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 Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)

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Hippocampus
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Name: Theodore Tsakiris
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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Fri Jul 03, 2015 2:53 pm

Binding Dharc wrote:
HA! The reason this chapter took so long was because of the arbitration. I had almost no clue what I was doing with that scene, I was so far out of my element!

I had to look up a bunch of information concerning the process of the Small Claims Court to help out with writing this chapter, and it still took forever to really figure out how I wanted to do it all.
Lol my mistake then. But hey, sometimes research is good for you when you're working in the arts. I've done similar things when writing lyrics, believe it or not.

Binding Dharc wrote:
The next chapter should be a lot easier though. With the introduction of the antagonist, I pretty much know what I'm doing from here on out.
Ah, so that's the antagonist? Awesome. Can't wait to see more of what he's up to.

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Binding Dharc
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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Thu Aug 20, 2015 9:43 pm

Chapter 8: Duel
Another day, another lesson. The six young Charmers gathered with Mistress Doriado to continue their newest course: Dueling. At it's core, it was combat training, but fighting within Duels was far different from how it was in sparring matches or street fights. When a Duel was initiated, the surrounding magic energy would seal off the area in which the combatants would fight, and special rules and restrictions would be employed that changed up the normal flow of battle immensely.
Duels were considered an official method of settling disputes by the law, but it was not as common as one might expect. Despite being a legal method for settling disputes that could potentially be easier and more rewarding than other official methods that brought in a third party like the Charmers, only people of high standing could really use this method effectively.
In a Duel, a sizable repertoire of skills, tools, and techniques could be utilized, but the higher you stood in society, the easier it was to learn or gain access to stronger and more useful ones. Because of this, Dueling ended up being something that would normally only occur between high-class individuals or competing business executives.
And since the Charmer Clan also had such high-society standing, they were taught how to Duel effectively. But after just the first two days of training in how to Duel, it became very clear that one of the young Charmers in particular had an advantage over the others.
Because in a Duel that overturned the natural flow of combat as seen in sparring matches or street fights, winning was not something one could do simply by attacking the enemy. Duels required much more strategy and cunning than a normal fight, and this meant that Aussa - who had read much about Dueling strategies long before these lessons began - was far more capable than the rest.
At this moment, a practice Duel between Aussa and Dharc came to an end. With one last blow, Aussa threw Dharc onto his back and the glowing area around them faded away. While Aussa grinned with glee down at the defeated Dharc, the other four Charmers sat against the wall watching with mixed expressions.
Wynn looked unnerved by Aussa's current winning streak, Lyna seemed to be stunned almost to point of being downbeat, and Eria appeared to be almost dumbfounded by her partner's skill. But most noticeably, Hiita sat with an strained grouchy expression as she held her hands on her feet in front of her and rapidly shook one leg up-and-down.
"This is total BS..." Hiita mumbled to herself.
"Well, I guess it's a bit extreme. But it's just because Aussa knows what she's doing." Eria stated.
"That's what I'm talking about though." Hiita turned to Eria and complained. "It's one thing to have the system down cold, but she's not even going easy on us."
"Not going easy?" Eria questioned. "That sounds hypocritical coming from you Hiita. Or are you saying that if the tables were turned and you were the one with an unfair advantage, you'd pull your punches against us?"
At this very true observation, Hiita cringed and turned her face to the floor, continuing to shake her leg. Wanting to offer consolation, Lyna smiled at her. "Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. This is just Aussa's strong point."
"We just need to keep practicing is all." Wynn added. "We'll get better if we keep trying."
"No," But just then, Dharc dropped against the wall beside Wynn and disagreed with her. "Dueling isn't that easy to learn. It's not just figuring the system itself out, but all the different types of tools and spells can potentially mix in a bad way that just makes your own situation worse.
"Dueling as a system is easy to understand, but what we need to actually figure out is all the different aspects that make the system up."
"Dharc is exactly right, children." Mistress Doriado then spoke up to the Charmers. "Dueling is a system built up from many different aspects. Planning ahead and accurate timing are more important than ever in a Duel. Understanding the system will do you little good if you don't also understand how to make sure your own spells and tools to work together properly.
"Even Aussa still needs to work on this aspect." Doriado continued, and Aussa felt a sudden chill run through her as she was called out. "Though she may be more talented that the rest of you, if she were to Duel others that are more experienced, she would still be easily defeated as she is now."
Aussa dropped her head with sudden depression hearing this. Like Lyna had said, this was currently her strong point, so for Mistress Doriado to tell her that even with what she could do here, she was still no better than average, was a heavy blow.
"That being said, it does appear that you have all grasped the basics, so we'll end class here today and begin lessons on the more specific aspects after you return from your mission tomorrow." Doriado informed them. "Make sure you all get a good night's rest tonight."
With a nod from her students, the six Charmers got up and left the classroom. In the hall, Hiita walked next to Dharc and noted, "Seems like you knew what you were talking about back there, partner."
"I guess," Dharc shrugged with indifference. "And stop calling me that."
"What's wrong with calling you 'partner'?" Hiita raised an eyebrow.
"It makes us sound chummier than we actually are." Dharc stated coldly.
"Eh? Come on, we're supposed to help each other out!" Hiita complained, wrapping an arm around Dharc's neck in a playful strangle hold. "Some of this Dueling stuff is still kind of going over my head, so you should try and explain it to me a little if you understand it."
"Let me go!" Dharc struggled out of Hiita's grip and rubbed his neck.
"Come on; we can even go to your place this time." Hiita suggested, as she usually dragged Dharc to her house whenever they would practice outside of class.
"Not happening." Dharc denied her suggestion and picked up his pace to put distance between them.
"What; why not? It's weird that I've never actually met your family before." Hiita complained more and started chasing Dharc down.
And as the others saw the two run off, Eria made a sarcastic comment. "Great pair, aren't they?"
"You know, I'm starting to think that complaining is how those two actually show their affection for one another." Aussa laughed in reply.
"Yeah, you may be right." Eria laughed along with her partner at that suggestion as the four of them exited the building. "Well, I'll see you all tomorrow, let's do some good work again." She told the others before running off.
It had been just over a month since the Charmers had begun taking missions to make up for the lack of present Gishkis, but in order to keep up appearances as well as make sure they all got proper training, they were also working missions in the other lands as well. They were currently working one mission a week, and after the Charmer's first mission had given them both professional and personal complications, it was decided that - for the time being - they would only handle mediation cases instead of arbitration.
The collaborative tone of mutually agreed upon mediation would not be likely to present clients with poor attitudes that were difficult to handle like Aqua Madoor or rare oddities like Maria's sudden decision to drop charges. The load off the young Charmer's minds greatly increased their enthusiasm for continuing this training method. And for tomorrow's mission, the six Charmers would take their first step into the LIGHT lands, the last of the elements they had yet to travel to.

* * *

When Lyna returned home, Nadia looked up from a clipboard in her hand and greeted her with a smile. "Hey Lyna, class go well today?"
"I guess so; Mistress Doriado told us we'd start getting into the specifics of Dueling after our next mission."
"Ah, that's right. You excited to be the lead at last?"
"Well, more nervous I think. But having watched the others do so well is encouraging." Lyna told her sister.
"That's the spirit." Nadia rubbed Lyna's head affectionately before turning her attention back to the documents in her hand.
"Helping out Milla again?" Lyna confirmed.
Nadia answered without looking away from the clipboard this time. "Yep, anything to lessen her load right now. She's still not completely used to all this work yet."
Lyna nodded knowingly to this. With everything having been so hectic after Noellia's trial, anything they could do to support their eldest sister was a blessing to her. And they knew that it had to be even worse for Ariel who only had Vanity at her side apart the periodic assistance from Eria and the rest of them.
But just as they had before, the LIGHT family persevered and pushed on with smiles on their faces. "And sorry, Lyna, you'll have to make your own dinner again today." Nadia said.
"That's okay, you just focus on work."
"You've got it," Nadia smiled at Lyna once more before heading down the hall to get back to Milla.

* * *

"I'm home." Aussa called out as she entered her house, and as she entered the living room looked to see her eldest sibling sitting on the couch with a book in hand. "Hey Klaire."
"Welcome back. Dueling training still going well for you?" Klaire asked as she looked up from the novel.
"Yeah, pretty much." Aussa answered, choosing not to bring up Doriado's warning of still needing to work on the specifics and went to the kitchen and looked around. "Aryda upstairs?" She asked, not seeing her more competitive sister around like usual.
"No, she and Dante left on a mission while you were at school. It'll just be you, me, and mom for a few days."
"Oh..." Aussa attempted to not sound disappointed.
After being told by Doriado she wouldn't fair as well against more experienced people in Duels, Aussa had the idea to try challenging Aryda to one and seeing how they stacked up. Aryda shouldn't have too much extra experience in Dueling, so she felt that if she could at least hold her own against Aryda, she was still on the right track. But with that option gone, Aussa thought for a second before going into the kitchen, grabbing a couple snack bags, and heading back for the front door.
"I'm gonna go to the Library for while Klaire." Aussa told her sister. "If I'm not back by dinner, you and Mom eat without me."
"Just be sure not to stay out too late." Klaire told Aussa. "You still have a mission yourself tomorrow right?"
"Yeah, don't worry, I'll be back by dark." Aussa assured Klaire and closed the door behind her.

* * *

Eria entered her home, but she did not announce her return. Instead, she quietly made her way through the halls and stealthily peaked into Ariel's workroom, where she saw her sister hard at work alongside Vanity. With a sigh, Eria then closed the door and turned away, leaning her back against the wall as she fell into thought about everything going on with her family.
Primarily, she wondered where Avance was, and if he was any closer to finding Noellia and Emilia. It had been more than three months since Avance went out in search for them, and lately Eria had to wonder whether or not his being the one to go really had been the best option.
The problem at first had been the need to keep Noellia's disappearance a secret, and that trying to send out a special task force to search would end up with the news becoming quickly widespread which would ignite panic in a world that had just recently gotten out of war. But of course rumors had already spread, and the longer they went without finding Noellia, the stronger people's belief in those rumors would become.
And the longer Avance was gone, the more work would pile up here and the harder things would get. Eria worried that if this went on for too much longer, they would have no choice but to admit the truth about Noellia, and if that happened, then Eria felt it would have really been better to make it public in the first place.
But Eria's train of thought was interrupted when the door next to her was opened up and startled her. "Eria, your back." Ariel noted upon seeing her sister. "How come you were just standing out here?"
Eria took a deep breath to try and slow her heartbeat before forcing a brighter expression onto her face than how she really felt. "I saw you were still working, I just didn't want to disturb you."
"That's sweet of you, but you don't need to be so worried Eria. I'm not having as much trouble as you think I am." Ariel asserted.
"Really?" Eria confirmed her sister was not just trying to reassure her.
"Vanity used to assist our father with this paperwork as well you know. His experience is helping me transition smoothly to my new workload." Ariel explained, and could see that some of Eria's worries were lifted with this information. "To be honest, the hardest part of all this is deciding just how many claims we would usually accept to defer down to outside sources; but we're managing alright."
Eria let out a small sigh of relief hearing this, and this time smiled genuinely at her sister. "Thank goodness."
"Now how about we see about having dinner together today so you can get to bed early for your mission tomorrow?" Ariel asked, and Eria nodded enthusiastically.

* * *

The next day, the six young Charmers were up bright and early and gathered near the edge of village leading towards the LIGHT lands with Lyna's sister Milla. After a few pieces of advice and a wish good luck from her, the six Charmers were off for yet another mission; their destination being the city of Harmonia.
And just like the other five before her, shortly after they set out, Lyna turned back to the others and went back over the mission details one last time to keep it fresh in their minds. "So our client this time are the Pixie Knight: Julia. According to this, Julia has been having trouble juggling her work and family duties, and needs to find a solution to the issue with her boss - the Sand Gambler: Jorgen - but normal attempts to negotiate have failed to help them come up with a solution. So she has requested we step in and act as mediators in this case to help them reach a mutually agreeable solution."
"Harmonia's pretty far right; almost half a day's journey?" Hiita reconfirmed.
Lyna nodded, "Right, which means this will be our first time spending the night outside the Charmer's Village."
"First night away from home, huh..." Hiita muttered while looking up at the sky, not a cloud in sight, and smiled. "Kind of exciting, don't you think partner?" She nudged Dharc.
"Not really- and I told you to stop calling me that." Dharc complained.
"Oh come on, you've gotta lighten up." Hiita replied, wrapping her arm around Dharc's shoulders.
Aussa and Eria shared a look and then held back laughter as Dharc pushed Hiita off him, remembering their consensus that complaining was how those two showed their affection for one another.
"What's funny?" Dharc raised an eyebrow when he noticed them.
"Nothing, nothing," Eria waved off his question.
"Just remembering something we talked about when you two ran off after class." Aussa added.
"Hm, what was it?" Hiita inquired.
But the two of them didn't dare actually tell them about it, fearing a negative reaction from them. "Not important; you probably wouldn't get it anyways."
Hiita seemed confused, but didn't pry further and Dharc had quickly stopped caring. Meanwhile Wynn and Lyna walked up front without engaging in that conversation. "You ready for this?" Wynn asked Lyna, making sure she wasn't too nervous or worried about doing a good job.
But Lyna nodded with confidence. "I'm ready, I know what do."

