Nephilim: New Dawn

Chapter 6: The carnage before new dawn

He leaned back against the wooden wall with a small thud, mouth slightly parted to let out hot, shaky breathes as his violet eyes stared blankly at the empty space next to where he slept. He felt his eyes burning, droplets of salty tears formed at the corner of his eyes, blurring his vision, allowing his mind to conjure the images, memories of that man, his companion. Tuck into his chest in his hands was a small hair tie made from strands of leathery material that shone metallic white when light hits it, adorned with two small violet gemstones chiseled into small orbs taken from the bracelet that was nowhere to be found. He sobbed, confused and tormented by the emotions and thoughts in his head.

It was a parting gift, by destroying the bracelet, Quetz has essentially cut all ties with him, by creating this new gift, the man has given him a chance to start a new life. A life without him. The teen bit his lip, reasons let him know why the man left, but his heart wouldn’t understand, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t understand.

– Haru? – The voice of his sister pulled the boy from his thoughts, wet violet eyes glistened in the weak light of the early dawn, looking at a concerned Mitsuki who’s making her way toward him. – What’s wrong? – She asked, wrapping her arms around the smaller boy and pulled him into her chest.

– He…left… – Haru whispered shakily through bitten lips, clinging against his sister for comfort.

– O-oh…I…see. – Mitsuki was taken aback, knowing full well who his brother was preferring to but unable to do anything to comfort the boy. – D-don’t be sad, you still have us right?

Her question was met with silence, Haru didn’t want to reply, or rather he couldn’t, all of his strength was spent holding in the anguish wails of anger and sadness. The white haired boy buried his face into Mitsuki’s shoulder like a lost child, for he was only a child and indeed he was lost. The girl sighed, expecting tears to soak her shirt, but there was non, instead she felt the weak, shaky breaths of her brother against her skin. He was defeated and exhausted, barely having the strength to lift his head, so Mitsuki let him rest against her, rough yet gentle fingers combing his snowy white hair as she sang him a lullaby to comfort his heart.

– Mitsuki-nee? – The white haired boy called out weakly.

– Yes? – The older girl asked, her hand still resting on her brother’s head as he pulled himself from her shoulder.

– Mitsuki-nee, please tell me… – The boy grabbed his sister’s wrist, voice choked with uncertainty and fear. He didn’t know how to put it, nor did he know how his sister would react to what he wanted to say, he only knew that it has to be said, she has to know. Grinding his teeth together, Haru tried his best to still his mind, to find the suitable words to tell Mitsuki. – Please tell me! – He shrieked quietly out of frustration, before his voice dimmed into a whisper. – What if I want to go with Keto-san?

Horror spread across the white haired boy’s face, seeing Mitsuki’s expressions darkened as she considered his question. He pushed himself against the wall, as far from her as possible before curling up and burying his face into his arms, mumbling inaudible apologies under his breaths. What was he thinking? Asking her something like that, the one of the only two people who treated him like an actual human being. Haru was being selfish, that much he knew, after all those years of them taking care of him, he still consider leaving them to follow a stranger who forsook him when he was just an infant.

The white haired boy sat silently, waiting for a slap, a yell, a disgruntled sigh, something, anything to come from his sister to show him her disapproval. He was sure she was upset, that she’s angry at him for this betrayal, paranoia gripped at his heart with its talons, filling his mind with visions of what to come. Yet it never came, at least not the bad things that Haru’s imagined. Instead of a slap, a warm, gentle hand was put on his head, shakily caressing his hair. The white haired boy could feel it coursing through him, his sister’s emotions, her anxiety, her doubt and fear. She was just as torn as he was.

– I-I don’t…know. – Mitsuki voice was little more than a whisper when she said those words. – I think…I think I want to…follow him too.

– What do you mean? – Haru lifted his face, violet eyes sparkling from the rippling lights of early dawn reflected from the waves.

– I think he was telling the truth about you. – The older girl replied, keeping her hand on her little brother’s head. – A-about us. I didn’t feel any thing bad coming from him, only…regret and…

– So, you two are going to leave me here alone, aren’t you?

The disgruntle statement came from behind Mitsuki, the girl spun around, eyes widened when she saw the tanned boy standing at the doorway, visibly shivering from rage. Horror befell her heart, guilt and regret washed over her as she realized that he’s been listening the whole time. She glanced at Haru, hoping that he’d help her explain everything to the tanned boy, but his expressions were terrifyingly similar to hers, if not even more so.

– So?! Answer me! – Loi said in short, high pitched yelps, a vague attempt to hide his emotions. – Are you going to leave me or not?! Are you going to follow him?!

– W-we… – Mitsuki stuttered, finding herself unable to come up with a right explanation to tell her little brother.

– Fine then. – The tanned boy swallowed his anger, teeth clenched tightly before wiping the tears from his brown eyes. – Go then. – He said, voice shaking with rage and grief, feet turning swiftly before dashing out of the house.

For an entire hour, Mitsuki and Haru sat there, guilt-ridden and uncertain of what to do next. Silently, the two packed up their belongings, whatever they can’t fit into their satchels and bags were left behind. By the time the horns sounded, signaling the time has come for the evacuation to begin, all of their belongings have been packed into three backpacks and several smaller satchels, one for each of the children to carry, and yet there were only two to carry them. Mitsuki and Haru waited by the long burned out fireplace, waiting for their brother to return. The sounds of the horns sounded more urgent now, backed up by the noises of protesting livestock and their masters, and yet Loi hasn’t return. But then, they heard it, the sounds of footsteps on wet sand echoing from outside, before the old wooden floor creaked and vibrated as someone’s climbing on it.

– Rai! – Haru called out, bolting from his seat and rushing out.

But instead of seeing his brother’s tanned skin and shaggy black hair, the white haired boy almost tumbled into the tall, slender frame of a grown man, eyes flinching as pale arms reached out to secure him. Backing off, the boy’s violet eyes were met with two amber orbs staring at him with confusion and curiosity. He fell backward, eyes bulging at the towering figure in front of him, heart beating wildly, his mouth opened and closed repeatedly like a haplessly stranded fish. He felt joy, fear, confusion and anger, all rushing in and overwhelming him as his breaths quickened and eyes watery. Standing in front of him was Quetz, still confused with his head slightly tilted to one side.

Haru wanted to scream at him, he wanted to be angry at the older male like he did the day before. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t force himself to be angry. He couldn’t hide the smile that was spreading on his wet, messy face as he once again bolted from his feet and wrapped his arms around the man’s back, burying his face into the fabric of his silvery blue shirt. No matter how hard he tried, the white haired boy couldn’t stop himself from looking up as he felt Quetz slowly kneeling down onto one knee, hand clinging tightly onto the older male’s shirt, fearing if he let go, the man would disappear right in front of him. He flinched a bit, feeling clawed hands caressing his face, gently wiping the tears on his cheeks and eyes with his knuckles so that the claws wouldn’t scratch the boy’s face.

Hot, shaky breathes escaped Haru’s slightly parted lips when he locked eyes with Quetz, amber eyes with elongated, cat-like pupils staring into right back at him. They’re strange, they’re abnormal, they’re like his, when the boy looks into them, he saw his reflection staring back at him. Slowly, he put his hands onto the man’s face, causing the older male to slightly open his mouth in surprise. His pale skin was warm to Haru’s touch, just like the hands on his face, so he closed his eyes and leaned closer, feeling the warmth until their foreheads met in a gentle collision. It’s all coming back to him now, the memories and feelings when he was just an infant, when Quetz has to give him up. Haru felt the older male’s sorrow, still a smoldering fire like the one from that night when the sky was at its blackest. It’s all true, everything the man has told him was the truth.

