Rael Kertia was confused. In his brother’s battle against the blond modified human, he had offered Rajak his soul weapon, Grandia. And his brother refused. Rael couldn’t understand why.
In his eyes, Rajak Kertia was both a brother and father figure. He was responsible, strict, and the best family leader Rael knows. It was because Rajak was so dedicated to being the best family leader he could be that his little brother wonders why he would refuse the chance to get stronger. Granted, Rael had his own ambitions. He didn’t want to give up Grandia but he treasures his brother a lot more than himself. Still a child at heart, he took advantage of the confusion in the aftermath of the fight and ran away to sort out his feelings and thoughts on the matter.
Why had his brother not claimed Grandia?
Why did he not want to get stronger?
During his travels throughout the human world, Rael also took the chance to practice what his brother and other nobles had displayed: cool indifference, sophistication and empathy. In his attempts to be polite to humans and understand more about them, he only found himself more disgusted than ever. Humans grow only at the destruction of others and it was every man for himself outside of Lukedonia.
Why would anyone want to hurt others in order to make themselves feel better?
Why would any self-respecting noble would ever bother protecting them?
He had gone through half of North America and most of South America before traveling to Europe. It was there where he ran into his first crush and a traitor to Lukedonia.
It was late. The faint rays of sunlight were minutes away from vanishing completely and people were hurrying home to escape the cold. Rael himself was jumping from roof to roof, leisurely heading back to his hotel. He was only halfway there when he heard an explosion from a couple of kilometers away.
What did the humans do now? Deciding to investigate instead of ignoring the insignificant beings-he was bored anyways-he changed his course. Minutes later-there was no hurry-he stopped in his tracks, shock coursing through every vein in his body. “Ignes?”
The raven-haired beauty turned. “Oh? Look who’s here: Rael Kertia. What brings you to this part of the world?”
Rael was not a traitor to Lukedonia. During his escape, he did not once consider himself betraying Lukedonia in any way, shape or form. “What are you doing here, Ignes Kravei?”
“Nothing much.” She waved a hand flippantly, not at all bothered by his tone. “Just collecting some more test subjects. How’s Lukedonia?”
“None of your business.” He couldn’t, wouldn’t, tell Ignes that he had ran away. And she doesn’t deserve to know anything anyways, he thought pettily.
A plan was already forming in Ignes’ head. She could use the power of another noble and, if Rael turns out to be a disappointment, she can still use him for experimentation. “Why don’t you come with me?”
“What?” Red eyes widened in disbelief before narrowing in suspicion. “Why do you think I’ll want to associate myself with a traitor like you?”
She smiled gently, with as much care and love she could muster, a look of understanding taking place on her face. “I could help you learn more about humans if that’s what you’re after. You’ll learn more from me than by yourself. Besides, you’re lonely right? We could spend time together, just like the old times.”
It was this argument that won Rael over. The present was confusing. Everything was changing and he didn’t like change. Nobles are constant beings after all. His brother was upset at him, Seira had rejected him, the Lord was very possibly angry at him. He was barely 500 years old, too young to be dealing with all of this, and, with a nod, he agreed.
Ignes was delighted. Rael was young, insecure, and eager to please just so he’d be accepted and loved. Rajak Kertia had helped as well. His most recent encounters with Rael had left the child lost and upset. His lack of emotion, or rather, his ability to hide his emotions so well had led his younger brother to believe that he no longer cared and never cared about him to begin with. She could still remember how much time the two had spent together, how much Rael had idolized Rajak. Rajak’s approval had been everything and now that he’s “abandoned” Rael, Ignes was fully prepared to take his place.
She lavished affection on her little duckling. Despite being slightly annoyed that she doesn’t have as much time to spend on her experiments, Rael was amusing. His stealth was useful in capturing more experimental subjects and she’d only encouraged his ever-growing hatred of humans, showing him nothing but their dark side and all their faults.