* * *

After a long journey that included stopping in a town on the way for lunch, the six young Charmers finally arrived in the city of Harmonia. Using the information in their request, Lyna led the way through the streets until they arrived at the Pixie Knight's listed address, knocked on the door, and waited for her to answer.
But when a minute passed and no one opened the door, Lyna had to knock again, a little louder. When another minute passed without the door opening, Lyna turned a confused expression to the others, but they just shrugged. Lyna reached up for the doorbell and rung twice and once again waited, but still there wasn't so much as a word from inside indicating that anyone was home.
"Is she out at work?" Eria voiced a thought.
"She should have been made aware of our approximate arrival time, but I guess it's possible." Lyna thought and rescanned the forms in her hands to see if a work address was listed, but didn't find one. "But whatever the reason, she doesn't seem to be home right now. What do we do in this situation?"
There was a short pause, but then Hiita gave a couple of suggestions with a shrug. "Early dinner? Or at least check-in at the hotel and try again?"
"Beats waiting for her in front of her house." Aussa concurred.
"Alright, let's find somewhere to eat." Lyna nodded, and the Charmers left Pixie Knight's home for now.
But just after turning to continue down the street, Aussa sensed something and suddenly spun around to figure out what it had been. "Aussa; what's wrong?" Eria asked her partner.
For a second, Aussa just scanned the surroundings. She had a number of detection spells cast at almost all time, and of them, two had just tried to warn her of someone or something having eyed them specifically. However, as she looked around, no one seemed to be looking over at them for more than a couple of seconds out of interest and recognition. "I'm not sure." She finally answered Eria. "Thought I sensed something..."
It wasn't as though her detection spells were perfect, they could be triggered on accident even when there was no actually danger. But Aussa didn't feel like this time was a coincidence when an their client had neglected to be home for the request she sent in.
However, Aussa forced herself to calm down when she couldn't find anything out of the ordinary. "It's nothing, false alarm." She told the rest, and they continued on.
The Charmers made their way to the city square where they found a number of restaurants to chose from. However, as they were trying to decide which one to eat at, Lyna caught sight of someone on the other side of the fountain in the middle of the square. She looked down at the request forms and back to confirm that the person she was seeing was in fact the Pixie Knight- their client.
"It's her," She told the others before hurrying around the square to reach her, and called out when she and the others got close. "Excuse me, Pixie Knight: Julia?"
Julia turned in their direction upon being called on and waited until they stopped in front of her. "Yes, that me. And you are... Oh! The Charmer Clan?" She sounded surprised upon realizing who they were.
"Yes, that's right." Lyna nodded. "My name is Lyna. We've come in response to you request, but you weren't at your house when we stopped by there." She explained, holding up the request forms in her hands.
However, Julia just looked bemused as she offered a nervous smile. "Uh, I'm sorry but... I have no idea what you're talking about." She told Lyna, and the six Charmers were stunned.
"What do you mean? We received a request under your name to act as mediators between you and your boss at work."
"Like I said, I don't know what you're talking about. I never sent a request in to the Charmer Clan." Julia insisted.
"So you mean this isn't you?" Wynn stepped in beside Lyna, taking the request forms from her and handing them to Julia herself.
Julia took them and read through the credentials, her expression growing more and more shocked and worried as she went on. "This is... all my private information."
"You see?"
"But I swear I didn't send this in!" Julia looked near a panic now. "I admit I've been having a little trouble balancing work and family lately like this says, but it hasn't gotten so bad I'd think to bother the Charmer Clan with it." She explained desperately, going through the credentials on the form over and over again, reconfirming that was really her information.
"But that would mean... what exactly?" Hiita questioned.
"Identity theft?" Julia muttered, mostly to herself.
"No, that can't be it." Eria shook her head.
And Lyna agreed with her. "If it was identity theft, they wouldn't have still left your home address. In fact, only your name and credentials would've been correct if that were the case, but this has your entire living situation down to a T as well, according to you."
"But then..." Julia wondered what someone was trying to accomplish using her name.
But before she could finish her question, a sudden and very bright light shined down on the square, drawing everyone's attention nearby. Julia and the Charmer's looked up with shielded eyes, but they went wide when they saw what the source of the light was.
"A summoning circle!?" Hiita raised his voice in surprise.
"Someone's launching an attack on the city?" Wynn feared that was the case.
"No," But Aussa saw through that. "With this kind of timing and placement, this was definitely meant for us!" She declared, and the others all stared at her in horror. "We've walked right into a trap!"
And then, Aussa's detections spells warned her of someone behind her again, and she turned around and this time saw someone standing in the shadows of an alley holding their hand up, obviously creating the summoning circle. Her suspicions from earlier were now confirmed, but that was in no way a good thing with the current situation.
She couldn't even worry about the summoner until something was done about the summoning itself. "We've got to stop the summoning, whatever it is." Aussa proclaimed and raised her magic staff into the air, casting an anti-summoning spell. But no sooner had she begun then was her spell negated and stopped in its tracks. "Dang it, they expected us to try that!"
And at that time, it was too late. The summoning circle in the air glowed its brightest and then shattered to leave the monster it brought to drop to the ground in front of them, crushing the fountain in the center of the square underneath it.
The Dragon that appeared reared its face and roared a deafening cry at them. "A dragon? What's up with this thing?" Hiita inquired as she looked at the dragon that seemed to have precious jewels embedded all over its body.
But Lyna looked nearly petrified at the sight of the dragon. "The Alexandrite Dragon?" She breathed. "I thought it was just a myth."
"What do we do?" Pixie Knight Julia yelled in fright from behind the Charmers.
"You need to get out of here, this thing could attack any second." Aussa told her, and then the Alexandrite Dragon roared again as it flapped its wings and lifted itself off the ground.
At that moment, a large ring of magical energy grew out along the ground to encompass the entire Square.
"It's challenging us to a Duel?" Dharc looked at the ring with confusion.
"Run, contact the Six Samurai!" Lyna ordered the Pixie Knight, and without any delay, she ran for cover to do as Lyna told her.
Unlike the Charmers, the Six Samurai Clans were not held within certain family lines and did not have one unified base. They were a police force that had numerous bases set up all over the world so that they might respond swiftly to any disaster such as this one. But that still left the six young Charmers squaring off against the Alexandrite Dragon were still currently in the danger zone, and it would still take some time for the Six Samurai to arrive.
And when they did not accept the challenge for a Duel right away, the Alexandrite Dragon took it out on the buildings next to it. Light dazzled and reflected off the jewels that had taken the position of scales on its body and concentrated as beams that cut and burned through the steel and brick of the structure. "We have to hold it here until the Six Samurai can get here so it can't do anything more to the city."
Dharc turned to his cousin. "You mean you want to accept the Duel?"
After a short pause, Aussa was the one that answered. "If we accept the Duel, we can keep it pinned here and stop it from damaging the city."
"Are you crazy!?" Eria grabbed Aussa's shoulder. "You know what Mistress Doriado told you!"
"She said I wouldn't be a match for people more experienced in duels than me." Aussa remembered, but shook off Eria's hand and stared up at the Alexandrite Dragon. "But this thing isn't even really sentient. It's just been ordered to challenge us.
"We can do this!" Aussa narrowed her eyes with determination.
"It's our only choice. We can't let the damage spread to the rest of the city." Lyna agreed with Aussa showing quite a bit more initiative and fierceness than usual, maybe due to the fact she was supposed to be in charge here. "We only have to hold out until the Six Samurai arrive anyways. Once they arrive we can surrender the Duel and let them take care of it."
"Alright, let's do it." Eria agreed.
Aussa and Lyna stepped forward and pointed their staves at the Alexandrite Dragon together as Aussa spoke. "Alright you glorified, oversized jewelry box...
"Duel!" She and the other Charmers all called out together, and in just a few seconds, the magical energy gathered around the square rose through the air to encase them and the Alexandrite Dragon within the square.
Aussa smirked with certainty that she could Duel well enough to overcome this Dragon. But just a second after the Duel was initiated and the Alexandrite Dragon was sealed in with them, it roared yet again and everything about their situation was turned on its head.
With that roar, the magical energy that create the field for their Duel changed. Starting at the ground and quickly working its way up, the light, transparent color of the barrier was turned dark and thick, all but blocking out light from outside. And because of what that meant, the Charmer's expression all became extremely grim.
"No way..." Lyna muttered in disbelief, stepping back and looking up at the last of the regular Duel barrier was swallowed up by this darker one.
In complete horror and despair, Aussa muttered to herself what this was. "...Shadow Duel?"
In reality, they probably should have seen this coming when they realized it was a trap. But the Alexandrite's threat to the city forced them too act too quickly to reach that obvious conclusion before it happened. Now they had been sucked into a Shadow Duel, a perversion of the normally accepted Dueling method.
Because in a Shadow Duel, the normal rules that usually applied to Duels were turned on their heads, starting with the fact that a mutual decision to begin one did not need to exist. But more importantly, surrender was no longer an option. Unlike a normal Duel where one could simply admit defeat to stop the fight, a Shadow Duel would not allow the battle to end that simply. Nothing could be done to prematurely end a Shadow Duel, which left any that found themselves drawn into one - including the one that initiated it - only one means of escape.
The Shadow Duel would only end once one side of the Duel had been killed. And that meant that even when the Six Samurai arrived, they would not be able to intervene. The Charmers were now on their own and it was kill or be killed. Either the six of them would have to overcome the Alexandrite Dragon on their own, or it would be all over for them.
But the mere fact they had been pulled into a life or death Shadow Duel on its own was breaking their confidence. They may have been supernatural lords of the elements, but they were still just kids. They didn't have the kind of strength their siblings would that allowed them to stare into the face of their own death without blinking. When they were confronted with a harsh reality like this, they would break.
The Charmers trembled. Their knees shook and wanted to give out. Even Hiita, the most headstrong of them all took a step back in fright. But when she did, she felt a hand suddenly and firmly grab her shoulder as if trying to support her. She turned around to see Dharc giving her a 'what are waiting for?' kind of look.
"Dharc...?" Hiita muttered.
"Are you about to back down now of all times?" He asked her. Dharc did not seem to be afraid. He alone was not shaking in the face of this Shadow Duel.
Hiita didn't know why that was, but it helped get her confidence back. Her knees stopped shaking and she took two steps forward as if trying to specifically negate and reverse her pathetic step back.
From there, Hiita raised her voice and screamed as loud as she could to get the attention of the others. "Hey, what are we doing?" She questioned the other four. "Just because this is a Shadow Duel, that doesn't make this thing any stronger does it?"
Hiita pointed her staff at the Alexandrite Dragon accusingly, which had dropped back down to the ground and seemed to be waiting for them to make the first move.
"Where'd that confidence in you Dueling skills go Aussa?" She turned on their smartest member specifically, turning to give her the same look Dharc had given her. "You just going to stand there trembling? Or are you going to show this thing what you're really made of?"
Asked that, Aussa felt a sudden burst of adrenaline shoot through her body as confidence returned to her in an instant. Hiita was absolutely right. This may have been a Shadow Duel where their lives were legitimately on the line, but it was still a Duel that she had been sure she could handle. So long as she could pull out over the Alexandrite Dragon, there was nothing to be afraid of.
Aussa regained her will to fight and turned to Eria, looking her in the eye as if to share that will with her. Eria saw her strength and hardened her expression as well. The two of them then looked to Lyna and Wynn, who nodded in agreement as well, strength filling them again as well. Together, the six Charmers looked forward with renewed determination.
They were on their own, but they still believed they could do this. "Let's Duel," Aussa spoke, and then began to direct the rest of the Charmers on what to do. "Lyna, Wynn, try to get in close. Eria and I will handle your defense, just get as close as you can. Dharc, Hiita: you two give them cover fire. Draw the Alexandrite's attention."
Each Charmer nodded when given their task, and once they were all given, the six Charmers made their move. Side by side, Lyna and Wynn ran at the Alexandrite Dragon while the other four all stayed back and began channeling magic through their staves. The Alexandrite focused its gaze on the two approaching it and roared as light was focused in the jewels on its back and turned to beams that shot at the youngest Charmers.
But the two of them did not even slow down their approach, and before the beams of light could reach them, Aussa smashed her staff into the ground, and the earth rose up on her friends sides, coming together in an arc over their heads the defended them from the Alexandrite's attacks as they passed under it, and the shower of lights was over by the time they came out the other end, already having the distance to the dragon.
At that time, Dharc and Hiita aimed their staffs at the Alexandrite and began shooting off their magic rapid fire, focusing on making their attacks numerous rather than powerful. The shots of fire and darkness collided with the Alexandrite and made it reel back slightly, but when it pushed back, it didn't try to focus it's next attack on the two of them as they had expected.
Instead, the Alexandrite remained focused on the two getting closer and closer to it. Once again, light was collected and unleashed from the priceless jewels embedded in its body and directed at Lyna and Wynn.
"Bubble Bringer!" With a quick shout from Eria, she unleashed one of her spells and huge bubbles filled the space around the Alexandrite Dragon as it used its attack.
The magic bubble took in the numerous beams of light and randomly redirected their path. The Alexandrite's aim was skewed only slightly however, so while Lyna and Wynn were not directly struck by the beams, they still struck nearby and tossed rubble into the air, forcing them to come to a stop and guard their faces.
"Hey! Over here, you walking disco ball!" Hiita yelled at the Alexandrite Dragon to get its attention as she held one hand pressed against Dharc's and a sphere of black flames charged between their outstretched staves. "Try this one on for size!"
At that moment, the two Charmer's unleashed their combo attack and the black flames raged for the Alexandrite Dragon. This time - thanks to making the attack as powerful as they could - when the black flames covered the Alexandrite's body, it roared with pain and stumbled. Even as Hiita and Dharc ceased the strike, the black flames covering it continued to burn into it, and having it's elemental opposite mixed in made the attack all the more effective.
And when the Alexandrite retaliated, it turned its head toward Hiita and Dharc and began charging a breath attack, which would be far more powerful than its previous ones. Even with Eria's Bubble Bringer spell still active, it would not divert the breath's path enough to make it miss, and the radius would be too big for Hiita and Dharc to try and simply dodge.
"Dharc, you're move!" Aussa called out, knowing everyone's available techniques and tools. Dharc quickly stepped in front of Hiita and held his staff up sideways with both hands as he prepared the technique that could be activated the fastest.
For the more specific spells that were meant to be used in Duels like these, there was a certain amount of charge time before its actual activation. Even Eria's Bubble Bringer had barely charged in time to protect Lyna and Wynn. The spell Dharc was charging now was not to complex, but it would still take a moment longer than the Alexandrite's attack unless it was stalled for a second or two.
And so Aussa and Eria poured as much magic as they could manage into a single second and struck the ground with their staves. Just as the Alexandrite Dragon unleashed it's breath of light, two huge walls of ice and earth respectively shot up from the ground between it and Dharc. It took less than five second for the powerful attack to break through them both, but it had been enough.
"Negate Attack!" Dharc called out, and a spiraling vortex of darkness appeared in front of him, drawing in the Alexandrite's breath attack and eating it away into nothing.
No matter how powerful the attack, the special rules of a Duel meant that it could be negated with that right kind of techniques. Meanwhile, the Alexandrite Dragon had yet to do anything other than attack, supporting the thought that even Aussa's 'average' skill in Dueling would allow them to come out on top.
And by the time the Alexandrite's breath attack was absorbed, Wynn and Lyna had managed to get in close. They touched their hands together and then held their staves straight up, unleashing their own combo move. In just a few seconds, a shining gust of wind picked up around the Alexandrite, the wind grew until it had half surrounded the dragon and the powerful wind of light blew out what was left of Hiita and Dharc's black flames.
In this case, due to the attack being part light, the Alexandrite Dragon was stronger to the wind, but it still dealt damage. The Alexandrite Dragon reared its head up and roared in pain, and the Charmers felt like they were closing in on victory. However, just as they began wanting to pat themselves on the back, the Alexandrite Dragon held its wings high and for the first time prepared to use a technique of its own.
Aussa noticed first and tried to warn Lyna and Wynn who were in the danger zone for what it would do. "Lyna, Wynn, get back!"
But as soon as Aussa finished speaking, the Alexandrite's wings came down hard and picked up a tremendously powerful wind. The technique it had used was the Mystical Space Typhoon. It was one of the most basic techniques that nearly anyone could learn, but that didn't mean it wasn't effective. With the sudden force of the Typhoon, Wynn and Lyna were both picked up off their feet, tossed around in the swirling air, and thrown away to either side of the Alexandrite Dragon, their backs hitting the dark barrier of the Shadow Duel before collapsing on the ground.
And to top it off, the Mystical Space Typhoon even tore Eria's Bubble Binger to shreds, meaning the Alexandrite's attack accuracy would no longer be impaired. And once the powerful winds of the Typhoon vanished, the jewels on its back once again collected and shot out light.
But this time, the beams of light were not directed at just one of the pairs. Instead, the Alexandrite shot the beams in all directions to strike all six Charmers at the same time. Having just been knocked around, Lyna and Wynn were unable to react and having beams sent at everyone meant that the other four would barely be able to defend themselves, much less the two of them.
And yet despite that likely being true, they all tried their best to do so anyways. "Eria, Dharc, protect them!" Aussa shout out the order, and in the same moment, all four of them put as much magic as they could into defense.
They didn't have the time to charge more powerful techniques, so their barriers were each simple elemental barriers. Dharc and Eria cast protective barriers around Lyna and Wynn respectively while Hiita and Aussa handled doing the same around them and their partners. But with the simplicity of their defenses combined with how much magic they had already been forced to use because of the overwhelming power of their enemy, their shields this time were weaker and all four were pierced, striking all the Charmers and knocking them down if they weren't down already.
And like that, much of the Charmer's confidence was broken. Aussa struggled onto her hands and knees and looked at the Alexandrite Dragon with one eye squeezed shut. "This thing's too powerful. If we go on like this, we're going to completely run out of magic..."
"Then think, Aussa!" Eria quickly pulled her partner away from her pessimistic train of thought. "If it's too powerful, we need a way to take it down a peg or two. We have something for that right?"
Aussa recalled the spell Eria was hinting to, but it wasn't enough. "But that would take too long to charge!"
"Then make time. Remember what Mistress Doriado told us; you need to think ahead and make your tools and skills work together in the right way. And this time you have all of us here too, we have more options. Think it through Aussa, I know you can do this." Eria encouraged her partner while Hiita and Dharc had gotten back to their feet and were trying to distract the Alexandrite Dragon again.
Aussa thought it through. To use the skill Eria had suggested, she would need time. They could make time, but to keep it in place, they also had to be able to deal with the Alexandrite's Mystical Space Typhoon and maybe other things it might have, even though Aussa found it unlikely the non-sentient dragon would be able to use more complex skills or tools.
And when Aussa realized they could even do that, all that left would be getting in that final blow, and she also knew just how they could that. Aussa grinned as the plan perfectly unfolded in her mind, and then pushed herself back up to her feet, with Eria getting up right after her. "Now let's finish this."
Aussa nodded to her partner. "Hiita!" Aussa called out, and Hiita turned to hear what the plan was. "Get your sword ready; you're dealing the final blow, got it?"
Hiita perked her eyebrows up as if surprised for a second, but quickly smiled as she was satisfied with that kind of role. With a quick nod, Hiita turned her staff upside down and let the head sit on the ground, holding it on its other end as she prepared to summon her special tool.
Next, Aussa called out as Lyna and Wynn struggled back to their feet. "Lyna! I need you to stop the Alexandrite's movements. Wynn, I need you ready to stop any tricks it might try to pull." The two of them were the most severely damaged of the six, but they still understood what needed to be done and nodded back to Aussa. And lastly, she addressed Eria and Dharc. "Eria, Dharc; Charge in and draw its attention for just a few seconds for Lyna."
Without hesitation, Eria and Dharc did as ordered and ran straight for the Alexandrite Dragon. They didn't need to attack, all they had to do was keep the Alexandrite focused on them. They were already running low on magic due to how much they had to put in for every move they made, so even they defenses wouldn't be too effective.
And that was why the two of them were already channeling all their magic into their staves to be used for that final block. After this move, the two of them would be at practically zero magic. They couldn't afford to mess up this final team play. If they did, they would be as good as dead.
The Alexandrite turned its focus on those coming at it just like when it was Wynn and Lyna as expected. With another roar, the jewels on its back once more lit up and shot out beams of light at Eria and Dharc. Eria tightened her grip on her staff and waited for the last second to cast the barrier, but...
Suddenly, Dharc cut in front of her and made her stop. "We need as much time as possible." He said as he cast his own barrier around the both of them.
The Alexandrite's attack struck a moment later, were held back by Dharc's barrier for just a second, and then bust through. Dharc took on the beams himself and was knocked back. "Dharc-"
"Keep going!" Dharc stopped Eria from worrying about him. He would have taken this damage whether he'd jumped in front of her or not, but the sacrificial element of doing so made it seem more significant.
In a way, it impressed Eria that Dharc had done that; such a far cry from the old him that barely even looked at anyone but Lyna. And so Eria absolutely couldn't let it go to waste. As Dharc's back hit the ground, Eria charged forward and began channeling every last drop of magic she had into her staff expecting that after its weaker move finished, it would go on to use its breath.
And she guess right. Having gotten as close as she had, the Alexandrite moved up to its stronger attack as light began charging in its maw. When Eria saw this, she stopped approaching and waited for the last second to put up her defense.
The Alexandrite unleashed its breath attack and the raging light roared out. But just as Eria was about to put up her barrier, she realized the attack was not aimed at her at all. Instead, it was aimed at Aussa. The reason behind this when Aussa wasn't even attacking it like when the Alexandrite Dragon had turned that breath on Hiita and Dharc was a mystery, but Eria had to protect her for the plan to work.
"Aussa!" To protect her partner, Eria slammed her staff into the ground and summoned not just one, but three thick barriers of ice around Aussa to defend her, but fell to her knee immediately afterwards due to being drained of magic.
The powerful attack engulfed the barriers, but did not immediately break through them. Each barrier took barely more than a second to shatter, but just before the last one was broken through, Lyna's voice filled the space as she finished charging her spell. "Swords of Revealing Light!" She desperately cried out to reach in time.
Holding her arms spread wide, huge swords of pure light appeared around and then stabbed into the Alexandrite. The swords did no actual damage, but instead were a binding spell that would stop the dragon from continuing its attack. It's breath cut off and the last light of the ray weakened as it broke through Eria's final barrier, and with just its final remnants, didn't even hold enough punch behind it to knock Aussa off her feet, much less break her concentration channeling her spell.
The Alexandrite shrieked as its struggled against the binding swords of light, but as a spell made for use in a duel like the Negate Attack and Bubble Bringer spells, power and force alone wouldn't be able to break it. When the Alexandrite realized it's simple struggle wasn't working, it resorted to the technique it knew would.
As raised its wings up high to once again use the Mystical Space Typhoon, Wynn took her cue and pressed both her hands to the ground. The Alexandrite's wings came crashing down and tried to unleash the powerful winds that would shatter even the Swords of Revealing Light like glass, but at the same time, a magic circle appeared below it summoned by Wynn and absorbed the massive winds before they could even truly pick up. "Magic Jammer!"
The Mystical Space Typhoon had been stopped and the Alexandrite Dragon was still bound by the Swords of Revealing Light. With everything set up, Aussa finished charging her decisive spell. Holding her hands out in front of her in a circle lined up with the Alexandrite Dragon. "Miniaturize!"
A wave of magic poured over the Alexandrite and began pressing in on it painfully. As it roared out, its form physically began to shrink down, which would also minimize its power. "Alright then, my turn." Hiita called out.
Tightening her grip on her upside down staff, it was surrounded by flames as Hiita ran for the Alexandrite Dragon full speed. One of the swords of light keeping the dragon from attacking back vanished as the time passed, but neither Hiita nor any of the other Charmers were worried about it giving out too soon.
Hiita's staff had been surrounded by flames, but when those flames vanished to show the form underneath, it had been switched out for a different weapon, a sword brimmed with flames with the character for Flame etched onto its side.
"Salamandra!" Hiita called its name.
Salamandra, a sword that could only be wielded by FIRE monsters. The sword Hiita held may have only been a replica of the true legendary blade, but it held plenty of power to grant its user regardless.
With that power adding to her own, Hiita now had the strength necessary to destroy the Alexandrite Dragon which had been shrunk and weakened by Aussa's spell. The Fire Charmer held Salamandra firm with both hands as she came right up to the dragon and swung the burning blade in an upwards arc, driving into the belly of the Alexandrite Dragon while it was still bound by Lyna's spell.
With no means of fighting back, the Alexandrite could only shriek in pain as the Salamandra was driven further and further into its body. "You're finished!" Hiita exclaimed, and with one last push, shoved the whole of Salamandra's blade into the Alexandrite's gut before fully unleashing the power the sword, fire raging out from its edge through every inch of the Alexandrite's body, roasting it to death from the inside out.
And when the flames grew large enough, the burst out from the Alexandrite's body all over, and it exploded like a firework, scattering the precious jewels that had been embedded in its body all over. But with that, the battle was over. The dark barrier of the Shadow Duel dissolved around them, Hiita's Salamandra was replaced by her original staff, and any Charmer that was still standing stumbled in exhaustion, using their staves to support themselves as they tried to catch their breath.
Once the Shadow Duel's barrier fully dissolve, the Six Samurai that had meant to deal with the Alexandrite Dragon immediate raced over to the Charmers to give them aid. "Are you alright?" One of them asked Aussa.
She managed a smile at the Samurai. "Yeah, pretty bruised I guess, but mostly just drained. I've got almost no magic left." She explained, looking down at her hands, not even having enough magic to keep up her usual detection spells.
She attempted to get back to her feet, but found herself too exhausted and collapsed back to her knees. "We need to get these kids to the hospital now!" Six Samurai Zanji called back toward the crowd, and hospital staff hurried over to each Charmer with stretchers.

