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Pawn in a Game Of Chess

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Tiberius felt tears well up in his eyes as he walked through the darkness filled woods outside Grayskull Keep. Anger, sorrow, regret, and so many more feelings ran through his mind and heart as the memory of what happened not too long ago replayed in his mind. His power seemed out of control due to his lack of focus. Fire burned the grass he stepped upon while twigs and other small objects circled around him, as if forming a shield around him. His arms were wrapped around himself, as if he was trying to keep his heart from breaking even further then it already had. Finally, he let out of scream, as if trying to release all of the feelings he was experiencing all at once. Fire raced away from him and began to burn nearby trees, creating a small glow in the darkness of night, but Tiberius was numb to the world around him. He collapsed against a burning tree and began to cry, not caring if anyone saw him as rain began to douse the fire he unwittingly caused.


Suddenly, Tiberius felt a hand touch his shoulder and looked up. A Tiefling woman with black hair and brown eyes looking at him with a concerned expression on her face. She asked "What's wrong?"


Tiberius didn't want to talk to anyone about what was going on. As a lord's eldest son he was always told to keep his emotions to only his family and closest friends. The Tiefling woman asked "Is this about how that human witch broke your heart in two?"


Tiberius asked "How did you know about that?"


The Tiefling woman said "News of someone's heartbreak travels fast. Doesn't help when you burn the countryside outside of the city in heartbroken rage. Honestly, I'm surprised you didn't see this heartbreak coming. After all, she was just using you."


Such an accusation made Tiberius wipe away his tears, stand up and say "You know nothing about her. Who are you to say such things about her?"


The Tiefling woman said "My name is Simula and trust me, I've seen this type of situation play out before. Did you really think Allura and Vox Machina cared for you?"


Tiberius felt fire surge around him. It was one thing to accuse Allura of using him, now she was accusing Vox Machina, the closet thing he had to a secondary family, of using him as well. Tiberius shouted "How dare you! The members of Vox Machina are my family."


Simula said "If they really were your family, wouldn't they have ran after you to see if you were okay?"


Tiberius said "I told them I needed to be alone for a while and they respect my privacy."


Simula said "Did they stand up to Allura and point out that the woman attacked you first?"


Tiberius said "No. But she was unconscious and no threat to me when I..."


Simula said "Even still, she should have understood that you were trying to defend your friends, albeit in your own way."


Tiberius remained silent before Simula said "And Keyleth should understand your pain most of all."


Tiberius said "The circumstances are different. That incident was an accident and Keyleth never intended to hurt anyone."


Simula said "Then why would she bring it up after the woman was killed?"


Tiberius said "I don't know."


Simula said "I know why, she was projecting her own anger over her failures onto you. As were the rest of them, Allura included. I've seen this play out countless times before. Some poor soul of a different kind to any of his friends trusts them with their lives only to be stabbed in the back by them once they see that person as either useless or a burden."


Tiberius remained silent as Simula continued "Do you really want to know what they think of you?"


Tiberius didn't want to answer. The party's thoughts were their own and he respected their privacy but he needed to know if what Simula was saying even had so much as a hint of truth to it. Eventually, Simula casted the spell detect thoughts onto Grayskull Keep and projected only the negative thoughts about Tiberius back to him. Tiberius heard every thought sent to him. He slumped to the ground tears falling down from his eyes again as he heard hurtful things about him from every one of his friends, except for Grog who was complementing Tiberius on the brutal kill and Pike who was absent.


Simula said "See? I told you they didn't care for you." Tiberius felt the urge to cry again as Simula placed her hand on his face to wipe away the tears.


She said "It's okay to cry."


Tiberius asked "Am I just not meant to be happy?"


Simula said "You won't find happiness here. But I know somewhere that will accept you wholeheartedly."


Tiberius asked "And where is that?"


Simula said "I'll show you." and began to walk towards a portal and Tiberius saw a city on the other side. People ran past his view, seemingly unaware of the portal right beside them and bathed in the glow of street lamps. He saw many people of different races chatting with one another, seemingly not caring about the differences between them. As much as he loved Draconia, he had to admit it wasn't inclusive in regards to who was allowed into it, not to mention the idea that your status as a dragonborn in Draconia all depended on whether or not you were born with a tail. He and his father may have argued about minor stuff in the past but they agreed that the idea of judging someone's worth by whether or not they have a tail is a stupid idea that only passed due to the council being full of buttholes.


Simula broke Tiberius' train of thought by saying "This is Directian, My mother and father made sure to be inclusive in their kingdom after they overthrew the tyrants at the helm. I am sure you and any family you wish to bring along will find happiness there."


