his weight. Watching the scene before him in a sort of remorse; he could only pray to the Lourne for his survival, though even they, he felt had abandoned him.
He stepped down from the root on which he stood, noticing as he did an immense buzzing within the ramparts of his mind. Instinctively he turned, facing in the general direction of the noise to see nothing. Focusing again on his task, being certain to keep his mind occupied by the dire need of the village, he urged himself onward; dashing passed the pillars that contained the fire.
"Stop. Don't move."
Gayge instantly haulted, withdrawing the tip of his small dagger from within his jacket. From the corner of his eye he could clearly see a man holding what looked like an aimed arrow to his cheek.
"What happened here?" The man insisted, waving the pointed arrow at him as if to remind him who had the upper hand.
Gayge watched the man from the side, noticing his posture. His absence of authority was obvious, though he masked it with his robust tone of voice. He could feel the strain in the man's arms as they shook ever so slightly to keep the bow strongly pulled back.
Gayge opened his mouth to answer, noticing as he did a rustling through the trees. The man seemed to detect Gayge's suspicion also, losing his concentration towards the offence and letting his bow loose.
The small amount of light permissible to the ground shown no sings of anything approaching, and the sound seemed to gain distance.
Before him, he could inaudibly hear what would have been a weak grunt of annoyance by the man. Seeing that Gayge was no real threat, the man add eased, and began the long process of fastening his bow to his back. "You had nothing to do with this, did you?" Asked the man, indicating toward the chaotic village with his head.
Gayge looked back at the fire ravaging through the linking homes, feeling for the first time no real attachment to the village. He had lived there for a week, if that, and shook his head, sliding the dagger back into the ripped seam.
Gayge could only watch the man's confusion as he tried inevitably to tie the bow upright. "We really should get going." Gayge suggested, but his effort was returned with an exasperated glare.
"Who is 'we'?" Asked the man. "I am needed at my village, you are free to go on your way."
Instantly, Gayge's dire desperation returned and he found his stomach churning. "I have nowhere else to go now." He found himself pleading.
The man seemed to stare down at him for a brief moment, considering his options. "I have no intentions of getting in the middle of this situation, and I don't want to accommodate some sort of fugitive."
Grasping the bow in his hand, the man turned sharply into the sallow lit path. Gayge was certain he was trying to regain the ascendancy he had lost in the beginning.
"I am no renegade!" Shouted Gayge with such inconsolable emotion that the man halted his stride.
He smiled mischievously, seemingly to say he knew more than he was telling about the situation. "Then what are you?
Still breathing heavily, Gayge gathered his thoughts to try and meet the man's expected answer. He knew what he was; he never had to question that. To be condemned for something he appeared to be seemed brutally closed minded.
"I'm a traveler." Said Gayge.
The man briefly considered his options. "Then know this… I am not liable for anything that happens beyond this point. You keep your business to yourself."
Relief flowed through Gayge for the time being, and he found himself following the man unquestioningly through the forest opening and onto the sand trail.
"Forgive me for being so ill-mannered." Said the man, turning to face Gayge. "I'm Vaan."
Gayge couldn't conceal a smile. "Gayge."
Without a word, the man continued walking, embarrassment showing in his ears.
The day grew old and the sun reached its pinnacle over the pregnant clouds. Discerning the darkening forest floor, it would be unwise to continue for fear of losing the trail.
Vaan perceived his thoughts, halting at an intersection. "What do you suggest?"
Gayge's thoughts turned to the sound of galloping. The silhouettes of five jagged figures made a startling appearance at the mouth of the opening vines.
"It's not far from here." Vaan insisted, lunging forward and into a depression concealed by a bush.
Gayge bit back his desire to hide, but knew that his pride was ignorance in man's eyes and followed Vaan's impression into the pit.
Both were quiet, hearing the rumble of the hooves pass them. Though it was a simple gesture to hide, Gayge felt out of breath. Beside him, he could see Vaan felt likewise.
