Sol groaned as he awoke. He lay in his bed above the tavern that his sister as still running. Knowledge was certainly powerful. It had spared Mika from jail if not the hangman's noose. He made an attempt to roll onto his back and got a muffled reply as his back bumped up against something confused him as he had just woken up and Luna was laying right in front of him. Turning his head to see what had made the noise he saw a pair of golden eyes of his daughter looking back at him. Her eyebrows were furrowed in anger at almost being squished by her father.
"Tsuki what are you doing?" Sol asked the youth his voice still groggy from sleep.
"I was sleeping until you tried to make me into a sandwich." she answered with more sass than any five year old should have.
"Why did you climb onto my side of the bed then? There's more room on your mother's side." Sol really didn't want to deal with this so early in the morning. Tsuki really took after her mother and her aunt. Sometime Sol wonder if his daughter inherited anything from him at all. So far it seemed all he had passed on was his thirst for answers.
"There's room now but not when I first came in. Mom was sprawled out all over the bed." Tsuki replied.
"Why didn't you sleep with your aunts then, or in your own room?" Sol grumbled.
"Cause I haven't seen you and mom since you got here." Tsuki said with a child's innocence.
It was true. He and Luna had just gotten back from Port Toha during the night. While they were working for Crimea's army they weren't going to be sleeping in the barracks. Sol didn't want any of his tomes stolen by some wannabe mage. Luna simply wanted a nice comfy bed rather than the cot that the barracks would have provided her with. To give his wife incentive to pack faster Sol told her that he had seen a few of the soldiers eyeing her shield. Her shield was one based off an old design that doubled as the sword's, or in some cases axe's, sheath. This had gotten her to speed pack and they were soon out of the barracks and headed for home. When they reached the tavern they were met with Mika's better half, Rin who was cleaning up for the night. Rin was the definition of femininity. Sapphire colored eyes shone against albastar skin. Her face gave her the appearance of the world's most innocent person. Her beautiful face was framed by dark blue hair that stopped just above her shoulders. Her body was a twig with hips that swayed with every step she took.
Rin greeted the two kindly and instructed them on where to put their belongings so that no one could get to them. Seeing as how the tavern used semi-dangerous ingredients in their cooking and drinks they had paid quite a large sum of money to get a magically sealed chest to store them in. Rin then showed them up to their room as so far the couple had just been using their daughter's room for the short time they had spent in the city. Luna dropped her chestplate which had been to large for the chest to hold on the ground and flopped into bed sprawled out in much the way that Tsuki had described. Sol took off his robes leaving him in a thin shirt and pants. The robes of a summoner were much like the armor of the more physical warriors. Only the robes helped protect against magic attacks rather than physical ones. Since the robes were about as comfortable as armor Sol wasn't going to spend the night in them unless he absolutely had to. Once the robes were discarded he slipped into with his wife and rolled onto his side grabbing a pillow and bunching it up under his head.
"I know you miss us Tsuki but why did you come into our bed? In fact how did you even know we were home?" Sol questioned his daughter.
"Auntie Mika came and woke me up. She said that you'd be happy to see me first thing in the morning. Guess she didn't think that you'd try crushing your only daughter." Tsuki explained with a cheshire grin on her face.
If looks could kill people then Mika would be a dead woman from the gaze that Sol was giving the wall that his room shared with Mika's. It wasn't that he was angry at Tsuki for crawling into bed this early. It was because of of Mika that Tsuki was here and ruined any chances of Sol getting comfortable and getting a little more sleep before he had to be up.
"Go wake your aunts." Sol instructed the little girl. "I'll wake your mother and get breakfast ready."
"Mom's not going to try cooking again is she?" Tsuki asked clearly mortified at the prospect of her mother fixing her breakfast.
"She will if you don't go and wake your aunts right now." Sol threatened.
If it was possible Tsuki would have phased through the shared wall and right into her aunts' room to wake them. Sol grinned as his daughter fled in terror at the threat of Luna's cooking. Propping himself up on one elbow Sol grabbed one of Luna's shoulders to shake her awake. Luna's hand caught hold of Sol's wrist and stopped him.
"You really shouldn't threaten her like that. 'Specially with my cooking." Luna said with a yawn.
"Well if you'd just let Rin or I teach you I couldn't use it as a threat now could I?" Sol countered .
