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 Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13

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Reval
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PostSubject: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Wed 30 Aug - 14:23

Guess this'd be the place for a story...it's non-ab/dl/babyfur, and such, but it is about furries...in a way...I suppose..um.

I'll get this outta the way...to those schooled in transformation lit, there was a fairly large web community centered around a place called Metamor Keep. The story as it went was a castle of individuals were cursed by a lich into either babies and old folk, animals, or ridiculous exaggerations of the opposite sex. Then, some good gent came and tried to reverse the spell, and mostly succeeded. The babies turned into toddlers, the animals into furries, the bimbos into big chested women.

If you can imagine, it got kinda silly. So I tried to reimagine the world, change a few things, and make it my own. Ladies and gentlemen, yet another work in progress from Reva, I present,

Blue Eyes, One Fate.

Chapter One

Colin sighed and wiped the beads of sweat from his face. The midday sun beat down hard upon him, and he shifted his wide brim hat to shield his eyes from the sun. His wagon shifted and buckled, responding to the road they dutifully marched along. Glancing around, the young man was starting to regret a few of his life's choices.

"This is your first trip, isn’t it?" A voice spoke up from below the wagon. Colin didn't' turn towards the source, but smiled wanly.

"It's that obvious, isn’t it?"

"Oh, aye. You want the real experience, you'd come down here and march on foot with the rest of us," Garret Lucris said, chuckling. "It'd build you some character, lad."

"Thanks but no. I'm barely making it steering the cart as I am."

The old man laughed, shifting some of his ill fitting armor around. A large man, Garret was the Captain of the five guards hired to see Colin's cargo safely into the Noremac Forest. "Suit yourself, lad. I can give you a tip to keep your mind off the sun, if you'd care to hear it."

"I'll listen to anything. My legs are numb, my clothes are soaked through with sweat, and I think I'm starting to get delirious. What advice can you offer me?"

Garret seemed thoughtful. He scratched at the wisps of hair he had growing from his otherwise bald chin. "Well, you remember the brothel we passed, back in that one town, four days back?"

"Vaguely. I didn't' go in."

"Mores the pity, lad! You see, my feet may be marching up this wretched slope, but my mind is still happily ensconced in Le Beaudeu Risque." He laughed again at Colin's disgusted expression. "Still a boy you are, but you're coming along. Take it easy, we're almost upon Eisis. We can get a rest and a bit to drink once we get there." He nodded once and fell back in line with the other guards, leaving Colin to his thoughts. Having no memory of the brothel, his mind turned towards his home life, and the choices he had made to end him here, guiding a caravan up to a mysterious castle lodged deep in the woods.

Colin was born in a small village in the province of Kingfisher. He had been his family's only child, though his mother had worked him with the burden of twenty. They had lived the harsh life of farmers, toiling from sun up to sun down just trying to make enough food to last them from each winter to the next. They lived a good deal from the main village, so visitors other than the local tax collector were few. He had few memories of his father, who had left to seek out other avenues of revenue to support his family. He never returned, but Colin had been too young to have made any lasting memories of him. His mother, an extremely...strong woman, had taken over from him. She ruled over the land and her children with an iron fist, disobeyed only at great personal peril.

For years and years Colin had toiled at the farm, dutifully resigning himself to a dull existence. If there is a thing you should know about farm work, it is that barring the odd meteorological event, it differs very little from day to day. It wasn’t a great life, but at least they had enough food and shelter for the two of them. He wouldn' know what a girl was if he hadn' made a single trip to the local village several years ago. At least he knew how to read and write. His mom, who spoke very little of her life before him, had been a scribe of some sort for the local magistrate. She had made sure he knew how to write, if only to have something further to drill into him.

It was on the eve of his seventeenth birthday when a drifter wandered by, looking for a handout. Colin's mother had made him work for it, and the poor man had chopped wood for the better part of the afternoon. But after the drifter had gone, he left something behind. Plague. Colin and his mother both took very ill, but somehow, Colin had made it through. His mother hadn't' been so lucky. As Colin buried her in the ground behind their farm, he realized that now he was bereft of a sense of purpose, direction. Now that he was free in a sense, he wasn’tt' so inclined to continue on with the farm life he had been born to. Gathering everything of any value, he had put the land and the farm up for auction, hoping to use the money he earned to make something better of himself.

The town he had found himself in, alone, for the first time frightened him. It galvanized him as well. He had been beset with the feeling that there was so much more to the world, and it was his desire now to see it all. This was exactly what Kaden's Shipping and Delivering was offering.

"See the world beyond the Nearlands! Meet new and exciting people! Experience the joys and hardships of the Great Road!"

Upon reading the signs posted in the window, the young man was hooked. Those promises were just what he had been looking for. Unfortunately, three months of being the medieval equivalent of a delivery boy quickly grew sour. He was deemed too inexperienced to be given the important deliveries, and too green for any of the long distance ones. As such, he was regulated to delivering the daily post, going door to door, handing out parcels, and relying on the tips that the recipients gave out from time to time. All in all, a dull existence.

That is, until a crate of steel ore came into the town, a large wagon with a forwarding address to Castle Raev, a small (by kingdom standards) kingdom to the far north. The address was met with some reservation by the other shippers, and most of the veteran delivery boys declined the job. Boss Kaden was getting nervous, until Colin had volunteered for the job. He had no idea where the Keep was, or anything else about it for that matter, but all he knew was that it was far away. He would get to see more of the world, hopefully meet new and exciting people, and experience that which he beaten the plague for. With some reservations, Kaden had given the Raev job to him, but on the stipulation that he take an armed escort. Not to watch over him, of course, but to make sure nothing happened to the cargo on it's way. Colin agreed, overjoyed.

Three weeks later, and they were still on that long, dusty road. There were long intervals between towns, and once they reached each one, he was far too exhausted to either take in the sights, or go off in search of people to meet. All in all, a dull existence. "What an idiot I was," Colin reflected sourly, fading in and out of unconsciousness as the sun poured down on him. "We're going to be stuck on this gods-forsaken road forever..."

"We're here, lad!"

Colin blinked and shook his dirty blonde hair out of his green eyes. They had emerged from the forest trail. Colin pulled his mules to a stop and dismounted, blinking through the sunlight. Nestled up against the trees was a lovely little town, huddling close to where the grass met the trees. The other guards hadn't yet stopped moving. They lost any semblance of discipline as they all crowded into the local tavern, laughing and shouting. Only Garret stood behind, grinning up at Colin. The boy grinned back, and hurriedly lashed his cart to a nearby post. Even though he had a slight distrust of alcohol (medieval brews were more sand then liquid) he quickly followed after the guards.

The others filed around the tavern, soaking up the sights (there were a few comely bar wenches) and raucously ordering up drinks. Colin let them be, and took a seat by the bar. There was a steam driven fan set over head that rapidly cooled those sitting beneath it. The barkeep looked up as he sat down.

"A mug for you, my lord?"

"A mug of water, if it's clean, thank you."

"You'd be better off with the ale."

"I'm fine then."

The barkeep grunted and returned to his stein polishing.

One of the guards had taken too long to grab a seat, and was just now realizing that all the good ones were taken. There was an open spot on the bar next to Colin, and the guard, with some reservation, hunkered down in it. He didn't speak to Colin.

Armed warriors were like a new species of man to Colin. He never had much use for the combat arts as a farmer, and he still carried with him the starry eyed tales of knights and battle that his mother used to tell him in bed . He had hoped that with his savings he could have bought a sword, but unfortunately, the cost paid to Boss Kaden to hire him had been just a little too high. This guard didn't seem like the shining knights of old, though. Ugly, with many battle scars crossing a face only a mother could love, (reluctantly) the man's eyes seemed frozen in a permanent scowl. Still, he was company, and Colin tried to start a conversation.

"Um...Argyle, was it?"

A noncommittal noise was his only reply.

"Well, I was just curious...do you anything about where we're headed? I mean, there is nothing of Raev Castle in any of the guides that the shipper provided."

The guard snorted. "What, Freak land? There's nothing to know about it. You'd better just be damn quick with your dealings with those people. If anything happens up there, I'm holding you responsible."

The man's suddenly hostile attitude startled Colin, who had until this point only really talked to Garret. His eyes narrowed. This was his caravan, and these guards were in his employ.

"What do you mean by that? What could happen to us at the keep?"

"Oh, you'll see. Just remember what I said." Argyle said, standing as he noticed a table open up. "It'll be your head."

Colin had no reply to that. He didn't notice Garret walk up behind him. "Ah, lad, don't let him get to you. Old Argyle's just a little too head hit for his own good." He took the empty seat. "Barkeep! A mug of your finest!"

"Well, I guess I can understand that. What can you tell me about the Castle? I mean, is it something really bad? Should I be regretting making this trip anymore then I do now?"

He chuckled. "Well, I'd really hate to ruin the surprise. I'll ask you this first. Do you have all the paper work all sorted out?"

Colin patted the dark satchel he wore at his hip. "I just need to have a magistrate or someone important sign the contract, get paid, and we can be back on the road within an hour."

"Oh, I don't think we'd be out that quickly," Garret said. "Despite what you might have heard, the Keep is actually larger then Kingfisher and that neighboring town put together."

"Wow...I can't even imagine that."

"Well yeah, it's big, and the people of Raev are damn odd, but their gold is as good as anyone else. This isn't my first trip to Raev...I actually think it's kind of neat. The keepers just give the other guys the willies. Try not to stare, and we'll be fine."

Colin thought this over. "Well, what are you talking about? I mean, what's so special about Raev?"

Garret looked at the boy with confused eyes. "You mean you really don't know? I thought you were joking or something. Just get off the farm or something?

"Well, actually..."

"Oh boy. Well, here, buy me another drink and I'll spin you the story." He grinned wide as the barkeep overheard his request. "Anyhow, Raev, 'the castle in the wood' was once like any other kingdom. It's not huge, but its big enough. The king of Raev lives in ole Raev Castle, and that's a nice dwelling if you've ever seen one. Highly esteemed Thread Academy. I mean highly esteemed. Rich folk would send their kids all the time. But all that is bells and whistles that you could find at any other large province. There are two things that make it different." He looked down and lost himself in the tankard of ale. It didn't seem like he was going to come up for air.

Colin waited a moment, then leaned forward and shook the other man. "Garret, come on! Why is it different?"

Garret snorted. "Storms take you, I was just starting to enjoy this. That's the way you drink, Colin. You start with a full mug and don't stop until it's gone. Now it's ruined." He finished it anyway. "I'm getting to it. Alright. You've heard of the Alrath, right?"

Colin shook his head.

Garret sighed. "Well a mage could probably tell you more, but the basic thing of it is that the Alrath is like a whirlpool for spent magic or something. I've heard that a little bit of all magic cast ends up there. It s the only place in the world that this happens, y know." Colin looked suitably impressed. "Anyway, that's one thing that set Raev apart from the norm. The other thing was a nasty little bugger by the name of...er... well, I can't remember his name. He was a renegade green-threader; he was, a really strong one, too. And all he ever tried to do was take over the Alrath. Constant wars, battles, just a general mischief maker. Standing in his way, of course, was the whole of Raev. And they don't fall easily." He looked thoughtful. "He almost did it once, though. Finally got it together, and cast a huge curse on Raev, knocked them senseless. Except for this one mage, who was coming back to the keep after a trip. The green mage and this other guy fought, but both were killed before it was over. But before he bit it, the Raev tried to reverse the curse that was laid on the keep. But...well, he only partially succeeded."

Colin ingested this for a little bit. "What does green magic do?"

Thinking this over, Garret said, "Changes stuff into other stuff."

"So are they...still human?"

The older man snorted and closed his eyes, waving for another drink. "Depends on who you ask, kid." He wouldn't say any more.

Colin thanked him for that, paid the tab (before it got too high) and decided to check out the rooms he had reserved for the night. Though shabby, the bed was comfortable, and his cart was guaranteed safety. He laid down, disquieted, thinking about Garret's words.

What am I getting into?


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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Wed 30 Aug - 14:23

Chapter Two

The following morning dawned bright and clear. Colin woke unnaturally early, and took the opportunity to go and get the wagon ready for travel. He had expected to have to wait for the guards to wake, but it turns out that they had beaten him. Fully geared and ready to go, they strode anxiously by the cart. Garrets cheeks were flushed red, but the big man seemed hale and hearty. He looked at them with an inward sigh and mounted the cart, checked his satchel, and urged the don’tkey on. He could eat lunch on the trail. Supposedly, the gates of the keep were about a days ride still. Barring a long break, they’d make it just before nightfall.

As the day wore on, Colin noticed the guards grow tenser and tenser. Even Garret seemed a bit ill at ease. He slowed his cart down to match the Captain’s cautious speed.

“Something bothering you?“ he asked.

Garret looked around. “Well, lets just say there is a reason that we were sent along with you. One, it was to watch the ore, and two, well, this forest is crawling with goblins.”

“Goblins?”

One of the guards overheard and laughed derisively. “What’s wrong kid, afraid of a big bad gremlin? Those little bastards barely make your waist. More like wild dogs then anything. Don’t worry about it.”

“Hold your tongue, Curry,” Garret growled at his second in command. “You know as well as I do that Noremac goblins are smarter then their lowland cousins. We have to keep our heads here, as big as they may be.”

Colin didn’t say anything after the exchange, but gripped the reigns tighter, looking into the dense forest around him. He couldn’t see anything past a few feet into the trees. He shifted his hat around, fidgeting, and finally removed it completely. He let it sit for a bit, in his hands, then placed it back on his head. The floppy brown field hat was his sole possession that he kept from his family’s land. Colin knew it looked ridiculous, but it kept the sun out of his eyes. He loosened the fine gray scarf he had wrapped around his neck, the morning’s chill quickly burning off. He felt as if there was a tingle in the air, but he attributed it to the humidity.

The ride was uneventful, slow, and uphill. Colin didn’t pay much attention to the grumbling of the guards. He had finished the sandwiches he had packed, but his stomach was still grumbling too. He tried to tune it out as he noticed a small sign at the side of the road. It was a simple wooden post, but the writing on it was elegantly scripted.

“Welcome All Ye To Raev”

The guards grew noticeably tenser as they passed it. A few of them unsheathed their swords. Colin looked around nervously, getting the odd feeling that the trees themselves had eyes. They weren’t a few feet past the sign when suddenly, two arrows came screaming out of the woods, embedding themselves in the ground in front of the horses. Colin pulled hard on the reins, fighting for control. Garret stepped past him.

“Kind folks of Raev! We bring a caravan of supplies for you! We are expected!”

“So you are,” a dark voice spoke, seemingly from out of nowhere. “If its all the same to you, , please, present your papers.”

Colin jumped, and whirled, the voice coming from very near to his left. Two tall figures detached themselves from the long shadows and came to stand before the cart. Both were completely covered in dark leather robes, their hoods totally obscuring their faces. The young delivery boy stared for a moment, before Garrets cough brought him back to reality. He hastily dug through his satchel, finally finding the permission slip that Kaden had given him at the start of the journey. He held it out the man, rolled up, but the dark figure made no move for it. Instead, he nodded towards it. Colin, understanding, opened the note and exposed the wax seal on the envelope. The man grunted and turned to his comrade, who nodded.

“As the sign says, welcome to Raev. I hope you enjoy yourselves,” the man said, before he and his partner faded back into the forest. His voice had been very raspy. Colin wondered if hey were horribly disfigured.

“ Now we really have to move,” Garret muttered, walking pace with Colin, “ if we want to get to the Keep before dark. Let me tell you. We do not want to be stuck after dark out here.”

They were about a mile away when the attack came.

The guards had kept an unwavering vigilance for most of the day, but their nerves wore raw after so much time. The knowledge of how close they were to relative civilization relaxed them all, and jokes began flying again. As it was, they still had a moments warning, coming from one of the guards trailing the wagons.

That warning was the snare that wrapped hard around his ankle, pulling him into the trees with a startled shout.

“Goblins!” Garret yelled as the sound of shrieking steel filled the air. Colin’s eyes widened as a horde of screaming little creatures hurled themselves out of the threes and onto the guards and horses, attacking eyes and vitals with sharp, crude little knives. The horses shied and jumped, and it was all Colin could do to keep them from bolting. Below, the guards fought against the goblins two to a man. Garret found himself surrounded, but the portly man grinned as his sword danced death with the little people.

Suddenly, sharp pain erupted through Colin’s head as something roughly grabbed his hat, and with it, most of the long hair kept underneath it. In reflex, he whirled, and found himself face-to-snout with one of the ugliest things he had ever seen. The goblin’s face was resembled a humans, but only at first shocked glance. A large bulbous nose was the centerpiece on the face, a face pockmarked with disease and filth. Dark, glowing, yellow eyes spoke of savage cunning, and mindless cruelty. Colin gave a shout, and grabbing onto his hat with his left hand, wildly shoved the creature with his right. It fell off the cart with a curse, right into the path of Argyle’s sweep. The guard gave an encouraging wave, and continued with the task at hand.

The fight seemed to be going the guard’s way. Most bore little wounds from the goblin’s tiny daggers, but the guards were decimating the goblin hoard. About a dozen of the little things had emerged from the forest, and more then half that lay in little heaps on the gound. Getting his courage back, Colin turned around, filled with adrenaline, almost prepared to jump down and join the battle. Though he hadn’t had the money to purchase a sword, he had a small dagger that he had purchased early in his travels. One of the horses twisted, causing the cart to lurch and call his attention forward. His eyes were drawn to a wickedly smiling goblin perched precariously on the hitch between the horses. Colin further noticed as it whipped a sling around his head, pointing at him. Colin’s eyes followed the flight of the rock that left the aforementioned sling as it shot towards him.

Then his eyes focused on the flashing stars in front of his eyes and after that focused on nothing at all.

“Who’d we lose, Curry?”

“No one, thank the gods. Hassan may lose an eye, and everyone has a few dagger wounds. But that’s it. We actually came pretty well out of that. Oh, and the kid…”

“Gods damn. We don’t have a choice. We’re going to have to leave him here, in the Keep.”

“But…”

“Hopefully, the healers will be able to get him back on his feet before week’s end. He can make it to Eisis, at least, on his own.”

“And if not?”

“I like him. He’s a strong kid, I know he will be able to deal with it. If anything, it will be something new for the farm boy to experience. Quiet up, there’s the Keeper now.”

“Captain, I would like to personally apologize for my not being there to assist you. We never suspected the goblins would dare to get this close to the Keep. They have been bolder of late, and far more skilled. Is there anything else I can do for you or your men?”

“The bonus you paid was quite generous, sir, and your healers are miracle workers. I feel you've given all you really can... but I must ask a favour.”

“Anything, lord Captain.”

“One of my men suffered a serious head wound. Could you take him in?”

“Are you sure you can take care of him? You know what will happen...”

“Your people stopped the bleeding, but he’s still unconscious. For his sake, I will not risk the ride down with him, and the men are wounded, anxious to go. He’ll die with us. The only chance he has is with you.”

“I can’t possibly refuse. But dare I say that waking up unaware in Raev Keep can be quite an experience...”
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Wed 30 Aug - 14:24

Chapter Three

Voices in the darkness.

“Did he wake yet?”

“I don’t know. He was stirring earlier, but he has yet to open his eyes.”

