Trial by Fire

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A Family Affair

Numo and Fig sat on the Rema throne as if they had made it themselves. Truth be told, the room itself an artwork of the dead made the throne look like a bastion of hope in a sea of chaos. The two humans sat on either side picking dirt from their fingernails. Numo looked up at the cracked door that led to the room.

“Fig.” Numo said between two small lips.

Fig sighed as she picked the last bit of crud from her colored nails. They were a mess of dark colors that contrasted well with her pale skin.

“Yes, Numo, what do you want from me?”

Numo, who was fairer skinned, skinny, tall with the look of an easterner narrowed his gaze at his sister.

“No one would ever know we are twins because of that attitude.”

Fig’s stare was emotionless and blank.

“Nomu. We have been husband and wife for two decades now. While I have thought about leaving you every moment I have to escape, I have never been more repulsed than when you mention we are ‘twins.’”

Numo gave Fig a confused thoughtful stare.

“But, Fi. We are twins.”

Fig’s dark brown eyes bristled with faux rage.

“Yes Mu! Spirit twins you imbecile!” She said as she slapped him in the face.

Numo felt the mark she had left rubbing it tenderly. He was about to say something else smart when the door to the throne room creaked.

“Shh, they are here. Let me do the talking.” Fig said.

The twins stepped down from the throne keeping their weapons sheathed. There was one tiny erodesean that peeked through the doorway, it’s little eyes glowing red as it stared at the twins.

“Hello! We come in peace! I am Fig, this is Nomu, we are from the North.”

After Fig gave her greetings the door was ripped off the hinges by two large erodeseans and thrown to either side. It slid on the floor grinding against the stone. They seemed to be unfazed focusing instead on who was coming in.

Several large Erodeseans walked forward with shields high, two medium sized who looked frighteningly deadly were ready to pounce if they so much as moved. The twins got a slight glimpse of a skinny but elegant erodesean in the middle. It looked to Fig like a woman, but she knew better than to address xe as such.

“Nike? Nike, Xueen of Wenshe? We mean no harm, we come in peace.”

Nike told the rest to stand down as xe made xyr way to speak to the humans. Xe got so close that Poppy yelled down the hall.

“Xueen! Be careful!” She warned.

Nike waved her off. Xe was within striking distance. Fig and Nomu uncomfortably bristled with sweat. Nike’s voice sang through the room of death as xe berated the twins.

“You come in peace but you cut my court to pieces? What type of message are you sending?”

Fig stuttered then composed herself.

“W-well you see we went ahead and dealt with those traitors for you, the ones that were planning their escape.” Fig pointed to a hole that was being made in the wall at the end of the chamber prior to their death.

“We thought: ‘How better to show our kindness than to kill another’s enemy?’” Nomu said.

“Shut up!” Fig said, never taking her eyes off of Nike.

Nike smiled, xyr tiny stone teeth were polished and razor sharp. They were straight in a line in xyr mouth unlike the mostly random teeth pattern of xyr kin. Xyr orange eyes eyed the couple.

“So, you’ve gotten yourselves in a little bit of trouble. You see, that was my decision to make. You are husband and wife, formally from the north, but I sense Slade’s magic here. You’re revenants, you have stolen the souls of these erodeseans.”

Fig and Nomu’s eyes widened.

“So, it is true. You can see the void on us?” Fig, her right hand starting to shake.

Nike nodded.

“I can see a lot of things. You’re searching for the one called Juniper, are you not?”

Fig and Nomu nodded.

“Yes, yes we are.” Fig nervously said.

Nike pondered their answer for a moment before speaking.

“She is mine. Her territory is my territory. You can tell Slade that the dead rise here, but the heed the call of Juniper.” Nike said with semi-reddened eyes.

Fig started to protest.

“She is a newborn revenant, we cannot all-”

Nike raised both xyr swords in one quick motion, the blades a blur. Xe rested them on their necks, the sharp edges producing a miniscule amount of black blood that dribbled onto the blades.

“I said, her territory is my territory. Tell Slade that whatever agreements he had with Tulip regarding Juniper are null. The only agreement I will honor is the death of Thrax. He has a debt to pay, I will not be kind if I have to come to collect.”

