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Thread: An Abyss of Secrets [M] (Sorrow & Ashen)

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    Default An Abyss of Secrets [M] (Sorrow & Ashen)

    [ Rated 'M' because of the normal things that 'M' is used for. You have been warned~]

    After the great war had ended well over twenty years ago, the many small ports located on the far eastern side of the Fire Nation soon expanded, gaining more and more popularity as time went on. Small towns grew into large villages. Many immigrants came across the rough and dangerous seas just to make a living in the Fire Nation. The most popular port was located on the farthest eastern island. It was known as Wassergrab, the port of gold. Most of the nation's supplies came straight out of Wassergrab, thus, making it one of the most important ports. Maybe people went there for the riches, for the rumors of gold. A few found it, but many just watched as their lives went from having money, to barely being able to feed their family.

    The sun was shining brightly on the large marketplace. The sounds of many people discussing prices, and yelling could be heard from just about anywhere. Stands upon stands of food were scattered about. Each of them offered something different than the other. You name it, you were sure to find it. Out of the crowds of people, a high pitched yelling could be heard. It surprisingly topped all the other louder voices there.

    The voice had came from a young girl who looked no older than thirteen. There was a sign above her head that had read 'More fish for your copper'. The writing on it was very poor, almost as if a child had done it. The girl was waving at people, a brightly shining smile on her face. "Get your freshly cooked fish here! My gramma makes it just right!" She yelled. Of course, many people ignored her and continued with their day. It could only be assumed that they had heard this young girl many times over. She even went as far as standing in front of others to get their attention. She begged and begged, but she was pushed aside and ignored. After all, there wasn't anything stunning or even exciting about this girl. Her clothing was poor and had many holes in it here and there. Her shoes looked as if they could fall apart right then. She was obviously poor. Each time a potential customer walked away, she would glance back at the older woman and slowly shake her head. She wanted to give up, but her determination to make money refused to let her walk away. She inhaled deeply, smelling the salt coming from the waters. She screamed out again, making sure to give it all she had. Still, nothing worked. She turned and walked to the front of the stand, giving her grandmother a look of sorrow and regret.

    The kind old woman gave her a soothing and kind smile. "Do not worry about it, my dear. You are trying. That is what counts with me. We will get enough money to keep our house. I can promise you that." She said, chuckling at the end.

    "How are you so sure, gramma?" She asked, her voice filled with worry. Her eyes were fearful. She knew what would happen if they didn't make enough. "It's all because of that other dumb fish stand! They're stealing everyone away!"

    The woman laughed. It was amusing to see her granddaughter get so worked up. "You think too much. You are too young to have such burdens on you. No need to get so worked up." Her voice was calming, and the girl smiled. She always felt better after her grandmother laughed.

    Her laughter paused when the sound of a light tapping and footsteps were heard. Her brown eyed gaze scanned the many people walking by. She knew what the sound was. Before she had time to look any further, a boy carrying a small net of fish over his shoulder and a staff in his other hand stopped at her stand. The kind old woman rolled her eyes and climbed off of her stood. "About time you got back, boy. Your sister and I have been waiting all morning."

    The boy shrugged his shoulders, almost as if he was uninterested in what the woman was saying. "Sorry, gramma. Someone had taken our only fishing net. I had no choice in catching them by hand." he replied flatly.

    The woman let out a frustrated sigh and shook her head. "Blasted thieves." She remarked. She glanced back up and her grandson and smiled. "Now that you have returned, I can finally go rest. My back is aching." That was natural for a woman her age. She regularly took break throughout the day. "I've already fried most of the fish. Sell those before the fresh ones." As she spoke, she approached a door at the back of the stall. "If you need to cook more, have your sister watch the stand and you come in here."

