It had been three years seen Aystaria had lost his parents in the dark lands of Enfieria. He had learned to live with the horrors of the shadow realm, and became accustom to the violence. Living to see his sixteenth birthday was considered a rarity in the Shadow Fort as most those of young age died from lack of experience or cockiness. Aystaria ensured he kept his mind sharp and remained eager to learn about things he did not understand. Unlike some of the Shadow Takers that he had come to know, Aystaria trained his mind through reading the plethora of books in the library.
With its twelve floors and nearly endless aisles of bookshelves, Aystaria was able to find many books from various locations throughout the world. He spent many hours studying about different cultures, various crafting techniques, fighting styles and an in-depth understanding of the world through science. Like many Shadow Takers that had come before him, Aystaria only wished to learn more.
Aystaria made his way down the halls of the fort with a roll of bread in hand. Before he could turn a corner, he felt arms wrapping around his waist gently. They were slender but bared no sign of hostility. Even though he had trained to sense many things around him, this was one person who always managed to get the drop on him.
“Got you, Aystaria.”
“Yiania, don’t you get tired of sneaking up on people?”
Dancing around Aystaria with a happy expression on her face, Yiania appeared relaxed as she gently bounced on the balls of her feet—her hands resting behind her back like she had a surprise to give to him.
“Nope. Besides, it’s always fun to sneak up on you.”
“You’re never boring, are you, commander,” Aystaria said with a smile.
“You know me. Anyways, you going to the library again?”
“That was the plan. Care to join me?”
“I can’t say no to learning. Although, I think we’ve read just about every book in there.”
Yiania walked beside Aystaria stepping off on the balls of her feet as she carefully avoided each edge of the square title flooring. Entering into the library, Aystaria made his way up one of the nearby stairwells as Yiania stepped lightly up the steps like a dancer. She continued to twirl around in a carefree manner, her expression remaining cheerful while Aystaria continued up the stairs until he had reached the sixth floor. Upon transition into the area where the bookshelves were, the flooring changed into a soft carpet that was black and felt soft on the skin.
“What do you plan on studying today?” Yiania asked once they reached the top of the stairs.
“I want to look over the few books we have on Enfieria.”
Aystaria made his way down one of the many aisles until he came to a small section of books that were all bound in a black leather cloth. At the top of each book was a silver engraving of the title set in perfectly letterspaced capital letters followed by a well-spaced volume number. Below that, at the bottom of the spine, was a gold imprint of the Shadow Taker’s emblem. Pulling down the sixth volume of the twelve volume series, Aystaria sat down on the floor as Yiania sat beside him.
Yiania slowly removed her ankle-length blue boots, revealing her white thigh-high socks as she stretched out her legs, and rested her chin on Aystaria’s shoulder. Taking a second to remove his own shoes, Aystaria proceeded to open the book to the information he was hoping to find. The room was silent aside from the sounds of each page turning. While each of the volumes were incredibly long, and totaling up to five hundred pages or more. Tracing his fingers across one of the open pages, he skimmed the black form of the letters line by line as he continued to look for the information he wanted.
“You won’t find what you’re looking for,” Yiania said closing her eyes.
“How do you know that?”
“Because I’ve looked through all the books here. The Ryiza can’t all be documented into just one book. We’ve went in there countless times, and continue to meet many different varieties of monsters. Even the locals seem to not know about the monsters half the time.”
“So, what, is that realm changing every time we enter it?”
“I couldn’t tell you. Best guess, is there is parts of the world that change while others remain the same.”
Yiania laid back on the carpet as she placed her feet on top of the book Aystaria was reading.
“Have you ever wondered why the other unit commanders dislike you, Yiania?”
“Oh I already know why. I’m childish, from a noble family, and I’m confident in my skills.”
“You’re always hyper, and annoy people by putting your feet on them.”
“They make good foot stools,” Yiania said with a giggle.
“Is that what your unit is to you?” Aystaria asked in a joking manner.
Sitting up quickly Yiania stared into Aystaria’s eyes. She was no longer cheerful, her expression showed that she was serious about what Aystaria had just said.
“None of you are below me. I care about all of you deeply.”
Her tone showed no hint of playfulness. It was clear that she saw her unit as more than just a group of mindless soldiers following orders. She trusted each of them with her life. Before Aystaria could say anything, Yiania jumped up from her position, and pulled Aystaria to his feet.
