I won't open my eyes just yet. I know what happened to me, my brother was nearly cut open, but I took his place so I must have been bleeding pretty bad. What I don't understand is how I've healed so quickly. There's still a tightness where the blade pierced but I can tell it's mostly closed. The air smells of alcohol and food while the dulled sounds of chatting people make their way through what I'm guessing is a wooden door. My eyes blink open to confirm my location. I'm in a guild, specifically the one Shattered Dusk went to war with. A small komainu sits on the table next to me, a proud symbol of my captor's affiliation. Wobbly feet guide me to the floor where I stand and immediately search for my jacket. It's close by but my cigarettes have apparently been confiscated. My sigh mingles with someone else's in the room so I whip around to find them. The water mage I fought earlier sits, sleeping, on a chair with a crossbow next to him. He must have been put on guard duty but fell asleep. Idiot. As I throw on a shirt and my jacket I can't help but be amused by his careless mistake.
I crouch down to examine his sleeping face. Black hair hangs lazily over his features in shaggy sections. His lips and pursed and at times his brows furrow every so slightly. I nearly piss myself when I hear a voice behind me.
"Not having any naughty ideas dealing with my brother, are you Jason?" Nova asks from the doorway, her arms crossed over her chest as she leans against the frame.
"And bring the Demon's wrath down upon myself? I think not," I respond sincerely. I'm not as headstrong as Darren so there's no way in Hell I'm facing her alone. "I'm just leaving in fact."
"You can't just quite yet..."
"And why is that?"
"It's required that we report your consciousness to the council. I can't guarantee your freedom but it's not my decision. I'm sorry."
"So am I," I say. She looks puzzled until she realizes I've backed towards the window. "Though I did something you may have seen as 'good', I have no intention of being taken into custody by the council."
The fire I placed on her brother earlier retracts and drags him to me. He's startled awake but I use a paralyzing fire to stop his moving before he can collect a coherent thought. Nova equips her dual swords but I raise a hand to stop her before she can lurch forward.
"You will not move. When I leave here you will not follow me. If you comply, your brother will be returned safely. If not, I will be taking him hostage until you choose to follow my instructions. Do you understand?" I ask politely.
A brilliant flash alerts me to her requip and I throw myself and my new hostage out the window. A block of my moldable flames forms beneath us and takes on a squishy texture so that we fall safely into it. I roll off and begin running with the boy over my shoulder. I had been hoping she wouldn't get violent but I shouldn't have expected a complete change in temperament. Nova is a guard dog who fiercely protects what's hers. I'm about to wonder what I've gotten into when I hear her ferocious scream in the sky. Pulling her brother in after me, I duck into an alleyway and hide behind a large vendor stall. Moments later a brilliant streak of light flashes by, illuminating the alley but keeping my hiding place shrouded in the shadows. That must have been Nova. Thinking quickly I slap my hands over the boy's mouth so be can't call out to her. Sharp teeth dig into my middle finger. The little shit bit me!
"Two can play that game, asshat," I whisper. I bite his shoulder and he lets out a small squeak. He releases me so I do the same but I feel his angry frown underneath my hand. "Tough shit. Cooperate with me and you won't get hurt. You seem to forget you're paralyzed from the neck down for now. Hmm I'm going to need both hands to move you... sorry about this."
As I say this, I force my paralytic flames into his mouth and wrap them around his tongue. They don't burn but he won't be able to talk at least. Next, I throw him over my shoulder and move through the shadows on the way out of town. There's an occasional spark from wherever Nova happens to be at the time. Anytime she gets close I duck behind the nearest large object. One time she lands in front of the dumpster we're behind so I have to hold my breath in fear. There's a chance she would stop pursuing me if I released her brother but her obligation to turn in those from the war must be nearly as important. When I get to the edge of town I sprint towards the forest but I hear a squealing noise behind me. Nova's flying at me at break neck speed. Whipping around and shooting out my hand, indigo flames fire at the base of her wings. They stick together and she drops like a stone.
"I'm so sorry..."
Screams of anger, then heartbreak rip through the still night. I'm taking something precious that is hers. The flames must have caught on the ground too, otherwise she would have come after me on foot. A head bangs against my back weakly. The boy is trying to fight to go back to his sister. I've done something terrible once again.
"Damn it. Even when I try to do something so no one gets hurt, I fuck it up. Magnificent. Don't worry though kid, I'm dropping you off in the next town over. That is if we ever get out of this fricking forest," I grumble. I walk with the other mage over my shoulder for another hour until a uprooted branch catches my foot and sends us sprawling down into a nearby embankment. There's a small river flowing through that I immediately go to drink from... but the water jumps out of my hands. Thinking I'm over exhausted I go to splash some on my face but it hangs suspended in midair before dropping back into the river. It clicks on about my fourth attempt. That little shit...
A satisfied smirk stretches across the water manipulator's face. He's been the one prohibiting me from doing anything!
"Fine, if that's how you're going to be, would you at least like something to drink?" I ask.