    Before another word, their grandmother was gone into her house. Whenever she was aching, she was always in a hurry to leave. The boy walked behind the stand and set the fish down. He crossed his arms and shook his head. He hated it here. He wanted to leave, but there was nothing to leave to. The thought of staying longer just angered him. His younger sister walked behind the stand and took the stool her grandmother was using. "Now we play the wait game.." The boy growled, eyeing the crowds of people as they walked by.
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  2. #2
    The Ashen One
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    He had been preparing for this trip for a week--a whole week, his brother would be proud of his thinking ahead--and he was certain he could not have picked a worse day. Caius looked out from the window of his apartment watching the torrential downpour outside. People were scurrying to find cover from the rough rains that pounded them. It was a perfect day to stay inside, but Cai had a mission. There would be no turning back. He had places to be, places that would not wait for him. So, he figured, today was as good a day as any to start on his journey.

    He was traveling light, with only a rucksack of things to keep him company. Outside, Cai turned to his apartment. He and his brother had earned that place, and it had been the only permanent settlement he'd ever had since his parents had died, when Cai was three. Now, he was leaving the comforts of his home for the streets. He'd be leaving everything he knew in Omashu and heading out for the Fire Nation.

    This, of course, meant getting on a boat. As the large man made his way to the port he was trying to calm himself down. He'd had a phobia of water since he was a child, and getting on a boat to sail across a huge body of water seemed like nothing short of a nightmare. When he arrived, he was already shaking. In an effort to calm himself down, Cai located a food stand and bought himself a snack. He smiled as he thought of what his brother would say. Can you stop thinking about food for just a second? Probably not, he figured, but he couldn't help himself. Nothing could calm him down quite like fried fish.

    Finally, it came time to board the ship. Cai took to a corner of the vessel and sat on the floor, his head resting on his knees. He was a very large man, with muscles made of steel, but in that moment he looked like the child he was. He was shaking, bad, and he was sure if he were on land his bending would be going crazy. On the water, however, his earthbending had no power, so he was at least safe from endangering anyone else. That didn't stop people from looking on at the man with fear. He was shaking so hard, as if he'd seen an army of ghosts. He was even shaking the boat. Two people asked him if he was okay, and twice he'd had to lie through his teeth: "Yeah, I'm fine, I just don't like water very much."

    The ride lasted forever. He had no one to comfort him, and never before had he felt the absence of his brother and his best friend so deeply. If only they'd still been around, they would have known how to comfort him. But finally, the ship docked, and Cai was the first one off, effectively pushing out of his way everyone else that was trying to leave. Back on solid land, Cai let out a large sigh, and he collapsed onto the ground beneath him. Praises to the almighty, it was real earth. He was causing quite the scene, and people of the Fire Nation were quickly becoming wary. When he noticed, he stood and apologized with a goofy smile and looked out on the new land. The Fire Nation. So this was what it looked like now.

    The war had ended some two decades ago. Supposedly, with the appointment of the new Fire Lord, the people of the Fire Nation were calmer, nicer. They weren't the aggressive beasts they had been during the war, or so it was said. Cai didn't know that he believed any of that, but he didn't have a choice. His destination, whether he liked it or not, was on Fire Nation territory. It had been the first time he'd ever been to the Fire Nation, and so far, with all the judgmental stares, he didn't know how he felt about it.

    There were no maps about, and everyone seemed so busy doing their own thing. Caius had no idea how to navigate this small nation. Apart from impulsively purchasing his boat ticket, he had done little to no research about his journey at all. Now, he was regretting it as he stood in the middle of a busy dock surrounded by people who trusted him about as far as they could throw him.

    He was soon distracted, though, as he smelled something wonderful. Cai let his nose follow him, all the way to a fried fish stand. The vendors looked like bored teenagers, probably sent to watch over the stand by their parents. Cai looked at the food they had to offer and his mouth watered. "Heya!" he greeted, all too cheery. "Can I buy some of this? It looks really good." Really good, to Cai, was anything that was edible. Even if he had just had fried fish before his ride out here, there was always room for more.

    As he stood there he examined the two teenagers. They looked alike, probably brother and sister, and they looked dirt poor. Cai was never one to judge; he had spent enough years homeless and looking worse than the two before him. An idea formed in his mind, and his thick fingers rubbed against the shining coins in his coin purse. Maybe this all would work out. Maybe this journey wouldn't be the nightmare it had started out to be.

