Someone, Something, Somewhere

Someone, Something, Somewhere.

"…Enough…" Ashley whispered through his half conscious state. Someone was shaking his shoulder.

"Awaken, Riskbreaker." An harmonic voice shook him from his blissful, silent sleep. Ashley himself wasn't sure whether it was the voice that awoke him with such a start or the nickname he wanted to forget so much.

"Do you hurt, Riskbreaker?" That voice inquired politely as Ashley bolted to a sitting position.

"I beg you, do not address me thus." Ashley placed a hand on his face, where exhaustion and worry were placing their mark.

He reverted his tired features to the man that awoke him.

Ashley met those dawn colored eyes with a tired frown.

"How fare you?" He asked Sydney, who struck Ashley as surprisingly thin and frail, compared to that same charismatic, strong figure he struck a while back.

Ashley's cloth aided little to stop Sydney's bleeding back.

Sydney nodded his head once. He was on the ground, in a especially soft patch of grass, and it would appear that he did not move much since Ashley placed him there. Not much afterwards Ashley himself collapsed by his side.

Feeling something moist on his back, his hand darted there, returning smeared.

"What is this?" Ashley demanded angrily, suddenly very aware of his back, which felt as if on fire.

"The rood on thy back, friend." Sydney gave him a steady stare, "It tastes your blood."

--*--*--

"Hardin… May the Gods give you peace…" Merlose whispered to the wind, holding the child to her protectively. He was crying.

Tears were threatening to flood her own eyes, yet she remained strong for the child.

There was some irony in it, she mused, passing her fingers through Joshua's hair absently; Through all Lea Monde', through all the sights and sounds she had heard and seen, through all the ravaged hearts she had accidentally or deliberately read, she did not feel any urge to weep. Yet, now… As her deep, sad brown eyes scanned the horizon, and Lea Monde' laid in ruins before her, the tears came.

"Sydney's dead there…" she sighed, "…Gods only knows what became of Guilderstern…" the name filled her with anger.

"Damn him." She sobbed. She was hugging Joshua, comforting him.

Or was it the other way around…?

"Ashley…" The name escaped her lips before it reached her heart, and it made her cringe in spite of herself.

She buried her wan face in Joshua's hair and let the tears come.

"Gods…" She sobbed, "Hasn't he been though enough…? Deserved, did he, to die in such a way…?"

"Callo…" Joshua suddenly spoke.

Merlose broke the hold, placing her hands on his arms and looking attentively into his youthful face, her own stricken with bitter tears.

"I must tell you something." He said while smiling. His voice, as his words, exceeded his age.

"I… Need… To leave."

--*--*--

"The way of Műlencamp is a bloody one," Explained Sydney while he and Ashley recuperated from the events transpired only a few hours before.

Ashley sat beside Sydney, both of them too spent to make any move yet. They were on a grass hill, viewing the strait that separated the city of The Dark from the Mainland. A few trees decorated the scenery behind them. Hinting a forest in the near distance. Sydney lay on the grass, leaning his chin on one metal backhand and gesticulating with the other.

"Műlencamp herself was a performer. She was burnt at the steak at the charge of witchcraft." The pain in his voice was as if he himself was burnt, and not she.

Ashley gave him a steady stare,

"Is it not the truth?"

Sydney smiled,

"Why, my dear Ashley, have you yet to learn 'Truth' is what you, you yourself decide it to be?"

Ashley returned his gaze to the waste of Lea Monde'. His expression thoughtful,

"I've naught save that knowing."

Sydney's smile widened. He observed Ashley intently,

"Have you plans for your path, friend?"

Ashley nearly allowed himself to sigh.

"Nay. Naught but an urge to avoid those who might try use me."

"Valendia Knights of the Peace?" He asked, though he knew the answer.

"Aye… Them, and others."

Sydney implored him to continue with a curious tilting of his head.

"I must absent myself from people." Ashley got up, stretching all those tired muscles.

Sydney watched those muscles stretch as others relaxed. An living tapestry of muscle and tendon. Thousands of possibilities, like this conversation, like the future, and even the past.

"Away from those who will seek control over me. Away from people that I possibly will endanger by knowing."

Here Sydney's eyes narrowed mischievously,

"The Inquisitor, Callo, be in that, nay?"

