Nights and the Sun

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Chapter 7

Cassidy stands tall beside his Knight. Nearly matching him in height but lacking his broadness. His hair is the snowy peak of a mountain, falling just enough to brush against his cheekbones in the night's crisp air. His pale skin glows with an otherworldly light. His violet eyes, dark one moment and bright the next, only accentuate his inhuman beauty. Even dressed as he is, in thick armor that glints in Sparks' light, at fist glance he reminds most others of a girl in knight's clothing. Something the other squires take joy in reminding him about. A sword hangs from his hip, tucked safely away in a sheath covered in purple velvet. Golden vines with iron dagger leaves climb the length of the sheath. A present, of sorts, from the King had made for his son. The Knight asks Cassidy a question. His voice is gravelly and worn with overuse, as he had overseen the training of many squires since the Kingdom's creation. Excitement flares within the prince's violet orbs as his mouth stretches into a grin. He gives a sharp nod. The Knight returns the nod, his black hair noticeable in black sky as the curls bob.

The sand flies from beneath metal clad feet as Knight and Squire spar. Their naked swords dance in the air. They cut through the night with light reflected from Sparks' dully glowing hair. The half elemental watches them, seated atop the remains of a tree that had once lived in the deserted plains. There are torches placed around the sparring to make a sort of arena. The torches also act as a loose barrier to the plain's spiders that hunt in the night. Even without the aid of their trapping webs they are formidable predators. Even with the warding lights, the spiders have drawn close. Their attention caught by the unusual noises. Sparks can hear them during the brief pauses of his companion's practice. They move over the loose ground with stealth that would have been surprising, had Sparks not experienced it first hand. He stands and brushes the sand off his pants absently. Since he is here, he figures he might as well do some hunting of his own. Spiders, he remembers with delight, burn rather well.

The Knight and Cassidy pause in their game, breaths coming out in quick bursts. They watch the beacon that is Sparks' hair as he retreats further into the desert plains. He has never strayed far from his charge. Always within earshot, if not sight. The Knight had assumed, as had the rest of the castle, that the half elemental was physically incapable of being more than a certain amount of feet from the prince. Obviously that was not true. They both jump as the high pitched screeches of a spider's death cries peal through the midnight sky. It dies down almost immediately after it had begun. Fire lights up the sky in answer. Cassidy's eyes sting at its sudden brightness, despite the distance between them. It fades away seconds later. Leaving nothing but a faint orange glow in the distance that is no longer there within a moment of its arrival to the night.

Sparks' laughter is the crackle of fire as he stalks off to find more prey. The flame burning within him roars at the possibility of more fuel. His hair has been snuffed out in favor of his eyes. They are dim, burning only enough for him to see by. Not nearly enough to alert his prey until too late. If ever. He breathes deeply, taking in the smell of burnt spider and cool air only available during a hunt such as this. He grins, barring his teeth to the night. It is not often he can hunt like this. Cassidy stays close to the castle to train, and there are too few beasts hiding amongst the eastern and western fields to provide much entertainment. Sparks is not cruel,in that he does not hunt just for the sport of it. He feeds off the burnings. It fills him more than firewood and coal do. Though less than metal. But he is not allowed to gorge himself on the precious materials. Forcing him to make due with what is available.

As he moves, careful not to make a sound as the sand shifts beneath his feet, he feels the familiar sensation of something wrapping itself around his heart. It pulls lightly, a child trying to get its parent's attention. It is trying to coax, to order, Sparks to return to his charge. Over sixteen years of caring for the boy created this ghostly force. It is one Sparks never ignores. He turns back and retraces his steps. His hair flares to life again even as the flame within him simmers in disappointment. He returns to the delighted cries of his cousin and the polite nod of his cousin's Knight. Cassidy gestures wildly to the far side of the arena. A spider lays twitching and bleeding beside a knocked over torch. Most of its legs have been severed and can be seen lying a few feet away from its body. Sparks licks his lips. A feral grin spreading across them. He winks at the Knight as he moves towards the spider. Cassidy turns away, knowing what is coming. Another scream pierces the air as Sparks ignites the large arachnid. The torches' flames rise. He inhales deeply, feasting on the harsh smoke wafting from where the beast once lay. It fills him and quenches the flame's unnatural thirst. The Knight retches at the stench now that is close enough for him to smell it. He glances over at the prince, surprised and impressed by how he holds himself. His tightly set shoulders the only proof of any discomfort.

