The Four Lands Of Arravan: Bloodline

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Chapter Three: Indigo

With a heaving chest, his rapid breaths dispersed in thick white clouds of mist as his feet hammered against the solid frozen ground.

Kaydence was running with everything he had through a never-ending thicket that he had a recollection of, everything around him was concealed in a dense layer of frost that-if he wasn’t being hunted-would be something he’d admire with its naturally created intricate patterns.

What was hunting him was all unbeknownst to him but from the growling and thudding of what seemed to be multiple legs he presumed it was a wild hound.

Every movement grew increasingly less progressive as the hound closed the gap lunging and snapping at his heels, refusing to look behind he pushed his freezing joints to move but up until that moment, he hadn’t noticed the ice forming over his skin.

Not knowing if he was hearing the barking of the beast or a crack of thunder that hailed the oncoming of the storm he persevered attempting to not let it raise his heartbeat and steal the oxygen from his lungs.

The clouds opened up spilling its tears on the lands below, it twinkled like falling stars in the moons blazing glow, that’s if stars were crimson and held the consistency of blood that froze at the slightest touch.

It kept falling with the force of a waterfall, Kaydences tired body stood no chance of keeping up the pace even ignoring the fact he was gradually becoming an ice sculpture.

With his slowed sprinting the hound's jaw latched onto his ankle tripping him up and sending him to the water-logged floor his cries lost in the pooling blood.

Emerging to catch a breath he was swiftly shoved back down submerging his body causing him to breath in liquid rather than air, Kaydences body convulsed as he choked and began to drown, the weight on his back never leaving or lightening where its claws dug into the flesh of his arms and legs rendering him helpless.

Just as he was on the verge of what he thought would be death the earth flipped, the ground he was facing became the night sky and the world that would have been above him became a bed of lavender.

Sat bolt upright with a dampened brow and thudding heart he first noticed his ability to breath, then it was his movements the ice was gone and his bones were warm as if he hadn’t been turning to ice with every step, as if none of it happened, it was just a dream.

Letting his body fall back to the ground with a sigh Kaydence cast his eyes to the sky seeing a soft lilac canvas, swirled brushstrokes displaying a multitude of shades of pinks, purples and blues.

His fingers ran along the stems of barley, caressed the velvet petals of daisies and inhaled the violet lavender all the while his heterochromic eyes followed the dying sun that descended to his left at an unusual speed like it had been sped up.

Kaydence, expecting to see the rest of the field through stalks and stems, had quite the fright when instead he came face to face with Mayfel and his olive irises.

The boy said nothing and didn’t give any indication that he was going to he just, stared.

It wasn’t like a stare that made a connection, the eye contact felt hollow and almost as if he was gazing straight through him which was all the more disturbing.

Kaydence was about to speak up and reach out to check on him, that was before everything became more demented and inconceivable, Mayfel no longer looked human or even alive as his eyes clouded over, lips turned pale blue and skin turned a deathly grey.

He tried to scream but no sound came out not even when Mayfel’s one hand wrapped around his throat or when the other pushed through his flesh into his chest cavity and yanked out his beating heart that mockingly kept pulsating before his very eyes.

Kaydence couldn’t feel, couldn’t breathe or shout instead Mayfel hovered above him and did it for him.

His jaw snapped open letting a shrieking wail tear through all existence, all the while remaining eye contact with Kaydence who was petrified and utterly baffled as to how he was still alive with his heart outside of his body and yet despite it not even being attached to his being he felt the elongated and sharpened claws that extended from the tips of Mayfel’s fingers enter through the beating muscle.

The more he wanted to scream the more Mayfel did like he was mimicking his thoughts and urges, Kaydence watched as fractures and cracks began to line his heart like it was made of stone and so he waited in trepidation for it to shatter.

It did so after a moment more of the torment, exploding into crimson dust that dyed the lilac skies and brought back the flood of ruby red rivers.

With a final intake of breath, he screamed just as the rushing waters consumed him dragging his body to a land far away.

“Kaydence! Kaydence open your eyes, you’re dreaming come on wake up”

Involuntarily his torso jerked upwards bringing him to sitting, his eyes sprung open with panicked and dilated pupils that his body mirrored with wheezing breaths and a compressed chest.

Mayfel’s hands were placed on him, one on his shoulder and the other on his chest, the usual olive green of his eyes replaced with vibrant indigo making him wonder if he was still dreaming.

