Chapter 147: Role
As Virion and Aldir headed back to the castle, I remained behind to wish my mother and father, who were insistent about rejoining the Twin Horns and helping out in the war, off. As we said our goodbyes, I had tried to dissuade them from going near the western shore where the fighting would be the heaviest, but they were against it.
What frustrated me was that I couldn’t blame them for it either; for them, this land was their home and protecting it was only natural. For me, maybe there was a certain amount of detachment despite growing up here since I remembered my previous life. I treated Dicathen as my home because this was where my family was, and it was a large factor as to why I decided to fight against the Vritra.
Removing the last of my armor, I sank down into my seat and let out a deep breath.
“Damn it,” I cursed, rubbing my temples.
“Getting into an argument with them wasn’t the best way to part,” Sylvie spoke as she laid down, resting her head on her paws from the top of the polished tea table.
“Thank you for enlightening me”—I rolled my eyes—“I just don’t understand why they wouldn’t listen to my advice. I didn’t say anything wrong.”
“You basically told them to go off into some remote area and stay hidden,” she replied.
“Those were not the words I used,” I retorted, kicking off my boots.
“But that’s what you meant.”
“I just want them to stay safe,” I murmured, conceding.
Sylvie hopped off the tea table and onto the armrest of my chair. “If they were more concerned about their own safety, your parents wouldn’t have cared to join the war.”
“Well, I’m more concerned about my family’s safety than this war. I’m thankful that they’re at least leaving Ellie behind, but that doesn’t mean they should just go out risking their lives.”
My bond nodded her head. “I know.”
“I’m just hoping that they know I’m concerned for them as their son, not as some…” I let my voice trail off as I let out another deep sigh.
“It’s going to be hard for them to discern now that they know,” Sylvie said softly, placing a comforting paw on my arm.
I sank lower into my seat as I stared at my bond for a moment. “When exactly did you figured out what I was, anyway?”
“I think I’ve always known, but I just could never come up with the term to describe it. We do share thoughts, after all.”
“Every thought?” I asked, stunned.
“But you only answered when I directly spoke to you. And I don’t hear your thoughts unless you’re speaking directly to my mind.”
“For me, speaking to your mind is much like speaking out loud. I’ve learned to keep some thoughts hidden; I can’t say the same for you though,” she giggled.
My eyes grew wide in horror. “That means—”
“Do I know about your constant emotional turmoil when it comes to Tessia? Yup,” she grinned.
I let out a groan.
“Don’t worry. I’ve listened to all of your fleeting thoughts since I was born. I didn’t start understanding until a bit later, but I’ve grown used to it over the years,” she consoled, her sharp teeth still showing as her grin remained.
“Well, I haven’t ‘grown used to’ anything at all,” I grumbled.
Sylvie’s grin faded as she stared at me with her bright yellow eyes. “We’re going to battle soon. Grandfather told me while training me that while I’m still far from reaching the level of a true asura, his blood still runs through me. This means that, while I can fight alongside you in this war, I’m not invincible. The best way to stay alive is to rely on each other.”
“Of course,” I said, confused by what brought this on.
“I’m saying this because I have things that I’ve hidden from you—things I’ve just found out recently, and I feel like you’re the only one that I can trust with my life,” she replied, reading my mind.
“Sylv, you know that you can trust me with whatever it is. I’ve raised you since you were born, after all.”
“Thank you.” My bond hopped off the armrest and onto my seat and rested her head on my lap.
There was a moment of silence as I pondered what she said. I knew she could read my thoughts but, as she mentioned, it really didn’t matter. No matter how curious I was, I didn’t bother asking her what these ‘things’ were that she had found out; she would’ve already told me if she wanted to. What worried me was the fact that this was the first time she had expressed any sort of fear for her life. Despite our numerous encounters with dangerous situations, she had always remained strong and fearless, but now, I could feel her apprehension toward this war.
I gently stroked Sylvie’s soft head. “How did you get so smart anyway? It seems like ever since coming back from Epheotus, you’ve had this huge growth. And don’t get me started on your growing ego.”
“You’re just bitter because you’re taking life advice from a fox younger than you. And I’ve always been a fast learner—why do you think I always stayed on top of your head?”
“So you were learning by observing our surroundings?” I asked.
“Yup. And it helps that you know a lot and I have free access to your thoughts,” she confirmed as she nestled in closer to my leg.
I could tell she was tired so, while I had a thousand questions about her seemingly sudden change in demeanor, I knew I had to wait.
My eyes remained focused on the steady breathing of my bond as she slept soundly. She hadn’t really changed much. There was still a sense of immaturity in her voice despite the change in the way she spoke; It felt like she was forcing herself to become more mature.
I wasn’t sure what Lord Indrath had drilled into my bond while training her but one thing was for sure—she had become aware that she was an asura.
As Sylvie’s breathing became slower and more rhythmic, I leaned my head back on the chair, staring up at the flat ceiling of my room as I organized my thoughts.
