Actions

Work Header

Realms

Chapter Text

The Realms:

Split into 8 distinct Realms primarily based on race, races as in: elf, giant, human, you get the gist. In this fantasy AU there is no racism based on skin color. There is however sexism. You can discern someone's race by eye color primarily all other features fluctuate. Most of the eye colors you can find if you look them up by name: Agate, Teakwood and such, I used a chart. Here’s the breakdown.

Agate (Teal eyes with gold ring):

Unsurprisingly Agatians live in Agate. They are almost human, though they tend to be a bit stronger and taller, some say godlike, specifically their women. They live in a very respectful honor bound society, also big believers in the dream eye prophecy. An amazon army, and women are revered for being tall strong warriors. I took inspo from some different european aesthetics, mainly greek.

Characters: OC Females, Niki

Teakwood (Brown eyes):

Teakwood is the largest realm, though humans run it it is also the most diverse. Humans are exactly what you think plain. They live in a very medieval type society, lots of mentions of christianity and what they consider deviant. Human rulers even banned the mixing of races in Teakwood because humans were going to become extinct. They also have been the subject of a lot of wars. Particularly an old one with the previous demon kingdom they destroyed and cut off, and a recent one with the elves in vale.

Characters: George, Sapnap, Bad, Dream (hybrid elf-giant)

Vale (Green eyes):

Elves live in the tropical rainforests of vale. Elves are tall, not quite as tall as giants, but they have big ears. After the war with Teakwood they declared themselves pacifists, and cut off from Teakwood. They welcome anyone and everyone in the complete other end of the spectrum for a sexually and politically ambiguous society. Lots of hybrids and even demons come to Vale for safety.

Characters: OC Female, Karl

Snow Kingdom (Silver/grey eyes):

Azurians live in the snow kingdom. They exist somewhere between Agatians and Elves genetically. They are immune to the cold. It’s an extremely isolated nation in the far north tundras. Controls all the precious jewels in trade, specifically Azure which they built their palace and named their queen after, strongest metal/mineral. A cold rigid society that is essentially just miners and the army.

Characters: Minx

The Nordic Clan (Nordic blue eyes):

Made of giants with a few other races. A history of chiefs who function with a council of elders. Big on respect for elders and ancestors. Giants are giant, the tallest race, it’s kinda what sets them apart. Not as evolved as other places, have a more familial and sometimes nomadic society that functions off the land. Big viking inspo for this one.

Characters: Tommy, Tubbo, Ranboo

Creole (Bright purple eyes):

Creole is the land of sorcerers/resses. Their magic abilities are the things that set them apart from other races. Creole has no government. Functions on an oligarchy of coven leaders, most corcerors have a coven. There is also something called mages, non-sorcerers born with magic. It is usually inferior, and they can be found everywhere. Creole sets up magic taverns in every realm for these mages sto have somewhere to go.

Characters: Technoblade, OC female, OC male

Atlanta and the seas (Deep sea green eyes):

Merfolk live in the seas. I don’t think I need to explain how they differ. Some of them are born with a magic song that allows them to walk on land and hypnotize/influence people, those are called sirens. They believe it is a gift from their goddess Serene, they also believe the dream eye prophecy is the reincarnation of Serene. Have an elected president and democracy in Atlanta, but merfolk live all through the seas not just in the organized society.

Characters: OC female, Dan and Phil

The Badlands (Red/black eyes):

Demons are not demonic in fact. They are very different from humans as all have some time of malformation usually resembling an animal. Used to be a kingdom before they were decimated by Teakwood and cut off from the other Realms. Some went to vale recently only because things are particularly bad back home. Sort of an every man for themselves situation trying to survive. There is extreme classism as there are three organized tribes of the Liz variety of demons, either snakes, spiders or scorpions; they are demons born with poison and red eyes. The pari are born with black eyes, without poison, and left to fend for themselves.

Characters: Corpse, Jschlatt, Jacksepticeye, Pewdipie

The Dream Eye (light clear blue or changing eye color):

An ancient stone used to be the center of all the realms. Based on a sorcerer's prediction after it was lost in the Teakwood vs. Badlands war, it will choose a champion that is born with different color eyes. They will have immense power and be the key to uniting the realms.

Characters: Drista (hybrid elf-giant)

Chapter Text

Chapter 1: Drista POV

 

Drista could feel the light snowfall dusting her hair, but it was nothing compared to the constantly covered ground. For the north snow was a fact of life. Drista can’t remember a time in her 16 years when she wasn’t trudging through massive snow drifts. At least the river has thawed . There aren’t many jobs around the clan Drista enjoys doing, preferring to spend her days running through the nordic taiga landscapes with her friends or her dogs, but she genuinely enjoys fishing. Today she’s alone on one her first trips since before the winter freeze. The snowflakes tickle her scalp through her blonde waves, but nothing will distract her as she catches a flash of scales in the corner of her eye. Drista grips the oak hilt of her spear tightly narrowing her eyes as she wades deeper into the frigid water. The fish twitches and Drista freezes. She hoists her spear readying the angle, 3...2...1…STRIKE! 

 

“Ayeee Drista!”...MISS! Her spear pierces the current slightly left as the fish takes off down stream. Boisterous laughter comes from behind her as Drista huffs tossing her hair over her shoulder and shooting a pointed glare towards the annoying noise.

 

“BAHAHAHA!” Tommy cackles from the shore  “you really thought you could get that!?” He keels over in laughter as Drista stomps angrily through the water to give him a piece of her mind.

 

“I would’ve if it wasn’t for you interrupting Tommy.” Tommy catches his breath leveling his gaze at a fuming Drista.

 

“Oh sure Drista blame your lovely friend who just came to let you know Big Vik’s made dinner.” “I will blame you because it’s your fault”

“My Fault!? I wasn’t the one who missed the fish!” Tommy struggles through another round of laughter before straightening up as Drista reaches him at the shore. Tommy had just returned from today's venture of chopping down trees with the older guys. You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, his lanky build standing only a few inches taller than Drista but he’d recently turned 18 now eligible to be out cutting down trees with the ‘big guys’. Drista scoffs, shaking her head and looking at him, axe slung over his shoulder and a cocky smirk plastered on his face. She tries to ignore how the mirth makes... his eyes look really blue. She holds back a flush turning to collect her Agatian fishing basket instead. No no no his eyes are definitely just a normal shade of blue.

 

“Whatever, I was almost finished anyway.” A competitive glint sparks her eye as she adds “I bet I caught more fish than you cut trees anyway.”

 

“Well those things just absolutely do not equate.” Drista relishes in his defensiveness while she struts into the thick pine forest back to the central clan village. Unfortunately with Tommys long legs and her inconvenient basket it’s not very satisfying as he catches up quickly to argue his point.

 

“Hey lady! Do you know how hard it is to cut down one of these trees?”

“Not as hard as you make it look.”

“Oh really! I’d like to see you try.”

“I did Tommy, and I beat you.”

“Well that was last year! I’m all grown now, and I’ll have you know both Big Vik and Big Q said I had huge muscles.”

“I’m sure they did Tommy”

“They did! I’ll prove it, you want some help carrying that basket m’lady?”

 

Drista did want help as she felt the strain seep into her arms and they were only halfway back. I’m not giving him the satisfaction.

 

“No I’ve got it.”

“You sure.” the smirk was back “You look like you’re struggling a bit to keep up”

 

Drista shot him a glare. Ever since she’d stopped growing at a ‘measly 6ft’,  as he put it, the teasing had been constant. Tubbo wasn’t nearly as bad, especially considering at 17 he wasn’t much taller. Yet, no matter how many times Drista reminded him that she was in fact half elf and shouldn’t be as tall as the giant women he never failed to make fun of her as she struggled through snow drifts trying to keep up. The height conversation was not her favorite, but Drista did appreciate Tommys constant bantering attitude, even if it was exhausting. God he’s exhausting . It’s probably also pretty exhausting trying to bury an embarrassing crush on one of your best friends. Sometimes Drista wonders why her heart decided to go for the idiot over literally any of the other eligible boys of the clan. Looking back on their childhood Drista supposes it was always gonna be him . The trio never stayed out of trouble as kids, but Tommy and Drista were the worst. True partners in crime. He could always get her to go along with anything, while Tubbo had more worries about the chief's wrath. He probably wasn’t as susceptible to the blue eyes either

 

“What’re you staring at?” Tommys question shook Drista out of her train of thought.

“Your ugly face” nice save .

“I’ll have you know the ladies love my face.”

“I'm sure they do…”

 

Boots crunching through the snow, their banter carries them back to camp. At some point Tommy did shut up and lend a hand, splitting the baskets weight between the two of them.

 

~~~

 

Arriving back at the center of the clan Drista spotted Tubbo talking and smiling with his father, Chief Ranboo, outside their large wooden house. While the chief was important and his house rather extravagant, it was no more than the houses of the best fishermen and distinctly less than the home of the elders. The chief truly believed in equality and respect with his people, and he held his council of elders higher than even his own opinions, so the size of Tubbos' home was probably just to accommodate his ridiculous height towering at least a foot over all three of the kids. Drista waved at Tubbo whose smile broke out even wider after spotting her and Tommy. Drista began to smile back before Tommy suddenly dropped his side of the basket racing over to his best friend

 

“Oi! Tubbo my good friend saved some stew for us!?” He left Drista to make a narrow catch of the fish before the chief came over to assist her.

 

“Alright there Drista? Sorry you got stuck with the idiot for the day.” Drista chuckled letting the chief take the brimming basket over with the other fishers' catches. She silently noted hers was significantly fuller than the others. 

 

“Yeah it sucked pretty bad.” Tommy began to splutter a response as Tubbos' laugh cut him off.

“Ha! Better you than me”

“Ungrateful friends, all of you. Really you’d think you’d learn to respect your elders.”

“You’re only a year and a half older!” “You’re only older than me by a year!” Chief Ranboo laughed at the synchronized response from Drista and his son cutting off the teenagers bantering.

 

“If you kids want and stew I’d suggest you get out there before punz or Merida can have it all.” 

“I heard that!” The chief's wife's voice sounded from inside the house. Not much shorter than her husband Merida never failed to make the chief blanche.

“Nothing honey!”

“I’m sure.” Merida muttered convincingly as her curly blonde head and strong stature came into view of the doorway. Drista had grown up staying with the chief and his wife, who was Aunt Merida to her. She often wondered if her mother looked anything like her sister Merida or their other sibling Punz, I wonder if that’s where I got my hair? She was snapped out of it by Merida's strong hand pulling her inside the warm house.

 

“You boys go on ahead, we’ll catch up once Drista gets out of these clothes.”

“You’re not making Tommy change!”

“You do smell a bit more like fish Drista” Tubbo oh so helpfully chimes in. Drista doesn’t have enough time to get a response in or throw something at her cousin as Merida closes the door, but she does hear Tommys wheezing laughter before his mother calls from their neighboring home

 

“Tom! Get back here and change out of those dreadful clothes.” followed by a “Mom!” and the chief and his son's laughter. Merida chuckles pushing Drista towards the stairs to her room.

 

“Go on now there really isn’t that much stew left.”

 

Entering her cozy room full of dark woods and furs Drista takes in her appearance, and begrudgingly thinks it will actually be nice to change. Sifting through her wardrobe she catches a glance in the mirror. Her blonde waves are messy, bordering on tangled, but surprisingly less frizzy than usually. Those elven oils must have worked . Merida had gotten them for her on ancestors day a few weeks ago. Following that train of thought she pushed her hair behind her ears and sighed. They were still pointed at the ends, subtly, not as intense as Ranboo and the others claimed most elves were. Drista really wouldn’t know, she’d never even been to vale. She knew she had an older brother and parents somewhere, but Merida was the closest thing to a parental figure she could remember. I do remember my brother's eyes looking over me. Drista met her own eyes in the mirror. They shone a bright nordic blue, taking after her mothers giant side. All giants held the same ice blue gaze, but she couldn’t help but think hers looked a little duller than Tubbo or Tommys, or even the chiefs often hidden by his hair. Shaking her head Drista threw her hair up into two plaits before stripping off the gross damp clothes. Drista cared for fashion but not at the expense of practicality… though she did choose a darker blue tunic that would make her eyes look good in the starlight, and the white fur coat that she knew Tommy had commented on before. Just because we both like the clothes doesn’t make it for him. She definitely wasn’t dressing for anyone as she picked her comfiest pair of leggings and fur boots, and headed down the stairs. 

 

“Took you long enough.” Drista refrained from telling Merida that her time was spent questioning her heritage in the mirror in favor of heading out into the cold night air towards the large bonfire in the middle of the circle of houses. Drista felt a few of the elders eyes on her suddenly regretting tying her hair back in a way that showed her ears. She walked quickly past the elders section as Merida stayed to bow and join Ranboo talking to the council. Drista made a beeline for Tommy and Tubbo sat on a log around a smaller campfire where their families were eating together. She hopped over the log plopping herself between the two and startling Tommy.

 

“Jesus lady! I almost spilled my stew!” Drista would have laughed at his reaction, but she still felt like people were boring holes into her head. She numbly accepted a bowl of stew from Tubbo who scrutinized her.

 

“Are you alright?” Her cousin's kind voice caused Drista to work up a smile making eye contact with the cherub face that matched his tone.

 

“Great.”

“Yeah you don’t smell like fish anymore”

“Shut up Tommy”

“Shut up!? First you barge in here and make me spill my stew then you tell me to shut up! You know age has really made you bitter Drista.”

“Says the oldest.”

“You’re very nice Drista don’t worry about him.”

“Thank you Tubbo.” At that point things grow quiet and comfortable as Tommy grumbles and eats his stew. Drista sips slowly basking in the firelight listening to muted conversations around her

 

“...Have I told you Tubbo how much the ladies love me?”

“Then why are you sat here with us?” At her cousins innocent, but hilarious, remark Drista snorts out her signature laugh. Soon her and Tubbo are cackling at Tommys hurt pride.

“So you’ll laugh at his jokes huh?” This only causes Drista to laugh harder barely meeting Tommys wide blue eyes. Through unsteady breaths Tubbo laughs out a confused

“I wasn’t joking though.” At this Tommy cracks a smile breaking out over his face before a wheezing laugh. Drista throws her head back having completely forgotten about her pointed ears. The three keep laughing barely having calmed down by the time they’ve finished their stew and Phil is offering them honey bread mumbling a gruff.

 

“Kids.” This causes Drista to choke on her most recent bite of the sweet desert.

“Drista!” Her cousin exclaims in so much legitimate horror it’s endearing. Drista coughs and splutters grabbing at her throat. Then she feels a slender hand hitting her back gently.

“Alright there breath.” A still laughing Tommy says. Dristas throat dislodges the unwelcome guest and she swallows, but the hand doesn’t move. Tommys fingers linger on her lower back. I doubt he meant to. That doesn’t change the way her face heats up. She turns to him and he’s looking at her. Drista feels stuck like she can;t move her eyes away from his. Luckily Tommy does it first looking at something to the left of her head with a gaze that makes her incredibly self conscious. The hand moves off her back up to touch... my ears , specifically the point at the end. Drista turns her head away as her hand flashes up to cover them. Tommy retracts his coughing. What was that??

 

“You know they're really cool right?” Tubbo was still watching and must’ve sensed the discomfort trying to ease it, or he was oblivious to his friends emotions thinking out loud. Either way Drista scoffs, wondering why they chose tonight after the way her thoughts had been going.

 

“They’re nothing special, just another body part.” Her head is ducked wishing this would go away, but a previously silent Tommy makes her pick it back up.

 

“They really are cool Dris.” Tubbo is quick to follow up adamant,

“Yeah! I wish I had cool elf ears.” This seems to get Tommy back in his joking groove.

“Is it true you can hear really well?” Looking back and forth between the two boys Drista smiles appreciating her childhood friends.

 

“Tommy if I had super hearing we would’ve already found out with your screaming”

“Well that was just uncalled for.” Drista laughs at him while Tubbos curiosity breaks through.

“Do most elves have good hearing?”

“I wouldn’t know I’ve never met one.” That’s a tough truth to get out.

“Have you ever thought about traveling to Vale?” Tommy back with the touchy subjects.

“Umm… I mean I’ve never really been anywhere.” Drista prays they’ll let it drop and they do, though Tubbo does look like he wants to ask more. Tommy is deep in thought as they kids finish their bread in silence that feels a bit more weighted. That is until Tommy breaks it with a ridiculous volume.

 

“WE SHOULD DO SOMETHING!” Tubbo jumps and Drista cringes at the intensity. Maybe I do have sensitive ears. “C’monnn gang let’s have an ADVENTURE!” Tubbo groans at this and Drista has to stifle a laugh.

“Everytime you say that things end up going very wrong.” Drista has to agree with her cousin on that one, but she also can’t hold back the intense curiosity as she looks at an excited Tommy.

 

“...What did you have in mind?”

“That’s the spirit Drista!” He motions to bring them closer his voice lowering as the youngers lean in

“I reckon we go on a trip. A camping trip to be specific. The thaw is coming and the mountains are really quite beautiful this time of year. C’mon let's get away before all teh summer jobs settle in. What’d you say!?” Tubbo looks wary.

 

“Well we aren’t exactly supposed to be traveling with the Snow Kingdom situation…” After Tubbos comment a dark air threatens to overwhelm them and possibly put out the campfire. Drista refuses to let this happen.

 

“That’s why we sneak out.”

“You’ve read my mind Drista.”

 

~~~

 

If Drista had thought the cold was bad yesterday it would be nothing compared to today as Tommy leads them north into the mountains that previously bordered the Snow Kingdom. The Snow Kingdom … It was a popular conversation topic nowadays in the clan. The northernmost kingdom having been the most isolated, besides the jewel trade, for many years; it’s usually talked about along with its tyrant Azura-Minx. Having recently taken the throne Queen Azura forced the clan into a treaty signing over their land and people. Nothing had happened yet, but all trade and communications were cut off from the other kingdoms, so it wasn’t looking great. Drista had to admit she was uneasy walking through these woods away from the rest of the clan, but she’d be damned if she showed it. Thankfully Tubbos complaining gave her a welcome distraction.

 

“Ughhhhh...It’s far too early to be awake.” He wasn’t wrong. It was well before sunrise when most of the hunters and workers would arise, and there were still stars in the sky. The kids had woken up in the night Tommy dragging a sleep ridden Drista and Tubbo out of their house and thrusting ridiculously large packs and coats on them. He was currently leading them hands behind his head and shoulders straight despite having the largest pack.

 

“Suck it up Tubbo. C’mon slow polks keep walking.” Drista wondered if he had weighted their packs down with rocks. Maybe I could throw it at him to find out. He has gotten strong lately… and now was not the time to be thinking that. Remember when he couldn’t lift an axe. Yes, that was completely unattractive. He can lift one now. Drista banished her unruly thoughts, it was bad enough he was in her dream last night. Well, not entirely. His eyes were in her dream last night. Along with others. It was a strangely disturbing dream for how simple it was, just many pairs of eyes: some were bright blue, Tommys, and Tubbos, some were dark brown almost black, some were a cuter amber mousy brown, some were the most beautiful turquoise and gold mix Drista had ever seen, some were colors she couldn’t describe, and some were green like her brothers. They had changing emotions, angry, happy, crinkled at the corners, ... crying …, and some that were glassy like they were... dead… A shiver ran down Dristas spine that had nothing to do with the cold.

 

“Seriously Tommy.” She spoke up, honestly hoping a conversation could distract her from the cold, and her dreams. “Where are we going? You haven’t told us anything.”

 

“Drista Drista, have ye no faith! All in due time!” Drista wanted to punch him. First, for how excited he was to be awake. Second, for this hiding the plan business. In the past they had kept Tubbo in the semi dark to get him to go along with plans but never her, and she certainly didn’t like the feeling of blindly following. So not cool . Third because his thick jacket of multiple layers of fur looked really warm… but Drista wasn’t one for violence. That is such a lie…

 

“Ow! What the hell was that.” Tommy exclaimed after Drista planted a hard one on his arm.

“You deserve that.” Tommy looked shocked by Tubbos reaction, but Drista had seen her cousin when he was at his wits end with his little sister Valkyrie, and it looked a lot like right now.

 

“You guys seriously don’t trust me?” Drista was fuming at this point against Tommys easy going responses.

 

“Well you’re not exactly being trustworthy!” In her fur Drista’s coat had been pushed off one shoulder letting in the cold air and snow. She clamped her arms around herself cursing the half elven genes. They may not give her super power hearing, but half of her genealogy is equipped for hot humid temperatures in the Vale rainforest. It proved to be an issue for her as a kid when she would refuse to where her large coats to go play. Now she wished for the clunky garments. Drista couldn’t suppress the shivers racking her body any longer.

 

“She’s not exactly wrong Tommy.” Tommy wasn’t listening to Tubbo. He was still turned to Drista watching her sulk, pace, and shiver.

 

“Are you cold?”

“No Tommy I’m shivering for fun.” Drista deadpanned in response. Tommy seemed to consider for a moment,

“Well… what do you want me to do about it?”

“I don’t know you asked me!” Thoroughly annoyed Drista turned her back on him, she heard Tubbo sigh before intervening on her behalf.

 

“Maybe you could give her your coat or we could stop for the night?”

“What!? I’m not giving her my coat, she should’ve brought warmer clothes!” Drista hated the way the thought of wearing Tommys coat creeped into her head, and she took the anger out on all surrounding parties. 

 

“These are my warm clothes dumbass! In case you forgot I don’t have ice cold giant blood like you idiots.”

“Just give her your jacket Tommy...she’s scary when she's cold.” Drista stared them down.

 

“Fine! Fine! We’ll set camp for the night. Drista could you please get some firewood if you’re so cold.” Drista huffed and began walking away while the boys started setting down things in the clearing. Disappointed you didn’t get that jacket huh?...Shut up. She was just far within earshot to hear Tubbo

 

“And you say i’m bad with women.”

 

~~~

 

Tommy had gotten a crackling fire going. As Tubbo cooked some fish over the flames, he came to sit next to Drista, however warily…

 

“So… you feeling warmer? I could give you my jacket.”

“Keep your stinky jacket.”

“It’s not-” Drista gave him a look that said shut up, and for once Tommy did. She wasn’t really mad anymore, but she certainly wasn’t gonna let him off too easy. Tubbo brought over the food and it was silent as they ate, until a hare broke a twip near her sending Drista shooting up in her seat. Tommy took notice and sighed.

 

“Are you really this on edge? I was honestly just trying to have a fun camping trip… especially with everything going on.”

“You mean with the Azurians and the snow queen's empire?”

“No Tubbo the fishing season.” Tommys shart sarcasm made everything fall deathly quiet again. So quiet Drista could barely take it. He seemed to realize and sighed again. 

 

“I’m sorry guys I just couldn’t imagine doing this without you.” Drista had to admit she melted a bit at Tommys tone of voice. It wasn’t often he let his softer side come out. Drista felt the need to keep this soft air going, and let him know she wasn’t really mad.

 

“We know Tommy.”

“Yeah of course we do.” Tommy was still looking expectantly so Drista continued.

“To be honest everything feels a little tenser with the Snow Kingdom looking over us. I..I-I’m scared. Especially being so close to the border like this.” Tubbo gently wrapped his arm around his cousin's shoulders and Drista leaned into the comfort. Tommy watched them with a serious tone taking over his voice.

 

“We should be scared the Azurians want to take our land.”

“They already have.” It nearly broke Dristas heart the way Tubbo hung his head. He looked picture of his father, loose curly brown hair hanging over tired blue eyes. Tommys jaw was clenched. In a way that definitely shouldn’t be hot. He spoke with such malice Drista almost reached out to comfort him.

 

“She won’t stop there. That bitch on her throne wants to build an empire, and take over everything. There’s a war brewing and we’re right in the middle of it.”

“There’s nothing we can do about it.” Tommy turned to her.

“If there was something would you do it?”

“What kind of- Of course I would Tommy.”

“Me too.” added Tubbo.

“But we’re just kids. We can’t stop an army.” 

“Right…” Tommys face took on an unreadable expression before he snapped out of it.

 

“Pshh no Azurian has anything on me and my massive muscles!” Tubbo laughed.

“Your massive what?” Drista smirked at the challenge, this time with a much less scary playful glint in her eye.

“I don’t know you can’t even take on a half-elf girl who’s younger than you.”

“What are you talking about, you know for a fact I would beat you.”

“Oh you would? I think I’d beat you pretty bad tommy.”

“You’d beat? AHAHA! Drista I’d be you so fast it would be sad.”

“Prove it.” 

 

At this point Drista pushed aside her smaller fear over Tommys leverage, meeting his eyes with a challenge. There was a tense moment where no one moved, before Tommy launched himself into Drista and into the snow leaving Tubbo to sigh in resignation. They rolled around in the snow together laughing before Drista eventually punched him in the side again earning a groan and a ‘bloody hell’. She was up on her feet fists on her hips standing victorious while Tubbo cheered for her. Dristas' red face and fast breathing could’ve been from the exercise... or… She didn’t have the chance to find out. Tommy rose to his feet, and suddenly Drista was off of hers. She had been picked up and thrown right into her obscenely heavy pack, punctuated by a grown from her and a laugh from everyone.

 

“Ugh. Remind me why we had to pack so much stuff?”

“We’ll need it if we’re gonna save the world!” Tommy said through laughs. Drista had just recovered enough to form her own reply.

“Tommy what? What are you even saying?” Looking up, Drista saw a split few seconds that she knew Tubbo caught too, where Tommy looked white as a ghost and not knowing what to say. Almost like he was caught in the act. He recovered, but they’d all seen the slip.

 

“I meant camping! Yes cause we’re on a camping adventure..Haha!”

“Tommy?”

“Whaaat! Nothing Drista, cmon it’s all fun and games really just camping.” he was babbling, and hiding something. Tubbo continues to sit there with an innocent perplexed look on his face, but as Drista went to push herself up her hand landed on the bag and looking down at it she began to find a bit of clarity. Her eyes narrowed. Tommy gulped. He knows I know.

“Drista-” She made a beeline for Tommy's bag across the clearing before he could stop her.

 

“Now hold on there Drista.” She ripped open the satchel tearing through the contents of the pack. Oh boy and what she found.

 

“Just wait a minute.” Pulling out: more food rations than they needed, waterproof seal sacks, a compass and navigator, and rope, weapons. Drista was no idiot.

 

“Let me explain-” He didn’t get the chance as she whirled on him.

“Where are we going Tommy?” Her voice was deathly cold and she knows he felt it.

“Guys what’s going on?” Tubbos innocent query only fueled Dristas anger.

“This is a shipping rig Tubbo.” Gone was the hot anger from before. No. Now Dristas blood boiled with a much more dangerous cold fury.

“Tommy where are we really going?” For a minute Tommy didn’t answer her question fear in his eyes. And after he did open his mouth. Ooo he should have been very afraid.

 

“We’re going to Teakwood. I mean first we’re going to the North port about a day's journey over these mountains where the clan won’t catch us. Then we’re going to Teakwood to see Will on a ship. We’re going to stop the war.” As Tommys confession settled in the air every ounce of Dristas body was screaming out of shock, fear, or anger, to kill him.

 

“You idiot.” Drista spat.

“Don’t call me an idiot.”

“I’ll call you whatever I want. You really thought you could lie to us about this?”

“Drista, Tommy, let’s just calm down before-” Tommy cut him off. Now Drista wasn’t the only one who was angry.

 

“I never lied! I said we were going on an adventure.” Drista threw down the rope stalking over towards Tommy who rose to his full height to meet her.

“No. You said we were going camping! Not heading straight into a brewing warzone!”

“I’m sorry that you’re a coward Drista! But you have no right to be mad at me!”

“NO RIGHT!? I have every right!” Drista knew she was yelling at this point. Tommy was in her face gesturing wildly at her.

 

“Guys please can we calm down and talk about this?” Tubbos interference was appreciated but Drista was too far gone to hear him.

 

“What did you think was gonna happen Tommy? Three kids were gonna face an army!? When you can BARELY SWING AN AXE! HUH?”

“I'M TRYING TO SAVE THE WORLD”

“AND YOU DIDN'T THINK TO JUST TELL US!? YOU HONESTLY THINK WE WOULDN'T FOLLOW YOU IF YOU ASKED!?”

“No you wouldn’t! you coward!”

“Idiot!!”

“Coward!!!”

“Idiot!!!!!”

“I’m not an idiot, why don’t you trust me!?”

“Oh pardon me for being a realist.” Dristas sarcasm was dripping now, and if he took one step closer… I’ll kill him

 

“What would you like me to say Tommy? You’re a genius! I'M GONNA STOP THE WAR AND UNITE THE KINGDOMS!??” Tommy was still talking but Drista couldn’t hear him over the muffled ringing in her ears. The ringing got louder as she clutched her head. Faintly she heard someone call her name. Then everything went white.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2: Tommy POV



The fight wasn’t ideal. He’ll admit that.

 

But, what was even less ideal was Drista promptly collapsing into his arms mid argument. It was the craziest thing Tommy had ever witnessed. She was yelling something off about saving the kingdoms, and then… She just stopped. He and Tubbo had called her name a few times trying to get her to snap out of it. He even came up behind to shake at her shoulder, but right as he touched her something really crazy happened. Dristas eyes exploded in a blinding white light, and some type of magic forcefield rippled across the surrounding land launching Tubbo off and bending trees. Tommy was facing her when it happened. He had to cover his eyes and plant his feet hard just to stay bloody upright. When things came back into focus he could have sworn she had hovered a few feet off the ground. Her eyes dimmed down and Drista collapsed. With quick reaction speed Tommy caught her, now draped across his lap. One way to hold a woman.

 

“What the hell was that!?” Tubbo was attempting to regain his footing. He looked wide eyed and confused, probably a mirror of Tommys own expression.

 

“I-I don’t know…”

“WELL we were just-”

“Screaming at each other?”

“YES TUBBO! As usual!” Tommy looked down towards an imobile Drista suddenly wondering... ahh lady this must be one of your tricks!

 

“DRISTA!” Tommy began shaking her as Tubbo protested. “Drista! If you can hear me it’s not funny any more! Good joke!” Tubbo looked done with him, and significantly calmer.

 

“Tommy I don’t think she’s joking.”

“Well I don’t know!” The clear panic was laced in his voice.

“I don’t know either!” Okay now Tubbo was less calm, “Did you see the way she just… EXPLODED!?” Tommy had seen, but at that word a sinister thought invaded his mind. What if she’s dead? No no I can feel her breathing… I can-YES! I can feel her heartbeat.

 

“She’s alive…” he hadn’t realized he spoke out loud.

“Yes I know that Tommy! I’m worried about keeping her that way!” Tubbos' loud response drew Tommy from his darker thoughts and into action. Alright time to be the big man.

 

“Right Yes!” Tommy grunted as he struggled to stand almost dropping Drista in the process.

 

“Jesus! How much does this girl eat.” As he got a hold on her bridal style Tubbo deadpanned,

“I think it has more to do with your strength Tommy.” Tommy would address that later.

 

“Not now Tubbo we’ve got a girl to take care of!” He looked around thinking for a moment, “Right I’ll take her inside the tent you grab blankets and water. And-and anything else we might need. First aid! Though I did make a rather daring catch if I do say so myself-”

 

“Drista, I hope you wake up soon so he stops talking.” As Tubbo went to grab supplies Tommy could tell he was secretly proud. 

 

Tubbo helped him arrange blankets in the tent so Drista was plenty warm. She was still draped across Tommys legs as he used his jacket to wrap around her and her head as a pillow. He sure didn’t need it anymore now that they had insulated with the furs. Tommy looked at her ears and got an urge to touch the little tips again, but... She’d probably kill me… When Tubbo returned his eyes flicked between Tommy, and the coat, and Drista, and back to the coat, but he said nothing simply handing Tommy the first aid supplies while they carefully examined their friend. If Tommy gingerly touched the points on Dristas ears he was simply checking for injury of course! After finding nothing wrong with their sleeping friend, and seeing her move! Either away from their cold hands or snuggle towards Tommy, they both let out a sigh of relief they didn’t know they were holding. Tubbo leaned back and closed his eyes for the first time in the whole ordeal. Tommy stayed where he was with Drista, and completely lost in thought. He was the first to break the silence.

 

“The last thing I did was yell at her… that would’ve been the last thing I-”

“Then maybe you should apologize.” From Tubbos' tone Tommy got the feeling that he wasn’t just talking about Drista here. Alright champ time to own up to it.

 

“I’m sorry Tubbo.” Tommy held his breath.

“For what.” it wasn’t a question.

“For lying” a pause.

“I forgive you.” Tommy smiled then. Since they were kids he’d constantly get them into trouble, and Tubbo would constantly make mistakes that ended in somebody hurt; but through it all, they had always forgiven each other. A bond like ours just can’t be broken.

“Will you come with me Tubbo?”

“To teakwood?”

“To stop the war.” Tubbo frowned. It didn’t really suit him. He looked at Drista then back at Tommy.

 

“Are you still going.”

“I have to.”

“Then yes.” Nothing else needed to be said. Their friendship transitioned back like normal.

 

“Do you want food? You didn’t really get to finish dinner with the whole debacle. Maybe we should go eat and leave Drista to rest in here?” Tommy didn’t really like the idea of leaving Drista but I like the idea of eating food very much. He slipped his legs out from their position under her head dusting himself off as he exited the tent Tubbo close behind.

 

“Well I couldn’t say no to food Tubbo! Really you’ve twisted my arm to leave poor Drista!”

“At least you finally gave her your coat.” Tubbo passed a grumbling Tommy on his way to salvage what was left of the fire with an annoying little smirk on his face.

 

“Shut up…”

 

~~~

 

The morning came and Drista hadn’t woken up. Tubbo even went in and tried coming back out to report.

 

“It’s no use It’s like she's in a trance”

 

Tommy had to admit he was getting anxious. I’m not worried though everything will be totally fine. They had busied themselves with banter:

 

“Why’d you put the log like that Tubbo??”

“I don’t know Tommy! Why’d you put your face like that?”

“That doesn’t even make any sense.”

 

As well as cleaning up everything outside the tent, so they didn’t disturb Drista. Though I’m not sure how she slept through Tubbos snoring. They even got around to finally finishing the fire and cooking a bit of breakfast, good ole’ milk and oats! They were sitting around the fire laughing at Tommys poor impression of the chief when he heard a light rustling coming from behind him. Tommy watched Tubbos eyes widen and whipped around to look behind him. He found a sleepy looking Drista with her hair sticking up at odd angles wrapped in his large coat and blankets. 

 

“DRISTA!” Tubbo exclaimed rushing past Tommy and launching himself at his cousin. Tommy was a bit more restrained with last night's events fresh on his mind.

“Good morning Drista.” he sheepishly rubbed the back of his head, as Drista managed to pull herself from Tubbos embrace and blink around at her surroundings. She shrugged the blankets off her shoulders and rubbed her eyes open... HER EYES!!!...

 

“What- what happened?” Luckily Tubbo answered because Tommy wasn’t functioning.

“Well you sort of fainted after… yah know.”

“I fainted?”

“Yeah you don’t remember.”

“No nothing after…” Their voices faded out as Tommy struggled to get his bearings with her looking at him. Gone were the old blue eyes that marked Dristas Nordic genetics. What had replaced them was a color I can’t even describe! It was almost blue at first glance but as if her eyes were every color swirling together in a rainbow, but also almost reflective like no color at all. It reminded Tommy of a hazy dream. She hadn’t made eye contact with Tubbo yet so he hadn’t seen but Tommy couldn’t contain it anymore.

 

“Drista don’t take this the wrong way but… what the fuck happened to your eyes!?” Their conversation stopped as Drista scrutinized him with her newly colored orbs. She wrinkled her nose in confusion turning to look at Tubbo whose face was almost comical. His eyes widened as he attempted to distinguish this color, and he was not silent about it.

 

“Oh my gods”

“What? What! Do they look different?” Drista now sported a panicked look on her face flashing back between the two boys. Tommy was baffled. How does she not see this!?

 

“What do you mean!? Yes they’re bloody different Drista!”

“It’s not like I can see my own eyes Tommy!” She did have a point there. Thankfully Tubbo saved him.

 

“They’ve sort of...changed color?”

“What? how is that possible?” Tommy thought that was an excellent question, and one he had no answer for. Tubbo on the other hand seemed to come up with an idea.

 

“I don’t really know couz. That white light did come out of your eyes last night. So it could have something to do with that?” Tubbos' voice sounded gentle and hopeful but it only seemed to panic Drista more.

 

“What white light!? What are you guys talking about?” Tommy sighed. He supposed they’d have to put their fight to the side for a bit. There were clearly some more pressing issues. With a sigh he walked over putting a comforting hand on her arm and looking into her... eyes…

 

“Alright Dris.” he began guiding her to the fire. “Maybe you should sit down. We've got a lot to talk about.” hesitant at first Drista followed him warily and sat down on the log adjacent to wear he and Tubbo sat. She looked at them expectantly, and Tommy turned to Tubbo taking a deep breath before they began.

~~~

 

“Gods…” Yup that was pretty much the reaction Tommy had expected from her.

 

“And just because I’m shocked right now doesn’t mean I’m not still mad at you.” That was also an expected response. Drista stood up from her log beginning to pace around the campsite. Tommy shared an awkward what do we do!? Look with Tubbo. WHo thought of a bloody genius idea.

 

“Umm… I may go for a walk and uhhh… give you two some time to talk.” Tommy was going to protest but tubbo was already speed walking away. He only stopped for a moment to whisper in his cousin's ear.

 

“Go easy on him.” That was met with a large eye roll, and Tubbo was gone. The silence was deafening, and Tommy just wished Drista would look at him instead of pacing so he didn’t feel like he was going to explode. She stopped then answered his prayer, and now he didn’t know if this was worse than the silence.

 

“So are you going to say something?”

“I was sort of waiting for you to start-” The sharp laugh she let out made Tommy fear for his life.

 

“Fine, Fine! I’ll start” he took a minute to gather his thoughts, punctuated with a long sigh.

 

“I shouldn’t have gotten angry at you last night.”

“Why did you?”

“Honestly?”

“Never too late to start.” Tommy ignored the dig.

 

“Because you were mad and…”

“And?” Tommy felt like a scolded child but he sucked it up.

“And it felt like you didn’t believe in me! Okay!” God let me die . Tommy had always been afraid of admitting emotions like this. With Drista it was no different. He thought it may have been worse as she started walking forward and took a seat on the log next to him.

 

“It’s not that I don’t believe in you Tommy… it’s just that I had no warning, and I felt betrayed and scared. And It all sounded crazy…”

“I thought you were always down for the crazy.” Tommy tried to keep the bitterness out of his voice he really did.

 

“Not when I don’t know about it. Not when you lie to me. ” 

“And now?”

“Now what.”

“Will you come with me?”

“I still don’t even know the plan Tommy.” Of course this had to be harder than with Tubbo.

“So my brother Will, Willber, Big Dubs-”

“Get to the point Tommy.”

“I am! Basically he left for Teakwood became a scholar and all that.” This was the big part. “He actually became the head advisor for the new king George, and he’s been writing me about everything. Apparently the Azura-Minx and her army are mounting a takeover. Willbur said he wouldn’t be surprised if she had orchestrated the previous king and queens deaths as well. At least that’s the last letter he sent. Now all our communications have been cut off by the queen herself and we have no way to ask for help or warn the other kingdoms.”

“What does that have to do with us?”

“Don’t you see! My brother is at the heart of the largest kingdom across the realms. If we can get to him in teakwood we can get help, and alliance, reinforcements and maybe stop the war before it starts!” Drista looked at him with an unreadable expression on her face, before she gave a small smirk, shrugged, and kicked back on the log.

 

“That’s actually not a bad plan.”

“Thank you!”

“Does your brother know we’re coming?”

“Well not exactly. No he doesn’t bu- WAIT did you just say WE?!” Tommy could feel the splitting grin on his face, but he didn’t care. Dristas calm demeanor was cracking around the edges as she tried to appear mad.

 

“You know you still haven’t said your sorry.”

“Ohoho you most definitely said we.”

“Still not hearing an apology!” She said in a sing-songy voice, and Tommy knew she was teasing. He scoffed. Shaking his head at her antics before sobering up.

 

“I’m sorry Drista.”

“For what?” I’m going to kill her. This cheeky little-

“God lady! I’m sorry for lying! Are you happy now!?” Drista tried and failed to stifle a smile.

 

“No. I still wanna know what you did to my eyes.” She said it in a laughing tone but Tommy could tell there was weight behind it.

 

“I honestly don’t know Dris.”

“Could they… could it maybe be from vale?” Tommy felt bad crushing her like this so he tried to soften her voice.

 

“No. Vale eyes are green, and yours are… something else entirely. I’ve never seen any race with them before.”

 

“Oh.” Oh.

 

“Do they look bad?” Tommy didn’t know what to do with the way she was looking at him. All that hope and insecurity in her eyes like his opinion mattered. Not to mention he got lost watching the swirly colors.

 

“Urrmmm… they look a bit different for sure. But not a bad different! They’re actually quite pretty. I MEAn- not that I- they’re normal very normal. But still different! And… I reckon they look pretty good.” Tommy scratched at his neck as he felt himself flush. It felt even more awkward having turned towards her on the log.

 

“They look good?” recovery time Tommy.

 

“They do!” Drista smiled genuinely at that and looked towards the fire. If Tommy were paying attention he might have seen her blush, but he was focused on anything that would distract him. Her hair... It looks a little frizzy but I guess that’s the early morning. Her face… She does have freckles there. Back to her eyes... how do they manage to be that many colors at once? And the little points on her ears... wait a minute am I leaning in? He never got to find out as a twig snapped behind them. Startled they both turned to find a creeping Tubbo.

 

“Sorry guys. I can umm come back in a bit or…” Tubbo turned to go as Tommy stopped him.

 

“No no all made up here! Right Drista?” She seemed a little shaken as she quickly stood up and smiled at Tubbo.

 

“Don’t worry I’m not gonna kill either of you it’s fine Tubbo.” he seemed a little more at ease stepping into the clearing, as Drista began to take down the tent. He still sported a confused look on his face, and he looked at Tommy raising an eyebrow like he was asking a question. 

I have no idea.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3: Tubbo POV

 

I cannot believe I’m stuck with these idiots.

 

Tubbo loves his friends, but sometimes they can be really stupid. First of all it always comes to violence, last night was a perfect example, because they can’t seem to convey emotion any other way. Then there are the actual emotions. Now Tubbo knows he isn’t always the most perceptive, but in terms of obliviousness they WIN! At least he thought they did. After last night Tubbo isn’t so sure…

 

Flashback

 

Walking towards the river Tubbo wondered what would come out of their conversation. He wondered if Drista would forgive Tommy. He wondered if Tommy would get over what was said last night. He wondered if they would ever get over their obliviousness. It’s been so clear for so long how they feel about each other. I wish they could see it. Tubbo remembered all the blushing moments between his friends, and despite Tommy being generally pretty annoying all the sweet little things he did for Drista. Tubbo had watched her get a special treatment he never did for years. Tubbo thought about Tommy's brother, and how before he left he had told Tubbo

 

“Don’t let these idiots lose each other.” Wilbur saw the same things Tubbo did, and he didn’t really understand why no one was saying anything. With a sigh Tubbo looked up at the sky debating what to do on his little walk. He thought about getting more firewood, but worried about making it any larger. They may throw each other in as it is. Tubbo had to admit he was also worried about The snow kingdoms army. He decided to walk to the river instead. He had probably heard the most about the Azurian threat of the three of them given that his father was the chief. His dad had him sitting in on elders meetings recently. Silently . Probably for the best, because Tubbo still couldn’t grasp the concept of war. 

 

“Why would one Realm willingly attack another?” He had asked his father. “Isn’t that just putting your own people at risk??” Chief Ranboo had sighed deeply looking down at his son from a pile of maps and drafts. Tubbo often caught how tired his father looked, and how sad his mother looked while watching him. 

 

“Ruling isn’t easy Tubbo. Everything is a give and take. You must learn to withhold trust until it is earned, to come to agreements when appropriate, and…”

“And?”

“And when violence is the necessary response.”

“Is violence necessary now?”

“I hope not son. I think signing this agreement will be best for the Clan, but people will not be happy about it.”

“I trust you dad.” That had gotten a soft smile from the chief.

 

Tubbos boots crunched on the gravel at the side of the river. They would follow this all the way to the northern port. Then sail the seas together! He had to admit, however hurt he was by Tommy the adventure did sound fun. They were always fun, and it would be good to see Wilbur. Wilbur was somewhat of an older brother figure to all of them, less so Drista as brothers were a sore subject for her. I wonder if she still has dreams? She used to wake up screaming of scenes of war before Merida would comfort her. Tubbo hasn’t asked about it in a while. But I will need to ask about her eyes. Of course Tommy was the first to notice. He was always looking at them, or her ears. Tubbo smiled at the thought before skipping a rock across the stream. An elk startled on the other side looking at him angrily.

 

Speaking of angry looks, Tubbo wondered if his friends had killed each other. Thought about if it was safe to head back. He retained eye contact with the elk as it munched on grass peeking through the snow. Well I’m no longer alone with my thoughts at least. They stayed there in a comfortable silence. Briefly Tubbo wondered when he’d get peace like this again. The two stayed like that for a while before Tubbo got tired of tossing rocks and headed back.

 

Approaching the campsite he could hear muffled conversation. As he got closer he could hear the tail end of their discussion it sounded civil enough.

 

“Do they look bad?” That sounds more than civil actually!

 

“Urrmmm… they look a bit different for sure. But not a bad different! They’re actually quite pretty. I MEAn- not that I- they’re normal very normal. But still different! And-” Tubbo scoffed. How did his best friend not realize Drista had him wrapped around her finger.

 

“They look good?” 

“They do!” Okay now this was interesting to Tubbo.

 

His curiosity got the best of him as he began sneaking closer through the trees. And what he saw was enough to melt your heart, and your eyeballs. Tommy and Drista were looking at each other with this sickeningly lovey dovey gaze. Tubbo was so enraptured by his friends he didn’t realize he’d stepped forward until the twig snapped.

 

Oh shit! Aaaaand the spell was broken.

 

(End Flashback)

 

That’s how he got here.

 

Carrying one of Tommys “adventure packs” behind his lovesick best friends that didn’t know what to say to each other. Or maybe they did. They were chatting away ahead of him like they’d never even fought. Tommy looked like he couldn’t stop laughing, and Drista looked like she couldn’t stop smiling, despite their rather rude words.

 

“Tommy I know for a fact you can't sail.”

“How!? I’ve never tried!!”

“Exactly!”

“Okay then master of sailing! What about you!?”

“I’m good at fishing.”

“In a stream! You are good at STREAM FISHING!”

“So you admit i'm good?”

“What! That’s so not-”

 

Tubbos' deadpan behind them was truly comical. It’s not that he hated the idea of his best friends together. In fact, he wanted that more than anyone else, except maybe Merida. He hated that they weren’t together, and hadn’t admitted their feelings! Although Tubbo wasn’t so sure they knew about them. At least Tommy didn’t, and he thought Drista hadn’t. But he heard his cousin last night and. Right now I’m witnessing a really impressive blush on her face.

 

“Face it Tommy you’re weak.

“I Litrally threw you across the campsite last night!” Wow. his cousin was so red he was shocked Tommy couldn’t see it. Maybe from the memory? Tubbo posited. Though I don’t get why.

 

“I let you do that. I’m way stronger than you with your little...urm...noodle arms.”

“HAHA! My noodle arms? Lady could by noodle arms do this!?” With a war cry Tommy lifted their friend off the ground bag and all. Drista looked like she would implode. And Tubbo decided to save her.

 

“Oi tommy put the lady down!” Tommy put her down to begin making jokes at Tubbo, who joined walking in between them.

 

“Of course Chief! The ever chivalrous Tubbo.”

“Well someone has got to have chivalry around here!”

“Hey! I’ll have you know I’m very chivalrous.” A recovered Drista chimed in to leave Tommy spluttering.

 

“No Tommy… you’re really not.”

“Buh- Whahahat! I carried you to the tent last night!”

“After making her faint in the first place!” Tommy looked a little shocked at that one, and Tubbo felt genuinely sorry for a second.

 

“Yeahhhh… I’m sorry about that Dris.” He scratched the back of his neck sheepishly. Tubbo flashed back and forth between his two friends wondering how this would go, but drista looked very nonchalant about the whole thing. Simply shrugging and pulling at her pack straps.

 

“It’s fine. I mean I’m okay! Well, besides the um...eyes…” Yeah Tubbo had a feeling this was bigger than a simple argument. He wanted to help his cousin and his friend, but he didn’t even know where to begin. Why did her eyes look like that? What was that white everything ? It felt like pure power? Despite his thoughts Tubbo had to keep the energy good. He was his fathers son, a mediator after all.

 

“Well! I for one am glad my best friends didn’t kill each other!” That earned some laughs out of everyone. And they continued on with a good air of conversation. All punctuated by Tommys honks, Dristas wheezes, and Tubbos snorts. That is until Tommy called for a break.

 

“Oi! Let's take a rest here mates, I’ve gotta take a piss.” Drista wrinkled her nose.

 

“Very nice Tommy.” With a short salute and wink in her direction, Tommy dropped his pack and took off into the thick spruce trees like his life depended on it. Tubbo laughed at his receding form, but was secretly glad to take a break. He turned to find Drista had dropped her pack and was laying on it with her eyes closed and a soft smile on her face. Okay there’s no way she doesn’t know. This was Tubbos chance to ask so he took it.

 

“Sooo last night was pretty crazy huh?” Great start Tubbo.

“Yeah pretty crazy. I still don’t understand it. All I can remember was white and then… dreams…” 

“I was sort of talking about you and Tommy.” Here we go.

 

“What?” His cousin's expression was comical, as she looked at him with wide multicolored eyes. If Tubbo could have taken a picture he would’ve. He gave her a pointed look so they both knew exactly what he was talking about. Dristas blushing face got redder as she coughed and tried to cover it.

 

“Erm… I didn’t think the fight was that bad.” You’re not getting out of this.

“I wasn’t talking about the fight either. More like what happened after. And this morning?” Now I’ve got her. Drista held his stare for a long time before she cracked groaning and flopping back on her bag.

 

“Ugh! Is it that obvious?”

“It’s not subtle.” There was more groaning as she shielded her eyes from the sun. Tubbo felt the need to say something else, and let her know he wasn’t judging.

 

“I think you two would be good together.”

“Really?” Tubbo held back a smile at how quick she responded, and how fast she sat up. God they were hopeless.

 

“Yeah” Drista’s face sported a large giddy smile punctuated by a grimace and another groan.

 

“Ughhhhh Tubbo! Why did you have to say that!? I was just getting over him.”

“Were you?”

“No.” Tubbo laughed with her after that one. After Drista pursed her lips and opened and closed her mouth before she got the courage to ask.

 

“Do you think he…?” Tubbo answered without hesitation.

 

“Yes.” 

“No.”

“You’re still wearing his coat aren’t you?” Tubbo points out. He was met with even more groaning, and all he could do was laugh exasperatedly. He was shocked at how easy this conversation was.

 

“God no! Why did you say THAT!? Why did I ASK THAT!?” 

“At least I didn’t talk to Tommy!” At this Drista was no longer laughing.

 

“You wouldn't, right?”

“No.” a pause “But I don’t know why you won’t tell him?”

“The day I tell Tommy is the day he stops dragging us into danger.” Tubbo wanted to argue he really did but the person in question returned from his bathroom break.

 

“Hey gang! What are we talking about?” Tubbo shared a look with Drista that warmed his heart and gave him hope before answering.

“Just talking about how you can’t sail.”

“WHAT!? Tubbo I’m hurt. You’d side with her!”

“Yes Tubbo!”

“I cannot believe you two! Respect your-”

“Elders?” They answered at the sametime breaking into a fit of laughter before strapping on their packs to continue.

 

~~~

 

By the end of the day the trio had reached the edge of the woods where the stream turned off and the trees broke apart. The northern port was in sight in the distance across a flat snowy plane.

 

They stopped at the tree line, on a slight hill elevated above the glacier slate. Tubbo took a minute to appreciate the scene. The ocean in the distance looked more hospitable than usual, and the sun was setting without a cloud in the sky. It covered the fresh fallen snow in so many colors. The only thing that ruined it was... the azurians … their presence with their high tech soulless ships and large jewel towing grundle-yacks, and mammoths.

 

“Guys…” Drista said. She pulled Tommys coat tightly around her against the drafts.

 

“We see um Dris.” Tommy wasn’t often serious but Tubbo could tell he meant business as he opened his pack removing a battle axe for himself, his brother's old one. A shield and sword for Tubbo, and a smaller wood cutting axe for Drista. Tubbo wasn’t sure how much they could do against an azurian confrontation, but he took the weapons with a small nod. Drista looked at Tommy with wide eyes handling the axe in a way Tubbo could tell broke Tommys heart.

 

“Tommy… you brought weapons.” It was so easy to forget she was the youngest with how strong she was.

 

“Just in case Drista. I don’t plan on using them.” Drista looked unconvinced as Tommy continued. “You see those boats?” He pointed with his axe to the left of the small fishing village away from the azurians. “Those are our Clans boats confiscated to the side. We can get in and leave without being caught or seen.” Tubbo had to take a minute to admire his friend's character. The lying bit may not have been thought through, but Tommy could plan how to take down an army like no other. Drista seemed to agree both their eyes shining at each other, as she fixed her grip on the axe and gave it an experimental swing. 

 

“Alright you ready!?” Tommy raised his axe.

“Ready for adventure?” Tubbo responded.

“Always.” Drista finished.

The three stepped out of the tree line beginning their trek towards the boats trying to steer clear of the Azurians. Tubbo brought up the rear, he was distracted by a yack yell he nearly missed the glint from the forest. Then he heard the chilling voice from behind them.

 

“Where are you three going?” Tubbo turned around to meet a terrifying sight. Two snow kingdom soldiers emerging from the treeline behind them. It didn’t look like they had signalled their friends, but these guys were battle-worn. One had a scarred eye and long white hair. The others was streaked with large tattered arms. They were both in full Azure armor, nearly impenetrable jewels that only came from the ice caves up north, with short sleeves showing they were impervious to the cold. They had neutral expressions and silver-grey eyes showing their azurian heritage. The second one scrutinized Tubbo from his curly brown mop to blue eyes, and relatively childish stature. His emotionless grey eyes narrowed.

 

“The chief's son? You’re a long way from home.” Ice ran through Tubbos veins. The hostile advanced he turned to look at Tommy and Drista. Dristas' scared eyes were darting around but her axe was at the ready, and Tommy had positioned himself slightly protective of her. Yet, Tubbo saw his shaky breathing. The trio backed up further into the tundra plane, and the Azurians followed sizing them up and drawing their swords. One thought ran through Tubbos' head.

 

Protect my friends.

 

It happened quickly. The closest soldier with the platinum hair lunged at Tubbo, his shield taking the brunt of the attack. Tommy surged forward bringing his axe towards the opponents head. The axe was blocked by his sword successfully pushing them apart. The two friends looked at each other before splitting and attacking at two angles. Tubbo stabbed forward with his sword. They were on equal footing in leverage and stature, but it was clear they were outmatched in technique. The soldier blocked both of their hits though Tommy managed to cut his axe into the armor on the back of his leg. The soldier stumbled, and Tubbo took this moment to look over his shoulder.

 

Dristas grunts and yells of effort could be heard in contrast to the silent streak haired soldier, but she was holding her own. She was spinning a whirling the axe like she was meant to. It was probably his mothers teachings. But he could tell she was tiring. He and Tommy needed to win this. Mr. Platinum worked his jaw before kicking Tommy off. The axe was still stuck in his leg and Tubbo lunged forward tugging hard. The soldier let out a sound for the first time and Tubbo saw he’d drawn blood dislodging it and bringing them both to the snowy ground. He and Tommy were standing on the same side having switched weapons when they heard it, a gasp from Dristas opponent.

 

“The dream eyes.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Wrong place wrong time chosen one.”

“Chosen? What are you- Arrg! The streak haired warrior had her disarmed on the ground bleeding from her left arm and was approaching. The boy's reaction was simultaneous.

 

“Leave her alone!”

“Hold on Dris!” They blocked together both landing hefty hits. Tubbos sword collided with the azurians side sending the warrior flying back. Tommy pulled Drista to her feet in time for the azurians to return. Even injured their faces seemed impassive. What are these people?

 

“The chosen one huh?” 

“The queen will be very pleased.”

 

 Tubbos was not even sure how it happened. He shared a look with Tommy, and he just knew what to do. They moved as a unit tossing their weapons up, catching the respective tools and switching partners. Tommy charged the platinum haired warrior head on. Tubbo rolled over his shield retrieving it with just enough time to deflect the streak haired one's attack to the side and making a piercing attempt at their middle, one they almost failed to dodge. His momentum sent him forward but Tubbo recovered, turning this time to go for a head strike. His sword locked with the Azurians, and he could feel their breath on his face.

 

“You can’t protect her forever.”

“But we will.”

“The queen will have the chosen one.” 

 

Tubbo felt a warm ripping sensation on his leg as he cried out dropping to the ground. The azurian kicked his shield away stalking towards him with a bloody dagger in one hand sword in another. In a survival moment Tubbo kicked the sword out of their hand, and they lunged forward towards his face with the dagger. Tubbo let go of his sword to bring his leather cuffed wrists up to protect his heart. He crossed wrists with the azurian who doubled up their hands straddling over Tubbo on the ground. Tubbo pushed back but he couldn’t hold it forever. He managed to shift their dagger to the side of his head. But the azurian forced more leverage on him, and he felt white hot pain as the blade entered his shoulder. Blood stained the snow as Tubbo cried out.

 

“Bleed chief's son.”

“You first.” Tubbo heard Drista as she brought up his shield knocking the azurian soldier out over the head. Tubbo was about to say thank you, and then he saw what would be burned in his brain. A much larger soldier lifting Drista off the ground by her arms.

 

“You’re mine Dream eye.”

“Drista!!”

 

Tubbo heard Tommys panicked cry, but could do nothing as he desperately scrambled back. Drista kicked free, grabbing her axe and sword. The platinum haired warrior kicked Tommy away towards Tubbo while going to help the new arrival get control of Drista. She was fighting with a fury Tubbo had never seen before, but it was like he was watching it in slow motion. Tommy yelled, but Drista just turned to them.

 

“Go! Find your brother. They want me!”

“We’re not going!”

“We’re not leaving you!”

“Get me back! Go now!”

 

Drista blocked another hit that sent her into the snow, and more soldiers poured out of the woods as streak hair got up. Tubbo looked at Tommy. He looked as wrecked as he felt, but they were 50 or so yards from the boats. We can make it. They watched drista being handled by soldiers until something else moved them both, be it survival or defeat. Tommy linked his arm under tubbos getting him to his feet, and they ran. Tubbo tore his gaze from his cousin, tears in his eyes, and ran. When they hit the first boat they heard a yell behind them. We’re being chased. Tubbo checked briefly to see a large gamble-yak charging them soldiers following behind them. We aren’t gonna make it. Tubbo stopped between two boats shoving Tommy towards them and drew his sword. 

 

“Tubbo! What are you doing!?” The yak was approaching fast. Timing. Tubbo swung his sword cutting free the netting line from a beached boat before ducking behind a second. It worked tripping the creature straight into another ship effectively blockading them.

 

“C’mon!” he pulled along a stunned and laughing Tommy to a small sleek sailing ship. Despite the jokes Tommy knew what he was doing as he hefted their bags onto the ship. When had he grabbed those? Tubbo cut the lines, taking Tommys hand to hoist him up. They were off, luckily with the wind on their side and a faster nordic boat than any barge the azurians had. Tommy spoke while pulling the ship's sail open turning south.

 

“We can lose them in the glaciers!” Tubbo nodded turning back to the quickly fading shore.

 

He couldn’t see Drista.



Drista Update:

 

It smelled awful. She could barely breathe, and she already felt the rope burn on her hands. The road here had been bumping after she was manhandled and tied onto the back of a mammoth. The one thing keeping her going was the boys. They got away. If she died. They got away. Though she wasn’t dead yet which was probably a good sign. Everytime they moved her, yanking her off the yak, up cold stairs, around a corner, once into a door, which was responded to with a rather rude laugh, Drista prepared for the worst. It never came and eventually she was thrust to her knees, her bonds were cut, and they removed her head bag. Drista took a deep breath adjusting to the light. She was ready to make a move, ready to escape , but she was in the most incredible room she’d ever seen. It looked like pure Azure. She looked forward, sitting on a pure azure throne was a woman. She looks more like a goddess. Decked in a dress fully encrusted in jewels and army she waved off the guards with a hand. There are so many in this massive room for just one person. She slowly approached Drista looking her in the eyes. multicolored met silver. She moved with confidence, her pale skin and light, pale pink, almost white, hair blended in with the washed colors of everything else. When she reached her Drista managed to find her voice.

 

“Who are you?”

“Azura-Minx, and you are in my kingdom chosen one.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: Reyna POV

 

Her blood was in her ears. Her lungs were screaming. Legs pumping. God I love this feeling.

 

Reyna was running like her life depended on it, and in this case it didn’t but one day it might. She had been trained for one purpose in life: to protect her home in battle. All the amazons had, in fact. Lucky for Reyna her life had been one of relative peace. That was all going to change soon. The amazons all knew of the mountain threat from the snow kingdom, and while there had been no formal attack battle lines were being drawn. The Nordic Clan of giants had already turned, and they expected the sirens of Atlanta would as well. Teakwood was looking for an alliance, and the amazons of Agate were preparing for the worst.

 

Today Reyna was taking part in a competition. These were usually held for all of age warriors in Agate, meaning amazons over 25 years of age who had passed cadet training which starts at 16. They were skillful competitions almost always involving combat, and overseen by generals. Usually held to define honor, especially at times when they’re looking for standout warriors and promotions. Today it was the Amazon race: a ten mile course starting at the beach over the rocky salt rock mountains along the edges of the straights and ending at the arena. The track was riddled with challenges imposed by generals as well as other amazons racing to the finish, and combat was always allowed.

 

Reyna was far ahead of the pack as she rounded a sharp corner on the cliff. The path got smaller, her leather strap sandals beat against the 2 ft. wide ledge on the side of the spralling white cliff, the only thing keeping her from a 100 ft. drop into bright turquoise water. 

 

“Keep an eye out for arrows.” She muttered to herself as she huffed yanking a recent intruder from the side of her gold corset armor. Reynas last contact with an obstacle left her bare arms covered in scratched from the lieutenants crossbow arrows she barely dodged. Reyna approached the end of the small path fast ready to climb the marble stairs onto the last stretch of the race, but she heard a noise. Her fett slowed and sharp eyes darted around. Then she saw it one turquoise eye, matching her own, against the side of the white cliff face. The gold ring around the pupil betrayed the expertly camoflaged amazon between her and the stairs. Reyna halted. The amazons had been made. They emerged from their ambush spots hidden behind rocks charging with a battle cry. Reyna took in her options.

 

Quick thinking she drew her two long daggers from the belt around her light leather skirt. Reyna turned quickly impaling them into the soft rock to her left and scaling the cliff. Her weightless weapon choice and sleaveless armor served her well for mobility, but the leutenints were worthy opponents. They grabbed at her ankles and one sent a spear towards her, but Reyna had already elevated to twice her height on the cliff nearing the gravel top. The high ground gave her the advantage, she dodged the spear and sent her dagger towards the Amazon nailing her leg and sending her off the ledge towards to water below. All in one fluid motion, using the momentum from her doge, Reyna kicked the other amazon climbing after her neutrilizing them both off the cliff. One managed to land her hook and rope into the cliff as she fell suspended on the side, the other tucked into a dive entering the water below. Reyna used the stolen spear and her dagger to push and scramble to the top of the cliff amoungst the shrubs and gravel of the chapparal hills, nearly losing her footing.

 

She continued to race ahead. The sand kicked up around her sticking to the sweat of her tanned hairline, her golden terreses were slicked back into a ponytail and they were more than a little dirty, she was injuered and breathing hard, but she was going to win. The beginnings of Agatian civilization could be seen in the teracotta roofs of a farming village as Reyna rejoined the gravel path. A quick look over her shoulder showed another Amazon breaking the marble steps. Calliope. Reyna had expected Myriam, but Calliopes obscenely long ringlet black curls could not be mistaken, even pulled bag in a braid that ran down the back of her head. Reyna wondered where is Myriam? If Calliope was here she couldn’t be too far behind. The three girls had been friends forever and quickly became the most promising cadets before they had officially started training. Of course as Agate women they would be informally trained to fight starting at 10, strength was valued highly. That’s where the three girls had met, and Calliope had formed her strong build and large legs that propelled her forward, though they were not as long as Reynas. Smirking back at her old friend reyna couldn’t resist the opportunity to snark.

 

“Calliope! Took you long enough.”

“Reyna! Thanks for taking care of that ambush for me.”

“Of course, gotta help out the underdogs.”

“I don’t knwo looks like I’m gaining on you.”

“Ha! In your dreams.” No way that is happening. Reyna ran impossibly faster as the girls hit the curvy cobblestone streets of the farming town. They raced past civilions cheering them on. As they approached a market Reyna turned spinning as she launched her spear to topple  a tower of boxes into Calliopes way. She disn’t see the aftermath, but she heard loud crashes a grunt.

 

“Ow! Screw you Reyna!” Calliope yelled punctuated by the whizz of the spear passing left of Reynas head. Reyna threw her head back and cackled as bnystanders cheered for her. Calliope was successfully deterred and she was miles ahead of anyone else. Her victory was nearly secured as the arena appeared into view. Reyna raced past the curved flat architecture that took up most of the cliffs in Agate while calliope slowly tried to gain some distance on her. Reyna had the taste of victory of her tongue before she felt a pebble hit the side of her head. Turning she saw... no… Myriam running on top of the hill next to her with a straight shot to the arena.

 

“Hey girls!” That bitch..

“You took a shortcut!?” Calliope let out a scoff of disapproval but was breathing too hard to answer. Myriam looked smug as she gave a nice little salute to Reyna.

 

“See you at the finish line!” With that she disappeared behind the hill. Alright time to get creative. Reyna pulled a full stop catching Calliope off guard as she swept her legs. She hit the stone hard and Reyna turned to the side using a cart to jump onto the terracotta shingles of the nearest roof. With this she had a better vantage point and began to run now with a clear opponent. I just have to be faster. Reyna jumped from roof top to roof top bypassing the windy road the rest of the amazons would take. Just when she thought she wouldn’t make it she saw Myriam coming in from her path to the left. The girls used every projectile near them to launch at each other, every trick to stop their momentum but in was no use. When Reyna reached the last roof before the arena she lept off, spinning in air to avoid Myriams dagger. Reyna landed on Myriam, and the two rolled across the ground getting up in synch. They were standing facing each other at the arenas entrance. Reyna met Myriams eyes and saw them dart to the open gate. In your dreams.

 

The two girls dove towards the arena line both crossing with equally acrobatic speed manuevers at the same time... shit…

 

“It’s a tie!” The crowd erupted in cheers as the head general, Reyna's mother, approached them.

 

“Reyna. Myriam. I’m not surprised. Where’s calliope?” As if on que a huffing calliope entered the arena.

 

“Uh uh. *Breathe* I’m not *Breathe* taking third because someone took a short cut.” Her pointed turquoise eyes contrasted her olive skin tone as they sent a pointed look at Myriam.

 

“Technically Reyna did too.”

“True I guess we’re both just geniuses.”

“Sorry you didn’t think of it Calliope.”

“Girls.” The generals tone caused the three to shut up quickly standing at attention. Reyna caught Myriam sending her mother, the best healer in Agate, a sheepish look as well and almost snorted.

 

“There were no rules against short cuts Calliope.”

“Ha.” Reyna couldn’t hold it together on that one. Myriam and Reyna laughed because Calliope's expression was too funny. She pulled it together as her mother continued.

However, we can’t have a tie.” Her mother turned to address the arena. “May the amazons please gather! Our competitors will enter the ring to decide the winner!” Loud cheers erupted. Reyna looked at Myriam. This was gonna be fun. The two of them were the best at everything amongst the younger warriors, and even some of the leuteninants. Her mother knew that, and they were putting on a show for the generals. It was fine, Reyna didn’t mind proving herself. They approached the weapons that lined the arena. Myriam chose a sleek silver spear, and Reyna decided she was having a good sword day, though the weapon really didn’t matter. Calliope came up behind them pushing them into the circle.

 

“I hope one of you dies.” The girls laughed at how sore a loser she was, before the game faces set in circling each other as the generals watched. The moment came and they both stopped. 

I don’t lose. 

 

They attacked with fury weapons meeting in the middle. Reyna had the height and agility, Myriam had the speed and the reach now with her spear. Calliope always had the strength whenever they sparred. All in all the girls were a good match. Reyna kicked the bottom end of her spear dislodging their hold as she swung her sword in an arc. Myriam spun away the sword barely catching the ends of her chesnut brown hair when she turned. Reyna never understood how she could fight and run with the brown bob-length hanging down. Reyna swung again as Myriam struck with her spear. They both doged off setting their attacks enough they missed and switching sides. Myriam went High attempting to get leverage as she brought her spear down, Reyna slid low slicing the ground and creating a dirt track as she stopped her momentum in a lunge position hand down and sword back right before the line of the ring. The speed at which they attacked next anyone watching may have missed. The girls traded blows back and forth with their weapons Reyna chinked the side of Myriams armor, a similar light gold tank top to Reynas. She payed it back by bringing the but end of her spear to Reynas jaw when Reyna had her spear caught down with her sword. Reyna reeled back as they both took a break. Myriam was heaving having taken a few stomach hits and Reyna wiped one rivlet of blood from her lip. She smiled for a moment.

 

“Nice work.”

“You too.”

“You tired.”

“Yes”

“Too bad I’m not.”

 

With that Reyna attacked her friend. Myriam barely caught a swing aimed for her shoulder with her armor wrist cuff. She used the catch to get the hilt of reynas sword locked with her spear. With a spin Reyna was disarmed. Reyna dropped a step inviting another attack when Myriam swung her spear Reyna bent 90 degrees at the knees catching the shaft above her. She then pulled swinging her legs around and over to kick and Myriams head. Myriam let go backing up and Reyna recovered standing with the silver weapon. She caught eyes with her mother who raised an eyebrow and reyna rolled her eyes. Yeah I know. Per the honor rule Reyna tossed the spear into the crowd to a now cheering Calliope.

 

“Kick her ass Myriam! Yeah get her Reyna”

“Can you pick a side?!” Myriam laughed at Reynas comment before picking up with the spar. She launched a well aimed kick at Reynas head. They traded blows, having done hand to hand combat for years together it was a dance of matched agility, no one landed a blow despite their near perfect technique. Until Myriams left foot was slightly out and Reyna knocked her off balance, but Myriam locked her and Reynas arms taking her down with her. Reynas back hit the sand and she coughed as Myriam landed perpendicular over Reyna on her stomach, ready to push her towards to line. Reyna gritted her teeth. I don’t lose. Before Myriam could get a foot hold Reyna planted her left and twisted throwing the slightly smaller girl, who attempted to push her in air, towards the edge of the ring and out. The momentum sent Reyna rolling back in the opposite direction. When she got her bearings she stood up and say Myriam flung out of the circle one hand in but didn’t pull herself back in time. Reyna smiled before looking down and seeing her foot and back leg outside the ring. 

 

“It appears we really can have a tie.” The generals voice sounded through the arena. “Amazons! Please greet your champions Lieutenants Reyna and Myriam!” Reyna couldn’t hold back her smile. Lieuteneant?! Her mother hadn’t told her that’s what todays competition was for. She all but Ran over to Myriam offering her a hand before hoisting her up into a hug.

 

“Oh my god! That was amazing. That disarm was great by the way!”

“Thanks.” Myriam cringed in pain “So was that spin move, it really fucking hurt.” Suddenly they were all but tackled by an excited mop of black curls.

 

“I can’t believe my best friends are Lieutenants!!” The joyful laughs continued as they were congratulated by generals, heading to the salt baths to clean up, and celebrating at night.

 

~~~

 

Reyna awoke to the sunrise peeking through her oval window, and her large hound Shadow licking at her face. She blinked as she sat up in, pushing off the white woven sheets and running her fingers through her hair. The morning after the race it was clean in its full golden color and ran half way down her back. Not nearly as long as Calliopes. Reyna leaned out her window to breath in the air before she felt Shadow jump against her back nearly pushing her out the window.

 

“Jesus girl!” That’s one way to get your heart working in the morning . Shadow simply barked in response as if she hadn’t almost just sent her owner tumbling thousands of feet. The Agatian lands were fertile and plentiful and the sea breeze made them temperate, but they were also ridden with cliffs and beautiful white salt rock. One of Reynas favorite pastimes used to be cliff jumping as a child, Intentionally however. Now she appreciated the view she got from her small one floor house next to Myriams and near Calliopes. That were all situated spiralled around a natural rock pillar. Much of the architecture in Agate was built on or into cliffs and precarious rock spots as a way to conserve farming land. And to inspire bravery from a young age.

 

Reyna dressed for the day: a simple wrap around dress just past her knees that she had dyed in a pink gradient. Adding some light wrist and leg armor should be fine all she was doing was training cadets today. As a leuteniant! Reyna smiled to herself, as she made herself breakfast with some eggs, and cheese from Teakwood. Her mother had told her it was only a matter of time, for all three of them because calliope technically got second place and was promoted as well, and how proud she was last night at the celebration. Reyna still heard faint music and she assumed it was from the party that probably lasted all night. Shadow barked to snap her out of her daydreams signalling there was someone at the door. The fact that it opened a moment later told Reyna who it was.

 

“Good morning lieutenant Myriam.”

“Good morning lieutenant Reyna!”

“You know you have your own house.”

“I know but this one has food.” She began picking at the pan Reyna was working on before Reyna rolled her eyes and handed her a plate.

 

“Aw for me that’s so sweet!”

“Soemones gotta make sure you don’t starve.” Myriam sat herself down at the small wood table of Reynas two room house without so much as asking wolfing down the contents of the plate before she seemed to remember why she was there. 

 

“Oh! The king and queen called to see us today.”

“What? Why?”

“I don’t know we’re supposed to head over there now, mom told me last night.” Myriams father was close childhood friends with the king, and Reyna's mother was the head general so the girls had grown up fairly close with the royal family, specifically Nikolina or Niki the princess their age.

 

“You sure it wasn’t Niki?”

“Nope it was their royal highnesses themselves.”

“Maybe we’re getting knighted.” They both snorted at that. Knights what a ridiculous concept.

 

“Well whatever it is we should head over now, and pick up Callie on the way she’s probably asleep.”

“Don’t you want breakfast first?”

“Just ate!”

 

~~~

 

“Sooooo… did you get with that hot sailor last night? Calliope said he looked really impressed by you in the ring.” Myriam groaned while Calliope and Reyna laughed their asses off. 

 

“So what if I did?”

“Ayeee that’s my girl!” Calliope slung a good natured arm around Myriams shoulder standing only an inch or two above her at 5’8”, and only an inch or two below Reyna. Myriam shrugged her off annoyed and adjusted her baggy purple trapeze style dress that touched her ankles and was tied at the center with a gold band. Calliope in contrast had barely managed to roll out of bed and throw on a clean green toga, no bells and whistles, and her hair was completely undone cascading in black ringlets to the top of her legs, but it actually complimented her high cheekbones and angular features well Reyna thought.

 

“Even if I did sleep with Pierre last night-”

“Oh he’s got a name?”

“And Callie... it’s Pierre”

“-If I had it wouldn’t work out! He’s off on another sailing trip soon!”

“Men get all the boring jobs while we get to grow up assured we’ll become badass warriors. I almost feel sorry for them.” Calliope had a point. While not all Agatian women became Amazons and there were places in the army, in strategy and such, for men, Reyna couldn’t have imagined doing anything else. She did feel the need to steer the conversation back to where it was originally.

 

“But sometimes they’re verrrry useful. Especially after Myriam has a long day getting beaten in the race.”

“Okay first of all: we tied. Second of all: I have bruises. And third! It is non of your buisness and it’s a very inappropriate topic for the palace!” Reyna dropped it choose to laugh at her flustered friend instead, the blush barely noticeable in comparison to her browner skin almost identical color to her hair. Calliope continued to goad.

 

“Hah! Like you’ve ever cared about that before.” It’s true the three had been in the Agate palace at many different times. In many different states. While all the architecture in Agate was fairly simple, the palace never failed to take Reynas breath away. There was a winding staircase to meet it at the top of the tallest mountain and cliff in Agate with a view over the land and a large farm behind it. 8ft White cement walls bordered the multi story building with shiny brass teardrop shaped roofs on the top of every tower and point. More brass and dark gold shingles fortified the rest of the angular roof and top of the walls. It did retain some Agatian spirit, with paneless oval windows as it wasn’t needed with the consistent year round, a flat open plan, collage stone walkways and marble/terracotta floors, and lots of outside space.

 

Despite the general teasing morning air the three girls sobered up setting their shoulders before walking into the strategy or meeting room lit by the early morning light, The Agatian palace had no throne room the king and Queen preferred to sit with their people. They were met with an interesting scene. Oh this is definitely not us getting knighted. Her mother and some of the top generals were standing to the left of the white marble table, the king and Queen on the opposite end, and Niki on their right.

 

“Niki!” Myriam and Reyna and Myriam punched Calliope in synch shaking their heads, as she rubbed her shoulder mouthing what. The king looked mildly displeased but said nothing, and some of the generals and Niki held back smiles. Reyna made eye contact with Niki who looked every bit a princess this morning. Her flowy off the shoulder gown with skirt sleeves was pink with traditional Agatian patterned trim and she bypassed a regular crown for her half of short blonde hair to be tied around her head in a braid. The two exchanged a small wave before Reyna directed her attention to the king and the Queen who spoke first.

 

“We’ve called you here because of your impressive performance yesterday. We have a job for you Amazons.”

“What is it?” Reyna literally took a step forward into her leader role. Calliope was the muscle, Myriam was the brains that’s how it worked. 

 

“As my wife said you’re here because of your skill. You all know about the threat Azura-Minx and her empire pose.” A chill ran over the room as Reyna looked at her friends.

 

“We do.” The queen continued.

“The threat is mounting and Teakwood has been begging for our assistance. Given their history as a volatile and turbulent kingdom they often decide to make enemies a bit willy-nilly.” Reyna knew all this and was beginning to piece it together as the king finished the delivery.

 

“We’ve decided to accept their alliance, along with an assurance that they will never come to our shores in war.” Myriam was next to speak, always first to question.

 

“That’s great, but what does that have to do with us? Surely you are sending more than just three Amazons.”

“No matter how good we are.” Reyna rolled her eyes at Calliopes comment, unable to resist.

 

“Shut up you didn’t even win.”

“What I-” The royal family broke and laughed at that one. The queen collected herself looking at her daughter.

 

“No. We chose you three because we think you represent the spirit of Agate.” She threw a pointed look directed mostly at calliope but there wasn’t much heat behind in. “We want you to escort our daughter Niki to Teakwood where she will…” A heavy silence fell as the queen didn’t continue making intense eye contact with her daughter. Reyna's mother was the one to jump in.

 

“These are trying times, and we’ve had to make the alliance based on a- a marriage.” They can’t be serious. Reynas gaze snapped to Niki and she felt the need to speak out.

 

“With all due respect is that not against our beliefs.”

“It is Reyna, but as your mother said we’ve had to make sacrifices to secure an alliance and fortify ourselves against the Snow Kingdom.”The king sounded genuinely sad, and Reyna wanted to press before Niki's soft voice and light accent aired.

 

“I always thought I would marry for love, but the way I see it… I am doing this to protect Agate, my home and my country, there is nothing more true to our beliefs.” This time the silence was less heavy. Reyna's mother was the first to speak up.

“Agate does not deserve you Princess Nikalina.” The queen and her daughter exchanged a soft smile before Niki turned to the amazons.

 

“I chose you three because I believe you will represent the strength of our nation, and there’s no one I would rather have by my side.” Myriam and Reyna smiled and each other then nodded to Niki, calliope on the other hand was louder.

 

“Whoo hoo! When do we leave?”

 

Drista Update:

 

Drista sat in the room she had been ushered too. She had been stripped washed and changed like an animal. She certainly felt on display in the bejewel white clothes, not to mention she was shivering neither side of her genes held up well against the cold of the Tundra, unlike the Azurians she did not have a cold tolerance that allowed this much skin on display, especially in the cold palace. Her room itself was extravagant, with a step leading to the large bed jewels hanging off of everything. I don’t feel like a prisoner more like a pet . Drista was sat on the unnecessarily beautiful couch watching her breath, but her focus was on the vanity across the room. Just how bad can it be? She steeled herself crossing the room and resting her hands on the small azure table in front of the mirror. She hadn’t looked up yet. She took a deep breath and… Oh my gods… Drista let out a gasp and touched her face. It was crazy her identity was totally different and Tommy and Tubbo did not explain it correctly. Her heart let out a pang at the thought of them, but was quickly interrupted by the door opening. Drista whirled around and non other than the queen stepped in. 

 

“Ugh rather fuckin boring I told them to give you a nice room!” The queens mannerisms were so unexpected. Though Drista imagined, when you were the uncontested ruler of a massive nation you didn’t really need to watch what you said. She appeared nice as well, something Drista absolutely did not trust, but she spoke refusing to show any fear by remaining silent.

 

“It’s fine.”

“Pretty cold tho? Here would you like a coat?” Azura-Minx held out a coat, a very nice insulated cloak that looked sleek and azurian and... warm. But Drista didn’t take it. Azura-Minx sighed and stepped forward resting it on the bejeweled coffee table instead. Drista tried to be cool about it but hastily put the cloak on hiding her hands inside to warm them. 

 

“I don’t bite you know.” The queen chuckled, and when Drista didn’t respond she added. “What no thank you?” Drista thought about it for a moment before speaking.

 

“Thank you Azura-Minx.”

“Please! My friends call me Minx, and I’d like us to be friends.” Minx had her hand outstretched to Drista who didn’t trust one bit of this, but standing here looking at the queen in her palace surrounded by her guards she didn’t have much of a choice. Minx’s hand was cold, as were her silver grey eyes… no? They look more like steel.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5: Reyna POV

 

It wasn’t long before the four Agatians were on their way, wanting to reach Teakwood by the end of the day. Reyna had said goodbye to Shadow leaving the hound with her parents and packing for a more royal wardrobe. One that was rather itchy. Her lapis colored dress was certainly more elegant than her regular attire and reached lower on her ankles. Though it was mobile just in case she should need it; other precautions were her golden chestplate and hidden thigh armor and daggers along with the not as hidden spear on her back. The other two warriors were in similar states, the same armor over elegant dresses. Myriam had stuck with her purple circle neck gown, while Calliope actually tamed her hair and fished out an olive green empire piece. Myriam also had a bow strapped to her back and sword at her side taking over range attacks while Calliope sported two short blades for close combat. Niki looked more of the same. Maybe a little sadder.

 

They had long since left Agate behind at the border traveling on horseback across Teakwoods dirt roads. Currently Reyna had slowed to a heavy trot giving her wild brown mare a chance to rest. She did not believe in animal cruelty. Nikis stocky white horse also looked like it was struggling to keep up, along with Myriams black and grey beauty. However, they would need to pick up the pace again soon, especially since Calliope's black stallion was bucking it’s hooves to run. For now the cloudy weather put a damper on their spirits, and Reyna felt the need to lighten the mood.

 

“Sooo who’s the maid of honor?” Niki finally looked up from her hands.

“I don’t know but I’m glad I am with people to make me laugh.” Her smile made Reyna feel a little better about the whole thing, but this was politics . Who knows maybe the king is hot. Calliope and Myriam thankfully picked up Reynas intent to cheer the princess up.

 

“It better be me!”

“No no Calliope I think the princess would rather choose a lieutenant.”

“We’re all lieutenants! Just cause I didn’t cheat-” Her horse suddenly bucked her up causing everyone to laugh. Reyna took the opportunity to end the argument.

 

“See! Even your horse agrees.” Niki was smiling.

 

“It’s not like our status will matter in Teakwood anyway. You know how they feel about women.” Aaaand Myriam had to bring it back down. Reyna wasn’t mad at her friend; she felt the same anger swelling inside her.

 

“Such archaic principles.” Reyna spat out. Niki nodded solemnly piping up with her own joke.

“You know I’m even supposed to stay pure for the marriage?” All three giggled at the implication. 

 

“Ha! Good luck with that one Niki!” Calliope guffawed loudly.

“Well it’s not like he’ll actually be able to tell.” Niki laughed through her words.

“Imagine if they find out it wasn’t just men.” Reyna snarked, raising an eyebrow at Niki. Myriam laughed loudly at that one while Calliope fell quiet.

 

“Do they really have a problem with things like that?” She spoke softly.

“They’re god doesn’t allow it.” Myriam scoffed. Reyna, feeling the source of Calliope's worries, tried to ease them.

 

“Hey we’re in the same boat. Myriams the only one who's actually safe.” Reyna looked to Myriam who shrugged before saying:

 

“You mean besides being a woman?” They all laughed at the ridiculous comparisons in their culture, before Calliope continued on her topic.

 

“I mean at least you two…” gesturing at Niki and Reyna “...can hide it more, and romance some court advisor. I’ve only got one option!”

“I don’t think I’ll be romancing anyone from Teakwood.” Reyna said mildly disgusted.

“God forbid.” Myriam added. Niki ever the optimist chimed in, but she didn’t really sound sure herself.

