The golden sun blazed over an endless sea of grass. Lone trees swayed in the wind and wild flowers of every colour speckled the landscape. From the rolling hills to the distant mountains, the meadow carried with it a nearly intoxicating feeling of life. And peace.
The only one enjoying the view was a thirteen year old boy lying down under the shade of a tree. The blue, fox-eared hat he wore was soft enough to make a good pillow, but now was not the time for sleeping. There was the entire world to see, his entire life to experience. He stood up and grabbed a colourful fruit dangling from the lower branches. He didn't know what it was, but nevertheless, it tasted great. He started to keep on going when a sudden realization struck him.
Where am I?
He couldn't remember coming to this place. He didn't know what this place was either. He suddenly felt lost, his stomach tightening as though he would fall into the sky if he didn't hold on to something first.
Something grabbed his free hand from behind. The boy yelped and turned around, dropping his half-eaten snack. A little girl looked back at him. She wore the same kind of funny hat he did, except it was white, just like her dress. Strands of long blonde hair emerged from it, reaching her shoulders. She stared at him with her large blue eyes, a faint smile on her lips.
"Sorry, I didn't hear you," the boy started. "What are you doing here? Are you alone?"
"I came here to talk to the King," she answered like it was obvious, as if the boy should have known.
"The King? But… what are you talking about? What King?" the boy stammered nervously.
"You. You're the King."
"No, no I'm not. You must be confusing me with someone else," the boy insisted. But he didn't sound convincing, even to himself. There was no way she could have known, he thought. It was a secret.
"My name is—"
"I know who you are," she interrupted. "You are the King. Don't pretend you're not. I don't have that much time. I came here because I have important things to show you. Follow me."
She turned around and headed towards the nearest hill, and at this moment the boy noticed she was going barefoot. But he didn't follow.
"What are you waiting for? I told you, we don't have much time," the girl said impatiently, as she put her hands on her hips.
"I don't recognize this place," he hesitated. "Where are we?"
He tried again to remember how he got there, but drew a blank. The girl still had the same faint smile on her lips. It was starting to irritate him.
"The only reason you're here is to see what I have to show you. Now, follow me."
"No," he said firmly, shaking his head. "I'm not going anywhere. Not if you don't answer me first."
The little girl sighed heavily. "You're still so stubborn. Will you never change?"
"Still so stubborn?" he repeated. "Have we met already?"
"Yes, but it's not important. This place doesn't exist. I can only talk to you while you're sleeping."
"You mean… we're in a dream?" he exclaimed, astonished.
"In your dream, yes."
"So none of this is real?" the boy said, waving his hand at the horizon.
"It's happening inside your head, but that doesn't mean it's not real. I don't come from your imagination. If anything, you came from mine... but nevermind that. I have a message for you, and very little time to deliver it, so will you please follow me already?"
Once again she grabbed his hand and started tugging him up the hill. This time he did not resist, still puzzled by what he had just heard.
Once they reached the top, the boy looked back over his shoulder. The landscape had shifted abruptly. The tree he had rested under had disappeared past the horizon.
Startled, he yanked his hand out of the grasp of the little girl. She flashed him a reassuring smile.
"Don't worry. Nothing bad can happen to you here. Take a good look around."
From where they stood, he could see for miles and miles around. More hills, more trees, and much farther, standing above a huge forest, the boy immediately recognized the Tree of Life of the Sadida.
"You know that place, don't you?" the young girl asked.
The boy nodded. The Sadida kingdom was one of the very few places in the world where he felt at home.
"I love this place," he said fondly. "But… what's the point of showing it to me?"
"To warn you."
"Warn me?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. "About what?"
The girl didn't answer. Instead she only waved her hand at the horizon.
The sky darkened, a cold breeze blew, and before the boy's horrified stare the green fields changed into a barren desert covered in grey dust and dead trees, as if it was suddenly contaminated by a deadly illness.
The song of the birds, the noise of insects, it all vanished. There was only an oppressive silence left, the silence of death.
"Why did you do that?"
She shook her head. "I did nothing. I'm just showing you the future."
The boy couldn't believe what he was seeing. The Tree of Life was still there, but it looked entirely burnt. Everywhere he glanced, there was only death. He felt his legs getting weak and fell to his knees into the dust, realising it was cold ashes.
"The future? This is no future! It's horrible… why are you showing me this?" he asked feebly.
