Outcasts & Runaways – Part 1.4

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Chapter 3 – Thera

Lunch was a simple affair, light salad and toasted fruitbread with citrus water. No self-respecting Haweyh overate before their coming-of-age feast. Barrenger dug in anyway, commenting on the tasty smells coming from the kitchen (while carefully ignoring the burnt ones), avoiding the subject of the swords. He still wasn’t sure how he felt about them. Marta didn’t bring it up, either, and they passed most of the meal in pleasant, meaningless conversation.

As one of the servants whisked away their empty plates, Marta fingered her tea glass and eyed him across the table. He knew that look – she had something to say, it was potentially unpleasant, and she was deciding the best way to break the news. Barrenger leaned back in his chair and raised an eyebrow.

Marta chuckled. “You’ve caught me again.” She set her glass down and tilted her head, fingering a lock of gold-streaked hair. “I have an interesting proposition for you, but perhaps it would be better if we talked about it tomorrow.”

Barrenger shrugged and gave her a dry smile, rubbing at the tip of a faintly glowing stripe peeking out of his shirtsleeve. “You might as well get it over with, or it’ll just nag me all day.”

A small smile in return, and then Marta straightened and spread her hands on the table. “I was speaking with our head scribe at the historical archives. You may remember Scribe Master Pendril?” Barrenger nodded warily; he’d met the slightly stuffy but unfailingly polite Scribe Master several times, but he hadn’t had much to do with the man. “He mentioned that they may have a position open soon,” Marta continued, and paused to sip from her cup while her meaning sank in.

It sank in fast, and Barrenger jolted upright in his chair. “Are you talking about a job?” he asked incredulously.

Marta nodded, fingers exploring the smooth surface of her glass. “Possibly. Scribe Master Pendril is willing to give you a chance. And it would be in the back rooms, so there would be little fear of garnering unwanted attention,” she added carefully.

From anyone else, that implication would have scalded. But this was his mother; she knew why he felt uneasy seeking employment, despite being several years past the age when young Haweyh traditionally picked a trade. Even if someone did dare hire or apprentice him, he’d still have to face the unfriendly attentions of unfamiliar Haweyh for hours at a time, day in and day out. At least right now he only had to deal with that hostility when he made trips outside their residence.

Was it possible, though? Actual employment, in a position where he wouldn’t cause too many problems for others or himself? Hope prickled under his skin, his stripes brightening. I could finally stop being such a burden.

Still… a scribe? Barrenger sat back, combing dark fingers through his hair as hope dulled with the taint of disappointment. Beggars couldn’t be choosers, he knew; but the thought of spending his life in a small room, scratching out endless copies of legal and religious documentation, did not thrill his selah. By the Tree, is this really all I’m good for? he thought, unable to help the grimace that crossed his face.

“What is it, Barr?” Marta asked softly, reaching across the table to hold his hand. “What’s troubling you?”

“I don’t…” He pursed his lips, shook his head. “It’s a good offer, Mum. I’d be a fool not to take it.” He would. He really would. So why did the idea of accepting the position depress him?

A few moments passed in silence, mother studying son and son studying the table. But finally, Marta squeezed his fingers gently until he met her eyes. “Barr, I know this isn’t what you want. You have so many talents that I would love to see you put into practice. But I know that Élo has more in mind for you than wasting away with no purpose. Perhaps this would be a chance for you to begin seeking that purpose out.” She stood and walked around to his side of the table to kiss him lightly on top of his white head of hair. “You know I won’t push you out, and there’s no rush. Just give the possibility some thought, alright?” The concern in her eyes sent the rest of the message neither of them wanted to say: Who knows when the next chance will come?

Barrenger stared at the wood grain of the table for a moment longer. Sometimes he envied his mother’s close relationship with Élo. She really believed that every trial she went through was a work in making her stronger. But he was part Rukilef. Maybe Élo didn’t have the same encouraging sentiments for him; maybe he was just part of his mother’s testing. Maybe that was his purpose.

The dark thought clawed at the back of his eyes. Barrenger rubbed his nose and tried to shake it off. Positive thoughts. He took a deep breath and slowly exhaled, imagining his dark doubts blowing out with the air. He finally looked up and squeezed his mother’s hand in return. “Thanks, Mum. I’ll… think about it. Okay?”