Colin wondered at these words, intruding on his dreams like that. He was having quite pleasant dreams right now, dreams that included beautiful women, who had somehow lost their clothes, dreams of the guards doing folk dances, dreams of the road, of his mother, occasionally one of these weird creatures in black robes hitting him with rocks. Overall, however, they were all quite pleasant, and Colin wondered what these new voices would bring.

“Do you think we should give him another day? I mean, it hasn‘t manifested yet. We do not know this boy; for all we know, he might react badly if he wakes up only to have grown a-”

“Admirable thoughts, but let me put it this way. The Lord Cleric is away, and his students have don’te all I think they can do. The wound is healed, but if he doesn’t wake up today, its possible that this sleep will be a permanent thing. Is there anything you can do?”

“Well, there is something I could try, but I’ve never tested it before. It might have…unpredictable results…”

“I was just going to shake him roughly.”

“Ah, good point. Now…let me see here…”

Colin slipped back into the beautiful women dream, but something began to interrupt it. Some sort of ripple that slid across the dream, interrupting it. Colin was really disappointed by this, because the beautiful women were moving in ways that made them really interesting, and Colin was fascinated. But the ripples came faster and faster, and the women weren’t coming back as fast, There was a pause, then came a long ripple that made them disappear for good and threw him into an uncomfortable blackness.

“ He's stirring again. I almost got him up. But…I don’t dare continue. The boy might wake a vegetable!”

“Intriguing mental image, Zai, but I think I can take it from here.”

“Please be gentle.”

“Don’t worry!”

THUMP!

“Ow!”

“He’s up!”

“That hurt!”

Restored to wakefulness, Colin struggled to open his stubborn eyes and restore feeling to his body. Grumbling to himself, he grimaced as blood raced through his body, causing a painful tingling. With a bit of effort, he forced open his eyes, the sharp feeling of light hitting them almost making him shut them again. The glare slowly fuzzed away. For a quick moment, he thought he was back on the trail, manning the cart, and mentally resigned himself to another day of hard trudging. Then his eyes focused on the object not five inches from his nose.

Two glowing blue eyes stared down at him, burning into him with savage intensity. Leaning closer, the long, metallic snout below the eyes opened, reveling row after row of very sharp looking teeth. A cold puff of air lit upon Colin‘s face, causing him to blink. Doing so did not make the monster go away, if anything, brought it into sharper focus.

“Why, hello there!”

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”

Colin surged against unresponsive limbs, trying to struggle away from the monster in front of him. He had heard voices, had this thing eaten them, and now wanted to make a meal of him? His legs, however, refused to move quickly after so long a rest, so Colin was reduced to rather ungraceful thrashings under the covers of the bed he was in. Forget the monster, what was he doing in a bed?

He was still dressed in the leather armour that had been a part of his uniform, but someone had removed the grey scarf that he had wound around his neck for warmth. Colin cast his eyes around, trying to make some sense of the situation he was in, looking for an escape route or a weapon of some sort.

“The monster must be sated, having eaten those other two people,” he thought frantically. “That’s got to be the only reason I’m still alive!”

With a bit of a yelp, Colin’s thrashing finally freed him of the bed covers, only to land him on the hard wood floor of the room. He scuttled back until his shoulders hit the wall, trying to keep the monster in view. Doing so brought another creature into view. Slowly, his breathing slowed, and he tried to make sense of the confused images his eyes were sending his brain. He was sitting on the floor of a small room plain by most standards, with a low ceiling. There was a nightstand with a glass of water on it, and a plain wooden door directly across from where he sat. Of course, all of this was subconsciously noted. He was more focused on the... mouse...leaning against the wall, holding a book, and the seven foot monster nervously fiddling with a piece of his yellow robes..

A giant literate mouse and a monster lizard wearing clothes. “Did I really wake up?” Colin wondered. The tingling feeling he had felt walking up the trail was all around him, like a bad itch, but Colin didn’t notice. There were more important things to be concerned with at the moment. Like the giant monster with the burning blue eyes. It stood upright, like a human, but its head was more like a reptiles, long and pointed, and as Colin had seen, full of razor sharp teeth. Its skin was a shiny gray, but the hair or plumage that ran from the back of its head was brightly painted in a multitude of colors. It shyly raised a viciously clawed hand in some sort of greeting.

The mouse set his book down on the nightstand and sighed. “I knew you’d scare him, Zaika. Hell, you even scare me sometimes.”

“Be silent, Trajen! You’re not helping.”

Colin gaped as the lizard raised his head to retort at the mouse, then, seeing Colin staring, lowered it again. A very uncomfortable moment passed. The lizard spoke first, seeming like he finally had worked up the courage to.

“Um... Sorry about all this. Ah, my name is Zaika Rustwillow, and the fellow over there is Trajen Cole. Ah... welcome to Raev Keep, um...” he fell silent, nervously steepling his claws together.

Colin found his tongue. “What the hell is going on?” he demanded weakly.

The monster, Zaika, seemed confused. “Raev Keep. Do you not know? I thought everyone knew.”

Colin shook his head, causing a mild headache to flare up. He wanted to lie back, but he couldn’t relax until he figured out what by the Storms was going on. He tried to keep the squeak of terror he felt in his stomach out of his voice. To his credit, it only quivered slightly. “I just got off the farm two weeks ago, and the guards in my caravan weren’t the sociable types. They didn’t like coming here, but no one would tell me why.”

“Not surprising at all. And you really don’t know anything about us? About the magic particular to this castle?”

“Nothing. You do know that you are a giant talking monster, right?”

“Yes, I’m more then aware of that fact.” Zaika took a deep breath, seeming almost as afraid of Colin as the boy was of him. “I guess I overestimated our Keep’s notoriety. Your reaction is…understandable, then, giving the circumstance.” Zaika said, straightening up a bit. He was even more frightening now.

“Like there’s nothing scary about a giant lizard with thousands of razor-sharp teeth,” Colin thought.

Zaika put a claw to his face, looking thoughtful. His accent was rich and thick, like a scholar s voice. It was a far cry from Colin’s own soft drawl. “Normally people just stare a bit when they meet one of us. And most visitors are more worried about Reeve‘s legacy to really be concerned us. I’m so sorry for startling you.”

Colin tried to ask what legacy the visitors were so afraid of, but Zaika talked too quickly to be interrupted.

“Well, I’ll er... show you around the Keep later...Its far too much for you right now. Trajen? Could I trouble you to take up my shift? I really need... er... to give my reports.” The monster stepped towards the door, and Colin was able to settle back, if at least a little, though he couldn’t take his eyes off the lizard. He could see that Zaika was really nervous about something, unable to make eye contact with him at all. Which was fine; Colin wasn’t too eager to have a giant reptile stare him in the eye.

Trajen just shrugged and picked up his book again. Zaika bowed quickly, turned and all but fled through the door.

Colin had millions upon millions of questions for the remaining nurse, who, compared to Zaika, was not very weird or threatening at all. But Trajen didn’t appear to be receptive to conversation, and after helping him back into bed, resumed a silent watch, firmly immersed in his book. Once the adrenaline rush of staring into Zaika’s mouth had worn off, Colin found himself to be horribly tired. He eventually drifted off, never taking his eyes off the humanoid mouse as he did. This time, no dreams visited him in his sleep.

Soon, Colin woke up quickly and easily, his body finally refreshed. More so than that, he felt... .sharp. Like he had never been more awake or alert. Colin attributed it to the amount of bed rest he had gotten. The tingling was still there, but not as bad as the last time.

The mouse...Trajen was still in the corner reading. At first, Colin’s greeting and subsequent questions were ignored, but Colin didn’t stop until the man (?) set his book down with a sigh, giving Colin his full, if slightly annoyed, attention.

“How long was I out?” was the first thing he asked that was answered.

Trajen glanced over at a hanging calendar of sorts that rested on the wall. “Maybe a week,” he said.

Colin had no idea how he could have slept that long. He had vague recollections of being hit in the head…“A week! What happened to the supply cart? The guards I was with?”

“They left, and your delivery was received. The guards took with them the pay for the materials and a letter to your master, explaining what had happened. Your odds of survival were pretty low, and they couldn’t stay long in the Keep without consequences.”

“That makes sense,” Colin thought, “Kaden probably had another job lined up for them, and they couldn’t afford to wait until I was better.”

He was silent for a moment. The mouse started to reach for his book again when another question occurred to him.

“Who are you?”

The man shrugged and stepped over to the bed, presumably so Colin could get a better look at him. He was short, standing as tall as Colin’s head while sitting up on the relatively low cot. Though he walked on two legs like a normal human, his face and hands were almost purely that of a rodents. Tan and grey fur covered him from head to toe (as far as Colin could see), and a long, lightly furred tail twitched idly behind him. His hands were mostly human, though they ended in sharp little claws rather then round human nails. His eyes, however, were not the glassy organs of his species (?) rather, he had two very human blue eyes set into the brown fur. A brown leather jerkin covered his torso, and dark brown trousers covered the rest of him. He didn’t seem to mind Colin’s stare, he simply stared back with a bored expression on his face. (As far as Colin could tell)

“My name is Trajen Cole. I’m the Head Librarian here at Raev. In my spare time, I’m also a part time scout, part time nurse, and full time Physitofia Rodensia.“ He paused. “Woodland Field Mouse, to you. That’s pretty much the way of things here; everyone can do a little bit of everything. A lot of us have rotated keeping an eye on you. Well, everyone except Zai. He's been here almost the entire time you've been asleep.”

“Why?”

“Two reasons. He was on patrol the night you were attacked. The goblins that infest the surrounding forest have been getting smarter, and ambushed him just as he was leaving to see you into the keep. They succeeded in delaying him, and now he feels guilty about not stopping them in time. Secondly, this is his house.”

“He stopped a band of goblins all by himself?”

“Does that surprise you?”

Colin thought for a second. “No.”

“Unfortunately, Zaika is an Astrologist, no warrior, regardless of whatever he looks like. Most of us could have taken out a patrol of goblins in about thirty seconds. Zai just isn’t as concerned with the martial art like the rest of us. Spends far too much time staring at the stars instead of practicing with the others, something I think may change in light of your accident.”

Colin wondered what the standard of good was in the Keep. He was in shock trying to picture him taking on eight goblins by himself.

“So please, don’t be too hard on him. He'll probably follow you like a puppy trying to make it up to you, but he ll get over it eventually.” He cocked his head and stood away from the bed. “Speaking of which…”

An extremely loud knock shook the door. The iron latch on the door turned, and Zaika walked in, dressed in dark green robes, still looking as sheepish as his fearsome muzzle would allow.

“Um, hello there. I was walking by and was wondering, are you feeling up to walking around? I’d love to give a quick tour of the Keep, if you don’t mind.” He moved closer to Colin then he would have preferred, but the shock was beginning to wear off.

Colin stood up slowly, getting off the bed on the opposite side as the lizard. He took an experimental stretch, and realized that he did feel good. Hell, he felt great, like he had just slept for a week.

He had.
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Wed 30 Aug - 14:25

“Yeah, I’m ready.” The tingling was barely noticeable today, and now, fear was melting away in the face of burning curiosity. Upon waking, he had encountered two fantastic creatures. What did the rest of the Keep hold? What had he been missing, slaving on that farm? He shook out his knees, and taking one last one last long look at Trajen, let Zaika lead him out the of the room. Trajen sighed, and picking up his book, started where he had left off.

Zaika’s house was busy to the point of a headache. As Colin stepped out of the back room he had waked up in, he was suddenly assaulted at all sides by every colour imaginable. Tapestries of deepest blue, purest green, reds, yellows, hung from the ceiling and draped down like spider webs. The house was small, at least by farmhouse standards, and it seemed ill-suited to the giant monster that was supposed to live here. That thought snapped Colin’s mind back to his ‘guide’, and using the better (if somewhat multicolored) light, took a better look at Zaika Rustwillow. The busyness of the room and the general eccentricy of the décor made the Astrologist seem less…frightening, almost as if he were a costume or oddity that the owner of the house had picked up on a journey in far off lands.

He stood at least a head and a half taller then Colin, and with a long, lashing tail that the boy hadn’t noticed before. He walked on large, shoeless feet, with sharp claws stretching from his three large toes. He was the colour of the sword Colin had wanted to purchase, dull silver with little bits of red rust sprinkled around his mouth. Colin hoped that was just his coloring, and not something more sinister. Focusing on his face made Colin remember some of the stories of dragons his mother used to tell him, huge, monstrous reptiles, full of fiery breath and killing teeth. She usually used such stories to scare him into doing something. Quick. All this was scary in its own right, but there was something in the dark blue eyes (glowing no longer, at least for the moment) that made Colin relax, perhaps irrationally. The big lizard turned his head towards Colin and opened his mouth slightly, but shut it again and kept walking.

Zaika led Colin through his house and out the front door. They had exited the building into a covered courtyard of sorts, with a fountain in the middle gently spouting crystal blue water. Four other houses ringed them in, but there were little alleys off to the sides to get to other places. Zaika took the path leading into light. Colin blinked back sudden tears. This was the first unfiltered sunlight his eyes had seen in a while.

Then blinked again.

There were no other people on this road, but small houses, two-storied and beautiful, lined each side of the path. As a farm boy, his experience in architecture had been limited to thatch huts and the little tavern seven miles from his home. These houses defied anything he could have imagined, elegantly simple, yet masterfully built. And they even had glass windows!

Zaika finally broke the silence once more. “Amazing, isn’t it? This is where the majority of Raev’s people live. The living quarters are spacious, and very rarely someone complains. It s usually two people to a domicile, but families can keep an entire home to themselves. It works out quite well, usually.”

Colin said nothing. He stood just short of gaping and tried to take it all in, but it was impossible.

Each house was painted in a soft grayish red that made the whole area feel, earthy, welcome. Salmon colored roofs topped the structures, and weathervanes of every sort could be seen spinning on top. On some of the houses, beautiful murals had been started, obvious works in progress. Zaika laid a gentle hand on Colin’s shoulder and started up the road. They passed underneath a beautifully carved wooden archway that Zaika pointed out, but Colin was looking at something beyond it. Zaika didn’t notice, and thus continued talking about arch ways and wood, still very nervous.

“We get most of the lumber for the buildings here from the surrounding Noremac Forest. I do believe that was the one your caravan traveled through to get here, right?“ He didn’t wait for an answer. “To be truthful, some say the Gods themselves placed Raev here. The Gods, least the ones that drop by every now and again, vehemently deny it.” Mistaking Colin’s look for a expression of skepticism, his plumage drooped and he quickly said, “Thing is, we haven’t found any history of the keep, you know, the precursors, the ones who actually began... oh, my! My dearest apologies, child, I haven’ even asked your name! Your Captain Garret mentioned it, but I’ve forgotten it, it seems.”

That shook Colin out of his wonderment, at least for a moment. He found he had to think for a moment, before replying.

“Oh, it s Colin. Colin of...oooh.” His voice trailed off as they stepped from under the archway and onto the main road that ran straight down the middle of the keep. Zaika followed his gaze and smirked.

“Ah yes, quite the sight, is it not? Don mind the stares... if you ll pardon’t me, you re the odd one here.”

Colin fought to close his mouth, but it was a hopeless battle. He stared openly, in pure wonderment, not bothering to reply. All around him, life spun crazily. Even given Zaika s somewhat frightening appearance, Colin was starting to get used to him. Well, that or there were too many other things in the Keep that kept his mind from saying, “Hey, you know there’s a seven foot monster walking next to you, right?“

Stepping into the courtyard, he was awed once more. All around were people like Zai and Trajen. A man with antlers and a snout chattered pleasantly with a female wolf. A gaudily colored birdman walked down the hall past them, dressed in robes of the finest silk. A horse that stood on two legs was busy shoveling hay. Three large felines listened gravely to the squeaking voice of a chipmunk.

Only a hand, covered in mirrored scales, caught his attention again. Well, either the hand of the four scythe-like claws that resided on the aforementioned hand.

“Done gawking?” Zaika asked with a grin. He placed his claw on the boy’s shoulder once more, and tried to lead him away. “then let s get go...”

“HEADS UP, KID!”

The shout brought Colin completely out of his daze of amazement. The rush of adrenaline he had first felt around Zaika was back. He felt sharp, ready to handle anything. Well, anything except the hard tackle, which sent him to the ground and drove that feeling right out of him. He thrashed for a second, and turned to face his assailant. A face composed of bright red fur, a dark black nose, and two triangle ears stared back at him. The two blue eyes left his and looked up, up at the carving knife that had embedded above both of their heads with a sickening ‘thunk!’ Zaika hurried to help Colin up.

“Thomas, you... .you... Irresponsible penny head! What did you do to that poor chief this time?”

The fox-man, covered from head to toe in black leather armour, was instantly on his feet. Ignoring the lizard, he turned towards Colin. The sword the fox wore at his waist bumped into Colin’s stomach, cutting through the awe and knocking the breath out of him.

“Hi, lad! Dread sorry about that... accident.” A loud crash was heard. Colin, panting in the face of such quick exertion, turned to see a large bear roaring towards them, wearing a chef s hat and apron. “Allow me to introduce myself. I m T...”

“WHEN I GET MY HANDS ON YOU, YOU DAMNED FOX I‘LL-”

The fox gulped, and bowed quickly. “Sorry boy, need to run. Zai, my dearest friend. You know how it goes. If I don’t‘ make it this time, divide my riches among my orphans. You can have my quill set, you know, the one you like that I borrowed from you last year. Ah…see ya round, kid!” Ducking another projectile culinary object, he grinned a foxy grin, and disappeared. The chef took off after him.

Colin just stared.

“One of these days, he'll serve a St. Wren stew,” Zaika muttered. He turned and followed Colin s gaze. “Oh, don’t mind them. Sooner or later, they’ll both end up in the bar, laughing over the whole thing.” The Astrologist harrumphed and chuckled. “That was Thomas St. Wren, one of our more... noticeable Keepers, as you can see. Don’t let him fool you, though, he s one of the best weapon masters in the nearlands. Best in the world if you listen to him. He's also the captain of our Dragon Defense Force. Well, one of them, at least.”

“Dragon Defense Force?”

“Ah, that reminds me. Have you ever heard of Raev’s Magic Academy?” At Colin’s ’no’, The Astrologist rubbed his hands together. “Excellent! Lets head over there now; It is the most beautiful thing here in keep, and now is the perfect time to see why.”

Magic. A Magical Academy, no less. Up until this morning, Magic had been thing of the cities, something for the rich. It did not visit the common provinces, and had nothing to do with people like Colin. His mother certainly had no use for it. There were hints of it in the stories she used to see him to sleep with, but no more then that. Now, it was all around him, covering him, embracing him. He was sure that was the source of the tingling, and all he had to do was look around at the people here to see it s design. He still didn’t know anything about what had happened here, but he thought it would be rude to ask Zaika about it. A question such as “So, how exactly did you get turned into a terrifyingly gruesome, seven foot monster from my darkest nightmares?“ seemed, at the very least, somewhat intrusive. There was far too much to take in now, anyway. He figured Zaika would tell him later on in this ‘tour’. He nodded quickly, excited, hoping that his questions would be answered at the centerpiece of the magic gathered here. The Academy.