“Come with me.”
Without a chance to think about what was happening, Aystaria found himself being dragged down the aisle.
“Wait, where are we going? Also, let me grab my shoes!”
“You don’t need them. Just follow me.”
Aystaria continued to be dragged by the hand down the halls of the fort until he was standing outside in the cold. He could feel the cold thin ice underfoot, but did his best to block it out from his mind. Looking around the area, he could see that it was a different section of the fort that he had yet to see.
“Where are we?” Aystaria asked.
“It’s an old part of the fort that isn’t used much since it is near the cliff wall.”
A large tower overlooked the courtyard that was taller than the others at were found at the edges of the fort. Yiania smiled as she lead Aystaria to the tower. Climbing up the stairs with grace was something Aystaria struggled with while he continued to fall behind Yiania.
“How are you able to climb stairs without tripping over your feet like that?”
Yiania giggled before turning to Aystaria with a smile on her face.
“Show me how you would do it then.”
Letting go of Aystaria’s hand, Yiania watched as Aystaria walked up the stairs the rest of the way. Once they had reached the top, Aystaria couldn’t help but admire the beautiful scene before him.
“Wow, I’ve never actually stopped to look at just how beautiful this place actually is.”
Yiania giggled as she twirled on the ball of her foot.
“Do you want to know how much I trust you, Aystaria?”
Grabbing Aystaria by the hand, Yiania smiled as she moved closer to him.
“How much exactly?”
“Dance with me.”
“You need to learn to be fluid, unpredictable, and adapt to whatever the situation demands.”
“You came to that conclusion based on how I walked up the stairs?”
Yiania positioned Aystaria’s hands just behind her lower lower back while wrapping her own arms around his neck.
“Now, dance with me.”
With a cheerful expression, Yiania began to move putting weight on the balls of her feet. Aystaria stared down at the ground to ensure he was placing his feet in the proper position.
“Don’t look at the ground, look at me.”
Aystaria looked up to Yiania. He could feel himself losing focus as she continued to step with a light foot. Struggling to keep up, Aystaria looked back down in hopes of getting back into the rhythm of the dance. Yiania smiled as she tilted Aystaria’s chin up.
“Like I said, look at me. Don’t worry about what your feet are doing. Let everything just flow naturally.”
Staring into Yiania’s eyes, Aystaria tried not to think about his movements. He found himself unable to predict her patterns with each step she would change the rhythm and tempo. The time changes varied from the standard 4/4 time into 7/8, followed quickly by 6/4, 9/8, into an odd signature of 17/16 before moving through other different time signatures. As the beat of the rhythm continued to change, Aystaria closed his eyes in hopes of feeling the beat from inside.
“There you go,” Yiania said.
Aystaria slowly began to lose sense of the world around him, and focused on Yiania. He could sense the sound of her heartbeat. It was steady, not faltering to any of the rhythm changes throughout their dance. She’s just masking the dance through different beats when the fact remains that she is just doing different variations within group of three-fourths, Aystaria thought.
“Finally understand now?”
Yiania skillfully twirled Aystaria around on the ball of his foot as he fluidly fell in-sync with the rhythm.
“Yeah, I think I get it now.”
Giggling with a childish tone, Yiania twirled on her toes as her body played a dance of death leaning over the tower that had nothing to stop them from falling. The rails had been removed long ago in an attack when the Ryiza had planned to destroy the world above. Toeing the edge of death, Aystaria continued to focus on Yiania’s heartbeat without worrying about the consequences.
“So, want to know how much I trust you?” Yiania asked with a smile.
“Considering where we’re at, I can take a guess.”
Yiania twirled around once more on the ball of her foot as she swung Aystaria around to the edge of the tower. Holding him over the side with only her hand to support his back, Aystaria continued to lean back. He stared into her eyes, her expression not changing from it’s happy nature.
“Do you trust me?”
“Do I have a choice?” Aystaria asked.
“Everyone has a choice, but with me…”
Swinging Aystaria away from the edge, Yiania twirled on the ball of her foot until she was now in a position of facing death. Holding onto her hand tightly, Aystaria refused to let go as he watched Yiania leaning off the side of the tower’s edge. Even with the threat of death, Yiania continued to smile.
“See why I trust you now?”