 

“They can’t all be bad right? I mean humans are our closest genetic relation.”

“Don’t remind me.” Myriam groaned “But it helps us in this case because they’re waving their no race-mixing rule for your royal entanglement.” Fucking disgusting principles. Reyna blew out a stream of air pursing her lips. She wondered how she was going to pretend and filter herself for the next few months until this marriage was over. How’s Niki going to do it for the rest of her life? Guilt struck her straight in the stomach. The marriage may end for the three of them, but for Niki this would be her life. They didn’t even know how long those would last with a war brewing. Reyna put her filter aside for now asking a question she knew would make light of the situation.

 

“Do you think the King is hot?” They actually cackled at that as Reyna lent back with her hands behind her head. “What!? It’s a genuine question I want our princess to at least be fulfilled!” Reyna smiled cheekily, and Myriam nearly fell off her horse she was laughing so hard. Niki managed to breath long enough to get a few words in.

 

“I’m sure the king is lovely Reyna.” Reyna shrugged and broke, finally starting to laugh with the others. She held on to Myriam, who had pulled her horse next to Reynas. Calliope wiped her eyes before putting a hand on Nikis shoulder.

 

“Seriously though Niki, we’re here for you. If you want to run just say the word. We’ll run right now”

“As much as I appreciate the thought Calliope, this is my duty. It may be defined by different things in Teakwood, but in Agate we also uphold our honor.” They all grew quiet after that, the joking air gone. Reyna looked at the sun as it began dipping into the third quarter of the sky. She shared a look with Myriam we should get moving. Myriam nodded at her before pulling up front next to Niki.

“We should start moving Niki. To get there before sunset.” Niki nodded and Reyna felt the need to say something, anything, else before their conversation was postponed until they reached the palace.

 

“I know it sounds crazy Niki, but I have a feeling that you’ll be okay. I think if there is a queen to change Teakwood for the better it will be you.” Niki seemed to grasp Reynas conviction and hold on tight. Her eyes shone as she set her shoulders and held her head high, facing straight ahead.

 

“For Agate.” Niki spoke like it was a promise.

“For Agate!” Her three amazons answered.

 

The four Teal eyed goddesses flipped up their hoods and set their horses in a gallop to the center of Teakwood.



~~~

 

Reyna almost laughed when she met the king. She almost did.

 

They entered Maniford the center town of Teakwood that held the massive palace. It’s really more of a castle. Or an entire city… With their hoods up and on high alert the Amazon women made their way towards the massive extravagant structure that represented the exact opposite of Agate. While the palace in Agate was a royal version of it’s peoples houses built in their likeness and among its citizens, The Teakwood castle was giant with multiple layers, gardens, and walls filled with soldiers. It sat above the measly town of its citizens who lived in small cozy town houses. It was all intricate details, large stones, sprawling gothic architecture, and stained glass on a hill separate from everything else. Now Reyna knew that it Teakwood everything happened in the palace, the knights and guard, army training and housing, servants, and a massive court of intricate rules and stuffy royals. Knowing that did not prepare her for the way her breath caught at the site.

 

They began climbing the hill being let through the first two layers of the palace walls, then their horses were taken by stable boys and their cloaks by servants, which Reyna was extremely unsettled by and vowed to visit her mare later. Then the four girls walked through to the final set of cobble walls between them and the prettiest section of the palace, the royal section. They were met with knights, guards, and fanfared lined up. Reyna got some small enjoyment of the way they gawked at a tall Agatian woman in ‘immodest’ clothing and armor. With Niki in the lead they reached a group of men, the king and his cuart who would greet them. And this is why Reyna held back a laugh.

 

The King was short , in fact many of the human men were. He was taller than Niki not that she cared, but there was something amusing about his stature under that much crown and velvet and fur. He did have a regal stance, even when he bowed to the ladies. Reyna only briefly remembered to return with a curtsy, and she caught Myriam hitting Calliope on the back. It didn’t matter because all eyes were on Niki anyway. There were six men in total that Reyna scrutinized.

 

The first was the king: he had a relatively slight build with tawny brown human eyes and clean cropped hair that matched, you could tell he was a royal based on the air he carried himself with and his clean porcelain hands. Not to mention the large dark gold crown and the royal blue velvet cloak he wore over woven fabric tunics and leathers that matched the man to his right. The second man drew reynas eye because of how tall he is. When her gaze passed over his body, in clean leather pants and women layers of tunic jackets and robes that marked him as a king's advisor, and reached his face Reyna understood. Nordic blue eyes shone back at her from pale skin and a mop of dark curly brown hair. Interesting. A giant he had to be at least 7 ft. tall. Behind him and the king stood the shortest man who also had human brown eyes with a lighter color tan hair, he donned advisors clothes with a peculiar cloak that was black velvet on one side and red on the inside. To his left was what looked to be the head of their church, a slender man a bit taller than the king with dark skin, human eyes, but ice white hair that surly signified a specific lineage. He wore full white and red jeweled robes and a rather tack cross around his neck. Reyna was pulled from her careful examination when the king addressed them. He has a smooth if somewhat soft voice, but one that demanded attention and held a pompous air.

 

“Greeting Princess Nikilina. I am King George, welcome to Teakwood.” He didn’t sound over enthusiastic as he held out his hand, but Niki wasn’t particularly giving anything back as she took it. King George bent and kissed her hand lightly; the man to his left shifted, and Reyna took notice of the Kings Knights, the last of their 6 greaters. At least she assumed they were what’s called the King’s Knights in Teakwood, like the generals in Agate. The man who had shifted first caught her interest as peculiar. He wore silver knights armor on top of what looked like a dark green tunic and dark grey pants, not as tight as the kings. What threw Reyna off was being unable to identify him. He wore a knight's helmet with a rather strange face, two eyes and a mouth slot in the grey metal that made it look like it was watching her. Kind of creepy . Nonetheless he looked dangerous, smaller than the giant advisor but significantly taller than Reyna and the king with a large broad sword strapped to his side. His fingerless leather gloves gripped the handle and he looked tense as he watched the king. The knight to the left was shorter with only a few inches on the king, but he had a strong stocky build and a wild air that told Reyna not to underestimate him. His brown eyes were on full display showing he was indeed human, and his raven hair stood spikey around his head matching the slight stubble of his face. He also donned knights armor, with a red tunic instead and baggy black pants and sort of ridiculously large boots.

 

“These are my kings knights Sir Clay.” The helmeted head bowed slightly but said nothing. “And Sir Nick-er Nicholas” The second Knight bowed with a crooked smile.

 

“How do you do ladies?” Reyna held back a laugh at the scene. Perhaps she had judged the king too harshly. He was clearly friends with his court in the way Niki and her were. All of this nonsense is just a fron from everyone.”

 

“And this is my head advisor Wilbur.” He gestured to the giant to his right. Head Advisor? That was even more interesting.

 

“A pleasure to meet you.” He had a deep voice and Nordic accent, so he hadn’t grown up here. He reached his hand out to shake Niki’s hand, and Reyna smiled at the slight unconventionality while the two men in the back exchanged a look. When Reyna turned to look at Niki she saw something else. The princesses eyes had locked onto the giant called Wilbur and did not let go. Her face was slightly flushed, but she placed her much smaller hand in his shaking. Wilbur smiled at her and the splitting grin on Nikis face was adorable as Reyna watched her brain stop functioning. Oh boy. The king continued to talk while leading them inside walking with Niki at the front of the group. Reyna moved aside as the helmeted Knight stuck to the king like glue. She almost rolled her eyes fed up with all these subtle interactions already.

 

“This is the inner palace where we will handle all the business. We have prepared the east wing for you and your ladies-”

“We prefer to be called Lieutenants.” Reyna spoke with authority garnering the most comedic group of expressions, and a snicker from Calliope. No way in hell am I being called lady. Myriam seemed to concur as she sent a grateful look once the king nodded.

 

“Of course. Now…” He continued to explain more about a banquet tonight for their arrival and the properties and all. He only briefly mentioned the marriage arrangements, but Reyna supposed nothing was set in stone. Especially since Niki didn’t hear a damn word he said. She was far too focused on a certain Nordic advisor. Myriam noticed their princess’ gaze as well and made eye contact with Reyna. This is not good.

 

~~~

 

Reyna concluded that she hated banquets. Loved the food, hated the pleasantries. Even the king didn’t look interested. And Myriam who was standing next to her at the long thin wooden table scrutinizing the food. 

 

“ * Sigh * Are you being picky again?”

“No! I just have cleaner tastes than this.” Myriam responded annoyed as she picked up a turkey leg holding it away from her. Reyna snorted before catching some shriveled old court members watching her. She steeled her face hitting Myriam in the side, who dropped the turkey leg jumping and looking at her friend in annoyance before looking around. Reyna gave a small smile to the duke maybe? Before gritting her teeth and suppressing the urge to kill anyone. She sighed again, turning around and facing the large ballroom with a dias and throne in the middle. Seems like they just put a throne in every room

 

“I hate all the eyes on us.” Myriam nodded agreeing before putting down her empty plate inconspicuously and turning as well eyes seeking out any watchers warily.

 

“Yeah. maybe if my best friend wasn’t a sexy golden goddess they’d leave us alone.”

“Aww. And you’re one to talk you ethereal little beauty.”

“Awww.” Reyna chuckled at the antics taking her next few bits of food, as she searched for the princess spotting Calliope with her as she talked with the king. Well Calliope was sort of with her. She and Nicholas seemed to be very good friends jokingling comparing muscles while their charges engaged in polite, if seemingly uninteresting, conversation. Her eyes once again found another lurking duke or whatever title. He eyes her up and down and seemed to preen in his disgusting purple robes. Myriam saw it as well making a disgusted noise on her behalf.

 

“Ugh it’s like they’ve never seen a woman before.”

“I swear I only see men here, besides the ladies in the back.”

“Someone should let them eat.”

“Seriously! They’re just sitting there all decorative. It's weird.”

“Aren’t they supposed to like women?”

“I swear it’s all just some secretly gay brothel here.”

“Oh my god! Reyna you can’t say that.” Myriam was stumbling in shock and laughter while Reyna tried to conceal her own with her hand.

 

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to be improper.

“No you’re not.” Reyna snorted again, taking a drink from her chalice. Over the lip she saw King George tug on his tall knights sleeve. The knights stance faltered slightly before he rightened and the two headed out one of the left entrances of the ballroom Reyna assumed for a walk. Niki turned to other sources of entertainment and made eye contact with Wilbur the advisor. Oh this should be good. Calliope was distracted, and before Myriam could move Reyna thrusted her unfinished plate into her arms.

 

“Eat something, I got this one.”

“Puh- What I-” She heard Myriam splutter and grumble behind her, but Reyna was already across the room joining Niki and Wilbur who were already laughing. She joined Niki's side who barely even noticed her giving a small nod and ignoring Reynas knowing smile. Wilbur greeted her over the princesses head.

 

“Lieutenant!” He sounded happy

“Advisor Wilbur.”

“Oh please call me Will, both of you”

“In that case call me Reyna.” Niki smiled back and forth seemingly pleased by Reynas indirect approval. God I’m gonna laugh at her later.

 

“And what about you? Should I call you princess Nikilina?”

“No no, Niki will be fine please.”

“Spectacular because I have greatly enjoyed talking to you Niki.”

“I’ve enjoyed talking to you too Will.” Niki’s smile could light up any room, and it certainly seemed to make Wilbur melt. He recovered much better than others who had to bear the force of Niki’s charm, in Reynas opinion.

“Good good. Uhh- so! What’s your favorite thing about Teakwood so far!?”

“I think the people.” If heart eyes were a person it seemed Niki had this giant wrapped around her finger. “When we were traveling through the city, and the country especially, I saw so much diversity. We don’t have very much of that in Agate.”

“Seen a lot of new eyes today then?”

“Of course I’ve traveled before forieng relations and all-”

“Those pesky little things.” Niki chuckled at him, and Reyna rolled her eyes.

“Yes. I’ve seen people besides Agatians before, but never like that. I’m excited to see more.”

“I would be excited to show you.” With the way his voice softened he at least had the courtesy to blush. My gods. Reyna saw Myriam watching from where she was left. She looked at Reyna and Reyna just shrugged. What do you want me to do? Truthfully it was nice to see her friend with someone like this. Reyna was always a heart first type of person.

 

“You’re not from here am I correct Will?”

“No I’m from…” He seemed to hesitate. “Up north.”

“All the way North?”

“Yes with all the yaks, and snow, and brutish people.” His joking manor returned.

“You don’t seem brutish?” The look in Wilburs eyes was akin to looking at the stars.

“Thank you very much Nikilina.” he looked at her as he took a long drink from his large goblet. Niki watched his hands blushing. Reyna knew how much she liked rings. Niki did manage to scoff at him, though it was rather cute with her blush and he just looked amused.

 

“I told you to call me Niki!” For the life of her Niki did not know how to be mean. “Also how do you drink that much mead?” Wilbur gave her a quizzical look whilst lowering his voice as if telling a secret.

 

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I am rather large.” Niki giggled. God you’re getting married!? 

“Ah.” It was a simple response but you could tell she had noticed as she looked Wilbur up and down with a mischievous glint in her eye that rarely came out. Reyna had taken a step back, and worked her jaw to keep herself from laughing out loud at their blatant flirting. Across the room Myriam glared dagger at them next to an oblivious Calliope who was now eating the shared plate of food. Wilbur looked like her was about to say something else, before someone called his name.

 

“Advisor Wilbur! Urgent Letter marked from the North!” Wilburs eyes narrowed.

“Excuse me for a moment.” He went to talk to the out of breath squire passing off his goblet along the way. When he received the letter he read the script on the envelope and hastily rushed out of the ballroom, the squire trailing behind. 

 

“Sooo…” Reyna began to tease watching Nikis eyes follow the retreating advisor. However, she never got to finish as loud fanfare sounded from the dias. The King had returned standing in front of the throne with the white haired priest who had greeted them earlier, Reyna since learned his name was Alexander. He cleared his throat waving a dark hand towards the sea of people he addressed.

 

“A warm welcome to all our esteemed guests, and thanks to his highnesses court for their attendance despite other investments.” The ladies in the back had begun to move forward, and Reyna wondered how long it would take Calliope to start mingling. A band carrying brass instruments emerged from seemingly nowhere beginning an upbeat tune that quickly swallowed the room. The priest kept talking.

 

“I invite his highness and princess Nikilina to kick off our festivities with a dance!” Niki nodded to Reyna and walked forward to the center of the floor. The king looked surprised by the request but covered it well under Alexander's pointed stare. Something’s going on. King George sent an almost apologetic glance at Sir Clay who stood a few paces away, before entering the floor with Niki. Okay how did no one else see that? The royals danced in the center of the ballroom under the eyes of everyone. It looked dreadfully boring and exhausting and Reyna was glad it wasn’t her. Reyna didn’t miss some particularly interesting onlookers. Namely Sir Clay, and Wilbur. People started to join the dance floor after Calliope and Sir Nicholas made a ridiculous show of entering together, almost bumping into the royal couple. Reyna laughed. At least someone made a friend. More couples began to join the dance floor, even Myriam got pulled in by calliope at some point and was begrudgingly dancing with a wrinkly old duke. Reyna sent her a shit eating grin from over his shoulder. Myriam glared and then returned one nodding to the left. Reyna turned… oh no… gross purple robes from earlier were approaching and it pushed Reyna into a split second decision crossing to the other side of the dias.

 

“Would you like to dance?” She asked the masked knight. He started and tore his eyes from the king.

 

“What?”

“Do you want to dance with me?”

“Umm… I should probably stay on watch.”

“I’m looking for someone to talk to, and Niki can handle the king.” Reyna held out her hand and the Knight, Sir Clay, turned to look at George again. Reyna actually heard his teeth grinding.

 

“Sure.” They took to the floor keeping a respectable distance. It didn’t seem like he was as much of a talker as the other of the king's knights, but Reyna was determined to make a friend. And to find out what he has with the king.

 

“So how long have you worked for King george?”

“Uhh-a umm… a long time.” 

“Okay? Are you two close?”

“Why do you want to know about my relationship with George!?” Jesus he’s defensive. Reyna raised her eyebrow at him.

 

“I don’t know. Is there a relationship to know about? You do call him George.” The knight froze, and Reyna wished she could see his probably red expression. Once again she reminded herself some people responded to a softer tone.

“I’m not judging, I promise. Niki doesn’t care and I certainly don’t.” Sir Clay let out a breath at that at least, but took a minute before responding.

 

“You call the Princess Niki?”

“You call your King George.” Sir Clay actually let out a chuckle.

“Yeah I do.” What is it with everyone and their soft ass voices?

“We don’t do all these pleasantries in Agate.” 

“In that case please just call me Clay. Should I still use Lieutenant?” Clay seemed to have settled into their conversation asking with a genuinely curious tone. Reyna shrugged.

 

“You can, that's less of a pleasantry and more of a battle title.”

“I’ve heard about your army.”

“And I've heard yours is inferior.”

“Well we’d love to have you all out for training and show you just how inferior it is.”

“Yes! Finally someone is speaking my language!” They both laughed and there was a good natured competitive spark.

 

“So where are you from.” Clay went stiff as a board again, and Reyna groaned internally at how skittish these people were with everything.

 

“Teakwood.” Sure you are.

“And your parents.”

“Also Teakwood.” Clays responses were so clipped and short that Reyna decided to drop it. Over Clay's shoulder she could see George glaring daggers. Someone's Jealous.

 

“The King is staring at you Clay.” the poor Knight almost broke his neck. When he turned George looked away. Clay cleared his throat and stepped away.

 

“I should err- return to my post.”

“Me too. Thanks for saving me from the hovering dukes. I think we’re going to be good friends.” Reyna held out her hand, and Clay took it.

 

“Yeah I think we are.” Her made his way back to stand protectively near the King, and Reyna was happy she got at least one of the four angst filled lovebirds to smile. At least I think I did? Hard to tell with the mask.

 

“-You lay a hand on her I cut it off.” What? Reyna turned to catch the end of a whispered conversation between Myriam and WIlbur. The height difference was kind of comical as Myriam challenged him, but Reyna knew she wasn’t kidding.”

 

“Are you serious?”

“Deadly. The king can’t be compromised, but Niki can, and we all need this marriage to work.”

“Understood Lieutenant.” Wilbur took a drink before stalking away. Reyna approached Myriam.

 

“Was that really necessary?”

“Well you weren’t doing anything!”

“Niki’s smart and they were just having fun.”

“Yeah too much fun.”

“Aww mamas mad at us.”

“Oh my god I’m so sick of you.” Reyna laughed looking around the ballroom. The king was rubbing at his face sitting on the throne trying to wave away a servant who offered him a chalice on a platter. Alexander finally approached calling the servant off. The king rose as he started talking; they appeared to be disagreeing as the servant with the chalice made his way off the dias. Everything next happened in quick succession. Alexander reached his hand behind his robes as the king spoke angrily to him, and Reyna watched the servant walking off. His eyes were suddenly bright silver like… Azurian. Alexander's back was to her but Reyna saw King George stop at something on his face, and the sword emerged from his back under his robes. Before she could shout, Clay moved with a speed she’d never seen a human commend. He stood pressed behind the king height difference palpable, and his arm wrapped around George so that his sword blocked Alexanders. Clay knocked Alexander back and Reyna saw his silver eyes confirming her suspicions. More assassins silver eyes began shining, mostly servants with platters and daggers. Reyna drew her spear ready to assist while Clay handled protecting George. This was gonna be fun.

 

“Amazons!”

“Here!”

“With you Reyna! Where’s Niki?” At Myriams question Reyna located their princess, and made her way towards her, cutting down the chalice servant in the process. Niki had no weapon, but Wilbur had come to her side eagerly. Reyna took on two Azurians with small daggers no match for her armor. If they had even landed a hit. Unlike the race and spar with Myriam this was a real battle, and the Amazons held nothing back.

 

Calliope did a sweep of Azurian assassins through the back shadows of the ballroom, while Reyna found herself surrounded in the center of the dance floor. Let’s dance. She tripped two swinging the but of her spear, lashing out at a third and cutting their knife arm watching the weapon clatter at the same time blocking an attack to her back. She cut off another's hand, and slit another's throat, arcing her spear while dropping to her knees to avoid the sword swung over her head. The azurian that swung their sword was left open. Reyna launched back of her hands locking the assassins head in her legs and with a corkscrew motion she heard a satisfying crack as another fell. Reyna retrieved her spear and gained her footing to feel an arrow whizz by her head. She turned to see the last Azurian drop mid swing at her neck, and found the source of the arrow to be Myriam standing on a table across the room. 

 

“Thanks!”

“No problem!” Myriam proceeded to flip off the table onto the last azurians head, who was quickly incapacitated on the floor. Reyna checked, and Niki was still safe, Calliope pulled her sword out of an assassin's chest, their silver eyes going dim. Clay stood amongst a dead Alexander and three azurians. Even King George had drawn his thin rapier, and was breathing harshly with his sleeves rolled up beside Clay. Didn’t expect that. The threat seemed to be dealt with fairly quickly, as her and the amazons regrouped.

 

“What ever would have happened if we weren’t here!?” Calliope exclaimed sarcastically.

“The party would have been really boring.” Reyna Quipped back.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6: Reyna POV

 

A month passed after the infamous banquet night before the Knights got to make good on Clay's promise.

 

Reyna had been dealing with the sexist oposition in the court. It was all:

 

“I can’t allow you to do that M’lady.”

 

“Training grounds are no place for ladies.”

 

“We would be poor hosts to let a lady see such filth.”

 

“Perhaps you should spend more time prepping the princess for the king?”

 

Perhaps I should spend more time using you for target practice.

 

She never actually said anything in return, trying to keep up the facade. Despite kicking ass for everyone to see at the banquet. The first time she got King George alone however she talked with him. Got to a first name basis as well, which she thought was good. Apparently at the next meeting George had spoken on their behalf with Clay to back him up.

 

Now here she was shaking her two sisters awake. Myriam and Calliope had been up late last night falling asleep in Myriams bed. Imagine if a servant had found them like that. Reyna snorted at the idea as Myriam sleepily opened her eyes and Reyna thrust some training clothes at her. Calliope certainly perked up at the idea of getting out of the formal gowns, and Reyna had to agree. While they at least kept their Agatian style. God forbid we wore any of what these monkeys do. Reyna was looking forward to getting back into simple armor.

 

The trio garnered many strange looks as they walked through the early morning light out to the training yards. Many knights stopped and stared some covered themselves. As if they were much to look at. The three made their way over to Clay and Nick who were sparring closest to the Royal balcony where George was overlooking. 

“Callie!” Nick enthusiastically greeted. The three had bonded with the two knights for certain being so close to the royal couple and all, but those two definitely had the most enthusiastic connection. After the first night Myriam had teased Calliope about being the one to romance a man. Calliope had laughed and replied:

 

“No we are both so very gay! Even if he doesn’t know it.” Reyna snorted at the memory while smiling at the Knights.

 

“Ready to lose?” chimed a cocky Clay, who despite wearing a thin tunic and simple leather chestplate still wore his odd silver helmet. She had learned that he was well known as the best fighter in the land coined by his strange helmet and no one knew what his face looked like except Nick, not even the King. 

 

“We’ll see about that.” Reyna stepped into the middle of the two Knights. “Mind if I cut in?” She directed at Nick.

 

“Kick his ass!” He responded in a fake whisper, which caused Clay to send him a betrayed noise. Calliope and Nick began their own section of training to the side as Myriam approached George.

 

“George! I’ll let them go first because I wanted to talk to you about some cropping plans I drew up. Those changes you were asking about regarding Agate! Basically I…” Reyna was struck with the comparison between the threesomes. Calliope and Nick: the brawn. Myriam and George: the brains. Her and Clay: the fearless leaders. If I do say so myself. Reyna drew her sword swinging it casually while her and Clay began to circle each other.

 

“Is this your usual armor? And you call us overly extravagant!”

“This is gold much sturdier than what you’ve got on.”

“Only one of us will need it.”

“Ohhh it is so much more fun to beat someone who’s arrogant.” Clay fell silent, clearly getting competitive as he swung the first blow. They were both fast and Reyna blocked it though her arms shook somewhat from the effort. Another thing she had learned in the past few weeks was that Clay claimed to be human. Though, no one had ever seen his face, and it was simply impossible given what she’d seen of him fighting that banquet night. He’s also just too tall.

 

Reyna rolled out from under his sword nearly sending Clay tumbling as she switched their positions and aimed for his back. The cheeky bastard turned around to block in time. Reyna kicked forward at his legs, and when his swordless arm reached across to grab at her leg she swung her sword up so he couldn’t block. He reeled back dodging it narrowly, but stayed annoyingly calm. Reyna had to admit he was good, and people were definitely enjoying the show. They had garnered a small crowd including their four cheering friends who it looked like tried to make bets. Clay was good, and he definitely had an inhuman secret. But I’m better, and I’m gonna find it. 

 

Reynas first strategy was to go after him full throttle. Kick up the intensity and force him to apply himself. She was spinning and kicking using all her stamina not giving him a moments escape from blows before she pushed him to the edge of the crowd. Unfortunately, they seemed to be evenly matched in agility and he even used her own momentum against her to switch their places. She could here one voice specifically as she stumbled. Georges voice cheering for Clay.

 

“Yes! Let’s go Clay take her down!” Apparently Georges encouragement sent Clay into that other level Reynas attempts could not. With a combo of three incredibly quick motions, Clay caused Reyna to block a jab and kick at her side, but she fell victim to his final swing, sword scraping against her armor and slicing her arm. In her fall Reyna sprung backwards off one hand to give herself some recovery space. Clay followed her knowing she was weak. He was ruthless and she barely blocked his strike holding her sword with one hand and knees bent. She could hold the position and swiftly kicked his foot out from under him before backing up.

 

New plan. Her first strategy didn’t work because she wasn’t trying to die but she did have another idea. The one way to truly know if he was human was his eyes. She didn’t really have to see them and expose his face to everyone, that was cruel. No. All Reyna needed to know was that there was something to see. 

 

With a battle cry she swung her sword and launched off the ground bringing it down on top of Clays head. She wasn’t aiming for his sword or his shoulder, she wasn’t even doing it for some big finish. She was aiming for his helmet. Clays arm shot up and stopped her sword with a leather cuff that did virtually nothing to stop the damage to his arm. She could almost feel the fear from him that he was nearly exposed. A moment of understanding passed and Reyna could tell he understood that she knew. It was a ridiculous attack. Reyna was entirely off balance and with one swing she was off her feet sword clattered away. The Knights erupted into cheers surrounding Clay, but he really only looked focus on George who praised him excitedly while his hand rested on the masked knights shoulder. Reyna rolled her eyes, and Myriam helped her to her feet.

 

“What the hell was that!?” Of course Myriam would pick up on it.

“I was just testing something.”

“You’re an enigma Reyna.”

“Yeah! A fuckin stupid one I just lost 50 coins!” Reyna laughed at Calliopes outrage.

 

“Don’t worry Callie you can kick Nick's ass and it’ll all even out.”

“Yeah he better bet me double.” Callie grumbled.

 

~~~

 

The night after training Reyna felt guilty. Not for the numerous guards she bested in combat, she felt great about putting the sexist pigs on their asses, but for what she pulled on Clay.

 

Reyna was currently searching the castle for the Knight hoping to apologize and make sure he knew his secret was not at risk. A servant had pointed her in this direction, stating the King often takes walks through this garden at night. Reyna walked with purpose her blood red dress swishing behind her, and golden hair flowing in the moonlight. As she rounded to corner to a corridor of open archways Reyna could hear muffled talking. She almost turned around before a grunt of pain was carried through the night air. Making sure everything was okay she rounded the space between two pillar stepping out onto a private balcony overlooking the city that doubled as a quaint garden lined in gravel. Her eyes didn’t spend much time on the pretty flowers or bubbling fountain as she found the source of the noise. 

 

Clay was seated on a rock near the edge of the balcony his hurt arm resting on the stone fence that kept one from falling off the steep castle drop. George stood above him, with barely a height advantage, focused adorably on the injured arm he held in his hand. First aide bandages surrounded them backlit by the moon. It was a pretty sight, and even with the mask reyna could tell that Clay was staring at George who looked mildly frustrated as he continued to inflict pain on the Knight. Well that’s just adorable.

 

“God Clay don’t you ever think!?” Reyna could hear Clays smile as he chuckled.

 

“I won didn’t I?” That cocky attitude caused George to pause and suppress a smile and blush. Reyna could tell he was trying to stay mad. In the end the King simply huffed and pulled tightly on the bandage he had wrapped around Clays arm.

 

“Ow! George what the hell.”

“That’s what you get for being careless.” The king looked smug but his hands lingered on his Knights arm gently, and Clay didn’t pull away. Could they be more obvious? Clay eventually broke the moment snorting at the King before saying:

 

“Tell me why The King is sitting here taking care of me: a lowly Knight?” Clays tone was joking as George rolled his eyes.

 

“I was simply repaying you for your service. I won’t do it again if you keep being smug.”

“It’s really not needed George.” Ugh these Teakwood men and their soft voices, disgusting.

“What wasn’t needed was you blocking that blade with your arm! I mean seriously what was that last attack!?” Clay chuckled as George raged.

 

“I think…” Clay paused taking a breath. “I think she was going for my helmet.” He tapped the side of the metal. A previous blush left Georges face as he looked genuinely angry. On Clays behalf. Reyna did hope Clay would say something else, she didn’t need the king mad at her.

 

“Why would she do that?”

“No George it’s not-” Clay continued to stutter through his statement. “Don’t worry about it. We hand an err… understanding.” Georges face fell again, different this time with that same picture of jealousy. Seriously Clay how are you this blind! Choose your words!  

“Oh.” George pulled his hands back from Clays arm, and Clays brain seemed to catch up with what he said. Thank god.

 

“No no! George!” Clay laughed breathily as he reached out catching Georges hand “Not like that. Never like that!” I could be offended by that, but Reyna wasn’t offended she was smiling at her friends.

 

“Okay.” Georges smile was back full force now as he joked. “But if anyone ever tried to expose you just know I could have them-! Uh hung or something!” Clay let out a wheezing laugh as he tried to compose himself.

 

“I appreciate it…” More wheezing. Clay stopped like he considered saying something else before leaning towards George as he did.

 

“I appreciate it… My King.” Okayyyy Reyna definitely felt like she was interrupting a private moment. The blush that took over the Kings face was frankly incredible as he pulled his hand to scratch at the back of his neck. His eyes darted anywhere but the face he couldn’t actually see as his words froze. George stumbled through an excuse while Clay seemed to enjoy him being flustered. Gross.

 

“You’re an idiot, I uh- I’ve- we’ve gotta… I need to go prepare for this council meeting. We’ll um finalize the marriage and everything.” Clays hand fell and he stood to his full height.

 

“Right.” Reyna physically felt the mood drop as Clay moved back into royal business.

 

“Have you considered inviting the Amazons to participate. It may uh- move things along more smoothly.”

“That’s actually a good idea.”

“Sometimes I have them”

“Yeah… sometimes you do.” One more charged moment and George broke it off. Reynas heart hurt watching the interaction.

 

“I’m going to go get everything in order. I’ll see you in the strategies room.”

“Yeah.” Clays voice sounded weak as George left the garden and Clay remained looking over the balcony. He clearly didn’t hear Reynas feet crunching on the gravel so she made her presence known.

 

“Well that was positively adorable.” She laughs at his surprise as Clay whirled around, and was sent into a fit of stuttering.

 

“What- I! That was just- not what it looks- I mean-...” After a sigh he seemed to deflate and give up.

 

“How much did you hear?”

“Enough to know this marriage may not be happening.”

“The King is very committed to the princess don’t worry.” his voice was bitter.

“Your King?” Clay stiffened. Maybe that was a little mean. Reyna sighed and walked closer.

 

“I just meant. Why would you let him get away? You can still stop it.”

“I’m not letting him do anything. My feelings are unimportant.”

“What about the kings feelings?”

“What about them.” Did he seriously not know!?

“Do you really not see how he feels about you?”

“Even if he did feel the same way… we have to do what’s right for the kingdom. You can tell the princess she shouldn’t worry. The marriage will happen.” Reyna was flabbergasted. George was right about Clay being a thick skulled idiot.

 

“I’m not here on behalf of the princess! God, you’re secrets are safe with me okay that’s the only thing I came here to tell you, before I saw one of the most heartwarming and disgustingly cute displays of love in my life!” Clay was rendered speechless as Reyna continued. “I couldn’t give two shits about the marriage, and neither should you.” Clay shook his head looking back off the balcony. Reyna almost screamed.

 

“I can’t ignore my duties or the Kings.”

“But you can ignore your heart?” Clay snapped at that.

 

“You don’t know anything about me or the king!”

“I know you’re not what you say you are, and I don’t care by the way, but I also know the king doesn’t and you still haven't shown him your face.” Clay sighed again.

 

“Please Reyna there’s nothing I can do.”

“You’re just afraid to try.”

“You really don’t have a sense of boundaries do you?”

“Not when my friends are being idiots.” Clay huffed but Reyna thought he may have smiled.

 

“I’ll see you inside the meeting. You should let the others know.” Clay turned to leave walking off in the direction George did.

 

“I will. And Clay…” He turned slightly to hear her. “Just think about what I said with following your heart okay?” Clay send nothing as he continued to walk off after his king.

 

~~~

 

Safe to say the meeting was not going well.

 

Reyna had returned to inform the girls of what was going on, while George sent a servant to fetch the princess. Apparently she had been visiting the horse with a certain advisor. We’ll talk about that later. They had made their way to the strategy room after regrouping. Inside they found a long table sprawling with a may and war plans. Now this feels a little more like home. King George stood at the end, Clay behind him to the left, Wilbur to his right, another knight a shorter older man with a mustache to clays left, the short advisor from earlier on the left of wilbur, and various advisors and priests of different rankings down the sides on the table. So this is the kings court? Conversation already seemed tense when they entered.

 

“I’m just saying we may want to consider a re-allocation of sorts-” one of the priests said.

“No! I am not raising taxes on my people just before we have to build an army.” the King responded, staring down the preist with an impressive amount of anger for his stature.

 

“I did not say taxes My King-”

“No, it is what you implied.”

“Hardly I’m simply saying-”

“His highness will not damage his reputation with his people simply so you may line your pockets Octavius!” This time it was Wilburs booming voice that shut the priest down. Niki took this time to clear her throat introducing the new arrivals.

 

“Ah You Highness, Lieutenants, come in.” George greeted them before going back to glaring at the map. Niki and the Amazons took their place at the empty end of the table bowing shortly.

 

“What are they doing here?” Okay so we hate mustache man.

“If we wish to have Agates support we must include and welcome them.”The short advisor who had greeted them said.

“Thank you Bad.” His name was bad according to George. The King nodded to Wilbur before he continued.

 

“Alright let’s get to it. The Azurians are our most prominent threat-”

“But what of the elves?” An advisor further down the line asked.

“Vale has not been a problem for us since the war, and there are rumors that they’ve chosen pacifism.” Clay answered.

“Why are you speaking Knight?” Mustache man asked.

“Because I value his opinion.” King George declared, and no one questioned that. Clay set his shoulders at the praise. “Thank you for your input Clay.” Wilbur directed the conversation as the King seemed extremely annoyed looking like he was trying to calm the table. It didn’t work.

 

“The Azurians are a growing threat, and we now know that they have forcefully taken over the Nordic Clan. The giants will not be on their side by choice if it comes to fighting-”

“-But we’d rather not let it get there.” Bad piped up.

“Yes bad and if the giants are on our-” Another older looking advisor cut Wilbur off with a sneer.

 

“Of course you’d say that.” Wilbur straighted his voice garnering a sharp edge.

 

“Yes I would, because I have received transmission-”

“From where?”

“-A source.”

“A source?! We’re supposed to trust your opinion-”

“Just because the King says we must!”

“Silence!” The King himself yelled, and his council shut up. George rubbed at his face before he continued. Reyna felt sympathy for him constantly dealing with these men.

 

“Clearly we have a threat and none of you seem to have ready made solutions. So I suggest we listen to my head advisor Wilbur. Wilbur please continue.”

“Yes My King. As I was saying the giants have not sided with the Snow Kingdom, we potentially have a hold in the north.”

“Thank you Wilbur.”

“Of course your highness” Wilbur bowed, and it fell eerily silent. Clearly people were unhappy.

 

“So? What exactly are we going to do Your Highness?” George looked up at the previously silent advisor with brown skin, brow eyes, and black hair, standing next to Reyna, and shook his head.

 

“I don’t know skeppy.” They are not gonna like that. Reyna was right as everything exploded.

 

“You don’t know!?”

“How are we supposed to follow a king that doesn’t know how to help his people!?”

“King George is more than capable!”

“You Continuosly refuse a tax plan!”

“You’ve delayed this marriage!”

“The Azurians are mountaing an attack while you sit here on your ass!”

“You bring women into traing, and a strategy meeting!”

“It seems you were falling apart without us here!” 

 

Everyone was at each others throats: George was silent, Wilbur Clay Bad and a few others defended him, mustache man the mouthy preist and the rest attacked him. Calliope joined in the fighting, and Reyna and Myriam made a few pointed comments. I’m not perfect. Niki attempted to get a word in but couldn’t.

 

“We ought to have you off the throne!” Mustache screamed

“Over my dead body.” Clay stepped forward.

“What if you coul-” Niki was cut off.

“It would be Sir Clay!” Mustache continued.

“Can everyone please just calm down?” Bad pleaded.

“I think we’re past that bad.” Wilbur shut him down “Because some people refuse to show a modicum of respect!”

“Is that so!”

“I think there’s a possibility of-” Niki was cut off again. That’s not gonna work . Reyna was fed up.

 

“HEY!” Reyna put all her power behind the shout that cut through the mens bickering. Everyone was silent, many gave her dirty looks while their allies looked to her attentively. Myriam looked very proud, and Calliope simply smirked at the preist she was previously at odds with, as Reyna continued.

 

“You will listen to your future queen.” Reynas voice had a cold finality to it. Niki nodded to her thankfully before stepping towards the table and clearing her throat, to point at the map.

 

“As Will said the Azurians are less of a threat than previously thought-”

“On a first name basis?” Reyna was going to kill mustache as he stared Wilber down across the table. If Wilbur doesn’t get to him first.

 

“As I was saying.” Wilbur and George looked impressed by Nikis voice. Reyna smiled. She liked this side of the princess.

 

“I believe if Teakwood can amass a large enough counter force it will deter Azura-minx and her army before a war can even begin.”

“Exactly Niki-” Niki actually cut Wilbur off, though there wasn’t as much heat behind this response.

 

“I wasn’t finished.” Wilbur smiled impressed as they held eye contact.

“My mistake please continue Your Highness.” There were grumbles at the interaction, but everyone seemed begrudgingly interested in what Niki was saying. That’s my girl!

 

“You need an army that will sufficently scare the Azurians, and will cover all available attack fronts.”

“And what did you have in mind?” King George spoke for the first time from the other end.

 

“What are your relations like in Creole? The mages could be an asset.” The king considered for a moment.

 

“I believe they are good… and least with some covens. Wilbur?”

“Communication is lacking My King, but there are certainly mage contacts in Teakwood.” Niki nodded before moving on pointing to new places on the maps.

 

“And what of Vale? What are the possibilities of an alliance?”

“Impossible!” Mustache was shouting again.

“Have you even tried?” This time Myriam was backing up the Princess.

“No. magic is bad enough, but Teakwood will never align with deviants. ” Deviants was a word Reyna had learned since being in Teakwood. It was the worst insult you could use, so naturally Calliope loved it. It referred to anyone out of the rules designed by their god and society. An impure woman, anyone of mixed race, any race mixers, any who loved the same gender. Crazy in Reynas opinion. The King seemed to agree based on his face, and Clay visibly clenched his fists. The King breathed through his nose before responding.

“Well let’s see. My fathers wars are not mine-”

“Of course not! With all due respect my King just because your pet is an elven supporter does not mean-”

“That is quite enough from you. Get out.” Apparently that was a big development. The Kings voice was cold and sassy, but Wilbur, Bad, Clay, and all the other men at the table looked at him like he had grown three heads. Reyna agreed with the Kings decision as Mustache spluttered.

 

“What-what, what do you mean get out?! I have served this court for-”

“I know how long you’ve served, but I am King, and I am telling you to get out.”

“Your Highness are you sure about this.”

“Yes Bad, I am fairly certain that you should leave.”

“You’ve made an enemy today King George.” George stayed calm as Mustache narrowed his eyes and stomped out of the room. 

 

“Clay will you please take his place.” George spoke calmly.

“What!? You- I can’t- Geor- I mean!- My King.”

“Take his place you’ll be the new captain of the guard.” The room appeared to be reeling from this one, so it was probably not the perfect moment for a squire to bust through the doors.

 

“Advisor Wilbur!”

“What do you want!?”

“Umm- a uh- a visitor requests an audience with you and the king…” The squire began to look unsettled by the air in the room of apparently powerful men. George raised an eyebrow while Wilbur seemed exacerbated. 

 

“They fuckin What!? Can’t you see I’m quite busy at the moemnt?” The squire visibly gulped at the giant.

 

“It’s just that with the letter and- you said- umm… He claims to be your brother.” Wilburs whole face changed in a second. He looked full of fear, hope, and a strange protectiveness.

 

“What.”

“Yes er actually there’s two of them-” As if on que the large double doors swung open and two teenagers? Crashed through. They were clearly young, but also taller than Reyna. One walking with a confident air, curly blonde hair and ice blue eyes. The other trailed behind he was a bit shorter but with more meat on his bones, brown hair fell across his face and he shared the same eyes, but they looked around unsure. The Blonde ones face broke into a smile as he widened his arms.

 

“Aye! Hello big brother!” Well this is new. The Kid sauntered up to Wilbur patting him on the shoulder and continuing to talk as he made himself very at home. 

 

“So this is where you work huh? A bit underwhelming really… Oh! Is this the King? A bit short isn’t he?” Reyna could not hold back the loud snort that escaped her as the king stood their shocked. Clay was in a similar state struggling not to wheeze. Niki did not fair as well as she could not stop laughing, no matter how Myriam nudged her while suppressing her own smile. Tommy beamed at Niki, which only made her giggle more. Wilbur still looked flabbergasted before he pulled both the boys into a crushing hug. His smile was soft.

 

“It’s so good to see you.”

“Well I know that no need to get all touchy about it!” Despite that the blonde tightened his arms around what was apparently his brother. The other friend spoke for the first time.

 

“We missed you Wilbur!” Wilbur seemed to realize he was still in a meeting so he pulled back keeping a hand on each of the boys shoulders.

 

“I missed you too.” He squeezed their shoulders, and reyna felt like he was squeezing her heart until…

 

“The blondes kind of pretty huh brother?” The blonde giant said pointing a thumb towards Niki. From George to Reyna everyone positively wheezed, gawked, or scoffed. Who is this kid? Wilburs face immediately dropped to annoyed and scolding.

 

“Tommy.”

“She is quite pretty Wilbur.”

“Tubbo!”

“Whaaaat Brother!? We travel bravely across an icy ocean to deliver you a critical message and ask for help to save our clan, and we can’t meet some lovely ladies!”

“Does seem a bit unfair Wilbur.” The way they chimed off of each other they must really be brothers. Wilbur had his head in his hands in a disappointed manner as the advisor Skeppy piped up about an interesting detail.

 

“This is your source Wilbur?”

“I’m Tommy nice to meet ya fellas!” George laughed out loud, and attempted to cover it. He looked to Clay who spoke first to Tommy clearing away his own laugh.

 

“So Tommy what do you have to tell us.” Wilbur pulled his head out of his hands to look at his little brother. Everyone seemed interested in what this kid had to say. There was a flash of something in Tommy's eyes, before he put his cheerful smile back on and looked at Clay. God what had these kids seen?

 

“Cool Helmet! Umm yes we do have a lot to tell you. These snow kingdom soldiers and their leader Azur-Azura? Quite an odd name. They took over the clan and all our land. Some giants were even captured! My friend…” Tommy stopped short looking like he’d seen a ghost. Reyna couldn’t even imagine what they, and Wilbur, were feeling as Tubbo kept talking.

 

“...Our friend was taken. Whilst we were trying to get here. We ran into the Azurian army at the ports.” Everyone was silent at this before clay spoke voice softening to the kids.

“I’m very sorry.” Neither of them responded, and what they said caught up to Reyna as she realized…

 

“Wait? Did you say the Azurians were mobilizing at the ports?” Tommy shook out of his stupor.

“Yes. with yaks and-” Wilbur cut his brother off as everyone understood where Reyna was going. He grabbed Tommys shoulders focusing him with a serious look in his eye.

 

“Tommy. Tell us everything you’ve seen”

 

Drista Update:

 

“Heuh!” Drista yelled as she swung the heavy azure sword towards her opponent. It was easily blocked.

 

“C’mon Drista you can do better than that?” Minx, as Drista had come to call her, swung her sword out of the block easily and fluidly sending Drista sprawling back across the ground. Drista huffed, her hair was falling out of its braid and her azure armor and white insulated clothes were heavy. She looked like a mess as she struggled to stand, and Minx hadn’t even broken a sweat.

 

“You don’t look like much of a chosen one.”

“I didn’t sleep well.”

“More dreams?” Drista narrowed her eyes trying to block out the flashbacks. She had the same dreams every night flashes of pain, sorrow, and destruction. Then a necklace, a blueish orb on a silver chain, and a strange voice calling to her. Then… Tommy . Sometimes it was Tubbo but mostly it was Tommy, his voice sounded far away as he called her name. Then she saw him, saw the recognition and pain in his eyes when he looked at her. He kept saying her name, saying it was just a dream.

 

“Then why am I here Tommy?”

“You’re not.” He sounded so cold and sad. She couldn’t touch him or reach him. Then she woke up.

 

Drista lunged swung her sword anger fueling her, Minx easily batted it aside. 

 

“I told you you need to embrace these dreams. It is your gift.”

“It feels more like a curse.”

“Drista I’ve told you I can help you learn to use your powers, but you have to let me in.” Now Minx was no longer in a battle stance sword to the side. Welcoming. It’s true with her Drista had made progress, she couldn’t even see the pictures until Minx had told her to focus on one spot. She had also gotten better at sparring no matter how tired she seemed now, and had even beaten a few of the generals. And yet… I don’t want her in my head. Drista was more than hesitant to trust Minx no matter how different or kind she seemed. But what she had said…? Minx was forthcoming about her goals to take over the realms, but her reasoning was unexpected.

Have you ever been to Vale or creole? Teakwood has bled their land dry and outcast their people. They look down on anyone less than human, but humans are the lesser. I want to unite give the power back.”

“You’re crazy.”

“I’m a revolutionary. ” The things Drista had heard from Minx were convincing. She was a product of a Vale war, and she knew all about the clans resource struggle with Teakwood. She heard of how mages were treated. The ancient war that caused the badlands, or the demon realm, to be cut off completely. What about my friends? Drista banished Minx’s argument from her head swinging her sword hoping to catch the queen off guard. She nearly did. Minx blocked and their faces were close. It’s an act… just keep up the act...

 

“Was it about your friends.”

“Shut up.”

“Why won’t you listen to me Drista? Together we could save everyone! Even your friends.” Drista simply grit her teeth. Minx sighed side stepping and letting her fall to the ground before she sheathed her sword and offered Drista a hand.

 

“There’s someone I’d like you to meet.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 7: Tommy POV



Tommy didn’t know where he was as he blinked around him. It was snowy, his hands were in the snow. He was sitting on the ground. Strange I don’t remember doing that. He rubbed at his face before taking in his surroundings. There was definitely snow on the ground and he was surrounded by evergreen trees. Again it was strange because they had no snow on them despite the thick growing layers around him. There didn’t seem to be snow falling from the sky either. Tommy recognized the field and path he was near, their mountain trails were near here. I’m back home.

 

Wait back home? Where did I go when did I…” This time he had spoken his thoughts out loud trailing off as he remembered. He saw flashes of the azurian soldiers, blood on their blades. But the soldiers he saw didn’t look like the ones he fought. And Dristas eyes...

 

“Bloody hell!” Tommy gripped his pounding head as he almost keeled over from the images. Then he heard a crack from behind him in the woods. Whirling around an axe appeared in his hand as he pointed it at the intruder.

 

“Who’s there!?” And there she was. Drista… She looked different, she was wearing some white dress tunic and pants. Her hair was clean and curly. Her eyes look the same. Tommys axe fell as she approached cautiously, like she was afraid to scare him.

 

“Tommy?”

“Drista!” he tried to run to her but he couldn’t seem to get within a few feet of her. She reached out once but her hand just phazed right through him. Drista sighed like she was sad but expecting it. When she looked up at him her eyes looked like they would brim with tears.

 

“Tommy.” Her voice broke, and Tommy thought no one that pretty should ever cry. Wait, what? Shaking the intrusive thought off Tommy shook some clarity into his head.

 

“Wait why- how are you here? They took you!”

“I know Tommy they did.”

“How are we here? I’m on a ship!”

“Tommy just-”

“And where is Tubbo!? what’s going on?”

“Tommy it's-” Suddenly it hit him.

 

“This is a dream.”

“Yes but-”

“You’re not real.”

“No no Tommy I am. It’s me!” She sounded so sure Tommy almost believed her, but he remembered everything that had happened all the dreams before this…

 

“Stop. Drista’s not here they took her.”

“No Tommy it’s me, and yes they did take me. And yes! This is a dream! But it’s hard to explain-”

“Stop! This is just cruel.”

“Tommy please!” But he was already walking away not wanting to look at her. Not when he couldn’t do it in real life.

 

And then, Tommy woke up.

 

Tubbo was shaking him awake with a concerned look on his face. They both looked considerably worse for the wear. They had been trading off without more than 6 hours of a solid stretch of sleep. And their ship had flipped and had to be righted multiple times especially sailing through the choppier sections up north. They had gone through some of the hardest waters after choosing a direct route to get to Teakwood as fast as possible. It was still dark as Tubbo shook him Tommy blinking blearily up at him.

 

“You were having nightmares again.”

“Well no shit Tubbo I hadn’t noticed.” Tubbo didn’t respond to that, but he didn’t seem to hold Tommy's attitude against him, or maybe he was simply too tired. The bags under his eyes and tatters in his tunic, woven leather jacket, and pants made his eyes look sad.

 

“Was it about Drista?”

“They’re always about Drista.” Tommy didn’t mean to snap at Tubbo. He was only trying to help, but stress could be a killer. Somehow Tubbo always seemed to understand Tommys moods. He didn’t seem upset just got this far away look in his eyes.

 

“I see her too sometimes. And mom and dad.” Tommy was instantly wracked with a feeling of guilt as he looked apologetically at his best friend.

 

“I’m sorry for snapping at you man.”

“I know you didn’t mean it.”

“It’s just,” Tommy attempted to explain himself, “...everything is so crazy.” Tubbo nodded and tied off a rope Tommy didn’t realize he was holding. Then he came to slide down the mast next to Tommy. Their boat continued bobbing on the calm night waves.

 

“I know. I miss her too.” Tubbo really didn’t have to read him like that. It was quite annoying for Tommy really.

 

“I know man, we’ll get her back.”

“Do you think we will?”

“We have to.” Tubbo nodded firmly at him, and his eyes lit up the tiniest fraction with what looked like a spark of determination.

 

“You’re right.” The spark quickly turned to grief as Tubbo looked down at his hands. “I can’t believe we lost her.” That arrow went straight into Tommys heart, but Tubbo kept talking, getting agitated now. “Maybe if i had just-!”

 

“Hey!” Tommy put his hand on his friend's shoulder forcing him to turn and look at him. “You can’t think like that.”

“Why not Tommy it’s true!?” Because I’ve done enough for the both of us. For the past few days, or maybe it was weeks, Tommy had replayed every little event every single choice. Maybe if I had… No. You’ve got to be strong, be strong for Tubbo.  

 

“There’s nothing we could’ve done, and this will work. We will get to Teakwood, get help, and get her back along with anyone else that Tyrant has taken!” Tommy didn’t know who he was trying to convince, but he hoped his conviction did the job. 

 

“Do you wonder…” Tubbo hesitated. “If there’s anything of her to get back?” Tommy could physically feel his heart drop. Don’t say that. He had been worried at first that he would forget Dristas voice, or her face, or her laugh , but there was no way. She’d been burned in his brain, and then there were the dreams. Somehow Tommy just knew she was alive, and he would do anything to get her back.

 

“She’s alive.” Tommy expected Tubbo to question him, saying something like ‘well how do you know?!’ like he usually would but instead he nodded.

 

“I think you’re right.”

“You do?”

“Yeah. In the dreams I told you about she just feels so real. Besides, Drista wouldn’t go down without a fight.”

“No she wouldn’t.” Tommy chuckled despite everything he was grateful Tubbo was still here making him laugh, and there were even times sailing over some particularly cool waves where he forgot everything that was happening and had fun. Unfortunately he couldn’t shake the thought that it would be more fun if Drista were here. Tommy was so wrapped up in his thoughts he didn’t realize how much fondness had seeped into his voice. At least, not until Tubbo pointed it out.

 

“It must be hard for you.”

“What do you mean?”

“Having Drista gone with everything. I mean she’s my cousin and my friend, but you guys were…” Tommy scrunched up his nose making a confused noise at Tubbo who had a flash of playfulness in his eyes. What’s he on about? I mean sure he was closer with her than any other girl in their village or in the clan. Why should it matter that she’s a girl? I mean obviously drista was a girl; with her pretty blonde waves, pretty eyes, cute ears.... Whoa whoa whoa! Tommy didn’t know what was going on with him. It’s like on top of grieving the loss of a friend he was grieving the loss of something else. Something more… OH My GOD!! Tommy lit up like a christmas tree at the realization. Tubbo laughed next to him as Tommy attempted to recover and keep the very obvious emotions off his face.

 

“Wha- *cough* What do you mean?”

“You can’t tell me you’re still denying it!?”

“To be completely honest Tubbo I think I was until you just said that.” They looked at each other, Tommy shocked and Tubbo amazed, then they burst out laughing. The sharp sound felt wrong across the solemn night air and it quickly died down. When the shock and joy faded Tommy had enough time to think. I lost her , and I didn’t even know I had her . For a minute he let himself feel all the feelings he’d pushed aside for their friendship. How he liked every bit of her, even when she was being a complete dickhead, or when they were arguing and Tommy was clearly right. I even liked arguing! That word liked in past tense rang in his head. He tried to assure himself of everything he had said. We will get her back. But it was harder he felt like he’d lost her all over again. 

 

“I’m an idiot Tubbo!”

“Pretty much.” not really the response I wanted.

“Thanks!” Tommy pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes as if he could rub away the sadness. Tommy refused to cry right now.Tubbo sighed and put a hand on his shoulder reversing their roles.

 

“Just imagine how hard she’s gonna fall for you when we rescue her. Not that she needs rescuing and all, but it’s a nice gesture.” Tubbos hand squeezed, and Tommy noticed how intense the bags under his friends eyes were. He resolved to let him get some sleep.

“Thanks mate. You should get some sleep.” At the suggestion Tubbo visibly deflated. He made his way a few feet over towards the bow why he laid down a god awful blanket, but it did the job. Tubbo was barely holding his eyelids up as he looked at Tommy and yawned.

 

“Goodnight Tommy.”

“Goodnight Tubbo.” Only when Tubbo was fully asleep and turned the other way did Tommy let his head rest back on the mast looking towards the stars. I wonder if Drista can see them right now? He felt a single tear slide down his cheek, before they all began to fall.

 

~~~

 

The winds were harsh today, and a cold seabreeze cut at Tommys face. Bloody hell sailing is hard. It wasn’t as bad as when they first started. The waters up noth mixed with inexperienced sailors getting the hang of it did not turn out well. They also dealt with the threat of the cold, glaciers, and some nasty water beasts. The warmer it got the more hospitable the water and the creatures. At least that’s what they had thought.

 

Right now the boys were fighting off one hell of a storm. In Tommy's opinion it was more like a hurricane. Tommy had shed all his outer layers, now in nothing but a blue cloth Tunic and pants, as water poured over the sides soaking both of them.

 

“Pull the sail Tubbo!!”

“Which one!?” 

“What do you mean which one!? There's only one sail Tubbo!”

“I know but which-” A large wave was coming fast, and Tommy really wanted to avoid capsizing right now.

 

“Forget the sail I got it! Just yank the rudder Tubbo!” Tommy leapt down from his place at the bow after tying off his line hoping it would hold. He grabbed the sails rope racing to the boat's edge.

 

“When!?”

“Now Tubbo!” Tubbo bent forward putting his back and legs into shifting the rudder hard, Tommy pulled the sail leaning over the side of the boat to the point he could touch the water with his finger tips. Their boat narrowly rode the wave before it broke, and the boys frightened it on the other side whooping and hollering.

 

“Whoohoo!”

“Yes Tubbo!”

“That was incredible haha!”

“I wish Drista was here to see it!” Tommy did too. It continued on like that at a grueling pace of running around the small ship deck jumping into each other switching to different duties as needed. The two successfully rode out the most intense section of the storm now dealing mostly with the rain and slippery deck as Tubbos feet slipped out from under him and landed directly on his back. Tommy lost his mind laughing.

“That’s pretty rude you know laughing when someone’s fallen!”

“You’re right Tubbo I’m sorry.” Tommy set his face straight, but it didn’t last long as he burst out into another fit of laughter muttering about ‘which sail’ and ‘tying Tubbo to the mast to keep him safe’. Tubbo grumbled against the teasing rising to his feet. He was no longer upset, as Tommy could see something caught his eye.

 

“Tommy? What’s that?” Tubbo pointed out at a black shape slowly falling from the sky. It looked like a bird.

 

“It’s a bird. Must’ve gotten caught in the storm.”

“We have to save it!”

“Tubbo what?” But Tubbo had already thrust a blanket into Tommys hand and raced to pull the rudder. They were speeding towards the falling shape.

 

“What am i supposed to do with this!?”

“Catch it!”

“Tubbo this is ridiculous-”

“He’s hurt Tommy! We couldn’t save Drista but we can save this bird.”

“Now that’s just a low blow.” But Tommy stood there with the blanket and he caught the Eagle! And it was a Teakwood eagle the same that used to send letters to his brother. Something had clipped the bird's wing but it was alive. Tommy looked at Tubbo excitedly.

 

“Tubbo! Do you realize what this is?”

“A bird?”

“No! Well yes- but it’s not just a bird. This is a Teakwood eagle!”

“You mean it could send a letter?!”

“Yes! Haha!” Tommy and Tubbo smiled widely as they made the small bird a nest patching up its wing and hoping for it to heal. And Tommy sat down beginning to write…

 

Dear Wilbur,

 

We’re coming…

 

~~~

 

Two nights passed and the bird could fly around the ship and come back to them without issue. They had lovingly named her Drista. Tubbos idea really Tommy would never imagine naming an animal after a girl, no matter how pretty she is.  

 

Tommy carefully wrapped his letter, which was mostly dry, and taped it to the bird's leg.

 

“Now if you drop this you feathery freak I’ll cook you.” The bird squawked as Tommy patted it’s nose saying Teakwood before launching it into the sunny air.

 

“By Drista!” Tubbo waved after the eagle as it disappeared and Tommy huffed at the name. 

 

“Do you think she’ll make it?” Tubbo asked.

“I don’t know. If not we will in a few days.” 

“What do you think hit her anyway?”

“I don’t know, probably some storm debri.” Tubbo nodded going back to their tasks preparing for the day ahead. That’s when Tommy saw a flash of scales in the waves. Silver and deadly . Tommy had heard all the stories of past tiffs with Atlanta from his mother, and he felt his heart stop as he rushed to get Tubbos attention.

 

“Actually… I think I've got an idea. Look!”

“What why- oh… oh my god Tommy.” Tommy saw his own feelings reflected on his friends face. They watched flashes of scaly tails crest the water.

 

“Drop the sail Tubbo! We need to speed up.” Tommy races to open the hatch in the deck where they keep their stuff drawing an axe and sword. Then a trident impales itself in the mast right in front of his head, and the boat starts rocking. He yells to Tubbo again with a sense of urgency taking over.

 

“Now! And check the sides.” Tommy tosses a sword to Tubbo, who’s hands fumble to catch it and untie the rope to pull the sail out until they are racing across the water. Waves began to churn. Tommy ran to the edge looking over he saw… nothing, nothing, nothi- wait? Two dark cyan green eyes followed by a face lined in scales emerged from the depths suddenly Tommy reeled back blocking the mermans trident with his axe narrowly. He swam away and Tommy looked frantically for Tubbo. We really are under attack. Tubbo was at the opposite end diagonal from him at the side. Obviously he hadn’t listened to Tommy's warning because a hand was reaching over the side to his ankle.

 

“Tubbo!” Tommy moved terrified, instincts alone allowed him to react and grab the trident from the mast hurling it towards the hand, which retreated before getting hit. Tubbos face was white as a sheet looking at the trident mere inches from his foot. He moved more towards the center clearly shaken from the whole experience.

 

“Thanks.” Tommy nodded, swinging his axe and looking at the water. An eerie tune began coming from the waves, Tommy could faintly see their mouths moving. The sound was piercing Tommys skull. Whatever this fight was it wasn’t over.

 

“Man the ship Tubbo! I’ll cover you!”

“You got it big man!” Tubbo had a large smile, but his eyes were full of intense determination, and he shook off his fear. Tommy turned to look at the waves, he saw full upper bodies of merfolk crest the waves, but when he saw and heard the waves coming from their open mouths Tommy understood… Sirens!

 

Before he could warn Tubbo the sound waves hit him. Dropping to the deck, Tommy felt strange.

 

Drista Update:

 

Meeting the merfolk had been interesting. Drista had heard of sirens of course. They had an interesting history with nordic sailors. She had always had a particular picture in her head, one that did not consist of short caramel skinned girl, with black hair and purple scales dotting her cheekbones and small fins on her wrists, gasping a racing towards her touching Dristas hair and ears and looking intensely at her eyes with a huge smile. Drista got to know Saoirse well, she was the only other kid around at 14. Her fathers decided it would be better to bring her on land with them instead of leaving her alone in Atlanta. They were clearly a loving and joking family. It made Drista wonder how they followed someone like Minx, not that Dristas opinions on Minx weren’t currently up in the air. The president had greeted Drista in a bow. He had pale skin and black hair in a quiff that exposed his blue forehead scales. It quickly became apparent why she was receiving stares and hopeful smiles from the whole room, when he greeted her “Hello Serene!”

 

That’s how Drista got here, in a small changing room before a sirens ceremony to welcome their goddess. I’m their goddess!? While most cultures subscribe to the prophecy and refer to Drista as the chosen one, which she’s slowly getting used to, The merfolk worship her as the second coming of their goddess serene. Now she’s standing in their small palace on the southern corner of the northern continent. Just one of the things her peoples land had been used for. She smoothed down her silver shifting gown, and looked in the mirror at her ridiculous crown of seashells. It wasn’t exactly her style but she promised Saoirse she’d wear it. It was becoming harder and harder to recognize herself, with the lack of sleep and food, endless dreams that were apparently prophecies, and all the fancy clothes. Drista felt like a bejeweled shell of who she was.

 

“You’re a very pretty looking shell.” Drista jumped surprised as she turned around to find Dan and Phil. 

“God Phil! Just because you can read people's thoughts does not give you the right to make strange comments!”

“It wasn’t strange, I was just complimenting her! I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable-”

“Of course you made her uncomfortable! Honestly Phil… just go tell everyone we’re ready I’ll deal with this.” Dan shooed his husband off approaching a smiling Drista and messing with her crown.

 

“I’m sorry about him.” Drista smiled at Dan in the mirror. She liked the first man the most, or as he called himself co-ruler. He was the only one to call her by her real name.

 

“You ready Drista?” She nodded numbly following him out. She entered a lagoon area with a waterfall that led into the ocean pit where many merfolk with tails, who hadn’t been given the magic to grow legs resided. Dan rejoined Phil and their adoptive daughter Saoirse who gave Drista a thumbs up. Drista smiled weakly at her before descending into the knee deep water as Sirens started to sing. She felt the music surround her and her brain become fuzzy in the best way, faintly she could pick up Dan's voice and it calmed her. Especially with Minx watching. Something about this felt wrong like Drista was tricking or lying to the merfolk, Minx nodding slowly from her vantage point next to Phil didn’t help anything. Drista faced the rushing water, took a deep breath, and entered. She was soaked instantly but the cold didn’t last long, soon she felt almost no feeling at all, but she did see pictures. First it was nice, pretty jewels and ornate mirrors, but Drista knew what was coming. Minx entered looking into the mirror next to Drista and she watched their reflection change flashing horrific bloody images. Drista closed her eyes tight in the dream but the images didn’t leave. Drista was done being victim to her wild dreams, she thought about what Minx said but when she tried to focus on the pictures it just hurt more. In a fit Drista snapped she broke the mirror. Everything stopped. There was a breath of relief, then she turned to see her vision of Minx. She was dressed head to toe in jewel armor, her expression was crazed, and she was covered in blood, bodies of people that seemed so familiar to Drista surrounded her. Perhaps they had been in other visions. She saw elves, horns, giants, a familiar axe, a human man wearing a crown, strong looking women, all dead surrounding Azura-Minx. Sinister voices whispered everything Minx had ever said to her. Dristas head was spinning as she pushed free.

 

She fell out of the waterfall coughing and rose with the help of a siren. All the merfolk were cheering and celebrating. Drista made eye contact with Minx who gave her a look of approval. That was the clearest vision she had ever had after she took control. Drista had felt all her energy telling her the truth about Minx. Everything was a lie. There was no doubt now she’s evil.

 

I have to get out.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8: Tubbo POV

 

Tommy rose slowly from the deck, his head facing the ground. Tubbo could hear the eerie notes from the Sirens that surrounded their ship. He gripped the two ropes he held together tightly. This cannot be good.

 

“Tubbo…” his friend sing songy. His limbs were moving strangely, almost like he was sleep walking, and the hollowness in his voice made Tubbos blood run cold. Tommy took a step forward holding the axe in a psychotic way that it dragged against the ships deck. He almost looked like he was swaying to the sirens tune the way he walked. Tubbo gripped the rope tightening holding his ground, but he felt his confidence waver as Tommy moved closer and shot his head up.

 

“...do you hear the music Tubbo?”

“Y-yes I hear it.”

“It’s so beautiful..” Tommy sighed right before the sirens tune changed keys and it looked like something snapped. Suddenly Tubbo was rolling out of the way of his friend's axe which embedded itself in the ship's deck after aiming for his head.

 

“Tommy what are you doing!?” His friend just turned his head and smiled. It was a sickening grin Tubbo didn’t think he’d ever be able to get out of his head.

 

“Tommy please!” Tubbos voice broke as Tommy showed zero recognition, lunging at him again. This time Tubbo was ready; he let the ropes go, dodging his friend and using both hands to wrench the axe free and send it clattering towards the bow. Then Tubbo felt a hand grab at his arm and tunic. He turned to meet Tommys wide eyes. Tubbo looked for a way out not really wanting to hurt his friend. Unfortunately Tommy didn’t feel the same sentiment. He pulled a rigging knife from his boot trying to thrust it into his friends heart. At the same time Tubbo yanked the rudder causing the ship to lurch, and both boys to go tumbling to the deck. Tommy clawed at his ankles as Tubbo attempted to get some of the merfolk off their ship since it had stopped moving. 

 

His ears were ringing and his friend's hand had a tight hold on his ankle. A siren swapped right at the edge of the boat practically singing into Tubbos ear, and his hands shot up to block out the noise. It felt like his brain was moving and melting. The haunting notes continued to stick in his head. Tubbo could still move and think of his own will which means they were probably focused on Tommy.

“Do you like to swim Tubbo?” Tubbo snapped his head back at Tommy.

 

“What?”

“Bye Bye Tubbo…” He didn’t get to form a response, as Tommy smiled at him. In the haze of the music Tubo hadn’t realized Tommys hand was replaced with the sensation of rope around his ankle. The rope was tied taut, and wound and connected to… He tied me to an anchor…

 

“Tom-” Tubbos' response was cut off by a scream as a mermaid's hand shot up from the water and yanked him over the side of the boat still tied to the anchor. The last thing he heard before he was submerged was Tommy's cackling. 

 

Under the water Tubbo panicked. He saw flashes of scales but couldn’t tell how many merfolk there were. He had no weapon, he kicked and punched landing at least a few good hits on the mermaid pulling at his clothes. The worst happened then Tubbo heard the splash above him as the anchor hit the water. For a few seconds he watched it drop past him. Then his brain caught up to his situation. Untie it!! Tubbo knew he had until the rope was taut to get it off my leg! And that was the only thought in his head, but it was pointless the knot was too tight and in the water no less. The rope pulled straight and tubbo felt the weight of the anchor yank him down into the depths. His brain was getting fuzzy and his eyelids dropped. Is this the end?

 

Tubbo hadn’t thought a whole lot about dying, but he also hadn’t thought a whole lot about war before the azurians. As he was looking into the watery depths Tubbo didn’t think about death but he thought a lot about life. More importantly, the reasons to stay alive. He thought of his sister who hadn’t sat with them playing near the campfire instead on his last night in the village. He thought of his mother, and uncle punz. All the elders waiting for him to take over someday. He thought about his father, and how much he had learned from him. Chief Ranboo was very involved with the kids from a young age. He taught them all to swing an axe, catch a fish, and rig a boat together. Most of Tubbos childhood memories are of his father. Lastly Tubbo thought of his two closest friends. Drista, his cousin, who was somewhere with the azurians probably scared reaching out in dreams, and Tommy. Tommy who had been through everything with him. Tommy who had just recently become an adult in the clan. Tommy who had dragged him on the adventure of his life in order to save their home and people. Tommy who was currently on their ship at the sirens mercy with no idea his friend was drowning. I need to save him!

 

With that thought Tubbo reached down pulling hard on the anchor rope creating a brief moment of slack and allowing him to dislodge his heel from his boot and the rope. He swiftly pulled the boot off and the anchor continued towards the sea floor. Tubbos vision was hazing at the edges as he swam towards the surface, the outline of the ship and sunlight now within view, like his life depended on it. Which it definitely did. He created the water taking in huge gulps of air and grabbing at the edge of the boat hoisting himself on deck, soaked and gasping like a flopping fish. The sirens were still singing loudly surrounding the boat half their bodies in the water and it didn’t help Tubbos' headache. What did make him see things more clearly was Tommy looking like a zombie as he held an anchor tied around his middle and walked to the end of the boat. 

 

Tubbo Couldn’t respond fast enough as the siren's songs guided his friend to the edge. The siren's song had wormed its way into Tubbos head as two of them turned their soundwaves towards him. Something compelled Tubbo to stay down on the dock as he watched Tommy standing at the edge. For a moment he saw his friend waver, maybe because some of the sirens had turned away or he saw himself in the water. Tommys foot faltered backwards half a step, and it gave Tubbo hope. But the sirens turned all their power back to him, and then Tommy took a step forward dropping into the ocean.

 

“NO!” Tubbo screamed, breaking out of the siren's hold. He scrambles across the deck grabbing his sword as he goes. Time to get wet again, Hold on Tommy!

 

Tubbo’s muscles were tired and head was weary as he swam as fast as he could in the water with one shoe and a heavy sword. One thought ran through his head as he began to catch up with his sinking friend:

 

Get to Tommy! With a few more pushes he was in range. Reaching out he narrowly missed Tommy's arm, once… twice…. GOT HIM!

 

The anchor's weight did slightly less on both of them, but it didn’t last long as Tubbo slashed the line. He began pulling his unconscious friend to the surface praying he wasn’t too late. They were so close about 10 feet under the surface when Tommy woke up. The siren's voices must have been amplified by the water because Tommy fought Tubbo hard. Tubbo fought harder trying to keep his friend alive. He threw Tommy up on the deck. Trying to clamber up himself he was held back under by a wild Tommy. Tubbo hated it but he slashed tommy's arm to get free and get up on deck. While Tommy moved back clutching his arm Tubbo tried talking to him, keeping him distracted as he looked around… c’mon think!

 

“Tommy?” he started hesitantly, and was met with heavy breathing. “Tommy are you in there?”

“Who’s Tommy?” The hollow voice sent chills down Tubbos spine. He shivered looking around. Those sirens had a hold on him. One..two...three...four...five...six! That’s too many.

 

“You are Tommy. Can you come back now please?” Tubbo tried to put as much sincerity in his voice as he slowly reached for the abandoned sails ropes. Tommy slowly got to his feet.

 

“I don’t know why you’d think that would work.”

“Because you know me.”

“No I-” Tommy grunted for a split second, sounding like himself. Tubbo noted that a wave had covered two of the sirens for that moment. And earlier when they turned on me he resisted.

 

“Think of me Tommy. Think of your mother. Think of Drista.”

“No, don’t say that name.” That sounds like Tommy. “You’re the reason she’s gone!” That doesn’t.

 

“You don’t mean that.” Tubbo knew what he had to do, I just don’t know if it’s possible.

 

“I do Tubbo! I do.” Tommys pupils dilated inside his ice blue irises as he lifted his axe. At the same moment Tubbo dove for the rigging knife. He didn’t point it at Tommy, he thought of all the throwing battles they’d ever done and he launched it at the closest siren landing it on their shoulder. The siren screamed dipping below the waves, and Tommy clutched his head before looking back up with those crazy eyes. One down.

 

“You don’t deserve to say her name!” Tommy screamed. Tubbo tried to block him out as he drew his sword, lightly blocking the attacks so he didn’t hurt his friend, and rolling to grab the sails ropes tugging it open and hard turning towards ones of the sirens dead on. The sound got very loud as Tommy screamed and Tubbo dodged again. 

 

“If you had been stronger she would still be here!” Tubbo clenched his jaw and sword, dogging away from his friend as the boat rammed over a siren. He pulled a second rigging knife from Tommys boot when he slid under him narrowly avoiding the axe swing. He sent this one straight into another siren's stomach. Tubbo would’ve cringed at the sight of the blood if he wasn’t focused on not getting killed by his friend and saving him. Three to go!

 

“IT SHOULD’VE BEEN YOU!” Okay that one hurt, and Tubbo froze. Luckily so did his friends axe. For a brief second Tubbo saw his friend in the crazed blue eyes. He set his jaw in determination, and pulled the sail again rolling towards a fourth siren, and slicing at the arm and chest of fifth. Another.

 

“Hold on Tommy!”

“They’re in my head Tubbo!” There he is.

“Fight it Tommy!”

“No I- I’LL KILL YOU!” He slipped back into hysterics as the ship rolled over the second to last siren. This time it rocked the boat, causing Tubbo to drop the line and fall on his back looking up at Tommy who raised his axe. The last siren came to the side of the ship singing loudly, almost directly in Tommy's ear. As a last ditch attempt Tubbo pleaded to his friend.

 

“Please Tommy, Fight It!” Tommy continued raising his axe, but then his eyes flashed. His axe came down and Tubbo closed his eyes, but nothing came. Am I dead? He slowly opened his eyes to see his friend having swung his, now bloody, axe into the neck of the final siren. Tommy was breathing heavily as the siren fell and he pulled his axe from the sea.

 

“We need to go now.” Tubbo couldn’t agree more with his friend's hoarse voice. Tommy grabbed the sail lines pulling as Tubbo manned the rudder and they raced across the waves. Tubbo couldn’t help the elated smile that stretched across his face, the adrenaline and happiness of survival carrying him.

 

“Haha! YES!” Tubbo yelled. The sea breeze in his face. Tommy looked back at him, his expression unreadable. After that they fell silent trying to put some distance between them and the whole situation.

~~~

 

The sea was calmer now. It had been at least a few hours since the sirens, and neither of them had spoken.

 

They were now sitting at opposite ends of the ship stealing glances at each other. Tubbo knew he did nothing wrong, but this felt like the tension in the house when his mother was upset with him. A shiver ran through him at the idea of his mother mad. Tommy’s not nearly as scary. 

 

“Tubbo?...”

 

Tubbo Jumped. It was the first word either of them had spoken in hours.

 

“Y-yes?”

“You know I-I didn’t mean it?” Is this guy an idiot?

“Well of course you didn’t mean it!” Tommy looked surprised by Tubbos response, and then just genuinely uncomfortable scratching the back of his head, but with a small smile he responded.

 

“Right of course, yeah…” Now Tubbo was the one feeling a tad uncomfortable. It was all the sirens doing, right? Tommy would never actually think those things, right?

 

“You… didn’t mean it right?” Tommys eyes widened.

 

“No no no no! Of course not Tubbo.” he leaned forward elbows resting on his knees and breathed slowly before continuing. “Everything I said was the sirens, but… they were in my head Tubbo.”

 

“You said that.”

“And they sort of pulled out some emotions I had buried.” That confused Tubbo a bit.

 

“I don't really understand.”

“God!” Tommy groaned, dragging his hands over his face.

“Sorry! You're not expressing yourself very well! Just explain it to me.” It took Tommy a second to form his thoughts, he kicked at a bag on the deck.

 

“The things I said… I do think about them, Just not about you...more about myself.” Tubbo was left trying to wrap his head around Tommys confession, while his friend looked at him expectantly.

 

“So you think it’s your fault Drista was taken?”

“Yes Tubbo.”

“Well that’s bloody ridiculous.” It seems Tubbo had shocked Tommy with his response for a second time that night.

 

“Are you saying you don’t blame me?” Tubbo shook his head.

 

“I mean sure you dragged us out of the clan by lying, But!” He made sure to emphasize that word after tommys gaze began to darken. “We both agreed to join you. I don’t think anyone can make Drista do something she doesn’t want to.” Tommy lightly chuckled, before he coughed as if he was afraid to bring up... the other thing.

 

“And you don’t think…”

“No Tommy. While Drista does smell a little bit better than you do, I wouldn’t trade anyones places.”

“I’d trade with her if I could.”

“I know you would, but you said it herself we’ll get her back.” Tommy seemed to genuinely smile at that. He gingerly picked up his axe gently weighting it. A thought crossed Tubbos mind. That was the first time he killed someone. That was the first time I killed someone.

 

When they made eye contact, Tubbo could tell they were on the same wave of thought. He decided to make a joke, hoping to get them back into their exciting adventure attitude.

 

“I have to ask Tommy. Why did you tie that anchor so bloody tight!?” Tommy out right laughed in shock.

 

“I what!?”

“You tied the anchor to my ankle!”

“I don’t remember?”

“Well I do! That knot was a menace!”

“Tubbo, it was the sirens, not me!!” They were both full on laughing now, and Tommy had dropped the axe. Mission accomplished! Tommy caught his breath and seemed to wince when he moved his arm. He looked at it before turning to Tubbo. Uh oh.

 

“I do have one question, Tubbo.”

“Hmm?”

“How did I get this.” Tommy pointed to the slice mark and Tubbo gulped. Now it was his turn to chuckle nervously and scratch at his dried hair.

 

“Well you see…”

“Yes?” Tommy raised an eyebrow.

“I sort of stabbed you…” A beat passed before Tommy burst out laughing.

 

“You what!?”

“I don’t know if you remember, but you were being a bit of an asshole!”

“Tubbo you don’t just go around stabbing a man just because he’s under the control of some sirens!” Tommy was cackling now. Tubbo opened his mouth to start his response, but his breath caught in his throat.

 

“Well I- Tommy look!” Over Tommys shoulder Tubbo could see the faint outline on the horizon. It looked like a patch of waves earlier, but upon closer inspection… Teakwood!

 

“No you look Tubbo-” Tommy was still laughing his ass off.

 

“No! LOOK!” Tubbo stood pointing behind Tommy who stopped laughing and whipped his head around. His eyes widened as the shores came into view. It looked something like a byeu, and the boys could now see ships, a port, and a town.

 

“Yes!”

 

“Yes!”

 

“YES!!”

 

“HaHA!” The boys were yelling at the top of their lungs racing around the ship for anything to make it go faster.

 

They were headed for land.

 

~~~

 

The landing was not particularly smooth. Without anchors, thanks to someone, The boys had to ram their small ship up into a bed of reeds. Tubbo felt soaked through once again due to the new temperatures he wasn’t used to. Judging by the low wide trees and swamping water, and based on the books he’d read, Tubbo was fairly certain they weren’t in teakwood. Creole maybe? It’s possible their course was thrown off by the Sirens and the storm, But they shouldn’t be more than a few extra days. At least we sent that letter.

 

“Ugh! Well this is just disgusting.” Tommy grunted as he took some of their belongings from Tubbo off the side of the boat. Tubbo pulled the remaining pack and satchel onto his back and hopped off to join him knee deep in the murky water. 

 

“Hmm....I kind of like it. It’s all warm and squelchy.” Tubbo stomped his feet in the mud, feeling it with the toes on his bare foot especially, and smiled at Tommy who wrinkled his face in disgust. Tommy scoffed and climbed up onto the small path past the reeds. He reached a hand down and yanked Tubbo up the bank as well. Tommy grumbled to himself as Tubbo shook the mud off his barefoot.

 

“Maybe I would trade you for Drista.”

“Hey!”

 

The two boys made their way down the dirt path until it became a rustic mix of wood and mosaic around the docks, and into the town.

“Right! First order of business.” Tommy began as they reached the center of what had quickly turned into a small city. “We get you shoes dear god! And…” Both their stomachs grumbled as if to punctuate his point. “...I’m hungry.”

 

“What about there!” Tubbo pointed to a Tavern looking building that had bright lights on and not too many people inside. It was brick, with black window panes and a black wood door. The skull doorknob is a bit off putting, Tubbo mused. But overall it was a rather nice looking establishment, and you could smell the food. It had a silhouette pig crest with two tusks over the name Swine House. God I hope they have pork!

 

“Perfect Tubbo!” Though Tubbo suspected Tommy would have said yes to anywhere he pointed.

The boys entered the pub with the ding of a small silver bell. The floors were made of dark wood, as was the bar, table and booths. The brick carried to the inside walls which were covered in news clippings and framed paintings and pictures, all seemed to have something to do with the crest. When Tubbo looked at a particular frame long enough he could’ve sworn it changed with some strange red tendrils of light. He shook his head as Tommy addressed the bartender.

 

“Hey good man! What’d some travelers have to do to get some food around here!?” Tubbos stomach grumbled desperately as he nodded eagerly beside Tommy. The bar tender eyed them up and down with a confused expression. He was a relatively short man compared to the two giants, even though he was significantly older. Probably in his thirties at least? He had a light sandy blonde hair that is tied back in a ponytail and the strips of a beard the same color. His eyes however were a rather iridescent purple. The look was complimented by a black and white striped vest over a simple white tunic. He stopped cleaning the glass, and turned his attention to the two boys.

 

“I’m Phil, keeper of this house, and that depends… who are you? And where are you from?” Tubbos' eyes snapped to Tommy who was looking at him with the same expression. Well we haven’t really talked about that. They had garnered the attention of the few others in the tavern in their stupor. The lone drinker at the bar was looking at them, and a girl who looked very similar to him had begun approaching from the back. There were a few other stragglers in booths and tables towards the corners watching the situation. Tubbo looked at the bartender Phil who raised an eyebrow. The man seemed old and wise with kind eyes. Tubbo decided to trust him.

 

“Well we-” Tommy had other ideas.

“-We’re just passing through! Looking for a bit of grub on our way to Teakwood.” Tubbo was mildly confused by Tommys secrecy, and was going to say something before a voice interrupted.

 

“Going to Teakwood eh?” This time it was the man at the bar speaking. “You won’t get very far without shoes… or with that leech.” he pointed his glass towards Tubbos feet.

 

“What’s a-” Tubbo cut himself off as he looked down. Sitting on his foot was a disgusting large black slug. When Tubbo looked closely… I-It Moved!

 

“Oh my god! Oh my god! Get it off! Get it off! TOMMY! Get it off me now!” Tubbo could hear snickers from the tavern goers.

 

“Tubbo just calm down-”

“I will not! You don’t have a monster attached to your foot!” Tommy sighed in tandem with the man at the bar who set down his drink standing up.

 

“C’mon kid take it easy I’ll help you out.” Phil’s hand shot out to grab his arm.

 

“Anubis are you sure about this?”

“Yes dad I’ll help the kid out.” Phil seemed wary but pulled his hand back. The man apparently called Anubis beckoned Tubbo to follow him through a curtain covering what looked like a side entrance. Tubbo shared a look with Tommy who didn’t look ecstatic about the whole thing, but nodded to Tubbo anyway. Tubbo gave him a reassuring smile following their new acquaintance to the back. When he looked back last he caught Phil inviting him to sit at the bar, and that other girl approaching him.

 

He and Anubis made their way through the curtain into a short hallway which ended in a small square room with three single cushioned seats and decorated with many soft velvets and fabrics. Tubbo took note of a few over books and a crystal ball on the floor in the middle of the chair circle. Anubis flicked his hand lighting a candle on the ground. So these are mages! We are in creole! To confirm it the man turned around flashing his lavender orbs at Tubbo as he spoke.

 

“Please take a seat!” There was a cheerful tone to his rather chill sounding voice, and Tubbo sat on one of the cushions. Anubis beckoned Tubbo for his bare foot which he extended.

 

“So why are you headed to Teakwoon?” Tubbo thought about telling the truth, but he didn’t know this man very well. Plus Tommys reaction earlier…

 

“To see family.” Okay not totally a lie. Tubbo hoped Anubis couldn’t tell he was lying, but he seemed more focused on the leech. He was bent slightly, and Tubbo could see his rather strapping muscles through his shirt, though he wasn’t very tall. His dark skinned hands contrasted to Tubbos pale feet. Tubbo had seen people with darker skin before, he considered Anubis to have a nice brown tone. Like that other girl inside! He also had tight black curls like the girl. But while hers were grown out his were trimmed and faded up his head to longer on top. He had taken off his light brown leather coat, and just wore a grey collared tunic rolled up at the sleeves. He has that crest on his ring… The same pointer finger with the ring extended and a flame emerged.

