Lynus made a quick note within a patient’s file before he closed it and pushed it aside. He felt a sense of satisfaction upon realising that his latest patient had overcome a life-threatening obstacle and was well and truly on that path of recovery. The rest was up to him, now.
“Azure?” he called out as he pushed his chair back from his desk and stood up.
As Lynus picked up the patient folder and turned toward the door of his private clinic, a young man quietly stepped into the room and looked at him expectantly. His appearance was extraordinarily similar to how Lynus used to look when he was younger. Only difference was his hair and eyes were of a different colour. Hair an amethyst purple colour while his eyes were a striking light blue. He, however, was a few inches shorter than what Lynus was and his skin was a natural tan.
“Y-yes?” he asked.
“Can you place this file in out-patients, please?” Lynus requested.
Azure nodded his head as he took the file from him. He glanced down at the file’s name and his eyes widened a fraction as he looked back at him. “H-he’s been given the all clear?”
Lynus smiled and nodded. “Yes, he’s on the path to full recovery. The hospital will be able to take it from here.”
A small, almost shy smile of relief appeared on Azure’s face as he hugged the file against his chest. “Th-that’s good.”
“Do I have any more patients?” Lynus asked as he walked down the hallway that attached his private clinic to his home that he shared with his husband.
“N-not yet, though Dr Stiles has sent over a few patient records for you to look over,” Azure answered as he followed a couple of steps behind him.
“Ah, I see to them while I have some tea,” Lynus mused aloud as he idly brushed his long orange hair over his shoulder.
“I-I’ll boil the kettle after I put this file away,” Azure insisted before he skittered forward toward the filing room.
Lynus chuckled softly to himself. “Thank you, Azure, make sure you get some tea for yourself, too.”
Out of sheer habit, Lynus watched until Azure was out of sight as he ducked into the filing room. As he did so, his mind wandered to the time, about a year ago now, where he met Azure for the first time. Rather, found him.
One particular sunny afternoon, Lynus had found himself feeling restless. Something had been pulling him to visit the first floor of the labyrinth. He had walked those natural paths many, many times before. Had seen just about every corner that the labyrinth possessed. Even so, he followed that feeling, that pulling sensation in his chest.
Axel, of course, went with him. He didn’t question him. After the years they’ve spent together, he trusted that inner feeling that Lynus had completely and utterly. So, with Axel by his side, Lynus entered the labyrinth. And as they delve deeper, that feeling grew stronger.
As did a sudden spike of fear.
It wasn’t his fear that he had sensed. No, it was someone else’s. They were scared, bewildered, lost, and terrified.
Lynus had hastened his steps and after walking a rather peculiar path, he found the one that had been unwittingly guiding him to him.
Scared, alone, completely bewildered. Azure stared at him with his wide blue eyes the moment he came into view. He clutched a medical bag in his arms, his purple hair messy, and his face covered in scrapes and dirt.
In all honesty, all Lynus wished to do was to hurry forward and take the terrified young man into his arms and tell him that he was going to be all right now. But he knew, from the spikes of fear and confusion in his aura, that he had to move slowly, cautiously, lest not to scare him even more.
Poor boy knew nothing up until that point. And only the name “Azure”. Nothing more. Not where he was, how he came to be there, what he carried in that bag he clung to so desperately. Nothing.
Lynus was, thankfully, able to coach the young man to him, promising him that he was safe now. Azure was on the verge of crying when Lynus finally pulled him into his arms to comfort him.
No one knew who he was, no one tried to claim him. So, he and Axel immediately took him in. Adopted him, essentially. That was what others liked to tease them about. Something they often teased the two of them about. They would claim should they ever meet anyone remotely vulnerable they would adopt them on the spot.
Lynus wouldn’t argue with them. How could he when what they say was somewhat true? And their teasing was nothing more than light-hearted humour, for they, too, would immediately go “parental” the moment they met someone vulnerable or lost.
Protecting the scared and vulnerable. That was what the Guardians did.
There was something more to Azure, though. Lynus saw a part of himself in Azure. How he used to be; shy, skittish, but still determined to heal when possible. He knew that Axel saw a part of Lynus in the boy, too. The fear in his eyes when he was around certain people, how he skittered to hide behind others, cling to them in fear.
