Karis was on the verge of tears she was so bored. It had been two weeks since everyone had left leaving her alone with Tyrell. The remaining Griel Mercenaries had been given a job to do. What that was Karis had no clue. Right now she didn't even have Tyrell to talk with. He had gone to Serenes Forest to check up on the Bird Tribe and what they might need in the way of help from the Adepts. If Karis knew Tyrell though then he was probably wrestling with the Bird King instead. Both her and Tyrell were supposed to have gone together giving the Bird Tribe a full briefing on what they could do to help should the Tuaparang attack. Sigrun and Tanith had other plans for Karis and they directly interfered in the trip to the forest. The two women had wanted to see Karis' skill with a blade. They thought that she was like the Archers of Tellius, unable to defend herself should anyone get close to her. Boy had she proved them wrong. Karis picked a short sword and agreed to show Tanith her skills. The match was fairly even but Tanith managed to come out on top thanks to her constant training with a sword compared to Karis' lack of training. Kairs had learned from her father how to use a light blade. In the six years she had trained under him she had only beaten him once and that was only because Ivan had been sick for the past week.
While she had spent her time yesterday proving herself to the Holy Gaurd, Tyrell had been allowed to continue on to the forest. Tanith was a beast of a swordswoman and Karis' match with her had left her too tired to follow after her friend. Taking the rest of the day to relax Karis figured she would just set out tomorrow after Tyrell. This morning when she had woken up she was greeted with a messenger sent from the Apostle herself. Sanaki had ordered Karis to stay in Sienne and to not follow after Tyrell. Angry at the prospect her friend would get to leave the city and not her cause Karis to lose control of her Psynergy. Lightning crackled around her a physical manifestation of her rage. Now while messengers of Sienne were used to seeing a magical display in reaction to their letters they were not used to lightning crackling in the air without the use of a tome. The fat chubby male that had delivered the news booked it as fast as his legs could carry him away from the green haired girl.
After a relaxing dip in the women's bath to calm herself Karis set out to find something to do. Even though she was in the largest city on Tellius she couldn't think of anything that would catch her interest. Everything in the city seem to revolve around praying to the gods or showing off how much gold you had. Even after learning that gods were indeed real Karis just couldn't bring herself to pray at a temple. If the other gods were anything like Yune there would be no point. While she had her purse filled will Weyard gold it was to only be used for traveling. Back home on Weyard if she had some time to herself Karis would spend it researching the effects Alchemy's release had on her world. She would look at old documents and compare them with testimonies from people around the world. Kalay was one of Weyards most academic cities thanks to the Warriors of Vale conducting their own research there. Karis would hole up in her room until either Matthew or Tyrell would come and drag her out. While happy that they took an interest in keeping playing with her Kairs always felt out of place. The two boys always seemed to be getting into mischief or doing something exciting. It just wasn't something Karis was into.
Walking the halls of the castle Karis cursed herself for not being more socially active. Maybe if she had played with Tyrell and Matthew more often then she would would have something to do right now. Her interests could have expanded and maybe, just maybe, she'd be able to goof off like Tyrell. The first week they had spent in Sienne after the others had left was easy. Sanaki had ordered that they be shown the sites of her city. Each day after breakfast they would head out escorted by some pompous noblemen and they wouldn't get back till the moon was high in the night sky. After the week of touring was done Tyrell had dragged Karis out of the castle each day to take his own personal tour. Much to her shock they didn't visit the taverns and pointless shops that she thought Tyrell would go right for. Instead he had taken her to see the more beautifully designed buildings. He had often voiced to her he was amazed at the Tellian's ability to create such large buildings without the use of Alchemy. Sure Weyard had a lot of beautiful buildings of its own but they were all ancient. They could be dated back to before Alchemy was sealed.
Giving into her curious nature Kairs asked Tyrell why he was so interested in architecture. His reply had been awkward silence. Unable to handle a quiet Tyrell she had switched the topic to one they both got a kick out of. What Jenna and Isaac would think when Matthew brought Sveta home. Not only just a girl but the one that had been a queen, Queen of the Beastmen to be exact. They both laughed at the prospect. It wasn't a secret that Jenna was uncomfortable with the idea of her only son dating. At one point Matthew had a crush on a girl he had met in the market. Jenna had asked Karis to pretend to be Matthew's girlfriend so that the girl would say no to Matthew if he got the nerve to ask her out. Luckily for Jenna the girl was only in Kalay visiting her grandparents. She was gone before Matthew had gotten the courage to ask her out.