He received an innerved glare at the insinuation,

"Aye, she be one of those I've to let alone, but it is of no account." He shrugged, "She's of the VKP. That is her duty."

"You believe she belongs there, then?"

Another innerved frown,

"'Tis not my place to speculate where she does, or does not belong, and neither does it interest me. Let it be, Sydney."

--*--*--

"What mean you, 'leave'?" Merlose starred at his serious expression.

"I must help father," He started, reminding her of Young Sydney's words. She repressed more tears forcefully. Tears that came from the remainder of pre- dawn colored eyes. And another pair of sorrowful brown.

"I understand what meant they when they had taken me. Therefore, I must leave."

"No, Little One," She gently shook him, "You need not. It is over, all is past now."

Joshua laughed a child's laugh at this and said,

"You are mistaken, Callo. As long as I am here… As long as my blood still runs in my body, it is not ended."

"W… What does it mean??" She demanded, shaking him slightly harder.

"My blood is Bardorba blood." He explained, his tone unearthly peaceful. "Blessed, are we with The Dark. It runs strong in our family."

"Not you, little one…" She was convincing herself, not him, "Not you…!"

He briefly closed his eyes,

"I know that you do not want to see me leave." He whispered, as if entranced. Merlose understood that he was probably Heart-seeing her feelings. She subcosciecly withdrew her hands from him and placed them around her, feeling exposed.

"You fear loosing everything…" The boy continued relentlessly, "You are sad you've lost your friend. You are also sad for my brother." He opened his eyes and hugged her tightly, surprising her,

"Thank you."

--*--*--

"My dear, innocent Ashley," Sydney sighed, highly amused, "Exactly this is why I chose you."

"What mean you?" Ashley barked, innerved. He started to check his gear, reflecting on all those pieces he had left in various Containers.

What a strange place Lea Monde' was…

Sydney attempted to rise himself. His metal elbows rattled and clanked with the strain. He moaned and fell back down. Ashley hurried to his side, worry etched on his face,

"Best you stay down."

Sydney ignored the benevolent words and made another attempt, this time succeeding to bring himself to a crouch,

"Nay. We must take haste. The Cardinal's men and the VKP will be upon this place nigh."

He climbed painfully to his feet. However, as soon as he had straightened his back, darkness, much different from The Dark consumed his senses as the world spun twice beneath his insecure feet. His strength failed him and he collapsed.

He would have hit the ground have not Ashley Riot grabbed a hold of him.

Before Sydney could utter anything, the former Riskbreaker hoisted him to his back as he did before.

As he did when he had saved this man. What demon has possessed him back at the Cathedral to risk his life to save this man?

Friendship, maybe? Or rather a twisted feeling of shared fate?

All Ashley knew for certain was that he could not desert this man to his fate.

"I am in your debt… Dear Ashley." Sydney breathed, struggling to gather his scattered senses.

"…Think naught of it."

--*--*--

"You… Loved that man?" Joshua opened his eyes, tilting his head and giving Merlose a perplexed look, "He was so… Violent."

Cello withdrew from the child as if he was poisonous.

"N… No. Whatever made you say nonsense like that?"

"Then why sad you so?"

"Hush, little one!" Callo grabbed him and held him close again, "It is of no matter! He is dead." She cursed herself for the pain that followed that sentence.

Did Joshua see it in her heart or concluded solely from impression? She certainly felt no such emotion towards the Riskbreaker. Her feelings were simply admiration for a man who had nearly broken a record in Riskbreaker survival. Sympathy, for the incredible sorrow she had found in his eyes. Astonishment at his skills. Wonder at his responses. Awe at his straight forward, no- nonsense attitude.

Most certainly not… 'love'.

--*--*--

"Where are we headed?" Sydney tilted his head on Ashley's shoulder. He was feeling better, and was back to toying with Ashley.

Ashley frowned,

"Down that path." He pointed at the path ahead of them with his chin, both hands holding Sydney.

"In other words, you have no clue of our destination." His tone was slightly sour.

"I pray thee, do tell, if you've better ideas!" Ashley hastened his pace.

Sydney stretched his neck to see the former Riskbreaker's face, his voice dripped mischief,

"Why not go the other way and meet Agent Merlose? Surely she believes you dead."

He deliberately pushed with his power into Ashley's mind, forcing out memories of Agent Merlose in particularly striking moments.