 

“Whoa!”

“Never seen magic before?” Tubbo shook his head. He flinched away as he brought the flame closer to his foot.

 

“Don’t worry it’s not dangerous.” Somehow Tubbo doubted that, but he let him heat the leech. Tubbo felt a slight burning sensation but only for a moment before the disgusting creature fell away. Anubis disposed of it in a bucket in the corner before turning back around and rolling down his sleeves.

 

“Alright let's see about those shoes.” Anubis opened a door from seemingly nowhere in the wall like it was nothing, and Tubbo saw more of those red tendrils. He started sputtering as well, while Anubis carried on like it was nothing.

 

“I’m not sure we’ll have any the right size for a giant, but.. You are a teenager...AH!” He turned around with a large pair of some black suede shoes. Tubbo accepted them graciously and tried not to blanche at the mention of his heritage. He supposed it wasn’t hidden with his eyes and height, but he really didn’t like the idea of this stranger knowing too much about them. 

 

“Thank you.”

“Of course. Come back out you can meet my sister, and we’ll get you some food.” Tubbo nodded following Anubis back through the curtain and the bar… Where’s Tommy! Tubbo began to panic as they reached the bar and Tommy was nowhere to be found. The woman that must have been Anubis’ sister extended her hand. 

 

“Hi. I’m Bast.” She had brown skin like her brother, black curls falling in a mane around her head and past her shoulders, a flowing purple dress that matched her eyes, that same crest on a silver necklace, and long red nails on the hand extended to him. Her smile seemed sweet, but Tubbo was not interested and didn’t take her hand.

 

“Um my friend that was with me, where is he?”

“He’s upstairs in a room. We got some food for you and a place to stay.” Her gaze flicked to her brother whose expression changed for a split second that Tubbo didn’t quite catch. He took the hand still out stretched to him.

 

“Here you can follow me upstairs.” Basts swaying movements matched her sassy gravelly tone. Tubbo began to follow her towards the stairs behind the bar. He nodded at Phil and turned to Anubis.

 

“Thanks for the shoes!” Anubis almost looked like he grimaced, but waved at Tubbo nonetheless as he followed his sister up the tavern steps.

 

Drista Update:

 

Drista had gotten a warm shower, and was finally back in some simple comfortable clothes. Though the fact that they were silk made her scared to touch anything. Everything after she was in that waterfall was a blur. Dan and Phil thanked her, and she shook many merfolks hands. Saoirse tackled her with a hug. Drista wondered if she ever stopped smiling.

 

“That was amazing!”

“You did great Drista.”

“Thank you for this.”

“All hail the goddess Serene!”

 

All Drista could focus on was her vision. Minx entered as if she could access her thoughts like the sirens. Drista wondered if she could.

 

“That was exceptional chosen one. You’ve been a great help.” Drista narrowed her eyes.

“By lying to them?” Minx stopped smiling, but only for a second before it was replaced, but Drista didn’t miss the danger in her face or the sword at her side.

 

“It’s not lying. It’s giving them something to believe in.”

“It will make them follow you.”

“Follow us.” Minx corrected. Now she had come to sit next to Drista on her bed, talking like a caring older sister. But she wasn’t. You’re not my family. “We’re going to build something great together. A better world as your prophecy says. People need a reason, some pain to make them want more.”

“You want to give them pain?”

“I want to give them incentive. You’ll understand soon.”

“I think I already do.” Drista could feel the tension, and knew she had to break it. This was your plan all along Minx. Make me a goddess to them? Make me a martyr for them to fight for? Drista pasted a smile on her face despite the ice running through her veins at the realization.

 

“I think I’d like to stay with Saoirse. It will bring me closer to the Sirens, help us gain their trust.” Minx seemed to consider for a second, many things flashing behind her eyes, before she ultimately sighed and squeezed Dristas hand. Drista stamped down her gag reflex at the touch.


“I think that’s a great idea! The more emotional connection you can form the less inclined they’ll be to lose you.” Drista could only nod as Minx left. The more inclined you’ll be to kill me. But, Drista had a plan to get out. She just hoped it would work.

Chapter Text

Chapter 9: Tommy POV

 

Tommy prayed to everything he could sitting in that tavern room. Please Tubbo don’t be an idiot!

 

He should’ve known it was in vain. He hadn’t recognized the signs himself when Bast invited him upstairs to give them somewhere to stay.

 

“It will be getting dark soon. We can get you two a room, and you can travel to Teakwood tomorrow.” Tommy wanted to argue, but when he thought about going any further today his muscles felt weary.

 

“Really?”

“Of course! Swine house is always happy to help out travelers.” If Tommy hadn’t been so relieved, he may have noticed how Phils face paled behind the bar, or how Bast’s smile seemed slightly sinister.

 

“That would be great.”

“Follow me.” Bast nodded and led Tommy up some stairs behind the bar. He briefly noted how the silver crest around her neck was the same on the front of the tavern. Tommy knew mages in Creole belonged to covens, he wondered if this was a coven that was helping them.

 

“Here we are.” Bast opened a dark oak door in a thin hallway upstairs. Inside was a dark cozy room with a soft looking bed, and few lanterns that cast shadows around.

 

“Do you think we could get some food up he-” Tommy’s words were cut off as he felt the sensation of cloth in his mouth, then rope around his hands and feet as he fell to the ground. What the fuck!? He tried to voice his conclusion, turning around towards Bast, and letting out muffled noises, but he found her across the room putting away the same type of rope that bound him. She had a small smirk on her face, and her red clawed hands were raised with fingers flexed in odd positions as if she was manipulating the air. It appears she was, the ropes seemed to lift themselves into the cupboard floating on red tendrils of magic that glitched around the air. The same kind of magic surrounded her hands, and hazed over Tommys bonds as well as other things in the room.

 

“Well that was easier than I thought.” Gone was her previous sweet demeanor as she brushed her hands together mockingly and made her way to the door. “I’ll be right back with your friend.” Tubbo!

 

Tommy tried to scream, but she was already gone closing the door behind her. He slammed his bound feet on the ground where he sat in anger. How was I that stupid!?

 

Tommy prayed now. He prayed Tubbo would realize what was happening and run. They needed to get away and get to Teakwood, but he didn’t know how. Tommy didn’t know how powerful this woman or the other mages were. She made things that weren’t there suddenly real, and hid things that seemed real. And it seemed like she was just playing…  

 

“Thank you both so much for everything!” Tommy heard Tubbos muffled voice outside and he groaned. He should’ve known better to expect this from his trusting friend. The door opened and Tubbo stepped inside wearing new shoes and a large smile. Bast followed him, hands glowing red. 

 

“Wha- Tommy!?” Tubbos' smile quickly dropped as he laid eyes on Tommy, but it was too late. The same ropes wound their way around his hands and feet. He fell closer to the bed frantically inch-worming away from Bast, who dropped her whole facade as Anubis entered behind her.

 

“Ah sorry about that kids.” You don’t sound sorry.

“What’s happening? What are you doing?” Tubbo could still speak. Tommy resided in throwing some muffled insults their way. Bast seemed amused by this.

 

“What’s happening? If you're in custody of the swine coven.” Bast leaned forward dropping into a squat in front of Tubbo, and raising one contorted hand shrouded in magic. “And as for what we’re doing…” At the fear in Tubbos eyes, Tommy felt every inch of his body screaming to move and help his friend. Anubis looked at him coolly raising a fireball in his hand, and Tommy stopped.

 

“...Well you’ll find out soon.” Bast finished simply, flicking a piece of Tubbos brown mop to the side and retreating towards her brother.

 

“Why’d you only gag the one?” her brother queried.

“Only one of them was annoying me.” Bast shrugged, seeming completely unbothered. “Besides it doesn’t matter how loud they scream, no one will go against The Blades wishes.” Who’s this blade? Sort of a stupid name. Tubbo voiced Tommys thoughts.

 

“Who’s a Blade?” 

“We’ll be back when he’s ready to see you.” Bast obliged.

“I wouldn’t hold your breath.” Her brother added. Bast seemed to consider, as a grey ribbon floated from the side table near the bed and tied her hair into a messy bun while the red tendrils simultaneously pulled a dagger from her side and she twirled it in the air looking at the boys.

 

“Or do. It won’t make much of a difference.” They’re trying to intimidate us, and it’s sort of working. With that Bast caught the dagger, and the red magic faded. The siblings left the room the door swinging shut and locking with the familiar red tendrils in their wake. Tommy resolved to glare at the place they once stood.

 

“Well… I’m beginning to think I may have chosen the wrong place to eat.” Tommy chuckled dryly without humor. He worked the gag out of his mouth, spitting so it hung loose around his neck.

 

“You think.”

 

~~~

 

Tommy didn’t know how much time had passed, as he and Tubbo tried to figure a way out.

 

“What if we broke a window?”

“Do you see any windows Tubbo?”

“No.”

“Exactly!”

“Well I don’t see you coming up with any ideas!”

“Because I don’t have any!”

“Then we appear to be screwed!”

 

Tommy groaned, dropping his head back and hitting it on the chair. Ow. sometimes his best friend was pretty fucking annoying. Looking back up he tried to focus. He worked his hands in the ropes for the fifth time.

 

“You’ve tried that already.” Tommy shot Tubbo a look, but he was right; the ropes didn’t budge. What would wilbur do? They needed a way to cut the ropes. As if answering his questions Tommy saw a glint from under the bed. A razor! Sharp!

 

“Tubbo behind you!”

“What? Where?!” Tubbo leaned and tried to look behind him on the bed losing his balance in the process. Tommy was thrusting his shoulder and flapping excitedly.

 

“There! On your left.” Tubbo looked right, I’m gonna… “Tubbo your other left! Under the bed!” From his position on the ground Tubbo turned his head to face the bed and gasped.

 

“Tommy you're a genius!”

“I know! Can you grab it?”

“Yeah, yeah hold on…” Tubbo strained and reached getting almost half of his body under the bed. “Got it!” Just as he said that the door opened entering their favorite mage siblings. Tubbo managed to sit up and hide the razor in his hand just before the siblings were in view.

 

“Got what?” Anubis asked. Bast began looking around the room. Quick thinking time.

 

“Diseases lot’s of them! You know you should probably let us go!” Tommy smiled his signature, and convincing, grin. Tubbo coughed to back up his point, speaking in a fake hoarse voice.

 

“Yeah. definitely should let us go.” Anubis’ lips fluttered in a smile, and Bast actually snorted.

 

“You know you giants are pretty funny. I almost feel bad.” She nodded to her brother who snapped his fingers. Tommy will admit he flinched pretty hard, but looked down to find the ropes around his feet burning off. The fire was quite mesmerizing, and he felt a slight burning sensation then they were gone.

 

“Ow!” He heard Tubbo hiss his eyes snapping back to his friend as Tommy felt every protective instinct he had kicked in. I am not losing another friend.

 

“Leave him alone!” Bast chuckled walking over to hoist Tubbo to his now freed feet, and Anubis did the same to Tommy.

 

“Well that is just adorable, but I’m not the one you need to worry about.” She said darkly, and then proceeded to lead the two boys down the skinny corridor to a set of spiral stairs leading to the final floor. There was only one door and a small entryway. Whoever this blade is has the whole top floor. 

 

“One piece of advice… Don’t make him mad.” Anubis whispered the warning in Tommy's ear as Bast opened the large black door and entered what looked to be a large office. There were multiple windows that Tommy had seen from the streets, some had colored glass panes. The walls were back to the brick from the first floor, and the dark oak floors stayed the same. A large black fur rug, that looked to be at least a couple bears, sat in the center of the room by a large dark desk. There were shelves Tommy took in, they had many ancient looking books, and weapons, and a few concerning skulls. Was that one human? There was a black ceramic skull that looked to be in the shape of a person on the rather messy desk. What most caught Tommys eyes was the man behind the desk. The man rose to greet them walking around the desk so Tommy could take in all of him.

 

“So…” The man drawled, “There are giants in my land eh?” He was taller than Anubis around Tommys height, and looked him dead in the eyes. The man's eyes were a light creole purple, but there were other things that threw his heritage into question. For one he had long dark pinkish hair that made his eyes appear slightly pink as well in the right light. He donned a true mages cloak that was wine red, and fastened with a silver brooch. Again with that dumb pigs crest. Underneath he had a white collared tunic similar to Anubis, and deep blue high waisted trousers with black boots. The main event however was two tusk like fangs protruding from his bottom teeth even when his mouth was closed. He actually looked at the picture of his pigs crest in Tommy's opinion. He’s got to be part demon. As the man looked at Tommy and Tubbo he felt a sense of danger. He hoped that Tubbo wouldn’t draw his attention, especially since when Tommy had last looked he still held the small blade hidden in his hands. Now, Tommy knew Anubis was probably right about making The Blade mad, but Tommy also knew the best approach to these situations was often annoyance. He cleared his throat. Time to be myself!

 

“Oi BLADE!” The man looked unaffected besides a mild squint at the volume as Tommy continued. “The Blade eh?! Bit of a stupid name if you ask me?” His eye brow ticked at that as he turned to Bast who looked mildly shocked at the whole endeavour.

 

“Bast? Why have you brought these kids to me?”

“They claim to be headed for Teakwood.” Damn it. Blade raised his eyebrow turning back to address Tommy who was now beginning to sweat.

 

“For what purpose?” 

“Nothing important. Say! Do you really have hooves under those boots!?” The blade's impassive face moved to a sneer as he took a step towards Tommy. Oops maybe he does.

 

“No reason eh?”

“Nope just going for a short trip, and you’ve sort of ignored my question!” Blade ignored him again.

 

“How did you two get past the Azurian forces?” The tone of voice was rather rude, but Tommy ignored it. He elected to play dumb before Tubbo could say something actually dumb that may get them killed.

 

“What Azurian forces?”

“Don’t play dumb.” Despite the dangerous look in Blades eyes, play dumber!

“Seriously man I have no idea what you are talking about! We’ve been sailing the seas, and travelling for months.” Blade raised his eyebrow.

 

“Two teenagers have been sailing for months on their own, with very little supplies, and one shoe?”

“Yes.”

“Absolutely.” he and Tubbo answered at the sametime while Blade looked back and forth between the two.

 

“Do you think I’m an idiot Tommy?” How’d he know my name? Whatever.

“No no! I think you’re the dashing, love the hair by the way: nice and silky, leader of the Swine Coven! And you’ve got a lot to handle right Tubbo-”

“Yes it must be very stressful!”

“-Exactly! So if you could just let us go we’ll be out of your hair.” Blade stopped then, a small smirk appeared on his face. That was the most emotion Tommy had seen yet. This can’t be good.

 

“Very well, Anubis!” Wait what?! Blade leaned back against his desk. Anubis nodded at him and burned off Tommys hand ropes. Tommy couldn’t believe what was happening. Then he realized, as Anubis dropped his axe in front of him and stepped back and away with his sister.

 

“Beat me and you can leave.” Blade looked completely nonchalant as the weapon lay between them on the soft bear rug. Tommy and Tubbo flashed a fearful gaze at each other, and Tommy did not pick up the axe. 

 

“What?”

“Pick up the axe and fight me, and you can leave. Or tell me the truth it’s simple really.” Tommy didn’t know exactly what this guy was capable of but he didn’t want to find out.

 

“Well now wait a minute let's jus-”

“ I can always do it Blade.” Bast said eagerly behind Tubbo twirling the dagger again.

“As much as I appreciate the enthusiasm for killing Bast, I’ll leave the choice to Tommy.” Blade gestured to the axe again with an amused glint in his eye.

 

“There’s no need to be hasty!” Tommy took a step back trying desperately to look for a way out.

“Pick up the axe!” Now the Blade seemed done with his shit. His fist slammed the desk and eyebrows furrowed. A purple wave of magic swept out from his fist across the room. Tommy felt it rush right through him. Okay! Maybe I took the teasing too far… he didn’t know what to do as the Blade stared him down with a gaze that made Tommys hands shake.

 

“You could pick up that axe or I could kill your friend here?” His tone was bored but his face and straight power from his fist said he was serious. Tommy didn’t know what else to do so he shakily raised the axe. Blade smiled and pushed off his desk. Tommy prepared for the worst, but instead Tubbos curious voice chimed out.

 

“Uncle Dave?” The Blade reeled eyes widening. 

 

“How do you know that giant!?” He looked like he was fuming looking at Tubbo, who miraculously kept a neutral innocent face and met his gaze. Anubis and Bast looked on in awe. What the hell Tubbo!?

 

“I remember you from when I was a kid! That time the mages came to the clan!” Tommy did remember that day. They couldn’t have been more than five. It was the last magic day they had had in awhile, usually it was a festival thrown with their closest covens.

 

“That was ages ago.” The Blades' eyes were dark, and Tommy thought about intervening.

 

“Yes, but my father talked about you a lot. I’m chief Ranboos son!” Tubbo kept his cheery smile on his face. At the name Anubis and Bast audibly gasped.

 

“I hope it’s okay I call you Uncle Dave! Dad said you didn’t really have a family so you were like his brother?” The Blade, or apparently Uncle Dave , seemed haunted and taken aback by Tubbos innocence. But when Tubbo met Tommys eyes, he was not innocent at all. In the secret spark Tommy saw what this really was. A distraction. Tommy acted fast hurling his axe, not towards the Blade but the closest window behind his desk shattering it out towards a street.

 

“NO!” The blade yelled but it was too late Tommy was off, and Tubbo had cut himself free some time during the distraction. Before following Tommy, who the Blade was now facing, Tubbo used both hands pushing Blade over. He stumbled and caught himself on the desk. Tommy ducked a stream of fire from Anubis. He grabbed Tubbos hand racing towards the window. They were a few feet away when he looked back and saw Blade on his feet looking murderous. His hands formed a sphere of air at his stomach and Tommy could feel it. It was like an absence of sound that rang through everything before the explosion. Tommy and Tubbo lept head first out the window, a beam of pure purple magic shot out the window and into the distance narrowly missing above them. They boys landed in a cart of various produce not bothering to apologize to the owner or anyone else out on the street. In the commotion Tommy grabbed his axe and turned to Tubbo.

 

“RUN!” Tubbo did not need to be told twice. He was right behind Tommy as he took off. He could hear the sorcerors from the broken window above them, but he didn’t look back.

 

“After them!” Bast yelled, presumably to other sorcerers.

“No.” The Blade spoke with that strange low calm voice. “Let them go. It’s not worth it.” Tommy and Tubbo rounded a corner. They raced around to different carts, looking for those with human eyes. Tommy saw one short black haired man, who looked shocked as Tommy jumped in front of him nearly getting run over.

 

“Where are you going!?”

“T-to-to Teakwood!”

“Excellent! Tubbo over here!” Tubbo came at the sound of his voice. The two jumped in the back of the horse cart. 

 

“Go go go!” Tommy was screaming. The man picked up the pace, soon they were on a dirt path headed west through the woods. Tommy gripped his axe, finally slowing his heart rate and looked over at Tubbo, whose eyes seemed perpetually wide from the last few days they’d had.

 

“We did it Tommy! We're going to Teakwood!” We did it! Next stop Drista…



Drista Update:

 

“I’m so excited you decided to stay with us!” Saoirse said dragging Drista along the halls of the palace. So far today Drista had endured being coddled worse than that time Punz took care of her when she was sick. Her heart ached slightly at the memory of the clan. I’ll see them soon. Soairse had showed Drista how she switch back and forth between a tail and legs using her Siren song, until Dan had pulled them out off the shore for Dinner. Drista grimaced slightly at Saoirse's excitement. She felt bad for using the girl like this but it had to be done. She’d gathered a lot of information:

 

“So you can grow your tail but how do you get back to Atlanta?”

“You swim silly!”

“I know, but which way?”

“There!” Go south then.

“And what about when you trade with humans?”

“We don’t trade with those shellfish!”

“Yes right sorry… but when you used to?”

“Ugh! Dad says we never should have, but some sirens used Boats from this shore actually. I think their nordic I don’t know. You can see them from my window!” 

“That’s so cool! Can I see? Maybe we can have a sleepover!?”

“What’s that?” 

 

The guilt was eating at Drista. She had explained a sleepover to Soairse who had been alone for most of her 14 years. The price of a powerful family I guess . The girl had excitedly told her fathers who eventually agreed. Now Drista was standing in the girls room as she rambled on, but Drista was more focused on the small boats on the shore directly below the window. Perfect.

 

“Hey I’m actually getting pretty sleepy.”

“-oh, Okay! Here you can use these!” Drista accepted the kelp blankets. They were scratchy and smelled funny but she wouldn’t need them for long. Drista opened the window as Soairse layed down in her larger queen sized bed, before moving to the small love seat.

 

“What’d you do that for?”

“I like looking at the stars.”

“Okay weirdo. Goodnight Serene!”

“Goodnight Saoirse.” Drista’s heart clenched at the trust in the girls voice. She really did like her, under other circumstances they would be friends. This is for my family: Merida, The chief, Tommy, Tubbo, My brother wherever he is. This is for the world. Drista reminded herself.

 

When Saoirse was successfully asleep an eye mask over her face and snoring Drista had finished quietly tying the kelp blankets together, along with an extra sheet she’d gotten from the closet. She secured it to the window sill turning back to look at her snoring friend and smiling sadly.

 

“I’m sorry.” She whispered. With That Drista was out the window and down her makeshift rope. She had underestimated the length and dangled a good twenty feet over the rocky beach. She had to move quick before anyone saw her. Drista gritted her teeth and let go, she felt her ankle roll but quickly made her way towards one of the boats avoiding the torch light as she went and snagging some supplied. She heard voices rounding the corner and her hands shook unting the ropes as she held a torch in her teeth. C’mon… With a heave of her feet on the gravel her boat was off. She moved to reach it but heard shouts behind her of “Hey!” and “Stop!”

 

Drista ran. But she was too slow in the water. A trident whizzed past her snagging some skin on her leg. She was in deep water now a merfolk swam up from below her. She felt a sword shred her side and was yanked down. When she made eye contact there was recognition. She used the moment to breakfree frantically swimming towards her ship. Her ribs were bruised, and everything hurt. She bled in the water and a small part of her brain worried about sharks. Another small part registered more guards would be coming. They’d take her back to Minx. A small part of her brain wondered if she should give up now. The larger part of her brain said No

 

She repeated the mantra of family and survival in her head. She took every ounce of willpower to yank herself over the side of the boat. Drista could barely stand as she freed the sail pulling it and heading south. Voices faded in the distance as she put out her light, and she was gone.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10: Clay POV

 

Reyna had to be wrong. Clay wouldn’t consider it.

 

( Flashback )

 

“But you can ignore your heart?” Reyna said to him that night. Clay felt his blood boil over. How could she think he didn’t want this, that he didn’t want George, that he ignored his heart by choice? He snapped at her

 

“You don’t know anything about me or the king!”

“I know you’re not what you say you are, and I don’t care by the way, but I also know the king doesn’t and you still haven't shown him your face.” The mentions of his heritage made the fire in his blood turn to ice. Clay sighed feeling his body droop over the garden railing as he looked at his friend.

 

“Please Reyna there’s nothing I can do.”

“You’re just afraid to try.”

“You really don’t have a sense of boundaries do you?”

“Not when my friends are being idiots.” Clay had to admit that warmed his heart just a little, but not enough to take away the pain of George walking away from him. Clay was usually as bold as Reyna wanted him to be, but right now he just felt the need to get away.

 

“I’ll see you inside the meeting. You should let the others know.” He turned to leave walking off in the direction George did. Clay fixed his gaze ahead as he heard Reyna call out for him, but he stopped to hear her out.

 

“I will. And Clay… Just think about what I said with following your heart okay?” He didn’t know how to respond knowing he would whether he wanted to or not.

 

(End Flashback)

 

But what if she had a point? Clay hated these intrusive thoughts. Thinking back on it his heart had always told him the same thing. Since he first met George when they were teenagers. George wasn’t the crown prince yet, and he was just an aspiring cadet. George had always been cute, and Clay never denied that. My heart always knew… gross! The thought sounded disgustingly sappy, even in his head, but it was the truth. It was just that, his head, that didn’t always agree with his assessment of George. At first when they were teenagers it was because he didn’t want to be seen as a deviant. He had long gotten past that after some interesting experiences in vale, and a few talks with his father. Then it was George becoming King, and choosing him as one of the Kings Knights. Suddenly all the eyes were on them, Clay didn’t really like having eyes on him, especially when he had something to hide. It also made him feel the need to bury his love for George deeper inside just after it had been freed. Now It was the marriage. George will be taken soon. The thought left a bitter taste in his mouth. He liked Niki, and he knew she was giving up just as much if not more in this arrangement. Yet Clay felt like he was giving up the most, he felt like he was giving up his guilt free admiration of George, and Maybe a chance with him…

 

“Never gonna happen…” Clay grumbled to himself as he rolled out of bed. He got his own quarters in the kings wing of the palace adjacent to Nicks and across from George. It could be a perfect arrangement if we were… yah know. Okay, so in conclusion nothing about his heart had changed over the years. Their situation had. He couldn’t remember ever feeling the same way he did about George for another guy, because nothing had changed about how infuriatingly cute George was either. He is infuriatingly cute.

 

Clay groaned out loud trying to banish the thoughts before he had to go see the man in question. He fastened his silver armor over a dark green tunic connecting to his cape. Bad had been bothering him about it recently, saying he should look the part of a king's Knight. Clay had rolled his eyes despite him not being able to see, and brushed him off. Now that he was captain of the guard as well he thought he might take the advice. Captain of the fucking guard! What the hell George!? That had been a very unexpected development, and Clay could barely keep it together. The adorably commanding tone George put on, that Clay felt like only he could detect the insecurity in, mixed with his utmost trust to put Clay in the highest position, had Clay swooning. Clay knew he was good, people would call him cocky if he wasn’t so good. He knew he deserved to be captain. It’s the fact that George also knew how good he was that put a smirk on his face. He caught the lust in his vale green eyes in the mirror, and his face dropped. Pull it together. 

 

Clay breathed, securing the silver helmet on his head. Everyone expected some deep backstory. The truth is Nick had picked it for him when they were kids and went into training to hide his identity, at some point he realized he needed bigger eye holes and the design just worked. Plus, he liked how much it scared people. Speaking of Nick, he was there to surprise Clay when he exited his door.

 

“Boo!”

“WHAt THE HELL!?” Nicks roaring laughter filled the stone hallway as Clay hit him on the arm hard.

 

“Idiot.”

“Ha -Good morning to you too Captain of the Guard.” Nick gave an over exaggerated bow, and Clay knew he could feel his eye roll through the helmet. He snorted at his shorter friend.

 

“Good morning Sir Nicholas! Remind me what you’re captain of again?”

“Hey! Just cause somebody’s the kings favorite doesn’t mean you have to go rubbing it in.” Clay was smirking under his helmet, but felt the need to protest that last statement, however weak the protest was.

 

“I’m not the king's favorite.” Nick actually scoffed at that.

“Sureeee. And I also get invited on secret walks through the castle!” Nick's sarcasm was dripping, and Clay had to admit: we do, do that… It had actually happened quite a bit in the past few days…

 

( Flashback )

 

He remembered at the welcome banquet. A night Clay came seriously close to getting and losing George all in one fell swoop.

 

Nick and Calliope had hit it off, while George made awkward conversation with the princess. Clay watched trying to hide his annoyance, both with his childhood bestfriends antics to his left and Georges affections being somewhere other than him on his right. Then he felt a small tug on his sleeve. George had stopped talking to Niki and was looking at him. Clay physically melted at the sight of his big pleading brown eyes.

 

“Clay will you…” He nodded towards the door, but with their dynamic he barely had to do anything. He nodded to George and escorted him out into the hallway relieving the guard that was there. George let out a loud sigh of relief. Clay had to admit it was a lot less stuffy than in the crowded ballroom. Georges eyes flicked to him, but Clay was already staring. George opened his mouth and closed it. His cheeks flushed and he looked away. Clay could read him like a book, so he asked for him.

 

“Do you want to go for a walk, your Highness?”

“God yes please!” George practically moaned out throwing his head back as he made his way down the corridor. Clay followed eagerly secretly hoping the night air would cause him to make that sound again. Or I could. 

 

“But… I don’t know why your calling me “your highness.” George made a stupid mock of Clays voice and he laughed. Clays emotions were too cooped up to resist this opportunity of teasing.

 

“Because George” He drew out the word teasingly. “We were still within earshot. Wouldn’t want your guest thinking something unseemly was occurring, would we?” George’s eyes widened mischievously as did his smile, but Clays main focus was the blush on his cheeks.

 

“Oooooo Sir Clay.” George was giggling, but Clay didn’t laugh. Fuck a title should not have that must power… but when George says it.

 

“Whoa!” Clay managed to contribute to the joke. He hoped George couldn’t hear the secret tone to his voice. He didn’t and soon they were both laughing and wheezing like idiots walking down the empty hallway. This was his favorite way to see George head thrown back, cheeks stretching with his smile smile and bright red. Actually … I’d prefer him without the crown and velvets, hair ruffled… George broke clay out of his thoughts about… well, George. 

 

“It’s a beautiful night.” George was leaning out one of the gothic windows looking at the stars. Clay leaned out the one next to him, his longer upper body getting a bit farther, but he was not looking at the stars at all.

 

“Not as beautiful as you My King.” Clay relished the way George's eyes snapped back to him and his face flushed even more. George pulled back from the window down onto his flat feet. He was on his tippy toes Clay noticed, how cute. George's eyes darted around landing on every part of Clay's body but his metal mask. Like what you see? George scratched the back of his neck looking thoroughly embarrassed, and unable to control his smile. So we both like names then?... good to know?

 

“Why- why do you say things like that? And… why do you call me that?” Clay wanted him redder so he decided yet again to tease. He ignored the first question because while Clay was generally a bold person that would just be too honest. 

 

“Oh come on now!” Clay took an extra step forward but kept one hand resting on the railing on the side of the hallway.

 

“I thought you liked it, My Little King. Clay put extra emphasis on the words, his smirk tangible, and. Ohhh he definitely likes it. The King was impossibly red, this time his jaw was slack as he looked up at Clay through his lashes. Their height difference was clear in this position and Clay relished the angle. The way George's jaw was slacked open slightly and eyes hooded had Clays mind running wild. 

 

“And what do you like Sir Clay?” George's shocked expression was gone, though he was still adorable red. Now his perfect lips had stretched into a devious smirk, and he had one elegant eyebrow raised. God. Clay was grateful George couldn’t see him face for so many reasons, but especially because he may have been redder than the king right now faced with that expression.

 

“God what?” Did I say that out loud?! George's head was cocked to the side innocently, and Clay wondered if it was still fun and games. With Georges pink lips this close, all Clay would have to do was pull up his helmet and press them against the wall together. No. He was still staring at George's lips as he spoke.

 

“God what Clay?” With his crown hanging cutely off center on his head, George looked happy to have the rolls unnaturally reversed. Looking at the crown Cla had to physically restrain himself from reaching out and fixing it. His grip tightened on the railing and George's eyes shot down to his arm.

 

“Your crown appears to be falling off your highness.” it took every ounce of will Clay had to make his voice appear normal, though he assumed there was still an unmistakable softness. George didn’t pick up on it if there was. He turned away from Clay, fixing his crown.

 

“Whatever…” The King looked all pink and embarrassed again. Clay thanked the gods. George made him feel so out of control all the time, he needed this dynamic. He took the moment of silence before they’d have to head back to calm his racing heart and appreciate how beautiful George looked in the moonlight.

 

( End Flashback)

 

Nick was giving him a strange look as he was just standing in the corridor. Probably best not to fantasize about your best friend in front of your other best friend.

 

“Uhm!” Clay quickly regained himself after he stutter, but Nick caught it. “Is the king awake?” Kick raised an eyebrow.

 

“Never. You can go wake him up.” Clay wanted to punch him again. Instead, he set his shoulders and marched over to the kings large double doors knocking loudly.

 

“Oh George… George! George! GEORG-”

“What!?” And there was the king all morning voice, oversized white tunic, disheveled, fresh out of bed, angry adorable brown eyes, tousled hair, a bit of drool on his chin that Clay shouldn’t find cute, and parted pouty lips. His lips… Clay could barely function let alone talk. Luckily Nick saved him draping himself over the side of Clays arm armor, red cape, and all.

 

“Jeez are you ever awake?”

“Are you ever not ugly!?”

“Ohoho good one Your Highness! You have a meeting.” George groaned at Nick, he kicked at the ground like a pouting child before turning to close the door with a flounce. 

 

“Fine! I’ll get ready.”

“You sure you don’t need help?” Nick asked it innocently and playfully with his signature smirk leaning to hold the door open. Clay could do this. He could hide behind his friends teasing.

 

“Yeah Georgie… we could help you?” Clay had one arm up against the door frame whilst the other was being pulled down by Nick, who made kissy faces at George.

 

“Shut up, both of you! I’ll be out in a minute.” Clay couldn’t help the way his heart soared when George only blushed at his compliment. George slammed the door in their faces, and Clay's smile was probably really embarrassing.

 

“Ugh, what a princess!” Nick scoffed.

“Yeah.”

 

~~~

 

George had taken a ridiculously long time getting ready, and now the three were on their way to a meeting regarding the wedding. Clay didn’t know how he was going to get through this. He already hated the mention of George getting married, and also… he looked really good this morning. George had forgone the crown, and hadn’t fully done his hair. It was mussed in a way that only made Clay want to mess it up more. George was also wearing a loose red tunic, with simple clothing. Clay couldn’t get over the way it made his eyes pop. he looks so good in red . And then there was Clays current major problem. Georges lips were moving. Clay didn’t know what he was talking about, and he admitted it felt wrong not to look George in the eyes when he was speaking, especially since the poor guy couldn’t tell where clays attention was focused, but he just couldn’t help himself. George had a large mouth, and impossibly perfect lips. The drool had since been wiped off, but Clay had no idea why they looked especially pouty this morning. I guess they always look like that. His high cheek bones and spacious mouth had Clays mind literally doing laps. If he thought about Georges lips too long… he felt a tightening in his pants...

 

“Clay? Are you listening?” Fuck what did he ask!?

“Yes!...oh what- of course!”

“Really?”

“Then what did he say Clay?” Nick looked sadistic. Clay looked at george and swallowed his pride coming clean.

“I wasn’t listening.” George just sighed and chuckled something about him being unprofessional. You have no idea…

 

“I know. I was just asking if you got to take a look at those defense plans Myriam and I drew up.”

“Oh of course I did! You know You can count on me!” Clay nudged at Georges shoulder and the King smiled. Nick made a gagging sound next to them.

 

“Bleugh! You two are disgusting.”

“Your face is disgusting!”

“Do you have another comeback George?”

“I don’t need one.” Georges self-satisfied smirk and Nicks exasperated expression behind him caused Clay to burst out laughing, which quickly turned into a wheeze that sounded like he was dying. George and Nick looked concerned for his safety.

 

“I-I’m sorry, HahEUAH! I’m sorry.” He took a deep breath, George tried to hold himself together before continuing the conversation.

 

“It’s fine, but on a serious note those plans are solid. Myriam is very knowledgable about this stuff.”

“Ooooo Georgie better keep your focus on the princess eh?” George elbowed Nick in the side looking as upset as Clay felt. Wait, Why am I upset?

 

“You idiot, she’s not my type anyway.” Nick held his side gingerly feigning injury and grumbling.

 

“Which one Myriam or Niki?” Clay found himself asking. Really, really hoping the answer was…

 

“Ummm… Neither.” That shouldn’t be a relief.

 

“Well what is your type then George?” Nick's tone was still teasing but Clay could see George panic. Clay simultaneously hated Nick for the Question, and really wanted to know the answer.

 

“Yeah George what’s your type?” When he joined in on the joke George had a reason to look at him, and boy did he look at him. The poor king looked like a deer caught under a hunter's bow. He stumbled over his words as he attempted to answer. And Clay wondered if he imagined the way his eyes kept flicking over to him.

 

“Umm… well I guess. Someone who… who- who’s strong. Someone who jokes, and has a nice laugh.” George paused seeming softer and serious now. “Someone who’s a friend that I can always talk to.” Clay was virtually speechless after that, and it seemed Nick was the same. The silence caused George to retreat.

 

“I’m sorry that was stupid. Just forget it… it’s whatever.” He scratched his neck and looked at the floor. Both his friends were quick to comfort him.

 

“No It’s not stupid at all dude!” Nick started.

“Yeah. I’m sorry we made you uncomfortable George.” Clay followed.

“Honestly you didn’t lie. I think that’s what were all looking for.” Clay nodded in conformation as Georges head turned between his best friends, and he smiled. Clay would do anything to keep that smile on his face.

 

“Thanks guys.” Then George looked at Clay and his smile turned cheeky. “But I’m not doing this alone. So what’s your type Clay?” You.

 

“Oh Ho HO! Go on then Clay!” Both his friends gave him wide smirks as Clay tried to come up with an appropriate answer.

 

“Errr… Kinda what you said George. A friend…” George was staring at him so he continued trying not to give too much away. “And I like uh… big mouths.” He realized too late, as Nick was already cackling uncontrollably.

 

“What!?” George asked blushing, laughing, and smiling wide.

 

“No that’s not what I-” Clay groaned at his friends. “You know what whatever!” With Georges smirk and kingly laugh it’s almost like he knew who Clay was talking about as they stared at each other. Before he could tease him Nick spoke up unprompted.

 

“Well I like brunettes! Just like you Georgie!” he reached for the King who reeled away in disgust.

 

“Gross! Get off me.” Clay laughed before electing to save him.

 

“Why don’t we just head in before Bad gets any angrier?”

“Aww Clay are you Jelly!? I think you’re really pretty too!”

 

Hu laughed humoring his friend as George grumbled something about never seeing his face. He didn’t have time to question as the three pushed the oak doors open to a large festivities room set up for wedding planning. They were greeted by Advisor Bad who was… very unhappy.

“You are late!” 

“Calm down Bad.” George seemed too tired to deal with his advisors screaming.

 

“I will not be calm! Do you know how important this day is!?”

“Yes Bad! I actually do!” The King sounded downright mad, and Bad fell silent. Clay almost felt protective over the small advisor, but he definitely felt protective over George's feelings. His heart was very torn between his love, and his brotherly instinct. Thank god Nick jumped in the relieve tension because the word brother was always a sore spot, even in Clays mind.

 

“Well you know Bad you are absolutely right! And there is a lot to do. So I will just go and take all the food tasting off your hands King George!” The King spluttered, but the excited Knight had already removed himself from George's shoulders and made his way over to the cooks. George simply rolled his eyes and turned back to Bad rubbing his hands down his face.

 

“I’m sorry Bad, someone…” He looked at Clay. “...woke me up from a good dream.”

“It’s fine your highness. Just don’t be late again you Muffin! Now-” Bad smacked George on the arm with his scroll before walking away and unrolling it as George and Clay followed. Clay leaned down to whisper in Georges ear.

 

“What was your dream about?”

“Um I- uhhhh… It was nothing!” George was blushing and looking at Clays hands? He didn’t get the chance to ask anymore questions as Bad pulled George over to look at banners.

 

Clay tuned out for most of the planning, and tried not to clench his jaw at the mention of anything like Niki or god forbid their wedding night. He threw in an odd comment about color when George asked. It never was his strong suit. His brain came back to the present when Bad’s shrill announcement requested his attention.

 

“Ladies and gentlemen your King! George Davidson!” A few people clapped as George emerged from behind a changing curtain. Gone was the simple red tunic and pants. No, George now donned a full wedding get up that made Clays knees go weak. Black slacks, and matching shoes. A brilliant blue silk tunic with a grey vest that buttoned showing off Georges very grabable waist. To complete it he wore a fur lined blue velvet cloak fit for a king. Clay could imagine the slight train walking down the aisle towards him. His crown and perfectly styles hair only added to his royal air. I take it back, red is not his best color. George played with his cuffs in a way that was unreasonably attractive, and his face blushed slightly and eyebrow raised at Nicks hoots from the cake stand. In short he looked mouth watering. A few people praised him, but George was looking directly at Clay.

 

“Clay, What do you think?” The King held his arms out playfully and did a silly turn that only served to endear him more, and to show Clay his ass in those pants. Everything about George was perfect, and Clay couldn’t find his voice to convey it. The King looked spectacular, but Clay hated it. Mostly he hated it because George was clearly uncomfortable. The gaze he looked at Clay with was clearly pleading and looking for relief. When George had on the crown, and all the furs velvets and silks, he didn’t look like himself. He looked like a picture of himself. Clay would rather see George free no matter how good he looked in fancy clothes. If we got married he’d wear- Whoa. No. Clay stopped that train of thought cold. He realized he still had yet to respond when Bad prompted him.

 

“Sir Clay? What do you think?” George's face had fallen in his silence, and Clay was hasty to put it back.

 

“You look great George.” Fuck my voice. They heard that. “But… maybe a bit less Bad?” Bads face screwed up in confusion.

 

“Less? Hmm let’s see.” He approached George beginning to delayer him, and George sent Clay a grateful look mouthing thank you. Bad removed the cloak and the grey vest. He got George to pull his pants more high waisted and cinched his waist with a leather belt. Clay almost died. Bad went behind the curtain and appeared with a pair of sweet white silk gloves and a much more toned down but equally blue cloak. George slipped on the gloves beaming at the options. It was so him. He looked to Clay with a smile, and Clay was a gonner.

 

“Perfect.” he breathed out without thinking. George simply smiled.

 

“Thank you Sir Clay!” The adorable bastard then turned to continue more pattern solections or something. Clay couldn’t handle the looks from the castle staff. He instinctively grabbed his swords hilt. The looks from Nick and Bad were so pitying it hurt. Bad tried to be soothing.

 

“Thank you for your input Sir Clay.” Clay could only nod. He waited until George was turned before he made his escape. I have to get out. Everything hurts. He made some excuse about overseeing training that Nick didn’t believe as he blew past him.

 

“Clay-”

“I’ll talk to you later tonight.”

 

Clay didn’t stop moving until he was back in his room. There he ripped off his helmet and looked in his tear streaked eyes. He wiped them off and vowed. He would no longer be involved with these wedding plans.

 

He’d no longer be involved with George.

 

~~~

 

Weeks passed, and the avoidance was regrettably working. Clay had barely seen George besides the odd word or two in mornings and nights. There was that one time…

 

If I had known making you captain of the guard meant I’d never see you…”

“I’m sorry your Highness, There’s just lots to do.”

“Right… Goodnight Clay.”

“Goodnight My-... George.”

 

Clay had mostly kept himself busy training, and away from the wedding and the Amazons. He felt a little bad for ignoring some of his friends, especially George, but they just knew him too well. He’d have to see George tomorrow for a fighting display for the engaged couple, but for now he could focus on whipping the newcomers into shape.

 

“C’mon now Tommy... get up!”

“Oh I’ll get up you Bastard!...Heuh!” With a large cry Tommy sprung to his feet despite his many injuries and threw himself at Clay. Clay smirked under his mask easily deflecting Tommys sword and side stepping to send the boy tumling to the ground again, and landing next to his friend Tubbo who was lying on his back staring at the sky sword sprawled elsewhere. Wilbur pitched his nose before he approached picking his brother up on his feet.

 

“Tommy what did we talk about?”

“Hittin’ um where it hurts!”

“NO!” Wilbur took a deep breath to collect himself back to his calm voice, and Clay laughed at the brotherly display.

 

“Be smart. Don’t just throw yourself around! That's how you lose a fight.”

“You think far too much Wilbur. I mean really fighting’s all about instincts.” Clay snorted entering the conversation.

 

“Yeah instincts you don’t have.” Tommy turned before Wilbur caught his arm and turned him back around, shooting Clay a ‘ not helping!’ look over his brothers head. Clay just shrugged and went to pick up Tubbos sword and make sure he wasn’t dead, while WIlbur continued to tear into his brother about tactics that Tommy would never use. Clay liked the giant teenagers, just like he had always liked Wilbur. They made him feel closer to home, and it was fun training the boys. Although, Clay did have a bad habit of goading whoever he was up against. It’s just more fun to beat people when they’re trying their hardest. Clay cringed looking at tubbos dazed and tired eyes; he did feel a pang of guilt at how particularly worn out the two kids seemed.

 

“You alright Tubbo?”

“Ughnnnnnnnnnn…”

“I’m sorry if I went a little too hard today.” Clay spoke as he handed the sword and a water pouch back to Tubbo who perked up, now sitting as Clay knelt next to him.

 

“Not at all!” The kid was smiling. “You’re really good! And no matter what Tommy says I know this is gonna make us better. Hopefully good enough to get our friend back.” Wilbur was the only one who had heard the story. Clay tried not to pry especially when Tommy already looked like he’d seen a ghost everytime someone mentioned it. According to Wilbur it was a local girl from the village, and one of their childhood friends. Clay shuddered to think about losing Nick, or George like that. She was probably around the same age as my sister… Clay shook off the thought deciding instead to channel his brotherly instinct placing his hand on Tubbos shoulder and cheer him on.

 

“Yeah you definitely will.” Tubbo practically beamed.

“Yes! If only some people would shut up!” The yell from the ground caused the two brothers to quiet. Not for long as Tommy sauntered away from his fuming older brother to tae the water from his friends hand.

 

“It’s not me Tubbo! Big bro just doesn’t understand the mechanics behind a good fight!” He tipped his head back drinking the water while Wilbur glared daggers at him. Seeing their dynamic these past few weeks was almost as bad as being around George. Clay hadn’t thought about his little sister in a while, at least not the way he used to. He used to constantly look for her everyday off her had. One day George caught him sneaking off the grounds after he himself had snuck away. Clay told him he was looking for something and George helped without asking for anything else. After years without result Clay resigned to wait until the day her powers activated. He still thought about Drista, but he had nothing to go on. His parents had died in the war before they could tell him where she was sent, and Clay was raised with nick and his family their previous neighbors. From what Wilbur said the girl that was captured was probably around her age. Clay sighed out loud, he doesn’t remember much about his sister besides his mom telling him of the great prophecy and how important she was, and how it was Clays job to protect her. He remembered saying goodbye to the infant before his parents took her away…

 

“Clay you alright?” Wilbur asked, pulling Clay out of his thoughts. Clay started meeting the three pairs of eyes on him and coughing.

 

“Oh yeah I’m great.”

“Okay… Well Nicks has been trying to get your attention for the past few minutes.” Wilbur pointed behind Clay to the corner of the training arena. There was his best friend in simple knights armor, with his wild raven hair, and making strange and, attempting at secretive, motions towards Clay. Clay rose, grabbing his sword, and electing to remain in his simple white tunic and pants he had essentially been living in the past few weeks. He bid farewell to Wilbur and the boys, and walked to his friend who quickly yanked him by the arm into a dark corridor.

 

“Nick what the hell!?”

“SHHHH!”

“That seems a little hypocritical.”

“Shut up okay!” Nick's face was not messing around despite Clay's joke and obvious smirk. No, his friend meant business. Clay had been waiting for this. Obviously Nick would pick up on Clay's changing mood eventually, and he probably had a good idea as to why, so Clay had been trying to avoid him as much as possible. The realization passed between both of them as to what Nick was doing here. Now faced with his best friend who he had been mostly successfully ignoring, Clay didn’t know what to say. 

 

“Uhhh…”

“Yeah Uh.”

“Look Nick I-”

“You know I think your horse could use a little ride. It’s been a while don’t you think Clay?” Clay was taken aback by Nicks words. ‘Your horse could use a ride..’ was their code for whenever Clay needed to get out of the castle. They would go train in the same secret clearing from when they were kids growing up thinking of war. They hadn’t done that in a long time, not since the King was added into their little family. Nicks gaze was pointed, and honestly Clay would do anything to distract himself from George right now. Plus his friend wasn’t giving him room to argue as he started walking towards the stables.

 

With his long legs Clay quickly caught up. They walked mostly in silence. It wasn’t uncomfortable. Talking just simply wasn’t necessary after spending years together. They worked like a well oiled machine. A few thanks tossed back and forth as they prepped their horses, and brief discussion of directions as they made it to the clearing. Now in the woods alone there was much more being left unsaid, and the silence got heavier. Before Clay could wonder if he should break it Nick did it himself.

 

“Now! You gonna take that off yourself or should I do it for you?” Gone was Nicks previous seriousness, now he was all jokes and cocky smirks. Clay smiled as his best friend put him at ease, standing ridiculously in the middle of the clearing with a sword pointed at Clays helmet. Clay chuckled darkly and swung himself off his horse. He reached up to unclip and slide off his helmet. His golden brownish hair hung shaggily around his head, though not as bad as Nicks, it was slightly sweaty from it’s silver prison as he ruffled it with his hair and tossed his helmet aside. He could already feel the competition brewing in the air as he unsheathed his sword entering their little training space.

 

“I’d like to see you try Nicholas.” Nick hated his first name.

“Oh I will Clayton.” Clays smug smile fell slightly and his nose wrinkled at his full title. They began to circle each other as Clays eyes lit up like a predator. He was even better without the mask. Nicks armor would give him an advantage, but it would also slow him down, and Clay was faster. Clay saw his opportunity and struck.

 

He jabbed forcefully at Nicks stomach. Nick was slightly unprepared, but blocked at the last second sending himself reeling back as Clay arced his sword over nicks head causing him to stumble more. Nick rightened himself and charged planting a forceful swing to Clays arm that he ducked dropping and kicking out one of Nick's legs. Clay then stood holding his sword over his friend who was already breathing heavily and smirking.

 

“That’s no fair!” Clay was laughing hysterically at his friend who stumbled trying to get up.

“What’s not fair? That I’m better than you?” He spoke condescending as he held his hand out to help his friend up. Nick smacked it away with his sword grumbling and Clay just backed up twirling his sword and practically skipping with elven agility. His pointed ears were out in the full sun, and would probably freckle from the experience. He turned to his friend smiling as he raised his sword.

“Wanna go again?”

“You bet your ass I do!” Nick rose to his feet and they began again. The boys fought round after round each more competitive than the last. Nick even won a few, he had grown stronger since they were children. He even had a hunk reputation among some of the women in the court, and maybe some of the men. Now the boys were sitting soaked in sweat and breathing heavily. Nick chugged water, and Clay wiped his face. The sun was setting behind the trees that surrounded their small clearing. Clay felt spectacular. It was nice not to hide for a few hours, and not be stuck in that stuffy helmet . It wasn’t that Clay hated his job or the castle. He loved the thrill of fighting, not so much the paperwork of being a hardworking knight but he made do. He loved his friends, but he didn’t have to stay in the castle for that. The castle was a hell hole of anxiety, and rules, and fear of being found out. The only thing Clay remotely liked about the castle was George. As if Nick could sense the turn his thoughts took he finally spoke up, as if he felt like the tired sweaty air would be calmer and more comfortable.

 

“Do you wanna talk about it?” Clay sucked in a breath.

 

“Talk about what?” Nick audibly scoffed at this. He didn’t pull punches when calling out Clays bullshit. He never had.

 

“What do you mean what? You’ve been avoiding us for weeks now! You’ve been avoiding everything except your duties for weeks!”

“No I haven’t.” Clay still had some sliver of hope he could convince Nick everything was fine and avoid having to admit it. That was quickly dashed as Nick turned dead serious.

 

“Okay look. I know you’re struggling. We both know you are, and I was just asking if you wanted to talk about it or keep this a fun day… but if you’re still in denial we’ve got much bigger problems.” Clay crumbled under Nicks reserve. He felt naked without his helmet to hide his obviously pained expressions.

 

“I’m not in denial.”

“But you don’t wanna talk about it?”

“Yes.”

“But you know what it is?”

“Yes, I know It’s George.” Nick stopped at that, and Clay turned his head that he had leaned back against a tree to look at his friend. He was surprised to find Nick breaking out into the biggest cheesiest grin he had ever seen. Clay furrowed his eyebrows.

 

“What?”

“I just didn’t think you’d admit it.”

“You said it yourself you already know... everything.”

“Ahh… you mean how you snuck off to Vale to experiment with your sexuality imagining they were all George?” Clay turned a brighter red than the sunset. He could practically feel the steam coming out of his ears, as he turned to his friend who was laughing his ass off.

 

“What? What!? WHAT!” Nick was still rolling on the ground laughing. He righted himself to look at Clay's burning red face, and smirked before making another jab at his poor friend.

 

“What!? I think it’s nice you wanted to be ready for him!” This sent Nick into another fit of laughter. Clay was not as amused.

 

“NICK!”

“No really I think it’s very considerate and-” Nick cut himself off with more laughter as Clay groaned.

 

“Oh my god!” Eventually his friends laughter became to contagious and Clay was wheezing until he felt tears in his bright green eyes. The sighed coughing down water through their laughs, and watching the sunset. Nick broke the silence again, a little softer and more solemn this time.

 

“You know he loves you too?”

“He’s getting married Nick.”

“So? Doesn’t mean he doesn’t want you.” Boy did that sentence do things to Clay. The idea of George wanting him in the way he did… in every way. 

 

“It can’t happen.”

“Why not plenty of Kings have affairs!?”

“Are you saying I should be Georges Affair?”

“Everyone already assumes it anyway.” Clay scoffed at that. The next words out of his mouth felt bitter and angry, like he blamed the court and everything they stood for.

 

“Even if George did wan-” Clay took a breath steadying himself, and Nick to his credit waited.

 

“Even if George did want me… You know how it is in the court. It would ruin him.”

“I’m not saying you two should fuck in the middle of the fucking court!” Clay choked on air.

 

“What!?”

“Don’t act like you haven't thought about it!” He hadn’t, well maybe a little.  

“You’re disgusting.” Nick chuckled at himself again, but when Clay turned to meet his eyes he was serious.

 

“You know I don’t care right? So if you wanted to...I don’t know talk about it freely you could do it now.”

“What’s there to talk about?”

“Oh I don’t know! George! Just tell me what you like about him man!” Nicks sarcastic but well meaning response threw Clay off. Talk about George?

 

“Well there’s his laugh?”

“Sounds like a dying goose, but go on.” 

 

Clay did go on. He went on until the sky was turning dark, and he had spent the better part of his day out of his helmet. It only hurt more to put it back on. The reached back home to the castle and headed to their respective rooms. Not before Nick crushed Clay in a big bear hug and wiped a tear from his eye. Clay fell into bed tired with a bitter-sweet feeling in his chest.

 

He woke in… Vale?

 

“Where am I?” Clay spoke aloud. No one answered, and his head hurt. He didn’t usually dream but he could recognize that he was most definitely asleep. He even tried to pinch himself.

 

“Ow! Definitely asleep.”

“Hello?” A young girls voice called.

 

“Hello!” Clay answer but the girl just continued to call as if she couldn’t hear him. He called louder and louder. He heard a crack behind the tall jungle tree in front of him. He called louder.

 

“Over Here!” No response, but the voice came into view. A young girl who looked beaten and worn wearing some basic brown garments came around the tree. Her eyes locked onto him, and she approached cautiously.

 

“Who are you?”

“My name’s Sir Clay. It’s okay you don’t need to be scared!”

“Say something.”

“I am! I’m Clay. Everythings going to be fine.” The girl couldn’t seem to hear him. She continued to walk around, her eyes darting as if looking for attackers. She looks like she’s been through hell. She tucked her blonde waves behind her ear and reached her other hand out to touch him with a wary gaze. Her hair… she looks so much like mom.

 

“You have his eyes.”

“Who’s eyes!?”

“Why aren’t you doing anything! Say something.” 

“I-” It was then Clay realized he couldn’t move. He was frozen staring at this girl who reminded him of his young mother. He felt a rush of power through him, and tried to focus on anything about her features… nose, mouthe, eyes… but he was already gone, wrenched back to consciousness. The last thing he heard was the girl scream his name.

 

“CLAY!”

 

Clay shot up in bed the early morning light streaming in his window. What the fuck was that!?

 

The dream rattled him, itching at his mind. Who was that girl? He shook his head and caught a whiff of himself. He’d figure out the dream later. Right now he had to get up and take a bath before the royal spar.

 

Drista Update:

Drista was breathing heavily sat back against the mast of the ship. Whenever the waves died down slightly she collapsed. The blood on her forehead, hands, and limbs, had dried washed away come back and dried again. Drista coughed again, and she wondered if it would be blood this time as she was fairly certain she had broken at least one rib. She was floating, drifting, not just her mind but literally her ship. Drista could see the shore, but she didn’t know where to go or land. Her first instinct was teakwood, that’s where Tommy and Tubbo would probably be, but based on her position she’d have to go through hostile Creole and… and after Minx Drista didn’t know who or what to trust anymore. Squinting and thinking at the shore became harder. Drista felt a wave lap at her ankle and it brought her back briefly but her eyelids dropped. I haven’t slept in days…

 

Drista opened her eyes and wasn’t immediately assaulted by pictures. Everything was blank like a completely white room. Maybe it was because her brain was tired, but she welcomes the relief. When Drista touched her hand out to the surrounding light her brain flashed those painful pictures came back. She yanked her hand in like it burnt. Minx had said to focus on a picture steel her mind to one thing, but Drista couldn’t, everything felt slower like she wasn’t at home in her own mind. What if that’s not the answer? What if I let go? The thought was appealing as her head started to pound. Drista felt the energy around her, and relaxed letting it take her where it wanted. She reached out one hand and breathed a request.

 

“Show me where to go.”

 

No pictures flashes, Drista gasped feeling a pull. Then she was dropped in a sort of treehouse of wood and stained glass in a jungle. Everything was surrounded in a white haze. In the treehouse there were two people just standing there. They didn’t move, but Drista could tell a few things they were both elves, and some type of royalty or high class. One was a man with vale green eyes, brown hair that fell over his forehead, and typical elongated elf ears. He wore a completely oversized wardrobe of intricate cotton and sweaters. He looked kind with a small slightly bucktooth smile on his face. Next to him was a girl with an elaborate golden dress and gold circlet. She had unruly red curls that made a main around her head and down her back, and she was covered with freckles. She looked fierce though a few inches shorter and maybe a year younger than Drista. A voice spoke as if whispering in Dristas ear.

 

“Karl and Feyre…”

“What!? Where am I” Drista attempted to chase after the disembodied voice when she reached the window a force yanked her off the treehouse and she flew down to the ground. It hurt, and she could still feel her injuries. Slowly she got her bearings and walked carefully around the large chunk of the tree. There was another man, this one was taller. He had sandy brownish hair that was shaggy and out grown, and Vale green eyes as well, but his ears were small like hers. And he had the build of a giant.

 

“Hello?” Drista got no response as she approached cautiously. This man carried a large sword at his side. And his face was stuck in an angry shout. Like the others he was frozen, no matter what Drista asked she got no answer. As she looked at him more she realized his eyes…

 

“You have his eyes…” This man had her brothers eyes. That’s when Dristas heart stopped. This is my brother! She had seen those eyes in her dreams since she was a girl. Now she was yelling shouting at him to answer her but he did nothing. The disembodied voice spoke giving her a name.

 

“Clay…”

“CLAY!” things around her faded to white, and before she could ask the voice more questions, 

 

she woke with a start feeling cold and wet. A wave had washed over her, and Drista heaved coughing up salt water, and attempted to pull herself upright. She was confused but sur e of two things.

 

I’m in control of the dreams, and I’m going to Vale.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11: George POV

 

It had been two weeks since Clay started avoiding him. Two weeks since the day he rushed out of the planning hall. George had barely gotten a word out of the Knight, and it was starting to hurt.

 

Everything was already hard enough, but with Clay things always seemed better. George was beyond grateful for Nick, and Bad, but he knew that they were worried about both him and Clay. George was in a bad mood without his best friend, he transitioned between sad and angry. Angry when he was dealing with his duties, and other people, so much so that Wilbur had pulled him aside during a meeting to talk with him, and sad whenever he saw Clay. No matter what he couldn’t really be mad at the tall knight. The worst part was George didn’t know why. He didn’t understand, and no one seemed to be able to tell him. It was infuriating. How was George supposed to focus on running a kingdom, and planning a marriage, when he was losing the… love of your life? Maybe… Shut up. He had already warred with himself enough over the marriage. He liked Niki, and wanted the best for his people, but it was hard to imagine committing the rest of your life to someone when you feel you’ve already given it to another.

 

Yes, George had fallen for his considerate, cocky, and ridiculously hot bestfriend, who was also a Knight tasked with protecting George at any cost. Which just makes him hotter. George sighed. Big whoop! How was he supposed to avoid it? Clay was perfect. Annoyingly perfect sometimes. Yes, George wished he wasn’t deviant, that he could fall for some beautiful girl and make her queen. It would make his life a whole lot easier; but he didn’t regret the way that Clay made him feel. The way he could light George on fire with the smallest friendly touch, or make him blush and smile like crazy with a simple joke. Okay, that parts annoying.

 

Now, as George walked through the small garden in the east wing by himself he thought of all the things that annoyed him about Clay. He realized all the things that annoyed him were also incredibly, stupidly, attractive and he groaned putting his head in his hands leaning against the balcony fence. It was far too quiet out here at night. He missed the laughter, or jokes, or just hearing Clays breathing. The last time they had been out here, before all the wedding craziness, a small fraction of George thought… Could he feel the same? George pushed the thoughts aside. Clay didn’t, and wouldn’t feel the same way about him. There was just a moment in the moonlight when George had cradled his hand, and he thought for a moment Clay may have melted the way he made George melt. He could almost imagine the blushing cheeks Clay kept hidden under his helmet. Or the face of disgust at George's obvious deviance.

 

George slowly sat down facing the small fountain back against the stone fencing, he was dizzy from his opposing thoughts and feelings. If he could ever tell anyone about his attraction without ruining his reputation, they would probably ask how George fell for someone without even knowing what they looked like. George would simply have them meet Clay. He had this shining personality, and he was always so confident. And good at everything. George began picking up pieces of gravel tossing them into the fountain. His ridiculous crown long forgotten to the side after stressfully running his fingers through his hair. George had always found Clay important, it didn’t matter what he looked like, but after his parents died and suddenly he took over as the new king he realized he needed Clay. he couldn’t imagine getting through that without his friends by his side. 

 

And as for the attraction part… well that had started a long time ago. As they grew up, and Clay grew up well, George found himself thinking more and more about the other man. He may not be able to see Clays face, but there were other things he could see. Like his hands…  

 

George grunted throwing a rock particularly hard and chipping off a bit of the fountain. He hoped it would distract him but his thoughts did not cooperate. Clay's hands were in George's opinion perfect. Not that the rest of him wasn’t perfect, but… George just really liked his hands okay. There was something about their veins, and their strength, and the way they carried a sword, especially in his fingerless leather gloves, and he found it kind of cute how all his fingers were the same length. It was something only he had noticed about Clay. There were a lot of things George noticed about Clay. Like his strength in those times when his hand wrapped around Georges wrist. How his smirk was audible as he goaded Nick or anyone else he was decimating in a fight. And that tone… it sent heat rushing straight to Georges…

 

WHOA! It may be time to get out of here. George threw his last pebble, and rose snatching up his crown and walking back towards their rooms. He was heated from all this pent up longing and his devious thoughts practically ripping off his kingly overcoat which he carried with his cloak, leaving him in a simple grey embroidered tunic and unbuttoned brown vest with matching brown pants and boots. Just because he was colorblind didn’t mean he couldn’t dress.

 

George rounded the corner to their corridor in the empty night air. He heard footsteps looking up from his feet to catch a shape walking in front of him. George's heart leapt into his throat, Clay! He subconsciously fixed his hair and shirt while quickening his steps to try and catch Clays stride. He cursed the knight for having a mask to hide behind, as he turned his head slightly hearing George approach. He said nothing but George could have sworn his steps slowed if only a little. 

 

They walked in silence. If George looked down he would see their hands almost brushing. His heart was beating so fast he was sure Clay could hear it. George had the feeling of eyes on him, and got the impression Clay was staring even though his helmet barely turned. There was a mounting tension, so much that George was considering throwing Clay against the wall and begging him to touch him. Maybe that’s what happens when you don’t spend enough time with the person who has become your oxygen. Just when it got too much to be suffocating they reached their doors.

 

They separated. George heard Clays door open behind him as he stood on his threshold. All his thoughts of Clay tonight, and all these pent up weeks George made a decision. Enough is enough. George gathered every ounce of confidence he had, and turned in his doorway one arm leaning against the frame. He drawled out in a tone that he hoped matched Clays regularly teasing banter:

 

“If I had known making you captain of the guard meant I’d never see you again, I wouldn’t have done it.” He tried for a smirk that came off as more flirtatious than necessary, but George couldn’t help it; he was like a mouse looking for crumbs. Clay turned in the doorway facing George. His whole body seemed tense.

 

“I’m sorry your highness there’s just lots to do.” His friend's tone was cold and George felt his heart sink, and any previous confidence wash away.

 

“Right… Goodnight Clay.” He knows his face fell because Clays arm twitched minutely as if wishing to reach out, and George had to watch his gorgeous hand clench at the door frame then look away as he turned into his room. It’s embarrassing, really, how fast George turned around when Clay spoke again.

 

“Goodnight My-” He cut himself off but George knew. Say it. “...George.”

 

With that clay turned quickly into his room and closed his door. George numbly did the same. That was the interaction he had waited weeks for?! George was frustrated, and angry at himself, and the situation, and the formalities, and the properness of it all; and he was fucking pissed that he couldn’t be mad at Clay. He threw his crown and coat to the side flopping on the bed and causing a loud clatter. He hoped Clay heard. George eventually got himself to stop groaning over Clay, and his stupid hands, and go to bed. It was a restless night's sleep.

 

~~~

 

It was a full week before George would speak to Clay again. He had kept himself busy. There was a lot to attend to. He thought he may as well get to know Niki and the amazons better, as they would be a large part of his life.

 

“George look at this!” Myriam called him from across the massive library. She was currently looking at Teakwood roads and had deduced the best places for subtle defense against the Azurians. While George had always had an eye for these things, So did Clay , it was nice to have someone else to bounce ideas off of.

 

“Yes, and also here… and I’d like some here if we can, just in case…” The two continued laying out and pointing to the map. Behind George the door to the library opened. Wilbur and Niki approached the table covered in maps and books. 

 

“My King-”

“Please Wilbur we’re alone, it’s George” Wilbur cast a wary glance at Myriam who just raised an eyebrow and shrugged. He cleared his throat and continued.

“George, the show is going to start soon. I'm here to escort you and the princess.” George had nearly forgotten. He tried not to perk up too much at the thought of seeing Clay. Myriam jumped at the mention of fighting as well looking at the clock on the wall.

 

“Is it time already!? I better get down there with the others. Are you alright Niki?”

“Yes go! Reynas already down there-”

“-And Calliopes still asleep. I got it!” Myriam waved over her shoulder exiting the Library map rolled under her arm. George turned to Niki.

 

“Hello Niki.”

“Hello George.”

“Are you ready to get going?” Niki beamed at him and nodded. George knew his excitement was palpable. He just hoped they couldn’t discern the true reason. Wilbur seemed distracted working his jaw at their interaction before faking a smile for Niki. George had gone over a week without even seeing Clay physically. He was sure the fighting display would hit him like a truck. He could only hope Reyna would put him on his ass to take the edge off the attraction. 

 

The three of them walked down the hall, as George fixed his cuff sleeves to look more presentable. Bad had let him go without the overcoat or velvets today due to the heat. Wilbur towered over the human and Agatian bending his head slightly to laugh with Niki. The giant wore a more traditional nordic tunic. He’s been doing that more since his brother got here. Niki Was in what George can only assume was an agatian dress. A bright magenta dyed fabric that haltered around her neck and exposed the top of her back. George thought he caught Wilbur staring, but didn’t particularly pay attention. She’s not my wife yet .

 

“I’m rather excited I haven’t been to the training grounds yet.”

“Not that much to be excited for. Just a load of sweaty men!” George replied. He tried for a disgusted smile, but he was busy thinking about a certain sweaty man. Niki laughed anyway, seemingly oblivious to George's inner struggle.

 

“Sounds a lot like Agate then.” This time it was Wilbur who scoffed and responded, casually fiddling with a sailing compass he kept on his belt.

 

“Except with a lot more testosterone and stupidity.” Both Niki and George laughed at that, but the trio stifled their behavior as they approached the king's balcony. The training grounds were rich with snobby advisors and court marshals that gave George an urge to fix his crown or take it off completely. It was still early and they sat through many boring matches where George thought he could have cut the time in half with nothing but his rapier, but George still hadn’t seen Clay.

 

The main events began with the more skilled and seasoned Knights. It appears his captain of the guard had gotten there late. That’s not like him. Clay looked slightly disheveled catching Georges eye the minute he entered, but he still took Georges breath away. George tried his best to focus on Nick beating his opponent, but with Clay sitting there preparing for his fight he simply couldn’t. The knight wore his signature steel smiley helmet that inspired fear across the kingdom and beyond, with it simple leather boots and pants, though slightly baggier than Georges, and a thin white tunic that was going to be the death of George. It fell open to about halfway down his chest exposing a sheen of sweat that had Georges mouth literally watering. Nick kicked his opponent out of the ring before returning to the cheering amazons, garnering many jealous looks.

 

“Your Highnesses!” Bad’s surprisingly strong voice caused George to shift his attention, but not for long. “The Captain of The Guard, Sir Clayton’s open challenge! For your viewing pleasure!” Oh it most certainly is. Clay stiffened at his full name, George knew he hated it, but nevertheless made his way to the center of the circle fastening his leather gloves and gripping his broad sword. He donned no armor; either because he was cocky or because it was hot out. He was hot. George knew Clay had plenty of female admirers especially as he left this much on display in this type of event, but Clay’s eyes seemed to be fixed directly on George. The open challenge had been initiated and would probably consist of Clay taking down a number of opponents before the day was over. George did not know how he was going to get through it.

 

“I’ll go first!” Calliope shouted. Reyna handed her a spear and Nick clapped her on the back as she entered the ring facing off with Clay. Wilbur nudged Niki lightly out of the corner of Georges eye as she practically bounced with happiness. Calliope was strong, but whatever made Clay late clearly didn’t affect his skill. George was just as much in awe as everyone else. He watched Clays arm muscles work as he slashed towards the Amazon again, and again. George felt his smile creep up and tried to suppress it, but this was like drinking water for the first time after years in the desert. After a flurry of flips and kicks Clay eventually caught Calliope mid air sending her and her spear sprawling.

 

It turns out that was the toughest battle Clay would face, as Myriam was hindered by her light blue skirt, and Reyna was worn from covering for her friends earlier. George would have been embarrassed by his army if he wasn’t so enthralled by his captain. His captain… Sir Clay. A furious blush crept up his face and he coughed. It caused enough suspicion for Niki to ask:

 

“Your highness are you okay?” George simply nodded. Wilbur gave him a curious look, but George was already turned back to watch. Great, add another thing to the list of words that I can’t call him because they make me blush! The list was probably far too long already. Clay kicked another knight back and out of the circle with practised ease. The crowd erupted, Clay barely seemed to care. His broad chest moved with heaving breaths and his forearms flexed as he clenched his hands and altered his gloves, but other than that you’d never know he had just taken on the better half of 10 trained soldiers. Clay helped the man to his feet before returning to the circle seemingly asking who’s next. A challenger emerged from the crowd.

 

“I think somebody’s gotta put you in your place.” Nick sountered in sword over his shoulders leisurely. The giants, amazons, and humans alike erupted into cheers. Clays demeanored completely changed at the sight of his friend. Gone was the business captain, now he was more like a kid having fun with a sword. This was George's favorite part, how Clay really enjoyed himself. He was like an adrenaline junkie with the thrill of the fight.

 

“Oh yeah? You think it’ll be you?” George's whole body reacted to his voice. He was so enraptured by Clays every move he didn’t even realize he hadn’t heard him speak. Clay took on that low gravely playful tone he always gets when he’s competitive. The one that sets a stone low inside of George, and makes him squirm in his seat, or in this case clutch the balcony railing. Nick simply shrugged clearly unaffected by the voice, though George doesn’t comprehend how. Someone else has to hear it! He has to know what he’s doing! 

 

“Someone’s gotta wipe that smirk of your- oh wait!” Knights chuckled at Nick's joke.

 

“Well I’m still gonna beat you with this on my head.” Clay knocked on the side of his helmet.

 

“Not if I knock it off!” With that Nick went for a surprise attack. George felt his breath hitch in worry despite himself. The annoying thing about Clay's cockiness was that he always got himself into dangerous situations, and he never seemed to think how much it scared the people who care about him. The other annoying thing was he always seemed to win. Like now, Nick didn’t stand a chance as Clay caught his blade. George watched relaxing as Clay got into a rhythm. He swung out of the block spinning his sword and going for Nick's legs. Nick clearly wasn’t playing around and held his ground, but Clay looked like a cat playing with a mouse. George had to admit the way Clay moved smoothly and almost predatory was really hot. 

 

“C’mon Nick!” He called in a slightly manic voice as he attacked from behind. Giving himself away gave Nick enough time to turn around and catch his side with the sword. They both retreated back after that. As if he sensed George's stress, Clay looked up at him. Clay was covered in sweat and some dirt and a little bit of blood, and his chest heaved as George made eye contact with the shadow behind the eye holes in his helmet. He seemed to be waiting for something, or the world could’ve stopped moving George really didn’t know. He decided to call out across the grounds hyping up the crowd.

 

“That’s what Kings Knights are made of! Let’s go!” He pumped his fist, Wilbur and bad followed him whooping. The crowd erupted soon after. Clay clenched his hand around the hilt of the sword still staring at George. He turned back to Nick who had risen with the crowd's crys. Clay was no longer playing a game. Another flurry of blocks and blows George followed with his mind and Nick was tossed out of the circle, but he rose smiling and pointing at Clay's injury. Clay seemed to laugh as they shared a good natured hug. The crowd continued Cheering as Reyna entered with two daggers. Clay and her talked before he walked back towards a rag and water signaling he needed a break. George's eyes followed the retreating shoulders. Briefly he noted Myriam moved to enter the ring with Reyna, but she had other ideas.

 

“Niki! Uh- My Queen!” Reyna shouted pointing her dagger towards the balcony next to George. George, Wilbur, and the advisors all stared at Niki slightly flabbergasted as she smiled at Reyna with a natural royalty.

“Yes Lieutenant?” 

“Fancy a spar?” Reyna had a mischievous glint in her eye, and George had to admit he was surprised. After getting to know the amazons he understood their culture was quite different, so he assumed Niki could fight. Yet, he had never even seen her in armor. George's questions were soon answered as Niki hummed pretending to think.

 

“Well… it may be nice to move around.” Bad jumped in trying to do damage control, but quickly began stuttering and looking at George as Niki reached for her halter neck.

 

“Your Highness? Are you sure? We have knights! Wait what are you- UH! Your highness!?” George only watched and shrugged at Bad. Most of the arena was captivated as Niki undid her purple dress letting it fall and revealing… Armor!? A gold chestplate and amazon battle skirt. The chest plate looked a tad shiniery and had a crest in the center, and the skirt was a bit longer, maintaining the royal look of a princess, but other than that she looked like any of her other amazons. George's eyebrows raised as he snapped his eyes around. Clay looked intrigued sitting to the side. Most knights and men looked appalled. A few court women looked on in awe. Nick was cheering with the amazons, as Reyna raised her arms with a large smile.

 

“Let’s go! Let’s go Niki!” Niki chuckled at her friend. She turned to Wilbur who was the brightest red George had ever seen staring down at her jaw slack. She smiled sweetly for the stunt she just pulled, and George stifled a laugh. Even Bad smiled at the giant Advisor in the palm of the princesses hand. She gathered her dress with one hand holding it out to him.

 

“Will? Could you hold this for me?”

“Yes- er yes- Yes of course…uhhh, ahem. Crush it your highness.” He numbly reached forward taking the dress gently and cleared his throat, as Niki drew two short swords similar to Reynas daggers from her thighs and descended the stairs. Wilbur never took his bright blue eyes off the Agatian Princess, and George noted that with interest as he took in the crowd. Reyna talked quietly with the princess before they retreated to separate corners swinging their weapons.

 

The fight began, and George almost missed it. They struck in tandem with a fierce fury meeting each other in the middle. George may even say it was more interesting to watch then the previous battle. He probably would if it wasn’t for Clay, who was approaching the side at the edge of Georges view. He shook off their earlier moment to watch his future queen. Niki wasn’t just skilled in battle she may have been the best of the Agatians. Due to their weapons it was a close combat situation. Reyna bent at the hips ducking and swinging under one of Nikis daggers held in a backwards hammer grip. As she did she disarmed Nikis other dagger and caught it slashing forward at the princess who sprung backward retrieving Reynas previously discarded dagger. Niki swiped at Reynas legs, and the lieutenant flipped forward over the princess into a somersault. They took a beat, and right as they were about to meet in the ring again, George's attention was stolen. 

 

The crowd was wild now. Clay had seemed impressed but calm, George knew that the Knight had his eyes on him, and that Clay knew the king was still watching him. His full attention turned when Clay moved next sheathing his sword, and George was glad it did. Clay unscrewed the top on his leather water bottle and proceeded to pour it over himself. It soaked his white tunic, and George's eyes widened. He didn’t care if Clay saw him because the knight had tipped his head bag giving the King a glimpse of his adams apple, and George could imagine the sign that fell from his hidden lips. George's clothes suddenly felt very constricting in many places, especially as he got hot in the collar and other areas. George's eyes raked over Clay's practically exposed chest, and the Knights head turned back to level his gaze at George. The king knew he was blushing and wasn’t very subtle with his appreciation of Clays body, but he really couldn't give less of a shit. Clay knew what he was doing. He knew he was hot, and it just makes him hotter. George bit his lip to hold in a literal moan as he felt his feet shift and body melt. He may have imagined it, but Clay’s chest seemed to heave extra hard and George could’ve sworn he saw a suspicious print in Clay's now wet pants. 

 

“YES!” George's attention snapped back, and Clay started shaking his head and retreating to his bench behind the crowds that had gathered. He hadn’t even registered that the match ended. Niki had sent two daggers and a short sword flying at Reyna one after another which Reyna narrowly blocked and dodged with her single blade. It left her vulnerable to a kick from Niki sending her out of the circle, making the future Queen victorious. The shout had surprisingly come from Bad himself, Wilbur was laughing breathlessly. Everyone seemed to be in states of excitement or disbelief. George was still feeling extremely flustered. His eyes found their way back to Clays soaked form, and watched as he actually lifted his shirt up to clean at the cut with a rag. Is he trying to kill me!?

 

“She’s incredible isn’t she.” The statement came from Wilbur who still held Nikki's dress gingerly. He said it low enough only George caught it.

 

“Yeah incredible.” George responded with his eyes still fixed to Clay.

 

A tug from Bad led George and Wilbur away from their respective fantasizing down the stairs and into the circle with four beaming Amazons. Bad rattled off excited congratulations. Wilbur approached wrapping Nikis dress around her and leaning down slightly with a hand on each shoulder.

 

“Niki, that was amazing!”

“Aww. Thank you, Will!” They were smiling at each other, before Wilbur seemed to realize he was inappropriately close. Luckily no one noticed, and George managed to focus himself enough to pay his own compliment.

 

“That was truly astounding Your Highness. No wonder your Amazons are so renowned.”

“Thank you My King. We will be happy to have this alliance with Teakwood. Your Knights are very impressive as well.” Niki’s sweetness put a smile on Georges face, and he found himself genuinely meaning his words. But he also found his eyes following Nikis nod towards Clay and staying there. He noticed Myriam approaching the knight with the papers, and made a plan excusing himself to catch her.

 

“Wilbur!” he called the giant. “Can escort you to bathe or get changed before our wedding counseling later today.”

“Of course your highness I’ll see you then. Will?” Niki turned to Wilbur, and George was already gone through the dispersing crowd. He caught up to Myriam.

 

“I can get those to the captain, if you’d like to either accompany Niki or take a day off with the others.”

“Really?”

“Yes of course.”

“Alright thank you George?” She seemed slightly confused by George's curt tone, but walked away. The King breathed a sigh of relief before steeling himself to approach the Knight who was gathering his stuff. George felt his hands shake around the map, and he prayed his voice wouldn’t crack.

 

“Sir Clay?” Clay whirled around at the sound of George's voice. For a brief moment the King was overcome with insecurity over the use of the title. Well I wasn’t going to say Clayton, but Clay felt too informal, or maybe it would have been better but I…

 

“G-George?” All George's insecurities left him because, perfect, confident, Clay had stuttered. Actually stuttered! George stopped a smile at the hope filled tone of his friend's voice. Maybe he missed me too? He also couldn’t help but notice a blush trailing down the taller man's chest from under his helmet. It could just be from fighting… but I wonder how far down it goes. George snapped his eyes back to Clays mask, and cleared his throat as his friend was waiting for a response.

 

“I had some plans I wanted to go over if you don’t mind?” George raised the maps giving Clay the most generous smile he had donned in weeks.

 

“I thought I was doing that with Myriam?” Clay seemed like he wanted to protest, but the weak tone of voice and his body language said otherwise.

 

“She’s busy.” George didn’t mean to be so curt, but frankly it was ridiculous Clay would prefer to spend time with a virtual stranger than his best friend. 

 

“Okay.”

“Okay, but let's head inside it’s hot out here.” George wrinkled his nose around the arena, and Clay let out a light laugh. He poked fun at George in an overly sarcastic tone, despite beginning to walk back into the castle to the closest advisors' study.

 

“Oh I’m sorry your majesty! Is the weather not to your liking? Would you like me to lower the sun?” Clay bowed, and George pointedly avoided his gaze from staring down the v of his shirt.

 

“Oh Fuck off, at least I’m not all sweaty from tossing people around in the dirt.”

“Exactly! I do the tossing.” George could practically envision his smirk. “Besides you like me sweaty.” George decided not to comment on that, not trusting his voice. Instead he scoffed and hoped Clay couldn’t see the blush on his cheeks, but of course he did.

 

It felt as natural as breathing. They joked as they worked, and George's heart fluttered with the knowledge that even with the space they hadn’t missed a step. Clay had eased out of whatever tension he held, and now he was draped casually over the table spewing humour everywhere from dry to goofy. Clay seemed to preen under Georges gentle laughs, and George relished in Dreams wheezes. He always did that a lot around him. Clay was wheezing particularly hard and smacking his fist on the table as he doubled over. George had stopped laughing and switched to staring. You see Clay had neglected to put on a change of clothes, and well who was George to tell him to cover up his delicious chest when he looked so… comfortable… George is unsure if Clay noticed him staring, but he righted himself and leaned forward in a way that flexed his forearms. 

 

George couldn’t help it, he was a king, but he was useless to his temptations; his eyes shot straight to Clay's hands before a smug lowered voice tore them off the veins and back to the ever smiling steel face.

 

“Georrrgeee..” If that tone didn’t have the Kings stomach doing literal somersaults. “How’re those cavalry lines going?” The King bristled, flustered looking back down at his section of mappings and somewhat frantically picking up his pen, though he tried to hide it.

 

“Erm well.. Great! Actually Spectacular!” George cleared his throat and tried to appear kingly while he tried to figure out what the hell he was doing. Clay started laughing at him clearly realizing he was lost. That damn laugh is what distracted me in the first place! Clay sauntered around the table pushing at the cuff sleeves above his elbows of his tattered practically open shirt. George fixed his eyes stubbornly on the map. 

 

“I don’t need your help.” It was true. George had just figured out where his last line was drawn and was making a decision between the south and west highway for the final one. Or at least he had it figured out before a large hand wrapped around his on the quill and a voice sounded in his ear.

 

“Sure you don’t.” George could hear the smirk but he didn’t care as Clay was literally pressed to his back. His breath hitched and body reacted of its own accord. That just made the hand tighten around his. A thought hit George. He’s doing this on purpose. It emboldened George to relax making minute movements against Clays chest, and relax his hand to let the helmeted knight take control. Clay breathed sharply at his ear but did not pull away.

 

“You’re on your last line...” George hummed in admission, eyes fluttering. “...I’m sure you know the best position but I’ll remind you…” The best position is you right where you are don’t you dare fucking move. “...we need cover on the south just in case…” George hummed along as the tall Knight seemed to deactivate his pride. “...and there it’s finished…” George hadn’t even realized his hand had been moved.

 

“Ahem. Great thanks.” Even with the cough George still cringed at how hopelessly out of breath he sounded. 

 

“Anytime.” Clay had leaned closer to his ear for that, and George had to force himself not to shiver.

 

“So… looks like we’re all done?” George didn’t want to be done. He didn’t want Clay to leave. But the knight didn't; he stayed on George's side of the table humming agreement.

 

“Yes we are. It seems like you could have done it fine by yourself.” Clay had a question in his tone, and George stupidly answered.

 

“Probably quicker without the distraction.”

“I’m a distraction?”

“You know you are.” George hadn’t really meant to let it slip, but Clay didn’t snap. He didn’t hate him, and the stunt he pulled earlier. Maybe I have a chance! If you weren’t getting married… George cleared his throat and chuckled to ease the tense silence he created before he made another one.

 

“Actually I had ulterior motives.” Clay didn’t speak but his body language told George to continue. He looked at ease, and happy, even if George couldn’t see his face.

 

“I wanted to talk to you, about what’s wrong?”

“I told you George I’ve just been busy and-”

“Don’t give me that. I know you’re avoiding me.” A bit of that anger had slipped out unexpectedly, and like it always happened George took one look at Clay and sighed dropping the anger to a softer sadness.

