Family Values (pt. 5)
God damn it, can’t anybody ever fucking do what I tell them to?
Night drew close with each silent footstep Kanderyon took through the brush, darting tree-to-tree behind familiar quarry. Yet given recent events, it perhaps surprised that he sought not to kill this particular target - no, in fact, quite the opposite. He’d told her to hide; to keep her head low while they chased shadows and tortured Kand’s senses. Kanderyon, a dog - true words indeed. Loyal, savage, more than defensive of his territory. A little slow, sure. A little dim, sure. But there’s no way he’d let that god damn fucking stupid bitch Vielynne get herself killed, or worse, on account of his own troubles. Then.. oh god, he thought to himself with a roll of her eyes, watching the huntress bicker vigorously with what appeared to be some well-armed men.
I told her to find the idiot and hide somewhere. Instead she brings the idiot out with her to fucking.. god damn it. What’s he going to do, confuse them with his fucking dumbass accent? Fuck.
Worry already seeped into the fugitive-scoundrel’s pores like acid rain. He hadn’t heard from the witch; he hadn’t heard from that fucking bi—… from.. h-her. She can handle herself, though, he thought, trying like hell to calm his nerves. Being so far from her shadow for this long burned, like that sun-scorch on the skin.. you can’t ever shift or move in the slightest without feeling its sting at your arms. He tried to think the same thoughts about the others he hadn’t heard from yet.
And these two idiots, too. If she’s fucking listened to me. Quivering in secreted rage, peeking out at Vie and Fang from the comforted shadow of a distant ridge, he imagined every word he’d throw at her if he didn’t fear endangering them both with his presence any longer. I told you to fucking go. These people aren’t playing around. They’re framing me for shit and they’ll frame you for shit if you keep fucking with their stupid little games. You’ll end up dead, in prison for life, or far, far worse. I can’t have that on my conscience, sweetheart. Not that shit happening to you or even to that fucking idiot you’re banging. Just listen to me, listen, fucking LISTEN FOR ONCE, fuck, this isn’t dick-scribbling and fun and games, this is—
"My darling boy."
The words broke into his thoughts, a jagged hammer against fragile and uncooled glass. His senses fired without thought, reacting with a drawn blade pulled with a loud, metallic whrrr from his belt. Held at eye-level, it hovered inches from a familiar face - his witch, his Zarozinnia glaring daggers his direction, as she so often did. He had a feeling the sword near her neck didn’t inspire this one, though.
"Still trying to fit yourself in to a world where you’ve never belonged, darling Kanderyon." She approached heedless of the blade, knowing her darling thing, her lover - perhaps the only creature with a pulse capable of stirring whatever lay struggling to breathe in her dead heart - knowing he’d not strike at her. Not in his time of need; not ever. "If this plot against you instead fell on any of their shoulders, they’d have lasted not a fraction of what you have. Locked forever in a dungeon to mewl names lost and sing regret. You’re not like them. From the moment you left the womb, you were meant for me. For our world.”
"Zaro—" he huffed a quiet sigh. Riddled with bruises and wincing in pain, this hardly felt the time for another of her brow-beating sermons on the blackness positively festering at the depths of the rogue’s soul. Blade lowered, he narrowed his eyes at her, noticing something markedly different - the edge of chaos dwindling if only for the shimmer of the faintest moment, replaced with genuine resolve. Stone-faced, worrisome resolve. From her? Kand never thought the woman capable of that manner of thought. The witch who heartlessly rent men in twain, who murdered without remorse for power and for fun. He never thought her capable of care beyond possession. He never thought her capable. Of.
Get your fucking head on straight, Kand. Fuck.
"This isn’t the fucking time right now, witch," he growled back at her, dropping his blade at the belt once more. Nervestrings fought to dispel confusion contorted through his cranium at the sight he saw momentarily flash across her face. "They’re.. stupid as fuck. But. Trying, to help me. I told her not to, and she’s fucking doing it anyway."
"You don’t need them. You have me."
”..I do,” Kand responded, his pained expression hidden from her view, back turning in a whirl away from the raven-haired woman and back towards the spot — where Vie and Fang stood. They’d vanished in the time it took him to turn his back. Damning his luck, his eyes followed the cobblestone path weaving through overgrown forest gardens, searching for any sign of them.. nothing. Fuck. Bad enough I can’t fucking shadow the b… J.. Jule, his thoughts struggled, Now I have to find these fucks again.
