Chapter 13:

The Truth of Some Soldiers


Emyria thought about everything that she had learned from Aystaria while Reina, and Lyis read over the book Emyria had given them. Feldia read over a small book that she always carried with her in her pocket. The carriage ride to Athelas was silent until Feldia closed her book.Bookmark here

“Emyria.”Bookmark here

“Yes?”Bookmark here

“What do you plan to do when you meet with Aystaria?”Bookmark here

“Was that not obvious? I’m going to become a Shadow Taker,” Emyria said with a smile.Bookmark here

“Just wanted to hear you say it.”Bookmark here

Feldia looked over to Reina, and Lyis.Bookmark here

“And you two?”Bookmark here

“Our job is to always be by Emyria’s side. So, her path is ours.”Bookmark here

“Is that what you two tell yourselves? Oh well, to each their own,” Feldia said as she looked out the window.Bookmark here

Before long, the city of Athelas came into view. The carriage stopped just outside a small building where many different carriages could be seen parked side by side.Bookmark here

“Okay, here we are ladies. The city of Athelas,” the carriage driver called out.Bookmark here

Emyria, and the others exited the carriage as Feldia tossed a gold coin to the driver.Bookmark here

“I thought as a teacher you didn’t make that much,” Emyria said.Bookmark here

“Oh, I don’t. I’m actually broke at the moment.”Bookmark here

“Then how did you…”Bookmark here

Emyria took a second to pat herself down before realizing that her coin pouch as not on her person. Feldia smiled as she held up the coin pouch carrying six gold coins, as well as a fair amount of silver.Bookmark here

“Feldia!”Bookmark here

“Should learn to take note of what you have on your person.”Bookmark here

Feldia smiled as she turned in the direction of the nearest inn. Emyria followed behind as she took in the sights of the city once again.Bookmark here

“Here’s a question for you, Feldia. What are the other Shadow Takers like?”Bookmark here

“An odd bunch. They all come from different backgrounds. Some are criminals, others nobles, no one in the Shadow Takers cares about your status. Results are the only thing that matters.”Bookmark here

“Well, there went my image of a proud group of soldiers that work well together.”Bookmark here

Continuing down the street, four of them turned the corner until they reached a large building that everyone but Feldia questioned as a choice of an inn. No one spoke for a moment as they let the atmosphere sink in.Bookmark here

“Um… Feldia…”Bookmark here

“Hmm?”Bookmark here

“You said inn, right?”Bookmark here

“This is an inn, yes. What’s with the three of you?”Bookmark here

Emyria, Reina, and Lyis looked flustered as they stared at Feldia who appeared not to show any shame in the fact that the inn was actually a well-established brothel that dealt with many different services.Bookmark here

“You do realize they have… other services here, right?” Emyria asked.Bookmark here

“I’m fully aware.”Bookmark here

“Can we go somewhere else?” Emyria asked blushing heavily.Bookmark here

“Why?”Bookmark here

“I’d rather not have interactions with… any one else… like that…”Bookmark here

Feldia smiled as she made her way over to Emyria.Bookmark here

“Oh? So, you only want Aystaria?”Bookmark here

“What! N-No… It’s not like that at all. I…”Bookmark here

Feldia waved a hand as she walked past Emyria, and down the street to look for an actual inn for them to sleep at.Bookmark here

“I’ll just take your two maids, the girl, and the boy for a night then.”Bookmark here

#Bookmark here

Feldia looked out the window as the sun began to peak over the horizon. She took a sip of the creamy liquid that filled the mug in front of her. The soft sounds of Reina’s breath echoed throughout the room as she struggled to catch her breath. Lyis remained motionless under the covers, sound asleep from the rest of the world around him.Bookmark here

“I’m actually surprised you’re still awake,” Feldia said as she sat down at one of the nearby chairs.Bookmark here

“After Aystaria you were… okay, maybe not, they still hurt, and my body feels drained to the bone.”Bookmark here

“You should know I went easier on you for a reason.”Bookmark here

“That would explain why my brother is out cold. Why did you go easy on me though?”Bookmark here

