Strangers

Hours later, Rhazin noticed the sun setting. For some reason, had thought it was earlier in the day when he woke in the Sovereign's house. Apparently it had been later.

“Well, let's find a place to make camp, shall we?” Rhazin said to Valeria. She nodded. The poor girl looked wore out. Maybe it was just because she was malnurished? Rhazin would have loved to stuff her face with food, but he knew it wouldn't be wise. After all, she needed to slowly gain her weight and health back. Rushing would do nothing but make the girl throw it back up.

Looking around the plains they had entered a while back, Rhazin noticed a group of people a ways off the road. Maybe they were travelers as well? It was common in the Isle of Murdos.

“Stay behind me,” Rhazin told Valeria before he started walking toward the group of people, who he faintly heard laughing from. It seemed they were in high spirits, for once Rhazin got closer he saw several men and women drinking bottled alcohol. Rhazin smiled. Drunk people meant good company, though he would have to watch out for Valeria if any of them got too high-headed. After all, he couldn't break his promise to Valeria.

“Welcome!” said a large man with fancy red clothing and a huge black beard. His head, for some odd reason, was completely shaven. Rhazin knew a lot of mounseiken shaved their face and parts on their body, but he had never seen one shave, or even cut, their hair. “Come, come, sit and warm yourselves, friends!” The other's seemed to notice Rhazin and Valeria just then.

They weren't as welcoming as the large man was.

Among the group were three men, all sitting to the bearded man's right side, and two women, sitting to his left. The men looked almost identical, having nice uniforms with some symbol Rhazin thought he recognized and slick back black hair. Their faces, contrary to the still-laughing man's, had no hair. The women were almost the same. Their snow white hair was slicked back and their uniforms matched the men's with the exception of them wearing a dress instead of pants.

Rhazin had taken them for a traveling troupe, but now he saw them as what they really were; Soldiers.

“I'm sorry to disturb,” Rhazin said, bowing deeply toward the bearded man, who now just chuckled between drinks, “But it was getting dark and we needed shelter.” The bearded man laughed again.

“No need to be formal, friend,” he said smiling like an idiot, “Grab a seat and get some food!” He finished by grabbing one of the silver bowls that lay on a red rag next to the fire. Over the fire, Rhazin realized, was a pot with some sort of soup in it. Was that roast he smelled?

“Master Munito,” one of the women said, not looking from Rhazin, “Are you sure about this? He could be an assassin.” Rhazin had heard that name somewhere, but ignored the cogs of his mind to focuse on a more important thought. Why was a man of great importance invite some ragged looking stranger into his camp? Maybe he was a stupid prince of some local castle.'

“Shush, Lara,” the man said, standing, “This is a joyous world to those who let it be.” The man walked over to his tent and opened something just inside the flap. Rhazin noticed that even the tents were well-made and probably worth a fortune. “Not to mention,” the bearded man said through the tent flap, “I don't think an assassin would have much of a chance with Darana here.”

The statement seemed to satisfy the woman. The other woman blushed slightly when the bearded man spoke, making Rhazin assume she was Darana. He tried to match the name with the sitting position, for both girls looked identical.

The bearded man -Munito- emerged with some clothing. From the looks of the fabric, it was extremely expensive. Rhazin had once worked making expensive silks with his master after an 'accident' destroyed a storehouse. Though it was Rhazin's fault, his master had taken the blame. Rhazin hadn't known it then, but his master's name was probably what had gotten them off the hook easily. They were just forced to work in the mill and make the fabric Rhazin destroyed. It had been fun, really.

“Put this on, friend,” Munito said to Rhazin, then threw a bundle of soft clothing to him, “You must look your best when having fun!”

Rhazin was dumb-founded. He held clothing that half his money probably couldn't buy and it had been given to him. “A-are you sure, sir?” Rhazin asked. Munito just laughed and nodded, before looking at Valeria. Rhazin had forgotten about her for a moment. The little girl looked frightened, for some reason, and clung to the back of his trousers. She probably didn't like all these people looking at her.

“As for you,” Munito said, “I don't know if we have anything...” Valeria looked sad for a moment. She seemed to be disappointed. “Wait!” the man said, pulling off his cape. Rhazin hadn't even seem the thing. “I'll make you a dress!”

“Master!” the man closest to him shouted, “Don't you think you shouldn't do these things for complete strangers!?” Munito frowned, then nodded. Valeria shrunk down behind Rhazin. What was with this man, giving false hope to a little girl after helping someone else?

“What are your names?” Munito asked, still holding his cape in one hand.

Rhazin thought about lying, only to reject the idea. “I'm Rhazin and this little one is Valeria.”

“Ok!” Munito shouted, causing Rhazin and Valeria to jump a little, “Now I know you!”

The man who had objected put his hand on his face and shook his head. He seemed annoyed at his 'master.' Honestly, Rhazin knew the feeling all too well. Though his master had never been as kind as Munito was, he had moments where he would go out of his way to help people unnecessarily. It was constantly annoying to Rhazin, just like the present situation was annoying to the sitting man.