"Point taken. Still not taking lessons but point taken. I'm going to go and see if Rin will let me take a bath. I'm covered in sweat and stink more than a Tiger that bathed in a mud pit after a very messy hunt." Luna grumbled as she shuffled out of bed.
Luna foraged around their room for a set of clean clothes. Rin had been kind enough to pack all the clothing they had left behind into the room's dressers. Sol assumed it was Rin because Mika wasn't the kind of person that would be that nice. When she found an outfit to her liking Luna headed for the door.
"You know you could always let you sister cook and come join me hon." Luna said with a large grin on her face as she headed out the room making sure that her hips swayed enticingly as she exited.
"That's my wife." Sol smiled to himself as he jumped out of bed to follow her. Tsuki wouldn't be too disappointed if Rin or Mika made breakfast.
Leaving the room seconds after his wife Sol was met with a waist high black haired bundle of five year old energy. Tsuki wrapped her arms around her father's waist and smiled up at him.
"I woke Auntie Mika up but Aunt Rin was already up." Tsuki informed her dad. "Now will you make me breakfast daddy?!"
"Alright, alright." Sol said rubbing his the girls head playfully as he watched Luna disappear into a room.
Heading downstairs Sol found Rin getting everything ready for the day. She was taking the chairs down from off the tables. When she saw Sol accompanied by Tsuki she waved at the two of them. Sol pointed towards the kitchen silently asking if it was alright if he used it or not. Rin nodded her head. Vanishing into the kitchen Sol set about making a simple stew for breakfast in a large enough pot that when the tavern opened Rin and Mika would be able to serve some to customers. It had been a few months since he had last cooked with his daughter and thankfully, or was it sadly, she was already a better cook than Luna.
"Sol!" Rin's voice called out from the main room. "There's someone here from the castle. Says he's got a message for you." Rin walked into the kitchen holding a damp rag in one hand.
"Watch Tsuki and the stew for me will you?" Sol asked as he headed out to the front to see who it was.
Standing in front of the door was Amiti. Sol didn't know much about the kid other than the fact he was a Mercury Adept and the best protection against the Tuapranag threat the Tellius was now facing.
"Solaris, Queen Elincia would like to talk with you about your and Luna's efforts in the battle at Port Toha." Amiti said formally. Even with his limited knowledge of the man it was easy to tell he was raised among royalty. They simple way he enunciated his words gave it away the common folk simply didn't speak that way.
"Thank you Amiti. I'm curious though as to why the Queen would send you to tell me this. Aren't you a bit important to be delivering such a simple request?" Sol asked.
"It is because I wanted to thank you for saving my friend's life back in Toha. I haven't had the chance to do so properly and I wanted to take this opportunity to do such. So thank you Solaris for saving my friend's life." Amiti bowed as he thanked the Summoner.
"MIKA!" Luna's voice pierced through the floorboards down into the common room.
A loud thump echoed from above as a door was slammed shut. Footsteps raced across the floorboards heading towards the stairs. The door was slammed again this time as it opened and another pair of footsteps follow after the first. Mika came flying out of the stairwell with smile on her face. Her red blouse was soaked for an unknown reason. The blonde vanished into the kitchen as Luna appeared at the bottom of the stairs. Unlike Mika who was fully clothed, Luna had only a towel wrapped around her chest covering just enough of her to be seen by a stranger. Her ebony black hair was plastered to her angry face. One hand was holding up her towel and in the the other was a dagger. The kitchen door squeaked shut catching Luna's attention. Faster than an enraged feline Luna took off after her sister-in-law.
"You can tell Elincia I'll be there after breakfast." Sol said turning his attention back to Amiti acting like what had just happened was normal.
"What just...?" Amiti asked unable to fully ask the question he was so baffled by what had just transpired.
"Domestic household stuff. Hell in other words. Let me give you a piece of advice Amiti. Marry a nice quiet girl." Sol said in a dry voice and headed in the direction of the kitchen to see what was going on behind the door. Amiti just nodded his head and left the building before anything else happened.
