Chapter 7:

Of All Companions

Afflicted by Snow

     To Haetia’s dismay they didn’t eat breakfast at the inn. Mainly because they needed to pay for it and according to Linias they barely had a handful of gold coins to their name. So, it was back to slices of fruits for a meal and today it was pears.

While Haetia rode on the horse Linias walked beside her leading the way with her reins, not that he really had to but he felt more comfortable if he was physically holding them so he didn’t have to look back and check on them all the time. Which in all honesty he almost didn’t have to do that either considering that Haetia would almost never cease talking.

Usually it consisted of complaining about being outdoors the entire time and wanting to go to ‘a big city where they could actually do something’. Since Haetia spent his entire life up to this point in a slightly less than medium sized town, most of his time consisted of being indoors since he was never the athletic type outside of his childhood years.

Linias, on the other hand, was more than accustomed to and if anything welcomed the outdoors. He always wanted to spend more time with the wild and this was more than enough of an opportunity to do so.

Lunch time also consisted of more fruits with this time Linias giving up his share to his Master since he proclaimed to still be starving and that these weren’t ‘proper meals’, not that they had much of a choice in that regard.

The ivory prince threw a peach seed at his servant’s head to which it made an audible thunk. “Give me something else to eat! I’m tired of all of these fruits, they’re not filling in the slightest!”

In retaliation to the aggression directed at her friend, Summer grew agitated and threatened to throw off Haetia until Linias calmed her down.

“Shhh. Easy, easy. It’s alright, it doesn't bother me.”

His Master scoffed, “Tell that beast that if it ever tries to do it again that I’ll have it for dinner!”

She can understand you and no you won’t unless you want me to carry you for the rest of this trip.”

“Who are you to talk back to me, let alone correct me!”

Whenever it came to nature and Haetia’s disrespect of it, Linias almost always forgot his place. It was the one thing he never quite got ahold of despite all his training.

“I’m sorry, Sire.”

“You better be! Now, when are we going to get to this friend of yours? I’d hope that they can provide me with something that’s not just inedible information.”

“I told you Bevolia is another town over, we have to pass through another small village first, this time of fire elementals.” Though he said the words he himself was skeptical, considering how cold it could get this would be an odd place for them to settle.

“No you never said exactly where we were going, just to some ‘big city’ where we can find someone!”

“Then that’s my mistake, Master. They’re in the capital Bevolia, which is where we are headed to now. It was formerly known as Camelot several centuries ago until its king abandoned it.”

“Does that mean we get to see a castle?” A bit of excitement starts to form in Haetia’s voice.

“No. The king’s descendants live elsewhere and the castle was demolished.”

Haetia clicks his tongue and rolls his eyes. “Of course, how convenient! This so-called capital city better be worth it then but I don’t know how it could be without so much as a castle.”

Telling him that he himself didn’t know for sure how exciting it would be would’ve just set up more potential complaints, so Linias left it at that.

     It didn’t take them very long in the first place to reach the next village. The closer they got the more eerily silent the foliage became, as if something had transpired. Usually the forest was lively in its own right – though other people couldn’t always tell, Linias could. But, if the surrounding vegetation wasn’t warning him of potential danger it had likely passed.

If anything, it looked like the residents suddenly just up and left. Tasks were left half completed, children’s toys left in the yards, and brooms and other tools scattered about. There was no indication of a struggle or raid as far as Linias could tell, considering that all the buildings were still intact and there wasn’t any blood or damage anywhere.

He cautiously led Summer through the town, taking Haetia off the horse as he directed.

While his Master poked around, Linias followed closely, still observing the abandoned village.

“When you said we had to pass through a village, I thought you meant a populated one.”

“I thought so too.”

“Huh? Don’t talk to me in riddles, what the hell is that supposed to mean?!”

“I mean that I didn’t know it was like this either.”

Linias opened the door to one of the homes—unlocked, only adding to his growing theory. Inside was more or less the same as the outside: food left on the tables, opened books on the chairs. More half completed tasks.

It wasn’t their job to investigate the matter and if anything it would be better to leave well enough alone.

Just as puzzled as before, Linias was content with leaving the town as is until the surrounding trees burst and gyrated in discomfort. Fire. Anger. East. Fast!

By the time the foliage had warned him it had already broken into the deserted village. In a flash Linias threw a wall of branches between Haetia and himself, drawing his staff and making head-on contact with the force.

All he could see was a flare of roaring flames and the blazing heat that accompanied it, giving no time for his fear of flames to overwhelm him. The embers seeped into his wooden staff and even with it being made out of a sturdier hardwood it still caused him to have to consecutively reinforce it so that the damage wouldn’t accumulate and cause it to burn and snap off altogether from the flames.

“WHAT DID YOU DO TO THEM!!” The inferno roared, and only then did he realize that the flames were attached to a body–a woman whose skin was as dark as charcoal.