 

“I’m sorry I- I don’t really care why you’re avoiding me. I mean I do but-” He collected his rambles and chuckled. Clay joined him hesitantly with a soft scoff. George rolled his eyes and leveled them at Clays mask.

 

“I was asking specifically about today.” Clay seemed to gather himself for a moment, scratching at his neck.

 

“What do you mean?”

“For starters I’ve never seen you late to a match, and you just seemed… off. What’s on your mind.” Clay paused before laughing out loud. George looked at him bewildered only causing Clay to laugh louder.

 

“I’m sorry. I just forget how well you know me sometimes.”

“You clearly take me for granted.”

“No I don't.” There was a weight behind his words George couldn’t begin to unpack because the man continued talking leaning forward against the table facing the wall.

 

“I had a really strange dream? Nightmare? I don’t know.” George hopped up to sit on the table, legs dangling, so he could look the man in his metal face.

 

“What was it about?”

“A girl.”

“Oooo a girl?”

“Gross! Not like that! She was like 16, and looked like my mom”

“Oooo she looked like your mom??”

“Ugh! You’re impossible!” George laughed before quickly stifling it and eating his smile.

 

“I’m sorry, please I really do want to know.”

“Sure.” But Clay continued anyway. “Basically She was lost and scared, and she could see me but I couldn't move or help her. I couldn’t shake the feeling I was supposed to help her or just do something. On top of that we were back in-” Clay stopped stone cold cutting himself off. He seemed so stressed like the crazed image George had seen enter the arena this morning. George had to physically restrain himself from placing a comforting hand on his shoulder.

 

“You were where?”

“Nowhere. It doesn’t- that’s all I remember.” George knew that wasn’t true. He knew Clay was a lucid dreamer and remembered every inch of what went on in his mind when he was asleep. He also knew he wasn’t going to push it now, when they were just talking again.

 

“Have you told anyone about it?”

“No just you.” Boy did George's heart soar. He tried to keep down a smile.

 

“Okay. I’m here if you ever want to talk about it again, or you have another, or for anything really.”

“Thank you George.”

“Just one condition…”

“Haha of course. What is it?” Clay turned to him comfortably and casually. This is it.

 

“Please stop ignoring me? I just really need you right now with the marriage and all.” George turned away. He couldn’t face Clay. At least, not until a soft voice brought his head back up.

 

“George… Of course. Anything you need. Always.”

“Promise?”

“I Promise. I will never take you for granted!” Clay ended with a joke easing the tension George snorted and joined in as they gathered their stuff to leave the room. George had to admit he felt ten times lighter on his feet with Clay beside them.

 

“You may not, but this kingdom certainly does look at all this work!”

“Haha you are pretty incredible.”

“I know.” He ignored the way the butterflies flared.

 

~~~

 

“And for the flowers?”

“Ughhhh Bad! I thought you said we were done!?”

“I know my king just one more!”

“I like the pink and blue. I feel like those are our colors right?” Thankfully Niki chimed in, saving George from yet another decision. He nodded his head eagerly wanting to get out of there. Through the finalizing of the wedding George had learned two things. One: Niki was an angel sent from heaven with the greatest patience George had ever seen, and two: Clay was true to his word. George joked he was annoyingly committed, but secretly he was thrilled. Clay had been at his side through every meeting since their talk, and it really made the whole wedding process easier. Today however, he had some captain matter to attend to so George was bored out of his mind. Niki was his only saving grace, and Calliope for a bit with her boisterous attitude. Wilbur had also stopped by, but not for long and his jaw seemed clenched the whole time.

 

“Yes Niki Absolutely!”

“You’re just going to agree with anything I say so you can leave. Aren’t you?” Niki’s voice wasn’t accusatory, and George just smiled back at her. They both chuckled as they got up before Bad cleared his throat.

 

“Actually, I think you two should stay here and get to know each other better.” George furrowed his brow, but Bad seemed serious.

 

“I was supposed to meet up with Reyna and Will.”

“And I was going to go to town.”

“Well now you’re staying here, on a date. You’re going to be a married couple soon. Start acting like it.” Bad picked up his clipboard and left without another word. His words were stern but his face told George the advisor didn’t like any of this either. Niki didn’t seem to pick up on it, as she scoffed after him.

 

“Well that’s just ridiculous.” 

“Yes… ”

“George I’m sorry I didn’t mean it that way I just-”

“I know Niki.”

“I don’t like being told what to feel.”

“Me neither.” Niki looked a little apologetic for her anger, but George knew her beliefs were strong. At first he thought about wooing her, but he quickly realized he didn’t have to heart and she may even have her eyes on someone else. I suppose we both do.

 

“This alliance… Is it about feelings for you?” Niki’s voice was soft and caring, but George knew the question made her nervous. George thought about it. Of course Niki was gorgeous. He had heard plenty of whispers about how lucky he was but… Clay. Yeah George had always preferred men. He wouldn’t mind spending the rest of his life with Niki, but just as a friend. He looked her in the eyes, and felt no butterflies not in the way he did when he simply felt Clays presence. 

 

“No it’s not. Do you have feelings for me?” George was fairly positive she didn’t. Based on the way she didn’t even say the word marriage, and the relief in her eyes.

 

“No I do not.”

“Well this fucking sucks then.” Niki laughed and George chuckled sort of bitterly, but the tension was eased. Niki looked at him and giggled once more.

 

“What?”

“I was just thinking.”

“About? If I’m going to be your husband you should feel like you can tell me what’s on your mind.” Niki grimaced slightly at the word husband, and George had to admit he didn’t like the taste either.

 

“Fine. I was just thinking how it’s sort of funny that we’re both in love with someone else.” Well that was not what George thought she was going to say. He had to tread carefully.

 

“What do you mean?”

“Please George I won’t judge. I just confessed myself!” Niki's laugh sounded a little freer after that. Maybe it would feel good to tell someone… George sighed.

 

“Yes I’m in- in love with Clay. It’s just…” he looked around subconsciously and leaned in lowering his voice. “Strange to be open about it.” Niki scoffed and reached out to clasp Georges hand. There was a fierce comfort in her eyes.

 

“That’s one of the things I hate about it here George. Nothing is wrong with that.”

“I know. I promise, but that’s just what it's like here.”

“God that’s awful! I just wish I could take you to Agate with me there. It is perfectly normal! I’ve even been with a few women myself.” Niki lowered her voice at the last part, and George smiled widely not being able to keep the surprise off of his features.

 

“You have!?”

“Yes I’m ‘impure’ as you say. I was talking about it the other day with Will-” Her voice cut off and her face blushed as she averted eye contact. George knew all about that.

 

“Will huh?” George raised an eyebrow and Niki rolled her eyes.

“Yes. Will.” She drew the words out playfully. This felt good. Talking with Niki always made you feel safe and happy.

 

“Tell me about you two? He’s a great advisor and all but why?”

“Why Clay?”

“I mean I-” George was aware he was blushing madly. It always seemed to happen with anything to do with Clay. Lucky for him Niki continued to make her point.

 

“Exactly. I don’t think we get to choose who we fall for, or ever really understand why it happens. If we could choose I would’ve fallen for you.”

“Would have made this whole thing a lot easier.”

“Yes, and also I really like Wills hands.” The two laughed together while blushing over their respective hand related thoughts.

 

“Clay has nice hands as well.”

“Hmm. I’m sure he does. I’m also sure that he would say the same about you” Georges eyes widened. “Reyna told me some things. I’m sure he’s in love with you too George.” Nikki's voice was so soft and gentle it almost broke George. He had barely entertained that thought pushing it away for so many years, but the way Clay behaved around him especially since the other day. Maybe she could be right.

 

“For the record I’ve never seen Wilbur look at anyone the way he looks at you. I think he loves you too.”

“I know. He’s told me as much.” Niki had a small smile on her face as she said it. It warmed George's heart knowing his friend found someone like Niki. George's heart was brought back to reality in tandem with Nikis as her face fell.

 

“Of course he also told me we couldn’t continue with the marriage closing in. Which is why he..”

“Looked like someone killed his cat today?”

“Yeah. He’s jealous, which is frankly ridiculous because he’s seen you interacting with Clay.”

“I think he’s more jealous that I’m allowed to stand at the altar with you.”

“That’s probably it.” Niki’s voice had a sort of numb finality that George felt deep in his bones. He got very serious as he asked his next question knowing how much weight it held.

 

“Niki?”

“Yes?”

“Do you want to get married?” She looked at George with wide eyes almost hopeful. “We can call it off right now.”

“We can’t George. I mean this in the best way if I had any other option I wouldn't marry you.”

“I can agree to an alliance sign any treaty you want. I won’t make either of us go through with this.”

“I appreciate the thought, but Teakwood has always been fickle with it’s treaties.”

“I’ll give my word-”

“I know you will, but that holds no weight with my parents. They don’t know you, I do. They need the assurance that me on the throne will bring them.” Niki had a set look of determination in her eyes despite her gorgeous pale yellow dress and adorable round features. George nodded solemnly. They would be strong through this together. 

 

“You’ll make a great queen.”

“Thank you George.”

“So we’ll do this?”

“For our kingdoms, for all the realms.” The King nodded at his soon to be queen before reaching into his pocket and grabbing something. He drew out a small gold ring with a white milky crystal in the center. Rather uncut it looked like Agate rock.

 

“In that case this is for you.”

“George I-” George waved her off holding out the ring.

 

“We need to do the bare minimum to sell this whole charade just for three more days.” Niki still looked wary. “...also, I went and found this one the one I was supposed to give you was much more extravagant from one of our castle priests. But this is the one Wilbur had picked out before you got here.” Niki smiled at it and George gently dropped it into her hand. Niki placed it on her finger, and the promise was made. The two made eye contact and George felt the bitter-sweetness of it all.

 

“I think we deserve something before we go through with this.” 

“Like what?”

“I have a summer palace down south. I think you and the amazons should go for two days. A bachelorette trip, and I’ll have to send an advisor with you of course.” Niki sucked in a breath realizing the connotation, but smiled widely her voice betraying hope and disbelief.

 

“George I- are you sure?”

“Absolutely. You deserve a goodbye.”

“In that case. I want you to take a trip into the city. A day or two with just you and a certain Knight.”

“Deal.”

 

Drista Update:

 

Drista’s dreams had been guiding her. Passed the rocky oceans, and into the mouth of a swampy river. She had followed it into hot humid temperatures. She had stripped off most of her outer layers, and eventually her tunic putting all her wounds on display for the jungle water. She knew she wouldn’t be able to sail for much longer, but at this point Drista wasn’t sure she could walk. C’mon just a little further! I’ve been saying that for days… She ran headlong into a jutting tree root and her boat tipped. Drista heaved as she swam and pushed herself to the river's shore. It was hard to see under the massive tree canopy, and she hoped there were no snakes. Her head always hurt these days, but she must’ve opened back up the wound falling out of the boat because she saw red drips on her vision. Speaking of her vision it was going dark, she could barely make out a slender figure with bright red hair on the shore a few feet away.

 

“H-help me…” Evidently Drista was helped, but she couldn’t remember. She blacked out entirely until she felt arms around her and a voice telling her it would be alright. She vaguely felt her back hit something soft like a bed. Am I laying down. She heard two voices, and opened her eyes to make sure she wasn’t about to be killed. Hovering above her was the man from her dream... karl?.. . He looked frantic talking to someone else and moving around supplies before he saw her eyes were open, then his voice softened and he spoke.

 

“I’m sorry… this is gonna hurt.” he stuck something in her arm, and Drista was gone again.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12: Clay POV

 

Clay stood at the main entrance to the castle overseeing the preparations for the Princesses Bachelorette trip. Wilbur had volunteered to accompany them, as the head advisor and a good fighter. He could be overheard talking to his brother and Tubbo.

 

“You have to go now!?”

“Yes Tommy, this is important.”

“Can’t we come Wilbur?”

“No Tubbo, this is a girls trip.”

“Then why are you going Mr. all knowing brother!?”

“Are you a girl Wilbur?”

“No I’m-”

“OF COURSE HE IS TUBBO! ONE OF THE GIRLS!” Reyna called out from behind the carriage drawing laughs from everyone.

 

“One of the girls? Can I be one of the girls!?” The amazons chuckled at the cheerful boy and Myriam ruffled his hair as she passed, Niki stopped beside Wilbur.

 

“Of course you can Tubbo, and you as well Tommy.”

“Thank you Niki. At least someone appreciates me!” He directed it to his brother crossing his arms. Wilburs eyes narrowed over Tommy before Niki placed her hand gently tugging at his arm. He turned to her and his expression softened. They continued to say their goodbyes as others did the same.

 

“Have extra fun kicking those squires asses while I’m gone alright!”

“Come back soon! It’s way more fun kicking your ass!”

“Oh Yeah!? Good one Nick!” Calliope and Nick had a short sibling like tousle before she hopped in the carriage first, and Myriam followed by mumbling something about decorum. Nick returned to the left of Clay. To Clays right stood George looking very kingly in a dark brown buttoned tunic, black velvet coat with gold trim, and black pants, wait why is he wearing riding boots? Maybe he had gone for a morning trot, Clay would ask later. He looked at George's profile for a moment. Clay was beyond happy they were talking again, spending every day together like old times. He knew it eased some tension from Nick as well, who recently rested his hands behind his head tossing jokes at the Amazons through the carriage window. Niki finally pried Wilbur from the young giants. Clay had promised Wilbur he would look after them, and gave the tall giant a nod of affirmation as he entered the carriage of women. Clay turned his gaze to George again as he simply waved at Niki.

 

“You don’t want to say goodbye?”

“We already did. I’m happy next to you.” Clay’s smile would have lit up the courtyard if it wasn’t under his mask. George had been saying more things like that since the incident with the mapping, and Clay certainly was not complaining. I actually really like this side of George. I also like when he’s flustered… I guess I like every side of George. 

 

Reyna was the last to board the carriage after prepping the horses, she waved back at the King and his Knights, the two giants, and everyone else in the courtyard.

 

“Don’t have too much fun without us!” With that the chattering carriage was off. The servants began to disperse, and Nick sighed.

 

“Well I’m gonna take the kids back to training or something. You guys coming?” He gestured as he made his way towards the two young giants. Clay was going to respond, but George beat him to it.

 

“Actually!” George paused to whistle as a servant brought over two horses. His and mine? That answered why he was wearing his riding boots. “I was thinking of heading out into town. Seeing my kingdom for a bit you know! Clay accompany me?” George was beaming directly at him and Clay could never refuse that smile.

 

“What I- I mean sure.” He adjusted his armor as he took the reins to his horse. George smiled impossibly wider, and it made Clay's stomach bubbly. Nick raised one eyebrow at them, but just shrugged.

 

“Alright I’ll babysit for the day. Have fun you two!” He sent a shark-like smirk at Clay, that did not ease his nerves, before grabbing the two taller boys by their collars and hauling them back inside.

 

“We Will!” George called. “You ready?” Clay smirked under his helmet.

 

“Always.”

 

~~~

 

George’s shorter brown mare trotted next to Clays Black stallion down to cobblestones paths of the city. The king had taken off his crown to be less noticeable, but Clay still kept an eye out for any possible threats. Well… as much as he could with George smiling in the sun. They were traveling in a comfortable silence, George made the few odd jokes while Clay found his thoughts circling back to one mantra… he’s so pretty. 

 

“That house looks like Nick.”

“George What-” Clay was wheezing at the out of nowhere remark. George turned his shiny eyes to him, and Clay got lost laughter and eye contact making his head feel fuzzy.

 

“I don’t know I can’t describe it. It just does!” Georges adorable defensiveness caused Clay to smile and chime in teasing him.

 

“And that one looks like you…” He leaned a little on his horse to point at the shortest town house on the block. George face dropped to an unamused expression as he stared Clay down.

 

“Get-Get it? It’s cause-” Clay couldn’t stop laughing long enough to speak.

 

“Yes Clay I got it. It’s not funny.” George sighed and rolled his eyes, but he was fighting a smile.

 

“Cause- Cause you’re short!”

“Clay Stop!” George was laughing along now as Clay continued dying. He felt George shoved him and his arms pinwheeled trying to stay upright as his horse bucked.

 

“George!” George simply huffed turning his nose up and smirking trotting ahead.

 

“That’s what you get! I may be short but at least I can stay on my horse.” Okay we’re playing this game? Clay kicked his stallion lightly to catch up. He was ready to go into full teasing mode, but as he opened his mouth they entered the crowded part of the city and were interrupted.

 

“Is that?”

“King George!”

“Oh my goodness it’s the King!”

“My King would you like a free sample!?”

“I’ve been meaning to ask your highness-”

“King George!”

“The King is here!”

 

George paled and groaned, as people began to gather and the few odd castle guards stood up straighter. Clay felt a sense of protectiveness as George stiffened putting on a kingly smile. Clay heard a particular shout that made his whole body ache in annoyance.

 

“My King a word?” There were a few knights from the court coming out of a lunchin, including the x-captain of the guard who stared at Clay like he was a personal offense. Just out of luck. George’s face was void of that blush Clay loved so much, and it felt like a crime. He turned to look at him with sad grimacing eyes. Clay felt a sense of anger at their day being ruined before he got an idea and the anger was replaced with mischievousness. He lowered his eyes whispering to George.

 

“Wanna get out of here my King?” George’s brows furrowed in confusion as he took in Clays tone warily.

 

“What did you have in mind?” Clay's face lit up in a smirk under his mask as the group of men got closer and eyes continued watching them. He didn’t care. He only cared about George.

 

“Run.” Georges eyes widened as Clay hit his brown mare on its hind quarters. The mare bucked and George held on for dear life as his horse took off after Clays black stallion which was tearing past shocked court knights and commoners. Clay laughed despite himself as he turned to look at George flustered getting his balance on his horse, and following right behind Clay. 

 

“C’mon George!” He was sure everyone could here the pure joy in his voice including the king. Clay pulled the reins of his stallion jumping a small produce stand, and briefly apologizing and tossing a coin purse to the fruit seller who just smiled at the King and Captain of the guard taking the money. George kept pace as they tore through the alley and turned onto another street. They raced together wind in their faces, and Clay appreciated how free George looked. I did that. He just wished he could free George from all the other responsibilities in life.

 

“That was insane!” George was still giddy from the excitement as they turned into a quiet street at the outer reaches of the market sector. His jovial expression warmed Clays heart.

 

“Yeah it was! Bad is gonna be so mad when we get back”

“I dont care! haha! Clay look at me. I don’t even care!” Clay blushed despite himself at the intense adrenaline in Georges gaze. He thanked his helmet for keeping his lips trapped so they couldn’t reach out for Georges… perfect, parted, huffing, pink lips. Clay cleared his throat chuckling gently at George.

 

“Yes but you’re still going to get recognized fairly easily.”

“You’re probably right...Maybe I should get a disguise?” George looked so excited about his idea Clay laughed again. He had been doing that a lot today. 

 

“I don't know about a disguise but…” Clay pulled his dark green cape off his shoulders holding it out. “This may work!” George reached out tentatively with his wide doe eyes staring into Clays masked face.

 

“Are- are you sure?” George blushed red as Clay reached out over his horse and fastened the large cape over the smaller king so it functioned to cover his head and most of his form down past his knees. The knight's cape looked so much better on him, it hadn’t even matched Clays terracotta tunic and leather chest plate today. It made the kings brown eyes and shirt look like a forest draped in leaves. George was all red cheeks and perfect plump smile practically drowning in Clay's signature cape; he had never been more sure of anything in his life.

 

“Of course it looks good on you.” George smiled intensely looking at his hands, and his voice got smaller.

 

“Thanks Clay.”

“You’re welcome!” Clay melted at George's reactions. Does he even realize what he’s doing to me? He definitely did not, as George collected himself and spoke in a joking tone pointing to Clays helmet and gently taped it. The vibration from the tap ran straight down Clays spine at embarrassing speed.

 

“You’re not exactly unrecognizable.” Clay caught the kings hand pulling it down away from his helmet.

 

“That’s what happens when you make a name for yourself my king.”

“Pff, always so cocky.” George paused looking at his hand still caught in Clays. Then he returned his eyes to the metal mask and Clays breath stopped.

 

“You know… you could always take it off.” George looked cautiously hopeful, and Clay wanted to. God how he wanted to really look George in the eyes, and maybe do some other things that require the mask off. But, presently they were here to have a good day together, and taking off the mask would turn this into a whole other experience; so Clay made up a reason as he squeezed Georges hand gently, hoping it would reassure him.

 

“Yes, but people may still recognize you and put two and two together.”

“Would that really be so bad?” God George! drop it.

“Yes It would George… Because I’m actually an ogre under here.”

“Ugh, Ogres aren’t real you idiot.” George scoffed rolling his eyes playfully, and they were back to joking. Clay still saw the curiosity in the king's eyes, so he quickly sped the conversation along dropping his hand and kicking his horse back into a trot.

 

“C’mon let's find somewhere to park these then you can buy me lunch!”

“I think you’re buying me lunch actually.”

 

~~~

 

Clay did buy George lunch at a local tavern. The brunette kept his hood up, or rather Clays hood, as they exited through a small crowd of people. Some stopped to stare at Clay's mask, but other than that they got away with eating in the crowded tavern. Clay had gotten to see George no table manners scarfing down his turkey leg and soup. Now the King was running energetically pulling on Clay's arm causing a soft smile to grace the knights face.

 

“Clay over there!” Clay looked. George was pointing at a shaved ice stand, a recent syrupy dessert that had graced the land, learned from the giants before trade was cut off. Clay knew his king had a sweet tooth so he prompted the man.

 

“We should get one.”

“Yeah!?”

“Yeah.” Clay chuckled softly at Georges excited face and grip on Clays arm. The King bounded over to the stand beginning to purchase the Ice while Clay watched. He had run so fast his hood fell off. The vender seemed to realize who he was and bowed. Clay could see George laugh and wave him off shaking the wide eyed mans hand before pulling his hood back into place. 

 

That’s a real king. George had always been kind, even when he went through annoying fazes in their teenage years, though Clay probably would’ve called those cute. He had this unbreakable air of grace and compassion that Clay knew first hand was unfortunately not a requirement for royalty. He and Niki are a perfect match. The thought saddened him, as much as it gave him hope. The pair on the throne would change Teakwood for the better, maybe make it a place welcoming to all without all these hierarchies and court systems. The ones that kept me from loving George. No the bias had kept Clay from revealing his love for George. Nothing could’ve stopped the way Clay looked at his best friend as he made his way back over with two icy treats.

 

“You know I can’t really eat with this on?”

“I know. They’re both for me!” Clay let out an exaggerated gasp as George rolled his eyes giving the same joking energy.

 

“Yes! The King is selfish!”

“So Selfish.” Clay agreed, shaking his head. Another moment however, and he thought he may be the selfish one. Clay watched as George's head tipped back laughing, and then righted itself as he pulled his hood off and looked at Clay. Then George did the worst thing he could have possibly done to Clay; while staring up at the knight Georges tongue darted out to give kitten licks at the top of the shaved ice. His eyes widened in happiness and broke from Clays, but Clay's hidden green orbs stayed fixed to George's lovely mouth as his strong made one longer sweep, and he let out a…

 

“Mhmmm ung! So good!” That was a fucking moan. George always seemed to make questionable noises, which did not help Clay at all with his fantasies. He was stifling a growl himself at the way George's mouth moved eagerly against the sweet treat.

 

“Mhm! Clay!” Now George had no right to practically moan Clay's name like that, getting the knight's voice stuck in his throat. “Are you sure you don’t want any?” Clay wrenched his voice from where it had rotted, turning dark, in his throat. He usually would say no, but right now his sexual tension needed some sort of teasing release.

 

“On second thought… yeah.” George turned surprised as Clay reached curling his fingers around the Kings slim wrist on the hand holding his sweet ice. George's face lit up a beautiful  bright red as he almost dropped the content in his other hands. The King stared wide eyed as Clay drew his hand untoward his helmet.

 

“I’d like a taste, George.” Clay spoke low and gravelly, and watched avidly as George sucked in a sharp breath lips falling apart ever so slightly. Here we go. Clay tipped his head slightly so George couldn’t see anything, but he could guide the king's slender hand up under his helmet. Clay maintained eye-contact even though George couldn’t see, and hoped he felt it, as his own tongue licked at the sweetness that had already been ravaged by George. Then he let Georges wrist go gently and watched the flustered King try to put himself back together. Clay wasn’t that much better, but one of them had to speak.

 

“Hmm, it is good. I can see why you were moaning.” George squawked and faltered, shaking his head as if to clear it. His face and neck became impossibly redder, as his mouth opened and closed. If that isn’t a picture… George's lips open and face red for me. Clay had to get his mind out of the gutter. He couldn’t help it, he liked the effect he had on George, and the effect George had on him. He smiled now as Georges blush was from embarrassment and half from indignation at Clays suggestion of a moan.

 

“What!? I was not moaning!”

“Oh c’mon! That was a total groan!”

“Groaning is not moaning Clay.”

“Whatever you say.” Clay shrugged and turned his head walking away, as George chased after him. The only word Clay had for it was cute, the way the king stomped after him.

 

“I say it’s not the same.”

“Ooo… is that a royal decree?”

“It most certainly is! I did not moan!” Bet I could make you. Clay did not voice his thoughts however he only shrugged, and wrapped his arm around Georges shoulders. As a friendly gesture of course, not because he wanted to touch him or loved the way his King blushed.

 

“What do you want to do next My King?”

“Actually I had an idea…”

“What is it?”

“I want you to take me home.” Clay’s mind stopped at that sentence, what was George playing at?

 

“Okay that sounded weird, haha… I meant, can you take me to where you and Nick grew up?” Oh. That was even less what Clay was expecting.

 

“I mean sure it’s a ways away but why?” Clay was genuinely confused, George pulled on his hood and Clays cape self-consciously as he looked at the remaining sweet ice, having finished the other.

 

“I realized I don’t know much about you at all…” There was a reason for that. Clay was hesitant to show George too much of his past, he was already one of the only people who knew anything about his sister. That itself was exceptionally dangerous.

 

“I just wanted to see where you grew up?” George looked up at Clay now uncertainty in his brown eyes. In the fading light of later afternoon Clay was helpless against Georges chesnut brown eyes and small smile.

 

“Okay.”

“Really!?” Clay laughed, always happy to make Georges face light up.

 

“I mean why not? It’s a journey though so let’s grab the horses.”

 

~~~

 

Clay’s nerves only grew as they began walking down more familiar cobble streets. Why did I agree to this again?

 

“Are you okay? You know we can turn around if you want?” George’s smile was gentle as he peered up at Clay. Oh right that’s why.

 

“No! no I’m fine.”

“You sure… I don’t want t-”

“George. It’s fine I promise. This will be fun.” Clay would lie through his teeth over and over if he got to see George smile like that in the sunset. He was glad for his mask, so he didn’t return a grimace. Clay didn’t really know why he was nervous, well he did. He trusted George, in fact he had wanted to tell him everything for some time. The only thing stopping him was the fact George was king. And the fact he may not like me… Clay held in a sigh. He supposed he’d have to face the facts eventually. He knew Georges views on “deviance”, he would be accepting of the fact Clay liked guys and of Clays heritage and story. The issue was in wondering, if he would be attracted to any of it. Clay knew he was attractive. He’d had many people tell him before, but with George there was a certain level of insecurity and worry.

 

“Sometimes I forget how beautiful Teakwood is…” George spoke softly, and the last remnants of sun over the horizon cast his cheeks and lips in a pink light and turned his eyes into molten chocolate.

 

“Yes it is.” Clay was not looking at anything else around George. He couldn’t give a shit about Teakwood in that moment.

 

“Our Kingdom really is magnificent.” You’re magnificent George.

“Your Kingdom.” George whirled on Clay at that, with a hardness to his tone Clay had rarely seen him possess outside of kingly duties. This time Clay couldn’t help but feel it laced with passion as George grabbed his hand across the gap in their horses.

 

“No. After all that you’ve done for Teakwood you are as much a part of this Kingdom as anyone else.” Clay felt his cheeks heat, as he smiled at george and nodded in agreement. The fierce brunette turned his eyes back forward taking in Clays home town. He is going to make a great change.

 

Clay steered them towards a small open stable to ditch their horses. He wanted to get away from the current tensions in the air. Or maybe he wanted to walk side by side with George as he gave him the tour Clay couldn’t tell. George looked slightly confused as Clay tied off their horses and held his hand up to George to help him off his mare.

 

“C’mon I wanna show you around.” His King beamed down at him grabbing his leather glove and swinging off the horse. 

 

They walked around. Clay pointed out the spots of his childhood: Nicks house, the stable where he used to ride, a local healer who made the best soup, and the grumpy neighbor they used to pull pranks on. George laughed at his jokes eyes shining at the new information.

 

By the time they had gotten to the source of Clays dread, his old home, the sun was a distant memory and George's eyes reflected the night sky above.

 

“And this… was my house.” George’s face looked free of judgement as he took in the modest town house whose windows were now dark. Clay lived at the edge of the woods that wound their way back up around the city and behind the castle, at least he did before his parents died. Despite George's kind eyes Clay still felt a shiver rack his spine at possibly exposing his identity like this. It was also cold out, but Clay would be damned if he took the large green cape off of George.

 

“It’s really nice.”

“Yeah.”

“Do you- have you-? Sorry… I’m nervous.” George did look nervous, and it made Clay feel better that this was new to both of them. If anything it made him want to be calm; if nothing else, just to ease his kings fiddling hands.

 

“It’s okay you can ask me anything.” Clay realized he meant it. There was nothing George could ask Clay wouldn’t give him.

 

“Okay uhmm.. Haha! Have you been back here?”

“Once with Nick, but not since we joined the guard.”

“Is it difficult? Being here?”

“It brings back memories of my family, but I have those anyway.”

“Then is it me?” Clay snapped his head to George. How could he ever think that. He turned to face the King, and put as much conviction in his words as he could.

 

“No George. If anything you make it easier.” George nodded seriously, but his shining smile broke through his lips and he turned away as if he couldn’t stand to keep looking at the Knight. The thought gave Clay butterflies.

 

“You don’t talk about your parents often.” There’s a reason for that.

“There’s not much to tell.” Clay shrugged. “They died in the Vale war when I was young.” Clay had long since gotten through his parents passing. He was grateful for Nick’s family, and the memories he had; if he ever found his sister he would tell her all of them. Just because he had come to terms with it didn’t mean he had to tell George the circumstances of their death. How his father had died in battle, but his mother was killed by a fearful human who hated race mixing. Clay felt his fist curl at the memories, but George's voice brought him back.

 

“Is that why you joined the guard so young?” Something about the silent night air, and Georges cautious made Clay tell the truth.

 

“I joined the guard because I kept seeing hate where I wanted to love this Kingdom. I wanted to make a difference, and Nick was the same way.” The intensity of his response seemed to take George's breath away, and then the brunette laughed crisp and clear into the night air. He shook his head and matched his eyes with Clays metal mask once more.

 

“See how have I never known any of that!?”

“Like you said I don’t talk about it a lot. I’m actually surprised you didn’t ask more… maybe about my sister.” George shrugged. Clay knew they both remembered that weekend where George helped him search without asking for any explanation. It was some of the first genuine kindness the hybrid had felt from a human since Nick's family. Of course George didn’t know about his heritage status, and not all humans were bigoted, but it didn’t change the effect that had on Clay. It solidified his faith in George. Not the throne, but George.

 

“I figured you’d tell me when it made sense. I don’t really need to know or see your face. I trust you Clay.” Clay was warmed from his heart to his toes at Georges words, and he had to fight the urge to press his lips against Georges perfect smile. The King chuckled again turning away.

 

“Sorry that was a bit intense…” No George, please don’t ever stop. “... it’s only right to return the favor you can go ahead. Ask me anything you want!” It was out of his mouth before Clay could stop it.

 

“Do you love her?” He hadn’t even said Niki’s name, his breathless words barely making it past his lips and out of the smiley face on his mask. George still somehow understood, and his face fell slightly. Clay cursed himself, waiting to permanently paste that smile back on Georges face.

 

“No I-I don’t. I tried but i don’t think I can…” George sighed. Clay watched his nervous fingers mess with the edge of Clays coat. Then so softly Clay almost missed it…

 

“I don’t think I can really love any woman. ” Clays heart stopped. Did he mess something? Or did the king of Teakwood just come out to him as a deviant? He realized he had remained silent and George was looking increasingly ashamed and worried. Clay spoke rushed out, broken, and breathless, his brain not having time to censor his tone.

 

“I’m not sure I could either.” I’m not sure I can love anyone but you George. George’s hands dropped and his head snapped back to Clay, jaw completely slack. Clays brain finally began processing, suddenly everything felt very raw and exposed. Are we doing what I think we’re doing. 

 

“You- you- you couldn’t?” George sounded just as broken as he was, and any previous doubts left Clays brain. He feels the same! His heart sang. His King was staring up at him with those big doe eyes and perfect lips and… and Clays heart dropped once again. He had to remind himself, he’s not your King… Clays jaw set.

 

“You’re getting married.” Clay watched as the sentence brought George crashing down to earth. He couldn’t help but think he watched some of the stars fade from his eyes. It was more than unbearable, but it was necessary.

 

“I am.”

“Even though you don’t love her.”

“Even though I don’t love her.” They stared at each other, and Clay was out of ways to break the tension. This time George did it for them, he took a step back from Clay. the knight felt himself breath a little easier.

 

“You know why I sent Niki on that bachelorette trip?”

“Why?” Clay couldn’t muster any stronger words

 

“Because both of us needed… a goodbye.” Clay thinks he knew what the King was getting at. “I’m sure you’ve noticed her and Wilbur?” Clay nodded, though he had been mostly focused on George he had seen the advisors face at the sparing. They both chuckled and the King continued.

 

“So, thank you for spending the day with me Clay.” Clay could tell the sentence broke Georges heart as much as it broke his to hear it.

 

“Of course.” He couldn’t keep the softness out of his voice. He really tried.

“I also wanted to ask you, if you’d be my best man?” Georges jaw was set as he looked at Clay. 

 

“George-”

“I want you at the alter with me.” Clays chest ached at that sentence. But i’d be on the wrong side. After tonight, Clay knew for a fact he couldn’t be in that room or he’d do something very very stupid.

 

“I’m sorry George. I can’t. You should probably ask Nick.” George nodded solemnly averting his eyes. Clay wondered if he was holding back tears. He would never know because he watched George set his jaw and raise his chin. As the king unclasped Clays dark green cloak the knight watched the weight on a kingdom settle back on his shoulders.

 

“Here, it’s cold.” George handed his cloak back, and Clay accepted numbly as the King walked back towards their horses. Clay wanted to grab his wrist, pull him back, do anything! But he couldn’t, and it made him want to scream.

 

“We should head back now. Bad will kill me if I’m not back by morning.” Clay nodded, not trusting his words as he prepped the horses. He helped to king onto his horse, and if their hands lingered and squeezed it was no ones business but theres.

 

And after they returned to the castle, if George turned suddenly wrapping his arms around Clays waist and folding himself into his body... And if Clay returned wrapping his arms tightly around georges shoulders never wanting to let go… And if Clay felt wet tears through his tunics as George whispered goodbye, and Clay returned it softly before they returned to their respective rooms in the dark of night… If that happened then…

 

It was no one's business but theirs.

 

~~~

 

The wedding day came without warning, slapping Clay in the face. The ceremony was in progress somewhere in the castle with george looking ridiculously good in his royal blue attire. Clay stood here avoiding it all, dressed in his normal dark green tunic. He couldn’t bare to put on the cape today. He wore his helmet with simple chain mail armor, so he’d have an excuse for not looking royal enough to attend. Though he doubted anyone would question him with the way he had murderously barked for the other two guards previously on patrol here to leave, and let him take over.

 

Clay was deep in his own thoughts. Thoughts that unsurprisingly revolved around the King, and everything that could’ve been, everything that almost was. George had talked about saying goodbye, and he did, but Clay wondered if he meant something more. Was George asking Clay to forget about everything and just… He wasn't sure what he would’ve done with George. That was a lie. If they existed in another life, and george didn’t have the weight of an entire Realm on his heart, Clay knows exactly what he would’ve done. He would’ve kissed those perfect lips he can’t stop looking at, and made they melt under him. He would’ve dragged George to the closest tavern, into the closest bed, and spent the night showing him everything he meant to Clay. He wanted to touch George. He shivered at the thought. Everytime he was around the King Clay wanted to touch him everywhere, but yesterday the thought that George wanted that two had almost broken his resolve.

 

It would’ve if it wasn’t for the marriage. Of all the ways Clay wanted to make George fall apart, all the sinful things he wanted to do, he also wanted to make George smile as much as he wanted to make him scream. Clay wanted to take off his helmet, show George his face, have the king touch it gently, and confide in him about every thought he’d ever had. He wanted to tell George everything he loved about him. George wants that too. The thought wrecked Clay to pieces mentally. That he had spent all these years pining, almost, silently, when George had always been his. He could’ve been mine. My king..

 

“FUCK!” Clay swore loudly hitting the stupid stone railing on this small stone balcony high above the castle, and the stupid fetivities. He chipped a piece of it. Clay was so caught up in his anger he hadn’t heard a certain giant's footsteps approaching.

 

“I hope you’re not thinking of jumping.” Wilburs voice showed he was trying to joke, but it betrayed a sadness Clay sympathized with currently. He let out a bitter snort in response.

 

“No. You?”

“Not trying to be any closer to that ballroom than I have to.” Clay nodded in agreement as Wilbur joined him leaning against the railing a few feet away. Both their eyes were fixed to the horizon, and Clay realized a sense of kinship with the giant. Beyond their shared heritage they were in almost the exact same situation. Clay hadn’t paid a lot of attention to anything besides George yesterday, but he faintly remembered the king mentioning a trist between Wilbur and Niki as he broke Clay's heart. Wilbur began the conversation.

 

“I’m surprised you’re not down there being the captain of the guard.” Clay suddenly hated his title, but at the same time he didn't. Because George had given it to him, and Clay couldn’t hate anything that had to do with George, so he sighed and matched Wilburs joking tone.

 

“I could say the same to you, head advisor.” They both chuckled looking for some comfort, but it was empty and they found none. 

 

“I couldn’t stay down there…” Wilbur had dropped the facade, and Clay didn’t think he’d ever had one up. His emotions were plain as day right now.

 

“-Without doing something stupid?” Clay finished for Wilbur and he nodded. The two looked out at the sky again, talking to each other as a way to escape their thoughts and maybe confide in someone.

 

“I’m sure George told you about Niki and I. I know that you two…”

“Nothing happened.” Clay corrected him, and Wilbur seemed surprised.

 

“It didn’t?”

“No. I don’t think I could’ve… started something, just to let him go.”

“I wish I hadn't.” The giant rose looking straight up above him. Clay could almost see the memories flashing behind his eyes, as Wilbur stood a few inches above him. Clay confirmed anyway.

 

“You and Niki?”

“Yeah.” They got quiet again. Clay didn’t have more to say. The tall man was staring down at the faint lights from the castle celebrating. He dressed in a long fancy purple advisors robe that showed his broad shoulders, and his brown curls were messy against his head as if his fingers had been raking through them. He waited for Wilbur to digest his thoughts before the advisor spoke again.

 

“It was the best night of my life.”

“She’s lovely.”

“She’s more than lovely.” Clay knew what he meant. There wasn’t an accurate word to describe what he thought when he looked at George.

 

“That’s how I feel about-” Clay couldn’t finish wilbur did it for him.

 

“About George?” Clay nodded. Wilbur smiled softly as if telling him he wasn’t alone.

 

“I couldn’t watch her walk down that aisle, in a dress, and ring I picked out…”

“I haven’t even looked at George today. I can’t- he’s too beautiful.”

“I guess we’re just a sad heartbreak club right now, Huh?”

“Guess we are.” They looked at each other, and Clay got the urge to shake the giants hand or something. He was grateful for a friend in that moment. Wilbur evidently was thinking the same thing by the slightly happier gaze in his eyes. Clay felt hazy like he was floating outside his body watching all these emotions play out and calm down to a dull ache. He was rocked back to consciousness and out of the night sky by a boisterous but strangely tired voice approaching from behind.

 

“At least you get to see her brother!” The advisor and the Knight turned to find Wilburs younger brother Tommy approaching to worm his way into their conversation. He was wearing a white button tunic that he for sure took from his older brother considering how he was drowning in it. Over that a red and gold coat, that Clay had the sinking suspicion he may have stolen. Tommy’s voice was loud and joking but his lack luster laugh and somewhat dead eyes showed there may have been something else behind that.

 

“Come to join the heartbreak cub brother?”

“Of course!” Tommy gestured with his hands before running them through his curly blonde hair and looking down. Clay felt bad for the kid, and he thought he knew what this was about.

“Are you talking about your friend?”

“Yeah I-I think she might’ve been more than that…” Tommy looked flustered, and quiet, a look Clay hadn’t often seen on the teen. It reminded him of when he first realized his feelings for George. He smiled a little at the display under his helmet. Wilbur reached out and touched his brothers shoulder to comfort him.

 

“Well tell us about her. This is a safe place Tommy!”

“And you’ve already heard us pour our hearts out.” Clay added, slightly pointedly.

 

“Sorry about that Big C… you should know I don’t care at all about you at George! In fact, I think it’s great.” Clay almost laughed, instead he just nodded not wanting to let the kid off easy. Tommy breathed a sigh of relief and leaned forward against the railing mimicking his brother and the knight. As Tommy began to speak Clay was struck by the similarities between the brothers. The looked almost identical airing their pain into the night air, and as Clay would learn they both went for blondes.

 

“...There’s so much to like about her really. I really like her hair it’s like blonde and got these waves in it. You know what I’m talking about Wilbur?”

“Yes I do Tommy.” Wilbur was smiling clearly bemused by his little brother, as Tommy continued.

 

“Right, and her ears! I’ve always thought they were cool, don’t understand why she hates them. She’s half elf you see, and they’ve got these little points at the ends…” He directed the last bit to Clay who really started to tune in at the point. Half elf? Wait…

 

“And her eyes! Wilbur I haven’t told you, but they look even forever now that they’re all a different color. It happened before she was taken…” Wilbur’s eyes narrowed at the statement and Clay had to hold onto the railing for stability. WHAT!?

 

“... I mean Drista’s always been fierce, but with all the different colors swirling there. Arguing with her was rather difficult…” Clay felt like someone had poured ice water down the back of his neck. It all made sense, that dream, the small clues Tommy was dropping. The giants friend was Drista, the girl in Clays dream was Drista, His sister was taken by the Azurians, and she was awakened. The dream eye was awakened. Wilbur seemed to be coming to some type of conclusion, but Clay beat him to it grabbing both of Tommys shoulders roughly and turning him.

 

“And… WHOA! Big C what’s up?-”

“Tommy what did you say her name was?”

“Drista… but wha-” Clay had no time. His mind was reeling, every protective instinct kicking in.

 

“What happened to her eyes Tommy!?”

“They um- They went all white like magic or something and then she fainted, in the morning she woke up said she had some weird dreams and they were a new color.”

“Tommy you never told me that! Do you know what happened!? Drista is the chosen one…” Wilbur seemed to go through every stage of grief as he talked to his confused brother, but Clay was already running away.

 

He assumed Wilbur and Tommy were hot on his heels. His main concern was Drista. He had to get to his sister somehow, but first he had to get to the ballroom.

 

Clay started running.

 

Drista Update:

 

Drista woke clutching her head. There was a blinding light coming through the stained glass walls that came to a gothic steeple shape. The glass walls surrounded a space on a larger hexagonal wooden platform that fed out to four bridges at four double glass doors. Drista laid on the single cot surrounded by shelves and desks of what was clearly a healers hut. A simple loose tank top, and shift skirt/shorts lay on the side table along with a strange eclectic mug of some sort of hot tea substance. As Drista donned the new clothes, she squinted through the warped and colored windows, and could see that eclectic was a theme. She was surrounded by different types of strange but beautiful architecture, built into nature in the form of treehouses, huts, and sweeping mansions in trunks and large roots. I’m in Vale. Drista vaguely remembered her journey to get here, but she had made it, judging by the bloody bandages in pretty bad shape. Now that she had made it to Vale Drista had an idea of what she was supposed to do next. She was really getting the hang of this “chosen one” thing, but she may need some help. 

 

“You gave us a scare.” As if answering her prayer Drista turned to see the girl from her dream. Feyre was it?

 

“I’m Feyre, Queen of Vale.” So it was! Feyre wore a shift skirt similar to the one lying near Drista, so she suspected the clothes were hers. The young elf girl stood in a shift skirt of sheer yellow draped down to her ankles, which were decked in chains, that layered onto solid tighter mustard shorts. On top she had a thin sleeveless halter tunic with a deep v-neck that barely covered her flat chest, and fastened under her boobs. Freckles and gold jewelry covered her skin.

 

“You’re a little young for a Queen.”

“Well my parents died so wasn’t really my choice.” Oops, she wished her dreams had told her that. Feyre stepped into the small glass hut carrying a few odd silver trinkets in her hands. 

 

“You could tell me your name you know?”

“Drista.”

“You’re half elf?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have family here?”

“No one can know I’m here.”

“Because you’re the chosen one? I always thought that tale was stupid.” Drista snorted at Feyre’s blunt dry tone. Her sarcastic fierceness fit her demeanor.

 

“Karl already saved your life, but we both saw you in the dream. I’m assuming that’s some of your power.”

“Yes.”

“Well I thought it was pretty cool. Karl will probably have a lot more to say but for now I’ll get you a little style, and then give you a queenly tour!” Feyre approached Drista as she was talking, clipping something silver onto her ears, as well as a bangle on her upper arm. Drista took it all in, and for a moment she felt strangely at home. She just wished she had her family here.

 

“C’mon chosen one! I think this will be the start of a beautiful friendship!”

Chapter Text

Chapter 13: Wilbur POV

 

Wilbur was shaking as he watched Clay running down the castle halls, presumably trying to get to the king to deliver this massive realization. Drista, one of his little brothers best friends who he had watched grow up, was the Dream Eye. How did I miss it!? Wilbur felt stupid. He was supposed to be Teakwood's head advisor, the one to use his mind and knowledge to protect his kingdom against the Azurians. Instead my brother ran away with the heir to the nordic clan and the chosen one, and now one of them is in the hands of Azura-Minx… great! Speaking of his brother Tommy was behind him looking as bewildered as ever.

 

“Wilbur I don’t understand what’s happening! How did he know Drista? Why all this fascination with her eyes!?” Wilbur turned to his brother. He’s sure his eyes looked wild by the slight fear in his younger brother's face, but he couldn’t care. He tried to convey his urgency in his tone.

 

“Tommy listen to me very carefully.” Tommy’s eyes darkened as he nodded, matching Wilburs energy. “You remember the story mother used to tell us about an ancient stone that will choose a champion to reunite the realms.”

“The dream eye legend… Yes I remember but wha-” Wilbur cut off his brother putting a hand on each shoulder and bending slightly to be eye level with the shorter giant.

 

“What did the legend say about the eyes of the chosen one?” Wilbur watched the naive innocence fade from his brother's eyes to be replaced by realization. His instinct was to protect Tommy from this knowledge, but he had to remind himself that… he’s not a kid anymore.

 

“...They’ll possess eyes unlike any other? Oh my gods Wilbur! When she- she-”

“Tommy you must tell me everything.” Wilbur had initially refrained from questioning the boys because every time he brought up the giant girl Tubbo looked like he would puke, and Tommy like he’d seen a ghost. It was a choice he greatly regretted.

 

“When it happened we were having an argument and…”

“Go on Tommy.” He softened his voice to a more reassuring tone, and his brother took a breath.

 

“The last thing she said before all the white magic shit, and her eyes changing was ‘I’m going to stop the war and unite the realms’” His brother gestured meekly as he quoted Drista. Wilbur got the gist. 

 

“-I mean it was said sarcastically but…” 

“It was probably some type of activation phrase.” Tommy’s eyes looked hard as he met Wilburs. Wilbur could see all the self hatred and anger swirling in his brother nordic blue eyes. His voice turned serious and he set his shoulders back.

 

“Wilbur what do we do?” Wilbur pulled his hands back straightening up. Clay had the right idea. Bringing Drista back just became priority one, or finding some way to get to her. They had to get down to the ballroom with the others, and Wilbur had to admit he liked the idea of interrupting tonight's festivities even for an emergency meeting like this.

 

“C’mon.” Tommy followed wordlessly, as they raced down the hallways after Clay. When they entered the ballroom, a group had already gathered. Clay was speaking fast and sure, as Wilbur got closer it seemed he was covering the bases. George had his hands on the knight's biceps trying to calm him down, but his face was just as shocked as Wilburs had been. Niki and the amazons stood nearby, Gods she looks beautiful… They sported varying looks of determination and confusion, and a little anger. Nick, Bad, and Tubbo approached them at the same time as the giant brothers. Tommy graviated straight to Tubbo and Wilbur made eye contact with George from over Clay's shoulder. The king nodded and turned to Bad.

 

“Call and emergency meeting.”

“My king the weddin-”

“Now Bad!”

 

~~~

 

Everyone was talking over each other. It was a large table full of all the court advisors, high ranking priests, dukes, and guards present at the wedding. Towards the head of the table surrounding the king was: of course Clay and Nick the kings knights with Nick still dressed in an all black wedding outfit with gold trim, Tommy in his red jacket and white shirt that was borrowed from WIlbur himself, Tubbo stood in a color blocked sort of green and yellow tunic with a black belt his hair was disheveled and he looked very lost so Wilbur made a mental note to find who had slipped the pore thing a drink, The Amazons in bridesmaids gowns all a light pink with varying necklines and of course golden weapons, Niki stood with them in between the king and wilbur in the simple flowy off the shoulder wedding dress and pink jeweled crown that marked her recent queen hood, Wilbur felt himself move towards her side unconsciously followed by Bad the last encircled around the head of the table draped in black and red velvets with small spectacles holding a scroll nervously.

 

There were questions, and yells from Reyna down to the priests at the end of the table. Tommy, and Clay weren’t helpful as they seemed particularly worked up. The king and bad attempted to get everyone's attention. Wilbur pulled his mind from it’s current occupation of keeping his gaze from gravitating to Niki’s presence next to him. He attempted to help Bad and George, but despite the mass confusion, no one seemed to want to bloody listen. Regrettably Wilbur could also feel voice raise in response to the people around him. Just as it was about to get completely unrecoverable the table was rattled by an assertive fist.

 

“SILENCE!” Everyone’s attention snapped to the loudest noise from Clay, whose chest was heaving in anger leather gloved fist clenched on the table. From the disconcerting metal mask to the taut muscles Clay looked like her would kill someone. George seemed to have the same thought as Wilbur as he gently touched his captain's forearm. Clay flinched, but his aggressive hand and stature retreated to a step behind George as the King cleared his throat.

“I’m sure you have many questions-” An uproar of voices was heard, and Wilbur groaned and rolled him eyes. We don’t have time for this! Luckily with Myriam pulling a spear, and Clays still threatening looks George was able to maintain control. “-BUT! If you listen I will have my head advisor and advisor of castle activities present. We have new information regarding an ancient prophecy you’re all familiar with. It may be the key to the potential war with the Azurians… Bad if you could read the prophecy.” Bad adjusted his spectacles and coughed nervously before beginning.

 

“Once, All realms were united under the force of the Dream Eye. It’s powers of mind and reality are unmatched to this day. Yet, it was lost. I, Merlin the seer of Haven’s Coven foresee the stone of unification to choose a new champion. This chosen one will have eyes unlike any other, an ode to the Dream Eye from which they were born. If the chosen one may be reunited with the Dream Eye they will have the power to bring a much needed peace and unite the Realms…” Bad paused for affect at the end of the reading, and Wilbur could practically see Tommy kicking himself at the mention of the eyes. Clay seemed to turn away, as if he had heard the prophecy too many times. Wilbur would talk to them later. Now he meant to jump in and speak, but he should have done it faster as many court members' questions came back with a vengeance.

 

“I thought this was just a folktale?”

“Many did-”

“In Agate it is not.”

“Why would we put our faith in some ancient piece of paper?”

“It’s not just the paper we have proof-”

“What proof no one has ever proven the Dream eye exists?”

“If you would allow me to speak I will answer all your questions!” Wilbur voiced his intentions now his voice cutting through the adviser's chatter as he towered over them. He purposefully ignored Niki sucking in a breath next to him, and the mental picture of her smile at his success in getting them to listen. Typically Wilbur didn’t like to lord his height over the humans of Teakwood, but in this instance it had the intended emphasis. 

 

“We have found the Dream Eye, not the stone but the champion.” Wilbur felt the questions coming as much as he heard the beginnings of the words, so he raised one large hand in a sign to stop. “Before you start. She is someone I grew up with. A half-elf, half-giant, from the nordic clan.”

 

“The champion is a girl?”

“And a hybrid!” The more bigoted voices fromt he council sounded. Niki was the first to issue a queenly response directed at one of the guards.

 

“Is there a reason she wouldn’t be a woman?” Wilbur made the mistake of looking at the angel next to him. She had one elegant eyebrow raised towards the now cowering guard, and she lifted her head making her slightly wavy hair bounce under her crown. Wilbur felt the smirk on his lips before he could stifle it. She simply made him melt. And Niki made the guard cower a stutter, especially with her Amazons brandishing spears and knives behind her.

“No-no your highness… but she is still a Hybrid?”

“So?” Clay practically growled out low and dangerous. The guard retreated hard and fast under the metal gaze of his Captain.

 

“Never mind.” Clay grunted as if to say that’s what I thought.

 

“So this girl-” Another advisor began, but Tommy seemed to finally snap, cutting him off. Ahh, he never did have the decorum for politics.

 

“Her name is Drista! And she was supposed to come here with us… but she never made it.” he looked down at his hands with a haunted look. Things were quiet for a moment before Skeppy, the mage representative, spoke from next to Bad.

 

“I’m sorry, but you said she’s a hybrid… Now I have no problem with that! But what if her eyes are simply a product of genetics.”

“That’s not how it works, Skeppy.” The King jutted in still seeming exasperated by his court but being gentle with Skeppy, who by all other measures Wilbur considered a friend.

 

“Known a few hybrids in your day, My King?” George narrowed his eyes at the dig, and a more royal and warning tone came out as he responded through gritted teeth.

 

“Not personally no, but anyone with a brain knows that even Hybrids cannot share a mixed eye color.”

“He’s right Skeppy!” Now it was bad backing the king up, before Nick came in with a surprisingly astute fact:

 

“Hybrids can half one eye of each parent’s color, but they will never ever have any sort of mixed eye color. That’s why the prophecy is so telling.” Everyone stared at him, blinking slightly impressed, Wilbur included. “What!? I know things.” He looked a little nervous and Reyna stepped in, literally, coming next to Niki at the table to speak her piece and get the conversation back on track. Wilbur admired the Amazons, their strength was incredibly impressive. Especially Niki’s.

 

“Alright putting that aside… Tommy?” His brother raised his head to the Amazon who spoke more gently to him and Tubbo. “Are you sure?” Tommy clenched his jaw and nodded, Tubbo stood next to him looking like he was sobering up slowly but still pretty confused. Wilbur almost chuckled at how he nodded along with Tommy

 

“Yes. Tubbo and I saw it ourselves. There was some kind of magic shrouding her eyes, so they appeared blue and then when we were on our way there was a magic explosion after she said something and they changed and-” Wilbur cut off his brother's ramblings.

 

“Drista said, and I quote, “I’m going to stop the war and unite the realms.” It must’ve been a code to activate her powers.” Tommy shot him a grateful look and everyone nodded along. Wilbur made the mistake of looking at Niki next to him. She looked breathless at the realization. The hope was a good look in her teal eyes, especially after the last few days. Wilburs staring was broken when Skeppy slowly broke the silence that had fallen over the table asking the all important question.

 

“So... what do we do?” There was a millisecond where no one said a thing. Wilbur made eye contact with the king. Oh no. The table completely exploded, viewpoints and maybe the odd pencil flying everywhere.

 

“We have to get her back!”

“The Azurians have her-”

“The Dream Eye must be brought home.”

“We need Drista safe!”

“Forget the girl I say we go for the stone!”

“How would we even retrieve her? Do we know where she is?”

“Exactly she’s useless without the stone.”

“We don’t know that!”

“We don’t even know where to start!”

“Then let’s find out! What do we know about her?”

“How do we know if the so-called chosen one is even alive?”

“What!? Of course she’s alive!” Wilbur focused on his brother's response to the general directly next to him. It seemed to be the most heated argument currently. Tommy looked like he would jump across the table, while Tubbo was beginning to look flushed and genuinely upset. Wilbur had a feeling he’d be on his brother's side, as the guard kept talking.

 

“The queen probably killed her boy.”

“She’s alive!” Tommy practically spat. “I see her in my dreams.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“It’s her powers you complete nimrod!” The guard did not like that. His face was going red as he leaned over the table towards Tommy. His brother was not helping the situation as he gestured wildly, eyes rolling, and blonde hair flopping everywhere.

 

“Then how do we know she’s even on our side? Huh!?”

“Drista would never betray us!” Tubbo looked enraged now at the accusation against his cousin. The guard simply scoffed at them.

 

“Sure, if she isn’t dead the queen probably turned her.”

“She would never.” Tommy gripped at the edge of the table, and his tone was cold clearly barely keeping control. Despite his taller stature the guard paid no mind continuing in his condescending tone. Wilbur had to admit he wanted to punch the guy as well, but he wasn’t one for unnecessary violence. Tommy on the other hand… the next thing the guard said made his brother go completely off the rails.

 

“Of course she would boy! We could probably get a hit put on her… maybe an assasination if we tried.”

“HOW FUCKING STUPID ARE YOU! I swear you try it, AND I WILL-” Wilbur had to step in before this went badly for everyone.

 

“Tommy calm-”

“NO! Wilbur I’m not going to-”

“TOMMY!”

“NO! This Idiot’s talking about KILLING DRISTA! How could you even-!?”

“Tommy!” At Tubbos' voice Tommy stopped and turned to his wide eyed friend. Tommy seemed to groan and back off, especially since others, mainly Clay and George, had taken interest in the yelling match. The King pinched the bridge of his nose turning away from his conversation with Reyna, Skeppy, and Clay.

 

“No one is killing anyone, do you hear me.” It was a command and grumbles radiated throughout the room. Tommy continued shooting daggers at the insensitive guard with his eyes. Niki spoke next, and Wilbur tried to forget about how much he liked her commanding, but gentle tone.

 

“Our main goal is to get the chosen one back. In agate the prophecy is everything. For that reason…” She motioned and her amazons stepped to attention with their spears. “...my lieutenants will be staying here until she is retrieved, and communication will be sent to my parents. You have Agates full support, so long as Drista is brought home safely.” Niki used her actual name, and directed that last part at Tommy specifically. Wilbur tried not to smile at the interaction with his brother. He really did.

 

“Yes.” King George nodded at his new Queen, before making a final address to his court. “We will formulate a plan to find the chosen one. I will work with the Captain, Amazons, Queen, and my selected three advisors Wilbur, Bad, and Skeppy. You will be updated, this requires the utmost discretion. I will have absolutely no talk outside of this room regarding the prophecy. You are dismissed.” No one moved. Everyone seemed to have more to say. George used a little more force on his words.

 

“You are dismissed.” Now people began to move. Clay rocketed out almost immediately practically dragging the king along with him. Wilbur made his way to Tommy as fast as he possibly could.

 

“Tommy?” His brother was unusually quiet and had his head down. Wilbur felt a brotherly worry grow so he lowered his tone and head slightly to reach him.

 

“Hey Tommy? I know that was pretty intense.” Tommy scoffed at that. Wilbur thought he may have wiped his eyes.

 

“They were all idiots.”

“Tommy are you crying?” No Answer. Wilbur was about to reach a comforting hand on his shoulder, and tell him everything would be alright. Then a small voice broke their little moment. A few steps away stood Tubbo tears shining in his eyes.

 

“Wilbur? Tommy?” Wilbur barely opened his mouth, and there was no hesitation. Tubbo came crashing into his chest crying. Now Tommy was staring at them and Wilbur could see his eyes, brimming with a few tears. Wordlessly he reached out one arm and pulle dhis little brother in. The two teenagers cried against his chest, and Wilbur closed his eyes barely whispering it would be okay. They’d get their family back. When he opened them he felt eyes on him, as he held the two crying boys. He looked up to find Niki, and her Amazons standing by the door watching. The three warriors hand pitying looks on their face. The three also looked at each other, and Wilbur wondered if they were childhood friends. Niki held his eyes the most of course. She looked like she was holding back tears of sympathy, but she gave his a smile that held sadness, pride, support, and the ability the crush his giant heart. With that She turned and left taking her light out the double doors with her. The amazons followed.

 

Wilbur looked down at Tommy, who had finally stopped hitting his chest. Not that his puny fists really hurt, anyway. And Tubbo who was sniffling softer now. These two kids had the weight on their shoulders trying to deliver vital information through a war, and losing a friend, not to mention reliving it all over again and finding out that friend was essentially a destined savior. Wilbur sighed and hugged them tightly closer. He vowed then and there nothing would touch them. He would protect them to his dying breath.

 

~~~

 

When Wilbur got back to his room he felt like shit.

 

“Ugh.” He shed and threw his robes immediately before he even had the door closed. Now he sat in lined dress pants, and a white tunic. He felt like he could breathe again. Not to mention he didn’t want the smell of argument or his little brothers tears on him anymore. Wilbur sat on the edge of the modest queen sized bed running a hand down his face and staring at the stars out the curtained window. I wonder if you can see them too Drista…

 

That’s what his brother and Tubbo told him. They would say that on the ship while travelling. That Drista was looking at the same stars. Wilbur closed his eyes and laughed out a sigh. Sometimes I forget how mature they are… It was something he wrote to his mother a lot, but never directly to Tommy. He was impressed by his brother's level of thought and emotion. Wilbur really shouldn’t have been surprised that Tommy was the one to come up with the daring plan that gave Teakwood an invaluable warning, and activated the chosen one, even if I'm still a little mad at him. 

 

Wilbur pulled out his compass. It was their fathers, a symbol of family wherever you went. It often reminded him of home while he was in Teakwood. As much as he loved it here, he got lonely and sometimes it was harder to wear his clothes from back home. Or to play the songs his mother taught him. It had been feeling more like home the past few months. Despite the circumstances, and his general annoying self, Wilbur was more than glad to have his brother here with him. And Tubbo of course, who was like a second brother to him. And Drista’s like a sister…

 

 Wilbur sighed and flopped down on the bed staring at his scaffolded oak ceiling, with a black steel chandelier. He was so mentally tired and exhausted he wouldn’t really care if it fell on him. Doubted he’d even feel it. He had spent a while in the two boys room. Talking to them and promising they’d figure things out. He’d promised they would get Drista back, and he intended to keep it, he just had no idea how. He’d have to talk to Clay, he seemed to have something brewing in his mind. 

 

Wilbur didn’t have the energy to think about this. He also didn’t have the energy to stop his mind from slipping towards the thing that was supposed to be his second source of home these past few months. Now it was a source of agony. She was a source of agony.

 

“Niki.” He barely even registered, he said the name aloud as he rested his hands under the back of his head. He thought about… well everything about her. How quick they had gotten on. He found it easy to talk to her, admired her kind and gentle attitude. At first Wilbur had considered her simply as a friend of fellow intellect, pretty sure, but a friend. She was engaged to the King, who he worked for, for god's sake. But then… there was a day in the library. She was giggling at a joke he made about the book. He just kept wanting to make her laugh, so he kept going until she was red in the face and trying to hide her laughs into his crooked elbow because that’s all she could reach. He realized she even looked queenly when she laughed, and he laugh was angelic. Since then he hadn’t been able to stop staring at her smile, and wanting to look at her and get any laughs he could from her. She caught him off guard all the time, and she must’ve seen him melting because he thinks she started doing it on purpose at some point. It was fun and relaxing. But, it ended because she was getting married, and it wasn’t to him. Wilbur wanted to hit something, but instead he directed his attention to the knock at the door.

 

“Wilbur?” Myriam? He rose rubbing at his eyes, and stumbled to the door. He towered over the more petite brown skin girl, even at her height, and she had to adjust her eyes up for a moment to meet his. She stuck her hand out holding a letter, and Wilbur gave her a questioning look.

 

“Courtesy of Niki.” His heart beat slightly faster, but he tempered it.

 

“Why would the princess send me a letter?”

“I realy don’t think you need to play dumb with me Wilbur. We were all at the palace together.” Wilbur reached out carefully taking the letter that was dwarfed in his hand. He smiled despite himself at how normal it would’ve looked in hers.

 

“You know…” Myriam continued to speak. “...as Niki’s friends we’re on your side. As Agatian lieutenants well, let’s just say I didn’t give you this letter.”

“Thank you. I appreciate it.” Myriam nodded and began to walk away. Before she sighed and said one last thing over her shoulder.

 

“She’s crying you know.” Wilbur didn’t know what to say to that so he closed the door.

 

Wilbur didn’t know that, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to. The last thing he ever wanted was for her to cry. He hated the bit of solace it gave him that she and the king were separate on their wedding night because he did want her to be happy. You just want her to be happy with you, you selfish prick. Wilbur shook the thoughts from his head as he opened the letter and began to read. 

 

Dear Will,

 

I’m sorry for any pain that this situation, or myself, have caused you. I’m sorry for the state of your clan and family. I’m sorry I will not get married on my terms. I’m sorry we never got more time together. What I’m not sorry for was coming here. I’m not sorry to have met you Wilbur. You’ve made my time here much more genuine and enjoyable than I thought I would ever have in Teakwood. I’m not sorry for our time at the palace together either. Despite any pain the goodbye may have caused us, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. From the minute I saw you Will I was taken with you. You look strong and stoic, but there’s a softness in your eyes that was a pleasure to witness. I see it in the way you speak for all people of Teakwood, and it is the way you comforted Tommy and Tubbo tonight. They are lucky to have you. I am lucky to have you. I know that it can’t necessarily be in the way that we want it to, but I will not be able to do this without you. Royalty is lonely unfortunately, but it is necessary especially now. I hope you trust me to be your queen, and will stand by me. I promise to do my best to help you and everyone you care about because you are important to me Will. It is lonely. And I am lucky that George is kind hearted, but I don't love him. I can’t love him because I love you. I am writing to tell you that I still do, and maybe always will. I felt a promise for more from us, and I'm sorry we didn’t meet in another life or at another time. Maybe things would’ve been different, but it all happens for a reason. You and I are here for a reason to make a difference in the coming fight, and I believe that we will. I believe in us. I am writing to say goodbye, and that I love you Will.

 

Yours,

Niki

 

Wilburs shaking hands set the letter down as he slumped to the floor slowly. The letter fell on his bedside table as he sat on the floor back to his bed, and head tipped back to lay on the mattress. He turned to look at the stars. Wilbur finally let his emotions go. He thought of Teakwood, the clan, his family, Tommy, and Niki…

 

...and Wilbur finally let the tears fall.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14: Myriam POV

 

If someone had told Myriam that winning a tournament challenge would lead her to watching her friend be destroyed by a marriage, and a quest for the chosen one, she would’ve said you were crazy.

 

Now she was in the room of the Queen of Teakwood after one of the most intense Royal meetings she had ever witnessed. That was saying something considering Myriam had been helping King George out a lot, putting herself smack dab in the center of the courts crossfire. The men of Teakwood certainly had a problem with their presence, and it was plain to see where the values differed between Agate and Teakwood. Myriam was not glad to stay, but she was glad this chosen one thing had come up so they could stay and support Niki. She needs us right now. 

 

Niki had done incredibly today given everything. Myriam and the others knew about Wilbur, though the Queen hadn’t said anything explicit. She could remember talking with Reyna about him that night…

 

( Flashback )

 

The two friends sat outside in the garden of the summer palace. Myriam was slowly drinking the liquor calliope had swiped, and then passed out next to her on the grass, because it was considered unseemly at Teakwood and it had been a while since she had a drink. Reyna was laughing with her as she sharpened her sword. The amazons fell silent besides a light snoring from Calliope, as they gazed up to a white cobble balcony a story above them. The two subjects of their gaze, Wilbur and Niki who had just walked out, had not noticed the presence in the garden below them. Myriam looked at Reyna as if to ask, Should we leave? Calliope let out a snore next to them, and Reyna smiled shrugging: Nah I think it’s fine. Two pairs of turquoise eyes turned back up at the white balcony. The nordic advisor wore a rich, color blocked, purple and navy, nordic, tunic with black pants. The princess wore a, black white and grey, chiffon, sleeveless, summer dress. Her blonde hair shone a little whiter in the starlight, and his brown curls darkened. They looked good together, like the constellations they pointed up at. Myriam could faintly hear their conversation.

 

“And this one here… do you know that constellation Niki?”

“No.” She giggled, and Myriam felt a sense of dread, she saw Reyna grimace adly as well.

 

“You don’t!?” 

“No! I told you I’m not good with the stars.”

“Well then I’ll tell you!”

“Okay.” Niki’s giggles filled the air as Wilbur's voice took on that gentle teasing tone Myriam had heard before with Tommy, Niki, and Tubbo. It always seemed to make the princess laugh. Myriam admitted she got the fascination with the tall, attractive, kind, smart, yadda yadda… giant, but she had a stronger sense of caution regarding her heart. Myriam sighed.

“We should stop them.”

“Don’t you dare!” Reyna whispered, shouted back. Myriam rolled her eyes. Reyna often got caught up in her optimism and determination. It was Myriams favorite thing about her best friend, her consistent strength and belief. Myriam had known Niki for the longest, however, and she knew this would end badly. She really didn’t want to be a pessimist, but someone had to be the brains of the operation. It certainly wasn’t Calliope, passed out on the ground, or Reyna, gazing up at the balcony with a smile almost as wide as Wilburs, and it definitely wasn’t Niki. She had always called Calliope the brawn, and Reyna the leader of their little group, but Myriam was starting to think Niki may be their heart.

 

Niki was, simply put, the kindest person Myriam had ever known. She had this ethereal energy that brought more honor to the Agatian name than Myriam thought it deserved. Niki loved with her entire heart, and she was definitely emotionally wise enough to know that whatever this is would break her heart. It was the peacefulness and maturity Myriam respected that caused the bitter-sweet tone in Niki’s voice.

 

“You are very good with the stars Will.”

“Aww why thank you!” Myriam could barely see him nudge her shoulder from their angle.

 

“We use them for navigation a lot in the clan. I tried to teach Tommy, but he’s impossible. I’m surprised he made it here on his own.” Niki giggled again softly, and based on the sharp intake of breath and movement Myriam knew she had placed a hand on Wilburs arm.

 

“He has good intentions.”

“You really see the best in everyone, Niki, must be exhausting.”

“I try.” The humbleness was unwarranted. Myriam knew Niki was an incredible person, and judge of character. There was a reason she was sat with her favorite two idiots, and they sent a group of fresh lieutenents as ambassadors, and her name rhymes with Piki .

 

“I’m just not sure he deserves it.” They were both giggly now. Wilbur sounded a little more exasperated at the sound of his brother.

 

“Oh.” Niki’s short innocent response caused both of them to pause, and then burst into laughter. Wilbur even jerked bending over the railing, and almost seeing the eavesdropping, slightly drunk, Amazons. He was probably a little drunk himself based on the flush in his cheeks, or maybe that’s just Niki. Myriam peaked around the edge with Reyna, and watched them help straighten themselves lightly holding onto each other at times. Niki stopped laughs as Wilbur reached out tucking a stray piece of hair behind her ear.

 

“You are so cute.” The amount of fondness in his voice was astounding, and Myriam watched Niki’s breath catch at the change in tone and octave. Myriam and Reyna’s gazess shot towards each other, wide-eyed. Reyna made a slight gag motion and rolled her eyes. Myriam smiled giddily despite herself, and motioned for Reyna to shush as they peered their heads out farther leaning down to hide in the grass together like kids.

 

“Will I-” The advisor didn’t let go cupping her face gently. Niki fought a smile as she spoke again. “It’s getting late. I should go to bed.” Wilbur swallowed his throat bobbing, and Myriam found herself accidentally rooting for them with Reyna.

 

“Right yes.”

“Do you want to come with me?” She asked it so sweetly Wilbur looked like he didn’t know what to do.

 

“Niki wha-” He sounded out of breath, as the princess placed her hand gently on his to keep it from retreating.

 

“Please Will?” Wilbur closed his eyes and breathed deeply. A decision seemed to pass between both of them because then Niki was leading him by the hand. The two crowded each other as they walked back through the balcony doors, arms tangled and hands on each other. Once they were out of sight the two eavesdroppers looked at each other. Reyna’s mouth was open in a comically shocked smile, and myriam could feel her own expression betraying her. She tried to put on a disappointed tone, but Reynas' overblown excitement saw through her.

 

“Oh My GOD!”

“I can’t believe we just let that happen.”

“Oh stop! They’re cute and you know it!”

“I-”

“Myriam c’monnnnnn you know you love that adorable shit!” At her friends smug face practically vibrating with excited adrenaline, Myriam couldn’t hold it in as her grin split.

 

“Fine it’s adorable, but I still don’t think it’s a good idea!” She finished hurriedly to stop Reynas satisfied smile, and squeal, by pointing her finger. Reyna just rolled her eyes smiling unwaveringly and went back to sharpening her sword.”

 

“Whatever Myriam. She’s gonna be mad she missed that disgusting display of cuteness.” Myriam sighed and flopped back lying next to their sleeping friend who Reyna had pointed to. She hoped to everything honorable that her friends heart would be protected, but she was worried. She also wondered if Reyna and Niki were right, it’s not about how long you love or how much it hurts, but who and how you love. She looked at the stars Niki had just been wooed under. She looked unbelievably happy with him smiling in the starlight.

 

(Flashback end)

 

Niki sat in direct contrast now, crying softly in her wedding dress on the bed. Calliope was nowhere to be found, so with some small panicked whispers Reyna and Myriam decided she would open the door after hearing sniffles.

 

“Hey.” Niki tried to wipe her eyes and appear strong as she looked up at Myriam but her voice broke.

“Hi Myriam what are yo-” she let out a small cry and looked up at Myriam with tearful eyes. “What are you looking for?” Myriam approached slowly, with Reyna falling in behind. She sat next to Niki gently as if not to break her.

 

“You don’t have to pretend with us Niki.”

“We know okay… we know.” Reyna finished Myriams' thought sitting gingerly on the other side of Niki, the direction the queen's back was facing, and putting a rubbing hand on her shoulder. At the touch Niki broke, falling forward into Myriams arms. The two Amazons held their friend. They watched her cry while making worried eye-contact with each other. In this moment Myriam wasn’t an amazon lieutenant; she was a friend, and she couldn’t have cared less about the fate of the world if it made Niki cry. She could see Reyna felt the same. Instead Myriam just held her as Niki’s sobs stopped, and offered small reassurance.

 

“We’re here Niki.”

“I-I know you are, I’m not-” Reyna rubbed her back, shushing her as Niki struggled to explain.

 

“It’s okay Niki take your time.”

“I knew it wouldn’t last. That doesn’t stop it from hurting.” Niki got out slowly swallowing a breath, as another tear fell in a way that was more queenly than it was fair. Niki took a shaky breath before she spoke numbly.

 

“I’m married.”

“That sucks.” Reynas comment could have been taken as insensitive, if she didn’t have this perfect tone for when her friends were sad to get them to laugh. Niki choked on a giggle, and Myriam scoffed around a tear she hadn’t realized was falling. Myriam turned Nikis head to face her giving a more heartfelt response.

 

“I’m sorry you have to do this Niki.”

“It’s okay.” They looked at her with unconvinced faces, and Niki actually laughed this time. “It really is. I would do anything for Agate. It’s just that I…”

“Go on.” Reyna prodded gently. Niki turned to her and smiled. Her bod followed so her legs hung off the bed like her two friends.

 

“I think I love him.” Myriam knew she wasn’t talking about the King. She looked at Reyna who smiled, and asked Niki gently.

 

“Are you going to tell him?” Niki closed her eyes as another tear fell. Myriam cringed because Niki was the kind of person that no one could remain emotionless while watching cry, not even the coldest hearts.

 

“I don’t think I can.” Reyna didn’t look happy with the answer, and Myriam couldn’t stand it either. She got up suddenly. Niki and Reyna watched her confused before she returned with determined eyes and paper and a pen.

 

“I may have a solution.” Niki’s eyes brightened in confusion as she took the paper, and Reyna understood where Myiram was going. The Amazon retracted her hand from the princess and nodded at her best friend in approval.

 

“Write to him, and I’ll deliver it.”

“I- I don’t think…”

“Niki. Trust me. He'll want to hear it.” With Reynas encouragement, Niki swallowed again. Myriam thought there were no more tears in her, but a few more slipped as she wrote. The two amazons sat with her as she wrote everything out. When Niki handed her the finished product Myriam practically tackled her in a hug. She wasn’t usually a super touchy person, but with her sisters and the princess she made an exception.

 

“Thank you.” Niki whispered. Myriam nodded leaving Niki in Reynas arms as she left the room.

 

Walking down the hall the night seemed to echo with an air of sadness. Not what’s supposed to happen on a wedding night. 

 

She turned a corner and heard muffled voices seeing slightly blurred shapes in the torchlight. What the hell? Myriam was about to call out before she realized who it was. So that’s where she went… Calliope stood in a basic black tunic and white leather pants. Her black hair was especially unruly after drinking at the wedding, and the freckles on her flat side profile stuck out in the twilight. What also stood out to Myriam was the classic flirtation in her friends slim teal eyes as they narrowed at the subject of her attention. One of Calliopes hands rested on the stone brick wall behind the head of what appeared to be a court lady of servant. She wore a light beige cloth dress that was definitely simple enough to distinguish her peasant class. But it did not take away from her beauty in the slightest. Her ebony skin contrasted beautifully with the lighter brown on her dress and the olive tone in the Amazons skin. The most impressive thing about the mystery woman was the perfect cherry red ringlets on her head. Her dark brown eyes marked her as human, but she certainly looked like something else ethereal with beachy waves cascading over her shoulders.

 

“I swear! I took him in under three hits but he’ll never admit it.”

“I’m sure you did Callie.” So she calls her Callie? Myriam smirked watching them. She definitely understood why Calliope went for her, witty and beautiful was her type. Then the woman stepped forward slowly and angled her head so her mouth almost fit Calliopes. The ebony girl smirked and her eyes closed. Myriam could actually see the moment her friend's brain stopped working as they closed the distance. She snickered and tried to to gag at the display. Have I actually witnessed two separate first kisses within the same week!? They pulled away from the soft contact, and Calliopes eyelids fluttered as she blushed, completely smitten despite pressing the other girl against the wall. The servant girls hand dragged up her friend bicep, and Myriam almost laughed out loud when she saw Calliope flex the tunic bulging.

 

“I’m not surprised… you are very strong.” Calliope looked like she could barely talk, as she almost fell into the other girl at the compliment. Myriam was about to leave when they started kissing again, but Calliope saw her. She looked embarrassed to be caught, but relieved when she realized it was Myriam. Myriam snorted, she expected an Amazon to be more aware of her surroundings, even with her brain clouded by a pretty girl. She crossed her arms waiting for Calliope to say goodbye to her friend. She looked sort of sheepish. The dark skinned girl just smiled and caressed her face sensually, she whispered something in her ear before swaying away down the hallway. Probably something along the lines of ‘meet me later’... Myriam fought the urge to laugh as her blushing friend approached fisting her hands slightly in her black curls as if to straighten her head again. Instead, she settled for a smirk and hushed tease.

 

“What’s her name?”

“Alyssa.” Calliope still seemed breathless as she started to get her bravado back, and groaned at Myriam.

 

“You’re probably going to harp on me about doing that in the open.” Myriam smiled in reassurance. She was happy for her friend.

 

“No I think… I think someone needs a win tonight.” Calliope's smile dropped and she nodded.

“How’s Nik?”

“She’s getting there. Reyna could probably use the help back there.”

“Of course.” Myriam gestured to the letter in her hand.

“I’ve gotta deliver something.” Calliope nodded. Myriam stopped for a moment, sizing up the slightly taller, and much buffer looking, Amazon infront of her. The smirk wormed its way back onto her caramel face.

 

“You do look good in that tunic, very strong.”

“Oh my god! Shut up!” Calliope groaned, but she was smiling as she walked past towards the former princesses room.


Myriam sighed as she continued her journey through the dark castle, clutching the letter in hand. Maybe some of us can be happy in Teakwood.

Chapter Text

Chapter 15: Niki POV

 

Niki opened her eyes to a bright sunlight. She squinted, and felt a sting in her cheeks from the motion due to the dried tears. Was I crying in my sleep? The tear stains unfortunately reminded her of yesterday's events, as she pulled herself into a sitting position.

 

I’m Queen. It wasn’t necessarily a bad observation, or a happy one; it was just a fact. Niki had woken up yesterday the princess of Agate, and today she woke up the queen of Teakwood. Niki never particularly cared if she was Queen, she was content to live out her life assisting her brother as he ruled on Agate's throne. We don’t always get what we want. Niki attempted to shake off the uncomfortable thoughts as she took in her surroundings.

 

The sunlight was pouring in through her sheer white curtains that covered a large bay window. The connecting door to the other amazons room, what used to be the guards room, was wide open because the three lieutenants also lay on her bed. Myriam was splayed to the left of her, and she had probably been hugging Niki before they crashed. Calliope was flat on her stomach to the right, mouth open and snoring. Reyna was curled at the foot of the large king size bed at their feet like a dog. Her hand reached up to touch Myriams lightly, and probably Nikis at some point. The bed was a mess, but Niki felt herself smile. 

 

She had her Amazons, she had her duty, she had George, she had friends and a goal. Niki took a deep breath as she shimmied over Calliope who snorted, while Myriam stirred. She stood stretching, and made her way to her dresser. Niki used to deal with much more insecurity when she was younger, but it Agate your looks didn’t matter as much as your skill and character; Niki had a lot of that. Since she came to teakwood she found some of those insecurities resurface, and she was careful not to let the gender expectations eat her alive. Today she allowed herself to worry as she looked at her choices. It felt significant what she chose to wear. This was her first day as Queen and it was going to be a big one. Niki swallowed thickly and reached for a royal blue dress. One of her mothers, it made her blue eyes extra piercing. Niki quietly shuffled changing into the dress. She didn’t think she’d ever be able to accept servants the way they had in teakwood, no matter how much Bad heckled her. Niki took a deep breath and placed the crown on her head turning to look in the ornate oval mirror.

 

The short tipped, gold, crown with pastel jewels sat atop her short halo of blonde hair. The dress was a heavier silk in royal blue. It had a heart neckline, with four columns that connected to the flowing a-line skirt, there was a cut-out under the bust in the center of her belly, on the sides, and the bottom of her spine, creating the four column connected look. Two loops of fabric also hung off her shoulders as a second set of straps. Niki looked royal as she set her shoulders.

 

Her gaze flicked to the mirror table and her shoulders dropped slightly at the sight of the dark ink pen. She lifted it thinking about all the words she had written last night. Closing her fist Niki dropped it in a small brass trash bin, and spoke quietly to herself.

 

“I’ve got this.”

“Yes you do.” Niki hadn’t noticed Reyna rise behind her, but the Amazon must’ve sensed her wake up. She stretched rolling off of the bed in her ‘unlady-like’ shorts and sleeveless top. Niki hummed nodding affirmatively at her lieutenant.

 

“You also look hot in that by the way.” Niki laughed, as Reyna smiled at her still sort of sleepy and domestic trying to shake Myriam who just groaned and turned over. Reyna chuckled fondly continuing her efforts with an unmoving Calliope.

 

Niki looked back in the mirror thinking about Reynas words. She felt the confidence her friends evoked all the way in her toes. Despite herself, and attempts to move forward… I wonder if Will would like it… The answer was he’d most definitely like the dress. He had told her how beautiful he thought she was, but Niki still longed to hear it again. She was grateful for Reyna’s clear voice as a distraction to cut through the thoughtful morning light.

 

“Well, these two won’t be getting up anytime soon! Here I’ll get dressed and escort you to all your queenly duties.” Niki smiled at Reynas morning antics as she scratched at her hair and riffled through her armor.

 

“You really don’t have to.”

“Are you kidding! It will be my privilege to follow you anywhere your highness.” Reyna gave an uncharacteristic bow, and Niki actually felt some sincerity behind it. Maybe Teakwood is getting to her. She chuckled fondly at the Amazon, but approached her pulling the taller girl into a hug. Niki often wondered how she got lucky enough to have such good friends, and command such strong soldiers.

 

“Thank you.”

“I'd follow you anywhere my Queen. We’re in this together.” Niki hugged her tighter before letting Reyna go to get dressed. Even turning to look at the two lieutenants passed out on the bed, Niki thought that Reyna was right.

 

~~~

 

“Ugh why’d you wake me up so early!?”

“First of all, the sun is already plenty high… and second, I didn’t wake you up you were an immovable rock.” Myriam stretched and yawned over her head as Reyna stared at her in mild annoyance. 

 

“Whatever.. It’s too early to be in armor.”

“It’s too early to be in a skirt.” Niki knew skirts hindered Reynas long legs, especially these white floor length ones they had become accustomed to wearing to court. Niki had to admit, as her amazons swished next to her in floor length white shirts and gold chest plates, with their spears and swords, she felt on top of the world. Niki humored her sleepy soldiers with a chuckle in her tone.

