This chapter does not correspond with any of the chapters from WTWFTD.
Characters appearing in this chapter:
Kagome (angel) & Tsubaki (white tiger Guardian) ~ Lexi
Veradis (amarok Guardian) ~ HeartTaunter
Nadiko (elf) & Sai (wolf Guardian) ~ Wolfheart
Kanyk Scarletblade (angel) & Ethan/Darkscar (dragon Guardian) ~ Katherine_Scarletblade
Also, I'm going to apologise (again) for the really slow updates. I've just got loads of stuff to finish, and finding time for this is hard... But I will finish it! Promise!
Veradis blinked as the arrow was lowered. The angel holding the bow stepped back quickly, her eyes widening with surprise.
"You're... A Guardian?"
Veradis did not answer. She was probably pale enough to pass as being a human, albeit a tall one, but her eyes were too dark to be human.
"Why are you here?" Her gaze turned to the Guardian she'd seen earlier. Her voice was loud and clear. Not subdued. Not broken. Just... free.
"You can speak. You can trust us," the angel smiled. Her tone was gentle - like honey. Like the kind of honey that people used to attract bees, and then, when they were too far gone to see that the honey would keep them there - death.
"I will speak, but trust is foolish," Veradis snapped, her eyes flickering apprehensively between the two of them. "I would sooner die than to trust anybody born of the Alpha races."
The other Guardian snorted. "Whatever. Sit down, if you want, but you can trust Kagome. Why're you here?"
Veradis did not take the seat. It was further away from the flap - her only escape route. Instead, she started to talk. "I'm here to ask you something."
The angel - Kagome, the other Guardian had called her - nodded. "Of course. Firstly, we'll introduce ourselves. I'm Kagome. This is Tsubaki."
Studying them both carefully, Veradis took a deep breath before speaking. "Veradis," she introduced herself. A name. That would mean nothing to a fellow Guardian, but even that much felt personal when bared to an angel. "I wanted to ask you what you're doing."
At her words, their faces contorted into expressions of confusion, so she rephrased it. "How do you act so friendly with one another?" She turned to Tsubaki. "How can you appear so relaxed near her? I don't understand how you could simply allow an angel to force you into appearing as her friend."
A moment's silence hung heavily in the air before Tsubaki's lips burst open in an explosion of laughter.
"Slavery? You really think that't it? Slavery?" She snorted incredulously. "No. We're like sisters. Not all of them are blind, Veradis. It might be hard to see if you've never met somebody like Kagome, but there are a few who support us." A brief hint of fondness flashed through her eyes as she shot Kagome a supportive look, before her expression darkened. "And if you insult her again... Well, I guess I should warn you not to."
"Tsubaki," the angel murmured soothingly, placing a gentle hand on the Guardian's shoulder.
Veradis didn't want to believe them; she couldn't believe them. How could she? All her life, the Alpha races had been the same. Could there really be one? Or was this all some kind of twisted slavery? Some act, played by the Guardian to keep herself alive?
No, she told herself. She couldn't ever fall to trusting them. Plummeting into an abyss of trust would be her most stupid mistake - and her last. She could not afford to make it.
"I see," she said simply.
"You don't believe us, do you?" Tsubaki asked.
Veradis pondered over her answer, before allowing herself to bare a tiny fragment of her heart. "I want to. More than anything, I want to, but I cannot."
And with that, she slipped out into the darkness of the night.
She recognised Ethan's voice from outside the tent, and left the wolf Guardian's side reluctantly to slip outside.
The Guardian shrugged loosely. "You've been in there a while. Worried?"
"Don't be. It's like I said, he just needs sleep. You don't need to be there constantly. He'll be fine," Ethan said dismissively, before gesturing to the fire by which Kanyk sat turning meat above the embers. "Hungry?"
She followed him to the fire, and Kanyk greeted her with a smile. It was strange, how much she trusted them already. All her life - nothing. Relying on somebody would only bring disaster, and yet here she was, helping somebody, being helped by somebody else. It was warm, she supposed.
Ethan sat beside Kanyk, and took over the job of cooking without so much as a glance. Even from here, Nadiko could see the scars riddling his arms as they did Kanyk's. She hadn't asked of their origin; she did not intent to. Some things should be left in the past.
"How long have you known him for?" Ethan asked.
"Since I tried to kill him," she said sheepishly, and from the curious looks, added, "To be fair, he tried to kill me as well."
"How come?" Ethan queried.
"I got sent to kill him. Apparently, he was scaring the locals and taking their livestock. They probably elaborated a little."
"Probably," he agreed. "People have a habit of doing that to us."
"They just blame Guardians because it suits them," Kanyk muttered hatefully. It was the first time she'd spoken, Nadiko realised.
"I used to be one of them, once," she said softly. "It was only when I realised that he was a Guardian... He'd saved my life. He wasn't the heartless, mindless beast I thought he'd be. I still don't even know his name, but I trust him with my life." The second the words left her lips, she swallowed. She'd just bared everything she felt, and there had been no hesitation. No worry, that people would take her words and use them as knives against her. Nothing.
"I know how you feel," Kanyk agreed softly, and Nadiko noticed the way she edged closer to Ethan as she spoke, as though he was her brother. "I know how you feel."