– Keto-san. – The white haired boy quietly called out. – I…want to go with you but…I don’t want to leave Mitsuki and Rai behind.

– You…don’t have to.

The voice came not from Quetz, but behind him, and the older male silently shifted to one side, as if he’s known it before hand. And there he stood, hand still clutching at his spear yet his thoughts, his emotions, his aura, were calmed, serene, at peace, unlike how they were last night. The tanned boy planted his spear into the wet sand, a blur of swift motions carried him onto the wooden platform and right in front of Haru. Despite being only a year older, Loi was still half a head taller Haru, who has to look up with his violet eyes into the boy’s dark brown eyes. Mimicking Quetz, the tanned boy put one hand onto Haru’s cheek and slowly caressing it, though it wasn’t the kind of warmth he felt from the older male, it’s still the warmth the white haired boy would savor no matter what from his adoptive brother and one true friend to this point.

– Haru… – Loi murmured, still stricken by the guilt of his actions from the previous night. – I…love…you. – He repeated the sentence that has started all of bad thing from the last day, yet this time the white haired boy felt something was different from his tone. – I love you…much more than a brother should. But I want you to be happy too. So… – Loi suddenly grabbed Haru by his hands, tight enough to keep the smaller male from running but not enough for him to feel threatened. – …so…if you want to follow Quetz, I’ll follow you too.

Those large, gleaming violet eyes, by the ancestors, Loi couldn’t stand looking into them, especially after all he’s done. In those eyes the tanned boy saw his reflection, or rather what his brother thinks of him, a shallow, jealous, selfish and disgusting monster. He turned away, closing his eyes so he wouldn’t have to look into those purple mirrors, Haru must have hated him, disgusted by him. Or so Loi thought. The feeling of delicate hands pressing against his face made the tanned boy flinched, enabling Haru to slightly pull his brother’s face to meet his. Once again, Loi looked into those beautiful violet orbs and in them he saw no disgust, anger or even condemnation, instead he saw…forgiveness and understanding. Without saying a word, the white haired boy wrapped his arms around his brother back and put his face into the tanned boy’s shoulder.

– Thank you. – Haru said softly into Loi’s ear, although he couldn’t see his brother’s face, the tanned boy knew he was smiling.

– You’re…welcome. – Loi replied, forcing a smile onto his lips as he pulled Haru from his shoulder. – We…should get packing.

– Yes. – The white haired boy smiled, not one of those forced smile that he usually presents to them when he feels sad, it was a smile of true happiness, something the tanned boy thought he wouldn’t get the chance to see ever again.

Yet he couldn’t shake off the feeling of jealousy he had for the white haired man, for as soon as he let go of Haru, the smaller boy immediately turned toward the man’s direction, causing him to grab for the white haired boy’s hand. The smaller male turned around, confused by his brother’s sudden action as the tanned boy realized what he’s done. Loi pulled his hand back, embarrassed by his own action as Quetz shot him with an inquisitive glare. He turned away again, feeling the white haired boy’s eyes on him, filling him with shame and embarrassment.

– Rai… – Haru called out, understandingly.

Loi couldn’t look at him, he couldn’t hear his brother’s voice, muffled and drowned out by the boiling blood in his ears. It’s overwhelming, roiling in his mind, a sense of self pitying, envy and jealousy that directed all of his anger, fear and anxiety of loosing Haru toward Quetz. But in that maelstrom of emotions, the tanned boy felt the warmth of his brother’s hand on his face. Instinctively, Loi held onto that hand, pressing it more against his cheek but still keeping his eyes shut, it feel so soft, so caring, so…close.

– Haru… – He opened his eyes, but not to look at the younger boy’s face, but to the warm, pale hand on his face and pressed his lips onto the soft, milky white hand, knowing full well he might not get any more chances to do this again.

– Ew! Rai! You jerk! – The white haired boy yanked his hand back, playfully teasing his adoptive brother without even realizing what that action actually meant.

– H-ha…got ya. – Loi played along, forcing a smile onto his face to hide the pain.

– Rai. – Said Haru, his voice a bit more serious and echoed with regret. He knew. He understood. – I’ll always be your brother. No matter what.

For a moment, Haru thought that Loi’s dark brown eyes were lit up with joy as he heard those words. A small nod came from his older brother as a reply, making the boy smile in relief. He leaned closer, arms wrapping around the taller boy’s back and hugged tightly, a small giggle escaped his mouth as he felt the tanned boy’s arms wrapping around his back. Pulling himself off from Loi’s embrace, Haru smiled at his adoptive brother then turned toward Quetz, the older male’s expression was hard to describe, his lips sprouted a smile of satisfaction yet his eyes sparked with distastefulness.

– I should…go pack up my things. – Loi muttered softly.

– Y-yes. – Haru nodded, then turned his gaze to Quetz sitting at the edge of the platform, watching them as the sounds of his tail hitting the water echoed from below.

The white haired boy sighed, watching his brother disappears behind the door before slowly making his way toward the older male. Strangely, he realized, that he felt no more fear or anxiety when he looks upon the…creature in front of him. He remembered how terrified he was of Quetz the first time they met, their reunion, how the man was also as confused and distanced as Haru was. That day, that moment, he felt no connection, no familiarity, only fear and terror as those beastly eyes locked onto him with the look of a predator eyeing its next meal and nothing more. Yet for some reasons, the white haired man didn’t treat Haru as such, the man was fully capable of killing human and many times willing to do so, no doubt he would’ve killed Haru on the spot if he was a normal human child, ancestors know how many children have been found mutilated and hung on trees as warning. But why didn’t he? The white haired boy pondered to himself, not noticing the pair of amused amber eyes was gluing on him.

– I didn’t know either. – The older male’s voice was soft and mischievous as he spoke.

– Wh-what? – The white haired boy jolted.

– I didn’t know why I didn’t recognize…or attacked you. – Quetz smiled awkwardly, clawed digits reached out, his knuckles gently brushed against the cheek of the human boy.

– But…why? – The boy asked quietly, but the white haired man simply shook his head at him, making him lower his head in disappointment. Yet he thought of something else as he lifted his head, eyes sparkling with excitement and curiosity. – Keto-san, tell me about…our home.

Haru couldn’t describe Quetz’s face after he asked the question, for a split second, his eyes widened and his lips parted, reminiscence to that of a dumbfounded look, before an eager smile bloomed on his mouth and his entire face lit up with joy. The man let out a low chuckled, then his eyes darkened into a distanced look as he gazed upon the boy and tried to collect the broken pieces of his memories with him. With a voice mixed of regret and joy, made vaguer by the sounds of gentle waves and winds, he mumbled:

– You really are Runty.


He stood at the edge of the water, just close enough to feel the sand shifting with each time the waves drag themselves from the sea, violet eyes ponderingly set on the horizon as the winds brushed through his untied snowy white hair. It was serene, the constant beating of the waves and the light of the autumn’s sun piercing through the clouds made the scenery so peaceful, even the noisiness of the villagers behind him didn’t make him flinch a bit. Closing his eyes, the white haired boy let his mind wander, focusing only on the sensation of the winds on his face and the sounds of the sea, contemplating on what Quetz’s told him.

