Norida~ Selfless Deeds... Where Do I Belong?Mature

   It didn't register in my mind until the jolt of the explosion brought me back to reality. Twynam, he. . . No, he couldn't have. I must be imagining things, I thought to myself. But the evidence of his heroic deed was everywhere; as Kate and Griever gave orders to the few men and women standing around as best they could, Selena and another girl came out from the trees and mangled bodies of Fae and men, handing Kiara bandages and wooden splints. Kiara then took to work, wrapping the Marshall's other wounds, then bandaging his chest firmly, yet carefully, by wrapping the gauze around him and the arrow tightly.

   Remaining battles were beginning to cease— more than enough damage had already been done. People lay on the ground to rest, covered in either their own blood or Fae blood. I looked over at Dreda and saw that she had several cuts and scratches from that creature that we had been fighting, and it's possible that she had a broken arm, from the way she held it. I sighed, then quickly cringed. Judging from the sudden pain in my lower chest, I wasn't doing so well, either. It was probably the ribs, again. Ugh.

   Turning away from the bloodied scene of Twynam on the ground, Jem called, "Norida! Come over here!" I looked up at her, then motioned to Dreda. Dreda nodded in response and we made our way though the mess of remains and rubble, wary of flying rocks from the explosion all the while.

   Just as we reached Jem, I heard a rustling in the bushes a few feet away from us. We all quickly readied ourselves and our weapons for more Fae, but the only thing that emerged was a wolf. I remembered him— it was smaller than I remember the others being, so he had to be the youngest one. Jem, arrow knocked, aimed at his head, but I put my hand on her arm. "Might I have this one?"

   Turning to look at me incredulously, she said, "I don't think that's such a clever idea."

   I shook my head. "It's only one. And he's the weakest." It wasn't that being the youngest made him weak, but it was the fact that he was severely wounded from the explosion. Blood covered much of his body, from what I could see.

   After a moment of thought, Jem nodded slowly. "Alright, then." She nudged Dreda and they made off to kill any leftover Fae that might still be lingering.

   Walking toward the wolf slowly, I raised my sword, ready to attack. I held it there for a moment, giving him time to anticipate the blow, then came down on him with as much force as I could muster. He tried to dodge it, but stumbled over a dead body of one of his comrades. The strike left a large diagonal line on the wolf's back. I then swung sideways, grazing his face as he dodged once more.

   We continued like this for some time; swing, dodge, graze, swing, dodge, graze. Growing impatient, I yelled at him, "Just fight back, already! Stop running like a coward!"

   We both stopped, him being winded because of all the dodging and me being out of breath due to all the chasing.

   I regained my stance after a moment, lest he try to attack, and looked at him warily. "Why don't you fight?"

   He looked at my earnestly, but didn't say anything.

   "Ugh!" I cried in exasperation. "Stupid wolves!" In frustration, I came at him and swung with my sword, using rage as my fuel.

   Just as I was about to come down on him with all the fury I had, he caught my sword between his two hands. I was taken aback to find that he had turned back into his human self. "Miss, I as terribly sorry of how we all treated you."

   "Treated me?! You almost killed me!" I was about to lose my mind with anger. How dare he have such audacity! This boy really got on my nerves. Now I had a perfectly good reason for hating dogs.

   He nodded apologetically. "I know. That's why I'm going to do this." My sword still in his hands and mine, he plunged it toward him and ran himself through. I gasped and stared with wide eyes, horrified at the scene laid out before me. My hands began to shake. His hands unsteady, the boy pulled the sword back out and let it go.

   Hands trembling, I dropped my bloodied sword. "W-why? Why would you d-do such a thing?" The questions came out in a whisper, for I was still in shock.

   He smiled tiredly, leaning back against a tree for support. "I didn't want to live with the guilt of going along with what my comrades said, then allowing them to be killed by the humans." Shaking his head, he continued, "I just wouldn't be able to bear it. You humans, though, you seemed stronger than me on those terms. I thought that maybe one of you could carry this burden better than I."

   Stuttering, I objected. "B-but I. . . What an I s-supposed to do? I'm y-younger than even you! How do you expect m-me to carry this h-horrid memory with m-me everywhere?"

   His voice softened in sympathy, which was supposed to be my job. "You don't have to carry it alone, you know."

   It was then that I realized my mouth was gaping open. I snapped it shut, making him laugh. Scowling in embarrassment, I said, "What's so funny?"