Rael was content for a while. Ignes hadn’t tried anything on him and their interactions hadn’t changed much from when they were younger. He knew that spending time with a traitor was betraying Lukedonia, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. Much, anyways. Compared to Ignes, who was pretty much his big sister, Rajak was nothing more than a stranger. He had changed so much since becoming family leader that Rael wonders if he’d ever truly known his elder brother at all. Perhaps he was only acting to humor him and decided to stop now that he’s a leader.
He had expressed his doubts to Ignes and the older noble had given him hugs and cooed that she cared. What Ignes gave so freely was such a rare luxury with Rajak that Rael couldn’t help but bask in the attention.
It took a few months for Rael to understand that Grandia was somehow transmitting Rajak’s emotions over to him. There wasn’t much for him to work with as what few emotions there were were rather muted.
Fatigue, stress, remorse, guilt, anger.
Rael could only contribute these emotions to the the aftermath of the battles when all the misunderstandings had been sorted out. Rajak was probably overworked and working hard to fix his mess in the human world. While there hadn’t been any human casualties, he had destroyed several buildings and caused quite a large commotion.
This only cemented the idea that his brother never cared and never will. Nothing changed except for the desire to teach Rael a lesson. Ignes had kindly kept him informed of what little news she could garner about Lukedonia and it seemed like Rajak was sent to look for him, probably to drag him back for punishment like he did ten years ago. So Rael hid on Ignes’s island, careful to cover up his tracks whenever he went out. He was determined to not suffer the humiliation of being dragged back and punished like a child again.
Yet, he was drowning in guilt. He shouldn’t have left Rajak alone to deal with the consequences of his actions. He was the one who made a fuss in Korea and tried to use underhand tactics to win. To add to his conscience, he had kept his soul weapon to himself, not allowing Rajak to gain the full power of a family leader. Rael was sure it was a crime despite it never happening before. It should be one. As far as he was concerned, Lukedonia was down one family leader and it was all his fault.
Ignes did not want Rael to return to Lukedonia. She had done so much for him when he was lost and confused and this is how he repays her?! By getting himself killed?! She didn’t spend so much time nourishing him only to lose him in the end. Deciding that it would cost too much to let him go, she prepared several drones made especially for fighting family leaders, just in case it came down to that.
“I have to, Ignes. Please understand that.”
“I don’t see why you have to, Rael. We were having so much fun together.” She smiled charmingly. “Hearing you talk so seriously, you really have grown up. So much unlike the insecure little boy I first met.” It was true. Dressed in his Lukedonia clothing, he was a shorter version of Rajak and bear slight resemblance to Rayga Kertia, his father and former family leader.
“I know. I don’t want to leave either.” His sad look grew stern. “But you’re still a traitor.”
She shrugged. “By association, you are one as well.”
He nodded solemnly. “I know, which is why I have to go back. I have to take responsibility for my actions.”
Ignes’ lips curled into an ugly sneer. It was this honor that made the nobles weak. While the rest of the world grew, Lukedonia stayed the same, relying on their original power to keep them safe. Instead of being at the top of the food chain, they were falling to the bottom. “Pride and honor won’t save you. Why don’t you let me modify you? I’ll make you stronger.”
Now it was Rael’s turn to be disgusted. “Absolutely not! I would never lower myself to being a mere human toy.”
“Didn’t you say that you and your brother fought a stalemate with a modified human? I check the Union records. He goes by the name of Frankenstein and his weapon was created by sacrificing the lives of many of his people. Don’t you want to surpass him? If he’s modified, then why can’t you be? It’ll even out the playing field.”
“Because I have standards! If you won’t let me go, Ignes, I won’t hesitate to fight you.”
“Oh?” She raised a delicate eyebrow. “But will you win, though?” She snapped her fingers and her robots came out of hiding. “I didn’t want to do this, Rael, but you left me no choice.” One of those was a match for a Union Elder. Three might be overestimating Rael but Ignes was not about to take any chances when Kertias are known for their speed and stealth. Rael will give her what she wants, one way or the other.