Sparks lays on his back, staring up at the summer sun shinning through the trees. He cannot remember the last time he had been outside in the sunlight. It satisfies him in a way that is so different than feasting on a common hearth fire. A feeling of fullness is pulsating throughout his human form. The undying flame within him for once content. Aquanious is watching him. He has raised himself up on a throne of water and now looks down at his friends with a look of absolute joy. His hair is its usual sea foam green, though now holds a faintly pink hue. It is draped over one shoulder to spill over the end of his chair. Cassidy rests beside the water, covered head to toe in light clothe meant to keep the sun from his skin. His eyes are closed and had been that way since before they stepped out of the castle. Water from Aquanious' chair falls on him in a light, rhythmic shower. Colin comes and goes, visiting for brief moments when he is able to sneak away from the kitchen.

Aquanious sits up, suddenly, in his aquatic seat. His sea foam hair changing to an explosion of blues of all shades. The water ripples. Disturbed from its task. The rain falters in its beat, causing Cassidy to squirm uncomfortably. Sparks glances over at the agitated water elemental, one eyebrow raised in question.

"Sparks, have I ever told you about the Well?" Aquanious asks. His voice is high, like Cassidy's had been when he was younger and excited about something. Sparks shakes his head slowly his hair being thrown in every direction by a sudden gust of wind. He blinks his amber eyes at the other as he lowers his throne back into the lake. A frostbitten finger pokes at the surface of the water closest to Cassidy and a small spring springs up and continues the constant shower. Cassidy smiles. Aquanious settles himself again in front of Sparks. The half elemental sits up as well, crossing his legs and resting his elbows on them. He clasps his hands together, causing a coupling of sparks to fall to the grass, and rests his chin on them. Aquanious smiles at him, coral pink teeth shinning in the sunlight. His hair lays haphazardly around him, a gentle royal blue. A few strands have managed to find themselves resting atop Sparks' feet.

"There is a myth amongst humans about the Fountain of Youth. A fountain that holds within its waters the secrets to eternal youth. This fountain is real. Only, it is not so much a fountain as it is a well. And it does not so much hold the secretes of eternal youth as it does the magic of every single elemental ever, as it is exists on this plane. This well, simply called the Well in our shared language, is where every elemental goes to die and where every elemental is born. As I have mentioned before; elementals exist in two planes. The corporeal plane, the one we are residing in now, and the magic plane. Such as we exist in two planes, so does the Well. Many humans have tried to find the Well. All of them have failed. One got very close, though. Had a lot of elementals in a tizzy. Then he just, disappeared, a little over sixteen years ago." The water elemental tilts his head to the side as if in thought. His hair slides across the ground to follow it. "There are rumors he has not stopped looking, though. That continues to worry some. Which is understandable. If any human were to drink that water they would be consuming the potential lives of an untold number of elementals. And gaining more power than is should exist in one being." Sparks stares at the elemental.

"What brought that up?" he asked, brows furrowed. Aquanious snaps his eyes to Sparks and gives him a sheepish smile.

"Nothing, really. Just thinking," he replies unconvincingly. Sparks frowns, not believing the obvious lie. He brushes off Aquanious' hair and lays back down. Returning to his previous activity of staring at the near cloudless sky. Aquanious stares dejectedly at the the half elemental. His hair begins to take on its gray and red coloration, one nearly as familiar to the group as his sea foam green.

"Don't be sad Aqui. Sparks is just being selfish. He hasn't been allowed out in the sun for a long time," Cassidy announces. Aquanious turns to look at him. His eyes are still closed. The water falling on him creates a rainbow along with the sun above the prince's chest. That chest rises and falls in steady breathes. Had he not just heard his voice, Aquanious would have thought him to be asleep. A gentle warmth presses itself against Aquanious' thigh. Soft and insistent. His head swivels to investigate the minor disturbance. Its Sparks' foot. The right one that he has stretched out while his left remains pulled close to him. Aquanious smiles again. His hair returning to the familiar shade of green. The pink hue arrives just as Colin does, in his third trip back to the group. Colin looks at Aquanious curiously. The water elemental raises a pale finger to his lips. Shushing the boy before he can open his mouth. Colin blinks his hazel eyes a couple of times before he shrugs and sits down beside Cassidy. Cassidy reaches out a covered hand to his friend. He whines childishly when Colin moves away with a chuckle. This game, reminiscent of one they had played when they were younger, carries on for a few rounds before Colin complies and wraps one of his own hand around Cassidy's questing one. It doesn't take long for Colin to be lulled to sleep. Seduced the sun's warmth and the peacefulness encompassing the odd group. He lays down on the soft ground and curls up next to his prince.

