Niolas leaned forward slightly, a killing grin on his face. He looked fiercely wild; strong and free. I loved to watch him fight, although it goes against everything I was raised to believe in. He was just so beautiful when he was like this. “He’s going to fight it without a weapon?” Jerne sounded disgusted. “He believes that fighting an opponent armed, when he is not armed equally, is a slaughter, not a battle.” I explained. The bear I had summoned launched through the air, and he threw it over his head. The bear bashed into a rock, but got up again in a flash. This time it stood up, swiping at him, and he matched it blow for blow. They clashed, and grappled for a moment on the ground. He came out on top, and landed a clawed slash to its muzzle. Wait, clawed? “Shit.” I swore, and Jerne looked at me with wide eyed shock. We never cussed. I let out a loud cry. “He’s berserking!” I yelled, and everyone drew back five yards. No one knew if he would stop at the bear.

He clawed again and again, his hair, face, and chest bathed in blood. He finally stopped, stumbling off of the body. I rushed to him and caught him before he could fall. He leaned on me heavily; but after a moment he drew himself up. “Nio, why?” I asked, waiting to find out why he would go berserk over a bear. “Pain…Couldn’t think through…Pain.” He said, and I put a hand to his chest; I inspected it, and found it wouldn’t cause this. But there were the last vestiges of Jerne’s power, however; I found that infuriating. “Jerne!” I snapped, and he paled as I advanced on him. “You spelled him, you selfish sonovabitch. You pained him!” I yelled, and the soldiers advanced on him. He looked around himself in panic; he was surrounded. “Yes, but…” He said, and I snarled, cutting him off. “I didn’t know the shields were his! I thought someone else was trying to block you form healing him, I didn’t know!” He yelled, and I froze in my tracks. “He’s a Korani, you idiot, of course they’re his! Their vows don’t allow magical healing!” I shouted, and Jerne flinched.

Soldiers advanced, and I waved them off impatiently. “You have no idea what you could have done. We might all look the same as that bear, were it not for his control.” I said softly, and Jerne paled even more, turning faintly green. “I would not harm you, love, even in that state of mind.” Nio said, and I looked to him in surprise; he hadn’t shared this fact with me. “Why?” I asked, and he smiled wanly. “Think of me as an animal. I know you, but no one else, and you can’t stop me from killing them for threatening me.” He said, and I arched my eyebrows. “I have difficulties thinking of you as animal in any form, lover.” I teased, and his smile turned sly. “I may have to remedy that ailment at some point.” He said, and I shivered at the thought. Suddenly Nio looked off into the distance, his face going blank; I knew what this was. “Nio, when?” I asked, and he swallowed. “Two hours; one company; fifty foot-men, one hundred horsemen; two mages; no healer.” He said, and I shot Shenn a glance; she nodded, and started yelling out orders to people. After a berserking spell, Korani could see, very faintly, their next battle. That was what Nio was doing. I shook him out of it, and his eyes focused on me. “We need to get you somewhere safe.” He said, and I looked up at him with suddenly frightened eyes. He had never used that tone of voice. It was cold steel. “I will guard you myself.” He ordered my usual guard, and they nodded and ran to join the rest of the company. He turned to Jerne. “You too. Follow me.” He ordered, and Jerne followed him along with me. He seemed to know where he was going, and as he led us into the woods I didn’t ask.

He stopped in front of a cave I hadn’t seen before, and he took my hand. “I had hoped to show you this at a time when you could enjoy it, but it is the safest place for you.” He said, his voice thawing, and I smiled hesitantly. “This is…my home.” He said, and I gasped in awe.

The cave sparkled with gems of every color and rarity, and mixings of some I had never seen before. A large, perfect diamond jutted up in the center of the room, on a ruby pedestal. I could feel it’s power reverberating through the room; it was old, much older than anyone I had ever met; that was saying something. Some of the elders were two-thousand years old. “My stars, Nio, this is amazing!” I said, and he shrugged. “Its home.” He said, and I looked at Jerne. His eyes were glued to the diamond in the center. “Don’t even think about it, Nevari. It can’t be moved, and it gave me quite a blast when I tried.” Nio said, and Jerne pursed his lips in annoyance. “I wondered about that wound.” I said blandly, and he grinned. “I was very alive for a few days.” He said, and I shook my head in despair, sighing. “What am I going to do with you?” I asked, and he grinned coyly. “I could think of a few things.” He said, and I smiled tiredly. He was elated to have fought, I knew that, but he was also elated there was another fight to come. I was worried, though; he seemed to have an undercurrent of fear in his manner, his voice.

The End

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