* * *

And close by, still keeping to the shadows of the alleyways, the one that had summoned the Alexandrite Dragon listened to a voice being communicated to him by a small creature hovering next to him. "Things didn't go exactly as predicted, did they Master?"
"I suppose not, but I knew the info Aqua Madoor supplied me wouldn't allow for perfect accuracy." The man spoke in a carefree tone back to the one on the other end of the connection. "But the plan hasn't changed. The fact that you're speaking in a human tongue right now tells me you understand that."
"Of course, Master. I'll carry out my part as flawlessly as I can."
"I await a favorable report from you. Good luck." The man told his subordinate before spreading the wings on his back, wrapping them around him, and vanished from the city of Harmonia in a short burst of light.

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Hippocampus
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Age : 25
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Name: Theodore Tsakiris
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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Sat Aug 29, 2015 11:49 am

Hohoho, this was a long chapter. I'm not sure I'm sold on the idea of the Charmers dueling, tbh. It does add dimension to the normal battles, but it also adds a thick layer of cheese, if you get my drift Razz

Still, though, it's good to see the plot coming along nicely. Now we know the antagonist has followers. And Six Samurai acting as police force was... interesting too. lol

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Binding Dharc
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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Mon Mar 28, 2016 11:19 am

Chapter 9: Set Up
It had been three days since the disaster at Harmonia City, and the Charmer's families had been livid at the news of what happened. After being lectured of course, everyone was just happy they were all still alive. But the incident also meant that the Charmer's would no longer be taking on any of these missions.
They had to count themselves lucky that the Alexandrite Dragon was a low level, non-sentient creature, had it been any stronger, they probably wouldn't have had a chance. But the fact that they had no leads on whom had summoned the dragon meant that the Clan had to be especially careful from now on when selecting what requests to accept.
In that way though, the attack was like a blessing in disguise. With the legitimate reason to be more picky with missions for a while, it meant that Milla and Ariel would have less trouble with their jobs for a while; and that in turn would ease the worries of the Charmers that had wanted to help them out as much as possible.
With the burden of missions lifted off their shoulders, the six youngest Charmers once again devoted themselves to their training with Doriado. They were still in the middle of learning how to properly Duel, and the events at Harmonia City made each and every one of them take the lessons more seriously than ever. If something like that ever happened to them again in the future, they knew they had to be capable of completely controlling the flow of battle from start to finish. Narrow victories like the one against the Alexandrite Dragon simply wouldn't happen against a more serious and experienced opponent.
Because of that powerful drive, Mistress Doriado saw their comprehension of her lessons sharply increase. They were listening more intently and immediately double checking anything they weren't sure about rather than trying and waiting for her to correct their mistakes. Their drive to learn proper Dueling strategy even made Doriado consider adjusting her usual curriculum to continue directly into more complicated Dueling mechanics instead of switching tracks to focus on other lessons before returning to Dueling later on in order to keep that drive alive.
But she would decide on that later. For now, she kept her focus on making sure they understood their current lessons wholly and completely. At the end of another class, another mock Duel between Hiita and Aussa drew to close. Hit with a well-timed binding spell, Hiita was left wide open for Aussa to deliver the final strike that ended the match.
"Man! I lost again." As per usual, Hiita complained at her failure to come out on top, but despite that, she actually seemed more happy than upset.
The reason for that was simple to understand when one looked at the one that just beat her. Unlike in their first few days of Dueling - when Aussa had dominated the field easily and without trouble - now the Earth Charmer could be seen gasping for breath. The fact that Hiita - whom had confessed to Dueling going over her head not three days prior - had reduced Aussa to that state spoke volumes of just how much she had improved.
The same went for the other Charmers as well. While Aussa's winning streak had yet to be broken, there was no longer a single one of them that couldn't push her to her limits, and the winner of mock Duels between the rest of them could never be guessed at.
There was no longer a Duel any of them came out of without feeling accomplished; and that sense of achievement only strengthened their drive to continue these lessons. Both smiling, Aussa helped Hiita back to her feet and turned back to Mistress Doriado as the others came up to stand beside them.
"You all did extremely well today, you should all be proud." Mistress Doriado told them. "We'll end class here today, and tomorrow we will conclude lessons on Dueling basics. You are dismissed."
The young Charmers then turned and made their way out of the school building, patting each other on the back for their hard work. In addition to everything else that came as a result of the Alexandrite Dragon's attack, the six Charmers all seemed to have bonded and become even closer than ever before. Perhaps it was the pride in the victory over a common enemy, or maybe the simple camaraderie of having fought a true life-or-death battle side-by-side and the knowledge that whatever they did or said to one another, at the end of the day, they had each others' backs. But whatever the reason was, the six young Charmers were all but inseparable now.
Saying their daily goodbyes outside their school building, the Charmers split off from each other and heading back to their homes. And part way through his walk, Dharc came to a stop a looked around himself, suddenly wary. "Who's there?" He asked.
For a second, there was silence, but then a voice replied. "I'm surprised you noticed me following you."
Dharc narrowed his eyes as he scanned every direction, but couldn't find the person that was talking. "We had some trouble recently with someone lurking in shadows, so Aussa taught us all a simple detection spell that alerts us when someone keeps their eyes on our back too long."
"I see," The voice called back. "This is a bit of a problem, but I'm nothing if not adaptable." The person added, and then laughed like they had said something funny.
"Who are you; how did you get inside the village?" Dharc questioned his tail, hoping to lure him out.
But no answer came. Instead, after a moment of silence, Dharc heard a snap and the street around him was suddenly shrouded in darkness that hid everything around him from view. The next thing Dharc knew, he was down. No pretense, no warning, no hesitation, and no mercy; he was rendered unconscious before he even knew what hit him.
And when the darkness dissipated, the one standing over an unconscious Dharc was... Dharc. "Now then, time to get to work." The person with Dharc's appearance muttered to himself, and then bent down to pick up the unconscious Dharc to hide away.

