I got a review! ^^ Thanks Icy :3

And also thanks TereseLucy!

Anyhooza, chapter 2, here we go... Prepare for more made-up stuff! XD

PRONUNCIATION GUIDE:

Awek- "AY-wek"

skreiss- "skrice"

Jumid- "JOO-mid"

Askue- "Uh-SKYOO"

Esloit- "Es-LOYT"

And for the prologue names that I missed...

Ciudus- "See-OO-dus"

Kalen- "KAL-en"

White: Chapter 2

(ONE WEEK LATER)

"It's been a week. When will Father talk to that Mohue guy?" Visai leaned back against a tree in the forest, speaking to Tesikas. The elder teen was climbing a bloodbark tree, basket in hand.

The two were collecting the customary fruits for the summer's eve feast, which was in a few short days. It was pretty much the only thing Visai was permitted to do for the clan. He and Tesikas always looked forward to picking the fruits for the feast- it had been a tradition since they were both very small boys. The bloodbark's fruit was called bloodfruit, named so for its dark red juice. The fruit itself looked like a lumpy brown sphere and tasted similar to a mango.

Tesikas reached for one of these fruits and plucked it, then placed it in his basket. "I know nothing of a 'Mohue guy'," the redhead grunted, scooting over just a little further on his branch.

Visai threw back his cloak and climbed into the thick, sturdy limbs of another bloodbark. "My dad thinks he's on my side, and he's with the clan council."

"Ah, I think I know who you're talking about," Tesikas answered. "He's got light brown hair flecked with lots of gray. He's never spoken a word against you, but he's never spoken up for you, either. He'd need to see you as proof, not just me and your dad."

"Much help he is," Visai snorted, picking a bloodfruit. "Dad was right about that much."

Tesikas, basket full, jumped down from the tree. "Ever heard of a private meeting?" he asked, setting the full basket down and picking up an empty one.

Visai nodded. "Yeah, but good luck getting my dad to get a private meeting with Mohue."

"Oh, don't be so hard on him," said Tesikas. "He's probably trying to get one right as we speak." The 17-year-old redhead hoisted himself up into the bloodbark.

Visai smiled. "You're the most positive person I've even met, Tesikas," he said.

Tesikas shrugged. "It's good to look for the best in every situation. Keeps me from losing my head." He smiled. "And Visai..."

"Yeah?"

"You're probably the strongest person I've ever met. On the inside. I mean, you've dealt with your situation for sixteen years! That's amazing."

Visai beamed at Tesikas' compliment. "Thanks," he said.

Tesikas smiled back. "What are friends for?"

Visai picked some more bloodfruit. "Sort of for that reason."

,.~*~.,

Visai and Tesikas returned to the village, baskets and baskets of different fruits in their hands. They had bloodfruit, apples, pears, canderras, plums, paucers, and tree melons. There were still baskets in need of collecting, but Tesikas had his hands full with six baskets and Visai with all he could handle at two baskets.

Even that and the trip back to the village was causing cloaked Visai to sweat. Finally, the two dropped the buckets in front of the kitchen hut. "Just a few more baskets left to get," Tesikas said, giving his panting, exhausted friend a reassuring smile. "Then we can both get something to eat."

"That's reassurance to yourself, I assume?" Visai asked, dipping a hand in a water bucket and splashing the cool liquid on his face. "I'm just looking forward to a rest."

"Hey, working makes me hungry enough. Working while surrounded by food I'm not supposed to eat makes me even more hungry."

"I can bet," said Visai, chuckling. "Let's go get the last of the fruit, then. I'm sure you're dying."

"I am," Tesikas groaned. "Any more suspense and I'll pass out from hunger."

On the way back to the forest, Visai suddenly got a weird feeling tingling up his spine. He stopped and looked around. Something caught his eye. "Uh... Tesikas?"

"Yeah?" Tesikas saw that his friend had stopped. "What is it?" He stood next to Visai.

The teen with snow-white hair pointed ahead of him. "What do you suppose that is?"

Something was sticking out from behind a bush. "Let's check it out," Tesikas said, trudging off in that direction. Visai followed. The weird feeling grew stronger. A stench rose up. "Pew," Tesikas interjected. He scrunched up his nose in disgust. The bush was just a few feet away. Tesikas cautiously drew closer, Visai creeping up behind him. "My gosh... it's a dead man," Tesikas breathed.

