“Wait!” AsaHi shouted, dogging the man’s steps. “Please, I need to ask you a question!”
“I’m terribly sorry, sweetie, but for just this once I can’t stop to talk,” Zento replied over one shoulder as he turned the hallway corner. He paused as a piece of the wall parted for him, then he made his way into a dark domed chamber.
Ruffled, the girl pushed her way in right behind him. A warning thought flickered through her mind.
You are being bold, now aren’t you, AsaHi? If Lord Zemi doesn’t strike you down for your impertinence, then his Champion just might. It’s a surprise you made it this far considering… if Kaze really is Zemi Dreigiau…
It was the first time she had admitted that it could be true, even in her thoughts.
Still, Kaze never said so. Sure he has the robes. Sure he sometimes does strange things. But where’s the proof that he’s really THE Lord Dragon?
The girl gave a bitter internal laugh.
Just a few weeks ago I didn’t even believe Lord Dragon existed. And now here I am trying to figure out if the man I’ve traveled with for days could actually be an Arweinydd.
Zento was busying himself with something in the far corner. It may have been her imagination, but it felt like he was doing just about anything to avoid her questions.
“Zento, please!” she finally strode over to the man, grasping his sleeve. When he turned, there was a sharp look in his eye that made the girl step back.
Emerging from the corner’s shadows, Zento placed a small metal box in front of her on the floor. His hand dropped lightly on it, remaining still and silent. Finally, the latch clicked and the lid flipped open. He lifted a small slivery-white stone out of the box, holding it for her to see. The edges were lit with a flow of shimmering energy.
He came all the way in here for that?
That was when she realized that the room they were in was a small armory. Though it was not anywhere near the size of the sprawling arms storages in the Spire of Nefol, the room was littered with long unused weapons and strangely shaped plates of armor.
She watched as Zento lifted the small round object and placed it into the open circle of his amulet. It gave a soft hissing click as it fit snugly within. If she didn’t know to look harder, AsaHi would never have thought that the stone could be removed from the frame.
Silence born of interest, the girl stood watching.
The man lifted his fingers to the stone, eyes closing in deep concentration. At first AsaHi thought it was her imagination. But as she watched, pale white lines of energy traced around the man’s chest and shoulders until she could make out a solid outline. The soft glow enveloped Zento’s body and the power flowed over him, the outline filling with smooth white spirit-steel. When he finally took his fingers away, he was standing in a full suit of…
“Arfogaeth?” AsaHi breathed in surprise.
I’ve never actually seen Spirit Armor before!
“You sure know your legends well,” Zento gave her an approving nod as he pulled his weapon from the wall.
“It comes from spending your life trying to disprove all of them,” she muttered half under her breath.
He must have heard because he gave a warm chuckle, “Yes, well, I hope you now realize the urgency of the situation.”
What’s he trying to say?
Without further words, Zento strode back out the way he came, the soft light of the ornate plate armor shimmering through the darkness. The hook of the bhinod was draped over his shoulder.
“No, I don’t understand!” she jogged to catch up with him again. “What is it with you guys? Always so secretive… always on the rush with these ‘important things’ that you won’t tell to anyone else!”
He paused for a moment. Then shook his head. “Morh-AsaHi, please don’t take me wrong. I’m not avoiding your questions. There’s a lot going on that I will admit you do not know. But it is for that reason that I ask you to trust me and Zem–”
He froze and stuttered, trying to cover his mistake.
AsaHi’s eyes flew up to his face. Her voice was weak, “So, Kaze is Lord Zemi?”
“I… cannot answ–”
“Don’t worry, you didn’t tell me anything I wasn’t figuring out by myself,” she told him gently. “He really isn’t trying to hide it.”
“Yes,” Zento finally admitted. “I don’t think it was ever his intentions to hide his identity from you. He told me it just happened that way. Then, when he saw how much pressure you were under, he thought it was best not to frighten you more. Especially since he believes that all this happened because of him.”
The girl jerked her head up, “What? No, it happened because of what I did!”
“Tell that to Zemi. He seems to blame himself.”
“But, why?” she began to puzzle. The same question that rose in her mind time and again. “Why would someone like Lord Zemi care, or even take an interest, in a no-body like me?”
A soft look shimmered in Zento’s eyes as he spoke, “Can you always answer why you are fond of certain people? Real friendship, and daresay, love, doesn’t choose people on basis of how much they have in wealth or knowledge… magic or non-magic. These things hold no sway over a true heart.”
AsaHi found herself without words.
“You’ve got a lot of hard choices ahead of you,” his tone became deeply troubled. “I’m afraid I’m not the one to ask for advice in such matters. I’ve always been guilty for following the whims of my heart, and that hasn’t always led me to the brightest of days. It rarely will.”
“I’m not sure I understand,” she wrinkled her brow at him.
“All in good time, Morh-AsaHi. And all too soon,” Zento dropped a grim hand on her shoulder.
Then in a swirl of silver and blue, he was gone.