Marta smiled warmly and put a hand to his face, sandy brown against nighttime green. “You know I love you with all my heart, Barr. Élo has something great in store for you, of that I’m certain.” Slipping her other hand from his, the short woman moved briskly towards the kitchen, her tone turning playful. “And now the pup must go and play while I tackle another round of cooking lessons with our tireless chef!”

The hint in her words made Barrenger glance at the timepiece on the wall, and then abruptly jump to his feet. The selah-powered springclock beamed his mistake like a warning beacon. “I’m late for training!” He paused only to plant a quick kiss on his mum’s cheek, then pelted towards the stairs.

It took only a minute to reach the training room, although it was on the far and lower side of the house from the main kitchen and dining area. Barrenger’s heart pounded with nervousness and eagerness in turn as he slid to a stop in front of the door, collected himself, and knocked.

“Permission to enter, Masters?” he called formally, already prepared to swing the door open at the expected reply.

Silence.

Barrenger shifted uneasily as he knocked and declared himself again. He wasn’t normally late for training sessions, but the Masters were NEVER late. Still, only silence met him. Minutes ticked by, until finally, he couldn’t stand the suspense. He cracked the door and cautiously stepped inside, confused by the darkness of extinguished chargestone lanterns.  Had they cancelled training to punish him for being late? “Masters—?”

Two lines of umber fire flashed towards him out of the dark. Barrenger reflexively dropped to the floor and rolled beneath their glowing arcs, ending in a crouch as he spun to face his attackers. Another line of reddish-brown energy swathed the air, and Barrenger flashed his arms up, slamming them together and apart in a blink. The small green force shield that grew between his forearms lasted only seconds, but it successfully negated the force of the bladed weapon, deflecting it towards the floor. The ringing of chipped stone made it clear how serious the wielder was, and Barrenger’s dark green skin prickled. He flipped backwards in time to avoid a third swipe and landed out of range, and with a burst of light, his selah flared across his fists like green torches, mingling with the umber light to cast the room in eerie shadows and reveal his attackers.

Before him stood two familiar figures: Baracai tulinai with cerulean skin, braided orange hair, and umber hair stripes and markings around umber eyes – eyes that were focused on him with matching intensity. The man, Master Raysho, wielded a hand-and-a-half chargestone sword – the blade, which Barrenger knew was of steel-hard caluthi crystal, looked like a solid bar of flame thanks to the reddish-orange energy filling and surrounding it from the chargestone in the pommel. Raysho’s wife, Master Dama, held a similarly lit quarterstaff made of bronze and caluthi, the outer crystalline ends radiant from the chargestone at its center. Barrenger glanced to the weapons rack along the far side of the training room, but Master Raysho slid between him and the weapons, a predatory scowl on his blue face.

“Latecomers should come prepared,” the man declared, and then he charged, swinging his sword in deadly arcs.

There was no time to think or protest; Barrenger simply jumped out of the way, lashing out with a selah-charged fist at his instructor’s head. But Raysho was fast, and Barrenger had to halt his attack to dodge a spinning attack from Dama’s quarterstaff, a blur of umber blowing his hair back with the nearness of its passing. A spark of pain on his back leg accompanied another darting strike of Raysho’s blade, and the tiniest whiff of blood mingled with the smells of sweat and stone in the room.

Barrenger gritted his teeth, the pain sharpening his focus like a knife. He was better than this. And whatever the cause of this attack, he was not going to lose years of training to panic. He would not disappoint his teachers like that.

Strike of Serpents.

Barrenger fell into one of the many Twa’ki positions he had practiced so often that they visited his dreams. Air whistled as a pole came towards him, but he dropped to his hands and spun powerfully, legs snaking out to wrap around Master Dama’s lunging legs. She managed to slip one free before his attack closed, but he caught her other leg long enough to stumble her backwards and give himself breathing room. Or so he thought, as Raysho’s sword flashed towards his prone body. Barrenger slammed a selah-wreathed hand to the ground, doubling the force of the push to snap him up to his feet and out from under the blade’s tip in a blink. Cawing Kick. He flowed into a new position and force-jumped over Raysho’s head, slapping his glowing hand against a rafter to change the direction of his fall. He could clearly follow the Masters’ positions from above, their distinct selah patterns – and, more importantly, their weapon outlines – and if Raysho were not so familiar with Barrenger’s moves, he might not have dodged in time to miss the powerful kick Barrenger lashed at his head as his fall arced him over the older man.

