Chapter 13:


To Know You

They had a pretty delicate plan for how they were going to get into Lumiere. Brine knew of a secret way in, but it involved some complicated maneuvering that was admittedly challenging, especially since none of them were really inconspicuous enough to pull off a stealth mission. They couldn’t really think of a better plan though, so they packed up and set off for Lumiere, hoping that the cloaking magic Garrette was could get them through.Bookmark here

They traveled all in one group, which may be unadvisable considering how easily they could all be captured, but also practical considering how easily they were split apart last time. Because they were more vulnerable, Shane was constantly utilizing his magic to sense living beings from a distance. At least if they were going to be attacked or discovered, he would know about it beforehand. Bookmark here

Not that Shane was overly concerned about being attacked outside of Lumiere. No one knew what their plans were there, and even if they did, he was pretty confident they had enough muscle to fend off whatever threats they might come across. Bookmark here

Which was why when Shane sensed an energy signature fairly close to Lumiere’s borders, he didn’t immediately steer them in the opposite direction. It was only a group of three or four, and they were going much slower than Bai Hu was. “There’s a few energy signatures up ahead,” he yelled over the pounding of horse hooves and the swift pitter patter of feet in the grass. “I want to go check it out. They could be from Winslet Armory or have some valuable information on the state of Lumiere right now.”Bookmark here

“That’s fine, but I’m not sending you alone!” Maya yelled back. Bookmark here

“Fine. Letitia, Reka!”Bookmark here

“Yes, Sir Shane!” Letitia said, pulling the horse closer to him so she could hear him better.Bookmark here

“Come with me! It shouldn’t come to a fight, but I want you to be prepared just in case. That goes for you too, Reka.” Bookmark here

“Roger that!”Bookmark here

Shane picked up his pace and began to run toward the energy signatures. To his surprise, the horse Letitia and Reka were riding was able to keep pace with him. “Did you use magic on it too?” Shane asked Letitia, both of them neck and neck. Bookmark here

“I mostly strength enhancing magic, so I strengthened its heart and its other muscles. The only reason Maya’s horse is uncontrollable is because the speed is giving it wings. My magic only strengthens what’s already there.”Bookmark here

“Please teach it to her sometime. I want to be able to ride a horse with her someday without feeling like I’m going to hurl.”Bookmark here

Letitia laughed. “I tried to teach her enhancing magic already, but she’s just no good at it! You might have to give up on that dream, Shane.”Bookmark here

Talking with Letitia like this, like everything was normal, sent a twinge down Shane’s spine. The urge to tell her everything that he knew about her siblings pressed down on him with an oppressiveness that he was quickly realizing he wouldn’t be able to handle. Bookmark here

Once he saw the carriage on a distant hill, the Winslet Armory insignia boldly painted on the side, he looked back at Reka. Shane didn’t need to say anything for Reka to know what he was thinking. It seemed to be affecting Reka too, the silent question Shane posed answered with a silent nod. The carriage also wasn’t moving, and if Shane had to guess they were taking a break. It was the best chance Shane was going to get. “Wait,” Shane told Letitia as he began slowing down. Bookmark here

Letitia slowed the horse down slowly before brining it to a full stop. “What is it?” Bookmark here

Reka didn’t say anything he got off of the horse and stood by Shane, his expression tense. “I-I have something I need to tell you, Letitia.”Bookmark here

“So…do I,” Shane said. Now that he was looking into her brown eyes, the words that felt like they were threatening to spill out of him before were stopped. Bookmark here

Letitia got off the horse and patted its neck. “Okay, but is now really the time? We’re kind of in the middle of something.”Bookmark here

“It has to be now,” Shane said. He took her hands and squeezed them between his. “You mentioned that your siblings were killed in the war.”Bookmark here

“Uh, yes?” she said, unsure of what she was supposed to do with Shane’s hands. Bookmark here

“I was talking to Reka, and he told me your last name was Komain. When I was soldier, I had three soldiers named Komain under my command.”Bookmark here

Her grip loosened. “What…?”Bookmark here

“I never had the chance to do this for the other soldiers that served under me, but it didn’t feel right not to do this for you.” Shane closed his eyes and took a deep breath before saying the words that had been on his tongue every time he looked at her since his conversation with Reka, “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to protect them.”Bookmark here

Before she could respond to his words Reka took her hands. “I-I’m sorry too, Letitia. You know I used to work for Winslet Armory, right?”Bookmark here