"Enough…!" Ashley frowned deeply, his untamed power lashing out against the intruder.

Sydney's head snapped back sharply, the force of the attack like a punch under his chin. When his head slumped back, blood was trickling down his chin.

Ashley, alarmed that he had caused such damage, quickly lowered his burden from his back, inspecting him with worry.

Sydney was leant carefully against a tree, in such a way that only his upper back came in contact with the tree's rugged bark. The sensitive parts of his back were left unbothered.

"…My apologies… I meant not to hurt you…" Ashley fumbled with his words, clearly regretting his harsh action.

Sydney chuckled, wiping his mouth,

"Nay, I've to apologize. Teasing the strongest Dark there is, is clearly not very advisable."

"Again, I apologize." Ashley looked away after reassuring that Sydney was not seriously harmed.

Sydney laughed harder at Ashley's discomfort,

"You, my dear friend, are indeed a 'riot'. You were willing to fell me with one stroke back in Lea Monde, and now you fright over my health!" Here Sydney grabbed Ashley's wrist, his face calming instantly. The warrior looked at him with his intense eyes, "I thank you." Sydney added softly.

Ashley tore himself from Sydney's side, pretending to inspect the path ahead rather than face such emotional scenes. This did not escape Sydney's eyes, and he laughed.

"You are still immortal, are you not?" Ashley suddenly asked, still looking away as if turning his face would hide the worry.

Sydney nodded his head once,

"That I be."

Ashley hesitated.

"You fear the question," Sydney noted, "Whether you are an immortal."

Ashley stared at him levelly,

"I do not fear the question, as I fear the meaning of the possible answers."

Sydney shook his head apologetically,

"I meant not to imply you are a coward, my friend." He raised his hands in pacifying gesture, "Indeed, a grave question. But nay, thou art still a mortal."

Ashley raised his brows,

"What meaning does the rood have, then?"

"It takes more than a rood to make one immortal. It only means that you have been chosen by The Dark. To be immortal;" He explained, "takes a sacrifice."

Ashley turned fully to him, and he continued,

"I sacrificed my limbs to Műlencamp, and she granted me life. Not without end… But until my mission," Here he indicated Ashley himself, "Is complete." He smirked dreamily and Ashley gave him an hard look.

"You plan to die soon." He stated.

Sydney's smile remained as he scanned the former Riskbreaker standing before him,

"After you decide that which you sacrifice, your powers will be yours. Mind you, that which you sacrifice determines what the Dark shall bestow upon you." He paused and looked grim as he said, "The Dark is very demanding." His hands twitched.

He raised his left arm, "Past seer,"

He saw Ashley's two pasts, and the one he chose to believe true. It pained him to see such conflict and pain, and the doubt was still there, subsiding.

He raised his right hand, "Shape shifter,"

Sydney had already started to formulate a plan of the last time he will ever have to change his appearance in other people's eyes. For the first time, perhaps, Sydney will take the likings of a person he actually would enjoy being.

He indicated his leg, "Heart seer and manipulator,"

Even good Hardin needed a good shove in the wanted direction when it came to his attitude towards Sydney, yet this Riskbreaker did not. Was this a first time for Sydney? The first time someone liked him on his own accord? Sydney could not tell.

The former Riskbreaker would probably never believe Sydney if the later would tell him that no heart manipulation had occurred.

He indicated his other leg, "Soothsaying."

He saw but a flash of something, though whose future it was, he could not say.

It included a woman of magnificent beauty, similar to Agent Merlose, yet she seemed to be a different person.

"The more one is willing to sacrifice, the Dark is fonder of him."

--*--*--

Merlose wept again. It really wasn't like her, to weep so much.

Joshua came to her side and hugged her tightly.

"If it means so much to you, I can stay…"

She raised her head with surprise,

"You can?"

He nodded happily,

"It may be perilous. However, as long as no one will know my identity as Duke Bardorba's son, I shall be safe."

She hugged him so tightly, he could hardly breath. He said nothing, though, and simply returned the embrace.

She got up to her legs, and surveyed the surroundings.

Some trees in the distance, ruined Lea Monde in the horizon. She thought she could barely see a cloud of dust rising on the opposite horizon, and figured that the VKP sent reinforcements to this area. What started as a simple, yet peculiar, uprising of a cult turned into the biggest conspiracy she had yet to see.