The girl got close to him and took his hands into hers, trying to meet his gaze. At that moment he realised she had a white flower attached to her hat. It was just a detail but somehow he felt it was important, without understanding why.
She smiled gently. "Because you're the only one who can see it. And the only one who can prevent it."
The boy shook his head, entirely lost. "Prevent this?... I don't have that kind of power. How could I do that?"
"It should be much easier to fight the cause than the consequences you see. This is the result of deadly war. The nations of this world are going to tear themselves apart. You have to find what event will start this war, and prevent it at all costs."
The boy kept staring at her, waiting for her to go on. But there was nothing more.
"What, that's all?" he said with disappointment. "You can't help me more than that? I have to find who in the world is responsible for that, all by myself?"
"I wish I could help you more, but I can only see the broader picture. If time is like a flowing stream, living beings are only tiny droplets on the surface. It's impossible to see the influence of a single person. But if no one is aware of the danger, nothing will stop the impending disaster. "
The boy scanned the horizon. The scene was so horrifying it felt surreal. He still found it hard to believe that such a terrible thing could actually happen.
Then he looked back at the young girl in front of him, still holding his hands. Somewhere deep inside, he knew that he had already met her, but he couldn't put a name to her face. And then there was her way of talking, too mature for a child of her age. There was definitely something odd with her.
He finally asked the question burning his lips from the beginning.
"Who are you?"
The girl had a very childish laugh.
"If I told you, you wouldn't believe me. It's not important. What's important is that you remember what I told you. The world may not look in danger at the moment, but trouble will come very soon, much sooner than you'd think. The fate of the world is resting on you... and the fate of our people, too. If this world is lost, our people will have nowhere to return to."
The boy looked away, still not convinced, and frightened by the responsibility.
"You really believe I can manage that? I'm just a kid..."
The girl smiled and reached for his face. He didn't resist, closing his eyes and letting the palm of her hand rest on his forehead.
"You're a lot more than that, Yugo."
Yugo awoke with a start, drenched with sweat, his bed in a tangle of sheets. He tried to remember where he was, and clear his mind from the remains of that horrible, lucid dream.
He recognized the bedroom he shared with his brother at the Sadida palace. But he had a lot more trouble understanding how he got there. Then after some focusing and searching, it all came back to him at once.
The Crimson Claws. Phaeris. Emrub.
After the battle, they had flown back to the Sadida Kingdom, landing in the middle of the night. They had needed several weeks to reach the Crimson Claws, but on Phaeris's back, they returned in only a few hours.
The guards had nearly wet themselves in terror when they had seen the Dragon. A black silhouette in the night, his wings blocking out the moon and half the stars, Phaeris must have seemed like a nightmare given flesh to them. King Sheran Sharm, Prince Armand Master Joris and Alibert along with half the court woke up because of the racket and arrived quickly on the scene.
Ignoring everything else, Alibert had rushed straight to Yugo with wide open arms, visibly alarmed by the thrashed and scruffy look of his adoptive son. Too tired to make any audible sound, the boy had tried to whisper reassuring words before giving in to exhaustion, immediately falling asleep into his father's arms.
Now he had his thoughts in order, the Eliatrope sat in his bed and stretched his arms, jostling the golden Tofu that had been sleeping next to him. The tiny bird looked around in confusion, then he chirped joyfully when he saw his young master awake. He threw himself at the boy's face.
"Hey! I'm happy to see you too Az!" Yugo said, grinning widely.
He took the little bird in his hands and gently kissed it. Cupping and stroking the small feathery ball always gave him a reassuring, soothing feel.
Golden sun rays were entering through the giant leaves that blocked the balcony, and they painted glowing figures on the ground. Outside, birds were already singing on top of their voices. The day was obviously well advanced already.
"Come on little Tofu, we need to get moving. I guess it's already late and―"
"You can say that again!" cut in a voice Yugo knew very well. He turned with a wide grin towards the blue and white Dragon who stood near the door.
Adamaï already looked in a much better shape than after their fight at the Crimson Claws, even though he still bore wounds that were likely to never heal completely. The most visible was his uneven horns. The left one had been cut clean through and half of it was missing.
The Dragon walked in the room to stand near his brother's bed, smiling joyfully. "You just slept for two days straight, you big sloth. It's nearly noon."