Azure was also very interested in healing. He knew a few skills, though he did not remember where or how he learnt such skills. He, however, was shyly thrilled when Lynus offered to mentor him.
He had been his apprentice, and adopted little brother of the guild, for a year now. And despite his still skittishness and shyness, he had improved remarkably. He, however, had the peculiar habit of stuttering the very first word whenever he spoke. He spoke normally, if hurriedly and quietly, the rest of his words. Just the very first word always tripped him up. Lynus wondered if it was born from habit or it was the result of pushing past the fear to speak.
No matter. There was no need to point out that minor little oddity, lest make him conscious of it.
That familiar and warm feeling of Axel’s aura approaching pulled Lynus from his musings. He turned to walk into the foyer of their manor just as Axel opened the front door and stepped inside. He took a moment to drop his axe by the door before he took the necessarily steps toward Lynus and swept him up into his arms, lifting him clean up off the floor.
Lynus smiled as he wrapped his arms around Axel’s neck and let him kiss him softly for a few moments.
“Welcome back,” Lynus greeted.
“Miss me?” Axel grinned up at him.
Lynus rolled his eyes fondly. “It’s been a couple of hours,” he said as he lightly smacked the back of Axel’s head. But he soon leaned forward to press a kiss to Axel’s nose. “Of course, I did.”
Axel simply chuckled as he placed Lynus carefully back upon his feet. He then leaned forward and softly kissed the middle of his forehead, where a certain little marking resided.
It was a most peculiar thing. The mysterious marking, in the shape of a diamond and the colour of purple, appeared on Lynus’ forehead seemingly during their battle against the Overlord. It did not and does not hurt. Lynus honestly didn’t even know it was there until someone had pointed it out in surprise.
From what Mahogany believed, it was a symbol to indicate that his aura, his spirit, had ascended to another level. A high consciousness, the violet ray. In tune with the angelic wings that Lynus was able to now manifest physically.
Many others who would spiritual and magically inclined agreed with that belief and assumption. According to many, Lynus’ aura was extremely powerful yet comforting.
“Ah right, Hamza is looking to gather everyone,” Axel said as he kept his arms lazily around Lynus’ waist. “He wants everyone to meet before Maginia arrives.”
Ah, yes, the flying city of Maginia was mooring close to High Lagaard in order to speak with the Duke and his daughter, while taking the time to gather supplies. And from what rumours were suggesting, they were hoping to gather explorers for an expedition to a mysterious island known as Lemuria.
An old friend of Hamza’s (more specifically, an old friend of his former guild’s leader) has sent a letter to Hamza regarding both Maginia and Lemuria. He wished to make a request of them, though did not state what it was in his letter. He preferred to do that in person, it seemed.
The man in question, Villard, was a rather famous and well-respected professor and detective, having travelled to numerous countries and continents during his travels. Lynus had never met the man, though he did indeed seem rather well-known. Shiki, Cass, and even the Grand Duchy had heard of him.
“Shall we go now, then?” Lynus asked.
“Sure, everyone else is.”
Lynus nodded and stepped back from Axel’s arms. As Axel habitually reached for his axe, Lynus turned to look inside their home and cupped his mouth with his hands. “Azure!”
The sound of running feet was soon heard and a mere moment later, Azure appeared.
“Come,” Lynus motioned for him. “Hamza wishes to see us all.”
“Sh-should I retrieve our bags?” Azure asked.
Lynus shook his head. “No need. We shouldn’t be long. Let us leave now.”
Azure nodded his head simply and moved to join them by the front door. The three of them then proceeded to step outside and head in the direction of the city’s central park, where they were to meet with Hamza and the others of their guild.
There was an obvious sense of anticipation in the air as they strolled through the streets of Lagaard. Everyone bustling about, chatting excitedly about the flying city of Maginia.
“That must be it,” Axel suddenly exclaimed.
Lynus turned to look at him, only to find him looking up at the sky. Suddenly, a dark shadow fell over them and Lynus promptly turned to look up as well. His mouth dropped open in surprise and shock as a craft, similar to that of the Heavenly Keeper passed by in front of the sun, heading toward the east side of the city.
The craft was massive.
“There’s…an actual city there,” Lynus murmured as he watched in amazement and awe.