A half-decayed body of a man lay on the ground. The corpse was wearing the typical brown clothing of a Kalen warrior. "He was one of us," Visai whispered.

"I guess this explains why that guy from that other village went missing," said Tesikas. He noticed a small sheet of folded skreiss paper lying next to the body. "What's this?" He bent down and picked up the piece of skreiss, taking care to avoid touching the corpse's blackened hand. He unfolded it and discovered words there. He began to read aloud.

"'To any Kalen coming across this: Heed our warning, or more will end up like this one. Signed, Awek of the... Adon clan'!" Tesikas stared at the note, his expression darkening significantly. "Visai... I think we just uncovered a war."

Visai grimaced. "Lose your appetite?"

"Definitely. We need to get that fruit and go!" Tesikas gripped the note in his hand and ran off towards the forest. Visai, strengthened by adrenaline, ran hot on the redhead's trail.

He remembered the apple and the man run through with a sword. He couldn't help but feel like this war was his fault...

,.~*~.,

The boys returned with the last of the baskets, urgency filling their eyes. Si looked up and saw them coming, a bloodfruit in his hand and red juice all around his mouth.

"Si!" Tesikas called.

Si swallowed. "Sorry, I was hungry!" the boy said, tossing away the bloodfruit.

"Doesn't matter," Tesikas said. "I've got to arrange a meeting with the Council. It's urgent!"

"Why are you telling me?" Si asked.

"Because I need you to help me! Go get Dad, now!"

Si nodded. Tesikas' tone was brisk and authoritative; it was a tone that Visai had never heard his friend use for as long as he could remember, and one that Si knew to obey without question. The little boy ran off towards his house.

Tesikas looked at Visai. "You should get your dad, too. Just in case," he said. Visai nodded. He had a new respect for Tesikas, who was no longer just his goofy, positive best friend. Now the redhead asserted himself as a leader. Tesikas may have well been boiling mad underneath his determination. "If your dad and mine can't get through to the Council, then by Kalen himself I will."

Visai ran to get Jakub. The Kalens had been at war with the Adons before. Visai didn't understand what was so urgent this time around that Tesikas had suddenly turned into a commanding leader. Visai flung open the door to his home and shouted, "Dad!"

Jakub looked up from something he was writing. "Yes? What is it, Visai?" Jakub asked, standing and putting away his things.

Visai caught his breath, holding his chest. "Adons! Can't explain... We found a body... talk to the Council!"

Jakub caught his exhausted son and took off his cloak. "I'll go. You need to rest."

Visai looked up at his father. "Meet Tesikas first, he'll explain." The young man passed out in Jakub's arms.

,.~*~.,

"Jakub, there you are!" Donterim exclaimed, running to his friend.

"Donterim, what's going on?" Jakub asked. "Visai said something about Adons, a body, and talking to the Council."

"Tesikas says he'll explain when we talk to the Council," said Donterim. "Come on!" The rusty-haired warrior hurried off in the direction of the Coucil House.

Tesikas was waiting for them by the door of the House. He waved at them to come. "What took so long? Come on, I've arranged an urgent Council meeting," he called, opening the door. The two older men bounded in after the younger, letting him lead the way to the Council Room.

The big wooden doors creaked open, allowing the three men to enter. Five large, older men looked upon them. The clan leader, Jumid, rose from his seat. "Jakub, Donterim and Tesikas. What is it that is so urgent that you must arrange such an unexpected meeting?"

Tesikas raised his chin and looked his leader in the eye. "Great Jumid, the Sdons have taken our rivalry a step too far. War is just a step away."

Jumid nodded, sitting back down. "Continue," he ordered. "How did this discovery come about?"

"Visai and I were collecting the fruit for the summer's eve feast. On our way to get the last of it, Visai noticed something sticking out from behind a bush. When we went to investigate, we discovered the rotting body of a Kalen warrior with this note attached to it." Tesikas held out the piece of skreiss.

Jumid beckoned him closer. The redhead marched up to him and handed him the note. Jumid read the note silently. When he reached the end, his brow furrowed in anger. "How dare Adon's leader leave such a message?" he roared, crumpling up amd throwing down the paper. "Even Awek should have more sense than that!"