Rael felt betrayed. He really did think that Ignes understood him as he had confined in her and she him. But he also knew that she had her secrets and he kept certain things to himself as well. It was foolish to trust a traitor with news of Lukedonia. He didn’t think that she’d go as far as to attack him for wanting to leave but judging by the strength of these attacks, they were aiming to kill or, at the very least, maim him. Regardless of a noble’s regeneration ability, he would like to live his life without knowing that kind of pain, thank you very much. He summoned Grandia in a moment of panic and sliced one of drones into pieces.
Ignes’s original amused stare turned into an absolutely frightening glare, dark with the promise of pain. She stalked forward slowly, like a predatory cat. Rael was suddenly felt very small. “Is this why you refused all my offers, Rael Kertia? Because you’re already a satisfied pig?!”
Rael wisely kept silent. No matter how much he wants to deny it, Ignes was scaring him. She was acting like a completely different person and he wasn’t sure what was the right reaction.
“Why do you have a soul weapon when Rajak is the family leader?” She let out her aura in a show of power. “Why do you have a soul weapon when I don’t?!” She lunged forward to join the fight personally, showing absolutely no mercy. It was all Rael could do to avoid critical damage. Running away was hardly an option right now; when one retreats, the other two move forward to attack, not allowing him a single moment to catch his breath.
“How dare you harm my babies?! How dare you have a soul weapon?!” As much as Rael wanted to talk back, he knew that there was no way he could defeat Ignes even at the cost of his own life. She was older than him, older than Rajak as well, modified and better trained.
“Why so quiet? You were so talkative before. Poor little Rael. No one loves you anymore.” She cooed, sickly sweet as she managed to rip off one of his arms. Tossing the limb somewhere, she returned to glaring. “I’ll make you scream.”
Not wanting to give her that satisfaction, Rael gritted his teeth and keep quiet. Leaping back to avoid another attack from one the two remaining toys, he managed to fall into Ignes’ trap and impaled himself on her arm.
“You’ve gotten lacking, Rael.” She withdrew her arm and he crumbled to the ground as his legs gave out on him. “Is it because your brother always fought your battles for you?” She tore off his legs, sweet composure fading into uncontrollable rage as he still refused to let out a sound and had actually tried to fight back.
Nothing was fair in this world. Rael has a soul weapon when he wasn’t a family leader. Someone had done something so extraordinary while she was the genius. And to rub salt into the wound, she did not take part in any way in the process of splitting a soul weapon and neither does she have the data.
Each thought was punctuated by the removal of another limb. And Rael still wasn’t screaming! She stomped down on his ribs, infuriated at the fact that she had failed to break the child. However, Rael’s body was broken beyond belief and his own ribs had stabbed into his heart, stopping any chance of regeneration. Temper sated at last with his oncoming death and newly-gathered data, she knelt down to caress his soft cheek. “Any last words you want me to pass onto Rajak? I’ll give him a message for you.”
Rael smiled sadly, determined to stop the traitor from getting any satisfaction with his defeat. “Tell him that I apologize for disappointing the family leader of the Kertia Clan, for keeping Grandia to myself, and for constantly disobeying his orders, that I’m sorry for not living up to his expectations and for never addressing properly him as family leader and never acting like a pureblood of the Kertia Clan should.” Despite his efforts, a tear rolled down his cheek, causing Ignes to smile. “For not being the little brother he deserves to have.” The last of his body faded away and the dual daggers disappeared as well, seeking out Rajak to rejoin Kartas.
Ignes laughed loud and hard, gleeful that she’d managed to poison Rael so much that he’d still believe Rajak doesn’t love him. What a conceited child. He got away with disobeying his family leader and having a soul weapon, but still believes that he wasn’t loved. But he did die blaming himself so at least he grew up a little. What would Rajak do if he hears of this, she wondered thoughtfully, making a mental note to actually pass on the message when she has the chance just for the show. Smiling sadistically, she skipped off to collect her babies. Finding the extensive damage on them, a vein nearly popped in her temple. The data was satisfactory but did he really need to destroy her babies? They were so hard to fix. I should have kept him alive for experimentation. This data is great but keeping him alive would have been far more beneficial. Perhaps I do need to work on my temper a little.
