The Five Wanderers

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Chapter 19

Jeriah felt so happy as the castle drew closer and he walked alongside Jakob. It felt right, it brought back good memories of when they were younger, before they were separated because of their different guardian groups and duties.

But the moment of peace passed so quickly.

He felt his guard go up as he saw a person standing in their path as if he had just appeared. He was dressed in black and had wavy black hair that was being rustled by the wind. He was an ominous figure and his sudden presence halted the entire group.

“Tallis?” Jakob whispered. It was almost as if he couldn’t believe he was there.

“Look!” Minhee pointed as the rest of the group joined Tallis on the field and they stood alongside him. They were standing between them and the castle, and by their expressions they had no intention of leaving. “The Royals…”

“These are the Royals?” Zhai asked in surprise. “How did they find us so quickly?”

“They’re used to this modern world, they probably ‘texted’,” Minhee said with a shrug. “They can send each other information immediately. You guys have been living on the mountains too long.”

“These are the ones that want to take back the Life Stones, huh?” Jeriah whispered to Jakob. Jakob looked angry, though. He wasn’t going to tolerate this.

“Move away, Royals!” Jakob shouted as he stepped forward. “I won’t let you prevent us from reaching our home.”

“You know we can’t let you in,” Elidi shouted back. “We need Jeriah and whatever he has stolen.”

Jeriah touched the stone resting under his shirt. He knew this moment was going to come, he was just surprised it was so soon. He glanced back at his friends, but then looked at Jakob again. His stance was not one of surrender. He was clearly ready to challenge these Royals.

“Well, I guess we’ll just have to move you aside,” Jakob said as he unsheathed his sword.

Minhee grabbed his arm again. “Jakob, I beg you,” he said. “They are not bad people. I don’t want you to hurt them.”

“They’re going to hurt Jeriah and the rest if we don’t stand up for them right now,” Jakob said as he looked sternly at Minhee. “Let me deal with this.”

“You’re not going to be able to take these actions back, Jakob!” Minhee exclaimed. “If you hurt or kill one of them-”

“Hey! What’s going on!?” a familiar voice called out to them. They all looked over to see Apinya and Luca making their way from the castle towards the apparent battleground. They seemed as though they intended to mediate whatever the situation was.

Jakob just shook his head. He wasn’t interested in explaining or talking it out. “Jeriah, Zhai, Verity, Kiyah, and Emersyn,” he said. “If you want to protect yourselves you’ll follow me. All the Royals have different powers. Minda and Tallis have the strongest battling abilities so be wary. The rest of the could probably easily take them out.”

“But if these are your friends-” Kiyah started, but Jakob huffed.

“If they were my friends they wouldn’t stand in my way,” he replied.

“They’re only doing what Prudentius told them to do,” Minhee said. “You know they had to make that contract to save themselves from certain death.”

Jeriah looked surprised when he heard that. He tilted his head. “Certain death?”

“They were suffering from poison, but Prudentius had the cure. In return, they have to complete their contract know, has to do with you,” Minhee said as he sighed. “They’re not bad people, they just have to save themselves.”

“Well, I’m not a bad person, either! And I have to save Jeriah,” Jakob said coldly. Then with that he raised his sword and began charging across the field towards the now armed Royals.

“Hey!” more voices appeared behind them, which made the group whip around. “Stop, Jakob!”

Jakob slowed his steps and turned around to see the rest of the Royals standing behind them on the side of a hill. Runi was leading them, and Jakob’s eyes narrowed with anger. Of course he was! His clairvoyance probably made it clear to him where Jeriah was, and he relayed that information to the Royals who now stood in their way to the castle.

He was the snitch.

“Jakob! It doesn’t have to be like this!” Cetas called out to him as well.

“No, it does have to be like this!” Jakob shouted back, and then he turned and continued his charge towards the Royals on the field. He heard Luca and Apinya’s voices coming from somewhere nearby, but nothing could stop his charge.