* * *

Wynn arrived at her home, and upon opening the front door quickly ran into Caam, who was looking over some papers in her hand. "Oh, welcome back Wynn."
"Hi Caam," Wynn greeted her sister. "What are you doing?"
"Just working on an idea I had." Caam folded up the papers to tuck into her pocket. "Still working on Dueling in class?"
Wynn nodded. "Mistress Doriado said that we'll finish with the basics tomorrow."
"Good for you. I know you've all been working really hard since you got back from Harmonia, but you must be relieved that you moving past this for now."
"Well, maybe a little." Wynn admitted. As much as she and the others had come to enjoy Dueling, it would be nice to finally start on something else. "Is Kamui home?"
"Afraid not, he and Reeze left for a mission just after you went to class." Caam answered. "But I'd be more than willing to gauge your skill today, if you'd like."
The last few days, Wynn had come home and done an extra mock Duel against Kamui for extra practice and to see where she stacked up to her more experienced brother. Wynn considered taking Caam up on her offer to take his place, but shook her head no. "I think I'm going to take a nap before dinner. I'll let you get back to working on your idea."
Caam nodded and the two walked away from the front door. And after they were out of view, the front door was opened again by someone else. Slipping in quietly, the fake Dharc closed the door behind him and hurried down the hall in the opposite direction that Caam and Wynn had gone. The WIND family mansion was large, but it didn't take long for the imposter to find what he was looking for.
Finding a small staircase going down, the imposter slipped into the shadows and opened the door at the bottom to a small room filled with all kinds of documents and papers. "The secrets of the WIND family." The imposter said to himself as he looked around at the treasure trove of information.
The imposter smirked, but quickly shook the pleased expression from his face, knowing his job was far from over, and he didn't have much time. He had to make sure he achieved his objective before the real Dharc woke up and blew his cover, which meant that at best the imposter had a little more than an hour to get out of here and back to where he'd hid him.
Thinking that, he reached out to grab one of the notebooks on the shelf to his right, but a laid in spell rejected him and pushed his hand away with a sting of pain. "Trust the Charmer Clan to be this prepared." The imposter noted as he shook his hand.
The fake Dharc looked around the small Study again and set aside the real Dharc's staff as he pondered how he might be able to bypass the protection spell guarding the information, and had an idea he tested out by grabbing the ink bottle that sat on the desk in front of him and dumping some of it at the shelf of documents. To his surprise though, even just the ink was kept at bay by the protection spell.
Getting a little more creative, the imposter picked up the quill pen from the desk as well and dipped it in what was left of the ink. He then lifted the pen and tried to mark some loose pages without picking them up. The pen touched the paper, but was subsequently pushed away just like the ink. But without becoming discouraged, the imposter took a close look at the paper he'd tried to mark and saw that despite the pen being rejected, the small touch he'd made did in fact leave behind a dot of ink.
Seeing that, he tried once again to write on the paper with the pen, but it was once again rejected, despite leaving another tiny dot. "So much for finding a loop hole." He muttered and tossed the ink bottle and pen aside before looking nervously at the door.
Cracking his neck, the imposter gave up the idea of bypassing the protection spell and instead lifted his hand up directly in front of the documents and started trying to break the spell altogether. Using his borrowed abilities, the imposter mustered all the energy he could and let it sear into the protection spell. The spell visibly reacted and fought against the imposters attempt to break through, but he didn't stop and continuously pushed his energy against it while keeping an ear out for any of the WIND Charmers passing by outside.

* * *

But the imposter was unaware of the full function of the spells protecting the information within the Study. After his third attempt to breach the spell, an alarm lit up in the Tribute Charmer's office. And when the red alert went on Windaar's desk, he looked up at his office door with confusion.
Standing up calmly, he took a step out and saw Winda passing by. "Winda, do you know who's in the Study right now?"
"Hm," Winda stopped when addressed by her brother. "Nope, Dad's upstairs though, so either Wynn got back or its Caam."
"Can you go check? The alarm for the Study just started flashing."
"Sure thing, bro. You get back to work." Winda said and set off towards the Study at a fast walk.
But half way, she turned a corner and nearly ran into Caam. "Wow; what's got you in such a rush, Sis?"
"Um... do you know if Wynn came home yet?" Winda questioned.
"Just a few minutes ago actually. She said she was going to take a nap though; do you need her for something?" Caam inquired.
But that made Winda grow nervous. It appeared that none of the WIND Charmers were in the Study right now, and yet the alarm had gone off. "Caam, something's not right. We need to secure the Study, now." Winda told her sister, and pulled her staff off her back to make it clear the potential threat.
Caam followed after Winda as they hurried over to the Study and came to stand on either side of the staircase that led into it. Winda put a finger to her lips to signal Caam to be as quiet as possible and then slowly crept down the stairs.
But inside the Study, Dharc's imposter heard the approach of two individuals down the stairs and stopped trying to break the protection of the Gusto family secrets. He picked up Dharc's staff and held it out in front of him as he faced the door. "Guess that's my cue." He whispered to himself, and took a deep breath before reaching his free hand out to grab the doorknob.
The imposter opened the door, and as he did used a spell to cast a shroud of darkness up the stairs and through the hall, concealing himself and catching the two Gusto sisters by surprise. Like with Dharc, the imposter gave no sign of his approach, and struck Caam before she could do anything.
She didn't lose consciousness like Dharc had, but the imposter didn't miss a beat and spun his staff around to strike Winda as well. The eldest daughter of the Gusto family however caught the staff before it could strike its mark despite the darkness clouding her sight and then cast De-Spell to shatter it and bring light back to the hall.
Winda then addressed the intruder as she opened her eyes back up to look at him. "Alright, let's see who-" But when she saw Dharc's face looking back at her, she froze.
Using that moment, Dharc's imposter raised his fist and struck Winda's jaw. The blow made her release his staff so he could bolt up the stairs and then break through the window directly in front of him. Even as Winda and Caam recovered themselves and raced to the window as well, the imposter didn't waste even a second as he rolled back to his feet and began running away at full speed without looking back.
"Was that..." Caam couldn't believe her eyes as she stared out the shattered window as the person she could only register as Dharc.
But with a clenched fist and jaw, Winda waited only a second longer before leaping out the window after him. And as she fell through the air, she drew in as much air as she could into her lungs, pulled out a whistle from her coat pocket, and blew. With a piercing screech, the whistle sounded throughout the whole village in alert.
In every corner of the village, each Charmer family heard its cry and stopped whatever they were doing while Winda psychically relayed the situation to the rest of the Gusto family, save Wynn. (Reporting break in at the Study. Currently in pursuit of suspect on the run East Northeast. Uncertain what information - if any - he may have stolen. Requesting assistance to corner and capture suspect. The target...) But Winda paused and bit down on her lip before forcing herself to indict the boy she was chasing. (...is Dharc: The Dark Charmer.)
Winda wasn't sure how the others would react to her saying that, but she couldn't sugarcoat what she was seeing, and that's why she wanted to catch Dharc as fast as possible. No one would want to believe Dharc was doing this of his own volition, Winda included, but if he got away from them, they may not be able to prove otherwise. If there was any chance to pull Dharc out of whatever this was, it was by catching him as fast as possible.
And so as she chased Dharc and used her magic to set off a burst of wind at her feet to propel herself forward just when Dharc turned a corner. Winda's foot hit the ground at the corner and she lunged at him, but just before her hand reached him, a spell set in advance activated and threw her off her feet into a far wall behind her.
Then, Winda's familiar Gulldo flew in next to her. "Go!" She ordered urgently. "Don't let Dharc out of your sight."
Gulldo did as ordered and took to the sky, getting an overhead view on Dharc's imposter. Caam came running just a second later as Winda got back to her feet and tried to shake the ache of having been thrown into a wall. But she understood what had to take priority and rushed around the corner without pausing for even a second to ask if she was okay.
Meanwhile, Dharc's imposter retraced his steps back to the place he had left Dharc, but he still had to make sure he wasn't seen when he finally made his escape. And so when he checked overhead to see one of the Gusto familiars tracking him, he charged an attack and launched it up at the bird with frightening speed and accuracy. Gulldo cried out Dharc's current position just before being struck out of the sky, and when Caam heard, she used her wind magic to shot herself into the air and then soar down to cut him off.
Dharc's imposter didn't even slow down and instead swung his staff at the Gusto. But Caam was ready this time and blocked with one arm while swinging her staff in the other to call up a rush of wind that sent him onto his back. The imposter continued with the momentum of his slide and flipped back to his feet before running around the closest corner to continue his escape.
"Stop!" Caam shouted and continued to chase after him, also seeing both Winda and Windaar make their way towards her.
(I'll circle around and cut him off.) Windaar announced psychically as Caam disappeared around the corner. (Don't lose sight of him.) He added to Winda, and she turned the corner after Caam while he continued further down by himself.
Winda caught up with Caam but was motioned by her sister to stick behind her. In the event Dharc happened to have any other traps waiting for them, they couldn't let both of them get caught up in it. But since they knew Windaar was trying to cut him off, all they needed to make sure of was that they kept eyes on Dharc while psychically relaying the direction he was heading to their brother.
Dharc's imposter gritted his teeth as he could hear the two Gustos close behind him, but didn't look back as he rounded each corner he came across to keep them on their toes. But after the fourth turn, he acted and jumped up, twisted himself in a full circle to launch a quick wave of magic at the Gusto sisters and keep running as he touched back down on the ground. Caam had to stop and used her own magic to cancel out Dharc's and in doing so allow Winda to run ahead unimpeded even as they confirmed that their brother was already in place.
Dharc's imposter rounded the next corner, but finally drew himself to a stop when he saw Windaar in front of him, who also stopped himself just short of one more side road between them. Windaar narrowed his eyes at the imposter before him and waited until Winda and Caam rounded the corner as well, surrounding their target.
The imposter turned around and jumped away from Winda and Caam when they got behind him, but now he was right between the three of them, and if he did anything sudden, they wouldn't hesitate. "Do not move, Dharc." Windaar warned the imposter, drawing his attention back to him.
But as Winda and Caam took slow steps towards him, Dharc's imposter likewise moved away from them, even though that action was also putting him closer to Windaar. His eyes darted left and right and up as if searching for some way out, but when Winda noticed, she addressed him as well. "You're out of options, so don't make this any worse than it already is."
But Dharc's imposter wasn't trying to find a way out, he was just making it look like he was while making sure everything was in its proper place. Once he had, he tightened his grip on the staff in his hand and took one more step backwards.
And when he did, a spell set up there activated underneath him, and his eyes widened with feigned shock and looked like he was about to yell out before the same Senet Switch spell that Winda had trigger at the start of the chase activated again and threw him onto the side road and out of sight.
The Gustos were momentarily stunned at what just happened, but when they heard Dharc grunt from hitting the ground, they ran around the corner to find him trying to push himself up from the ground with his staff just in front of him. He reached out and grabbed the staff, but that was when Winda's voice cut him off from behind.
"Stop! Do not move an inch!" She ordered him strictly.
But the Dharc in front of the Gusto siblings now was no longer the imposter they had been chasing. Having set up an escape route ahead of time, he was now long gone, leaving the real Dark Charmer behind to take the blame. And having only just woken back up when something hit his head, Dharc was unaware of any of this and instead jolted around to face Winda in hopes to explain what had happened before he'd been knocked unconscious. "Winda, I-"
"Stop!" Winda cut him off angrily though, surprising him. "I told you not to make this any worse." She repeated while pointing her magic staff towards him threateningly.
But Dharc was only lost in confusion, left wondering what she was talking about. Finally, Windaar walked up to him, also holding out his staff, and spoke. "Dharc, you are hereby under arrest for breaking-and-entering, attempted theft, and attempted treason against the Charmer Clan."
Windaar's words completely paralyzed Dharc with fear and shock. Theft? Treason? Those accusations were enough to make even the usually stoic Dharc break out in a nervous sweat. Something had definitely happened while he was knocked out, and whatever it had been, he was being used as the fall guy. He'd been set up, and he had absolutely no idea how.

* * *

And somewhere far away from the Charmer village, a rift in space opened up to let through Dharc's imposter as he fell onto the rocky ground of the dark cave before the rift automatically closed back up. He hadn't taken many hits, so the imposter quickly sat back up and brushed off the minor aches he had with a smile.
And as he did, his master addressed him from a chair carved out of stone behind him. "Welcome back, You're a little early, but I trust everything went well?"
Broadening his smile, Dharc's imposter rose to his feet and faced the man he worked for and reported proudly. "Aside from the hastened start, I'd like to say it went off without a hitch."
"Excellent," The imposter's master reveled in that news. "So you are certain there is no way for the Charmer's to uncover what really happened today?"
"I'm sure, Master. Nothing short of a miracle could save that boy now."
"Then phase two is a complete success."
"And it'll be nice to finally get out of this skin." The imposter noted, pulling at his own cheek as he prepared to drop his disguise.
But his master raised a hand to stop him. "Now don't be in such a rush. That form of yours could still prove useful; so let's keep the disguise on a while longer, okay?"
The imposter looked disappointed to not be able to return to his true form, but he bowed obediently without complaint. "Understood, Master."
"Good boy, now we shall wait patiently for our opportunity to strike."

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Tue Mar 29, 2016 9:41 am

The tension!!!! Oh, the tension!!!!!

This was a good chapter, Dharc, not kidding. It has a nice balance of mystery and action, and it's good that the Gustos are getting some limelight now too. I sort of have a guess about who the villains are, but I'll wait to be surprised until they actually get revealed.

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Tue Mar 29, 2016 10:51 pm

Hippocampus wrote:

The tension!!!! Oh, the tension!!!!!

This was a good chapter, Dharc, not kidding. It has a nice balance of mystery and action, and it's good that the Gustos are getting some limelight now too. I sort of have a guess about who the villains are, but I'll wait to be surprised until they actually get revealed.
I'm very glad to see you liked this chapter so much, because I had initially planned it to be a lot longer than this, but decided it would probably work better if I cut it here. Nice to know I made the right choice.

