Zeric & Amorie

Chapter One

Zeric and his father laughed happily as they walked back home “I can’t believe you turned eighteen last week son”

“that’s all you’ve been able to talk about”

“you’ll understand when you’re a parent…it’s weird to have your child become an adult” Zeric decided this was a good time to ask his father “can my girlfriend stay the night tonight?”

“makes sense for her to since she’s joining us on our family vacation. Want to go get her by yourself or do you want me to walk with you?”

“I’ll get her by myself, I know moms waiting on you”

“That she is, she’s a good woman” They parted ways when they came upon the path that would lead to Amorie’s home and as soon as he couldn’t see his father he ran towards her home, eager to see her. He banged on her door excitedly and her parents let Amorie answer since only her boyfriend knocked so franticly. “Hey!” she exclaimed as they hugged “hey baby, my dad says you can spend the night”

“great!” she grabbed her already made bag and told her parents goodbye. “I’m so glad your dad said yes” Amorie expressed once they were on the road ‘I figured he would”

“you’re lucky to have such an awesome step dad” she blushed “oh sorry, I don’t know why I keep calling him that since you only ever call him your dad”

“it doesnt make me mad when you call him my step dad. I mean he is so that would be unreasonable of me. He’s just the only dad I’ve ever had so personally, I feel he deserves to just be called dad” she blushed “I guess it’s just on my mind he is your step dad lately since you’ve been looking into who your bio dad was”

“Yeah, I get that, don’t worry babe” Zeric took her hand, bringing it to his lips to kiss it. When they arrived at his home his mother had dinner ready and they all ate until they couldn’t fit another bite in their bellies. That night Amorie and Zeric were up late, fooling around with eachother when his mothers scream filled his ears. They both gasped, Amorie sliding off of him and hastily grabbing clothes. Now they could hear the screams of his older siblings which had Zeric rushing out of his room wearing nothing but underwear. Blood was everywhere they looked, sliding down the walls and pooling out on the floor. “Mother!” Zeric yelled in horror at the sight of her lifeless body.

The man in their home was fast and merciless, killing his entire family right before his eyes. Zeric couldn’t think of anything else to do but hold Amorie until the man started walking towards them “Please, please if anything spare her, spare my girlfriend please” he begged, tears cascading. The assassin put his sword away, smiling as if there were anything to smile about in this once happy house. “I was not sent for her or you so quit your blubbering child. I was ordered to kill your mother for not sharing you with your father, I was ordered to kill your siblings because they belonged to a man that dared let you call him father when you had a real one out there. Your father is a bit disgusted now that he knows your alive, especially finding out that you don’t even know what you are”

“My….my mother didn’t know who my father was”

“still her fault for being a whore in her youth”

“don’t talk about her that way…my mom”

“my mom” the assassin mocked him in a whiney voice.

“Shut up you…you bastard.”

The grin left the assassin’s face and he lifted Zeric by his throat and punched him in the abdomen. “Watch your mouth you little half blood brat.” He let his eyes flick to Amorie. “Or I’ll really hurt her and make you watch.”

Zeric whimpered and the assassin threw him down. Amorie pulled him to her and wrapped her arms protectively around him. “You monster.”

“Thank you child.” He turned and started away then paused. “Disappear boy, you’re nothing but a mistake and a nuisance.”

Then he was gone and Zeric was clinging tightly to Amorie, unable to stop the tears that welled up with his despair. He found himself pushing out of her arms and crawling away to throw up. Why was this happening? He asked himself. Why now? “Zeric?” Amorie said as she ran her hand up and down his back. “Zeric, we need to get help.” Her voice was full of tears.

“That bastard.” He said. “That evil, monstrous bastard. He killed them. Why? Why would…they hadn’t done anything wrong.”

“I know baby, I know.”

He forced himself to get up, hoping if he got help for them now somebody would be able to do something. He had to cling to hope, he loved his family too much to accept too readily they were dead. They went to the home of the most powerful healer in their village and Amorie filled him in. He left with them right then and there, rushing back to their home in hopes there was anything he could do for the family. The healer tried and tried despite the fact they were all obviously gone, eventually sighing in defeat “Zeric” he started, struggling to announce his friends dead “No! NO! no no no” Zeric started bawling and Amorie held him, crying herself. “I’m so sorry” Kennett said somberly as he looked at the floor.