"Maybe we should stay here tonight." Vaan recommended derisively. Gayge knew deeply that he was being entirely serious.
"How far from here would you say it is?" Asked Gayge.
Vaan shrugged. "A few hours."
Gayge could only comply with Vaan's wishes. "We'll stay here until tomorrow then. Hopefully no one will find us." They both stared at each other briefly in humiliation at their predicament. They both made a silent oath to never speak of this again.
The Entire day Gayge's mind felt distant, as if he wasn't in complete control over his body. Slowly he was regaining his composure on things, and his guilt was returning from the previous night. A horrible sadness resided over him, and an unbearable feeling of loss shrouded his thoughts.
They had awoken unnervingly the next morning, though undetected. Gayge was in no sort of mood to be generous, and refused to eat even after he was offered multiple times. He had a nagging feeling of yearning. He longed to be at home, but every thought of it brought dreaded memories, unbearable even to him. Watching the scene of the previous night in his mind sent tremors down his spine.
He had difficulty placing himself in his current situation. Vaan must have noticed, but decided instead to ignore his concern. He stood up suddenly, making his way to the path where new light shone the distance.
Gayge, once again ignoring his suspicions, and followed him. "You know, you never told me what you were doing so far from your home." Said Gayge inattentively.
Vaan continued walking, and Gayge only hoped he hadn't offended him.
After many long moments, he finally stopped. "You're right." He admitted. They both stood a moment silently, waiting for the other to talk.
Gayge took the only opportunity he had. "Then why?"
Vaan once again ignored him, a look of guilt in his eyes. Gayge found himself clenching his fists in an attempt to control his annoyance.
They only shared a number of words to each other throughout the rest of the day, and night came abruptly. Gayge continued to look for a place for them to rest for the night, but Vaan seemed unconcerned with sleeping.
"That looks good." Said Gayge, pointing out a large tree concealing a massive root system.
Vaan considered his options for a moment. "We'll make it on time." He continued without hesitation, though Gayge was skeptical. Darkness would soon be upon them.
While worrying throughout the day whether or not Vaan's village would give shelter to him, he was also concerned how they would react to him arriving with Vaan. Either Vaan had a very large heart to trust a stranger, or he had other plans for him.
Within hours a dark blanket had soon engulfed them, and the rising mist proved to be more of a problem than was expected. Vaan was more determined than ever to return to his village, even though they were no longer following the trail. Gayge chose not to comment, instead trusting Vaan's directions.
"We have to be careful." Said Vaan. "There are traps on the peripheries of all the entrances."
"Don't you know where they are?" Asked Gayge, unable to hide his apprehension.
"Well yeah, but they change their location in case someone finds them, so I'm not sure."
To Gayge, this measure of security seemed dreadfully barbaric, though they both waited behind a tree for the other to move.
Gayge looked in the distance to see anything that even remotely looked like the occupancy of a village, but could see only the dense shadows of the surrounding trees.
"What are you doing?" Said Vaan, breaking the silence. "You're going."
Gayge almost began to laugh. He couldn't possibly think that he was risking his life to search for an entrance. Gayge studied the other's face to see the hint of a bluff, but soon realized Vaan was entirely serious. Perhaps this is why Vaan needed him.
He at once considered turning back, and then thought of what he had to go back to.
Without giving himself the time to deliberate on the circumstances, he lunged forward through the bushes that concealed them. He took no time to look at his new surroundings, instead dashing from tree to tree. The only noise being the deafening thud of his excited heart. Again he rushed to the next tree. With each step he expected to be his last. Again he raced; a monotonous ritual. Not stopping for the fear of his own thoughts.
Before him, hidden through interwoven branches was the only light for what seemed like miles. He embraced it, not seeing anything else around him.
The light seemed to gain distance as he ran, but he didn't stop. Even as he heard several bows pulled tightly in his direction, he couldn't stop. Again, a buzzing in his head, but he knew he would die if he surrendered.
He closed his eyes, feeling the warmth of an unseen fire, and the taste of dirt.