“Ok,” Munito said, “Go put those on while these two lovely ladies feed your daughter.”

Rhazin started to protest, but thought better of it. If they wanted to harm Valeria or Rhazin, they could have done so already. Wait, had he said daughter? Well, anything else would look odd. Especially since Valeria wasn't related to him. Still, Rhazin had never had a child, let alone a woman. He would be easily found out if he tried to be a fake father.

“Ok, Valeria, go get some food,” Rhazin told her. She nodded, still remembering that he would protect her. “Valeria is my sister, though. Also, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul for this.” With that, Rhazin walked a little ways off and hid behind a tree to change.

The fabric of the clothes he changed into was the smoothest he had ever felt. It even put to shame the fabrics he had made all those years ago. He felt like a high class man, instead of a low class boy. Did Monstroth wear clothes like this under his bulky armor? If so, Rhazin knew why the man could handle wearing the armor day in and day out.

Pleased with the new clothing's fit, Rhazin walked back to the group. There, he found Valeria talking rapidly about a butterfly she had seen earlier in the day. Though the sky had become dark, the girl's energy seemed to still be intact. Of course, it could be that she was eating. Children generally got active after they ate or while they ate.

The women seemed to be enjoying Valeria's story, while the men smiled encouragingly, aside from the man closest to Munito. He was the one who had protested earlier too. His face looked like it was chisled from stone and his eyes were dark with anger. They followed Rhazin as he sat beside Valeria/ She immediately started telling her tale over, not remembering that he had heard it twice in the last few hours. Rhazin played along, however, just to keep her happy.

After she had finished her tale, Rhazin felt a tap on his shoulder. Looking up, he saw Munito standing above him, a smile on his face. “Would you mind if I borrowed your brother?” he asked Valeria. She seemed confused at first, but thankfully played along and agreed. It seemed the women had taken a liking to her, for the told Rhazin several times that they would take care of her. Rhazin wasn't worried though.

The two men walked away and stopped just out of earshot of the others. There, Munito looked at Rhazin sternly, causing Rhazin to tense. Those eyes seemed to be older than an immortal's. Who was this man?

“Do you know who your sister is?” Munito asked quietly. He sounded serious about something.

“I'm not sure I understand...”

“Your sister is a user of all the mystics! She's a Full-Birthed!”

Rhazin blinked. He knew she was Full-Birthed, he had seen her use every mystic. But, how had this man found out? Had Valeria told them? “Uh...” What could he say? Not many people saw a Full-Birthed, let alone were related to one.

“Look, I sense something else in her,” Munito said, “I think she may be a Child of Prophecy.”

Rhazin was stunned. Was this man a prophet then? It would explain a lot, just not why he was on the Isle of Murdos. “Don't you mean Prophetic Child?” Rhazin asked.

“No, she may be someone who influences prophecies indirectly, but not directly.” Munito scratched his beard. “Where are you headed?”

“North,” Rhazin said, somehow unable to let himself lie, “To Murdos City. I wish to join the Great Race.” Why had he added that?

Munito just looked at him. What was he thinking and what did he know? “That girl isn't related to you, is she?”

“No.”

“Why did you lie?”

“I thought someone might get the wrong idea.”

“Smart move, now do you know who I am?”

“I don't think so.”

“Ok,” Munito said, taking a deep breathe and closing his eyes tightly. Rhazin felt himself break out in a sweat. Was he being forced to talk through Telepathy? It was only logical explanation. But that would make this man a master at Telepathy. What more could he do?

“Who... Who are you?” Rhazin asked, breathing heavily.

“I am Munito Heron Diala Konto Dominos Partia, husband to Murdos, the only living Firstborn of the Scarred Father, Cain.” Rhazin immediately dropped to the ground and bowed. This was, without a doubt, the most politically powerful man in the world. Why was he out here?

And, more importantly, why was Rhazin running into these situations one after another. Surviving a serpent was something that was rare, but had happened before. Meeting a Sovereign was actually rarer, due to most of them only coming out of hiding when they wanted an apprentice. And to meet any ruler, let alone the King of Murdos, was unlikely for any lower class man to do in their life. Yet, Rhazin, a lower class peasant, had done all three and more in less than two days.

“Stand,” Munito said, regaining his jolly mood, “We need to eat!”

“Yes, FirstKing,” Rhazin said, standing up slowly.

Munito laughed, causing his beard to shake. “Call me Munito, friend, and don't worry about my guard.”

Rhazin just nodded and chased after the Immortal King. For some reason, returning to the fire had become a race. The man was over two thousand years old, older than any known Immortal, and yet he had the energy of a youth. Rhazin sighed. Was he dreaming all this?

But, no. Maybe this was a sign from the Unscarred Creator? Maybe the HighKing was sent here to help Rhazin... Well, only time would tell.

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The End

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