“No!” Zeric was still repeating it like his denial could save them. “You two shouldn’t stay here Amorie. We need to take him to your home, to your parents” Amorie nodded, trying to get her boyfriend up again but he wouldn’t budge “I can’t” she wasn’t sure what he was saying he cant to but her best guess it was him saying he couldn’t leave his parents “Zeric, we have to, come on” She kept trying but Zeric was understandably lost to grief so Kennett went to get her parents himself to help.

When her family arrived Amorie’s dad lifted Zeric “you shouldn’t be sitting here with their dead bodies”

“I can’t leave them! No!”

“You’re just a boy, you need time to process this without staring at their bodies” Amories mother hugged her “baby are you okay?”

“Physically yes”

“what happened?”

“I think Zerics dad found out about Zeric since he’s been asking around…I don’t know how but his dad knows about him now”

“the entire village will rally and keep you two safe”

Zeric wanted to go back, but Amorie’s father had a hold of his shoulders and he knew no matter how much he struggled, he wouldn’t be able to escape. He fell into a silent melancholy, his head hanging down as he walked. He felt fingers slip through his and it took him a moment to realize it was Amorie. He squeezed her hand, another knot forming in his throat. It was like a slow moving nightmare and he would give anything to wake up to his family. When they got to Amorie’s home, her parents let her take him upstairs and get him into bed. She hated the look of hopelessness on his face, but didn’t know what to say. What could she say? She would be torn apart if anything happened to her parents. All she could do was pull him into her arms, his head pillowed on her chest and hope that she was able to bring him some comfort.

“I love you, Zeric, I hope you know that.” He didn’t say anything back, but his arms wrapped tightly around her.

The sun was barely making it’s way up when they held a service for Zerics family. It meant the world to him the entire village was there. They had been such good people and Zeric felt himself become even more consumed with rage. How dare his father do this, how dare he judge his mother. Seeing the kind of man he was Zeric could see why she hadn’t tried to figure out who the father was and just raised him herself until his step dad came along. The only thing he cared about his biological father now was what he was since the assassin mentioned part of his rage was the fact he had no idea he was half of something that wasn’t human. He cared about that because he was going to avenge his family, no matter what it took and if he had some kind of abilities he didn’t know about all the better to get vengeance with.

When the service was over their village leader approached Zeric “we have a lot to talk about Zeric, come with me. I’m taking you to your home” Amorie looked a bit startled at the idea “but..it’s”

“last night a bunch of us worked to clean things up for Zeric. He needs to come with me for now. You go along with your parents young Amorie”

“can’t she come with us?” The elder looked at her parents who nodded “alright then, she can come with us” Zeric took her hand, just to make sure she was safe and right there with him. He could have so easily lost her last night too. All he had done was whimper and beg and among his anger was shame for not being braver. Walking in his home was hard but he knew the elder must have a good reason. He guided Zeric into his parents bedroom then went to a floor board and yanked it up. It came up with a few other planks, obviously made to do so. “look” The village leader urged so Zeric and Amorie came closer to look inside “what?” Zeric could barely believe how much money was down there. They weren’t poor but they hadn’t lived a particularly wealthy life style either.

“Given the world we live in they let me know this was here for you children. You parents were saving, intending to have this split between you all when they passed. It’s apparently something your mother started when she found out she was pregnant then your step father helped her along with when they got together. They’ve always added what they could. This and all their belongings are yours now. I know you might not be able to live here right now but we’ll keep this home vacant for you unless you tell me otherwise okay and if you want to store the money here it’s only the three of us that know it exists.

“I guess this is why you didn’t want me to bring Amorie?”

“yes but I know she’s a trustworthy girl. I was just considering your privacy”

“I’d never want to hide anything from Amorie” Their leader nodded and closed up the floor “what do you want to do Zeric? Your parents…” he began to choke up “your parents were amazing people and your siblings…they didn’t deserve to have their lives cut short…they were among the last people in the world that would deserve such a thing… I can see vengeance in your face, I’m old enough to recognize it even when it’s buried in such sorrow”

“I want to figure out what I am. The assassin…he mentioned I didn’t know what I was”

“I see..your mother..you should have seen her in her youth. Anything that scared her was something she wanted to be around. She had amazing stories and was always on some sort of adventure. Your father could be anything. I will put my son in charge of things so I can devote my time to helping you and Amorie. I may be older but I believe even you’ve seen I still have a lot of fight left in me. The healer who assisted you last night also wants to help if you want to set out anywhere.”