The Duke wanted the city destroyed, the Cardinal wanted the city, Guildenstern just wanted.

She heaved a heavy sigh and looked at the approaching cloud. She thought of waving when she remembered that those might be Knights Of Cross. She then started with Joshua towards the forest, hoping to hide there till she confirmed the newcomers' identity.

--*--*--

"Someone's a coming…" Ashley mumbled. His ears and eyes received no evidence of it yet, but his Dark did.

Sydney straightened immediately,

"Crimson Cross Knights…!" His own Dark informed him, his voice slightly stressed, "I am in no condition to tackle them, friend."

Ashley nodded,

"You and I both."

Ashley hesitated a moment, thinking about the best plan. His composure was cold as ice as he said,

"We run."

Much to Ashley's surprise, Sydney pushed himself to his feet and stood firm,

"We run." The cultist agreed with determination.

They fled.

Ashley could outrun Sydney easily, but kept by him nonetheless.

He could sense the men after them. They were on horsebacks. The former Riskbreaker and the former cult leader were spent, and those soldiers were both fast and well rested.

Ashley had to come up with some plan.

The thick forest would provide little help with it's treacherous terrain, and it's thickness would only hinder them.

Ashley scanned the minds of those men before he could even think, there were ten of them, and they were coming fast from behind.

The Knights approaching knew that Ashley and Sydney were here, since one of their own had some dark abilities. Ashley presumed that soldier was sent from Lea Monde' ere its demise to call backup, and only now was returning.

Ashley's mind went into battle mode. At his best, he could take three, maybe four men at a time, and even when he was at his sharpest, such a battle could be perilous.

And he had to protect Sydney at any cost, who suffered enough for both of them. He will not allow more harm to come to him.

And he proved it.

His acute, yet feral Dark sensed the gunbow fire far before any other sense, even Sydney's, could.

And he changed course.

Sydney skidded to a halt when he heard a grunt and a thud.

His heart skipped a beat at the vision that was revealed to him.

Ashley lay on the hard ground, a bolt through his back.

"ASHLEY!! NO---!!"

Sydney flew to his fallen future's side, alarmed without end. He grabbed the former Riskbreaker's shoulder and shook him.

He gently, almost fearfully, placed an ear on Ashley's back, cursing his unfeeling hands.

--*--*--

Merlose was surprised that the men did not come through the main road to Lea Monde's entrance, but seemed to prefer the jagged forest path. She decided to investigate. The nearest city was more miles away than she fancied to travel alone with the child, and waiting for the Valendia knights' ride, that was due in a few hours, seemed the best idea.

"An agent with no battle experience would be a liability." Agent Riot had told her once. Indeed, she had just recently transferred to the Riskbreaker's department after a few years of an exemplarily record as a Valendian Knight.

"Stay here till I return." She instructed him kindly. He nodded and sat on a rock inside the thick forest.

Every now and then a renewed flow of tears would threaten to rise, yet she held to her pride stubbornly, and allowed no more tears to spill.

Upon reaching a forest path, her eyes widened in wonder at the vision before her.

--*--*--

Sydney threw his pride to the wind and let whatever emotion sought to surface to do as it wills with him.

Ashley Riot was dead.

Sydney leant his head on the warrior's back. Still warm.

His metal hands grabbed the side of Ashley's ribcage, as if he wanted somehow to press some more life into him.

Something even The Dark cannot do.

"…Your humor is not to my liking… Műlencamp."

He heard them surround them… Him. If not with his ears, then with his Dark. They dismounted.

He felt moister gather in the corners of his eyes.

When one of the soldiers grabbed Sydney by the hair and jerked his head back, the tears rolled quietly down his cheeks.

He said nothing when a sword was put to his throat.

Ashley was dead.

"I found ye', ye' scurvy mongrel! Time for ye' t'die! When I bring yar dead carcass A'll be grandly reward'd!" The soldier pressed the sword to Sydney's throat till he drew blood, then he paused.

Sydney's eyes flashed open at the amount of fright the man holding him was radiating all of the sudden.

There was a firm hand on the soldier's sword hand, holding the sword from Sydney's neck. Ashley's other hand supported his shaking body.

The soldiers around them took a step back. Sydney's jaw opened ajar.