"Two days! I mean, I know I've slept in, but two days?"
"You were completely drained bro," Adamaï said lightly. "How are you feeling?"
"Like a herd of Gobballs ran over me," Yugo answered. His arms still bore the marks of his fight and his whole body ached with a dull pain. "But apart from that, I'm fine. I'm starving though."
"Alibert is going to fix that, he's making a gigantic lunch to celebrate our return. All our friends are there. That's why I'm here to drag you out of bed."
Yugo salivated at the mere idea of stuffing himself full with his father's delicious cooking. It certainly felt like he hadn't eaten in two days.
Then he realised it would be his first chance to have a real talk with the Brotherhood of the Tofu about the events of the Crimson Claws. Yugo would rather have avoided that, if only for a while. The memories were still too fresh, for him and surely his twin brother too.
Suddenly the image of Qilby begging him for mercy came back to his mind. He shook his head, trying to get rid of it. He realized Adamaï was standing still next to him, staring at him carefully.
"Are you sure everything's fine Yugo?"
"Yeah yeah, don't worry," the Eliatrope said, trying his best to sound convincing. "Just, you know, trying to wake up."
Yugo sat on the edge of his bed and looked at what was left of his attire. His clothes had been torn to shreds during his fight, making the trip on Phaeris's back through the stratosphere very cold. "Uh… I guess I'll have to find something to wear."
"Ah, sure. I've seen Alibert sewing you a brand new hat, he might have finished it already, and Amalia has found you some new clothes. She asked her two valets to help her pick out something."
Adamaï winked mischievously. That made Yugo wince in horror when he imagined the kind of clothes he was going find. Maybe a leaf loincloth—no—with a braided flower collar—NO—and mushrooms on his—NO!
The Dragon burst out laughing. "You should see your face!"
Yugo frowned at him. "Yeah, right. Very funny."
He found a neat stack of clothes resting on a chair, and was relieved to see it was pretty much the same outfit he used to wear. He started putting it on quickly while Adamaï sat on his bed, Az flying around until he landed right on top of the Dragon's head.
"Did anything happen while I was out?" Yugo asked.
"You mean while you were snoring like a piglet?" Adamaï taunted. "Well, yeah. The King wants to assemble a council as soon as possible, to hear about what happened with Qilby, the Crimson Claws and all that stuff. They've been on my back all the time, I could hardly get a break. They even wanted to get you out of bed yesterday. I tried to explain there was no reason to panic, that everything was already under control, but..."
"That's all?" Yugo replied brightly. "This is going to be a piece of cake! We went there, we saved the world, thank you very much, and then we get showered with hero worship. Cool heh?"
Yugo was struggling to put his new tunic on without removing his hat, which resulted in both getting jammed together.
Adamaï sighed. "If you really expect them to throw flowers at you like that, you're going to be disappointed."
The Dragon's bitter tone made Yugo wonder if he had understood correctly. He wasn't done with his tunic yet and looked at his brother through the hole meant for his arm.
"What d'you mean? We saved the world once again, didn't we? And we did it without wrecking anyone's kingdom this time. We really deserve all the praise this time around."
"Well, yes we did, but it's not that simple. Little details bother people, like how we left like thieves in the night with Qilby and Grougal, and how we took the Eliacube with us. And then we come back with stories of treason, fratricidal fights, and while we did save the world, it got threatened because of us."
The Eliatrope chuckled. "Well of course, if you put it like that, you can make anything sound terrible."
"Yugo, they're going to put it like that… On the other hand, if we stretch the truth a bit, maybe leave out a few details here and there..." Adamaï said meaningfully.
"Just a little?"
"The truth will have to do. I'm not lying to the King."
Adamaï stayed silent for a while, watching with an amused look as his brother finally managed to get his clothing issues sorted.
"I know what's under your hat you know," he said. "You could have just taken it off."
"No thanks. That's out of the question."
"What do you mean?"
"You don't wear clothes bro, you can't understand."
Shaking his head in amused disbelief, Adamaï absent-mindedly touched the scar over his left eye, and winced with a grimace of pain. The wound obviously hurt quite a lot.
"Are you okay?" Yugo asked worriedly as he walked to his brother.
"Yeah yeah, it's just… it still stings."
Yugo gently pushed Adamaï's hand aside, getting a good look at the dark blue mark. "Do you think you're going to keep a scar?"