Now that he knew there was a physical form to the fire, he used his vines to fling her away. In an instant she tried to dash right back at him and he immediately tied her back down again. Every time that she would burn the vines and roots away he would grow more. It wouldn’t stop her forever, he needed to come up with something and fast.

She was mistaking them for someone, maybe the person or people that did this to this town that is likely her home. First things first, he needed to get her to a state that she would listen, and that would require reason, logic, and honesty.

“We’re just travelers, we barely arrived just a few minutes ago. Whatever happened to your village, I’m sure you agree two people couldn’t have done all this, let alone me. If your people are anything like you, I wouldn’t have been able to restrain them if they could just burn right through my roots.”

The flame-headed woman’s fury hesitated as she processed the words and soon enough her guttural breaths gradually slowed, and even more slowly did her fists unclench and her flames-for-hair turn back into normal red strands. Deeming it a bit safer now, Linias released his vines and roots. She seemed to remain skeptical but ultimately accepted the words he spoke.

With the flames surrounding her dispersed, her appearance was more clear. She was incredibly muscular, not just for a woman but more than most men as well. With what she was wearing it made her rugged form all the more noticeable – An exceptionally short sleeveless wine red dress sewn with scales, probably reptilian to sustain the heat and if anything it looked more like armor. Along her wrists, ankles, and neck she wore gold circlets and nothing else aside from that. Not even shoes.

The charcoal-skinned woman approached Linias, who remained cautious but as outwardly peaceful as possible. Crouching low and tiptoeing high, she studied every inch of him with her ever-skeptical amber eyes before ultimately sighing.

“Hmm. I guess you’re right.” She finally said. “Who’s your friend behind the branches?”

“He’s not my friend he’s my servant!” Haetia shouted over the wall.

Almost sighing himself, Linias withdrew the branches and upon the sight of his Master’s unique guise the woman’s eyes widened.

“Wow, aren’t you a rude and weird looking thing.”

“Hah! How dare you! You’re the one who looks like a meat roast left over the fire too long!”

“Huh?! The fuck is your problem!?” The woman’s fiery red locks begin to reignite and instantly Linias steps between them before it escalates any further.

“I’m sorry on his behalf, my Master is travel weary. My name is Linias, and his is Haetia.”

“Don’t just give out our names! She didn’t give hers!!”

“We’re trespassing on her land Sire.”

Vehemently shaking his head and mumbling to himself Haetia throws his hands in the air, unknowingly letting Linias continue to do the talking.

The woman, quickly getting the idea of the pair, focuses her attention on Linias and extends her hand, “Revi.”

Linias bites back his hesitation and a little reluctantly shakes it, still a bit shaken from the flames and the potential threat of such.

“You’ of the fire elemental’s that lived here I take it?”

“Fire elemental, fire spirit, salamander, whatever the hell you people like to call it now. You’re clearly a mage, and he’s…?”

“We don’t know. We’re traveling to try and figure that out. His hometown was burned down by raiders and we were forced out. Whoever did that is still trying to find us and finish the job.”

“Then I really doubt you guys are the ones who did this, unless you’re feeling vengeful.” Revi sighs, looking upon what’s left of her now abandoned home. “I…don’t know what happened. I usually leave to the neighboring places for work every now and then. I’ve been trying to get enough money for my tribe and I to leave to a warmer climate since it’s been getting colder and colder over here, which I’m sure I don’t have to tell you isn’t all that habitable for us. And when I came back…”

“Everyone was gone.”

“Yeah…I’ve been searching around the outskirts but can’t find any hints. There’s no way they would’ve just left like that, they couldn’t even if they wanted to! Just look around! We’re barely getting by as it is–ughh…”

The retainer meddled with his locket. Home, family. Gone in an instant. He wasn’t supposed to feel pity for others, but…

Linias sighed, It’d be better for our survival, he told himself.

“If you want, you can travel with us. We’re headed to Bevolia, I know someone that might be able to help, and if they can’t I’m sure someone else there would know something. An entire town’s population can’t just vanish overnight without leaving behind some kind of clue.”

Haetia, who was tuning out the entire conversation, honed in on the key words ‘travel with us’. “What don’t just invite her along! We barely have any food as is!”

“If we shun everyone we meet we’re not going to make it even half way there, Master.” Rather than going back and forth with him, he ended it at that before redirecting the question back to Revi. “So?”

Revi looked back at her deserted village. Again…He had a point.

“...Sure. I’ll come, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stay. If whatever happened to my tribe happens to be in a different direction from wherever you guys are headed, then we’ll be saying our goodbyes.”

“That’s fine, since the same applies on our end.”

“Ugh, whatever!” The pale prince groans, crossing his arms and sticking his nose in the air after his stance on the matter being ignored. “Just put me back on the horse and be done with it. I don’t understand the point of a servant if they disobey your orders.”

The fire spirit mouths to him, Is he always like this? to which Linias only solemnly nods, making her retch in turn.

After she collects a few small belongings, Revi looks back one last time at the abandoned village.

I’ll bring you all home. I promise.

Saying her temporary farewells to her home, she sets off with the pair.


