The Five Wanderers

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Chapter 20

She sighed as she put her hands on her hips. She had watched the entire scene on the field, and she wasn’t sure how she felt about it. She glanced over at Mirae who was twisting a piece of hair around her fingers.

“Well, that looked bad,” Mirae responded. “I’m not sure I want to go down there.”

“With their emotions as heightened as they are right now, it would be a very bad idea to go down there,” Joy agreed as she tossed her ponytail over her shoulder. “I don’t think we’re going to get those Life Stones. I’m not sure I want them.”

“Maybe they’re cursed,” Mirae mused. “The Life Stones, you know? Jeriah stole them and his friends have been wearing them for years. Maybe we can tell Nivalis that the artifacts are cursed and we shouldn’t have them.”

“That’s not it,” Joy said as she shook her head. “It’s his Twin Soul nature. You’ve heard about that, haven’t you? Twin Souls lose their minds to protect their other half. It’s rare, but there have been at least three known Twin Souls, and all of them end up dead because of something to do with them being separated or destroyed separately. They’d be better off dying together on a pyre than one being destroyed before the other.”

“Then...what do you want to do?” Mirae asked.

Joy wasn’t sure, but part of her wanted to go down there and see if she could at least take back her gun from those gremlins that had dared to take it from her. But all the groups were moving towards the castle now, and she wasn’t sure it would be safe to approach the castle of the Monarchs.

“Either way, I’m not sure I want to get those Life Stones,” Mirae said softly.

Joy stood quietly for a moment, but then she shook her head and turned on her heel, beginning to walk away from the scene. “Come on. I don’t want to get cursed by being involved with them.”

Mirae blinked and then followed beside her. “Maybe we could ask Marlowe about some ideas on what to do,” she suggested. “She’s smart, I’m sure she could figure out a way to-”

“We’re not going to get the Stones, Mirae,” Joy said as she looked at her. “We’re turning our backs on it now, and those Stones will be long gone by the time we get Marlowe, or any of the others to join us.”

“You think so?” Mirae asked softly. She glanced back over her shoulder at the castle. “I guess...they probably are going to want to get rid of those Stones. I’m sure Jeriah isn’t happy about what happened there. I heard the Royals and Monarchs had combined forces to fight Ari and Azi, so seeing them fight on that field...that’s not good. Surely their alliance is broken.”

“Yes, Jeriah isn’t an idiot and he’ll want to get rid of the Stones quickly,” Joy agreed. “And good for him. We have bigger problems, we don’t need to add to them. I think Nivalis will understand. And if she doesn’t, then it was my decision. Alright?”

Mirae pouted and grabbed onto her arm, tugging on her. “You can’t take all the blame! I’ll take some of it, too,” she said as she hooked arms with Joy and rested her head against her shoulder. “I know we could have taken those Life Stones, but I think it’s better that we watched and waited. I think that scene before us was very telling of how guardians can easily be corrupted into madness.”

Joy nodded and she looked quite solemn at that statement. “Yeah,” she said softly. “I’m worried that the era of guardians being needed by the world is fading. I’m worried that eventually no humans will have a place for us in this world.”

“They already do everything they can to push us out,” Mirae agreed. “That’s why we’re living in the temple of Nivalis. We have nowhere else to go. No one wants to rely on us, or trust us, or take us in.”

“We’re a danger to society,” Joy muttered. “Or, so they say.” she huffed. “And it’s because those ancient guardians keep battling and causing chaos and trouble. I know the Monarchs have had a difficult time, but this modern world isn’t like the one they were born into. Their world was full of sword fights and bloodshed and our world can indeed be violent but we should never begin with violence.”

“But they were attacked, too,” Mirae said. “The Descendants of their enemies haven’t made adjusting to this world very easy. Even you saw that. The Monarchs have a never ending group of enemies that seem to seek them out. I can’t blame them for fighting, I guess.”

“The Royals are also troublemakers,” Joy said. “The Monarchs keep getting intertwined with troublesome humans.”

“But they were poisoned. By the Immortals, remember?” Mirae nodded. News about guardians that had ‘strayed’ from their duties moved swiftly through the world as humans warned other communities about the danger of the guardians they had banished or rejected, so it wasn’t uncommon to know all these woeful tales. The Royals were often lumped into these tales, since they had once called themselves guardians, which of course was not true. They were merely gifted humans.

“But because of their stories, we all have to suffer now,” Joy said. “We were well established and helpful guardians to our human communities, and we were rejected because they became afraid that we would also fall into madness one day and destroy them, like the Monarchs. It’s their fault that we live this way.”

“But we shouldn’t be mean to them,” Mirae said with a sigh as she released Joy’s arm and walked on ahead a little. “I mean, we might have opposing missions sometimes and we might not always meet on good terms, but I don’t think we should judge them too harshly. We don’t know what kind of things they had to suffer.”

Joy smiled softly and poked Mirae’s back playfully. “You’re so soft,” she said. “But I guess you’re probably right. I think I should be a little pessimistic to keep us safe, but I understand why you would say that. We’ve all suffered as guardians, and I’m sure guardians will continue to suffer when they’re born into this world.”

“Yeah,” Mirae said softly as she looked back at Joy. “I hope the world accepts us again, but for now...for now I guess we need to lay low.”

“And I think we should do that right now,” Joy agreed. “I’m sure our friends will understand why we chose not to confront Jeriah and the others. That situation is a pot of boiling water that’s about to bubble over. We need to stay safe so we can complete our own missions in the future. If we have to confront the Monarchs or Royals or whoever in the’d be better that we do it altogether, anyway.”

“Oh, we’ll show them our full power eventually,” Mirae said with a smile. “Those fools won’t know what hit them when we have our entire team together.”

Joy winked and put her arm around Mirae’s shoulders and the two of them continued to walk onward into the warm morning light. They knew leaving this scene behind truly was the best thing for them. For their survival now and in the future. Keeping a level of secrecy was important for them, because they were powerful guardians themselves.

They wanted to show their power at their absolute best and when there was an intense need. This Life Stone mission was not an intense need to them, and they knew Nivalis would understand. Well, they hoped she would. One could not know what the Immortals truly thought, but they knew they had done the right thing for themselves.

But they were not finished, yet. The world had yet to see their power, but they would soon.

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