"…It's me… You want." Ashley murmured, lifting himself.

Sydney was dropped, and he slumped to the floor.

Ashley slowly got up. He reached to his back and grabbed the bolt, then yanked it out of his flesh with a splatter of blood and nearly collapsing.

He coughed several times, hacking upon his own blood.

Everybody starred at him, motionless.

"You were most definitely dead!" The soldier exclaimed, panicked.

"You've… Given me… Quiet a scratch." He lifted his head, blood dripping from his mouth down his face. One hand pressed against his chest, for the bolt was long enough to pierce the front of Ashley's ribcage.

Sydney could not repress a smile, even though he was still flabbergast as to the resurrection.

Certainly it was not within Sydney's power to resurrect him, not even if Ashley had died within Lea Monde'.

Ashley dropped to Sydney's side and placed a gentle hand on the cultist's shoulder.

"I apologize…" He said to the soldiers who were still gaping, "…I've no time… To toy… With you." He then vanished with Sydney, and each of the ten Knights of Cross fell to the ground.

--*--*--

"What transpired here?" Callo bent down near one of the Crimson Cross Knights. He was still alive.

Without much difficulty, an apparition appeared before her eyes and she saw a sniplet of what the soldier had witnessed before he passed out completely.

What she saw was a blurred picture of a man, and all that could be said about him was that his eyes were furious, and very brown.

She knew the man will not remember any more, if at all even this, when he awakens anew.

--*--*--

Ashley collapsed to his knees, coughing blood. His entire frame was shaking feverishly.

"Ashley," Sydney breathed, he had appeared at the same position, on his knees and leaning on his hands, as he was before in this new scenery.

He concluded, by the forest in the far distance, that they had teleported a great deal of leagues.

"You are a complete ass." Sydney concluded calmly.

Then Ashley fell to the floor, unconscious.

--*--*--

Inquisitor Merlose examined the area around the ten unconscious men.

She found no evidence of a fight save a spot of blood near one of them.

They surrounded something or someone and then they instantly fell.

All of them where alive, and with her Heart Seeing she could see that they all had a great deal of fright ere they fainted.

What did they see that could have caused such a reaction from nearly a dozen knights?

She was not sure she wanted to find out.

Again Merlose sighed, letting her mind wonder as she took one of the knight's swords and started back towards the underground entrance to Lea Monde.

That is the location where the VKP's transport is to pick her and Agent Riot (If the later were to come out alive) on the morrow's daybreak.

Now it was her and Joshua.

She would have to find a different name for the boy to distract attention. He had to have a new identity.

They had just enough time to return.

Maybe, when she will get there, she will witness Ashley emerging from the underground caverns.

Maybe he'll smile upon seeing her safe.

Most likely he will not.

--*--*--

"Quickly, wench, I need a room." Ashley said as the woman in charge of the inn hesitated.

He supported a blurry figure, nearly falling from his feet and holding his hands to his chest.

She hastily led them to a room down the hall, letting Ashley and his companion in.

Before she left Ashley said,

"My thanks."

Or at least that's what Sydney presumed Ashley would say if he ever thanked anyone.

Now Sydney locked the door with a sigil and hurried to help Ashley.

Everything seemed so calm. He was in a foreign bed. It felt clean and soft.

The bitter taste of blood soiled his tongue, salty sea air tickled his nose and stirred him into consciousness.

His limbs felt immeasurably heavy and his chest felt as if it was pierced by the mightiest of weapons.

He opened his eyes.

Not too far from the truth, he remembered.

Ashley turned his head to look at the former cult leader. The later was seated on a chair at Ashley's bedside, his back still covered by Ashley's former shirt. Sydney examined his patient; sweat was trickling down his forehead. Blood stained his lips.

"I see that your desires are to destroy me, after all." Sydney got up from the chair and sat on the bed near Ashley, "You wish to die?" He shrugged, "To destroy all that I have labored and suffered for?"

"What…" Ashley coughed.

"You are the one chosen by The Dark. All my life I have lived to find you and grant you The Dark's domain. Yet you prefer to give thy life to save an immortal. Perhaps my choice was false, for I was looking for someone with a brain."

"…I'd rather have died than let you suffer the burden of your 'precious' Dark any longer." Ashley shook his head, wiping his mouth with a backhand.

