The Hero from the Mountain

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Chapter 6

"What do you know about Katil?" he asked first, Saphira telling him she had never heard of the place. How could she, when she had been living in the mountains all her life? He sighed once again. "It's a town that worships the feline Spirits. Every Human who has a Spirit in this village is always a feline creature. If there are anyone who gets another type of Spirit, they "Almost sounds like a Spirit Territory," she muttered, Erik asking her what she was talking about. She was a bit confused that he didn't know, though she didn't bother bringing it up and just explained. "It's an area in the Spirit Realm were only a Specific type of Spirits live. Like feline Spirits or canine Spirits,"

"You seem pretty knowledgeable about anything relating to Spirits, but not in the world you live in," he told her, Saphira just ignoring what he said. "Anyway, it's also known for its vast weaponry. There's not a military in the world that has the type of weapon that can stand up to these things. That's what makes them so dangerous," he continued, Saphira's annoyance growing. She was starting to think that she knew what they were after. "The thing we heard most recently was that they had found an unstable Master, so we're going there to have a look at him to see if he's capable of being trained,"

"So the main reason is that you're going there to recruit a new fighter. Or is it the weapons?" she asked, Erik telling her it was the weapons. "Another question, why are you telling me this so easily," she asked, noticing he had no problems telling her this information.

"Firstly, I did get some information I didn't know about the Spirit Realm," he started, only making her annoyed. "Secondly, I want you to do something for me. In exchange, I'll keep your identity a secret from the rest," he offered her, her eyes widening. He hadn't told anyone yet, that she could be sure of. And if she wanted to keep it that way, she had no choice but to cooperate.

"What do you want me to do?" she spoke finally, Erik mentioning the unstable Master he told her about a moment ago. "Wait, are you asking me to get him out of there before you and your group see him?"

"You're quick," he complimented her, Saphira asking him why. "One of the most common reason for Masters becoming unstable is that the Spirit they have is too strong for them to really control. Therefore, if we did go there to meet him, he would most likely have a strong Spirit and the Head Commander would want him to get the upper hand in this war. And he would most likely be trained by Zack. I'm sure you're already aware what could happen if that's the case," he explained, Saphira gulping a little as she remember her experience with him.

"I know firsthand, unfortunatly. I'll take care of it," she said, She was about to turn and head there now, though Erik grabbed her hand and stopped her before she could do anything. "Now what?" she asked, Erik asking if she knew where the place was. "No, and it's better I didn't know so they still think I work alone. Which I do. You better keep your end of the bargain," she warned him, shaking his hand of her.

"Just be on your guard. You never know how these cat-people are like. So don't go pushing yourself too far," he told her, his voice sounding really worried. Saphira was taken aback by this, but she quickly regained her composure and started walking.

She arrived at the cliff of a mountain, looking down. She had used the direction the soldiers she had heard earlier to kind of give her a clue to where to go. And she ended up looking down on probably the richest land she's seen yet.

All of the buildings had at least one piece of gold on them, and most of them were covered in the stuff. Almost like a gold mine of something. There were shops of almost any kind, from toys for kids to weapons. When she noticed the weapons shop, she thought of taking a look there later to see if Erik's boasting of them were as good as he made them seem.

"You should stop thinking of that little brat and try to figure out where to go next," Flarenix scolding her, Saphira not even realizing she was thinking about him. Shaking her head a little, she looked at the people. All of them had cat ears on head bands and tails tied behind them. Like it was normal. She could see a few people without them, but she guessed they were more tourist than actual people who lived here. She started working her way down, thinking about how to get the information she needed.

"Hey, did you hear the news nya~?" she heard a very high pitched voice say, almost like a kitten or something. She hid behind a small house, seeing two women talking to each other. "They found someone that could be useful in creating another weapon nya~. It should be able to protect us more than the ones we already have nya~," the woman said, the other one nodding in agreement. Is this related to that unstable Master? How would that work? Saphira thought, paying attention to their conversation.

"Yes nya~! I also heard that Lady Marielle has also found someone who she wishes to spend her days with nya~. Though getting him is going to be a difficult task nya~. He's also not a Master of a Feline Spirit nya~," the other woman said, Flarenix catching her attention.

"We need to figure out where they are keeping that Master so we can help him. We don't have all the time in the world to listen to girls gossip a lot of trash," she was defiantly not enjoying this, Saphira halfway agreeing with her. But just after she finished her sentence, the first woman mentioned a big building where they keep most of the weapon. Saphira was about to rub in Flarenix's statement, but she told her to shut up.