Sparks sits up at the rustling of fabric. He looks over at his charge and smiles at what he sees. Like they had when they were younger, Colin five and Cassidy merely three, they are curled up together fast asleep on a sunny day. Aquanious follows his gaze and cannot help the smile creeping onto his face as well. He feels the warmth radiating off of the half elemental beside him. They are so close, nearly touching.

"You have been his guardian since he was born, yes?" he asks. His voice is low. Barely that of the tide against it shore. Sparks nod his head.

"He saved me from dying." Aquanious whips his head to stare at him, wide eyed. Sparks gives him a lazy smile. Despite it, the water elemental can see pain burning where fire usually did. He reaches out to him, stopping just before he actually touched him. Steam rises between them. Sparks body temperature had risen. As if his fire is trying to burn away the memories.

"I would have starved. But then Cass was born and the King summoned me. Told me to stay with him and I did. Not much of a story." Aquanious shakes his head slowly. His hair is a swirling mass of gray blues and reds. All somehow painted atop a pink canvas. He finally places his hand on Sparks' arm, hiding a cringe at the sting the heat gives him. He ignores it in favor of the smile Sparks gives him. It is different from the ones he normally gives him and Colin. Different, even, from the ones he usually gives Cassidy. It holds many of the younger male's emotions; contentment and thanks being the most prominent. Understanding rushes through Aquanious in a flood. This was one thing about his guardian Cassidy didn't know. He had heard the comments, cruel and otherwise, but had never seen the actions. Had never seen his oldest friend, his cousin, his brother, hurt by the very people who he was to rule over some day. Aquanious makes a noise in the back of his throat, somewhere between a choked sob and a whine. He felt for this being. To the extent a being who is more magic than anything can feel for someone of the most emotionally driven species to live.

Crickets chirp. Their song echos across the desert plains, ricocheting from the plants in the fields. It hangs all around in the summer night's air. Their cries wake Cassidy, who sits up. His action startles Colin. Who had been sleeping with his head resting on his friend's chest. He grumbles but sits up as well. The pair look around frantically. It is too dark for them to see by. Even Spark's flames are out, extinguished by Aquanious' water. Brought on by the closeness of the two elementals. The fountain Aquanious had called upon to keep the prince cool during the day has long since trickled off. Cassidy calls out for Sparks, his voice high with anxiety. When he gets no answer, he tries again louder.

"Sparks!" Cassidy nearly shouts. Panic has entered his voice now and he clings to Colin almost desperately. Sparks shoot up. Suddenly, everything is illuminated by the brightly burning flames of Sparks eyes. Cassidy slams his eyes shut against the onslaught. Aquanious rolls away before sitting up as well. His hair is dark gray and whirling madly. His eyes have narrowed to thin slits of sapphire. The lake's water begins to move rapidly. Churning itself into a fast paced whirlpool. Both elementals are tense.

"What's wrong?" Sparks asks. His voice is rough from having used it so much earlier in the day. Aquanious can not help the swell of pride he has at hearing it. Colin stares at them with wide eyes.

"Nothing," he replies after a beat. "We didn't know where you were. It was dark." Its Sparks turn to blink. He does so, many times in rapid succession. The light dims and Cassidy reopens his eyes.

"Sorry," Sparks' voice is soft once again as he apologizes. Cassidy smiles warmly at him. He shakes his head and gives a shaky laugh. Relief is apparent in the gestures. Without any more words, the four boys stand and part ways. They whisper goodbyes with nods of their heads. The crickets continue to sing as they settle down within the safety and comfort of their rooms. Darkness brings about the evening's dreams. Aquanious stands beside his lake. The darkness only bringing more of the day to him.

"You are playing a dangerous game," an airy voice speaks. Aquanious shrugs in response. The air elemental moves to hang in front of the water elemental.

"Do you think they will accept you back after this?" the voice asks.

"Do you think I would want them to?" Aquanious retorts.

"You cannot keep this up," it continues as if the water had not spoken, "it will only end badly. You cannot prevent the pain you both will feel." Aquanious shoots the other elemental a dark look, sapphire eyes hard as the stones lining the bottom the pool.

"Watch me," he hisses as he slips into the water. The other elemental sighs, moving back into the wind and breezing by in a whirlwind. The whirlwind dies off within seconds as the elemental ceases to hold any corporeal form.

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