“Splendid! I’ll introduce you to the Headmaster, Azerus, if he’s in. He’s often out and about researching new theories or studying the Alrath that rests behind the Castle.” Colin whirled, hoping to catch a glance of the Castle, but a large row of houses blocked his view. “I’ll warn you now, though, he’s not as cheery as Thomas.”

Colin was pretty sure his heart skipped a few beats as he stood on the steps on the Magic Academy. There were no words to describe how incredible it really was. It was the most beautiful thing the young man had ever seen. His wildest dreams had nothing on the Threader Academy. Not by any stretch of his imagination.

Indeed, the Raev Academy for the Research and Development of the Six Types of Magical Threading was simply breath taking. On two levels, if you re reading this story aloud. Looking up, Colin saw the Academy was in reality a huge tower, looming several stories straight up, to end in a spire far beyond Colin’s field of vision. A gentle blue light emanated from somewhere up there, shining down on him, making him feel nervous, anxious, and welcome beyond any interpretation of the word. Two statues guarded the massive stone doors, hooded, robed figures seemingly frozen in the process of casting some devastating spell. There were sixty five stairs that led up the doors, as Colin subconsciously counted. Intricate blue runes glowed on the white marble surface, telling the stories of the Thread-masters who had come and gone from this hallowed place. Zaika swished his tail in amusement as he half led, half drug Colin into the school.
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Wed 30 Aug - 14:25

The ground floor, which Zaika described as the Common room, where all the students could mingle and converse was far larger then the outside view would let seem. Zaika told him that although the students had their living quarters on the second floor, this is where they spent the majority of their time. Books lined the walls, and a rich, darkly colored rug ran through the halls, making Colin think he had just stepped into some great lord’s house. The King of the World, perhaps, had a home like this one, but only maybe. Beautiful paintings wove tales of threader and warriors battling horrible creatures, as well as several portraits of a serene looking young man.

Allowing Colin to see the paintings, Zai started back down the hall, or started to, when suddenly, the ground was snatched out from under them. With a yelp, Colin sprawled out, trying to grab a ledge of some sort. He stopped after a while as he realized the pit that had opened up beneath him wasn’t going to swallow him whole. He looked down, but his hand over it, and found he could still feel the rug. Scrambling to his feet, the boy grabbed the closest thing next to him, least the hole turn real. That turned out to be Zaika, who sighed.

“Batren... After thirteen years of this, you’d think you’d come up with something a little more original…” As he spoke, the room suddenly was cast into a terrible, all consuming darkness. A huge, grossly distorted face materialized before them, spooking Colin anew, who edged toward the Astrologist, and was mildly surprised that Zaika was huddling closer to him as well.

“YOU ARE MISTAKEN, INTERLOPER! THE PROFESSORS ARE AWAY. NOW BE GONE WITH YOU! AND LEAVE AN OFFERING OF FOOD, LEAST YOU AROUSE THE MIGHTY ANGER OF THE ACADEMY GHOST!.” The voice was daunting, terrifying, and Colin edged closer to Zai, but even he seemed taken back.

“I...I... is this a bad time? I…didn’t mean to…sh...should we come back...later?” he stammered.

The voice seemed to consider. “YES. YES YOU SHOULD. BUT LEAVE FOOD! NOW GE-get out of here, Tod!” The face looked alarmed, then shattered into a million green pieces. Light returned to the hall, and Colin could see again.

Silence.

“I know! I m just having a little fun! You know I need all the practice I can get for the Professor‘s final!”

Boy and lizard-monster stared at each other.

I think its coming from behind there,” Colin said, pointing to a door that was slightly ajar. Zai turned and used his tail to slowly push it open. Both peeked cautiously inside.

A young female rabbit clothed in blue robes was busy arguing with a slightly larger badger, who was clothed in gray. Both had their backs to the door, so did not notice Zaika as he walked in behind them.

“Ahem.”

“Professor Zaika!” the rabbit cried, startled. “I didn’t know it was you out there!” Her blue eyes darted around, as if looking for a place to hide. Her fur, like the rest of her, was white, but for a single patch of grey fur around her left eye. The badger stepped in front of her, and his gray cloak flowed around her like a shield.

“You’ll have to forgive her, Master Zaika. The other students have the day off, as you know, and the other professors left us to guard the Academy. We re the only ones here tonight, because its ...” His voice trailed off as Colin stepped from behind Zaika. “You... you re human!”

Startled, Colin stepped back as the boy stepped forward. He was short, only a little taller then Trajen had been. Long tan colored hair peeked out of his hood, and dark brown fur covered his face. Colin had seen his fair share of badgers working on the farm, and this boy looked no different, save for those dark blue eyes. “I... ah, yeah, I am.”

The young mage stepped closer. “Ah... are you going to be staying? Despite Reeve‘s Curse?”

“I er... I don’t ..” he was cut off by Zaika.

“Yes he is, Folken. Why don’t you introduce yourselves?”

The young man instantly regained is composure. “Oh, yes of course! I m sorry, friend. My name is Folken Todimas. This is my partner, Mililani Kyrand.” he added as an afterthought, “We are the Banishers, of Raev Keep‘s Dragon Patrol.” Poking the girl forward, he stepped back.

“Um... hiya. Reeeeeealy sorry about the whole giant hole and voice and face thing. I was practicing for a quiz.” She turned toward Colin. “What did you say his name was, Professor?”

“I er... he didn’t . I m Colin. Just Colin.” he blushed as it was his turn to hold a stare.

Folken s eyes closed and Mili smiled. “Wow! You know who he looks like? He looks just like-“ An explosion erupted in another part of the academy. “Oh no! My soufflé!” She cried, and ran past them. Folken bowed quickly, and took off after her.

Colin turned to Zaika, who just smiled and shook his head. “Shall we go? There‘s much more to see, and I daresay, this probably isn’t the best time to visit the Academy, with those two in charge.” Colin nodded, and walked slowly towards the marble doors.

As they exited the Academy, Colin was filled with a soft uneasiness, like a growing sense of dread. Zaika noticed his discomfort and asked what was bothering him.

Colin looked down. “Zaika... what you told that mage, Folken...I…why were you so sure I’ll stay? I mean, I’m getting used to all this, but that doesn’t mean that I could stay here forever. I mean, I have a duty to my company...” He stopped. Even though he had been making the half-hearted argument for the sake of it, he didn’t like the look that had filled the astrologists eyes. Soft lights had ignited from behind the pupils, giving him the same scary, threatening look as before. Only this time, those eyes seemed filled with a terrible sadness.

Zaika shuddered deeply and looked away. He turned and started walking, very slowly, away from Colin. “Ah, but for the unrestrained potential of the loose tongue. I had hoped…well, I had hoped I could find a better way to tell you…I…you see, Reeve’s curse…the reason we‘re all like this...it has a lasting effect on our Keep...” .

The tingling grew horribly intense. Some unknown fear blossomed in his heart. It was suddenly very cold.

“What are you…saying?”

Zaika turned quickly and ran up to Colin, taking the boy’s hands in his own. Colin jumped back, startled, and started openly at the Keeper, who bowed very low, sputtering apologies. “I m so sorry, Colin! It s all my fault, I should have been there to help you out! I should have been more diligent in my combat training. But...but…the truth of the thing is that you got caught. We noticed as soon as you woke up. The blue eyes were one thing... but you’ve a bit of fur growing on the back of your neck just below the hair line... Please forgive me, it s my fault! I…”

“Master Zaika!”

A brightly collared seneschal, a robin, came running up.

“ I’ve been searching the whole keep for you! Lord Raev has urgent need of your skills! The ambassador from Gurnoe arrived early, and the lord is without a welcoming speech in the man‘s native tongue!”

Colin stared straight ahead. His mind still hadn’t placed two and two together yet. His eyes…his eyes were green!

“Damn it all, this couldn’t happen at a more inopportune time…Colin, oh dear, um...Thomas! Over here!” The world’s greatest swordsman smirked and came strolling over. Before he could say anything, the lizard pulled the fox s ear down and whispered into it.

“... ow! Geeze, you couldn’t wait...

“I had to! Please, do what I ask?”

“Master Zaika...”

“Damn it all! Thomas, I’m entrusting you with this! Colin... sorry!”

Colin just nodded dumbly. Those were the only words his mind would grasp.

Thomas put a rough arm around him. The leather armor and the smell of fox mingled to make an oddly repulsing yet reassuring scent. He looked up and took the full force of the Captain’s infectious grin. “Buck up, kid! I know exactly what you need right now.”

The boy had begun to breathe again. “What is that?”

“A drink!”
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Wed 30 Aug - 20:50

Very nice. You seem to have a great skill for writing such without it seeming, shall we say, "forceful," as many others (namely in dealing with Furry tales) seem to do.

You've got my attention (and awestruck so just imagining the details XD ) and I look forward to more.
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Thu 31 Aug - 5:32

Chapter Four

Before Colin knew it, he and Thomas had entered a building near the entrance of the Keep. He saw the massive gate, towering overhead, probably some forty feet tall. The drawbridge was pulled up, and the portcullis down and locked. He vaguely remembered tripping over a low step, and a furry person rushing to catch him. Several people raised their mugs and cheered at Thomas s entrance, which he took with a stately bow. He waited for the applause to die down before leading Colin to a stool. Pulling up one of his own, he signaled the barkeep.

“Two, Donny, and could you water one down?”

The stag just grunted and slid two mugs down the bar. A cat harrumphed and lifted his plate as the cups slid under it.

Colin just continued to stare into the swirls that played in his cup, as the captain watched him intently. Finally the silence was broken, by a ragged whisper.

“I don’t drink...”

Thomas took a long swig at his mug. “You will kid... you will.”

Another uncomfortable moment passed. This time, the captain chose to break it.

“So, I guess ole Lizard-Lips told you about the Legacy, eh?”

Colin lowered his eyes to hide a slight smile. It might have just been the onset of hysterics, but the mention of Zaika s mouth was pretty funny. This did not go unnoticed.

Colin put the mug down and looked straight at Thomas. “No one has told me anything! Storm’s sake, what happened here? Why is everyone like this? And what is happening to my eyes? To me?”

“I m not the person to ask, kid. I could tell you what I think happened around here, but there‘s no guarantee it would be the truth. If you ever have a chance, and a lot of luck, ask Azerus, the Headmaster of the Academy. That old grump is the only one who really knows what happened the night Reeve died. People would ask him more often, but he’s...well...he’s a bit of an asshole, if you can pardon’t my thoughtless tongue.” He looked forward. “Me…well, I prefer to live in the now, regardless of the form the Gods choose to cloth me in. No use in dwelling on the past, no sir.”

Picking the mug up again, Colin could only take a sip before he had to put it down. His hands were shaking too hard. However, even the one sip was enough. It felt like liquid fire had been poured down his throat. The warmth coursed through his body, and with a shuddering cough, Colin managed, “It s not... like I have anything against... you people... its just... it s just that before all this, I couldn’t even imagine all this, let only believe it could happen to me! I’m becoming an…an...animal!” He took a deep breath. “ Master Wren, how do you deal with it?”

The fox raised his beer. “With this, when it bothers me. Usually after I shut this,” he said, hoisting his long, bright red tail for Colin to see, “in a door. But you get used to it. But just so you know, there are a few that are still trying to adjust, even after six years. And kid, call me Thomas. No need for any of that formal nonsense, we’re best buddies, now.”

A sun smiled through the clouds. Colin looked up from the silver mug. He had been staring at his eyes. “I…I can’ thank you enough for that, ah... Thomas.” He paused. “Um...boy, this is an awkward question…what do you think I’ll... become?”

The fox cupped his muzzle and stared at Colin with a shrewd gaze. “Well, turn around for just a second.” Colin did so, and Thomas leaned forward. With a great snuffling sound, he suddenly inhaled very deeply. Colin, startled, jumped out of his seat.

“Ease up, kid, ease up. Just checking.” He grinned and leaned back. “Can tell for sure. Maybe I’ll end up with a equally handsome twin. The Keep could always use another fox, to keep up with the horde of felines we got running around.”

Thomas nudged Colin and said with a quick snappy laugh. “If you do however, become a fox, and not a beaver of some sort, you‘ll have to promise me that you‘ll at least make an effort to look scruffy, y‘know, roll in the dust, wear your clothing backwards, that sort of thing. We have a chain of command here at the Keep, and I’m higher up on it then you. If you turn out terribly cute, I won’t just stand by and let you take all the women.” He nudged Colin with a wink. “They’re into cute, Y’know.” He scoffed, and raised his voice, addressing the patrons in the bar. “Women, aye? They just get in the way of duty anyway, right?“ A low roar met his query. “Oh, Colin, my boy, you can have the women. All any good man, like myself, needs, is a good sword, a raging battle, a mug full of Raevan Ale, and a…”

“A mirror!” someone shouted from the bar.

The bar erupted into laughter. Colin himself had never laughed so hard. He had never drank so much, either, or at all, for that matter. He took another swig of the ale and another. Thomas was silent for a few minutes, thinking the statement over, but when he finally got the joke, he laughed harder then anyone in the bar. The barkeep snorted and went through wooden doors to the kitchen.

Standing, Thomas turned to Colin and asked, “Hey, Zai said you already met Reveri’s kids. What say we go and introduce you to my merry crew?”

There was simply no denying so wide a grin.

***

Thomas led Colin out the back door of the bar, the one whose exit faced away from the main road. This opened up to a small covered alley way, which led behind a few rows of homes to another courtyard, similar to the one outside of Zaika’s home. However, there was no fountain in the center of this one, rather, an odd area in the middle of raised stones, almost like an arena of some sort. Four small houses closed the courtyard in, each one a light brown colour with the same salmon-reddish roofs. There was a small flag hoisted on the largest of the houses, proudly embossed with a silver sword stitched on the white fabric. From the assorted weapons and armor he saw lying around, Colin assumed this was a barracks of some sort.

“Welcome to Casa de St. Wren, mate.“ Thomas grinned and waved his hands expansively around the courtyard. “This is where my boys and girls live, train, sleep, and ultimately, slack off far more then they should.“

“Its very neat, Master Wren. Is that your house there?“ Colin asked, motioning towards the largest of the apartments.

Thomas followed his gesture. “Way back when, kid. Nowadays, I have a room closer to the Castle, something that benefits a member of the Royal guard.”

Colin looked suitably impressed.

The fox sighed, looking around. “I do miss this old place, though. Horrible view, crowded living space, but so close to the bar…”

“I hadn’t noticed,” Colin retorted, with a wry grin.

“Strategic placement, me boyo.” He rubbed his hands together. “Want to have some fun?”

“Oh no, sir, that s really quite alright-“

”Cover your ears, kid.” Turning, he cupped his hands to his muzzle. Confused, Colin did nothing of the sort.

“DDDDDDDDDRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAGGGGGGOOOOONNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!”
(Dragon!)

Colin rocked back on his heels. Never in his wildest dreams could he have imagined anyone capable of shouting so loud. Still grinning wildly, Thomas grabbed his hand and drug him into some bushes that were off to the side of the square.

He tried to ask him what was going to happen, but Thomas placed a black furred paw over his mouth. It was rough and course, like some sort of carpet being draped on his face. “Shhh... .just listen.”
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Thu 31 Aug - 5:33

The boy strained to listen, his head still ringing from Thomas‘s call. And then, from behind the doors, he heard the most terrible shouts...

“... dang it! Get off my tail! You...”

“Not my fault! You shouldn’t have stuck it there... pervert!”

“Will... both... of you... up? And where... name is my axe?!?”

“..im, the captain will skin... if... lost it! It should be- “

”Owww! Tim, I found your axe!”

Finally, after about a dozen or so minutes of that, the door to the largest house burst open, and out stepped...well, a tall blonde cat wearing a blue gambeson and a green ribbon tied in her hair, a stout raccoon covered in pouches, and a burly human youth clothed in obviously mismatched armour.

Colin desperately wanted to ask a question, but he noticed that the captain was shaking with suppressed laughter. Finally, he burst, laughing so loudly and suddenly that two of the three (for Colin guessed they were about his age, seventeen) dropped their weapons. The third, the human, snarled and whirled towards the sound, ready for battle.

Thomas suddenly stopped laughing as he emerged from the bushes. His eyes went steel hard, and they shown like blue diamonds. The three collectively blanched.

“What was that? By now, the dragon has already eaten the fair princess, toasted the heroic knight, and barbequed the noble castle! I know for a fact that Reveri’s group can get dressed, ready, and to the courtyard, ready for battle in less then five minutes. Any later then that, he makes those bookish twits run laps around the keep. What should I do to you? Make you hit the books and study for hours on end?” Feigning exasperation, Thomas shook his head and moved to stand in front of them. Colin trailed at a distance. “What do you have to say for yourselves?”

The cat girl stepped forward. “Well sir-“

”Silence! Forget the bookwork! I want you to do twenty laps around the Keep. Hop to it, HUSTLE!”

Assorted groans went up at this, and as they sidled past, unaware of their ‘visitor’ Colin felt a little sorry for them. He had only seen a little of the Keep, and it was huge. To imagine twenty laps around the entire thing! He leaned close to the captain and whispered, “Sir, don’t you think you re being a little harsh?” The fox only swished his tail, and hid a grin with his hand, trying to look thoughtful.

“Boys, and girl, this kid thinks I m being too rough on you! Lucky for you, he and I have hit it off quite well, so I’m in a bit of a forgiving mood, otherwise you‘d be sunk. I want you to report to Knoll’s barn after the midday bells tomorrow!” He turned around to face Colin. “Kid, I have to attend to some Royal Guard business that just occurred to me. Do you think you can handle it here, for a few minutes? These guys might be irresponsible slackers, but they're ok once you get to know them.”

The raccoon, his bright blue eyes shining against his black mask, chimed in. “I heard that, Cap n! Did you hear, Ray? The Captain thinks we're ok!”

“Oh, you know I was just saying that for the kid’s benefit! I just don’t want him to get the wrong impression of you guys before you have a chance to ruin it for yourselves. And don’t get me wrong; just because I went easy on you today doesn’t me that me, Knoll...and Colin here aren’t going to beat you guys senseless in the match tomorrow!” He turned to go. “Oh, and kids, no roughhousing this time. You’re the reasons we don’t get to greet visitors anymore!”

With a grin, a swish of his tail, and a laugh, the captain quickly turned and disappeared down the alley way through which they had come.

The human boy threw down his axe and began stripping off his armour. He looked like a normal teenager, but Colin noticed that when he looked directly at him, the tingling that ran throughout his hold body grew…stronger. It relaxed when he looked away. Colin ignored that for now. “Always! He always does that. Just once, I would like him to take something serious!” the boy muttered, shaking his head and scowling darkly.

“Don’t worry about it, Tim!” The cat girl laughed, stooping to pick up the fallen axe. “Would you rather he had made us run those twenty laps? The Captain can barely do that himself! And besides, at least we get to use Knoll’s barn! Things are going to be different this time around, right, Mouth?”

The raccoon cut in. “That s right, Ray, because I’m going to go traitor on you guys, lure the captain into a false sense of security, beat him, and after that, the new guy is toast. I’m going to wipe the floor with all of you, you sorry excuses for Lancers!” He was busy adjusting the various pouches that hung around his leather armour. His laugh was hearty and cheerful, like the kind that is used to laughing at things. It wasn’t unpleasant, though. It just kind of made Colin want to hit him, for some reason. The boy with the axe beat him to it, and the cat girl laughed.