Rajak was training with Karias when a sudden burst of sadness emitting from Kartas caused him to pause. It hadn’t taken him as long as Rael to realize that the split soul weapons created a link between their bearers. He knew as soon as he felt contentment when he was stressed. Choosing to ignore the emotions (he can’t just cancel the training session when Lukadonia’s enemies were getting stronger), he pulled back his fist for a punch.
The sudden surge of power caused the Blerster family leader to fly back and crash into several trees. “Really, Rajak?” He picked himself off the ground and rubbed at his numb forearm. “How do you still have so much energy left?”
For his part, Rajak stood shell-shocked until he came to a very upsetting conclusion. He quickly summoned Kartas, noting the power and sad whisper that came with the summoning of his soul weapon. “I’m sorry, family leader.”
Karias held out his hands, attempting to placate his self-proclaimed best friend. “Can we stop for today?”
His best friend nodded mutely, quiet and thoughtful like he usually was. However, they wouldn’t be best friends if he couldn’t find something wrong with Rajak. Karias noted the way his hands tightly held Kartas and the way he walked much more stiffly than with his usual grace. He swung his arm around Rajak’s neck. “Want to eat something now?”
Rajak couldn’t hear a thing. His little brother was dead. His sweet, naive little brother who insisted on calling him big brother despite his protests. The one that would always watch him train with wide, adoring eyes and used to snuggle in with him for naps after a long day of studying when they were younger. He had failed his father, failed as a family leader to protect Rael from the rest of the world. It was only thanks to his deeply-ingrained training that he didn’t break down right there and then. No matter what happened, he also has a duty to the Lord and the rest of his clan. Shrugging off the arm, he went off as if everything was alright.
But it wasn’t.
Ignes was very quite surprised to hear the 13th Elder mention that the nobles were crawling out of Lukedonia. While Rajak’s excursions were excused because his little brother had ran away, the other little worms do not have any reason to butt into their business. If they decide to isolate themselves on Lukedonia, then they should stay that way. It was time for a little trip of her own.
Although Seira was one of the last nobles she’d expect to leave the island as she is a family leader, Ignes was ecstatic. Seira J. Loyard had grown into a beautiful young woman. Yet, she was still so weak and lack the experience that Ignes has. Sending Regis away was the only smart decision she had made in the fight. Ignes watch the young leader wield the Death Scythe with fascination and felt her anger levels rising. It wasn’t fair. She was so much stronger than both Seira and Rael. Why couldn’t she have a soul weapon as well?
But Ignes was still impressed. Seira had actually managed to survive this long fighting against the Union. However, Rael, who was not a family leader, had managed to destroy one of her drones and injure the other two and herself with an incomplete soul weapon so Seira was still a weakling. “Do you like them?” Ignes draped herself over her soldier, hugging it close. “I modified it with the data I got from Rael.”
At the mention of the other noble, Seira paused and her eyes widened. “Rael...helped you?” The moment of surprise costed her another injury.
Ignes giggled. “Of course. He was such a helpful little boy. By the way, you wouldn’t know where Rajak is, would you? Rael wants me to pass on a message.” Deciding that enough was enough, she stepped into the fight and quickly knocked her opponent unconscious. In her haste to return to her experiments, she was unaware of Regis on her tail.
Karias watched Rajak worriedly, as did everyone else. Yet, the silent noble went about putting the dishes away as if nothing had occurred, like Regis didn’t just tell them that Rael had been working with a traitor all along. That wasn’t completely true; Rajak did pause for a moment there. He conceded.
“I got it!” Their heads all snapped around to Tao’s direction. The hacker was busy tracking Regis’ cell phone signal and managed to lock on. He quickly told Frankenstein the location of the little island.
The blond man was quick to create a plan. “Master and I will go. Rajak, you-”
“I’ll come.” He removed his pink apron and gloves, hanging them in their appropriate spots.
Frankenstein moved to stop him. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. If Rael is-”
“Rael isn’t there.”