Jakub and Donterim shared shocked glances. Awek, the leader of the Adon clan, had killed a Kalen and left a note? "What is it, good Jumid?" Donterim asked.

"Awek has given us a death threat!" Jumid boomed.

"Death threat?" Jakub echoed. "I always knew Awek was a crook, but... death threat?"

Jumid pointed at Tesikss, trembling in rage. "And you!" The redhead stepped back from the leader, startled. "I'm sick of you bringing up Visai in my Council Room!"

"Now wait just a minute-" Donterim began to shout.

Tesikas raised his voice, effectively cutting off his father's words. "It was he and I who found the body. To leave him out would be a lie."

"I want you three out of here! Go!" Jumid waved the three men out of the Room. They left, but not before Tesikas gave the Kalen leader a grave glare.

Once outside the House, Jakub shook his head. "I knew Jumid suffered from moodswings, but... he turned his anger to Visai!"

"And snapped at Tesikas for bringing him up," Donterim added.

Tesikas nodded. "He's unstable. There's talk among the other Council members that his time to be replaced is coming. Thing is, nobody can decide who will replace him."

"Probably another Council member," Jakub said. "I know some warriors who have their eyes on that position. Esloit does. So does Askue."

Tesikas chuckled. "Askue as clan leader..."

"I know, right?" Donterim agreed. "The guy couldn't sit in the chair without getting it permanently stuck to his rear end." This made Tesikas nearly bowl over laughing.

Jakub smirked. "True."

,.~*~.,

Tesikas and Visai were lying on the grass on a warm summer's night, looking up at the sky. 11-year-old Tesikas pointed up at the sky. "The stars are really bright tonight. White like your hair," he said.

The two boys looked at each other briefly. Tesikas smiled. "When you're older, you'll probably be as bright as those stars. No one could be higher than you; nobody could even touch you."

Visai chuckled and punched Tesikas in the elbow. "We can dream, can't we?" Tesikas asked with a laugh.

"I guess," Visai replied.

Tesikas looked back up at the stars. "I bet you can do it," he said. "Someday."

,.~*~.,

Visai opened his eyes, his dream still fresh on his mind. He remembered the scene well. He had been a mere 10 years old. He and Tesikas used to stare at the stars every night, but this night... why did he dream of this particular night?

This had been the first time Tesikas had ever mentioned how great he thought Visai could grow to be. That night had meant everything to Visai; it had given him a feeling of hope that had stuck with him for the past six years. But he hadn't thought about that night in quite a while. As to why he dreamed about it... Visai couldn't figure that out.

He sat up to find himself in bed, a glowing fire coming from the fireplace. He got out of his bed and opened the front door. It was nighttime now. A skyful of glittering stars welcomed him as he stepped outside. Smiling, he sat down on the top stair, looking out upon the empty streets of his village. It was so nice to be alone on a starry night, free of burn and not weighed down by his cloak. It was the only time he truly felt normal.

"When you're older, you'll probably be as bright as those stars. No one could be higher than you; nobody could even touch you." Young Tesikas' words ran through Visai's head. What if I am destined for greatness, he thought, I mean, I don't see how that would happen. What if it costs you your life, Tesikas? Someone else's? He didn't want such a thing as greatness if it cost his friend his life. He'd feel guilty forever.

"Visai!" Visai ignored his name being called and continued to stare off into space. "Visai, you're awake!" Jakub came out of the house, seeing his son sitting outside. He sat down next to him and grinned. "I was worried you'd never wake up!"

"The last thing I remember is telling you to talk to the Council," Visai said. "I can see why you were worried."

"Well, you're awake now," said Jakub. He patted Visai gently on the back.

"Dad, look at the stars," said Visai, pointing up at the heavens above them.

Jakub looked up. "They are very bright tonight," he commented.

"They haven't been this bright in six years," Visai whispered. For a few minutes, father and son just stared at the stars together, enjoying the night's beauty. Finally, Jakub said something.

"Come in, Visai. I saved some food for your dinner. You need to come and eat it."

Visai sighed. "OK." The two smiled at each other. Jakub helped his son to his feet, and they went inside quietly.