“Hit him again, Tim, I don’t think its dead yet...Hello! Guys, did we forget something?”

Realizing who they were talking about, Colin snapped out of his awe and laughed good-naturedly. “ Actually, it s kind of nice not to be stared at for a moment.” He reached his hand out to each one. “My name’s Colin, and it looks like I I’ll be staying here awhile.”

The girl stepped forward and grabbed his hand. “We heard about the whole thing, Colin, everyone did. Tim and I even had a round watching in on you when you were out cold. You’re more then welcome at Raev Keep. My name is Rachel Augustine, and its a pleasure we rarely experience, welcoming someone new here before everyone else gets to.”

Colin shook her hand and bowed slightly. Etiquette crammed down your throat has a way of sticking. And this way...he felt like he could see them better as people...then as... “The pleasures all mine, Rachel. Thank you”. She flushed, and stepped back. The raccoon grinned at her, then stepped forward and took Colin s hand.

“By the Storm, you re a cute one. I m Justin Rathan, but call me Justin, if you want, but never, ever, call me ringtail. It s bad enough when these two,” he said, jerking his thumb back at his comrades, “try to come up with something clever to tease with and fail horribly. Just letting you know, if you must tease, give it some thought, please!”

“Um... ok?”

“Great! We re going to love each other, I can feel it!” He made kissy noises at Colin, but Rachel hauled him back in line, leaving Colin to extend his hand to the last person, the human. Colin was surprised…he thought the boy was a longtime resident of the keep, judging from the way they talked, but didn’t everyone here change? Did it take a long time or something? Curiosity couldn’t be contained anymore, and Colin had to ask.

“I m sorry to ask, but how are you still human? I thought everyone who came here started changing into…well, changed.” He looked closely at the young man, and he could feel the tingling intensify around his body. What was this?

The young man was very strongly muscled, even for his age. His arms were left bare underneath the armor he had been busy taking off, and his biceps were easily three times as big as Colin’s own. The boy’s intense stare unnerved him. A shock of black hair peaked out from under the heavy metal helm he easily wore. Turning away, he said quietly, “Well, um…the curse didn’t affect me.” He didn’t take Colin s hand.

Colin absorbed this. “Does anyone know why?”

The boy was getting very uncomfortable. “Well, no... but...”

Rachel went over and put her hand on his shoulder. “Dispel, it, Tim. He won’t laugh”. Over his shoulder, she mouthed ‘don’t laugh‘ at him.

The big man muttered a few words under his breath, and suddenly with a soft thump , a mouse, even shorter then Trajen had been, stood in his place. His fur was dark brown, and tipped black. The armor still fit him as badly as it had before, and the thick fur really covered up any muscle he might have had. He snatched the axe he had dropped from Rachel, and finally shook Colin’s had with his free one. The strength in that grip made laughing the last thing Colin wanted to do.

“Tim Espers,” he said, and stepped back.

Feeling a familiar uncomfortable silence floating in, Justin said, “Hey, do you have any quarters yet? The ruling body considers the three of us a family, so we get a Square all to ourselves. I m sure we vet a spare broom closet or something to hole you up in!” Rachel looked shocked, but he continued. “It s a luxury compared to those... nice... large... warm rooms those other guys have. C'mon, we ll show you our humble abode.”

A number of hands clasped the young delivery boy on the back, and gently led him away. Colin, still a little bit tipsy from the ale, went willingly, despite his internal misgivings.

Thomas St. Wren, hidden on the roof, looked down and smiled.


and by the way, thanks, Myoti
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Thu 31 Aug - 8:51

Daaaayum, that shit's LONG.
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Thu 31 Aug - 16:09

If I ever got around to it, if I ever did finish MY story, it would be even longer... hell, the first chapter's about as long as his two...

I tried to put it in the story section of FTT, but no one wanted to read a non-AB/DL story, and it went totally ignored, much like I am in everything I do day to day... T_T (why do you think I provoke Kit whenever I can?)
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Thu 31 Aug - 21:32

You're welcome Reva. This one has really interested me.

I'm a bit confused about, Tim, though. Was he suppose to be using some kind of magic or something to cover up his 'true form'? o.O
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Fri 1 Sep - 5:19

Yeah, Tim was using a spell to appear human and not a mouse. more on that later

Chapter Five

“So, I m all like, Rachel. We all know Tim is deaf as a stone, so why bother shouting? Look, a little bang, and he'll turn right around.”

Tim growled. “ And of course, Rathan, tell Colin how you nearly blew up all of the Keep with that ‘little bang’.” He crossed his arms and grinned.

The raccoon didn’t flush, but his fur stood somewhat on end. “Well... that’s another story entirely...”

“So the Lancers are like guards?” Colin asked.

The four of them were sitting on the roof of their house, overlooking the keep. The rough wooden slats might have given splinters, but Justin had brought some very nice quilts up with them. Because it was set so behind everything, it wasn’t a great view, but it did give Colin a good view of the main alley. Animal people bustled around, chatting with one another, doing their business. Colin loved the feeling of the wind on his face, and he was starting to relax in the company of friends.

Rachel leaned forward. “Kind of. You may have noticed, but everyone here can take care of themselves. That s because the Divide, which is right behind Lord Kheld’s castle, attracts all sorts of things to this area. Everything from little magical creatures, like the Goblins, to... well, the larger things. We deal with the larger things.”

“Wha sort of larger things?” Colin asked.

Justin laughed and stood up, spreading his arms. “ Why, dragons, of course. We get about three a month.”

Colin gaped. “Dragons? They re real?”

Tim looked at him hard. “After everything you’ve seen here, can you doubt the existence of anything?”

Colin nodded. It was true. Even this was beyond his total comprehension. Here he was, talking to a cat, a mouse and a raccoon, wearing clothes.

“Dragons are our specialty,” Rachel said. “Well, kind of. The three of us are all sort of new at this. There’s never been a need for something like this before, but more dragons have been coming nowadays. That s really all the Lancers do around here. But its a title of honor, because no one else can do it. Or wants to do it,” she added in an afterthought.

“Do you work with Folken and Mililani?” Colin asked, remembering earlier. “They said they were Banishers.”

Justin opened his mouth but Rachel beat him to it. “We’re all part of the DDF, just we handle the physical part and they take care of the magic. Each one of us has a special... um... thing.”

“Yeah, and you’ve got two of those, Ray, hehe.” Tim reached over and hit the raccoon over the head.

“Funny. See, I’m quick, so I distract the dragons. Justin is a... well, he can blow things up. So he usually blinds the dragon, while Tim finishes the job.”

“Do you kill them?”

Tim shook his head. “No, its bad luck. Because they re just drawn by the Divide, we just stun them. Folken knows a spell to teleport them a good distance from the keep. Mili is there to heal any of us should we get injured. The two captains rarely do anything, only getting involved if something goes wrong.”

“Sounds like you guys do all the work.” Colin said, laughing a bit.

“Well, that s a best case scenario. Mostly, everyone chips in for everything.”

“That s cool, I guess. Now... what happened here? No one will give me a straight answer. Why did all this happen?”

The three lancers all looked at each other. “We don’t really know. A lot of things happened that day, and everyone has a different story about it. It s like we can remember our lives before, but then poof we re like this.” Rachel said. “You ll have to ask Professor Azerus. He's the only one who knows.”

Colin sighed. “I hoped you guys wouldn’t say that. I get the feeling that Azerus isn’t the nicest person?” As an afterthought, he asked, “What is he?”

Justin answered. “Oh, Prof is fine once you get to know him. But... he does have quite a temper at times. Ah, who am I kidding, he's a miserable old grouch who does nothing but grump and growl at anyone who annoys him.” he nudged Colin with a wink. “That s everyone, man. Oh, and as for what he is, you ll have to see for yourself.” He fell back laughing, though Colin had no idea why. Tim reached over and smacked Justin over the head.

Colin laughed again. But he was getting uneasy. He was losing his humanity. These were the first real friends since Garret he had ever had, and Garret had left him here, to the Keep. Looking around, these people didn’t seem so... terrible. But they were animals, weren’t they? He forced himself to shove that thought down.

Rachel turned towards Colin. “Where did you say you were from? Kingfisher?”

Colin nodded. “Yeah. I grew up on a little farm to the north-east of the main village.”

“That s neat. I have some relatives there, I think.”

“Really? What do they think of all this?”

There was instant silence as everyone looked down, not knowing how to answer. Colin got the feeling that this wasn’t something that should be talked about.

Below them, the Keep was slowing down. The people in the market were dispersing, and the crowds vanished. Doors were closing and lamps were being lit. Colin heard metallic groaning. They were probably opening the gate to let stragglers in, he thought. The mist near the top of the Academy’s spire glowed soft blue. Its glow illuminated the Keep, and lulled all within it to peace.

They all noticed this as they gazed down around them. “Colin, guys, I think we should get some rest. It s just past dark watch, and if the Captain wants us in the barn tomorrow, we should be ready.”

Colin yawned and stretched. He was grateful they changed the subject. “I’ve been meaning to ask you, what is the barn? Should I be worried?”

“Naw, its actually really fun, once you get into it, Colin old boy.” Rachel grabbed Justin’s tail before he could say any more.

“Lets let him find out for himself, alright, Mouth?” She pointed down into the courtyard. “You see those doors around the ring? We re sitting on our main house, but those are actually the individual rooms. You must be lucky, the one over there has been empty for months. It s right next to mine, so if you need anything, just knock.”

At Colin s nod, made slightly eager by his anxiety and relief at finding...if not normal, but...nice people, Justin pulled his tail from Rachel s grip and made kissy sounds. She threw a pillow at him and jumped off the roof. She landed gracefully, and stormed into her room. Colin felt his own face redden and wished he could jump off the roof, too.

Tim rested a paw on his shoulder. “I just want to say, that compared to the rest of the ilk that passes through, and that... thing.” He pointed his tail at Rathan, “You are well met. If you need anything at all, we’ll be here.” He turned and stepped towards the ladder.

Rathan stood up too, scratching at one of his black furred ears. “Y’know, man? It s nice to have met you. I’m sure you’ll fit right in. Oh,” and his tone grew serious, “you said you didn’t have much in the way of family, right? If things go the way they do, you know you’ll end up like us?” he said, gesturing at his face, his ears, his muzzle, his tail.

Colin shivered a little, feeling sick to his stomach suddenly. “Yeah?”

“Well, then you can be part of our family, man. And I’ll tell ya, I couldn’t be happier. Pleasure meeting you and all that, so now, its time for Sir Mouse and I to retire.”

“Don’t call me that!“ Tim snarled, and leapt at Justin, knocking them both off the roof.

“Good night Colllllliiiinnnn!!”

Thud.

Colin leaned back. The stars seemed brighter here then he had ever seen them. The blue glow, too, must be enhancing them. He realized that in spite of meeting new friends, he had learned very little. He was still worried about what would happen to him. He wondered where Zaika went, and realized that this was probably a scheme of that wily Thomas’s. He grinned and laughed a snappy laugh, a foxy laugh. The thought made him snort, and he climbed down the ladder and into his room. It had been quite a day.
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Fri 1 Sep - 5:20

Chapter Six

The room was bigger then the Zaika’s spare room had been, and it was much more... comfortable. A small bed rested against the back wall, covered with a dark red and green quilt. The woodwork on the bed alone was impressive, and there were similar carvings on the walls. Raev, it seemed, had no shortage of artisans waiting to decorate the walls. There were no clothes in any of the drawers, but the closet in the corner had a set of red and green pajamas. There was also a dagger, stuck to the inside of the closet door, with a note that confirmed Colin’s earlier thoughts.

You ll fit right in, kid. T.W.

Getting undressed, Colin looked closely at the clothes he had been given. They had the initials T. W. on them. He shook his head. They had to be the most horribly tacky pajamas he had ever seen.

He sighed and lay down on the covers, which were quite comfortable, and drifted off to sleep quickly, despite the tingling that had started up again, buzzing like a mosquito caught underneath his skin. He d have to ask about that in the morning.

The next day, Colin awoke to the realization of two things. First, that regardless of the incredibility of it, the previous day had been no dream. And second, the curse had stopped by during the night and left him something. He didn’t really notice it, until he rolled over onto it. The resulting pain shook him completely from his drowsiness, and he looked down to see that he was now the owner of a long, bushy, (though not nearly as bushy as Trajen’s or Rathan’s) grayish brown tail. It even ended with a snow-white tip.

He would have gaped longer at it, but about that moment, the cat girl, Rachel burst into his room. He made a dive for the covers, (his tail ripped the seat out of his trousers) and tried to cover himself up.

“Colin! I heard a shout... oh, my.” Justin was just behind her. He burst out laughing.

“ Oh, man, rolled onto it, didn’t you? Ah, you should have heard the Captain cursing up a storm the first day he smashed his in the door-“ Rachel elbowed him hard in the ribs and pulling him down by his whiskers, whispered something harshly in his ear. “Yes’m, missus. I’ll be tending to yer needs, young massa. Justa moment.” He left the room muttering something about cat girls and sore whiskers.

Rachel came closer and sat at the edge of the bed. Colin backed away involuntarily, but she didn’t notice. “What did you tell him to do?” he asked, the pain in his backside easing.

She grinned a feline grin and rubbed the last bits of sleep from her own eyes. “Um, well I told him to get you some clothes that would accommodate... your, ah, new needs.”

He stormed back in. “Y know, Colin, you’ve got the most perfect timing I’ve ever seen. You decide to go an sprout your tail at the exact time most of my laundry is out for cleaning. These are my best pants!” he exclaimed, holding up a pair of wine red breeches. “And Rachel, next time, he borrows your clothes.”

Colin cast his eyes toward heaven. Unfortunately, there was a roof in the way.

After getting dressed, and wrestling with the oddity of getting a tail through the back of Rathan’s pants, they went into the main house to get a quick breakfast. Tim was there, picking at what looked like oatmeal. Colin, who couldn’t bring himself to sit down, ate his standing up, much to the amusement of the others.

Putting his bowl down, Tim suggested a visit to the Academy to burn the time between now and mid course, when they were supposed to meet the Captain at Knoll s barn. Colin wanted to meet the Professor Azerus to find out what was going on, but he was kind of afraid of him, too. Too many people had mentioned his temper... maybe his quest for knowledge could wait.

Not wanting to appear rude, he was about to agree, when Rachel butt in.

“Tim, why don’t you go. I’m kind of hungry, and I want to show Colin to the central mess hall. Sorry, but your porridge just doesn’t cut it.”

The mouse smiled, and straightening his whiskers, stood. He seemed almost... cheerful. “Great! I mean, er... are you sure you don’t want to come with me?”

This time Rachel jumped on Rathan s tail as his mouth opened. There were tears in that black furred mask of his.

“Yeah, we re sure. Go ahead, we ll see you at mid course.”

Thank you guys, he said, and hurried out, humming.

Colin looked at Rachel with a question.

Rathan caught his tail up before saying something. “Timmy’s sweet on Mili! She s the one who gave him that illusion spell after she saw how depressed he was!” He sighed melodramatically. “ Ah, young love... sweet feelings in the air.”

“You re an idiot, Justin.”

“There it is again! First you make me lend out my best pants, and now the insults! Do you hate me, Rachel? With each word, another sword through the heart, ack!” As he was clutching his heart, milling around, he had tripped over a bucket and fell over, knocking the table over, getting porridge everywhere.

Rachel just laughed, and, grabbing Colin, sped off.

The sky was blue as the clearest lake here, and it was a beautiful day. Colin passed many of the residents of Raev Keep as he was dragged along, but he didn’t see any familiar faces, or... well... whatever. Truth be told, he was still a little unhappy with Zaika for not having told him about what was going to happen, but he realized he couldn’t really fault the astrologer for that. So he was content to being dragged through the streets by the (he was now realizing) very cute cat girl.

Her blonde hair stood out against her grey fur, but they complimented each other. Long, clear whiskers outlined her pink nose, and her ears lie flat back as she ran with him. She didn’t seem shy about holding his hand, and just touching that made Colin realize that her fur was probably very soft. She flashed a grin at him, and he blushed and struggled to keep up. Colin noticed that each one of the people they passed turned and stared at him for a while. He imagined that they were all looking at his tail. Most were smiling, but only some of those smiles were cheerful. There was a sadness in some of those expressions that Colin thought he understood. But Rachel was moving to fast for him to dwell.

As they ran, Rachel pointed out some of the shops that set up around the market. She explained that while they did have a currency system, most things could also be paid with by favors, like running an errand, or more commonly, watching kids. They passed the bakers, the tailor shop, and a candy store before they reached an alley near the back of the road.

Looking up, Colin could see Raev Castle looming over the houses here. He’d have to see it for himself, someday. But he shook himself from that thought. Who was he, to go up to a castle and see it for himself ? Looking up there, despite all that had happened, made Colin feel like a commoner again. Castles were for the rich and important. Not a thing of his.

Rachel pulled some ivy away from a small door set against the giant wall. She pulled it open, slowly, then went through it. Her hand came back through and beckoned Colin in.

He realized that they were just outside the keep. Oddly... the tingling (which he hadn’t noticed in the excitement) got worse suddenly, then retreated, as if something had scared it away. He was about to ask what it was when Rachel sat down and began to talk. “These doors seal shut when the Master of the Walls will them to. Here, in peace, this is where I come to get away, Colin.” She pulled a white flower from the field, and handed it to him.

The tree they were sitting under was a weeping willow, and it was just coming into bloom. He took a comfortable seat on the soft moss, and relaxed. The buzzing feeling was gone completely. Unfortunately, he sat on his tail again.

She smiled as he yelped and jumped up, then attempted to sit down more carefully. She just watched him for a minute, then hauled him back down.

Colin grabbed his tail and pulled it forward, least he land on it again. He found himself staring at it, like it was some unknown creature that had attached itself to his-

“Colin!”

He dropped he tail and it twitched and laid at his side. “I m sorry. It s just this... this might take a little getting used to.”

“Oh Colin, you’ll get used to it. Mine s kinda smaller then that brush,” she said, whirling around, whisker her own tail past his face. He sighed and smiled, feeling how soft it was. She looked him over. “Is that the only place?”

Colin blushed, simply uncomfortable to be discussing this with a cat, let alone any girl. He opened his mouth to say something when she hushed him.

“ Listen, Colin. Can you hear that? These hills, the mountain, the keep, they all sing. It s the sound of triumph, Colin. This land has never been conquered, never taken from us. The land is alive, and sings its joy. Just... hush and listen to them with me.” She sat back down and laid back against the willow, and closed her eyes. Colin looked at her for a moment, then closed his eyes too. He didn’t notice when she opened hers, content just to watch him. He was handsome, she thought, and though she couldn’t put her finger on it, he reminded her of someone she had once held dear. His dark blonde hair had fallen over his eyes, giving him the expression of someone trying hard to be mysterious. His eyes, blue now like the whole rest of the keeps, still, seemed different to her, alluring. No matter what he became, she would remember him like this, so... shaking herself, she thought miserably, “I wasn’t supposed to have those feelings, anymore, remember? I just feel bad for him, is all.” She sighed and closed her eyes again. Colin was snoring.

A bell rang loudly from the other end of the Keep. Rachel s ears perked up and she shook Colin awake. “Wake up! Its mid course. Let s go get some lunch, then go meet the others at Knoll s barn!” She smiled wide and ran off, leaving Colin to give chase.