Throughout his life, the matter his origin have plagued Haru’s mind in all of his waking hours, even in his dreams, flashing visions still haunt him unrelentingly, filling him more with questions rather than answers. The white haired boy sighed, recalling how he’s felt trying to decipher the meaning of the visions, of the feelings that always followed, the frustrations and anxieties of facing the scornful attitudes of the others. Oh how he’s longed for an answer, a sign, anything to ease his mind. But now, now that Quetz’s here with him, the white haired boy didn’t know what to feel about the things he’s learned, about their home, about their people, about himself.

– Haru, get in the shade, you might get sick standing out there for too long. – The call, along with the sounds of shuffling footsteps on the sand, made the boy turn around.

The abnormally tall figure was standing right behind him, staring down with his amber eyes partially hidden under the hood, eyes that filled with concern…for him. Before Haru could acknowledge his companion, Quetz’s lifted his arm under the cloak and draped it over the boy’s head, shielding him from the midday sun, along with the disgruntled eyes of some of the villagers.

– I-I’m fine…Keto-san. – Haru nodded, averting his eyes from his companion’s face, still uncertain of what to feel about him and the things he’s been told. He tried to keep silence, but something told him that if he tell the man, it’d be better for both of them. – I just…I just…don’t know what to feel about the things you told me. – He confessed with a small sigh hidden under the end of his sentence.

– It’s the truth. – Quetz reassured him, kneeling onto one leg and resting a hand onto the teen’s shoulder. – I will show you when we…

– I know it’s the truth. – Haru exclaimed softly, trying to sound as composed as possible, to sound like he’s not torn by the feelings and doubts. – I know… – He repeated, this time with a softer tone. – It’s just…too sudden to accept.

It wasn’t entirely a lie, for Haru was doubting the white haired man’s words about their people. The Dark Elves, they call themselves, children of frost and darkness, the small boy could stand neither, his frail body could easily get frostbitten and darkness brings out all manner of horrors. How could he, of all people, be a member of such a race that Quetz himself claims his heritage from? And there was something else, both Quetz and him aren’t true Dark Elves, their blood were mixed, and not even the white hair man knows who Haru’s parents were, only that he found him and his twin sister during a patrol. Even amongst “their” people, they too were outcasts.

– It’ll be fine. – The older male tenderly held Haru’s hand, nudging their foreheads together in a reassuring way, almost maternally. – You’ll be welcomed there.

The white haired boy’s violet eyes shone with hope, arms extending as he leaned forward, wrapping themselves around the man’s neck. It felt so strange, yet so familiar at the same time, feeling Quetz’s arms around his body as they embraced each others. In those warm, protective arms, Haru felt safe, at peace and most of all, happy, he couldn’t remember how many times the older male has held him in his arms like this when he was just a baby, he only knew that he did it a lot.

But then…what are they now?

The sudden thought caused Haru to tear himself from Quetz’s shoulder, his shaky hands still clinging on the fabric of his shirt. Violet eyes drooped sadly as the boy contemplated his feelings for the man who has taken care of him like his own child. His child. The word rang in Haru’s mind, filling it with guilt and self-disgust as he remembered how he’s felt, the sinful emotions and thoughts he has for Him. Was he all that is to Quetz? An adoptive son that he must protect and care for? Were Haru’s affections for him just that? Childish thoughts and illusions blooming from a falsely, wrongful kind of love for his father figure?

– Haru? – Quetz called out softly. – What’s wrong?

Haru shook his head, thin arms wrapped around the man’s neck, pulling himself into another embrace as he buries his face into Quetz’s exposed neck. It’s wrong, he the boy reminded himself, yet he couldn’t seem to reject it, the burning, truthful affections he had for Quetz were too much for him to hide. Still the guilt remained, gnawing at his mind, forcing him to ask:

– Keto-san?

– Yes? – Quetz replied softly.

– Am I…disgusting? – The boy whispered his question into the man’s ear, burying his face more into the older male’s neck.

– What? No! – Quetz exclaimed, gently pulling Haru off his shoulder and holding him firm to confront him. – Haru. – He said quietly, a slight hint of anger was presence in his voice, but was that anger for Haru? The boy didn’t know. – Haru, tell me, who told you that you’re disgusting.

– N-no one! – The white haired boy shook his head, not wanting anyone else to suffer under Quetz’s hand. He wanted to deny, telling the man in front of him that it was just a silly question, but looking in those amber eyes, he couldn’t, the caring and love presence in those eyes were too much, he had to tell Quetz the truth. – It…it’s just that…I have feelings for you, Keto. – Haru whimpered, one hand grasping at his own heart while the other holding tightly on Quetz’s wrist. – I…I love you, I love you the way Rai loves me. You’re the closest thing to a father that I have…and yet… It-it’s wrong right? Please, tell me it’s wrong Keto.

– Y-you’re not. – Quetz stuttered, shocked and confused by the boy’s words.

A small gasp escaped Haru’s trembling lips, violet eyes looking straight into Quetz’s soul, shimmering, shaking, questioning, worrying. He was afraid, as Quetz realized, afraid of what he’d say next, afraid of Quetz, afraid of his own feelings. The boy backed away, shaking his head furiously, trying to run and hide, tears began to form on those beautiful violets eyes. But the white haired man was quicker, firmed yet gentle arms wrapped around Haru’s slim frame once again, pulling him into a soothing embrace as he tried to fight it.

– Please…Keto, please let me go. – The boy pleaded as he pulled and clawed on Quetz’s back, trying to escape the tightened bondage that was forcing him to face his roiling emotions. – I shouldn’t…feel like this…not toward you…I’m disgusting…

– Hush! – Quetz hissed silently, holding onto the boy to keep him from running away. – You’re not disgusting. You’re not wrong to feel that kind of feelings, it doesn’t matter if it’s sincere. I love you too Haru, I don’t know if it’s the kind of love you want from me, but please just know that I love you…I love you a lot.

The older male felt Haru quivering in his arms, like a baby bird that have been buffered from its nest really, confused and scared, yet the guilt and self-doubt he’s sensed were…lessened significantly, almost to the point of nonexistence. The boy has stopped struggling, still his hands grip tightly on Quetz’s shirt, as if still unsure whether to trust his words or not. A slight rustle was heard as Haru’s brushed his head against Quetz’s, before the older male felt his young companion slowly pulling himself off his shoulder and looked him deep in the eyes with those glimmering violet eyes. He was scared, he’s doubting his words, as the older male realized, how could Haru trust someone who has abandoned him and not even recognized him after all those years and still saying that he loves him a lot? How could he trust those words? How could he trust Quetz?

– Ke-Keto-san… – The boy began, shakily with his choked voice, his eyes shut tightly as he confesses his feelings and deepest thought to the man in front of him. – I-I love you…I love you too…so please…don’t leave me again…promise me…

Quetz smiled softly and leaned forward, pressing his lips against the boy’s forehead gently, then trailing them down to the ridge of his nose, his eye, cheek, then stopped at the corner of Haru’s soft, pink lips. He nudged his forehead against Haru’s, feeling the anxiety the boy feeling slowly disappear, replaced by a sense of ease as his breathing starts to slow. The white haired boy lifted his hands, thin delicate fingers pressed against Quetz’s jaws, caressing them gently before slowly pulling himself closer to the older male. Haru pressed himself against Quetz, brushing his soft lips against the man’s dried and rough yet still tender and gentle ones, nervously letting his anxiety and fear slipping from his mind, oblivious of the fact that his adoptive brother has been listening from a near by house, and he has heard everything.