Nike retrieved xyr blades, Fig and Nomu rubbed their necks healing the wound. Before xe turned around xe closed xyr eyes then nodded xyr head. Black liquid poured out of the wall on Nomu’s side dripping into a large puddle. It formed the body of an erodesean girl, her head had a chunk of bark and skin missing from it exposing the squishy matter on the inside.

Xilo looked on in horror at the girl, who returned her stare. Juniper smiled warmly at her, the sides of her mouth slightly decayed.

“Mommy!” She yelled in her direction as Xilo uncomfortably waved in her direction. Poppy giggled and whispered to Geralt.

“The kid she wants versus the kid she doesn’t.” She said as Nike eyed her and shook xyr head while smiling.

“Mean.” Nike stated, then motioned for Juniper to come forward.

Juniper skipped over to Nike then hugged xyr leg as she stared at the twins.

“Now, give back what you have taken.” Nike said.

Fig and Nomu looked at each other then Fig reached to her side underneath her shirt.

Borick saw this and went to take a step towards them, but Nike held xyr hand out motioning for everyone to stay calm. Fig then continued to grab at her side as something made a cracking sound as she winced. Black blood slid freely from her side as Nomu touched the wound closing it. Fig held out a full rib bone, to Nike.

Nike took it, energy humming through the bone. Xe held it down to Juniper who stood on her tippie toes begging for the bone. When xe handed it to her, Juniper marveled at it before chewing through it and consuming the bone.

“Was that all, Juniper?” Nike asked as xe bent over and patted her mottled head.

Juniper smiled, black bile and spit falling down the sides of her mouth as she spoke.

“Yes. Nike, Nike…” Juniper pleaded with Nike as she tugged as xyr bark on xyr leg.

“What is it, Juniper?” Nike said as xe picked her up and faced the twins.

Juniper pointed towards Xilo.

“You said that that is your mommy too, that makes us sisters.”

Nike’s eyes went a bright pink from embarrassment, then back to orange as xe laughed raucously.

“You’ve got a big mouth, you know that?” Juniper giggled as xe put her back on the floor.

Xilo could be seen in the background being berated with jokes by Poppy as the rest stared deathly serious towards the twins.

“So, can we go or are you going to end us?” Nomu said. Clearly his patience had neared an end.

Nike cocked xyr head and with green eyes and said, “Go, tell Slade what I said and go.”

The twins turned tail and sprinted towards the end of the room, their bodies phasing into the wall melting away from view.

Juniper followed Xilo wherever she went, which meant back and forth as her and the rest cleared the bodies out of the throne room. Merryly hopping around she asked Xilo question after question, then, when she’d noticed Poppy, started asking her questions as well. The two erodeseans were more than happy to talk to her and after a while they could look past her horrifying disfigurement. In fact, the entire group loved nothing more than a distraction and Juniper provided them just that.

Once everything was finished and the last body was tossed out of the room they all sat down in a circle right below the throne. Nike sat closest to the throne, not yet wanting to sit on it.

“Well? You don’t have to be bashful. You’re Xueen now, take the throne.” Xilo said pointing to the throne as she addressed Nike.

Nike smiled. “I was just waiting for someone to say it.”

Xe hopped up on the throne scrambling to get on the massive seat. Sitting atop the massive stone ledge, xe noticed that xyr legs barely came over the edge. Everyone laughed heartily, Xilo, Poppy and Tootsie bowling over each other.

Nike giggled with the rest. Once the laughter had died down, Tootsie addressed Nike, his tiny figure bubbly and confident.

“Where to next, Xueen?”

Nike looked comically at Tootsie, xyr eyes full of mirth.

“When have you ever been the first to speak?”

Poppy slapped Tootsie in his back which sent him spiraling to the floor.

“He’s a full sapped assassin now Nike! You’ll do right to respect his words!” She said as Xilo laughed out loud and the rest chuckled and nervously looked towards Nike.

Nike sighed. “So much has happened in just a few months. Well, first thing is first. Borick, Geralt, Lance, can you check on the situation with Riven, Boreit, and Luko? They should be done by now. Tell Onyx, Nemaak, and his circle to come to the throne room as well. We need to all have a talk.”

The three erodeseans nodded and headed out immediately leaving the rest to wait patiently for their return.

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