“I've already told her everything that she needs to know about you...”
Those words weighed thick in the air between Szithlar and the man that was once his student. Ferrin Cannas had always been far more strict then the rest of those in his family, leaving the dark eyed elf curious as to just when the stick had been shoved up his ass. He remembered him more as a carefree youth but then becoming second chair to the Academy's council probably had something to do with it. Reserving his frustrated sigh for a more appropriate time, Szithlar continued to trail behind Ferrin as he led him out towards the courtyard where the man's stern face suddenly blanched.
“Illara, what are you doing!?!”
There in the center of the garden sat three blonde haired children, all the spitting image of their father. It was the oldest that turned at hearing her name and who happily ran to his quickly approaching figure. “Look! Inari can do it! We've been practicing all...”
“You know she's not allowed to practice!”
“But she's been doing it all day.”
Illara's voice trailed off as her father rushed right past her towards his youngest daughter. The slim girl had been happily making little light faeries dance around a puppy made of flames until her father barreled in. Fear replaced joy and once controlled magic wavered dangerously even as she tried to concentrate to show him her trick.
Ferrin wasn't hearing any of it. His harsh tone yelling at her, asking her if she was trying to hurt her siblings. As a matter of fact, he was shouting loud enough that it lured the maids from inside the small manor house; two of them hurrying to pull away the other children as Ferrin grabbed at his youngest daughter.
As it turned out that was the worst thing he could have done.
Scared, shocked and even a little angry, Inari cried out at being so forcefully seized. Her small voice yelling right back at him that she could do it. She could even do it better then Illara. Begging for a reason why he didn't trust her, Ferrin's very reason flared violently to life behind her. The little fairies were swallowed alive by flames tinged with a blackish blue. The more Ferrin yelled at her to stop the worse it got. Completely unaware of what she was doing, Inari was feeding the magic with her emotions. The sight was startling, even to Szithlar. So much so that he almost didn't react in time.
Shoving Ferrin away from his daughter, he threw up a domed shield of water and darkness as the hungry flames descended upon where father and daughter had just been arguing.
Steam created a massive cloud, tinting the skin of any close enough a bright pink. It was only a few precious seconds but it seemed like an eternity before the fire flickered out leaving only a low mound of swirling shadows behind.
Where the hissing of boiling water once filled the courtyard, the sudden tearful wails of both Illara and Ivis took over. Both of them thinking that their sister was gone. Ferrin on the other hand knew better. Pushing himself up from the ground he stepped towards the dark shield calling out to his mentor inside.
The dome shivered then, in a pulse of black oil-like tendrils, slithered away from the occupants inside. Inari lay unconscious in his grasp. Hiccups and tears still subsiding, her fingers tightly gripping the soft leathers of his tunic. Calm, cold eyes lifted to the man that stood over him.
“She tried to kill me...”
“I'm not surprised.”
Rising to his feet, Szithlar refused the help of a maid even as he allowed the other two children close enough to see that she was alright. “I've seen that skill before. Your great grandfather's abilities were ruled by his emotions.”
“Is this because of... of him?”
“Most likely.” Motioning for the maids to take the other two children back inside, Szithlar shifted Inari in his hold, cradling her against his shoulder. “She has Craz' strength and... his gift.”
“I will report it to the council tomorrow morning and have her...”
The firm rebuttal drew Ferrin's pacing to a halt. “Why not? I am mandated to report any children with unusual or dangerous abilities.”
“Because, per our agreement, she's not your responsibility anymore.”
“The second born daughter of the Cannas family. I've been waiting a long time to cash in on that promise, Ferrin and my, my... I'm rather glad I had the patience to do so.”
A soft nuzzle to her temple gently woke the young girl from her forced state. Brilliant green eyes still drowning in tears blinked open from behind white lashes, focusing immediately upon the dark elf before her.
“You got a little carried away, Inari, that's all,” his voice was far more gentle then it had ever been as he watched fear reenter her eyes. But it wasn't a fear of him it was for her siblings who she immediately began to swivel about to find. “whoa, whoa, whoa... little one, careful, I cant hold you well with just one arm.”