The tanned boy leaned back against the wall of the house, unable to support his own weight with his shaking knees. He covered his mouth with one hand, trying desperately to hold in the tears and the screams, trying to be at peace with Haru’s decision while the other gripping at his shirt above his heart beating frantically with pain. Despite his best efforts, it wasn’t long until Loi felt the warm, wet trails of his tears trickling down his cheeks and tickling fingers as short, whimpering breaths escaped his lips. He closed his eyes tightly, picturing the smiles he loves so much to calm himself, but the more he thinks of those smiles, those beautiful violet eyes, the more pain he feels. It hurts. It hurts so much, so much more than any physical wound, for it was a wound inflicted onto his heart, nothing cuts so deep as a betrayal from the one he loves the most.

The hand covering Loi’s mouth moved upward to cover his eyes, revealing the clenched teeth and bitten lips. He sat and wept, unsure of what to do, for the first time in his entire life, the tanned boy felt a void in his heart that sapped the strength from his limps. For the first time in his life, the memories of Haru flashing in his mind bring more pain than joy. For the first time in his life…Loi wanted to hate his brother, he found himself wishing for Haru to have never entered his life, for him to never have existed at all. He sat there, coiled up behind the wall, the only barrier keeping him from being seen by his brother and his new…friend.

– Keto-san? – Haru’s voice pierced through Loi’s mind like a sharp dagger, forcing him to look up and glance behind him, where the wall was mercifully shielding the image of his Haru embracing that monster from his eyes.

– Yes? -The tanned boy heard the creature replied with his disgustingly sweet and gentle voice, the voice that’s poisoned Haru with lies.

A small pause, Haru was gathering his thoughts and voice, each second pass was like liquid ice pouring into Loi’s veins, chilling him to his soul, clawing at his mind and gripped his heart the a dreaded sense of unease. The tanned boy slightly turned, slowly stretching his neck toward the edge of the wall, anxious to know what his brother will say next. He gulfed, feeling sweats pouring from his forehead, tickling his skin while his mind wandered, darting back and fort, daring himself to hope that Haru would turn away. Then, he heard the white haired boy spoke, his voice was so quiet, so soft that Loi could barely heard it, but he did, and it sent shivers down his spines and shook him to his core.

– P-please…don’t hate Rai, he didn’t mean to do…what he did.

Another pause, or maybe Loi didn’t hear Quetz’s answer as he was probably stunned by the younger male’s pleading. Or rather, the tanned boy himself chose not to listen, subconsciously shutting down his hearing, choosing not to continue, choosing to let himself be consumed by despair as he staggered out of the house, aimlessly walking through the busy village.

Quetz’s eyes slightly widened, taken aback by Haru’s request, he simply knelt there, not knowing what to do or say, for he has harbored no hatred toward the tanned boy. It was an odd request, considering all that have happened, despite all, the white haired boy still want him to be safe. The older male sighed and smiled, pressing his forehead against the boy’s before placing a kiss on it, a wordless reassurance of his brother’s safety.

– Alright, I won’t hate him. – Quetz said softly, brushing his fingers against Haru’s cheek.

– Thank you. – Haru murmured, nodding his head slightly before letting out a sigh.

– What’s wrong? – Quetz asked again, frowning a bit at the boy’s sigh.

Haru didn’t answer, he shook his head before burying his face into his older companion’s shoulder again, shivering like a baby bird. But it was not fear, confusion or sadness that has made him shiver, it was something else, a sense of serenity that shook him. It felt strange, yet familiar at the same time, so uncertain yet reassuring as well, as if it was a peacefulness that’s been lost to the white haired boy for so long that it felt almost alien now that he’s feeling it again. Is it happiness? He asked himself, feeling Quetz’s warm body against his, even now, he dared not let himself to accept it fully, still fearing that it’s all a dream, that at any moment now, he’d wake up alone in the dark, with only the breathing of his family and the gentle beating of the waves to listen to his quiet sobbing.

– Keto-san? – Haru called out once again, resting his chin onto Quetz’s shoulder, putting his mouth nearer to the man’s ear, his voice was soft, quiet, no louder than a whisper of uncertainty, lingering with fear. – Please, don’t leave me.

– I won’t. – Just as soft a voice, Quetz replied and ran his fingers into Haru’s snowy white hair. He stood up slowly, giving the younger male time to regain his footing, his tail shifting from side to side on the sand slowly. – Let’s go home.

– H-home? – Haru almost squealed, eyes sparkling with join. – Y-you mean…our home? The place…where you found me?

Quetz smiled, his head slightly lowered for a nod, but before he could, he jerked his head up, frantically looking around, amber eyes glaring left and right, ears twitching nonstop as if something has hit all of his senses at once. The older male was already standing at his full height, and still he stretched upward, tip-toeing on his raptorial legs, sniffing at the hair before recoiling in clear disgust.

– Keto-san? What’s wrong? – Haru asked worriedly, watching helplessly as the older male shook his head and covering his nose with his arm, as if bombarded by a foul stench only he could smell with his keen sense.

– Haru! Get back!

Quetz suddenly rushed toward the boy, fangs bearing as he barked out a warning, raptorial legs clawed into the sand, pushing him forward to put himself between the boy and the oncoming bolt of fire. Clawed hand stretched forward, lightning crackled in bolts of brilliant blue and purple in the man’s hand before launching toward the fire bolt, exploding it in mid air in a small explosion, yet still loud and big enough to alert the entire village.

The white haired boy didn’t even get the chance to process what has just transpired, all he heard was a loud “bang” then he was sent tumbling to the sand, engulfed by the black smoke screen and sizzling embers. He tried to stand up, yet his ears rang with a thousand chimes, the surrounding sceneries were flipped upside down. Even the ground where his arms and legs were fixed upon was churned, rotating and spinning every time the boy tries to regain his footing. But among the confusing sensations and noises, one thing struck his senses, or rather, his one sense, the feeling of immense rage emanating from Quetz, and the sound of his blade being unsheathed, metallic blade scraped against the scabbard like a sorrowful note sang by a flute.

A flash of blue trail, then a whistle as the blade slashed across thin air, responded by another explosion in the distant. What is happening? Haru thought, scrambling on all of his limps in sheer terrors before being yanked up by the arms.

– Girl! Get him out of here! – Quetz barked out an order, his voice was as terrifying as his raging aura.

– I’m trying! – The muffled voice was that of Mitsuki, trying to drag Haru to safety as the boy’s senses slowly returned to him, only to be bombarded with the panic screaming of the villagers and blood curling war cries of a horde of attackers coming from the sea.

– Mi-Mitsuki-nee?! – Haru blinked his eyes clear and stood up to look around. – What is happening?!

– We are under attack! – Instead of his sister, the old chief rushed toward them and screamed out the announcement. – We must move! Now!

– But what about Keto-san? – Mitsuki asked, skin tingling with the raging aura emanating from the man engaging in battle with the horde of foes.

– He’ll cover our escape! – The chief roared out before grabbing the girl by the arm. – We must go! Now!