Axel pressed a hand against the small of Lynus’ back, prompting him to turn his gaze back toward him. “Let’s go.”
Lynus simply nodded and the three of them continued on their way to the park, though their steps a little more hurried than before.
As they entered the boundaries of the park, Lynus felt the auras of his guildmates long before he saw them. Everyone had already gathered and were likely chatting about what they, too, had witnessed of Maginia.
“Hey, there you are,” Jhon greeted warmly as the three of them approached. “Maginia made quite the entrance, huh?”
“You can say that again,” Axel said as he glanced around at the crowds. “Man, everyone is out for this.”
The childish, high-pitch voice caused a chuckle to escape Lynus’ lips. He turned around to see a young child scampering toward him. Behind him, walking at a more leisurely pace was, of course, Gerald and Shiki.
Lynus knelt down and allowed the blond-haired boy to dash over to him and throw his arms around his neck in a hug. Ever energetic, the boy soon bounced out of Lynus’ embraced and looked at him excitedly.
“Did ya see it? The spaceship?” Ghali chirped.
“Oh yes, I think everyone saw it,” Lynus replied with a chuckle.
“He’s been chatting about it all morning,” Gerald explained as he and Shiki reached them.
Lynus chuckled again as he pushed himself to his feet. “I’m honestly not surprised,” he said as Ghali skittered over to Gerald and promptly took hold of his hand, tugging at it excitedly.
Lynus watched with a smile as Gerald knelt down to the ground and allowed Ghali, his adopted son to chat aimlessly about his excitement. Ghali was a sweet child. Lively and affectionate. He loved snuggling up to his mama, as he called Gerald. He also adored his papa, and of course his brothers; Simmons, Rahas, and Benedict.
Ghali, he…had a relatively rough start to life. His parents, both former members of Nova, were killed just two years ago. Gerald was the one to have found him, and the one to have saved him from meeting the same fate. The poor boy was so small, young. Lynus had been the one to check him over when he was brought to the hospital. He was also the one to help Gerald with the injuries he had sustained in his attempt to keep Ghali safe.
It was unfair, really, the amount of heartache Gerald and Shiki had to endure in their time. They were now the last of their previous guild. They were the only two left.
Ghali helped them to heal, though. They adopted him as soon as they could. They took him in without a second thought.
“Ah, it appears there is already a convoy from Maginia,” Hamza stated, prompting everyone to turn to see for themselves.
From their advantage point of the park, they watched as soldiers, both of the Lagaardian brigade and that seemingly of the Maginian, walked with two central figures. One a tall man in black armour, the other a young woman in golden armour.
As the convoy was led through the centre of Lagaard, bypassing the park, Azure unexpectedly tensed and clung onto the back of Lynus’ coat as the regal woman was led through the crowds of onlookers and toward the Grand Duchy. Lynus glanced at Azure before he turned his gaze back to Lagaard’s new visitors.
Her eyes were the same striking blue as Azure’s. How interesting…
As the curious locals watched the seeming royal brigade lead the regal looking woman through the city, an older man dressed in robes similar to what war magus’s wore trailed idly behind. He appeared more interested in the crowds around them, looking to find someone.
“Ah, there he is,” Hamza suddenly said as he stepped forward. “Villard!”
The older war magus immediately honed in on Hamza’s voice and his expression brightened with realisation and recognition. “Ah, Hamza, my boy,” he said.
As the two met each other half way, they grasped onto each other’s hands in a friendly manner, Villard saying something to Hamza that only he could hear. Hamza simply nodded his head a couple of times before he said something equally quiet back. He then patted Villard on the shoulder before he turned to led Villard over to where everyone had gathered.
“These are my guildmates,” Hamza said. “Lynus, Axel, Jhon, Tobyn, Macerio, Lirit, Rahas, Magnus, Shen, Hamza, Cedric, Mahogany, Zeryn, Topaz, Hrothgar, Gage. And, of course, our beast companions; Chi-hung, Wulfgar, and Wulfgar Jr. Everyone, this is Villard, detective extraordinaire, if I’m not mistaken.”
“I certainly like to think so,” Villard replied with a laugh. “But, ah, it is a pleasure to finally meet the famous Guardian Guild. Though, should I be surprised that Hamza, the ruffian, snot-nosed punk I knew as a child, is guild leader, hmm?”
