“Zento… are we having some sort of…” Zemi waved one hand back and forth as he groped to find the right words, “You know… communication problem?”
The winged man turned with a hard look, leaning back on the heel of one boot. His tone was somewhat bitter and quite sarcastic, “I don’t know. You tell me.”
The Assembly of the Trine was over now. All topics great and small were touched on… including a few that Zento felt were quite out of place. Now that the room was empty of everyone except for the Dreigiau and his Champion, the winged man had turned to face the Arweinydd in verbal discontent.
“You completely snubbed my request during the Assembly, Zento,” Zemi grimaced darkly. “I want to know what we plan on doing about that.”
“Doing? We are not doing anything about it,” Zento turned with a sharp look. “You were the one that put me on the spot in there… in front of everyone else. You knew exactly what I felt about this situation and yet you’re pushing your demands on me? For what…? So you can get me to do what you want?”
The Dreigiau paused, looking uncertain as to how to take the sudden viciousness in his Champion’s voice. “Zento… that’s not what I meant at all. You know that…”
“No, I don’t know that. I’m telling you how it looked and felt to me and to everyone else there,” the winged man jabbed one finger at the air with a scowl. “What you did back there was wrong.”
“In what way?” Zemi asked, seeming to be making some attempt at reason.
Zento threw up his hands in frustration and took a few measured steps away to grunt his irritation at the far wall. After a moment or two, he managed to regain some of his composure, and he turned back to face the Dreigiau.
“First of all, I thought we talked about this.”
“About what?” Zemi asked.
“About letting LuShi into the Inner Circle,” Zento clarified, scuffing the toe of his boot along the runes on the floor. “You told me that it wasn’t going to happen. So why did it? I get here and there he comes… When you agreed with me on this!”
“I agreed with you before things started to get as dangerous as they are now, Zento,” the Dreigiau explained. “It was before the Esgyll attacks. Before we lost so many to the raids. Back when I thought we had this place secure against Zeromus’ forces.”
“Why does that change anything?”
“It does,” Zemi murmured in a low, rumbly voice, “It changes everything.”
“How?” Zento stretched his arms and wings wide, a searching motion, grasping for the answers. Not that he expected anything that the Arweinydd would say could make any sense… not after all the insanity that he had just been witness to in the Assembly.
“What do you mean how? The Islands are in danger… something I didn’t expect to happen for a long time from now. We need everyone we can to hold out against the forces that would destroy us. You know that,” the Dreigiau answered, coolly.
“Zemi, you fail to be seeing that it’s that boy-Sygnus who is going to be the biggest threat to us all in the end. And now you want to train him… to give him the knowledge he will use against us?” the winged man’s eyes glinted as he faced the Arweinydd.
“How are you so sure that this is going to end up like that?”
“Because, I’ve been doing a ton more research on this than you have. Because I’ve actually listened to what Aur has to say about what happened with the Sygni in the past and everything that was lost because of them,” Zento snuffed, wings ruffling. “Because I was the one that heard first-hand the people in the gatherings that spoke of the coming of the Bane – which just happens to be what LuShi’s name means. Coincidence? I think not.”
“Lucci is a good kid. His heart is in the right place,” Zemi shook his head with a grimace. “This kind of talk is not what I expected out of you at all, ZenToYa.”
“And what did you expect?” the winged man scoffed, “That I’d be jumping for joy to train the very creature that will bring about the death of all the people I love?”
“Zemi!” the warrior spat back sharply, “You aren’t listening to the warnings! You don’t see the writing on the wall! And for what… because you’re attached to the boy? That’s just not the way it works, Zemi. When you’re a leader of a nation, you have to learn how to put your emotions aside for the good of the people.”
“And how about you?” Zemi pointed with one finger.
“What about me?”
“Why can’t you follow your own advice? Putting your bad feelings of Lucci aside for the good of the people?” the Dreigiau noted.
“How could that be for the good of the people, Zemi? I just told you… he’s going to be the destruction of us all!”
“Have you ever stopped to consider what might happen if you were just to allow the boy to join our side of the fight? He’s already proving to be willing to help us, Zento,” Zemi asked in a low tone. “No doubt that he’s going to become quite powerful… but what about if the Sygnus chooses to fight against Zeromus?”