"Forget them for now, Kanderyon," Zaro’s firm tone intruded in his mental tempest again, like inky fingers of dusk strangling the day. "The names you wrote of, my darling.. Cerydian. Vaethyn. Dawnspur." Kand’s eyes tore themselves from the emptied grove, fixated now with fired fascination on his witch; she stared with a narrowed and knowing eye. "I’d envy the lot of them for what they’ve plotted, if I could hold even the faintest shred of respect for slinking little adders who hide in the grass. Instead, they saw fit to spy on me; to send a poor, bumbling little thing after me to learn what he could." A pout-lipped frown shimmered in Zaro’s expression, as insincere as Kand could expect. "He spoke quite candid of these, ‘Dawnspur’ scions, and their locations, right before I tore his body to a sanguine mist." Kand’s determination grew hard as obsidian, his eyes dead focused.
Please, Vie. Please, fucking dumbass who hangs around Vie.. please, Jule. Don’t get yourselves fucking killed. Stay out of this. The game’s on now.
Slumber, slumber, slumber.. in our dreams, we wonder.. slumber, slumber, slumber, close my eyes, and ponder..
Startled awake by the shout of his comrade, manic footfalls echoing to marched cadences through the corridors.
"Malthalus! Wake up and go!"
The guard stirred from his nap, having been left in charge of the (almost completely empty) holding cells. Nothing exciting ever happens in this wing of the Ministry, Malthalus had thought to himself, cursing whichever malicious, bored deities saw fit to stick a man of his considerable skill in this pit. A young guy with a bright future, the gaunt and raven-haired fighter thought to himself only days prior, and i’m stuck babysitting the walls down here? Can’t they get some rickety old bastard to sleep at the desk? Why me?
"MALTHALUS! Up, now!"
He nearly fell back against the hard floor, eyes blurred and brain groggy with sleep cobwebs. Legs rested against his simple iron-wrought desk, tilting back in his creaking chair and yawning, he felt the hefty weight of his girded platemail nearly tumble backwards; instead, Malthalus managed to grasp himself in midfall and leap from the chair, planting two steel-booted feet onto the stony floor. Footfalls, shouting, the distant sound of spells exploding arcane force, harsh roars of pain.. the perplexed young guardsman never thought a menial job at the Ministry of Justice would prove this exciting.
Malthalus readied himself to confront whatever danger he heard his comrades blown, stabbed and blasted apart from; the more he heard, the slower his movements grew. Fear clenched his gut when for a moment he hefted his gilded sabre, slinging it into its sheath.
"Malthalus! Come qui—EAAUGHGHHHGHHH~”
Eyes poised at the thin doorway separating him from whatever storm tore through the Ministry’s inner halls, the youthful gendarme watched his good friend Siethel - a tall and sturdy sin’dorei, trained from youth to fence, to fight, to kill - Malthalus watched Siethel charge blade drawn past the doorway - and only seconds later, Malthalus watched him flung like a ragdoll back past that same doorway. Whatever threatened the Ministry, the screams and blade-swipes and the sick sound of blood sprayed across tile approached fast.
It’s okay, Malthalus.. you’re fucking Malthalus, MALTHALUS. FUCKING. WARSPEAR. You were born for this, Malthalus. He took deep breath, summoning all that furious confidence his father taught him, his mentor at the Academy taught him. Malthalus fucking Warspear. Nobody dares mess with you, right? Else they get a blade in their damn stomachs. He nodded to himself, the steadying breaths growing slower, deeper, more controlled. He even smirked, hearing gurgles and screams and shouts just outside the holding-cell doorway. These clowns have no fucking clue! They’ve got no idea what they’re stepping in to. You’re Avador Warspear’s son, scion of a wealthy family, you’re not just any other guardsman, any other Justice agent. You’re a Warspear. Malthalus’s smirk grew to a fiery grin, his cheeks flush with adrenaline and his body bouncing loosely at the balls of the feet, his red-painted armor rattling with each step he took. FUCK yeah, you’re a Warspear. They’ve got no IDEA. GET IT, MAL. GET THAT SHIT, TEACH THEM WHO’S THE FUCKING BOSS. GET IT!
Amped up on fire, breathing pure adrenaline, the midnight-tressed, muscle-stacked young guardsman let out a baleful roar, saber drawn, charging towards the doorframe. The berserker, the scion, not just your ordinary guardsman, Malthalus blew forward with a head of fury, plunging heedless into the fray he heard just beyond the doorway, screaming a deafening HEARRRGHHHH!~
It could have frightened, how easily a head finds itself cleaved from sturdy shoulders. With a single, wanton swing of a battered runeblade at just the right height, the victim’d never know what hit him.
And that’s exactly what happened to Malthalus fucking Warspear that day.
The decapitated body’s momentum send it hurdling chest-first into the corridor wall, leaving a wide, spattered burst of blood thrown across the oaken paneling. The poor and unsuspecting gendarme’s head, frozen in its expression of yowling hubris, spiraled straight up, throwing a dazzling little rain of blood in tight coils through the hallway. And just as unceremoniously as it had been torn from Malthalus’s shoulders, it plopped onto the ground.