Sydney's head jerked back with a heartfelt laugh.

"My dear Ashley, you are far too righteous to be in my presence," He teased, then said more soberly, "Still, if you had ended back there, then all would have been for naught. I have feared that I have failed Műlencamp, that perhaps I've to end myself and forsaken saving The Dark."

"Where are we?" Nearly after every sentence Ashley had to cough out blood.

"Yoan Port."

"I… Did end there. Did I not?" His breaths were heavy, for he struggled to keep breathing at all.

Sydney frowned,

"Aye."

"Than how…?"

Sydney stared at Ashley's wan face. He still needed much rest. He will tell him about his theory at a later occasion.

"Your lung is pierced." He stated, "That is why you can hardly breath. It will take approximately some hours to breath normally again."

Ashley ignored the evasion of an answer. He knew that when the cultist will be ready, only then will he share information. He knew Sydney's games, he knew that Sydney would reveal the truth only at his own whim.

"This pain… You suffered it as well. By my hand."

Sydney smiled,

"Aye. But you need not apologize, I'm certain D'tok dealt you pain as well."

Ashley raised his brows and looked at the celing, recalling that first incident,

"Frankly," He started, though his eyes refused to keep open from weariness, "he was pathetic."

Before Ashley's eyes sealed themselves he caught a glimpse of Sydney's surprised, even insulted expression before he burst with good laughter.

And with the ring of Sydney's laughter, the scent of the sea and the bitterness of blood, Ashley fell asleep.

--*--*--

She presumed she had to get on with her life now. This was simply another mission, one of so many- she will probably forget.

Nay, she could never erase from her mind what had transpired within the magical cursed city of 'The World'… Lea Monde.

The wagon she was on rattled heavily through the decayed, now unpaved road, her head knocking softly against the window. What will she do when they reach the Vanlain? It was the last place she wanted to be right now. She simply felt like living by the straight, waiting endlessly for the moment when Ashley Riot will ascend the steps to the sunlight.

As she gazed to the forest melting in the far horizon, she wondered whether she should report the Crimson Cross Knights she had witnessed.

…Whether she should report… Anything at all, for that matter.

Ashley would have probably known what to do, she mused.

What if he now, this instant, emerged from the caverns? Where will he go, now that the ride did not wait for him.

Merlose told them to leave, that he was dead, though her heart refused to believe what her mouth was admitting.

She then recalled that the small village of Yoan Port was but a day's travel. Surely he would go there and contact the nearest VKP outpost.

Now she could not wait to reach Vanlain's VKP Headquarters in hope that word of his safety will be waiting for her there. Maybe even he himself, somehow.

Most probably not.

--*--*--

Ashley woke up with a start. He did not know what had woken him up.

He was on his side, facing the only window in the slight hotel room. An unfamiliar warmth weighted his stomach.

Still groggy, Ashley turned his head back. His brows arced.

Sydney had fallen asleep, his face more peaceful than the former Riskbreaker had ever seen him.

…To think that their acquaintance was only two days old… No, they knew each other's past, they knew each other far more than two days, in terms of the bond between them.

What baffled him, though, was that Sydney's chin rested on the curve of the former Riskbreaker's back. One hand stretched forward, the other placed lightly on Ashley's ribcage. The cultist's body lay vertically across the wide bed.

The inn keeper had but one room left, and that room contained one bed.

This made Ashley Riot smile. Such friendly, trusting situation warmed his heart and made him forget his worries. Ashley had experienced no friendship, warmth or happiness since…

Maybe it was as Sydney says, and he had forgotten his soul. Naught remained of his soul but an urge for justice, which he had felt all his life. Without thought Ashley reached out and patted Sydney fondly on the top on the head.

Sydney smiled in his sleep.

After a shade of a chuckle, Ashley slipped silently from the bed, the pain in his chest as if never there.

He took a great deal of care in placing some pillows under Sydney's chin, not to disturb the sleeping man's slumber.

It took long minutes for Ashley to tend to Sydney; He approved of the rapid pace in which Sydney's back was healing. He attempted to untangle the blankets away from Sydney's metallic, erratically designed legs with no success. He then took a woolen white shirt from his bag and placed it carefully over Sydney. He somehow hoped that this wooly shirt would shield Sydney from unpleasant dreams in his sleep.

