Five Truths

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Summary: Five truths about each of the Dragoons of Endiness.

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He was an angry kid. The couple who took him in after the Neet disaster didn't know what to do with him, and after a few bare-knuckle confrontations with the other children of Seles, no one bothered.

He fought weird. He didn't fight decently, or so everyone thought. Most kids his age would make do with punching their opponent in the gut and then grinding their faces in the mud. This kid kicked people in the ear.

"Where'd you learn that?" spat one Seles boy after the fourth consecutive time that he'd been knocked in his ass in half as many minutes.

He glared down at him, shaggy gold hair falling into his stony eyes. "My mom."

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Dart hated Seles at first. Hated his foster parents, hated his cold, narrow, strange house, and hated the mayor's daughter most of all. She'd heard he was an orphan, and predictably, this brought out every motherly instinct in her little body.

Dart took to being mothered about as well as could be expected.

On the bright fall morning on the log bridge, he'd been trying to outrun her as fast as his legs could take him. She trotted belligerently behind him the entire time, the words caught on her lips just waiting for a chance to escape, Dart, you have to talk to me, you don't have any parents! when the monster appeared.

Dart didn't debate coming to her defense, he just did. Instinctively. Of course, he couldn't think of anything more to do than shout and wave his arms widely, but it worked.

Afterwards, Shana had stared at him goggle-eyed, trying to wrap her head around the idea of a Dart who wasn't a victim she could play ministering angel to, and Dart realized that he wanted to do this sort of thing for the rest of his life.

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His new parents terrified him. Not the fact that they exist, but because of the idea that they represented. That they were his new parents, as if his old ones never existed.

His new father was short and compact, with a large, hard belly and a boisterous sort of laugh. He worked in town. A brewer. He wasn't quiet. His hands were large and plump, not lean and calloused, and he never touched Dart save to pat him on the back every once in a while and say, nervously, there's a good boy. Having Dart in their home meant a purse from the coffers of Mille Seseau every year, to pay for the room and board of all the orphans of Neet. He treated Dart well, in his own way.

His new mother was wide and sturdy and pale-skinned, good Serdian peasant stock. She tried her best with him, but there was only so much she could do with a child who resented her more than he could ever fully articulate, who flinched away from every motherly gesture because she wasn't his mother, she wasn't short and hard-edged and wickedly funny and ferociously loving, she was, instead, a pale stranger, and he hated her for it.

When Dart ran away to chase down a bad dream a continent away, the pair of them breathed a sigh of relief, despite the fact that Mille Seseau would undoubtedly hear, and stop sending purses. Their responsibility for him was at an end.

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His first night away from home, on the trail of the Black Monster, he curled up underneath an enormous tree, cold, hungry, and completely miserable.

His one thought before slipping into uneasy, uncomfortable sleep was, what the hell am I doing?

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The whole five years he was away, the only person from Seles he ever thought of was Shana.

The reason for it never even crossed his mind.

He just hoped she was okay.

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