“Where's Illara! Ivis!”
“They are fine. The maids took them inside.”
It took a few moments for his words to sink in but soon, Inari was drawing her eyes back to him. She was trembling in his embrace and something about it struck a chord in him. “I didn't mean to do it...”
Hearing her father's voice, Inari stiffened and curled tightly against the man that held her. Small damp cheeks nuzzled tight against his neck as she began to cry again repeating over and over that she was sorry. “Ferrin?”
“Until she's under control, I don't want her anywhere near this house.”
“How fatherly of you.” The cold words seemed to briefly humble the man before him but it didn't last long before he squared his shoulders once more and briskly restated his words uncaring that it was loud enough for his own child to hear. “I get it, boy. I will keep her somewhere safe until she can better control her abilities.”
Leaving it at that, Szithlar, strode back towards the manor leaving his pupil to glare after him. A tiny voice rising to his ears drew a soft smile to his lips. “No, little one, you don't have to ever see him again.”
The halls of the manor faded to black as the gentle sensation of fingers combing through her began to bring Inari from the abyss of sleep. Following the dream it was a sensation that she had experienced often in those years after she left her family home. She'd been nine years old then and she wouldn't see any of them again for nearly four years. Time she spent in her small wood entrenched cabin with only Szithlar and a random few visitors. She'd been so close to home but so far away at the same time.
Sighing over the thought, she finally felt the weight of sleep disappear and opened her eyes. There was no surprise in those green depths as they focused upon the very man she had just been dreaming of. Szithlar sat on the edge of her bed, his own gaze distant as he seemed to touch her hair out of habit. But he was paying far more attention then he let on.
"You've been asleep for two days. That Barakiel boy stopped by with your next challenger and your payment. Oh, and I told him to pass along a message to Kiseki that you'd still want to keep your bargain going."
A soft hum rose in her throat, as she moved to brush his hand aside, instead the strong grip entangled with hers and pressed it to the pillow above her head. Pitch black eyes sharpened, honing in on her with the tilt of his body. Long braids teasing the surface of her skin. It was a look she'd not yet seen focused on her. Not in all the time he'd known her and she would be lying if it didn't concern her.
Opening her mouth to speak, he beat her to it, "you went against me, Inari. It's not often I can talk to anyone and ask why after they've betrayed me."
"Szith... I..." His eyebrow arched, he was crowding her space and it was startling just how strong his grip was, "Something wasn't right, I had to keep my promise to Merle... You were... There's just so much I don't know about your past."
With a tip of his head a small but cruel smile curved upon his lips, "even so... I raised you, when your family didn't even want you around. Your father was ready to hand you over to the academy to be studied and I kept you safe. Here, I thought that would account for something after all these years."
Her eyes widened as he brought up the very images she'd just played through in her dreams. "And it does! It does... just..."
"You can't trust what you don't know?"
"I trust you."
"No, you don't and truth be told I'm kind of tired of hiding it from you." Taking her moment of confused vulnerability for his advantage, Szithlar shifted in his lean so that his weight now rested on his elbow. His fingers sliding away from hers back to her sleep ruffled hair while those fathomless eyes seemed to look everywhere but her own. He could feel her tense and some small part of him shivered at that but she didn't move, and she didn't speak. He knew she was waiting for him to continue. "A long time ago, I knew your ancestor, Mylthar. He and I had an accord."
"Mylthar... he's the one Merle mentioned."
"Correct. He's the stain on your family's history. You see, he was a member of the circle. Not just any member but one of the more ruthless of his time. He would go to any length to bring in a contract, of course he had a few natural advantages."
"So he was an assassin, last time I checked that not a big enough deal to..."
"He wasn't just an assassin, Inari, he was a Kanis. Your family had a bit of an issue with purity at the time and the fact he was both not human and not a mage didn't settle right. Of course, add in a touch of arcane magic and he really was an unwelcome addition." And that's when he knew he'd both lost her and made her forget just how close they were. He felt her relax, her fingers rising to play with the cuff on her right ear a sign of her mind trying to process it all. "He came to me to help him. The reason I was given for his situation was that it would make him better at his job. But very little gets past me and I soon found out that he was planning on eloping with one of the esteemed Cannas clan."