"I wouldn't mind."
The Eliatrope laughed at that. "Yeah, that will make you look so fierce, Adamaï the Warrior!"
Adamaï sighed sadly. "No, not really... but it will remind me."
Yugo looked at his brother quizzically. "Remind you? Of what?"
"Of what can happen when trust is given too easily."
Adamaï was too serious for Yugo to try and joke about it. Instead the Eliatrope sat next to his brother.
"Qilby... what happened with him exactly?"
Adamaï sighed tiredly. "He took me to the Zinit, and then he tried to convince me that it was the destiny of our people to travel the stars, even if we had to destroy entire worlds—this world—to do so. Obviously I wouldn't buy any of his insane nonsense, so we fought, and... I did my best, but still I lost. When I woke up... something was using my body to attack you and Phaeris. It was... it was..."
Adamaï shuddered violently. Yugo couldn't imagine what it must have been like for him to be possessed by the Shushu Anathar. Was Adamaï conscious of the whole thing with Anathar controlling his arms and legs like the limbs of a puppet? Was he screaming the whole time, stuck in a dream he couldn't wake up from?
Yugo put a hand on his shoulder, trying to comfort him. He'd do anything to make his brother feel better, if he only knew what it was. Adamaï would often get depressed and sulk over little things, but for once he was surely not overacting.
"But... I don't get it," Yugo said with a frown. "Why did you follow Qilby to the Zinit in the first place?"
"It wasn't going very well here with Grougal. In fact, it was awful. He kept on lighting people on fire and trying to hunt the royal dragoturkeys. Armand suggested that maybe we could find a better place to raise him. I was feeling down, Qilby took advantage of the situation, and I trusted him. I know I should have been more wary but―"
"You can't blame yourself like that bro," Yugo cut in, shaking his head firmly. "He fooled everyone, me most of all."
"Using the Eliacube wasn't your idea, Yugo. It was mine. If I had just left it were it was, none of this would have happened."
"You never forced me to do anything. I used the Eliacube because I wanted to. And anyway, one day or another the King would have allowed us to use it, and then what? It would have been just the same. The only one responsible is Qilby, not you."
Adamaï didn't answer. He kept looking sullen, his gaze unfocused. "Maybe. Even if you're right, this isn't the worse just yet."
"What are you talking about?"
The Dragon turned to face his brother with a grave look.
"The Eliacube. That's the main problem."
"How's that a problem? It's gone for good, at last."
"Precisely. And we have only your word to prove it, while everyone and their dragoturkey would love to get their hands on it."
Yugo raised an eyebrow. "You don't believe me?"
"Of course I do!" Adamaï cried, upset that his brother dared to question his trust. "But it's not me you'll have to convince. They're going to believe that you're keeping it hidden somewhere."
"Well, I only have the truth to offer. If it doesn't suit them, too bad."
Yugo got up, quickly putting on his new shorts and shoes, noting that Amalia did put a lot of effort to find the exact same thing he used to wear. He wondered if it wasn't even hand-made for him.
"Now this suits me. How does it look?"
"I have no advice. I don't understand clothes remember? Besides, you shouldn't take that so lightly."
"I'm not, clothes are very imp― ...wait, what do you mean?"
"I'm afraid they're going to demand answers, if you catch my meaning."
Yugo shook his head at that. "No way. They're just going to ask questions and we're going to give them honest answers about everything. The King respects us, and we're guests, not prisoners, so I don't see them trying to force us in any way. Stop worrying so much over little things Adamaï."
Yugo said those last words with a large grin, trying again to cheer his brother up. It didn't work.
"When you say everything, do you mean like, everything?"
That stopped Yugo dead in his tracks. There was only one thing his brother could be talking about, and he wasn't supposed to know just yet.
"I don't see what you're talking about," Yugo tried without much conviction.
Adamaï laughed at that. "You're so bad at lying, please never try that in front of the King. He'd send us to jail for insulting his intelligence."
The young Eliatrope scowled so Adamaï tried a more gentle approach.
"All right, I'm sure you understand the problem Yugo," he said softly. "It's already going to be difficult getting through all the questions. If you let them believe our own King was a murderous psychopath who wanted to let all the Shushus loose into the world before using it as fuel for his spaceship, it's going to be a lot, lot worse. No one will want to deal with the Eliatropes after that. At least the Sadida still see you as a Hero. They respect you. It would be great for the image of our people if you just stepped forward."
