"B-but I don't think I'll…"
"Sure you can! I'm going to be a Landsknecht when I grow up, so don't worry. I'll be strong enough for the both of us."
"Can a medic enter the labyrinth?"
"Of course, why not? Medics are awesome."
"…You really think so, Axel?"
"…Ok! I'll become the best medic so you won't get hurt!"
"So, it's a promise. Whatever happens, we'll meet up in Lagaard one day. Deal?"
Harsh sunlight falling across his eyes caused Lynus to stir, being pulled out of his dreams. He kept his eyes closed as the feeling of childhood innocence faded away.
He had that dream again. Only, it wasn't a dream. It had once been real, so many years ago. Eight years. He was ten back then. So young and naïve, and so hopeful for adventure with his best friend. The future was something to look forward to.
"Hey there, precious." A low, snake-like voice hissed through the thankfully tightly locked door to Lynus' room. "Wakey wakey, you've got work to do."
Taking a deep breath, Lynus finally opened his eyes. He stared up at the cracked ceiling of his room, the bed beneath him his only comfort. Slowly, he pushed himself into a sitting position, long used to the throbbing headache he would get every morning after spending all day using his healing abilities.
"I'm up," he replied to the known person on the other side of the door. He looked over to it, silently thankful that he automatically put the lock on when he stumbled back into his room late last night.
That man, Avith, was such a sleaze. He had learnt quickly to not be alone with him. Ever.
"Good, cos the boss wants ya to heal that brat again."
Lynus frowned, that familiar sensation of unease settling in his stomach as he swung his legs over the side of his bed. "Rahas? What happened to him?"
Avith snorted. "The little bastard was disobedient." He seemed to find great pleasure in saying that.
"Understood," Lynus said as he sighed.
Rahas…that kid didn't understand boundaries. He wasn't strong enough yet.
"You coming or what?" Avith asked him impatiently.
"Coming," Lynus said as he pushed himself to his feet, running on autopilot as he began to get ready for the day.
"Want me to help you get dressed?" Avith drawled. Although Lynus couldn't see him, he could easily imagine the Dark Hunter leering at him. Like he always did.
Lynus curled his hands into tight fists by his sides as his stomach felt nauseous. "No thank you," he replied through gritted teeth.
He kept a close eye on the door, though, as he changed into his medical clothes. He then picked up his bag, slung it over his head and onto his shoulder, before he picked up his staff. With his only weapon held in a defensive manner, Lynus walked over to his bedroom door, undid the lock and stepped out.
Lynus immediately felt irritated when he found himself chest to chest with Avith, the dark blue hair man leering at him through one visible eye. He had his usual smirk, his teeth as sharp as a shark.
"Well, about time, beautiful," Avith said as he leaned in way too close. "Sleep well, precious?"
Not bothering to answer that question, and in no mood to deal with the man's small talk, Lynus used his staff to push him back. "Don't touch me, Avith," he said in a warning tone.
"Oh, come now," Avith said as he pushed back against the blunt weapon.
"I mean it, Avith."
Before Lynus could say anything else, Avith suddenly had a hand around his throat. "A sweet, fragile little medic like you can't do anything to me," Avith sneered at him.
Lynus automatically fell limp under his hold while his own grip on his weapon tightened. A sting of bitter acceptance touched him. It was true. A medic such as himself wouldn't be able to stand up to an experience Dark Hunter like Avith. He knew that he wasn't a fighter. He had accepted that. But what made it really annoying was the fact that Avith knew how much stronger he was than him.
And he wasn't afraid to show it.
"Drop him, Avith."
Immediately, Avith's hand relinquished his grip around Lynus' throat, allowing Lynus to stumble back a couple of steps, his hand flying up to gingerly touch his neck. He turned to look at the new voice, a chill of recognition rolling down his back.
It was Zalaph, a Hexer.
The man was intimidating to say the least. Ashen grey hair, sharp piercing eyes, stoic face, chains and black cloaks. He could look right through you. He also looked like he should be dead. Hardly an ounce of life in him.
Lynus suppressed a shiver as Zalaph floated over to him and stopped before him.
"Lord Taksony has requested your presence," he said coldly, his voice and expression stark and emotionless.
Lynus didn't question him. He knew better. Although he knew that Rahas was in need of medical attention, no one ever denied Lord Taksony anything.
"I understand," Lynus said. He then wordlessly followed Zalaph through the many winding halls of the grand estate he was being held, being lead toward the vast ballroom. As they walked, Lynus tried his best to ignore the leers and sneers made by loyalists of Lord Taksony.
There, sitting at the very end of the table, looking much like a king, was an elderly man. His hair was thinning and silver, his skin wrinkling and covered in age spots. His eyes were hidden under thick, white eyebrows. Regal robes surrounded his ailing body and he appeared to be breathing heavily.
"Medic," the man said, beckoning Lynus forward harshly. "My lungs are aching. Fix it."
Lynus said nothing as he approached, simply bowed his head a little in a sign that he understood and accepted his orders. When he reached him, he lifted his hand, and placed it over the elderly man's back, but not touching him. He closed his eyes as he concentrated on the appropriate spell, allowing the words to tumble effortlessly from his lips.
His hand tingled with energy, which was sharp and painful for him, but he had long learned to ignore it.
He had always wanted to be a Medic. Ever since he was a kid, he had dreamed of helping others through their pain and suffering. He just never imagined that he would become the forced personal nurse to the ruthless and notorious Lord Taksony.
Lynus remembered that night, when he first met him. He was 10 and just starting out with his training as a medic. He was a prodigy, apparently. So young, yet already so skilled. People praised him for that. It was a gift.
But, from that moment on, it felt like a curse.
Lord Taksony had an illness that was incurable, an illness that brought him great suffering. He was seeking for a cure, which was said to be found in the Etria, deep within the Labyrinth that had been discovered there. But he wanted time to find it. He wanted to stay alive until his loyal followers could get the cure.
He wanted a Medic to become his personal assistant.
He wanted Lynus.
And what Lord Taksony wanted, he got. Without exception.
Lynus did not know what happened to his parents, or his friends, but since that night he had never seen or heard from any of them. Not surprising, really. After all, he was kidnapped that night. Taken by a man far stronger than he.
He didn't have a chance.
That was eight years ago. And Lynus was honestly surprised that the man had lived this long. His body was weak and shutting down. It was only from Lynus' constant healing that he was able to scrape in another day to live. He was literally on borrowed time.
That was probably why Lynus was still around. It wasn't uncommon for servants of Lord Taksony's to 'disappear' suddenly. And it was also rather common for new servants to suddenly appear.
Lynus wasn't the only one Lord Taksony had taken against their will. There was another that was still around, a young Troubadour called Binah. She had been working for their lordship for over a year, acting as his entertainment. Her songs gave him energy and aided in his healing.
But, while she was useful, she wasn't unpunishable. She was young, scared and skittish. Make a mistake in her songs and she'd be punished. Just like Rahas – Lord Taksony's very own son.
As the healing glow subsided, Lynus silently stepped away. Lord Taksony coughed a couple of times, but his breathing was noticeably smoother and easier.
Just as Lynus was about to ask if he was needed further, the doors of the ballroom flew open and a couple of the lord's guards appeared, in-between them a young man with brownish-orange hair and carrying a lute was dragged inside.
"We have the one you requested, m'lord."
Lynus felt his chest ache as he watched the skittish Troubadour clutch his lute to his chest and look around nervously. He was obviously a new 'addition' for Lord Taksony's attempt to starve off death.
No, he thought to himself. Not another one.
How many more did he have to see suffer?