  3. #3
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    Countless groups of people continued to walk past the teens, not daring to glance at them. They were avoided like the plague, and the girl had no idea why. With each passing group, the grew more and more angry. What the hell was wrong with these people? Someone had to want fish. He had shut his eyes to think. He wanted a way to lure customers in, and it was quite clear shouting at them did nothing. His eyes jerked open when he heard a few whispers here and there.

    "Braxxon, look at that weird guy that just got off that boat. It's like he's...praising the land or something." The girl said, pointing at him. It was more than obvious that he wasn't from around here. With those clothes, it was clear he arrive from the Earth Kingdom, or at least from somewhere near there. "I feel sorry for the poor bastard." Braxxon, muttered, shaking his head. He knew if the man was here for the riches, he would more than likely get fooled out of them and end up like the rest of the people there. He kept his eyes on the man, and watched as he apologized. He was an interesting guy. That was for sure.

    His eyes watched the man until he arrived at their stand. He was surprised that the other stands did not attract him. The sudden 'Heya' was enough to make Braxxon jump. It was odd to see someone so kind. It was unsettling in a way, and even sent a chill down his spine. The girl jumped from the stood and bowed towards the man. She was raised to be respectful and kind.

    "I'm Amalia. This is my brother Braxxon. Pleased to meet you, sir." She responded. Her voice was filled with happiness. She was excited to have someone actually want their food. She was so used to them just leaving. "We have plenty of fried fish here. My brother also freshly caught some this morning as well. They're sure to fill you up!"

    Her brother just rolled his eyes to everything his sister said. "Yeah. Fresh from the sea. Whatever.." He muttered, his voice trailing off as he spoke. He didn't look at the stranger. He hated eye contact more than anything. He wasn't about to share it with someone else. Amalia elbowed her brother, which was responded to with a quick 'Ow'. She shook her head and smiled at the man. "Please ignore him. He's always like this." She said, rather quickly. She feared she would lose her only customer they would get for a while.

    "Amalia, you don't need to act so kind. I think he understands. You don't need to flirt or do whatever you do to keep him here. He's clearly interested." Braxxon snapped, getting annoyed with his younger sister. As Amalia went to protest, her cut her off and finally glanced at the man. "What'll it be?" He asked. His tone couldn't sound any more rough. It was clear running a stand and socializing wasn't his thing. His sister let out a sigh and climbed back on the stool. There goes another one. All thanks to my idiot brother. She watched as her brother stood there. He was tense. His hands made fists, and had turned red a bit. His nerves were all over the place. She recalled only seeing him like this before once, and it was when he was separated from their grandmother while they explored the market. Back then, he was so terrified to the point he ended up burning some random group of people. She had hoped it would be like that now.
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  4. #4
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    Well, it was no wonder they were poor as they were. Cai looked over them with friendly brown eyes, but he was analyzing them every second. The boy--Braxxon--he wasn't the friendliest kid on the block. Cai didn't know much about vending, but he did know that friendliness could be the difference between a meal on the table and going hungry. Still, he kept his thoughts to himself as he scanned over their selection. It all looked so delectable. "I don't know how you can make me choose," he murmured. "Not when all of it's making my mouth water."

    "The name's Caius," he told them, extending a hand to each of them. "You can call me Cai. It's nice to make some new friends in a new place." From the looks of things, this guy was all smiles. His grin was wide, despite the boy's rude attitude and the girl's surrender. He turned back to the fish and pointed out one kind. "I've never had these before," he said. "I'll try them. Give me four?"

    As he took out his coin purse he was sure to rattle it some, just so that they would be able to hear the coins inside. Cai had never been afraid of thievery; no one in their right mind would rob a guy as big as he was, and besides, he had his bending to protect him. Even more, his non-bending brother had taught him plenty of self-defense techniques. No, he just wanted them to know he had the coin for what he was proposing.