She nodded, but Shane wasn’t sure she was processing his words. “I was the one that helped fuel the war during that time. I created a lot of the weapons used during that time. It may not have been direct, but without the armory’s backing, the war wouldn’t have happened at all.” Reka began to cry, his tears dripping onto Letitia’s hands. “I’ve always wanted to tell you, but I was too afraid to mention it. I thought you’d never seem me the same way again.”Bookmark here

Shane didn’t know how he expected her to react. Based on the way she spoke about revenge back that the Cavity Combs, he accepted that she may want to fight him, and he might have to protect Reka while doing so. It really was a terrible time to bring it up, but the old commander Shane wasn’t the same as the one he was in Bai Hu. He couldn’t let their trust be broken. He didn’t want it to be.Bookmark here

“You idiots!” Letitia nearly sobbed before pulling both of them into a hug. “You freakin’ idiots!” she sobbed, her head between their shoulders as she began to break down. “How could I blame you for any of that? I heard from Master Terra that you were kidnapped and forced to become a solider, Shane! You just as much a victim of the war as they war. Maybe even more so, because at least they were able to choose that path for themselves.” Bookmark here

She turned her head and buried it in Reka’s neck. “And you…weren’t even directly involved! You said they threatened to kill you if you didn’t make more weapons. What were you supposed to do?”Bookmark here

She looked up at the sky, snot and tears streaming down her face. “Seriously, of all the people to apologize for what happened to siblings, it’s the two people who I needed an apology from the least.”Bookmark here

Shane and Reka wrapped his arms around her, and Shane pulled them both into his chest. “I couldn’t keep it from you knowing that we were going to have to confront Winslet Armory at some point while we were in Lumiere. Seeing the carriage over there…I just wanted you to know, for the sake of your revenge.”Bookmark here

“Even if that revenge was against you?”Bookmark here

“I certainly wouldn’t have faulted you for it.”Bookmark here

“I know my apology might not mean much to you,” Reka said, squeezing her tightly. “But I hurt a lot of people, and right now, except for bringing down Winslet Armory, it’s all I have to offer you.”Bookmark here

Letitia laughed and began to wipe the tears away form her face. “Don’t apologize. Let’s just go take them down, Reka. You and I, let’s go set ourselves free from these feelings, hm?”Bookmark here

Shane wondered if she truly could be set free from her grief and anger if they took Winslet Armory down. No matter who they took down, it wouldn’t bring her siblings back. Shane knew that she knew this. Even so, doing something was better than doing nothing. If there was anything at all that could help her push forward, she would take advantage of it. Bookmark here

Shane knew, because he was the same way. Maya was the one who had helped him push forward din the past, and now he was witnessing someone else trying to do the same. He would make sure to do everything he could to help her through it, because he knew there was a new horizon on the other side.Bookmark here

Shane stepped away and looked over at the Winslet camp, the few carriage passengers still none the wiser.Bookmark here

“I know we came up with that plan with Brine, but I think I just came up with a better one.”Bookmark here

Letitia and Reka pulled away from each other, both of their expressions filled with renewed resolve. “I’m listening,” Letitia said.Bookmark here

“Let’s take them out and use their carriage to get in. I’m sure they have some special documentation somewhere that allows them to get into Lumiere. If we can take that from them and go in under the guise of Winslet Armory, then we can walk in through the front door.”Bookmark here

“Do you think the others will be fine with it?” Reka asked. “I mean, Brine seemed really confident in his plan.”Bookmark here

“Brine is confident in everything. I bet he can get in through that hidden entrance just fine, but the rest of us look way too out of place. I think it’s the best course of action.”Bookmark here

Letitia cracked her knuckles. “Then let’s not waste any more time talking and get our ride.”Bookmark here

“Wait just a moment,” Reka said, holding a finger. He went back to the horse and dug in the dimensional bag resting on its hind leg. He pulled out a large magical gun. The content of it were glowing red, similar to his armor.Bookmark here

“Is that…?” Bookmark here

“It’s a bio-magic weapon. I managed to swipe it before I escaped the armory.”Bookmark here

“Well, this is going to be fun,” Shane said. He knelt down. “Hop on, Reka. You can shoot at them while riding on my back.”Bookmark here

“Hey Shane,” Letitia asked, strengthening her muscles with magic as she started stretching her legs. Bookmark here