The Raev Dining Hall, (more often just called the Mess Hall) was enormous. It was the central hub, Colin found out, because you had to go through it to get to the bazaar, which Colin hadn’t seen yet. It was very touch and go, with hundreds of people milling around. The sound of their conversations was almost deafening by itself. The clicking on the tile floors another low roar. Colin rocked back as he was almost physically pushed back by the noise. Settled around near the walls of the mess hall, presumably out of the way of traffic, were several expertly crafted tables. It didn’t seem like there was enough for everyone, but Colin could see that most people were eating their lunch on the foot. Or hoof, as it were. Across from him, began a long line, which he thought must be a serving line.

He was, by now, accustomed to the furry people enough not to stare, but the menagerie still held much of his attention. He looked around for Thomas or even Trajen, but there were too many people to pick out individuals. Rachel smiled, and wrapping her arms around his, drug him to the back of the line. After getting lunch, which was a piece of chicken with some very good gravy, she pointed out a table to the back, and they took their food there.

Rachel tried to keep her charge out of the spotlight. Visitors of any kind at Raev were rare, and they usually stuck out quite a bit. She didn’t want a spectacle, but the matter was taken out of her hands.

She turned quickly as a horrible growling began behind her. Her first instinct was dragon, but she quickly realized the truth. Colin was attacking his plate like a wild animal, shoveling it down as quickly as he could. Rachel had no way of knowing that this was the first good, decent meal he had had in... well, his entire life. The guards had been given rations, and his family was always just above poverty. This... was worth this morning s horrors.

“My word, Colin,” she said, laughing, “I ll be sure to tell Donny how much you enjoy his cooking.” She grinned wide. “He s been feeling a little under appreciated as of late.”

“You can certainly tell him that he is a great cook,” Colin said around a mouthful. The taste, the people... how on earth could such a place exist and he not know about it? It was incredible! A one on-onlooker would be remembered saying, “He certainly fits in.” And the laughter was tremendous.

They left soon after that, Rachel not wanting to be late to the barn. Before she started to run, Colin grabbed her arm. He didn’t want to be sidetracked from this question. “Rachel, I’ve looked at everyone and I can feel any sadness from them. Everything seems so cheery, and I haven noticed any problems with... well... anything.” She stopped and looked at him with her light blue eyes. I d think at least one person would not take this so lightly.

She took him by the shoulders and said seriously, “Colin, if you look for trouble, you ll find it. Raev works so well because it has to. All we have is each other. That s the motto around here, seriously. But there are those who just can understand that.” The bells chimed again. “That s a story for another time, Colin. Let s go.”

Even Colin, lost in the matters of all things female, did not miss the pain in her eyes. He said nothing more and hurried after her.
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Sat 2 Sep - 17:38

Chapter Seven

It turns out that Knoll s barn was located outside the Keep, very close to the sign that Colin had passed with his Caravan. It was a short hike to get down there again, but this time he was unburdened by armour, and had with him a cheery companion. Rachel didn’t miss a chance to point out the various flora that was native to this area only, and they were all quite something. Colin couldn’t understand how he had missed all this coming up. Truth be told, he was probably too exhausted from the hike to notice the scenery.

She led him off the path, through the brush and unto a new trail, one that was slightly less worn then the main one. Roots crossed their way every so often, and there were autumn collared leaves everywhere. Colin could not call this place beautiful, because it was so much more than that.

The barn, however, was something else. Reaching it at the end of the trail, it seemed like nothing more then a rusty old building, with several holes in the roof and rotting wood making up the walls. Ivy had begun to overtake it, giving it the impression of age. Lots of age. It was large, almost three times as big as the apartments Colin had seen in the keep, and it was wide. It stood ominously among the orange and red leaves that dotted the forest floor, and trail seemed suddenly smaller as it came into view. Colin slowed his pace, but Rachel kept right ahead, not afraid at all. Suddenly, a rustle come from above them, and Rachel shoved Colin out of the way, as something large, heavy and red knocked her to the ground.

She twisted as she fell, bringing her feet up into her assailants stomach (it was a person, it seemed, but they were moving too fast for Colin to see if it was a Keeper or not) and kicked out hard, sending the attacker flying. He landed with a crash, and Rachel quickly ran over to him, ready to finish him off.

“Hold! Hold, lass. Good show, good show, but are you should you re a cat and not a kangaroo?”

“Captain?” She sighed. “ What were you thinking? I could vet hurt you! And what is a kangaroo?” She helped him up, and he dusted off his clothes. Today he was wearing a dark red tunic cinched with a black belt. It made his fur seem brighter then before. He gave a hearty laugh.

“Just testing you, Augustine! I have to say, you re a lot sharper then your comrades...” he said, grinning, as he pulled aside a blanket of leaves.

Tim and Rathan lay back to back, bound and gagged. Tim looked furious, but Rathan just gave Colin, (who had just stood back up) a sheepish grin. Rachel hurried over and began untying them.

“ Dirty tricks, Cap n! At least you gave her a warning!”

Thomas walked over to the Raccoon and patted him on the head. “Why, Justin, dear, you accuse me of favoring one of my Lancers above any other? Heck, I just thought the look you had on your face when you fell into that snare was worth the treachery.” He laughed. “And Tim, you really should pay attention to the sounds around you. I m sure Mili will appreciate the song you’ve written her, but she isn’t here to hear it, is she?” He pretended to wipe a tear from his muzzle. “Beautiful lyrics, though. I didn’t know you had such a sweet voice, kid, lovely.”

The little mouse suddenly flexed, snapping the cords binding him. He looked like he wanted to kill something, but looking down and seeing Justin s obvious mirth, opted to hitting him over the head instead.

Colin came over to the little group. “Good morning, Captain Thomas.”

“Good morning, kid. I see you’ve grown since I’ve see you. A tail, that is.” He grinned and slapped Colin on the back. You getting along with these fine young upstarts?”

Colin nodded. “I have. I’ve been enjoying myself.”

The captain grabbed a hold of Colin s shoulders. “Well, do you have what it takes to abandon’t your newfound life mates for a chance at glory? Or are you going to let me down and stick with the peanut gallery here?”

“ Actually, I m kind of hoping someone will tell me exactly what we are here to do,” Colin said. “But even without knowing, I d think I d like to stay with them. From what I’ve heard, whatever this is, they could use the help.” Rachel snorted.

“That s what we get by letting him listen to Mouth here. All defeatism and nothing else. I tell you, Colin or no, we re going to beat you this time, Captain!”

For an answer, Thomas simply turned and walked through the meadow to the barn. He started trying to open the huge doors, but after a while gave up. “Knoll!” he yelled. “Time to kick some cadet tail!”

There was no answer, but the doors began to slide open. It was pitch black inside, and a cloud of dust rolled out like mist from the open doors. They continued to move open, and finally, an ugly, hunched shape came into the light. A possum dressed in simple grey tunic stood in front of the open door. He had silver hair that was kept short, and a green scarf that wound around his forehead. Beads hung from the scarf, but they seemed to be there just to be, rather then for any decoration. He had four huge claws on the ends on his fingers, and four on his feet as well. His eyes were shrewd beads as they dug into Colin, easily reading his disgust. His rat-like tail swung once, angrily.

“ A new one,” he said, and his voice was like the grave. “Let s hope this one survives.”

“ Duck and roll, Colin!” Rachel shouted as they both dove behind cover. Little balls of magical ink flew overhead, threatening to cover them in very bright pink colour. “You vet got to keep moving or else you get tagged!” She looked over the wooden box that served as their protection. Closing her hand over the magic glove that they both wore, she summoned up a bit of ink and tossed it forward. “Cowards! And here I thought the brave Captain Thomas St. Wren would come charging up, ready for anything!”

“Oh, but dear, he was just distracting you,” From behind her, Knoll jumped down from the rafters near the ceiling. “For me.”

“Oh, nooo...” was all she could get out, before he shot her with the ink. She jumped; it stung a bit, that s why you really wanted to avoid getting hit, and froze. She could see Colin, still behind the box, frozen as well, with a sheepish look on his face. He had been surprised too.

Knoll s barn was where the majority of the Lancer s training took place. The interior of it was nothing like the outside; that is, dirty and in need or repairs. It was two stories, with various stairways and rope ladders to get between the floors. Fake buildings, as well as wooden boxes, crates, and wheels all seemed to be randomly placed, but they all served as cover for the actual exercise. Colin learned that the area outside of the barracks was where his friends did most of their weapons training, but Captain Thomas knew that safety in battle meant more then knowing how and when to swing a sword. It required instinct, talent, and raw ability. Which was what the barn was for.

The Keeper, Knoll, was actually a Threader, but not a very powerful one. It seems he could invest small magical properties in weapons and objects, and that was what he used in the gloves. Each player wore one glove on their right hand. They were capable of projecting a small bit of magic that would both mark and freeze their target for a short time. The person hit would be unable to move until all of the other members of their team were eliminated as well. Games went quick, this one was Colin s third and he was loving it.

He knew he just wasn’t as fast as the others, especially Rachel. The way she dived and avoided the painful ink was mesmerizing. Even Tim and Rathan moved like liquid. But Colin was a quick study. He had already gained a couple pats on the back from his team mates when he had been led into a trap, only to turn it around and freeze the Captain solid. He had laughed quietly, fitting in, and waited for the next game to star.

The shadows had begun to lengthen outside before anyone noticed. The excitement of this game washed away all of Colin s fear, horror, and worries. So what if he had a tail? Everyone had one around here. If things like this were possible, he didn’t care what happened to him. Just a game had blown his mind... he was looking forward to learning all about Raev, and finding out everything that is there to know.

During pauses for breath between games, Thomas confessed that this was one of the best round of play he had recently experienced. But he grinned as he pointed at the scoreboard, read by cards hung up on pegs. They were winning. Well, thought Colin, We ll have to change that.

Suddenly, bells began to clang. They were loud, rumbling tolls, but Colin could tell they were coming from far away, so they must be loud indeed. Everyone froze at once. They all strained to hear, there was a shouting, but it was indistinct, hard to understand. But the Lancers knew what it was.

A dragon had come to Raev Keep.
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Sat 2 Sep - 17:39

Interlude

Hiya! I hope you’ve been enjoying Raev Keep, gentle reader. As I have currently run into a stymie about where to take the story, I thought a short explanation of the magic of my world was in order. Threading is something sorta different from what you know of magic, and here is a very short summery.

One, you must be born with Magic. Those not born with the Sign have little to no chance of developing magical ability, save for bottled spells, prepared by another Threader.

The Sign, as it were, is present at birth. It appears in the form of a single piece of thread, bound tightly around the child s arm. This thread is wrapped tightly, and will cause the child much discomfort as he continues to grow. Threaders in the area are commonly called to assist in raising a Threaded child, as only magical study seems to lessen the pain a thread causes. Threads can be cut to prevent the pain it causes, but doing so can hurt a child s psyche tremendously, as well as make it impossible for him or her to use thread magic ever again. Indeed, children with cut threads become naturally repelled by magic, jus being in its vicinity can cause discomfort. But it s nothing compared to the pain of the Thread.

If a child does well at an academy, or receives an ok from a senior threader, a ceremony is held and a spell is cast to loosen the thread from the child s arm. Once off, the wound, which will be rather deep, will heal, leaving only a thin scar in it s passing. The child now has his Thread, his most valuable possession, and the source of his magic.

Second, Magic is divided by the Six Colours of Threads. Each colour governs a different aspect of magic, and only that. A threader is tuned to a colour from the moment of birth, indeed, the colour of the thread wrapped around his arm is the colour of his attunement. Threaders can only cast spells of their attunement, however, in certain cases, a child is born with a thread that is two colours. However, this means that the child will only ever be half as powerful as someone who has a single attunement. It s very rare indeed for anyone to have more then two attunement. But not unheard of. The six colours are as follows; this is a small recitation that school children at the Academies memorize to help them remember.

Blue is full of illusion and tricks

Red is pain and full of kicks

Blue Threaders can cast spells meant to mask and fool someone, hence the tricks . It is all about Illusion, which is the primary focus of the spell. A powerful blue threader can make an entire army seem to vanish, or conjure up a fake meteor to scare away a real one. The spell that Mili gave Tim is a Blue threaded spell.

Red Threaders, on the other, prefer much more direct means to get their goals. Red spells are Force; that is, they forcibly affect another object. Not to say it s all about throwing fireballs or lightning bolts (though that is wha the primary function of this thread is) but a Red Threader could also pick up an object from far away, simply by looking at it and gesturing with his finger.

Green is change, no matter how deep

Purple is thought, no secrets to keep

Green is the simplest to define, as it is Alteration at it s basest. A green Threader changes one thing to another, whether it is metal to gold, water to rum, or human to animal. A green threader can change his own form, but a powerful one can change the forms of others, usually against their will.

Purple is a tricky thread, and those blessed with it are usually as hard to fathom as it is. Purple is Telepathy, the ability to look into another s mind and read what is written there. This is by no means a limited thread, as the mind has many layers within. A certain Purple threader could talk to animals, while another could change the writing on the mind to cause another to do his bidding. For this reason alone, known Threaders of this colour are distrusted and avoided, for the sake of secrets.

White can fix you up, simple, right?

Black can summon up a dreadful fright

White is another easy to define thread. It is Healing. A novice white threader could heal small cuts and bruises, while a more experienced threader could set broken bones and cure life threatening illness.

Black is Conjuration, the ability to bring into existence something that wasn’t here before. For instance, a black threader, if thirsty in the desert, could conjure up a glass of water to quench that thirst. Summoning monsters is possible to the stronger threaders, but it is very risky to do; just because you bring a creature into this world doesn’t mean you control it.

So, to sum it up.

Blue:Illusion

Red:Force

Green:Alteration

Purple:Telepathy

White:Healing

Black:Conjuration

Once a Threader becomes powerful, they receive a title that befits their power. Each colour has a Different title.

White: Cleric

BlackSummoner

Red: Sorcerer

Green: Alterer

Blue: Fader

Purple:Seer

Magic spells are cast two ways, one, by holding the thread in your hands and working it into a pattern, activate it. The more intricate the pattern, the more powerful the spell, so a threader who uses this way to cast spells is very quick of hand indeed.

The other way is simple incantation, but it is far more risky. A threader who begins to chant must finish the chant or risk the spell backfiring, or going out of control. All he must do is have the thread on his person, then concentrate and begin to recite. Rarely a threader uses both techniques, it is usually good to devote your studies to one or the other. And now, chapter eight!
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Sat 2 Sep - 17:39

Chapter Eight

“Well come on now, kids, are you waiting for an invitation?” Thomas leaped up from where he had been sitting and ran for the barn door. “I might have you running those twenty laps anyway if you don’t hurry up!”

There was a scramble to the door and they quickly left. Colin could hear Thomas barking orders as they ran back up the path to the keep. But he didn’t move.

He was torn between running after them or trying to hide. He decided it was probably for the best that he was left behind. That nervous, excited feeling had run through him when he first heard the bells... he didn’t want to risk his friends by doing something stupid. If he tried to help, he might just get in the way. And he had seen the expression on his friend s faces. This was serious, no doubt about that. Whatever jokes they had before were gone in the face of duty.

Duty. A week ago it had been to guard a caravan. So that s what he was, right? A guard? But... they did this all the time. They d be fine. He put a gloved hand on the ladder, uncertain of what to do, when a shout from below startled him.

“Damn it, fool! What are you still doing here?” It was the barn keeper, Knoll, who hadn’t seen Colin standing up there.

Colin climbed the ladder slowly, only to have the weapon smith grab him roughly by the tail and pull him swiftly down. He landed hard on the straw floor, and glared up at the possum that now stood over him. The yank on the tail had hurt a lot, and Colin was angry.

“ What do you want me to do?” he yelled. “I m not one of them, I can do anything special! I didn’t even know dragons existed before now!” Knoll reached down and grabbed the front of Colin s shirt. He leaned close, so that his nose and Colin s were almost touching.

“You ll do your duty, Keeper.” He shoved him away. “Now go!”

Colin stared at the ugly man for a little while longer, then turned to run. He understood. This was his duty now.

He would defend the Keep with his friends.

“ Wait!” Knoll s tail wrapped around his wrist, and jerked him back.

“ Now wha...” he started angrily, but it died when Knoll shoved a simple, undecorated sword into his hand. “You ll need a weapon!”

Colin gasped as the tingling that constantly bothered him arced through him, shocking him for a second. It was gone quickly, but in it s place were words that had begun to form in his head...

Knoll gave Colin a knowing look. “Save it for the dragon!” he said urgently. “Now go”

“ Alright guys, nothing new here, but I don’t want any accidents. Rathan, I want you to go and get the weapons from the house. Don give me that face, I need Rachel and Tim next to me. We vet all got a duty, man, and this time, that s yours.”

The Captain smiled his omnipresent grin. “And hey, if we can beat this one without troubling ole Xefhran's kids, it ll be a round at the bar on me. And yes, the bar does serve milk, if you were wondering, Augs.”

The four Lancers were sprinting towards the keep at full speed. There might have been jokes in the captain s orders, but they all knew what was ahead of them. Rachel smiled a bit, Colin had said it sounded easy.

Thinking about him made her remember that he was still back at the barn with Knoll, but she knew that this was probably best. He might get hurt if he had come. She relaxed a bit, not realizing she had tensed up. He was safe there.

They made it quickly through the Keeper s gate and scrambled up the stairs to the observation posts. Justin left them and ran for their quarters, to get their swords. They didn’t have the time for armour. Rachel and Thomas both stood and gazed out, scanning the sky. The Raev scouts were unmatched, often aided by magic to foresee danger. The dragon wasn’t down in the Keep yet but any minute...

“Oh my god.”

The dragon that descended was twice as big as any Rachel had seen before. Its silhouette was the only thing they could see because of the sun s glare, but even that dwarfed the sky. She heard the Captain swear, Gods Damn. and that did nothing to ease her fear. She snapped out of it and quickly grabbed a spare bow from the post and nocked an arrow to it. It wasn’t her bow, but it d do.

Thomas held up his hand, and shouted, “Ready!”

The archers on the wall all drew their arrows back. The dragon s shadow began to cover them, and still it got larger. Some of the archers were shaking.

“ Steady!” he yelled. “ For Keep and Kingdom, Raev!”

The dragon drew closer, and its roar resounded like a cathedral bell being scraped by a rusting sword.

The Captain flung his arm forward. “Fire!”

Rachel dropped her bow the moment she had let her arrow fly. She had been doing this for four years now, and she knew what to expect. The dragon, weakened by the arrows, would plunge into the main keep, which had been evacuated when the alarm first when up. The Lancers would then surround it, and using the same tried and true techniques each time, would subdue and Banish the dragon away.

She had just jumped the distance from the wall to the courtyard when she turned to look up, wondering where the dragon would fall. What she saw would haunt her dreams for the next three weeks.