Not wanting Tyrell to go quiet on her again Karis never brought up his interest in architecture again. Her curiosity was getting more and more demanding each day. Tyrell and something as intellectual as that just didn't go together according to her. If she didn't find out why soon then she was going to burst. Thing was he currently was too far away to ask and wouldn't return for another three days at least. Socially awkward and badly as she wanted to find out she knew that she couldn't just ask him the second he got back. That meant that she had to wait longer than three days to find out his reasoning. If Karis didn't find something to occupy her mind for the time he was gone she would end up blurting out the question the second she saw him.
Maybe if she talked with Sigrun she could find something to do. The leader of the Holy Guard said that if Karis ever needed anything to come see her. It was mid-morning so that most likely meant that Sigrun would be drilling her troops. Changing her wandering course to head towards the Holy Guard's barracks Karis set out with a mission in mind. Arriving at her destination Karis was proven right and felt happy with her deduction. Sigrun was standing off on a raised platform overwatching a group of women sparring to keep in shape. The intense gaze Sigrun had on her face as she watched the duels sent chills down Karis' spine. Interestingly enough Karis had learned that there wasn't a single man in the entire Holy Guard. There were two main reasons for this fact. One, the Apostle was a woman and therefore she had female guards. Two, a pegasus wouldn't let a male on it's back unless it's rider pulled him on. Who knew a winged horse could be sexist?
Sigrun noticed Karis as she approached and flashed her a soft smile before shouting at two women. Coming to stand next to the older woman Karis waited patiently for Sigrun to finish shouting at the apparent imbeciles. Both women were using practice lances but had forgone their leather armor and Sigrun was laying into them for it. Practice weapons still hurt and could break bones, the leather uniform they wore for training was there to help protect them and weaken a blow. Even a person like Karis who was just an above ordinary fighter knew the importance of wearing protective gear even if you weren't using real weapons.
"Bored Karis?" Sigrun asked turning her attention to the Adept.
"How did you figure that out?" Karis asked puzzled at how accurate the woman was.
"Don't forget we had Ike here a few years ago. The Greil Mercenaries didn't like sitting around doing nothing." Sigrun was all smiles as she explained that boredom that the group had gone through six years ago. "Much like now we gave them jobs to do so they didn't sit around the city with nothing to do. From the look on your face and the fact you're here I'd say that the Empress's messenger found you."
"Any ideas on what a girl can do?"
"Your swordsmanship, while good, could use some fine tuning. You're more than welcome to train with us while you are here." Karis shook her head no. "I didn't think so. You don't seem like the soldier type. What did you do on Weyard when you had time to yourself?"
"I would help my father out with his research on Alchemy or conduct my own." Karis answered. "That is if Tyrell wasn't dragging me all over Kalay causing trouble that I'd have to get him out of." she added as an afterthought.
"You'll be happy to hear then that the Empress has given you free reign of our library. Sienne holds scrolls of research on multiple subjects. She gave the same clearance to your friend but I don't seem him sitting in a room full of books." Sigrun laughed.
"Tyell and books don't get along." Karis agreed. "But great. I'd love to see some of the things that the Tellians have researched over the years. Do you think there'll be scrolls on magic research?"
"We're the leading nation in magic research Karis." Sigrun boasted.
"Perfect. Ever since I found out you guys used tomes to cast magic I've been wondering if there is any connection to Psynergy." Karis said her mind already going over possible connections.
"Tabitha!" Sigrun shouted. A woman in full red armor of a Pegasus Knight ran over.
"Yes Commander?" she asked with a salute.
"Take Karis to the Royal Library. She wishes to conduct research on possible connections between Alchemy and Magic. The Empress herself has given her clearance. Should the Keepers give you any trouble send them to me." Sigrun instructed.
"If you would follow me Adept Karis." Tabitha said with a bow before heading out of the Holy Guard's barracks.
Tabitha set off at such a brisk pace that Karis had to say a quick goodbye and thank you to Sigrun so she could keep up with her guide. The footsteps of the two women walking reverberated throughout the empty halls. It seemed that no one used the pathway connecting the barracks to the Royal Library. Karis hoped that there wouldn't be any problems with her getting into the library. If what Sigrun said was true and that Begnion was the leader in magical research then Karis was about to have an early birthday. Her mind reeled at the prospect of finding a connection between magic and Alchemy. If she could find such a connection then maybe the two powers could play off one another amplifying the other.
