My first Magna Carta fic! Revolves around Agreian discovering who Calintz really is. I don't really think it counts as a spoiler since you find out pretty early on. Could be interpreted as friendship or otherwise.
When he first met Calintz, he had been rather young. Young and battle-hardened and, perhaps, slightly world-weary. An old man inside. He had recruited the Tears of Blood after hearing of their impressive skills in battle, hoping that their additional forces would help turn the tide of the war.
There had been a knock at the entrance to his office. A pause. The door swung open and the captain of the Tears of Blood entered upon his bidding.
At first he was a little surprised at how young the captain was, then again, Agreian patiently reminded himself that the war had left many young people with nothing but a burning desire for revenge. He wondered if it was the same for this man.
"General Agreian, I presume," the captain wasted no time on pleasantries. "My name is Calintz; I lead the mercenary group that you called for. Lehas informed me that you have a need for our services."
"I do," Agreian stood, stepping around his desk to stand in front of him. "I hear that the Tears of Blood are most skilled. I thought that you would be a useful addition to the battlefield."
Watching him closely, Agreian could not tell what the captain was thinking. Whether he was intrigued or wary or simply indifferent; everything was hidden behind an impassive face and a monotone voice, dark eyes that concealed his feelings, a lean figure that seemed relaxed yet was poised and ready for battle.
Calintz seemed in every respect the professional that he should be; strong and skilled, with a confident air around him that could inspire the necessary leadership. He had no second thoughts about his decision to call in the Tears of Blood.
Yet, even from their first encounter, he was wary of handing this man all his trust. He wanted to trust this Calintz and yet there was something…something that did not sit right with him.
Just being within in his presence, he had the impression that the person standing before him was competent, resolute, and so very lonely.
"Come on out! I don't have time to be playing hide-and-seek with you!" he yelled at the trees around the outskirts of the village. "Hey, are you even listening to me? Mano!"
When no one replied, he frowned, huffing. This was great. He hated missing practice just because his partner had decided not to turn up. It was strange; usually he was always on time and eager to spar. Had he forgotten?
Or had he just disappeared?
"Mano!" he called again. "This is the last time! If you're playing hide-and-seek, you can give up now! Come on out!"
Tell me where you're hiding.
I can't see you anymore.
"Where are you, Mano!"
Where did you go?
Sometimes, he thought he saw it.
As time passed and the Tears of Blood proved their worth on the battlefield, their reputation for being formidable fighters soon increased, as did Agreian's reputation for favouring Calintz out of all the others.
No one really spoke of it that much but he would hear whispers sometimes;
"If something happens, General Agreian will bail them out."
"The general will probably give that assignment to the Tears of Blood."
Sometimes it came in the form of a reprimand.
"General, I mean no disrespect but you really are too lenient on that upstart of a captain," Tazma liked too say every so often.
"Not at all. I give respect where respect is due," would be his excuse on every such occasion.
So, perhaps he did favour the Tears of Blood and, in particular, Calintz, over his other troops but did that really matter? They had earned his confidence, he told himself, and they had proved their worth. It was not special treatment that went undeserved.
At least, that was what he liked to tell himself.
Still, he did not really know why he had a tendency to go a little further in order to help out the band of mercenaries. It was a strange urge that overcame him whenever he was in Calintz's presence, a desire to help, to ease the burden on his back and sometimes, sometimes he saw it.
When he started to become even more familiar with Calintz, when he had to brief him on the next mission or listen to a report, he began to see it; glimmers of someone he had once known. It was in that hair and those eyes, in how he always looked out for his comrades, and how he would push himself to be tough.
Glimmers of a person he had once known.
Glimmers and nothing more. He dismissed the comparison as soon as it had entered his thoughts. How silly of him to dwell on the past when there was a war to be fought. Memories brought back no one.
"Hey! Anyone still alive?"
Surveying the charred ruins of the village, he did not know what he expected to find. It had been a week since they had been attacked. A whole week before he had managed to sneak away and return to search the wrecked home for survivors.
This was ridiculous, he told himself. There would be no survivors after a week. He knew that, he knew that and yet he continued to search.
The smell of charcoal and burnt flesh still lingered in the air, rotten corpses attracting swarms of flies that hovered like a black cloud over the bodies. The smell made his eyes water, making to tell one burnt body from the next.
"Mano! Can you hear me? Where are you?" he cried, almost choking on the pungent air. He did not want to think about the attack but the memories came regardless, memories full of screams, memories as red as blood attacking his mind.
Mano? Where did you go? I searched for you.
He kept looking, wandering aimlessly around and around the remains of the village. Around and around, wondering where his friend could be hiding. He did not want to think that he might be dead. It was impossible. Something like that could not possibly happen!
"General Agreian!" A voice. Louder this time. "General!"
He woke with a start. A young woman was leaning over him with concern. He looked around. His room. He was in his room, lying in his bed. This was the present, not some smoke filled memory of death. this was the present and they were currently at war with the Yason.
