"Who are you?"
Exceed laughed at the question. What was so funny? "A Mounseiken named Exceed," he said between chuckles, then extended his hand to Rhazin. How annoying. "Nice to meet you!"
Rhazin grit his teeth. It was frustrating him that Exceed had taken that to be a joke. He did not know why, though. "I meant what's your story?" Exceed sighed at that. Rhazin felt slightly bad, but did not take it back. He had spilled everything to Exceed, so he deserved the same.
"Well, you can guess my family and who was my family," Exceed said, then scratched the stubble that plagued his face. "But, the King was not my father and nor was Craetor, his brother."
Rhazin felt confused. If he was a cousin to Monstroth, then he could not have Craetor as a father, of course. But, with the late king - a twinge of guilt hit Rhazin - not being his father, then how was he family? Did Craetor and Saeron have another sibling?
"I see your confusion, Rhazin," he said, then made a face that looked truly sad, "My mother was their sister."
"There was a sister?" Rhazin asked with disbelief. That would make her rightful heir! The only reason Faerein had a male king was simply because they claimed to have no sister, and with Monstroth's sister being too young to lead, Saeron took the throne.
"Yes, though she is long gone," he said, "Back when Queen Galvure ruled, Craetor and Saeron were simply princes with the thoughts of leading people and going to war in their head. They were always running off and causing trouble with the others in the castle. So, the Queen ordered her firstborn, Atalia Frae, to watch them and prevent them from mischief." Exceed looked to Rhazin and smiled faintly. "Atalia is my mother."
Rhazin felt saddened. Not from what he had just learned, but from what he was about to learn. He could feel what was coming... It seemed... familiar. "What happened to her?" Rhazin managed to get out.
"She was taken in the middle of the night by the Scarred Sanction," he said after a moment of silence. The fire flickered on his face, though only dimly with it having but a small flame now. "She had been born with Void mystics. She had been secretive of it because the Scarred Sanction had been active in Faerein. But, someone sold her out. The culprit was never found, but they were sure it was Saeron. He had always hated her and the Void users."
Rhazin felt cold. What if they took him? What did they do to those they captured? Rhazin did not want to find out, but felt as if he were about to anyway.
"Two years she was gone. The Scarred Sanction used her as a bargaining chip continuously with Faerain and Queen Galvure, who was too weak to say no. So, for two years they hunted and killed the Void users in Faerein." Rhazin remembered his Master saying Void users were rare in Faerein. This must be why. "Finally, the Scarred Sanction found out something they really wanted: the Queen."
He looked to Rhazin. "She was a Void user as well, you see? So, she did something actually strong. She proposed a trade. They would give her Atalia, and she would in turn give herself to them." At this point he stopped, looking on the verge of tears. "The Scarred Sanction came into the palace and made the exchange. Only, when they revealed Atalia, she had gained weight. In fact, she was pregnant."
Rhazin did not have to ask how. He knew.... He felt himself turn hot, a ball of hate and anger forming inside him.
"The Queen went through with the exchange. They killed her a day later, publicly. Nobody seemed to care. After all, she had sold out nearly two hundred people. When Atalia gave birth, only Craetor was there when Atalia gave birth. It was a hard conception. She died giving birth to the boy. To me."
With that, Exceed wiped his face and laughed. How could he be so cheerful? His very birth put Rhazin's to shame. How could he laugh!? How DARE he laugh!
"You know," Exceed says, "There was two things she told Craetor to tell me." He looked at Rhazin expectantly. "Always smile was the first."
Rhazin felt himself leak off the anger. Of course... He was only fulfilling a wish. "What was the second thing she told Craetor?" He asked. He did not care as much, because it would probably be something along the lines of 'I love you.'
"She said I should find and take care of my brother," Exceed said. He smiled widely. "I wonder where he is." With that he started laughing again. "That's what I've been doing for a while now, really. I just do the Great Race to get some fame so I can-" He looked at Rhazin. "Are you ok?"
Rhazin stared into the flame, shock setting in his core. He did not know if he was ok, nor did he know if he was not ok. "I... I am fine..." he managed.
In his head, a man's voice sounded. "I'm glad I got you from them before they realized you were a Void user. They were going to use you for the new bargaining chip, with you mother being a princess in all." Rhazin now knew what the strange man had meant by that.
Exceed was Rhazin's brother.