“Focus on me Kaydence, you need to calm down. I want you to take some deep breaths with me alright?” he said calmly as he demonstrated and encouraged him to do the same.

Kaydence had already started to feel calmer from just gazing at the purple irises, no doubt the breaths -that he didn’t really comprehend- helped but he was too engrossed in his eyes to even notice.

“Good, you’re doing good just keep it up a bit longer”

Kaydence whispered breathlessly to what he thought was himself “I thought your eyes were green” but clearly he didn’t say it quiet enough.

“Hush, focus” Mayfel replied, his hand slipping from Kaydences shoulder and chest feeling the oxygenating rhythm return to a more normal speed.

Seeing as Mayfel didn’t say anything about his previous statement Kaydence brought it up again and said “Your eyes are purple”

“I know”

Still not breaking eye contact Kaydence asked “Why are they purple?”

“Because I was born with them this colour” Mayfel answered looking back into Kaydences eyes, instead of seeing judgement he saw acceptance edged with anticipation to ask more questions.

Seeing as it would be a question Kaydence would ask he simply answered before he had the opportunity to open his mouth “They change with my mood” he explained.

“What does the purple mean?”

“Neutral or some kind of happy feeling” Mayfel said finally removing his eyes from Kaydences.

Thinking about it the answer to his next question would probably be obvious but he wanted to be sure “And the green?”

“Sad or emotions similar”

He had been right and now he felt bad for asking.

“So you were sad earlier?” Kaydence asked scrunching up his brows.

“As I said, people in the village don’t look to me kindly and some can be more open about it than others. Which is why I try keep them green, they make harsher comments when they stand out”

If only he could hide his wings Kaydence thought, so far he related quite a bit to Mayfel and they’d known each other for all of a few hours “Do they hurt you physically?”

“Only the ones looking for some sort of accomplishment, which of course they don’t get without a nasty scar” he replied nonchalantly.

Kaydence couldn’t blame him for fighting back, he didn’t expect him to just stand and take the punches thrown at him.

The boys Kaydence had grown up alongside in Graylow were pompous and self-righteous and made sure to regularly remind him of what his wings stood for, he never needed them to because he himself knew and he hated the feathered appendages more than he let on.

Kaydence decided to ask a question that he himself had asked himself over the years but couldn’t answer “Don’t you want to move away from here? Be somewhere safer?”

Mayfel seemed to think about it, the cogs in his head were turning but nevertheless, he spoke up and said “I was born and I’ve grown up here, Ivory is my home and despite the imbeciles that inhabit it, it’s not all that bad of a place to live”

“I know how you feel. It was the same back at Graylow”

Their joint understanding lead to silence, they both knew what each other meant even if it wasn’t spoken aloud because their lives were one and the same.

Kaydence wanted nothing more than to be able to take Mayfel away from spiteful eyes and malicious mouths because he’d be doing something he himself had dreamt of doing, getting away from it all to see the ocean and travel the three other clans but like Mayfel there was always the one thing in his way preventing him from making a move and leaving his home and family behind.

He guessed now that he had neither to anchor him to one place there was no better opportunity to cruise through the lands than after he informed the High council of course.

“Mayfel?”

“What is it?” he spoke up taking a seat next to Kaydences sweaty body and crossing his legs.

“Tomorrow when I leave, I want you to come with me” Kaydence suggested looking or any telltale emotion that would give him a preview of the boy's answer.

“Leave with you? To go to the capital? Did you not hear me when I said this is my home?”

“It’s not permanent, think of it as a short getaway” he urged.

Uncertainly Mayfel answered “I don’t know Kaydence”

“Well I can’t look after my wound properly so I’m going to need someone who knows how to just in case anything happens”

“That’s not fair, you can’t use your health and life to bribe me” Mayfel remarked.

“I can’t hunt either, or navigate properly so I’ll probably die of starvation, if a wild animal doesn’t eat me first.”

“You’re joking now right?” he said disapprovingly

“I’m not joking. Mayfel think about it, wide-open space and just us two trekking across Lirren in peace. Far away from the troubles that we’re constantly surrounded by”

Minutes passed and Kaydence thought he was going to walk away without giving him a reply, he got to his feet but hesitated to move as he said “I’ll sleep on it. If you’re hungry I cooked up some chicken, help yourself it’s in the oven”

“I hope you really do think about this Mayfel” Kaydence insisted quietly.