     With the capital city Bevolia still a day’s walk away, they rested by a river for the night. On the bright side, with a fire elemental Linias didn’t have to worry about starting a fire himself as he always hated the process for obvious reasons. Unsurprisingly, the horse rested by Linias while Haetia and Revi were a century’s distance apart from one another.

Over the fire Linias roasted a potato for each of them, handing them off afterwards and giving a few carrots to Summer.

“How come it gets to eat more than me?!” Haetia immediately complained at the sight.

She is larger than you and needs more nutrients, or like I said before, I could carry you if you don’t like it, Sire.”

“Are you being a smartass with me?”

“No, I’m being honest.”

Gritting his teeth more and more from Summer’s sly side-eye, Haetia soon enough reaches his limit and shoots up from the tree he was laying against.


“I’m not fucking running off! I’ll be by the river and you better not follow me!”

Linias opens his mouth to further protest the action but by then Haetia is already off in the distance. Instead, what was once going to be words ends up a sigh.

“You’re not going after him?” Revi’s hands engulf in flames and the end result is her potato nearly burning to a crisp–the sight alone almost causing Linias to wince but it comes out as a scowl. Nonetheless, she plops it into her mouth like it’s a delectable treat.

He tries to brush it off, focusing on his own dinner. “I’ll know if trouble is coming, and I can still see his silhouette from here.”

She glances behind her, clearly seeing Haetia’s red and gold cardigan and snow-touched frame even from this distance.

“Huh. Good for you I guess, he’s like his own beacon.”

“For better or for worse.”

Double checking that Haetia is out of earshot, she brings her voice just a few notches lower, “...You’re really his servant? You don’t look the part, no offense. Usually servants are–I don’t know–more refined? Like suits and all that.”

“The terminology isn’t important to me, but that’s what he likes to say, and if that’s the case then that’s what I am. My job is to protect him first, then serve him second.”

“Said like a real lifeless golem. You don’t enjoy your job right? I know I wouldn’t, with that kind of a brat. I one HUNDRED percent would’ve just ditched him somewhere, unless his parents are paying you super well or something.”

“His parents passed.”

“Oh–I’m sorry I didn’t–”

“Don’t be, because he isn’t.” Linias sighs again, setting aside the remaining half of his dinner for whenever Haetia returns likely wanting more to eat. “Whether I enjoy my job or not isn’t relevant. It’s my duty to keep him safe and I’ll do everything it takes to do that.”

Revi’s lips pursed, seeing the conversation quickly revolving in circles when it came to the topic of Haetia and it was honestly quite infuriating for her to hear; so, she tried a different angle.

“Well, why are you guys going to Bevolia? Gonna settle there?”

“No. I know someone that could tell us more about the Ivory Shore. His father told us to go there if something were to happen to his hometown.”

“Let me guess, you’ll learn about whatever he is over there.”


“Creepy. Why couldn’t he just tell you guys? I mean, if that’s really his son and all why would he just hide something that important?”

“I…don’t know.”

“You’ve been with him since he was a kid right? At least that’s the impression I get.”

“I have. I just…I never really thought about it. I was told not to.”

“And you didn’t question it, just like that?”


Once again, the conversation started to revolve seemingly endlessly. She didn’t even need to ask if Haetia ever questioned it either since he was evidently always with his nose and head high in the clouds, not really caring about his surroundings.

Revi pokes at the logs within the campfire, unwittingly unsettling the retainer. Summer softly neighs, nuzzling her neck against Linias to comfort him.

“You said your friend might know something about what happened to my tribe too?”

“She isn’t a friend–”


“No. Just someone I know.”

“Definitely a lover.”

Linias sighs in defeat, ignoring Revi’s playful antics. Clearing his throat, he continues, “Yes, she might. We’ll ask when we get there.”

“She better! They couldn’t have gotten far, especially if we did assume that they were kidnapped or something. No one can just transport that many people without causing some kind of problem or raising some form of alarm.”

“It didn’t seem like a kidnapping, there were no signs of a struggle or fight.”

“Okay well whatever it is, I’m still gonna find them! Even if they just abandoned me for some reason, I’m at least gonna demand answers!”

Linias fiddled with his locket some more. He wasn’t sure whether he admired her resolve or felt pity for her inability to move on. Whatever it was, he resolved to help her at least for now. Hopefully in a mutual benefit.

In the meantime, Haetia relaxed against a tree by the riverbed listening silently to the stream as it flowed. He only hoped that the city would be everything he dreamed of and that he’d be able to take care of this…urge. The ivory royal glanced back. His servant and that new girl were still talking to each other, good. It was risky to touch himself here, but he’d rather take the risk than have to hold it in any longer.

This time though it was infinitely less satisfying than the previous day, which in itself wasn’t satisfying either. He never had to go this long without being with someone before and he could already see himself becoming irritable the longer this deficit continued. Now, all of his hopes were on the fact that Bevolia would be the city of his dreams, and that his servant wouldn’t interrupt that fantasy.

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