 

“Thank you both for escorting me, but if you’re uncomfortable you may go rejoin calliope or train.” Reyna made a scoffing noise, and waved Niki off.

 

“Pshhh it’s nothing your highness, besides Clay’s working with the kids today anyway.”

“Yeah and calliopes probably with her girlfriend anyway.” Huh? Niki snapped her head to Myriam at that who had spoken so nonchalant.

 

“What?”

“Yeah she’s been hanging around with this servant girl, I saw them last night when I was…” Delivering my heart in the form of a letter? “...erm out.” Niki decided to skate by Myriams almost comment, instead focusing on her friend's relationship that slipped right under her nose.

 

“Really! Reyna did you know?” Reyna looked a little shocked, and in thought at first. Then she seemed to come to a realization.

 

“She has been disappearing a lot… Oh wait! It was the girl with the red hair right!?”

“Oh my god you really have been playing matchmaker! Haven’t you?” Reyna shrugged at Myriam. Niki chuckled in disbelief. It seemed she had missed a lot with everything going on, Will… No ! She wasn’t going to think about that. She had far more important things to tend to.

 

Niki swung open the double oak doors to the second throne room, and strategy meeting area. She was met with chatter, but luckily it was only Bad, King George, and Wilbur.

 

“Queen Nikilina! We’re so happy to have you join us!” Bad’s cheerful smile put one of her own on Niki’s face. George also smiled at her. All in all, he had been very pleasant regarding this wedding experience and Niki was grateful.

 

“Finally!” George added motioning for the Amazons to join them sitting at the table. Wilbur stayed silent, and Niki shared some intense eye-contact when she met his gaze. She tried for a smile and he couldn’t hold it turning away. Reyna bulldozed in past everyone sitting next to Bad.

 

“Well good morning royal court! Who’s ready for queenly business.” Myriam laughed and followed sitting on the other side of the table, next to wilbur and across from Reyna. Niki approached slower and Wilbur pulled out her chair slightly at the head of the table next to George. Niki decided she wasn’t going to let them lose a friendship over this. Particularly since he was now her head advisor. She leveled her gaze at the giant who was almost the same height as her sitting down.

 

“Good morning Will.”

“Good morning Niki.” Niki pushed past the pang of longing at his voice, and nodded with a pasted on smile. Reyna and Myriam watched her warily, but they said nothing as George got them started.

 

After the basics of resource delegation and castle scheduling, Niki had settled into her role. She didn’t talk much unless something needed to be pointed out, overall she found it very easy. Then Bad began to bring up things that clearly gave the king a headache.

 

“The church is expecting a statement, Your Highnesses.” George groaned placing his head in his hands, as Wilbur snorted humorlessly.

 

“They can keep expecting.”

“Now Wilbur-”

“I’m sorry. What exactly are they expecting us to make a statement about.” Niki cut off bad curiously. She was a tad confused considering nothing had even happened yet. Myriam seemed to understand and was trying to telepathically explain it to Niki, but she didn’t have Reynas skill. George turned to her and clarified, clearly unamused by the situation.

 

“Regarding the hybrid laws.” Niki nodded slowly. Thankfully Wilbur seemed to see she was still confused, and explained it a bit better than the King.

 

“Your union is the first mixed-race or hybrid to ever sit on the throne. Teakwood is of course gracious for Agates alliance, but it is strictly illegal usually as you know. They are expecting a change on the ban or some statement regarding… um…” Wilbur got tongue tied at the end so Niki prompted him. George answered her instead with a slight bite in his voice.

 

“Yes Will?”

“-Heirs Niki.” Niki felt her face pale. She knew the customs of Teakwood of course, but it was something she had tried not to dwell on. Reyna looked angry, while Wilbur had a pained sympathetic look on his face and his hand twitched next to hers. George seemed to be in his own turmoil, as he directed the second have of his statement to Bad.

 

“Which is something I really don’t want to talk about right now.” George rarely snapped, and Bad’s face looked genuinely hurt. Niki felt empathy for him. He really was just trying to do his job, and looked as uncomfortable as the rest of them. That being said Niki definitely wasn’t ready for that conversation, and Myriam seemed to agree as she cleared her throat.

 

“I think our time would be better used addressing the elephant in the room, the chosen one.” Everyone nodded. George particularly jumped at the chance.

 

“Yes. I think you’re right Myriam. Have you contacted the Agatians?”

“The king has given his full support in any initiative to retrieve her. Agate has always been a keeper of the prophecy and we are more than willing to help fulfill it now.” Reynas response certainly pleased the King, and Niki nodded. She also turned to the side, as if her eyes were drawn to Will by magnets and saw that his brown was furrowed deep in thought.

 

“What are you thinking about Will?” His gaze snapped to meet hers, and the giant looked strangely vulnerable. Niki’s heart ached to comfort him in some way, but she stayed where she was.

 

“I’m just-” Will stopped himself clearly trying to maintain a front as head advisor, Bad quickly reassured him.

 

“Take your time Wilbur. It’s just us here, and I know this is personal for you.” Wilbur took a deep breath, and Niki touched his foot with hers lightly under the table. Will shot her a grateful smile.

 

“I talked to Clay, and the issue is we don’t even know where to start. I know Drista, and she’ll fight back. She’s strong, but we have no idea how to help her or where she is.” Solemn nods went around the table, before George spoke again.

 

“Well what do we know?”

“She was captured by the Azurians. Would we have any way to get eyes on them, and possibly Drista?” Myriam thought for a moment before answering Reynas strategy question with a method.

 

“We could attempt using spies, a few volunteers. I know sorcerors can hide or change eye colors for infiltration.” Niki smiled at her lieutenants, thinking they had great ideas; but Bad unfortunately shut them down looking upset about it himself.

 

“We don’t have good enough relations with Creole for that, and the council would never agree to mages in the army.” 

“Okay what if we-”

 

It went on like that back and forth, until Niki had a headache from all this policy. She could see the King felt the same way, Myriam looked annoyed, Reyna looked frustrated, Bad looked sad, and Wilbur looked angry. Niki herself felt hopeless, and it boiled over as she ended the meeting.

 

“We won’t be getting anywhere with this. Let’s think about it more and call a meeting later?” George sighed and nodded, officially dismissing everyone, and mumbling something about going to find Clay. Bad caught him at the door and pulled the King into a private conversation.

 

“Well I’m going to find Callie to see if she’s got an opinion on any of this. Myriam?”

“Yeah me too. I need to think… um Niki, will you be okay here?” Both the amazons gaze shot to Wilbur, and Niki’s followed. He had stood from the table, and was grumbling fluffy his large hands into his curly brown locks. Niki’s smile was soft and sad before she sent a brighter one to her lieutenants, and dismissed them. Reyna and Myriam left somewhat reluctantly, as Niki turned back to the room. 

 

Wilbur stood in his deep purple advisor robes, looking exactly as Niki had first seen him. His bright mischievous eyes looked far duller than they had in the starlight. She breathed deeply, calming the slight shake in her hand as she approached the towered giant, and cleared her throat. Wilbur turned, shock overtaking his features at her small voice.

 

“Will?”

“Niki I thought- I.” He looked around them and whispered the last bit leaning down towards her. “I thought we weren’t doing this anymore?” Niki smiled a little playfully at him, but the undertone in her voice let Will know this was business. At least, she hoped it did.

 

“I need advice. You are my advisor are you not?”

“I am.”

“And my friend?”

“Yes… a friend.” Energy cracked at the slight edge to his voice, and Niki swallowed suddenly feeling her nerves return. 

 

“Well Advisor I need a change, something to get my foot in the door of the court. How do I do that?” Wilbur scrutinized her for a moment before his face turned serious.

 

“Wehen the King's parents died, he was one of the youngest in the court. At least of the people who made decisions, he was outnumbered. He used myself, Bad, and Skeppy, to even the numbers promoting us to higher places of representation. The last step was Clay as the captain of the guard which you saw.” Niki had seen. She also thought that may have had more to do with George's personal feelings, but she kept that to herself. Instead she nodded seriously taking into account what the giant had said. Besides finding him attractive, Niki also trusted Wilbur. She knew he was strong, and smart, he hadn’t gotten this job for nothing. She envied the way he commanded the court. Niki had an idea of what he was getting at.

 

“You’re saying I should take over the kings court?”

“No, but… maybe it’s time the Teakwood queen should have a representative as well. A queen's advisor.” He may be right. The choice was simple in Niki’s mind. Myriam had basically been working as an advisor since she got here. A plan began to form in the new queen's mind. She nodded at the giant.

 

“Follow me.”

“Of course Your Highness.” Niki motioned, and Wilbur followed close behind her with a smirk that matched her own. Having the support of Will skyrocketed Niki’s confidence, as she approached Bad and the King who still seemed to be arguing. Niki cleared her throat and they stopped watching the pair expectantly. Wilburs smile turned more gentle as she met his eyes, and he motioned for her to go ahead.

 

“Can I be honest.”

“Please do.” At Bads reply and Georges regal nodded Niki got right into it.

 

“Frankly, I'm appalled by the lack of empathy in your court.” 

“Okay wow… that’s really honest.” Bad laughed nervously scratching around the collar of his red advisor's robe. George’s eyes widened, but Niki thought she may have seen his dimples twitch.

 

“I would like to make some changes, especially now that our circumstances require quick action.”

“What kind of changes?” George asked. He didn’t seem opposed as Niki continued. 

 

“I want to appoint Myriam as the Queens head advisor in your court, and give her and Wilbur power of decree so our choices can run the realm.” That last part Wilbur hadn’t mentioned, but Niki was completely tired of constantly trying to make everyone happy, instead of keeping what was now her realm safe. George raised his eyebrows looking to Wilbur, who just shrugged with a smile on his face. Bad looked like her would protest before he stopped to consider it. George and bad exchanged looks, then the king smiled.

 

“Alright. I’ll call for a meeting tonight, we’ll present Myriam as long as she agrees. As long as you can both present a feasible plan, no one will be able to argue.” he looked at Will and stopped smiling, they exchanged a nod as the King finished. “We will get Drista back. I’m going to inform the others of our plan. I’m… I’m impressed, My Queen.”

 

As he and Bad retreated to find the others, most likely Clay and Nick, Niki was elated. 

 

Now I just have to talk to Myriam… and make a plan.

 

~~~

 

The conversation with Myriam had gone surprisingly well. Reyna and Calliope would be less than happy with their sister committing to a realm other than Agate, but Niki did assure Myriam she would be a temporary filler until the Queen could find a viable, and preferably female, replacement.

 

Now she was walking the castle halls, and taking a break from the non-stop brain work that was figuring out how to get the chosen one back. Niki breathes sharply out of her nose, rubbing at her temples. I’m in over my head. This was by far the highest pressure situation she had ever been in during her twenty something years of life. Myriam had told her to take a break when Niki was particularly frazzled; Niki noted she looked pretty tired herself, but she agreed. Niki suppressed a groan as she passed some palace guards. She was aware of her status as the first queen truly involved in the court. The power made her dizzy, but so did the responsibility. She caught sight of a nordic blue tunic and curly hair in the corner of her vision, and snapped her head. Niki found herself wishing it was Wilbur. She longed for someone to confide it about these sorts of things. It wasn’t Wilbur; it was a giant, but they were shorter than Wilbur with blonde curls instead of the chestnut ones that Niki preferred to rustle.

 

“Tommy!” The boy turned to her with a beaming smile, and Niki felt a small bit of her worries melt into a giggle as he greeted her.

 

“Niki! Nikilina! Big N-? Now that one doesn’t really work does it?”

“I think you can just call me Niki.”

“Niki!” Tommy rolled right through his awkwardness opening his arms to pull Niki into a short hug. Niki laughed again. She had grown quite fond of the lanky teenager in the past few weeks. Maybe it was because he reminded her of Wilbur, or because he made her laugh.

 

“Walk with me Tommy?”

“Of course! Of course.” Tommy had already been walking with her, but jokingly stuck out his arm as an escort would. It didn’t last long as his elbows waved around when he talked.

 

“Oh, and did Wilbur tell you?! I’ve nearly mastered the throwing axe! 5 bullseyes in a row! Tubbo only got four!” Niki had smiled and listened to the boy recount his day nodding occasionally. It did a lot for her peace of mind to have his childish energy around. There had been a lot of talk of axes.

 

“No he did not tell me. That’s very nice Tommy.” Tommy beamed at her.

“I know! But really? I thought Wilbur told you everything.” Tommy didn’t have an accusatory tone, but Niki still narrowed her eyes slightly at the possibly mischievous boy.

 

“No Will doesn’t tell me everything.”

“Really cause you’re all he talks about. Just Niki this- Niki that! Quite annoying really.” Now Tommy had a self satisfied smirk on his face, and Nikis own face had lit up red.

 

“He does?” She was hesitant to ask, and didn’t really know if she wanted the information.

 

“Yeah. Are you two…? Well urm- you know…” Tommy struggled making gestures with his hands. Niki sighed and turned away as they stopped walking, and turned to look out over a lower court yard. Her eyes latched onto the tall blue eyed figure below her in a loose yellow tunic. He mussed his hair with his hand, as he chattered with Bad. Just my luck. Niki swallowed and tore her eyes away from both the giant next to her, and the giant below who occupied her thoughts.

 

“No we’re not. I’m married to the king.” Tommy nodded slowly, and awkwardly. His eyes flicked between Niki and his brother, as silence settled. No longer calm and content Niki wanted to get more info on Drista, and maybe get Tommy back for the teasing.

 

“Will doesn’t tell me everything, but… he did tell me about a certain girl.” Niki sent an inquisitive smile at Tommy, who blushed and scratched at his head shaking it around.

 

“He did? I have no idea what he’s talking about. Strange fella you know.” Niki laughed at the response, and the sound carried down to the courtyard where Wilburs head was drawn up. Their eyes met before he took in the situation of Niki talking with his little brother. Niki’s smile widened when the corners of the advisor's mouth turned up. Tommy rolled his eyes and grumbled at the two lightheartedly, but Niki barely noticed. Wilbur took on his joking air as he mouthed up at Niki, asking if she needed help with Tommy. Niki simply laughed and waved him off. Tommy was a little more indignant.

 

“Wha- Wilbur-”

“C’mon Tommy. Come this way.” Niki drew Tommy away with an almost motherly tone, and surprisingly he followed. They made their way back to the planning room that Niki was not excited for, after exchanging one last look with Wilburs piercing gaze.

 

“I did want to ask you about Drista Tommy. Not your feelings or anything, but what can you tell us to help us find her.” The blonde teen got serious as he looked at the Queen. Niki hoped he couldn’t see that she was mildly desperate. She really didn’t want to put the two boys through anything more than they’d already gone through.

 

“I’m sorry I really don’t know much. I’ve told you guys everything. Even in the dreams she never says anything helpful or at least she-”

“Tommy, Tommy, it’s okay.” Niki placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. Paired with a smile, it seemed to work. Clearly Tommy wasn’t going to be much help with the current situation, so Niki tried a different tactic.

 

“Okay. What about her in general, her past may have something important that we haven’t thought of.”

“To be honest we never knew much about her past. She’s Tubbos cousin, but other than that we don’t know where she came from.” Maybe we should. Slowly the makings of an idea came together in Niki’s head.

 

“She’s half-giant right?”

“Yes, and half-elf we don’t know anything about her parents. Her mom was Tubbos mom's sister, but she left and married some guy from Vale.” Niki stopped cold, her eyebrows furrowing. Tommy looked at her strangely as she gripped his arm.

 

“Tommy, her parents were from Vale?”

“Yes but-”

“I think I have an idea. Let your brother know and grab Tubbo. You should both come to this meeting if you want.”

 

With that Niki whipped away towards the room where Myriam was still struggling over Azurian sightings.

 

~~~

 

“You’ve got this okay?” Niki breathed deeply and smiled at Reyna, grateful to have her and Myriam next to her. The two had changed for the meeting, wearing identical light blue toga dresses with scoop necks. Niki stepped forward as George arranged the meeting, and advisors and court gathered. Clay stood close to the King. he had been particularly tense these past few days, and looked like he needed to take action. Niki stood on the other side of George, next to Wilbur with her Amazons behind her mingling slightly with Nick.

 

“We’ve gathered you here for-”

“Sorry I’m late!” Calliope rushed in, her sage dress looking slightly more askew than the other two Amazons and tying up her hair. Niki raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Maybe it has something to do with that girl. George cleared his throat and continued, but it definitely got the courts rumbles off to a bad start.

“Yes. We’re here to introduce two things-”

“Is it about the chosen one?”

“Do you have a plan?”

“If you idiots would let him finish he’d tell you.” Oh. Clay was clearly not messing around. Niki could tell this may not go well by the way tensions were already so high. She set her shoulders back, and raised her head minutely upward trying to calm her nerves. Somehow Wilbur seemed to notice. Niki felt a short comforting squeeze to her hand. It was so short she almost missed it, but it was enough to make her smile and breathe a little easier. 

 

“Thank you Clay. We’re here to introduce the Queens Advisor spot, filled temporarily by Myriam of Agate, until our current threat has passed us.” George motioned for Myriam to join them  in between Niki and Wilbur. People were generally not happy about the development.

 

“What do you mean Queen’s advisor?”

“With all due respect my king-”

“This isn’t right.”

“She’s only been here a few months!”

“You seriously expect me to follow some woman!?” George ignored them all, and continued to roll through his announcements.

 

“-Wilbur and Myriam, as the two head royal advisors, will also have the power of decree so court preceding will run through them and the throne from now on. Advisors power remains the same, but a unanimous decision is not required for any proposal, and they may issue orders as well-”  That definitely did not sit well, and George was practically talking over everyone as he finished.

 

“And I’ll turn the meeting over to Queen Niki for her plan regarding the chosen one.”

“Are you serious!?”

“This is a coup!”

“We will not stand for this blasphemy!”

“A King cannot make his own plans? A woman must!?”

“If you really hate women making decisions so much, you will listen to our plan so we can keep your realm from danger so that I can go back home and get off “your” court.” Myriams cold commanding voice entered. The Advisor stuttered long enough for Myriam to nod at Niki. Alright my time. 

 

“The chosen one is half-elven, and from our Nordic sources...” Niki gestured towards Tommy and Tubbo who puffed out their chests. “Her parents are from Vale. We do not have much information on the current state of the chosen one, but we do have access to elements of her past-” She was cut off again by more interruptions.

 

“What good does her past do us?”

“You expect us to open communication with deviants!?”

“I think it’s a great idea.” Clay spoke up in Niis favor, his aggressive voice didn’t leave much room for further deliberation, but for some reason the small angry man next to him decided to continue.

 

“Of course you would.”

“What did you just say?” Hand on his sword Clay turned, and Niki feared for the man's life. She would’ve if it wasn’t for George drawing Clay back.

 

“Clay.” Clay reluctantly fell in towards the Kings side. Niki really didn’t know how people were so blind to their… whatever it was. The room settled into a haze of slight fear, and Myriam continued their point.

 

“Think of this as killing two birds with one stone. The fact is we need improved relations with Vale for this coming fight, considering you have outcast the sorcerers and mages. The chosen one's powers are also all about her mind, and dreams. Her past will have a big impact on managing to contact her, and knowing more about her specific destiny.” Niki smiled at her choice of advisor. She was much too smart for this court to argue with. George entered with a determined look on his face.

 

“We will also need volunteers.” Nick and Clay spoke first.

 

“I’ll go George!”

“I volunteer my king.” It was the first sort of break in tension Niki had seen from Clay, as George smiled softly at him. Niki attempted to draw attention from them even if no one seemed to care about the interaction.

 

“My three lieutenants will join you as well.” She addressed the amazons directly now. “You are tasked by Agate to find the chosen one and bring her home. Is that clear?”

“Hell yeah!”

“It’s our honor.”

“Of course.”

 

“We volunteer as well!” Niki’s smile snapped from her Amazons across the table to Tommy and Tubbo. Well that was unexpected.

 

“Tommy.” Wilbur's voice was low and warning as he took in his brother.

 

“No Wilbur. This is about Drista, and we’re going.”

“We can do this Wilbur!” Tubbo seemed excited, while Tommy was serious; and they were both clearly determined. Niki watched as Wilbur warred with himself inside his head, and decided to make the decision. I hope he doesn’t hate me for this…

 

“I think it will be useful for you two to come. You know the most about Drista.” Tommy beamed at her and Wilbur looked somewhere between grateful and unreadable. Luckily George took the majority of the shock in the room when he joined in.

 

“I will be joining as well.”

“George-” Clay sounded comically shocked, and George raised his hand at him.

“No Clay. I need to be there as an ambassador for this new alliance. Teakwood proceedings will be left with Queen Niki, and Head advisor Wilbur.” George spoke with a finality that had all the advisors looking to argue but not knowing how. Clearly they knew how to argue with her. Because when Niki spoke with the final recap and orders, she was met with the same small man who had challenged Clay.



“This is the most preposterous proposal I’ve ever heard-”

“With all due respect, it wasn’t a proposal. It was an order.” The man fell silent, flabbergasted at Niki’s response. Bad looked surprised. George coughed to hide his smile. Tommy gave a small cheer but was quickly shut down by Skeppy. Wilbur didn’t even try to stop his grin, and Reyna and Myriam were beaming smugly. Niki had to admit she felt some enjoyment out of it. Calliope definitely agreed, poking her head between Reyna and Myriam to break the silence.

 

“You heard the queen. We’re going to Vale!”

Chapter Text

It was stupid hot. Or as his very sympathetic friend Clay reminded him:

 

It’s not hot it’s just humid, don’t be a baby!”

 

No, Nick decided, it was stupid hot. He didn’t understand how Clay was functioning under that helmet. He’s probably covered in sweat! Probably soaked and disgusting and won’t admit it! Nick for his part was dripping. He had used a white fabric bandana to tie around his head and push back his raven hair, but it wasn’t doing much. The armor and stifling red cotton tunic bogged him down. It was all covered in sweat stains now like the bandana. They had been traveling for a little over an hour since they ditched their horses, and hopped onto a jungle path: the only way into Vale. Nick felt like it was days. He itched at the stubble that framed the bottom of his jaw, where most of the sweat collected, as he breathed heavily jogging up between Clay and George to address the King.

 

“George Please! You’re the King! Make him take a break!” He’s also in love with you.

“Ew Nick, you are completely disgusting please get away from me. We’re not taking a break.” I bet if George saw Clay gross like that, with his gross face, I wouldn’t have to hear about “how hot he is” anymore!

 

Don’t get him wrong, Nick had nothing against the little dynamic between his two best friends. In fact, he genuinely enjoyed using it against them sometimes. He just couldn’t stand to be in the middle of it, knowing his friends were on the precipice of some kind of transcending love without being able to help them was annoying. He wanted them to be happy more than almost anything else. Anything other than a water break right now…

 

“Fine then.” begrudgingly Nick adjusted his knights armor and retreated. He fell into step with the Amazons and Reyna sniggered at him.

 

“What Nick can’t take the heat?” Nick just narrowed his eyes at her patronizing tone.

 

“Of course I can.” he crossed his arms huffing. “Our armor just wasn’t built for this that’s all.”

“Clay seems to be doing fine?” Myriam had a sly teasing smile on her face, and Reyna feigned surprise to join in on the teasing.

 

“Huh! Making excuses Nick!?”

“Shut up.”

“I told you to try our armor.” Calliope punched him good naturedly in the shoulder, turning his attention to the right away from her two sisters. Nick had almost considered the proposal. He felt comfortable with Calliope, they certainly matched well. But, Nick took great pride in his armor. Clay may have been the one to suggest joining the guard, but Nick thinks he was the one who did most of the convincing along the line. Doing the next step, and the next step, until they eventually became the kings knights together. Nick was teakwood through and through. The sense of pride when George had knighted him that day was unmatched. He loved his friends, his other knights, and he even loved his official cape. Instead of pouring out his life story, Nick simply smiled at Calliope.

 

“I’d look better than you.” a chorus of “oo”’s sounded from the amazons around him and the pair in front. Nick rolled his eyes at the two walking shoulder to shoulder, especially when George almost tripped on a particularly large root and Clay reached out to catch him only to catch his toe on a rock and almost fall himself. Without the royal velvets and crown, George was in a light blue tunic, and leather armor over some tan cotton breaches Nick hadn’t seen since his sparing days. Clay wore some semblance of his knight's armor, mainly a simple chestplate and arm guards, over a green grey tunic that was very lightweight with tassel ties. Nick suspected he may have slept in it. And of course the helmet. As the pair laughed together over their clumsiness Nick smiled. Because if he ignored the swords strapped to their sides and the Kingdom they were slowly walking away from, they looked like any ordinary couple in Nick's opinion. Reyna seemed to be thinking the same thing.

 

“They’re cute aren’t they.” She said it more as a statement, and Nick laughed. He was sort of glad to have some more open minded people, who didn’t care about court proceedings. Nick was secretly grateful Clay had been chosen as captain. He was really just there to punch some squires and kick some Azurian ass.

 

“Yeah they are.”

“Do you think they’re gonna-” She was cut off by Myriam who was laughing, and jokingly angry at her friend.

 

“Seriously Reyna! What is with matchmaking? First Me and that Sailor, then Clay and George, then Niki and Wilbur! Oh my-”

“Wait Niki and Wilbur? As in the advisor?” Nick was confused, as Myriam snapped her mouth shut and her eyes went wide. Reyna turned to her smaller friend who’s cheeks had turned from a light brown to a light pink.

 

“Myriam!”

“I’ve said too much.” Reyna began laughing uncontrollably as Myriam looked ashamed. So Wilbur and Niki Huh? Nick shrugged, and decided good for Wilbur, the Queen was pretty hot, and good for Niki, Wilbur was a pretty charming Giant. 

 

“At least it wasn’t me who said something stupid this time!” Calliope butted in, and Nick laughed with her continuing to joke with the Amazons, until the first signs of civilization came into view.

 

“Guys look!” Tubbo excitedly called from where he was trailing in the back. Nick gazed up to where the kid was pointing. Slightly hidden in the canopy was a treehouse that blended into the trunk. 

 

“Good eye Tubbo.” The kid beamed at Nick's compliment, as Tommy patted him on the back and the two started chattering. Previously weary gazes were shaken off as clay began to usher them forward. They pass through the outskirts of older, more hidden architecture into something that took Nick's breath away. George definitely agreed with him to his right, and Nick could only imagine how Clay felt at The king's awe of his home.

 

“Wow…” Wow is right George! Nick had never personally been to Vale. He had heard a lot from Clay of course, who had no one else to share his adventures with. But being here… there was an etherealness to it all. Lower down on the ground were large wooden mansions that looked like houses with a multitude of people and activities. They were either built into trunks or under and around large roots that curved twenty or more feet out of the ground. Then as you looked farther up towards the towering canopy, a city was connected with various rope, plank, and other types of bridges and walkways surrounding tree trunks. Everything had unique styles, and it was an eclectic mix of materials, colors, and shapes. There were lots of lanterns and open glass or wall-less huts to combat the jungle shade and heat. Nick began to realize the people looked similar like Vale was a direct reflection of the community. All different races, shapes, and sizes were milling about without any cares or organization. It was so directly opposite to Teakwood Nick was a bit shocked, especially when he saw a particular woman who elected to walk around half clothed. Reyna covered Tommy and Tubos eyes, and Myriam covered Calliopes. Clay continued to usher the others along under a series of roots, directing them.

 

“Here, we should probably go to the center to see the queen first. It’s what used to be the palace.” The masked knight explained as he pushed aside a curtain of vines. George walked through the held aside vines, and Nick followed only to have them dropped on his head and grumble. Clay was too distracted to heed him, as George questioned with a furrowed brow.

 

“Clay… have you been here before?” Opps… Clay stiffened, as he frantically began to try and explain to George.

 

“No I! I mean-” Nick turned away trying to find something to distract the others with. He landed on an interesting vine curled around the end of the tree root level with his face. It was accompanied by an assortment of purple orchids.

 

“Hey guys look at these flowers!” Nick outstretched his hand to the blooms. Clay’s neck snapped to look at him, but he was too late.

 

“Nick DON’T!” What was previously a thick vine began to move as Nicks palmed neared within and inch of it, then it shifted to reveal scales changing color. It turned a bright purple like the flowers, and Nick realized what it was. He tried to retract, but wasn’t fast enough. The snake jumped out at him. Nick managed to bat it and redirect it from his neck, but he felt the fangs enter his lower abdomen, through the side of his armor. Instant pain flooded his senses and he collapsed into the vegetation.

 

“Arg!” Clay leapt forward to his friend. With one hand on his shoulder, his other reached down to grab the neck of the reptile and dislodge it. Everyone watched wide eyed and weapons drawn as clay held the wriggling worm tightly in his grip. George helped Nick to his feet, and Nick took a good look at his assailant. The thing continued to change colors in Clay's grasp, and he saw a drop of black liquid drip from it’s fang. Nick felt nauseous and strange, as pain ripped through his side. He grunted again and felt blood on his hand when he cupped the bite. Clay threw the thing away, and came worried to his side. Nick managed to huff out a few words.

 

“What… the… fuck… was that!?” Nick could hear the grimace in Clays tone as he assessed the would.

 

“It was a cornflower viper. Extremely venomous, but luckily pretty common.”

“Luckily!?”

“Yes, because there’s an antidote.” Clay suddenly became all business, and if the burning pain hadn’t clued Nick in, he knew it was serious now.

 

“We need to move. I guess we’re going to the healers hut first.”

 

~~~

 

With some difficulty, and a lot of splitting of weight, Reyna, George, and Clay had managed to get Nick up to the healer's hut. What Nick found there was rather unexpected. A lanky man a few inches taller than himself opened the door to a rather pretty treehouse on a large wood platform. The man was clearly an elf, with his lovely green eyes and long pointed ears peeking out of a fluffy brown mop. He had also clearly just been interrupted. There were a few suspicious bruises around his neck area, and he wasn’t wearing much clothing. In fact, it wasn’t really clothing. He donned a green robe that matched his eyes with yellow trim. The robe was thin and left little to the imagination, as seemed to be the theme of clothes in Vale. One side fell off his pale shoulder, and the v descended all the way to where it was tied around his waist. Nick knew he was currently dying, but c’mon is no one else distracted by this?! Clay spoke and the man rubbed at his eyes looking slightly bewildered.

 

“We have a viper bite, cornflower.”

“What? Who gets bit by a cornflower viper?”

“Well I wasn’t trying dim wit!” Nick practically grunted through his teeth leaning on George and the wall for support. The man's eyes widened as he turned to Nick, and looked him up and down. He swallowed quickly and nodded to Clay. Well I hope I don’t look that bad. 

 

“You can take him in there.” The man, who was apparently a healer motioned to a steeple like structure made entirely of glass on a connected hexagonal platform. Clay nodded, gripping his arm and brought him towards the hut. Nick turned to watch the man half retreat into his house. He caught a glimpse of a white bed, and a few belongings, and heard muffled chatter. Then a man who was barely wearing pants emerged from the hut. He looked a tad disappointed, and he also looked a bit like a greek god all defined shoulders and back muscles. Nick also registered that it was a dude leaving the healers house. He also registered that he was kinda happy about that.

 

“Ugh! Careful with the merchandise George.” The King muttered a retort, but looked too worried to joke as he set Nick down on the cot. The man entered no better dressed than before, but with a few vials in his hand.

 

“You’re all from Teakwood aren’t you.”

“How’d you know?” George questioned. The pretty man - wait since when was he pretty??- just shrugged, and continued over to a messy work station covered in bowls and bandages.

 

“We don’t get many humans here. At least not full humans like you.”

“How do you know we’re fully human?” Nick felt a little bit of his personality come out unbeknownst to him, as he was mostly focused on the immense pain he was in. The healer turned and smiled widely at him. He had a nice giggle and his smile was slightly buck toothed, it was almost... cute…

 

“You’re about the most Human person I’ve ever seen.”

“Hey what’s that supposed to-”

“Yes we are human!” George cut him off, giving him a look. Nick actually listened because this guy was about to save his life. “I’m actually King George of Teakwood” The man didn’t look extraordinarily impressed by the king's title but he did perk up and turn away from what he was working on.

 

“You must be looking for Queen Feyre. You’ll find her at the east river walk. You can go discuss whatever business you need in the center if you like. I’ll take good care of your friend.” The man shot him a smile, and Nick found himself liking the idea.

 

“Yeah I’m all set guys. He’ll take good care of me.” He couldn’t help his flirtatious nature of his tone, as the elf healer seemed to be caught off guard but not unhappy. Clay scoffed and George and Reyna raised an eyebrow at him. He just waved them away, wincing slightly. George and Clay shrugged at each other.

 

“If you’re sure you’re okay.”

“Don’t die Nick.” With that they were off to join the others, and presumably the queen, and Nick was left alone with the very pretty elf man. He continued messing with his materials and working on grinding some things into a bowl, while tossing a teasing smirk over his shoulder at Nick.

 

“So... how did you manage to get bit by a cornflower viper?”

“What do you mean? It was camouflaged into the vines, that’s how!” Nick furrowed his brow at the man, but that quickly disappeared at the impish little giggle he let out. He hummed and nodded patronizingly, and Nick grunted attempting to make an annoyed gesture but he just doubled over in pain on the small cot. The man’s face softened at his pain, and then he said something particularly surprising.

 

“Take off your shirt.” Nick choked, and laughed at the sudden request.

“Wha-at?”

“I didn’t mean it like that! I need to see the wound.” The elf managed to say somewhat matter of fact, but he turned away from Nick as he slowly stripped off his armor, but he was mostly undoing the fastens while groaning.

 

“Here let me help.”

“Trying to get me shirtless and I don’t even know your name?” The man ignored him at first, and approached the cot standing in front of Nick, so he had a great view of the top of his brown fluffy head. His pale hands deftly worked at the buckles, pulling his armor off piece by piece until Nick was just in his tunic. Then the healer turned his gaze up to Nicks, Wow he’s really close, and answered.

 

“It’s Karl, and you are?”

“Karl…” He tried the name on for size on his tongue, and he liked it. “...I’m Nick.” Karl smirked at that for some reason, as he walked back from Nick and returned to his work. Nick smiled, drawn in by karls presence. He began to unbutton his shirt, shrugging it slowly off his shoulders, as he inquired about the expression.

 

“What?”

“Is that your full name. I imagine it’s something stuffy like Sir Nicholas. ” Nick stayed silent. Karl seemed to take his silence for an answer, and he whirled around with a shocked face on.

 

“No way, It is!” Nick opened his mouth to respond, but closed it as Karls expression changed. His previous elated smile fell slightly with his eyes as they crawled down Nick's exposed chest. Okay is it my ego? Or did he just take a breath!? Nick decided to test the waters. He smiled a shark-like smile, and gestured slightly flexing his arms.

 

“Like what you see?”

“What if I do?” Nick raised an eyebrow, and couldn’t stop his smile. Karl looked like he was trying hard to hold eye contact by the blush on his cheeks. Nick had always been a flirty person. He certainly enjoyed this, and he certainly wasn’t going to back down now.

 

“Then you better come over here and save me.”

“Oo-o-ooo” Karl turned redder, but he kept up the light flirty as he gathered some bandages and wet rags from his work station. He approached Nick again, with a confidence that almost made him try and gain some distance. He was dizzy from having Karl in his space while the air still crackled from their interaction, and they had just met. It also could be the venom.

 

“I’m sorry this is gonna hurt.” Nick hissed as Karl pressed his fingers lightly around the bite mark. It was on the side of his lower abdomen, and while that was definitely the area Nick wanted Karls hands, the elven healer was causing a lot of pain right now. Nick’s head dropped to his chest as he tried to keep it together, and Karl grimaced at him.

 

“You're lucky your friend knew to bring you here. This poison can be nasty without the antidote.”

“Looks pretty nasty right now.” Nick tried for a joke, but his words came out breathless as Karl began wiping the blood and black ooze off with a cloth. The wound didn’t look good. It was two distinct punctures with black tendrils spreading out from them across Nick's stomach that shone with a thin sheen of sweat. He looked around to find anything to distract himself. His gaze landed on some bloodied bandages and tools on the workbench.

 

“Has someone been hurt recently?” Nick grunted at a particularly forceful wipe, and Karl looked at him apologetically as he answered.

 

“Yeah…um it can get pretty dangerous around here.” Nick hummed. Seems like that conversation isn’t gonna continue. Karl was short with him. I wonder if he’s hiding something? It was a  contrast to his bubbly welcoming air. Nick liked that, he wanted to go back to Karl smiling. Though he is cute when he’s focused. It was Karls turn to ask an uncomfortable question as Nick watched him.

 

“Your Knight friend… do I know him? He seemed familiar.” Nick's blood ran cold. Clay had been to Vale before, may even be friends with Karl. Nick shook his head, hoping he was convincing.



“No he was raised in Teakwood like me.” So not a total lie. Nick was worried as Karl seemed deep in thought, he decided to cut the tension with a joke. 

“Why? do you think he’s cute?” It had the desired reaction and Karl giggled again. In his laughter a probably unnecessary hand ended up resting on Nick's broad shoulder while the other worked on the wound, but Nick wasn’t complaining.

 

“He’s not really my type.” Karl popped the p and locked eyes with Nick. It was definitely pointed, and intentional, and Nick was all for it.

 

“Oh yeah? What is your type?” Karl shrugged and Nick pressed, an immovable smirk now planted on his face. “That guy that was leaving earlier?... or maybe something else…” He leaned forward slightly towards Karls face at the last comment. Karl just rolled his eyes, Nick thought it held some fondness, and pushed away taking the dirty rags and water back to his table. He was somewhat drunk on the reactions Karl was giving him, and the elve’s general presence. Nick wanted to keep talking and flirting.

 

“Was that it?”

“No, I still need to apply the actual antidote. So impatient!”

“Then what was that? You know I’m dying here.”

“You’re not dying Nick.” I like when he says my name like that… all sharp and- “I just needed to clean the wound.”

“I think you wanted to keep me shirtless.”

“You know it.” That was the most Nick had gotten so far, and he was elated. It may have been the poison in his veins, but he thought Karl was glowing from the sun in the stained glass walls as he approached with a small mixing bowl. Then the ethereal elf was touching gently at Nick's stomach. Nick wasn’t really sure if his shiver came from whatever Karl was doing or how the feather light touch affected him.

 

“Okay here we go.” Karl placed one hand on Nick's forearm, and the other rubbed the first layer of a grainy salve over the wound. Nick almost blacked out from pain. It felt like the fangs had stabbed him all over again, and the wound was burning from the inside out. He jerked his head and shoulders forward, gripping at the edge of the cot. His sweaty forehead practically rested on the healers shoulder as he grit his teeth hard.

 

“Fuck Karl!” Karl blushed locking eyes with Nick as the knight picked up his head, clearly affected by his tone and profanity. Their faces were so close as Karl attempted to sooth him with small ministrations and teasing.

 

“Wow. If I didn’t know any better I’d say you liked the pain?”

“If you’re the one giving it.” Nick quipped back winking. Karl beamed at him.

 

“Oh ho!” Nick laughed sharply at that tipping his head back as his vision cleared of spots. When did the spots even get here? Nick watched the elf reach his hand back in the bowl for more salve, and voiced his concerns.

 

“Again! Wasn’t once enough?”

“The first layer hurts the most. I thought it was better not to give you a countdown.”

“Okay well you could’ve given me a warning!”

“Here this is a warning.” With that chipper comment Karl returned to his position slapping another layer on, and grounding Nick with a grip on his wrist. Nick grit his teeth but said nothing this time as he waited for the burning to pass. Karl looked at him expectantly, and Nick nodded for him to continue. The layers got easier, until they were joking again and the bowl was empty.

 

“Alright all done.”

“Thank god!” Karl laughed, and Nick leaned back with his hands behind him to prop himself up, and watched the smiling elf. Karls laugh faded into a red face as he took in the Knight whose gaze was still locked onto him. I probably look a little less than what Bad would consider ‘Holy’ right now, Nick thought as he leaned back sweaty chest heaving and shamelessly checking out the man in front of him, who still hadn’t put real clothes on. Without the haze of pain, Nick could take in his cute face and soft jawline, his green eyes stood out especially with the brown fluffy hair. The ears, and his lithe build made him look like the nymphs Nicks mother used to talk about in stories. Nick's eyes trailed to what Karls robe left on display. A pale expanse of chest, and collar bones that were frankly... Hot, they were hot. Collar bones shouldn’t be hot.

 

“I should probably wrap that now.” Karl said, collecting his bandages. Nick smiled as he got an idea, his eyes glinted at the prospect. He leaned back even further so he was propped on his elbows, and spread his legs ever so slightly.

 

“Go ahead.” Nick didn’t move and Karls eyes widened slightly, as he picked up on the invitation. The elven healer collected his bandages, and softly clambered onto the cot essentially up Nick's body. He hovered over him in between Nicks legs as he wrapped the bandages under and around his torso. Oh yeah this is nice. Karl was close enough now that Nick took an extended look at the features he was previously admiring. Due to the angle, Nick was eye level with his neck, and those stupid collar bones he had been staring at earlier. How are they so defined? Karl’s hands ghosted around him, and Nick could feel his breath and he wrapped a few more layers around his torso. Then Karl stopped, hands on either side of his waist and face to face with Nick. He spoke softly.

 

“Well this is Nice, but I do actually need you to sit up to fasten these.” His face was so close, and tone so flirtatious that Nick knew he didn’t want to move either. Nick smirked and raised himself on one arm coming closer to Karl, who was on his knees. The other arm reached up to run a finger along his collar bone. Both were enraptured by each other before Karl had to back off the cot to finish his actual job. When the bandages were done and tight Nick felt better, but he felt a sadness bloom. Is it over? As if answering his prayer Karl spoke in a slightly shaky voice. Green eyes peered up at him, as the previously confident and pretty elf wrung his hands.

 

“You may need to uh… come back some time… to uh… get those bandages changed you know.” Nick smiled, that smirk that Karl seemed to keep bringing out of him. He reached for his red tunic, but kept his eyes locked with the elf.

 

“Yeah? I’d like that.” 

“Am I interrupting?” Yes you are. Standing in the open glass doorway was the metal masked knight looking far more put together in his armor, than Nick who had just been wrecked both physically and emotionally. Nick tried to put all his hatred into the glare he shot his friend, but Karl already had that perky tone back as he addressed the Knight.

 

“Of course not! He’s all yours.”

“Are you sure?” Nick felt his face fall slightly at Karl being excited to see him go. It seemed like Karl was just always sort of excited as he turned back to Nick.

 

“Yeah! I’ll see you later.” With the promise of later Nick certainly felt better slipping on his tunic and hobbling over towards Clay after grabbing his sword. His friend waited a whole 10 feet at least before he started snickering.

 

“Ohhhh you’ve got it bad Nick!”

“You’re one to talk.” Clay just shrugged, and put his hands behind his stupid helmeted head.

 

“I think you should go for it.”

“So should you.”

“Stop that! Using my own advice against me.”

“What! Can’t take it Clay?”

“I never take it.”

“Ewwww gross dude!” Clay laughed and Nick faked a look of disgust, as they joked their way towards the stairs to the platform. Clay explained they would rejoin the others and spend the night.

 

If Nick had turned around, he would have seen Karl hiding his squealing red face in his elbow over his desk after Nick left, but that's none of his business.

 

And If Nick had purposefully left his armor in the hut so that he’d have to come back one last time in the morning, It’s really nobody’s business .

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 17: Clay POV

 

Clay was already tense, and then Nick had to go and get himself bitten by a cornflower viper. Dumbass…

 

“Do you think he’ll be okay?” George’s voice was small and slightly unsure, something unusual for someone of a king status. Clay attempted to reassure him as best he could.

 

“I think so. Elven healers are very well respected.”

“I didn’t think much of anything elven was well respected in Teakwood.” George said it under his breath. And even though Clay heard him, he remained quiet. George was right, there was no respect for elves in Teakwood. His fist clenched remembering his mother. He had been the one to find her, when he was just fourteen. Clay could still feel the tears in his eyes, as Nick's father dragged him away from her body. All it would take was one slip up, or one person to recognize him, and Clay would be outed, done for. I can’t let that happen. 

 

Clay looked at George. The king looked far too distracted to have noticed anything, like the slight recognition in Karls eyes. Clay had taken a risk bringing Nick to one of his friends, but it was necessary. Now it had just stirred up many of the fears and anxieties Clay was trying to avoid. Right now he was trying his best to focus on Drista. His sister. He still couldn’t believe she had been right under his nose the whole time. Staring at the back of Tommy and Tubbos heads, bobbing next to the amazons, Clay kicked himself again for not putting the pieces together sooner. Of course she would’ve been sent to the nordic clan. Clay was spiraling so deep in his own thoughts he had to pull himself out with a deep breath, closing his eyes behind his metal mask. The shorter brunette next to him took one in tandem, clearly calming his own inner demons. Without a mask George's emotions were bare to Clay. The King kept glancing at him nervously, but not the nervous blush usually accompanied by excitement and a smile. Clay frowned and was about to say something, then Myriam spoke.

 

“Is this it?” Clay looked ahead, past the row of their friends infront of him and the King. This was it, the place he only had foggy memories of before they left Vale during the war. The Center. His father had worked for the old monarchy here, back before everything lost its structure. The largest tree in Vale, which most consider to be the center of the jungle, was to Clay as the sky is to a star. Around it swung what was considered the center or palace, a spiral platform that formed a sort of cone around the trunk, with different levels. It was primarily wood planks, red glass, lanterns, and jewels or mosaic. It captured what Clay always thought Vale was supposed to be.

 

“Yes, we should find the Queen in here.” He answered Myriam. The Amazons nodded, Reyna seemed in awe of the place as she whispered praises. Tommy had to snap tubo out of his stupor as he shook him.

 

“TO THE QUEEN!” The boys raced ahead, and Myriam followed like a concerned mother, practically grabbing their collars. Clay smiled. At least Drista had good friends. He shook his head, metal rattling. He had to get his mind straight. If they were going to find his sister, he had to be at his best. So does George. Clay looked at the King who gulped towards the palace. Even if George didn’t know how important this was to Clay, he needed him right now. So, Clay reached out and clasped his hand gently around the kings.

 

“Hey you’ve got this okay?” George looked between their hands and Clay's metal mask with wide eyes, before he grabbed back against Clay's leather gloves. George met his hidden face, and the regular blushing happiness was back. Clay tried to squeeze as much confidence as he could into the King's hand, and Reyna called back to them.

 

“You coming!?” She eyed their hands but said nothing. George let go, and began to ascend the stairs bumping shoulders with Calliope, as Myriam was still wrangling the giants. Clay thought a little piece of him went with George everytime he pulled away.

 

The group climbed around the spiral, until they found someone who was any form of helpful, probably because she was hitting on Reyna. After she realized she wasn’t getting anywhere, she led them to what was supposedly a throne room. Once she had left they all stood outside the double doors on the third ring of the palace. The doors were made entirely out of twigs, as were most of the walls surrounding the large circle room with the trunk in the middle that took up the whole floor. Myriam sighed once the elf had left, and Calliope teased Reyna.

 

“You probably enjoyed that a little too much.”

“You’re not the only one you can get laid.” Tommy seemed to have had enough of that conversation, as he made his way boisterously towards the doors.

 

“AlRIGHT TIME TO GO IN THEN, BOYS! We’re gonna talk to the Queen an-” He was stopped short by the King's hand and patronizing smile. 

 

“Actually Tommy, I think Clay and I will make the first impression.” He spoke softly but without much room for argument. Tommy almost protested, but Tubbo nodded first.

 

“We’ll wait right out here King George!” Tommy started bickering quietly with Tubbo, and George faced the doors. Clay stood at his side, attempting to telepathically reassure the King. It might have worked because he heard George whisper right before opening the doors.

 

“I’ve got this.” There was some shuffling and hushed tones, before Clay and George entered the room to find… a girl? On a throne made of bronze twisted into the shape of vines, was a red-headed girl probably around Tubbos height. Very redheaded, Clay noted, and very freckled. He himself had a few freckles, and sort of wondered if his sister had gotten them as well. Dad had them. Hopefully he would find out soon. The shuffling and hushed tones were explained as the man Clay had seen leaving Karls walked around them, and Clay made out a cloaked figure leaving the room. He squinted but couldn’t see anymore of what he presumed was a servant. The figure was shorter than the other elven servants, it almost looked younger, draped in a long blue hooded coat with gold trim. They were out of Clays sight, as quick as they came, but he couldn’t shake a strange feeling.

 

“Hello?” George spoke clearly confused by the sight as much as Clay.

 

“Hello.” The girl responded. She sounded slightly guarded towards them, which would be expected. That still didn’t answer why the hell, a teenager, who could be no more than Tubbos age, was sitting in a sleeveless scoop neck olive green dress and gold jewelry, on the elven throne? She also had a gold circlet resting atop her head that mimicked a widows point in the center. George has a cute widows peak when he pushes his hair back. Clay almost sighed at the thought, his mind simply couldn’t be occupied by anything but George, and his sister these days. He would blame that as the reason it took him so long to figure out.

 

“I’m Queen Feyre. You’re the humans from Teakwood I presume?” Clay was shocked, but at least he could hide his expression. George, on the other hand, had no such luck.

 

“Yes we are- but-you- you’re the queen.” Feyre seemed to forgive the King for his shock. She gave him a sort of weirded out face, and furrowed her eyebrows, but she smiled an almost amused smirk.

 

“I am.”

“How old are you?” Clay felt himself speak. He had never heard of such a young ruler. He thought George was young at 30.

 

“I’m fifteen.” Feyre seemed like she was expecting their reaction. She set her shoulders back a little, like she was preparing for a challenge. George gave her nothing but disbelief, and she seemed relieved.

 

“Isn’t that a little young?”

“Well when the rest of your family dies off you don’t have much of a choice.” The lack of judgement from George clearly made her relax. Feyre looked sad and awkward as she picked lightly at the edge of her dress. Something flashed in George's eyes, and Clay also made the connection. The king had handled the loss of his parents well, but this girl was all alone. Clay could see the relation happening within the King. George cleared his throat anyway, becoming more of his kingly self as he continued.

 

“My condolences. We didn’t know.”

“You would if Teakwood had attempted any sort of contact since the war.”

“That’s what we’re doing now.”

“I see.” Feyre was closed off, and this was clearly not going to be easy. She was a broken kid who had learned how to hide. I can relate to that. She also looked fierce, she had strength in her eyes. The same kind Clay had seen in Tommy and Tubbo. The next generation growing up in a war, it was the same eyes he saw in the mirror. Clay couldn’t imagine her rolling over to Azura-Minx, and he was ready to play that card, but George had another tactic. Clay was left in awe, as the King sighed and let down his defences. He became vulnerable to this young girl in a way Bad would’ve strongly advised against in court, but it seemed to do the job.

 

“My parents died as well, recently. I’m the youngest King Teakwood has ever had. I was the only heir, so I took over after my father, The previous King George. I was named after him.” Feyre’s wide green eyes watched George, she looked hopeful and cautious. When George mentioned the name, Clay could tell that was her breaking point.

 

“I was named after my grandfather Feyre. He’s the one who died in the war. Afterwards my grandmother turned Vale into what you see now, a place of peace. Her and my parents died earlier this year, now my only goal is to keep what she built alive.” George nodded comberly, and Clay was again astounded by the King. He had taken to ruling well of course, but this was something else. George had just single handedly shown compassion and mended a rift two generations could not. Given how childish he can be I never took him for a diplomat.

 

“I’d like to start off properly, though I’m sure Karl had you informed, I’m King George, you may call me George.” The King extended his hand, and for a brief moment Clay worried Feyre wouldn’t take it. Then she rose from her throne and her freckled face broke into a smile. She shook the Kings hand. She was taller than the King, and Clay had to admit the scene was quite funny, but he was also currently witnessing history and feeling too much pride for George.

 

“I’m Feyre then. What can I do for you George?”

“Actually we have two orders of business today, may the rest of my representatives come in?”

“Yes, but I think… they’ve already been eavesdropping.” Feyre’s smile made her look her age, as she pointed to a tuft of brown hair poking through the twigs. Turns out it was Tubbo, who practically fell at Clays feet when he opened the door. So much for first impressions. Reyna dragged a hand down her face, while the other two Amazons laughed and shook their heads, before stepping over the boy and approaching the young queen.

 

“Hi I’m Reyna, Lieutenant of Agate, so nice to see a lady ruler!”

“Myriam, Agatian Lieutenant and Teakwood Advisor.”

“You just had to one up me? “Teakwood Advisor””

“Well yeah cause if you just-”

“-And i’m Calliope! I really love all the gay action you’ve got going on around here!” Feyre looked happily surprised as she took in the new arrivals.

 

“Wow… um…. This is not what I expected.” Feyre outright laughed, and shook each of the amazons hands.

 

“I know our Kingdoms have different values, but we do not.” George commanded respect from everyone in the room when he said that, including Feyre. Hearing the words with such conviction also made Clays heart soar. He knew George was going to change Teakwood for the better, as soon as they found his sister and ended this brewing war. Even Tubbo was smiling at the king as he pulled himself off the grown dusting off the front of his navy nordic tunic. His cherub smile and wave was directed at Feyre who gave him a sort of strange, taken aback, look up and down.

 

“Im Tubbo by the way! Just Tubbo…”

“He’s the Nordic Chief's son.” Myriam chimed in helpfully. Feyre nodded slowly, and looked at the fellow teenager, who was still smiling at her, with some mix of annoyance and interest in her green eyes.

 

“Very Impressive.” Tubbo blushed and looked around, while Calliope snickered at him. He kept glancing at the Queen but couldn’t meet Feyre’s green eyes. The elven girl looked annoyed at the interaction and slight blush on her face, and turned away shaking it off. Clay was reminded of her age, despite how she addressed him with the air of a Queen.

 

“And you are?”

“Sir Clay of Teakwood, Captain of the guard the King's Knight.” George smiled at him. Clay hoped he knew the smile was returned. When he turned back to the queen he caught something flash in her eyes, he thought she reeled for a moment.

 

“Clay?”

“Yes.” Suspicion rose as she seemed a bit shocked with a smile. Please don’t say anything, please don’t know anything.

 

“Is there a problem?” George asked. He looked ready to come to Clays defence against this fifteen year old. The thought really warmed Clay’s heart. He thought about the same protectiveness George may show in Teakwood if Clay were ever to be outed, in either way, and it solidified his faith in the King. The Queen seemed to take in her surroundings, and put on a neutral expression. Whatever was there was gone as she addressed the group with a smile.

 

“None at all. Now what do you want to talk about?”

 

~~~

 

Hours later, and they were nowhere. Drista was nowhere to be found. Feyre had seemed nice and apologetic, but Clay could remember the moment he felt his hopes drop.

 

“Our second order of business if is the chosen one.” George started. Feyre crinkled her nose.

 

“As in the Dream Eye?”

“Yes.”

“Do they have something to do with the Azurians?”

“We’re currently looking for her, and she was born in Vale so if you know anything that may be able to locate her.” Feyre shook her head.

 

“I’m sorry I-”

“She grew up with us.” Tubbo had said “Tommy and I-” He gestured to the blonde boy, who had come in after taking a walk. “-We grew up with her, and we’re the ones that lost her.” Feyre smiled sadly. It was the most attention she had paid to Tubbo since their interaction, and she seemed as genuine and sincere as Tubbo was nervous to speak.

 

“I’m really sorry but I don’t know anything about the chosen one.”

 

Clay knew it was silly to have hoped for more. He had just thought, for some reason , after his dream that his sister might be in Vale. It was weird but he just got a feeling. Maybe because the dream was in Vale, or maybe because… he didn’t know. Now he groaned with his head in his hands. Feyre had been more than accommodating. Her and Karl, who were apparently very close and their sibling relationship only made Clay sadder, set them up to stay the night, in a few rooms in the center. Nick had passed out on one of the bamboo cots from the medicine Karl gave him. Clay and the others had stayed up going through everything the elves had archived. It didn’t give Clay more than he already knew about his sister:

 

King Feyre was at war with Teakwood. He wanted an upper hand, and when an elven soldier recognized Dristas eyes as an infant he thought he had it. Clay's parents fled Vale with him and his sister when he was 7. Vale hadn’t seen anything of Drista since. Clay had. Their family made it inconspicuously to Teakwood from the northern side, with other giant immigrants. Somewhere along the way, his sister was sent away, apparently to the Nordic clan, after having her eyes hidden. Clay sighed again. Maybe I’m the best lead we have.

 

The thought swirled in his mind. He was the only one left awake. The Amazons had gone to bed first, Tommy and Tubbo had soon been forced to follow after Clay caught them yawning one too many times. The boys had wanted to stay and help, but Clay assured them they would tell them anything new they found about their friend. After they felt they had seen everything George had suggested they go to bed. Clay tried to ignore the connotations, he really did, but he still made a joke about going to bed together. Even with his sister missing, he couldn’t resist making George blush. Maybe he was royally fucked. They stayed on the other two cots in Nick's room. Well, George did. Clay on the other hand couldn’t sleep. Between thoughts of his sister and the paranoia of taking his helmet off with other people this close, he was very awake.

 

“Clay? Are you awake?” What the fuck? He swore sometimes George could read his mind. Two brown eyes beamed at him through the dark. The King had sat up in bed. Clay worried his groaning and sighing had woken him up, or maybe he had never actually gone to sleep. The Kings hair was still messy from tossing and turning, and he was seated under the thin sheets in his light blue tassel tunic. It was somewhat open showing off the kings pale chest, and Clay really couldn’t deal with this right now. He was about to make some excuse of not wanting to wake up Nick, but then their mutual bestfriend snored so deeply Clay was positive the world could’ve ended and he would remain passed out. So, since Clay was a glutton for punishment when it came to his feelings for George. He said:

 

“Yeah.”

“You can’t sleep?”

“No George.” The King was silent, and he pursed his lips. It looked like he was debating saying something. Then he decided to do it anyway, and those beautiful lips opened to ask the question that Clay could not answer.

 

“Why?” The war, Drista, you… Clay sighed, wringing his hands and leaning forward so that his elbows rested on his bent knees sitting facing George from his cot.

 

“I don’t know.” George shifted letting his legs hang like Clays, but since it was an elven bed they just barely reached the floor. Clay smiled at the sight. George looked at him with a smile that urged him to continue, and Clay really was a sucker for his smile.

 

“I Just- I know it’s silly, but I really thought we would find something… anything about her.” He said the last part quietly, but George caught it, nodding. He seemed like he was trying to bring Clays mood up, and if anyone could do it, it would be him. George shrugged his shoulders, and put on a smile Clay didn’t fully believe but appreciated nonetheless.

 

“Well it wasn’t a total loss.” To Clay it felt like it. “We have two alliances now against the Azurians.” One of them is a pacifist Nation .

 

“Yeah… I just feel bad for Tubbo and Tommy, you know.”

“Yeah they’re handling it really well. All three of them are really strong, and from what Tommy has said I can’t even imagine what Drista is like.” Clay smiled. He felt himself really wanting George to meet his sister, but the smile was quickly replaced by that familiar pang of loss. His sister sounded amazing, and he didn’t even know her. Tommy knew her. Kinda sounded like he really knew her… That was something Clay would address after he found her, and got tot alk to her about boys. Right now he wanted a distraction.

 

“Why are you awake?” Clay directed at George. His suspicions were pretty much confirmed, that the King never fell asleep, when George responded.

 

“I don’t know, I guess I can’t sleep when you’re not.” George smiled gently, and Clay didn’t miss the soft tone, or the extra weight, to his words.

 

“Are you sure it’s not about your parents? You mentioned how strong Feyre is. You should know you’re really strong too George.” Clay tried to convey all of his emotions into his words. It seemed to work, as George couldn’t meet his eyes and looked down at his hands.

 

“I thought I was supposed to be cheering you up?”

“I can’t be happy if you’re not.”

“Then you must not have been very happy recently.” Oh. George made direct eye-contact into his mask. In the stifling night air, this was one of those moments where Clay felt like the King could see him despite the metal shield that usually protected him from peoples gaze. Clay had no response, but it turns out he didn’t need it. George spoke out of a whisper now, but still soft, it seemed to Clay there was simply too much conviction to contain in a whisper.

 

“I don’t think I can be happy without you Clay.” Clay’s breath hitched, and his hands gripped at his knees. George was breathtaking in the dappled moonlight. He was all shining eyes, sharp cheeks, and soft lips. 

 

“You have me.” It felt like the truth, even if it was sort of a lie.

 

“Not really.” George looked sad now. He wasn’t angry, Clay knew he wasn’t to blame and so did George. Their situation was complicated.

 

“Yes you do.” George may have believed him a little more this time, but his smile was still missing some of it’s previous light. Clay wanted to sweep him up, and kiss him, and show him that George really did have all of me. But, he couldn’t. There was too much at stake. They couldn’t start something, not with all eyes on George and Niki, and especially not something that would make the king a deviant. All of this was for his country and for Drista. That’s what Clay reminded himself as he stood and moved to the door.

“I’m going to go for a walk.”

“I’ll join you.” George was on his feet and met Clay in the doorway. They faced each other, and the height difference came back into play. It would be so easy to press George back and against the door frame, or take him out into the moonlight, but Clay needed to be free for a moment. 

 

“Not right now George. Just, not right now…” George looked as if he expected it. And Clays words had sounded almost pleading to his own ear, the King took pity on him and let him go. George looked Clay over, every inch of him, seemingly deciding what he was going to do. Clay burned under his gaze, but remained still. George eventually just clenched his hands at his sides and nodded, going back to climb into bed. Clay felt his eyes on him as he left the room that was now very suffocating.

 

Clay made his way down the spiral walkway, through the various floors of the center. He had taken off his minimal armor, and left it and his weapon in the room. When he reached the bottom of the stairs he checked his surroundings, before reaching up and unclasping his helmet stashing it under a bush. Clay breathed in the full air of Vale. He was left with his hair, ears, and eyes on display. It felt dangerous with his friends just a few floors up, but he needed this. He made his way to his favorite bar. He passed a few borderline naken elves, and other races or hy-brids dancing to music. He reached the bar, elated to be here just as Clay once again. He wanted to enjoy it more, but he also needed the drink to forget his current troubles.

 

“I thought that was you.” Clay's heart jumped slightly, and he turned to find Karl. The elf was leaning against the wooden bar made out of a tree root, and holding a cup of ale. Clay felt caught, as he smiled at his friend.

 

“Hi Karl.”

“So that’s your day job huh?”

“Yup.”

“Sir Clay the knight!”

“Okay maybe let’s not broadcast that to everyone here.”

“Sorry sorry!” Karl seemed so genuine in his apology, that Clay could tell he’d had a few drinks. Clay laughed and smirked around his own cocktail, he preferred the fruity ones alright. It had been so long without a break from his helmet Clay forgot people could see his smirks.

 

“What’s with the smirk?” Clay just wheezed at a drunk Karl, who seemed genuinely hurt.

 

“Maybe I’m thinking about how you tried to fuck my dying friend today?” Clay eyed Karl warningly over his glass. The healer held no shame as he scoffed. His cheeks were already red, so Clay couldn’t tell if he had blushed or not.

 

“I so did not, he came on to me!” Ah sounds like Nick. “He is pretty though…”

“Is he?” Clay was intrigued by the far away look in Karls eyes. He also really wanted a distraction right now, and hearing about how hot his childhood best friend was would definitely earn him a drink.

 

“Yes! That hair… and then- oh god his little beard! You know how I like beards Clay. And he’s got really nice eyes- and a nice chest- also…” Karl was rambling, and Clay let him continue, but his attention was focused somewhere else. He saw a flash of blue. It was the same servant from the throne room, but maybe they weren’t a servant. Clay hadn’t seen any others, and he was unexplainably curious about the blue hooded figure currently darting through the crowd across the bar from him. 

 

“Sorry Karl I gotta go.”

“-uh yeah sure man.” Clay left his drink exchanging mutual shoulder pats with the drunk elf.

 

“Hey don’t be a stranger! Visit soon, and bring your hot friend!” Karl called after him, as Clay disappeared. He followed the blue hood, dodging people left and right. The figure seemed to know he was following, as their cape billowed moving faster. Clay hit a particularly crazy group of dancing demon girls. Lesbians. When he looked up he barely saw the corner of the cloak head to the back exit of the bar. He followed at a run, turning the corner and almost knocking a guy's drink out of his hand. When he looked up the door was flapping, and the blue hood was nowhere to be seen.


He had lost sight of the figure. Great! just another thing I won't be able to find…

Chapter Text

Chapter 18: Tommy POV



“I can’t believe they left us out here!” Tommy whispered shouted, but it fell on deaf ears as Reyna rolled her eyes, and flicked him in the side of the head.

 

“Ow!”

“Be quiet. They left all of us out here.”

“Yeah you’re a little much for a first impression.” Tommy sneered at Calliope’s response. He couldn’t help it. He was tired of sitting around, waiting for the adults to do something. If this was going to help get Drista back he wanted to help. Tubbo placed a hand on his shoulder, and whispered.

 

“I’ve got an idea.” He creeped forward and leaned his head against the twigs. Tommy wasn’t fully sure what that would help, but he gave his friend a confused thumbs up. Tubbo waved him off.

 

“I need to focus.” Tommy, Reyna, and Myriam rolled their eyes, but Calliope surged forward egging him on. She was clearly amused by Tubbos shenanigans. It caused a hushed conversation to fall, Tommy fell back brooding, and trying to be annoyed as quietly as possible. He just really wanted to find her. He distracted himself by looking around. The intricate twig walls, the view of surrounding trees and canopy, the door opening farther down the spiral… wait!? Door opening? Tommy noticed a small single twig door farther down the massive throne room floor open, and out stepped an elf? Servant? Girl? They had a blue hood on, so Tommy couldn’t really see. Until he caught a side view… No. 

 

“Tommy where are you going?” Myriam asked. Tommy hadn’t even realized he was walking. He stuttered as he tried to respond and keep his eyes on the last place she went.

 

“Uh- I’m just going for a walk! This may take a while.” With that Tommy was off. The others were distracted, but Tommy didn’t care. His heart was beating so fast. He turned a corner and he saw the girl again changing floors. Now he was sure it was a girl, and he was almost positive… I’d know those blonde curls anywhere lady…

 

“Drista?” Tommy felt every organ attempt to climb out of his throat in anticipation. The girl stopped about ten feet in front of him, and her shoulders heaved. The world seemed to stop with her. Tommy spoke gently. He was afraid she would run. He was afraid she wasn’t real.

 

“Drista… it’s me Tommy.”

“I know who you are dumbass.” And there she was... When Drista turned to face him, for a moment Tommy didn’t have a reaction. She looked good: her blonde waves were clean and half tied back exposing her ears that had silver dangles on them, the multicolored eyes he still hadn’t gotten used to stared at Tommy apprehensively, she had a few fading cuts and bruises on her face and some Tommy could see peeking out of the long blue cloak. Mainly she was alive. Tommy could have spent time thinking about her light blue elven tunic and shorts or how she didn’t look extremely happy to see him, but he didn’t care because she was here-- alive and standing in front of him.

 

“You’re alive!” Tommy felt the smile overtake his face, as he surged forward wrapping the smaller girl into his arms. Tommy didn’t really know where that came from. They weren’t usually the hugging type, but he made an exception in this case. Drista took in a sharp breath at first; then she relaxed. As Tommy felt her melt into the hug, he smiled wider and hugged her impossibly tighter. She smelled good. Is that perfume?

 

“I am… surprisingly.” Tommy laughed a little. He pulled away and stepped back looking at her again. It felt good to joke, even if it was just her dry sense of humor. Tommy felt all the grief and stress leaving his body as he looked at her. She was smiling now too. I missed that smile. 

 

“We’ve been trying to figure out how to find you! How’d you even get out!? This is crazy! I have to tell the others!” Tommys brain began to catch up with his feelings, and he started rambling and wildly gesturing. He was turning to walk back up the spiral hallway, when Drista grabbed his arm with both her hands. Her expression changed to one of worry and fear, and Tommy furrowed his brow confused.

 

“No Tommy you can’t.”

“What? But we came to-”

“I know. I know. But they can’t know I’m here. You weren’t supposed to know I was here.” Tommy didn’t like that. He was coming to a few realizations. First, that she had known they were coming or at least that they were here. Two, she was planning to ignore them completely. Three, her eyes were a little duller like she had been through something. The thought made him clench his jaw, but he decided to address his concerns one at a time.

 

“You were going to hide from us? From me?” Okay that may have been a low blow judging by the anger on her face, but Tommy was mildly insulted.

 

“It’s not like that.”

“Then what is it like?”

“It’s hard to explain.” She looked like she was struggling with something, and he desperately wanted to help. Tommy decided she had been on her own long enough. He turned his body fully to her.

 

“You can trust me Drista.”

“I-” She stopped, and snapped her mouth shut. Her eyes looked hopefully at him darting all around his face. Then she closed them and took a deep breath in and out.

 

“If you meet me later at the west riverbank I’ll tell you everything. It’s behind those trees. But Tommy, they can’t know I’m here. Promise me.” She reached her other hand forward to clasp them both around his wrist. She looked sad pleading with him, and Tommy started to notice a few more bruises on her arms, and cut above her eyebrow. When Drista was unsure like this she seemed smaller, like the pale hands around his wrist. Tommy sighed, and looked away from her distracting eyes.

 

“Fine, but this better be good, lady.” He tried to put on any type of stern tone, but Drista was beaming at him. She looked like she was trying to hide a smile.

 

“What?”

“It’s just… been a minute since I’ve heard that.” Lady? Tommy felt himself smile back at her slightly. He remembered her saying she hated it, and he would’ve rubbed that in any other time, but right now felt more tender then their usual joking interactions. He settled for a goofy smirk and something in between.

 

“I’ll see you tonight Lady.” Drista let out one of her little scoffs, as Tommy turned away.

 

“Tommy...” He looked back to see her raising her hood, and failing to meet his inquisitive blue eyes. “I missed you.” With that, Drista and her reddening cheeks were gone, leaving Tommy behind to process.

 

He had to gather himself, and run a hand through his hair. He tried to stop smiling, but he had literally just found his kidnapped friend who was the key to saving the world safe and alive. Tommy was struggling with those last words. Did she know how much he’d missed her? Always have to have the last word huh Dris? He reached the twig door, and took a breath. All he had to do was make it through the next few hours without screaming to Tubbo, “I FOUND HER!”. He could do that. Tommy swung open the door, and sauntered up to the group. He couldn’t quite hide the extra happiness in his stride, but his over exaggerated boisterousness made up for it.

 

“Hello everyone sorry I’m late!”

 

~~~

 

It was harder than Tommy thought. Especially when Tubbo started to get real introspective on him. Before this trip, the two had been staying up talking almost every night, and sometimes Wilbur joined them. They had been coping together, and it felt wrong not telling Tubbo something this big. Drista. I promised Drista. That’s what Tommy kept saying to himself, as the group all got more and more desperate the less they found. I promised Drista. Tommy had faked a large yawn, so Clay would send him an Tubbo to bed. He had finally got Tubbo to fall asleep. The whole process reminded him of anxiously waiting for his mom to fall asleep before they snuck out. A pang of guilt followed every memory from that night.

 

I get to apologize to her. With that Tommy was moving quickly and quietly off of the elven cot, and out of their room. He heard whispers and laughter coming from the Amazons room. As he passed, Tommy stayed out of the torch light. He caught a glimpse of the three girls joking around. Calliope was standing doing some ridiculous impression, while the other two stayed on a cot, laughing so hard they were crying. Tommy smiled and shook his head, as he made his way down the large spiral that the elves called the center. Vale looked downright ethereal at night. He couldn’t make out much of any one structure, as it all blended into the nature around it, but the laterns were lit all the way up to the treetops betraying the civilization that was just as lively at night. I wonder what I look like? The thought didn’t often cross Tommy’s mind, but this was his first time seeing Drista in a few months so he just reaffirmed, checking his white tunic with red accent thread and black pants. Yup as dashing as ever.

 

Tommy pushed through a curtain of vines, and emerged to the side of a river bank. He hoped he was in the right place as there was no sign of Drista. It was hot and muggy near the edge of the water, but Tommy quickly became transfixed by the glowing plants and fish under the river's surface. He looked around a moment more. It was a pretty sight, there were a few flowers releasing these glowing yellow spores into the air as well. They provided Tommy with enough light to make out what looked like a broken ship in the water. With no sign of Drista Tommy sat down amongst the shrubs, and rolled up his sleeves to his elbows. He was waiting for a while, and getting nervous by the time…

 

“Sorry I’m late!” Drista came jogging out of the woods a few feet away. Tommy was surprised and rose quickly brushing off his pants.

 

“Oh Jesus! You gave me a heart attack!” Drista looked only slightly apologetic, as she caught her breath. Where was she running?

 

“Sorry I just… My brother almost caught me…” That answered his question, but Tommy wasn’t quite listening. Drista shrugged off her blue cloak leaving her in a simple blue elven tank top, and matching shorts. Her feet donned sandals, but Tommy was focused on the large scar across her leg. I wonder if she has more? She shook her hair out, and it was slightly messier since he last saw it, but practically glowing in the jungle atmosphere. Don’t even get him started on her eyes. Drista turned to him and gave another small apologetic smile, and that’s when Dristas words caught up to Tommy.

 

“Wait? Your brother!?”

“Yeah Clay…” Drista didn’t look extremely excited about the announcement. Tommy, for his part, was completely flabbergasted. His jaw had dropped.

 

“Clay’s your brother!”

“Yes?” Now he was just more confused.

“So he’s not a human?!”

“No?” Tommy laughed out loud fisting both hands in his hair. This entire situation was insane. Drista knew something about a knight she’d never even met, that even his closest friends and king didn't! He was also her bloody brother! Drista walked forward, before Tommy could say anything stupid. She looked a little older, but Tommy’s sure he did as well. She sort of floated by him, and was wringing her hands in front of her as she stared at the water and worked her sandals into the sand. Maybe Tommy could still say something stupid, as he tried to clear the air with the first thing that came to mind.

 

“Clay thinks of me as sort of a younger brother type yeah know!?” Why did you say that!? Drista just turned to face him looking a little confused.

 

“Okay..?” Tommy gulped, and just sort of nodded. Why are you being so weird mate? It’s just Drista. He tried to remind himself, but her eyes were swirling and it was really fucking distracting. The silence lasted for a minute, before Drista abruptly pointed towards the river.

 

“That’s mine.”

“What?”

“You asked how I got here. I came in that. That’s my boat.” Tommy almost laughed at the seriousness on her face, and the out of nowhere comment. Her whole posture and awkwardness was sort of cute, and it managed to relax Tommy’s energy a bit.

 

“That’s not much of an explanation Drista?” He laughed, and she sort of glared at his response. It felt a little more natural and back to normal. Drista crossed her arms pouting. Tommy raised his hands in mock surrender to her, and she huffed rolling her eyes.

 

“Fine then. What do you want to know first?”

“What exactly happened to you? Where did they take you? What-what did they do to you? Are you okay?” Tommy felt his voice go through every level of intensity, but he still wasn’t really accustomed to these new sorts of feelings around Drista, and those last two questions caused lots of feelings. Her eyes widened, and she stuttered a bit turning away from Tommy and towards the river. Tommy noticed her hug her arms as she spoke.

 

“They took me to the palace… to Minx, and well… a lot happened after that.” The quiet  anger in her voice caused Tommys to flare up as well. He was angry at Azura-Minx and her army, and angry at himself. He approached slowly to stand next to Drista. Tommy hesitated slightly before resting a hand on her closest shoulder. He sighed.

 

“I’m sorry Dris… I’m sorry I dragged you into this-”

“Tommy. It’s not your fault. You were a small part of it sure, but this is part of a whole destiny.”

“So I’ve heard. I’m still... sorry we weren’t there for you.” She had now turned so they were facing each other. Tommy still had a hand on her shoulder. Drista seemed to be searching his blue eyes, before she spoke again, softer this time.

 

“You were.”

“Huh?”

“You guys were with me. You, Tubbo, The clan, everyone, you-... the thought of you helped me get through everything” She looked back down at her feet, and Tommy was watching her face so closely he actually caught the pink blush on her cheeks this time. The thought itched at his brain.

 

“So tell me everything.” Drista breathed a large sigh, and tipped her head back with a slight groan.

 

“We better sit down then…” They did, facing each other on two separate rocks a few feet apart, and Drista told him everything. While Tommy listened and they periodically threw pebbles in the river to watch the glowing algae move, Drista told him everything. She told him about Queen Minx, and how she didn’t seem that bad, how she had trained Drista and actually helped her. Everything that Minx had said about the world, and how Drista had actually believed her and still… sort of did. How Minx was manipulative and cruel, and tore her apart as much as she said she was helping Drista stay together. She told him about Minx’s plans to sacrifice her, and the sirens, and Saoirse, and her escape. How she almost died twice. Everything she learned about her dreams, and her Destiny. Tommy was left completely shell-shocked at his friend in front of him.

 

“Wow…”

“Yeah… What have you been doing these past few months?” Tommy laughed out loud, half releasing his shock and half just because she was funny and he’d missed her.

 

“Well I fought a mage.”

“Hmmm, so not quite as cool as me?” Drista had a playful gaze now, as she twirled another pebble in her hands. Tommy smiled. She wants to play this game?

 

“Hey! at least I got you back.”

“Technically I got myself back.” Tommy lowered his previously accosting pointer finger. She did have a point. It was good to see her smile about it, but thinking back to her story Tommy felt another wave of sincerity take over.

 

“You know… you know that’s incredible right? What you did.”

“Yeah. I know.” Tommy met her sharp gaze, and it looked like more of the old Drista was coming back. She’s bloody strong this one. And cocky too… Tommy scoffed at her attitude.

 

“Oh sure! Here I was trying to seriously pay you an actual compliment! Whatever!” Drista laughed at his annoyed reaction.

 

“Sorry, it’s just the truth.”

“Ah it’s just the truth is it! Whatever…” As Tommy grumbled their laughter died, and Drista cleared her throat. 

 

“On the topic of seriousness Tommy…” He didn’t know if he liked where this was going. “I need to ask you something Tommy.”

“Anything.”

“You don’t have to help if you don’t want to… but you should! Considering that I did go along with your ridiculous plan, and we’re in this togeth-'' Tommy rolled his eyes at her rambling.

 

“Drista, I said anything!”

“Okay…” She breathed deeply. “My dreams have been showing me things… where to go. And Tommy I’m not sure about Teakwood, or Vale besides Feyre, or even any of it. I do think I know what I have to do to be able to stop Minx. At least the first step…” Tommy was all ears now, but he was still thinking about his brother and the good people he knew at Teakwood. Tommy was all for an adventure, and doing this themselves, but he had a thought that they might actually need some help with this one.

 

“Great and all Drista, but I have to ask why we can’t tell the others. I promise Tubbo and I have been staying with big brother in teakwood for the past few months and they’re trustworthy-”

“Do they discriminate?”

“Well somewhat but-”

“Is there currently conflict within the castle walls?”

“Yes but-”

“Tommy do you honestly think they would follow a sixteen year old girl? Even if she is the chosen one. Can you look me in the eyes and promise they would respect, and help me if I didn’t do what they wanted?” Tommy fell silent. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, because he usually liked to win arguments, but eventually he just shrugged and gave in. Drista nodded. Her core personality was still there, but Tommy noticed there had definitely been a shift after going through all that alone. There was a new confidence, and determination in her eyes. Tommy decided he liked it.

 

“No there’s only four people that I trust fully.” Tommy was not ashamed to admit the pride he felt when she looked at him, or the way his heart sored just a bit.

 

“And I’m one of them?” Drista must have seen the self-satisfied smirk come across Tommy’s face, because she quickly deadpanned back.

 

“No you just caught me.” Tommy just kept smiling at her, as she tried to hold back one of her own.

 

“I get it Drista I do. I’m the greatest, but c’mon who else.” Drista rolled her eyes, but didn’t address it, and let him keep his wide smile.

 

“Tubbo, and Feyre.”

“I get to tell Tubbo!”

“I’m surprised you haven’t already.” He had come close. Tommy was pretty surprised with his strength. He also was a little surprised when he considered that this group that was going to assist the chosen one was four teenagers. Coming from the girl who said four teenagers couldn’t save the world? 

 

“What about your brother?” Drista’s eyes lost all their humor, and Tommy instantly regretted making her sad.

 

“I trust him, but he has a different path. I don’t want to mess up the way things are supposed to happen if we’re gonna get this right.” Tommy nodded at her, and Drista seemed reassured by his acceptance.

 

“Okay! The dream team! Or Dream eye team should I say! What are we doing then.” Drista laughed lightly.

 

“We’re going to find the stone in the badlands.” Okay she’s off her rocker. Tommy’s eyes nearly popped out of his head.

 

“What!? Are you crazy!?”

“Tommy! Are you turning down an adventure?” Drista had a fake surprise to her voice. How is she being so nonchalant about this??

 

“Well to be honest, a little yeah!”

“Don’t be you’ve got me.”

“Okay the fame of being the chosen one has clearly gone to your head lady… but…”

“But?” Drista watched him expectantly, and Tommy was quickly learning he didn’t like saying no to her.

 

“But I’m in.” Drista smiled widely, as if she always knew he would, but Tommy knew better when he watched the subtle relief rack through her shoulders and breath. She’s scared too… They were all just kids, but Tommy made the decision then he’d protect Drista from here on out. He stood up with her and locked eyes, trying to convey some of these thoughts through his gaze. He thinks she got some of them. Or maybe she could read minds … I hope not.

 

“Tell Tubbo, and when you have an opportunity come back here. We’ll wait and leave once you’re here.”

“Got it chosen one.” Drista rolled her eyes again, and slipped her hood back on turning to enter the forest. Tommy didn’t want to let her go again after he just found her, but at least he knew she was safe. He felt himself smile again, as he called out to see her face another time.

 

“Drista!” She turned. “I missed you too.” Tommy smiled, as she looked slightly surprised, but she smiled again and took off into the woods.

 

I got the last word this time.

 

~~~

 

The journey back to Teakwood was just as hot and uncomfortable as the original trip to Vale. Tommy definitely decided he preferred the nordic temperatures, but he was much better off than the rest of them. Because I know something they don’t…

 

The Amazons walked silently, and stoically together. Nick looked completely lost in thought, and every once in a while he would place his hand over the side of his chest plate where the bite mark sat. Strangely he would smile when he did, which Tommy didn’t really understand but Clay nudged him once about it. Clay’s demeanor made a lot more sense to Tommy now, and he may or may not have tried to be less annoying after finding out he was Drista’s older brother. What Tommy didn’t get was how far away the King and Clay were standing from each other. Aren’t they supposed to be inseparable? Everyone looked down, and they had been talking about how to prepare to tell everyone they had nothing. Tubbo looked like he may cry again a few times. Just hold on a bit longer my friend. I’ll tell you everything.

 

When they reached the castle, everyone was weary except Tommy. George spoke to Bad who led the King and his Knights away quickly before they could be bombarded. Tommy, Tubbo, and the three Amazons met Wilbur and Niki. 

 

“Hello brother!”

“Tommy.” Wilbur pulled him into a short hug, and then Tubbo, still annoyingly taller than them. Then he watched as the King sped off with a worried look on his face.

 

“I take it… it didn’t go well?” Niki asked, directing the question at her amazons. Myriam looked down slightly, and Reyna met the queen's gaze shaking her head. Tommy flicked his eyes between his brother, and Niki. Wait a minute… 

 

“I’m sure it’ll be fine, Your Highness.” Niki nodded at Wilbur and covered the hand he had placed on her shoulder with her smaller one with a small smile, but she didn’t seem convinced. Tommy was momentarily confused. They were acting very coupley, and the way that his brother was looking at her seemed different. Wilbur seemed to catch Tommy’s expression, and he spoke before Tommy could inquire anything about the interaction he just witnessed.

 

“Well you two are probably very tired! Off to bed you go!”

“I’m not a child Wilbur. I decide when I’m going to bed!”

“You are a child-” Tommy was about to yell and protest. “-and…” Wilbur lowered his voice so only Tommy could hear.

 

“Tubbo looks pretty tired. Don’t you think?” Wilbur nodded subtly to the slightly smaller giant, whose brown hair fell over his eyes. He looked like he was arely standing up. Tommy sighed. He didn’t want to agree with his brother because Tubbo didn’t need to lay down; he needed to hear everything Tommy had to tell him. Tommy gritted his teeth and nodded at his older brother, before turning to his friend.

 

“Tubbo! My good man let’s head back to the room because you certainly need a wash.” Tubbo started at his name, but numbly followed Tommy who had his arm wrapped around the younger boys shoulders, dragging him along. Tommy walked quickly, leaving Wilbur and the Amazons in the dust to deal with adult matters. He had bigger things to worry about.

 

Tubbo was lethargic, as Tommy hurried him to their shared room. They hadn’t really wanted to be apart after they had first arrived, not with everything that had happened. The oak room with two large windows, and vanities, and twin beds, simply stuck. Excitement was mounting, and Tommy practically through his friend in the room. As soon as he had closed the door he whirled on Tubbo.

 

“Oh Tubbo, my good friend! The tale I have to tell you!”

“Tommy… I’m tired can’t it wait-”

“No Tubbo this is important!” Now Tommy had both hands on the boy's shoulders, shaking him slightly and forcing Tubbos wide blue eyes to meet his own.

 

“Okay-” The word was barely out of Tubbos mouth, and Tommy was ushering them towards the beds. He sat Tubbo down on the closer one before sitting on his own, so their legs hung over the respective sides facing each other. Tommy’s leg started bouncing. Tubbo raised an unamused eyebrow at him.