    "Say," he said slowly, looking out over the land. "I've never been here before. You could probably tell that, huh? Well, I need a guide or something to get me somewhere, since I don't know where it is myself. Either of you know where I could find someone like that? Of course, I'm willing to pay handsomely the person who's willing to guide me. Maybe one of you could help." He held out his hand with the coins in it to pay for the fish. "Do either of you know how to get to the Boiling Rock?"

    It was the highest security prison in the world. During the war, it had even been used as a concentration camp of sorts. No one wanted to go to the Boiling Rock, especially not some foreigner, but Cai had to hope the music of his money would sway them enough to take him. He wasn't rich--he'd always be a street rat in his heart--but he'd been saving these coins for a long while. He was willing to pour his life savings into this mission, he just needed someone nice enough--or desperate enough--to accept his offer.

  5. #5
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    Friends? I'm sure as hell not your friend. Braxxon thought, growling to himself. He didn't want to drive off they only customer they had gotten within the week, so he bit his tongue. Amalia accept Cai's handshake and smiled at him. To her, friendliness was what made a good sale. Braxxon didn't dare to accept it. He nodded towards Cai without another word.

    "These fish are native to the islands just around here. It's no wonder that you've never seen them. I'll get you four right away." Amalia had to make sure she had heard him correctly. She had sometimes messed up what people demanded and it had cost them the sell. Ever since then, she always double checked, even tripled checked sometimes. The light rattle of money was enough to make the pair glance at each other, then at Cai. Could I get away with it..? Was the only thought that ran through Braxxon's mind. He of course was thinking about thievery. He had made off with several coin purses all at once. He was highly skilled at it. Ashe he pondered it, he sized up Cai. A guy that big? Possible earth bender. That would be a suicide mission for sure. He had shaken his head and sighed. If only.

    After listening to Cai, Amalia jumped at the offer. "I'm sure my brother could take you." She said, smiling. Braxxon shot her a glare and was ready to protest, but his sister refused to let him speak. She thought of it as payback of sorts. "My brother has been way out there before. He knows the land well." She explained. As she spoke, she was getting the fish ready. She had wrapped them up in some sort of skin of an animal. It was to preserve the fish and make them last longer. Once she was finished, she handed it to her customer. "Five copper." She added, making sure to smile.

    Meanwhile, Braxxon was glancing towards the mountains. We need that money. It would help us out so much, and even cover the rent for a few months. He thought, closing his eyes. For him, it wasn't odd getting a request like this. What was odd was the location. Why would anyone in their right mind want to go there? He opened his eyes once more and finally spoke. "I'll take you to Boiling Rock. It is very odd that you would want to even go there. Our gramma needs that money more than anyone. if it means doing this ridiculous request, then so be it." Amalia nodded towards her brother, knowing he was doing it for the good of the family. He was the type of guy to do almost anything to make sure they had a house.

    "The only question I have about doing this is why you want to even go there. Surely the rumors of that place left the Fire Nation for the other parts of the world." He added, glancing at Cai. Deep in his mind, he had a dark feeling about doing it. It seemed way to strange. Though, it got his family money. "If you don't wish to share, I respect that. Just know I will be questioning everything."

    "The only issue is if gramma will let you even go, Braxxon." his sister pointed out. "I don't think she will."

    "Amalia, she will understand. After what happened last time we didn't have rent, I'm sure that she will agree to letting me go. If she doesn't, I'm old enough to make my own decisions." He answered back, shrugging his shoulders. "She'll know deep in her heart I'm doing it for her sake. Not mine."
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  6. #6
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    They were considering it. Cai's grin grew at the thought. Well, this had been easy. He extracted seven copper coins and dropped them into the girl's hand with a bow. Maybe, just maybe, the two-coin tip would tip the scales of his karma. Once he'd paid, he took a bite of the fish and closed his eyes. Cai sighed softly, smiling all the while. Absolutely nothing calmed him like fried fish.

    "I send my compliments to the cook," he murmured, finishing his first fish in only a second bite. "It's really great, and I appreciate it." He turned to Braxxon then and wiped his fingers on his pants. "Now. About this trip. Why am I going? Well that's pretty simple. I've got someone I need to see there." His smile was unwavering. It was the truth after all; what did he have to hide? Besides, Cai figured Braxxon'd have a right to know if he was making the long journey out.