“I want to talk to my moms best friend again….she’s the one who apparently got me close to finding him….maybe if I talk to her more it’ll help”

Chapter Two

Zeric and Amorie headed over to his mother’s friends house, while the village leader went to inform the healer that they would be packing to leave as soon as Zeric was ready. Amorie held tightly to his hand, worrying about him. “Zeric, promise me you won’t do anything reckless.” She said.

“Amorie, I…I have to hunt him down.”

“But what if he kills you?”

“He won’t, at least, I hope he won’t.” He sighed. “This is something I have to do and I’m scared too, I really am, but he…and I…I couldn’t do anything. I’m such a weak coward. Maybe if I find out what I am…”

“No you’re not Zeric. You put yourself between that assassin and me without hesitation, that’s brave.”

He gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “I won’t die, I promise, I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“are you wanting to come on this journey with me?”

“Yes but I dont know if my parents will let me. Unlike you I’m still technically a child”

“To be honest I’d feel better with you home. I’d miss you but…he’s already taken my family. If he would have taken you too…I dont know if I’d be together enough to go after him…I can’t take losing you too but I’ll never try to tell you what you can and can’t do, even if I’m worried”

“I can’t wait to marry you Zeric”

“Hurry and turn eighteen then” she laughed, surprised she could “Just a few more months dork”

“I am still going to be ready to marry you if you’re wondering”

“well, you can let me know closer to time if it’s too hard”

“My parents were so happy when I told them we planned to get married soon after you turned eighteen. I want to still do it, I’d like to think they’ll be watching us”

“Then, I’ll go with you, but I promise not to get in the way. I’ll help the healer if anyone gets injured. I know how to stitch, so I can sew up wounds and wrapping is easy.”

“As long as you stick close.”

“I promise. I really don’t think I could sit here and worry, wondering if you’re coming back.”

He nodded. “I understand, I’m sure we can convince your parents if you’re sure.”

“I am.” She squeezed his hand. “It’s my duty as your wife to be sure and stand by your side, no matter what.”

He actually chuckled. “You really are the most amazing thing in the world. Thank you for holding me together.”

When they arrived at his mother’s friends home, they could see Aurora had been crying and both of them hugged her. Zeric told himself not to cry, he had to be strong if he was going to avenge his family, he couldn’t fall apart now, he could do that later when there was so much at stake. “I am so sorry, Zeric.” Aurora said.

“Me too, I wish…” he shook his head, “I need your help.”

“Anything, come in.”

They took a seat on her couch while she sat in the same blue and white chair she always did. “out of the men you told me about…who would do something like that?”

“The only one I think capable of that sort of heartlessness would be Fion”

“But…you were so certain it couldn’t be him”

“who knows..I mean….your mother wasn’t one to over share…maybe something happened…maybe something she never told me about and he ended up fathering you. Your mother had quite a few sexual partners in her time but she was never a whore. Especially to the point she truly wouldn’t know who the father was. I’m wondering if maybe something happened and she protected herself from the memory of it by convincing herself she didn’t know. Maybe something she wouldn’t want to talk about after..” He didn’t like what it sounded like she was hinting at.

“You think he may have raped her or something”

“It wouldn’t be below him I don’t think. I just…she didn’t always pick the best men but I just cant see any other man from your mothers young life doing this”

“How would he have found out?”

“You’ve tried to contact some of the men we’ve talked about right?”

“well yeah but why would they tell someone like that?”

“if your mother didn’t share it with me she didn’t share it with anybody, I thought I knew everything there was to know about her. I may still be wrong but I just don’t see any other man capable of killing her and the rest of your family”

“If he’s my father…what am I then?” she sighed “if he is your father then you are half Callicantzaros”

“a what?”

“the best I can describe is that they are considered a type of vampire. Their behavior is manic and their nails are something you really have to watch for. They are known to rip beings to shreds. He would live in the netherworld most of the time but he does come up for more than just the time most people consider they are limited to. I think some people add facts to creatures to comfort themselves, especially when it comes to creatures like Fion”

Zeric looked at his hands. “Do you think…do you think I could ever turn out like that? A monster?”