As one would expect of the people of Begnion, Karis wasn't allowed into the library. The Keepers had never heard of a girl named Karis and they weren't going to take some lowly knight's word that she was to be allowed in. Stuck outside the large doors leading into the room an old woman who looked to be about Kraden's age came shuffling out from behind the doors. She was dressed all in white like Cleric. Introducing herself as Seree she asked Tabitha to bring her a note from Sigrun as proof that Karis was to be allowed in. With a bow to the ancient woman Tabitha set off at a jog back to the barracks to retrieve the proof. This left Karis alone with the woman who seemed to have no interest at all in Karis.
Standing outside the doors Karis waited patiently. Her mind was going over what she knew about magic already. Tomes and Staves were needed to work the powers and turn it into an attack, healing power, or any of the other random things Staves could perform. Not only that but an incantation of sorts seemed to be necessary too. While Psynergy didn't need a special item to work it did require an incantation. Rief had told her already that a few of the words Rhys had used when he activated a Heal Staff were close to ones he himself used when casting a Ply or Wish. That would be the first place Karis would look when she got into the Library. If the two powers already shared a few words then there was a distinct possibility that they had more in common than it appeared. The only thing was that Karis would only be able to study the link between Psynergy, Wind, and Lightning Magic if that was the case. She would have to recruit Tyrell to study the Fire Magic she had heard of. Sadly there was no such thing as a Light Adept so studying Light Magic would be out of the question and there was no good Umbra Adept to help with Dark Magic.
Lost in her own world Karis didn't realize when Tabitha came back holding out a letter to Seree. The wax on the seal had barely dried by the time she had delivered the letter. Looking over it Seree nodded her head and thanked the knight for bring the proof she needed. Karis was brought back to Tellius by Seree tapping on her shoulder. The doors to the library were opened and Karis hugged the woman before zipping in. Once inside Kairs felt her jaw drop. It was only one room of the building but it was stacked high full of books and scrolls. Having traveled through hallways Karis hadn't been able to see the which building she was entering. Now though she knew exactly where she was at in accordance to the palace. Other than the palace and the Tower of Guidance there was only one building she had seen that had walls as high as this one and it sat right outside her bedroom window. She had seen this building everyday that she woke up since arriving in Sienne. If even a fourth of this gigantic place was research tomes then Karis could spend her whole life here and barely make a dent in it. When she got back home she was going to have to tell her father about it and bring him here.
"Hello miss." a male voice said off to Karis' left.
The owner was a meek looking teenager dressed all in white like Seree. Stacks of books were laid out on the counter before him. He looked to be about a year older than Karis. Brown strands of hair covered parts of his eyes, his bangs being pushed down from the hood of his robe.
"Hello." Karis answered back.
"And what will you be looking for today?" he asked.
"Greg. This here is Adept Karis. She is to be given full access to the Library per orders of the Empress." Seree interrupted. "As for her research the letter said she would need our magic research tomes."
"Oh. A mage are you? Well then let me show you the way. I'm know a bit of Light Magic myself." Greg said stepping out from behind the counter.
"Thank you. But I'm not a mage, I'm an Adept. It's similar but different." Karis said following after him. "I don't need a Tome or anything to use my power."
"I see." Greg said in a voice that stated he didn't understand in the slightest. "Well I hope you find whatever it is you're looking for."
Sveta sat on a couch in Matthew's house. Her mate, err boyfriend as she was told to call him, was seated on the other end leaving a space between them. Across from the both of them was the worst nightmare for every girlfriend, an angry mother of the boyfriend. Sveta failed to see the problem that had angered Jenna. When Ivan had read Sveta's mind a few things had slipped out as she offered up the information on Tellius and the Tuaparang. Her brother's death for one, the fact that Djinn do take an interest in their Adept's love life, a few scenes from various fights, and the night of Geoffrey's death. More importantly what Matthew and Sveta had done afterwards. It was that last one that was the cause of their current situation. Ivan said that he had to tell Jenna about this as he would want to know if Karis was sleeping in the same bed as some unknown guy. To Sveta sharing a bed wasn't that big a deal. Matthew hadn't tried anything with her nor she with him. A few thoughts had crossed her mind but that's all. They were simply sleeping next to each other for the sake of comfort.