– Die land dwellers!

The gurgling cry came from behind as a humanoid creature leapt forward, giving Haru the time to see for himself the horrors Quetz was fighting in detail. Behind them charged an abomination of nature, an oversized fish like head tapered to the upright body of a large frog with scaly skin dripping with slime mixed with sea water. The creature waddled toward them on fat, webbed feet with terrifying speed, white, bulging eyes flashing wildly in sunlight as it snaps the air with it wide opened maw full of shaped, shark-like teeth. But most terrifying of all was its weapon of choice. In its webbed hands clutched a crude cudgel fashioned from rock with jagged seashells bound around one head, promising a painful demise for anyone caught by it.

The creature lunged forward, a heart beat was all it took for the abomination to close the distance between them. It jerked its cudgel upward, preparing to strike down the closest and most vulnerable target in its reach, a small human whelp with snowy white hair and violet eyes, clumsily backing away in futile. But before it could ever land a blow, it heard itself cried out in pain as cold, unrelenting steel blades carve into its flesh, sending out arches of crimson liquid to dye the sky and splattering its life blood onto the ground before falling apart into dozen of pieces.

– Run! Now! – Commanded Quetz, his eyes flaring with anger and authority as he pointed his bloodied blade at the wide opening gates before turning to face the horde of shambling amphibious creatures surging at him like a tide.

– B-but… – Haru tried to protest but was quickly pulled away by Mitsuki.

To the white haired boy’s horror, Quetz leapt into the horde of amphibian creatures, one hand gripping the long sword, the other clutching his black bladed dagger. It was a massacre, the moment the white haired man landed in the middle of the shambling mob, his blades flashed into life, swinging in wide arches that sent blood and limps flying while his talons seized and tossed unfortunate foes into the air, only to be cut into pieces, all the while his adversaries were unable to land a single blow against him. And yet they kept surging forward, a tide of fanatical beasts without fear and number, with every one of the creature Quetz sent flying with his blades, bloodied and broken, it seemed like another ten took its place.

The pile of broken bodies began to pile up, until the amphibious creatures were forced to wage across a small mount of their dead, soaking knee deep into pools of blood and entrails. And yet they kept on coming, eyes blinded with fanatical zeal, mouths spewing crazed chanting as they rushed their lone quarry leaping and slashing at their ranks, effortlessly avoiding their clumsy attacks while cutting down scores of them with each strikes. Soon the beach was red with blood as Quetz spins and dashes from one mob of foes to another, ripping through their formation in a wild and crazed dance of war. Yet still there was no sign of them running out of bodies to throw at him, it was of no concern, the white haired man thrives on the carnage, each foe he fell only served to empower him, bringing him closer to their total annihilation as the chains of metal plates absorb the life force of the fallen.

Quetz jerked his sword upward, and with a mighty roar, he swung it in a downward arch, sending out a powerful shockwave of rampant magical energy manifesting into razor-sharp blades, ripping through the middle of horde of amphibious creatures. For a split moment, their advance was paused, shocked and horrified by the battle prowess of their lone enemy, knowing far too late that he wasn’t fighting at his fullest. The crimson dyed shadow rushed through the gap he’s made without a single moment of hesitation, his blades and rattling chains burned with flames of shifting colors. He leapt into the air and thrust his sword, crackling lightning bolts shot fort from the tip of his blade, exploding his opponents in clouds of gores. A slash of his black blade send wheels of hellish fire rolling forward, turning everything in their paths into ashes before exploding in a hail of jagged embers.

The air was thick with the stench of blood and the wailings of the dying, corpses, both whole and mutilated, piled on the beach from one side of the cove to another. The pitiful remnants of the uncountable horde of abominations gathered in the shallow, eyeing the wall of built from corpses, with blood and gores as its mortar and charred and splintered bones as its foundation. Standing atop the mighty wall was lone figure with burning amber eyes, blood covered his entire body from the top of his silvery white head to the tip of his tail and toes. His blades extended on both sides, burning with magical fire, challenging what left of his assailants to come to him on top of the mighty wall of his grim making. He stood there, motionless, save for the calm breathing that silently quaked his shoulders in its slow rhythms, eyeing the wary horde of fish like creature below.

They stood there, hundreds of them, bulbous eyes warily glaring back at Quetz, revealing the almost uncontrollable desire to kill him. And yet they didn’t, they simply stood silently, keeping their silent vigil as their lone adversary, waiting for something. But what?

From atop the wall of corpses, Quetz watched dark shadows lurk forward from beneath the coral barrier, no doubt reinforcements for the first attack wave, an endless stream of blackness surged from the deeps, pulling down sections of the coral wall as they passed, with some climbing over the fallen branches to get into the cove now stained red with blood. Fish-like heads emerged from the waves, followed by the upper half of the creatures as they heaved themselves into formation, dragging primitive weapons made of rocks and seashells. Amongst the surging shadows rose a row of spikes connected by thick membranes, cutting through the crimson water and scores of floating dead like a knife through butter.

The hulking monstrosity emerged from the red water, towering over its kind as it moved to stand in the shallow, though not that much taller than Quetz himself, its muscular form was bulkier, packed with muscles and shielded with plated scales. The monster pulled its hand out of the water, dragging with it a spiked war maw which oddly was made from metal, shining smoky dark in the midday sun, thrumming with dark magic emanating from thousands of miniscule folds on the metal itself. The creature lifted its weapon well above its head, from its crocodilian maw issued fort a mighty roar, which caused the other fish creatures to cheer and scream in crazed ecstasy. Among the chattering and cheering of the horde, one sound seemed to repeat in the presence of the commanding warrior: Rax, Rax… though Quetz did not understand the creatures’ communications, he wondered if that might not be the monstrosity’s name.

The creature called Rax started to swing its war maw in wide arches, the dark spikes shrieked and whistled, causing ripples in the cove of blood and gores. Yet it wasn’t an act of challenging as Quetz as first thought, his amber eyes fixed upon the swinging of the weapon, catching glimpses of building dark magic. The weapon pulsated with dark energy, draining life around the gigantic warrior as its comrades began to shrivel and fall. One by one they dropped, lifeless and drained, nothing more than dried up husks as their life force was drawn away into the maw, until the gigantic creature was the only one left alive in a horde previously numbering in the thousands.

The giant suddenly swung low and upward, sending a bolt of pure dark energy toward its lone adversary still standing on the wall of the dead. Quetz countered with a low swing of his sword, a fire ball arched its way toward the dark bolt, exploding it in a screen of smokes lined with brilliant orange and white, shielding Rax from the white haired man’s view as it charges forward. The creature stood almost as high as the wall itself, with a mighty swing it brought its war maw down, destroying the wall and sending dead bodies flying inland with a tremendous force.

– Pathetic! – The creature opened its toothy maw to taunt as Quetz landed further inland. – This is the infamous Red Xlan? The Blue Dragon of the West running away from a direct blow?!

– So you can talk. – Quetz growled. – Interesting, I did not know that you Dagonite are capable of the human’s tongue.

– Spare me your taunting! – Rax pointed its maw at Quetz. – I came here looking for a good fight, to see with my own eyes the creature that has relentlessly hunted my kind for a thousand years, and this is it!?

– Your kind sealed their fate when they joined Them. – Replied Quetz with a grin. – What I did was but a fitting punishment for those who sided with such abominations!