“No, of course not sweetie. He chose to be a monster. There are plenty of other beings, demons, dragons, vampire, and so on who live good lives. Being genetically related to him doesn’t make you a monster.”

“Never think that.” Amorie added.

“I just never want to hurt you.”

“You won’t, you’re far too sweet and gentle.”

“But I might not be able to be anymore. He…Fion…he deserves to die. I hate how blood thirsty that sounds, but I have to find him and stop him. What if he does this to someone else just for being his child? He…he had them murdered like they were nothing. I wish I could forgive that, but I can’t.”

“That doesn’t make you bad.” Amorie said as she gently stroked his hand. “You’re only trying to do what’s right.”

“She’s right, don’t let what he’s done define who you are.”

“do you think I could do some of the things he can do so I stand a chance against him?”

“I’m sure you could, you just didn’t know you should be trying. I’ve noticed you’re stronger than most boys your age”

“and he doesn’t even work out” Amorie added, causing Aurora to nod “yes, I think you did inherit some of the abilities Zeric. I think if you started trying you could face him with help”

“Our leader and Kennett are coming”

“If you’ll wait for me to talk to Winton I can arrange for him to help you. He feels he owes me his life, I’ll tell him if he protects you on this journey the debt will be fully repaid as far as I’m concerned”

“and he’s a Tarbh Uisge?”

“yes, he is powerful and I can trust him to take care of you two”

“thank you….I can use any help I can get since I still don’t really know what I can do against him. Amorie wants to come and I can’t risk loseing her”

“That’s very brave of you, Amorie.”

“I love him, even if his biological father is terrifying, I wouldn’t leave his side.”

She smiled. “You two really are meant to be.” She stood. “Just wait here, it won’t take me long.”

“Stay safe.” Zeric said.

“Always.”

Zeric sighed once she was gone and Amorie hugged him. “We’ll be on the road before you know it.”

“I know I shouldn’t be impatient, it’s just…I really need to do this. I’m scared, but if I don’t stop him then who will?”

“I know.” She kissed his cheek then pulled back to look at him. “You’re like one of those heroes we used to read about, off to fight the monster.”

“I don’t feel like one. They’re never scared.”

“I bet they were, but they fought anyway, because that’s what heroes do.”

He smiled, feeling his mood lighten. “You’re such a gift, thank you.”

“You are too Zeric. I truly do feel like the luckiest day of my life was when you asked me to be your girlfriend.” Zeric held Amorie, doing his best not to cry. He couldn’t stop hearing the sounds from last night, the screams of his family. HIs parents and siblings were gone and to his knowledge there was nothing he could do to bring them back. When Aurora returned Winton gave a slight bow “I’m completely at your service. I don’t know if she told you how much I owe her but I’m happy to finally have a way to show her my gratitude”

“Thank you”

“shall we go?”

“we need to talk to Amories parents”

“I see, she is a child?”

“I’m seventeen” she answered and Winton nodded “lets go talk to her parents then. Be well Aurora” were Wintons last words before leaving Auroras home. “she’s told me where I’m most likely to find this father of yours if you’re wondering” Zeric blushed, feeling immature for not thinking of that before they left “Okay, good”

“How old are you?”

“eighteen”

“and you want to take on a task like this?”

“my family didn’t deserve to die. I can’t just let him get away with it”

“I understand, sorry, I just want to get to know who I’m accompanying better” When they arrived at Amories parents home she gave them a long speech punctuated with “I know I’ll always be your little girl but I need to go. I’m going to marry Zeric, I’d marry him now if I wasn’t too young but this is something I should be at his side for. I promise to be careful and to rely on Winton, Kennett, Zeric and our leader Achilleo”

Her father sighed, conflict and worry making his expression heavy “it seems you’ve made up your mind..” he said and Amorie answered “I have dad” her mother hugged her “I’ve always loved how brave and hard headed you’ve grown to be but be smart aswell on this journey. You are just a human girl. If there is any sign of trouble you hide behind this horned fellow or our leader”

“I promise to not be dangerously stubborn mom”

“then go sweetheart, who am I to say you can’t follow your husband.” her father said sadly then hugged her himself.

Chapter Three

They left once Amorie had everything she would need and found Kennett and Achilleo waiting at the village center. “Everything in order?” Achilleo asked. Both Zeric and Amorie couldn’t help but be amazed at how different he looked. He was actually wearing a breastplate and had an ax strapped to his back.

