Bonds of Friendship

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Lanna Rose

Fighter
1
She wasn’t supposed to be here and she knew it. Not that anyone would see her. She was small and really good at hiding. She just wanted to find the plant books again. The pictures and descriptions inside made her dream of an area where she could run and explore. The tunnels and caverns held no more mystery for her.

She snuck around a bookshelf and saw a young man sitting at a table with books piled in front of him. She ducked back and steadied her breath. No one was supposed to be here. If anyone found her she would be in so much trouble. She turned back and pulled a book from the shelf to look through. The man was a Null. She hadn’t really had much experience with them as her tribe didn’t really mingle much. She watched him as he sat there reading.

She watched him for a minute, he seemed so intent on what he was reading. Suddenly the man looked up, right at where she was hidden. Her heart leapt into her throat as she slid the book back in place. He was younger than she first thought. Maybe only three or five years older than she was. He tilted his head to the side and smiled.

“You shouldn't be in here you know.” His voice was soft and didn’t echo at all in the big library. She didn’t move at all, just continued to stare at him through the books. “It’s alright. I wont say anything. It would be nice to have someone to talk to.”

She blinked and slowly came out from behind the shelf. He waited there looking at her. She wasn’t sure but there was something about him that seemed different.
“How come you’re in here? The Collegium doesn't share their books with anyone. Trust me I’ve tried.” She walked to the table he was at and stood with it between them. He was much younger than she had thought. Maybe the same age as she was.

“I live here. I’ve never seen you in here before though.” He set his book down and looked at her. “Why are you in here, especially so late?”

“I like to read the books on plants. It’s the only time I can get to myself. My sister doesn’t leave me be. So I come here at night to read them.” She smiled wistfully thinking about what it would be like to actually see a tree.

“You’re from the Jade Pact right? Do you have your tattoo yet?” His voice was curious with a hint of excitement.

She blinked at him, her hand reaching down for her dagger. “What do you know about the Jade Pact?”

“Only what most people do. Your ancestors made a deal with the Primal Fey and your people serve them in a sense. Your tattoos are a sort of status within your tribe.” He knew more than most did. She pulled her hand away from the dagger.

“That’s true. No, I do not have my tattoos yet. I’m not old enough. I’m only fifteen right now.” She pulled out a chair and sat down. She reached into her bag and pulled out two cups, a waterskin, and a wrapped bundle. “Have you eaten? I have some snacks with me.”

He sat there quietly as she pulled everything from her bag. She poured a sweet smelling drink into the two cups that steamed slightly. “What is that?” He watched her curiously as if he had never seen someone pour tea before. There was no way that was possible. He couldn’t be younger than her.

She paused and looked at him. “It’s tea and cookies. Would you like some? I always have two cups because I keep breaking them while I’m out.” She pushed the cup towards him and unwrapped the cookies to offer him.

“Thank you. My name is Viltis. What is yours?” He took a sip of the tea and sighed softly. “Oh this is nice.”

She smirked. “My name is Kymisha. Try the cookies, they’re even better.”
 

Lanna Rose

Fighter
2

All around her eyes burned. It had taken two hours for them to finalize the design. It had been one of the most painful experiences in her life. It was worth it though, she had finally proven herself to the elders. It was about 5 years later than most, but she finally did something to impress them. They had granted her a great honor, why she still wasn’t sure. They found her impulsiveness amusing, but that is what eventually had caused them to realize that she was more. More of what she wasn’t sure, they only told her she was more.


Now in the middle of the night she snuck again to visit her friend. These last handful of years she had done this two or three times a week. Viltis was always happy to see her. Even when she felt sorrowful or angry he had a way of calming her.

He was the only friend she really had right now. All of her tribe members her age kept away from her. She was always in some sort of trouble because of her sneaking around. It was so much fun to hide from everyone and surprise them. But never Viltis, not yet at least.

She knew something was wrong with how the Collegium treated Viltis, she just couldn’t figure it out yet. He was strangely silent on the topic and didn’t like to talk about it. Kymisha knew that the only way to figure it out would be to work her way into the Collegium. This had been her goal for the last two years. She was still only an entry level clerk, but it was a start.

She found her spot outside and worked her way through the tunnel. She would have to widen it slightly. She knew that she had outgrown it years ago, but she couldn’t spend the time working it like she had in the past. She would have to make a point of doing it soon though, the tight space made her lose time going in and out.