Dama was closing in fast, but Barrenger was too close to be stopped now. His hands darted to the weapons rack a foot from where he’d landed, and with a flash like gasfire, the chargestones on his two weapons of choice filled with green. The dull, translucent blades, nearly invisible in the dim light, flared to life as energy filled them, strengthening and empowering the crystalline structures of the matching twinblades.

Just in time for Barrenger to cross them like a shield and catch Master Dama’s quarterstaff at the intersection. The force of the hit was weakened by the innate power of force transference in his selah, but it still knocked him back a step. With a twist and a charged leap, Barrenger attempted to roll the quarterstaff and rip it from her hands.

She leaped with him, spinning through the air like a rolling marsbird, and nearly jerked him off his feet as she yanked her staff free. Then, blessedly, there was a pause. The three combatants faced each other again, each breathing steadily and prepared for a new strike or counter.

Master Raysho, blue face lit by his umber longsword, smiled. “That’s more like it. You had us worried for a moment, boy.”

Barrenger was smart enough not to let his guard down, but he nodded at the compliment, his racing heart briefly lifting. “Sorry, Master Raysho. I didn’t know we were doing an intensive exercise today.”

“That’s somewhat the point, Teshma,” Master Dama said dryly, circling him slowly. “And it certainly doesn’t excuse why you’re late AND unarmed.”

Barrenger circled with her, keeping his eyes on Raysho, as well, even as he tilted his head in confusion. “Unarmed? You haven’t given me my own chargestone blade yet, and every weapon on the property is in here.” While not technically a law, his Baracai training instructors were adamant that he would not be allowed to choose his own chargestone weapon until he reached the age of manhood, as was the custom in their home country. Despite Barrenger’s protestations, his mother deferred everything about his private martial combat training to the husband and wife duo, and so he had long since learned to wait patiently. A thought made him perk up; was this an initiation for getting his first chargestone weapon? He had had his eyes on this very set of twinblades, actually. They’d served him well in many practice sessions.

But Raysho was scowling at him, clearly displeased. “Not have your own weapons? Did you think those blades in your room were cheap ornaments, or did you change clothes in a closet?”

Barrenger sucked in a breath. His father’s twinblades. He tried to hide his disappointment, but he could hear the uncertain wobble in his own voice as he stammered, “I… I didn’t…”

“Didn’t want to use a perfectly good, battle-tested pair of weapons with which you excel in combat?” Dama challenged, and suddenly darted at him. She had chosen a perfect moment to attack, taking advantage of his distraction to land a solid hit on his calf. Barrenger bit back a yelp and hopped out of her range, reestablishing his guarding position.

“A weapon’s previous owner doesn’t tarnish it against redemption through a new wielder,” Raysho reminded him, even as he took a few testing strokes that Barrenger, now back on guard, easily parried with his twin shortswords.

The man’s unexpected defense struck Barrenger more than he’d expected. He couldn’t deny the wisdom of that statement – as usual when Master Raysho talked about battlecraft. And he said it with such cool rationale. No mention of Barrenger’s father. No concern for the truth or falsehood of Benide Teshma’s treachery. Just simple fact: a weapon was a weapon. And he’d let his feelings blind him to the value of his mother’s gift – and to the increasing likelihood that Master Raysho and Master Dama had been involved in convincing her to give it to him, he realized.

Raysho came at him with a sudden burst of powerful swings, forcing Barrenger into a backing defense. Crang! Crash! Spang! “That foolishness aside, you were still late, pup,” he lectured between the green and umber sparks thrown up by their colliding blades.

“Mother had something to tell me,” Barrenger grunted as he parried a series of lightning-fast strikes. He darted in one of his own, and was rewarded with the slightest nick on his trainer’s arm. Raysho, ever the seasoned warrior, didn’t even flinch as Barrenger added, “It caught me a bit off guard.”

“Ah,” Master Dama said from where she watched the two spar, leaning on her glowing quarterstaff. “She told me about this, Raysho. The master scribe up at the archives offered him a position copying text. Backroom work.” She added this last bit with a distasteful sniff.

Raysho suddenly rushed Barrenger with a roar, so sudden and powerful that it ended with Barrenger pinned against the wall, straining to keep the razor-sharp caluthi crystal of Raysho’s longsword from shaving his bangs. Their faces were inches apart as Raysho huffed, “It’s not the worst position. Good, honest, humbling work; teaches responsibility and discipline. Thinking of taking it, boy?”