While Sveta wouldn't say anything the death of Volchek had hit her hard. Geoffrey's death that night had brought Volchek's death to the forefront of her mind. Facing such sadness she had sought out comfort from one she felt close with. His steady heartbeat and breathing had been the perfect lullaby that night. Curling up against him had reminded her that she was not alone and there were others out in the world that cared for her. Before she had been able to focus on the mission at hand to distract her. When her emotions they started traveling again and she could no longer share her nights with Matthew nightmares had started to plague her sleep. Once again focused on her mission, dead set on her goal the nightmares became less frequent as they traveled. Now that they had no clear goal Sveta feared that her nightmares would come back. The past few nights on the road Sveta had dreamt of her fight against Volchek as the Chaos Hound. Instead of his death coming from activating the Apollo Lens to save them all, Sveta in her beastform would tear him apart in a manner similar to what Lethe had done to Geoffrey. Each night as Sveta would go to deliver the final blow Volchek would change back to his normal self with a look of terror on his face. Sveta was convinced that if she could go back to sleeping with Matthew the presence of him next to her would stop these nightmares. However Jenna was getting in the way of her plans.
"I thought your father and I had raised you better than this Matthew." Jenna said in a strained voice. It was clear that she was trying to hold back her anger. "I don't care if she's your girlfriend. That's no excuse to be sleeping in the same bed already!"
"Nothing has happened mom." Matthew replied meekly. The young Venus Adept's entire body spoke of defeat. His hands rested limply in his lap, his eyes were trained on the floor, Sveta was sure if there was enough room Matthew would have his legs pulled up to his chest to make himself as small as possible. It was so odd to see him act so weak.
"Matthew." Isaac's impassive voice broke in. He was sitting in a chair next to his wife. While Jenna looked ready to set anything on fire Isaac appeared calm and collected. "It's not that we don't trust you or Sveta to keep things clean. Your mother and I simply don't think it's wise to tempt yourselves. Both of you are healthy teenagers and things can happen."
"They haven't and they won't." Matthew replied. "Even if Sveta and I were ready for that, now isn't exactly the time."
"Don't beastmen go into heat?" Jenna asked her question directed at Sveta. The beastgirl nodded her head reluctantly. "What happens then Matthew?" Jenna asked her son.
"Nothing Jenna." Sveta answered sternly. "There are herbs and other things we beastmen can do to lessen the effects. Since Matthew is a human he will not be effected in the slightest by this. My people are not animals that simply give into our urges and I do not appreciate that you have implied such."
" Sorry Sveta. I didn't mean to." Jenna apologized sincerely. "I'm just not ready for any of this in the least."
Jenna leaned back in her chair looking like she was exhausted. Sveta guessed that she probably was. Today she had learned her son had a girlfriend, the Tuaparang were a great threat to Weyard and the lands beyond, and that her son was sleeping with his new girlfriend. It was a lot to take in all in one short day.
"Well where's Sveta going to sleep?" The castle is filled with foreign nobles and the others from Tellius. She can't stay at an inn all alone." Matthew argued.
"Ivan has already offered to let Sveta use Karis' room while she's in Kalay." Isaac answered.
"You two are making a big fuss out of nothing." Garet chimed in from a chair next to Isaac.
The Mars Adept had come with them because he had wanted to hear about his son. Garet deemed Matthew as the one to ask since the two boys were such good friends. When he had learned what he wanted to from Matthew and overheard what Jenna and Isaac were going to talk about he offered to stay and add another opinion to the mix. Jenna and Isaac agreed because Garet had seen the same things Ivan had and they thought as a fellow parent he would be on their side.
"Matthew's a great kid. That little scene me and Ivan saw was the tamest thing ever. He actually was going to sleep in a chair instead of the bed because of how you two raised him." Garet continued stroking his mustache the entire time.
"And how would you feel if it was Tyrell? Jenna accused.
"I'd be damn surprised the girl agreed." Garet laughed. "But the lad's old enough to makin' his own choices. Not everyone can afford to take the time we did. Besides if I had another chance with Jamie you can bet your Djinn I would have moved faster."
All four people in the room looked at Garet. Sveta smiled at him in thanks while the others stared in shock. It wasn't often the Garet brought up his late wife. She was a touchy subject at best and he only brought her up to drive home a point.
"Besides all of that, Sveta seems like a great gal. She gave up bein' a queen to go and save the world. If Matthew had a normal life and the chance to date a normal girl you two, well Isaac, would be thrilled that he brought her home." Garet had a smug look on his face as he looked at his two friends.
"You make some excellent points." Isaac admitted. Jenna glared at her husband. "But the fact is that Jenna and I aren't comfortable with it."
"Matthew Sveta, let me ask you this. If these two don't sign off on your sleep arrangements is that really going to stop you?" The young couple looked at each other first and then shook their heads no confirming what the the adults already thought. "Well there you have it Isaac. Looks like you can either accept it or have them doing it behind your backs causing all four of you a lot of trouble."