   Still chuckling, the boy replied, "Just. . . you. One moment, you try to be mature and act older than you are, then the next, your childish emotions seep out. It's amusing." Blood slowly ran down from the side of his mouth to his chin.

   I shook my head, changing the subject. "But you all knew that I was half Fae. The leader of your clan even called me a mutt." I wrinkled my nose at the word.

   "Aye, but you're no rarity. It's a common thing, when one of our world wanders off into this one and falls in love with a human. Although normal, children like you are actually envied much of the time."

   That confused me. "Why?"

   He smiled again, amused. "Because you have the versatile ability to live as one species in one world, and a different species in another world. Truly, that was what many of us wanted."

   I was taken aback by that. So I. . . I'm not alone. And I'm. . . envied?

"So, wait, people are jealous of me?" I paused, then went on. "For so long, I've felt as if I were in limbo, not knowing which world I belonged in. Now, I come to find that I have some special ability to be in. . . both?"

   His breath became shallow as he lost more blood. I wished there was something I could do for him. I'd had no idea he felt this way. That they felt this way. "Aye, supposedly. Not that it matters now, though. There won't be any methods of transporting from one world to another for a while; not until they can find another one, anyway." He motioned to the rubble that was once a cave and portal.

   My brows furrowed in confusion again. "Another what? For a while?"

   "Another portal," he said wearily. "They're not just in one place. They're everywhere— I'd bet you could even find them across the seas." My eyes widened. There were more? That might be trouble, I thought to myself. But when I looked at this dying Fae, this dying boy, all thoughts of the possible danger fled from my mind. I wanted so bad to help him. To help all of them.

   I nodded in understanding. "So there might still be a way to go back and try to find out my ancestors' pasts."

   Trying to keep his eyes open, he asked, "By the way, which one of your parents was Faerie?"

   Surprised at the question, I answered, "My father. He was a shape-shifting Fae. Why?"

   Slumping against the tree slightly, he said, "My parents might've known him. A Faerie who left about fifteen summers ago, they used to tell me. Said his name was Kenyon. What are you aged?"

   "Fourteen summers," I rasped. I felt as though I couldn't breathe. "Kenyon was my father's name."

   "Came back to visit just before he went to war for some Richard fellow. I met him once. He always talked about how proud he was of his little Nori." He looked up at me. "I wouldn't suppose that's you?"

   "Yes," I whispered, tears rolling down my face. "Norida Fyder. Nori, he called me." I rambled on in a hushed voice, in a stupor from this new information. My father. My parents. . .

   ". . . Your parents must've really loved you," the boy was saying sleepily. "Must've loved each other, too. He surely loved her, at least."

   I nodded. "Mikaela. That was her name. My mum."

   His eyes fluttered as he slid down a little further. "They must be very proud of you. . ."

   "Yes," I said softly, "I believe you're right. It's all right, I won't bother you anymore. I'll let you sleep."

   "You mean die," he said, nodding slightly. "I don't want to sleep."

   I touched his hand. "Sleep eternally. It's more peaceful than dying."

   He nodded again, just once. I eased him down to  the forest floor, lying his head down on some leaves for a cushion. After a moment of sitting there together, he spoke in words that I could just make out— "It's a shame that I couldn't have spent more time with you. You seem smart. And cute, too." I stared at him, wide-eyed, blushing involuntarily. He smiled contently, opened his eyes to look at me one more time, then closed them again. I knew in that moment that he wouldn't be waking up any time soon. Or ever.

   I sat there for what seemed like a lifetime, alone with myself and the sounds of falling rocks and rubble. Collecting as much emotional and physical strength as I could, I got up, shook the leaves off of me, and picked up my sword. "This sword," I said to myself, "will be a constant reminder of this Never-Ending Battle, and the heroic tales of those who fought for Richard the Lionheart. I shall never forget this day. None of us will."

   "None of us will what?" I heard a deep, familiar voice say behind me. I turned around to see Dreda and Jem, accompanied by Griever. I don't think I'd ever felt so relieved in my life as I did in that moment.

   Forgetting to answer his question, I ran over and hugged him with all the force I could manage as tears flooded my eyes. He laughed. "What's wrong, cat got your tongue?"

   Despite my crying, I laughed, although it came out choked. "No. I'll tell you about it later." He nodded, still smiling. Dreda said something about being a crybaby, but I didn't care. Right now, I didn't care about anything accept getting back to my family. My true family. I realized it, then— this was where I belonged.

   And I was just fine with that.

The End

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