“Yeah.” Zeric finally said. “Um, where did you get those sir?”

“Oh this old stuff?” He patted the breastplate. “Back in my younger years, I was quite the fighter. I’m a bit rusty, but I think I’ll pick it all up again while we’re out.”

“That’s pretty amazing.”

“Don’t let this rickety old body fool you.”

“I’ll try not to. Thank you for coming with us.”

“I couldn’t just let you go it alone, what kind of leader would I be if I did?”

“How does your son feel about running things?” Amorie asked as they began walking together “I think if it weren’t for his sorrow over the loss of the Charmian family he’d be excited. I give him a lot of responsibility so he wont be new to anything if something should happen to me but this is the first time he’s the one solely at the helm of our village”

“He’ll be good when it’s his turn to be leader but we wont need a new one anytime soon” Kennett said as he gave Achilleo two solid pats on the back. Achilleo chuckled, that deep and somehow warm laugh he had brought comfort even in the hardest of times. He was actually the first in his family line to be village leader. The family before his that had passed down the leadership role had become corrupt and untrustworty. After one particularly bad event the town voted for someone new and it was almost unanimous that they wanted Achilleo. He had been much younger back then. From what Zeric knew the man had been in his early twenties but he lived up to everyone’s dreams and fixed everything the previous family had ruined within their village.

He didn’t know a lot about the Achilleo’s son but Zeric only ever heard his parents say good things so Zeric felt this family would control their village for many generations to come. ‘Yes, I don’t plan on leaving this world any time soon and with a group like this I’m certainly in no danger of it today. Zeric, we will find this man and he will pay for what he did, I mean it.”

“I have faith in that sir”

“Zeric, you’re a man now so lets dispense with the sir. Anyway, who is leading?”

“I know the way” Winton announced so Achilleo asked “Have I seen you before?”

“I am a friend of Auroras. I come to visit her now and then. I am here to repay a debt I owe her”

“Oh, oh yes I know where I know you from. Huh, look at you now, all healthy, you’re barely recognizable.”

“Yes, she helped me, nursed me back to health when she didn’t have to…when she didn’t know me at all. I literally owe that woman my life so if she wants me to protect these two I will do it”

“where is it you live normally?”

“Not really anywhere. I can’t stand to be in one place”

“That must be hard. You never make any friends.” Amorie said.

“I’ve never had a need until I met Aurora. She has been very kind to me, even knowing what I am.”

“You never hurt anyone, Aurora would have said so.” Zeric replied.

“True, but I tend to make people uncomfortable. She doesn’t look at me like I am strange or a monster.”

“That’s because she has a big heart.”

Winton nodded. “Yes, she is.” He cleared his throat. “So, Aurora told me that you are half callicantzaros.”

“She said Fion, my biological father, is one.”

“They can be quite dangerous, but I believe you will be able to control any gifts passed on to you.”

“How do I figure out what?”

“we’re bound to encounter something on the way to him. We don’t live in the calmest of worlds” It was the next day that gave them their chance to test out Zeric. “You all stay back. I wont let him get hurt too much.” Winton said and they all listened. Amorie tried to hide her worry as she kept telling herself Winton wouldn’t let things get too far if Zeric couldn’t do anything. The beast snapped, beginning to snarl at them. “Aurora told you about some of your dads abilities right? Try to use them Zeric, try with all you have while you have me as a safety net and such a weak adversary”

The beast came at Zeric, mouth open, drool dripping onto the ground and he barely managed to get out of the way. His heart hammered against his chest and he swallowed nervously as he glanced at Winton. “You’re faster than that.” Winton said. “And stronger.”

That’s right. He told himself. He was panicking because he was being attacked. Even Amorie had said she had noticed his strength. The beast came at him again and this time he moved quickly away as he punched at it, catching it in the side of the head. It snarled, enraged that its prey was getting away and gave chase, wanting to kill, to eat. Zeric made himself think. His biological father had sharp nails, almost like claws or talons that he could deal damage with. He focused as he backpedaled away from the beast, but nothing happened. He looked down at his hands for just a moment and the beast pounced, landing on top of him. He managed to grab it by the throat and hold it back, its teeth mere inches from his face. “Winton!”

“You can do this, Zeric. What if that thing were trying to kill Amorie? Focus.”