“Just figured we could talk afterwards.”Bookmark here

“More like, I’m forced to listen,” Reina said with a smile.Bookmark here

Feldia took another sip of her mug.Bookmark here

“I can drain you dry if you like.”Bookmark here

“That’s up to you. After all, I am your hostage at the moment.”Bookmark here

“That is true. Maybe I’ll do it in a bit.”Bookmark here

“Is this a technique you Shadow Takers use or something on your own kind?”Bookmark here

“Technically, it is a form of punishment we use, yes. Of course, there are ways to make it enjoyable. We calling Draining but no matter what, we Shadow Takers do it for many reasons.”Bookmark here

“What should we expect when finally reach the Shadow Fort?”Bookmark here

“Chaos. Anything can happen there. Even if you, and your brother are skilled, the two of you would easily be killed by a single one of us.”Bookmark here

Reina tried to force herself out of the bed as Feldia watched her closely. Her legs continued to shake as she held the bed for support. She made her way over to the table slowly, and sat down in the chair beside Feldia. Looking to Feldia with desire in her eyes, she begged as her voice cracked slightly.Bookmark here

“How can I become strong, like you, and Aystaria?”Bookmark here

“I guess she didn’t explain the process.”Bookmark here

“Process?”Bookmark here

“Shadow Takers take in the blood of the Ryiza, and it is this ritual that gives us a part of our strength over humans. The other is nothing more than training.”Bookmark here

Feldia removed a black metal coin from her coin pouch. Holding out the coin in the palm of her hand, she looked to Reina with a smile.Bookmark here

“Try to take this coin.”Bookmark here

Reina gripped the coin with her fingers only to find she couldn’t lift it even a single millimeter into the air.Bookmark here

“Try all you like but you’ll never be able to lift this coin.”Bookmark here

“H-How?”Bookmark here

“This coin, like I’ve told Emyria, is equivalent to that of a thousand bricks… or a hundred, I forget which number I said but not important.”Bookmark here

“So, you’re telling me you’re lifting a hundred bricks in your hand.”Bookmark here

“More like nine-hundred.”Bookmark here

Feldia pulled out eight more coins, and placed them in the palm of her hand as if they were just regular coins.Bookmark here

“These coins are, by some strange degree, a measure of a Shadow Taker’s strength.”Bookmark here

“The more coins you can carry, the stronger you are?”Bookmark here

“Exactly. Aystaria, and myself can carry nine which is considered the highest at the moment.”Bookmark here

“Then what the highest anyone has carried?”Bookmark here

“Twelve, which was carried by Aystaria’s old commander, Yiania.”Bookmark here

“She was that strong?”Bookmark here

“Aystaria could never beat her. Even together Aystaria, and I lost against her. But behind that cheerful smile was a sadist who showed no mercy.”Bookmark here

“What did she do?”Bookmark here

A soft yawn from the direction of the bed forced Feldia’s eyes to shift over to the bed. Lyis had managed to sit up as he rubbed his eyes.Bookmark here

“Let’s save that for when the child isn’t around.”Bookmark here

“What are you two talking about?” Lyis asked in a sleepy tone.Bookmark here

“Just discussing what we would do today,” Feldia said with a smile.Bookmark here

Feldia downed the rest of the liquid in her mug, and stood to her feet.Bookmark here

“Right then, let’s get this day started.”Bookmark here

“Actually, my body feels tired, can I sleep for a bit?” Reina asked.Bookmark here

“That’s fine, I’ll just take the cute one with me.”Bookmark here

As Feldia looked over to Lyis with a devilish smile, his cheeks turned a bright shade of red. Something told him that the day was going to be long, and hard.Bookmark here

#Bookmark here

Lyis followed behind Feldia like a pet dog on a leash. He was nervous as to what Feldia was going to do to him. Feldia could sense the fear in him as they continued down the street into the market district. Turning to face him, Feldia bent slightly to meet him as eye level.Bookmark here

“There is no need to be scared around me, okay,” Feldia said with a smile.Bookmark here

Feldia placed her hand on Lyis’s head, and stroked his hair gently. Lyis could only blush as he looked in Feldia’s benevolent eyes.Bookmark here