“Goodnight Kaydence” he whispered leaving him alone as his bare feet padded away.

“Goodnight” Kaydence whispered back under his breath letting it fall on empty ears.

Waking up to the birds chirping, tender rays and the subtle smell of petrichor wafting in through an open window was definitely something he missed living back in his own home, it was somewhat nostalgic and reassuring like loving hugs and simple moments spent with a caring mother, although not exactly having those memories to compare it to but he presumed it was like that.

A plate of sliced honey bread layered with butter and a still-steaming mug of tea awaited him on the coffee table meaning Mayfel was either still around or had just left, most likely to hunt or to shop.

Kaydence wasn’t going to pass up the chance of having a meal especially when it was most likely going to be the last fulfilling one he’d have in a week or so which reminded him of the pressing matter of finding food to ration off on his journey.

As he downed the last dregs of tea and took the last bite of bread the front door opened and in walked Mayfel, hand resting over his stomach and a variety of cuts and grazes littering his face along with a split lip that most definitely weren’t there last night.

“Mayfel, what happened?” Kaydence asked warily moving towards him to inspect the damage closer.

“The baker from yesterday didn’t take my comebacks too well” he replied using his sleeve to dab at the blood trickling from his nose.

“So he beat you up?”

Stubbornly Mayfel said “It’s not as bad as it looks” which didn’t make the situation any better in Kaydences eyes, to him it made it worse because Mayfel suppressed showing pain and probably in some way was used to the smaller wounds. No one should have to be used to pain.

“Sit down they need cleaning” Kaydence stated finding out the medical box Mayfel had the day before.

Mayfel followed his demands and sunk down onto the sofa “I did what you said, I thought about your offer”

“And?” he asked curiously taking out an antiseptic wipe and gently wiping at the blood.

Mundane medical supplies along with other inventions were- as far as the accords mattered- illegal in a way for the fae to use or even have possession of but the market never failed in managing to sneak some under the noses of the High Councils and village leaders.

“I want to come with you” Mayfel stated confidently and Kaydence waited for him to add onto his words but his lips remained together bringing Kaydence to asks it himself “But?”

“No buts. I think getting away from here will help and besides I won’t be able to go near the village for a day or so until things calm down” Mayfel explained, a small wince disrupted his soft features as the antiseptic stung a relatively small nick along his cheekbone.

“We should get going soon then, the quicker we get on the road the more daylight we’ll have”

“I already have bags packed for the both of us, I knew you’d want to leave as soon you woke up”

Kaydence put down the wipes and said to him “I’m sure I can grab them, you sit here” already making movements to stand up.

“Don’t be absurd, you are more hurt than I am. Which reminds me” he stated standing up and lifting up what looked like a leather backpack.

“What is it?”

“Well, since the joint of your wing was so badly damaged, for a while it can’t support itself. I made this to help support it while it heals sort of like a cast for a broken arm” he explained approaching Kaydence.

“So my wing, just sits in it?”

“Watch and learn” was all that was said before Mayfel’s arms were wrapping themselves around Kaydences middle before gliding back around to the front bringing two straps to his stomach where he fastened the buckle.

“This next bit might hurt, so just as a precaution you should sit down or at least brace yourself” Mayfel suggested moving to face the oaky feathers.

Kaydence took a seat while Mayfel remained standing, his fingertips unforgivably soft as they grazed over the satin wings, it lulled Kaydence into a state of contentment even when his wing was lifted and positioned within the leather holder where it would keep it in more of a natural setting until it healed.

“How does that feel?” Mayfel spoke up running his hands down the feathers flattening the ruffled ones.

Kaydence who couldn’t help his wings from fluttering and shaking themselves up like they’d been tickled replied “Better, thank you”

“No worries. Let’s head out if you’re ready”

Nodding his head affirmatively he followed Mayfel to the kitchen space collecting one of the two filled backpacks awaiting them on the countertop, besides it lay Acuere looking better than ever with its polished and gleaming blade protected and sheathed in leather.

Both arranged their bags on their shoulders, Kaydence with Acuere firmly fastened to his belt and Mayfel’s own bow fashioned with a quiver packed with handmade arrows, each end decorated with purple fletching held as well over each shoulder. Purple like his eyes Kaydence thought.