Instead of crashing into the center of Raev, the dragon had landed on the Keep s wall as a bird lands atop a tree branch. Silhouette no longer, Rachel could see the beast in its entirety. The first thing she noticed was its wings. They spread nearly from one observation post to the other. Its head, almost as large as her body, was covered in hideous bone spikes that jutted out from underneath its scales. It s claws, hooked onto the wall, were obsidian sickles that curved wickedly. Down it s neck an ebony mane flowed, and contrasted with the ivory of the bone that rose from its spine like thorns. Worse yet, its scales gleaned a sickly green, and the sun caught this, and cast an emerald glow on the keep. It roared once more, a deafening wail, then swiftly turned and bit a nearby archer in two. It lashed out with its tail, and sent several more to their deaths, hurled over the Keep s walls. Their screams reached Rachel quite clearly down on the floor, and, raising its blood stained muzzle, it turned two baleful eyes toward her and stared her down.

Its eyes were blue.

There was no time for thought. She had to get that thing down into the courtyard. She didn’t know where the others were, but it didn’t matter. That thing-

“Easy, Rachel. Tim is doing his job. Just wait a moment.” The captain had come up behind her and laid a hand on her shoulder. She wanted to scream and run and cry or something, but training held. She d wait for Tim. Then she d give that monster hell.

“ C'mon, Tim...” she whispered.

The dragon shrieked and folded its wings tight against its body, and began to crawl along the wall, knocking over posts and Keepers alike as it moved. It seemed to be having fun, using its tail to slam into the wall, sending debris tumbling down on those who had made it to the ground. Tim could see from his vantage point all the arrows that had been shot at it. They were all imbedded, deep, but it seemed to give no notice to them. He knew this dragon was much bigger then any they had taken down, but it made no difference. If he could fight one, he could fight them all.

He stood on the roof of one of the guard posts, waiting for the dragon to come beneath him. He had grabbed a thin javelin from a guard who had been cowering underneath the post. When the dragon passed him, he would jump down, and stab the dragon through its skull.

Almost...

“Spawn of evil! I m going to kill you!”

He turned quickly and saw that one of the archers remained on the wall. She stood fast, visibly shaking, but she held her ground. She continued to shoot, but her fear curved her shots. Not that it was a hard target to hit, but she wasn’t hitting anywhere important. The dragon passed under the post just as one of her arrows hit it in the eye.

It screamed in pain and reared up, shattering the post Tim had been standing on. He was thrown into the air, but he twisted, and with a yell, landed atop the dragon s neck. He quickly grabbed onto the bone thorns with his sharp nails, and lashed onto one of the dragon s horns with his tail. The monster thrashed wildly, but Tim s was a death grip.

“You think you re a match for me? Huh? I don’t think so!” He shouted angrily. “Well I’ve got news for you, monster! No... one... is!”

He swung off to the side, still keeping his grip. His feet touched the ground, and he heaved, pulling the dragon off balance. It yielded, but as he jumped to try and get away, its tail swung up and hit him solidly, smashing him into the wall. He fell to the floor, unconscious. The dragon gave a startled squawk, then lost its grip on the wall, and tumbled off into the courtyard.

Thomas had grabbed Rachel and shoved her away as the beast came crashing down. He looked around quickly, but couldn’t see Justin, nor Reveri's kids, for that matter, either. Come on, Rachel, I don’t know what s taking Justin, but we need to buy the time! She nodded and pointed to the rope that was near his foot. He felt a swell of pride as he threw it to her. These were the best there ever was. Now he needed to find a weapon. He checked himself, black-furred hands searching all manner of hidden pockets on his clothes. He came up with a small parrying dagger, which he had been using to whittle while waiting this morning. It would do.

Rachel held the rope tight and looked up. Her ears folded flat back and her tail was wildly fluffed. The dragon was dazed, but it was slowly rousing itself. Any later and it would be too late. Her heart pounded with none of the usual confidence. Now or never.

She took off running, toward the dragon and towards her doom. It snapped at her, weakly, but she ducked underneath it and leaped. Her jump carried her onto the dragon s head, and very fast she looped the end of the rope around its horn, the one that Tim had clung to previously. She rolled down its neck, feeling her back get cut up by the razor sharp scales there. She thought of those who had already died and put the pain in the back of her mind. She twisted and fell to the ground near its left wing, and threw the rope back over it. The dragon was more active now, and stood, pulling her into the air for a moment. She loosened her grip on the rope and her feet touched the ground. She looked up and saw it s claws descending toward her face and she dived, under it s belly and around to it s other side, still clutching the rope. Satisfied, she turned and ran from the monster, toward one of the pillars undamaged by the dragon s thrashings. She threw the rope around it, and secured it tight. The dragon suddenly violently thrashed, but it was held fast by the cord she had fastened around it. Ok, things were good. Justin would get here and we could end this...
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Sat 2 Sep - 17:42

It was a blur she didn’t see as the dragon s wing came loose from the rope and fully extended, scoring a terrible gash across her head. Red flowed up in her vision, and the last thing she saw was Colin running through the Keeper s entrance. She tried to cry out to him, but by this point, all was black.

Colin raced up the trail, flying over the roots and rocks like there was no tomorrow. He worried about his friends, about the Captain, worried about Rachel. He was worried about himself, for Knoll s jab hit home; he really was a Keeper, now. But his concerns for them override his fears. All throughout his body he felt a great urgency surge through him, and his adrenaline began pumping. Fear fell to a mixture of great anxiety and overwhelming curiosity. He was going to see a dragon.

The sword Knoll had given him was another matter, though. The bothersome tingling had generalized to just the hand that held the sword, and the pain sizzled through his thoughts. It literally burnt to hold it, but he knew that he couldn’t let go yet. However, when the pain became too overwhelming, Colin fell to his knees, gasping. Turning the sword over, he shoved it into his belt, and the relief that flooded him was immediate. Rubbing his hands, he stood and began to run again.

He reached the base of Raev s walls just as a tremendous crash shook him back off his feet. Dazed for a moment, he waited for the dust to clear before standing.

All around him were pieces of the parapets, shattered and destroyed. Broken spears and arrows were strewn across the field. The shouting could be heard clearly now, the people inside the Keep were obviously in trouble. He ran around the side of the walls to the Keeper s entrance, and struggled with the door for a while. It was a heavy piece of iron, and it wasn’t budging. He could hear the screams inside growing more and more, and he pulled with all his might.

It didn’t budge.

Colin swore and pounded on the iron gate. My friends are in there, and the only thing between us is this stupid door! He fell to his knees, and hit the door with his fists. “Open, damn you-“

With a labored groan, the huge door slid open. Colin gaped, open-mouthed, and looked at his fist. He had tried to push it open... if he had been a little more observant, he might have heard the laughter carried faintly on the wind.

He charged through the doorway and into the courtyard. The dragon, almost twenty times as big as Colin, was still tangled in Rachel s rope. The sheer magnitude of the dragon staggered Colin, who stared upon something his mother s stories could not possibly come close to describing.

“By the storms,” he whispered.

Fully alert now, the monster had struggled to its feet and was pulling hard on the string that bound it. One emerald wing, as big as a ships sail, was completely unfurled and lashing around, creating a mighty breeze and kicking up the dust. Its mouth was lashed shut by the coils Rachel had ensnared it with, and it was making frustrated growling noises, trying to claw them off. He could see flames lick out from between the monster s six-inch teeth, and Colin remembered; in all his mother s stories, none of the dragons could breathe fire...

Suddenly, the dragon whipped its head up, throwing something into the air towards Colin. The object gave a shrill cry as it flew. Colin dived out of the way, and the thing crashed into the barrels that he had been hiding behind. Colin ran back to the crash site, having seen a flash of red fur.

Captain Thomas St. Wren lay where he had landed, laughing weakly. “So there you are, kid.” Thomas said with his usual glib. “Ugh. Its got to be a female...itsa...” Saying this, he passed out.

Colin grabbed the Captain by his jacket and hauled him away from the barrels. Propping him up just outside the Keepers entrance, Colin ran back at the thrashing dragon. It had gotten one of its claws out of the snare and was busy trying to free its tail as well. It was held fast, but Colin knew it wouldn’t hold. He quickly took in the damage of the keep and looked around for his friends. Keeping a wide berth of the dragon, which didn’t seem to notice him, he ran over to the other side of the courtyard, where found...

“Colin? What are you doing here?” Folken and Mili ran over to him. They were out of breath and out of sorts, and Colin saw blood on Mili s hands. Folken grabbed his wrist and shouted “This isn’t the place for you!”

He jerked his arm back. “Never mind that! What happened here? I thought you guys did this all the time. Don tell me it s always like this!” He pointed back at the dragon, where he saw the still little form next to the pillar binding the dragon. It looked like a bloody rug, really, but seeing the green ribbon, Colin knew it was

“Rachel! That s Rachel!” he tried to run over to her, but Folken grabbed his arm again.

“No! Wait, Colin, that s why Mili is here! We need to distract the dragon so she can help Augustine!” He let go of Colin and reached into a silver lined pouch that hung at his side. “I don’t know if the other s hurt it enough to banish, but I have to try” He looked down at Colin. His little eyes widened at the sight of the sword shoved in Colin s belt. “Is that one of Master Knoll s weapons?” Colin nodded, still staring at where Rachel was, though Mili had already ran and was almost upon her. “ Well, then use it, Colin! I need the time to cast the spell!” he pulled what looked like a long black thread from his pouch and wrapped it around his fingers.

Use it?

Drawing it from his belt brought the stinging pain back in a flurry. It shocked him right through his hand, gloved as it were. It was a good thing he hadn’t removed those from the games. He would have been unprepared for what was going on underneath them. The sword glowed faintly red, now. The words came clamoring back to his head, but he shoved them away. He didn’t need to use a magic sword. He just needed to distract the dragon before it hurt anyone else. Feeling the singular courage that comes from protecting others, he gave a shout, and ran towards his duty.

Busy trying to claw off the rope off it s muzzle, the dragon didn’t notice Colin dashing toward it. The startling pain it felt when Colin s sword connected with its neck snapped its head toward him. Colin, terrified, fell back as it s head lashed out over where he had been just seconds ago. He quickly got to his feet and swung his sword again, but this time the dragon was ready. Pulling its wing up, it brought the rope between Colin s sword and itself. There was a loud twang and the cord fell up, severed.

Looking up at the dragon, which had reared up and separated the remaining bindings, the pain in Colin s hand flared again, snapping him out of the numb horror that had taken him. The words flashed through his head again, burning marquis. “I... I... just say it?” He shouted, looking back at Folken.

But Folken was busy, moving his hands around in odd gestures and chanting his spell. The dragon s sword like talons came down, arcing like lightning toward his head...

“Keva!” he shouted, and the sword flared bright red. Colin could feel strength surge through him, and his courage swelled. His arm seemed to move automatically, and with one hand, he sliced the dragon s claw off.

Realizing he didn’t have time for amazement, he ran forward, shouting more of the spell. “Keva alrath!” he cried, bringing the sword down hard on the dragon s foreleg itself. It roared in surprised pain and fury as Colin easily cleaved through its thick scales. The sound was deafening, but Colin was more confident now. He felt like he could take on anything. Even the pain was receding, easier to ignore now. He didn’t notice the fur that slowly radiating from his sword hand, down his arms, and to his body. He began to complete the spell.

“Keva alrath sudo-“

“ Colin, get out of my way! The spell will catch you too!”

The great emerald beast hissed terribly and swiftly sliced the binding from around its mouth. Its wings snapped open, covering him in their green shadow. It inhaled sharply, ready at last to summon it s killing breath. He held the sword firmly in front of him, feeling no fear now. The glow from the sword was almost too much to look at directly now. His lips formed the last word of the spell-

“Back to the shadows I cast you, monster! Kono-alriec Banish!”

“Keva alrath sudo quiren!”

“Colin, no!”

The dragon exhaled, and a current of flames issued from its maw, completely engulfing Colin. The fire hit the ground and spread out, forcing Mililani to grab Rachel and drag her away from the courtyard. She gasped in horror and cried out to Colin again. The fire continued to rain down, and her shout was lost in the roar.

Folken s spell erupted from his outstretched hands much like the dragon s fire, but his magic was the colour of night. It flew quickly, and struck the dragon it s near its remaining eye, causing it to shut its mouth in pain. There was a small burst of smoke, and the dragon was covered in the black magic. Folken struggled for breath and fell over, exhausted. He had been too late... he wanted to cry, but something odd was happening... the dragon wasn’t gone...

“My gods, what did I do wrong?” he thought, trying to draw a full breath. “Colin...”

The dragon s burning form glowed dark blue, and the flames extinguished themselves. Mili gasped, Folken s spell should have sent that monster far away from the Divide s control over it. But a shining light in front of the beast caught her attention. Rachel stirred weakly, the cut over her head healed. She was still weak from loss of blood. “Colin... ?”

The white gleam parted the lingering flames. Colin stood there, both hands on the sword, the blade raised up, between his closed eyes. The dragon hissed and shook off the lingering bits of Folken s spell, then took in its breath once more. This time it would finish what it started. Everyone watched, with baited breath, such as they had never seen before.

Pointing the sword at the dragon, Colin gave a shout, and a great beam shot forth from the blade of the sword. The light struck the dragon like a lance, and raised it onto its hind legs. It threw its head back and shrieked horribly, obviously in terrible pain. It tried to reach around the beam, but Colin stepped forward, and the dragon was forced back.

Folken watched open-mouthed. The magical energy given off by the boy was incredible. Sparks flew as the very air crackled, raising fur and hackles. Folken looked down at his own hands and realized he was shaking. He tried to see into the storm... but the glare from the sword made them hard to look at. But he could swear something was happening to Colin... Mili confirmed his thoughts when she shouted,

“The curse! Reeve’s curse!”

The omnipresent tingling coursed throughout his body, but all his focus was the monster in front of him. He felt like he was watching someone else, like it wasn’t him that stood against the dragon now. He was used to the tingling feeling, which felt like a million ants crawling through his skin. He could never have imagined such power, power that he somehow knew was him, his strength. He could feel it running through him and out the sword, as if it was a magnifying glass and he were the sun. The rush was breathtaking, heady. He had shut his eyes because of the glare, so he didn’t notice the changes taking place on his body.

His tail lengthened and the fur grew thicker, turning a dark shade of grey. Underneath his jerkin, the grey fur spread over his chest and down his legs, ending at his feet. Those began to change next, toes being replaced by pads and nails being changed into little black claws. His ears began to lengthen next, turning from shell pink flesh to large, dark, brown triangles. Fur coursed up from his neck and over his face as it began to push out, extending into what would soon be a muzzle. Had his eyes been open, a black nose would have been there in front of them. Sharp teeth filled his mouth, replacing omnivorous ones, and six whiskers jutted out from the sides of his mouth. His clothing grew looser as his whole body got slightly smaller, more lithe.

The tingling stopped so suddenly that Colin thought he had somehow died. That was how strong the feeling of nothing was when it washed over him. He gasped in shock, opening his eyes. The dragon s chest plates had all but melted away. Glaring at him, knowing it was dying, it growled weakly and drew in a ragged breath. He took another step forward, and willed more power into Knoll s sword. The ridges on it s back touching the Keep s portcullis, the dragon snorted and tried to spread its wings to fly away. They opened only partway when the dragon suddenly gave a shuddering jerk. Colin, thinking he had finally beaten it, felt as if he had been disconnected from a lightning bolt he had been clutching. His stomach lurched, and spots began to fill his vision. The light from the sword faded instantly, letting dusk come at last to the keep. Those who had witnessed the impossible stood, breathless and silent. They watched as both boy and dragon hung as they were for a sickening moment, then collapsed simultaneously.
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Tue 5 Sep - 6:41

This seemed expected, but still very nicely done. I also greatly like how you took the time to really explain your magic system. Too many seem to use the concept of "magic" as a simple excuse to do what they please without ever really fleshing it out (i.e., "Deus Ex Machina?"), but you've set it up in a nice, believably form that helps in understanding the concept.

Overall, a great job (save for some typos here and there, but hey, what good writer doesn't make those? Xp ).
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Thu 7 Sep - 16:46

Chapter Nine

More voices in the darkness. Colin swam through the waters in his head, desperate to go to them. His feet touched loose sand and he pulled his head out of the river, gasping. He could hear them all around, around and through his body like the spectral mists that clung to him. He cried out to them, terrified, alone, but there was no direct answer.

He fell to his knees, quiet and scared. The water was waist deep and chilling, but he couldn’t feel it. He knew he had just gone through an incredible ordeal, but he had no idea what it had been. He knew that the voices belonged to friends, but they did not have faces, or names he could think of.

The water receded and played around his legs. Soon, it wasn’t sand he was kneeling upon, but the rough stone floor of the courtyard. A sun exploded into the sky, blinding him. He held up his hand, to shield his eyes, when he stopped, taken by horror.

Green scales covered his hand, and his nails began to turn black, and lengthen. He watched, transfixed, as his other hand began to darken and change as well. Suddenly, in a searing flash, his clothing began to burn away, leaving him naked. Racked with terrible pain, he fell to his hands, now forelegs, as emerald wings ripped from his back and unfurled, showering him with his blood. He tried to scream, but it came out the shrill cry of a monster. Everything spun crazily, then went black.

“He s coming around!”

Colin s eyes snapped open. He was back in the infirmary, lying on the same cot he had been when he first woke in the Keep. His vision wouldn’t focus properly, and he fought back a wave of nausea. He tried to sit up, but a hand pushed him back down.

He peered through the fog and saw that all of the Lancers had crowded into the small room. They all looked physically fine, but they hung, mentally taxed. Tim sat in a chair next to the door, quietly sleeping. Folken and Mili stood together, looking down at Colin with odd stares. Justin leaned against the wall, arms folded. Thomas sat down in the chair next to him

“What... what happened?” Colin asked. For some reason, talking felt odd, alien. His voice slurred with exhaustion. “What happened?”

“Easy kid, easy,” said Thomas softly. “You did great out there, you really did. A lot of people have a lot to thank you for, once you re up to receiving it.”

“Thank me... for what?” Now he knew something was really wrong. This wasn’t his voice, it was too deep...

Mililani walked over to the side of the bed, her ears slightly drooping. She looked exhausted. “The dragon, Colin. Don you remember the dragon?”

Hearing that word brought the memories flooding back. The courtyard, the sword... “Rachel!” he said, trying to sit back up. He winced, his voice was much too loud...

“She s fine, Colin.” Zaika said, stepping into the room. The seven-foot lizard was garbed in yellow robes this time, and he bowed his head as he came near Colin, who didn’t shy away. Compared to the dragon, he was nothing. “Aside from a rather nasty bruise, she is all right. She is back at her home, getting some very well deserved rest. It was a trying day for you all.”

“Is she ok? I saw her...”

Mili held up a white piece of string she had been holding. “I m a white threader, Colin. I can fix people up. I healed the cut on her head, and she ll be fine.” She smiled and looked back at Tim, who was still asleep by the door. “What you three did today will someday be stories of great inspiration.”

Colin sighed and leaned back slowly. “Ah, was I hit in the head? I...” he said, reaching up to his forehead, “my head feels real...” He froze, seeing everyone in the room do the same. They all stared at him, something horrible in their blue eyes, collective and scary. He stared at them for a second, then put his hand on his ear, which didn’t quite feel the way it should have.

Colin jerked as if electrocuted, and felt all over his face with both hands. He felt his muzzle, his new nose, his pointed ears, and his whiskers. He stopped suddenly, and pulled the covers away from his body. His shirt had been half cut away to treat any wounds he might have received, so he was able to plainly see that he was now covered in grayish brown fur. He leapt out of the bed, panicked, and backed up against the wall, away from the others. His sharp nails clicked on the tiled floor.