 

“What are you so excited for?” Tommy simply began tapping his fingers rapidly, and smiling like an idiot. This only served to confuse Tubbo, who put his face in his hands groaning.

 

“How can you be like this Tommy! How when... when Drista is-”

“She’s not.” Tubbo stopped now, lifting his confused and ruffled head to look at Tommy again. Tubbo assessed him slowly. His friend knew him well, and Tommy saw a flash of recognition and hope cross his face, as though Tubbo may have known what was happening; but his friend seemed to stamp it down, and his voice was cautious.

 

“What do you mean?”

“She’s not dead. She’s not taken by the Azurians. She’s not lost. She’s alive Tubbo.” Tommy was whirring with energy now. Tubbo looked even more skeptical.

 

“How do you know that?” Now Tommy couldn’t hold it in anymore. He sprung off the bed gesturing wildly, and excitedly towards Tubbo as he paced in front of his sitting friend.

 

“Because I saw her! She was in Vale Tubbo! She’s safe, and she got out, and she’s all powerful and knowing!” Tommy’s rambling seemed to be a lot for his tired friend to take in, but while Tubbo looked shocked a breathless smile also took over his face.

 

“You- you actually... physically saw her?”

“Yes!”

“Wait, why didn’t you tell anyone!?” Now Tubbos' expression had gone back to confused, and maybe a little hurt.

 

“She told me not to. She’s got all these powers, and a whole destiny to fulfill Tubbo! It’s really quite crazy… she’s got to follow all these dreams that stone lays out for her-”

“The stone? She has it!?” Tubbo was still caught in disbelief. Tommy thought it was best to just spring the whole thing on him quickly, before he could get angry that Tommy hadn’t told him. Tommy turned sharply from his pacing, and clapped once loudly at Tubbo while taking a seat. He hoped his pointed finger really delivered the message home.

 

“No she doesn’t, and that’s where we come in!” Tubbo looked at him like he was completely crazy. Which, maybe Tommy was.

 

“We need to go to the badlands to help her retrieve the stone. You, me, Drista, and Feyre. Those are the only people Drista trusts for the job. Based on everyone's confusing destiny, she doesn’t think anyone else can be involved.”

“Feyre? As in the elven queen?”

“Yup! We’re going on an adventure with the chosen one and queen of Vale my friend!” Tubbo looked more and more unsure as Tommy spoke. The shock had mostly worn off, and Tommy was struck with a momentary panic at his friends nervous behavior. I thought he’d be more excited?

 

“Tommy are you… are you sure about this?”

“One hundred percent.”

“But everyone’s been so kind, and they’re trying to find her it just feels sort of wrong?”

“It’s a part of the plan Tubbo! It’s just us, we’re the ones for this job!” Tubbo looked at him. This was the most resistance Tommy had ever seen in his gaze. He didn’t know if it was about the last time Tommy presented a plan that involved running away, or the fact that they were heading into the badlands, but Tubbo looked more guarded than Tommy had ever seen. I guess we’ve all changed.

 

“What if we can’t do it Tommy…?”

“Do you trust me Tubbo?” Tommy responded to his friend's question with one of his own. For a brief scary moment Tubbo considered. He spent maybe a second too long that Tommy saw the doubt in his eyes. But ultimately he nodded, and answered with conviction.

 

“Yes.”

“Then trust me when I say. We can do this.” Tommy pushed his own doubts aside to force every ounce of conviction into his words. Their gazes were intense, and despite his reluctance Tubbo swallowed and put on one of his classic smiles.

 

“Alright, what’s the plan?”

Chapter Text

Chapter 19: Wilbur POV



Wilbur hoped that this trip to Vale would bear something, for Nikis sake…

 

“With all due respect I shouldn’t be taking orders from you. It's wrong!” 

“Doesn’t sound like there was any respect there at all to me?” Niki was biting back a bit more, as they crested the hour marker in this meeting. Which was originally supposed to be about taxes and crop rotation, something Wilbur thought Niki had a lot of good ideas on. It was also something that needed to be addressed with a war on the horizon, but these court assholes couldn’t seem to pull their heads out of their own asses. Niki sighed and continued.

 

“As I was saying, for the wheat…” She was sitting at the head of the table, with Bad and Wilbur on either side of her, and three other advisors. Many had been avoiding coming to court at all with Niki there, which Wilbur thought was ridiculous. Maybe that’s because you can’t seem to spend three minutes away from her… It was true Wilbur hadn’t kept his promise of space when it came to Niki. He couldn’t really blame himself now, as she sat at the head of the table directing the conversation with a soft finality to her voice. Her every gesture threatened to stretch Wilburs cheeks into a grin. She looked unbelievably cute in a lavender off the shoulder dress, and the fierceness in her eyes married perfectly with her grace. But… she is just a friend.

 

“Wilbur do you agree?” Wilbur locked his nordic eyes with the queens agate ones, and gulped. He decided instead to focus on the light gold crown that rested on her head. It was closer to eye level anyway, and it reminded him that she was married.

 

“Absolutely.” Wilbur smiled at Niki, and he got to see a flash of relief and vulnerability in her eyes. Bad let out an audible sigh, and began to pack his things.

 

“This is ridiculous!” Here we go… One of the advisors banged his fist on the table, red faced. Wilbur looked at him unamused, and Niki jumped slightly at the display before narrowing her eyes. The queen was already living on her last straw from the stress of leading alone, with all the barriers forced on her. Wilbur had helped as much as he could, but it was ridiculously hard. Her teal eyes shone with a fury now as she faced the latest in a seemingly never ending line of bigots in Teakwood. Wilbur watched in awe, as the gold around her pupils seemed to grow and spread across the cyanic iris that was currently filled with fire.

 

“-A woman cannot- you- a woman cannot organize something of such capitol level! It’s-” Wilbur was no longer enraptured by Niki, but focused on her verbal assailant. He felt his blood boil, not just for Niki, but, against all of the oppression in Teakwood.

 

“You know what’s ridiculous?” Wilbur's voice was cold as he spoke. “Your notions of what a woman cannot accomplish when there is blatant proof all around you that you are wrong!” Bad nervously tried to avert the conflict, but Wilbur had already begun.

 

“Wilbur-”

“We will not be a kingdom, a realm, that discriminates, not if I can help it. You should be grateful to have a queen such as Niki. Start acting like it.” The table was silent, and Wilbur couldn’t find it in him to be ashamed when he believed every word he had said. Niki looked at him with wide and slightly surprised eyes, before she regained her composure and rose addressing the advisors.

 

“We’re done here. If you could please leave so I may return to my duties as Queen.” She put emphasis on the last word, and was met with nothing more than small grumbles. The three older advisors left, and Bad followed once he had gathered his things. But, not before whispering to WIlbur.

 

“Well done.” He nodded his head in solidarity with the much shorter human advisor, then he turned to the queen. They were the only ones left, and Niki let her guard down. She began laughing as she brushed her blonde hair back off her face slightly. Wilbur watched her hand motions, and her smile. He was glad she trusted him enough to show him her funnier, less royal, side. She really can do it all.

 

“Well that was pretty intense.” Niki’s light chuckle made Wilbur release his own sigh of relief as he answered her.

 

“I’ll say.” They laughed together for a minute, before Wilbur felt the need to make something clear.

 

“I’m sorry.” He leaned forward on the table trying to express his sincerity. “I don’t want you to think I was speaking for you in any way. It just- it makes me angry.” Niki looked at him funny, before she stood up and walked towards his sitting form. With her standing she was actually a few inches taller, but not far enough away that it was strange when she rested one elegant hand on his upper arm.

 

“I actually liked it.” Niki gave another soft chuckle, and WIlbur swore her smile could light up any room. He felt unbelievably comfortable as her hand stayed on his shoulder, and a smirk gre on his face.

 

“You’re pretty commanding yourself.” The encouragement made her blush shyly. Wilbur liked encouraging her. For one, he really believed everything he said. Niki was incredible. And second, her reactions were always unfairly adorable.

 

“Thank you Will.” Something about her tone told Wilbur she wasn’t just thanking him for the compliment, or even simply what he’d said. They truly were a great partnership, as he’d been by her side for these entire two days whilst the King was travelling to Vale. Wilbur also knew how great their partnership was in other areas.

 

“Anytime.” He thought there was definitely some more weight behind his words as well. Niki seemed to pick up on it, and she was so close Wilbur’s breathing had deepened. He really tried not to look at her lips, but it was difficult when she was smiling. I’ve got to get out. Wilbur cleared his throat.

 

“Your highness… we should go…” Well that was really an excellent effort. Niki took pity on him, retracting her hand.

 

“Yes we should.” She smiled once more at him before flowing past his chair, leaving Wilbur to follow behind her. Wilburs long dark grey robes billowed as his long legs caught up. He crowded Niki as he followed directly behind her. Their heights made him appear as a looming shadow, with dark curls falling over his forehead, a contract to her bright halo. With hands clasped in front of her stomach Niki’s walk was regal, and Wilbur behind her was an echo of confidence. Wilbur himself raised his chin, and felt a sense of pride as he crossed the threshold of the meeting room with the power he and Niki possessed.

 

~~~

 

It would be hours before Wilbur was alone with Niki again, and he was not in any way prepared.

 

It was late at night, but Wilbur wasn’t sleeping particularly well. He had been up by candle light re reading some of his mothers, and Tommy's letters. He was mildly worried about his brother journeying into unknown territory, and he was feeling sort of homesick. There was a balance to be had between protecting Tommy and letting him become his own man. I can still remember teaching him how to lift an axe. Wilbur chuckled as he began sorting his letters back into the desk that sat in front of his window. He looked out through his open curtains, seeing the moon was already beginning to set. I really have been up for a while. 

 

“Ow!” In a moment of distraction Wilbur burned the side of his thumb in the candle. He hissed and shot back shaking his hand, and sucking the wound into his mouth. Before he could return to his task, a knock sounded at the door. What the hell?

 

“Hello- Niki?” Wilburs previous statement caught in his throat when he saw the queen standing at his door. She looked up at him a little shyly. Her sunny hair was messed, from the way she tossed it to one side with her hand. Her face and hopeful smile was illuminated in the torchlight of the hallway. She didn’t wear one of her dresses this time, instead she had on a pair of loose grey cotton pants, and a large white tunic. Wilbur decided he definitely liked this look on her. His mind helpfully supplied, that could be your tunic. She looked breathtaking, but this was dangerous.

 

“Hello Will. May I come in?” 

“Yes.. of-of course.” Wilbur shook himself out of it. He couldn’t say no to her. Everything got more dangerous as she shifted past him in the doorway, allowing Wilbur to recall how small she was in his arms. 

 

“What can I help you with? at this hour.” He raised an eyebrow to let her know that showing up like this was really questionable. Niki seemed to ignore the warning, or maybe that was his fault, because he began to take the stuff from her hands without really thinking. 

 

“I um… I have some ideas I’d like you to help me with…” Wilbur nodded telling her to continue. Niki’s ees were racing all over him, and Wilbur suspected they were having similar thoughts. She was clearly affected by seeing him in this atmosphere: much less put together. Wilbur had to say the same. In the candle light of his room every small brush of skin had felt heightened.

 

“...Well I’d like to focus on equal resource spready… and possibly more capital funded jobs for women.” Wilbur’s brow quirked yet again, and he placed her things on his bed looking through some of her papers.

 

“Well that is very interesting Niki.” She looked a little bashful running her hand through her hair, but Wilbur definitely saw the pride at his reaction. I definitely can’t kick her out now. Wilbur instead sat on the large bed spreading out some of the materials they’d need.

 

“It’s going to be difficult… C’mon sit down let’s talk.” Niki practically jumped at the invitation, but even with the excited cuteness she never looked frazzled or seemed undone. Wilbur continued to marvel at how naturally angelic this girl was, as Niki sat down next to him, leaving a good two feet which Wilbur was grateful for, and started to speak.

 

“So…” Niki began detailing her ideas, and Wilbur threw in a few of his own that he had been harboring. It was a lot about some of the more boring aspects of ruling, resources, policy, and relations, but the root of all of it was riding Teakwood of discrimination. Wilbur had begun his studies for a reason, and it was more than invigorating for Niki to share his sentiments about almost everything. With the queen on his side and presenting possible royal decrees to him, Wilbur really felt like they could change Teakwood for the better. He didn’t think his smile left his face once. By the time they had their finished list it was so deep into night that no one else was possibly awake, and he was unbelievably in awe of Niki.

 

“Niki… this is incredible!”

“No. Really?” She giggled, and it boggled Wilburs mind how she could still be so humble. If he had her skills and status he’d probably be an egotistical maniac. Her kindness definitely outweighed it.

 

“Yes Niki! You’re incredible.” He didn’t mean it to come out so soft, but his voice always seemed to do that with her. Niki blushed a bright pink, but she managed to assert back to him.

 

“No. You helped too. You helped a lot.” In her adamance that Wilbur knew his worth Niki had unfortunately gotten closer to him. Her finger had poked his chest as she spoke. The candle light flickered over her face, as she smiled directly into Wilburs eyes. He felt himself lean forward to meet her gaze. The mood changed, and only a ghost of a smile remained on their faces. Wilbur couldn’t speak. He didn’t trust himself. This was definitely the most dangerous it had been. Niki was so close. Without any of her regular queens garments, without the crown, Wilbur had nothing to focus on but her piercing eyes and soft smile. She’s so close…

 

“Niki…” It was meant to be a warning, but it came out broken and barely above a whisper. Niki answered him far too quickly, moving in to share the same breathing space.

 

“Wilbur-” No more words left her mouth, as Wilbur pressed his lips against hers. His large hands came to rest at the sides of her face. His burn was long forgotten. If the advisor was honest, his mind was mostly blank, as he drew Niki in as close as he could get her. Niki’s smaller hands splayed across his chest and shoulders. Wilbur sighed into the contact. Just like the first time. 

 

“Will-” He cut her off again, and fell backwards onto the mattress pulling Niki down onto the dark blue quilts with him. His hands remained encompassing her face as they kissed, the queen laying on top of him. It was mildly awkward given the assortment of papers, maps, quills, and maybe some other supplies that got in their way. Niki struggled pushing things aside, and Wilbur felt something sharp poke his back.

 

“Ow!” Her light giggled filled his world, and she pulled back slightly. Wilbur continued to rub her cheek with his thumb for some type of contact.

 

“We should probably move that.”

“Yeah we probably should…” Wilbur smirked and pulled her face back to his with one hand, While the other started haphazardly throwing this off the bed and onto the floor. He wouldn’t let anything ruin this moment as Niki melted on top of him. Besides the only thing that actually mattered was the list they had safely left on his bedside table, so Wilbur kept kissing the queen and brought his other hand back into her hair.

 

~~~

 

Wilbur opened his eyes slowly, already feeling the effects of staying up so late last night. But I wouldn’t change a thing…

 

His blue eyes moved lazily around the room, the first thing they landed on and decided to stay looking at was the Agatian in his bed. Niki was still asleep wrapped against him under the blue quilts. He couldn’t see her teal eyes, but her eyelashes fluttered every once in a while due to a light snore. Even her snores are cute. 

 

Wilburs hands played lightly with the blonde hair that haloed out over his bare chest. She looked completely angelic in the morning light. His lazy hand traveled down past her head to brush some hair off of her arms. Then it began to track across the warm skin pressed against his own. Wilbur was completely content watching Niki asleep against him, even if his arm fell slightly asleep. 

 

“Beautiful.” He caught himself whispering. His hand was caught tracing the scars on her upper arms. They were marks of the strong life she’d lived in Agate. Wilbur felt a pang in his heart at how that was taken away from her. As if sensing his distress Niki snuggled closer, and her hands balled into cut fists on his chest. Wilburs other hand came up to cover the queen's fist relaxing it, as the occupied one continued its course over the marks on her arm. Wilbur felt his smile grow, as he recalled last night's events. Niki chose this moment to open her teal and gold eyes, and link around blearily to look up at the stupid smile on his face.

 

“What?” Niki was smiling too, and her innocent question caused a laugh to rumble in Wilburs chest.

 

“I’m just happy.” Wilbur was. He felt an overwhelming sweetness in the morning air along with the general comfort Niki’s presence always brought him. The two stayed looking into each other's eyes for too long to count, savoring everything they could.

“Me too… last time I didn’t get to wake up with you.” Niki’s smile was still bright, even if she said the last part softer and broke eye contact. Wilbur worked his jaw.

 

“I’m sorry.” He really was. But, the last time it had felt like a goodbye, and WIlbur really couldn’t handle that. This time it felt good. 

 

“Hey.” A small hand came to turn his face back towards bright happy teal eyes. “I get it. You’re here now.”

“I’m not leaving either.” That really brought out a new level of wattage in Niki’s smile. Wilbur thought he might go blind, as she giggled into his chest, before raising blushing cheeks and bright eyes to ask him sort of shyly:

 

“So… are we?” The question was posed, and Wilbur grasped her hand a bit tighter and less lazily to make sure she understood how serious he was.

 

“I’m here Niki. Whatever you need me to be.” Niki seemed to like that answer. She rose slowly so her face hovered above his, and Wilbur felt like he was in heaven. When she spoke her lips just barely brushed his own, and she had a playful smile as she watched him.

 

“Right now… I need you to let me get up so I can get dressed.” Wilbur understood the necessity, but that doesn’t mean he enjoyed the idea. He paused, and jokingly considered it while she laughed. Eventually he muttered an agreement, but not before turning her over quickly to press her body into the mattress and his lips to hers. Niki squealed in surprise, and Wilbur smirked when her lips followed his after he pulled away.

 

“C’mon Your Highness! No time to dawdle time to get up!” Wilbur launched himself out of bed with vigor, leaving a laughing Niki to watch his movements, though he thought he saw something other than laughter in her eyes when they traced his body.

 

The two got ready slowly exchanging a number of playful touches, and remarks. Wilbur felt better than he had in months. They had to discreetly ask a maid to get some clothes from the queens room, but Wilbur was happy with the extra time to spend in his room. With Niki actually in my tunic this time.

 

Eventually, Wilbur had donned purple advisor robes, with an all black tunic and outfit underneath, and Niki wore a flowing pink gown that complimented the jewels in her crown. Wilbur could actually tell her this time:

 

“You look amazing Niki.” He ran his hands over her arms sweetly, and she blushed a small thanks waving off the compliment. 

 

“We should go.” Niki said reluctantly, as she tore her gaze away from his eyes down to his robes and fixed the lapel. Wilbur caught both her hands on his chest in one palm, and used the other to tilt her chin back up.

 

“But first…” Wilbur placed another kiss on the Queen's lips because how could he resist, and then pulled back smiling at her. “There will be a lot more of those.”

“I hope so.” Niki’s breathless and cheeky remark carried them out the door walking down the corridors of Teakwood castle. Wilbur didn’t know how he would keep the smile off his face for the rest of the day.

 

~~~

 

Wilbur was bent down over a broken axe with a squire, when he felt a feather light touch on his head. He looked up from his conversation to the balcony walkway, the edge was just a few feet over his head looking down on the court yard. Niki stood on above him, with her hands on the railing. Wilbur reached his hand up to pull an actual feather out of his hair. Niki’s gaze continued to dart towards him, while she attempted to tamper her smile as she talked with one of the maids. 

 

“Erm.. Sire?” The quire questioned him, bringing Wilbur out of his Niki induced trance. As casually as he could, the giant slipped the feather into the pocket of his purple robes and returned to his task chuckling.

 

“Yes right.” Wilbur continued mending the axe to it’s handle, and turned every once in a while to see Niki on the balcony watching him. It had been like this all day. Exchanging small glances, touches, or jokes. Somewhere in his mind WIlbur knew they had to be more careful. It was reckless to leave his room together this morning. But he banished the thoughts, as he slowed his working hands for Niki to watch. The squire looked mildly uncomfortable so Wilbur decided he would take pity on the boy, and dismiss him. Watching him try and lug the heavy weapon around brought back thoughts of his brother, Tubbo, and Drista. Niki’s voice sounding from above, was the only thing to keep him on solid ground.

 

“Will!” Wilbur turned to see her leaning over the railing so she didn’t have to yell to him.

 

“I have to speak with the cook about castle dinner plans. Accompany me?”

“Always Your Highness.” Wilbur gave her an over exaggerated bow, and Niki just rolled her eyes giggling as she made her way down the corridor. Wilbur traversed under the balcony to find stairs, and lost sight of her. When he ascended to the same corridor where she had been he didn’t see the girl. With his brow furrowed, the giant advisor called out.

 

“Niki?”

“Boo!” A small shout came from behind him, and Wilbur turned eyebrow raised to find Niki, having jumped out from behind a pillar, arms outstretched.

 

“Was that meant to scare me?” Wilbur shuckled at her, but his voice was soft and caring. Niki looked shocked as she dropped her arms.

 

“It didn’t work?” Wilbur laughed out loud now at the disappointed look on her face.

 

“No. it was cute.” Wilbur tried to get closer to her, but Niki just blushed and began walking away.

 

“C’mon we’re late for the cook.” Wilbur followed at Niki’s side, his head remained turned towards her for the walk, so he could stare at the half smile she was trying to get rid of. Every other step Wilbur would make sure his knuckles brushed her smaller hand. Each time he watched her shoulders rise slightly. To any passing guards or court members he was simply escorting the queen to her next order of business.

 

No one questioned when Wilbur joined Niki in the kitchen for all of the tastings and deliberation. He continued to joke and over exaggerate every deliberation in order to get her to laugh. They were maybe a few too many playful touches in when the cook gave him a strange look. 

 

“I need the queens opinion on this…” The palace cook had stressed Niki’s title, almost telling Wilbur he wasn’t welcome. Wilbur picked up on it, and he obeyed. They were more distanced for the next rounds of tastings, but somehow that only increased the tension for Wilbur. Every small tap of Nikis foot against his, or smile, or sly whisper had his mind whirring. He dished everything back equally, and by the end he knew they were both ready to combust. Niki chose this moment to pick a piece of fruit with her nimble fingers, that Wilbur knew were strong enough to wield a spear.

 

“Will, what do you think of this?” Her voice and face were innocent, as Niki extended her arm across the table towards him. Wilbur eyes her for a moment. The cook had left them alone for a moment, and Wilbur could see the pure intent in Niki’s gaze. He locked eyes with her, and slowly moved to take the fruit from her fingers. His lips just barely brushed her fingers as he pulled away and chewed, never taking his eyes off the queen.

 

“Very good.” Wilbur was sure his voice had dropped an octave from his previous teasing tone, and Niki was quiet with her arm left hanging in the air. Wilbur caught her touching her finger tips together lightly, before she yanked it back as the door opened. The cook returned, and seemed to pick up on something. Eyes looked between Wilbur and Niki, before landing on him accusingly. The cook eventually broke eye contact, and addressed the queen.

 

“Have you made a decision My Queen?”

“Yes I think I have.” Niki moved quickly with a bright smile on her face. She laid out the options so fast the cook could barely keep up. Niki handed the cook the samples at a rapid rate moving to the doorway and turning back to Wilbur who was still sitting.

 

“Will? Are you coming?” Wilbur nodded smiling sweetly at the cook. He was sure that would get around the castle, but he didn’t really care. They could assume what they wanted.

 

Niki and him walked in silence passed a few busier corridors. Wilbur felt tense. He was already on his last nerve when Niki had decided to do That. She had no right to make him melt the way she did, but she does… They crossed into a more empty part of the castle, and Wilbur took a sharp left turn into the library rooms where no advisors were at this time. He caught Niki’s elbow dragging the surprised queen with him.

 

“Wilbur what-”

“Shhhhhh” He barely contained his own laughter, as he brought a finger to his lips. The other hand that was holding her arm skimmed down past Niki’s wrist to hold her hand in his. Niki smiled, blushed, and nodded at him. Wilbur couldn’t help his own smile, and gave a sharp tug to her hand, practically breaking out into a run down the corridor.

 

“Will! Slow down!” Wilbur didn’t. Laughter carried them into the back Libraries. He knew no one would be there at this time, and as he reached the double mahogany doors he turned to the queen. Niki’s teal eyes locked with his. They stared for a brief moment, before making joking shushing noises at each other. Then Wilbur pushed open the double doors. He dragged Niki into his chest, and her hands wrapped in his robes. Just as he was about to connect their lips, Wilbur took in his surroundings. Someones here…

 

Wilbur looked to a particularly interesting sight. Bad and Skeppy were sitting together on one of the velvet green Library couches. Their faces were so close it was unmistakable. Their embrace was almost more incriminating than Wilbur and Niki’s, as their red and cyan advisor's robes were mixing on the couch. They were smiling at each other, faces inches apart. Wilbur had never seen Bad smile like that. The usually uptight Advisor looked relaxed, as he lost himself in Skeppy’s eyes, and the stars that Skeppy was floating through the air with small hand motions. Wait what? Skeppy, the royal advisor, was performing magic. The level of deviancy in this room is currently off the charts . When the two men saw the intruders they sprung apart, rapidly clearing their throats. Skeppy remained sitting as the stars faded, and Bad sprung to his feet blushing a bright red. Wilbur immediately dropped Niki’s hand and stepped away, but they had already seen everything.

 

“My Queen! Wilbur…”

“Bad…” Well this is awkward… Skeppy looked ashen sitting on the couch and looking at his hands. Bad’s eyes continually turned to check on his… lover? Niki’s soft voice broke the deafening silence.

 

“Are you a mage?” The question was directed to Skeppy who turned pleading brown eyes towards the queen. Wilbur didn’t even know how he had managed to hide it, but his heart went out to Skeppy. Teakwood was a fearful place for mages, non-sorcerer's born of magic, they were thought to be against nature, but unfortunately most mages turned out to be human.

 

“I-” Skeppy didn’t seem to know what to say, and Bad stepped in, his voice stronger than Wilbur had ever heard it directed at Niki.

 

“It’s okay Skeppy. You don’t have to answer.” Now Bad was looking at Wilbur. They knew each other well working in the castle. He had been one of Wilbur's first friends, besides Clay and George.

 

“The stars were very beautiful.”

“Thank you.” Skeppy looked uncomfortable and perplexed by Niki’s kind and genuine tone. Wilbur couldn’t help but admire her grace in any situation. He wasn’t doing quite as well, as he locked in a silent conversation with Bad. There was a mutual agreement not to speak about it. They exchanged a nod, and Bad looked far more scared and sad as he watched the exchange between Niki and Skeppy. Wilbur spoke slowly, head bent to Niki who looked at him in confusion.

 

“Niki… we should go.” She scrunched her eyebrows in that way Wilbur was now kicking himself for finding cute.

 

“But why-” With Bad and Skeppy watching them, Wilbur didn’t want to have this conversation.

 

“Niki. We should go.”

“O-okay…” Wilbur hoped he didn’t sound angry because he wasn’t angry at her, as he led the Queen out of the room. Wilbur tried to collect his thoughts. He couldn’t believe that just happened. So much for no one being there. Niki clearly didn’t understand the gravity of what had just occurred. She grabbed Wilburs arm lightly, turning him towards her. The comforting stroke of her fingers was unfortunately doing nothing to calm him.

 

“Will wait.”

“Niki do you realize how bad that was?”

“No, I don’t think I do.” Wilbur took a deep breath, trying not to lose his shit. He had been on thin ice here as a giant, almost since he had arrived. Niki had undergone the same treatment, but she had yet to see what happened to someone accused of deviancy in Teakwood. She hadn’t seen a scandal while she was here, and Wilbur had to remember she was from Agate.

 

“The only thing keeping us safe right now, is that we also caught them.”

“Exactly we’re safe Will.”

“No! You don’t understand-”

“Then explain it to me.” Wilbur never got the chance. A voice interrupted their intense eye contact. The squire from earlier was standing very unsure of himself.

 

“Uhh… Sire, Your highness?”

“What?” Wilbur didn’t mean to scare the young boy. He could see him practically shaking, but Wilbur wasn’t doing much better right now on the inside. His blood had run cold from the whole endeavor. 

 

“T-the King has returned?” The squire gave them another uncertain look, and practically ran away down the hallway. Wilbur felt sick when he looked back at the crown on Niki’s head. Everything was a mess. Niki grabbed his hand once gently, and her kind eyes almost made everything worth it.

 

“We should go.” Wilbur just nodded numbly, and began to follow her. The reality was she was not his. Niki wasn’t something he wanted to hide, but something that he had to. Those things couldn’t happen. She was married. She was the queen for god sakes. Wilbur had to focus on the war; focus on his family. Unfortunately, when he looked at Niki now he thought that she may have become his family.

Chapter Text

Chapter 20: Calliope POV



The arrival back at the palace had not been warm or welcoming. The King held an emergency meeting, which basically entailed him having to tell the advisors they knew nothing more about the chosen one. That’s not exactly true. After the travel Calliope hadn’t really had the energy to do much more than yell some nonsense at the idiot advisors. The King ended the meeting, after it went nowhere, yet again, and Niki had told the Amazons to go back to their rooms and clean off. Then the queen had gone to talk to Wilbur.

 

“Ahh…” Calliope felt good slipping into a bath, and cleaning off the humidity from Vale. It certainly didn’t do her hair any favors, and she may have cleaned extra thoroughly incase she saw a certain palace servant. Calliope smiled thinking of Alyssa, she desperately needed to see her, even just a few days away had felt like a lot. First she had to debrief with the Queen. The meetings the amazons had started to congregate at nightly in Myriams room were the only ones that mattered. As much as Calliope wanted to ditch, and see Alyssa, this was about her sisters. Duty comes first blah blah blah…  

 

Calliope thought about how she’d never really been good at following orders, as she dressed in a loose green tunic and black pants. She had always had authority problems. The only reason she’d even made it past basic training in the Amazons was Reyna and Myriam. They became her family, when she didn’t really have anyone else. Myriam was the rule follower for sure, she was the good one. She was the one most trusted by the crown, and always the brains of every operation. Reyna was a little more willing to wreak havoc if she thought it was necessary, but the girl had one of the strongest honor codes Calliope had ever seen. They kept her straight, well as straight as I can be. Checking to see if her muscles showed well in this tunic for when she went to find Alyssa later, definitely wasn’t straight. Calliope was the last to enter Myriams room wringing out her mop of hair, as she burst through the door with a fiery attitude.

 

“Alright! So…” Calliope tossed her hair rag onto Myiram who made a disgusted noise. “How are we gonna kick all the men off the throne!?” Calliope rubbed her hands together and Reyna smirked from her position on the bed. Her wet golder hair laid around her head, and she was in a simple gold tank top and brown battle skirt. Is she ever not ready to fight? Reyna pointed a finger at Myriam, propping herself up to smile at the smallest of the three.

 

“See I told you! It’s two vs. one for hostile takeover.” Calliope moved to high five her before plopping into the chair next to the bed and man-spreading. Myriam rolled her eyes from her seat at the vanity. Her short brown hair had also darkened to a black from moisture. Myriam threw the wet rag at Calliopes face, and responded calmly.

 

“We’re not staging a hostile takeover.”

“You never let us have any fun.” Reyna fake whined. Calliope’s smile only widened as she prepared to enter another sisterly argument. Before the three could start bickering, Niki finally entered the room with paper in hand, and set her crown on the vanity. The queen sighed and made her way to sit at the foot of the bed. Reyna shifted to accommodate her.

 

“We’re not taking down the government, but we are going to change it.” The previous argument was abandoned, as the three amazons striated to listen to their leader. Reyna narrowed her eyes first trying to get a look at what Niki was holding.

 

“What do you mean?” Niki answered by passing her the paper. Calliope's curiosity grew with every millimeter Reyna’s eyes widened. She made grabby hands for the paper, desperate to see what the fuss was about. Niki continued to address Myriam.

 

“Once you’ve all read the list I’ll explain, but I also want to know everything that happened.” Myriam nodded, going into full advisor mode, as Calliope liked to call it.

 

“They have a queen on the throne of Vale. A young one.”

“The court won’t like that.”

“No, but she was very cooperative. Knew nothing about the chosen one, however-” Myriam continued to explain to Niki everything they had found out about how the great King Feyre attempted to use the chosen one in his war with Teakwood, and her family fled. That was one of the reasons Calliope hated authority, they always thought they had… well authority, over everything and everyone. She stopped listening to the debrief, as Reyna finally handed her the list, not before pretending to hold it back from her grasp. Calliope grumbled about Reynas long arms as she had to jump a bit out of her chair. Calliope wasn’t much shorter that Myriam and Reyna, and she certainly made up for it in muscle, and I’m probably taller than Myriam with my hair. 

 

“What do you think?” Niki was asking them about the list. Despite being the most badass queen she had ever met, Niki needed reassurance. Calliope could, sometimes, be serious about things, and this was a good list. It was important to her that Niki changed things for the better for women and everyone in Teakwood, Especially Alyssa.

 

“This is amazing Nik.” She meant it honestly, handing the list off the Myriam. Reyna corroborated.

 

“That’s my queen!” Niki blushed under their praise, and thanked them ever gracefully. Myriam raised an eyebrow at the list and looked at Niki.

 

“A lot happened while I was gone. Are you sure you still need an advisor?” Reyna laughed, as Niki nodded vigorously.

 

“Definitely!” The Queen laughed, taking her list back. Calliope didn’t miss the way her fingers gingerly traced the edges. The gesture was explained when the Queen began their next order of business.

 

“While you were gone, Wilbur and I…” Ohhh I get it. “...made a plan for everything we would put in place, and the order in which we would do it. I plan to make use of my new role and change this place for the better.” Calliope’s smile was almost as wide as Myriam and Reynas. She hadn’t known Niki for as long as they had, but that didn’t change the amount of pride she felt at how much the previous princess had grown out of her shell. Calliopes pride couldn’t be contained inside of her anymore, as she let out a whoop expressing her excitement to Niki.

 

“Hell yeah you are!” Myriam echoed her chant, and Niki laughed. Reyna gave the queen a short side hug, before the golden girl flopped on her back and pointed one fist in the air.

 

“For the women of Teakwood!” The other three echoed Reyna with an equally joking battle cry, as they descended into laughter. Niki tried to collect herself through the giggles to walk them through the plans and what needed to be done, but Reyna kept cracking jokes. Eventually they had a rough sketch of the plan, and the energy had died out slightly. 

 

“I need you three to make me a promise.” Niki started a bit more solemnly. Calliope sat forward in her chair, bringing one knee up under her elbow. The other two made similar movements to address the queen.

 

“Anything.” Reyna spoke for all of them. Niki took a deep breath, before beginning a speech that would stay in Calliopes mind.

 

“I’m the Queen of Teakwood now. This plan is mine to fulfill. I will graciously accept your help of course-”

“And you will be receiving it.” Reyna cut in, and Niki giggled at the serious manerism, and the way the other two vigorously nodded, before she soothed Reyna’s fire and continued.

 

“Yes I know that. But you all need to understand… you’re duty is no longer to protect me. That job is done. I have my own interests that are now separate from yours. I need you three to promise me that you will find Drista, our chosen one, no matter what it takes. As Amazons, I am giving you this order as your princess.” The conviction in Niki’s voice seemed to strike everyone in the room. All Calliope could do was nod at first. Myriam seemed to understand the best, but politics had always been her forte. Calliope was a family first kind of person. Despite what Niki said about duty, she would always have her protection, just like her sisters.

 

“I promise.”

“I promise.”

“Calliope?..” Calliope realized she was the last to speak, as Niki addressed her. All three of them watched. Calliope swallowed slightly and shook off whatever weird air had settled over her head.

 

“Yeah.. yeah of course. I promise.” Niki smiled and nodded softly. The silence was comfortable, but something about it felt final in a way Calliope didn’t like. Luckily, Reyna broke it pretty quick;y with a sly, much less serious, smile.

 

“So… Wilbur huh?” Niki turned a brilliant tomato shade of red, and the three amazons lost themselves in laughter at the stuttering queen.

 

“Oh- ohhh my god this is better than Calliope!”

“Hey!” Calliope managed to shout at Myriam through a fit of laughs. Niki was still struggling to explain herself.

 

“I we… um well- yes? The night we made that list we actually…” Niki trailed off clearly embarrassed, and Reyna continued poking her side with a taunting ‘ooo’. Calliope cringed at the mental images.

 

“On that note! I think as the lesbian I should just-”

“You sit down and listen to your queen talk about straight sex young lady!” Calliope’s jaw dropped at Myriam. Reyna absolutely lost it behind her, and Niki wasn’t a whole lot better. Calliope got over her shock, but Myriam simply flapped at her dismissively then turned eagerly back to Niki.

 

“I wha-” Calliope began to laugh as she sat back in her chair. Myriam didn’t often joke like her and Reyna, but boy when she did… 

 

Calliope did stay in the armchair next to the bed, as the four Agatians talked about everything for the next few hours into the night. They covered every small detail of Vale, Niki and Wilbur, the plan for change, and even childhood stories. One by one Niki yawned and dropped out going back to her room, and now Myriam was snoring on her bed splayed out like a starfish. That left Reyna and Calliope sitting quietly at her vanity in the candle light. Calliope stared at the list in her hand, and all she could think was:

 

“There’s a lot to do.” She voiced her concern matter of factly to Reyna, who’s eyes were half closed as she relaxed.

 

“She’ll get it done.” Reyna was the embodiment of blind optimism and determination. Calliope liked to think she was a bit more of a realist, and Myriam was their resident pessimist who checked the worst possible outcomes.

 

“But maybe she shouldn’t have to.”

“Well she definitely shouldn’t, but she does.” Reyna sighed running a hand through her golden hair, and Calliope could tell she was just as tired of Teakwood society as they all were.

 

“You ever think it’s not worth it?”

“You’d prefer to throw the whole Realm out?” Reyna was dry as she said it, but Calliope really didn’t think it was such a bad or crazy idea.

 

“Well I mean… yeah.” Reyna shrugged, and pulled her legs in, yawning and resting her chin on her knees.

 

“I guess that’s the whole point of this war. That’s what Azura-minx wants to do. Out with the old governments, in with a new one.” Calliope had to disagree. While she definitely wanted a change, and agreed with what Reyna had said. You can have the same beliefs, and go about them in the right way. 

 

“I don’t know Rey. I think you can want change without being an evil, tyrannical, bitch.” Calliope set down the list and stretched, as Reyna huffed lightly in response.

 

“I’m not sure she is…” They often aired their deepest thoughts to each other in late nights like this, but calliope had no idea where this was going. “...I mean. The Azurians have never followed a single female ruler so fluidly before, so she has to be strong. And she's got Agate merging with Teakwood, and both of us scared! She’s got to be formidable. I don’t think we should underestimate her.” Calliope had to admit Reyna had a point. It didn’t mean she liked the Queen who was currently trying to take over with an empire but…

 

“Is it weird I kind of respect her?”

“Please I’m the one who sounds like a groupie.” Reyna rubbed her eyes, and Calliope laughed softly. She stared at herself in the mirror: she had bags under her teal eyes, and amongst the ringlet curls Calliope could see matted sections. There were nuances to everyone she decided, even Tyrant Queens. Reyna removed her hands and shook her head, turning her bleary eyes on Calliope.

 

“I think I’m tired, and-” Reyna interrupted herself with a yawn. “...I think you should go see your girlfriend.” You’re right I should. Reyna patted her shoulder as she walked back towards her room. Calliope could see her shoulders flexing as Reyna stretched her arms above her head. That’s why she always beats me, she looks like a fighting machine. Reyna definitely was, but she also ran into the door frame, before sending a joking salute towards Calliope. Then her friend was gone, and Calliope sat for a minute pondering their conversation. She didn’t ponder too long, as her thoughts drifted to a ruby headed beauty.

 

Calliope could remember the first time she saw Alyssa. She was completely struck by her beauty. It was hard to believe Alyssa even talked to her. She had said.

 

I’m impressed.

 

After Calliope had saved her from an azurian assassin. She had been cocky in response, but Alyssa made her heart beat out of her chest. Event in grimey servants dresses, she outshined all the nobles in the room. Her brown eyes had looked up at calliope, due to the few inch difference in height, from under long lashes that made them look turned up at the corners and slightly fox-like. Her face was square where Calliope’s was round, but her cheekbones were just as defined under smooth ebony skin: some of the darkest Calliope had ever seen. Her hair was maybe the most stunning thing. It was a darker red, almost burgundy color, and cascaded down, almost as long as her own in seemingly perfect waves. Calliope was gone from the start, despite a simply and dirty beige dress, and white undershirt.

 

Alyssa was still wearing something similar as Calliope approached. After Reyna went to bed, she had come to the servants quarters where she found Alyssa, and was now approaching sneakily from behind.

 

“Boo.” Calliope spoke softly into her hair, as she wrapped her arms around Alyssa's waist. The ruby-headed girl jumped clutching at the arms around her waist, and quickly muttering something that sounded like another language.

 

“What?” Calliope inquired with a chuckle.

 

“Nothing… I missed you.” Now Alyssa’s voice was more sultry threading a hand back into Calliopes maine. The amazon buried her face into the servant girl's neck, and inhaled her scent.

 

“I missed you too.”

 

They ended up back in Alyssa's room. It was small with an uncomfortable bed, but it was relatively isolated. Perfect for catching up… kissing and-... other stuff… By the time they were finished getting reacquainted it was well into that cool quiet part of the night, where everything felt secret. Calliope lay with her head propped up in some pillows, while Alyssa was on top of her, head against the Amazons stomach. Alyssa’s fingers traced some of her muscles, while Calliope’s played with strands of her hair. I really like her hair.

 

“I really did miss you.” Calliope spoke softly, and bent to plant a light kiss on the top of the smaller girl's head. Alyssa just shifted closer, and smirked.

 

“I know.” Calliope smiled. Usually she was cocky and annoying, but Alyssa had fully assumed that roll in their relationship. Calliope certainly wasn’t mad about it. In the silence, all of Calliope’s previous thoughts surfaced, and she frowned. Alyssa noticed something.

 

“What’s wrong?”

“Are you tired… of Teakwood.”

“What.” Alyssa stilled completely against her, and Calliope wondered if she would scare her off. Alyssa seemed to catch whatever breath she lost, and her ministrations resumed more hesitantly this time. Calliope thought the interaction was strange, but continued with the train of the conversation as Alyssa prompet her.

 

“Wh-What do you mean?”

“I mean are you tired of everything that goes on. All the discrimination! Having to hide our relationship! I mean you grew up here, aren’t you tired of being called deviant?” Alyssa gulped and her voice sounded small and scared.

 

“Right.”

“Right?”

“Right, I grew up here.”

“You did… so?” Calliope furrowed her brow down at Alyssa, and raised her hand that was previously stroking dark red hair into the air. Alyssa turned her head without the added weight, and her chin rested on Calliope's stomach as she met her gaze. There was something fearful in her brown eyes, and Calliope wanted to take it away.

 

“I am tired Callie. I’m tired of all of it.” Alyssa was genuine, and Calliope caught a small spark in her brown eyes. The spark brought the next words from the amazons lips.

 

“I want a change. I want to change everything for you.”

“You do?” Alyssa seemed genuinely surprised, and confused. Calliope just smiled at her, and replaced the hand back on the girl's head.

 

“Of course.”

“For me?”

“Anything for you.” The previous confusion left Alyssa's gaze, and was replaced by hope and happiness. Calliope was completely enthralled when Alyssa laughed, tipping her head back. She slowly slid up so her head was level with Calliope’s and turned so her nose tickled the amazon's ear.

 

“Well I am emotionally tired, but I’m also regularly tired and think we should go to sleep.” Calliope laughed and threw an arm over the red-headed girl.

 

“Okay, but I’m pretty awake.”

“Then I’ll sing you a lullaby.” Alyssa whispered it in her ear, and Calliope never knew she was this good of a singer. Calliope felt a hand stroking her hair, as the soft tune began to enter her ear. Alyssas voice was angelic, like ringing bells throughout the room. It turned Calliope's brain to mush. 

 

There’s a bright side

 

To every wrong thing

 

Darkness is my name

 

Don’t you wanna play on the cool side?

 

Calliope sighed, as she fell deeper into Alyssa's voice. The song sounded like some sort of chant or message. It wormed its way into Calliope's mind.

 

And there was a pleasure in hiding from the sun

 

No, I was never one for pretty weather

 

I’d rather be a creep, baby follow me into the water

 

I’ll take you to the darker

 

The lyrics struck the last part of Calliope’s conscious brain. What is she hiding from? Was it Teakwood? They were just talking about deviancy. Also, Calliope knew her girl was a badass, but some of the lyrics seemed sinister. Darker? And what’s this about water?

 

You can pretend

 

That when you hear my voice

 

It’s your choice not to fall in

 

I know exactly what your wanting

 

Cause it’s what I’m wanting

 

“Goodnight Calliope…” Calliope felt her breathing even, and she couldn’t maintain thoughts when fighting against Alyssa's eerily beautiful voice. Calliope ignored the strange feeling she got from the notes, and from the words. She ignored the strange feelings she got from Alyssa’s singing, and the flash of something off right before her eyes slipped closed… It’s just a song.

 

~~~

 

Calliope was usually a late sleeper, but the next morning she woke up cold. The first thing she noticed was that Alyssa wasn’t next to her. The bed was cold, and Alyssa was gone impossibly early to be doing work. Calliope rubbed her head, and realized she had to go. She couldn’t wait around and find Alyssa. She had to get to sparring. 

 

Calliope raced out of the servants quarters past various confused maids, and back to her room. She hadn’t meant to stay the night with Alyssa. But she started singing and… that song. Calliope’s feet stopped cold. Her face was pinched in confusion. The waking mind was able to piece together a lot more details. What the fuck was that? The lyrics themselves were worrisome, but calliope was more worried about what she had seen right before falling asleep… she couldn’t get it out of her head. It was Alyssa's face for sure, but a few things were wrong. It was difficult to put her finger on at the moment, as she was hurriedly trying to find her armor. She settled on her classic gold chestplate and battle skirt. She grabbed a circular shield, and sword. Calliope needed to bash some heads in today.

 

When she arrived at the training grounds, Nick was waiting for her. He was on squire duty, and she had agreed to help. The two squires were taking, what looked like, a much needed breach on the ground, as a sweaty and frustrated Nick stood above them.

 

“Is this what you call knights? Really?” he was in full condescending swing, as Calliope approached smugly tying back her black hair.

 

“Then what would you call yourself?” She cocked her head, and when Nick recognized her a grin took over his face.

 

“Callie! Nice of you to finally show up.” Calliope laughed and faked a punch at Nick. “What do you say we give these boys a demonstration on what it means to be a real soldier?” He stared pointedly at the two, and Calliope nodded eagerly. She lifted her shield, and one of the squires looked at her confused, before opening his mouth.

 

“Excuse me? But she’s a woman.” Oh this’ll be good. “How can she match you if we can't?” Damn they start 'em young, don’t they! Calliope let the comment roll off her. She could tell Nick was about the tear into the kid. Instead she spoke first with enough fire she hoped she scared the quire straight.

 

“Because I’m better with a sword then you’ll ever be pipsqueak.” The squire blanched and stutterd, as Calliope turned her back on him. Nick clapped her on the shoulder as they entered the ring. Calliope watched him roll his shoulders. He had clearly already been working hard, and she put on the typical cocky attitude they both seemed to share.

 

“You sure you’re ready Nick? I’m not going easy.”

“You couldn’t beat me if you did.”

“Please! I’ve only ever gone easy on you.” With that she brought an armored boot down onto Nick's head. He blocked it with his sword, but Calliope quickly batted the sword down with her shield, following through with her spin. She then brought her own sword up to slice at Nick's chestplate. Nick arced his sword, and Calliope ducked, sending a powerful kick into his shin. Quite literally making Nick take a knee. She stood with her sword at the ready, while Nick straightened himself. Out of the corner of her eye Calliope caught movement. Behind the pillar in the shadows she saw rube red hair in waves. She’s here...

 

“Alright I’ll admit you’ve got some moves.” Nick was still joking, but Calliope was not in the mood. She was angry. Alyssa was acting shady, and she couldn’t get all the sexist bullshit out of her head; so she flipped in a corkscrew parallel to the ground and brought her shield down onto Nick's head. He blocked with his sword again, but the force sent him back into the dirt. 

 

“Jesus Calliope! Wake up on the wrong side of the bed?” Calliope stood huffing, but she wasn’t looking at her opponent. She stared directly into the shadows, making eye contact with Alyssa’s brown eyes. Or trying to, as Alyssa kept looking away guiltily. I’m not crazy. That was something last night.

 

“Maybe just calm down a bit yeah?” Calliope knew Nick didn’t mean to be aggravating. She actually really liked him, and they got along well. Unfortunately, everything made her frustrated right now, especially coming from the mouth of a guy.

 

“Don’t tell me to calm down.” Another series of well placed hits, and Nick flew out of the ring onto his ass. To his credit, he really seemed to take it in stride. He got up laughing and shrugged his sword back into his sheath dusting himself off.

 

“Noted.” Calliope tried to give him an apologetic smile, but she was pretty distracted trying to figure out where Alyssa had gone. 

 

“Take notes boys.” Nick addressed the squires, who were currently on a ‘water break’ trying to get as far away from calliope as possible. Nick approached Calliope putting a strong hand on her shoulder.

 

“Man Callie! That was good.” She gave him a little laugh to pretend she was interested. “Hey I’ve actually been wanting to ask you about-” While Nick had lowered his voice, Calliope caught sight of long burgundy hair streaking away in the corner of the training grounds. She was moving before she had time to think, cutting Nick off.

 

“Actually, I've gotta go. Talk later!”

“Oh! Yeah sure of course-” Calliope was already gone. She had abandoned her shield, but had her sword strapped to her side. She tried to head off Alyssa at an intersection, but the girl had a head start. Calliope broke into a light job, wiping excess sweat off her forehead and called out to the retreating redhead.

 

“Alyssa! Wait up.”

“Callie!” Alyssa stopped before turning around to greet her, and Calliope slowed to a walk. She approached slowly. Alyssa sounded happy to see her, but she had a wide fake smile painted on her face. Calliope knew better.

 

“Why are you avoiding me?” Alyssa let out a confused chuckle that mixed with a scoff, and Calliope knew she was bullshitting.

 

“I’m not I-”

“Cut the bullshit.” Alyssa’s mouth snapped closed at that. Her brown eyes flashed with that small spark, and the anger at least seemed like a real emotion.

 

“Fine. Maybe I’m just not required to spend every moment of every day with you. I have things to do Callie.” 

“Then why were you watching me? What are you hiding?” They had gotten closer now. Brown eyes met teal with equal fire. Calliope didn’t miss the gaze Alyssa shot to her sword. For a moment she looked scared. Maybe scared of how I’ll react if she tells me the truth? Calliope was also scared, and she almost couldn’t get the words out. She asked the question that had been swimming in her mind since last night.

 

“Alyssa are you a Siren?” Every part of Alyssa’s demeanor dropped. In her eyes something dark and haunted flashed. Her voice was cold and lower than Calliope’s when she spoke.

 

“What.”

“Are. You. A. Siren. ” Calliope felt she already had her answer, but she enunciated every word as she took a step closer. Alyssa looked like a cornered animal, scared and functioning on instinct. She took a step back, and clenched her fists, looking away from Calliope.

 

“Yes.” Calliope’s blood ran cold. Sure she had already known, in that flash of Alyssa's face last night she could see her eyes, she still didn’t know how she covered them, but hearing it was something else. It felt like a nightmare, as Calliope took a few steps back. This time Alyssa was the one to surge forward. Her demeanor was unguarded now, she was begging as she tried to reach for Calliope.

 

“It’s not like that though. Please, Callie- I-” She finally caught hold of Calliope’s hand. Her soft brown skin still felt the same under Calliope’s finger tips, so she hesitated in her retreat. She was fully stopped by what Alyssa did next. She twirled her ring, and spoke a word or spell of some sort. Calliope watched in awe, as Alyssa's brown eyes melted away leaving a deep cyan almost sea green in their wake, and gold scales began to speckle her face and neck.

 

“I-I can grow the legs myself with my song. This ring was from a mage friend to help me blend in-”

“You’re a siren.” Calliope had to say it aloud to remind herself. She felt like she was underwater.

 

“Yes but- Please Callie let me explain.” Calliope looked into Alyssa’s pleading gaze, now sea green, and decided to give her a chance.

 

“You have one minute.” Alyssa looked relieved, and she took Calliope’s hand pulling her into a secluded spot. Now it was more difficult not to be distracted by her feelings when Alyssa was this close.

 

“Okay I am a siren yes. I grew up in Atlanta, and I’m here because of the war.” Calliope felt her heart sink. She had wanted any other reality, where Alyssa had maybe grown up here and just decided to hide her eyes.

 

“-But not for the reasons you think. Azura-Minx is a tyrant, and Atlanta was another one of her conquests. We had been pushed aside for so long by places like Teakwood, The Clan, and even Agate. The Azurians offered land and power. It seemed like a fair trade but…” Calliope could barely take in air, as she listened to the story. Alyssa was so close Calliope could take in every one of the individual scales on her forehead. The siren's voice was surprisingly strong, as he hand shook slightly and a tear slipped down her cheek. Calliope felt herself administer a reassuring touch of her thumb despite the better part of her brain telling her to pull away.

 

“But it wasn’t a fair trade. We were asked to do horrible things, and Minx is evil… she’s plain evil Callie. I ran away, and got this from my friend to hide from both Teakwood and the Azurians. I’m a refugee.” Alyssa spoke with so much conviction and emotion Calliope believed her, but it was a hell of a lot to take in.

 

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I couldn’t be sure- and I just-” Alyssa took a breath, and pressed her forehead against Calliope’s. “...I didn’t want to lose you.” Her voice was small, and another tear slipped down her ebony cheek. Calliope couldn’t imagine what she’d been through. Maybe that was why she brought her strong hands up to cup Alyssa's face, and wiped away her tears.

 

“Hey it’s okay. I’m right here.” Alyssa finally relaxed into her touch, placing a hand over Calliope’s own.

 

“You can’t tell anyone Callie. Please.” Looking into her green eyes Calliope finally felt like she got to see all of Alyssa. She wasn’t just a mysterious beauty. She looked afraid, and Calliope realized she would have done anything to keep her green eyes from looking like that again. She also realized that the green and the scales suited her better. At her request Calliope thought of the other Amazons, her sisters, they never lied to each other. She’s a victim of circumstance, they would understand.

 

“I won’t.” Calliope wasn’t a rule follower, she’s often been compared to fire by her generals: all brute force and no direction. For Calliope rules didn’t matter; it was family above all, and Alyssa had just become family.

Chapter Text

Chapter 21: Clay POV

 

Clay had time to think on the way back from Vale. Something had changed between Wilbur and Niki in their absence, and Clay couldn’t help but think of himself and George. He had an opportunity in Vale to show George everything. Maybe I should’ve taken it. That’s what his heart was saying. His head on the other hand, said he made the right choice. He couldn’t focus on George and how good he had looked in the moonlight right now. He had to find his sister.

 

I wonder what she’s like. Clay had seen her in his dream, but at the time he wasn’t paying attention. He hadn’t known exactly who she was. Drista… she looks a lot like mom, but she had dad's nose. She hadn’t looked good when Clay saw her, and it only increased his worry. It wasn’t really his place to be worried, as he had failed his task of protecting her. Logically Clay did know it wasn’t his fault, but that didn’t change the guilt whenever he thought back to how beaten and bruised she looked. Clay didn’t know exactly what he was looking for as he wandered the castle. He was looking for Wilbur, but he had no idea what he was actually going to ask the giant. It could have been about George and Niki, or trying to know more about his sister. Clay guessed he would have to be surprised, as he caught sight of the ruffled brown head.

 

“Wilbur!” The giant turned his bright blue eyes to Clay, and scrunched his face into a smile. They exchanged a quick greeting, before Wilbur asked.

 

“What can I do for you Clay?” Worried his lip, under the metal helmet surrounding his head. This was the part he wasn’t so sure about, especially as he glanced at a few nosy servants around them.

 

“Um.. could we maybe talk in private? It’s a sensitive subject.” Wilburs smile twitched downward as he took in the Knight, who’s leather gloved hand was playing lightly with the hilt of his sword.

 

“Of course.” Wilbur led him to a study, and Clay watched the giant let out a breath of relief when he saw it was empty. I wonder what that’s about. Clay was still stuck deciding what he wanted to ask the giant about when Wilbur spoke first.

 

“Is this about George?” Clay blanched, and stopped some of his nervous movements. Wilbur smiled knowingly, and motioned for Clay to sit with him. The knight sighed and obliged.

 

“Yes.”

“I thought I noticed something different with you two.”

“I also noticed something different.” Clay tread lightly, as Wilbur cocked his head. “...Between you and Niki.”

 

“Ah! You want advice.” Wilbur didn’t seem shocked or accosted by Clay's revelation, which was not what he had been expecting. Clay stuttered at Wilbur's nonchalant demeanor, and the giant laughed in response to the knight's reaction.

 

“How are you?- Are you not… afraid?” Wilbur just shrugged, a silly lovesick smile taking over his face. Clay was astounded by the usually serious advisor able to be so chill about something so intense. Maybe Niki brings out the best in him…

 

“Well we’ve sort of already been caught.” That is not what Clay thought he was going to say. His heart dropped for the advisor. How was he still alive? Clay’s greatest fear was someone catching him and George during one of their moments.

 

“What!?”

“Long story. But that’s not what you care about.” Wilbur fixed him with the same knowing look. Clay shook his metal head, laughing off the shock. He had a moment of reluctance, even though he had already talked about this with Reyna, Wilbur, and George himself. I’m surprised the whole palace doesn’t already know. Eventually, despite his inner turmoil, Clay sighed and asked what he really wanted to know.

 

“Does it work?”

“What? Being with a married royal?” Wilbur had a smirk, and he was patient as Clay struggled with his answer, a bit exasperated and embarrassed.

 

“Yes.” Clay fixed his metal gaze on the giant and clenched his fist. Thankfully, Wilbur became less joking and more thoughtful, as he rested his chin on his hand.

 

“I think if it’s the right person anything can work.” Clay wasn’t so sure, but the more Wilbur spoke the more his doubts eased.

 

“-As cheesy as it sounds, Niki and I were made for each other…” Clay felt the same way about George. He’d never met anyone who’s body fit more perfectly against his own, who’s conversation felt more exciting, or who’s mind seemed to be linked to his.

 

“I can’t imagine myself with anyone but her, or her with anyone else.” Clay felt tense and the thought of George without him. He was more than grateful the king and queen slept in separate rooms, and he was sure Wilbur felt the same. Clay already didn’t like that George wasn’t technically his, and he didn’t know what he would have done if the king loved someone else.

 

“You and George are the same way. Anyone within a mile of the two of you can see it.” If Reyna was any proof. “I think the risk is well worth the reward don’t you?” Clay breathed deeply through his nose, and thought that Wilbur may definitely be right. It killed him that everything was in their favor, except their circumstance. Maybe it is worth it…. But it’s not worth possibly losing my sister.

 

“Yes, I-I think it is. Thank you Wilbur.” Wilbur couldn’t see Clays sad smile, as he resigned his feelings once again once again, so the Giant smiled brightly. Clay thought about how nice it would be to smile like that for George. The King was already perfect, and the way he reacted to Clay made the knights head spin. All he wanted was more. He wanted to be able to talk about George freely with Wilbur now, but he also had something else to ask the advisor. My sister. Wilbur had partially raised her from what Clay had gathered, and he wanted to know more. Not necessarily about the chosen one or planning how to find her, he wanted to know more about his little sister. Clay never really got to know her as an older brother, and Wilbur did. I can’t just come out and tell him everything… I need another tactic.

 

“I’m sorry.” Wilbur looked at Clay perplexed. His navy blue robes rustled as he leaned forward in his chair. The advisor looked ready to reassure Clay again, and the knight had to steady his voice to not let his own emotions pass through.

 

“-That we didn’t find anything about Drista.” Clay supplied, and Wilbur’s jovial attitude faded. The advisor looked to his feet, and sighed heavily.

 

“It’s alright… it was a longshot anyway.” The mood seemed to be right, and Clay pressed gently.

 

“What-What’s she like?” Wilbur’s gaze roze. Clay feared he had heard the breathlessness in the Knight's voice, so he quickly followed up.

 

“It’s just hard to imagine the chosen one as a teenager?” Wilbur chuckled softly, and Clay knew he had gotten away with it. He wasn’t at all sure, if he was prepared to hear what Wilbur would say next.

 

“It wouldn’t be if you knew her. Drista’s tough.” Wilbur had the same look of pride he donned when Tommy first beat him in a spar a week ago. 

 

“She was always confident, never backed down from a challenge, and she usually won a lot. Tommy never got over the axe thing.” Clay laughed, even though he didn’t really know the specifics it felt good to put more personality into the picture of his sister in his head.

 

“The three of them were a real piece of work. There was always some adventure happening. It’s not really surprising that they decided to sail into a war zone.” Wilbur seemed slightly bitter at that one. He rubbed the side of his face, showing a little of the exasperated older brother inside. It warmed Clay’s heart to know Wilbur had been there for Drista. Even if it wasn’t him, at least she grew up with a family.

 

“It’s also not surprising she was the one to challenge Tommy on it. She always kept him, well- she didn’t really keep him in check because they ended up in trouble together most of the time.” Clay hadn’t been too focused on Tommy’s relationship with his sister, but once they found her and he could reveal his identity, it was definitely something that needed his attention. Tommy seemed like a good kid, but he would definitely need to work on somethings when it came to Drista. Clay smirked under his helmet. I’m really just assuming the natural brother role huh?

 

“The point is she’s strong. You don’t need to worry about whether or not to trust her. Whatever her destiny is, Drista will do it.” Clay nodded. He had already known that. What he really wanted from Wilbur he had got. Now when he pictured his sister, he could see her blonde waves being a little messy to show her chaotic nature, and her eyes full of a certain fierceness. He pictured it similar to the young queen of Vale. he got the feeling they would all be friends if they weren’t currently in the midst of a war. Clays last thoughts, because they always did, came back to the King.

 

I’m sure George would love her.

 

~~~

 

It was approaching nightfall, and it had been a full day since they returned from Vale. The king had mostly handled the repercussions in court, but there was much more blowback on Niki, despite her idea of an alliance technically working. Clay hadn’t been able to stop thinking about his conversation with Wilbur. The advisor had been Dristas surggot brother. Clay was supposed to her brother, and now he was wondering if he could step up. He trailed his fingers gently against the side of his metal helmet. It was currently the thing he was contemplating most. They wanted to know everything about the chosen one, and Clay could give them that. He knew Dristas' history, he could try and connect with her, but… I’m scared. That wasn’t an excuse, but if Clay did this and it went wrong he would no longer be of any use to his sister, Teakwood, or George. He was currently contemplating his very dangerous idea, when Nick approached him.

 

“Clay! Psst.” The Knight turned to his shorter friend, who was doing an awful job of whispering. Nick looked like he was tired from training, and he was making ridiculous flapping gestures to get Clay to follow him into a dark hallway. Clay just made a ‘what the hell’ gesture at his friend, lifting his arms and shrugging. Nick rolled his eyes hard, and made a particularly frantic ‘come here’ wave as he ducked behind a pillar, rather dramatically, to hide from an incoming servant. Clay gave in, and made his way over to the weirdo he called his best friend. Why do I put up with this?

 

“What do you want?” Nick made a show of checking if anyone was near, and Clay almost rolled his eyes, but he saw his friend's foot twitching on the ground. He only does that if it’s serious. Clay uncrossed his arms ready to listen, as Nick began to babble.

 

“So well- I was gonna ask calliope before she blew me off- but anyway! I realized this also applies to you!”

“You were gonna ask someone else first!?” Clay faked offense, but he was a little curious as to why.

 

“We yeah because- you’ll get it if I explain.”

“Honestly Nick I thought we were best friends! How could you!?” Clay continued joking with his friend, but Nick didn’t seem to be smiling.

 

“Dude can you please just-” Nick put one hand on his face, and Clay snapped his mouth closed. He felt bad. Nick was clearly nervous, and he was supposed to be making it better. Clay just wasn’t so sure how much more heavy conversation or thoughts he could handle today.

 

“Sorry. Go ahead.” Clay watched intently, as Nick tugged on his hair and shook out his head. He then checked around a little more subtly, and when he spoke next he was groaning and trying to keep an interesting smile off his face. Clay raised an eyebrow from under his helmet. What is happening?

 

“Fuck okay- I need you to help me sneak out.” Nick delivered quickly around a smile. That wasn’t that bad. But it is a little weird?

 

“Okay? Why?” Clay was genuinely lost, as Nick dragged both hands down his face and groaned again. His smile was quickly explained by his next words.

 

“I’m going to Vale to see… to see Karl.” Ohhh I get it. Nick looked a little flustered, and annoyed at being flustered, as he scratched the back of his neck and kept talking.

 

“Sorry. I know this may be weird. I was gonna ask you cause you’re like an expert at sneaking out to Vale, but- I um- well I know this may be a sore spot right now for you… um with George.” Clay started straight up laughing, and put his hands on his friends shoulders. He levelled his mask with the shorter knights face.

 

“Nick, don't worry about that. Of course I’ll help you.” Nick seemed to breath out a sigh of relief, and some of his previous awkwardness was gone. His regular cocky attitude came back, accompanied by a giddy smile.

 

“Great! Thank you. I- you’re the person who would um- know about this stuff.”

“Ahh you wanna know what to do?” Clay spoke cockily and leaned against the wall. Nick screwed up his face because apparently Clay had read the question wrong.

 

“What!? No dude! I know thaaaat.” Clay chuckled and held up his hands in mock surrender, before his friend's words caught up with him.

 

“Fine whatev- Wait! You do?” Nick rolled his eyes like Clay was an idiot. We’ve literally never talked about it!?

 

“Yes.” Clay was skeptical, and he lowered his voice to a joking whisper, and prodded his friend.

 

“Really? Top or bottom?” A self satisfied smirk crossed Clay’s face, but his friend simply deadpanned back at the metal smiley face.

 

“I will hurt you.”

“Save it for Karl!” Clay chuckled at his own jokes, before Nick really did plant a good punch on his arm.

 

“Ow! Do you want my help or not!?” Clay pointed an accusing finger at Nick who rolled his eyes and whined like a little kid. Maybe I do have a younger sibling… 

 

“Yes I do.” Nick begrudgingly gave in, and Clay nodded in approval. The smaller man still looked like he wanted to hit the hybrid.

 

“Okay. you should go grab whatever you need. I’ll meet you at the stables.”

“We’re going now?”

“Yes. If we catch the afternoon rush, they won’t notice your horse leaving.” Clay smiled, as his friend nodded eagerly and began to race back to his room. Clay laughed under his breath, as Nick walked as fast as possible down the corridor, while trying to make it look like he had nowhere to be. In the wrong direction might I add.

 

The next time he saw his best friend was slipping in the side door of the large stables, over to his speckled black and grey mare. Clay had already readied the mare, and packed a few things. Just in case he was lying earlier about knowing what to do. Clay smiled again as he watched his friend practically skip up. He looked like he had actually combed his hair. And he was wearing a red tunic that made his eyes pop. The tunic actually reminded him of something George would- No. Helping him is a distraction from all the bad thoughts.

 

“You look good.”

“Of course I do.” Clay laughed, and they worked in silence making final attachments to the horse. Nick did blush and give Clay a look over certain items the metal headed Knight had added. They checked around them making sure he was clear, and Nick paused when everything was ready, and he breathed a sigh of Excitement? Maybe?

 

“You ready?”

“Hell yeah!” Nick’s smirk faltered only slightly as he grabbed the reins. Clay didn’t want him going with any doubts, so he asked:

 

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing I just- I’ve gotta ask you something?” Nick looked really uneasy, and Clay nodded vigorously wishing he could take off his helmet.

 

“Yeah anything.”

“Um… you’ve been to Vale a lot I know, but have you and Karl ever been…” Nick trailed off, but Clay got the jist. Oh he thinks…!

 

“Oh my god! Nick! No!” Clay was laughing. “No no no. Karl is actually an old friend, but no. He’s not really me type.” Nick seemed greatly relieved by that.

 

“Oh thank god. That’s why he recognized you when we were there.” 

“Jesus Nick.” Both the friends descended into fits of laughter, at the ridiculousness of all of this while they were in the middle of a war. Clay realized he had to get his friend going. Don’t want to be late for Karl.

 

“C’mon you need to get going.” Nick hoisted himself on the horse, and Clay had one more concerned moment while he still held his friends reins.

 

“You’re gonna be okay?” Nick rolled his eyes. The fact he was joking was more of an answer for Clay then what he said.

 

“Karl will take good care of me.” Ew.

“Gross dude.”

“Oh c’mon I’ve dealt with you and George for years!” Clay reeled back at that, and laughed.

 

“We’re not that bad!”

“You guys eye-fuck each other every two minutes! It’s disgusting dude. As the best friend I deserve compensation.” Clay was left speechless, gaping like a fish under his mask. Is it really that obvious? What would George even look at anyway. The thought saddened Clay more than he meant it to.

 

“He can’t eye-fuck me if he can’t see me.” Nick sighed, and his tone softened from joking to serious.

 

“Maybe it’s time to show him?” I’ve been considering it.

“Actually…” Nick’s eyes widened, and grabbed Clay's hand. His best friend stared at Clay is disbelief.

 

“Really!?”

“I mean… there’s a lot of reasons to…”

“Yes!” Nick sounded beyond excited, and started bouncing slightly on the horse. Clay wasn’t so sure. He also didn’t want Nick to give himself away in excitement. Their window was closing as is.

 

“-But there’s also a lot of reasons not to!” he fixed his friend with the best stare he could from under his helmet.

 

“No.”

“Yes.”

“No.” Clay sighed abandoning the childish exchange. Nick’s demeanor never wavered. Before the man could do anymore convincing, Clay had to get him out the door.

 

“You have to go.” Nick closed his mouth and rolled his eyes, but he was smiling. Clay walked him to the gates, and Nick began to trot away. Then he turned around one last time.

“Clay…” His best friend's brown eyes pierced through his helmet right into Clay's mind.

 

“Don’t overthink it.” With that Nick was off.

 

~~~

 

Am I really doing this? Clay had been pacing his room for the past hour since Nick had left. 

 

Don’t overthink it.”

 

How am I supposed to not overthink it! He groaned looking in the mirror. He stared at his slightly dirty pale green tunic. He usually slept in it, and it didn’t close past halfway down his chest. Clay knew how George had eyed him at the fight. Maybe it would distract him. Clay knew nothing would really distract the King from what was about to happen, but he could dream. His shirt was untucked from black leather pants, the kind that George wore. He looks better in them…He’d look better without them. Clay shook his head. He really didn’t need more thoughts about how good George looked right now, or what he wanted to do to him. Not when he was about to march over to the king's room, and bare it all. My face… I’m gonna show him my face.

 

“Gods help me.” Clay made eye contact with himself in the mirror, one hand reached forward to lay on his smiley helmet. The nicked iron stared back at him with soulless black eyes. Touching it was as close as he’d come to putting it on and leaving so far. He met the green eyes in the mirror. He felt sort of out of body right now. Clay knew George would like what he saw, the ruffled light brownish hair and green eyes, scar over his lip, light freckles, strong jaw, and pointed ears. He would like it right? It was more about what George would do after he knew Clays secret. The green eyes closed, and he placed the helmet over his head, not bothering to fasten it. It won’t matter in a minute.

 

Clay walked across his room and out his door in one motion. He figured it would be better to do this quickly, but when he reached the double doors across the hallway from him that marked the king's quarters he couldn’t go any further. Don’t be a baby Clay. This isn’t just for you and George, it’s for your sister. Clay steeled himself. He knocked and entered quickly, not giving George enough time to meet him at the door frame. The King had just begun pulling away from his vanity to answer the door, and he looked up surprised as Clay entered. 

 

“Clay!” Why does he always look like that… Clay never got used to seeing George, no matter how long they’d known each other. He hoped he felt the same. George was standing hands caught fixing the collar of his thin white tunic. It had blue buttons down the center that Clay desperately wanted to undo. He ticked his jaw under his mask. In a second George was going to see every micro-expression he caused. Clay wouldn’t be able to hide. I don’t want to.

 

“My King.” He really tried not to be flirty, but the way George rested one hand against the vanity table casually did not help. He does look good in leather pants.

 

“In my room at night hmm?” George had a playful flirting tone, but Clay was already on edge so it was really not the time. He felt himself clenching his hands, which had been freed from their regular fingerless gloves. George watched the movement, his perfect eyebrows scrunched, and a concerned expression took over his pretty pale face.

 

“What’s wrong?” The concern in his voice made Clay ache. It also made him believe that this would go well.

 

“Maybe It’s better if I show you…” With that Clay took a deep breath. His hands reached up to his helmet. He watched George the whole time. He saw his beautiful brown doe eyes widen. His pink lips dropped open in shock. Clay would have smiled if he wasn’t so nervous. George reached one gentle hand out, stuttering as he took a step forward, and Clays hands secured on either side of his helmet. This is it…

 

“Clay what are you-” Clay pulled the helmet off his helmet.

Chapter Text

Chapter 22: George POV



Clay was talking, but George could not focus. Fuck he’s beautiful…

 

That was not what the King was expecting when his friend entered his room. He thought it would be anywhere from night time banter to some serious emergency. This felt like a dream. When the knight had removed the metal guarding his face, George short circuited. He felt like his heart was dropping and soaring all at once. He’d tried to imagine what his best friend looked like, but nothing came close to the real thing. George's eyes were open wide as he traced Clay's features. The knight had been hiding a curly mess of sandy blonde hair. It got in his eyes slightly in the most attractive way. He had gorgeous features in general, which George pretty much expected, but seeing them was something else. There was a scar on his lip that George wanted to do so many things with. It was almost as hot as his hands. God, when Clay started moving as he talked, and the body face and voice merged together for George, the King was gone. It took a full minute or so before George even registered… his eyes are green. He’s not human.

 

It probably should have been more of a surprise. At least it was supposed to be, but all George could think was that it made sense. And Clay’s fucking beautiful. George took in the pointed ears and eyes. This is what he’d been hiding? Bright green eyes pierced George, as Clay began stepping closer. George realized he was also moving, completely in awe. He also finally began to listen to what Clay was saying.

 

“-Are you even listening right now?” Clay’s eyebrows scrunched, and he looked so nervous and worried. George took in every expression. The king decided he really wanted to see Clay laugh, and see him get flustered. Clay seemed to get more nervous by the second in Georges silence.

 

“Please say something.” George locked his brown eyes with bright green. They looked like the leaves of the jungle he had so recently visited.

 

“This is your face.” Wow real eloquent George. He decided it was absolutely the right thing to say, because Clay’s face split into a soft grin that was almost a smirk. It had George smiling like an idiot, but he really didn’t give two shits.

 

“It is.” Clay chuckled slightly at the King. George felt the air change between them, when did we get this close?, under Clay’s smug gaze. 

 

“You’re pretty hot.” George spoke matter of factly, literally just thinking out loud. When Clay’s cheeks turned pink, he felt his own smirk pull one of his eyebrows up. George decided he like smug Clay, but he liked flustered Clay just as much.

 

“I- uh George!” Clay seemed to laugh it off, but the dangerous fire in his green eyes said otherwise. “Is that your first reaction?” George just shrugged.

 

“That, and that you’re an elf.” Clay's face fell slightly. George thought he caught some insecurity there. He was still learning to read this new face.

 

“Elf and Giant. I’m a hybrid.” Clay said it so softly. It was just between them. Suddenly everything came into perspective for the King. This is why he hid… George kicked himself for not realizing it sooner, or ever doing anything to make his beautiful best friend think he had to hide from him. He didn’t get to self loathe for too long.

 

“The chosen one is my little sister.” Okay, George wasn’t ready for that one. He really didn’t have the brain power for anything besides staring at Clay right now. He probably looked ridiculous right now. He could feel his eyes as wide as saucers, as he stared at his best friend.

 

“Sorry I-” Clay chuckled. The low sound did things to George, and it did not make things any easier.

 

“I know it’s a lot to process.” George sure was processing. He didn’t know how the prioritizing of facts was going because he was pretty certain the number of freckles on Clay's nose was not paramount to Teakwood's survival. The King’s thoughts did catch up. They came so fast he had to raise a hand to his head, and close his eyes. He didn’t even know if he had blinked since the helmet came off. Clay was still holding the helmet. George wanted to throw it out, so he could never cover his face again. But I have more pressing concerns.

 

“Wait- I don’t but?”

“It’s okay. Just let me explain.” George would do anything if Clay kept looking at him. The knight's voice was so calming too, and George was borderline obsessed with how his scar moved as he talked. George nodded, and Clay took a breath.

 

“Okay. it’s a long story, but I think it’ll help…” As Clay began, George got his bearings. He listened intently as his best friend poured everything out. So that’s who he was looking for when I helped him.... Nick never mentioned he was this attractive....he’s been back to Vale, alot?…. 

 

“So Drista is your long lost little sister?”

“Yes.”

“And no one else knows?”

“Yes.”

“And you told me so that I knew the next step to get your sister back?”

“Yes. Well… and I wanted you to see my face.” Clay looked down at his feet, and the tall Knight seemed almost shy when he said that. George’s smile widened impossibly, and he stepped closer so his face was under Clay’s slightly bent head.

 

“Oh yeah… what if I wasn’t impressed?” George’s eyebrow raised, full of confidence without the stupid piece of metal in the way.

 

“Are you?” Clay spoke softly. He looked completely taken by George. The knight's eyes kept darting to George's lips. Has he always looked at me like this? George raised a hand gently and cupped Clay's face. Now that the touch was initiated, George had no idea what would happen.

 

“You’re beautiful Clay.” Clay sucked in a breath, and his cheeks were dusted in pink as his eyes widened. No fair he gets to turn all cute and pink, and I turn into a blushing red monster. George stroked his thumb over Clay’s cheek, and then to his lips…

 

“George…” The word was warning and low from the Knight’s mouth. It vibrated against George's thumb, and only spurred the king on more.

 

“What? You can’t show me your face and expect me not to touch.” George stepped closer, almost pushing himself into the knight. He wanted more flirting. I get why Clay loves getting me flustered.

 

“George.” This time the word was a little harder around the edges, but George still didn’t heed the warning. He felt high as he brought his other hand to Clay’s face.

 

“Hmm… Don’t want to touch me Clay?” The green eyes closed for a second, and George wondered if that was pushing it. The King had dropped his voice low and sultry. Maybe Clay hated it? Didn’t seem like it though. George didn’t even register the crash of metal hitting the ground, until both Clays hands fisted in the collar of his shirt. George gasped, as he was hoisted back a few steps, with Clay walking into him. Note to self… teasing works. Hungry green eyes met his, and George gave back equal fire. Neither of them spoke. Their foreheads were almost touching as Clay loomed over the King. It was all heavy breathing, and almost moving. George gulped slightly, and he swore he heard Clay grit his teeth. It felt like the knight was holding himself back. Don’t. Clay’s voice came out gravelly in a way that brought out George's typical red blush.

“Your Highness…” Thank god Clay used Your Highness. Anything else would have made George jump him right then and there. 

 

“...We should figure out a plan of action, and um…” Clay breathed particularly hard, then his hands let go of George's shirt. The King returned to being flat on his heels, and removed his hands. They both took a step back, but the air still felt stuffy. Nothing happened , George thought forlornly.

 

“...call a meeting or. Gather the others.” Clay cleared his throat and bent to pick up his helmet. George decided he hated the hunk of metal. The King knew what Clay was saying; he knew what had to be done, but George didn’t want the moment to end. Clay was here. George could order him to go back to exactly what he’d been doing, but he didn’t. Instead, the King sighed deeply.

 

“I know what to do. We have to find Wilbur.” Clay nodded, and George thought he would cry as the green eyes and curls disappeared under the metal smile. At least I can focus now. George pulled on a blue velvet robe and placed his crown on his head, before Joining Clay at the door. He took care not to touch the Knight as they walked, but nothing managed to diffuse the tension.