Steeling himself for what he was about to see Sol opened the door and went inside. Standing in front of the stove was Rin and Tsuki watching over the stew the Sol had started completely ignoring the two women behind them. Sol couldn't blame the two of them. Getting between Mika and Luna was like getting between two angry idiots who didn't know when to quit. At this moment the only thing that was between them was a table. Mika was making sure to keep it between her and Luna using it as a barrier. However Luna was about five seconds away from climbing over the table to get at her prey.
"What'd you do this time Mika?" Sol asked crossing his arms over his chest speaking to her like he would to a child.
"Nothing that warrants your wife coming at me with a dagger!" she exclaimed.
"Bull! You tried to get into the bath with me!" Luna shouted pointing the dagger's tip accusingly at Mika.
"Yeah, saves time and water." Mika said in her defence.
Rin let out a sigh from the stove. she turned around holding a spoon in one hand and pointing it at Mika much like Luna was with her dagger. "If it was anyone but you dear I'm sure Luna would believe it."
"How do you put up with her Rin?" Luna asked. "She's a shameless flirt and constantly tries these types of things with me. I'm her sister for Ashera's sake."
"Sister-in-law technically." Mika pointed out.
"Now Luna." Rin answered in a sweet tone. "Mika may tease you to no end, get on your nerves, and flirt with all womankind. But she's far more loyal than any man I've met and I know that she won't actually do anything. Besides it'd be easier to get Sol to stop reading than it'd be to get Mika to stop flirting."
"Love you to Rin." Sol said in response to her comments about him and men in general.
"Oops. Sorry Sol. I do trust you. Only a dog is more loyal than you are to Luna." Rin assured him.
Sol put his hand over his forehead as he shook his head. "Luna get dressed. Queen Elincia wants to see us after breakfast. Mika don't harass her this early in the day." Sol instructed. "Tsuki go wash up."
After a nice quiet peaceful meal filled with lots of yelling Sol and Luna grabbed their gear and went to go see what Elincia wanted of them. Tsuki begged them to let her come along and was only dissuaded by the parents promising to take her outside the city once they got back. Arriving at the castle gates they were greeted by a the guards and instructed to hurry to the throne room. One of the soldiers accompanied them the entire way. He kept looking at Luna uneasily even though all she had on her was her shield. They both thought it best to appear dressed in their fighting outfits to drive home the point they were there to assist Crimea in its defense against the Tuaparang. However Sol was dying under his robes from the amount of heat they trapped. Such was the price of an extra bit of protection against the arcane arts. Luna looked just fine in her armor. They were soon ushered into the throne room where Queen Elincia and her uncle Lord Renning were sitting waiting for the two to arrive.
"It is not proper to make your Queen wait when she summons you." Renning said in a gruff voice.
"Uncle." Elincia chided. "Amiti already explained that they would be late."
"Since we are late would be alright if we simply got to the heart of the matter? Sol requested. "I believe that it'll be in everyone's best interest if we do such."
"You are correct." Elincia agreed. "As Amiti told you I would like to discuss what you did exactly in Toha. The reports I have learned that the Venus Adept Matthew was poisoned and you healed him. After that you and Luna both lead the charge to the Psynergy Vortex Generator where you proceeded to destroy it with magic unknown to my people."
"That's true. Luna was the one to find Matthew in his condition. She called me over knowing that I had a Restore Staff on hand. He was lucky that I happened to have one on me. His condition was bad the poison was foreign to me but the magic still worked on it." Sol farther explained.
"I see. But like I said. You used magic that my people do not know about. While Crimea may not be as advanced as Begnion in magic we still know the names of the Dark spells. You did not use anything we have seen Druids use before."
"So you didn't call us here to find out what role we played in the attack. You want to know more about the magic that I cast is that it?"
"To put it plainly, yes. Wherever you found these other tomes there could be more of them. If we could find more Light and Anima Tomes we may stand a better chance against the Tuaparang." Elincia said calmly.
"I'm sorry but you ask for something I do not have. My old master was the one to find the ruins that held these ancient magics. Sadly he passed before he felt like entrusting me with the location. I only know that it lies in the desert between Daein and Hatari." Sol informed the Queen. "Part of my teachings was on how to create these tomes but the making of these fell arts takes years and I only have a few to call my own. I'm sorry but I will not part with them. They are my own creations and I these spells will take months to teach to others."
"I see." Elincia said with a frown before turning her attention to Luna. "Miss Luna, will you please allow our smiths to examine your shield. I fear that the making of such an item has been lost to us. If we could replicate it then it might give our soldier the edge they need in the upcoming battle."
