Great. So an academy acolyte wants his stuff to hitch a ride at the last second? Well, Finian seems to have no problem as long as we take the necessary precautions, so that's fine with me.
Now I get back to the wagon, and he's carrying the boxes over to the wagon, like he can. "Hey", I say, "I'll check those before we put them in the wagon, just in case."
His stern reply is "No, you can't open the crates."
"What?" ...the hell?
"I'm sorry, but these crates cannot be opened. Their contents are not for you to know." He speaks like he's not used to be questioned. Who does he think he is?
"Well, I'm sorry, but if I don't check them, they don't get in, and you already heard from the caravan master that there's no more space. So it's your call really."
Finian shows up with that Archer guy. Guess I yelled that "What" a bit too loud. Anyways, I reinforce. "If I don't check them, they don't get in."
He begins to walk towards the wagon door, with the boxes in tow. I interpose myself between him and the door and say "What's the matter with you?" The movement pulls the hood high, exposing my face.
He pauses for a second, then says, stunned, "So that's where you've been, Leedal..."
I don't let him finish. I quickly grab him by the throat, silencing him. I can see from the corner of my eye that Finian tensed, and Archer already has his bow out, tensed at him. But what comes next happens too fast.
He snaps away my hand with his forearm, and uses the other hand to try and punch my face. I pull my face to the side just enough to dodge his strike, and in the movement, his hood pulls back, and I see his face. Peleps Aris.
I sit under a tree, playing a song to the wind spirits around me. Some of them are playing music back to me, using the blowing on the leaves of the tree as instruments. All of that is suddenly torn asunder.
Aris shows up.
2 unexalted kids flank him, textbook definition of what a "flunkie" should look like. They come over, all 3 of them, like they own the place. Aris exalted about a week ago, and he's been nothing but trouble since. Acting like he owns the place. Or will.
"Well, hi Arilith. You're looking fine today." I scoff at that. I know where he's coming from. Ever since I exalted my parents have been trying to match me up with Dragon-Bloods from other prominent families in the hope of using the promise of my strong affinity to lure other households into profitable marriages. I refuse to take part in that, much less with such a snob as Aris.
"Why don't you stop playing with that flute and come with me? Father says I can use all the money I want if you come with me."
So much for seduction attempts.
I stand up, and walk past him to leave. His cronies stand in front of me, which elicits the reflex action of unleashing my anima. They cower in fear, as usual. But Aris is not so easily dissuaded.
"Come on, Ari, why be so rash?" Now, I don't have a problem with that sentence, or even with the nickname he set on me. I have a problem with his hand on my arm. His hand, taking my arm, like he deserves it for no other reason than that he is Aris. I will not take that. I will not allow that.
I lash out, before he can expect it. I move to strike his hand, and he promptly removes his, looking all smug for figuring out what I was going to do.
In the return strike, he notices his folly. When I pull back the arm, he sees the flute in my hands, pointy end first. He takes it in his arm. He yelps in pain, and I use the distraction to leave and go to a teacher. He whines for it, saying I attacked him without provocation. My flute sticking from his arm is very persuasive of his point of view.
I'm obviously punished for this back at home, while my family gives a donation to the school to overlook the "accident". Then a few weeks later he'd try another way to approach me, but always with that smug look on his face. That smug look that said that he'd get anything he wanted, eventually.
That same smug look he has on his face now.
I can see in his face that he intends to take all those "accidents" off on me right there, but Archer was faster, putting an arrow right through the palm of his hand.
At this he yelps and pulls back, suddenly calling upon the power of the Fire Dragon to whisk him away, allowing him to run incredibly fast. I hear Finian and Archer say something, but I already started off after him, calling to the Air Dragon to lend me the speed of wind. I see both Archer and Finian try to shoot him down, but no such luck.
I catch up to him in the middle of the city, but even still, I cannot pull any punches in this fight. If he gets away, he'll be telling the rest of the Dragon-Bloods where I am. I REFUSE to go back to that island. So I fight with all I have.
We break a few buildings with each other in the fight, and that's when that cook shows up, interposing herself between Aris and me. He lashes out at her, kicking her chest. As always, he lashes at anything that gets in his way. I kick him, using her for support, and then slam him with all the power of the Air Dragon, slamming him back all the way to the tavern wall. But before he can reach it, he gets a special present from Archer, an arrow charged with essence, exploding in his shoulder. Right where my flute had been, all those years ago.
He goes through the wall like it wasn't even there.
I walk up to the hole, climb through, and see him in the floor, his anima charring the floor and tables nearby. My anima tears through his, the wind around me snuffing the fires closest to me, while fanning the ones a bit further. He looks at me, lifting his hand to me. Anger in his eyes, angry that he can't grab what he wants. I let him burn in that anger, and then I end it.
I stick my flute in his chest.
His eyes bulge, but it later recedes. He dies. Finian and the other woman show up, but I don't care, I already know what I'm going to do. I grab him by his breastplate and begin to drag him outside, when the woman, the cook, interposes herself. She seems to be angry about the collateral damage and harm to civilians, but I'm too immersed in my emotions to really register her. Finian gets her attention, and that's all I need to pass by her. I'm thankful for that, otherwise I fear I might have lashed at her as well.
We get back to the caravan, where I begin to search him. Finian slashes his throat, says something about making sure, but I barely hear him. I just nod while his blood splashes my face. I know he's dead. If he wants to double-check, be my guest.
As expected, I find a note on him, orders from the Inmaculate Monks. Looking for me, and planting evidence on the wagon to later bust Finian for. Whatever. I'll think about later. After I'm done.
After a few hours of travel in the caravan, I get off with Aris' body, and go over next to the river. I drop him beside me, and gathering all my energies, I shock him, sending bolt after bolt of intense lightning arcing from my fingers into his dead flesh, charring him from the inside out. Each one of them accompanied with thunder, scaring the horses, and setting some of the mercenaries on alert.
I ignore them, I don't care. All I can think of is Aris' face burning off. His robes catch fire as well, and in my mind, I can see that fire burning away my memories of him clean, a part of my past I have destroyed, and that can torment me no more. A reminder of Dragon-Blood society scoured from my mind, and setting the example to all the other memories in me, making me see them all, and showing me all over again the ruthlessness and uncaring greed of all others of my "kin",
And maybe in this I have become like them, but if that is the case, I can live with that. At least I have a purpose.
I sever his head with my chakram, and crush it with my boot. He oozes all over the place, and maybe I went too far. That's the only sign that my anger is receding, some compassion and restraint finally coming through that red wall of anger that Aris' face brought to me.
I dump his charred remains in the river.
I begin to walk back, when that blasted cook comes back, starts yelling at me over my agression and my sacrilege at the way I treated Aris' body. I listen to her, and she makes sense. That means I'm back to my senses. Good. I continue to walk to my wagon, when I hear the splashing of water behind me. She's going back for the body. Something about not leaving a hungry ghost behind. She's gonna perform a service for the body.
And here I thought I'd get the pleasure of killing him again.