The Origin Stones

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Chapter 23 - Moving on

Midori watched from under a shade produced by a wall which covered her from the moonlight. She was frowning at the secondary gates of Fairgrifen, troubled in her thoughts.

She had talked to Arata not really expecting him to ask her to stay. She had had no intentions to say, Midori wanted nothing but to get well away from all this revolution business.

But he had indeed asked her to stay and help Fairgrifen.

Not that I’m not worried about all the stone stuff, but why do I have to stay and get involved in this? He has no idea of what’s really going on here.

With a complaining grunt, though, she answered her own question pretty easily.

Who else is there?

Turning around with a sigh, she skipped her steps to start a run.

The fact was Arata and the rest would need direct contact with Fairgrifen’s leadership and even if they didn’t need her to regain Fairgrifen’s leadership, there was no one else to connect them to what was going on with the stones.

The fires and bellows of struggle still raged on across the streets and homes, but the populace was being left well enough alone so long as they didn’t put up a fight. The fighting was more between pockets of soldiers, squads fighting each other according to each of their loyalties. Midori ran into such one conflict, though the fight itself had finished already.

There were only two left, surrounded by five of FairCloth’s men. They were standing in the middle of the street, back against a row of houses. Both were Pans, one wearing a mailed dress and skirt, with blue streaked hair running down to her butt, and the other wore a half-armor that was already busted up and wielded nothing but a shield on the arm that wasn’t bleeding. He had short brown hair over a dark cloth headband. The skirted pan had a curved dagger in each hand and was watching with cautious eyes, looking for a way to survive..

Midori slid across the wall of a house and then skipped a silent dash towards the back of the nearest foe, drawing her Xenia loose.

“Just surrender,” one of the guards said, clenching a sword with both hands.

“You surrender!” The boy said in an unconvincing voice.

“You damn brats--” the man was interrupted by the loud clash of Midori’s staff on the helmet of one of his squad-mates.

They all turned around, startled, in time to see Midori swinging it to the side to hit another guard. In that momentary commotion, where their attention was diverted, the little Pans sprang into action.

The boy rushed the leader with a leap, crashing his shield against his face and chest, all while the girl dashed towards the two remaining enemies. She ducked and slashed at the knee of one, re-directed a counter-slash from his colleague with a spin that allowed her to shove her the other dagger through the same thigh. The man bellowed in pain while the boy, who had leaped and since knocked the leader down with a bash to his face, now landed hard on top of the squad leader with his shield poised to crush the man’s neck.

The girl spun under a horizontal slash and then hopped around the remaining foe, cutting at the back of his neck, between helmet and armor. Landing, she looked to make sure everyone was down.

Midori had made sure to knock down the two she attacked, and with that, it was over. In just under five seconds.

“Who are you?” The girl asked, distrustful.

“Thank you,” the boy quickly interjected, “that’s what she means.”

Midori smiled, glad to be of help. “My name is Midori, I was with Overseer Breem when this all started, he told me to go to a tavern…HiddenPebble?”

“We’re going there now,” the boy said, taking the squad leader’s shortsword into his own scabbard, “you’re welcome to join us.”

“If you don’t mind me following from the shadows,” she nodded pleasantly, “it’s better to be careful, right?”

“Yes, definitely. Thanks again, we’ll talk more at the tavern.”

“Brin, she could be a spy!”

“Honey, she knows our meeting place already. Breem will be there, most likely, he’ll know for sure if she’s alright. What more can she find out until then?”

“Hmf…fine. And I’ve told you, already! Don’t treat me like that when we’re on the battlefield.”

“Ah, of course, honey, I’m sorry,” he blushed.

“I said stop it!” She pointed menacingly. It was adorable, it made Midori giggle a bit, which only flustered the two even more.

Meanwhile, back at Aellea, the Xia was still staring Jomiko and Arata down, looking in their direction in an attempt to weigh his statement as much as he could.

“I’m sorry, but who are you?” Jomiko asked.

“He’s the one we have to thank for being alive,” Kazuki stated, not at all overjoyed at the fact. “He saved Arata and led Aella’s guards to us.”

“Oh. And you’re a healer too, is that it?” Arata asked.

“I’m more interested to hear what’s your stake in all of this,” Leaf commented.