– You wretched cur! – The monstrosity smashed its maw into the ground. – I invoke Rahm’Shir! – The creature grinned as it saw Quetz’s expression contorts into that of shock and confusion. It chuckled menacingly and walked forward, leaving its maw in the ground. – That’s right, you’ve heard me. I invoke Rahm’Shir, now fight me.

– You can’t invoke that rite. – The white haired man’s expression started to turn grim, seething with anger of the monster’s blasphemous tone. – Only the Al’Tanite can invoke that rite!

– Curious. – Rax smirked, or made the best impression of a smirk its amphibious face can muster, as it lifted his arm, revealing several amulets of shiny metals and glistening gemstone. – The rules on these amulets state that anyone can invoke the rite, as long as they have one of these.

– So that’s it then. – Quetz slammed his tail to the ground angrily. – It was your kind that took out that scouting force, all those years ago.

– Yes, we did. – Rax grinned as it caught all the amulets into its hand and started squeezing, gleefully enjoying its adversary’s horrified expression. – I knew that you’d be drawn here, to investigate their disappearance, their deaths. A shame that I didn’t get to swallow them all, but I very much did enjoy tearing them apart one by one. I’m looking forward to doing the same to you!

– If it’s a fight you want, then a fight you shall have. – Quetz hissed, plunging his blades into the ground and removing the chains of plates on his wrists. – You’ll pay for all the lives you’ve taken.

The white haired male got on all four, fangs bearing as he moved around Rax on the tips of his fingers and toes, sizing up his foe. Then at once, the two combatant charges at each others with ferocious speed, one on lumbering webbed feet, the other on nimble slender limps. The amphibious creature reared up, lifting its fist to bring it down on its adversary. But Quetz was quicker, he leapt up and with a quick turn, he flung his long tail forward, crashing it into the side of the amphibian’s head, sending the creature flying a few meters away.

Rax heaved its bulk up from the fall, just in time to body slammed Quetz charging at him with fangs and claws. Clumsily, it swung its arms at Quetz but failed to catch up with the man’s speed and agility, all the while suffering slash after slash into its own forearm from Quetz’s razor sharp claws. The white haired man caught his adversary’s fist with the talons of his foot then wrenched it open, exposing a gap in Rax’s defense. With out hesitation, he surged in, claws flashing with crimson blood as he slashes mercilessly into the creature’s exposed torso, forcing it to back away, chunks of flesh and blood being carved from its body with each of the smaller fighter’s attack. The amphibians let out an anguish cry, bringing its clutched fists downward, it broke off its assailant’s relentless attacks then grabbing him by the arms, planning to throw him against the near by house with all of its might.

But just as Rax was incredibly strong, Quetz was viciously nimble and agile, he twisted his body midair, using the momentum to his advantage as he propels himself across on wall. He leapt from roof to roof, circling his much slower opponent before pouncing in for another assault. Sharp talons sunk deep into the bulky creature’s shoulders, a long white tail coiled around its snout, in quick succession the white haired man used the momentum of his fall to lift the creature off the ground, pulling at its shoulders and head then catapulted it into a house nearby, causing it to collapse on top of Rax. Smelling blood, Quetz once again charged in for the kill, bloodied claws flashing, promising a death by a thousand cuts before leaping onward, hoping to lash on to the body of the amphibious abomination to tear it to shreds.

But as he does, Rax flung into action, his mighty hand caught Quetz by the tail before slamming the man into the ruin of the house. Stunned and shocked, the white haired male was unprepared for the next wave of brutal attack, his throat caught in Rax’s grip before a rock hard fist landed directly into his face. The smaller fighter staggered, a large hand seized his head and dragged him off his footing, only to slam it against a still intact wall.

– Not so tough now, are you? – Rax taunted, hurling Quetz away like a ragdoll. – To think that you’ve killed so many of my kind and took many as prisoners and slaves. You pathetic, disgusting, vile mongrel. I thought you’re some monster, but you’re nothing without…ARGH!

Blood sprayed from Rax’s snout as it staggers backward, narrowly avoiding another attack from Quetz’s razor sharp claws. The smaller combater leapt on all four toward his adversary, spinning and turning in a wild war dance of tail whippings and slashing claws. The amphibious creature roared and thrust its fist forward, only for it to be caught by the white haired man, who used its own force to pulled it off its balance, slamming its entire bulk into the ground. Quetz stomped his foot onto Rax’s head, talons dug deep into the thick skin on the back of its head, with one hand he restrained the stunned creature’s arm, the other slamming with all force into its bicep, destroying muscles and shattering the bone of its arm. The beast stood up, blood boiled in its every sensory organs, driving it half to mad as it swings its broken arm, dragging its attacker along with it into the other arm, eager to crush the skull of the one that have caused it so much pains.

A sharp pain pierced Rax’s paw, causing it to jerk its head backward to let out an anguish roar, too late it was for the creature to realize that Quetz has prepared for the attacked. His outstretched claws sunk deep into the flesh on the wrist of the creature, anchoring him into the flesh of Rax, preventing it from closing its arms. The white haired male yanked the creature’s arms outward, exposing its soft underbelly then lifted his entire lower body. Rax’s eyes widened in horror as Quetz buried his raptorial talons deep into its throat and dragged downward to its groins, blood fountained out of the deep wounds, turning the amphibious behemoth’s roar of anguish into that of a bubbling gurgle. But the other combatant wasn’t done yet, pulling his foot free, he plunged the other deeper into the deep gashes and repeated his action. Crimson liquid flowed like a waterfall from Rax’s body as Quetz continued to disembowel it, causing it to step backward in a futile attempt to escape, leaving a trail of blood, gores and spilled entrails on the ground.

The behemoth growled low, tripping on its own entrails and fell backward, crushing its majestic row of spikes and fins on its back, and yet it still lived. Quetz released the creature’s arms from his grip, his feet and lower legs soaked in blood, with bits of gores clung onto his plated toes. He panted heavily, trying to catch his breaths as he reaches down, ripping the strings of amulets hanging on the creature’s neck.

– Now stay down! – The white haired man yelled, spitting on the amphibian’s opened maw before stepping away to collect his blades.

– …Y-you’re a…fool… – Rax murmured, its voice choked with blood pouring out from his mouth, before letting out a twisted, gurgling, gasping laugh.

– You fucking Dagonites just don’t know when to stop, do you? – Quetz growled, plunging his blade into the Dagonite’s arm. – What’s so fucking funny you piece of shit?

– …Th-this…is just…the beginning… – Rax gurgled and gagged, choking on its own blood with each words. – …You…nephilims…have already…loss…

A sudden, low grumble caused Quetz to look at the ground, puzzled by the sudden tremble, before revelation horrifyingly dawned in his mind. A loud explosion shattered the skies, shockwave and tremors ripped through the forest and the village, knocking airborne animals that have taken to the sky when they first felt it from the air. Then the dust clouds came, blotting out the sun with their ominous bulks as they spread far a wide. Zipping in those dark masses were contrails of red and orange, lines of fiery rocks swimming in the dust clouds like shark before plunging down.

– You bastard… – Quetz widened his eyes in terrors, seeing the nearby mountain some ten miles away cracking, busting into a fountain of blazing fire and smoke. He turned to Rax, roaring against the thunderous sound of the volcano: – What have you d-ARGH!