Finally she got through and wound through the bookshelves. She knew the route so well now that she didn’t really think about it any more. She let her mind focus on where people were while her body just knew which way to go. It had been about ten years since she met Viltis at this point.

She paused behind a bookshelf at the sound of voices. They were kept low but she was close enough to tell that one was Viltis and the other was one of the Collegium librarians. She slowly pulled a book to see the person. She blinked at what she saw. Viltis was now chained to the floor at his table. Anger hot and blinding filled her mind. This was just cruel. Her hand moved down to her dagger as she began to plot how to get him free of those damn chains.

Before she could move Viltis made eye contact with her and shook his head so slightly that only she could see it. She stayed and watched as the man spoke to Viltis and seemed to reprimand him. It was a Libram she hadn’t seen before. As she watched she saw the flash of the Collegium bracers. So he was part of the higher levels of the Collegium.

After a time the man left Viltis alone. She dare not move because she wasn’t sure if the Libram was still around waiting to see how Viltis reacted. Kymisha waited for what felt like an hour before Viltis looked over again and smiled. “He’s gone.”

Kymisha came around the bookshelf. “Why are you chained? What happe…”

“You got your tattoos! Wow they’re in a very open area. Isn’t that like a big deal?” He smiled widely at her.

Kymisha paused next to the table and looked down at his ankles. “Viltis this is a bigger deal than my tattoos.” She gestured to his ankles. “Why does it seem like you are a prisoner now?”

Viltis sighs. “I always have been Kymisha. They’re just taking stronger measures now.” He stood up and rested his hand on her shoulder. “Now. Tell me about your tattoos. Why were you chosen to have them around your eyes?”

Tears welled up in her eyes as she looked into his eyes. They were so sad and happy at the same time. This human was an enigma, how was it that he was always so cheerful? She wiped away the tears quickly and took a deep breath.

“Because I follow Haldine’s ways closely. Because I take what I see and react. Because I embody what it truly means to be part of the Tribe of Haldine. It is a great honor. But I don’t know that I can live up to the expectations of my people.” She reached into her bag and pulled out a waterskin of tea, two cups and a loaf of lemon bread.

“You’re a lot stronger willed then even you know. I like that about you. You tell me exactly what I need to hear, even if I don’t want to hear it.” Viltis sat back down and accepted the tea and slice of bread when it was handed to him.

“I'm actually here for two reasons. One I wanted to share my tattoos. Two..” Kymisha pauses and sips her tea. “I need to cut back how often I’m visiting, for a little while. Obviously I’m not leaving the Cairn. But I have to stay away from here for a bit so that I can complete some missions given to me by the Collegium.”

Viltis blinked at her. “Why do you want to be a part of the Collegium?” In his voice she heard hurt and a small amount of anger.

“To help you. I will visit when I can. I’m not going away forever. You’re my friend and I will not abandon you. I swear.” She felt tears well up in her eyes again. She dashed them away. “I need you to do something though. I’m trying to get to a point where I can visit you whenever I want to, not just sneaking in. So if you’re ever introduced to me…”

“Pretend you’re a new face. I got you. What do you mean to help me though Kymisha?” He sets the cup down and leans in close to her. “You’re starting down a dangerous path you know nothing about.”

“You’re locked in here. That’s not okay. Damn it, we are all locked in here! I want to see trees Viltis.” She sighs softly. “But for now I’ll come when I can. Check behind the books where you first saw me. I’ll try to leave snacks for you.” She smiled. “So, what’s the newest book you’ve found for me?”
 

Lanna Rose

Fighter
3
She was so tired, all she wanted to do was go home. But there was something more important than that. Viltis’ birthday. They weren’t sure when it was exactly, but they worked together to choose a day for them to celebrate.


The mission she had finished had taken a lot out of her. Working her way though some of the lower levels of the Cairn to find old technology and magic. She never really found anything besides battle scrolls. But they kept sending her down because she was one of few that could get in and out quickly.

She crawled through the tunnel, glad she had spent that night long ago digging it out more. She could move quickly through it and into the library. She knew the best way to move through it wasn’t on hand and knees, but no one else would know that and she would have time to escape if she had to.

She worked her way through the bookshelves as usual. She knew the routes of the librarians so well. None of them were allowed to be near Viltis so they never got close. Hell they didn’t even go on the floor he was on. It took her now only about ten minutes to get to the floor he was on. When she first came though it had taken her over an hour to get there.