 

~~~

 

“Wilbur!” George snapped his mouth shut at how loud the shout was. He and Clay quickly approached the giant.

 

“Hi guys… whoa-” George yanked the two… I guess they’re technically both giants… along into the now quiet meeting room. He had one hand on each of their elbows, eyebrows furrowed in concentration, and blue robe billowing out behind him. He hoped they didn’t look too much like they were hiding something. I probably look crazy.

 

“George what is going on!?” The advisor stared at him bewildered, as George caught his breath. He was still recovering…

 

“Wilbur this is urgent!”

“Okay yes but… did something happen? You look a mess, and you’re crown…”

“What?” Wilbur had sort of pointed at his head, still looking very caught off guard. George just narrowed his eyes, and leaned forward hands flat on the table. He didn’t understand until… two large hands came up to adjust his wayward crown and pet his hair slightly. George tensed at Clay's presence, but his calming voice made George take a deep breath.

 

“Calm down My King.” Wilbur fixed them with a raised eyebrow but said nothing. George could have sworn his mouth quirked. He had bigger problems right now. Like what exactly am I going to say… George knew what to do, but it was entwined with so many secrets he didn’t know where to start.

 

“I have the next step in our plan to find the chosen one.” Wilburs eyebrows now fully shot up, and he crossed his arms. He was intently listening, and visibly shocked.

 

“What!? From where!?” George hadn’t really thought of how to answer the particular question. He tried to glance at Clay as inconspicuous as possible. The smiley helmet was just staring at him. George assumed Clay wanted his identity as confidential as possible. The less people who know the safer he will be.

 

“Erm… an elven source.” George meant to be more convincing, and he cursed himself when Wilbur looked slightly skeptical.

 

“And why didn’t you mention this earlier?” The giant's tone wasn’t soft, and George thought he may have been a little betrayed.

 

“I didn’t want to inform the council. It’s a mission I;d rather keep off the books.” Please don’t question it. Wilbur looked like he believed the lie, but the advisor had a very uneasy look on his face as he glanced around and inquired softly.

 

“You mean to go behind the courts back, My King? I don’t know if-”

“Technically I don’t need their approval, not as long as Niki, myself, and either you or Myriam sign off remember.” That had been a rather genius play by Niki, and Wilbur nodded in remembrance.

 

“Okay… what is this plan then?” Here it goes.

 

“My elven source informed me that: when Dristas parents took her out of Vale, they had her eyes hidden. I believe I know of the sorcerer that hid them-”

“You do?” Clay’s surprised voice chimed in. George hadn’t told him this part. He did just reveal his identity… maybe I should finally come clean as well… That was a problem for future George. Maybe, not so far into the future.

 

“Yes. I believe I can find her. Unfortunately, all the taverns in Teakwood are hidden due to the courts… well- I don’t know where to find them.” Clay nodded, and leaned in next to George at the table. Don’t think about how warm his chest feels on your shoulder… don’t do it.

 

“Perhaps we could begin by following any reports made against magic to the guards? I could discreetly check around and-”

“I can help actually…” Wilbur had been previously silent, and lost in thought. Now his jaw was clenched and fist tight resting on the table. George and Clay both snapped their heads expectantly, but he said nothing else.

 

“Well?” George prompted. Wilbur sighed, and motioned for them to follow him. George shared one bewildered look with Clay who just shrugged. They sped off after the advisor in the midst of the night. The trio began turning down corridors, and George became increasingly confused. He really didn’t expect to be turning into the advisor's quarters, and he really didn’t expect to see Wilbur stop and knock on Skeppy’s door. The small black haired advisor opened the door tentatively. His hair was out of its regular quiff and messy. Skeppy wore rumpled sleep clothes, as he blinked confused at the trio.

 

“Hello?”

“I’m sorry.” Wilbur’s voice was sad, and George watched Skeppy’s eyes widen in what could only be described as complete fear. What is going on right now!?

 

“Okay I’m confused.” Clay voiced George’s exact thoughts, and Wilbur just sighed and reached to push on the door with one hand. The action was mildly aggressive, but he spoke a bit more comfortingly.

 

“May we come in?” Skeppy looked back and forth between Wilbur and the King. George just raised an eyebrow at his stuttering advisor.

 

“Skeppy? What’s happening.” A light voice called from inside. Another thing George really did not expect was Bad coming up behind Skeppy in the doorway. The mousy brown haired advisor looked equally tired and rumpled, as he rubbed his eyes and put his spectacles on. We’re they sleeping in the same bed?

 

“Bad!?” George was so surprised he couldn’t stop himself from speaking. He watched his friends face drain of color, and take in a sharp breath. Skeppy looked worriedly at his… lover? Skeppy grabbed Bad’s arm, and the other advisor's hand flew up to lay his paler hand over Skeppy’s. Then Skeppy whirled on Wilbur, anger now filled his brown eyes.

 

“Wilbur what the hell! Did you forget we’re in a mutually destructive situation here!”

“Skeppy…” George’s heart hurt with how helpless bad sounded. Why does it have to be like this, and what the hell was Wilbur up to?

 

“No Bad!” He turned back to WIlbur, and Bad sighed defeated. “How could you!”

“Skeppy I'm not here for that! I didn’t know he would be here. I’m only here about magic…” Skeppy still narrowed his eyes at Wilbur, and George felt this would be an appropriate time to step in. He cleared his throat softly, and all three advisors turned to face him.

 

“I promise Skeppy, no action will be taken against you. This is just us. No one else will hear about anything you say tonight.”

“You have our word.” Clay’s strong voice backed him up. Skeppy assessed them, then shared a look with Bad who looked reluctant but nodded rubbing his hand on Skeppy’s shoulder. A circle of secrets I guess…

 

“Okay… what do you need Your Highness.”

“I need to find a magic tavern in Teakwood. Can you help?” Skeppy took another deep breath, and Bad held him through it. Then the advisor's light brown hands opened the door Wilbur was leaning on a little further.


“Will...? What’s going on here?” All five heads whipped around, to find Queen Niki herself standing in the hallway, eyes narrowed at the suspicious activity in the middle of the night. Well I guess the inner circle just got bigger.

Chapter Text

Chapter 23: Reyna POV

 

Reyna was suspicious, and she didn’t like being suspicious of her friends. When it had all gone down, it happened very fast. Niki had woken her up in the middle of the night semi-frantically, and Reyna thought someone died. It turned out that George was simply putting together a midnight task force to take down a lead he found in Vale but kept secret. No biggie right?

 

Reyna could remember the intense look she’d shared with Myriam. A mutual agreement: Somethings up. Reyna and Myriam had been adamant that they join the king on this journey, remembering Niki’s words and the promise they made to her. At first the king was skeptical, but with a pointed look from Niki to Wilbur and the amazons scrutinizing gaze at Clay and Nick everyone agreed. Wilbur and Niki would cover for George, saying he had some business in a far farming region of Teakwood, and Calliope volunteered to stay behind and make the amazons look less suspect. Reyna didn’t think the court would really notice their absence, and that may have had more to do with her not so secret girlfriend. Skeppy, who’s apparently a mage!? Was supposed to take them to the tavern where he learned his celestial magic, and after that George would lead from there. That’s the part that confused Reyna: how did the king suddenly have all this information? How did he know where to go? What is he hiding?

 

The mission consisted of George, Clay, Nick, Reyna, Myriam, and Skeppy. They were gone by sunrise. They traveled on horseback, through backroads so they wouldn’t be recognized. Reyna tugged the belt that held her twin swords tighter around her light pink dress. Her horse stomped it’s hoves on the uneven cobblestone as if it sensed it’s riders annoyance. Reyna was clocking George and Clay whispering to each other from under the large black cloaks they all donned. Myriam pulled up next to her. When she turned to face her Reyna could just catch a glimpse of her silver chainmail and baby blue dress. They had all gone for light inconspicuous armor today.

 

“Stop glaring at them.” Myriam spoke under her breath, and calmly. Reyna didn’t take her eyes off the three men in front of her, even when Nick turned back to look at them. Reyna didn’t like how someone she considered a friend suddenly looked so wary of her under his raven hair.

 

“They’re hiding something.”

“I know, but they aren’t gonna tell us if you keep staring.” Myriam had a point, but Reyna still didn’t keep her eye roll quiet as she turned to look at the lithe brunette next to her. 

 

“I don’t like people who hide things.” Myriam nodded patiently as if Reyna was a child, the blonde may or may not have been pouting.

 

“I know you don’t, but they may have a reason Rey.” Reyna kept her groan and her grumbles quiet this time. Myriam had turned a pointed teal gaze on her. She’s in mom mode. Reyna gave in, and decided she would defer to her brains on this one.

 

“Do you trust them?”

“Yes, and so do you.” With that reminder Reyna stood down. I do trust them, but you can never be too careful. 

 

“Okay you’re right.”

“I always am.” Reyna snorted lightly at the self-satisfied smirk on Myriams face, and poked her in the side. Myriam made a noise of disapproval. They continued in silence onto winding back roads. Skeppy pulled up at a back alley, and turned to address the group.

 

“This is it.” Reyna felt genuinely bad for the mage. He had spent his whole life hiding something, actually two things, he couldn’t change about himself in order to remain safe in the court. He looked rather unsure now, even after everyone's assurance that his secret was safe. Reyna and the others began to dismount, but Skeppy stopped them.

 

“Uh. It may be best if all of you don’t come in.” His eyes were flicking around between the king, palace guards, and amazons. Reyna figured it would be an Agatian, because that was least likely to cause uproar. She turned to Myriam to confirm. You or me? Myriam gave a small silent assessment, and nodded saying, ‘ you got this one.’ Reyna nodded to her friend, and began to step forward. Then George beat her to it.

 

“Then it’s you and me Skeppy.” George was matter of fact as he spoke, but everyone seemed a little surprised. Skeppy sort of blanched for a second, but shrugged and nodded. Reyna however knew this was a terrible idea, and protested.

 

“George are you sure? One of us would be less recognizable.”

“I’m sure I know what to ask.” There he went,being all cryptic and shady again. Clay and Nick seemed content to blindly follow. Or maybe they aren’t blind, and we’re the ones left out? Or maybe they are and they’d simply follow George anywhere. George met Reynas skeptical eyebrow, with a completely impassive face. Myriam stepped to her side, and now she looked a little more suspicious.

 

“You could tell us what we’re asking?” The two exchanged a look, and George seemed to think hard about what he said next. Reyna knew Myriam and George were similar in many ways and understood each other well, but right now that connection didn’t get Myriam anywhere.

 

“No it’s alright. You all can wait here.” With that George turned his attention to nod at Clay and Nick before making his way towards Skeppy. Clay surged forward, and stopped him leaning down to whisper. The King still seemed to blush despite the knight’s seemingly platonic intentions. Reyna watched the hushed interaction warily, and she knew Myriam was also studying the secrets floating in the air.

 

“My King are you sure you don’t want me to come with you?”

“Clay. It’s fine. I’ve got this.” George removed Clay’s hand from his arm, and smiled wide and reassuringly. Reyna noticed some microscopic changes. Like the way Clay’s shoulders were a little more on edge near George, and he seemed a little more flustered. Or the way that George’s eyes seemed to search Clay’s metal mask as if he was seeing something new. I wonder if…

 

“I know.” Clay spoke softly, and Reyna did not miss the way his thumb rubbed Georges hand. “Just be careful for me.” George actually smirked up at the tall Knight, which was definitely a change.

 

“Anything for you.” That was the most flirty Reyna had seen the King, and the most affected she had seen the captain of the guard. As George and Skeppy sauntered over to the side door of the tavern hoods drawn, Reyna couldn’t help but smile to herself. Despite not liking being left in the dark, she was happy with the way her friends' relationship had clearly progressed. Reyna really couldn’t help her nosiness, as she casually made her way towards Clay pretending to help with something on the horses.

 

“So you and George are together.” Reyna had always been good at being blunt. It definitely seemed to catch Clay off guard. He dropped the spur that he was holding, and had to gather himself.

 

“Wh-what are you talking about.” Clay was anything but convincing. Did he actually just stutter. Reyna felt a smug smile take over her face.

 

“Good for you.” She hoped he knew she meant it, and that she really didn’t need much else besides knowing they were happy. With that brighter thought in the air Reyna began to retreat towards Myriam, but Clay's soft almost insecure voice stopped her.

 

“Nothing… Nothing happened.” From his seated position, Clay pulled on the back of his green tunic under the silver chainmail looking sort of embarrassed. Reyna decided not to put him through too much, and she settled for a small smile and simple reassurance.

 

“Maybe it should.” She left Clay to ponder, and she returned to Myriam. The brunette amazon broke off her conversation with Nick, when Reyna approached. Nick went back to Clay, and they switched talking partners.

 

“How’d that go?” Myriams voice was light and joking, but Reyna picked up on the serious undertones. Reyna just shrugged and sighed. She hadn’t even really investigated the way Myriam clearly suspected her too.

 

“I just asked about George. They’re not gonna tell us anything.” Myriam nodded with a furrowed brow, and lowered her voice as she kept her eyes on Nick and Clay.

 

“You’re right though. They are definitely hiding something.”

“Maybe more than one thing.” Reyna and Myriam didn’t get much more than that mutual confirmation, as George and Skeppy emerged from the tavern walking with purpose. Skeppy finally looked a little less pale, with more color returned to his light brown skin. George offered his hand to the mage when they were back in earshot.

 

“Thank you Skeppy. You may return to the castle if you like now, and expect substantial compensation for your help.” Skeppy’s eyes shown, as he shook hands with the king. Something passed between their eye contact that Reyna couldn’t understand, but they all moved on in order to say goodbye to Skeppy. Clay clapped him on the back, and Nick called after as he was walking away.

 

“Say hi to Bad for me!” Everyone giggled at Skeppy's blush, and indignant look. The mage sent Nick the middle finger over his shoulder, and made his way back to the castle on horseback. When he was out of sight, George cleared his throat and got serious again.

 

“I was right. I know who we’re looking for, and a tavern they frequent. It’s nearby. We should be there before nightfall.” 

 

~~~

 

Reyna had just about had it, as they stood outside the second mage tavern today. This one was bigger, and hiding in plain sight in a more popular area. Yet, Reyna found no more useful information from it about why George was being so shady. She was about to snap.

 

“Why are we here George?” Reyna was exasperated, and looking for any crumb off of which she could trust the King. He turned to look at her. George was out of his crown, but still held an air of Royalty in a royal blue tunic, and purple vest. Myriam also shot her a look, but with a quick silent conversation it was decided, We need to know. I’ve got your back.

 

“To find out about the chosen-” George began to speak, but Reyna cut him off again. She already got that part, she wanted to know how George had picked out this particular mages Tavern and why.

 

“Yes, but why this Tavern.” Myriam wasn’t pulling punches either. She barely even phrased it as a question, more like an accusation. The two Amazons stood facing the King, hands on their hips. Clay came from behind George to defend him.

 

“George has his reasons for disclosing or not-”

“I’m sorry. Not good enough for me, Clay.” Reyna was back at it, fixing George with a hard stare. Myriam was right by her side. George pursed his lips, and his eyes darted between the two women. Nick actually scratched the back of his neck, and sheepishly spoke towards the King, walking over to the Amazons side.

 

“Actually… I’d like to know too.” That seemed to be what got through to George. His eyes changed from narrowed to widening at his friend. Nick seemed apologetic and shrugged to the King, with an uncomfortable smile on his face. Clay’s posture changed, but he turned sideways to speak to George, who adamantly stood straight ahead.

 

“George?” The King sighed at the back to back gentle comments from his best friends. Reyna looked at Myriam. Enough of this, they decided.

 

“At least tell us who we’re looking for.” Reyna implored the King, more exasperated than anything. George bit his lip, and looked to Clay then back to the amazons. He let out a heavy sigh, and mumbled something under his breath. Then he granted Reyna’s wish.

 

“A reality sorcerer named Bast, the daughter of the woman who performed the spell on Drista” Okay that’s something… Clay stiffened at Dristas name, as Reyna had picked up on him doing for the past few weeks, but other than that no large reactions were to be found. Despite that fact, George still looked terrified. Myriam spoke slowly and accusingly, but she didn’t seem overly mad.

 

“And how do you know that!?” George’s eyes widened, before he hung his head and sighed.

 

“...I can’t tell you.” George seemed to be going through a lot. It was almost like he wanted to spill his guts but couldn’t. Many looks were exchanged around him, and this was the first time Reyna had seen the King look this scared. Clay seemed to think the same thing, and snapped his head towards her. Maybe it was the way the metal head portrayed so much emotion, or how Nick coughed awkwardly, or how she had come to consider them friends, but Reyna sighed. 

 

“Fine. We’ll trust you for now.” George’s eyes were shining as he looked up towards the slightly taller amazons. The other one around his height nodded in agreement with her sister. Nick patted him on the shoulder, and exchanged a nod with Clay, before breaking the tension and flipping his hood back up.

 

“Alright! Lead the way then George.” The King cleared his throat, and his features were set in determination again. They approached this tavern door, hoods drawn. George stopped right before he entered, and turned his head slightly to Clay. He said something under his breath that Reyna was probably not meant to hear.

 

“I want you to take the lead speaking to her. You know what to ask… and Clay- I- you may find out some things about me, just… don’t hate me.”

“I could never hate you George.” Reyna tried not to let her face stretch apart at the cute exchange, especially headed into a hostile situation, but she shared a silent squeal with Nick despite themselves. The five hooded figures entered the mages tavern, all checking their various weapons as they took in the surroundings. The tavern had two bars in the center of the first floor held up by pillars. There were many large oak tables, and there was a lot of magic. Strange spells flew around left and right, including the odd bird or tarot card. Reyna was a bit captivated at first, and then she followed Georges gaze to a red leather booth where two people sat with playing cards.

 

“See brother… it’s all in the wrist.” The girl smugly addressed what was apparently her brother, as she reached to grab a stack of cards from the table. When the man narrowed his eyes, and flicked his finger the card went up into flames. His sister looked at him with anger, but the man just smiled mockingly. As the five got closer, Reyna recognized them both as sorcerers by their lavender eyes. The man had black curly hair cut into a fade, and brown skin a shade or two darker than Myriams. His sister sported similar skin and hair; though, her skin had red undertones that matched her long burgundy nails, and her black hair was much longer and coiled out around her head despite half being clipped back in a way that made it puff around and over her shoulders. Overall, they both had smooth rounded facial features. They both clearly had style as well. She wore a floor length red dress, it was tight in the long-sleeves and chest area accentuating her dangerous aura. Reyna also noticed a little aura besides her personality emitting from her in red tendrils of magic. Her brother looked nonchalant at the display, he was lounging with one arm on top of the booth in a grey suede jacket over a silver silk tunic and black leather pants. The last thing Reyna was able to note was their silver coven symbols: a boar skull on a necklace and ring, before Clay was speaking.

 

“Are you Bast.” The knight's voice was intimidating, and he had quite a bit of leverage on the girl. Yet, the girl, who was apparently Bast, seemed relatively unaffected.

 

“Who’s asking.” The attitude was palpable, and Reyna had to keep herself from scoffing.

 

“No one.”

“I don’t talk to no ones.” Bast began to turn away, but George's hands rose and pulled the hood from his head as he stepped next to Clay.

 

“Will you talk to me?” Reyna was beginning to think that may have been a bad idea. Not only did the King just open his face to the general room for someone to recognize, but Bast’s expression was far from welcoming. Her brother had a disbelieving smile on his face, that wasn’t exactly happy, but wasn’t as murderous as his sister.

 

“Well I’ll be damned…”

“Hello Anubis.” George spoke carefully, like he was treading lightly with whatever this connection was. What is going on? Bast’s brother, who Reyna now knew as Anubis, laughed without humor shaking his head. Bast seemed to get over herself. Her previously narrowed purple eyes went back to normal, and she rested her elbows on the table and her chin on folded fingers as she eyed George. Reyna briefly wondered what those hands were capable of, and she did a mental check of how fast she could reach her spear.

 

“Long time no see Georgie… and you’ve brought friends?” What the fuck. Reyna was wondering how George knew these people, as Bast gave a sort of playful look at each of them, before she continued her observations.

 

“-A human, thought you kept better company than that.” Her brother snorted behind his hand, and Nick opened his mouth. Bast just kept drawling on, and moved her hands lazily. 

 

“And some of them are Agatians. Do you see that Anubis!”

“Yes I do.” Anubis got locked in a staring contest with Myriams teal blue eyes, and Reyna already didn’t like the energy this interaction was having.

 

“Oh.. and a tin man!” Reyna almost laughed at that one. She may be a sarcastic bitch, but she’s funny. Clay didn’t seem to enjoy it that much, and he pulled out one of the unused chairs at the booth, sitting so he was across from Bast. He put his own arms on the table, forcing her to pull hers away and refocused the conversation.

 

“We’re here for intel.” Bast had a slight more interest in her gaze, as she looked at the metal mask. She turned to address George again, whose jaw was pretty constantly ticking. Reyna communicated to Myriam in silent questions, trying not to broadcast their general lack of information. What the hell! How does he know them? She shook her head unnoticeably. No idea. Roll with it. 

 

“George does tin man have a name?” Bast asked with a fake sweetness, and even faker pout.

 

“It’s Clay.” George sounded thoroughly annoyed now, and it only seemed to amuse Bast more.

 

“-And you should think about answering our questions.” Bast raised an eyebrow, and the King stepped forward taking a seat in the middle chair next to Clay. The other fell into a natural formation. Nick put his arm straight out so his palm rested on the side of the booth menacingly, and Myriam sat in the seat next to George holding eye contact with Anubis across the table. Reyna stayed standing a step behind Clay and the King, and kept her eyes out for any interference. 

 

“What’s in it for us?” Anubis had stopped lounging back, and sat up at the table. Myriam leaned forward and met his eyes.

 

“How bout getting out of here in one piece.” Reyna and Nick flashed bits of their weapons from under their coats, and Anubis clocked the movement. George and Clay stayed focused on Bast.

 

“Sweetheart, we’re sorcerers. I don’t know what you think will happen, but it won’t be good for you.” Anubis seemed almost genuinely warning, but raising a ball of fire in his palm said otherwise. Myriam gave back an equally patronizing energy.

 

“Hot, but I’ll take our chances 5 vs. 2.”

“Hot?” Reyna actually caught a smile somewhere in the exchange, and she raised an eyebrow at Myriam. Are you seriously flirting? Myriam just barely rolled her eyes in response. Shut up. She did lean back a little farther from the table, after Reynas silent inquiry. That only seemed to spur on Anubis, he flicked his wrist and the shoulder of Myriam’s cloak caught fire. She patted it quickly, fixing Anubis with a glare. Reyna was ready to kill him, but Nick was closer and already very on edge.

 

“Raise a hand to her again, and you lose it.” The raven haired knight's hand was on the hilt of his sword, and one of the playing cards flew by embedding itself into the wall of the booth next to Nick's face. It was surrounded by red tendrils of Bast’s magic.

 

“Threaten my brother again, and you lose your head.” Clay’s calm voice once again, diffused by redirecting the conversation to its intended destination. 

 

“Just answer our questions and we’ll leave you alone.”

“Please Bast.” With Georges follow up, the sorceress's eyes changed almost imperceptibly. She quickly covered it with her usual sadistic air, but she agreed. How was George able to do that? What is their relationship?

 

“Fine. What do you want to know.” Anubis relaxed as well, following his sister's lead. His facial expression was a bit more open as he took in George, like her had dropped some sort of front.

 

“It’s about your mother.” Clay spoke quickly and matter of fact. George averted eye-contact. Basts eyes darkened, and her brother put a comforting hand on her arm looking like he would burn whoever just upset her to a crisp which happened to be Clay.

 

“What?” Bast spoke angrily, as her lilac eyes trained on Clay. The Knight continued on with confidence, as his other four companions watched the sorcerors carefully.

 

“We need to know about her involvement with the chosen one.”

“She doesn’t have any.”

“I know that’s not true. She performed the spell to keep her eyes hidden. For a giant-elf hybrid couple.” Both Bast and Anubis showed small recognition. Anubis didn’t hide his shock quite as well, and looked between George, Clay, and Myriam sitting in front of him. Bast was wary, but seemed too curious to stay completely indifferent.

 

“Why do you want to know about that?”

“We’re looking for her, the chosen one.”

“Obviously, but why should we help.”

“Because your mother was the last to have any sort of contact with her powers.”

“She's dead.”

“You’re not, and you remember something.”

“How could you know all of this?”

“Because she’s my sister!” What. the. Actual. Fuck. The tension was steadily building between Bast and Clay, but that had not been the conclusion Reyna was expecting. Clay had snapped, and she couldn’t see his face to tell if he was regretting the words or not. Reyna had known his heritage wasn’t exactly human, but this was a whole other ordeal. Shokwaves rippled across the table. Luckily, the sorcerers were too shocked to notice three of the five inquirers also looked like their worlds had just been turned upside down. George somehow looked virtually unaffected by the comment, and that’s when it clicked. Ahh so that’s how he knew. Guess we’re in the loop now. Clay took a deep breath, and spoke again. This was the first time his voice had betrayed any emotion.

 

“Please, help me find my sister.” Bast said nothing, she looked unaffected barely smirking at the helmeted Knight. Anubis on the other hand seemed to have something else in his eyes. Maybe a conscience. He glanced once at his sister before sighing and speaking.

 

“Bast wasn’t there, but I was.” Everyone watched with intent, including his sister. “Mom did a spell on a baby girl's eyes. They were something I had never seen before. She made them appear blue until a certain sentiment or words left her mouth, like a trigger.” Bast had a scrunched and confused face. For some reason George mirrored it, but the sorceress was the one who spoke their concerns.

 

“That’s a long term spell?” Anubis nodded to his sister.

 

“Yeah, and she still has all of the stuff used for it. It was a rough ceremony, took a while.”

“What kind of stuff?” There was some other level of conversation now as George inquired. The two sorcerers and the King were clearly on the same page, but Reyna had no idea how to get there.

 

“Personal items George.” Clearly there was a plan whirring behind the king's mind at Anubis’ answer, but Reyna once again had no idea what it entailed. Clay seemed to read the King as well, and realize they had the desired information. Everyone prepared to retreat, and George snapped out of it with a new determination, addressing his… whatever they are.

 

“Thank you both.” George seemed sincere, but Bast wasn’t having it. She tutted and leaned back, Anubis was warily eyeing his sister and George.

 

“Not so fast, Your Highness.” She almost spat the title at his feet. “We told you some personal information, only fair we get some in return.”

“Not how it works Bast.”

“Oh I think it is… unless you want me to tell the Blade you stopped bye?” Bast’s face was positively sadistic, aas George went pale and settled back into his seat. Reyna followed along with the other four, as if they understood who the hell ‘The Blade’ was.

 

“Fine.” George spoke through his teeth. “What do you want to know?” Bast looked positively smug, like she was playing a game. She leaned forward further but turned her attention on Clay.

 

“So what’s it like being the King's personal pet?” Clay and George both stiffened significantly. Reyna could feel the anger of the King, and she looked around awkwardly. What she saw only made their situation worse. A few other sorcerers were watching them with purple eyes, like they were waiting for something. Reyna caught sight of another silver pig head. She carefully set her jaw, making sure none of them knew they’d been made, and subtly turned to Myriam. We’ve got company. The amazon glanced around as well, before returning calculating teal eyes to Reynas. Guess it’s not a 5 vs. 2 anymore.

 

“I said you could ask me questions, Bast.” George was forceful in his words, and Reyna found his protectiveness cute. Bast was clearly just amused by it, but she certainly had a sinister edge to her smile.

 

“I can ask whoever I want.” Her air of superiority was corroborated by the various other sorcerers in the tavern that seemed to be going off of her and her brother's signal. Reyna kicked herself for not seeing in earlier. She desperately tried to communicate with Clay silently, but he was too busy responding to Bast.

 

“It’s like protecting your best friend. Happy?” The Knight was clearly angry, but Bast showed no fear. The sorceress just smiled a grin of pure sadism and leaned forward to whisper something against the side of Clays helmet, while everyone watched. Then everything happened very fast.


Whatever Bast had said made George's eyes widen, and Clay threw the first punch. He socked the red sorceress back into the booth, and suddenly her brother was on his feet and the table was on fire. Reyna drew her sword as everything sprung into action. Well this’ll be fun.

Chapter Text

Chapter 24: George POV

 

George didn’t know if he was prepared, until he saw Bast and Anubis. Then his question was answered. He definitely wasn’t. As they approached the table he pulled his hood up farther, and almost subconsciously moved into Clay. Anubis was pretty much what George thought he would look like, just an older version of the child he’d last seen. Bast was more surprising. Her curls were worn out and natural the way her mom had. George even thought she wore the same clip. She looks a lot like her mom…

 

(Flashback)

 

Prince George was out of his element. He was used to the cushy walls of the castle, and he couldn’t believe he’d gotten this far without a guard catching him. I need to know what’s happening to me. Even in his 7 year old mind, George knew he couldn’t ask his father. He had tried approaching his mother, but she brushed the concerns away as something a child would say. So, George had bribed a servant girl to tell him where he could find a mages tavern. 

 

Now George was walking quickly through some less pleasant Teakwood alleys, and his nose cringed at the smell. He kept going despite it, until he reached the building he was told to go to. The place was a lot bigger than George was, and he was scared as he approached the door. A large hairy man was exiting, and he looked down at the small boy. George’s heart filled with ice, and he clenched his fist to keep himself from running away.

 

“You here for something, kid?” The gruff voice sounded from the man. George couldn’t answer. He had every intention of being strong and regal like his father, coming to demand answers from the mages. Yet, staring up at the tall man George was reminded he was just a kid. The young prince barely managed to stutter.

 

“S-s-sorry.” George rushed through the man's legs, and blocked out anything he tried to say after him. George was immediately overwhelmed by the atmosphere he had stumbled into. The young prince pulled the cloak, that was far too big for him, tight around himself and almost tripped over it in the process. Magic was everywhere swirling in the air. What looked like a tavern consisted of many packed seating areas once inside. Many people of different races, but mainly humans, were sitting with purple eyed sorcerers. George was mildly pushed around, and avoided anyone who asked him if he needed help. He felt overwhelmed, and was about to run out of the tavern before he felt his foot step on something, and he tripped backwards landing on a couple of cushions.

 

“Hey!” A shrill childlike voice sounded, and George wildly clambered his way out of the cushions so he was looking at the source of the noise. A small girl with lavender eyes, brown skin, and poofy curly black hair was staring at him with crossed arms. George stared back wide eyed, and realized he had tripped over one of the two dolls the girl possessed. The other was tucked under her arm. The difference between the two was palpable. George wore an outfit of matching silks his mother had picked out, and the girl had a simple dress that looked handmade or handed down. The prince blinked between the girl, her eyes, and her dolls.

 

“I- I… are those voodoo dolls?” George asked, with an element of fear in his voice. The girl narrowed her eyes, and scoffed at him picking up the doll.

 

“Ugh, of course not. I’m a reality sorceress.” She said it as if it was the most obvious thing in the world rattling the button eyed dolls in Georges face. The prince just blinked at her dumbly. He didn’t know what any of that meant. There wasn’t a whole lot of education on the subject. She picked up on his confusion, and scoffed again.

 

“Stupid humans…” George was going to protest, before a young boy, with the same eyes, skin, and hair clambered up into the rug filled seating area where George and the young girl sat.

 

“What are you doing to my sister!?” He had his little hands into fists and summoned baby fire balls. But they went out as quickly as they came. The boy looked surprised and embarrassed all at once, as his sister laughed at him. George on the other hand was in awe of the magic. He hadn’t spoken or answered, and the two siblings just stared at him until the girl cocked her head and addressed her brother.

 

“Is he alright?” George snapped out of it, and shook his small head putting a few of his slicked back brown hairs out of place. He turned his large eyes back to the siblings. This may be a new situation, but George still knew how to be diplomatic.

 

“I’m Prince George. What are your names?” George hid his nervousness as best a 7 year old could, but he wasn’t really prepared for the curly haired girls response.

 

“You’re not a prince?” She looked confused, and George scrunched up his face.

 

“Yes I am.”

“No. Princes are cool.” She said it once again like he was stupid, and George was starting to become annoyed with it. He turned his nose up and replied.

 

“I am cool, and I am the prince! You're the ones who aren’t cool!” It was a childish argument, but the young boy continued it good heartedly. And George looked back from his eyes current position towards the side, to listen to him speak.

 

“We are cool! I’m Anubis, and this is my sister Bast.” The girl next to him, who George had just learned was Bast, smirked, and placed the fist holding one of her dolls on her hip.

 

“We’re twins.” She said.

“Yeah but I’m older!” Her brother replied happily.

“Only by a minute!”

“What’s going on here?” A new voice spoke. Bast and Anubis both beamed at the woman who was approaching. George eyed her carefully, and retreated a little farther into the cushions despite her warm smile. He was wary of the adults here. The woman had a kind smile, and even kinder eyes that crinkled slightly around the corners. She looked like she might be related to the twins, and George was soon proven correct.

 

“Mommy!” Both Bast and Anubis yelled. Bast wrapped herself around the woman's legs, and Anubis stood reaching for her hand. The older lady giggled lightly, making her larger chest and belly jiggle in a jolly way, under a long white skirt with a yellow off the shoulder blouse tucked in. 

 

“This is George!” Bast spoke excitedly smiling at the human boy in the cushions. Her mother turned matching lavender eyes onto George. She had similar features, and the same skin tone as her daughter. Her black hair may have been curly as well, but it was wrapped up in white layers of fabric. She placed a brown hand protectively against her daughters hand, and George looked at the thick silver band on her wedding ring finger, as well as the long white nails she had that almost looked like claws. She smiled at George, matching her childrens grins. George couldn’t muster more of a grimace back, as his heart was still beating out of his chest. The woman bent down, still with her daughter holding her side, and addressed the small prince.

 

“Hi George. I’m Leanne.” George felt at ease with her soft voice. “What can I do for you?”

 

(End Flashback)

 

As The King and his entourage got closer to Bats and Anubis, George felt his memories flooding back. He remembered meeting the twins, well before Clay and Nick started training as squires. He remembered Bast’s constant fiery attitude, and how her mother always scolded her about manners. Looks like she’s the same.

 

George came back to the tavern that was run by the twins' mother every week. After he had returned from the first time, he was punished for sneaking out and his mother cried saying she almost lost him. In reality George was only gone for a few hours, but he didn’t like seeing his parents upset. He got smarter after that, and he would trick multiple guards and his mother so that he had no escort, and sneak away to the tavern for a few hours before he returned without anyone noticing. Even being back in a mages tavern now, George felt parts of himself he hadn’t acknowledged in years coming alive. 

 

The first time George had figured out he could do magic, he didn’t really realize what had happened. He just thought it was a cool trick, until he had scared a servant so badly she ran out of the room screaming devil when he called his hairbrush over to her hand from across the room. After that instance, George had realized something was different about him. His mother brushed him off, not really believing George so he took matters into his own hands, and found out about mages then ran away to find a tavern. In hindsight it was extremely dangerous, but 7 year old George hadn’t known that. I didn’t even know I was a mage.

 

Leanne explained everything. She welcomed George into their family, and taught him how to control his abilities. As George looked at Bast now, all he could think about was her mother. Leanna was a passionate woman. She ran her tavern in order to help mages deal with the stigma around magic in Teakwood. It was successful, but George knew her life was hard, even if she never showed it. He often talked about it with Bats and Anubis, as they grew. George always worried they wouldn’t be able to cross the divide, not with him being a prince; but Leanne was more than kind. She was also one of the best sorceresses, maybe to ever live. George was happy. He felt at home going to the tavern. At least until… it had all changed.

 

( Flashback )

 

George was older now, his conformation had been a big deal when he turned 13 recently. He had worked up the courage to ask something of his parents. He asked to invite a guest or two. They signed off on Clay, and Nick. George had blushed significantly when he told Clay that he and Nick would be sitting in his family section. They hadn’t known each other for more than a year, but they were really the only friends George had. Well, that wasn’t exactly true. They were the only friends he could be honest with his parents about. Maybe that can change…

 

“Mom? Dad?”

“Yes sweetie.” His mother turned to look at him. She was a pretty lady. Her long thick brown hair was similar to Georges, and she shared his widow's peak, which his hair now pushed forward to cover. She wore the queen's crown, and a gold and blue batwing dress to match, as she turned to address him. George swallowed his fear, and addressed his parents reading his fathers eyes. He proceeded to ask them if he could invite a family, though he said they worked in the stables and lived in the capitol. His father seemed accepting, that was until George revealed the real reason for asking.

 

“...They’re sorcerers.” The king was not an evil man, at least his son didn’t think so, but his eyes hardened at the admission. His father sighed, and shared a look with his mother, who’s eyes were wide. George already knew what his answer would be. He tried not to show how much some of his fathers words hurt. What would you think, dad? If I told you your son was also a deviant? Would you still care so much what the court thinks? His mother proceeded to talk to him a bit gentler later, about keeping up appearances. At the time George didn’t think about what her words really meant, and what she must’ve dealt with as a woman and as king. He hadn’t been to the tavern all week because of the discussion. He wasn’t expecting to see Bast or her mother as he paraded through the capitol, thinking back on what his father said.

 

George was trotting ahead on his horse, the prince's crown donning his head as people cheered. He was being paraded through the capitol, as if turning 13 was some large accomplishment for anyone in the castle. Still he pasted a smile on his face, or at least until he saw them. She wasn’t supposed to be there, and George was struck with fear when her eyes showed recognition. Leanna was exiting a bakery, looking sunny as ever in a bright white dress, with long flowy sleeves, and her typical head wrap. This one was blue and detailed. She had found out pretty quickly that George was the prince, but it never seemed to phase her. He was just another student, and she looked happy to see him, as her daughter emerged from behind her carrying bags. Bast hadn’t set eyes on George yet. She was growing into her powers, her long red nails marked her abilities similar to her mothers. Bast didn’t look quite as bright as Leanna however, she had a darker aura in general, dressing in a dark red blouse, and black skirt. Her hair was as free as ever, but it was tied into two puffs on the side of her head. Something her mom had probably done. The crowd had thinned out, enough for them to approach him. George knew what would happen, but he could do nothing.

 

“George!” George thought maybe if he ignored her it would help, it did not. Leanna was waving and smiling at him, but all the guards saw was purple eyes trained on the newly teenage prince and the sorceress's hand outstretched. A guard from behind him buried an arrow in Leanne’s chest. Chaos erupted, as knights surrounded George, and the crowd scattered from the arrow. Shouts of ‘sorceress!’ and ‘fire!’ and ‘protest the prince!’ carried out. George was numb, as he watched the blood soak and spread through Leanne's white dress. He locked eyes with Bast. The girl’s face was a mix of shock, and when she turned to George anger. Tears threatened to spill over her eyes, and her bags hit the cobblestone street. George couldn’t say anything. He didn’t know what he would say. They were just kids. He tried to communicate with her, because Anubis couldn’t lose a sister and mother on the same day. Don’t be an idiot Bast. Please. Run.

 

Someone yanked on the girl's arm, pulling her away from her mother's body. George would forever thank that citizen. Bast was dragged away into the crowd, her eyes stayed trained on Leanne as Guards approached. One came next to him.

 

“Are you alright, your highness?” George was numb. He was numb as he tried to answer. Numb as he was led back home. Numb as he had to listen to the guards and his father talk about what happened. He never checked back on the tavern. He never saw Bast and Anubis again. In that moment George had decided he would make it up to them, and magic would be free in Teakwood again.

 

( End Flashback )

 

“His name is Clay, and you should think about answering our questions.” George had been vaguely aware of the encounter, as memories played behind his eyes. He didn’t know if Bast recognized the name, from when their paths had briefly crossed in his life. He could remember telling Bast and Anubis about his young squire friends, but they never got to meet. Though George learned all their paths were very intertwined. Leanne had to be the sorceress to hide Dristas eyes, especially based on Tubbos description of her white magic. It was probably the last lasting spell from their mother, and it had been on Clay’s sister.

 

Clay really is a part of everything in my life. The knight was seated stoically next to him, and George had never seen him this serious before. The strong form and tense shoulders adjacent to his, were what kept him going right now. He briefly glanced at the hybrid knight. George could imagine his face now, mouth set in a firm line. Everytime he felt a memory crawl over his skin, the king wanted to confide in no one but Clay. Maybe it’s time I come clean.

 

“Because she’s my sister!” It was as if Clay’s words lined up with his own thoughts. Did he actually just say that? Everyone at the table was racked with shock, even Nick. George almost smiled for his friend, it was good to get secrets out. Is he really a friend anymore? That was the other thought George had. Because clearly Clay had been waiting, and telling George was the turning point. I was the first to know. 

 

“Please. Help me find my sister.” George knew that that would be effective, especially on Anubis, and he was right. The Sorcerer turned his purple eyes on George, and the king nodded encouragingly. Anubis set himself, before glancing once towards his own sister. What if it was her? His eyes seemed to ask. Then Anubis began to talk and explain. He looked directly at George when talking about the possessions she still had. George's heart leapt. He really could help Clay. he could find Drista. He was so excited, he thanked them and began to move. That’s when Bast mentioned the blade.

 

George felt sick. He knew who the Blade was. Most people knew him as the leader of the swine coven. George knew him as the man who had turned his friends to the darkside. George had told himself that day when he was thirteen he’d never see them again. But he did cross paths with his childhood friends, when they went to address a problem with a coven in Teakwood. George had led guards to the tavern where he learned magic, only to find it was drastically changed and overtaken by sorcerers in dark velvets. The leader of which was the Blade. He and George hadn’t had a good first meeting. Especially when George saw Bast and Anubis, at his right hand. The pink haired sorcerer was unmatched taking out almost the entire battalion by himself. George had stopped the fighting, even having to expose his magic. He had heard of the fearsome illusionist that was Blade’s main weapon, and knew it was Bast. He hadn’t expected to see both of them, but hoped it would aid in his negotiation. It didn’t. The twins' faces barely held recognition for him, and George mainly had to face the Blade, who made a deal. They would leave Teakwood, but if George ever spoke to his people, the twins, again he’d gut him. George had banked on their childhood friendship when coming here, but now Bast had opened the threat despite her brother's unsure face and George had to deal with it.

 

He sat back down, and attempted to entertain her. George had thought she would ask him Questions, but when she turned to Clay that was his line. She egged the knight on, and George shivered from Clays cold and angry tone of voice. The king was going to step in, but Bas had already leaned forward, to whisper in Clay’s ear. George barely caught it.

 

“Then why couldn’t you protect your sister?” Oh no. Clay wiped the sadistic smile off her face with his fist, and there was no way out anymore. Anubis and Bast were angry now, and it showed when the table lit on fire. Myriam, Clay, and George sprung back drawing their weapons. George held his sword at the ready, as Nick faced oncoming attacks from behind. Cleary Bast and Anubis were VIP patrons because almost the entire tavern was on top of them. It was a full out brawl.

 

Crows began attacking George, and he cut them down one by one with his sword. The sorcerer who had been controlling them followed up with a yell, attempting to bring his elbow down on the king's head. George sidestepped and drove the hilt of his sword into the man's face knocking him out cold. Then two more people were on top of him. One was a human who sent a measly kick towards George, along with a small blue flame. George handled that well, but there was a giant, who was scruffy and at least a foot taller than George. He felt himself hoisted off the ground, and his back hit the table. When his head snapped to the side he caught a glimpse of Nick kicking someone over the bar, while another sorcerer wrapped his arms around the raven haired Knights shoulders beginning to udder some type of sleeping incantation. George looked up at the giant holding him down, and traded blows with his hands. Unfortunately, that ended in the man's hand around the king's neck. Luckily, a flash of pink sent the giant flying across the floor. Reyna had swung on the black steel chandelier sending her feet into the side of the man's head. George thanked her briefly coughing, and Reyna smiled before turning her swords in hand and leaping onto another approaching assailant. George felt a hand on his arm, and he launched himself off the table landing on his feet. The king knew that hand anywhere.

 

“George are you okay.” Clay’s voice was full of fire, as he held his sword in one hand, and George in another with a tight grip. George could almost see the green irises behind the metal head with how close they were standing. Clay had a wake of incapacitated opponents behind him, and George briefly registered that he had been trying to get to him. The king’s focus was taken by the Knight. He always looks good in the heat of battle. Clay, in all his sweaty chested glory, was still waiting for an answer. George set his jaw hard, and he had fire in his eyes as he rearranged Clay's hold to grip his Knights hand.

 

“I’m good Clay. Help Nick.” The knight squeezed back and nodded, before coming up behind their mutual friend, and tearing the sleep sorcerer off of his back. I wonder how easily he could throw me if I let him? George shook his head, and took in the fight as a mage launched himself at George, dagger drawn. George caught the silver swine crest on his ear, before the smaller King ensued his momentum against him sending the mage on his face. I really need my sword back. In looking, Georges eyes landed on Myriam who was rolling around with an incredible agility dodging fireballs from Anubis, until she could regain her lost spear and lunge for him. They had a dance going, and Reyna was preoccupied. George would have helped if it wasn’t for the more dangerous twin Bast with her gaze fixed on Clay. She was farther down the bar, and the Knight had his back to her helping Nick stand. Fighting was raging all around them, but Georges eyes zeroed in, as her hands began to glow red and claw like. She looked pissed. It’s been a minute since I’ve done this…

 

“Come on…” George extended his hand, putting all his feelings for Clay into the action. He felt his dormant magic come to life, as he called the beer bottles from the shelves towards him, on their way hitting Bast square on the head. Bear dripped down her hair and dress as she turned to look at George.

 

“Really Georgie?”

“Don’t touch him.” George thought he saw the purple eyes flash red, and she stalked towards him. He caught sight of his sword, and raised his magic again to call it to him. I can’t use much more. I'll get tired. Bast must have known that too, because she smiled when the King raised his weapon at her. The red claws rose, and George could hear the buzzing. It was like an absence of sound, that only existed in the presence of pure power. He was sure if Bast wanted to kill him she could. Instead he felt the magic surround his hands. The biting pain made him pull them back, as his sword bent like foil crumpling itself into a ball, and falling onto the ground surrounded by red tendrils. Why am I alive?

 

“Next time I won’t be so nice.” Bast’s eyes were not kind, but George still thought there was something behind them. She said nothing else, and red magic flickered through the tavern. George's eyes quickly found Clay, who was in the thick of the fighting with Nick. Clay was looking for him as well. George saw Myriam fall to the ground out of the corner of his eye. She had been locked in a hostile embrace with Anubis, who just flickered red and disappeared leaving her to fall, before Reyna yanked her out of the fire. Anubis reappeared along with his sister and the other swine sorceress in the doorway. They slipped out in the chaos, the red tendrils of illusion followed suit. George put all of it aside, as he focused on Clay. The knight had lost a piece of his chainmail armor, and his tunic was ripped. Other than that he looked perfect.

 

George knocked out another patron on his way to Clay, who had stopped fighting back to back with Nick. By the time George arrived he had made a few decisions. One, no more lies. Everyone would know everything, especially Clay. Two, he would never let anyone else get hurt because of him, not the way Leanne did, especially Clay. Three, George was done pretending to please the court, and lying about who he loved, especially Clay. 

 

The fighting had pretty much died down. Reyna and Myriam stood panting heavily back to back. Nick was leaning on the side of the chair. He looked at George quizzically, as the king continued stomping towards Clay. In the process taking a stray table leg and knocking a mage out. George dropped the leg, and Clay looked at him. The metal smile had a trace of blood on the side of it, as did his sword, and Clay stood in the middle of his enemies. He’d never looked better to George, and the King smiled as he took the last step to reach him. Adrenaline coarse through his veins.

 

“George what are you-” With one hand George tore off that awful helmet holding it at his side. The other hand wrapped around Clays neck pulling his lips down to meet Georges. 

 

George briefly heard Nick and Reyna erupt into cheers, as Clay’s swordless arm wrapped around the king's waist.

Chapter Text

Chapter 25: Clay POV



George’s lips were so soft, and they were quickly solidified as Clays favorite part of him. The adrenaline from the fight mixed with the nerves in the kiss for the most beautiful cocktail in Clays stomach.


He wanted more, as he dropped his sword to thread his fingers into George’s hair holding him tighter. All he could think about was George's lips, hair, body, George. George. George.


Before the kiss got intense, the pair was broken up by Nicks wolf whistle, and Reyna’s little “ow ow!” accompanied by a giggle from Myriam. Clay felt himself smiling, still desperate to keep his lips against Georges. The King eventually pulled away.


“What was that for?” Clay managed breathlessly. He kept a hand on George's waist, as his eyes reopened and a smile took over his pink cheeks. George wasn’t much better. The hand slipped from Clays neck to his shoulder.


‘You look good when you fight.” Clay certainly fought hard now to tamper the hungry look in his eye, as he stared at George. He decided he also liked looking at the King's lips, especially when he was flushed like this. Their eye-contact broke when they both turned to Nick, who had his arms crossed and was beaming at his friends.


“Fuckin finally.” Clay laughed out loud, and Reyna cheered once again. Clay sort of realized his face was bare, but if George stayed in his arms he didn’t really care. Luckily someone kept their head together, as Myriam voiced that they probably needed to leave.


“As lovely as this is, we should probably go before any of them wake up.” She had a slight grimace, and Clay looked around at the mess of unconscious bodies. Then he looked back at George's lips. The King wasn’t blushing, as he tried to pull away from Clay, and The Knight thought he should fix that.


“One second.” A smirk curled Clays lips, and George looked at him confused. Clay answered by pulling the King flush to his chest, and kissing their breath away once again.


“God! They’re gonna be insufferable now!” Nick groaned. Reyna came to join him and patted comfortingly on his arm. Clay then felt a tug on his own arm. Nick was dragging him away from George, and Myriam pulled the King along. They quite literally detached the pair, as the five flipped up their hoods, and ran quickly out of the Tavern. On the street people had heard the commotion, and probably seen the one guy that was thrown out of a window. When did that happen? Clay led the others away quickly into where they had kept their horses. When they all caught their breath, Reyna posed the question.


“So what now?” Clay didn’t know. He felt like he could only focus on George, who’s pupils were still blown wide, and when he would kiss him again. Clay knew he was smiling like an idiot, based solely on Nick's annoyed glance, but he couldn’t help it. The object of his focus took a deep breath, and his smile slipped slowly. Clay wanted to kiss it back on, or maybe he just wanted to kiss him.


“I believe I owe you an explanation.” George looked warily at his friends, like he was afraid something would change. Nothing would ever change for Clay. Frankly, being a mage just made George that much more amazing. Their friends clearly held similar sentiments. Nick fixed the King with a soft look, and Reyna and Myriam shared an amused smile. The smaller of the two amazons cleared her throat and spoke for them.


“Actually I think we’ve pretty much pieced it together George.” Nick nodded along in agreement.


“I mean, I already knew Clay was a hybrid so…”

“So did I!” Reyna flipped her hair jokingly, and both Nick and Georges heads whipped to her.


“You did!? How?” They asked in unison. Clay laughed. Jealousy’s a good look on you George.


“She guessed.” Clay was looking pointedly at Reyna. “But! She never actually saw my face.” Reyna rolled her eyes, and Clay made sure to look at George when he amended not having done a face reveal to Reyna. That was just for you. The worry faded from Georges brown eyes, and a cocktail of different emotions took its place. They were back to staring at each other again, unaware of the looks they garnered from their friends.


“I think we should find somewhere to stay tonight then…” George swallowed thickly while speaking. His voice was softer, as brown eyes darted around Clays face. Clay felt equally entranced, until Nick broke it with a loud snort.


“Yeah, and I think you two should definitely get a room!” 

“What the hell dude!”

“Why would you say that?” Clay felt his face heat up, as he and George looked anywhere but at each other. Clay grumbled as he started fixing his horse. They really did need to get out of there.


“It’s not that I don’t want to..”

“Hmm. What was that?” Reyna had heard him plain as day. Clay had set it under his breath, and now he was glaring at Reyna as she mocked him hand to her ear. He grumbled again as he swung himself up onto his horse. At least George didn’t hear. Though, the king was so red Clay wasn’t sure about that. George wordlessly handed clay his helmet back. He kept it off for a second to make eye contact with the king. George actually smirked at him, and Clay’s heart jumped a little. Does he realize how attractive he is? But, Clay had to slip the metal over his head and get moving. He caught the sadness in his friends eyes, particularly George’s, when his features disappeared again. Maybe having my face known wouldn’t be so bad. That was Clay’s final thought as he kicked his horse to giddy up, and the five took off galloping.


“Let’s go patches!”


~~~


The lady at the front desk of the inn was absolutely over the moon that the king was staying in her inn. She kept repeating that in fact.


“I just can’t believe the King has chosen to stay at my inn!” 


George put up with her well, smiling along. Clay was more impatient. He wanted her to leave them alone. Especially after what George said. The king seemed like he mustered some courage before he asked.


“Four rooms please.” The lady nodded along, before asking the exact question swimming in Clay’s head.


“There’s five of you- Oh, are you staying with one of these lovely ladies!” She posed the question to Clay. He felt his natural confidence take over, as he leaned one hand against the desk, body and mask turned to face George.


“Something like that.” I really hope so. Clay could read George's face like a book, as he eyes the knight up and down, before turning away and mumbling something about Clay being an idiot. To the lady they probably looked like old friends joking with each other. I don’t think we’re friends anymore. Clay desperately wanted to get George alone to talk about it more. The nice woman had escorted them upstairs, and merciful, wonderful, Nick had done maybe the best thing he ever had for clay and distracted her asking where to get water for a bath. She led him away and Clay quickly pulled George into their room, saying a brief goodnight to Reyna and Myriam.


“Finally! I thought she’d never leave!” George’s eyes were shining as he smiled looking about as relieved as Clay felt.


“Yeah, Nick really did us a favor on that one.” George let out a light laugh, and then they both stopped. Suddenly the air in the room felt heavy, as though they were both waiting for something, but neither wanted to ask. As much as Clay wanted to pull George into that bed and never let him go, there were some things they had to address first.


“You’re a mage.” Clay stated it as a fact, and George scratched at the back of his neck.


“Yeah… yeah I am.” The King looked so nervous to how he would react, as he sat carefully on the edge of the bed. Clay decided the angle of George seated below him was against his willpower, but sitting next to him on a bed wasn’t much better. He elected to pull an armchair closer, and fix his metal gaze on the king.


“Bast, Anubis, and I… we grew up together. I met them even before you and Nick.” Clay hadn’t realized the depth of what George had been going through yet, and he put a hand gently on the king's knee.


“I’m sorry George.” George’s jaw locked at the gesture.


“You shouldn’t say sorry to me.” For a moment Clay thought he’d done something wrong, retracting his hand, before George finished explaining.


“It’s them you should be sorry for…” The King hung his head, clearly the memories were painful. “They welcomed me into their family, and it got their mother killed. It happened right in front of Bast. A guard thought he was protecting me from an attacking sorceress.” George’s words felt like poison, and Clay could only imagine how it tasted to the king. 


“That’s not fair George, but it wasn’t your fault.” George turned his raw brown eyes on Clay, and he felt stuck by their gaze. The king read him perfectly with his next words.


“It wasn’t your fault either. You never failed to protect anybody, not me, and especially not your sister. You never fail Clay.” George’s eyes were practically destroying him with their honesty. Clay felt vulnerable, even under his helmet.


“I guess we’re all a little fucked up.”

“I guess so.” Clay smirked for a minute at the admission, before the same dark beast took him over again, and he clenched his hands together, elbows on his knees.


“I just need to find her George.”

“I know, and I think I can help.” Clay was all ears now, and he could see that the King meant business in the shift of his demeanor.


“I’m a divining mage. Basically I can call things to come to me, or find things when they’re lost.”

“You think you can find my sister?” George nodded before working his cheek into his mouth.


“I’m fairly out of practice, and it won’t be easy. Mages are born naturally with much less power than sorcerers, but if what Anubis said was true…” Clay waited as George seemed to consider many options. “I’ll need to go to Creole. It’ll be heading into the belly of the beast, but I’ll need everything from Leanne's original spell to pull this off.'' Clay didn’t hesitate to respond, as he nodded through George's explanation.


“I’m going with you.”

“Of course you are.” Georg beamed at him. “Nick as well I think?”

“Yes, but someone has to return to tell the others.”

“Myriam and Reyna?”

“If we can convince them.” Clay and George both chuckled. George seemed more at ease, swinging his foot lightly, as he looked at Clay through his lashes and spoke softly.


“Good plan.”

“We make a good team.” Clay meant it, but he also said it so he could watch as George blushed and smiled at the floor, telling him to shut up. The King pulled his eyes back to Clays, and only the vague sound of night activity on the street outside the window filled the room. The air felt expectant again, and Clay had to move on to something else. Before I move onto other things way too fast.


“So… we should probably…”

“Get changed or something?”

“Yeah. ahem. Yeah.” Clay scratched the back of his neck, as they milled about the room prepping things and lighting candles. Clay actually turned around to let George change. He heard the shuffling of clothes, and briefly wished it was him taking them off. Never too late to be a gentleman Clay. When George had finished Clay turned around, and he sucked in a breath under the metal helmet. The King looked delectable in the candle light. His white tunic was sheer and oversized, over simple black leather pants. Clay loved George in this rumpled state and sleep outfit; really, he loved George in anything. His gaze came back to the kings face which was filled with red and uncertainty. As his eyes traced Clay, his voice was small.


“Can you please take it off?” Clay knew what George was asking, but all of this, ever since they stepped in the room had felt very heavy. Clay wanted some of that adrenaline rush back, he wanted fire, and most importantly he wanted George laughing. So, Clay did what he did best. He teased.


“Take what off? My shirt?” Clay’s voice was joking, and you could hear his smile.


“No your-” Clay began unbuttoning his tunic until his chest was exposed, making a show of it.


“-God Clay!” The King was clearly flustered. George covered his eyes, before turning back as if he realized he could look. Then he went back to being red faced and tried to distract himself with things around the room. He looked so cute when he pouted that Clay laughed. The sound brought Georges eyes back to him, and Clay slipped the tunic off of his shoulders. He held his arms out and discarded his tunic with one hand, baring himself to George as he continued the joke. 


“You’ve got to be more specific George!”

“You’re such an idiot.” George’s face didn’t match his tone of voice, as his eyes and smiled filled with mirth, and maybe even love. His eyes roamed Clay's form, as the Knight held up his hands expectantly. Clay knew he was attractive, but for some reason he felt extremely exposed under Georges gaze, and was almost positive his blush rivaled the kings.


“You look ridiculous.” George was still trying to put up a front of disinterest. His eyes made Clay think he looked anything but ridiculous to the king, but he knew George was intending to make fun of the way he looked bare chested with the helmet on his head. Clay considered it. Maybe I do look a little ridiculous. He buried any worries with confidence, as he set his feet and issued an invitation.


“So… come help me then.” Clay gestured to his head, and yeah maybe he also flexed his muscles a little bit. Neither of them were smiling now, as George crossed the room slowly. He stood in front of Clay, and the knight was struck by the size difference and how easy it would be to hold George down; or how good the king would look if the larger knight let him hold him down. I can do all of that now. George’s breath was shaky, and his hands wrapped around the sides of the metal smile and lifted it off. This was a slower more intimate motion than the last time the King had taken off his helmet, but to Clay the adrenaline was just the same. George twirled it lightly in his hands, and he raised his eyes to Clays. The king's voice was soft and cute again.


“I-I didn’t… I hope you aren’t mad. I exposed your face like that.”

“It’s okay George, I’ve been wanting to share my face for a long time… It just never felt right.”

“Did it feel right now?”

“Everything feels right with you George.” The brown doe eyes widened, and Clay’s favorite lips parted slightly on the king's pink face. Clay knew the way his voice had dropped when he spoke, but he could finally admit to himself that it was intentional. Everything he did with George was intentional.


It was intentional when he took the metal mask from the king's hands and threw in across the room. And when he pulled George’s face up with his hands and met his lips, almost bringing the king off his feet and causing him to grapple at Clay's bare chest. Then when he walked them backwards till the back of Georges knees hit the soft tavern bed, and Clay followed the king down onto it. As one of his hands undid the front of George’s white tunic and trailed lightly on his ivory skin, the other kept Clay hovering above the King, whose hands were in his hair. All of it was intentional.


“My King…” Clay’s voice was something akin to a growl, and that was intentional as well.


“Yes.” George’s voice was sultry as well, and it only served to make their gaze more intense as Clay searched the beautiful brown eyes.


“You should know…” Clay almost lost his words at the way George was looking at him, all expectant, loving, and trusting. He’d never felt like this before.


“You should know I love you.” Georges eyes widened, and he breathed in sharply, either from Clay's words, or the knight's caresses on his side.


“I love you too.” George smiled as he said it, hand against Clays cheek, before the king tipped his head back and laughed out loud. Clay furrowed his brow, the position they were in wasn’t one people would currently laugh in. He also was having a tough time not reacting to how Georges body moved against him when he laughed. Hand pressed lightly to his chest, and knee bending to hook over Clays waist. 


“I just- It’s taken me so long to admit that.” Clay chuckled despite himself at George's slight awkwardness and strange humor, before he dipped his head down to bring them back to what he really wanted. More kissing.


~~~


The morning after, Clay finally felt like he knew why they called it the morning after. Nick had said he was positively glowing, and Reyna very loudly asked George why he limped on a step. Clay had smirked at that one. Even Myriam threw a few sly comments their way. The five looked better after cleaning and getting a full night's rest. Well maybe not a full night for all of us… The remnants of the fight still stayed in small injuries. 


“How do you not have any burns?” Nick seemed shocked, and for some reason the question caused Myriam to fluster. Reyna didn’t look too happy with her sister's reaction, but defended her nonetheless.


“Cause she’s the best. Duh!” Over breakfast, from the overly attentive inn lady, the five reviewed what George had told Clay last night. The mage thing… not any of the other stuff. 


“What? You smirking cause he told you first?” Nick accused him jokingly. Clay hadn’t even realized his face would show when his mind decided to descend into the gutter of what he and George did last night. 


“Nope just other things.” George’s smirk matched his own after that comment, and Nick made a disgusted face. Clay still wasn’t accustomed to people being able to read his emotions so clearly without the front of the mask. He’d have to fix that.


“So you want us to go back to Teakwood?” Reyna had inquired. Clay and George explained that yes that was the plan, but they were very grateful for their help thus far. The amazons just shrugged, and said it would be good to get back to Calliope. After they proceeded to brief Nick on what Creole would entail. And how they had to quite literally head into the belly of the beast, swine coven territory, and then steal from the crazy powerful twin mages. He seemed concerningly excited.


They arranged their things, and said their goodbyes. Clay elected not to put his helmet back on, and cover his small ears, so people like the inn lady would simply think he was a taller elf. He had to admit it felt freer without the helmet, but he still kept it attached to his horse knowing he would need it again far too soon.


“Don’t kick too much mage ass without us!”

“No promises!” The Amazons took off back towards the palace under the morning sun, and the King and his two knights were left.


“Off to Creole it is! Just the three besties hanging out!” Nick shouted boisterously, as they mounted their horses and began riding together, George in the middle. Clay laughed, and George donned an interesting impression.


“Or your bestfriend, and the guy you recently started fucking.” Clay choked on air, and stared at the king and his unusually bold comment. You were certainly bold last night…


“Ew! Details! Details!” George laughed and continued to pester Nick, as the raven haired knight screamed about details. Clay shook his sandy colored hair and chuckled at his king and bestfriends antics. For the first time in a while, with a new relationship with George and concrete hope of getting his sister back, Clay felt happy.

Chapter Text

Chapter 26: Tubbo POV



When Tommy came to Tubbo with two bags to pack, he wasn’t ready. Sure, hearing Drista was safe and alive had been a relief, but Tommy pitching yet another adventure where they would sneak out into danger was equally shocking.

 

“Tommy are you sure?” Tubbo had been packing slowly. His mind was still very uncertain. He looked up at Tommy now, who was practically throwing things into his pack. Tommy looked scrawny in his nordic blue tunic and navy cotton pants. His height was elevated by some intense leather boots, and he wore a leather chest plate, but Tubbo was still skeptical. It’s not that Tubbo didn’t trust his friend, but they were all children. 

 

“Of course Tubbo!” Tommy’s answer exuded confidence, and it almost reached Tubbo. The blonde haired giant threw a matching leather chestplate at Tubbo. He looked at it warily. Then back at his bag. Tommy had already strapped on his pack and everything, and was looking at Tubbo with a confused and mildly annoyed gaze.

 

“Well, c’mon slow polk! We’ve got an adventure to get to!” Tubbo grimaced a little, but he hid it with a smile. Last time you said that Tommy… it didn’t turn out well. Ultimately Tubbo filled his satchel quickly, and slipped on his chest plate boots and bag. 

 

“Tommy?” He whispered. “Where are we going?” The boys were going in the opposite direction from the stables.

 

“We need a few more supplies first my good man!” Tommy was perhaps a little too loud for what they were doing, and tubbo hushed him. They both cringed at their own noise. For the rest of the time in the castle they were virtually silent. Sneaking into the kitchen was easy, and it felt just as easy for Tubbo to joke around with his friend despite what they were about to attempt. It did give him more time to think, as they stole supplies.

 

What would Wilbur think? The thought made Tubbo cringe. Wilbur had always been a role model for Tommy, but he didn’t have the distinct family bond Tommy did with him. Tubbo had always tried to make him proud, while Tommy didn’t seem to care as much because Wilbur would always love him no matter what. What about Clay? Tubbo didn’t know the knight as well, but he had recently been informed that he was Dristas brother. That completely explained his actions ever since they started this hunt for the chosen one. Tubbo could only imagine if it had been his little sister. He knew Clay would be hurt, especially when he was trying so hard to find her. A lot of people will get hurt. That was Tubbos main concern. The people they were lying to would be hurt of course, but more than that Tubbo worried about his friends. Four teenagers were headed into arguably the most dangerous place in all the Realms. Tubbo was afraid he couldn’t protect his friends. He was afraid they were getting Drista back just to go and lose her again. He didn’t understand how Tommy didn’t get that. They were teenagers who were supposed to fulfill an ancient prophecy on their own. Why us?

 

“Alright, I reckon we sneak down and steal two of those horses. Make the journey easier?” Tommy whispered the question as the two giants approached their room. It was in the guesthouses close to the edge of the palace, and the exit to the courtyards. They stood outside the oak doors to their room with Tommy looking at Tubbo expectantly, eyebrow raised. The smaller giant just nodded in conformation, and clutched the straps on his knapsack.

 

“Great!” The smile of adventure overtook Tommys face, and he began to walk quickly towards the exit. Tubbo stayed rooted, and glanced at the door. Everything was moving fast, and he felt like he had a decision to make. He needed a minute, so he called to his retreating friend.

 

“Tommy!”

“What?” Tommy smung back around, and they were whisper-shouting at each other down the hall. Tubbo swallowed his nerve, and gestured at their door with his thumb. He tried to seem as impassive as possible.

 

“I gotta grab something, hold on!” He turned to enter the room, and Tommy looked confused but shook his head and shrugged in agreement.

 

“Alright yeah, I’ll just wait here.” Tubbo breathed a sigh of relief, and tried to send his perplexed friend a smile as he entered the room. Once the door was closed behind him it dropped along with the bag on his shoulders. Tubbo sat on the bed and let his thoughts run freely. The first time he hadn’t really made a decision. They were already on the trip, and Tommy had been right; they didn’t have other options. Now, at least, Tommy hadn’t lied. Drista probably told him not to. But, that meant Tubbo had a decision to make. They didn’t have to do this. They could go find Wilbur right now, and grab Drista from Vale to deal with this as a family. Tubbo considered it, but he didn’t know enough about the prophecy. His cousin seemed like she had reasons for everything now, bigger destiny related reasons. Tubbos hands were sweating as he thought of getting in the way of that. Also, he missed Drista. He would do almost anything to see her right now, and that was the deciding factor. The reason Tubbo rose from the bed, wiping his hands on his trousers, despite his doubts. As he slipped on his pack, jaw set, Tubbo caught sight of a pen on his bedside table. He had an idea.

 

“Sorry Tommy…” Tubbo spoke quietly, and he reached for the pen. Once he had it he frantically rummaged for paper. I’ve got to be quick. Tubbo scribbled quickly.

 

Dear Wilbur,

 

Tommy and I have run away with Drista. She’s in Vale. We are going to find the stone in the badlands. When you get this I’m very sorry.

 

Sincerely,

Tubbo

 

He placed it on the table face down, before stuttering out a breath and returning to the door. At the perfect time as well because when he opened it, Tommy looked like he was about to barge it.

 

“Gods! Took you bloody long enough!”

“Sorry! I couldn't find it.” Tubbo hoped he was convincing. Maybe he was secretly good at lying, or maybe Tommy wasn’t really looking for betrayal because the blonde just waved his hand and began walking quickly down the corridor.

 

“Whatever let’s go!” Tubbo nodded, and closed the door quickly before racing to catch up. When he did, he took one last glance at the note that could affect everything. I hope I did the right thing.

 

~~~

 

The duo walked through the thick jungle canopy, as the air got thicker. Tommy wiped some sweat from his brow, but overall he looked excited. Tubbo had to agree with the emotion. As they got closer to Vale, everything seemed more real. Especially the fact he would see his cousin standing in front of him soon. Tubbo was almost bouncing with energy, his fateful note essentially forgotten.

 

“She’s really there Tommy?” He was grinning ear to ear, and Tommy had the same look on his face.

 

“She’s really there Tubbo! Haha!” Tubbo let out an answering shout, hitting his head on a small tree branch in the process. Tommy laughed at him as he rubbed his head. Tubbo was way too thrilled overall to care. His cousin was okay. He began rattling on to Tommy, about how excited he was to see her.

 

“I just can’t believe she’s alive Tommy! I know I said I knew but- well really none of us knew. This is great! Does she have special powers now? Are her eyes still different? Is she any cooler? Does she still hate you?” Tommy looked like he got whiplash from Tubbos questions, and he wrinkled his face at the last one.

 

“She doesn’t hate me Tubbo.” Tubbo just made hum at him, as the other teenage giant grumbled to himself.

 

“I bet she’s even cooler. She’s got all those mind powers right!?”

“Tubbo-” Tommy had a little of his earlier excitement slip off his face, and Tubbo watched him quizzically as he took a breath.

 

“Tubbo, you should know… Drista’s sort of different.” Tubbo cocked his head at his friend. What is he talking about?

 

“What do you mean?” Tommy sighed, and tipped his head back towards the tropical birds flying overhead.

 

“I mean, she’s just been through a lot, and I’m not sure she’s exactly the same.” Tommy looked a little nervous, and Tubbo finally caught on. Drista had probably gone through hell and back with the Azurians, and she was about to do it again. She’ll have us this time.

 

“Is she still Drista?” Tommy made a strange face at him, waving his arms in the air somewhat defensively and confused. Tubbo just kept his blue gaze on his struggling friend.

 

“Yes she’s still Drista! What does that even-”

“Then I don’t care.” Tubbos voice was firm, as he faced ahead and pulled his pack straps forward. Tommy just blinked at him, before the blonde smiled and rubbed at the back of his neck.

 

“Yeah I guess you’re right…”

“I know.”

“Alright well!” Tommy threw his hand sup exasperatedly. “You and your cousin, all the same! I try to have a nice moment and-” Tubbo giggled at his ranting friend with a self satisfied smirk on his face. He couldn’t wait to see his cousin, and he didn’t have to for long as the lanterns of Vale came into view. Tubbo looked around in wonder once again. Vale was so similar to the Clan, but yet so drastically different at the same time. Where Nordic architecture was uniform and simple, condensed to form towns; Vale’s was random and extravagant spread far across the jungle without any distinct pattern. Nordic civilization stood out in contrast to the snowy biome, but Vale was completely blended into the nature around it. Yet, there was the same feeling of community, and a similar openness in both civilizations that made Tubbo homesick. How could two places so different come together? He supposed Drista was an example of that.

 

Tubbos' thoughts had carried him all the way back to the center. He and Tommy began to ascend the spiral structure. Tommy led him into the second to top floor where Drista had told him to meet. As they approached Tubbo heard muffled voices coming from behind a patchy door to a small room. He thought he recognized one of the voices as the queen. Drista must be there too! Tubbo was about to enter, but Tommy held him back. He had a serious look on his face that stopped Tubbos' protest. The two faded back into the shadows of a nook space about the room door, as the voices got closer to the door. Then the door opened, and light flooded out onto the spiral platform. A tall elf man with ears longer than dristas and fluffy brown hair was smiling at whoever was behind the door. He wore a very interesting outfit, that Tubbo thought was far too hot for jungle weather. There was a patchy purple and green patterned tunic with a color, under an extremely large blue jacket that reached his ankles. All this went over deep plum colored pants. Tubbo wrinkled his nose, he didn’t really know how he felt about Vale fashion. The man spoke addressing the slightly shorter figure still hidden from Tubbos line of sight behind the door.

 

‘Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yes Karl!” Okay, his name was karl. The voice sounded a lot lighter, either younger or like they were hiding something. But Tubbo could hear the smile, and the elf Karl smiled in response.

 

“Okay, but just- tell me if you ever need anything. I’m always here for you.” Karls hand disappeared, and Tubbo reasoned he must have been proving his point with a comforting hand on the other. The door moved slightly as Tubbo heard a sigh, as if the person had stopped holding it. Then Tubbo caught a flash of orange hair, as what he assumed was Queen Feyre wrapped her arms around Karls middle and crushed herself against his chest. Her voice was softer as she spoke now.

 

“I know. Thank you Karl.” Karl smiled down at the red head of hair, and wrapped his arms around the girl in return. Tubbo felt bad for intruding on what seemed like a special moment, but he couldn’t really go anywhere. Luckily Karl did, he separated from Feyre, and patted her head as the queen disappeared behind the door again. Then Karl walked down the spiral. Feyre sighed before re entering the room and closing the door. Tommy and Tubbo emerged once there was an absence of light. They turned to each other having a silent conversation, before Tommy shrugged and approached the door. Right as he knocked, Tubbo heard a curse from the otherside.

 

“Fucking hell!” Tommy and Tubbo both blanched. She sounded mad, a direct contrast to the softness Tubbo just witnessed. He didn’t really know what to do, but Tommy did. His idiot friend pushed Tubbo in front of him, towards the door. Before Tubbo could react, the door flew open and a very angry elven queen stood there. Her unruly curls were very vibrant, practically orange, and that tracked with what Tubbo had remembered about her. The appeared to curl more up and out, and her freckles were equally as crazy, scattered all over her skin. Despite being an inch or two shorter, her elven genes keeping her fairly tall, she was very intimidating. Tubbo said nothing, and the fire slowly died from her green eyes to a hard skepticism as she took in both the giants standing at her door.

 

“Are you here for Drista?” Tubbo didn’t particularly find his voice, so he just smiled and nodded. Tommy thankfully handled the talking.

 

“Yes.” The Queen rolled her eyes, and retreated back into what looked like her room. It wasn’t exactly what Tubbo expected from a queen, but definitely reminded him of a fifteen year old girls room. There was a woven rug over jungle planks, and a simple queen sized bed that had the same brassy twigs as the throne. There was a wood dresser and wardrobe at each end of the oval shaped room, both had chipped paint and clothes messily strewn. The most interesting part were various stained glass shapes hanging from the ceiling on pieces of twine. They caught the light coming through the room's two windows. Feyre sauntered over to the bed and lifted a rucksack similar to the boys out from under the bed, and addressed Tommy uninterestedly.

 

“She’ll be back in a minute.” Feyre hadn’t really looked at them, as the two boys entered warily. Tubbo tried not to stand too awkwardly. Maybe she takes a minute to warm up to new people? Feyre finally looked up as she threw more clothes into her bag. She caught Tubbo staring at the stained glass creations, and she sort of smirked.

 

“I made those.” His head snapped back to the red head, and she raised an eyebrow at him with crossed arms. Tubbo thought he saw a little pride, so he paid her a compliment. He figured they should be friends if they were going into the badlands together.

 

“They’re really cool!” She looked surprised by his happy tone, and shook her head looking back to her bag. Tommy seemed to remember he was there too, and agreed with Tubbo.

 

“Yeah they’re pretty nice.” She actually answered his friend's chiller tone, and Tubbo couldn’t help but furrow his eyebrows. What the hell did I do?

 

“Thanks.” She brushed hair behind her ear, and blew out a raspberry going back to packing. She clearly had more on her mind than Tubbo could focus on right now. He was too excited to see Drista, maybe his energy was coming off as too happy. Feyre finished the last few things, and then pulled out a worn leather satchel again from under her bed. She was more gentle with it than anything else Tubbo had seen her throw around.

 

“Okay. All ready.” She turned to them, and had a real smile this time. One hand resting on the bag, she had a cool air. Tubbo also thought her clothes were pretty cool, better than Karl’s. She had tighter pants of some stretchy material, and a small yellow half skirt over them that served as a belt for what looked like a quiver. Tubbo guessed they were all going with their traditional weapons, as he and Tommy had stolen axes strapped to their backs. Her top was yellow, matching the skirt, and haltered around her neck. It had a vneck with a little tortoise shell pendant in the center. It stopped above her belt below her rib cage. Like some Vale fashion though it didn’t seem like a lot of clothes. Tubbo cocked his head considering.

 

“Are you really wearing that?” Maybe that wasn’t the best way to phrase it because Tommy looked at him like he was crazy, and Feyre’s smile dropped.

 

“What does that mean?” She looked like she was on the precipice of anger. Tubbo thought she might always look like that. His words did catch up with him, even if his tone meant well. He didn’t wasn’t think he was judging her style. Tubbo liked yellow! He tried to clarify.

 

“It just doesn’t seem like a lot of clothes?” Tommy palmed his face, once again sighing at Tubbos wording. Feyre whirled on him. The anger was now present, and Tubbo was not prepared. He still really had no idea what he’d done wrong. He put up his hands as she took one threatening step pointing at him.

 

“And why do you have a problem with my clothes huh!? Maybe check yourself first buddy!” Tubbo waved his hands in surrender. He quickly tried to fix the confusion.

 

“No no! I just meant it may be cold!” Feyre scoffed, not seeming to believe him.

 

“Yeah sure! It doesn’t get cold in the badlands.” She had her hands on her hips, as if she won the argument Tubbo didn’t even know they were having. He looked frantically for Tommy, who took pity on him. His blonde friend approached putting a hand on his friend's shoulder, and speaking in his usual Tommy tone 

 

“I think what my friend meant to say! Is just that more clothes and armor is better for these situations. Right Tubbo!?” Tubbo nodded eagerly. “See! We’re all friends here. Just worried about your wellbeing!” Feyre opened her mouth to speak again, but didn’t get to. As the door opened behind them, Tubbos eyes widened.

 

“Hey I’m- Oh. Hi guys! What’s going on here?” Drista stood in the doorway. She went through a range of emotions as she greeted everyone, but Tubbo only felt one. She’s alive! Drista stood with a slightly confused look, but a smile nonetheless. Her blonde hair was a little longer than Tubbo had last seen, it was pulled into two plaits that ran down from her hair line. She had a blue top that stopped at her armpits, and below her ribcage, similar to Feyres. Over that was a pale blue looser wrap top, it was also sleeveless. Tubbo could see a few fading injuries on her arm along with a simple silver bangle. She had similar stretchy pants to Feyre, hers matched her top. The slightly sheer wrap top was secured around her waist with a belt, Tubbo could see a sword attached on one side. He didn’t know where she got it since there were no weapons in Vale supposedly, but Tubbo didn’t care.

 

“Aye there Dris!”

“DRISTA!” Tubbo shouted over Tommy, turning his back on whatever confusion happened with Feyre. Drista laughed as he hit his cousin with a hug nearly knocking her over. Tubbo had always been a hugger.

 

“Missed you too Tubbo.” Tubbo smiled after pulling away. He saw her eyes were still all swirly, and part of him saw what Tommy meant. There was something different, maybe a little tired about her, but she was still Drista.

 

“How are you!?” Tommy sort of chuckled at Tubbos' question. Drista adjusted the straps on her large pack, that he had knocked off course and chuckled awkwardly.

 

“Umm… good? Well you know as good as you can be kidnapped.”

“Right right.” Tubbo nodded, trying to drop his smile. Drista just shook her head, as Tommy cleared his throat, coughing and laughing a little.

 

“I see you’ve met Feyre!” Drista smiled at the queen who scoffed and finished pulling on her satchel and pack. Then she walked out past Tubbo with her nose turned up, but not before speaking heatedly to Drista.

 

“Yeah. You didn’t tell me your friends were sexist assholes!” Feyre left with fire in her wake, and Drista looked around bewildered at the both of them. 

 

“What did you do?” Tubbo was shocked, and Tommy sputtered indignantly. Drista looked like she was preparing to scold children.

 

“Me!? SEXIST!?”

“I-I don’t know?” Tommy was angry, as Tubbo just scratched his neck confused. Drista shook her head, and patted Tubbo on the shoulder comfortingly while shooting daggers at Tommy. He responded indignantly again.

 

“What!? Why are you looking at me! I swear it was Tubbo.” Tommy pointed a finger at him, and Tubbo felt defensive.

 

“I don’t even know what I did!” He felt bad. It was like when his sister was just mad at him for no reason. Feyre was only like a year older than her anyway. Drista rolled her eyes and smiled at the both of them.

 

“Whatever you did, just fix it. But, I’m glad you guys are here. Let’s get going.” She had a different type of determination in her multi-colored eyes, that made both Tommy and Tubbo excited to follow her. As they walked down the spiral, despite a bad first impression on Feyre, despite his doubts and worries, Tubbo knew he made the right choice. Joking around and shoulder checking with his closest childhood friends, he just hoped no one would pay the price for any of his actions.

Chapter Text

Chapter 27: Drista POV



The jungle was not working in their favor, and Tommy had already contested her map reading skills over 10 times. Maybe I should’ve just done this with Feyre. Deep down, Drista was happy she had her boys here. Even if they are annoying. She had missed them a lot. Feyre and Karl were great, and learning about Vale had been amazing.

 

(Flash back)

 

“Rise and shine!” The exuberant red head burst through Drista’s door, startling her awake. Her freckled cheeks were stretched into a smile, as the younger girl sat at the corner of the bed. Drista woke up slowly, blinking at her surroundings. She sat up rubbing at her face, and groaned at the soreness in her muscles.

 

“What? Feyre?”

“C’mon chosen one! I’ve got a lot to show you.”

“Don’t call me that.” Drista was awake now, but her voice was still tired. Feyre just pushed on her shoulder, and popped up.

 

“Get up.” Feyre smiled softer, and left the room. Drista did get up, slipping into a simple silver dress that didn’t hurt her healing injuries too much. She didn’t bother with her hair, as she walked out of the room to meet the fierce redhead.

 

“Finally!” At Feyre’s eye roll, Drista gave her a patronizing look and barely amused smile.

 

“I was in there for about 2 minutes.”

“2 minutes too long. C’mon! We’ve gotta do this before anyone sees you!” Right, Drista remembered she was still hiding as Feyre pulled her along. The two had become fast friends. Drista made Feyre laugh, and the queen didn’t stand for any insecurity from Drista. Especially about her ears. 

 

“Lemme show you the beauty of Vale!” Drista smiled. It was easy to tell the young queen loved her realm as she led Drista through the vast jungle pointing out every little thing. Drista was glad she ended up here, with Feyre and Karl. Not only did they save her life, which she thanked Karl profusely for, they showed her more about her elven heritage.

 

“What’s that?” Drista asked pointing at a rickety bridge above their heads. It literally looked like it was floating. Feyre had this look in her eyes, when she turned to Drista.

 

“That’s what I’m gonna show you.” Feyre took off running, and Drista followed. They both had bare feet that beat against the wooden platforms. Drista watched as various shapes and structures passed. There were triangles, pyramids, rectangular, and circular shapes, all made of wood, glass, brass, or miscellaneous jewels and materials. Some didn’t have walls, some had no roofs, and none of them looked sturdy; but they all had character. Drista followed as Feyre stopped inform of a tiny shack at the top of a treehouse, before using her lanky arms and pulling herself up.

 

“Up here.” The queen helped Drista hoist herself up. Drista felt the burn in her wound, and one of the bandages on her arm come undone. Karl would be mad at that later. The pain made her grimace. It was a not so nice reminder of Minx, but she put it aside to chase after Feyre who’s only defining feature from a spider monkey currently was her flaming orange curls. She was branches ahead, waving at Drista to catch up, so the hybrid girl plowed through the pain. She had done worse. As the branches thinned, Feyre turned as if it was muscle memory and opened a curtain of vines to reveal a tiny rope bridge. Drista gulped.

 

“It’s not that scary if you don’t show fear.”

“Oh wow! Great advice Feyre.” Feyre just laughed and walked out on the bridge herself. Drista was no wuss, so she followed. The bridge swung slightly and her heart went with it, but the bird's eye view made it worth it. Drista breathed sharply.

 

“Wow.”

“I know!” Feyre squealed a little, and had a glow in her eyes. “-and you haven’t even seen the best part!” The girls continued climbing. They held on as the bridge had a slight grade to it. They continued through higher and flimsier treetops onto two more rope bridges where Drista’s heart stopped a little less each time. She felt an odd sense of comfort and serenity this high. Feyre certainly wasn’t serene as she clambered up out of the last tree canopy onto a small old platform. Drista followed suit. It was flat on top of the tree, and seemed to be in the center of all of Vale. Looking over the edge, Drista confirmed that this was the tree where the center was located. She could see the jungle alight with life from up here. To Feyre’s delight Drista also let out a shriek. The girls looked at each other laughing.

 

“This is the highest point in the jungle. In all of Vale.”

“It’s amazing!”

“Haha! See what you’ve been missing out on? You’re from here too Drista.”

“Yeah. wow… I should show you the nordic mountains sometime.”

“Ooo we totally should! I don’t really like the cold though” Feyre wrinkled her nose. They laughed again, and sat down together with bare feet dangling over the edge of the platform. From that moment on, Drista and Feyre were nearly inseparable. Drista thought the Queen was grateful to have a friend. Due to Vale’s basically un-governed society, she didn’t have much connection with people since she’d lost her family. Basically all she had was Karl. As they smiled down at Vale, Drista thought the only thing that would make it more perfect is if she had her family there. Tommy and Tubbo...

 

(End Flashback)

 

Feyre had agreed to come with her almost immediately when Drista had told her about the dream directing her towards the badlands. The queen was fearless to a fault sometimes. The only problem had been hiding it from Karl. Drista knew Feyre felt secretly bad about running away, even if she didn’t show her struggles that often. Guess we’re the same in that way. Drista had tried to present a front for Tommy, when he found her. She had steeled herself to be this all knowing chosen one. It had worked for the most part, but the truth was she had no clue what she was doing. She could control herself in the dreams now, but she had only directed them a few times. It felt like she was missing something, and she could only hope the Dream eye would fill the void. For now she had to step up as the leader of their little group. Cause I’m certainly not letting it be Tommy. That also meant making sure everyone got along well. Feyre hadn’t said anything, per Drista’s request, but she was clearly still a little angry. Drista walked alongside Tubbo, and turned to make eye contact with Tommy who was walking with Feyre.

 

“So, where’d you get the bow and sword? I thought Vale had no weapons.” Tommy addressed Feyre, but looked at Drista as if he was unsure and looking for approval. She gave him a small smile, and let their conversation play out. Feyre seemed to warm up to him, but she still hadn’t talked to Tubbo. Drista turned to look at her cousin next to her. She knew he was listening, as Tommy and Feyre went on.

 

“They’re antiques kept for history. Stole them from my grandfather's study.” Feyre shrugged but pulled the bow off her shoulder, holding it out for Tommy to look at. He traced a finger along it lightly. Drista had thought it was pretty. Of course, she knew another story behind the bow. Feyre had had it since she was a kid. Her mother had taught her to shoot despite the king, Feyre’s grandfather and mothers father, the golden weapon was one of the only things Feyre had left. 

 

“Cool, cool. But why a bow?”

“You don’t like bows?” Feyre raised one eyebrow, and sort of brandished it at Tommy. Drista snorted at his expression. 

 

“Well sure, but aren’t they quite difficult to use?”

“Not if you're good.” Feyre was cocky, and Drista smiled. She should be. The queen was a good shot, and fast draw. Archery was one of the only remaining traits of old Vale culture, due to hunting. Feyre admittedly mostly shot fruit off trees, but Drista still thought it was impressive. The queen had tried to teach her, but it wasn’t really Dristas strong suit. She took this old sword instead. Cause that’s how Minx trained me. The thought made Dristas hand clench around the hilt, but it was an unfortunate truth; I’m good because of her .

 

“Alright alright, but I’m just saying you’ve got to load a whole arrow draw and shoot before someone gets to you?” Tommy sounded skeptical, and he lent back crossing his arms. Feyre smirked, and Drista knew what was coming.

 

“Or… I could just stab them with this!” For punctuation, Feyre faked a stab into Tommy’s stomach with one of the pointed ends of the bow.

 

“Whoa there! Watch where you’re pointing that.” Tommy was wagging his finger at Feyre like she was a little kid, the Queen just cackled and slid the bow back over her shoulder. Drista’s eyes fell onto the golden points. That part she had been good at. It was like having two little daggers, and a longer reach. Feyre had told her it was for making a final kill on a hunt, or for stream fishing. Drista definitely liked that idea, but she really hadn’t liked contending with piranhas or water spiders. Jungle’s a dangerous place. With that thought, Drista’s eyes pulled away from Tommy and Feyre. Clearly any sort of crisis was averted, and Feyre was fine with him. Instead, she looked at her cousin. Tubbo's head hung a little lower, and his hair was in his eyes.

 

“You could talk to her, you know.” She ventured gently, voice lowered. “She’s really not that mean.” Tubbo sighed, and looked at his cousin doing a weird small smile.

 

“I don’t want to upset anyone.” 

“C’mon! It was a complete misunderstanding!” She felt like Tubbo trying to mediate her and Tommy, and she definitely didn’t like seeing him all weirdly sad like this.

 

“Yeah I know, I’ll- I’ll talk to her eventually. The whole thing just kinda reminded me of my sister.” Ah, so that’s it. Drista nodded, dropping her mood to match her cousins and nudging his shoulder gently.

 

“She reminds me a little of Val too, but honestly more of Merida.” Tubbo snorted a little, and Drista was happy she made him laugh.

 

“Yeah, definitely reminded me of mom when she was yelling.” Drista laughed, making sure her smile drew out Tubbo’s. A silence settled again, as they trudged through dense jungle forest. Tubbo sighed as he held aside some vines for her.

 

“Do you miss them?”

“Of course I do Tubbo. I miss all of them: Merida, Val, Chief Ranboo, Punz, even the elders.” Tubbo smiled and nodded at her. The way he kept going, and the lack of light in his eyes gave Drista the inkling something else was on his mind.

 

“You know Wilbur’s in Teakwood.” Drista nodded. She was glad the two of them had Wilbur through these past months. Especially with how hard it must’ve been on them, having to continue to trip after losing her. Drista didn’t know what was worse, going through what she did or knowing one of them was. She had watched Tommy’s face as she retold everything.

 

“Yeah, Tommy told me.” She tried to keep her tone light, but there was a little edge that slipped in. She wanted Tubbo to get to whatever his point was gonna be, whatever he was dancing around because Tubbo didn’t usually dance. Then, he answered her wish.

 

“Why didn’t you come find us Drista?” The question was posed innocently. Drista could see the vulnerability in her cousin's blue eyes, and it caught her off guard.

 

“I-” She stopped with her mouth agape, but never got to answer. A shout and arrow whizzing between them distracted her.

 

“Drista watch out!” One of Feyre’s golden arrows buried itself in the eye of a huge pit viper that had been coming out of the water they were currently standing in. Drista and Tubbo scrambled back onto the shore with Feyre and Tommy. Tommy still had jokes apparently, while he patted a shocked Tubbo to help him catch his breath.

 

“Hmm. Maybe that bow is useful.” The dead sinking snake head was probably the size of Drista’s shoe, and she didn’t like that. She definitely didn’t like the way the marshy river began bubbling as more pit vipers came out. Tommy shrieked and moved back. Drista resisted an eye roll at him as she drew her sword. 

 

“Can you do that again!?” Tubbo asked Feyre frantically. She just turned sharp green eyes on him, as she notched an arrow.

 

“If you help.” The boys snapped out of their fear at that, and pulled out their axes. Drista had to appreciate their improved aim, both with throwing and swinging. Maybe we’ve all gotten better. 

 

“Got your back Dris!” Tommy actually had swung an axe very close to her back, chopping a snake in half. Drista returned the favor, spearing a smaller snake in between his feet with her sword.

 

“Got yours.” With a few intense minutes of struggle, most of the snakes had been cleared out. They were all breathing heavily, as Tommy ushered them away from the waters edge into thicky trees and roots. 

 

“That was insane!” Drista nodded at Tommys comment, and Tubbo simply breathed, pushing his hair back off his forehead. She looked around. Following the water was a good plan, and thicker trees meant they were getting closer, but she wasn’t so sure about the increasing danger.

 

“Tommy. I know you have your maps and everything, but maybe we should take a few detours around the more… deadly areas.” Feyre nodded profusely, shaking out her orange curls. She was probably the least affected by all of this, but even she had said a day ago, things were getting worse the farther they got from Vale.

 

“Drista I think that’s an excellent idea.” Drista pursed her lips and widened her eyes in a nod that was slightly sarcastic. Yah think so Tommy? Feyre had her green eyes narrowed at the gradually darkening sky. She also seemed to shiver from a chill. When she looked back Drista caught her eye, and the Queen voiced her concerns.

 

“We should probably consider stopping again soon as well. More things will come out at night, and the visibility may make things impossible.” They all nodded in agreement, and headed away from snake infested waters.

 