,.~*~.,

"He can't stand you, you know."

Visai glanced at Tesikas, who was telling his friend about Jumid's reaction during the Council meeting that previous day and snacking on stolen bread. It was night, and the two friends were hanging out in a secret clearing in the forest.

"Well, we both know Jumid is getting old and senile," said Visai, resting his chin in his palm.

Tesikas nodded, chewing. "I already brought it up with your dad," the redhead said. "Rumor is he's going to get replaced soon."

"He should be," Visai grunted bitterly. "And I hope somebody that likes me takes his place."

"Stay strong for a bit longer, Sai," said Tesikas, breaking off a piece of the bread and handing it to his friend.

The snowy-haired young man took the piece and took a small bite of it. He chuckled. "Look at us, Tesikas. Talking negatively about bad people and here we are, eating a stolen loaf of bread."

Tesikas laughed. "Yeah, we're as bad as they come!" They both laughed. The redhead leaned up against the tree he was sitting next to. "While we're on the subject of rulebreaking," he began, "you should totally just go off and train with me sometime. Want a challenge?" He smacked his toned chest with his fist. "I'm a much bigger challenge than your dad when it comes to swords."

"You wanna bet?" Visai asked, raising a white eyebrow.

Tesikas snickered. "You wanna try me?" he asked. "I'll just go get the wooden swords and the battle can commence." The redhead hopped up and tossed the loaf to Visai, then ran towards the village, chuckling.

The white-haired teen hurried after his friend, smirking devilishly. Tesikas thought he was such hot stuff; Visai couldn't wait to surprise his friend with a couple of unexpected moves he had learned.

After Tesikas and he had grabbed the wooden swords and come back to the forest clearing, the redhead began to twirl his sword. "You ready, Vis-ay-eye?" he asked.

"Oh yeah," said Visai, smirking. He poised his sword into a battle-ready position.

Tesikas rushed Visai, much to the latter's surprise. He quickly raised his sword to defend himself. The Tesikas sharply cut from under Visai's knees. The younger teen fell with a 'whump'.

"And that-" Tesikas poked Visai in the chest with his wooden sword, " -is how you lose."

"Warn me next time you decide to pull a stunt like that," said Visai, sitting up.

Tesikas twirled his sword. "The enemy won't warn you, so why should I?" he retorted, offering his hand to help his friend up. Visai accepted it and rose to his feet, brushing the grass off his bottom. "Let's try that again; see if you can come up with a way to defend yourself from that move. Always expect a trick," Tesikas instructed.

Visai nodded, lip quirking. Tesikas backed up as they got ready to spar again; this time it would hopefully be a bit longer. And this time, Visai was determined to do it right. Always expect a trick, he thought as Tesikas rushed him again. He was prepared for any move his friend might throw at him.

So he was ready when Tesikas swung his sword up instead of down.

,.~*~.,

The milky dawn was just appearing as the two best friends trudged back to the village. Visai was tired and Tesikas was hungry, but both boys felt a sense of accomplishment- especially Visai.

"So, tomorrow night, too?" inquired Tesikas, brushing back his russety hair.

"Sure, yeah," panted Visai.

Tesikas chuckled. "Nice fighting back there. You're a quick learner," he said. "I think you can give me a challenge tomorrow night."

"Thanks, 'Sikas," said Visai. Then his pale brow furrowed. "I think."

Tesikas slapped his friend on the back. "Let's get some sleep. We don't have much time to do it," he said. "And I guess I'll see you... later today."

Visai yawned. "All right," he said. Visai said goodbye to his friend and entered his house quietly. His father was asleep, which he was grateful for. He wasn't exactly in the mood to have somebody asking where he'd been all night long.

Visai snuggled down beneath his elk blanket and shut his crimson eyes, allowing his body the rest it so needed. He smiled, thinking about all he'd learned that night. He felt one step closer to becoming a Kalen warrior, and he didn't want anything to stop him.

,.~*~.,

I finally finished Chapter 2! :D I've started writing Chapter 3, though it'll be a while before then. It doesn't have a name yet, as I don't know where I'm going with that chapter quite yet. I'm just letting the characters do what they want with the guidelines of a plot.

Please review! :D