"Either way, we need to find which building it is. I highly doubt it's in the middle of the town. Maybe more on the outskirts," she said, going south of the town to see if she sees anything. She started seeing a round shaped building as she kept going south, noticing some guards standing by the gate. She saw her mouths moved, moving closer to try and hear what they were saying.

"…But I still don't understand why she could be a threat to us. I mean, we don't even know where she's from," she wasn't able to catch everything they said, but she got the last part. She stopped and kept listening, thinking that they might be talking about someone she hasn't meet.

"You mean the old lady who lives out in the woods? They say she's from a village dedicated to teaching Masters. If she gets a hold of this boy, she might make him a lifeless soldier," the other one said, the younger of the two turning pale. "Either way, we were ordered not to let anyone in, and that's an order from the Leader himself," he said, the pale soldier nodding. Saphira looked around her, trying to figure out a easy way to get past them.

"I would recommend keeping a low profile and not jump. It might catch the attention of the others that are just walking around," Flarenix advised her, Saphira nodding. She kept looking around, noticing a very lush tree. She jumps into it and tries to shake as few leaves as possible. She looked down, seeing she was barely able to make out the soldiers from where she was.

"Not bad if I do say so myself," she whispered, pleased with her idea. Flarenix burst into laughter, which only Saphira could hear luckily. She slowly made her way far enough to get past the gate and slowly climbed down. When she was close enough to jump without making a sound, she looked around one last time to make sure no one was nearby. When she thought it was safe, she dropped down and quickly tried to find shelter before someone noticed her.

"What's the condition?" she heard a deep male voice say the second she hid behind a few crates, making her tense up a little. She looked over, sighing in relief when she noticed that he hadn't notice her. The man next to him said he was clam and would be ready for inspection whenever he was ready. "Good. And what of the news from the Shadow Knights?"

"We've sent them the proposal, but we have yet to receive answer from them. They might even wait until they've arrived and seen him in person before thinking about it," the soldier said, the man who asked nodding. "But sir, are you sure you trust them. I'm aware that the Lady wishes to marry the young lieutenant, but still…" he asked, sounding very worried.

"Well, seems like we have a deal on our hands. If we get the guy out fast enough, he won't be a threat to us," Flarenix said, Saphira only half agreeing with her. "You're thinking about the unstable energy, aren't you?"

"It's more how dangerous it gets if the Spirit itself is born with a dark mind. That could make him a really big threat to everyone who can't fight against it," she whispered, sweating a little. She looked around for an entrance to the big, round building behind them, where she guessed they kept the Master. She saw only one window, but it was too high up, and she would get spotted right away. The only other entrance she could see was the door right behind the men.

"You have two choices; either fight your way through and making everyone weary of you. Or distract them somehow and lead them away from the entrance," Flarenix told her, Saphira not too sure which is better at the moment. She would usually choose to distract them, but she didn't really know how to from where she was at the moment. So she couldn't really say for sure

Just as she was thinking about it, a small gust of wind blew in her direction, carrying the scent of food. She looked around, seeing a old man pulling a cart full of fruits. As he came into view, all of the soldiers went towards him and left their post. Even the one who seemed in charge walked over to him. Saphira took this chance and tried moving slowly towards the entrance.

"Oh, Lord Jiro. I didn't expect to see you here. What an honor it is to see you," she could hear the man say, not paying much attention to them. She heard as they kept talking, looking at the door. It was unlocked, so she carefully moved into the building and carefully shut the door behind her.

After she closed the door, the air that welcomed her was not nice at all. Metal, odd scents she hadn't felt before, and just the sound of her steps against the metal was giving her an uneasy feeling. Being raised in a mountain doesn't help me with areas like this. She thought, still walking. She heard the door open behind her, quickly finding a narrow path that was very dark and stayed silent.

"Jiro, sir. Do you think it's wise to let a civilian hear about what's going on? I know he's no threat, but still," the soldiers spoke, making her tense. The man named Jiro told him it was fine, asking about the one he was going to see. "Still as uncooperative as ever,"

"That's been the case for the last years, when will he realize we only want to help him? We can't do anything until we know more about him and what's wrong with him. Why can't he see that?" Jiro asked, grooming his small beard. His brown, messy hair kept blowing in the small breeze, Saphira only seeing his back and wasn't able to see how he looked in the face.