“Are you sure about this, it’s not too late to say no” he proceeded to ask.

“It’s a yes, but let’s leave before I change my mind” Mayfel said in a playful manner.

And with that said they left the comforts of the cottage behind, the scent of lavender still radiating from Mayfel that mixed with the smells of the earth and the soothing scent of the country air.

Kaydence, focusing on the map in his hands -provided by his newly found companion- examined the trail they were taking and planning the route for future reference.

With the chattering of wildlife, the hushed voices of the breeze and a sigh from Mayfel he folded the map up and shoved it back in his jacket pocket, no specific thoughts worth bringing up and breaking the silence.

They were at the very least several hours away from where they started having left Ivory Village behind and with it Kaydences own which weighed more on his mind than he thought it would, he knew it would hurt being further and further away from his home and old life but not quite like the dull aching in his chest he was experiencing.

With the setting sun and dropping temperatures Kaydence made an overall decision to set up camp and rest the night away, it’d be the first night in a long time where he didn’t wish to look at the stars or glaring moon for now they reminded him of the souls of the lost that ascended into the skies like the long since burnt out embers.

Mayfel helped with locating a satisfactory camping ground just off the path in the shade of the trees, they worked together getting the job done which admittedly wasn’t as easy as previously thought, the branches they planned to use as support to hold up the polyester sheet were either too high up or sloped too much that it just slid off.

However with determination and despair to escape the frostbitten winds they made it happen propping it up wherever thy could using fallen branches and stones to hold the bottom in place.

One by one they entered and set up their blankets using their backpacks as cushions but, neither made any motions to fall asleep or even to get ready to call it a night.

Kaydence peered over to Mayfel not really able to see much of him in the dark besides a faint outline, he knew he was there though he could feel his presence, smell it even, the feeble hint of lavender that followed them.

It took him back to his dream, the dark scent of the meadow and Mayfel by his side only now he wasn’t scared or confused, waking up from the nightmare and the first thing he saw being Mayfel sure played on his mind making him wonder if he’d woken up or if it was another dream toying with his unconscious thoughts, maybe he still wasn’t awake.

“Kaydence, what did you dream about last night?” Mayfel asked seemingly reading his mind.

Suspiciously Kaydence asked in a heavy voice “Why do you ask?”

Mayfel seemed to register his tiredness weighing down his tone but nevertheless continued “You were screaming. And you mentioned my name” he replied softly, curiosity in his tone.

Sighing he began to say “I saw you in my dream except, it wasn’t really you” hoping it’d be enough.

But it clearly wasn’t for the curious man- who he could imagine standing wide-eyed and pointing at a deer as a child in complete bewilderment – asked “What do you mean by that?”

Figuring they would be talking for a while Kaydence shuffled to a comfier position to accommodate his settling muscles that had been pushed beyond as well as his wing that thankfully didn’t hurt too bad.

After settling down he began to explain “You looked the same to begin with, but then your face it, changed. Your lips turned blue and your eyes. You looked dead. You started strangling me as you ripped my heart out and I couldn’t scream so, you screamed for me” eyes glazed over with recollection of the vivid event.

“I’m sorry it was about me” was all Mayfel could think of to say.

“There’s nothing you could have done, it was me making that stuff up. You didn’t do anything wrong”

“Well If it’s any consolation I’d never do that to you, I’m not psychotic”

Surprising himself Kaydence let out a light chuckle which he hoped to quickly push in the past “I know, it was just a dream. But it felt so real”

“Dreams often do, especially when they include loved ones or friends.” Mayfel said knowingly.

Kaydence took his words into consideration, everyone had nightmares and the occasional good dream and Mayfel seemed like no exception, he seemed to speak from experience.

Loved ones he had said, maybe he was in a relationship or had been previously, Kaydence doubted Mayfel would so willingly travel with him if he had someone waiting for him back in Ivory, maybe he meant his parents

Wouldn’t he live with them though? Kaydence thought, then again he couldn’t really think that when he himself lived independently and had done since he was probably even younger than Mayfel. “What about your parents?”Kaydence chose to ask

Hesitantly Mayfel asked a question of his own “What about them?”

“Do they live in Ivory too?”

“Yes and no”

Confusing Kaydence thought “They’re separated?”