The young woman stepped away nervously as he sat up. "F – Forgive me, General, but your mother wished to speak with you," she apologised profusely, bowing to him over and over again. With worried eyes that looked about to cry, she asked; "Did you have a nightmare?"
Agreian looked at her oddly, then, slowly, raised a hand to touch his cheek. It was dry. "Who knows?" he whispered. "It was just as dream."
Agreian sighed. He was just too tired right now to deal with any of his other duties.
Sending Calintz to the dungeons as punishment for disobeying his orders left him strangely drained. He knew that Reith was making the captain act in ways which others would have called strange and Agreian had thought it fun, even charming, to see Calintz ever so slightly worked up about it, but there were limits how far one could take it.
Someone pounding at the door added to his already growing headache.
"Come in," he sat up, trying his best not to appear annoyed.
"General Agreian!" One of his soldiers rushed in, attempting a quick, flustered salute. "General, there has been an intruder spotted in the Armabat dungeons!"
"What?" Agreian leapt to his feet. How could anyone have snuck into such a heavily guarded place?
"As far as we can tell, nothing has been stolen, although we are still in the process of taking stock. Two guards were killed and the captain of the Tears of Blood is injured and currently resting in - "
"Thank you. I will go attend to this matter myself," he was already half-way out of his office before the soldier could finish reporting.
What was going on? What was he doing? He had simply took off as soon as he heard the news without stopping to question why. Telling himself that he was worried about that state of one of his best men was a lie even he could not fool himself with.
So then why? Why was he so worried? Calintz could take care of himself. There was no need for his concern.
"What happened? Where is the intruder?" he burst in to the resting room, purposefully striding towards the bed where Calintz was sleeping. Haren had carried him back no doubt. Three of the other mercenaries looked at him with shock.
"Him? The bastard took off after we fought," Haren spoke first, pounding a fist into his palm.
"Is…is Calintz going to be okay? Justina said so but…"
"He'll be fine," he assured Reith, though he was not really listening to her. His gaze skimmed over Calintz - he really did not seem badly injured – to the bedside table where a small dagger lay resting besides the captain.
Agreian drew a breath.
No, you gave me your most treasured possession so I'll give you mine.
"W – what's this?" he asked, picking up the dagger for the others to see.
Haren shrugged. "Oh that? The captain had it on him. Heh, who'd have thought that he was packing another weapon on him?"
"I see," he looked at the blade with a thoughtful expression, forgetting that he had company for a moment. As soon as his thoughts came back to him he hurriedly dismissed the other members. "You three may go now. There is something that I wish to discuss with Calintz as soon as he wakes."
The mercenaries slowly left, casting backwards glances at the captain. The door was gently shut as if not to disturb him from his sleep and Agreian was left with only the dagger and a strange, unexplainable feeling for company.
Ah, I see
It was an odd feeling. It was a sort of vaguely familiar feeling. Resignation and content and, for some reason, he was slightly happy.
Ah, I see.
Ah, I see.
He smiled, but he really wanted to laugh instead. Unable to fight such a strong urge, he let a soft chuckle escape from his lips.
So this is where you were hiding.
Right under his nose.
All this time, he had been right under his nose, right in front of him and he had not seen it. That hair and those eyes, how he always looked out for his comrades, and how he would push himself to be tough. How Calintz was competent, resolute, and so very lonely. He had no seen it at all.
He smiled, the dagger still in his hand. The dagger that he had given away so many years ago had now come back to him, bringing with it the one he had long since given up searching for.
No, that was a lie. He had never really given up. He had always been looking. In his mind, in his thoughts, a part of him had always been searching for the boy playing hide-and-seek between his memories.
To think that all this time the person that he had worked with, the person he had ordered into battle, the person who always carried out those missions with machine-like efficiency was the very person he had always wanted to see ever since that day the village had been destroyed.
The sleeping figure on the bed began to stir and Agreian leaned forward by an inch. Eyelids fluttered open and those eyes were on him, looking up at him questioningly.
"I see that you're awake, Mano," his voice sounded a bit too soft to be his own.
Calintz sat up, shock evident in his normally unreadable eyes. He probably had not heard that name spoken by another person in a very long time. A name that he thought he had buried somewhere behind him resonating so clearly now in his ears.
Agreian set the dagger down on the table.
"I searched for you, you know?"
A simple statement. A simple truth.
I searched everywhere except right in front of me.
"That's it! If you're not coming out, I'm heading back to the village!" he turned away, annoyed, and started back in the direction of his home.
Someone cried after him. Before he could turn, something tackled him from behind, sending him sprawling across the leaf-littered floor.
"Argh! There you are!" he twisted around, just far enough to see the young boy who was holding on to his legs. He gently pushed him aside and sat up, brushing the leaves from his shirt. "What are you doing? Where were you?"
The boy laughed; delighted that he had managed to trick his friend. "Couldn't you tell? I was right in front of you, silly!"
My first Magna Carta fic so tell me what you thought. By the way, my friendship levels are wacky. I talk to build them up and then they go back down after a few battles. Someone please tell me, is that supposed to happen? I just want Maya to like me!