“Listen to what you are saying,” Zento’s mouth became a thin, firm line. “So you take the enemy’s secret weapon and train it to use against them. Is this what this is all about?”
“What?!” the Arweinydd’s eyes widened in shock and slight hurt, “No… it’s not like that at all!”
“You better think about it, Zemi,” the winged man told him, turning on his heel and marching for the door.
“Zento!” the Dreigiau’s voice rang after him. But nothing stopped the warrior’s determined stride. The door closed heavily behind him, leaving the room lying in a shroud of silent shadows.
With a heavy sigh, Zemi flopped down in his chair at the head of the table. An expression of troubled thought covered the Dreigiau’s face… and for just a moment, he seemed to show his age.
“Lord Zemi..?” a soft, smooth voice greeted him from out of the shadows.
The Dreigiau straightened instantly, eyes flicking up to see the silvery form of Lucci standing there at the other end of the table. How the boy had come in without the sound of the door to alert him, Zemi didn’t know. Neither did he question, though… for the Arweinydd knew that rarely did he actually need to use the conventional means of entering rooms himself.
“Lucci…?” his voice took on a concerned tone. Concerned for how the boy might feel after being treated like such an outsider at the Assembly. And for how much the boy may have overheard spoken between himself and Zento.
As if to answer this, the boy-Sygnus looked shamefully down at his feet. “I made Master Zento mad at you.”
“Nah,” Zemi leaned back casually. “I can usually do that well enough for myself… at least, lately, it seems.”
“Everyone is upset lately…”
“People are just afraid,” the Dreigiau consoled him, “The Esgyll attack has really shaken people up… especially since there were some who died to it. You have to give folks a chance to settle down a bit after things like that.”
“But it’s not just the Esgyll that they are afraid of,” the silver eyes lifted, focusing on Zemi. “They don’t want me here… and maybe they are right… maybe I’m a threat.”
“Lucci…” Zemi rose from his seat, walking around the table towards the boy. Gently, he reached one arm out and hooked it around Lucci’s slender shoulders in a show of affection. Though he tried to withhold the heartbreak that he felt at hearing the boy’s blameful words, it was really hard, “Why do you say such a thing?”
The silver-haired boy peered up at the Dreigiau for a moment, seeming to sense the emotion. Regret welled over his face. “I don’t know much about the Esgyll… but I think maybe they have come here because of me, Lord Zemi.”
“Oh..?” the surprise in his voice urged the boy to talk further.
Lucci nodded somberly, eyes reflecting up at Zemi in a please-don’t-hate-me plead of honesty. “I think… maybe they are sent here to find me.”
“I see,” the Dreigiau replied quietly. “You haven’t had any attempted outside-contacts since that one time, have you?”
The boy’s face reflected a moment of panic. He never liked to remember the day… not long before the first Esgyll attack, that the voices had come to him. Voices without people, he had called it. Though the boy never told anyone what the voices had said to him, it had frightened Lucci so much that he had refused to walk anywhere alone ever since.
“No… nothing like that,” Lucci finally found his voice with a shake of his head. “It’s nothing I know for sure. I just have a feeling.”
“Mmm….” Zemi tilted his head slowly.
“Is it true that I really came from Nefol? And that I’m Zeromus’ son?” he blurted out of no where. Not that he didn’t know the answer, but the words were rarely spoken around him.
“Well,” the Dreigiau spoke slowly. “Yes. It’s true that you came from Nefol. I can’t prove whether or not you are Zeromus’ son, however. But, you know that you belong here with me, Lucci… right?”
The boy nodded, “I want to stay here with you… but I don’t think Zeromus wants to let me.”
“No, of course he doesn’t. You’re right about that,” Zemi placed a large hand on the top of Lucci’s head and rubbed his hair around a bit. “But were’ not gonna let that get us down, will we?”
“You still want to help us fight against the Esgyll, right?”
The boy perked up quickly. “Yes! Of course I do, Lord Zemi. Are you… really going to teach me?”
“Seems like I’m gonna have to,” Zemi gave the boy a wink and a quick flash of fangy grin. “And you know what else we’re gonna do?”
“No… what?” the silver eyes peered up at him, big and round. Questioning.
“We’re gonna go out there and we’re gonna prove them all wrong,” the Dreigiau’s grin widened.
Lucci stared up into the Arweinydd’s confident grin. Then a calm smile of his own spread across his face.