He frowned; it has been a long time since such poetic nonsense crossed his mind.

Now gruff, Ashley strode and stationed himself by the open window. It was mid afternoon already, and many people were walking the streets. He stretched in the sun, letting his mind wonder.

"You realize, of course," Sydney suddenly spoke, his voice hoarse from a deep sleep, "That your immortality means my freedom."

Ashley turned, surprised,

"My apologies, I meant not to wake you."

Sydney shook his head, "'Tis alright."

"What do you mean? Are you willing to explain how could it be that I live?"

Sydney nodded once, appearing thoughtful,

"It would appear that I was mistaken. I am no longer immortal since the end of Lea Monde."

Ashley raised his brows,

"Are you certain?"

Sydney smiled, "Aye. My powers have remained with me, though. However, since my mission is complete- you have been brought to The Dark and Lea Monde is laid in waste- I have gained my time to rest."

Ashley's eyes widened slightly with worry,

"You mean all this now time… Your life is on the line?"

Sydney's smile widened,

"That it was, but I had a good protector."

Ashley turned back to look out the window.

"When you took that bolt for me," Sydney said softly, "you saved my life. However," here he pushed himself up and noticed the shirt. He regarded it with puzzlement as to its origin a moment before slipping his arms carefully through the sleeves. He continued,

"However, you are still an ass for doing what you did. Have you not been immortal…" Sydney sighed with exasperation, "You did not even know you were immortal ere you leapt like an ass in front of that bolt in order to save me…" He mumbled angrily.

Ashley seated himself on the window sill, "You have yet to answer me; Why am I immortal?"

Sydney walked across the room to a water basin placed on a table.

"Have you thought what are you to sacrifice?"

Ashley looked disturbed,

"Nay. What shall happen if I refuse to sacrifice anything?"

The cultist took a towel and cleaned his face. He offered it then to Ashley, who took it.

"Then you shall forever remain an immortal weakling. The Dark will not be fond of you and torment you."

After cleaning his own face, Ashley returned the towel.

"A grim prospect. Why must I carry it? I never once wanted to control The Dark. I simply used it's magick to get out of there alive. I've no desire to control the lot of it."

Sydney sighed, though he seemed rather pleased with himself,

"That is why I chose you. If you remember, I told you that those who crave The Dark, cannot control The Dark." Sydney sat on the bed and started cleaning the joints of his metallic limbs, "The Dark does not like to be controlled. It does not like to control others either. It wants to be itself and let others be themselves. If we use it against it's will, it does not like that."

Ashley simply sat on the sill and looked at the former cult leader, now him mentor.

"How does one know if one abuses The Dark or not?"

"For example, our dear Guildenstern's obsessive and oppressive attitude harmed The Dark. It harmed those who follow it loyally, as well," His eyes darkened with the memory, "The Dark did not approve of that either."

Ashley rubbed his chin thoughtfully,

"If I must sacrifice something…" He sighed, shaking his head, "…I cannot…"

Sydney watched him intently, his eyes twinkling mischievously.

"Perhaps… My memories…?" Ashley looked away, his brows knitting in a deep frown, "What will I be without my memories…?"

He then raised his head heatedly,

"What are you chuckling at, goat? 'tis a grave matter I'm trying to consult with you upon!"

Sydney let out his laughter,

"My sweet, innocent Ashley! I know for sure that I've chosen true with you. You wear your good heart on your forehead, and then you anger if people mention it to you." He then walked up to Ashley, "Nay. Your memories it will not be."

Ashley looked up to Sydney, the frown still on his face, "I thought that first came the sacrifice, and only then immortality…?"

Here the most mischievous of Sydney's smiles yet graced his lips,

"You already gave thy sacrifice, Ashley Riot."

He said it in his way. That melodramatic way that only Sydney could pull off. Sydney mastered striking poses and mysterious sentences to an art.

"What mean you? I did not do such thing." Ashley's eyes were fixed on the man before him.

Sydney lightly grabbed Ashley's chin as he whispered,

"Your life."

Hi!

Please tell me what you think! I've some more written down, so the next chapter shan't be so far away.

Please tell me what you think!
P.S: Please tell me whether or not do you think that Sydney and Ashley 'have something' for each other in this fic- or if you want them to.
Your opinion counts!

Thanks ^_^