Aystaria pulled Yiania close to his body.
“I still could have dropped you,” Aystaria said with a smile.
“But you didn’t.”
Yinaia moved her lips closer to Aystaria’s face, and gently planted her lips to his cheek. Aystaria couldn’t help, but blush from what had happened. He had been taken off guard by the unpredictable nature of his commander.
“Now, do you have a better understanding of how I fight?” Yiania asked with a sly smile.
“It explains why I always lost to you in our fights.”
“You ready to learn more lessons from your adorably unpredictable commander?”
“If you mean ready to surpass you in skill, then yes.”
Yiania giggled as she stepped back to the tower’s edge.
“Do you think you can?”
With a smug expression, Aystaria stepped off with his leading foot. Watching her moments closely, he could see her left arm start to move ever so slightly. Grabbing for her arm, he could feel something was off. In the blink of an eye, Yiania had managed to twirl on the ball of her foot – turning her body parallel to his. The force of a viper grip ensured his other arm as he felt it being jammed upward into an uncomfortable position. Without anything to stop him from falling forward, Aystaria felt his body leaning over the edge with the only thing holding him back from death was his commander.
“Looks like you still have much to learn,” Yiania said with a giggle.
“You could probably learn a thing or two, commander.”
Spinning his body and arm quickly to counteract the clockwise rotation, Aystaria used the split second of confusion on Yiania’s face to slip between her legs. With a fluid motion that happened in the blink of an eye, she found herself hanging from the edge of the tower with the only thing stopping her from falling was Aystaria’s grip on her hand.
“So, still think I have anything to learn?” Aystaria asked with prideful expression.
Yinaia giggled as she stared up into Aystaria’s eyes. Her expression was gentle, calm, and nonthreatening in any way.
“What’s so funny?”
“You still have so much to learn, Aystaria,” Yiania giggled as she used her free hand to expose a small portion of her cleavage.
Aystaria could feel his face getting hotter as he stared at the pleasantly spherical curvature of Yiania’s bosom.
“Hey now… that’s not fair at all!”
Another cute giggle escaped Yiania’s mouth, her voice becoming more cutesy as she spoke.
“But Aystaria, this is war. I can use my feminine charm as a weapon too.”
While Aystaria could feel his cheeks getting hotter, and now a deep shade of red, he noticed that his cheeks weren’t the only part of his part feeling the sudden change in heat. He had read about thermal expansion, but now he was becoming the victim of it.
A sadistic smile appeared on Yiania’s face as Aystaria watched her use her free hand to grip the one thing that would stop him in his tracks. Yinaia giggled while he could hold his grip on her hand tighter.
“Don’t let go of me now, Aystaria,” Yiania teased as she pulled herself up.
With the fear of moving or dropping his commander, as well as ripping off something that shouldn’t be ripped off, Aystaria carefully helped Yiania up until she was standing on the tower. Her hand continued to stay firmly in place, her grip verging between crushing the thing Aystaria needed for a variety of uses – many of which were not of child friendly nature.
“Now, what was that about me learning a thing or two?” Yiania asked playfully.
“Hmm? Don’t worry, you can speak,” Yiania said with a cheerful smile.
“What is my sweet little Aystaria?”
“Can you please let go of it…”
“Maybe if you beg I’ll think about it,” Yiania said as she brushed back Aystaria’s bangs with her hand.
“Oh come on, Aystaria. You can do better than that.”
“P-Please… let go of it… commander.”
Yiania giggled playfully as she kissed Aystaria’s lips. Before Aystaria had a chance to process what was happening, he found himself pinned down on the ground with her onto of him. He feel his fingers interlocking with hers, the feeling of her warm tongue entering his mouth. Closing his eyes to the pleasure of a tranquil peace, Aystaria relaxed his body until Yiania had full control over him. Pulling her tongue out from his mouth, Yiania sat up as she gazed upon Aystaria with a lustful expression on her face.
“You’ve never experienced draining, have you?”
Aystaria took a moment to catch his breath before answering.
“I know you spoke of it during training, but that was it.”
A sadistic grin showed on Yiania’s face as Aystaria felt his heart start to pound.
“Something tells me I’m not going to like this…”
Yiania giggled as she slowly played with the tip of her braid.
“Oh you’ll enjoy it at first, but as time goes on, you will beg for it to be over.”