A man’s voice filtered through the bookshelves. She held her breath and waited at a bookshelf further away than she wished for it to be. There was no way for her to see who was talking. She heard what sounded like Viltis’ voice once or twice responding but she could never make out the words.

Kymisha heard the footsteps walk past the other side of the bookshelf she was behind. She sat there silently for quite some time before she felt like she could move on. She moved ever closer to the spot where Viltis read at night. She paused at the closest bookshelf and pulled a book out to make sure the coast was clear.

Viltis’ back was turned towards her. She felt a flutter of excitement as she placed the book back. She peeked around the corner and then began to move silently forward. Right behind him she stood up and placed her hands on his shoulders. “I go…”

She was pushed back so hard the wind was knocked out of her when she landed. She lay on the ground staring up at the ceiling as she tried to relearn to breath. What was that?!

“Kymisha, oh no…Kymisha I’m sorry. Are you okay.” He leaned down looking into her eyes as she gasped for breath. “Oh no…..no, no, no…”

“I’m okay…” She croaked out. “Just got the wind knocked out of me.” She coughed slightly and finally was able to breath normally again. “You’re a lot stronger than you look my friend.” She smiled up at him. Tears lined his eyes.

“I thought I really hurt you. Are you sure you’re okay?” She reached up to him silently asking for help. He grasped her hand and pulled her to her feet.

“That’s what I get for finally getting the drop on you.” She coughed again. “Remind me not to do that again.”

He laughed uneasily. “You sure you’re okay?” Kymisha nodded and smiled. “Come sit down. I wasn’t expecting you today. I thought you had a mission.”

Kymisha sat down and pulled her bag onto her lap. She rummaged through it as she answered. “Oh I did. I finished it.” She sighed in relief when she saw the bundle was not broken. She looked up at him with a smile. “Did you forget what today is Viltis?”

He looked puzzled for only a moment and then he barked out a laugh. “I did actually. Wow is it already my birthday again?”

“It happens every year Viltis. What is it now? Twenty years since I snuck in here and found you?” She pulled the small bundle out and held it out for him. “Happy birthday Viltis.”
 

Lanna Rose

Fighter
4
“Now Kymisha, you’re being informed about this because your missions will be linked to it. We have something we wish to introduce you to. Do not be fooled by its appearance. It is more dangerous than you could ever imagine.” The Librahm, Silas, walked with her towards the library.


Her heart raced as he opened the doors and led her to a familiar location. There he was, sitting and reading as they walked up to him. He looked up and saw the Libram and then her. She noted the twinkle in his eyes as they walked towards him.

“Viltis, this is Kymisha. She will be checking in on you occasionally and leaving more things for you to read as she finds them.” The Librahm moved aside for her to fully see Viltis. He hadn’t changed very much since the last time they had spoken. He still looked like an adult human. As always she felt at ease around him.

“Hello Viltis. I’m sure it will be a pleasure to work with you.” She held her hand out to him. She noted that the chains around his ankles now included a pair on how wrists.

“Likewise Kymisha. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” He squeezed her hand slightly and winked at her.

“Now I apologize but we really must leave. Kymisha will return in a few days with some new reading materials for you.” The Librahm ushered her out of the library. “What you will be doing is locating and confiscating and ritual scrolls you come across. That thing in there will need them.”

“Excuse me sir, but why would a human need scrolls like that?” Kymisha glanced back at Viltis before leaving the library.

“Because it isn't human. It’s a dragon.” Kymisha stopped in her tracks at this revelation. Silas stopped as well and sighed. “Long ago this Cairn was trusted with an egg. We had to do a lot of convincing to the original keeper of the egg. But finally they understood that it would be safer with the Collegium than with them.” He straightened his coat.

“So how long has…the dragon been here? Why take the shape of a human?” She felt panic rising in her. The urge to run to Viltis and ask why he never told her.

“It hatched about six-hundred years ago. It only started taking the shape of a human about three-hundred years ago. It was originally aging very slowly. But suddenly about one-hundred years ago it aged to what you see now in the matter of two decades.” Silas motioned for them to continue.

Kymisha followed him silently. Silas’ voice came to her again. “The problem is that now that it took on this form it seems to have forgotten what it was. We tried a couple of times to tell it but the reaction was…less than ideal. It went into a rage of sorts.”

Viltis was a dragon…a real dragon? No wonder he didn’t age like a human. Things were a whole lot more complicated than she initially thought. “Viltis is a dragon.” she whispered to herself.
 
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