Amories heart was racing but she just stood there, trying not to beg Winton to help Zeric. She knew if she couldn’t handle this she wouldn’t be able to handle it when they found Zerics dad. Winton giving Zeric the image of this thing trying to hurt Amorie was all he needed to fight this thing. She was all he had and even if she wasn’t he loved her too much to let her get hurt. He kept seeing this thing trying to take her away and it woke something up within him. He felt something in his hands, heard and felt his bones changing until he had claws. He slashed at it, instinct taking over. When the thing lay dead he was glad he also had natural instinct because the human part of him could barely believe what had just happened.

His hands went back to normal as Amorie ran to hug him “very good, I knew if I let it go you could do it.” Winton noted then looked at the village leader “thank you for allowing me to teach him. I half worried you would interfere”

“I knew you wouldn’t break your promise. It was obviously under control”

“Lets eat off of this then save what we dont finish. No sense in letting this creature die for nothing” Winton suggested. “those taste really good, I’m in” Kennett remarked as he knelt down to begin getting the beast ready. Amorie was still hugging Zeric “Hey, I’m okay”

“I know but I was so worried”

“Because you’re sweet and amazing. I have abilities, you don’t need to worry”

“I can’t help it” They ate, staying there longer than Winton might have if only adults were present. He was worried about over working the younger two, especially the girl who truly was only human. The leader was human as well but Winton could see in the mans eyes he had been through quite a bit. He looked like he had been on many journeys and faced multiple trials in his life. Kennett wasn’t only human, wasn’t even half but Winton wanted to figure out what he was rather than ask. It was like a puzzle, a game and he wouldn’t spoil it by simply asking.

They had spent so much time eating they didn’t get much farther that day “we sleep in the trees tonight” Achilleo stated and Winton nodded “yes, it would be foolish to sleep on the ground here”

“I can hide us” Kennett interjected and Winton looked at him “oh?”

“yeah, where do you guys want to lay down. I can make a circle around us that both protects us and makes it to where nothing can see we are here. They’ll only know anything is up at all if they run into the barrier” Winton smiled, eager to see this “alright” they found a place to rest then let Kennett get to work. “there we go” Kennett said proudly as he went to lay down. Achilleo touched it “well I’ll be damned.”

“I’m more than just a talented healer” Kennett said sleepily, seeming to doze off mere seconds later. They all laid down, Wintons mind busy trying to guess what Kennett was, Achilleo just happy to be on the road again and the two teens just cuddling while they could. They had always been an affectionate couple and right now they both really needed some comfort. They stayed safe all through the night thanks to Kennett “was that taxing?” Amorie asked over breakfast, they were eating the last of the animal they had killed “Not really, it’s pretty easy”

“that’s cool’

“I haven’t been useful yet so I’m glad I could do something”

“What other things can you do?” Amorie asked.

“Mostly healing and defensive magic. Here, let me show you.” He took Amorie’s hand and drew a symbol on her palm with his finger then held his own hand above hers. She felt warmth move up her arm and the once invisible symbol glowed for a moment before fading.

“What did you do?” Zeric asked.

“It’s a light spell. All she has to do is hold her hand up and say ‘light’ and her palm will glow.”

“That’s amazing.” Amorie said as she studied her hand.

“If you ever feel scared or get lost in the dark, use it. Night time predators will also run from it.”

“Will it work on my fa…on Fion?” Zeric asked.

“It would definitely blind him for a bit. It’s very bright.”

“good, that’s one more thing we will have working for us” The following days of their journey anytime they encountered anything it was a lesson for Zeric. Winton was always making the others stay away so Zeric could work on his skills before they faced his father. When they finally arrived about where Fion was known to be they were all on high alert, not knowing what forces Fion might have on his side. Winton apparently noticed Fion before anybody else did and protectivly moved in front of Zeric. Laughter filled the air “you think you can protect him?”

“stop being such a coward, sending an assassin and now hiding.”

“why would you come here boy? Another mans raised you, you’re probably pathetic and worthless”

“I’m here to avenge my mom” Now Fion laughed harder, like it was the most ridiculous thing he had heard in his life. “stop laughing!” Zeric screamed angrily. His whole body was nearly shaking with rage. Fion instantly quited and next thing they knew Winton and Fion were fighting.