    Cai stashed his coin purse into a pocket and looked between the two in front of him. "So?" he asked. "Are you gonna ask your gramma, then? I can assure her I'll keep ya safe. I know a bit about self-defense, but I don't think we'll need that, will we? It's just a simple trip." A simple trip into a prison. Cai didn't know what to expect. He didn't know who he'd encounter or what they'd try to do. But there was no other choice. He had to get to the Boiling Rock. It had been too long since everything had been taken from him. He needed to find out why.

    "If you're not gonna ask your gramma, I say we head out soon as we can, least while the sun's still shining. I can't promise anything, but I can try to make it worth her worrying." Paying their rent, he realized, would probably leave him short of paying his own. But if he got what he needed, Cai figured it would be worth it.

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    With the weight of the coins weighing down her hand down, Amalia stared down at them in complete surprise. She had never held so much money in her hand. She held it like she was a child getting their first copper piece. Her grip on it grew strong as she turned and looked at her brother. Her brother was still considering it. If he went, he would have to leave his sister and his grandmother, which he was not so keen with. He was the only one in the house that was even remotely okay at fighting. He let out a deep, annoyed sigh. He had no idea what to do.

    Behind him, the door to his tiny house had opened up. Standing in the doorway was their grandmother. She had her arms crossed, almost as if she were an angry parent about to punish her kids. The two teens didn't see her, but Cai was able to see her just fine. She was waiting. Waiting for what? Even she didn't know.

    "I'll take you, and I would prefer to gather some supplies before we leave." He replied, glancing up at the earthbender. His sister nudged him, and handed him the money she had just received. She didn't want to give it up, but it was the best thing she could do. Her brother would need it a lot more; that is, if he didn't leave it behind for his family.

    What about-" She muttered, turning. "Gramma...." She had locked eyes with her grandmother, and a huge shill jolted down her spine. Braxxon turned as well, getting the same feeling. A nervous feeling also grew in the pit of his stomach, and it caused him to get become rather skittish. He had became rather pale, and refused to look at his grandmother. "I..." Was all he could say.

    She stood there, staring her grandchildren down. She was silent, creating an awkward atmosphere. Finally, she spoke up. "Braxxon, you were thinking of leaving, only to help our family. You've grown up so much ever since we arrived here, but I do not condone you leaving. We need the money, but I made a promise to your mother. I promised her that I would not let you go out and be foolish."

    "B-But, Gramma!"

    "No. No buts. I'm upholding my promise to your mother. Accept it."

    Braxxon glared up at his grandmother, his hands were clenched into tight fists. It was if something had broke in him. "Condone it or not, I'm leaving today. I'm old enough to make my own decisions and I've wanted out of this dump of a town for ages now. Now is my chance, and I'm taking it! Some promises are just meant to be broken." He said, becoming rather firm. "I'm not happy about leaving you two here, but-"

    "Take your sister with you." With that said, shock appeared on the teen's face. "What?!" They both said.

    She let out a sigh and nodded. Yes, this was the best choice. "I can see that I am not able to stop you, but take your sister with you. If something were to happen to me, I do not want her innocent eyes to witness it. At least this way, she can see the world just as she has wished for years." She turned to Cai and pointed at him. "You. Protect them."

    She turned around and walked into her house. A few moments later she emerged from the house and handed Braxxon and Amalia a backpack apiece. They were old and had holes here and there. They were quit old. "These were your backpacks when we left for this place. Take them. I've packed them with supplies. Keep the money you received and use it to stay in other towns."

    Braxxon couldn't believe his ears. He had a smile on his face from excitement to leave, but he it was uneasy for him as well. He had honestly had no words. Amalia stepped forward and hugged her grandmother. "Goodbye, Gramma."

    "Goodbye, little one. Remember, only protect yourself when it's truly needed." She said, nodding her head. Others wouldn't have known the meaning behind it, but her grandchildren did. "Now, off you go. I will be looking forward to the day I see you again. Hurry, before it gets too late."