Yugo thought back to the Eliatrope children who had welcomed him in Emrub, looking up at him with so much hope, so much expectation in their eyes. That was too much responsibility, too quick, too soon. He wasn't ready for it yet.
"I haven't decided anything yet. But anyway, how do you know!" Yugo said, much more aggressively than he intended.
"Calm down. Phaeris told me when we were waiting for you back at the Crimson Claws. No one else knows." Adamaï stopped suddenly. "Hold on. Were you really going to hide this from me? Did you forget I'm your brother somehow?"
Yugo felt his face growing hot. He met his brother's disappointed gaze and a huge pang of shame hit him square in the chest.
"Adamaï I'm sorry… I didn't mean to hide it, I swear, but... I'm not ready for this just yet. I have no idea how to handle it. Please, forgive me."
The Dragon nodded slowly and stayed silent for a while, thinking it over.
"It's okay. I forgive you," Adamaï said calmly. Maybe too calmly to be honest, but Yugo didn't catch it. He was too busy being relieved that he had not destroyed their mutual trust so stupidly.
"I understand," Adamaï continued. "And in your shoes I guess I would have done the same. I understand this is difficult for you, and I don't want to make it any harder. But once again, what are you going to tell the King?"
Yugo scratched the back of his hat for a while. There wasn't that many solutions, and whether he chose to speak out or keep silent, he didn't like it either way.
"I don't know. Can't we just... talk about it later?"
Adamaï chuckled. "Putting things back to tomorrow was never your style, bro. That must be serious for sure."
"Right now I just want to go see our friends," Yugo said, trying to change subjects. "What do you say?"
"Sounds good," Adamaï replied. "And more importantly, we're going to stuff ourselves silly until we explode!"
Az chirped in agreement as the twins headed outside, being as rowdy as ever. On their way out, Yugo glanced at Cra guards in front of their door as Adamaï greeted them politely.
"Royal guards in front of our bedroom, really?" Yugo asked when they were a bit further. "Are they afraid we might run away?"
"No, we're free to come and go as we like. I told you, with all the rumours flying around, everyone's a bit nervous. There's a few extra guards on duty."
Yugo shrugged, not convinced they were at risk inside the palace. The Sadida Kingdom was already safe, so the palace must surely be the safest place of all.
But as they made their way through the flourished corridors, decorated with enormous live plants, Yugo thought back about the dream he had, and the strange little girl telling him to beware of that impression of security. The horrible vision of the Sadida Kingdom burnt to ashes came back him.
Yugo couldn't just ignore it, because it could very well be true. Yet what was he going to tell the King? Your Highness, please listen to me because I had a nightmare? And what if it was just a dream? Then no one would believe him when something serious was about to happen, and they'd probably just offer him a night light to comfort him.
The boy shook his head and decided to deal with that later. What mattered most was to enjoy the moment with his friends. His father, his brother, everyone he had missed so much was here now. He had every reason to rejoice, and when he realised it, he couldn't restrain himself from grinning sheepishly. Adamaï saw that and cast his brother a curious glance.
"What?" Yugo asked. "It's forbidden to be happy now?"
"I didn't say anything."
Yugo suddenly shoved his brother into the wall in response. "You thought it! That's just as bad!" he said, laughing.
"Just you wait 'til I catch you!" Adamaï growled.
Using the wall to propel himself forward, the Dragon flew head first right at his brother with all his might, and little care for possible injuries. Thanks to his split second reflexes Yugo avoided him by diving into one of his portals. Quickly, the corridor became a mess, filled with dust, loud noises and laughter.
Yes, it was just a dream.
Far away in the city of Bonta, a man strolled casually down the hall of a lavish estate as though he owned the place. He didn't, and the real owner would not likely be happy to see him, but such was life. His steps made no sound as he climbed the central staircase, or at least none that could be heard over the din of smashing furniture and angry screams from a room somewhere behind him. If they kept that up, someone was bound to hear, but that too was life.
The man wore an elegant outfit made of grey pants and a white shirt, light and functional enough that it wouldn't impair his movement. Along with his messy black hair and bone white skin, only his blue eyes held a speck of colour. Twin sabres crossed behind his back, their sheaths attached to a leather harness, their hilts protruding above his shoulders.