Tiberius closed his eyes and could picture his siblings and what they were doing. Jerahd was more than likely studying artifacts, Faeryn was probably still on the pilgrimage and praying at a shrine to Bahamut and Drakka was probably practicing her magic using her knives as conduits. All of them had a place in Draconia, he was the outlier. He left Draconia to try and find it, but now he felt like he didn't belong anywhere and didn't know who to trust. But Directian seemed to be everything he dreamed Draconia could be and then some.

 
Simula asked "So, which will you choose, go back to Grayskull Keep, go home, or take a new start in Directian? It's up to you."


Tiberius only had to think about it for a brief moment before saying "I'll stay in Directian. But I should go tell my friends where I'm going. Last thing I want is a misunderstanding to cause a fight or worse."


Simula said "It's okay, I'll explain to your friends that you left on your own terms. Go on ahead." Tiberius walked through the portal while Simula got out a small piece of paper, using magic she wrote a letter to Vox Machina and Allura before letting it fall to the ground. She wasn't worried about the letter getting torn or soaked by the rainfall since she had enchanted it to be destruction proof. She smiled at the letter before heading through the portal. The portal closed behind Simula as she saw Tiberius looking around the city. The locals weren't staring at him except for the children and even they were told not to stare. 


Simula said "I'll show you where you'll be staying until we can get you settled." and Tiberius followed Simula to what appeared to be a castle. The guards stood at the entrance of the castle.


One of the guards bowed and said "Your majesty, you've returned."


The other guard asked "Who is that dragonborn beside you?"


Simula said "A new-found friend of mine. Tell the maids to make sure the guest room is ready, he'll be staying with us a while."


The guards said simultaneously "Right away, your majesty!" and left their post. Simula walked inside first and Tiberius followed. 


Tiberius began to ask "Wait, you're..." but then remembered what Simula said about her mother and father.


Tiberius placed his hands over his face in embarrassment and said "I'm sorry, I wasn't really paying attention."


Simula said "It's alright. You were lost in thoughts all alone. I understand why you weren't paying attention."


Finally, the two reached a sort of dining room. In one of the chairs sat a figure dressed in black armor lit by candlelight. He got up from the chair, walked over to the two of them and looked at Tiberius with a threatening stare as he asked "Who are you?"


Tiberius said in a slightly shaky tone of voice "I'm Tiberius Stormwind, from Draconia."


The man turned to face Simula and asked "Another ally?"


Simula said "Yes. We need all the help we can get. Right, Arkoth?"


Arkoth said "Right." and walked back to sit in his chair.


Simula said "Arkoth is very protective over me so it may take a while for him to trust you."


Tiberius said "I understand. I would be in a similar mood if Keyleth came back with a unfamiliar man."


Simula smiled and said "The cooks should be done with supper at any moment. Pick a seat."


Tiberius picked a seat and soon, the cooks placed supper on the table. Meanwhile, Keyleth was walking through the forest looking for Tiberius when she saw the letter Simula wrote on the ground and picked it up. She returned to Grayskull Keep and read the letter aloud to not only Vox Machina, but Allura as well.


Dear Vox Machina
Your friend, Tiberius, has decided to stay in Directian due to the circumstances he recently experienced. As the burned grass and trees indicated, he is now suffering from a broken heart and needs some himself time. Whether or not he chooses to return to Grayskull Keep is his choice alone, though I suspect he may not want to return for a while and you all know the reason why.


These next words are directed to Allura Vysoren: I know you were never truly planning on giving Tiberius a real chance at courting you, since your heart already belonged to Kima. I do applaud your ruthless manipulation of him and how you were able to string him along for as long as you did. You could give the Briarwoods a run for their money in elaborate schemes.


Signed, the princess of Directian


Simula Malum


Keyleth looked at the letter and asked "Directian?"

Allura said "I've never heard of that kingdom."


Keyleth said "It's my fault. He expected me to be his shoulder to cry on and all I did was give him the cold shoulder when it was clear he regretted what he had done."


Allura said "If I knew something like this were to happen, I would have chosen my words more carefully and not let my emotions control my actions."


Percy said "I guess, in various ways, we could have handled the situation differently. But let's find where Directian is. Hopefully, Tiberius isn't extremely mad at us."


Grog said "He's probably eating supper as we speak."


Back at Directian, supper had just finished and Tiberius felt tired. Simula led him to the guest bedroom and he fell asleep on the bed. Simula sat in the planning room, a smile crossing her face. She now had a pawn in her chess game her twin sister didn't know about, one who would follow her even into the Nine Hells if she played her cards right. A game-board was on the table, with various player pieces on the board representing not only her and her sister but also their respective parties. She opened a drawer, which contained pieces representing each member of Vox Machina. She pulled out the Tiberius piece and placed it next to her and Arkoth's pieces. If she played her cards right, she would have all the Vox Machina pieces on her side.


After us, this was a game between her and her sister.


And she planned on winning this time round.