M-21 looked as if he was about to argue but decided to save his breathe at the determined stare on Rajak’s face. Karias joined the others in watching the house with little protest. As much as he would love to go along, it is true that the house may come under attack and three modified humans are no match for what the Union can dish out.
“Where’s Rael?” Regis’ head snapped back against the wall as Ignes stuck another needle into his arm.
“You should learn to keep your mouth shut, Regis. At least Rael knew how to do that.” Ignes had a lab assistant roll in a cart filled with dissection tools and enjoyed the flinch from Regis. He is definitely more self-confident than Rael but she’ll break him soon enough. Ignes was just about to proceed with her plans when she realized that some of the drugs she needed were missing and left the room to get them.
Ignes had managed to escape during the confusion of Muzaka’s awakening. Rajak wished that he had been there with the Noblesse but the werewolf warrior had kept him occupied. Perhaps he should have trained harder and used the techniques his father had taught him, just like Frankenstein had advised him to, instead of being ashamed of fighting from the shadows.
Nonetheless, their visit to the island on been somewhat successful. Roctis Kravei was dead and they had rescued Seira and Regis before the scientists had been able to experiment on them. The awakening of the former lord of the werewolves only gave Rajak more motivation to train. Things were about to get a lot more complicated and he can’t expect the Noblesse and his blood-contracted to solve every single problem.
Rajak feared that someone else may possibly get to Ignes before he does and leave him forever in the dark of his brother’s passing. He wanted-no, needed-to know exactly who to blame for Rael’s passage into eternal sleep. Nobody, not even the Lord and Noblesse, can keep him from finding out once he gets his hands on Ignes Kravei. He had searched the island once more after everyone had left but was unable to find any trace of the traitor and werewolf. And as computers were not his forte, he didn’t manage to find any information regarding Rael either. Despite his limitations, he made sure to destroy the lab to keep other Union members from retrieving any information they could have stored here. Unfortunately, as he wasn’t familiar with Union architecture, Dr.Crombel’s employees had managed to retrieve some data.
Rajak walked quickly. There was no time to waste with all the conflicts with the Union. Somewhere out there, the Union were creating more modified humans that were stronger and faster than ever. Werewolves were also getting modified and the Noblesse can’t last forever. He needed to train more and learn how to control his newfound strength as well.
“Rajak.” He stopped and turned his head to glance back at the three other family leaders behind him. “Are you leaving now?”
He nodded and tensed when Rosaria Elenor asked if he was going to continue his search for Rael. He was going to look for Ignes to find out more about his brother so that counts, doesn’t it? Rajak wondered when he had started hiding information from his colleagues.
They conversed a bit more before parting their separate ways and Rajak continued on his way, until he meet Gradeus and the other traitors along with three other werewolves.
There was no way they were going to reach Lukedonia before him. He was determined to warn the Lord and the other family leaders. And there was no way he’s going to die here either. Rajak needed to know about Rael, absolutely needed that information before he died.
To his advantage, the Union thought that he was weak because he still had an incomplete soul weapon. Them looking down on him became their downfall as he hid his presence and killed his opponent before anyone of them realized what he had done and had a head start back to Lukedonia. Seeing the other family leaders again couldn’t be soon enough.
The next couple of hours passed quickly with the adrenaline rush. The werewolves and traitors were dead, the Noblesse was weakened even more and Claudia Tradio was made family leader. The truth about Edian Drosia came out and her clan was pardoned. There were no casualties on their side and Lukedonia has less enemies to worry about. Not that it really made a difference with all the modifications everyone else in the world seemed to be getting.
The next major event happened on werewolf territory. M-21 was kidnapped and probably subjected to experiments like the 5th Elder had said when she was trying to convince them all to help. Nothing remotely interesting was going on until he encountered another werewolf warrior. He might have been a challenge provided that the werewolves stopped underestimating him but apparently no one got the notice that he was fully Awakened. After that talk with Frankenstein, he was very uninclined to test his opponent and draw out the battle.