“ What happened?! What happened to me! I thought it was supposed to be gradual,” he shouted. “What am I?”

“Vulpes Argentum, Colin. Grey Fox.” Zaika spoke softly, sadly. “Something you did today sped up the process. Reeve s spell has run its course. It won be harming you anymore.”

“I... I...” he couldn’t get a word out. It was too much, far too quickly. All the fears of loneliness, of solitude, fled before the reality of what he had lost. His knees grew weak, and he sank to the ground mired in reality. Conscience thought would not process, his brain wouldn’t allow it to.

SMACK!

The hard slap snapped Colin out of his shock. Looking up, his eyes connected with Justin Rathan’s. They had gone hard, sever, and unforgiving. The furry mask that surrounded them only accent their glare, making him, for the moment, seem much older then before. His tongue played around his sharp teeth before he opened his mouth.

“Knock it off. A lot of people got hurt today, and we owe them quite a bit. You knew what was happening to you, and you know there was no way around it. Colin, you’re a Keeper, now. People outside those walls will hate you, fear you, maybe even try to kill you. You will never have a normal life again.” Mili grabbed him angrily by the shoulder.

“Justin!”

“Shut up, Miliani. Thing is, a lot more people would have been hurt if you hadn’t did what you did. Rachel probably would have died out there. You may not have a future on the outside, but you’ve got a great head start here. You’re a hero, Colin. Don’ freak out on us. We’ve already got our fair share of loonies.” He held out a hand, his tail swinging happily.

Colin realized that he was right. He might never be able to go out and explore the world, but he was accepted, happily, by the only friends he had ever had. Raev Keep might be his new home, but what a home it was.

He reached up to take Justin’s hand, when he notice something strange. Peeking through his tattered glove, which still covered his left hand, he could see a hint of something pink. Pulling his had away the raccoon, he ripped off his glove, exposing something that shocked them all.

His hand remained perfectly human. There was no fur until about his elbow. But more then that, what caught their eyes was the thread that wrapped tightly around his hand, encircling his wrist and looping through his fingers. It pulsed softly, changing from one colour to the next.
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Thu 7 Sep - 16:47

Chapter 10

“I am sure that the professors at the Academy will be glad to have you, Colin.” Zaika said, walking alongside the young fox. It was two days later, Colin having been released from the infirmary yesterday. He had been given a day to himself to sort things out. Meaning, of course, to get used to his new appearance. His senses a mess, he had finally gotten used to the fact that sounds were now ten times louder then they had been, and to the fact that the whole world...smelled now. Not bad, just, he noticed things he never would have before. He had taken to walking very slowly now, trying to take in everything he could. He was dressed in looser clothing then before, a simple white jerkin over loose brown trousers. He wore specially made leather sandals, which for most of the Keepers were standard issue. He wore thick riding gloves over his hands, even in the soft heat of the keep, if only to hide them from prying eyes. He had been warned.

“You have been given a miraculous gift. There is no record of anyone receiving a Thread after birth. And the fact that no one has even heard of one changing colour...well...lets just say there’d be a lot of very curious people.” Zaika had come for him last night and asked for his company on his patrol. The monstrous keeper had don’tned a think leather cowl and carried with him a hard wood staff. He walked quickly, but spoke slowly. They patrolled through all of the Keep itself, and now walked the boarders.

Clean up had begun on the turrets, and extra security was needed to protect the workers. The lizard’s speed was frustrated to Colin, though he easily kept pace. “That’s why I enrolled you at the Academy...the teachers there will help you learn about your Thread.”

Colin snorted once. “I thought you said that no one had ever heard of a thread like mine. How could they help me?”

The astrologist paused and turned a soft eye on Colin, who looked down, feeling guilty for his outburst. “These are people of a magical mind, Colin. If anyone could formulate the best hypothesis, it would be them.”

“Do what now?”

“Never mind. You should be thinking of how exciting it will be! Mili and Folken are students, and you’ll have the chance to meet several new people. I know that Professor Azerus is quite interested in meeting you, so there is that.

“I have had quite enough excitement for the moment, I think. “Colin said wryly. “I think I’m ok in saying that it would have been for anyone.” He flexed his left hand, unconsciously. “Does anyone know what happened?”

“We’re still trying to make sense of all that happened that day. Professor Reveri, the Captain of the Banishers, has no answers, and was deeply disturbed by his lack of awareness concerning the keep. He feels very guilty.”

Even though Colin had been told what really had happened the day the dragon attacked the keep, there were still a lot of things that didn’t make sense. Things that suggested something more malicious at work then simply a dragon being drawn to the keep by the Divide. For instance, when Justin ran to the lancer’s barracks, he said that he when he touched the handle to the weapons closet, he had felt a tremendous shock, and blacked out. Mili and Folken, who arrived late, might never have come at all if not for the fact that Folken had a habit of taking his lunch out on the academy’s main balcony. It seems like a spell of silence had been placed upon the school, but seeing the dragon descend was more then enough for the young man to grab Mili and race for the courtyard. Professor Reveri, whom Colin had yet to meet, was sleeping. It must have been a very powerful spell, as the Academy is supposed to be magically resistant in the first place, to prevent runaway spells from the students from destroying the school. The Headmaster of the School, Azerus Seth, had little to say about the incident, and common dislike for the man made it easy to think he had something to do with the whole thing. But Colin shrugged. Political intrigues were none of his business. He was just glad that everyone was ok.

“Ah, Colin said, wincing as the string around his hand constricted, painfully. “You say that this will stop hurting when I study?” He looked doubtful. “That doesn’t make sense.”

Zaika slowed and patted him on the back. “Colin, that thread is a part of your soul. You’ll find that a lot of things regarding it don’t’ make sense. But from what we’ve been able to find out, threads are...hungry for lack of a better work. They are soothed only be acquiring magical knowledge, or by using it to cast a spell, Normally, you’re at the age where we could remove it, but none of the professors want to attempt that spell without first finding out more about it. And you, I suspect. “ Zaika smiled a bit. “You have shown yourself to be a truly remarkable individual.”

The reason everyone was so curious was due to the fact that what he had don’te with Knoll’s sword wasn’t what it was supposed to do. At first a small entourage of Keepers had gone down to Knoll’s barn to congratulate the smith, but he had only grumped at them, saying,

“All that sword was supposed to do was make him hit a little harder. I don’t’ know anything about lasers, fire protection, or beams of light. Now get out of my house!” Word spread quickly, and suddenly everyone had a new reason to meet the newcomer. For his safety, Zaika had said, knowledge of his thread was kept mostly secret. Except for his friends, no one save the king knew about it. But King Thomas was too busy with another matter to truly be concerned. He smiled, remembering the lancers reactions to all this.

“All by yourself, huh? You better not be getting a big head about this.” Justin cried in mock outrage. “No mention of my heroic deeds at all!”

Tim glared at him and laughed. “What deeds? Passing out when we needed you the most?” He snorted. “Some hero.”

“I hear you tried to fly like the birds that day, Tim. Did you get very high?” He mimicked with his hands a figure flying through the air and hitting a wall. “Smack! Haha, I wish I could’ve seen it.”

“You’re about to, first hand!” Rachel said, grinning as Tim snarled, and picked up Justin by the neck and tail. He went over to the side and looked over and made as though he were about to toss him off the roof.

Colin laughed and leaned towards Rachel, who was feeling much better. They had been all on the roof again, the day after the attack.

I hear you did some pretty incredible things yourself,” he said, smiling. He inhaled slightly, realized that with his new senses, she smelled quite nice. Relaxing.

Her ears shot up, and she laughed nervously and looked away. “Well...I...er...I...did my duty. There’s nothing much to say “after that. You really saved the day.”

Colin had shook his head at that. “No. I did my duty.”

“I guess,” Colin, said, resuming walking. “When do I start?”

Zaika took a moment to adjust his sandals before joining him. His large feet were thickly scaled, so it seemed like he wore them more for show then for any function. “Tomorrow, but you can go today and get a room for yourself. The dormitories at the Academy are second to none in the land.”

Colin stopped at this. “I thought it would be ok if I kept my room with the Lancers? I’m just getting used to all the shouting that goes on next to me. I don’t’ think I could sleep without it.”

Frowning, Zaika laid a clawed hand on the fox’s shoulder. “But Colin, its part of the rules. The professors have the oddest schedules, and they are rarely the same day by day. Its really for the benefit of the students.”

“But...”

“Just try it out,” Zaika said. “Besides, classes are only held four days through the week. One day is set for guard duty, while you get the other two to yourself. You can spend those with Thomas’s group then.”

“You know, I never attended school before.”

“Then you should go home and rest up, tomorrow brings a plethora of new things to you. Classes are over for the day, but I told Professor Jenti to wait for you, so you shouldn’t keep him over long.”
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Thu 7 Sep - 16:48

Colin nodded and ran off, looking for his friends. Hiss belly ached slightly, but he was in no hurry to brave the Mess hall for food. He was afraid of what the thunderous noise would do to his new ears.

Getting lost wandering through the alleys, Colin made his way to the front of the Keep and walked down the steps into the bar. The patrons all raised there glasses and cried half hearted huzzahs, but Colin hurried through to the back door, which opened into the Lancer’s courtyard. A clanking, metallic sound filled the air.

Sword clashed upon sword as Rachel sparred with Knoll, the old keeper easily parrying the younger girl’s thrusts. Letting the door slam behind him caused Rachel to turn towards Colin, and Knoll, seizing the opportunity, swept her legs out from under her with his tail. His sword was to her throat before she could get up.

“If this were a real fight you’d be dead, Augustine,” He said, his voice still as brittle and as warm as ice. “Only a fool takes his eyes off his opponent.” He unwound his tail from her foot and grumped off.

“Yeah, yeah, dirty trick, Knoll!” She shouted after him, getting to her feet. “You’re just sore because I almost got you with that last slash!” His only reply was a dry chuckle.

“Bah,” she said, shaking her fist at him. “Oh, hey, Colin. Want to spar?”

Holding up his hands, Colin smiled and shook his head. “You’d cut me to pieces, Rachel. I’ve barely swung a sword in my life.”

She turned and knelt down, grabbing something behind her. It was another sword. “C’mon! I’ll go slow. Its not like I’d actually try to slice you to bits.” She tossed it to him, which Colin, torn between ducking for his life or jumping back, caught.

He knew that when he told her what Zaika had said, she’d be upset, so he said, “Alright. But slow. Really slow.”

She grinned and came very slowly at him, which he blocked. She reversed the thrust, and swung overhead, which he ducked and stepped back from. His blood began to flow. “Ok, just a little quicker.” She didn’t say anything, just laughed once and did just that.

His new body was quicker, he noticed, more lithe and quick on its feet. (pads, paws, whatever) His tail even helped to balance him, so he could spin and jump higher then he had been able to as a man. Even Rachel’s natural grace seemed to slow as his new reactions helped him block and parry each of her attacks. He knew if she were really trying, he wouldn’t stand a chance, but this was fun. His wandering attention snapped back to the fight as she asked him a question.

“So what did Master Zaika have to say to you? I know he wanted you on scout duty with him, but did he tell you anything else about your hand?”

Ducking her blade, he twisted and took a swipe at her. “He told me he enrolled me at the Academy.”

She frowned, very quickly but it vanished quicker. “Sounds like fun,” she said cautiously.

“I guess so. I’d rather stay here and take it easy for a bit, but this damned thing hurts too much.” He sighed, then smiled. “It is kind of exciting. I never would have dreamed that I’d be casting spells someday.”

Rachel smiled warmly and held up a hand, stopping. “I bet you never dreamed you’d ever be a Brush, either, huh? This isn’t something most people can expect.” She sat down on the rough stone and beckoned him down.

“A brush? I thought I was a fox.”

She laughed, clear and happy. “I keep forgetting that you are relatively new to this whole thing.” She patted him on the back, and carelessly said, “You just seem to have always been here.”

Suddenly realizing what she had said, Rachel bristled very quickly and turn away, but the fur on her tail stood straight up. Colin, who had yet to experience the sensation, prodded gently, “Brush?”

“Ah, the Lingo.” She coughed and smoothed her fur down. A cool breeze swept through the courtyard and soon they were both fluffed from the cold. Sharing a quick laugh, she sat up straight and began, “Well, the keepers don’t’ usually call themselves by animal names. I mean, the older ones don’t’ mind, but the younger ones prefer the nicknames.”

Colin grinned. “Such as?”

“Well, you know Brush is fox, and we call raccoons Bandits. We usually call rodents, like mice and ferrets and the such Squeakers, but never, ever call Tim that. Not even Justin calls Tim a Squeaker, and that’s saying a lot,” she said gravely.

“So what do you call cats?” Colin asked, wearing a smile that he could feel in his ears (?) and his face.

Rachel hesitated. “Well, actually, there are two things they call us, but one is...”

“We call them puss...hey!”

Tim had stuck his foot out, tripping Justin as they walked into the courtyard. Justin’s mouth was still open as he tumbled forward, but he caught himself in a roll and ended up at Colin and Rachel’s feet.

“We call them...” Rachel shoved a nearby fencing helmet onto his head, and not gently. Colin, not understanding at all, asked again.

“Felines! They call us felines,” she practically shouted, fluffed all over again. Justin started laughing in the helmet, and Colin could imagine the tears in his eyes. Tim can over and sat next to them, glaring at the chuckling mass on the floor. He handed a tightly wrapped bundle over to Colin, whose new nose easily told him what it was.

“We figured you probably didn’t want to go anywhere near the mess hall with those new ears of yours,” Justin’s voice came, muffled by the helmet. He was trying vainly to remove it, but it was stuck tight. “So yours truly decided to bring you ack something so ya wouldn’t starve. See? I told you, bonds of love and all that.” With a loud popping sound, the helmet had just come free when Tim’s fist drove it right back on.

“After making me stand in the line while you went and flirted with the minister’s choir, you jerk.”

Justin gave up and leaned close to Colin. “I always thought his heart belonged to a certain Long ears, but I guess he really likes you, you little charmer.” He was on his feet and running before Time could reach over and hit him again. Rachel watched them go and chuckled softly to herself. She opened her mouth to talk to Colin, but closed it when she saw him attacking the plate they had brought. “Best to wait,” she thought to herself.

She stretched involuntarily, raising her arms high over her head. The work out had been nothing really, but she was still feeling stiff from that morning. She yawned and arched her back, cracking it. “Ahhhh,” she said. Rachel didn’t notice that Colin had set aside his plate to watch her for a minute. By the time she looked over at him, his nose was firmly buried in a turkey leg.

“You know, if you keep freaking out about food like this, you’re not going to have anything left when you try something really good,” Rachel said, as he came up for air.

Colin looked shocked. “Are you kidding? This has to be the best food in the entire world! I mean, it was good before, but now, it seems like the cook really did something this time.”

“Ah. That would be your new sense of taste, most likely. Wait till you get to the mashed potatoes. They may seem a little...bland.”

He tried them, and then scrunched up his muzzle. “Ah, you’re right. Why is that?”

Rachel smirked. “Come on. You’re not that naive. Do you think wild foxes go about eating potatoes when they can?”
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Thu 7 Sep - 16:49

Thinking about that for a moment, Colin said, “Well, no, but I though this was just an appearance thing. You’re saying my eating habits will have to change too?”

“No, you can still eat whatever you want to, but I’ll wager that anything that used to run about will taste a lot better then anything that came out of the ground.”

“Huh.” He sat, digesting this. He started to ask another relatively important question when Rachel beat him to it.

“So are you going to stay here, In the barracks, or go live at the Academy? I know that most of the students do.”

Colin sighed and stood up. “I don’t’ have much of a choice. Zaika said that it would probably be easier for me to get used to the ways of things by being there in the middle of it. Truth be told, I don’t’ really want to go. I’ve gotten somewhat attached to you guys,” he added with a smile.

Rachel flicked her tail once and stood up too. “Zaika usually knows what he’s talking about,” she said. “So this is good bye?” She asked weepily, doing a great impression of Justin.

“No,” he said, shaking his head. “Zaika said that I would have two days off from class and guard duty, and the classes usually end at sundown. I thought I could spend my free time with you guys.”

“Great! I mean, that’s cool. Well, I need to go and get dressed for my patrol. I’ll see you around, okay?”

Colin nodded, feeling as though he wanted to say more, but he couldn’t think of anything. Instead he flashed a thumbs up sign with his gloved hand, then turned to walk off.

He walked through the bar, slowly, relaxed. The earthy smells of mead made him feel a little less anxious then he had been. “I guess its that or Rachel,” he thought. By the time he realized that the regulars were a little too quiet, it was too late.

“Where do you think you’re going?!?”

Tackled roughly from behind, he couldn’t tell who his assailant was, but the tackle was as familiar as the booming voice that had heralded its coming. He landed in a heap, captain Thomas sitting on his back.

“Good evening, Captain Wren,” Colin wheezed, surprised that the captain could be so heavy.

“Haha, don’t’ give me that just making conversation to get me off yer back nonsense, boy! Now that you’re all furry and such, I don’t’ have to hold back and be gentle with ya!” He let out a sharp laugh. The patrons, well, the ones that were conscience, started up their own low roar. The tavern came back to life, having been waiting for this. “What’s this I hear about you going to study at the Academy?”

Colin struggled a bit, but collapsed weakly on the rough wooden floor. There was so much spilled alcohol there he thought he might get drunk by simply inhaling. “Well sir, I needed to learn about my...”

The Captain’s hand flashed swiftly, and closed around Colin’s muzzle. Colin, surprised by the new sensation, nearly swallowed his tongue. “Shhh boy, you don’t’ want to be announcing that fact, especially to this crowd.” He grinned from ear to ear and stood up. The younger fox drew in a shuddering breath, thankful to be alive. “Now. Who ever said I’d let you go?”

Colin looked at the captain, surprised. Thomas didn’t seem to be joking at all.

“I want you for my lancers. I’m not going to let Reveri have a treasure like you!”

But then Colin noticed it, a twitch at the corners of his mouth and the slightest wave of his tail. He grinned. “I didn’t think I would need your permission, sir.”

“Didn’t need my permission? DIDN’T NEED MY PERMISSION? Its mine ass you saved out there, you owe me!” He growled and turned his back on the boy. “And I even lend you a pair of my favorite night clothes and that doesn’t mean anything to you?” He sighed. “You ingrate.”

“Captain, I...”

The man suddenly let out his barking laugh and clapped Colin on the back. Colin, ready this time, braced before he was knocked to the floor. “I understand, Colin. I was just giving ya a hard time. Gods know none of those academic losers will. You do what you need to. But on those days off, you better get your furry tailed self back here. I have big plans for you!” Still laughing, he snatched a mug of ale from a cat at the bar, and disappeared out the door to the barracks.

Dusting off his clothes with a weary smirk, Colin walked out of the bar, staggering slightly.

“Join the lancers, huh?” He didn’t really think anything of that, yet. Thinking about the dragon awoke a cold hard fear that he fought hard to suppress. It was a subconscious fear, one that he couldn’t quite understand. One thing at a time, Colin. His hand flared in pain. One at a time.