“I’d prefer not to speak about it if that’s okay with you” he stated, shifting in his blankets a clear indication of his discomfort.

Picking up on the sudden shift in the atmosphere he replied with the soft words “Of course, I understand.” but couldn’t stop what he said next blurting out of his mouth “Can I ask if you’re an only child?”

“You technically just did and yes, I am”

“Me too” Kaydence divulged feeling relieved that Mayfel didn’t get frustrated with the extra question.

“Well I think I’m going to have a snack and head to sleep, I suggest you do the same” Mayfel said.

“See you in the morning then”

“Indeed”

Laying side by side, a gap between their bodies wrapped in a blanket each they settled in for the night everything but the ruffling of leaves outside was silent, even their calm even breaths went unheard.

Kaydence was laying on his side with a wing and blanket wrapped around himself giving himself extra layers of insulation keeping the chilling air away from the majority of his skin, he was peering at the fabric of the tent thinking about nothing in particular, his mind actually clear for once.

Acuere by his side giving him a feeling of protection and support he so desperately would need on the journey.

Mayfel on the other hand had his blanket tightly pulled around him, his hands pushed into his armpits and his knees pulled up to his chest as he lay on his side looking at his backpack with hooded eyes.

He wasn’t all that tired but the cold was slowing down his mind and the functioning of his body making him drowsy, cold bites were all he was feeling over every limb down to his fingers and toes.

Mayfel couldn’t help but shiver especially when a small draft decided to make its presence known as it entered under the fabric of the tent, the cold earth beneath his body wasn’t providing any comforts whatsoever either but only added to his frozen state resulting in his breathing becoming agitated and unsteady.

“Mayfel?” Kaydence spoke up, a hint of sleep edging on the end of his words.

“Yes?” he stuttered out.

Without another word Kaydence shuffled his body to lay behind Mayfel’s and let his wing drape over his body drawing him close, encasing them both in the warmth.

“Thank you” Mayfel muttered despite his shivers slowly subsiding.

With their bodies close, the heat warming them both, and the nightly air surrounding them full of wisdom and hidden whispered secrets, they fell into a satisfactory daze.

“No problem” Kaydence replied before slipping into sweet serenity.

Kaydence opened his eyes to a warm, yellow glow that seeped through the small pin-point sized gaps in the fabric.

He looked around in bewilderment and confusion, the memories slipping back slowly, something began to feel as though it was missing, he saw his bag in the corner next to... another bag?

Mayfel! That’s the something or rather someone who was missing.

Grabbing the golden hilt of Acuere he made his way out the tent letting his remaining muscles extend and relieve themselves of the cramped conditions they were kept in.

Birds chirped and sang overhead with light-hearted melodies of joy, despite the slight nip to the air it was a beautiful morning although he wished the purpled-eyed, lavender man would turn up.

He turned from North to East, to South and to the West looking for any sign of his companion and yet turned up empty.

Kaydence couldn’t simply wander further into the wilderness he’d surely get lost and he wasn’t familiar with the land and its signs like a tracker and hunter to be able to work his way back, unlike Mayfel.

Kaydence called out once thinking maybe he could get a reply for reassurance but no reply came just the silence of the forest, and so he called out, again and again, each time his name left his lips he grew increasingly more paranoid as to where he was and what had happened to make him leave without a word.

Seconds turned to minutes that kept piling up drowning him in concern and panic.

“You called” Mayfel spoke up from behind him in an amused tone standing with his bow in hand, arrows equipped in their quiver slung across his back and two deceased pigeons at his feet.

“Yes I did call, a simple ’I’m okay′ would have been nice! How was I supposed to know if you were alive? You could have been killed, lost, kidnapped or stuck and I wouldn’t have had the faintest clue where to find you! Humans have crossed the border once to attack my village how was I supposed to know they hadn’t done so again and just happened to find you on their journey?” he ranted swinging his arms to emphasise his points and nearly slapping and decapitating Mayfel a few times in the process if he hadn’t been for his quick reflexes.

Finding his panic a little ridiculous Mayfel decided to try uplift the air around them with a playful reply “Sorry Dad, I didn’t think you’d be that worried. But on a good note I caught us breakfast” he pointed to the ground while maintaining eye contact.

“Thanks, I suppose, just don’t do that again without telling me beforehand. I have to make sure your sorry ass doesn’t get killed. Pull another stunt like that and I’ll kill you first” Kaydence replied sternly while making up a small fire.