Jenna shot Garet a look that screamed of a bloody murder. If the Mars Adept was to appear dead in a ditch somewhere soon then Jenna would be suspect number one. Isaac was looking at his old friend with a look of controlled anger. He may not have been happy with his friend at the moment but Isaac was capable of holding back his rage. Sveta and Matthew booth scouted closer together as they now felt they had an actual chance at winning the argument.
"Why can't we win one?" Jenna grumbled much like a teenager would after losing an argument. "I guess we're going to have to let them Isaac." Turning her attention to her son and his girlfriend Jenna glared threateningly. "Mind you it's on one condition. Since you still have Flint he gets to be let out into your room where he'll watch the both of you and report to me or Isaac what he saw in the morning."
"I can deal with that invasion of privacy for now." Matthew said. "How about you Sveta?"
Sveta thought it over. Really nothing would change other than Flint going to Jenna and Isaac to report that the two of them slept through the night. While it was a bit unsettling to think about the Djinn set to Adepts were aware of everything the Adept saw and thought. So Flint already knew that nothing was going on and he would have nothing more to say to Matthew's parents that Sveta wasn't comfortable with them knowing. Really who cared if they did nothing but sleep?
"It is fine with me. Flint will have nothing to tell you other than that he watched us sleep through the night." Sveta agreed.
"If that's all settled then I suppose I should head back home." Garet announced getting up and stretching. "See you tomorrow Isaac."
Garet left the room leaving the other four in an uncomfortable silence. Teens and adults looked at each other none of them really wanting to break the silence. It was late enough that they should all be heading to their rooms for a good night's sleep. However, even though Jenna had given the okay neither Matthew nor Sveta wished to be the first up the stairs least the argument somehow start all over again. Only this time they wouldn't have Garet there to back them up. Much to the relief of everyone Isaac was the one to break the stalemate. Taking his wife's hand he headed up the stairs and toward their bedroom without a word. Sveta and Matthew waited a minute before heading up themselves.
When they reached the door that lead into Matthew's room he let Sveta go in first so that she could change. Opening her pack Sveta took out her nightclothes and quickly changed. Done she opened the door letting Matthew in. He glowed a bright golden yellow as Flint manifested to fulfill is now nightly duty. Matthew being him, tossed his shirt onto the floor before crawling into the bed. His bed was only built to hold one person lying on their back so when Sveta came in after him he had to roll onto his side. With a quick use of Psynergy Sveta blew out the candle that lit the room. The only light came from the stars outside and a soft yellow glow of Flint's eyes. Nestled up against Matthew Sveta smiled when she felt his arm wrap around her. With any hope she would sleep peacefully tonight.
It was late in the night when Sveta woke up in a cold sweat. Even now her nightmares still plagued her. Feeling tears stream down her cheeks Sveta tried to wipe them away only to find she couldn't move her arms. She was lying on one and the other was trapped by Matthew's own arm. Feeling MAtthew stir behind her his arm lifted up giving her control of her own arm back only now she no longer needed it. Calloused fingers gently wiped the remains of her tears away.
"How long were you awake?" she whispered barely loud enough for him to hear her.
"Not long before you." he answered his own voice barely louder than hers. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Sveta shook her head and felt Matthew's chest rise and fall against her back as he sighed. Everything was still too vivid to talk about. This time wasn't any different than her nights alone. It caused Sveta to worry. She didn't want to keep dreaming of her brother's death by her own hands. There were far more important things that needed to be done then dwelling on the past. If she told Matthew or any of the others they would worry needlessly about her. They were her nightmares and she was the one that had to face them. Still a part of her wanted to let Matthew know. Had their positions been reversed she would want him to talk and if he didn't it would be a test of her will to not use Spirit Sense to find out.
"Sveta. I heard you say your brother's name before you woke up." Matthew confessed. "I don't know what it's like to lose someone like that but I'm here for you when you are ready to talk about it."
"Thank you Matthew." Sveta rolled over as best she could without hitting Matthew so she could see his face. "I know you want to help me but I do not think I can talk about it tonight. I promise you when I am able I will come to you. Until then I ask that you bare with me."
Matthew's blue eyes stared into her green ones. Sveta could see the desire to help written in them. He closed his eyes and opened them slowly before kissing her on the forehead. Matthew nodded his head slightly in understanding. Placing his arm back over her he started rubbing soothing circles on her back. Burrowing herself into Matthew's chest Sveta drifted back into a sleep, the comfort and desire to do so too strong to fight.