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Sat Oct 08, 2016 12:24 pm

Chapter 10: Trust and Duty
"What... did you say?" Hiita questioned in complete disbelief.
She, Eria, Aussa, Wynn, and Lyna had been gathered back in their classroom with Mistress Doriado so that she could inform her students about Dharc's imprisonment. And as expected, they did not respond well. After the initial stunned silence, Hiita was the first one to convert her shock into words. "What are you talking about!? 'Dharc's in jail for treason'? There's no way!"
"Doriado, you can't really think Dharc is a traitor, can you?" Wynn asked, desperate to confirm that their teacher didn't actually believe this.
"I do not want to, but the evidence does not bode in his favor."
"So what; we're going to screw him over because of that!?" Hiita argued, forgetting to exercise any semblance of manners.
"I know how you must feel, but we have to follow procedure. We can't give special treatment just because it's one of our own." Doriado explained. "And there's one more thing."
"What, it gets worse!?" Hiita lashed out, and even though she was being somewhat unreasonable, no one could blame her or call her out for it.
Mistress Doriado was stung by Hiita anger, but continued on. "I have a message Dharc wanted passed on to all of you." She told them, which grabbed their attention quite easily. "While he is in jail, he says he does not want any of you going to visit him."
The young Charmers froze.
When they heard Dharc's message, all five of them ceased thinking completely and could only drop their jaws in bewilderment. "I can only guess he means to let this problem sort itself out without involving the rest of you."
None of the Charmers responded. All they could do was replay Dharc's message in their own heads. They felt lost, like they had nowhere to go and couldn't do anything. But once again, Hiita was the first of the five to change her shock into something else. Clenching her fists, Hiita transitioned from disbelief to pure rage and turned away from the group.
"Hiita, where are you going?" Aussa questioned her motive.
And Hiita answered her with an immediately shout. "To knock some sense into my idiot partner!"
In response, Wynn tried to argue in favor of honoring Dharc's desire. "But Hiita, he-"
"So WHAT!?" Hiita cut her off, stopping at the door. "If the rest of you want to stay here, then fine! But I am not going to just accept this until I get some answers out of him myself." She explained, and left before anyone could raise anymore objections, slamming the door behind her.
Once she was gone, the remaining four Charmers continued to stand around in silence, thinking on what Hiita had said. But it barely took Lyna ten seconds to make up her own mind as well. "I'm going." She informed the others, and rushed after Hiita, leaving the rest behind.
Lyna caught up with Hiita and matched her pace as she stomped along, and they briefly met each other's gaze without speaking, only nodding assuredly to one another as they made their way to the holding cells.
Hiita hurled the door open when she and Lyna arrived, and Caam, keeping watch on Dharc, stood up when she saw them. She wondered if she should try to stop them, but one look at Hiita told her they wouldn't care and sighed. "Just make it quick, okay?"
Hiita nodded as she and Lyna walked in front of Dharc's cell, not planning to waste any time. Dharc looked up at them and then back at the floor. "I told you not to-"
SLAM! Dharc was cut off by the violent sound of Hiita smashing her magic staff into the bars of his cell. "Question one: Did you actually think that stupid request was going to work!?"
Dharc gave an exasperated sigh. "Hiita-"
SLAM! Hiita smashed her staff into the bars again. "Wrong answer!" She yelled at him trying to say anything in response to the rhetorical question. "Question two: What were you even trying to accomplish by keeping us away!?"
Dharc paused for a second, but Hiita was expecting an actual answer this time, so he decided to just be honest with her. "I was trying to make this easier."
"Easier for who exactly?"
"For me." Dharc responded and met Hiita's furious gaze, though he didn't miss the twitch of surprise she gave from his answer. "I was trying to make going through this easier on myself by not seeing any of you or having to deal with you all worrying over me."
Dharc wasn't sure what kind of reaction to expect out of Hiita, but he took notice of Lyna's expression clouding with sympathy and regret behind her. She had made the decision to come here despite Dharc telling them to stay away, but Dharc's reason made her think it may have been the wrong move after all.
But then Hiita gritted her teeth and yelled back again. "That's crap! What kind of selfish reason are you trying to force down on us?" She questioned Dharc. "Trying to make dealing with the situation easier on yourself like that only makes it that much harder on the rest of us, you idiot! What did you think was going to happen if we had stayed away like you'd wanted? Did you think we would be able to just go though our daily routine while we knew you were in here? That we'd be just fine not being able to see you?
"Of course not! Because if something like that had crossed your mind, you'd have had to deal with the fact we were worrying about you anyways and ruined your own stupid plan!"
Dharc didn't interrupt or try to refute Hiita's logic; she wasn't even wrong. He hadn't given any thought to what the rest of them would do while he was locked up if not come see him. He hadn't thought at all about how all they would be able to do was wonder if he was okay or not if they had stayed away.
She'd called it 'selfish', and now that she'd pointed it out, Dharc couldn't seem to think of another word for it. "So deal with it!" Hiita continued her rant. "You don't get to shut us out like that again. Not after all the effort you've put in these last few months finally letting us in." She said definitively, and it surprised Dharc to hear. "We're your friends, so you need to start learning to lean on us for support instead of looking at us like a burden, got it?"
Hiita finished her speech, and a long moment of silence followed while Dharc and Lyna both really took in what she'd said. It felt strange to hear Hiita say those kinds of things about 'friendship' and 'leaning on each other' when she was supposed to be the bullheaded one that tried to do things her own way. But in bringing up how much Dharc had grown these last few months, she'd also proven just how much she'd done the same.
After a while, Hiita could tell Dharc had gotten the message, and the fury in her eyes dimmed down before she spoke up one more time. "Final question," She started, and then leaned in as close to the bars of Dharc's cell as she could, making sure she had eye contact before she asked. "...Did you do it?"
Lyna gaped at Hiita when she asked that question. In the first place, Caam was still standing behind them listening to their every word, so even if by some cruel twist Dharc had betrayed the clan, he wouldn't admit to it.
But in fact, Dharc didn't say a single word in response to Hiita's final question at all. Instead, all he did was narrow his eyes and made sure not break eye contact with Hiita. And seeing that, Hiita grinned and stepped back. "Good answer." Satisfied, the FIRE Charmer turned away and began calmly walking back towards the door. "Alright Lyna, he's all yours."
Lyna stepped closer to Dharc's cell and he met her gaze, but after everything that Hiita said, Lyna wasn't sure what else she had to add. So after a moment, she settled with asking the basic question. "So, are you really okay?" She asked, and Dharc dropped his head.
"I know it’s a courtesy question, but what do you think?" Dharc shot back, and Lyna smiled, happy he was at least able to make that joke.
"So, you felt like you needed to be alone again, huh?"
"I guess I did." Dharc shrugged. "But... thanks for coming anyways; you and Hiita."
"Of course, we'll always be there for you." Lyna replied. "Just hang in there, okay? I'm sure the clan will figure out what really happened." Dharc nodded, and Lyna beamed one last smile at him before feeling they had nothing else to say for now. "I'll come by again if I get the chance, okay?"
Dharc nodded again, and Lyna walked off to leave with Hiita who was waiting by the door for her. But when they left the holding cells, they were surprised to find Wynn and Aussa waiting just outside. "Well, it took you long enough." Hiita berated them as if she knew they would show up all along. "So what are you waiting for?"
Still looking a little nervous, Wynn looked between Hiita and the ground as she answered. "Well, we were afraid he still wouldn't want to see us, so we just wanted to ask you how he was doing."
Smiling, Hiita replied, "I said I was going to knock some sense into him, didn't I? He's fine, I'm sure he'd be happy to see you now." She explained, and after a brief second of hesitation, Wynn hurried past her and Lyna to get into the holding cells, and then Hiita turned back to Aussa. "Well, you going in or what?"
"Well..." Aussa started uncertainly before continuing with a sigh. "This is going to sound really bad, but even though Dharc's opened up and we've all been getting along fine lately... I'm not sure he and I are really all that close. I hadn't noticed until now, but I don't think we've ever had an actual one-on-one conversation before; kind of feels like it'd be awkward for me to pop in on him now."
But even though Aussa was trying to be sincere, Hiita gave her a skeptical, unconvinced glare. "What kind of lame excuse is that?" She asked flatly.
"Huh?"
"'Never had a one-on-one conversation with him'; so what? Consider this your opportunity then. Seems to me it'd be more awkward at this point for you to be the only one to not visit him." Hiita told Aussa, but then finally took notice of the elephant in the room. "Hang on a sec; where's Eria?"
But when asked the question, Aussa became fidgety and averted her gaze. Hiita narrowed her eyes as her, but didn't ask again. "Look... don't hate her, okay?"
But at a response like that, Hiita had to turn a confused, worried expression to Lyna, who mirrored her as they turned back to Aussa. "What are you talking about?"
Aussa sighed, but explained what happened after the two of them had left.
Lyna hurried out after Hiita, leaving Wynn, Aussa, and Eria standing in silence with Doriado. Aussa looked back at the door and gave the matter some thought. It wasn't as though she didn't want to go, but that was where she started to notice how little she and Dharc actually talked with one another. However, if Eria were to say she would go see him, she would at least tag along.
But after thinking that, she heard a plop next to her and turned to find her partner collapsed onto her hands and knees, visibly shaking. "No, this can't be happening..." She muttered, barely audible to Aussa.
"Eria?" Aussa reached down to put a hand on her partner's shoulder, but the next outburst from Eria stopped her cold.
"NO!" She yelled out as if to stop Aussa from trying to comfort her. "I can't... I can't do this; not again."
Aussa moved her hand back when she heard those words, and at the same time realized that Eria was crying. After a moment of silence, Eria finally moved and bolted to her feet, turned around and ran for the door. "Eria!"
Aussa ran after her, but when she reached the door, Mistress Doriado called out to stop her. "Aussa, let her go."
"What? But Mistress-" Aussa started to argue, but Doriado cut her off to explain.
"Listen; there are times when kind words and comforting gestures won't do any good." Doriado explained, and turned her eyes to the ground. "Right now, Eria is in a state of mental chaos, she has yet to even fully process what is happening. And until she has, she will not listen to anything anyone tries to tell her."
Aussa and Wynn both dropped their heads with Doriado's analysis, essentially being told there was nothing they could do to help. Aussa's hands clenched into fists at the idea she was that useless, but Doriado opened her mouth again to say one last thing. "Give her time. Once she has at least accepted the situation - that is when she will need your support."

Aussa hadn't made eye contact with either Hiita or Lyna throughout her whole story, proving just how uncomfortable she was with how things happened. They didn't reply for a moment, not completely sure what they wanted to say, but in the end, Hiita gave a loud sigh and spoke softly.
"I don't hate her." She started; assuring Aussa she didn't need to worry about her blowing up, and looked towards the sky. "But I can't really say I understand it either.
"I mean, I get that she's still dealing with everything that's happened to her family, but I've never had to deal with that, you know? I'm the only one that hasn't lost a family member yet. I don't know what it feels like to go through that.
"Maybe that's the reason I was able to decide to come here so easily, ignoring the fact Dharc didn't want us to see him. But it also means I don't have a clue what to do with Eria." She admitted, getting Aussa to look up at her at last, and Hiita turned her head down to meet her gaze. "This is so not like me, but do you mind if I leave Eria to you guys?"
Aussa and Lyna shared a look of surprise, but understood what Hiita was saying and nodded to her. And after all that, Wynn reemerged from the holding cells and smiled. "He's doing better than I expected; I'm glad." She stated.
"Did you tell him about Eria?" Lyna inquired.
"Yeah, he asked to apologize for him when we talk to her. Although, I'm not sure when we should do that..."
"What if we try tomorrow morning? Give her the night to sort it out?" Lyna suggested.
"Okay, that sounds good." Aussa concurred. "Let's all meet up at her house first thing in the morning; agreed?" She confirmed, and everyone nodded to her before breaking and finally going back to their homes to wait for tomorrow.

* * *

After bolting from the classroom, Eria ran home with a constant flow of tears, unable to accept what she had been told. She arrived and ran around the mansion to the garden, where she ran passed the tall hedges until she found the center pool and simple threw herself into the water, letting herself sink to the bottom where she curled up and fought her tears.
She could have created an air bubble to breathe, but the Water Charmer couldn't even bare to listen to herself sob, and wanted the pool to literally drown out all sound and hide the tears still slipping from her clenched eyelids.
Even like that, Eria could hold her breath for over an hour if needed, and right now, she was channeling all her energy into staying submerged for as long as possible, trying to shut out all other thought. Still, the young Charmer was aware of the family familiars beginning to surround her in the water, drawn by her splash. They tried to speak to her, but Eria consciously blocked out their voices and just sat there, hiding her face in her knees.
After a minute, one of the familiars tapped her shoulder to get her attention, but in response, Eria flailed out her arms and screamed through the water. "GET AWAY FROM ME!!!" She yelled, wasting valuable air before shoving her face back between her legs and wrapping her arms over the back of her head.
Eria heard the ripple of movement as most of the familiars backed off, leaving just one she could sense near her, and knew it was Gigobyte, but he stayed still and silent, loyally remaining at her side.
Finally, Eria felt herself running out of oxygen and fought for a short time to stay under anyways, trying to focus on the burning in her lungs to ignore everything else until she couldn't take it any longer and had to surface. The Water Charmer gasped for breath as soon as she could and wiped her eyes even though she was too soaked to dry her face that way.
Once she had caught her breath, Eria finally swam to the edge of the pool and dragged herself out of the water with Gigobyte floating around next to her, only realizing once she was on the grass that there was someone else sitting in front of her, and looked up to see Vanity watching her in silence. For a moment, Eria froze, unsure how to react. But eventually, Vanity broke the silence. "I'm sorry, Eria." He told her while maintaining eye contact.
Eria had only just managed to halt her tears, but those three words threatened to start them back up again. And at last, those words somehow managed to make her face the truth she'd been running from. "Dharc..." She muttered.
"I know," Vanity didn't force her to say it though, understanding her pain all too well, and apologized again. "I'm sorry."
Eria tried to choke back more tears, but the urge was overwhelming and the young Charmer broke, running at Vanity and wrapping her arms around him, starting to bawl her eyes out as he hugged her back. "I can't do this again!" She spoke through her crying-induced hyperventilation. "I can't lose someone else I care about! I just can't!"
"I know, Eria." Vanity understood, and then pulled Eria away from him and held her shoulders so that he could look directly at her. "That is why I will do everything I can to make sure that doesn't happen." He told her.
"Huh?" Eria didn't quite understand what Vanity was saying, her thoughts still a jumbled mess.
"I will represent Dharc in his trial." Vanity stated with complete seriousness. "I will get to the bottom of this and clear his name."

* * *

By some miracle, Eria actually managed to get some sleep that night, but woke up painfully aware that nothing had changed. It hadn't been a dream and it hadn't been a lie. Dharc had been arrested for treason and despite Vanity's promise, she knew Dharc's chances of proving his innocence were slim at best.
But somehow, Vanity promising to represent Dharc and the night's rest had helped stabilize her and she no longer felt the need to cry - though she wasn't sure when she'd manage to smile again.
She felt heavy, but the WATER Charmer still managed to drag herself out of bed and get dressed. Since the Charmers' next several classes had been cancelled with Dharc in jail, Eria ate her breakfast slowly and afterwards decided to go for a walk around the village. Leaving her magic staff behind, Eria walked out the front door, but stopped when she found the other Charmers waiting for her. Lyna, Wynn, Hiita, and Aussa stood at a distance while Eria paced slowly towards them, examining each of their concerned faces as she did.
And when she came to a stop in front of them, Aussa spoke first. "Hey, so how are you holding up?" She asked.
It seemed like a strange question to ask considering her complete breakdown yesterday, but all Eria could do to answer was shrug. "Dharc's doing better now, thanks to Hiita." Lyna informed her.
"And he asked me to tell you that he's sorry for trying to shut us out." Wynn added. "He said if you want to visit him, he'd appreciate it."
Again, Eria didn't speak, just nodded her head in acknowledgement and then locked eyes with Aussa.
Aussa waited for a moment, but she was just looking at her. "Eria...?" She tried to prompt a response from her.
And when she did, Eria stepped closer to Aussa and threw her arms around her partner, holding her tight and whispered to her, "Please, don't ever leave me..." She pleaded with her closest friend.
She was asking Aussa to be her support. After loosing so much and being threatened with even more, Eria just felt she needed to know that no matter what happened, she would always have at least one constant in her life.
Aussa understood this, and wrapped her arms around Eria comfortingly. "Never," She told her. "I promise."