“O-Okay.”Bookmark here

Looking around the market district, Feldia noticed a large three story building that sold various types of clothes, and accessories. Grabbing Lyis gently by the hand, Feldia lead him through the crowd like a flowing river, until they reached the entrance. Inside, the shop was decorated with aisles of cute clothes on the different shelves. Lyis couldn’t help but be awestruck by all the girly clothes in the shop.Bookmark here

“So cute,” Lyis said with a smile on his face.Bookmark here

“Pick out any outfit you like. Just make sure it’s something you can move comfortably in.”Bookmark here

Lyis nodded as he made his way down the aisles of clothes. As he looked over the diverse outfits, he noticed one that caught his eyes. A simple white sleeveless top with a short pink skirt, and other small accessories nearby to add to the outfit held him in place as he gazed upon it without breaking eye contact.Bookmark here

“Why don’t you try it on,” Feldia whispered in Lyis’s ear.Bookmark here

“Y-You want me to try it on?”Bookmark here

“Of course. Can’t have you staring at it all day.”Bookmark here

With a nod, Lyis grabbed the clothes from the shelf, and headed for one of the changing rooms nearby. Reemerging from the room, Lyis stood there blushing as he felt Feldia’s gaze upon him.Bookmark here

“H-How do I look?” Lyis asked in a shy voice.Bookmark here

“Beautiful is the most tame word I can think of at the moment.”Bookmark here

Lyis could feel his face getting redder as he turned away from Feldia’s gaze. Grabbing a pair of white open-toed heels, Lyis slid his petite foot into one of the heels, and tied the single strap around his ankle that kept the shoe in place. Standing around like a shy girl caused many of the girls in the shop to stare, and whisper at how cute he was.Bookmark here

“I believe we found the perfect outfit for you.”Bookmark here

After paying for the outfit, Lyis stepped outside of the shop only to be met with the stares of what felt like the whole city street. Holding his skirt down in a cute way, Lyis avoided the gaze of the crowd as he looked at the ground. He couldn’t hold back his flustered red cheeks as he whispered softly to Feldia.Bookmark here

“E-Everyone is staring…”Bookmark here

“Lyis, you want to become a Shadow Taker, correct?”Bookmark here

“Y-Yes. Emyria is set on this path, my sister, and I only wish to support her.”Bookmark here

“You’re avoiding the question. Do you, as in, is it your sole desire to become a Shadow Taker?”Bookmark here

“I always wanted to do something for the good of the people without drawing attention to myself. So, to answer your question, yes, it is my desire to be one. This all just happened to line up, that’s all,” Lyis said with a smile.Bookmark here

“Then hold your head up. Shadow Takers are confident in who they are.”Bookmark here

Lyis looked up to Feldia to she never once lowered her head as the on-lookers continued to gawk.Bookmark here

“Be confident in who you are, and your skills.”Bookmark here

The words resonated throughout Lyis’s ears as he looked out to the crowd.Bookmark here

“Now, let’s be off. We have a three day trip to stock up for. After that, we head for The Pit.”Bookmark here

#Bookmark here

Emyria couldn’t help but be amazed by the large size of the wall that surrounded The Pit. While she continued to gaze at it from the window of the carriage, Feldia gently pushed Emyria back into her seat.Bookmark here

“Let me do the talking. Are we clear?”Bookmark here

Emyria nodded.Bookmark here

As the carriage stopped, a guard approached the window. Feldia pushed up her sleeve revealing a brand on her left wrist. The guard looked to Feldia before sighing.Bookmark here

“A girl came by with a mark like that some time ago. I’m not about to ask questions. Just do whatever it is you do. I don’t get paid enough to ask questions.”Bookmark here

Without another word, the carriage passed through the gate as Feldia leaned back into her seat.Bookmark here

“Something on your mind, Emyria?”Bookmark here

“Will I have to get a mark like that?”Bookmark here

“All Shadow Takers bear this mark. It’s a unifying symbol like our hair color, and the one red eye we all share.”Bookmark here

“Is there anything I should know about the Shadow Takers?”Bookmark here

“Never let your guard down there.”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.