    Braxxon and Amalia and stepped out in front of the stand and waved to their grandmother. "Let's go." Braxxon said, glancing at Cai.He wanted to leave before it got too hard, before the tears and sad goodbyes came.
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  8. #8
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    Cai saw the woman before either of them. He didn't really know who she was, but he judged by her resemblance to the two that she was this gramma they were talking about. He didn't say anything, just listened to the two before him and nod. Supplies would have been a good thing to think about; obviously he hadn't thought ahead enough to bring any. Cai wondered just what they would need, how much it would all cost. The very last thing he wanted was to be thrown into a jail in the Fire Nation after having insufficient funds.

    He was politely quiet as he watched the interaction unfold before him. This was starting to become a problem. If their grandmother would not let them leave, Cai would have to find someone else to lead him into prison. But as he saw the look in their grandmother's eyes, he had doubts. Maybe this would work, after all.

    There was a certain charm about the three of them that Cai couldn't really put words to. He watched them with a small smile, all the while wondering what it was like. What was it like to have a grandmother? What was it like to have a parent? Cai had never really known. His brother was only six years his senior, not much a father but the best caretaker Cai could have hoped for. Seeing the interaction between the family reminded him of his own. For so long it had just been Cai and his brother, until Winnie had joined them. The three of them, not connected by blood, were closer than any blood relatives ever could be. Cai's fists tightened at his sides, almost imperceptibly. Now, Cai was alone, and all too aware of it.

    The smile was back on his face at the woman's words. So, she was going to let them go. He was about to say something to her when she disappeared, only to reappear with bags. Had she been preparing for this moment, or was she unnaturally swift with preparations? Cai didn't know, and he figured it didn't matter. Now, he would get two guides through the Fire Nation. That meant double the risk of betrayal, but what had he to fear? Two bony kids, whose fires could be quenched by the rocks he could summon? No, Cai thought, even if they weren't the most moral people, he would be fine facing them. He just hoped it wouldn't ever come to that.

    Cai nodded at the older woman, trying hard to remember the old customs his brother had taught him. Always respect your elders. When addressing someone of the Fire Nation, form a fist under your palm and bow. Do not look them in the eye. He tried this, successfully doing it wrong. "I'll take care of them both!" he called to her as they started to leave. "You have my word, ma'am! I'll keep 'em safe!" As he turned to join Amalia and Braxxon he had an awkward smile on his face. His shortened speech was anything but formal, and had his brother been by his side, Remi probably would have smacked him over the head for that.

    He caught up to the two with ease, and he looked between the two of them with a confused expression. They looked so... sad. Didn't they know they'd be back? He could understand, though. He understood their emotions, at least a little bit, and so he did not comment on them. Instead, he stretched out an arm on either side of him and sighed. "Thanks for taking me, both of you," he said brightly. "I really appreciate this. This way, things really shouldn't be so hard. Having friends from different places is never a bad thing either!" Perhaps his enthusiasm was a little ill-fit for the sadness of the goodbyes, but oblivious Cai did not even seem to notice.

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    The teens shot a small glance to each other as Cai put an arm around them. Between the sudden glanced, many messages were given out and received between the two. This guy is weird! Oh deal with it Amalia. We're helping out Gramma. Braxxon and Amalia were very close, despite their age difference. They grew up protecting one another, and keeping the other out of trouble. It took years, but they were soon able to read the other with just a small glance. It was impressive really. It was how they got out of many things.

    As they walked, Braxxon pulled himself away from his new found acquaintance. He hated it when his own sister touched him, much less a stranger. A million thoughts raced through his head. He looked quite gloomy while he was in deep thought. "Quit worrying so much." His sister said, glancing over at him. She smiled her innocent smile as she spoke. Braxxon snapped out of his trance and nodded at her in response. "I just worry. Anything could happy to this place, or to Gramma." He did have every right to worry about her safety. It was because he protected her that he got his scar. "Relax, Brax."