Tallis was suddenly in front of Jakob, likely due to his speed, but he knocked him aside with a sweeping motion from his blade. Tallis deflected it and jumped back, which allowed Minda to move in with her spear. She jabbed the spear at him, but she wasn’t aiming for any critical points on Jakob’s body. She was clearly just trying to incapacitate him. But Jakob was fast, and although Minda was strong she couldn’t keep up with Jakob’s movements.

He continued his charge. His eyes were locked on Elidi, because he really wanted to get her out of the way. How could she have even dared to stand in his way? Why did she lead her half of her group here? Why did she want to take away his treasured brother?

Royse suddenly came alongside Jakob and he struck out with the palm of his hand. Jakob stumbled to the side, losing his balance for only a moment, but his arm felt strange. He looked down and saw that where he had been struck by Royse, which was at his shoulder, it was suddenly becoming like stone. His arm was so heavy, he wasn’t going to be able to hold his blade soon.

Royse had used his Fate Gift of petrification on him!

“How dare you!” Jakob exclaimed as he tossed his sword to his other hand, which was awkward for him, but he swung at Royse and caused him to fall back. He was seeing red even more as he felt attacked and his madness seemed to spiral even further. Minda and Tallis were still chasing after him and trying to stop him, but his movements remained quick even though his arm was now petrified like stone and growing heavier by the moment.

Finally he got close to Elidi. She was holding her metal staff out to defend herself, but Jakob knew he would be stronger. He would be able to get her out of the way. He just needed one powerful swing.

“Jakob! Stop!” a hand grabbed at the back of his shirt, but the voice didn’t belong to any of the Royals. He looked back, nearly swinging his blade as he did, but he saw Apinya was holding him back. Luca was standing in the field and holding his arms out to stop the Royals from pursuing Jakob, as well. They were attempting to stop the fighting from both sides.

But in doing this, in trying to create peace between them, Jakob knew that even his best friends were going to side with the Royals. Minhee seemed to side with them, so it only made sense the others would betray him, too.

“No!” Jakob shouted. “This is my only chance!” and then he turned back to Elidi, who had lowered her staff, and he ripped away from Apinya’s grasp and swung his sword with all the strength he had in his body. Elidi’s eyes widened as she saw the sword coming towards her, she started to raise her staff again but there was no possible way for her to not be struck.

And then his sword struck her. He heard screams and outcries and he felt arms grabbing him and yanking at him, and he dropped his sword and looked up. His eyes widened and everything seemed to become like slow motion. The red drained from his eyes and the madness faded as he realized how far he had gone to protect Jeriah.

His eyes met Oriana’s eyes as she was now standing in front of Elidi. She didn’t even have a weapon in her hands, but she had thrown herself in front of her friend. His heart started pounding as he was pulled backwards into familiar arms; Apinya was pulling him back and Luca was standing next to him and shouting something at him but all he could hear was his heart pounding in his ears.

Just as suddenly, time caught up and all he could hear was screaming as Oriana collapsed to the ground. Elidi was holding onto her and pressing her hand to the wound, yelling to Laguna to get the bandages, and then yelling at Levant to help her save Oriana.

Darya was on her knees next to Oriana and holding her hand and talking to her, telling her to stay awake. Runi had his hand to his forehead as he looked full of pain. All of them had expressions full of fear as they looked down on their wounded companion.

“What were you thinking!?” Luca’s screams finally made sense to him. Jakob wasn’t sure what he had been thinking. All he was thinking was that he had to save Jeriah. Perhaps his Twin Soul nature had unlocked that madness in him, but that didn’t change that he was the one who had intended to strike down Elidi, and instead he struck down an unarmed woman.

Jakob turned and looked over at Jeriah without even saying a word to Luca. He met his gaze and saw that Jeriah was very concerned. In fact, the whole group was hurrying over to the scene as well. They seemed afraid to get too close, but they couldn’t help but feel responsible for all of this. He could see that. He could sense that’s how Jeriah felt. Responsible.

But Jakob was the reason Oriana was on the ground bleeding. Maybe he had lost himself in his search for Jeriah as Minhee had said.

And if Oriana was lost...then what price would he have to pay? He couldn’t even imagine.

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