The Story Continues

More Than a Debt to Repay

Title: More T

It was a day that was hard to forget. But not for the reason that should have made it memorable.

Tugging his cloak tighter around him, Shen ignored the pain in his chest and abdomen through deep and steady breathing. His injury was severe, life-threatening. And yet he was alive. He had somehow managed to live, despite having entered the battle with the knowledge that he wasn't going to make it.

It was his last battle. He gave it his all.

Still, despite the battle, there was a sting of bitterness in his mouth. The ruthless man, a once noble Ronin that murdered his father when he was just a fledging Ronin, had finally been removed from existence. His father's spirit could finally rest in peace and a burden that he had carried since that fateful day had been lifted from his shoulders. His purpose had been fulfilled.

So why was he still alive?

Tightening his jaw while his expression remained passive and stoic, Shen uncharacteristically staggered, his shoulder butting against the rough bark of a tree. His body was aching, the deep wound on his chest burning.

Turning to rest his back against the tree, Shen slowly lowered himself to the ground to rest. Levelling his breathing, Shen tilted his head back to look up at the canopy of the forest around him. He recognised the trees. It was a place he trained in many years ago.

Fitting, really, that he had stumbled into the forest on the outskirts of High Lagaard.

He wanted to enjoy his last piece of freedom in peace. He was content with that. He had to be content with that.

Closing his eyes, he waited.

He, however, opened them soon after when he heard something. A soft rustling.

From the corner of his eye he spied a blond-haired young man, dressed in black baggy clothing, peering at him with piercing blue eyes as he hid behind a tree. He was shy, anxious, but surprisingly unfearful. Shen said nothing as the glanced at the boy. He seemed...curious. Shen could not tell how old he was, but could sense that he was rather timid and docile.

Seeing that he wasn't a threat, Shen closed his eyes and rested his head against the tree behind him once more. He could still sense the inquisitive boy, though.

Minutes ticked by and the boy crept closer, his feet shuffling across the ground. Until, finally, he was less than a couple of feet away. Shen heard him still and could hear him fidgeting. Finally, he opened his eyes again to peer up at the boy, curious as to why the blue-eyed boy wasn't afraid of him.

The boy took a slight step backwards, and yet did not run from his piercing gaze. Instead he fiddled with pockets of his oversized jumper, pulling out two blue bottles.

"M-medica..." the boy said. "T-they'll make you feel better."

Without warning, the boy placed the bottles upon the ground, turned on his heel and fled.

Shen watched him leave his sight, curious and a little surprised. He then glanced at the medicine left for him, wondering whether or not it was worth him trying them.

...He didn't want the boy to come back and find him dead. So he reached for the bottles and drank them.

His wound recovered quickly after that, as did his strength. A deep, jagged scar remained on his skin, though. Dark against his pale skin. Still, he did not attempt to hide it. It was a reminder. With his previous purpose completed, Shen wandered to Lagaard in search of another. He spent a couple of years roaming around, not becoming attached to anyone or anything. A few years later he met up with a War Magus who had supreme leadership qualities. He was creating a guild solely of rookies. No rookie himself as a Ronin, he was in regards to the labyrinth.

So, he joined, finding a different purpose to train.

His mind often drifted back to that blond-haired boy in the forest that day. He wondered what had happened to him, wondering if the boy that had essentially, but unknowingly saved his life was still alive.

His musings stopped one day. He had found him again, several years later.

The blond-haired boy, however, did not know him, did not recognised him. It was of little surprise to Shen. He had heard all about the uncontrollable alchemist, whose power was dangerous and unpredictable. He had heard them whisper to stay away, that he wasn't worth getting hurt over.

Shen ignored them all.

The boy he knew was not dangerous. He wasn't a threat to anyone.

Approaching him in that alley way, Shen found another purpose. The whimpering young man (older and taller now) was afraid - of everything, including himself.

Shen immediately made the decision to take him under his wing, investing him into his guild. Hamza, his leader and his new teammates were surprised, yet did not argue. They welcomed him, made him a part of their team. Shen soon learnt that Magnus was his name. Finally, he knew his name. No longer was he simply the blond-haired boy from the forest. And he no longer wondered what had happened to him. He knew now. He was an alchemist. A talented one.

Shen was satisfied with having a new teammate. He had returned the favour. A debt of honour had been repaid.

And yet...

He had grown...fond of the man the boy had become.

When and how that happened, he did not know. He never really realised it until much later. And now that he reached that realisation, he did not know what to do, what to think. Since his father's murder, he had been consumed with revenge. His emotions of fondness was something long lost to him.

But it was obvious that wasn't true.

Pulling himself from his mediative state, Shen glanced down upon the blond head that was resting against his thigh. Magnus had fallen asleep against him after reaching a deep state of meditative relaxation. His bright blue eyes were closed, hidden behind thick black lashes. His lips were parted slightly as he breathed in through his nose and out through his mouth. He seemed to be sleeping peacefully.

Slowly, Shen lifted his hand and brushed his fingertips against Magnus's forehead, gently pushing aside his short blond hair. His touch caused Magnus to murmur something in his sleep before nuzzling his cheek against Shen's leg, quickly settling back down.

So Shen let him sleep, silently promising to remain by Magnus's side for as long as he was needed.

For as long as he was wanted.

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