"A shield this broad is meant to be used a certain way Your Majesty. The text that I found the design in call the style Hero. It's not easy learning to even draw the blade without injury. I would have to teach the soldiers as the scrolls now belong to Begnion. The ones best suited for it will be Swordmasters and Warriors." Luna expalined.
"Very well. If you give us the shield then you can train those who wish to become this Hero class warrior."Elincia said before dismissing them. The soldiers were going to be in for a world of hurt once Luna got ahold of them.
Ranulf was going to kill her, Lyre just knew it. She was supposed to be keeping an eye on Himi and she had lost the young Venus Adept. A few laguz had been against letting a beroc stay in the castle so Ranulf had ordered Lyre to tail Himi and make sure that no harm befell her. Himi had been walking through the castle going Ashera knows where and Lyre followed after the young girl as instructed. What had caused Lyre to lose the young girl was that annoying Kyza. Lye had went to cut through a room only to find the Tiger in there. He pestered her to no end about how she shouldn't barge into a room like she had. It was completely false. Lyre had done her best to enter the room silently not wanting to alert Himi since part of her instructions was that the girl couldn't know she had someone following her. No matter what Lyre did Kyza wouldn't let her pass to the door on the other side of the room which would lead her to the only hall that Himi could go to. After a few minutes she was able to dash around the Tiger and make it through the door. By this time though Himi had vanished. Tracking her was a pain the the rear. Himi's natural scent was a soft floral one that was easily overpowered by the smell of the other people in the castle and the wafting scent that came from the surrounding forest.
Having felt like she had combed the entire castle three times over Lyre headed out down to the village where she prayed that she would be able to find find the young girl so that Ranulf wouldn't have reason to kill her. When Lyre had been instructed with the duty of guarding the beroc girl she knew that this was her chance to show her beloved Ranulf how good she was at her job. However Himi was ruining her plans by pulling this vanishing act!. If she couldn't keep track of one girl then how could she be trusted with more important tasks? Lyre was going to find Himi if it was the last thing she did.
Lyre ran through the village streets looking for any sign that the Venus Adept might have left that would give Lyre an indication on where she went. Orange furred ears twitched as Lyre overheard a few teenage Tigers saying something about a female beroc heading off into the woods. Lyre bolted over to them and grabbed a green haired Tiger by his shirt. A few remarks about what the Tiger would like to do with Lyre and a lot of bruises later the Tiger gave Lyre the exact direction he had seen the girl run off in. The direction he had pointed in lead to a nearby river used by the residents to wash themselves and their clothes.
Transforming into her Cat form for speed Lyre ran straight for the river. Her agile body tore through the forest underbrush and over rocks, tree roots, and fallen trees with ease. There was a path leading from the village to the river but going straight through was faster and Lyre could always backtrack along the path if Himi wasn't at the river. When Lyre found the Adept she was going to give the little girl a piece of her mind. Well she would if only Ranulf hadn't told her that Himi couldn't know she was being followed. This assignment was far harder than it needed to be simply for that reason alone.
Leaping out if the woods and landing on the riverbank in her human form Lyre looked up and down the river. She was looking for a mess of black hair since only a small few members of the Beast Tribe had such coloring. Finally spotting a black haired person up the bank standing in a shallow part of the river Lyre raced forward. Forgetting that she was supposed to hide from Himi, Lyre moved forward until she was in front of the girl and could see Himi's face poking out from the curtain of wet hair.
"Hello Lyre." Himi said as she pulled her hair out of her face. "You here for a bath to?"
"All of this for a bath?" Lyre mumbled to herself. She had ran herself ragged looking for the girl and she had just gone to bathe in the river instead of asking for water and a tub back at the castle? "Yes that's what I'm here for." Lyre answered loud enough for Himi to hear thankful that she had a reason for being spotted.
Lyre grumbled about the absurdity of the situation while she stripped down. Seeing Himi's own clothes sitting on a nearby rock Lyre tossed her own over by the robes. Knowing that the water was bound to be cold Lyre jumped as far as she could towards the middle of the river and submerged her entire body. When she surfaced her teeth were chattering as her body adjusted to the temperature change.
