A New Beginning

Tina sighed, sitting by the camp fire as she waited back at the village with Innes.

Sopie frowned as she brought them warm meals and drinks. "Just be patient. He'll show up soon. He couldn't have wandered off too far."

The cleric shook her head, taking her drink in hand. "I sure hope so."

Innes remained silent, resting his head up on his knees and poking the fire with a stick.

Sophie glanced between the two for a time before glancing back up at the gates and squinting her eyes at something in the distance. "Who's that now?"

Immediately, the lilac haired priestess jumped up upon seeing the group of travelers in the distance. She stared for a moment as well before her eyes widened. "It's Arthen! He's back!"

The mage looked up also before his forehead creased with confusion. "Who's he with?"

The cleric shook her head before running out to meet them. "Athen! Arrtheen!"

The rogue and the blue haired knight made their way back to the village with the two Reians at their side.

Vince grinned up at the templar. "Oh look who's coming for us now. You might be in some trouble mister."

Arthen muttered something inaudible in response before the cleric finally made it up to him and swung her arms around him and squeezed him tightly. "Where on Atreia did you go?"

"Yeah, where were you?" Innes seemed to have almost materialized behind her.

"Oh, we went on a little adventure." Vince's grin widened. "You know, the usual thing."

Not even acknowledging the scout, the cleric let go of the warrior and stepped back. "What happened?"

Arthen scratched his head. "It's kind of a long story."

"A long story?" Tina eyed Engeius and Zihark who were quiet this whole time. "Who are you?"

The warrior bowed politely. "My name is Engeius. Your friends saved me. And for that, I am grateful."

Zihark remained silent for a moment before sighing. "And I'm Zihark."

Vince patted the chanter on the shoulder before returning his attention to the cleric. "So the tough guy gets a hug but I don't?"

Tina smiled and shook her head. "I thought you weren't coming with us to Gelkmaros?"

The assassin shoved his hands into his pants pockets and chuckled. "Well, I wasn't planning on it. It just sort of happened that way. Maybe fate or something like that." He beamed at her.

Innes rolled his eyes, impatient with this whole situation already.

The cleric glanced between everybody again before turning to head back to the village. "Well, come on. Sophie already has lunch made for everyone. We should head back."

Arthen nodded as the rest followed back to Rhonnam.

Sophie's dark brown eyes lit up when she saw the two Reians. Almost eagerly, she set out to serve the rest of her company as quickly as possible.

Arthen seated himself next to Tina and smiled. "So, I take it you're doing better now?"

She nodded. "Yeah, I was until you went off and disappeared like that."

"I'm really sorry." The man sighed, setting his food down in front of him. "I just kind of went for a walk and I sort of got pulled into something unintentionally."

She shook her head at him. "You know better than to go out alone like that."

He frowned. "I really am sorry, Tina."

Vince saw the two of them talking by the fire and welcomed himself on the other side of Tina, a bowl of hot rice in hand. He shoveled some into his mouth as he listened to the two go on.

"Have you had any more of those dreams?" Arthen looked at the light haired cleric questioningly.

"No.. I haven't had any more after that one. I am beginning to think that it.." She paused noticing the scout there finally.

Vince stared back at the two, his mouth full of food when he spoke. "Whatcha guys talkin' about?"

Tina rubbed her forehead. "About a dream I had the other night. It's nothing."

"A dream?" Innes joined them now though now everyone seemed to be coming over.

"It's nothing. Really." The cleric drew in a deep breath and exhaled.

Vince swallowed his food down. "Yeah, leave the girl alone. You guys are crowding her now."

The red headed mage glared at him.

The templar shook his head again, starting to speak before he was interrupted.

"Arthen, I have a letter for you! Akakakak!"

The four looked around confused a moment before Arthen finally turned to the shugo that was standing before them. "A letter?"

The shugo nodded. "A letter from Richelle. Here you go, nyerk!"

The warrior took the letter as it was handed to him.

Tina and the others waited silently as he read the letter as though waiting for some kind of news.

After a moment, Arthen looked up again. "Apparently since last night, the aetheric generators have been working again. She wants us to come back for another mission."

Tina narrowed her eyes in thought. "Since last night? What could have caused the change?"

Arthen shook his head. "It might have had something to do with Taloc..."

The cleric raised an eyebrow. "Tay-what?"

"Taloc." Zihark stepped up from behind, towering over them. "He's the guardian of this entire land. He's the reason why I'm breathing right now." He turned his cold gaze directly at Arthen. "And he's the reason why you didn't end up being worm food."

Tina glanced between the two and scowled. "I see... Well, regardless of what the causation was, the generators are working again. I'm sure that Richelle will be wanting to see us tomorrow so we should probably get are things together tonight."

Arthen nodded before looking back at the shugo. "Let her know that we got the message and we'll be back at the fortress tomorrow morning."

"Alright!" The shugo chirped before hurrying off again.

"Well... That's interesting." Innes scratched his chin. "Must have been some adventure you guys had wherever you were."

Zihark looked over at the mage. "All that matters is that Taloc is well." Looking back at Arthen his expression softened. "I am really thankful for your help. I really am. But I need to get back to my father. I'm sure he's worried about me."

Tina stared into the campfire in silence.

"What about your sister?" Vince took another mouthful of rice before putting his bowl down.

The assassin has his attention now. "What about my sister?"

"You said the balaur took her. Didn't you want to look for her?"

The Reian boy glared. "That was a long time ago. There's no telling where she is now."

Sophie came back to take their dishes. She listened to them carefully as she filled her arms with bowls and glasses to wash.

"Well you have to look for her." Vince added finally.

The boy snarled, taking a step forward at the assassin. "You think that I haven't!"

"Whoa, hey wait a minute you guys." Arthen stood up to get between the two of them. "What are you talking about?" He looked at Zihark. "What are you saying?"

The chanter sighed. "A long time ago, me and my sister were ambushed in Taloc's forest. I wasn't able to protect my sister and the Balaur took her away from me. They didn't kill her, they just took her away."

Sophie paused, looking over at the Reian now. "So she is still alive somewhere?"

The boy forced his eyes shut, his form visibly shaking. "She has to be."

"I see." Sophie picked up the last of the dishes before standing up straight again to face him. "Perhaps she's with the Dragonbound then."

"Don't say that!" The boy barked through clenched teeth, glaring coldly at the woman. "Don't say things like that."

Arthen tilted his head curiously. "What is... the Dragonbound?"

"They're Reians under the Balaur's control." Innes interjected. "Brainwashed kind of."

The warrior looked back at the red head. "Brainwashed?"

"Okay, enough of this!" Zihark stopped them. "I don't want to hear it."

Tina studied the chanter and frowned. "You know don't you?"

The boy was reluctant to reply for a long moment before breathing a sigh. "Yes... I do know."

"How?" Vince couldn't hold back his curiosity.

"I just do." The Reian told him. "I've heard rumors that she was seen around the Udas Temple grounds. I didn't want to believe it.. But what else could they have done with her?"

Arthen listened to them for a time before finally speaking again. "Well, Zihark, I'll bring this up when I speak to Richelle tomorrow. Then maybe we can find your sister."

A weak smile crept onto the boy's face before he looked away. "I... Thank you."

Sophie glanced between the travelers another time before hurrying off to clean up.

Tina stared off in thought as a temporary air of silence surrounded them.

The Dragonbound..?