“Well I’m going to have to, unless you can catch a moving animal” Mayfel said as he decapitated one of the birds with a hunting blade he’d pulled from its leather sheath attached to his matching leather belt and proceeded to gut it.

“One that’s disgusting and you could have given me a warning, two you have a point but at least I’d be able to protect myself if someone attacked me.” Kaydence replied matter of factly.

“Stop whining, this is how meat is prepared so get used to it you’ll be seeing it a lot also, I can protect myself because I have good aim and I can use a knife. I just don’t go looking for hand to hand combat”

“Fair enough” Kaydence said turning his gaze and attention to the fire to his left side and stabbed the tip of Acuere into the soft ground.

He stared into the blaze of mixed oranges, yellows and reds, he could feel the heat radiating off of it, hear the crackles and sharp snaps every so often.

He remembered his village, the houses and markets up in flames, the blaring heat scorching their skin and slowly incinerating the deceased within.

Their horses who they once had strong bonds with now panicking fear piercing their eyes as well as the reflections of destruction, the sounds of screaming and the frantic neighs begging for release and the chance to escape which would most likely not be granted.

He saw the embers fly elegantly and high through the night sky, it would have been fitting to see had he been in Alden and the City of Embers back when they could wield their fire element, but he was in his home, it was not normal seeing his whole village warped and descending into chaos and destruction, it wasn’t normal to see the only family he knew die in front of him and his people taken, murdered and turned to ash.

All he knew was gone, his home, his people, his life.

Everything.

“Kaydence!” Mayfel yelled, waving his bloody hand and knife in front of his face.

Aggressively, perhaps a little more than he meant Kaydence snapped saying “Get your hand out of my face?” his eyes falling onto Mayfel’s shocked expression, his grip tightening on the hilt, the tip of the blade twisting in the dirt.

Warily Mayfel proceeded “I’ve been calling you for ages” somewhat offended by the harsh tone when he hadn’t done anything wrong.

“Sorry, I was just thinking” it wasn’t exactly a lie but wasn’t entirely the truth either.

“Thinking about what?” Mayfel pushed daringly.

With a deep sigh, he said “What happened at my village” although it came out as a mumble, the memories still vivid and invasive.

“I’m truly sorry Kaydence, no one should have to go through something like that” Mayfel admitted

Kaydence didn’t understand why people said I’m sorry when they were grieving or upset, it was never because of them and it didn’t do much to help either.

If anything it made things worse because it made it sound like they didn’t really care, it was two words to fall back on when you didn’t know what else to say.

He knew Mayfel meant well and so he replied with no bad emotion towards him and chose to say “If it wasn’t for Bregan I would have stayed and fought to save my village or I would have died trying” He knew Mayfel could hear the confidence in his words, it was the way he wanted it to be as regret swirled around his mind at the thought of letting Bregan get caught and the fact he ran like a coward instead of standing his ground and dying honourably defending his village even if there wasn’t much left.

“He would have wanted you to live, no parent wants to have to bury their child. He sacrificed himself so you could live on and carry his name. You did what any other sane person would have done in that situation, there’s no shame in you running”

“I suppose you’re right, I just wish I could have saved him. He was the only family I had” Kaydence uttered solemnly.

“Family doesn’t always have to be created through blood Kaydence, you can make your own family as you go through life, you yourself can choose who you surround yourself with”

“You’ve already shown me more compassion than any other, you have a pure heart and I am grateful for it. I hope one day we can grow to be good friends” Kaydence confessed

“Me too Kaydence, me too”

The rustling of dried and aged leaves carried throughout the forest, their lives long spent in the boughs spying and listening in on the woodland mysteries and secrets that lurked in the grey shadows and crept out to torment the innocent.

Nocturnal life drifted to sleep as the shadows shrank, swallowed by the land along with the never-ending abyss of starry skies that stretched for miles holding the constellations handpicked by a higher being.

Kaydence looked to the far off hills where the sun’s rays picked at the more successful green growth, he felt hunger deep in the pit of his stomach but tried to not dwell on the beastly grumbles that erupted every few minutes.

The smell of the flames hungrily licking at the cooking meat and devouring the slowly darkening wood scorched his senses not providing any relief against the beast clawing at his stomach trying to get closer to the only morsel of edible food much like the hound in his dreams.