“I’m after that Sen,” he said, folding his arms, “and that’s all you need to know. I can heal and I can provide you battle support, like like boosting your stamina, abilities or senses, or worsen that of others.”

“You’re a focused supported? After that Sen? By yourself?” Arata was duly surprised. “I mean, she was really strong, how were you planning on subduing her, exactly?”

“I can neutralize her stealth abilities,” he told them, “and I’m not bad with these things either,” he added, grabbing hold of his two sticks. They were much smaller than Midori’s Xenia but they were obviously still the same kind of weapon: staffs for casting. They were inscribed with patterns and glyphs.

“You’d have to do better than ‘not bad’...but we could sure use the healing,” Arata commented.

“You don’t even know him,” Leaf interjected in complaint.

“Yeah yeah, nobody cares what you think, Leaf,” Jomiko shot.

“But it’s a valid point,” Kazuki stated.

“He saved our lives,” Pixa gravely reminded them all.

“Tha-That’s true,” the Xia said, now a bit more timidly.

“With all due respect, you screamed for help from up in the sky. You didn’t actually risk anything,” Kazuki put in.

“Come on, you need me and you know it.” Doubt seeped into his tone of voice, though he did his best to hide it. Not that his expression was hiding anything, he was probably very aware he could not capture the Sen without their help.

“If we’re to go right this instant, that’s, unfortunately true,” Kazuki stated, in his solemn and undeniable tone.

Jomiko sighed in unwilling acceptance.

“Fine, but I’m keeping my eye on you. Anything weird and you’re out. The last thing we need is a back-stab when we least expect it.” She finally stood on her own two feet, obviously to add some menace to the statement. But her mind decided to go for a dizzy ride around her head, making her wobble a bit around for a second there.

Pixa winced and nudged to help, but Jomiko recovered before she touched her. Pretending like she had wavered on purpose, Jomiko placed her hands on her hips.

“So I’ll be expecting it.”

“That’s perfectly fine,” the Xia nodded, a bit too fast. “My name is Persephonai,” he proudly stated.

“Arata,” he turned his neck for comfort, “that’s Jomiko, Kazuki, Pixa, Leaf, and the twins are Fuun’na and Sanpu.”

“I’m glad I was in time to help you,” he told them kindly, again nodding his head.

“Well I’m glad you’re here now,” Arata said with an easy smile, “you’ll be riding with me. C’mon, help me get to the griffen.”

The Xia momentarily skipped his feet uncontrollably but he quickly gathered himself and walked confidently. Proudly, he handed out his hand and helped Arata’s arm around his shoulder.

“Arata, you should really heal some more,” Pixa pointed out, concerned.

“Let’s not waste any more time,” Arata waved the issue aside.

Kazuki agreed with his head. “The longer we stall, the more we risk a summons from Skullerbee.”

Pixa poked her head out the door, to make sure no one of note would see them go. After all, they were leaving unexpectedly.

They went, though they passed by the Blood Twin’s room, to find them teasing each other by slapping each other’s wounds. They laughed whenever the other winced in pain.

“We’re moving out. They’re heading to Spellgate,” Kazuki reported to them.

“Oh cool,” Sanpu said in a joyful tone of voice. He grabbed a bandage that was over his back and ripped it loose. Fuun’na did the same.

“Hey wha—hold him!” Persephonai trembled, abruptly astonished at their irresponsible cold blooded...lack of wits. Blood was already streaking out the respective holes, after a moment of spitting out the clots. “Are you guys crazy?”

He rushed and opened his hands to touch the two wounds that were leaking blood, and concentrated on closing them. Sanpu and Fuun’na watched, more curious than anything.

They looked back towards the group, inquisitively.

“Blood Twins, Persephonai. Persephonai, Blood twins…” Jomiko introduced them, her voice teeming with sarcasm.

“So Spellgate, huh? Does that mean they’re after another stone?” Fuun’na asked.

“And they already have Bellhall’s?”

“Heh, things’re getting wild, huh?” Sanpu asked with the innocence of a child, “they might really be the ones that’re going to kill us, sis.”

She looked back at him in surprise, only to notice he had an amused smirk on his mouth.

She emulated it.

Then they laughed at the notion.

“As if!”

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