He seems surprised I asked. Hesitantly he nods and I release the flames containing his upper body, pulling him to the edge of the water. He greedily drinks his fill and then turns to look at me with an evil glint shading his eyes. Water bursts upwards forcing me to scramble back. I continually slip in mud as I try to clamber up the embankment until I feel a tendril of freezing water wrap around my ankles. It quickly works it's way up my legs and I fire a variety of flames with one hand to keep it down. with the other I use my indigo flames too latch onto the edge of the hill-like terrain and begin to pull. The water pulls me down just was ferociously until we're at a stalemate. This kid is a pain in the ass. He's... wait a minute.
"Hey kid! What's your name?" I ask kind of randomly.
"Kid?! I'm 15! That makes me a teenager," he huffs. "And my name is Kaden, Kaden Akira."
"What the fuck? 15? Seriously? You're so fricking small!"
"Like you can talk, butt munch."
"What the Hell did you just call me?"
"You little twat. That's it!"
I release my flames and end up snapping back to where he is, effectively tackling him as I go. We end up in the mud, me on top of him as I attempt to punch him in the face while he beats at me with a continual blast of water. I don't know how long we brawl, throwing insults and fists wildly, but I do know that at one point we both call it a draw. Lying on my back in the mud I realize the stupidity of my situation and can't help but find it hilarious.
"Why on earth are you laughing?" Kaden pants out.
"I can't help it. I suppose that my current state is my fault but it all started because I wanted to protect my brother. It's crazy! A few months ago I would have given my life for him, a few days ago I nearly did... and now? I don't know. I don't know who I am without my brother, without being known as Darren's twin. I know that what he did wasn't forgivable and though I don't loathe him I can't say I want to see him again. Stupid, huh?"
"No. No it's not. I love my sister, even though we're not blood relatives, and I can't imagine what it would be like to lose her. But at the same time I really want to find who I am too. The first time we met I was twelve and had tried stealing something to pay for my father's medicines. Nova caught me and made me return it but then I took her to meet my dad. She bought a weapon from him and rented out our basement to help us financially and even saved my life from your brother. That's when we knew. My entire family knew that we wanted Nova to join us. And I love that but I feel like I need to explore on my own without my family. I need to create my own wings to fly with so no one else gets hurt trying to carry me," he declares with a serious face.
"Now I feel a bit inferior to you. I want my own wings simply to have them and show that I'm my own person. I want to be someone more than one of the Hom twins, I want to be Jason," I sigh.
"Then do it. Show the world what you can do. Become your own person and prove wrong those who try to deny you. Go for it."
"That's a bit of a legal problem," I snort," and besides, you're the one who should be doing those things. Your quest is far nobler."
"Don't mock me you butt. And there's always a legal loophole... that's it!" he shouts. "We'll travel together."
"We both want to travel and find ourselves and all that. This way you'll have a spokesperson from Koma Inu following you to prevent you from causing trouble, not that you would, but anyway, that follows the Council's agreement with the guilds. And I will have adult supervision so it's not breaking any laws against minors, if there are any. Either way it works! If you let me I can grab my crossbow and..." he trails off, his excitement suddenly dropping. He seems certain I'll deny him something.
"And?" I prompt.
"And I would like to say goodbye to my family. This way they won't be worried sick and Nova won't hunt you to the ends of the earth."
"Look Kaden. I'm not saying this isn't a good idea, it's a great idea! I'm just not sure we could pull it off. I mean there's expenses and danger and..."
It's my turn to trail off. You have got to be fucking kidding me. Whatever deity designed this kid graced him with the biggest, saddest puppy dog eyes known to man thus far. I can see his heart breaking as tears threaten them.
Sighing I give in with a, "Fine, we'll do it your way but you have to convince your family to agree to it. If they say no it's done and I make my escape alone. I don't care who I have to fight."
"Haha! Yes!" Kaden shouts in glee. Good luck getting Nova to agree buddy.
He got her to agree. He did it, he fucking did it. I sit in his family's home while he packs his bags. Both parents and Nova stare at me in awkward silence until the redhead breaks it by walking up behind me and placing an elbow on my shoulder with a thump.
"I swear to God, if you even so much as think about him in that way, I will hunt you down and castrate you. Understood?" She asks.
"Y-yes ma'am." I stammer.
She snorts, "Oh come on. Don't be so uptight. I can't dictate what my brother does but if you hurt him I will cut your dick off. My brother's not stupid but he can be a bit naive so don't fuck him over. Anything else Mom and Dad?"
Both try to hold in their laughter as they shake their heads no. Mrs. Akira does get up to hand me three cards: one with her face on it and the other two showing Nova's and Mr. Akira's. These are card magic cards.
"If you ever need help, just ask," she tells me sweetly.
"Oh, um, thank you very much." I reply honestly.
I stow them in my jacket as Kaden comes bounding down the stairs. He has a bag on his back and his white crossbow in his hands.
"Ready?" I ask.
"Of course butt munch."
I shove his head lightly and we set off to start our adventure into the unknown.