"I don't get any of this. Why would they go through so much trouble to hide it all if it was something so petty?"
"Oh, the pride of man," chuckling to himself, he settled a soft kiss upon her temple. Her tension flaring anew, she went to pull away only to find the grip in her hair tightening."
"Szithlar, what the hell do you..."
"I think you'll want to listen to the rest of this, it really does concern you in the end." Tipping his head back to look down at her, he couldn't begrudge her glare but all he could do was smile in return. "Mylthar, came to me, asking to use arcane magic to gift him the ability to shape shift. I'm not taking about simple illusion or morphing his appearance. He wanted to fully be able to change at will. Now, I wasn't new to my particular course of study at the time nor was I afraid to dabble in more forbidden alchemy so I made him an offer. Five thousand gold pieces and... his second born female offspring."
"Excuse me?!" Disgust and shock tore across her features as she wriggled against the pull of her hair to get further across the bed from him; to little avail. He followed, locking his hold at her nape and forcing her to look at him. "What is going on!? What could you possibly be thinking?"
"I was thinking about the possibilities. The abilities of a child born from one of the most powerful mage lines and an arcane cursed Kanis. Even if they didn't show up right away I knew I couldn't pass it up, and... well, as you know, the arcane and forbidden arts come with a price that can't be paid in gold." In saying that he glanced down to where her three fingered hand lay shoved against his chest. A lifted brow punctuating his point, "So, I performed my little feat, I gave him what he wanted. In the end he even got the girl but before the rest of our contract could be fulfilled he and his beloved were killed. Assassinated."
Inari had known that some terrible things were done to keep that part of her family's history secret but she'd never have thought they would actually kill their own blood. How Szithlar was implying it though, that's exactly what happened. "So why not kill my great grandfather's father too?"
"Because he looked like the rest of you and showed a lot of promise for their lineage."
"So what does this have to do with me?"
"Well, you showed the same promise and potential for extraordinary danger as a child and you're the only second born female in your family's bloodline."
He never thought she could get any paler then she already was but sure enough the soft pink tinge drained from her cheeks above lips parted but silent. Her eyes wide, she moved without thinking. Her fist aiming for his face was stopped by the last thing she'd ever expected... A hand. Formed quick and just as solid as the one at her nape, it was a hand attached to an arm, pitch black and swirling with lacy shadows.
"That is your second offense, Inari. I will not stand for a third." Even as she began to pul back against the phantom limb's grip more of his shadows emerged to restrict her.
"But your contract was with Mylthar not my father."
"No, see I cover my bases and I always get paid. While your family was out covering up their perceived disgrace they approached me on several occasions. I told them, that all they had to do to keep me quiet was uphold the contract. It took five generations but finally I got what was my due."
"Th-that still doesn't tell me what I want to know."
"And what is that?"
"What are you going to do with me?"
"Oh, there's a lot that I can answer that with," it was a bit of a shoving match but with a little help from the shadows entwining her, he was able to drop her back onto the bed. His looming figure arched down pressing their foreheads together. She was angry and a little scared. Truthfully, it excited the hell out him, but he had his priorities. "First, I'm going to help you with this little tournament, then we'll talk about what ever the future might bring."
"And if I don't want your help?"
"You don't really have a choice."
Narrowing her eyes, Inari finally cowed to his steady stare, turning her head from him and letting her body go lax. "Fine but this changes everything, Szithlar... everything."
"Would you even believe me if I said I regretted it a little bit?" When she didn't look at him or respond, he knew his answer. While he reveled in her reactions and the knowledge that she now knew the truth some small spark in him wouldn't be silent. He didn't regret it a little. Just not enough.
Drawing away from her he shivered as his shadows returned to the inside of his tunic's folds, "get some more sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a long day. You finally get to prove your daddy wrong."
A tiny tickle of anticipation swirled in her gut but it couldn't beat out the torrent of other emotions warring in her just then. All she could do was tug the blankets back up over her body and turn her back to him....