He’d arrived at Rai’s location first, not waiting. Calmly observing the situation, he began to worry as both the noble and the modified human were clearly injured and up against a monster that was a match even for the Noblesse himself weakened as he was. And there was Ignes, laughing loudly and boasting about the abilities of her newest creation. Rajak made his presence known by appearing a few steps behind Rai. Considering Titan’s strength, he held Kartas tightly and shifted so that the light caught on the sharp blades.
The raven-haired scientist widened her eyes and smiled. “Rajak Kertia,” she acknowledged. “I see that Kartas is finally complete after all these years? Are you here to ask about Rael?”
By now the other nobles had arrived and all were staring at him in varying stages of shock with widened eyes and not Ignes or her creation like they should have. Perhaps, if he survives this fight, the Lord will punish him for keeping the news to himself. He knew that Rael was dead and every cell in his body was itching to let go of his self-discipline just this once and wipe that smile off her face but she was the only one with answers. “You fought with Rael.”
“Not at first.” The others watched their interaction intently, taking the chance to take a slight rest. Titan won’t attack without Ignes’s orders. “I met him in Europe and took him in.” She giggled. “He was like a lost puppy since you abandoned him.”
Rajak didn’t react save for the tightening of his fists. Ignes took childish pleasure in watching him lose composure bit by bit. Wouldn’t it just be hilarious if she was the one to make the ever-stoic Kertia family leader cry?
“We spent a few months together but,” she pouted, “he wanted to leave. He refused all the offers I gave him and wanted to go back to Lukedonia. I couldn’t understand why. After all, I was more like an elder sibling to him than you were. So we fought and he destroyed one of my babies.” She gestured a bit. “You couldn’t understand how upset I was. I doubt you ever cared about anyone or anything besides duty. So I killed him.” She launched into a graphic description of how she did so, loving the way Rajak’s look of cool indifference turned into hot-blooded murder, narrowed eyes nothing more than mere slits and hands clenched so tightly around his soul weapon that his knuckles were white.
She thoughtfully placed a finger on her chin. “He didn’t scream at all though. Such a shame that was. He had such a lovely voice.” Shrugging, Ignes continued. “Oh well. He did give me a message to pass on to you. Can you guess what he said?” She laughed loud and hard, manically. “He apologized. For not being a good enough little brother and a pureblood who wanted to protect humans. Because he kept Grandia hidden. He didn’t think you loved him at all or ever, really. And all because you were so good with keeping your emotions in check. Such a cute little lost duckling.”
“I did get a lot of data from him though. He didn’t even realized that he was helping me. I really did want to continue my experiments on him but he made me so angry. It’s not everyday you get a pureblood to play with. Pity father stopped me from completing my experiments back on Lukedonia. Perhaps that was why he had a soul weapon to begin with. To protect him from getting taken advantage of again. Not that it helped him any.”
Ignes wasn’t sure what to expect from Rajak. Whatever possibilities her mind had generated, the dark assassin letting out an absolutely feral snarl and charging straight at her before anyone could recover from their surprise wasn’t one of them. Titan could hardly slow him down, an arm in pieces within seconds and the rest of his body quickly following.
The panic made Ignes hysterical though she still had faith in her creation. “You can’t kill him! He has the best regeneration ability there is and once he recovers, Titan’ll be even stronger than before.”
As expected of a Noblesse, Rai stepped in to help. “If he can keep healing himself, then I’ll just destroy his entire body at once.” His left eye flashed and he began his work. Thanks to Rajak’s work, Titan was severely weakened and the pieces of his body were relatively easy to get rid off. Ignes had barely enough time to scream before her body was in pieces and fading away.
Rajak knelt, head down and panting hard. He couldn’t believe his ears. Was he such a bad elder brother? Did he really neglect to show Rael how much he had mattered and still does matter? Rael didn’t disappoint him at all. He was proud of his little brother though he didn’t show it. He had thought that Rael was too arrogant and more praise would just go to his head. And was he really so neglectful as to not notice Ignes experimenting on his brother back when they were younger? How was he going to explain to his mother that her youngest son was dead at only a mere 500 years old?