He wasn't sure what would happen if he ran into a guard, but that was the guard's problem. He stopped to notice an expensive three hundred year old painting of fleeting romance in a glade. "It's true," he noted as he continued on his way, following the floor plan he had memorized earlier. "You can't buy taste with kamas."
He opened a door at the end of a hallway and walked into an office. The room was even more crowded with bronze sculptures and tacky paintings than the rest of the manor. Its massive windows and massive desk made the pudgy old man sitting at the massive chair look even smaller than he normally would have. He had two ridiculous wings sprouting from behind his back, typical of the Eniripsa healers. They were much too small to lift him.
"Good morning, Greb Merun," the intruder said warmly.
The old Eniripsa looked up and peered at him over his spectacles. "Who are you? You're not wanted here! Get out."
"Well that's a friendly hello," he noted. "I come all this way to meet you, and as soon as I'm here you tell me to get out. I'm afraid I can't comply. And for the sake of this already pleasant conversation, my name is Lucien, for all the good it will do you."
"We're not having a conversation of any kind, and I told you to get out already. If you can't take the time to make an appointment, I don't have time to talk to you. Now leave or I'll have the guards make you leave."
"You're welcome to try," Lucien tempted, sitting down into a soft chair. Ironically, it took more skill and practice to sit back comfortably wearing sabres on your back than it did to wield them. "But I don't think you'll have much luck with that."
"Oh," Merun said. His voice grew suddenly calm as understanding struck him. "I see. I know why you're here then, and who sent you, even though I didn't expect your visit that soon. May I take it then, that my guards are dead?"
"You may. Or they nearly are if they aren't already, but I don't deal with those matters personally. I prefer more...subtle approaches."
"I see. May I say something?"
Lucien sighed. He had seen that before, been there, done that. "Nothing you may say will change my mind. Not that I wouldn't want to consider your request for mercy if it were up to me, but it's not."
"Oh it's already settled then, is it?" Greb spat, his face contorting in sudden anger. "Then by all means, kill me. Punish me for my sins. I've killed people for my research, but know this, dear Lucien. If I die now, all their deaths will mean nothing. Every child that gets sick and dies, every plague that my research could have saved, that will by on your head. Not mine."
"That's really fascinating," Lucien jeered distractedly.
"You're not even listening to me, are you?"
"Oh, I am. You said something about how I should kill you, but I kind of started tuning you out after that. Not that your story isn't interesting, mind you, but it really doesn't matter to me. Anyway, are you done yet? I do have other jobs today."
The Eniripsa shook his head in disbelief and contempt. "You kill people, yet you're not concerned to know if they really deserved it?"
"That's someone else's problem Greb, not mine. I worry about my own life, and life is so much simpler when you understand your place in the world. Mine, for example, is to do my Master's bidding. It's straightforward, it lets me meet lots of interesting people, and if he wants me to kill you, that's fine, because that's what I'm good at. I know how to kill people, and if you don't know how to die, then make it up as you go along. It's the improvisation that keeps this job interesting. It's the final act of the play. Are you going to die tragically, comically, ironically, violently, heroically, or my personal favourite, ignominiously?"
Merun studied him for a while before answering. "Tragically, if I may. Would you mind if I wrote a few parting words to my family? I'd like to set my affairs in order."
"By all means," Lucien replied. "You're welcome to spend the rest of your life on it."
Merun nodded, opened up his desk drawer, and whipped out a pistol. "So, my dear friend, what do you think of that!" he exclaimed triumphantly. "Is it ironic, tragic, heroic, or..."
His voice trailed off as he pointed his weapon at where his would-be assassin had been sitting, slowly realizing the chair was now empty. The whole room was empty, except for the Eniripsa. But that couldn't be. He couldn't have just vanished into thin air, he couldn't have—
A sharp blade pierced into his back, straight to his heart. "Ironically it is, then," Lucien whispered in his ear from behind. "Nice last words too. But I'm a professional Sram, and I've done this job more times than I can count. Today just isn't your day, Greb." He frowned thoughtfully. "Or, more precisely, it is."
The Eniripsa's eyes bulged, his mouth fell open; he tried to scream but he couldn't make any sound. He blew his last breath before slumping forward onto his desk.