Barrenger suddenly jerked to the side and lowered his twinblades, dropping the longsword’s blade to where his head had been. As the sword’s tip scraped the stone wall with a screech, Barrenger slipped out of Raysho’s guard and aimed a scissoring slice at his unprotected middle. Raysho expertly twisted out of the way as Barrenger grunted, “I know I should. Finally do something worthwhile with myself.” But… his thoughts added. He couldn’t bring himself to say the words—

“But you’d rather be out on the battlefield,” Dama said casually, as if finishing his thought.

Barrenger missed a step, unprepared to have his most private wish aired so easily. Raysho performed a flawless Lightning Strike, striking his fist through his trainee’s guard and sending ringing pain through Barrenger’s shoulder. The younger tulinai dropped his sword with a gasp as the affected nerves convulsed his fingers open, but he had barely finished the breath before his legs were swiped from under him. He slammed forcefully to the patterned stone of the floor – not tile or wood as was traditional in a Twa’ki martial studio, since his force transference could easily damage weaker materials. Barrenger lay there gasping for the air that had been knocked out of him while the umber-colored longsword rested dangerously against his neck.

Master Dama walked over, planting her quarterstaff against the floor by his head. A moment later, the umber light winked out as she extinguished her quarterstaff’s chargestone and reached over to activate the glowlamp chain. All of the lamps lit one after the other as the interaction of her selah and the chargestone’s unique properties made the crystal lamps glow with warm yellow light. Both his masters stayed where they were, looking down at his prone form while he regained his breath. “You act surprised. As if it weren’t clear to anyone who knows you that you’ve a natural talent for battlecraft,” Dama commented, raising an orange eyebrow.

“As few as those may be,” Raysho acknowledged. He let his sword hand relax, but kept the weapon resting on Barrenger’s chest, making it clear the trainee did not yet have permission to rise. “But your own natural talent has never been in question. Your father was a gifted fighter, from what I’ve heard, so you probably got some of that from him,” he continued clinically, ignoring the flinch Barrenger made at the reminder of his heritage. But he stated it as mere fact, with none of the hatred other Haweyh would have felt. It was one of many things Barrenger appreciated about his Twa’ki and weaponship trainers; they were foreign to Hawath, migrants from the Baraci homeland, and both treated the controversy around Barrenger’s father as political gossip that had no bearing on the job they had been hired to do: act as live-in fighting instructors for the son of T’lani Suun’s prophetess. A job they had taken quite seriously over the past nine years, sometimes more than a younger Barrenger had appreciated. Raysho rested one knee on the floor, a relaxed position for him. “The gift of force transference is strong in you, too, and that is an excellent talent for combat. It’s natural that you would want to be a soldier.”

Frustration and humiliation surged through Barrenger as he lay prone and helpless under his teachers’ searching eyes. He suddenly felt trapped, not just by the implied threat of a sword near his throat, but by where this conversation was going. But why SHOULD I hide it from them? They already know. He shut his eyes, and the hot words shot from his mouth as if on their own. “My ‘gifts’ are the main reason I can’t be a soldier! I’d probably kill someone on my own side.”

Unexpected pain lanced through his skull, making Barrenger yelp. Master Dama had smacked him upside the head with the end of her quarterstaff, a mere disciplining blow but plenty painful. “OW! What?!” he protested, clutching his temple.

“I’ll have another one for you shortly if you keep speaking like that!” the woman snapped, umber lines around her eyes glowing with indignation. “You’re just going to lie there and besmirch our time and assessment of your skills by saying you’d have such a childish lack of control? Disrespect! I’ll have none of that from someone who would call himself a man today!”

Barrenger winced for a different reason this time. Arguments rose to his mind, dancing on his tongue. But Dama leaned closer to his face, stopping him short. “Disrespect against yourself, as well,” she continued sternly; but there was a warmth in her umber eyes. “You are not just an excellent student of combat, Barrenger Teshma; you are a born protector. You care about the wellbeing of those around you.” She tapped him lightly on his chest with her staff, above his heart. “Even if you do have a temper we have not quite managed to beat out of you,” she added with a dry smile. “But regardless. I will not hear of anyone heaping lies like that on our favorite student, least of all when they come from the student himself.”

Raysho finally withdrew his sword and stood, offering a hand to Barrenger. The younger tulinai accepted, letting himself be hauled to his feet. Barrenger picked up his extinguished chargestone blades, busying his hands with checking them for nicks or damage. “It doesn’t matter,” he sighed, unable to look either of them in the eye. “I can’t be in the Haweyh military because at the first battle that comes along between us and the Rukilef, my own side could mistake me for the enemy and cut me down.” He made a frustrated slicing motion with his hand as if to demonstrate. “So it’s a dead point. I may as well forget about it.”