"You could have asked for bath water back at the castle." Lyre enlightened Himi angrily. "We aren't animals, we do have bathtubs like you beroc."
"Nothing beats a good soak in a refreshing river." Himi replied. "It was one of my favorite experiences when I started traveling with the others."
"Beroc are the animals if you enjoy a freezing river over a nice warm bath." Lyre scoffed.
"Karis hated it." Himi smiled. "She would grumble the entire time whenever we went to wash up. So it's not beroc that enjoy it. I'm the one that enjoys it."
"Then you are insane."
The two girls started at each other until a rustling of bushes caught their attention. Both sunk down so only their heads could be seen above the water, wasn't exactly hard for Himi. Lyre felt the hair on the back of her neck rise alerting her even more. Himi closed her eyes as if in concentration. Appearing out of the forest was the Tiger that Lyre had beaten up earlier. She could tell by the black eye and claw marks on his chest. His friend appeared behind him. They both had an evil grin on their face as they walked over to the rock where the girls' clothes were at. The Tiger that Lyre had assaulted picked up a few of the garments and tossed them to his friend.
"This is what you get for attacking me!" he shouted at Lyre as he went to go back into the trees.
Enraged as she was Lyre didn't care that she had nothing covering her. Getting ready to stand up and chase after the boys Lyre felt a hand on her shoulder hold her down. Himi was smiling as she pointed her free hand towards the two boys who had gotten to the forest edge. Vines shot up out of the ground forming a wall stopping the two Tigers from fleeing the scene. Next Lyre felt the rocks under her feet start to shift. Off to her right a small whirlpool started to form. From out of the vortex a giant stone dragon leapt. With a roar it landed behind the two Tigers. Dropping their prizes in fear they took off with their tails between their legs down the river bank and soon into the woods once they were no longer blocked by vines. When they were alone the dragon broke apart into the small pebbles that it had come from.
"They really shouldn't have done that." Himi laughed.
Lyre stared in amazement at the girl next to her. She had heard that the Adepts were akin to mages and could do amazing things but for such a small girl to pack so much power. Lyre didn't understand why her beloved Ranulf thought that Himi needed protection, she was clearly capable of defending herself. She had just made two members of the Beast Tribe wet themselves without even trying. They may not have been soldiers or fighters but it took a lot to scare one of the Beast Tribe. Especially one of the puffed up Tigers that thought their strength made them invincible.
"Way to go Miss Himi." a voice called out.
Looking for the owner Lyre spotted an unknown creature sitting in a tree. It was brown and could easily fit in the palm of her hand.
"Thanks for the warning Pewter!" Himi called back to the creature.
Himi seeing the confused look on Lyre's face launched into an explanation of what exactly Pewter was. After getting the Djinn tutorial from Himi, Lyre looked at the diminutive creature once more. It seemed that Weyard made powerful things come in small packages. Himi continued to explain that she had her nine Djinn on lookout in case any boys thought to sneak a peek. She had picked this trick up from Karis and Sveta. Karis had thought it up after an accident with Rief. Poor guy, they said he was never the same afterwards. The human body just couldn't handle that much electricity.
"We should probably get out soon." Lyre said after a few more minutes of soaking.
Sometime later the two girls arrived back at Gallia Castle. It was getting close to when Lyre would have to go and give her report for the day to Ranulf. That was definitely one of the perks to this job. Lyre got alone time with Ranulf. Once she entered the castle Lyre told Himi that she had things that she needed to take care of and left the Adept to do as she pleased. Lyre didn't know if someone else was to watch over Himi during the night or not, she was just doing as she was ordered.
Making her way through the castle halls Lyre came to Ranulf's office. Many nights it doubled as his bedroom as he fell asleep at his desk. A few times Lyre had come in to find him leaning over his desk fast asleep. Today was one of those days. Only instead of leaning over his desk Ranulf was leaning back in his chair. It was probably due to the fact that he was up too late the night before. Papers, books, and scrolls littered the room. A map of Tellius hung on one wall next to a map of Gallia. Not having anything better to do Lyre pulled up a chair and sat across from Ranulf watching him with interest. Much to her disappointment he soon woke and jumped in his chair when he saw Lyre sitting across from him.
"Lyre!" Ranulf shouted in shock. "Knock next time!" Collecting himself and organizing the clutter in front of him Ranulf waited for Lyre to give her report.