Blood mixed with blood, pouring from the creature’s broken arm and from Quetz’s stomach, where the shattered bone has buried itself into. With unholy strength, the behemoth dragged itself up onto its feet, pushing a staggering Quetz backward while still digging deep into his flesh with its bone. It roared out in triumph, causing its exposed heart to explode, releasing a waterfall of black, slimy liquid that spread and crawled like it’s alive, slowly engulfing the creature as it let out a crazed laughter. The white haired man cried out in agony, one hand plunge the black blade into Rax’s arm, the other lifting his long sword above his head. Anchoring himself into the creature’s arm with his legs, the white haired man swung down with all his might, cleaving the ginormous combatant from shoulder to groins, ending its suffering. He tumbled away from the creature’s arm, coiling in the spreading pool of crimson liquid as he clutched at his wound.


The only thoughts he had in mind was those about his wound, burning like the fire now spreading around him as fiery rocks crash into the village. It hurt so much, like that day, when his home was destroyed, when Elizabeth died in his arms. Did he fail again? Quetz asked himself. Did he fail to protect another person whom he loves so dearly? No, he did not, Haru still lives, the boy, lives.


The name rang in Quetz’s mind, pulling him from his trance as he pulls himself from the blood pool and sheathes his blades. Grunting in pain, the white haired man conjured a small fire in his palm, searing his wound shut, almost fainting from the pain in the process, before dragging himself out of the village. He grunted and staggered, made weak by the grievous wound, Rax’s done something to him, Quetz was sure of it, the black ooze wasn’t just some regular slime, it kept the creature alive, even after when half of its organs were dragged out from its body, and the smell. It reeked of tar and death, of decaying flesh clinging between the teeth of dozens of mouth protruding from a single, tentacled, hooved body. The blood of the Dark Young. The milk of Shub-Niggurath.

– Quetz!

The voice came from up ahead, a small figure dashed toward him from the gate through the burning buildings, passing by the charred and crushed remains of the unfortunate villagers that were either too slow or too stupid to run away. Quetz recognized him, the tanned boy who was with Haru, the tanned boy whom Haru has begged him not to hate. The tanned boy who hated him for taking his brother away from him.

– L-Loi! What are you doing?! Get out of here! – Quetz barked out an order, but not before the boy has dashed toward him and draped one of his arms around his small shoulders.

– We need to get out of here! – The tanned boy screeched, pulling the older male in an effort to make him go faster.

– No shit Sherlock! – Quetz snarled, but quickly rolled his eyes as he receives the mouthing of a silent “what” from the boy. – Never mind, let’s just go!

Leaving the inferno that was the village behind, the two made their way out into the forested pathway, slowly quickening their paces as Quetz regains his strength, bolstering what little left with psychic powers. Soon, the white haired male was already dragging the boy behind him by the arm, compelled to run faster by the instinctive will to survive and the looming knowledge what could happen if they don’t hurry. Another explosion shook the earth and skies, sending fort another barrage of burning stones and poisonous fume, a dreaded sight which meaning Quetz knew far too well. He stood still in horror, reliving the memories of his childhood as he stares at the river of fire spewing from the cracked mountain.

– What are you doing?! – Loi screeched, pulling onto the older male’s arm in a desperate attempt to get him to move.

The white haired man didn’t reply, slowly, he reached for his sword handle, amber eyes flickering, reflecting the balls of fire and rocks screeching and falling around him. With one swift motion, Quetz tore his arm from Loi’s hand and coiled back, before vaulting himself through the air, sword flashing a baleful blue flash. The tanned boy watched in horror as a burning boulder fell from the dark clouds, and after a great flash of brilliant azure, was split in two. The two half of the giant boulder slid down the forest, the cut was smooth to the touch and as cold as ice. What manner of demonic power did Quetz use? The tanned boy pondered in utter horror and amazement, falling to his knees, he watched, mouth agape as the older male leapt cleaves falling magma and flattening patches of burning forest with each swing. Everywhere Quetz goes, the itself seemed contorted, warped, ebbed and flow, like an ocean of ethereal stuffs gathering for a storm yet to come.


From atop a great hill on their side of the great river, Haru clung to Mitsuki’s arms wrapping around his chest and neck, his violet eyes wide opened with horror as he watches the fire slowly spread across their former home. Liquid fire, unrelenting and merciless, consuming everything on its path, filling the air with smoke, ambers and the anguish cries of those unlucky enough to be caught in its greedy maw, wild animals, cattle, human. The rest of the village has left, the only ones who were still staying were them and those that got lost, unable to find their way out of the forests in time. And still, there were no sign of Loi or Quetz.

Guilt once again gripped Haru’s heart in its choking tendrils, chilling his soul as he thinks about his brother. How could have not noticed that Loi was there? The tanned boy was there, just a few steps away from Haru and Quetz, and the white haired boy told the man everything. The pain Loi felt must have been overwhelming, feel things cut so deep as the betrayal of the ones whom you love the most, and the white haired boy feared that the wound he’s dealt could have been fatal.

– Where are they? – Mitsuki mumbled anxiously, eyes whipping from one direction to another, trying to find any sign of her brother and the white haired man.

Behind them, Pumba and Timon stood motionless, keeping their silent vigil, as if knowing full well that their master would be safe. Glancing at them for just a heartbeat, the white haired boy turned back to the inferno that’s still spreading on the other side of the river, wishing that he shares their unrelenting faith for Quetz, pray for him and his brother to be safe.

Suddenly, a flash of brilliant blue light caught their eyes, followed by a dozen more zigzagging across the fire, before diving into the flow of molten lava. The lights exploded as they collide with the fire, blooming into tendrils of solid ice crumbling in the heat, melting and freezing the lava in the process. Another dozen lights shot forward, exploded into jagged spires made of ice that surged toward the magma, disappearing into thick screens of vapors. The barrages of blue lights continued, each blooming into magnificent icy spires that were getting closer to their location and took longer to melt with each wave, slowly piling up like a bulwark of shimmering ice standing against the slowed magma.

And then, came the screaming, of pure terror and frustration, trees were felled, great wooden trunks tumbled before the furious slashing of the blue blade. Before long, Haru could see, nay, feel a distortion coming from the trees, warping the air around it as it made its way toward them. As the last trees at the forest’s edge were felled, two shadows dash into the cleared river bank, or rather it was a single figure, composed of a tall male with one hand clutching his sword while a smaller, tanned figure was wrapped in his arm.

From Haru’s position, he could see the white haired man lifting his sword, hearing him chanting loudly and frantically in a strange language. The air around him was warped, as the white haired boy realized, torrents of blue light twisted themselves into existence. The slender, shifting tendrils of light coiled around the white haired man’s blade, igniting it with fire of white and blue. He swung his blade forward, sending out an arch of mystic fire that created a bridge of freezing ice, stretching from one side of the river to the other.

– Run! Run you fools! – Quetz roared as the leapt across the bridge, followed by hundreds of animals that suddenly found for themselves an easier way to cross the river.

An urgent cry came from the giant bonefrill, making Mitsuki and Haru turn around. The giant animal knelt down, anxiously looking at the two children, urging them to climb on. There were no other choices, Haru and Mitsuki clambered onto the back of massive animal, clinging onto the ropes and vines that were holding the pile of cargos as it runs after it’s master, leaving behind the inferno that’s consuming what left of their home as the last ice spires crumble before the heat.