The brief silence hung like a pall over them. They might not be Hawayh, but they knew the truth as well as he did: even if he was on his best behavior, the perfect soldier, there would always be a very real risk of falling to friendly fire. There was no hope for him of having anything like a good career – or even a very long life – in the Haweyh military. Not while the Rukilef were still out there.

Not after what his father had done.

A hand fell on Barrenger’s shoulder. He finally looked up into Master Raysho’s face – which was scowling fiercely at him. Barrenger balked instinctively at that look. “A man does not get anywhere in life by looking at the possible dooms, Barrenger Teshma,” Raysho stated firmly, stabbing a firm finger into Barrenger’s shoulder that knocked him back an inch. “You know perfectly well what skills you have. You are better trained and more knowledgeable for your age than all the trainees in the military academy. You have promise, and you must use it. Now use what brains you have in that thick head of yours and find a solution!” He smacked Barrenger not-so-lightly on the opposite side of his head from where Dama had hit him with her quarterstaff. “We didn’t spend all these years pounding wisdom into your head as well as skills into your muscles just so we could sound sage!”

Both of his masters DID like to pepper their lessons with wise sayings. Well, mostly wise. Barrenger still wasn’t sure what to do with the time Master Raysho had told him, “A foolish pup eats freja before it’s ready to fall.” That one might have been literal; he’d been sick for a week after raiding an unripe freja tree in the orchard.

“Have a bit of faith in the Maker, pup,” Dama said, smiling her agreement with her husband. “If we didn’t think he had some better use for your considerable abilities than giving us practice at training a great fighter, we’d have spent more time at our school rather than kicking your sorry tail around this ugly stone floor for nine years.”

The small martial school the couple ran in town when they weren’t giving Barrenger his daily training was reasonably successful for being run by two foreigners. But whether for the pay Marta gave them or because they also personally believed in him, the two had never slouched on his private lessons. It was one of the reasons this was his favorite part of the day – for all that the work was hard and their training merciless, here, for this period of time, he felt accepted for the one thing he most loved to do.

Barrenger nodded, chagrined and touched. His masters’ words were a balm against the frustrations and disappointments he’d been accumulating all day. And made his chest swell a little. Better trained AND more knowledgeable than the trainees at the T’lani Suun military academy? What he would give for a chance to show them what he could REALLY do. Although he’d have much rather used them against that punch-happy friend of Magela’s—

He let out an involuntary yipe as the end of a quarterstaff bonked against his skull. What is with them and hitting me in the head today?! he complained internally. What he said was, “What did I do?!” Barrenger knew better than to question his instructors’ teaching methods, especially when they were in a teaching-through-pain mood.

Master Dama leaned on her staff with a wry smile on her face. “I saw that prideful flush in your selah. Don’t mistake my dear husband’s praises for ego-stroking, Barrenger. Yes, you have worked hard, and you possess much natural talent.” She tapped him firmly on the chest, right over the swirling pattern on his dayshirt. “But you’ve also had two highly experienced trainers giving you personalized, private training since you were a child. Don’t mistake your gifts for superiority. Slack on your training, and you’ll find yourself on your back from someone who took theirs seriously.”

Barrenger flushed. “Yes, Master Dama,” he replied with a humble dip of his head. “I’m very grateful for the help I’ve gotten from both of you. And Mum for hiring you!” he added quickly when Dama raised an eyebrow and the tip of her staff. She gave him a satisfied smirk.

“Now,” Raysho broke in, his umber eyes glittering. “If we are done molding your mind back into the right shape, perhaps you’re ready to face us in a proper sparring match.”

The two blue-skinned trainers spread out, forming a triangle with two points facing a suddenly nervous third. Barrenger hid a swallow and straightened his stance, refreshing his grips on his twinblades as four weapons burst back to colorful life in the hands of their wielders. Raysho flashed Barrenger a final, cunning smile before he and his wife charged the younger tulinai with terrifying roars.

—-

The suns were moving towards mid-afternoon when Barrenger finally walked free from the martial studio, his entire body sore but his spirits raised. Dama and Raysho had given him praise for a good showing against their particularly brutal test – several times doing so while standing over his prone body. He’d have to get some ice for his shoulder where it had almost been wrenched from its socket. But overall, Barrenger beamed with the knowledge that he’d made them proud.