It wasn’t very hard to find his way back to the Academy. The moment he had stepped out the door, a metal arrow suddenly dropped down and floated in front of him, spinning slowly . Colin jumped back, startled, but was prodded forward when the arrow flew behind his back and pushed him gently forward. The point of the arrow was sharp, so he started walking. The arrow, seemingly satisfied, stopped poking him and resumed its place in front of him, pointing him down various roads and cross streets. He knew he was being led to the Academy.

After a short while, in which the clouds when about their business of wishing the sun a good night, he stood in front of the vaulted entry to the school. It was no less impressive then before, so at first Colin didn’t notice the keeper sitting on the steps. The arrow, still next to Colin, spun once very quickly, and flew to the man. A gloved hand shot out, and caught the arrow before it embedded itself in his chest.

“You must be the new student,” the man said severely. Colin opened his mouth to speak, but the keeper continued. “I figured you’d get lost, so I sent a finder spell to retrieve you. I’m pleased that my spell worked so well, its new.” The man reached up and pulled his velvet hood off with his fine gloves. The cloak was the colour of woven fire. He stood and strode up the steps to the academy without a word, expecting Colin to follow.

“It worked great, sir. I had no problem finding the school.”

“Of course you didn’t. I made the spell, didn’t I? I am not Raev’s head sorcerer for nothing.” He paused, then turned around. “I am Professor Xander Jenti, Head Sorcerer of Raev Keep and a Teacher of Crimson Thread Magic here at the Academy. Come along, I have been waiting a long time for you and have grown cold. I do not like to be kept waiting, nor do I care much for the cold.

Colin began to say something again, but he was cut off once more. “If you are late to my class, the repercussions will be severe .My class, Introduction and Overview of Crimson Sorcery, begins at Seven, which translates roughly to about sunrise.” He looked Colin in the eye, who instantly shifted his gaze to the ground. “Do you understand?”

Professor Jenti was a wolf, with fur and hair the colour of dying embers. He might be considered handsome, (by an animals standards) if his blue eyes weren’t so severe. There was also a mean twist to his face that made him seem threatening. His clothes, red as the rest of him, were very finely made, and several gold earrings dangled from ears that were slightly shorter then Colin’s own. Unlike the fox, Jenti kept his tail stretched out, and it too, was decorated with various jewelry. The professor’s sandals were also fine, covered with a layer of fur that probably made them very warm.

“Seven what?”

Jenti sighed and started walking again. He stood in front of the Academy doors and waved his hand. The massive doors opened by themselves. The Sorcerer strode through them. “You are not familiar with magical Time, are you?”

“No, I-“

“Well, this academy is run on very script schedules, so the Professors here devised a system of magical time keeping. You will have to ask a conjurer if you want a time piece. You’ll do well to get one quickly.

He stopped suddenly.

“Take off that glove. Raev holds no secrets here.”

Gingerly, Colin removed his glove. The incessant pain he felt since leaving the bar had died down for now, probably sated by being with the Academy’s walls. It was no different then before; it raced between his fingers and down along his wrist, where it tied itself into a small knot just below his hand. It pulsed quicker now, shifting colours very fast. Jenti saw this and harrumphed.

“Well, oddity or not, Raev is a serious place of magic and learning. You had better understand that before you take another step,” He finished, reaching a door. Having been too focused on Jenti’s path, Colin hadn’t had time to look where he was going. He wasn’t worried. He could see everything tomorrow.

“By the way, what is your full name?”

Colin, who didn’t want to get cut off again, (even the most mild mannered got testy around Jenti) waited for a moment. Then he said, clearly, “Colin.”

Jenti stared at him, as if he had been expecting something grand and had been sorely let down. “That’s it? So, Mr. Colin, am I correct in assuming you do not have a last name?” The sneer crept back into his face. Colin blanched. Last names were the things of high born, not peasants and delivery boys. He hung his head.

“No, I do not,” he said quietly. ”I hail from the outlands of Kingfisher, sir.”

“I see.” The professor looked thoughtful. “Colin the Brush, of Kingfisher. Very well then.

Normally, you’d be in the Bedrooms with the other students, but seeing the time, I don’t’ think you’d like to disturb them. Most have just gone to sleep. You can stay here, in the guest room. No one will bother you, but in case you cannot get up to make my class, I will send someone to retrieve you in the morning. Good eve.” He whirled quickly and strode purposefully down the hall, muttering something about another pair of blue eyes, and then he was gone.

Colin stood there for a moment, trying to take in what had just been said, when Jenti’s voice sounded right next to his head, causing him to jump out of his fur. “Welcome to Raev Academy.”
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Fri 8 Sep - 18:34

Once again, very nice. I'm hoping to see where this gets take next and what the Academy classes will be like. =D
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Fri 8 Sep - 19:32

Chapter Eleven

The Guest room was incredible even before Colin had stepped into it. As he placed his hand on the door knob, still trying to process what the Professor had told him, a voice, much higher then Jenti’s own, spoke to him, startling him anew.

“Welcome, guest of Raev. Be you a man, or one of the fairer sex?”

Colin, puzzled, stammered, “um...do you mean am I a girl?”

“A woman! Splendid. Its been too long. Just a moment, milady.”

“I...” Just then the door knob turned, allowing Colin to open the door. He was amazed.

The room was pretty small, consisting only of a bed, but what a bed it was! Well, Colin could probably have better appreciated it had he been a girl, but...

Large, and covered in soft pink quilts, the bed had four posts rising up to the vaulted ceiling above him. Hazel curtains, looking as if made of the softest silk, floated down from them like spider web. Colin put his hand on the mattress, and his hand sunk down into it with his slightest touch. This bed had been dreamed up by someone who knew what he (or she) was doing. It was lovely.

Walking around the side of the bed, Colin noticed a blank piece of parchment sitting on the dresser, next to a flickering candle. Scratching his head absently (not that he had fleas, mind you) he looked around, realizing that the light in the room wasn’t coming from the little candle. He shrugged inwardly and moved to pick up the parchment. Before his hand touched it, though, the candle blew out and the light in the room intensified, blinding him for a minute. When it died down, Colin looked down, blinking. The parchment was in his hand, and now there was writing on it.

Welcome, Student of Raev.

You are an odd one.

Here is your schedule.

Tomorrow:

General Crimson MagicThird FloorJenti

Introduction to the IntangibleFifth FloorBatren

Conjuring: The BasicsFirst FloorReveri

The next day:

White ThreadingSecond FloorLinden

Green MagicSeventh FloorNone

Unfogging the FugueFourth FloorEsme

Having dropped it as if it had been on fire, Colin slowly picked up his schedule and looked at it, trying to make sense of it. He figured these were the classes that Zaika had signed him up for, and it staggered him. He thought school was one or two classes, not six! He gently laid it down on the dresser, gazing at his hand as he did so. To be truthful, he hadn’t taken his glove off since the day he woke up, save to shower. His human hand looked alien, foreign, as if it didn’t belong. He pulled the glove out of the pouch and put it back on. The professor might not like it, but he didn’t have to remind himself about it. He was worried , probably needlessly so, of the other students reactions to him. Zaika had painted, however inadvertently, a rather frightening painting for him.

Colin stretched and eased himself up on the massive bed. It was as he thought it would be: pure heaven. He didn’t even change out of his old clothes, he was simply in bliss. He hadn’t realized that he was so tired, and was asleep before his head hit the pillow. Luckily, the candle blew itself out.

That night, Colin dreamed quite a lot. Its not like he’d remember these dreams, that was sort of the point, but in his sleep Colin saw great battles unfold, beautiful maidens consorting with knights, and human threaders weaving wonderful spells. All this was quietly narrated by the room, who was more then happy to entertain a new guest. This one was special, it sensed. Even if he lied and said he was a girl. The room felt the approaching dawn with a sense of remorse; it had wanted to spend more time with this. Maybe it would get a chance. Gently sending dreams of wakefulness and high adventure, the spirit departed the room, as a loud, booming knock resounded.

The boy jolted to awareness, blinking as the soft light of the room mimicked the first light of dawn. Not waiting for Colin to answer it, the door pushed open, and Folken Todimas strode in.

“Colin I...um...why did you pick the girl’s room?”

“Huh?” Colin asked, eyeing the badger sleepily. Folken was dressed in a neat gray robe, his hood up and over his rusty hair. Various patches hung at his waist, as well as one very fine looking satchel. He quickly walked over to the dresser and opened it, pulling out a similar robe. He tossed it to Colin, who yawned.

“Hurry! Get dressed! We’re going to be late to Professor Jenti’s Class and just so you know that is the last thing you ever want to do!”

Colin struggled out of bed and pulled the robe over his head. He was about to say something when he felt an odd rippling sensation from his right hand, the one with the thread wrapped around it. He let the robe fall to look at it. Folken put down his schedule and followed his gaze.

The thread was shifting colours even faster then before, with an almost blinding speed. Folken seemed more mesmerized then Colin, who was somewhat used to the oddity of his hand. Coming to his senses, the other boy, (who Colin had found out was two years younger then him) looked down at something on his wrist, gasped and pulled Colin out of the room.

As they raced through the hallway, Colin tried to look around, but he realized that the last thing he wanted to do was get lost. So he kept his head down, following Folken as he had followed Jenti, when suddenly, the hallway opened into an enormous area. They had finally come to the academy.

Seven stories, the main body of the academy was buzzing with life, with students of all species dashing around like mad, trying to get to their various classes. They were all dressed in different colored robes, ranging all the six colours, with only a handful wearing grey robes like Colin and Folken. A giant spiral staircase ran up the middle of the Academy, but it was crowded with students. At each of the floors, the stairs widened into a walkway that the students could use to get to the walls of the building, where Colin could see several doors. He gulped, remembering that his first class was on the fourth floor.

“Its ok, Colin, we don’t’ have to use the Spiral. I have a deal worked out over here...” Folken said, pulling him over to a young man dressed in red robes, though they were much less nicer then Professor Jenti’s had been. The threader had been staring at his wrist and tapping his foot impatiently.

“C’mon, come on, Todimas! We’re all going to be late at this...hey! Who is this?” The boy, seeing Colin, demanded. He looked like a bear Colin had seen once in the forest, although it wasn’t white with black circles around its eyes, like the boy’s. “Passengers are not part of the deal!”

Folken leaned in close to him, whispering something. The boy’s eyes grew wide, then they focused back on Colin. He worried inwardly that people would treat him differently because of what he did...

“Two weeks? You swear?”

“Yes, Arben, I swear. Two weeks.”

The panda clapped his hands together. “Alright! I’ve never done three people before, so hold on...” He reached into his robes and pulled a necklace out. It was a beautiful pendant, but what caught Colin’s eye was the red Thread that it was hanging on. Arben closed his eyes and mumbled a few words, grasping the string tightly. He held out his hand, which Folken took, and nodded for Colin to do the same.

Suddenly, like before, the ground gave a lurch, and sank beneath him. Colin wasn’t entirely dull, he had been somewhat expecting his, (he had seen other students fly up to their classes) but that didn’t stop a breathy ‘whoa!’ from escaping him as they rose into the air.

His mind was entirely focused on being objective...he knew he had to lose his awe at such things if he was going to be doing them himself one day, but it was hard. Arben remained perfectly rigid, softly mumbling his spell, as Colin and Folken gently floated up underneath him. Tail and fur wildly fluffed, he finally shut his eyes tight as he spun upside down. They were quite high up.

Sailing over the fifth floor balcony, they were just a little ways off the ground, when a soft voice said, “terminus incanti.” Arben’s voice was suddenly cut off and the three fell to the floor with a resounding thump. Colin, after shoving Folken off of him, looked around, and found himself staring at some very expensive looking fur sandals. Rich velvet robes hung down just above them, and they were the colour of blood.

“Professor Jenti!” Arben squeaked, scrambling to his feet. “We’re not late, are we?” he glanced down quickly at his watch, not looking up. The professor was easily a head taller then all of them. Jenti didn’t speak, he was still staring down at Colin, who rose slowly to his feet.

A nights sleep had not done much for the man. Though his clothes were fine, there was still a trace of roughness around the wolf’s eyes, framed as they were by stray bits of red hair. Jenti’s hood was pulled up, casting a mean shadow over his features, and his mouth was twisted into what seemed to Colin like a natural expression for him: a scowl.

“You are early,” he said quietly. “But only just. Get inside, all of you. And Mr. Thomas, see me after class. I will show you how to do a levitation spell correctly.”

Glancing at Arben who looked positively frightened, Colin blurted out without thinking, “It seemed to work just fi...” he stopped as he looked into the horrified eyes of the two students next to him. They both winced, as if expecting something.

But nothing happened. After a lengthy silence, Professor Jenti just smiled a rather nasty smirk. “Did you sleep well, Mr. Brush?” Without waiting for a reply, He turned and opened the door behind him, bowing with an exaggerated flourish. “Get to class, you three.”

Without a word, Folken turned and pulled Colin through the door. Jenti let it slam behind him while he stood, waiting for the remaining students.

There were four large tables in the middle of a rather large room. They were made of solid wood, Colin could see, as if someone had pushed over a tree and simply used that for the benches. The walls were stone but were so covered in paintings, tapestries and tabards of every colour that you almost couldn’t tell. There was a fine rug on the floor, covered in arcane symbols and icons that made the young fox’s head spin as he glanced at it. Folken pointed over to the third bench and he, Arben, and Colin all took seats.
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PostSubject: Re: Blue Eyes, One Fate ch 1-13   Fri 8 Sep - 19:33

There had been a chattering in the room as some of the other students filtered in and met up with friends, but all that quieted as various paws pointed Colin’s way. There were assorted whispers that lingered just outside his range of hearing, but Folken straightened up and coughed, and it died down again. Arben leaned over Folken to half shout, half whisper at him.

“Are you absolutely mental? Talking back to Jenti could get a man killed!”

Colin was taken back. “I...er...I didn’t know that! He was being rude...your spell worked great!”

Arben shook his head. “That’s not the point, mate. You’re either very brave or really stupid. I know I’m going to get it...he was right...I could have don’te better on that spell...he Pierced it so easily...”

“What does that mean,” Colin began, but the badger raised his hand to his mouth, shushing them. The door slammed shut like a thunder clap, and Professor Xander Jenti strode into the room, stopping at the front of the class room. The force from the door had blown most of the candles out around the room, which still remained fairly well lighted. The professor grunted and the rest of the candles blew out, leaving the room in absolute darkness. There was a snapping sound, and suddenly all the candles flared back to life again. There was an expectant pause.

One by one, the students started clapping half-heartedly. Colin didn’t, but after a slight nudge from Arben, he joined in.

“Good morning, students. I trust you’ve all come prepared to attempt to master the Crimson Arts?” There was assorted response. “Very well. We will continue where we left off last time, with the introduction to telekinetics. I myself am master of a wide range of these spells, so am well suited to be the one teaching you. Divide yourselves.”

The assorted students, (there were about 10 of them) began to file to each side of the room, leaving the middle, where Colin sat, unoccupied. Arben quickly stood and moved to the right end of the class. Folken, with a slight apologetic glance at him, moved over to the left.

Pacing in front of the class, Jenti called, “Has everyone divided?” He paid no attention to Colin, who knew that the professor had to have seen him in the middle. “Alright, lets beg...Oh, Mr. Brush, I didn’t see you there. You almost completely slipped my mind.”

Colin didn’t say anything.

Raising his voice, Jenti said, “Class, it seems it slipped my mind to announce that we have a new student among us. Colin, Stand.” Though he was already getting up, Colin felt his legs lock up, shooting him into a standing position. His knees banged the top of the table and he winced. His hand felt odd, tingling, but not unpleasantly.

“This is Colin the Brush, from the marvelously decadent town of Kingfisher, class. He...” Jenti frowned, noticing the glove once more on Colin’s right hand. “What did I tell you about that, Colin?” He snapped his own gloved fingers, and the boy lost all control of his arm. It jerked straight, and his glove was pulled off as though by an invisible hand. There were assorted gasps and whispering as Colin’s hand, still human, was put on display.

“Colin single handily defeated that large dragon that had come to the keep just a few days ago. Perhaps you have heard assorted tales concerning him, this is the truth in front of you.” Colin didn’t know how to react. He was blushing furiously (wildly fluffing is more appropriate) and he wanted to sit down, but whatever the professor was doing to him wouldn’t allow him. He was more scared then angry, but he was, deep down inside, growing mad at the treatment. The students that he could see out of the corners of his eyes were silent, watching him.

“But this is only a single feat. For whatever reason, this young man has been granted the most rarest of gifts: a thread all to himself!” He waited for a reaction, but there was none. “And even though it is odd...I...” The red wolf was now looking pointedly at Colin’s hand, and the boy risked a glance down.

Instead of its usual rainbow of colours, the thin thread now pulsed several shades of red. Jenti stared at it, mesmerized, until he shook himself and carried on. “Heroic feat he may have under his belt, Colin is still a beginner when it comes to True Magic. That is alright, we are a school, and I will see to it that he learns.” He glared at the class. “I take it you have no objections if I repeat a few of our earlier lessons for Mr. Brush’s education?”

There wasn’t a sound.

Raising his arms with a flourish, Jenti smiled, still looking like he was frowning, turned around. “Alright. Get back together, we’ll pick up on this later. Mr. Brush, do you know anything about Red Magic?”

Finally allowed to sit, Colin looked up somewhat balefully at the teacher. “No sir.”

“Anything about magic at all?”

“No sir.” He felt as though his fur was never going to lie flat again.

“Well. Then you had better pay attention,” he said, closing his eyes. “In everything, there exists the current of Magic. Magic touches everything, and in turn, affects it. All physical nature owes its existence to the Magic, and at times, can be called upon to repay its debts. That’s what Crimson Magic is.

“Crimson Threads are the mark of Power, of Force, of Will. Mastery of it can move mountains, summon fire, and soar through the heavens. We are not Black Conjurers, but fire is our domain, and we are granted certain dominion over it. To those who follow the cosmology of the Storm, we are the Gathering Clouds, the potential for great destruction or beneficial sustenance. I say forget all that. We are far more then clouds. Lightning will come to your hands, you can call fiery rocks down from the sky, anything is within your grasp.

“But you must master it. To those of you who know only the Crimson thread,” he paused, with significant glances at Colin, Folken, and another student that Colin didn’t look at, “You might find that things happen when you are angry, passionate, intense. Your soul is red for a reason, and you are blessed for it. Down this path lies glory beyond all you know. Red mages are suited for combat, battle, fame. I will teach you how to go about it. However, you must be willing to sacrifice for it. I am not responsible for those of you injured in this class, no more then you are for being born Crimson. You could have taken the cowards way out and have your thread Severed, but you persisted, and now sit in the halls of the most prestigious school of Magic in the land. Who cares about the forms that fate has levied on us? We are destined for far more...”

“To those of you who only dabble in this art, be warned.” Another look around. Colin noticed that he and Folken where the only ones wearing grey robes. Well, not completely, there was someone in the back that Colin could see Jenti was staring at as he spoke. “I have been commissioned to teach the lot of you, but you I will work harder then the others. You have an indiscriminate power; Choice, and I intend for you to reach your full, Crimson potential. You will never need anything else in life. I have never needed anything beyond the Magic, and you must come into my class expecting nothing else from me but that. I will teach you of Power, of Force, of Will, and mark my words...you will enjoy the results.”

He stopped, rubbing his gloved hands together. “Divide.”
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