Hamza shook his head in playful dismay. “Lies and slander. Even so, I’m not exactly the guild leader now.”
Axel rolled his eyes and folded his arms across his chest. “Just because you palmed the title off to me and Lynus, doesn’t mean you’re not the leader,” he retorted.
Hamza chuckled as he turned back to Villard. “In all honesty, Axel and Lynus are regarded as leaders because of their skills and experience.”
“Axel, huh? Ah, yes, I’ve heard of you,” Villard unexpectedly said as he turned his attention directly at Axel, a half smirk on his lips. “The Guardian of Unfaltering Strength that stood before the embodiment of evil and destruction. And punched them in the face.”
Lynus laughed softly into his hand while Axel snorted dismissively. He then proceeded to roll his eyes when Macerio laughed aloud behind him.
“And won, don’t forget!”
“Yes, mustn’t forget that,” Villard continued. “Also, mustn’t forget The Guardian of Miraculous Healing, either.”
Lynus sighed, his shoulders sagging ever so slightly in exasperation. “I cannot believe people call me that in earnest…”
Villard chuckled as he folded his hands within his robes. “Oh yes, you’re both quite revered. In fact, all members of the Guardians are. I’ve heard of all your titles. Including yours, Hamza.”
Hamza coughed into his hand, a light dusting of red on his cheeks while Cedric, always by his side, but laughed airy. “Moving on,” he muttered. “So, Villard, your letter stated that you wish to discuss something with me and my guildmates, yes?”
Villard’s expression quickly changed from amusement to all seriousness. He nodded his head as he reached into his robes, revealing a roll of parchment. “It’s a serious matter. And I’ll get straight to the point; I asked you all to gather here today to humble request that you offer me your aid and serves within Maginia.”
Everyone fell silent in surprise and shock.
“Hm? Join Maginia?” Hamza reiterated, surprise evident in his voice.
Villard nodded his head. “Yes. You see, I was requested by the Maginia Royal Family to aid them on an expedition. The rumours of Maginia looking for explorers to aid them in their expedition is true. Though, they are also open to anyone wishing to become an explorer. Rookie and novice guilds are welcomed, but in order to keep them safe, keep everyone safe, Her Highness, Princess Persephone, seeks veteran guilds to aid them. Within this parchment is the royal creed stating that I have the right and ability to request any and all who I think would benefit us, and be benefited by, joining Maginia upon this cause.”
Lynus was surprised by the request. And from the startled auras around him, so was everyone else.
“I do realise that this is quite sudden and what I am asking you is no small feat, but Maginia will moor here for the next couple of days, so do think over my request,” Villard stated as he placed a hand on Hamza’s shoulder, gave it a small squeeze, before he pulled his hand back.
Without another word, he turned away and headed in the direction where curious locals had gathered to stare up at Maginia.
Hamza watched until Villard was no longer within sight before he turned to face everyone. He glanced around at them all, who of which gazed back at him, waiting for what he would say about their sudden request.
“Now, I can’t make any orders or commands regarding this,” he suddenly stated. “This request is…unexpected. And I do admit, I have been startled by it. As I’m sure all of you are. So…let’s take some time to come to our own conclusions, yes?”
That…would be for the best.
… … … … …
The sun was slowly starting to set as Lynus busied himself in his clinic. From his window, however, he could see the flying city of Maginia, half hidden behind the trunk of Yggdrasil. So, his thoughts were never far from the city, and of the request that Villard had made of them.
Leave Lagaard and move to an unknown and flying city that was on an expedition to a mysterious and isolated island known in legends as Lemuria…
It was quite the request. It would lead to quite the change for him. For all of them.
So, it was little surprise that Lynus, along with so many others, were indecisive about what he should do.
Lagaard was his home. The city who took him in when he was lost and afraid. The city that gave him the chance to help others, to improve his healing abilities. A city filled with so many caring and colourful characters. A city that threw a celebration lasting two days when he and Axel finally got married.
He loved Lagaard.
A knock at the front door pulled Lynus from his thoughts. He immediately placed down the bundle of files upon his desk and moved to step out of his office. “It’s open!” he called out when he recognised the auras of his visitors.
The door opened a moment later and two figures stepped inside.