“Yeah?”Bookmark here

“Race you there?”Bookmark here

Shane smiled. “I won’t lose just because Reka is on my back.”Bookmark here

Letitia snorted. “I won’t win just because he’s on your back either.”Bookmark here

“How did your race come down to me?”Bookmark here

They both ignored him. “Count us down Reka,” Shane said. Bookmark here

“O-Okay! Three, two…one!”Bookmark here

Shane didn’t have a plan of attack and neither did Letitia. They both raced each other head on to the camp, not at all concerned with being discrete. Sometimes, strength trumped strategy. Bookmark here

As Reka started at the members of the caravan and Letitia got a jump on one of them from behind before trapping them in a chokehold, Shane thought now was one of those moments. Bookmark here

The members of the caravan surrendered before Shane could even get a single punch in, all of them sitting in a row in front of them trembling on their knees. “Are you sure you don’t want to kill them?” Shane asked Letitia.Bookmark here

“Depends,” Letita said, leaning down and getting in their faces. “How involved were you three in the war?”Bookmark here

The three captives jumped at the suggestion; their faces were filled with terror. “Pl-Please don’t kill us! We’re just the merchants who sell wares for the armory, that’s it! We weren’t involved in anything else, much less a war!”Bookmark here

“Do you think they’re telling the truth, Reka?” Letitia asked.Bookmark here

“I-I think so. I was in a similar position, after all.”Bookmark here

“Well, it looks like today’s your lucky today. If he hadn’t been here to vouch for you, you might be dead. Do we need anything else from them, Shane?”Bookmark here

“Just their silence, their caravan, and whatever official documents let them into Lumiere. Oh, and whatever information you have about what’s going on inside Lumiere right now would also be helpful.”Bookmark here

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxBookmark here

When they finally meet up with the rest of the group again, they’re one carriage richer and have a wealth of knowledge now at their disposal. “What happened?” Riolet asked.Bookmark here

“Change of plans,” Shane said, as Letitia began to explain for everyone the events that transpired earlier and their new plan to break in.Bookmark here

“If you want Brine, it might still be a good idea to take your hidden passage by yourself. If something does go wrong, at least one of us will have gotten in. Besides, I think you deserve to see your family after so long.”Bookmark here

“Sir Shane,” Brine said, his voice warped in a way that made it seem as if he was about to cry. “Thank you! Even if you wasted my intel and my time creating a plan we didn’t even use! I’m so happy I get to see my kids again.”Bookmark here

“Sorry…” Shane said, rubbing the back of his head. There wasn’t much he could say to the contrary. Brine was right, after all. Bookmark here

“You said there’s going to a ball celebrating the founding of Lumiere, right? What’s our role here?” Stendle asked. Bookmark here

“You’ll be coming with Maya and I to the party. If Sasha is going to attend himself, then we need you both there to help take on whatever servants he has under him.”Bookmark here

“Sounds good! I’m looking forward to having authentic Lumiere sweets again. It’s been too long.”Bookmark here

“We’re about to fight Sasha and you’re thinking about sweets,” Riolet said with an exasperated sigh. Bookmark here

Stendle laughed. “That’s not true, my beloved! You’re the sweetest of sweets in my mind. I think of you more than anyone else.”Bookmark here

Riolet blushed and ducked her head. “You really are terrible at flirting.”Bookmark here

Stendles blinked. “Hey, if it gets the job done.”Bookmark here

“What about me?” Garrette asked.Bookmark here

“I think you should go with Letitia and Reka to the Winslet Armory headquarters. If we can cut off their weapons, we’ll have a much easier time of it.”Bookmark here

“Got it,” he said, before taking something out of his pocket and placing it in Shane’s hand. “This is a communication device Reka and I developed so that we can stay in touch.”Bookmark here

Shane nodded. “Thanks.”Bookmark here

“Is everyone clear on their roles?” Maya asked.Bookmark here

Everyone made varying noises of affirmation. Bookmark here

Maya smiled at them. “Before we go in there, I just want you to know how much I appreciate you all. Without your support, this would be an impossible prophecy to fulfill. Each and every one of you was destined for this. So let’s seize our destiny, and free the people of Lumiere from their oppression.”Bookmark here

“To the end of the gods!” they cried.Bookmark here

“To the end of the gods!” Maya said, her eyes glowing brightly in determination.Bookmark here

They had finally made it to this point, and Shane couldn’t help but think that this was the most beautiful Maya had ever been. That, more than anything filled him with a relief that had him blinking back tears. Bookmark here

He was truly able to love her, even now.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.