Rajak was grateful that he had stopped with his back to the rest of his allies. It would have been awkward to turn away from them and rude to turn his back on the Lord and Noblesse. A single bloody tear dripped down his face and he discreetly wiped it away.
Frankenstein stared at Rajak with sad eyes. He understood what it was like to lose someone close and empathized but Kertias weren’t the type to accept comfort. Rajak pushed Karias away and asked the Lord for punishment for Rael’s behavior which she denied. Even when he was upset with his brother’s death, the family leader was still ready to obey.
Rajak walked down the halls of his home with a purpose; he was headed to Rael’s bedroom. His brother was a neat freak and no one was allowed in except to place his clean clothes on his bed. He preferred to do all the cleaning by himself and will always do it promptly, no matter how tired he was after the day was over. Rajak had respected his brother’s privacy and didn’t allow anyone to enter the room despite the large amounts of dust that were sure to be gathering on every surface.
He opened the double doors and stepped onto a surprisingly thin layer of dust. The bed was still made and everything was well-organized. Locking the doors firmly behind him, he collapsed into Rael’s bed, breathing in the dust and the faded scent of fresh laundry. He mourned there in private because he’ll never have a chance to apologize to Rael for not protecting him better and allowing him to become a family leader.
“He wouldn’t want you to be like this, you know.”
His head snapped up at the sound of Karius’ voice. The other family leader stood by the balcony, staring at him with sympathy. “Rael would have liked it better if you-”
“If I what? If I hadn’t failed him?” Grief made Rajak more talkative, it seemed, angrier too and more likely to show his emotions rather than hiding them. “I failed my father and I failed Rael. I couldn’t protect him. He didn’t even think I cared for him.” His voice began to crack.
His best friend moved closer. “At least he didn’t enter eternal sleep hating you. He still cared for you and you can tell him everything you want to say to him when you enter eternal sleep.” He gingerly gave Rajak a hug. Karius was never awkward in any situation. “That doesn’t mean you should try to get yourself killed. He most definitely wouldn’t have wanted that.”
Rael wandered around on Lukedonia, knowing that he was dead and wondering why eternal sleep looked so much like his home. Perhaps eternal sleep meant that they turn into spirits or ghosts? The halls of his home was empty and he couldn’t detect anyone within the manor. He started to inspect every room and it wasn’t until he reached his brother’s study did he find someone.
Rayga Kertia looked up from his book and his eyes widened in surprise. “Rael?” He bookmarked his page and placed the novel down on the table, rushing to give his youngest son a hug. “What are you doing here?” If anything, he was expecting his wife or eldest son to be here first. Despite having no sense of time when one enters eternal sleep, Rael looked too young to be anywhere close to joining him, much less actually joining him.
“I-I-” Unable to find the words to describe his own crimes, the boy pushed away his father and ran away to where he knew his room was and locking the door behind him. However, as his father was stronger and faster than him, he was already waiting inside his room. This time, Rael had no escape. “Father-”
“It doesn’t matter what you did, Rael. You’re still my son and I love you.” Perhaps it was too cheesy a line for a Kertia to use but Rael had always been insecure and needed reassurance.
The words tumbled out of his mouth before he could stop them, as well as the tears from his eyes. “I went to Ignes Kravei and helped her with capturing humans for her experiments. But I wanted to go back to Lukedonia and she killed me.”
Well, that was certainly worse than what he had expected to hear. Rayga pulled his son into another embrace. He did not regret following the previous Lord into eternal sleep. What he did regret was not having his sons sooner so that he was capable of spending more time with them and for not realizing that Ignes was experimenting on his littlest. Despite accepting Roctis apologies for his daughter’s actions (he understood a father’s need to keep their child happy), he did not forgive the noble for hurting his son. He’d hoped that by giving Rael a soul weapon and making certain that Rajak was capable of watching over him was enough to protect him. Obviously, he was wrong.
Unsure of what to say, he hugged his son closer and patted his hair soothingly. It had been a while since he had done this, and he was a man of little words. Everything was going to be alright and he would hope that Rajak was going to be fine as well.