"Today was the same as always. No one made an attempt on her." Lyre said blandly trying to seem bored with her assignment.
"Really?" Ranulf asked raising one eyebrow questioningly. "Because there were reports of a 'giant stone lizard' attacking two youths bt the river today.. Himi has explained her Psynergy to the King and I. Giant stone lizard falls into the scope of her powers. Care to explain?"
Ranulf may have been serious on the outside but the fact was he knew what had happened. He had more than just Lyre following after Himi for a few reasons. One was if Lyre did happen to lose sight of her than there were others to protect Himi. Secondly if anything did happen there would be a few soldiers there to defend the Adept. Another was that he had promised Eoleo that he'd make sure that Himi would be safe and Ranulf was a Cat of his word.
"Lyre, why did Himi use her Psynergy? Ranulf asked more directly.
"Because two idiot boys thought it would be funny to try and steal our clothes while we bathed!" Lyre shouted angrily. "They are lucky that Himi was there to scare them off to."
"Hmm, so if Himi simply scared them away then how did one of them end up with a black and claw marks?"
"I might have questioned him and he wasn't very forthcoming." Lyre growled
"I. He. Well... I LOST HIMI!" Lyre bawled. She had failed Ranulf and now he knew it. This was going to be the end of her. "It was that stupid Kyza's fault though! If he wouldn't have stopped me to ask stupid questions I never would have lost her!" Lyre was practically sobbing at the end. Her anger and Kyza and disappointment in letting Ranulf down taking over her.
"What is with you and Kyza? You two never have gotten along no matter what is happening around you." Ranulf sighed.
"That's because he's jealous that you like me more than him." Lyre said attempting to smile as tears kept falling.
"Whatever the reason you should have ignored him and carried out your orders Lyre." Ranulf scolded. "You shouldn't let Kyza get to you. Now that you've lost Himi once I'm sure you understand how hard it is to track her."
Lyre wasn't the only one that was having a hard time sniffing out the young Venus Adept. Each one of the laguz following her complained that her floral scent was easily covered by the scent of the woods around them. In fact so far Lyre was the only one who hadn't complained about the difficulty. Ranulf wondered if it was because it wasn't a problem for her or if she was trying to impress him. He guess that it was the second one and the sad thing was that it was working. She still had a ways to go before she would be a good fighter but Ranulf was already getting around that. He was having her train more in the arts of tracking. She didn't seem to mind as the orders came from him. Lyre was excelling in the arts of tracking. Today was one of only a few exceptions.
Ranulf was using Himi as a test for a few of his students. Of the six following Himi she had been made aware of four of them. She was to do her best to lose them and report how many time she saw them and how often she had managed to lose them. So far this was the first time that Lyre had lost the girl and compared to the next best, which stood a three, Lyre was doing pretty well. Himi's natural scent and her Djinn as lookouts made her the perfect test subject.
Ranulf let out a sigh. Now he was going to have to calm Lyre down. She really was upset that she had failed in her duty. While he couldn't tell her that it was just a test he could try his best to make her feel better. Only he was out of ideas on how to do so. Right now he had plenty of ideas of how to punish Kyza. He had been instructed to leave Lyre alone until the test was over. Kyza had disobeyed a direct order and messed up the test results. Of course the Tiger would point out that when tracking you had to deal with anything that may come your way and he'd be right. However Ranulf knew that Kyza wouldn't have simply stopped Lyre, he would have made it almost impossible for Lyre to leave and continue on her assignment.
"Lyre what did Kyza do when he stopped you?" Ranulf asked hoping to kill two birds with one stone. Lyre would be happy bashing Kyza and Ranulf would get a partly accurate story about what happened to compare with Kyza's defense later.
Lyre explained what Kyza had done in the room that had cause her to lose Himi in the first place. Ranulf sat at his desk making mental notes on what the Tiger had done. As he had guessed he hadn't made it easy for Lyre to get by him.
"Alright Lyre. For losing Himi you have to scrub the dinner pots for a week after you've given your report." Ranulf told her. Since she thought it was an outright mission she would be suspicious if there wasn't a punishment for failure.
"Yes Ranulf." Lyre said wiping her eyes with the back of her hand.
When Ranulf next saw Kyza, he was going to have a few choice words with him.