The young duckbill wandered along the trail of beaten earth and flattened grass, occasionally letting a mournful cry that was drowned out by the heavy rain. There was no response, only the unending streams of water pouring on it, and the slow, steady footsteps of a massive bonefrill, the pile of cargos strapped to its back swayed from side to side as it makes its way through the sparse forest. The bonefrill’s feet sunk into the muddy ground, water dripping down its shaggy coat of downy feathers, making it let out the occasional snort of annoyance.

Resting his back against the back of his gigantic companion’s bony frill, the white haired male carefully inspected his seared wound for leaking blood. Three pairs of eyes watched him, still traumatized by the fact that their home was all but destroyed, their expressions hidden underneath the leathery hoods of their cloaks. Around them echoed the sorrowful cries of the lost animals, separated from their herds in the inferno, futilely calling out for their family that might have been amongst the many victims of the flame.

– Where are we going? – Mitsuki asked, holding both her brothers in her arms.

– What do you mean? – Quetz replied, patching up the burnt flesh on his side with herbs and makeshift bandages.

– We’re not going to return to the village, are we? – It was a stupid question, Mitsuki knew, but it was the only question she could think of, hoping that the white haired man’s answer, whatever it might be, could grant her some sort of security that she’s desperately need to take care of her brothers.

– …No. – Answered the older male as he pulls his shirt down, he rested his arms on his awkwardly crossed legs. – There’s nothing to go back to, whatever left that isn’t destroyed by the lava would attract scavengers.

– So…where to? – The girl asked again.

– My home. – Quetz replied, adverting his gaze to meet the white haired boy’s eyes and smiled. – Our home.

– O-our home? – Haru’s eyes sparkled under his cloak.

– Yes. – Quetz nodded, he attempted to get closer to the boy, but as soon as he’s stood up, a painful grunt escaped his mouth. – Ah…still hurt.

– Keto-san! – Haru called out worriedly, reaching his hand toward the older male and resting it on his hand.

– I’m fine Haru. – The white haired man smiled despite of the tingling pain on his side.

– We should get some rest Keto-san. – Mitsuki suggested, seeing that the white haired man was clearly exhausted.

– Y-yes… – Quetz nodded in agreement. – I think we should. – Grunting, he tried to stand up, using Pumba’s frill to support his weight as he survey the woodland around them before his eyes were fixed upon a large rock formation, partially shrouded with trees at the edge of the forest. – We can rest there for tonight.

The rock formation was a remnant of a river bank that has receded, waves and winds have carved out grottos and overhanging ledges that shielded the lower parts of the boulders from the elements. Perfect to wait out the rain, blackened by ash and smoke. Despite his wound, Quetz was the first to jump down from Pumba’s back, his sheathed sword jabbed into the ground, supporting his weight as he makes his way into one of the largest cave, its entrance shrouded by a growth of pines. He pressed his hand against the moss covering its ancient walls, the pain fogged his mind, making in wander with question, reminding it about the moss that covers much of his domain.

– Keto-san?

Quetz’s ear twitched as he hears Haru’s voice, ever so inquisitive and nervous, a soft, angelic voice that was light sweet, finely aged wine that eased his troubled mind. The older male turned around to look at the small boy who was also looking at him with those violet eyes, he smiled and sat down, resting his back against the wall and gestured for the boy to come closer.

– Keto-san, are you alright? – Haru asked again, kneeling next to him.

– I’m fine. – Quetz replied, reaching out one hand to stroke the boy’s snowy white hair. – It’s just my wound, my healing skills are bit rusty after all those years, then again I was never really good at Life Magic anyway. – He chuckled at his own weak jest and looked around. – Where’s Mitsuki and…that other kid?

– Loi? – Haru tilted his head. – O-oh, they’re unpacking for dinner.

– Really? – Quetz smiled. – What’s for dinner?

– I-I don’t know. – Haru shook his head, confused as to why the white haired man was acting so weird. He took Quetz by one of his hand, his eyes darting from the man’s face to where his would is. – Keto-san, are you really fine? You’re acting weird.

– I’m not. – Quetz chuckled and coiled his fingers around Haru’s hands.

– Are you sure? – The white haired boy scooted closer, close enough to rest his head against the older male’s shoulder, fearful of the possibility of loosing him.

Quetz seemed to have realized Haru’s plight, the white haired man reached his other hand out and pulled the boy close, resting his head against his shoulder and caressed his hair. Taking in deep, shaky breaths, Haru let himself relaxed, easing his mind as he felt the older male’s warmth rushing him. The boy let his hand slip from Quetz’s fingers, slowly reaching down until his fingers touch the spot where blood has soaked through the fabric, dyeing it red.

– Does it hurt? – He asked, carefully pressing on spot where the herbs and bandages were used to patch the wound.

– A bit. – Quetz replied, stroking the back of Haru’s head gently.

– …Nee, Keto-san? – Haru lifted his head from his companion’s shoulder. – Tell me more about our home, about…our people.

– You’ll meet them soon enough. – The older male chuckled at his companion’s eagerness. – But I can tell you that they won’t go easy on you just because you’re with me.

– Wh-what do you mean? – The white haired boy blinked in confusion and doubt, could Quetz be hinting that even their people would reject him?

– Let’s just say that many of them have grown very fond of you when you’re still with me, – Quetz grinned from ear to ear mischievously. – they won’t spare you any free time without at least a question or two.

– R-really?! – Haru’s violet eyes widened and sparked in join. – F-f-fond? O-of me?

– Well yes, they seemed to think that you and your sister were miracle children because I took care of you. – The older male chuckled, recalling how in disarray his courts were the first time he showed up with both Haru and his sister in both of his arms, clearly in dire needs of rest after several sleepless nights. Yet he still refused to let anyone else touch the twins, hosting the courts in hushed whispers and quiet arguments, lest they wake the sleeping children. – It’s been centuries since they last saw me so close and protective of someone not of my blood.

– What do you mean…”centuries”? – Haru tilted his head in confusion at the man’s strange usage of words.

– It means…it’s been a very long time since they’ve seen me so close to someone. – Quetz smiled and ruffled the boy’s hair. – You’ll see what I mean when you meet them. Now go help your sister and brother, I’m sure they’re in need of an extra pair of hands.

Haru nodded, smiling, he seemed contempt with Quetz’s answers, for now. The white haired man let out a sighed as he watches the boy running out of the cave, his footsteps slowly melded into the sounds of the heavy rains. Wrapping his cloak around him, Quetz finally allowed himself to have some respite, the strength he borrowed with magic to stave the pain and tiredness slowly slipped from his body. He could barely moved now, the grievous wound has all but paralyzed his lower body. Yet he felt no pain, just an all too familiar feeling of exhaustion that was doggedly weighting on his mind and pulling his eyelids down.

Grunting, Quetz pressed his elbowed against the moss-covered wall and hauled his entire body up, adjusting his position to a more comfortable one before slowly closing his eyes. As he lies there, waiting to fall asleep, the only thing the man could hear was that of the rain pouring outside, with the rumblings of lightning occasionally highlighted the orchestra of water and winds. The white haired man couldn’t help but smile, it rained like this too when he found Haru wandering around near one of the ruins the other day. But the joy was short lived, a droplet of tear rolled down Quetz face.

It rained like this the day he lost the first true love of his life.

It rained like this the day his people faced extinction.

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