Teeth gritted and lungs breathing like a suffocated dragon’s, Kand withdrew his runeblade from where it had so anticlimactically decapitated the unsuspecting guardsman. Kand figured he’d just add it to the tally; the tally he heard racking up higher and higher as his witch, as thirsty for blood as he was, cast spell on spell to terrify and liquefy whoever dared stand in their warpath.
Cerydian… Cerydian. I’ll find that fuck and kill him. Wasn’t first on the list, but he’ll do. Send a message to that bastard Vaethyn. Vaethyn.Kand strayed not a moment from his mission, trudging heedless down the hall; casual stomps, his blades not even lifted in self defense, his eyes dead-set on the staircase far beyond. As each clumsily charging guardian sneered and swung, he dispatched them just as easily as he had Malthalus. A swipe here, a slash there; and before he reached the stairway downward, he stood fuming and hate-eyed in front of a blood-soaked hallway filled with bodies - most not quite dead, simply writhing and moaning, limbs cleaved and muscles hacked.
And.. spells. Those weren’t Zaro’s spells, he thought to himself, hearing the whizz-whrrr of casted magic bounding up the staircase he stood before. Not Zaro.. she’s having fun upstairs, no.. not her.. with a gulp, his light footfalls carried him hastily down one more floor, the pitched noise of guardsman squirming and begging as the witch above had her fun muffled and fading. It provided him the last sense of safety.. the last blanket of security. Now, he delved instead into the unknown.
He skulked in shadow, skulked like his life depended on it. Compared to the upper levels, life underground hadn’t gone upside-down as it had above. The muddy walls stunk and shackles hung haphazard from steel-grated ceilings, the brightly-lit rooms above casting pale and sickly illumination carved into tiny squares across the walls. Quiet interrupted by hasty footfalls, backup regiments directed by harried shouts towards the Ministry’s gates to fend off Kand’s witch. He knew his witch. He knew they presented no danger.
Only an aggressor able to match her spell-for-spell stood a chance. An aggressor he feared - after hearing the faint glimmer of spells cast below - lurked in these dark, dungeon depths.
Kand settled in the shadows at a corridor crossroads, directly across from a small guard outpost through which soldier upon soldier passed. A single, bored man clad in armor sat at a simple desk, glancing lazily over paperwork. An ominous doorway loomed behind him.. The hell is down there, he thought with fear in his veins. The distant sound of magic grew louder - a banging timpani to Kanderyon’s ears, though clearly the dull-witted, grey-haired man at the desk lacked Kand’s auditory accumen. Down there, he thought. Down there, that’s where he’d find whatever supernatural force the Ministry kept tangled below, ready to unleash for an occasion just as this one. Blood-hungry intruders like himself and his witch needed dealt with.
A deep breath filling out the shrunk passageways through his lungs, Kand hunched, bouncing from toe-to-toe, steadying himself for a charge. He had to get past the guard, down the stairs. He had to see what they had in store for himself and for his witch. Lot riding on this, he thought to himself. Lot riding on this. C’mon Kand, you’re fine, do it, do it, get ready, d—
And as if on cue, melting away from thin air behind the guardsman - a tall, svelte, raven-haired and olive-skinned man, clad in fine, dark linens sullied by dirt and blood, a cool smirk on his lips and a healthy sheen to his skin - the phantom stepped from nothingness. The curious, frail old guard turned his head - just long enough to see the smirking illusionist snap his finger. In that instant, a quiet ffffp! And a brilliant flash of arcane blues and violets preceded the guardsman seemingly vanishing into thin air. Kanderyon’s double-take lasted only a moment - the mage reached down into the seat of the chair, and, pulling a squirming creature from behind the desk’s shadow, Kanderyon noticed the character of this mystery spellcaster’s baleful polymorph - the poor old fool found himself transformed into a chattering little squirrel.
Kanderyon’s nerve-wracked tension suddenly simmered to a soft smile. An escapee, he thought. Hell, magic like that - maybe I could use him. Kand watched the mage a few moments in silence; the tall, dark man gently placed the bounding little rodent atop the desk, throwing a hand-signal down the dark hallway - good, maybe somebody else to help. A spry, fire-haired young woman covered in blood and bruises and tears shot like an arrow out from the shade below, her bare footsteps muffled against the stony staircase. She clung tight to the tall, dark-haired man - tighter than tight, as tight as Kand ever thought he’d seen a woman hold on to a man, tight as if she dreaded letting go. She looked up; the mage looked down. Their lips met. They exchanged words - not hushed, quiet, but not too quiet for Kand to hear.
"I love you, Lira."
"I love you.. C.. Cerydian."
Kand’s jaw tightened, his hand involuntarily finding itself clung like a vice at his runeblade’s hilt. There stood the first villain on his list.