The rising sun illuminated the room, casting a soft, yellow light on everything it touched. Sunbeam in his face, he rubs his eyelids and yawns. He is greeted with soft, brown hair that glowed a beautiful ochre in the morning light, messily framing a pretty oval face a few inches from his.
Life is good.
His right arm numb, he sneakily loosens it from the pillow beneath her head. His left arm reaches behind her back, feeling the warmth of her flesh beneath his touch. He pulls her closer, not that they weren’t already right next to each other, and nuzzles her on the forehead. Eyes still closed, she flashes a lazy smile. He prods her cheek, she grunts. Typical Saturday mornings; she won’t be getting up anytime soon.
Can you get the postt? I’m expecting that invitationnn~~
Only if you fix breakfast~
Someone’s being a bad girl.
He tickles her vigorously.
A peck on her cheek and her reciprocatory grin seals the deal. He gets out of bed and walks out of the room.
Mug of coffee in hand, he walks out to the front door. Alirean lilies dotted the front yard, their soft, purple and amber glows from male and female flowers respectively fading in the morning light as the flowers slowly closed shop. The hilly landscape ahead was scarcely dotted with houses, and the mist was slowly rolling out from the depths of the hills. Lively birdsong sounded from everywhere a sign that the Alirean valley was coming to life, ready to begin a new day.
Ten paces places him in front of the mailbox, where he peers into the mail. Sifting through them as he walks back to the house were three letters; the expected invitation to the neighbors’ Yue’da moonlight festival next week; a letter from the local school, and an unmarked letter.
He opens the last letter, the cover a sturdy paper of pristine quality, but with no decorations, markings, or words. Its only content was a slip of paper, and the only thing inscribed on the paper was a symbol. An eye with reptilian pupils leaked a tear that curved in the shape of an s, topped with a triangle above the eye itself. The symbol had a rainbow hue to it, but as he stared, it took on a shade of pitch black, then the tear started bleeding downwards, the black transitioning to blood-red. The symbol then lifted off the paper, slowly dissolving into jet-black vapor that dispersed into the morning air, leaving only the blood-red trail on the paper.
The Navori were supposedly an urban myth, a tale to scare people. The only known thing about their cult was their symbol, which guaranteed death for the individual who saw it bleed.
His clients weren’t supposed to be shady, or were they? That would explain the fact that members of his team disappearing on a monthly basis, never to be heard from again. Whatever it was, apparently it was far too deep, and they didn’t want loose ends. How were they even working for the Navori in the first place? How did they know he lived here?
When would they strike? Today? Next week? A month, like what happened to his friends? A year? His blood runs cold, all the sleep gone from his system as his mind went into overclock mode.
All thoughts of a lazy Saturday out the window, he runs back into the house. He runs past the smell of freshly cooked omelettes drifting from the kitchen, dropping the letters on the table. Rushing into their room, he throws open a suitcase, then runs into the study and starts gathering research papers, clothes, and notes. The commotion isn’t unnoticed as she peeks in.
What’s the matter?
Uhm, I need to leave now, urgent, late for a meeting, I’ll be back in abit.
How long will you be gone for?
It’s urgent, but I need you both to stay safe for me alright? I don’t know how long I’ll be gone, probably a month, but I’ll be back, I promise.
What’s this about-
I can’t tell you, but I need you to trust me when I say I need to go now!
He grabs her by the shoulders, and glares into her eyes.
Dammit, I want to tell you but I can’t, so God help me, swear that you’ll keep yourselves safe!!
That’s all I need. I love you.
The bewilderment on her face barely registers before he drops a quick kiss on her lips, and he was down the hallway the next second. The man, in his rush, bumps into a teenage girl, the splitting image of her mother.
What’s the rush?
It’s important, I’m erhm, late for a meeting…got to go, I’ll see you later!!
Shrugging, she said; I’ll see you later. Love you.
He was already out the door, the ground disappearing beneath him in rapid paces. He needed to be anywhere but here. It wouldn’t make a difference, but he needed to disappear, and quick. Yarrmathia? Lanthara? West Surtnar? It didn’t matter, he kept running, even with the sharp morning air searing his lungs, he ran, knowing that to stop was to embrace death, to turn back was to put his family in danger. He ran, knowing that his work had cost them all far too much. He ran until his legs gave out, crashing him into the dirt, but he picked himself up and forced his exhausted body to keep moving. He ran, and with coin he bought a strong graght, and riding on the beast he headed for West Surtnar.
Life just went horribly south, and so Pirean Heimler disappeared off the face of Evryn.
My ‘gone for a while’ was 8 years ago. The Navori haven’t come for me yet, unless that letter was some sick joke, or that they were biding their time, ‘toying’ with their food. 8 fucking years is a long time for a death threat to come full circle. Goddammit, I have lived like a rat, going by aliases and living in highly guarded institutions. My considerable wealth was depleted to keep my cover, to go places, to disappear. Then I arrived in Anaya a year ago broke, and literally begged Garrick to take me in as I helped with research. No one would be looking for Toomis, a haggard, tanned, long-haired man who was a shadow of who I used to be. The Anayan Research Institute (ARI) was secure for my needs, guarded by magical sentries all the time and being capable of transforming into a bastion, and it was close to the capital of Lanthara, which meant reinforcements.
Now on the boat on the way to Vanar, the safety of the Anayan Research Institution lies far behind me. Hoax or not, these thoughts of the letter occupy my thoughts again. Eight years was a long wait, but would the Navori strike when I was out in the open? More importantly, could Ana protect me? Could I augment myself to the point where I become literally unkillable instead? That’s it!!
I don’t care if it that goddamned letter was an actual death threat or some sick joke, screw all the danger the world could throw at me. I had a solution. I’m sick of hiding from unknown danger; COME AT ME. I will not stand for letting my family down a second time, and Ana deserves to know the truth of why I left home eight years ago.
Yeah, I’m gonna do it. Eight years’ worth of atonement had to start somewhere.
And this time, time is on my side.