* * *

Three days later, Dharc's trial was finally arranged, and the Charmer Clan assembled in the court room. The families each filed into their respective bleachers, but not wanting to sit alone, Eria was welcomed to sit with Aussa and her siblings. With intense anxiety, the Charmers all waited as Mistress Doriado appeared at her stand, followed by Dharc, Vanity, and Winda walking out onto the floor, standing opposite each other on their respective sides of the circle.
Doriado called out the Tributes, who all took their positions around the court, and then she activated the Mirror Wall trap as usual to ensure the trial went through without incident. From their stands, Lyna, Wynn, Aussa, Eria, and Hiita all watched Dharc carefully, but he didn't seem to be willing to meet their eyes. Biting her lip, Hiita looked away from Dharc and over at the DARK family bleachers, only to realize that they were completely empty, and couldn't believe that none of Dharc's siblings were here for this.
But Mistress Doriado's voice drew her back to the trial as it was inevitably set in motion. "This court is now in session. Today, prosecutor Priestess Gusto Winda accuses Dharc the DARK Charmer of attempted treason: breaking into their manor with the intent to steal Gusto family secrets. Priestess Gusto Winda, please present your findings."
With a nod, Winda took a deep breath and spoke, all the while fighting to suppress the crippling anxiety she felt for accusing Dharc at all. "On the day in question at precisely 4:23 PM, an alarm went of that warned Tribute Charmer Sage Gusto Windaar that someone in the family Study had attempted to handle documents not written in their own hand. As precaution, he sent me to investigate and my sister Serenity Gusto Caam confirmed that something shady must have been happening.
"When we approached the Study, the door opened and both my sister and myself were blinded with the special art Yami and assaulted. But once I had dispelled the darkness, I discovered that the intruder was none other than Dharc the DARK Charmer. He then proceeded to flee from us and run through the city. Serenity Gusto Caam, Tribute Charmer Sage Gusto Windaar, and myself all gave chase and eventually cornered and apprehended the DARK Charmer on the grounds of treason."
"Understood," Doriado acknowledged the allegations and turned to Dharc. "Now the defense will make his statement. Dharc the DARK Charmer, can you at all argue against the turn of events that Priestess Gusto Winda has described?"
Looking up to meet Mistress Doriado's eyes, Dharc explained what he recalled. "On the day in question, I had been on my way home after lessons with you and the other Charmers." He began. "But on my way, I became aware of someone watching me. I attempted to lure the one following me out, but before I was able to locate him, he utilized the very same special art Yami that Priestess Gusto Winda recounts being used on her to hide himself and quickly rendered me unconscious.
"Unfortunately, the next thing I can recall is waking up in the street and being arrested by Priestess Gusto Winda and her siblings."
Doriado allowed a moment to pass so that Dharc's statement could sink in, and then confirmed. "So your claim is that an outsider infiltrated the village, attacked you, and then posed as you to commit these crimes?"
"To the best of my knowledge, that would seem to be the case."
"Then you are saying that you were not being controlled and forced to perform these deeds against your will?" Doriado made certain, but that question worried Dharc.
There were an innumerable amount of spells, tools, and special arts capable of taking control of other people, but none that were capable of doing so while the target was incapacitated. And that meant that Dharc was telling them that the intruder must have disguised themselves as him, perpetrated the acts, and somehow escaped before anyone became aware of this.
But after the heavy silence that followed Doriado's question, Winda crossed her arm and addressed the glaring issue in that testimony. "That isn't possible." She said with a shaky voice, hating herself more and more with every word she spoke. "During the time that Tribute Charmer Sage Gusto Windaar, Serenity Gusto Caam and I spent chasing you, you undeniably channeled magic through your one-of-a-kind magic staff.
"While it may be possible for any Spellcaster to utilize your staff, the fact that it was used at all proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person we chased was a Spellcaster. And as you should know, there isn't a single Spellcaster in all of history with the ability to disguise themselves as another person."
Winda paused to let those facts sink in; a Spellcaster could not have impersonated Dharc to commit this crime. But no other creature in existence could have made use of Dharc's staff to cast magic. Dharc himself had denied that this case involved brainwashing, but the facts and accounts of what happened also denied that it could have been an impersonation. Dharc had not been aware of the use of magic in his supposed chase, so he hadn't realized his own testimony would back him into a corner like this.
"Well, Dharc the DARK Charmer, upon hearing this, do you have anything you would like to add to your testimony?" Mistress Doriado asked.
But Dharc couldn't do that. Not only would any other version of his explanation be a lie, but it would mean intentionally contradicting himself. He had no idea how someone could have achieved the feats he heard of, but he could not add or take away anything from what he had already stated, so he stayed silent and turned his head to the ground. He had given his statement, now he had to rely on Vanity to turn this trial around.
Vanity was given the floor for cross-examination, and he stepped forward to face Winda. "I would like to take a moment to address the last thing you said, Priestess Gusto Winda."
"Do you find issue with it?" Winda questioned, still growing more and more nervous.
"None at all. You're denial of the possibility of impersonation was very concise. It was you're final statement that interested me. To Dharc, you said: 'as you should know, there isn't a single Spellcaster in all of history with the ability to disguise themselves as another person.'
"And that is completely correct, Dharc the DARK Charmer would know that no Spellcaster can mimic another's appearance. So now we have to ask: if Dharc truly did commit this crime himself, why would he testify that he was knocked unconscious instead of being manipulated?"
"I sense that question is both hypothetical and rhetorical. What then is the answer?" Winda egged on.
"It should be obvious." Vanity answered. "Dharc the DARK Charmer has had several days to contemplate his testimony. If he were lying, he could and would have devised a much more plausible scenario to tell the court. The fact that he has given a testimony that only served to further incarcerate himself suggests to me that he has clearly been framed in the most cunning of ways."
Dharc looked up at Vanity and understood the situation. His statement just now was walking on thin ice. He was basing it all on a theory - an unproven belief. He wasn't wrong to do so however. Pleading his innocence after a faulty testimony was near impossible from the get-go, so Vanity had smartly given up on proving his innocence altogether. Instead, his goal was to hopefully present enough plausibility to the idea of his innocence that a more thorough investigation would have to be carried out. If he could do that, it would buy the clan time to search for answers, and perhaps eventually discover the truth.
But Winda had to ask the obvious question. "Then can you explain how a shape-shifter could have possibly produced the magic witnessed by my siblings and me?"
"I cannot." Vanity replied ruefully.
"Then what exactly are you trying to tell this court?" Winda prodded, hoping with all her being there was a good answer.
"I am saying that we live in a world that is constantly evolving and changing." Vanity expressed. "Not even one week ago, a dragon that was long thought to be nothing more than a legend was summoned into the middle of the highly populated city of Harmonia. A dragon - I will remind you - that was only defeated by the combined effort of this clan's youngest members, Dharc the DARK Charmer himself included.
"Therefore, I submit that it may be somewhat shortsighted to neglect the idea that somewhere in this vast world, a Spellcaster has at long last cracked the code, and created a spell or special art capable of disguising their true form. Or that a shape-shifter has emerged with the ability to reproduce a Spellcaster's magic."
Winda was surprised. The things Vanity were suggesting were widely considered impossible by the world. Countless Spellcasters of varying renown had attempted to concoct spells or potions of transfiguration throughout the centuries. Not even one had come even close, and all reached the same conclusion that it simply was not possible. The same could be said for the idea of a shape-shifter reproducing magic.
Whatever the creature, it would have had to be born with these abilities, and subsequently have had them hidden from the world its whole life until today. The probability of anyone being successful in such a long endeavor was simply astronomical. And the fact that Vanity was trying to predicate his argument on the idea that it happened in spite of those odds showed just how desperate he was.
And that did not bode well for Dharc. "You realize what you are trying to say here, don't you Gishki Vanity?" After a moment, it was Mistress Doriado who spoke. "You are trying to tell us to find Dharc not guilty based on pure speculative theory. If we could dismiss a case based on something as unfounded as that, every court case would require the investigation of what amounts to the whole world.
"We cannot accept a testimony that relies on theory Gishki Vanity, this and every other court can only accept evidence that relies on facts."
But Vanity responded quickly, "I am not asking you to make your judgment based on that theory. The theory was little more than an answer to the question that Priestess Gusto Winda asked of me. My original statement was based solely on the knowledge that Dharc the DARK Charmer would have been plenty capable of fabricating a more convincing lie if he were truly the perpetrator of the crimes levied against him. The fact he did not convinces me that there is more to this case than meets the eye."
Now Winda was impressed. Vanity may have only been an honorary member of the Gishki family, but he more than lived up to name in his court presence. They hadn't gotten a good sense of it back during Noellia's trial because that time he and Ariel had prepared everything long in advance to ensure they could prove Noellia was guilty. But this time, Vanity had had almost no time to prepare, and still his performance was exemplary.
Unfortunately, it still might not be enough. Vanity’s argument was sound in theory, but there was still too little to go on to truly call it ‘evidence’. While it may have been true that Dharc should have easily been able to fabricate a more convincing story, they didn’t have any other leads. So in the end, that testimony may not be enough to be considered reasonable doubt. The argument had a certain amount of leverage in it, to be sure, but whether it would be considered enough was ultimately up to the Tribute Charmers.
But when no one challenged his argument this time, Vanity went on. “And I have another concern with the behavior Dharc the DARK Charmer supposedly displayed in your testimony. Specifically, if his goal was simply to steal Charmer Clan secrets, why did he not target his own house, instead of the Gusto manor?
“Attempting to steal from his own Study would have made getting caught a near non-existent threat, because he could simply claim that setting off the alarm was an accident. But instead, he broke into the Gusto family manor and snuck into their Study, even though he would have known the risk was infinitely greater?
“I have to say, everything about the behavior displayed by Dharc the DARK Charmer during this incident sounds like an elaborate set up. The actions described do not sound like that of a traitor from within the clan, but of an outsider attempting to perfectly frame one of our own for some insidious purpose we know not of.”
Vanity finished uninterrupted, and a moment of silence fell when he was done. That was it. Vanity had done all he could. Now he just had to hope that it was enough to make the Tributes declare reasonable doubt, and postpone judgment.
After confirming there were no more questions to be asked from either side, an initial vote was made, but the Tributes were undecided. This meant that a conference would be held so that the Tributes could argue the case amongst themselves.
The Tributes were excused, Dharc, Vanity, and Winda were forced to stay on the floor, and most of the others filed out into the halls to wait except for Eria, who couldn’t bring herself to leave, and Aussa, holding her hand for comfort.
Left on their own, Winda, Vanity, and Dharc sat down with their backs to the Mirror Wall that separated them from each other. After a few minutes of unbearable silence, Winda spoke up. “So, what do you think is going to happen?” She asked softly so only Dharc and Vanity could hear.
“You know we shouldn’t really be talking to each other right now.” Vanity reminded her.
“Does it really matter? They’ll have made their decision when they come back either way.”
Vanity sighed. “I really don’t know. I walked a thin line because it was the only one I had. It could easily go either way.”
“Still, that’s better than how I was worried it would turn out.” Winda voice was melancholy as she went on. “Dharc, you know I’m sorry about all this right?”
“I know.” Dharc answered.
“Hey, can I ask you something? You don’t have to answer.” Winda continued, and took the following silence as the okay. “I believe you’re innocent. I really do. So... what do you think happened?”
Dharc tried to speculate, but it really didn’t make any sense. The Charmers were Spellcasters after all; they themselves had a history in attempting transfiguration. Not even one trial documented anything close to a breakthrough. Somehow, it seemed that someone had found a way to replicate magic. The problem was – who did it, how did they do it, and where were they now?
In the end, Dharc didn’t say anything because he simply had nothing to say. Winda didn’t say anything else either. All they could do now was wait and hope for the best.

* * *

It was over two hours later, but the Tribute Charmers finally remerged from their conference room. Quickly, everyone filed back into the main trail room and Dharc, Vanity, and Winda got back to their feet as Doriado and the Tributes stepped back out to their stands.
Once everyone was ready, Doriado asked the question. “Well Tribute Charmer Sage Gusto Windaar, what have you and the others decided?”
The room went dead silent as everyone anticipated Windaar’s response, especially the youngest Charmers. Hiita was biting her nails while looking down at Dharc,
Lyna had her hands clasped in front of her in prayer, Wynn watched her brother expectantly as he prepared to give out the verdict, and Eria tightened her grip on Aussa’s hand to keep from shaking while her partner worried more about her than the verdict itself.
Facing out to address the whole court, Windaar spoke. “Due to a lack of credible evidence in their favor, this court finds the defendant – Dharc the DARK Charmer – guilty of all charges.”
The words hit like a wrecking ball, no matter how aware they had been of the possibility. Eria just barely stifled a scream as she buried her face into Aussa’s chest while she, Lyna, Wynn, and even Hiita felt tears start welling up in their eyes.
They all closed their eyes and tried to block it out, but Doriado’s voice pierced through anyways as she handed down the sentence. “Then for the crime of attempted treason, I sentence him to banishment from the Charmer Clan. Dharc, as of this moment all of your rights and privileges as a Charmer are hereby revoked.” She explained clearly, and slammed her gavel down, indicating that her decision was final.

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Sun Oct 09, 2016 2:41 pm

And so it begins.

Call me crazy, but the first half of this chapter is giving me a strong HiitaxDharc vibe, and even though it's not setting up to be a romantic ending I definitely feel like there could be a confession next chapter (albeit a very clumsy and angry one since Hiita doesn't really work any other way lol). Second half is just more of the same trial setting from previous chapters, and while it's still interesting it's also getting slightly formulaic.
Overall I still love this story but I figure you're getting tired of me just saying that and nothing else.

Also this is the first chapter in a while where we haven't heard from the villains at all.

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Sun Oct 09, 2016 4:11 pm

Hippocampus wrote:
Second half is just more of the same trial setting from previous chapters, and while it's still interesting it's also getting slightly formulaic.
Yeah, I noticed that too. In fact I had several instances in writing this chapter where I considered scratching the court scene altogether and just jumping to 'guilty'; but there were a couple points of significant world building in it that I wanted to present. Luckily, this is probably the last time I'll need to use the courtroom, so I should be much more in my element from here on out.