They had never seen any other creature move the way Winton and Fion were. They were both fast, dodging and jumping away from each other even as they inflicted damage. Winton’s blood soaked into his clothes, a deep blue rather than red, as Fion’s claws tore at him. Fion laughed as he broke through Winton’s guard, his fingers going around the man’s throat as he slammed him down. Achilleo ran past Zeric and Amorie as Kennett drew a circle of protection around them then put himself between them. Fion caught Achilleo’s ax as it swung down and growled as he turned his gaze on the older man. He kicked out, catching Achilleo in the stomach and sending him sliding back, but surprisingly not knocking him down.

“What’s this, too stubborn to go down?”

“I’ve fought stronger.” Achilleo replied.

“Truly? How interesting?” He stood and Winton started to get up. Fion whistled and an arrow struck the ground near Winton. Their gazes followed where it had come from and they all saw the assassin.

“Coward.” Winton said.

“Take care of that creature.” Fion ordered the assassin.

“I expect double pay.” The assassin replied. “Creatures like him don’t die easy.”

“Just get it done then bring me the boy and the little bitch he brought with him.”

Zeric wasn’t about to stand back and watch other people fight his battles a second longer. His father wasn’t going to talk about the love of his life that way/ He had no right, especially after taking away his family, his mother who had so lovingly raised him. Zeric left the circle of protection that had been formed for them and ran straight for his father, confident in himself that he could fight him. Amorie saw Fion go to slash Zeric and just in time to keep Zeric from getting clawed she held her hand up and screamed light. Fion was in searing pain and unable to even think. He was used to living in the netherworld so even being out in regular daylight was hard. It was the advantage they needed.

Zeric showed no mercy as his own claws formed. He tore into his father, pouring all his anger for his family and his need to protect his future wife into his attack. Achilleo was almost dumbfounded to see such a young boy fight like this but Zeric obviously didn’t need him so he went to help Winton with the assassin. Just when Fion could think straight Kennett threw another light spell out, a stronger one from within him. That was it, the end, at least of Fion. His father laid dead and while it didn’t erase Zeric’s pain he cried out of relief he never had to worry about this man and the fact he had actually managed to avenge his family.

The assassins death soon followed but Kennett had to get to work fast to heal their comrades injuries. Kennett and Amorie started on burying the bodies while the others rested, Zeric being the first to end up helping. Amorie tried to stop him “honey, it’s okay…you’re hurting. Just go sit”

“The sooner I don’t have to look at these two the better”

“are you sure?” He kissed her head “let me help”

“Winton and Achilleo are lucky you jumped in.” Kennett said.

“We were doing fine.” Achilleo said.

“That bruise says otherwise. If you had not had your armor and if Winton didn’t heal so fast, you could have been seriously injured.”

“You do not have to worry about me.” Winton said.

“It’s the healer in him, he can’t help it.” Achilleo replied. “Thank you Kennett, I was only teasing.”

“I’m just relieved we all made it.”

“Zeric did very well.” Winton said. “Your family would be proud.”

“Thank you, but I have no idea what to do now.” Zeric replied.

“What do you mean?” Achilleo asked.

“I mean I lost my family and now Fion’s dead.”

“You could always get married, have a few kids, maybe grow a garden.”

“I’m still too young.” Amorie said.

Achilleo waved his hand. “You’ve both been through enough to show me you’re very much an adult. We’ll talk to your parents when we get home. I can make an exception after all that’s happened.” Zeric and Amorie were both just standing there staring at him. “You have your whole life ahead of you now Zeric, no monsters to worry about, just you and Amorie and tomorrow.”

“thank you” Zeric said then happily hugged Amorie. He still had a lot of pain and sadness dwelling inside him but if he could marry Amorie now and start his life with her he had something to be happy about and live for. When they made it home the first thing they did was go to Amories parents, their leader Achilleo with them. Her parents didn’t hesitate, feeling there wasn’t much of a difference between her getting married now and waiting a few more months. Their village needed something happy after their loss so everyone wanted to help. Since there wasn’t a soul in the village not contributing their wedding took place a week later. It was a gorgeous ceremony and they hadn’t missed a single thing the couple had wanted for their big day. Zeric knew the loss of his family would be a wound that might not ever truly heal but looking into Amories eyes at that alter he knew he had so much to be happy and grateful for in life and he wouldn’t waste a second of it being lost to melancholy.

~ The End

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