"I get the feeling something happened here that they think was done by that person they're talking about. So, what's you decision? Help the boy in distress or carry on with what Mister Blackmail wanted you to do?" Flarenix said, Saphira narrowing her eyes. Despite the fact that Flarenix was trying to lighten the mood, she'd learn to keep a cool head through most of her little jokes.

"I would like to help, but I don't know how to get through those guards. And what exactly is going on is also a bit hard to figure out. Is there a way to find out?" she answered, Flarenix not answering right away.

"You could try and get some information out of one of them, or just go blindfolded. You don't usually like to get information to begin with," she pointed out, Saphira smirking as she waited for them to get a bit further ahead of her. When she thought she was far enough behind them to hear them yet go unnoticed, she started walking at the same pace as one of the men.

"Have any of you heard what happened over at Castrelia? There seemed to have been quite the ruckus over there," Jiro asked, both of them nodding. Saphira focusing more on walking in rhythm with them so they wouldn't hear the out of place footprints.

"From what we gathered, the Prince was holding a party and the Royal Guards were there to protect him. The word got to both the Shadow's Knights and Dragon Scale, both side showing up to the party. And instead of the people choosing one side, they started doubting all of them," the first one said, Saphira thinking that it was a very bad summary of the situation.

"Why's that? Does it have to do with that unknown warrior who's been messing with all their plans?" he asked, Saphira satisfied that her work is getting out there.

"That seems to be the case. Though I'm not too sure what he or she said, but it seemed to have made the people think he or she is the Hero while the others are the villains," the other guard said, Saphira a bit relived they weren't classifying her as a male just because of her actions. "And Lady Mariallie is getting impatient with Erik. She wants to get married to him now," Jiro sighed, Saphira rolling her eyes. For some reason she was rather annoyed by what he said.

"She'll have to wait. She doesn't even know the reason he's marrying her. And I feel sorry for the lad. His own father being too obsessed with using force to stop this war that he even uses his own son to get weapons. The boy doesn't even get a choice since he's a Commander," he said, Saphira falling a bit further behind them. She didn't notice anyone who could notice her.

After following them for a while, she stayed behind a corner to a smaller path way and saw them stop in front of a cage of sorts. She was trying to figure out what or who was inside, but the echoing of footsteps made her go further into the shadow. Luckily, the person who walked past her was too busy with some papers to even look around. She let out a small breath of relief before turning her attention back to the cage.

"Ah, Doctor L, good to see you still working hard. Any changes on 'him'?" Jiro asked, the man looking up and sighing. Saphira didn't like the sound of it, trying to keep quiet.

"Unfortunatly, I've tried everything to see if we can understand what's going on in his head. But nothing seems to work. I'm starting to believe this really is because of his Spirit," he explained, Saphira still trying to see the one in the cage. She heard Jiro asking if he could see him, the one he called L nodding. When he was about to open the cage, Saphira felt a strong presence that sent chill down her spine. "No matter how long I work with this boy, he still gives me chills," she heard L say, Saphira finding it a bit ironic that he just spoke what she herself felt.

"Oh, seems like some pest have come to visit me. How nice of you," she heard a sinister voice say, making her less eager to meet this guy. But she kept her head cool and stayed put. "How may I help you today?"

"You're not the Human, are you? You’re his Spirit. How long has it been since you let him go of your control?" Jiro asked, Saphira's eyes widening. If he's been like that for a while now, this guy's in big trouble. Not just because of Zack either, but his mental state could already have been completely destroyed. She thought, getting more worried than anxious.

"I can feel his Spirit surrounding the mind of that Human. He hasn't destroyed it yet, but he's close," Flarenix told her, Saphira a little relieved. But she knew she had to work fast if she wanted to help him.

"Does that matter? You want answers to question? You want to experiment on me? You want the boy back? No matter what you want, you'll only get what I want to give you," he said, his voice making Saphira more and more tense. "Or maybe you want to sell me?"

"Stop with the games. If you don't cooperate with us, you'll have some trouble in your new home. The Shadow Knights have asked us to give you to them so they could properly help you, so we shall," Jiro said, in a very stern voice. However, she just felt a strong lust for blood in response, making her tremble.

"What happened to the 'we only use our weapons for peace'? If I recall from what I've heard of your soldiers, this war is worse than the Spirit war when you scum first arrived here," Saphira felt a bubble caught up in her throat, knowing for sure now that this was defiantly the Spirit was talking. Not the Human.

"What are you talking about? What kind of war is that?" she heard one of them ask, Saphira honestly not surprised they haven't heard of it. As far as she knew, the only ones who knew about that war were the ones from her village. The others had forgotten it a long time ago. She had heard those stories since she was a child, so she had memorized them.