    Ever since the accident, Braxxon always kept his distance away from others, especially if they carried any sort of bladed weapon. A chill would always run down his spine when he thought about it. Amalia already knew what he was thinking, and she shook her head. She had already tried countless times in trying to help her brother deal with it, but the only way he could deal with his fear is by facing it up close.

    She cleared her throat and looked up at Cai. "I'm sure you've noticed my brother's rather large scar. It's hard to miss after all. It starts under his eyes, crosses his nose, and goes to his neck." She said. Braxxon glared at her, but she continued, as if she couldn't feel the hatred. "When he gets like this, he starts thinking about how he got his scar. You see, we live in a house we have to pay rent in. Every so often, the land owner will come in and demand money. A few years ago, we didn't have enough money. They had threatened to her our Gramma, but that's when Braxxon stepped up. He jumped towards the owner, but one of his body guards drew his blade and sliced my brother.You can imagine how hor-"

    "Stop." Braxxon demanded. "He doesn't need to know our life story. You already know I am fill of shame already because of it. It only embarrasses me more when you speak about it." Amalia rolled her eyes and sighed. "Fine, fine. I just figured he was curious. It wouldn't hurt to open up to him a bit. We're going to be traveling for quite some time."

    Braxxon let out a heavy sigh, knowing his sister was right. They could easily be traveling for months, that was if it was a smooth walk there. "I've only left the city a few times, and I can admit it's rough out there." As he spoke, he didn't look at Cai. "I hope you can sleep outside. Camping out will be the only way we'll be sleeping for a few days. It takes about five days on foot to get to the next city. Think a big guy like yourself can handle that?" He explained, chuckling at the end.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A dragon with dull scales
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  10. #10
    The Ashen One
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    Cai was experiencing something he'd never thought he'd go through again; he was a third wheel. He didn't look at them, but he could sense the silent conversations going on between Amalia and Braxxon, conversations he was not a part of. It was his brother and best friend all over again, leaving him out of things to maintain inside jokes with each other. Except this time, they were strangers. This time, Cai had no idea what they might have been discussing. While this may have worried some, he just shrugged it off. There was nothing to be feared, and as long as he kept telling himself that it would ring true.

    The story about Braxxon's scar didn't faze him like it should have. He'd been too desensitized to stuff like that, but he did appreciate the story. At least the girl was trusting him. Her brother on the other hand, his gaze was solid ice as he watched his sister. Cai knew that look well, knew it as a loving hatred. He'd seen that look in the shining brown eyes of his brother many times before. He knew what was coming, and so he looked to Amalia, ready to comfort her when her brother snapped at her.

    She didn't seem terribly hurt by Braxxon's interruption, and that alone said a lot about her character and their relationship. Cai noted that and raised an eyebrow. He was scared this journey would be filled with awkward silence; it was turning into quite the opposite. he listened to Braxxon and even chuckled along with him. "I think a big guy like myself can handle a lot more than you'd think I could," he told him. "Sleeping outside? I spent too many years without a home to mind that. Camping's pretty fun when it's a choice--heck, even when it's not. Nothing like looking out at the stars while you try to fall asleep." Cai the ever optimistic, he had no problems with long journeys and nights under the stars. "You know," he said, "my brother used to tell me you can learn a lot about someone from the way they look at the sky. You can always tell the dreamers and the hard workers or the happy and the sad. We used to stargaze, and he used to tell me I always had my head in the clouds. Saw too many constellations, too many shapes that he didn't like. I was always too cheery for him." He laughed a light laugh but soon sobered. "Interested to see what you guys'll be like."

    He could already guess. Braxxon held traces of his brother in him, while Amalia seemed more like himself. He'd hold no faith in his judgments though; it had been too soon to judge the two. Instead, he decided to try to get to know them better, and so he asked, "What has you living here, anyway? Repercussions from the war? Nothing to be ashamed about, that. Rem and I felt the aftershocks pretty bad ourselves, too. It's a real nice place from what I can tell, but that landlord you were talking about would have made a lot of people leave a long time ago."

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