~~~

 

Later, Drist found herself at a water's edge again. Though, this one was something the elves referred to as a clean river. It was the kind that glowed, and provided enough light for them to build a fire and set up sleeping mats on the beach. The increase of light, and the actual algae and floating light spores kept away many night creatures. That didn’t mean there weren’t some fish and snakes in the water; they scattered as Drista tossed in pebbles. She felt the sad shift next to her and turned to find Feyre. The queen picked up a handful of pebbles, and Drista turned back to her tasked issuing a quick greeting,

 

“Hi.”

“Hey!” She sounded chipper, but in the way one does when over exaggerating to show their stress. Feyre’s personality always brought a smile to Drista’s face. They threw pebbles for a second, and Drista shot a glance back at Tubbo and Tommy at the fire. They were laughing hard locked in some ridiculous joke. What Tubbo had said earlier was still on Drista’s mind, so she decided to push it away and broach another subject with Feyre.

 

“So.. what do you think of my friends?” It was such a silly, and normal, question that both girls chuckled. Feyre sighed, and tossed another pebble. She had braided the top half of her hair down into a ponytail, which consisted of simply a more controlled waterfall of red curls. Her elongated ears could be seen, with a few stray curls that hung over them. Drista watched them twitch as Feyre seemed to consider what to say. Okay either my friends are annoying her, or the curls are.

 

“I mean, Tommy’s a lot.” Drista laughed at Feyre's assessment. They turned to see the boy in question doing some strange chicken dance around the flames. Both girls looked back at each other in unison, and then burst into laughter. Drista had laid down on the sand, and Feyre barely managed to get through her cackles to speak again looking down at the older girl.

 

“But, you guys fit well together.” Drista had told her a lot, and Feyre’s look showed that right now. Drista sighed and rose. She didn’t blush as much anymore. She had made peace with whatever feelings were there or weren’t. She had bigger fish to fry right now.

 

“Hmm, I’m kinda busy saving the world. You know.”

“Hmm. Right, right, of course.” Feyre responded jokingly and they giggled, but there was definitely something deeper that transpired between their eye contact. Some time of decision, at least for Drista. She had to admit it was nice to have a girl for a friend for once. Drista felt like so much more was held in the little moments or glances. It was just a different sort of connection, than the one she had with the boys. They both looked back to see Tubbo twirling around now. Drista caught Feyre’s narrowed eyes and threw another pebble.

 

“You know he’s not an asshole.”

“Yeah, I’m getting that.” Feyre seemed begrudging, but not quite convinced. Drista pressed.

 

“He’s the nice one.”

“Sometimes it’s the nice ones you have to worry about.” 

“Feyre. He’s my cousin, and he’s for real sweet.” She spoke a little more seriously that time, and based on Feyre’s groan Drista knew she got through. 

 

“Ugh! Okay, Okay. I’ll be nice.” Drista smiled. Feyre had that tough shell from everything she’d lost, but underneath it she was a big softie. Drista was happy with the conversation. Tubbo approached crunching softly on the sand. She didn’t know if he’d heard, but Tommy was watching and giving a thumbs up, like her was encouraging. Drista watched his approach as he came to stand on the other side of Feyre, and nodded at him. Tubbo gulped before speaking.

 

“It’s really pretty.”

“The algae?” At least they’re talking. Good start.

“No the blue stuff!”

“That is the algae.”

“Oh.” Tubbo scratched the back of his neck. However, instead of being snappy this time, well snappier than usual, Feyre cleared her throat, and pointed to the sand next to her.

 

“Here. Sit down, I’ll tell you about them!” The queen even smiled, and Drista was happy to see the interaction. Tubbo seemed surprised at first, then beamed. He wasn’t used to having people not like him, and the acceptance was adorable. He sat down next to Feyre and she began pointing out things in the river.

 

“It’s bioluminescent algae. It glows at night, and those are light spores.”

“What are light spores?”

“Basically, the plant releases them at night after-” Drista slowly got up, and excused herself. As she backed away up the river beach she continued to watch them talk, and actually begin to laugh together. It did remind her of Tubbo and Val. Drista smiled one last time, before brushing the sand out of her hair and turning to approach the fire. Tommy was sitting on his pack, across from where she’d laid her sleeping mat. He greeted her, as she approached with a yawn.

 

“Aye Drista!”

“Tommy-” She cut herself off with another yawn. The fatigue always hit her hard. The thing was dreaming no longer felt like sleeping for her, and she was getting accustomed to it.

 

“Tired?” Tommy was smirking a little as he made fun of her, and Drista glared despite having missed their banter.

 

“Yeah I’m going to bed. Just happy you all are getting along.” She gestured to Feyre and Tubbo, as she slipped off her boots and crawled under the blanket on her mat. If there was sand everywhere she didn’t care. Tommy watched them with his hands behind his head, reclined and thinking out loud.

 

“She’s a fiery one! Makes sense why you two are friends.” he had a joking grin on his face like he was proud of that one, so Drista returned a glare before rolling over.

 

“I’m choosing to take that as a compliment. And now, I’m going to bed.” Tommy’s laugh echoed behind her, before he sent a very teasing and patronizing.

 

“Goodnight Drista.”

 

~~~

 

Drista opened her eyes, and she knew it was a dream. Or maybe a premonition; she didn’t know what to call them yet. Things felt slow and hazy, as Drista existed in this white iridescent world. It sort of resembled a fracturing effect around her, as if she was stuck inside a mirror. Drista took a deep breath, and opened up her mind. Then she heard the disembodied voice around her.

 

“Hello Drista.” The voice was the same as always. Drista was starting to think it may be the dream stone. It would come, she’d ask a question and then it would show her the pictures and visions. Drista answered it, hearing her own voice echoing around her.

 

“Where are you?” She wanted directions, and exact location. All she had gotten so far was the badlands.

 

“That’s not the right question.” The voice didn’t sound malicious or teasing, but it still made Drista uneasy. Some part of her remembered Minx’s words, “Take control”. She pushed them aside. It had only made the nightmares worse. Instead, she tried it her way.

 

“What do you want me to ask?”

“Is that your question?”

“No!” The echo of her shout faded, and Drista saw the triangular fracture in the air wiggle. She cringed at herself, at the panic in her voice.

 

“I’m sorry.” She didn’t know why she was apologizing to this weird entity living in her head, but she needed it to talk more.

 

“What do you need to know Drista.” The entity seemed to have decided to answer her questions with more questions. Frankly, Drista was annoyed. She glared at the space around her, having no one place to direct her anger. 

 

“I don’t know! That’s what you’re here for.” The entity did not respond, and for a brief moment Drista feared her connection was lost. Panic iced her veins. If she didn’t have power, if she didn’t have knowledge, she was leading her friends in blind. Drista was supposed to be leading the world back together, and she already felt like she was blind.

 

“Think about it.” The voice was back, and Drista stamped down her emotions. She got it under control, the way Minx had taught her. She thought about another question that might show her where the stone was.

 

“What’s going to happen?” Drista thought going general would be best, and there seemed to be an acceptance as color rippled through the fractured world for a second. Drista took a large breath, and closed her eyes. She began to walk, and she heard her own voice being echoed around her as she got lost in blackness. This was always the scariest part.

 

“What’s going to happen?” The last echoed whisper was sharp, and then Drista felt the images. It was a rush of scenes told from small angles. She saw the necklace clear as day, and multiple hands reaching for it. The hands came too quick to focus on. Then Drista saw horns, like the rams they had in the north but hidden in brown hair, a bloodied hand wrapped around them. Drista saw red and black eyes. She saw a bloody sword hitting black sand. She saw a brown hand shaped like a claw with powerful red magic surrounding it. She saw the necklace dangling, and a hand snatched it quickly. Then, Drista woke up.

 

She shot up straight on her mat, feeling a layer of cold sweat on her body. Once she got her bearings, Drista made sure to replay each moment of the dream slowly in her head. Most of them were dark. It didn’t bode well, and it definitely seemed like this adventure would be less than easy. Drista sighed and drove the buts of her palms into her eyes.

 

“What have I gotten us into?” She looked around at the three sleeping forms of her friends. The sun had just barely risen, and they all looked much more like children when they were asleep. But we’re not kids anymore. Tommy had said it the best. They had to be heroes. However, that didn't mean all of them had to carry the weight of the future. No one had seen Drista awake from the awful pictures, so she decided to keep them to herself. She went about packing up what she could as quietly as possible. Slowly people rose. Feyre groaned.

 

“Already?”

“Ughhh rise and shine adventurers!” Tommy was equally as groggy, but he drew himself up and threw a blanket at Tubbo, who woke with a start. Drista faked a smile at all of them.

 

“Well, I am the leader so I’ve gotta be up first.” She knew that would get Tommy more lively, and soon the others followed. They were filled with chatter as they packed, and Tubbo freaked out at a large spider on his pack; that had everyone laughing profusely until they were ready to head out. Feyre led them on a winding route that eventually came back to the similar marshy river, until that turned into a delta. The delta was rocky, and the water looked almost black. The four had to clamber over a few obstacles, and cliffs without falling before they reached the very edge of the jungle.

 

“Holy shit.” Tubbo’s comment pretty much summed up everyone's thoughts. They had reached the badlands. A small rocky descent of jagged black boulders lead to an expanse of red desert. Wind whipped across the sand, and if Drista turned to her side she could see jagged black rocky straights, and an inky ocean that kept the badlands separated from the other realms. The clouds and weather suddenly looked ominous here. When she surveyed the distance, she could see the same black jagged rock in large mountain regions, and a few dark cracks that looked like large canyons in the desert. Drista took a look at her friends faces on either side of her, and took a deep breath before beginning the small rocky descent.

 

“Whoa there Lady!”

“Oh my god.”

“Be careful Drista!” Drista ignored her friend's voices, as she held a hand to shield her face against the wind and focused on avoiding cutting herself on the sharp points. Then, Drista’s boots crunched down onto the red sand, and everything suddenly felt a lot more real. Someone’s gotta be the leader.

Chapter Text

Chapter 28: Clay POV

 

Clay felt an undeniable sense of warmth and happiness. Well, the warmth may have been from George resting under his arms. The hybrid knight sat with his two best friends around a makeshift campfire. Nick on the log adjacent to Clay and George. He was reclined, without his chainmail armor and his raven hair flowing freely, or messily. He layed back with his hands behind his head, as he watched his friends; his arms were clad in an orange tunic and he had similar black traveling pants and boots as the other two. Clay’s body was also leaning against his log facing the fire, but his face was turned to look at George. The king had started over on the third log across from Clay, but with a simple invitation he had made his way over, slipping off his silver vest to lay it next to his sword and slide under Clay's arm. Upon many joking comments from Nick George glared while settling his slim warm body into Clays' side, and a pale hand on the Knight's thigh. The king's closer hand lightly touched his thigh, and sometimes chest as he laughed, gave Clay butterflies. The blonde knight tugged the king closer after the firelight made his eyes look particularly molten, and gave him a quick kiss, as the only distinction between them could be found in Georges light blue tunic versus Clay’s deeper green one.

 

“Ew!” Nick had exclaimed in regards to their kiss. Clay rolled his eyes at his friend, and George stuck his tongue out before planting another, longer, kiss on Clay's lips that left the knight breathless and chasing. George is picking up this whole kissing thing pretty fast…

 

“God! Is this what it’s gonna be like with you two all the time now!?” Nick didn’t really sound angry; his smile gave him away. He did sound mildly annoyed, like a child or younger brother watching his family members kiss. Clay just hummed, and George gave a haughty response looking very proud of himself.

 

“Yes.”

“Better get used to it.” Clay made sure to lower his voice into his king's ear. That thought made him giddy. He really is my king now… Clay relished in the soft blush on George's face, and the brunette seemed to be just as taken with his own, as brown eyes traced Clay's pink freckled cheeks. Nick just scoffed in the background, crossing his arms.

 

“Ugh. Gross. But in all seriousness…” Clay and George turned away from each other to look at Nick expectantly. The air changed to harbor more sincerity.

 

“-I’m really happy you idiots finally figured your shit out.” George smiled widely, but it turned coy as he looked at Clay.

 

“You’re my idiot now.” There was something about the raised eyebrow, and the slight possessive voice in his ear that made Clay weak. George was starting to learn just how attractive he was, especially with this ruffled brown hair , and that was dangerous for both of them. Clay smirked, and gave a low chuckle. Nick had the opposite reaction, clearly uninterested in his friends flirting.

 

“George! If only you had been this bold a year ago… I wouldn’t have had to listen to both of your ridiculous pining!” Nick waved a grossed out and dismissive hand, but both Clay and George just looked at him in mild shock. Almost in unison they asked:

 

“You knew he liked me!?” Nick scoffed extra hard at that, and deadpanned back.

 

“Half of Teakwood knew.” Clay’s eyes bugged, and George had the decency to look embarrassed. The blonde knight pulled a little forward off his shared log, as he stuttered.

 

“Why- why didn’t you tell me Nick?” Nick threw his hands up and laid back as if he was fed up with Clay’s idiocy, but the Knight was genuinely confused at his friends witholdence of information.

 

“I didn’t want to spoil it!” Nick continued getting more sarcastic. “-Oh! and , I don’t know… maybe I didn’t want either of you to be ruined by deviancy!?” The sarcasm and mocking was now dripping. “Or maybe! I just really loved hearing clay talk about all his “adventures” in Vale, and how they weren't George!” Nick seemed to be fuming slightly over his struggle, and Clay was approaching George levels of pink as he scratched the back of his sandy brown head with the unoccupied arm. George simply turned into him more and raised an eyebrow.

 

“I would like to know more about that.” Something about the slight edge of jealousy in the King’s voice was so hot to Clay. He shook his head slightly at his king, as Nick seemed to recover from his outburst smirking.

 

“Yeah, you had a lot of fun man.” The Knight's friend had a shit eating grin on his face, as Clay blundered slightly turning to look at George. He could almost hear Nick thinking ‘payback’, as he quickly tried to reassure George.

 

“Not as fun as with you!”

“I know.” Clay’s jaw dropped at George’s simple shrug, and smug look. Nick started cackling with laughter. George soon followed with his own poorly repressed giggles. Clay’s mouth stayed in a wide smile, as he repeated a chant of:

 

“What!? Wha-at!? Why would you say that??” George only answered him by laughing harder, or making more dirty jokes with Nick. Yet, Clay knew his reassurance was necessary when he felt the king relax slightly into him and the jealousy ebbing away. Call him whipped, but Clay was happy to continue boosting George's ego as long as it kept the King in his arms.

 

“Do you remember much about Vale? Not the- I mean your childhood.” The laughter had died down, and now his two best friends were turned to look at Clay curiously. Particularly, two inquizitive brown eyes, that had just asked a question through light giggles. Clay looked at the King for a moment, before deciding I have nothing to hide anymore.

 

“Not Vale particularly… I remember more about my parents.” This was the most casual Clay had ever talked about it, and he felt especially safe with his best friend and his king. Nick stared at his hands, seemingly deep in thought, before he sighed and spoke.

 

“I’m sorry dude. I don’t remember much about your parents, and I- and… I didn’t even know you had a sister.”

“I don’t know much of anything about either of your childhoods.” Nick looked so genuinely guilty, leaned forward with elbows on his knees, while George seemed unsure picking at some stray threads on Clay's tunic. It warmed Clay’s heart how much they cared, and he felt himself smiling gently, glad to see their expressions change with his because they actually saw his smile.

 

“It’s not because I didn’t trust you guys. I couldn’t trust anyone with much information about myself, but now… I’m happy to tell you anything you want to know. I’ve always wanted to tell you guys.” He squeezed George’s shoulder at the end, basking in the two pairs of warm brown eyes staring at him. George and Nick made eye contact, and Nick shrugged and spoke.

 

“I guess tell us everything then man.”

“Everything…” Clay reclined a little farther into the log, taking George with him. The three settled into the warm air, as Clay began his story. Nick joined in at times cracking jokes, and when Clay got to the part about his parents passing George placed a silly kiss on his cheek to bring his smile back. Clay finished with the pain of the last few months, which produced less nostalgia and more serious responses from the group. After, Clay breathed a sigh of relief; it was like a weight had been lifted he didn’t even realize he was holding. When he was done he turned to George gently rubbing at his Kings arm.

 

“I’m curious about you.” Clay could feel his eyelids drop a tad, and George flushed, still visibly affected everytime the Knight's gaze and attention was focused on him. He opened and closed his mouth like a fish, before Nick broke their heated gaze.

 

“Yeah, Mr. Secret Mage. What’s your story? We’ve never really talked much about this.” George seemed to think for a moment, and every atom in Clays body was at his service, trying to help him through it and giving the king his full and undivided attention.

 

“Well…” George started, and it was a bit more slow and solemn that Clays. The hybrid was enraptured by his King the entire time. Him and Nick sat in similar states of shock, but they followed along and laughed when George did. Clay learned about the early life and pressures on a prince, and how George's regal air and authority was not by chance. He learned how George had to hide his deviancy from his parents, and how he had desperately wanted to tell his mother about Clay and the magic but never got the chance. He learned the scope of George's connection with the sorcerers, and how the best parts of the king were arguably formed by the tragedy and unfairness he witnessed. Clay learned George was stronger that he ever thought possible. Whenever the King said something that made Clay particularly proud of him, he would dip his head down pressing kisses along Georges Neck, near his ears, hairline, and anywhere he could reach. Georges breathed hitched thickly one two many times, and Clay thought it would be better to save that for when they were away from Nick.

 

“So yeah…” George finished with a small clear of his throat. Nick shook his head in disbelief, and Clay wrapped his other arm around the king for a brief side hug that George accepted willingly.

 

“Wow George…” Nick ran both hands through his hair, as he sat speechless at the king. Clay and George both smiled, and the King just shrugged before addressing Nick.

 

“And what about you Nick? Wanna pour your heart out??” George’s expression and eyebrow  was joking, but the couple looked attentively to their best friend who blew out a puff of air and rolled up his burnt orange sleeves.

 

“I mean… my life wasn’t quite as eventful as you guys.” The three let out sort of awkward laughs, and Nick began poking at the fire with a stick, as he continued.

 

“I don’t know… I grew up with my mom and dad, and my brother. I guess the only hard part about that is hiding the deviancy from them, especially my mom like you said George.” Clay felt George nod slightly against his shoulder. The Knight’s eyes softened looking at his childhood best friend. He knew Nick was a momma's boy, and it was probably tough to feel like he couldn’t be completely open with her.

 

“-I… I think she’d really like Karl if she met him, maybe when this is all over...” Nick scratched the back of his neck, and threatened George with the makeshift fire poker when the King made a teasing “Aww” noise. Nick’s annoyed blush and grumbles were hilarious, but Clay’s heart was bursting just a little for his friend and he could tell on George's face he felt the same.

 

“Honestly, I knew pretty young about all of that stuff, but I had always heard it was bad and unnatural. Not particularly from my parents, but we’re a religious family and there were definitely a few priests with something to say.” Clay tightened his grip minisculely on George, feeling protective and remembering all the things the prince had grown up hearing. Nick seemed to shoot a sort of apologetic look their way, before clearing his throat and continuing.

 

“What changed my perspective on, well everything… was actually you Clay.” Nick fixed him with an almost apprehensive stare. Clay just cocked his head, as if urging him to explain. When he didn’t the knight prompted.

 

“What do you mean?”

“When we met you and your family, it showed me everything I previously thought I knew was wrong. I can remember my mom telling me: in order to stay true to god and ourselves we must be open to change, how we think, and what we believe, based on the people we meet.” Nick had a really soft smile on his face, brown eyes lost somewhere in the fire. Clay had never known that. He knew Nick was pretty vocally against hybrids before they met, but after that first day together the Knight had never done anything but stand by Clay’s side.

 

“-I had always wanted to be a knight, for the honor and position. But, after I met you, and what happened with your family, I wanted to do it for the cause too.” The silence that followed took Clay’s breath away, and he felt himself smiling at his best friend.

 

“I-I didn’t know that Nick. I don’t even know what to say man.”

“You know I love you, and that’s all that really matters.” Nick shrugged simply, leaning back with a wide toothy smirk, Clay matched with one of his own and the Hybrids voice took on a more upbeat tone when he responded.

 

“I love you too.”

“Oh my god stop this is too much!” George looked like he was on the verge of emotional with a wide smile on his face, but still trying his best to roll his eyes and look annoyed. Nick turned his big grin on the King, and Clay began nuzzling into George's neck as Nick teased. The King tried to protest against the onslaught of love from both of them

 

“Aww! We love you too Georgie poo!” Nick leaned forward shaking his head at George, who finally managed to push Clay back a few inches off of him. George now sat with a much redder face as Nick continued.

 

“I remember when we met you George… you were so annoying-”

“Hey!”

“-But! I knew you were gonna be a great king, probably the greatest.” Clay watched fondly as Georges' eyes widened, and he had to agree with Nick. 

 

“-You and Clay became like my other brothers- Or, I guess maybe Clay is my brother, and you’re my brother in law. Cause incest is pretty gross-” Clay scoffed, and cut off his rambling friend.

 

“Nick? I thought this was supposed to be a nice moment.”

“Yeah yeah! I’m getting there dude.” Nick waved him off, but smiled into the firelight and his two best friends settled back into story time position on their log.

 

“We were seriously brothers, in every way. We always competed, and while I wanted to be the strongest knight, the best at everything-” Nick got a far away look in his eyes, and Clay could see his best friends fire in the way he clenched one fist, exactly like the flaming logs between them.

 

“-I knew there was something special about you guys. That’s why I’m not that mad about losing anymore. Even though I’d still kick George's ass!”

“You wish!”

“Being friends with you two was like growing up watching the figures in history books. I knew you’d both be something great, and that I’d be the one to help you get there no matter what.” Nick sat looking completely content. Despite the edge to his last few words, there was nothing but love in the Knight’s walnut brown eyes. Clay was left speechless once again. When did he get so emotionally wise? Clay realized that Nick had never been more right. He had always been the one sure thing in Clay's life, and he imagined George’s as well. He was their rock. Clay also wanted him to know how important Nick was to him, but he couldn’t find the words. Luckily, George did.

 

“Nick, If you think you’re not a bigger part in Teakwoods destiny than anyone else you’re even dumber than I thought.” Nick’s eyes widened shocked for a second, before he smiled extra wide and jumped around the fire to give George and Clay an over exaggerated hug.

 

“Awww, thanks Georgie! I think you’re both pretty stupid too.” George scoffed while Clay laughed, but the three all held each other tighter. Clay felt his heart swell as the spikey raven head pulled back to head to his own seat. His feelings bubbled so much they had to escape his lips, looking between Nick and George.

 

“I really love you guys!”

“We love you too.” George’s soft response caused Clay’s green eyes to land on his king next to him. The air around them thickened again with the prolonged eye-contact and touching, and Clay could hear Nick’s smirk when he interrupted.

 

“George reallllyyyyy loves you…”

“Nick!” Just like that, they were all back to joking. Though, something special had transpired. Clay couldn’t remember the last time someone had truly known everything about him. He thought about that as they talked far too late into the night, and when Nick began to yawn so the quickly planned out the last day of their journey so he could get some rest. Clay thought about it as he teased his hands along George's side, slipping under the light blue tunic to hear his breath hitch.

 

“I kinda want to go for a walk. Come with me Sir Clay?” George’s voice was full of intent, and Clay smiled to himself as the king led him away from Nick and the campfire despite his shivering.

 

“Make sure you’re far enough away! I don’t wanna hear shit!” Clay laughed at Nick, and George stuck his tongue out. The raven haired knight put a bag over his head. Retreating into the woods with George, on a trip with his closest friends to find his sister, Clay made a vow. I’ll protect my family, whatever it takes. When he looked at George that night, all he could think about was how he’d never let anything touch him.

 

~~~

 

The spring in Clay’s step had carried him through waking up with George, Nick’s extra teasing, and packing the camp at an ungodly hour, but it had to be stamped out as they entered enemy territory.

 

“This is Swine Coven land, it’s The Blade’s territory.” Clay nodded to George in affirmation, because the King could unfortunately no longer see his face from under the familiar metal helmet. Clay had decided it would be best to wear it in the event they ran into anyone in Creole, though he hoped to whatever god they wouldn’t. 

 

“Sounds like a chump to me!” George didn’t laugh at Nick’s joke. In fact, he seemed to pale and look around slightly, as if he was afraid someone heard. Clay had never come face to face with the Blade the way George did. He only knew tales; similar to Sir Clay, the masked knight himself, the Blade was a household name and a tale throughout Teakwood and Creole. Blade was apparently half demon, and used to be quite close to the nordic clan before he became the leader of the most feared and viscous coven with his right hand woman Bast.

 

Clay kept his hand on the hilt of his broadsword, and he made sure they each donned chainmail, and a few extra pieces of wrist, shoulder, and shin armor. He was on edge to say the least. George was directing them, but his memory was a tad spotty. They had long passed the savanna like plains near the border of Creole and Teakwood. Now, the trio entered the marshy area where savannas became watery swamps and delta. They passed sections of towns on platforms over the swamp, or individual huts. Everything had a cozy and free attitude. Clay could actually see the similarities to Vale, of a free type government. Yet, he also knew they weren’t free because they were on the swine covens land, and not all of these people could be members. 

 

“Gross.” Nick shook the mud off of his boots, as George wrinkled his nose. Clay was equally happy to be back on solid ground. With the helmet to block out any smell, the scenery of low wetlands trees, flowers, mushrooms was actually quite pretty and fairy-like to Clay. 

 

“We should keep moving.” Clay spurred the group on as Nick fussed with his shoes, and George readily agreed pointing out the way.

 

“It shouldn’t be that much farther this way. I’ve only been a few times but… I’m remembering.” The way George grit his teeth told Clay that they weren’t pleasant memories. He squeezed the kings hand gently for comfort, restraining himself from doing more, and continued to lead them forward under swampy trees. Clay walked nearly silently, and hushed Nick's bigger footsteps; he had an uneasy feeling. The feeling only increased as the trio delved deeper into a grove of slightly taller trees. It made things darker, and more ominous. Clay did an involuntary check of George, just to make sure he was safe, that’s when he saw it. It wasn’t much: just a small flash of red in his peripheral on the trunk behind George, but Clay’s sword was drawn in a second.

 

“Watch out!”

“Wai- What!?”

“We’re not alone.” Clay pushed himself in front of his two friends broadsword pointed threateningly towards where he had seen the red tendril of what he recalled Bast’s magic to look like. George and Nick drew their swords warily, and the three stood back to back squinting their eyes around the grove clearing. 

 

“Shame you saw us. We had such a good ambush planned, but this’ll do.” A voice drawled from seemingly nowhere. Clay didn’t recognize it. It was gravelly and monotone. The hybrid rose to his full height ready to take on intruders.

 

“Show yourselves!” He called, putting danger in his tone. The unseen assailants obeyed, and suddenly they were seen. An invisible dome of magic rolled away in the form of red tendrils, until Clay could see seven sorcerers surrounding them. Bast and Anubis were amongst them, though they looked different. Anubis looked much more serious, and slightly pained somewhere in his purple eyes. He also donned a sunset yellow tunic that was long with a tribal design trim. His sister wore a batwing tunic similar in length, put a deep red with tattered edges and a brown belt, and matching red pants as Clay noted. Bast’s hands were in Claws, and she looked much more tired than Clay last saw. It was as if some fight had left her. The other four sorcerers were farther back. Their hair varied from straight and porcelain to coiled and blue, but they all shared the same light purple eyes. The center of the action stood in front of Clay, arms spread in a mock welcome gesture. The Blade. Clay recognized him by the iconic resemblance to the swine logo. Two tusks protruded over his top lip. He was thinner than Clay, but taller and looked like he had seen more in his light purple eyes and scarred body. Clay could only imagine how many more battle wounds were hidden under his turtleneck white tunic, and black leather pants. A broach also fastened his wine red cloak at the neck, and long pink hair that probably paid homage to his demon heritage was tied in a single braid down his back. Clay moved forward ever so slightly, making himself the center of the Blade’s attention. 

 

“What do you want Blade?” Clay spoke even and calm, and the sorcerer cocked his head almost patronizingly.

 

“Ahhh the masked night! And the King… hello George.” Clay narrowed his eyes and took a threatening step. Focus on me not them.

 

“Hello.” When the king spoke there was no waver in his voice, but he wasn’t even looking at Blade. He was faced off with Bast to Clay’s left. Her face remained strangely impassive, and Blade turned her attention back to him when he addressed her.

 

“Bast! What do you think of the great Sir Clay?” Clay attempted to ask again.

“What do you want Blade.” He knew that the pink haired sorcerer heard him, but he deliberately ignored the knight for more monotone questions thrown to his coven.

 

“-He looks a little short don’t you think?”

“Stop playing games.”

“-It’s kind of disappointing really.”

“We don’t want any trouble-”

“Oh? But you’re in my territory.” Blade dropped any joking mannerisms to answer Clay with a hard edge to his tone. George tried in a regal mediatory way to sooth the situation. They were vastly outnumbered, and that wouldn’t be that big a deal usually, but with the Blade and the Twins odds were not in their favor. Clay didn’t take his eyes off Blade as George spoke, still seeming to direct a pleading gaze at Bast.

 

“We’re just passing through.” Blade smirked slightly, and Clay saw a flash of purple in his palm. It caused the knight to flinch into a more ready position, which Blade had no greater reaction to. He didn’t seem to have much of any reactions.

 

“You see… I know why you’re here.” The blade stepped forward, and Clay put out a protective arm towards George. Bast and Anubis followed off the coven leader's moves, circling to square off with George and Nick respectively as Blade continued.

 

“-There aren't any ‘personal items’ to be found. It was a trap…” The Blade paused for effect. “And this is an ambush.” Clay felt more that heard George suck in a breath as part of his back was pressed to his. He knew what that meant: no Drista. Clay could deal with that later. Right now, he had to keep his promise and protect his family. I have to be the one to take Blade. Clay knew what was about to happen before the Blade said it, and he prepared himself.

 

“Take them.” Things moved quickly. George lunged at Bast who dodged and blocked him using her magic. There seemed to be a strong push and pull effect between their two powers, but George was also contending with another sorcerer that wielded a sword. Nick rolled under two blasts of fire from Anubis, and swung his sword towards the sorcerer's stomach, then he had to take care of the same sleeping mage from the tavern, but he didn’t get him in a choke hold this time.

 

Luckily, or maybe unluckily, Clay and Blade were on the same page. When clay lunged for him with a strong sweep of his sword they were both alone. That was good. What wasn’t good, was that Blade raised his hands as if he was holding a sword, then suddenly he was. A sword crafted of what looked like purple light, pure magic, appeared in his hands at an angle to block Clays. It was unlike anything the Knight had ever seen before. Clay grit his teeth and prepared for the fight of his life, and Blade ticked lightly completely unbothered.

 

“Not enough.” The purple sword pushed Clay back, the knight barely reeled and Blade was following with an attack. Clay remembered hearing he was a power sorcerer. Whatever this was, it made him stronger and faster. Clay blocked multiple swipes of the purple sword, before the blade spun and the weapon transformed before Clay’s eyes into two daggers. Now this I can deal with. Clay used his reach to swipe the daggers to the side, leaving Blade vulnerable enough for the knight's sword to barely graze his thigh. The sorcerer didn’t even flinch, and he wasn’t wearing armor. Clay then moved back, and their space was set in the clearing facing one another. Clay managed to get out a cocky voice through labored breaths.

 

“First blood.”

“I’ll take last.” With that Blade drew a crossbow of that same purple light from thin air. Clay barely blocked it with his sword. Long range can’t work. An endless supply of arrows rained towards his, as Clay advanced as quickly as he could dodging to the best of his ability. One unfortunately grazed his shoulder changing his perfectly aimed strike. Blade’s crossbow turned back into a longer sword he held perpendicular to the ground, and raised with one hand to block Clay’s swing. In the split second his sword was pushed to the side, Clay watched a serrated dagger appear in Blade’s other hand and drag across the chainmail on his stomach. 

 

Clay barely managed to turn around Blade’s side, and attempted to drive the hilt of his sword into the pink haired man's back; a purple shield appeared to catch his blow, and a shockwave of force sent cla sprawling. He didn’t have time to breath before an arrow was embedded in his thigh. Clay grunted, as he lay on the ground injured, but raised himself onto one knee to look at the Blade. The sorcerer stood with a shield and sword of pure purple light, but Clay noted his chest was heaving, and his leg dripping blood, and strands of hair coming undone from his braid. Clay caught glimpses of his friends fighting behind the Blade, and it spurred him to stand. Blade raised a mocking eyebrow and asked:

 

“Round two?” Clay answered by swinging his sword, pushing aside a limp in his step. The Blade met his battle cry with a cold front, and blocked it with his shield. The purple sword came around to strike Clay, but he was ready and caught the wrist that held it in a firm grip. With both hands occupied, the Knight slammed the metal battering ram on his head into the coven leaders. The Blade reeled, and Clay thought his head may have rattled inside the metal helmet. When he looked back up, there was fire in his purple eyes. Clay barely avoided a leg sweep, flipping over the blade. When he landed, only his agility saved him from a giant purple battle axe to the head. With their weapons locked, Clay could see most of Blade’s hair had come undone falling around his shoulders, and he actually held an emotion on his face now in the form of a sneer. Clay ignored the burning in his wounds, and pressed his sword harder. 

 

“You done Blade?” The answer was the axe disappearing. Clay’s momentum sent him forward, ending with his back to Blade. When he whirled around a larger axe was coming down on his head. He raised his sword to defend but the force was too much and made a small cut into his helmet. He heard the scrape as well, as he began reeling back. It had been a long time since Clay couldn’t handle a blow from someone. The blade readied his ae in an arc, and Clay knew he couldn’t take another blow. He ducked down, and the axe landed in the tree behind him, successfully sheering the forward facing half of the trunk. Then the axe disappeared, and a familiar purple sword was back. It happened so fast that Clay wasn’t ready. Blade disarmed him, sending Clay’s own weapon sprawling. Then, the purple light transformed again and Blade raised a battle axe above his head ready to bring it down on Clay. Clay only had one option. When Blade swung, Clay caught the purple handle with both hands. He felt the power whir through his hands, but he stayed strong holding the blow above his head.

 

“What.” The Blade looked shocked, like Clay had finally cracked his armor. Both men’s arms shook; but Clay heard a noise that was distinctly George from somewhere behind him, and that was the deciding factor. Clay sent the but of the axe into the Blade’s face watching him sprawl across the grass with a bloody nose from his own power. Clay grabbed his own sword and stood at the ready again, catching his breath. When Blade rose, there was no more joking or round two or three bullshit. The sorceror had pure murder in his eyes. His hands moved ever so slightly, with a light purple glow. For the first time in almost as long as he could remember Clay felt fear because he sensed that same whirring magic in the air all around him.

 

“DUCK!” Someone called it out, and the syllable reached Clay’s bones.He dropped flat on the ground, narrowly avoiding the most impressive display of magic he’d ever seen. A flat layer of that purple power exploded from Blade’s waist. It cut trees in half, and the light briefly sliced through every other sound in clay’s ears. The light blinded him as it passed over his head. He frantically looked around to see George and Nick perfectly fine. One of Blade’s own sorcerors hadn’t ducked quick enough and was flat on his back with a smoking wound in his side. Clay was sure he was dead. The other coven members, including Bast and Anubis wore horrified faces, like they would be sick. The Blade’s face went from Impassive, to unreadable, to pure anger. The anger refocused on Clay, and both their breaths were heaving. He heard shouts behind him, and knew the other’s battles were going poorly.

 

Blade came back with a fury, but Clay matched it. He could hold the Blade’s weapons, so their series of blows was elevated. It was almost too fast for the eye to comprehend. They traded blades and blunt pieces of purple magic back and forth, but when the Blade had control of Clays weapons he eventually got the upper hand. Clay raised his regular sword, but the Blade caught it with two katanas of his own. He then threw Clay so he had to hold his arms out and regain balance. That’s when Clay felt it. A purple axe carved across his abdomen, and he was kicked back onto the ground. Clay landed virtually imobile next to George and Nick, who didn’t seem like they were in much better shape. Clay tried to get to George, who was sat curled over his knees like a prayer, but couldn’t. All he could do was raise his head to an angry Blade. For the first time since he was a child, Clay had lost a fight.

 

“Any last words.” No no no. Clay couldn’t let this happen. He needed to protect George and Nick. Drista needed them to survive. 

 

“George.” Clay croaked weakly, and George looked at him from his position on the ground. Clay saw his beautiful brown eyes dulled by pain. The Blade raised his glowing hands over them. I’m sorry I failed you. George could barely shake his head, and offer Clay a bloody smile. I want him to be the last thing I see.

 

“Wait.” Clay snapped to look as Bast placed a hand on Blades shoulder. He tensed and turned to her the magic fading. Clay’s hopes were squashed, as Bast’s eyes turned to them. She looked sadistic.

 

“You’ve over extended yourself. Let me do it.” She stepped forward in front of Blade, who smirked and nodded his head. Anubis looked uncomfortable as he stared at his sister. All Clay could think. This is really it… I failed…

 

“Bast… no-” George coughed at the end of his feeble plea, but he somehow retained the passion in his gaze as he managed to lift himself to look her in the eyes. It broke Clay’s heart. He wanted to look at those brown eyes, and pretty lips without blood one last time.

 

“Sorry Georgie… forgive me.” Magic swirled around her hands: red and dangerous. Clay felt his blood seeping into the ground, and then everything faded to black.

Chapter Text

Chapter 29: Bast POV



Bast hadn’t expected to see George that day, and now her memories were running wild. He didn’t look like the scrawny prince that she had grown up with. He’s still kind of scrawny. She watched him walk into the tavern like he owned everything. I guess he does. He’s the king. That was the thought that poisoned Bast’s heart. Her childhood best friend was also the King who she blamed for everything. Bast knew Anubis would follow whatever attitude she set, so she had looked at George and pushed aside any small happiness to meet him with hostility.

 

Now, she was standing in the streets of Teakwood angry and covered in beer. Only three other swine coven sorcerors stood with them. The others had gotten wrapped up in the fighting. Bast was relatively untouched, besides her black curls sticking to her neck with sugary beer and the fabric of her dress being wetter and heavier. She was happy to see Anubis only had a few slashes in his clothes. Good, I don’t have to kill an amazon today. They were all breathing hard, and Bast felt surprisingly drained. Usually, she needed much less recovery from her magic. If she could admit it, she may have acknowledged that her fatigue was more due to emotions than anything else. Why didn’t I kill him? Bast had George virtually at her mercy, and she had let him live. Maybe it was because he had been helpless. It reminded her of the kid her mother took care of. Pity gets you nowhere. Bast was overcome with another wave of anger directed in towards herself. She felt it build with a ringing in her ears, until a watermelon stand next to her exploded in red tendrils.

 

“Fuck!” The other coven members flinched, and Anubis rolled his eyes wiping some stray fruit off his suede jacket.

 

“Seriously Bast?” Anubis didn’t look nearly as bothered as his sister. In fact, Bast had almost sensed a happiness in her twin when he first saw George, and when he was flirting with that brunette. Ironically, Anubis was definitely the calm one, as Bast whirled on him marching towards him and getting in his face. The other sorcerers looked scared, taking yet another step away from the twins. Bast angrily pointed a red claw at her brother's nose, looking up at him with narrowed eyes.

 

“Me!? What the hell was that!? How could you just give away information!?”

“What do we care about the chosen one? It doesn’t affect us!” Anubis swatted his sister's finger out of his face, and shrugged with an annoyed sneer. Bast narrowed her eyes and dropped her voice to be a bit less shrill and a bit more menacing.

 

“We don’t help the crown.”

“I wasn’t.” Bast was ready to protest, before her brother continued his voice sharper this time as he loomed over her.

 

“-Did it look like they were there on official business Bast? I was helping the same girl our mother deemed important enough to help save. That was one of the last spells she did. Ever think of that sister?” Bast clenched her jaw, but she could feel her anger wavering. Anubis was the only person allowed to bring up their mother like that. He had lost her too, and still wore her ring. Sometimes Bast envied her brother's connection to her, but right now she couldn’t let herself feel the pin prick of tears. Instead, she lowered her voice and glanced at the sorcerers.

 

“And what are we gonna tell Blade?” Anubis did not look scared, but there was a concern in his gaze Bast couldn’t place.

 

“Nothing.”

“You’re suggesting we lie?”

“We’ve done it before.”

“Not to each other.” Bast wasn’t afraid of showing a little vulnerability in her gaze, especially if it got her brother’s eyes to soften and take her side. Anubis groaned and tipped his head back, before agreeing.

 

“Fine! We tell him what happened, that the chosen one is alive and all.” Bast nodded, and smirked, crossing her arms. Anubis rolled his eyes, and lit the ends of her hair on fire for a split second. I hate when he does that. Bast huffed, and turned to address the other sorcerers.

 

“We return to Creole, and tell the Blade what has transpired.” No one argued, and her and Anubis led the way.

 

~~~

 

Bast had expected mild anger, maybe even a scolding from Blade when they relayed the message. But, not this. 

 

“Teakwood had been a thorn in our side for ages!-” When she had told him, Blade actually smiled. There was something unnerving and mad about it that left a pit in Bast’s stomach. He had thanked Anubis, for giving them an opportunity of a lifetime. Then, with no further explanation he called a coven meeting. Bast followed in mild confusion. She had never seen Blade like this in all the time she’d known him. The twins had been with the swine coven from the start. Blade found them when they were living in the swamps of Creole as teenagers. He told them that they could become more powerful than anyone who’d ever hurt them. The twins readily agreed. Blade became a father figure of sorts. The swine coven was like a family at the beginning, but almost anything felt like family to two orphan sorcerors from Teakwood. 

 

“-And now! The twins!” Blade gestured animatedly to Bast and Anubis. “Have given us the perfect opportunity to cut it off at the head…”

“What is he talking about?” Anubis’ whisper sounded as wary as Bast felt. Blade was usually a constant source of calm and collectedness. Bast rarely saw him get destructive or angry, unless it was necessary. He had always been a benevolent dictator, and father figure. Sure, there had been killing and death, but there were prices to pay to secure a place of power in Creole. Only for necessity, and only for family. That was the mantra Blade had taught the twins, but right now that was not what escaped his mouth.

 

“-The King himself will be entering our land! And that is when we will take out the throne once and for all!” There was a crazed look in Blades purple eyes, as an axe of light extended from thin air  to be held in one outstretched hand. Everything about his speech, and him: from the long pink hair, the tusks, wine red cloak, iconic broach, white ruffle tunic and black pants, oozed danger and power. Bast felt a shiver crawl up her spine, and she caught eyes with Philza. The healer stood behind Blade with wide purple eyes.

 

“Down with the government.”

“Down with the government!” Blade’s sentiment was cold, but it was met with a rousing cheer of repetition, either caused by fear or passion from the rest of the coven. Their coven had a reputation for taking in the evil and the crazed, and giving them a purpose. For the first time since they had begun this journey together, Bast questioned Blade’s purpose. She felt frozen, as Blade continued detailing the plan and ordering everyone around. Bast shared a look with Anubis, before they felt the Blades eyes on them. Under his purple gaze, Bast thought it was best to help prepare as if her mind wasn’t tearing itself apart. 

 

“Play along. We’ll talk to him later.” Anubis nodded in affirmation of his sister's whisper, then went to help organize the chosen sorcerers to accompany them. Bast needed to get cleaned up, and as she ascended the stairs she heard her brother telling Blade a small lie.

 

“Based on the fight, you shouldn’t need more than a handful of mages to take them…” What is happening right now? All Bast could find recently in this coven she usually called home was tension, uncertainty, hushed secrets, and bloodlust. Sure Bast had enough deep seated anger and revenge to last her a lifetime, but she wasn’t prone to craving carnage. The Blade had always taught her that violence was necessary; he wasn’t one for peaceful resolutions. What about what my mother taught me? Bast Banished the thoughts as she took herself in, in the mirror. She could see the effects of the past few months etched on her face. She was starting to look older than she ever had. Maybe that’s why George had pity in his gaze. Bast watched the fire light in her lavender eyes; she didn’t want anyone's pity, or anyone's blood. She wanted her family back. Can’t get everything you want. 

 

“You need to get ready. We’re about to leave.” Anubis’s voice sounded through the door with a small knock. Bast was shook out of her thoughts, and proceeded to pull her wet curls back into two puffs at the nape of her neck. She donned travel clothes slowly: a distressed red tunic, brown belt, and red pants. She didn’t like looking in the mirror, especially at her hands. It all just reminded her of the last time she saw her mother, with her white nails tainted red.

 

“Finally she’s arrived.” Blade drawled as Bast descended the steps to meet a group of sorcerers. Her brother was eyeing her, and Bast faked her natural smirk for their coven leader.

 

“So sorry I’m the only one who cares about my appearance.” Blade gave a small huff, but Bast knew that was the equivalent of most peoples largest laughs. No one else was truly allowed to joke with Blade, besides maybe Philza. Certainly, no one else would do it as fearlessly as Bast did, joining the group of mages with her brother in the back. They traveled mostly in silence, with a few hushed conversations. Bast and Anubis were no exception. As Bast started a quiet conversation with her twin, she kept her eyes on the back of Blade’s pink braid; her hand involuntarily reached for the silver necklace that he had gifted her as she spoke.

 

“Well that was…”

“Fucking insane!” Her brother was whisper-yelling, clearly more bothered than her by everything. He had always had the weakest stomach when it came to violence. Or maybe, Bast just hid hers. She often threw up when she was alone, after a particularly brutal fight, but she’d never let the Blade see. A large part of her was loyal, wanting to make the power sorcerer proud. Anubis tested that as he continued in a hushed tone.

 

“We’re not going to let him kill George are we?”

“No one let’s Blade do anything.” Bast was right, and they both knew it. No matter how much emotional leverage the twins had over their twisted father figure, he was not kind to those that betrayed him.

 

“If anyone can Bast, it’s you.”

“Why would I.” Ignoring the fact that Bast didn’t actually know if she could stop Blade at this point, she also wasn’t sure she wanted to. Anubis looked horrified by her comment. Bast usually hated her brother's moral attitude when it came to these things, but right now it just made her feel guilty. It’s George… George that killed your mother.

 

“Are you serious Bast!? You know this is wrong.” Anubis was looking at her desperately, as they fell farther back to create a bit more distance between them and the others. Bast felt defensive at his tone, she loved her brother and he had been looking at her like she’d changed recently.

 

“Maybe you’ve just got a conscious all of a sudden because you thought that amazon was cute?” Bast hated the bite in her voice. Anubis stayed firm, unaffected by his sister's attitude.

 

“You know that has nothing to do with it.” He was right. Anubis had been beating this drum for months now. He was slowly more distanced from Blade, while Bast only got closer. It had caused a rift. Bast suspected the only reason Anubis was still here was because of her. 

 

“Bast. We need your magic.” The Blade’s booming voice interrupted the tense conversation, and Bast’s head snapped forward. The partly demonic face was scrutinizing her with furrowed eyebrows. Bast thought she faintly heard Georges voice somewhere nearby, and realized they would need her illusion spells to hide. She nodded to Blade, but before she approached she turned quickly to Anubis; her brother still had his eyes fixed on her.

 

“I’ll talk with him tonight.”

“You better.”

 

~~~

 

Bast watched George laughing through her illusion wall. The Blade had her check in on them periodically, and each time it made her sick. They look so happy. Bast tried to hold onto the bitter part of her that was angry George’s life turned out so well, but she couldn’t. Maybe, it was Anubis or just general maturity rubbing off on her, but Bast was finding it harder and harder to blame George as she watched him with Clay. 

 

“This is fucked.” Bast sighed, and turned to face her brother, quirking an eyebrow at him.

 

“I’m serious Bast, we’ve got to talk to him now. They’re almost-”

“Yeah I know.” Bast cut off a concerned Anubis with her hand, and began walking back towards their encampment, the red wall of illusion followed her and Anubis. It continued to hide them and the rest of the swine sorcerers. Blade had chosen the most evil and ruthless of the bunch. They were the kind that Bast had to shush her brother around, and hide any sliver of weakness from. At least, she used to have to fake strength. Now, even a large illusion like this took very little effort. Most of the sorcerers gathered towards the edge of the encampment. Bast could make out the silhouette of one lone in the corner, backed by firelight. She saw that Blade’s head was bent down, and took a breath before addressing her brother.

 

“Let me talk to him alone.” Anubis nodded to her, before heading over to the other coven members and putting on a show of happy and confident. Bast approached the fire light slowly, as both her brother and George’s voices faded to background noise. Blade sat on a log with his elbows resting him forward over bent knees. His long legs had remained in the same black pants, but his white turtleneck tunic was untucked and rolled up over his forearms. The red cloak was abandoned somewhere, and he held his broach in his hands. Bast could tell he was contemplative because the long pink hair was tied up in a bun, and he didn’t seem to care about the few strands that fell over his face. Bast cleared her throat slowly, as to not spook him too badly.

 

“Blade?” She approached from behind. If she had scared him, he didn’t react. Blade simply turned his head slightly to face her.

 

“Yes.” Bast walked around so they were face to face. She sat on the edge of the log nearest to him, so her voice was low. Looking at Blade now, he looked more like the man that had saved her and less like the untouchable god he always seemed to be. However, she could still see the scars crawling across his neck and arms that marked a violent life.

 

“What is it?” Blade had a mildly disgusted grimace, as he prompted her. Bast realized she had been uncharacteristically silent, and Blade didn’t seem to like being stared at like this. He looked confused, and had straightened up after getting the impression Bast was here about something serious. She was. The original plan was to ask him not to go after George, that there was another way besides inserting themselves into the war, but something in his lavender eyes made her pause. Bast slowly pulled the intended statement back into her mouth, and furrowed her eyebrows at him. The eye-bags were prominent in the low light, and he looked like her mother had whenever hiding something serious from her as a child. Bast was not a child, and Blade had never treated her as such.

 

“What is this really about?” Blade said nothing. His face was eerily blank. Bast swallowed, and risked a quick glance at her brother. She didn’t want the coven leader to catch any perceived disloyalty, but she needed a little strength as she laced her claw-like nails together on her lap.

 

“Dave. Why are we going after the King?” Bast held eye-contact. She had learned a long time ago: don’t show any weakness, even when you’re at a disadvantage. Blade’s eyes narrowed slightly. Not many people called him Dave. In fact, most of the people who had were dead. But, Bast had met him as Dave, though she hadn’t seen as much of that man recently. Blade searched her eyes, before his face broke and he let out a small huff. He broke eye contact and set his broach to the side, leaning back on his hands and staring into the fire. Best kept watching intently, as he spoke.

 

“Have I ever told you about my mother?” Bast was a bit taken back by the question. There was a bitterness to his voice that made her tread carefully with her tone. She stifled a surprised snort, and responded casually.

 

“Only bits and pieces. She was a-”

“-a demon yes.” Blade cut her off simply, but Bast sensed he was gearing up for a story so she stayed quiet. I have a feeling this won’t be one of his educational tales.

 

“-She was very powerful before she met my father, and left the badlands...” That was surprising. Bast didn’t know that Blade had a direct connection to the badlands. What else are you hiding?

 

“-They called her the blood god.” That was the only time Blade had smiled, but mixed with the words it was unsettling rather than sweet. He looked almost like he was longing or craving something.

“-I don’t remember much about her. She was strong, ruled most of the mountains in the badlands…” Bast wondered how he knew this. Had he been? She sat on the edge of her seat, trying to read the small bits of emotion in Blade’s tone.

 

“-I do remember she had bright red eyes, a darker shade of red skin. Your powers reminded me of her. That’s why you wear her necklace.” What? Blade had said it so simply, gesturing towards her neck. Bast couldn’t hide the way her eyes widened and her hand flew to her silver necklace. She looked at the pendant, and when she raised her eyes again they met the lilac orbs of the demon side of Blade. His eyes looked closer to a sharp pink, and the shadows of the fire made him look positively evil.

 

“...It used to be her symbol, before she was killed. Similar to your mother. That’s why I modeled my coven after her. This is all for her.” He ended with his hands clasped tightly in front of him, staring darkly into the fire. Something twisted in Bast’s gut. The way he said my coven instead of ours, and stated it was all for his demon mother who had probably killed more than either of them combined… this is bad . The unease was growing, as if Bast’s mind was trying to put the pieces together but didn’t want to actually think any of the thoughts. She needed some type of confirmation, so she found her breath.

 

“That didn’t answer my question.” Blade ticked the corner of his lips slightly, and luckily didn’t turn his gae to her as he spoke the next words.

 

“That is why we are helping the azurians because of everything they’ve done to my family and yours. These old hierarchies and governments need to be erased, permanently. When I agreed to assist Minx, I went and found a cousin of mine in the badlands. Appreciate your heritage and all. Together we killed off the throne to Vale, and Teakwood. Never quite got Agate, but that can change. When I take over the coven leaders council next moon, I’ll control Creole, and they won’t have a chance. Teakwood will pay.” Bast’s blood ran cold. She had so many questions. The main one was: Who are you? Looking at Blade in front of her, he didn’t seem to hold an ounce of remorse. He looked sadistic and malicious, instead of the usual calm leader with an obtuse sense of justice. There was a mild craze in his purple eyes when he turned them back to her. Bast schooled her expressions, and instead she simply asked:

 

“How did you do it?”

“A mix of my cousin's poison, and your illusions to hide the spies and such.” Bast wanted Teakwood to pay as much as the next person, but thinking she had a part in the death of George's parents. An eye for an eye right? Conflict was raging, and she couldn’t process it and have Blade looking at her.

 

“I thought I was hiding refugees?” She hoped he couldn’t read too much into her tone. Luckily, she still seemed to have her undivided trust. But for how long? Until I tell him not everyone from teakwood deserves to be punished, and George definitely doesn’t deserve to be killed? Until I watch him slaughter innocent people…

 

“You were for the most part, but I had you cast a few extra spells.” Bast nodded, as if this was the most natural conversation in the world, but her mind was racing with possibilities.

 

“I know this is a lot to dump on you, but Bast… no one else knows yet. Let’s keep it that way.” Bast put on her air of confidence and affirmed.

 

“Of course. Can’t have anyone interrupting the revolution before it begins.” She had added the extra part on for flair, but her past meals almost followed it out her lips. Maybe, because a part of her meant it, and that’s what made her sick. Blade seemed happy with her response, and Bast sensed the conversation was over. She felt light headed as she headed back across the campsite to her brother. Suddenly the pendant around her neck felt heavier, and she had to focus to maintain the illusion spell surrounding them.

 

“How’d it go.” Anubis’ bright purple eyes looked eagerly at her. She looked at the ring on the hand that gripped her shoulder. He had made it from their mothers wedding ring. Guess we’re both wearing dead mother’s jewelry. Anubis shook her slightly, and he looked concerned now.

 

“Hey. Are you okay?”

“It’s worse than we thought.” She met her brother's wide eyes. Bast knew Anubis. She couldn’t tell him everything right now. He’d march back over to Blade, and nothing would end well. So when he hurried her behind the tent, to block them from view, and questioned, Bast put both hands on his arms and gave an answer they’d both have to accept.

 

“What is it?”

“He- He’s not backing down. I don’t think anything could stop him from this vendetta he’s got.” It wasn’t technically a lie, but Anubis didn’t pick up on the half truth. He simply ran a hand over the black coils on his head.

 

“Jesus… this is bad.”

“Yeah, it is.” And Bast had no idea what she was going to do.

 

~~~

 

Anubis kept saying he couldn’t go along with this, but Bast reminded him not to do anything stupid. What if I do something stupid. Things were becoming very real as Bast’s hands worked themselves. She felt the magic coursing out into red tendrils that formed a dome of illusion. It was a little more difficult to keep it moving with George and his friends, especially as she also had to make her way through the swamp. Or maybe you’re distracted. For once Bast agreed with the voice. She was distracted as she watched the sorcerer's prepare for attack. George was closest to her edge of the illusion, and for a moment Bast made eye-contact with the determined brown orbs as they entered a grove clearing and the sorcerers surrounded them. Briefly, memories flashed behind her eyes. Bast closed them on reflex. It wasn’t long but it was enough. Her illusion had slipped barely and Clay saw.

 

“Watch out!”

“Wai- What!?”

“We’re not alone.” She watched them flail around drawing their weapons. Bast made concerned eye-contact with Anubis who summoned flames to his palms. Her brother looked tormented but ready, as he faced off with the shorter raven haired knight. The Helmeted one, Sir Clay, was looking directly towards Blade as if he sensed them. Unfortunately for Bast, the King’s eyes were darting around in her direction not landing on anything, as she breathed and closed the illusion. Dammit George… I don’t really want to hurt you. A few guilty dreams and a lot of late night thoughts later, Bast had at least come to that conclusion. But... she looked at Blade. I don’t want to betray him either...

 

“Shame you saw us. We had such a good ambush planned, but this’ll do.” Blade looked as nonchalant as ever, giving a small nod to Bast. She took a deep breath, preparing herself for what was about to happen, and liften the illusion. Blade continued talking, addressing Clay, but Bast was focused on George. She watched his gaze go from shocked, to betrayed, to sad, and back to determined as he stared her down. Bats held her expression steady, tried to act like she was enjoying it, especially for Blade.

 

“Bast! What do you think of the great Sir Clay?” Bast smirked at Blade in response. For that moment of eye-contact it felt like when she had first started this: taking down corrupt sorcerers and officials together. Now, the connection soured in her stomach. 

 

“What do you want Blade.” Clay was clearly putting on a show, attempting to draw Blades attention. Aren’t we all. It worked because if nothing else Blade had a thing for flair. He would always want to take on the strongest or the most enemies. They continued their trade off. George spoke up, and Bast almost cringed at the regality in his tone. That definitely wasn’t the kid she used to know; that was the King they had made him. It would have been easier to simply mark George as another corrupt ruler, if he wasn’t still looking at me like that. What was eating at Bast was that she didn’t know. She hadn’t known George's parents, she didn’t know if George was truly as corrupt as his ancestors. In her mind he was still the kid she grew up with. Bast knew she needed to kill that image, so when the inevitable happened she faced off with George flanked by two sorcerers.

 

“Take them.” Bast caught George's sword, as he swung at her. A bit of a smirk pulled it’s way out, as she focused on the anger in his gaze. The king was good; he was strong and fast. She found herself struggling a few times to block his swings, even having to dodge instead of using her magic. George knew her powers, he didn’t give her enough time to conjure a true spell. Bast called for her sorcerers. One George punched in the face. So much for the strongest coven. The other got a hold of him mentally manipulating the vines from the short trees. Things stopped for a moment, as George looked at Bast while struggling.

 

“Bast… you don’t have to do this.”

“I do George.”

“Why?” Bast thought about every way Teakwood had ever wronged her. She thought about how George had gotten her mother killed. She grit her teeth, and decided Blade might just be the lesser of two evils. George didn’t get an answer but Bast watched his eyes widen, as magic whirred around her hands. He cut the vines with his sword, kicking at the sorcerers legs and launching at her in one motion. Bast’s attack was interrupted, she went back to tricking and blocking. George even pulled out some of his own magic. It was a battle of push and pull that had them both heaving. George continued to talk, and Bast continued trying to block him out.

 

“I’m sorry about your mother Bast. I never meant for that to happen.”

“You killed her.” Bast sent a particularly vicious attack, launching four sharp branches that George doged. They embedded themselves in the trees behind him, and the King turned back to continue his plea.

 

“I know I got her killed, but I never meant for that to happen. I lost her too.”

“Are you seriously compar-”

“No! But, you need to know I’ve tried 4 times since I became king to pass new laws on magic, and the first thing I did was have your mothers killer imprisoned. You need to know-”

“Sh-shut up.” Bast had stuttered and so did her magic. George took the opportunity, and she barely caught his sword. They were locked close together now. She could tell he was pressing forward with his own magic. Bast narrowed her eyes, at the same level with the kings. She thought she saw a tear in his brown iris, but he blinked it away, and there was a conviction there that made her hesitate and listen. What am I doing?

 

“You..need...to-to know, I have a new queen. She’s agrarian, and we got power over the court. I’m changing everything Bast… everything.” Bast wanted to believe him, but she couldn’t hear this, not while there were eyes on her, so she closed her eyes briefly to collect her expression. With her evil aura back Bast watched George’s shock as she launched him back, and a red wave swept over their section of the grove. She approached with two other sorcerers, and George was surrounded. He handled the two closer sorcerer's well, but Bast’s magic ripped his sword from his hands and she caught it in hers. She stalked closer, as vines grabbed one of George’s arms dragging him down. The King breathed heavily, looking at her.

 

“You're not gonna kill me Bast.”

“You don’t know me.” Bast grit her teeth, her voice was cold. The sword began floating on red magic, and the vines tightened. For the first time Bast saw fear and doubt in George's eyes when he looked at her. The smart brown irises darted around until he swallowed as if preparing. Before Bast could do anything, the King raised his free hand and uttered a divining spell. He literally flew off the ground up onto the top of the tree. Bast launched the sword late, and it simply grazed his side, before ending lodged in the trunk. 

 

“Sneaky fucker.” One of the mages said. Bast began looking up for him, when she heard a distinct grunt behind her. She had caught sight of George, but whipped her head to see Blade hitting the ground looking just as wrecked as his opponent. What. Never had Bast seen Blade beat like this. He looked furious as he rose. Bast saw the craze in his eyes, but nothing masked it this time. She caught the empty sound of his magic in the air, like a low ringing. Her brother was still engrossed in a fight with the knight Nick, he hadn’t noticed. Clay, Blade’s current opponent, had his back to her and didn’t seem to know either. Bast saw George looking at him worriedly. It was the same way she was worried for the people she loved in the clearing. Blade was out of control. Bast realized it a second before the release, and screamed out a warning.

 

“DUCK!” She hit the deck herself, and saw others follow. When the purple light had flashed by and the ringing subsided, Bast lifted herself to see. She saw George’s tree had been cut, and he fell to the ground, crawling forward next to his friend Nick. Something is definitely broken there. She saw the helmet knight and Blade fighting. Clay seemed to be able to actually wield the blades magic through sheer will. Who is this guy. Though he couldn’t control it, and that was his downfall. Bast’s lavender eyes searched, checking her brother was okay. Thankfully he was, but when she followed his eyes… oh my god. The burnt sliced body of their sleeping mage, Kelce was laying on the ground. Bast felt something crawl up her throat, and she met Anubis’ wide eyes. Blade actually killed one of our own? Bast turned her eyes to see the pink haired sorcerer hadn’t even noticed. He looked so consumed by anger as he loomed over George and the two knights. Nick was knocked out after taking on four opponents for the most part, but Anubis had shown mercy. George was the only one still semi upright, as Blade approached staring at Clay with malice.

 

“Any last words.” a purple axe appeared in Blade’s hand, and everything in Bast froze. She really didn’t recognize a single part of her coven leader right now. They knew Clay was a hybrid, and had a story related to the chosen one, and something in her said George wasn’t a malicious king. Especially the way he looked at Clay when the knight croaked out the king's name in response to Blade. Now George’s brown eyes were on her, and the tears and fear were readily apparent now.

 

“Bast...please.” George’s voice was shaky, and he dropped having to stick out a hand to catch himself. The blade just smirked, and raised his axe. No. Bast’s body was almost moving of its own accord, until she put a hand on Blade’s shoulder to stop his movements.

 

“Wait.” He tensed and turned to look at her. There was something dangerous in his eyes, and Bast mirrored it equally. She stepped in front of him, and prepared herself for the heartbreak she was about to see.

 

“You’ve over extended yourself. Let me do it.” Blade smiled, and allowed her. To him this was an admission of loyalty. Boy, was he wrong. Bast swallowed her nerves, as she raised her hands.

 

“Bast… no-” George coughed again, and blood came out. She kept her cold sadistic facade, even as her brother watched her horrified.

 

“Sorry Georgie, forgive me. ” The words held more weight that she intended, but Bast didn’t think about it. She pulled her focus away from everything else, and cast the spell. To Blade, her brother and the others it looked as though red tendrils of magic had ripped the King and his knights apart till there was nothing left. The Blade smirked, and nodded to her.

 

“Let’s go, everyone.” The sorcerors turned to follow one by one. Anubis looked numb when Bast caught his eyes. He’d understand later. Bast was the last to leave the clearing. When she turned, she could see the truth; the king and his knights passed out semi-peaceful in the center of the clearing covered by her magic. One thought was in Bast’s mind as she walked away from her betrayal.

 

What did I do?

Chapter Text

Chapter 30: Feyre POV



The deserts had not been kind to them. Or to my hair. The four had been travelling for what felt like days, but at this point time was irrelevant. They quickly learned clothing wasn’t a case of temperature, but of the fact the sand storms they encountered felt like glass. They had to stop and hollow out a dune for the night when it got too much. Feyre had stayed watch, and it was lucky she did because Drista almost got buried alive from the gusts of wind. When Feyre pulled her friend out she was panicked, but Drista seemed calm. She at least seemed far away, as she kept reassuring Feyre.

 

I’m fine. ” Feyre was skeptical, but she knew a thing or two about shielding emotions and let her be. The boys were a little more pressing, about everything, Feyre learned. They always seemed to want to talk and get to know everyone, but it just wasn’t something Feyre was used to besides with Karl. Karl. She felt a pang whenever she thought of him. Karl really was the closest thing to family Feyre had left. She didn’t like to think about it, and Feyre definitely wasn’t into talking about her shit, but she could admit to herself that Karl saved her. The healer helped her be a leader, even to a people that didn’t look to authority, and did his best to keep her from being lonely. That was the thing about Vale: it was free but also very isolating. Feyre learned that Drista had come from the exact opposite situation. She remembered being wide eyed at Drista’s stories about her family and the Clan’s community. She could see it now with Tommy and Tubbo. The way the three talked; Feyre desperately wanted to be a part of it.

 

That was part of the reason she had come on this journey. It was also because she believed in Drista and the tales of the dream eye, she knew of many demons in Vale and could be of help, she wanted to save her people from Minx, and really wasn’t good at turning her newest friend down. Feyre’s freckled cheeks broke into a small smile as she thought about how quickly her loyalty to Drista had grown. She didn’t usually get close to others that quickly... and what do I have to show for it? Oh right cuts all over my arms! The coarse sandstorms had hit them hard, and Feyre’s body was covered in thin slices that stung from sweat. The boys had been useful by redistributing layers. Now they had all taken to wearing at least a layer of oversized tunic, long pants, and some type of scarf for the neck and face. She winced slightly, as the fabric of her scarf caught in a cut on her neck.

“You okay?” Tubbo’s cherub face asked kindly. He looked concerned, as he reached a hand out towards her. However, since her arm was currently in pain, it wasn’t very comforting.

 

“Ow! God, I was until you did that!” Feyre would have to work on her snappiness, as he looked genuinely taken aback and hurt.

 

“Well sorry.” Feyre sighed, rubbing at her arms.

 

“It’s fine, I’m sorry.” Tubbo seemed to be happy with that, and Feyre really tried not to roll her eyes at his smile. Just then, the wind picked up, and they held up their hands to shield from a blast of red sands to the face. This looked like the beginnings of another sandstorm Feyre was not excited about. She opened her eyes slightly to see Tommy and Drista trying to walk ahead of them, but not getting very far and having their neck scarfs pulled up. Feyre could practically feel the sand matting in her hair. She was thankful for both her and Drista that they had their hair in plaits. Mostly, for herself considering her wild red curls, which only ever subscribed to a single braid down the center of her head. Trying to look up towards the friends infront of her, Feyre felt her footing slip. Tubbo offered out one of his wrists, the one closer to her, keeping the other hand up to shield his face. Feyre met him with her closer arm, and used his wrist to hold herself up. It reminded her of when Karl used to hold her up against the river current. Maybe he can be my surrogate Karl for now…

 

“WE’VE GOT TO KEEP MOVING!” Tommy yelled back to them over the wind, as Drista nodded adamantly. Feyre squinted her green eyes. The worst of the gust had died down, but she could already begin to see their feet getting buried. Feyre let go of Tubbos' wrist, and began marching forward. The giant boy stumbled slightly but followed her, cupping his mouth to yell back to Tommy.

 

“WE’RE COMING!” The four continued trekking, until Feyre began to see the outline of something. It almost looked like a black wall in front of them, but the kids could not see very far through the sand.

 

“WHAT’S THAT!?” Drista looked at her quizzically, before locking confused multi-colored eyes with Tommy. Then, they were all staring ahead towards what was now looking like black rock. The mountains!?

 

“I THINK IT’S THE MOUNTAIN FOOT!” No shit Tubbo. Feyre grunted with the effort her steps took as she pulled up in between Drista and Tommy. She nudged both the blondes before speaking.

 

“C’MON WE CAN TAKE COVER IF WE MAKE IT THERE!” 

“YOU HEARD THE QUEEN!” After Drista backed her up they were trudging again, the chosen one following her lead and the boys trailing. Feyre heard Tubbo and Tommy yell something nondescript to each other. She turned around the inquire.

 

“WHAT DID YOU- Oof!” It came out of nowhere, like a horse hitting her from the side. Feyre was horizontal, and with the sand covering her face it took a few minutes to realize someone was on top of her. 

 

“FEYRE!” 

“HOLD ON!” The shrill voices were her friends, but Feyre had the distinct impression she’d have to save herself. I always do. She began grappling with the form on top of her, until she could roll them off and scoot away to stand up. She couldn’t see much, but they definitely had more clothes on, giving her an edge in agility, especially since her bag had fallen off somewhere. Or maybe I don't. The next hard gust blew her face first into the assailant. Feyre was locked in a hostile embrace by this larger man, though she probably had a few inches on him, by the way her red hair hit his face. From this vantage Feyre could see his scarlett red eyes. Yep, definitely a demon. 

 

“What’re you doing here little girl?” Feyre really hated that, especially the way he was smiling. She gripped harder at his wrists, but caught the glint of a knife with her eye. She thought she was holding both hands, but the weapon was coming from somewhere straight for her stomach. Her green eyes widened from shock despite the sand. Three arms… with a quick reaction, Feyre dropped, ducking his knife and sending her shoulder hard into the man's stomach. He went sprawling and was quickly covered by the sand Feyre felt against her back. She turned to find her friends, and squinted at their silhouettes, while she yelled for them.

 

“DRISTA!?”

“HERE!” Feyre followed the voice with her eyes. Drista was swinging Tommy’s axe, bringing it down to lodge in the shoulder of a second assailant. Feyre saw Tommy, weaponless, getting the upper hand on the last opponent in the sand, and punching him out. Feyre’s eyes were brought back to Drista when she heard the blonde hybrid grunt in pain. She had lost her axe to the assailant, who slashed her leg sending her sprawling back. Tommy and Tubbo weren’t there, too busy fighting the sand and trying to find their weapons. My stuff… Feyre’s brain worked quickly as she surged forward over the sand dune where she’d first fallen. She unearthed her bag first, as the wind was still whipping over her head. She saw the other red eyed assailant get closer to Drista who crawled back. C’mon… Feyre caught a flash of gold. She pulled hard, and fell back with her gold bow. Her hands tightened around it, as she pulled herself up launching into attack to save her friend. Feyre may have been the youngest, but she wasn’t helpless.

 

“What the fuck!” The other larger demon reeled as Feyre slashed him twice across his midsection, before helping Drista up. He recovered quickly, and Drista and Tommy quickly switched weapons, while Feyre notched an arrow. Drista had a hard look in her eyes as she shrugged towards the still unstable demon. He drew a dagger, but Drista was a fury. Tommy prepared to back her up, and Feyre kept her bow trained. She didn’t hear the other surprise sneaking behind her until she heard the yell.

 

“FEYRE LOOK OUT!” Feyre whipped around with her bow still poised. She watched Tubbo blocking her previous assailant with his axe handle. They began to fight, locked in a close battle. Feyre didn’t trust the wind, or her shot, with them that close together. She was watching intently when she put it together. Red eyes… green blood… they’re Liz. Fear coursed through her as she recognized what that knife had been. It was a protruding white fang from the palm of his third hand. That mixed with the red eyes meant he was an upper class demon, a Liz, and equipped with deadly poison…

 

“TUBBO!” Feyre was too late. The third arm snapped forward, and lodged in Tubbo’s stomach. The brown hair giant dropped. Feyre could hear the worried yells from the other two behind her, after they had taken out the big guy. Tubbo wasn’t moving, and the demon smirked at her. Feyre felt anger take over her face. Her eyes narrowed, and a golden arrow notched into the demon's heart. He fell fast, and Feyre was at her new friend's side.

 

“Tubbo! Tubbo can you hear me!?”

“What happened!?” Drista and Tommy were even more worried, as Tubbo rasped slightly. He was losing a lot of blood and Feyre pressed on the wound. He groaned in response, and that at least meant he was still alive. Feyre was breathing hard, and almost shaking. That the most violence she had seen in her life, and it was catching up with her. Tommy cupped his friends' face yelling at him, and then Drista was at their sides, crouched as well, with all their stuff. She had an icy focus, that made both Feyre and Tommy shut up and follow her lead.

 

“We need to get to the mountains now so we can save him.” 

“Right… Right!” Tommy jumped into action, getting Tubbo semi on his feet. They all helped lift Tubbo, and grab all of their things, as they raced for the ascent into the mountains.

 

Stay with us Tubbo… just a little longer.

 

~~~

 

It was too long before they were able to stop. The badlands took no prisoners. The mountains were no exception. She didn’t truly know how they had managed to lug all their stuff, and Tubbo’s dead weight, up that incline. It was practically a gravel cliff onto a thin mountain path. It was a good thing Feyre didn’t mind heights. They had finally found a place in a small pass, jagged black peaks on either side, where they could all help to lay Tubbo down. Feyre’s arms heaved from the effort they had endured. That’s why her hands were shaking, as she helped lay Tubbo down. No other reason. 

 

“Oh gods…” Tommy pulled up Tubbos tunic, and Feyre’s eyes widened. She swallowed. The fluffy haired blonde was right. Feyre had seen a lot of bad wounds, but this was not good. The wound itself was deep, and bleeding. The surrounding area was turner paler and paler at a rapid rate, and green veins extended from the site. They had almost reached his heart, and from experience Feyre knew that’s when it would end.

 

“What do we do?” Drista now joined Tommy, kneeling next to him over Tubbo. Her multi colored eyes shone with fear, and she presented Tommy with all their first aide supplies.

 

“We need to bandage it.”

“Tommy, he’s been poisoned.”

“You asked me, lady.” Their faces were grim as they got to work attempting to clean out the never ending black puss surrounding the wound. The friends looked increasingly hopeless, as Tubbos eyelids fluttered. Feyre really felt like a scared 15 year old in the moment, and she hated it. Without warning the memories came flooding back.

 

She saw flashes of her mothers face, and closed her eyes to block them out. That only made the images worse. She remembered not long ago, when she was fourteen, coming into her parents room to wake them up like an annoying daughter. They hadn’t been moving, so she approached the bed confused… no … She had screamed when she saw the black veins taking over their faces, and the glassy eyes. She remembered how pale they looked, just like Tubbo was now. It had been demon poison, though the Vale government had no way to figure out from where. She remembered shaking against the wall, and her fists balled. She had just sat there as Karl came running in, and as he tried to save them. Wait… Karl tried to save them. 

 

The memories changed, and Feyre reopened her eyes. She remembered Karl looking completely in his element whenever someone was brought in with a bad wound. Feyre recalled the few times she had assisted him, specifically the worst demon or poison related injuries. He never let her near anything as bad as what Tubbo was going through, but sometimes she had watched. She knew how to apply antidotes, and burn out poison well, because of that time where she got bit by a red cow-caterpillar. She had barely made it back in enough time for Karl to save her. After he gave a very worried monologue, and proceeded to give her many healing lessons. Feyre’s eyes landed on the satchel Karl had gifted her. It mostly survived the sandstorms, and had everything she could need. I can do this.

 

“Wait!” Feyre’s voice only showed a slight waver in her confidence, as she stood satchel in hand. Two blonde heads shot up to look at her, Tommy’s eyes were darting confused to her satchel. Drista’s were more open and waiting. Feyre took one more deep breath, pushing aside the similarities between Tubbo and her parents right now, and stepped forward sitting on her knees on the other side of him. She set her features, and fixed a determined gaze on the giant and hybrid.

 

“I need space.” Tommy and Drista had pulled their hands back, and Tubbo’s breathing was slowing. They didn’t have a lot of time. Tommy looked like he would protest, but Drista set down the supplies in her hand, and rose pulling Tommy back by the shoulder. She nodded at Feyre.

 

“Okay. Do what you need to do.” The older girl's confidence in her brought back Feyre’s natural fire, and Tommy’s next comment filled her with determination.

 

“Please save him.” Feyre nodded to him with a small thin lipped smile. The pair stepped back, but stayed watching worriedly as the freckled elf queen began her work. She all but ripped open the satchel inspecting the wound quickly and carefully. She’d deal with the blood later, for now she knew from the jagged edges the poison would be injected in multiple places. Slowly she turned Tubbo over to look at his back. She saw the green veins running all the way to his neck. Okay that changes the game. It wasn’t in his heart yet, but it was certainly in his spine. Feyre took a deep breath before taking a needle and making a small incision. With it she injected a broad leaf mucus that would hopefully block the poisons flow, and give him some relief. From the answering groan and more open eyes, she’d say it worked. Feyre turned him back over, and attempted to get him to focus on her.

 

“Tubbo… Tubbo look at me.” His glassy blue eyes held a little recognition as they met hers. Tommy looked on worriedly, and Drista rubbed her shoulders muttering under her breath. Feyre tried to use a light but commanding tone, and Tubbo listened intently. He almost looked child-like in his current state.

 

“Tubbo can you feel your toes?”

“My-my…?”

“Can you feel your toes? Move them at all?” She was worried and insistent. Feyre brushed red curls out of her eyes, as Tubbo thought for a moment. His toes didn’t move as he concentrated, then he looked back at her.

 

“No.” Feyre could work with that. It meant the poison was attacking his nervous system. Also means he won’t need numbing. Feyre hoped so at least, as she dove directly into the wound. She went through all the healing basics for nervous-centric poisons. She injected the poison veins directly with a combative sealant. She used a few oils and pastes to hopefully warm his nerves. This usually either made the poison slow or speed up, but it was a risk she had to take right now. Then, Feyre came to the decision. There were three different poison burners, one for snakes, scorpions, and spiders, and she couldn’t use more than one without killing him. They didn’t react well together. 

 

“Val..?” That’s not good. Tubbo was looking at her with almost entirely glazed eyes, and reaching out one meek hand. Feyre set the bottles aside and grabbed for the hand. She tried to bring him back to consciousness, as Drista and Tommy got closer. 

 

“No it’s Feyre Tubbo.”

“Val?”
“It’s us Tubbo, We’re right here.”

“C’mon man…” Drista and Tommy took over talking to him, as his cousin gripped his other hand. Feyre looked at the bottles again. She had to decide now. Whatever this poison was caused hallucinations. That could help her to rule out scorpions, besides that’s not what she’d first thought while looking at the demons anyway. Now it was down to two. Feyre stared at the viles. Tubbo continued to babble gibberish in the background.

 

“Snakes or spiders… snakes or spiders…” She whispered to herself, thinking back on every little thing Karl had said. “ Mess then dress a wound or else you’ll mess it twice! ” No. “Make sure the antidotes hotter, or you’re literally dogwater!” No. Drista was watching her intently, and nodded slightly as encouragement. Feyre locked eyes with Tubbos nordic blue ones again. “Green and Black? Probably got a hairy back!”

 

“Spiders…” Feyre was fully in motion, hoping to whatever was above that she was right. She used a syringe to drain the vile and inject it into multiple spots on the wound. Tubbo strained and arched his back, as Feyre heard the burning. It’s working. Tommy and Drista held his hand through it, offering encouragement. Feyre waited with baited breath, following the poison wherever she could. Eventually Tubbo was asleep. I can’t hear his breathing.

 

“Tubbo?” Drista asked cautiously, reaching a hand on his neck. That’s when Feyre saw it, more veins peaked out of the collar of his shirt. How the fuck did it reach his heart!? Feyre didn’t know, but Tommy and Drista seemed equally panicked.

 

“What the fuck!?”

“C’mon Tubbo.”

“Why isn’t he waking up?”

“Did it work?!”

“Feyre?” Think Feyre. Think. She looked at Drista’s multicolored eyes, and smaller ears. Feyre thought about how she was a hybrid. Feyre knew other hybrids, demon hybrids. She followed that train of thought, while Tommy and Drista stared at her over their unconscious friend. What did I learn about demons? They had told her about antidotes. How in the domain of each Liz tribe was an antidote to a different tribe's venom. That’s how they stayed in a system together that worked. Feyre looked around their surroundings, racking her brain. We were just in the red deserts… that means snakes? Mountains are usually scorpions… She knew a scorpion well actually. What was it she had said… grey rock…

 

“Look for grey rock!” Drista and Tommy looked at her bewildered. Tommy shook his head, as if she was crazy.

 

“What?”

“Small grey rocks. Lighter than the rest. Now!” With that, Feyre was up, and they were running around the area. Picking up rocks, until Feyre found an interesting one. It was smooth, grey and porous. She quickly called Tommy over, and asked him to bring his axe.

 

“What do you-”

“Break it.” With rapid encouragement from Drista, Tommy didn’t protest anymore. He brought it down handle-first, once, twice, and… on the third time the small rock split apart. Inside was a fine white powder. Feyre really hoped this was what she was looking for. Tubbo’s life depended on it. She carried the split rock gingerly over towards the dying giant. Collecting a mixing bowl, she dumped it in with an activating oil. It soon became a paste similar to most antidotes they used. Along with injecting the last of the poison burner, Feyre wasted no time in getting the paste directly into Tubbos' wound with her hands. For a terrifying moment nothing happened. Feyre stood there with her hands hovering out over her friend's open wound, and Tommy and Drista held their breath nearby. No one blinked. 

 

“Please work.” At Feyre’s plea, the green veins began to fade and retract, Tubbo furrowed his brow, and coughed up a bit of mucus. The black stuff bubbled, and Feyre was quick to catch the last of the ejecting mucus with bandages. The veins seemed to be no more, though she checked his back to be sure. Regular red blood was seeping from the knife wound, and color came back to his skin. The only sound was the small bubbling of the antidote, before the three conscious kids let out heavy sighs falling backwards and finally relaxing. They even let out a stressed laugh together when Tubbo snored. Feyre’s hands were covered in black blood and poisons and gross elven ointments. It all made her sick, but she didn’t have the energy to do anything but lay there and look at the sky. I did it. He’s alive. 

 

“We should probably dress it, before he bleeds out.” Feyre spoke softer now. The thought was genuine, even if she didn’t really move. Drista hummed, and probably nudged Tommy because Feyre heard a soft grunt before:

 

“I’m on it.” The blonde giant got to work, and Feyre eventually sat back up to help him. She even quipped a few times about his technique, but they were all still relatively solemn. Feyre hadn’t noticed until now the way her hands were shaking. She also saw what looked like the remnants of tears on the other two faces, and when she thought about it Feyre felt a few tears in her own eyes.

 

Adrenaline was a crazy thing.