"A war you would've lost if it wasn't for those damn Dragon Elders," the air in the room suddenly became thick and hard to breath in. She felt her throat getting dry in seconds, trying to not cough. Flarenix helped a little by telling her she could use her fire to help ease the dryness. Even though it was fire, it was her power and like water for her.

"Jiro, sir. I think it's best we stop," one of the soldiers said, Saphira guessing he started feeling the effects as well. She heard their footsteps leaving, and soon they were completely gone. Saphira took this time to walk over to look at the boy, seeing a rather healthy and normal looking Human. He looked like he was about two or three years older than her, but she didn’t really care about that. She moved over to the door, feeling his gaze on her within seconds.

"There's someone I haven't seen yet. Who are you?" he asked, Saphira walking closer to him. His crimson eyes pierced hers, making her tense. She didn't say anything quite yet, trying to get used to the feeling of being near someone like this. And his powerful aura didn't make it any better either. "What, you mute or something?"

"What's your name?" she finally said, holding a neutral tone. She didn't want him to see her as a threat, that would just make things worse for her and the Human this Spirit has taken control of. His eyes narrowed at her question, Saphira still keeping a calm look, though her head was a mess. And her heart was pounding in her chest.

"It's Zane, what of it?" he told her, Saphira shaking her head. She repeated her question, adding that she didn't want to know his Human's name. When she said this, she could feel his power growing, making her shiver. A power controlled by emotion…those are dangerous. She thought, trying to keep a cool head.

"You're sharp, and you seems to know when someone is a Human and when they're a Spirit. But it won't be enough if you want to know my name. You'll have to do something for me in return," he smirked, Saphira not wanting to take any chances with this one. She had helped people who were controlled by their Spirits before, but not one this strong and sinister.

"Then let me ask something else instead," she said, noticing the look of surprise on his face as she just threw away the suggestion. "Let your Human decide things for himself and think for himself. You're not the one in control," she said, her eyes growing darker to show she was serious. 'Zane' returned the look, growling. Even though she was keeping the same look, her entire body was telling her to run. But she refused to give up to him.

"And here I thought you were different. But you're just like everyone else. Scared of something you don't know about. Humans should have been our underlings from the start, and if it wasn’t for the Dragon Elders, they would have been after that war!" he was almost yelling, Saphira closing her eyes.

"You're right, Humans are weaker and have less will power than Spirits, and if that war had ended differently, then there might have been less Spirits that suffer under us Humans," she started, Zane's eyes clearly showing shock. She guessed it was because she knew what war he was talking about. "But that doesn't mean we're the only ones to blame,"

"And what arguments to you have to defend that statement?" he asked, Saphira reminding him that it was the Spirits who pulled Humans into this world to being with, and made the two different Realms as a way to balance their rights. "Tch, you know more than I thought," he said, Saphira guessing he had hoped she wouldn't be able to defend her statement. But this weird, he's anger is calming down. Is talking about the Spirit Realm enough for him to keep his cool? She thought.

"Don't think too much of it. He may seem more calm, but he's nowhere near calm. Don't let you guard down," Flarenix warned her, the next thing that he did proving what she said. She felt something going up her thigh, and quickly jumped back and noticed a serpent made of crimson hissing at her.

"You're sensitive to unknown experiences, it seems. Maybe I underestimated you greatly. I was just about to give you a small taste of my power," he told her, chuckling a bit in the end. "Fine, I'll give the boy a chance to think for himself. But one wrong move and he's mine again," he stated, closing his eyes. As he did, the sinister aura disappeared and Saphira felt like she could breathe again. As he opened his eyes again, a beautiful blue color met hers this time.

"Who are you?" he asked coldly, almost as bad as his Spirit. Saphira gave him a warm smile, trying to not agitate him. She told him she was a friend, hearing footsteps coming towards them. Her body tensed as she grabbed his arm.

"I don't have time to explain, but we have to leave. Just trust me for a bit," she told him, Zane nodding. She quickly but quietly left the area, trying not to make too much noise against the metal floor. Zane, however, made next to no sound. Which surprised her.

Once they were outside, she told Zane they had to get to the trees before they could relax. Zane walked off the second she finished, fast enough so that no one could notice him. She didn't understand it, but decided it would be better to distract them since she wasn't nearly as fast. She caught up to him again, noticing that he was covering his eyes with his hand.