“Derek?” Lynus tilted his head to the side in query as Dr Stiles stood in the foyer of his home with Rubell, his fiancé, standing behind him. “Is something the matter?”
Derek idly pushed his glasses higher upon his nose, something he did whenever he was musing or in two-minds about something. “Villard and a representative of Maginia visited me at the hospital today. They made a request of me.”
Lynus fell silent for a moment. “…Do they wish for you to help establish and possibly run a hospital within Maginia?”
Derek sighed and nodded his head, not surprised by his question. “Spot on as usual.”
“I see,” Lynus said simply.
He took another silent moment to study his friend and mentor. He could see and feel the indecisiveness in his aura. He had lived within High Lagaard for the vast majority of his life. He knew of everyone and they knew of him. He had built a life here with these people.
“I understand what you are going through,” Lynus said softly. “Villard and apparently the researchers of Maginia have requested that I, along with my guildmates, to join them on this expedition to Lemuria.”
Derek looked at him curiously. “Have you…made a decision?”
Lynus slowly shook his head. “No, not yet. And neither have you, it seems. Hah, it’s no surprise, I suppose.”
Derek continued to look at him before he turned his gaze to look over at Rubell. They shared a silent, wordless conversation before they both turned their attention back to Lynus.
“More thought is required, I suppose,” Derek finally offered. “Though, I cannot say I’m surprised that you had received a personal request yourself. To be truthful, the skills of the Guardians…no, don’t worry about it. I apologise for interrupting. I shall speak with you tomorrow, yes?”
Lynus remained silent as Derek and Rubell quickly excused themselves and exited through the front door. He knew why Derek had hesitated and made a quick retreat; he didn’t want to interfere with his own decision. Lynus was also fairly certain what Derek had wanted to say. It was something that he had heard from a few others, too.
The skills of the Guardians should be shared with others. It was wrong to keep them here in Lagaard. They could save and help so many others.
Lynus sighed and shook his head before he turned and headed back to his clinic. In a way, it was reassuring to know that he wasn’t the only one struggling with indecisiveness. He didn’t want to make any rash decisions. And yet he also didn’t want this opportunity to slip by. An opportunity to learn more about healing. An opportunity to help more people.
It just…felt wrong to leave Lagaard after everything.
It was Axel’s reassuring aura that pulled Lynus from his thoughts once again. He glanced over his shoulder and smiled as Axel stepped into the room. “How are the others fairing?” he asked.
“They’re fine as can be with their own indecisiveness,” Axel answered honestly.
“Hmm. We live a peaceful life here and High Lagaard,” Lynus said as he idly rubbed the small purple diamond marking upon his forehead. “And yet…”
Axel moved quickly to eliminate the distance between them and wrapped his arms around him from behind. “There’s still more that we need to do. More we can do, right?” he finished for him as he rested his chin upon his shoulder.
Lynus smiled and sunk back against Axel’s chest. “Yes. Besides, it’s not a permanent move, yes? A moving, flying city on an expedition. It won’t be for forever. Lagaard will still be here, waiting for us. Our home is here, but if we are needed elsewhere, how can we say no?”
“So, the decision has been made,” Axel said.
“You’re all right with going?” Lynus couldn’t help but ask.
Axel loosened his arms around him for a moment, but only so he could turn him around to face him. He promptly took his back into his arms and Lynus rested comfortably against his chest.
“As long as I am with you and my guild, I’ll go anywhere,” Axel said as he rested his forehead against Lynus’. “And if I am able to help others, then I’m happy. And as you said, we can always find a way to return home. Lagaard will be here, waiting for us.”
“What of the others, do you suppose?” Lynus asked.
“I have no doubt that they’ve reached the same conclusion as us,” Axel replied confidently. “Opportunity to help others, to explore new ground; it’s not something they’ll turn down.”
Ah, very true. In all honesty, while they had made peaceful lives for themselves in Lagaard, there was always this small, niggling feeling of restlessness at the back of their minds. They loved Lagaard, they loved the people here, they loved what they did. But there was still that need, that desire, to do more. To see more. To be more.
“We’re just worried about leaving Lagaard, leaving others behind, even just for a while,” Axel continued. “But, the Lagaardians will manage without us. They’re a resilient bunch, right?”
“Hm, very true,” Lynus replied.