Servants scurried past him from every direction once he entered the house, trying to make ready for the big feast; after almost bumping into Cartien twice, Barrenger got the hint that he should stay out of the way. He took a detour through the front corridor, enjoying the cool of the main building’s lower level after his sweaty workout. A shower and a change of clothes would leave him refreshed and with a few hours of free time before the party. Maybe he would work on his hoverbike; the clay -and-caluthi speeder had been sputtering lately, one reason he’d walked to the market today. Hopefully it wasn’t a faulty chargestone starter; those were a pain to replace, and the local stoneworker was a pain in general. Barrenger ran his fingers along the red lacquered tiles dividing the floral-painted walls as he absently listed the tools he’d need to grab. He was just passing the downstairs entry hall when the front bell chimed.

Barrenger stopped short next to a selah­-steelworked mural in the entryway, a frown tugging his lips. The front bell? Who would be calling today? The front door was the formal entrance, reserved for honored guests and official visitors. Another chime rang out, but the workers of organized chaos further in the house seemed not to notice. With one last uncertain glance down either end of the hallway, Barrenger finally shrugged and walked to the door as the bell chimed a third time.

“Can I help—?” he started as he pulled the door open, but the sight of ceremonial golden robes stopped him short. A temple priest? Here? They always sent messengers! Barrenger composed himself and dipped a respectful bow to the elder man standing on the front step, wishing badly that he’d had a chance to wash off his workout smell. “Uh, welcome to the residence of the Teshma family, Isa. Are you here for the Prophetess?” He couldn’t imagine why else a priest of Élo’s temple would show up on their doorstep. Irritation made him roll his shoulders; now his mum would probably have to go off on some official business at the High Temple. He hoped whatever it was wouldn’t keep her long and ruin their evening plans.

The priest didn’t speak at first, instead studying Barrenger up and down for an uncomfortable length of time. His white hair was long and braided back, without any selah streaks, but a tidy pattern of sun-yellow splotches covered his forehead and hands. Barrenger stood stiffly at attention, falling back on his practice of showing as little emotion as possible in front of strangers. Finally, the priest sighed. “You don’t remember me, do you? I suppose I have been out of contact for a while.”

Barrenger blinked, then squinted. The priest did look familiar… Hadn’t his mother had an older priest friend who used to visit? “Isa Jantra?” he tested. It had been several years, and this man’s face seemed more aged than a few years’ passing would account for, but that could be the same liermouse-shaped spot on his cheek…

“Ah, good! The young pup does have a brain in his head.” Temple Priest Remar Jantra chuckled dryly for a moment, but his humor faded quickly. He folded his dark brown hands within the voluminous sleeves of his embroidered robes. “I thought it best to come and fetch you two myself. Who knows how those politicians in the Council will handle this matter.”

Unease prickled the hairs on Barrenger’s neck. “What do you mean, ‘you two’?” he asked, hand unconsciously gripping the door frame. “You can’t mean you want me going to the Council. The Council never wants to see me.” They would probably prefer if I ceased to exist. Barrenger stamped down the bitter thought, keeping his wide stare trained on the priest.

Remar sighed. “Yes, well, they may still not want to see you, but they are very much going to want to know where you are. And your mother is needed, for certain. The Council has been called together to meet with a very… unusual foreign delegation.”

The prickles turned to fireworks of alarm as some buried instinct in Barrenger’s brain guessed what the rest of him hadn’t quite figured out yet. “What… what kind of foreign delegation?” he managed, his throat clenched.

That humorless smile flashed across the priest’s face again. “Why, the most troublesome kind, of course. I’m afraid that your extended relatives, Barrenger Teshma, have come to call.”


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(A/N: The fight scene with Barrenger’s masters was a more recent addition, but I’m really glad I put it in. Not only was it REALLY fun to write, but it gave the scene a bit more oomph than when I just had Barrenger talking about most of these things with his mom. Plus, I wanted to properly demonstrate that he is very capable at fighting, not just with his powers but with actual combat training. He may have a lot of crappy stuff to deal with, but a poor education is not one of them! And the fighting thing will be important later, as I’m sure ya’ll expect. XD

Thanks for reading!

~Jenn/River)

Outcasts & Runaways is copyright Jennifer L. Hilty. Do not copy, replicate, or repost without permission.

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