With his hunger growing, his ability to be patient and calm was quickly dissipating along with the twigs and leaves fuelling the glowing fire that provided them with the needed heat to stay warm and provide them with food that wouldn’t cause them harm.

“Is it done yet?” he mumbled, not liking his quiet and impatient voice that betrayed how he was feeling.

“Patience is a virtue” Mayfel replied, not peeling his eyes away from the tender meat in front of him.

“Not right now it isn’t, I’m hungry” Kaydence complained, almost ready to grab the plucked and gutted bird from his grasp and eat it mostly raw.

As he said that he watched Mayfel reach into his pocket and pull out a plant Kaydence knew as ‘Jack by the hedge’ with its distinctive petite, white-petalled flowers and jagged, dark, forest- green leaves, with their spiderweb veins, dotted down the slightly paler green stem giving it an aggressive look as if it’s protecting and guarding the delicate, pale bodies that reside vulnerable, swaying in the sun’s gentle caresses.

Kaydence watched in disbelief and agitation as Mayfel continued to then pull apart the plant and stuff it in the cavity where the bird’s organs once were, he couldn’t believe it.

There he was, just minding his own business and trying not to eat the birds undercooked while he stared at them, his stomach coming close to eating itself and Mayfel took it upon himself to go herb picking while hunting as if he was on some jolly walk with all the time in the world.

Sure they had snacks in their bags but Kaydence had strictly forbidden either of them from eating them wanting to save them for emergencies in case anything was to happen and it never hurt to be prepared.

“Mayfel, what is that?” his voice came stern and questioning, his hunger seemingly taking control of his brain.

“Alliaria Petiolata or is more commonly known as ‘Jack by the hedge’ it’s a member of the mustard family” Mayfel explained rather impressed with himself and his knowledge of plants and herbs.

“I meant to ask, what is it doing in my pigeon? You took forever out there “hunting” while I was here starving. And here you are, stuffing my pigeon full of that wild garlic. You seriously spent time looking for seasoning!” by the time he had finished his small rant, his eyes were blown wide and Mayfel was almost certain he saw smoke come out of his pointed ears refusing to believe it was the smoke from the fire.

“Be grateful” he replied concluding their argument for the time being.

By the time the fire had reduced to nothing but grey, weightless ash and the embers had settled into the foliage around them, the smoke was nothing but a wisp of cloud and they were both peacefully picking at their meals amongst it all.

No words were said as they feasted, all efforts and attention was on the tender meat in front of them, although it did satisfy the growling beats within it did not satisfy their wanting for more of it as if their bodies craved the flavours that didn’t last nearly as long as they would have liked.

Having mostly made his own meals and not being the adventurous type in that area Kaydence never experimented with herbs and plants in a fear of poisoning himself or making himself ill.

“Thanks for breakfast” was all Kaydence could say on such a full stomach, before gradually getting up taking Acuere with him discarding the bones on the floor where he’d previously been sat.

Mayfel noticed there weren’t many places Kaydence didn’t go without his metal and deathly companion, he held it dear to him, Mayfel knew who it belonged to previously but wasn’t about to bring it up because he knew it’d hurt him to bring up his father again, Kaydence needed to heal and maybe their journey would provide that for him.

“No worries, happy to help” he replied before getting himself together and joining him in their makeshift living quarters.

It didn’t take long for them both to gather everything of value into their bags and sling them over their shoulders or shoulder in Kaydences case since his wings proved to be a frustrating obstacle, keeping both his hands free to hold the map they’d packed which he was grateful for seeing as they had quite a lot of unfamiliar land to trek through if they were to get to Crestfold on time before the humans had a chance to raid more villages and murder more innocent fae families.

A part of him was hoping the council already knew so they could take immediate action and his kind could be saved and prevent the damages that otherwise would wipe out any village in one fell swoop like a tidal wave.

However, a small part of him didn’t want to have to walk there to be told they had already started to deal with it and have his efforts dissolved to nothing letting the regret of leaving Graylow, the village he missed so much in the clutches of the savages.

With stomachs full and bags packed they set off once again on their journey, their path lead further into the woods to the point Kaydence could bearly figure where they were going on the map but Mayfel’s tracking experience proved very useful in helping to find old paths that correlated with the worn map in Kaydences careful hands.

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