"Is it always this bright outside? I think I like being inside instead," he said, finally getting his hand off his eye. Saphira looked at him in shock. How long has he been in there? She thought to herself, thinking it would be best to explain to him.

. No, the sun isn't always out since it has to switch from being bright day to dark night, when the moon is out," she said, Zane asking if this was common knowledge. "Yeah, it's something we learn when we're kids," she told him, making him a bit upset. Which scared her.

"You shouldn't act so tough just because my friend isn't in control anymore. He would've easily been able to get into your head and make you terrified of me. And I'm older than you, that much I know," he said, Saphira knowing he wasn't kidding. She also noted that he said 'his friend', which meant that he thought of his Spirit as someone close to him. If I'm not careful, he will be able to get into my head just because of the fact that his power seems to rely on the temper of his Master. She thought, trying not to snap back at him

"Speaking of age, how old are you anyway?" she asked, the boy turning towards her and locking his left eye right at her. As he did, it changed between his blue eyes and his Spirits crimson eyes. Not good. He really is unstable. She thought, hoping he would be able to keep his cool. For her sake.

"Give me one good reason to tell you that," he said, Saphira telling him that if she is asked about him she had proper information. Though she was more so curious so she could figure out how long he had been stuck in there. He stood there for a second, Saphira not seeming faced by his cold stare at all. "I'm 18. Happy now?" he answered finally, Saphira slightly nodding.

"I guess, thanks for answering me. Later," she said, about to walk away. But she felt Zane grabbing her arm and holding her rather forcefully. "What now?"

"You think I'm just gonna let you go that easily after I've told you what you wanted? Sorry, but if you're gonna get something from me, you'll have to give something in return," he said, Saphira narrowing her eyes and asking what exactly he wanted. "Same info, and something else that can wait till later,"

"Don't think physical intimidations work on me," she warned him, and she was telling the truth. But she was still scared of his mental state. "I'm 16, and my name is Saphira. No let go so I can be on my way," even she answered him, though he still wouldn't let her go. When she tried to yank him off her, he tightened his grip and pulled her closer to him. She wasn't expecting it, so she had some trouble keeping her balance. Her forehead hit his chest, her breath getting caught in her throat.

"What exactly is a 16 year old girl doing going into dangerous places like this and acting tough against a dangerous man like me?" he asked, Saphira flinching both by his words and the small amount of distance between them. But she kept a cool head and moved her gaze upwards to look at him in the eyes.

"Because all the ones calling themselves 'adults' are making a mess in this world and since no one else is trying to fix it, I'll do it myself," she said, Zane expression going from emotionless to surprised. He let go of her arm shortly afterward. Although she could've just left, the look on Zane's face made her stay since he looked confused. Right, he probably doesn't know. It was his Spirit that was talking about the war before. She though, waiting for him to talk again.

"What exactly are you talking about? What's going on?" he asked, Saphira sighing slightly as she got ready to explain.

"There's a War going on, a three sided one at that. And the so-called adults that are leading the war are causing trouble for everyone else, just like any war does. Although one of the side is trying to stop it, they're doing more harm than good. So, since none of them know how to stop a war from getting out of hand, I don't have much choice but to get involved myself and make sure that this war ends," she told him, Zane narrowing his eyes.

"Then let someone else get involved and risk their life. A kid like you shouldn't get involved with a war. I don't know the reason for the war, but I know what a war can do to someone," he said, sounding more concern for her welfare then actually thinking she didn't have what it takes to stop this war. Is he worried I'll get affected or something? She though, Flarenix slightly interfering.

"Instead of asking why he's worried about you, ask why he's suddenly such an expert on what a war can do. He's been trapped in that building for years now, and suddenly he knows something?" she advised her, Saphira not thinking of that.

"What do you know about wars? From what I've heard, you've been trapped in there for years. So how do you know?" she asked, feeling pain by her neck and back as she hit a hard surface behind her. Zane had grabbed her by the collar of her shirt and pinned her to a tree behind her. She let out a cough in response, looking at him.

"The reason I got locked up was because of a small war that ruined who I was forever. Who I am now is what was created that day. You shouldn't go talking out of line," he said, staring right at with a blood-lust look. She froze up, not knowing what to really say. The eyes were changing again.

"…Sorry. I didn't mean to bring back bad memories. I don't know which war you're talking about, but I know what kind of things can change a person. And you've most likely gone through the same thing I have," she told him, pushing his arm upwards to make him let go of her. She didn't stay long enough for him to say anything to her.

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