A suddenly spike of sadness present in Azure’s aura caused Lynus to tense and immediately turned his attention to the doorway. Azure was grasping at the frame of the door, peering in on them with a distraught expression on his face.
“Azure?” Lynus questioned as he and Axel pulled away from each other to look at Azure in concern.
“Y-you’re not leaving me behind, are you?” Azure asked softly, fearfully.
Lynus was honestly surprised by the question, though he still understood his fear. “Of course not,” he replied as he stepped forward and pulled the other into a hug. “You’re a part of this family and you’re my precious little apprentice, so why would we even think of leaving you behind?”
Azure didn’t reply other than to cling onto the back of his coat tightly and to press his face against Lynus’ shoulder. Lynus glanced over his shoulder at Axel, prompting him to stepped beside the two of them and to place a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“Are you afraid of Maginia or Lemuria?” he asked softly.
Azure turned his face to look at Axel and shook his head. “N-no, I want to go, too. It’s just…don’t want to be alone.”
“Well then, you have nothing to fear,” Axel said confidently. “Remember when you first moved in with us?”
“Y-you said that I wasn’t alone anymore,” Azure replied softly.
“And we meant that. You’re not alone now and you won’t be alone in the future,” Axel said.
Lynus kept his arms around Azure even as he felt Azure begin to relax and calm down. As Azure nuzzled his head against Lynus’ shoulder once more, Lynus looked up at Axel and smiled. Axel wrapped his arms around the both of them and they just simply stayed there, relaxed and comforted by each other.
… … … … …
It was rather early in the morning when Lynus, accompanied by Axel and Azure of course, arrived at the centre plaza of Lagaard. As they drew closer to the water feature, more familiar auras and figures approached.
One by one, members of the Guardians appeared. It…honestly wasn’t surprising, but it was reassuring nevertheless. Jhon and Tobyn. Macerio and Lirit. Shen and Magnus. Hamza, Chi-hung, and Cedric. Zeryn and Topaz. Mahogany and Sardonyx. Hrothgar, Gage, Wulfgar and little Wulfgar Jr.
“Ah, it seems that we’ve all reached the same decision, yes?” Hamza directed that question to everyone.
“Yes, it certainly appears that way,” Lynus answered with a smile. However, a thought touched him when his gaze fell upon Rahas. He was about to ask him a certain question regarding a certain guild, but before he could speak a word, he felt more familiar auras.
And his smile quickly returned.
“I was wondering whether Guild Cosmos would be tempted,” Lynus said as Simmons, along with Shiki, Gerald, and little Ghali joined their gathering. They weren’t alone, either. Benedict, Farley, along with Ryker and Darrell. Also, Derek and Rubell, along with…
“Wait, Cass?” Axel said in surprise.
Cass smiled broadly at him. “Surprised? Ol’ Villard asked if I was willing to open a tavern in Maginia that caters to explorers because of my experience with yeh guys. It’s a golden opportunity to get more cash, so how can I possibly say no? Haw haw haw!”
Before anyone could form a response to Cass, the sound of fluttering wings prompted everyone to still and instinctively to gaze up at the sky. Two figures appeared, their black wings striking against the backdrop of a golden sunrise.
“Caanan and Skylark?” Hamza was the one to both greet and question as the two Winged Ones joined their gathering.
Caanan stood before them, his wings nestled against his back, his stance that of a regal leader. Skylark, another winged being whom the Guardians had made an honorary member for his help within the labyrinth, stood behind his leader quietly.
“Ah, we had received word that you wish to visit the lands of Lemuria, yes?” Caanan asked, though it was worded more as a statement than a question. “This Lemuria, it’s mentioning has been discovered within our own sacred texts. To say that we are intrigue would be quite the understatement.”
“You wish to join us in Lemuria?” Hamza asked, yet that wasn’t entirely a question either.
“If you would have us,” Caanan responded.
“Of course. It would be an honour.”
Lynus looked around at everyone and just smiled. Smiled from relief. Smiled from happiness. He also had to chuckle to himself quietly. It seemed that though they were leaving Lagaard on an expedition, they were taking half of their community with them. Taking those who made Lagaard feel like home with them.
Whatever happened, whatever the future held for them in Maginia and upon the island of Lemuria, he was certain that as long as they stayed together, they were going to be fine.