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Sun Nov 13, 2016 8:31 pm

Interlude
After the trial, everything happened so fast. Everyone was forced to leave the courthouse except for Dharc, his father Bezal, and Mistress Doriado. Weaving a magic circle in the air with her hand, Doriado cast a seal on Dharc that would prevent from sharing any secrets about the Charmer Clan once removed from the village, manifesting as a tattoo encircling his throat, and handed Dharc over to Bezal with a nod of understanding.
From there, Dharc was taken directly from the courthouse to the edge of the village, where his father summoned out his familiar – Gretzi Mare – pulling an open carriage for them. Before Dharc climbed in however, the other Charmers caught up to them, but they were barely allowed a cursory farewell, and couldn’t say half of what they wanted to before Dharc was told to get in and Bezal started riding off.
Dharc didn’t look back once they started forward, but he felt the distance as the Charmer village disappeared behind him. Just once, Dharc looked at his father and wondered how he must feel banishing his own son like this, but neither one of them said a word as they rode out the day through a forest, past a field, over a river, and around a swamp before Bezal finally came to stop when he saw a city in the distance.
The father and son got out of the carriage, and Bezal snapped the chain of his magic-inhibiting handcuffs to free his hands, though he still wouldn’t be able to use magic while they were on. They exchanged very few words with each other, but Bezal did give something to Dharc before getting back in the carriage and beginning to ride away.
Dharc waited until he was out of sight, and then began moving himself, but not towards the city in the distance. Instead he began heading west, holding tightly onto the item his father had provided him. He had no magic, no friends, no familiar, nothing but the clothes on his back and a destination.
It was already sunset when he set out, but he welcomed the darkness of night as the sun vanished beyond the horizon and he continued walking. He walked, and walked, and walked, and he continued all throughout the night until the sun reappeared behind him to bring the morning, and then walked some more.
In the bright morning light, it was obvious when he reached where he was going, and finally came to a stop just outside of a forest that was unnaturally covered in shadows. Almost no light broke past the tree line, obscuring the woods in a blanket of darkness that made the place look otherworldly and frightening.
But Dharc couldn’t stop here, so he picked up a long, broken off tree branch to use as a walking stick as he ventured inside the ethereal darkness of the forest. As a DARK monster, Dharc had excellent night vision, but the shadows cast by this forest were not natural, and made it a struggle for even him to see where he was going as he moved forward, using the tree branch to probe the ground ahead of him.
At this point he wasn’t sure how far it was to his exact destination, but he had a vague idea of which way he needed to go, and stepped carefully to make sure he didn’t stray off course. The unnatural darkness also eliminated all sense of time, and Dharc wasn’t sure if he had been walking two hour or twelve when the pendant in his hand gave a reaction.
Noticing it, the spellcaster came a stop and fell to a knee, exhausted from nearly a full day of travel and very little food. But he looked up as the dim glow of the pendant grew brighter to see a woman now standing over him. The woman’s body seemed to repel the darkness of the forest, leaving her and her alone perfectly visible in front of Dharc, and he marveled at her with surprise.
Dharc knew who this woman was, but he had never met her before; had only learned of her recently. So when he saw her for the first time, he was surprised at how much she resembled Mistress Doriado.
She was the Shadowpriestess of Ohm. And from this day forward, she was also Dharc’s new teacher. “Hello, Young Dharc.” She greeted him, knowing exactly who he was and why he was here. “It is a pleasure to meet you.”

* * *

It was the second day after Dharc’s banishment, and the five remaining Charmers were gathered in their classroom with Doriado. However, none of them were actually up to participating in class right now.
When Noellia had been found guilty and disappeared, the Charmers had wanted to use class as a distraction from everything, but it wasn’t that easy this time. Without Dharc, coming to class only meant confirming he was no longer there. But they were still here because they all refused to stay home and be smothered by their families constant sympathies and trying to make them feel better.
So they were here, but they weren’t actually learning. Instead, the five Charmers just sat silent and unmoving around the classroom until they had to return home. Doriado let them be and didn’t try to force anything onto them, but in the middle of the day, she spoke up to them with a sigh. “Children, there’s something I need to tell you.” She began, “I would have liked to wait for a better time to give you this news, but I’m not sure that one will ever come.
“Eventually, we will need to resume your lessons. I have no wish to impose more training onto you until you are ready, but when that time comes Hiita,” She looked to the FIRE Charmer, who was surprised a being addressed. “You are still going to need a partner. Because of that, there is someone I would like you all to meet.” She explained, getting the Charmers’ attention as the door to her right opened up and that ‘someone’ walked in.
The Charmers gaped at the boy for a while. They’d never met him before, but the resemblance was far too strong to not realize exactly who he was when he walked in. Without question, this boy was one of Dharc’s older siblings, and he was here to take his place in class for them.
“Please welcome Gretzi Damien. Starting now, he will be your new classmate.”
With the introduction, Dharc’s brother gave a short bow and smiled softly at the Charmers. “Nice to meet you all.”

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Mon Nov 14, 2016 11:38 am

OCs time!

This chapter raises a bunch of questions (like why is it so short lol). If you don't mind me asking, how did you come up with the name "Gretzi"?

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Mon Nov 14, 2016 8:42 pm

Hippocampus wrote:
OCs time!

This chapter raises a bunch of questions (like why is it so short lol). If you don't mind me asking, how did you come up with the name "Gretzi"?
Well it's short because it's an interlude, more of a transition than a chapter. (Also, this is where Chapter 9 was originally going to end). As for Gretzi... I've already forgotten. You'd think I'd have written it down somewhere but, nope! All I remember is that I put some word related to darkness through google translate to get it. Probably altered the spelling a bit, too.

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Sat Jan 14, 2017 4:18 pm

Chapter 11: Back to Work

It had now been two weeks since Dharc was banished, but little progress had been made on the Charmers’ disposition in class. Damien had been trying to get close to them in that time, but perhaps unsurprisingly, the Charmers did not seem to keen on welcoming him into their group with open arms.
The only ones Damien felt he had made any real progress with was his cousin Lyna and through her, Wynn. Eria and Aussa were also willing to speak with him, but they never seemed to be terribly invested in the conversations, only responding because they were asked a question.
And Hiita was naturally giving Damien an especially hard time. The first day when he had been introduced, Damien had approached her first and offered a handshake to commemorate their new partnership, but she had stormed out of the classroom without a word and then disappeared from both school and her home for two whole days, though he suspected the other Charmers knew where she had gone.
But even when she came back on the third day, she refused to socialize with Damien at all. He could literally count the number of words she had spoken to him in these last two weeks on the fingers of his hands, and all of them had been negative.
He’d hoped that he could get Lyna to put in a good word for him, but anytime he’d asked, his cousin had requested him to give them space, saying that they just couldn’t really accept this change.
Damien tried to stay upbeat around the Charmers, hoping that a positive attitude would rub off on them, but it didn’t seem to be working at all, and he was starting to reach his limit. In the middle of another unproductive day, Damien decided to have a chat with Doriado about changing how they were dealing with them.
Whispering so the Charmers wouldn’t overhear, Damien asked, “Mistress, I know you decided to wait for the kids to work through this on their own, but don’t you think this is getting a little out of hand?”
“Damien, we can’t force them to do anything in this situation.” Doriado sympathized. “Nothing good can come of pushing them too hard too soon.”
Damien sighed. “I know, I know. But isn’t there any way we can… encourage them to move on?”
To that question, Doriado looked down. “To be honest, I don’t know.”
“What?” Damien was surprised. In all his life, he had never known Doriado to be stumped.
“This situation is unprecedented Damien.” She explained. “Nine generations of Charmers, and including Dharc and Noellia, there have been six documented cases of internal treason. But this is the first time that there has been so much doubt over the verdict, as well as the first time that the accused was one of our youngest members.
“These children have lost one of their closest friends, and they are all certain that he was innocent of the crime levied against him. So I don’t know what we might be able to do to help them right now.”
“But there has to be some way we can get them back on their feet. I have to try something.”
“You’re right,” Doriado admitted. She’d been reluctant to say anything to the young Charmers because she was afraid of making things worse, but it really had come to a point where just waiting for them to come to terms was no longer a reasonable choice. “Just tread carefully Damien.”
Damien nodded, “Thank you, Mistress.”

* * *

He’d been given the go ahead by Mistress Doriado, but Damien first had to figure out what it was he should do. He spent the rest of the class time brainstorming, but he wasn’t sure what would work. As Doriado had said, the situation was unprecedented, so it was no easy task to come up with a new solution for it. Damien decided he should ask his family for advice, but he wasn’t looking forward to that either.
His older brother Blaike was out on his mission, and their father had always taught them they needed to handle their own problems. That only left his sister, but her idea of ‘advice’ rarely seemed helpful. Thinking that, Damien came to a stop and leaned against a wall in the shade, giving a heavy sigh.
“You only ever sigh like that when you need to talk, you know.” Suddenly, a voice spoke up to Damien, but he didn’t seem to be surprised by it.
“Sorry, habit.” Damien apologized to the owner of the voice, his sister Sable.
She walked out from just around the corner with a book in hand and leaned against the wall next to her brother. “So, what’s the problem, Damien?” She asked, despite clearly being uninterested.
Damien inhaled as he tried to pick his words to describe the situation. “I need to find a way to encourage the kids to move on from sulking about Dharc’s banishment.”
Sable listened to her brother, but gave a haughty grunt of disapproval as she rolled her eyes without turning from her book. “Well for starters, I sincerely hope you are not calling them ‘kids’ to their faces like that.” She noted, pointing out how disrespectful the term could be.
“Of course not,” Damien asserted.
“Regardless, I wouldn’t advise you call them that at all. You may be their senior, but for as long as you are in that classroom, you should consider them your equals.”
“Okay, I get it. Do you have a suggestion for me or not?” Damien asked, trying to get back to the matter at hand.
“I suggest you start over.”
“What?”
“Your request was inconsiderate and impersonal. I’m not going to tell you anything unless you fix the way you asked for help.”
Damien scrunched his face in dissatisfaction, but sighed and started over as Sable wanted. “I need a way to encourage my classmates-” He amended, “-to move on from Dharc’s banishment.”
“Not even close.” Sable shook her head disapprovingly.
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s still too impersonal. Try again,” She replied.
Damien looked at Sable like she was nuts, but she wasn’t just being difficult for the sake of it. This was just her way of teaching. She had no intention of coddling Damien and just telling him what to do, instead she would make him change his way of thinking until he could figure it out for himself.
He took a moment to think through what he’d said wrong, and then went again. “I need-”
“No,” Sable stopped him short this time, and he shot her a glare, though she still didn’t look up from her book.
With an irritated sigh, he started one more time. “I want-” He corrected, though his tone had become bitter. “-to help my classmates move on from Dharc’s banishment.” He finished.
Sable gave another grunt as she closed her book. “Good,” She approved of the wording as she stepped away from the wall and walked passed her brother. “Now mean it.”
Damien paused when he heard that, but with even more confusion, turned to question his sister again. “What does-” He started, but cut himself off when he turned around and found that Sable had vanished on him. That was something she did rather often, but this time it was particularly annoying because this was a matter of actual importance. “What does that even mean!?” He shouted out at the now empty street, and then plopped down on the ground to scrutinize his sister’s vague instruction.

* * *

Lyna made her way home slowly from the classroom, stalling her arrival as much as possible. Several times over the last two weeks, she’d considered following Hiita’s example and just disappearing for a few days, but she’d never been able to go through with it, and today was the same as every other.
Reluctantly, Lyna arrived at her front door, paused, and then slowly opened the door. And when she walked into the living room, she froze at the sight of her sister Milla working on an application in her hands. A minute later, Milla looked up from the application and froze when she saw Lyna as well.
“Lyna-” Milla started, but the moment she spoke, Lyna darted for the stairs without a word. She tried to call out for her, but Lyna didn’t stop. In a fit of futility, Milla leaned back against the wall behind her and let her head smack against it. “She hates me.” She muttered and let herself slide to the floor, wallowing in self-deprecation.

* * *

Wynn arrived at her house with a sense of trepidation and entered through the front door silently so she wouldn’t alert anyone she was back yet. Likewise, she practically tip-toed her way through the halls and peeking around corners to make sure she didn’t run into her family members.
She came around to the Tribute Charmer’s office and listened for a moment as she heard Windaar speaking with their father about some high priority job request that would need his personal attention. The prospect of Windaar leaving soon made Wynn hesitate for a moment as she considered going in, but then someone spoke up behind her.
“Wynn?” The young Charmer jerked around to find Winda standing at the end of the hall, and starting shaking like she was afraid of her.
Wynn wanted to say something to her sister, but she couldn’t find the right words and instead bolted away, running upstairs. Winda tried to chase after her, but her youngest sibling got to her room first and locked the door. Curling up on her bed with a pillow covering her ears, Wynn tried to keep herself from crying.
She didn’t know what to do. Wynn was always known for having wisdom far beyond her years, but after Dharc’s trial, the young charmer didn’t know how she was supposed to approach her siblings anymore. How was she to speak to the sister whose prosecution got Dharc banished? To the brother that voted guilty?
Wynn wanted to say something to them, but it was so complicated and confusing that she couldn’t decide if she wanted to sympathize with them or yell at them. Even after two weeks, she couldn’t decide what to do, but doing nothing was only tearing the young Charmer apart.
She knew that by doing nothing, the situation couldn’t change, she couldn’t move forward without gaining some form of closure with her family. But unless she knew what she was going to say to them, she couldn’t bring herself to say anything. All she could do was hide from them and cry.

* * *

Aussa entered her house and set her staff against the wall next to the door with a sigh. She walked through the living room and peered into the kitchen, where her mother was already starting preparations for dinner. After watching for a short moment, Aussa took a deep breath and asked, “Hey, Mom. Want some help?”
Sabre stopped cutting carrots to look over her shoulder at Aussa. “Grab an apron.” She said and returned to her task.
Aussa did as instructed and took off her cloak and replaced it with an apron. She then washed her hands and grabbed a knife and an onion from the counter, beginning to dice it up.
“Has your classroom situation changed at all?” Sabre questioned her daughter, but Aussa didn’t even pause her dicing in reaction.
She didn’t react because her mother had asked that same question almost every day since Dharc was banished. “Not yet,” Aussa answered solemnly.
Her mother sighed in response. “I understand the need to grieve, but you will need to move on eventually.” She expressed coldly.
Aussa’s mother had always been an advocate of tough love, so her harsh words came as no surprise to her. Nonetheless, her head drooped by reflex. “I think we know that already.” She argued. “We’re not exactly ‘grieving’ anymore, but the wound is still fresh, and we don’t want to risk reopening it so soon.”
“You’re afraid?” Sabre concluded.
“Maybe… I don’t know. I think some of us are having more trouble at home than at school.”
“Have you talked to them about it?” Sabre asked, since she was certainly not having trouble at home.
“A little, but I don’t think it’s helping. They’re pretty intent on working through it at their own paces.” Aussa explained and pushed her diced up onions into the boiling pot in front of her mother.
“Still, they can’t avoid it forever.” Sabre noted and looked at her youngest daughter. “But that’s enough about that for now.”
“Thank you; how is your work going?” Aussa changed the topic to keep the conversation going.
“Slowly; we still need to be cautious about what jobs we accept because of the attack at Harmonia.”
“I see,” Aussa said, and then the door to the backyard opened and Aryda stepped in with a smile.
“Hey Mom, hi Aussa.” She greeted them as she walked in.
“Hey Aryda,” Aussa returned the greeting keeping her eyes on the celery in front of her as she moved her knife.
Aryda made for the living room, but hesitated as she watched Aussa work, and a second later threw her arms around her sister in a soft embrace. “You doing okay kid?” She asked.
Setting her knife aside, Aussa turned her head slightly toward Aryda. “I’m fine Sis. Not so sure about the others though.”
“Maybe after dinner we can play a game? Take your mind off it?”
“Sounds nice.” Aussa agreed.
“Alright, I’ll let you get back to cooking.” Aryda said and left the kitchen.
Sabre looked between her daughters as Aryda left and smiled softly at the shift in their dynamic with each other. It would have been in bad taste for Aryda to be pulling the same old stunts on Aussa with Dharc’s banishment anyways, but that wasn’t the only reason for their new attitude.
While the other Charmers were having issues with their families over what happened, Aussa had a moment of clarity when she had realized her lack of familiarity with Dharc. Because she realized that they weren’t all that close, Aussa wasn’t affected as badly as the others with his being gone; but that in itself bothered her even more. She’d spent so much time with him, and yet Dharc’s banishment didn’t hit her nearly as hard as the others.
It made Aussa feel like she had missed out on something by not being close enough to Dharc to feel that pain of lose when he was gone.
After Dharc was banished and that realization had, Aussa resolved herself not to put those around her at arm’s length anymore. She decided to make a conscious effort to become closer with her friends and family so that if something like this ever happened again, she wouldn’t feel like she had missed out on an important part of her life. So that even if she lost it and had to experience that pain, at least she would know that she’d taken it when she had the chance.
And in the spirit of that decision, she and Aryda had officially called off their sibling rivalry. No more fighting or sneak attacks. Instead they would play games and talk with each other like normal sisters. And of course, Aussa was making the same kind of effort with the rest of her family – as soon as they were ready – with the other Charmers as well.