Lucien checked to make sure the target was dead. Not many people could survive being stabbed through the heart, but it never hurt to be certain. He hadn't used his sabres, too heavy for that kind of precision job, but his favourite weapon instead. It was his right-handed leather gauntlet with a five inch long retractable blade. But it wasn't just a regular gauntlet, with its one eye looking back at the Sram with satisfaction.
"So Akula, what did you think of him?" he asked his Shushu.
"Well, not bad," the demon answered with a suave, feminine voice. "He did talk a lot, but then silencing him was only more enjoyable."
The Sram wiped the blade on the victim's clothes.
"Perfect. I hope you're in good shape, because we have barely gotten started."
The Shushu laughed the way demons laugh, the sort of laugh that makes children wake up screaming. "You keep being so nice to me Lucien."
He smiled easily and finished cleaning the Shushu's blade before retracting it. The door burst open and another man stumbled into the room. He was covered in blood and black tattoos, and his blank, white eyes looked frantic and angry.
"What's up Farkas? I hope the guards didn't give you too much trouble," Lucien said politely.
"I wouldn't have had any trouble at all if somebody didn't decide to just walk through the front door!"
"I'm sorry. I was certain that we could have talked our way through it."
"Talked our way through it?" Farkas repeated incredulously. "How is, 'We're here to kill your boss,' at all talking our way through it?"
"I talked, and I got through it," Lucien replied casually. "I don't know what your problem was. Oh, right, Sacriers can't turn invisible, can you? You can't really do much besides bleed to death anyway. I don't know why I keep on forgetting that. It must have slipped my mind."
Farkas opened his mouth as if to speak, throbbing with anger. It was easy to confuse Sacriers with Iops, but Lucien learned the difference long ago. While Iops failed to master skills like common sense, Sacriers chafed at the limits of sanity. Would Farkas attacked? Lucien knew he wanted to, and the Sacrier was impulsive by nature. Fighting him would be...inconvenient, even if he won. But no, they would both live to see another day. Farkas went to examine the corpse instead.
"You killed him?"
The Sacrier examined the body before turning back to Lucien, furious.
"It was supposed to look like an accident! What kind of an accident was that supposed to be? Did he slip and impale himself on some sword?"
"I'm sure he died in the same tragic accident that killed all the guards downstairs," the Sram said flatly.
"But…you can't leave evidence everywhere like that!"
"As a matter of fact, I can. I appear, I kill, I disappear. It's really that simple."
"And what about me? How do I disappear?"
"You could learn," Lucien suggested. "Or you could bleed to death. I honestly don't care one way or another."
"That won't work Lucien! The Master asked us to work together!"
"Oh really? Well, I'm the last person to start questioning the Master's wisdom, and I'm sure that your constant badgering did nothing to influence the Master's decision. I'm sure that he didn't finally give in and let you shadow me just to get you to shut up for a change."
Farkas face paled as Lucien stepped calmly towards him.
"It's amazing how easy it is to listen to conversations when you're invisible." the Sram continued. "I know that you're willing to do anything to try and get my spot, and I welcome you to try. But if you get in my way... Well, I'm sure you can figure it out before I give you a good reason to bleed to death."
Farkas backed away, raising his fists defensively. "You really want it to end that way?"
"I don't. I'd just like you to stay out of my business. Do that, and you will live to be old. If at some point I need to use more convincing arguments, Akula shall deliver."
From under the Sram's sleeve came the Shushu-blade's distinctive cackling. Then Lucien disappeared like he always did, and there was silence. The Sacrier was almost expecting a knife in his back, but it never came.
"Totally nuts ..." he spat under his breath. Then he remembered he was standing a few feet away from a murder scene, and started running away while he still could.
As we all wait for a third season, here comes my modest contribution to the very small yet very nice Wakfu fandom. I can't promise I'll publish new chapters regularly due to unforeseeable professional circumstances, but I'll try my best to deliver. Please feel free to tell whatever you think of it, it was a pleasure making it, it'll be a pleasure sharing it.
I would like to warmly thank Slavok for his support, insight and guidance during the writing of this piece. Without him I reckon it wouldn't have gone anywhere. Quite a few paragraphs were actually written using four hands, which made both the making and the result a lot more enjoyable. Thanks mate.
The story is now illustrated, but since fanfiction dot net doesn't allow embed images or urls to external websites, you will have to head over to ArchiveOfOurOwn dot org to see them. I've tried!