While Virion and the rest didn’t know this, Windsom had told me what Agrona and the rest of his clan was like. He and the rest of the Vritra had been experimenting on what the asuras called ‘lesser races’ even before they had escaped to Alacrya. The few accounts of mages that had appeared at the Wall weren’t anything special, but I knew they were simply cannon fodder meant to create mayhem with the mana beasts under their control to divide our forces.
If what Windsom said was true, then the horde of ships approaching our shores would include mages with asura blood coursing through their veins. And this was centuries ago. I could only imagine how much they had progressed since then and what they would do to the people of Dicathen if the Vritra won this siege. This place would just become a breeding ground for soldiers that Agrona would use to conquer Epheotus.
The hoarse baritone voice snapped me out of my thoughts. “Isn’t there some sort of etiquette to knock when entering someone’s room, or at least using the door for that matter?”
“The tone of your response tells me things didn’t go well with the business that you had to take care of?” Aldir said as he calmly took on the couch across from me.
“Why are you here? I thought you would be with the Council,” I said, ignoring his words.
“There is something that I need from you,” Aldir replied, his glowing purple eye’s piercing gaze directed at me.
I stared back, my gaze unwavering. “And what is that?”
There was a tense silence until Aldir let out a sigh.
“Your help,” Aldir admitted. “Lord Indrath told me to rely on your judgment throughout the course of this war, and after your speech earlier, I think I understand why.”
“What did Lord Indrath mean when he said to rely on my judgment?” I asked. As I sat up, Sylvie stirred awake but drifted back to sleep almost immediately after.
“Lord Indrath realized that your contribution to this war shouldn’t be limited to just being a sword. While there will be times when you’ll be needed in the field, sending you out to every battle that occurs will only tire you out. The times when you won’t be needed, you’ll be by my side in the council, strategizing with us and giving us your input.”
“Let me get this straight; you want a sixteen-year-old making life-changing decisions with the Council?” I scoffed.
“Aside from the fact that you are just a lesser, you’re not a normal child. Don’t think that this eye is just a pretty decoration. I knew there was something off about you the first time we’d met, but it was only by Lord Indrath’s words that I had realized just how much.”
“Is there something I get in return for helping you?” I asked, resting my head on my hand.
Aldir’s eye narrowed. “I came in good faith to ask for your help, but it is to both of our benefit that you cooperate. Losing this war means either dying, getting enslaved, or worse. Not just for you, but for your loved ones as well.”
“You could’ve at least thrown me a bone,” I sighed. “Yeah, I’ll help, but I’m not sure how much of my advice the Council is willing to listen to. Virion might listen, but everyone else…”
“Let me worry about that,” Aldir replied. “Besides, you won’t only be in meetings. I have other plans for you as well.”
“When you say ‘other plans’ like that, it sounds kind of ominous,” I chuckled.
“As I said; you are a powerhouse in this war—maybe more so than the lances given a few years. I would certainly not waste your abilities by having you sit through those lessers—I mean the Council—bicker with one another.”
I shook my head and let out a helpless laugh. “It must be frustrating for you, being here and restrained from helping despite the amount of manpower you could provide just by yourself.”
“My time will come. If the defense of this siege is successful, then our army of asuras will be able to take care of Agrona and his weakened force with the help of the Dicathen army.”
“It seems like this war is far from over,” I sighed.
“Yes, but this fight will be the start of a new era. If Dicathen wins and fights alongside us asuras, Agrona and his clan of traitors and mutts will fall and everyone will gain access to a new continent.”
Aldir sounded hopeful, almost excited, despite usual calm demeanor.
“You’ve lost someone to Agrona, haven’t you?” I asked, seeing the expression on the asura’s face.
“Many of us lost a loved one in that battle—no, it would be better described as a massacre,” Aldir answered, the brow underneath his third eye twitching.
“Well, you heard what I said to Virion; I have no intentions of losing this war, but if you’re going to ask my help in this, you need to trust in the advice that I do give.”
Letting out a laugh through his nose, he replied, “Never did I think that in all my years, a lesser would speak to me like this.”
“Well, these lessers are fighting your battles for you, so at least have the decency to call them by the names of their actual race,” I replied with a smirk.
“You ask for a lot, Arthur Leywin, but very well.” The white-haired asura stood up, smoothing out the creases in his ivory robe. “It’s about time I headed back down to the meeting room. It worries me every time I leave those less—people alone for too long. We will be expecting you shortly.”
I let out a chuckle. “Sure, I’ll go down soon, but I’m curious about something.”
“What is it?” the asura replied, looking back over his shoulder.
“The two remaining lances that couldn’t join us today. I know you said two years ago that they’re working under you, but you didn’t kill them or something, right?”
Aldir shook his head. “Even I wouldn’t be so rash as to kill a lance on a whim. While political envoys can be replaced, the power of a lance can take years to develop, even if they had a particularly high compatibility with the artifact. I planned on bringing up the subject on those two at the meeting, but since you brought it up, I’d like your input on this matter.”
I nodded fervently as the asura revealed what he had been planning by using the two lances, when an idea struck me. My lips curled into a wicked grin as I let out a devious laugh. “Not bad, but I have a better idea.”