* * *

At the Gishki house, an obvious change had taken place in the dining room. Last week, the large, fancy dining table had been removed and stored away, and in its place, a much smaller, round table had been put in the center of the room. With Ariel, Vanity, and Eria being the only three at the house, it became clear that such a large table was unnecessary. But mostly, all the vacant space at meals every day was simply a heavy reminder of who was missing.
After the latest blow dealt by Dharc’s banishment, Eria didn’t want all the extra seats emphasizing her loneliness, and asked to replace it. The new round table gave only enough room for the three of them, and more importantly, it put them closer together than the old one allowed.
For Eria, that proximity was now everything to her. Keeping the people she still had as close as possible was the only thing keeping her from completely breaking down over those she had lost. For her, the thing she needed right now was comfort, and lots of it.
Conversation was still scarce for them, but Eria knew that Ariel and Vanity were here for her if she needed anything. And for now, that was enough.

* * *

Having gone immediately up to her room after getting home, Hiita sat on her bed with a comic in hand. She’d already read this exact comic at least seven times in the last two weeks and could probably quote the whole thing from memory, but she read it again anyways to pass the time. But when her stomach began to growl from hunger, she tossed the comic onto her nightstand and hopped of the bed to head downstairs.
Hiita could smell the food from her room, and it became even more enticing when she reached the bottom of the stairs and made her way into the dining room, where the rest of her family was already sitting around the table, eating their fill with an empty seat between Houri and their mother for Hiita.
The young Charmer paused in the doorway as the family noticed her and stopped eating to wait for her. But just as it had been every day before, Hiita did not take her seat at the table. Instead, she grabbed the empty plate meant for her and walked around the table, ignoring her siblings and parents as she grabbed chicken, corn, and potatoes for herself and then started back the way she came.
As she moved around the table though, Hiita’s father reached out and grabbed her arm, stopping her. “Hiita, please,” He begged his daughter. “Sit down.”
But Hiita wouldn’t say a word to her father, she just stared down at his hand on her arm with a vacant expression for a short moment before wrenching out of his grasp and continuing back to her room to eat alone, already starting on a chicken leg as she walked away.
The silent treatment. That was how it had been with Hiita since she’d come back from her two-day disappearing act. Since then, she had taken every measure to keep herself isolated from them, only showing her face to grab dinner, and even then, she never spoke a single word.
With a sigh that drew everyone’s attention, Tesni propped her elbows on the table and wondered dejectedly, “How much longer do you think she’ll do this for?”
“It’s Hiita.” Houri reminded her sister. “She could keep this up for the rest of our lives if she really wants to.”
Tesni frowned, looked at what was left on her plate, and then sighed again. “I’ve lost my appetite.” She said, pushing the food away so she could drop her head on the table, and the rest of her family felt the same.

* * *

The next day had come, but Damien still wasn’t sure what he should do about the Charmers. His sister’s advice – if he could even call it that – was just as unhelpful as he’d expected. After forcing him to word his request in a way she liked, the only thing she’d had to say was ‘mean it’.
Why had she said that? Of course he meant what he said. He understood what the Charmers were feeling, so of course he wanted to help them. Just because he hadn’t worded it well the first time didn’t mean that wasn’t true, right?
He couldn’t figure it out, but he had to try something today. He would speak the Charmers today as an equal and try to connect with them. Even if it didn’t completely work, hopefully it would be a step in the right direction.
With that in mind, Damien opened the doors to the classroom and looked around, finding everyone else already there, sitting in the same spots around the room as always. Taking a deep breath, he walked over to Lyna and Wynn and sat down with them. “Hey there, you girls feeling any better today?” He asked them gently, but all he got in reply was a couple sighs. “Come on, don’t you think you could at least try to get back into your lessons? I know how you feel, but at some point you’ve just got to get back out there; even though it hurts.”
Lyna and Wynn glanced at each other like they were giving what he said some thought, but then Lyna repeated what she basically told him every time. “We just can’t do it yet. It doesn’t feel right going on like this.”
“I know, I get what you’re saying.” Damien tried to level with Lyna. “But it’s not like you can just avoid this forever. It’s going to be different from now, that’s just a given. It’s going to feel like something’s missing for a long time… and maybe that feeling won’t ever go away.
“But you can’t just give up.” He told them. He was speaking loud enough for the other Charmers to hear him, but he wasn’t sure if what he was saying was clicking with them, only see that Wynn and Lyna didn’t seem to be feeling inspired. “You’ve got to start pushing forward. You’ve got to stand up and start taking on new challenges again. It’s the only way you’ll get passed this.”
Lyna started to look conflicted as Damien went on, and she looked up at him. “I know, but…” She didn’t finish her thought.
“But what?” Damien urged her to continue, but she only dropped her head. “If you get what I’m saying, then what’s stopping you? You’ve got to start somewhere, right?” He asked, starting to feel like he was on the right track here. “You can only start making progress once you get back out there, waiting longer isn’t going to change that, so you just need to stand up and get back at it, right?”
Damien paused for a second, hoping one of them would respond. But when they still didn’t seem to want to talk, he went to ask the big question – the one he’d really been holding back because he was afraid of pouring salt into fresh wounds. “Don’t you think that’s what Dharc would want you to do?”
At the same time, Lyna and Wynn raised their heads to look at Damien. For a moment, Damien was glad to have such a strong reaction and thought he could finally get the Charmers back on their feet with this. But a second later, he realized that they weren’t just looking at him, they were staring – dumbfounded – like they couldn’t believe he’d just said that.
He felt a chill go down his spine, but it was too late to take it back, so instead he tried to amend it instead. “I mean, don’t you think Dharc would want you-”
“SHUT UP!!!”
But suddenly, Damien was cut off by a scream from Hiita behind him. He snapped his head around and saw that the FIRE Charmer was standing up now, but her face had blackened the most nauseated, malicious expression he’d ever seen on another living being.
Her eyes alone threatened to rip Damien to shreds where he was just to make him stop talking, and the young man gulped as he forced himself to challenge those eyes anyways. “Hiita, what-?”
“I SAID SHUT UP!!!!!” Hiita screeched even louder, straining her vocal chords so hard Damien was sure he could go deaf from it. “Just shut the hell up! Are you seriously this dense? Are you really so stupid that you haven’t noticed it yet!?”
Damien was stunned, he knew Hiita didn’t like him, but he didn’t understand why she was acting like this now. He was sure she didn’t actually want him answering her questions though, and so subtly shook his head with bewilderment.
“We’re passed it already!” Hiita told him, still yelling loud enough for there to be a slight echo in the classroom, and both Damien and Doriado were surprised to hear what she said. “We’re ready to move on; we’ve been ready for over a week! The only thing holding us back now is you!”
“Me?” Damien repeated incredulously and got to his feet.
“You’re. Not. Wanted. Here.” Hiita stressed every word, driving their meaning home like a knife to the chest. “None of us want you here!”
Damien was about to make a retort about how she needed a partner, but stopped short when he realized she wasn’t speaking in the singular, but in the plural. In a moment of clarity, Damien turned around to look at the other four Charmers, but none of them were willing to meet his eyes anymore, or maybe they never had been and he’d just been ignorant of it until now.
Either way, he could see the truth of what Hiita said. It wasn’t just her that had a problem with him, it was the whole group. All of them – Hiita, Aussa, Eria, Wynn, and even Lyna – wanted Damien out of their classroom. He was an unwelcome intruder to their group that they never had any intention of befriending.
He’d known from the start that there was a gap between him and the other Charmers, but until just now, he’d thought for sure that he would be able to bridge it. Only now did he realize that every time he’d tried to get Lyna to put in a good word for him with Hiita, she’d never said to give ‘her’ space, but rather to give ‘them’ space, that ‘they’ couldn’t accept the change.
He never had a chance of getting close to them, and they had all just been waiting for him to get a clue and get lost. He could see that much now, but there was still something he didn’t understand. “Why?” He asked, the question for all of them but mostly directed at Hiita since she was the one yelling. “Why are you all so against me being a part of your class? I’m just here to help.”
But Hiita didn’t waste a second in rejecting that claim. “That’s a load of crap and you know it!” She yelled, pointing at Damien accusingly. “The only reason you’re here is because Mistress Doriado forced you to fill in as my partner!”
“Excuse me?”
“Don’t act innocent! I just can’t believe how stupid I was for not realizing it sooner.”
“Realizing what?”
“You don’t care about any of this. You don’t care about helping us; how could you? You don’t even care that your own brother was banished from the clan!” Hiita proclaimed, and Damien froze like a statue at the accusation. “Just where in the hell were you for his trial anyways? For that matter, where have you even been!? Because for the life of me, I can’t remember a single instance from my life where I got to meet you until now!
“I’ve been to everyone’s houses except Dharc’s! I’ve met everyone’s family – except Dharc’s!” Hiita explained in her rage. “Not too long ago I would’ve chopped that up to the fact he didn’t like any of us, but that’s not the reason, is it? The reason I’ve never seen you until now is because you just don’t care!
“No wonder Dharc was always that way with us before.” Hiita breathed a hollow laugh, like she was just realizing something even more depressing. “I mean, how else was he supposed to turn out when his own family is so straight up indifferent they couldn’t even be bothered to show up to his own criminal trial!?”
At some point, Hiita had closed the distance between herself and Damien, and now she was yelling at him right in his face. “So just admit it already! Admit that you don’t want to be here, and then get the hell out of our classroom!”
Finally finished with her rant, a stark silence enveloped the room as what Hiita had said hung in the air around them. Hiita glared daggers at Damien, but his expression had become blank in the middle of her tirade, which only served to anger Hiita even further – if that was even possible.
The two of them stood still for a long time, just staring into each other’s eyes with vastly different expressions. Finally, Damien turned away from Hiita and looked up at Doriado. “Mistress Doriado,” His voice was flat, not giving away any kind of emotion. “Could you give me a moment to speak with the kids in private?”
Doriado had been a passive observer until now because she could tell her words would never have stopped Hiita’s screams, but she was worried about this request. “Damien…”
“Please,” Damien pleaded, and Doriado could see there was no changing his mind.
If there was one thing Doriado knew best after all these years, it was when to give up. Realizing the futility of trying to stop whatever was about to happen, Mistress Doriado stood up from her spot and slowly walked out of the classroom, feeling the weight of her student’s eyes watching her go.
The door closed softly behind her, and all eyes returned to Damien as he stood unmoving, still turned away from Hiita. “Well?” She asked, waiting for Damien to come out and admit to his apathy.
For a moment, Damien thought back to his sister’s enigmatic advice, and he understood what she’d meant. He hadn’t been completely sincere with what he was trying to do. He thought he’d been looking for a way to help the Charmers because was what he wanted to do, but now he saw he had been doing it because he thought that what he was supposed to do.
Trying to help them by leveling with them and soothing their broken pride wasn’t how he would really choose to approach them, but it was how he thought he was supposed to, so he put his real feelings aside. It hadn’t been sincere.
But what he did now would be. When Damien finally turned back towards Hiita, he ground his teeth together, spun around in a second, and lifted his hand to slap the FIRE Charmer as hard as he could in the face.
The sound of the slap almost seemed amplified in the current silence, and the other Charmers all felt their jaws drop at the sight. But it only took Hiita one second to register what had happened and clench her fist before throwing her arm up and punching Damien in retaliation.
But Damien didn’t let it stop at that either. In response to Hiita’s punch, the older Gretzi clenched his own fist, and in one fast motion, punched Hiita square in the jaw.
The FIRE Charmer collapsed to the ground and the others finally got to their feet in shock. “Hiita!” They called out to their friend together.
Hiita pushed herself to her hands and knees while tasting blood from a split lip. All over again, she felt rage boiling over fresh inside of her, but before she could move this time, Damien let out a scream almost on par with her own. “IS THAT ACTUALLY WHAT YOU THINK!?”
Damien had always tried to stay positive around the Charmers, so when they saw the look of anguish he had now along with his scream, even Hiita was made to pause beside her rage.
“Is that what all of you actually think!?” Damien asked again, turning to look at each Charmer judgmentally. “That I’m just here because of an obligation? That I don’t care about any of this?”
“Well how else do you explain it?” Hiita grilled him for an answer.
“You…stupid…” But words seemed to fail Damien for a moment as he figured out his retort. “You’ve never been to the DARK family house. But don’t you occasionally see the other clan members just walking around the village?
“You pass them by on the streets every other day, but you’ve still never seen me until two weeks ago; and you didn’t that strange? If you’ve never once seen me just wondering around the village in your entire life, was ‘he doesn’t care’ really the only answer you could come up with!?”
Damien paused for a second with that. Hiita’s expression was still filled with rage, but he could see just the slightest tinge of doubt sneak its way into her mind. She’d recognized the oddity he was referring to, but she didn’t want to admit that she was wrong.
So Damien pressed into it. “You don’t know anything about us! Maybe that’s not your fault, but it doesn’t give you the right to supersede your own conclusion onto me like that.”
“Then what the hell are you trying to say?” Hiita pushed him to get to the point.
“The DARK family doesn’t operate the same way as the rest of yours do.” He said, and behind him, Lyna let out a gasp.
She recalled back to the time that she had found Dharc hiding at the First Tower after his mom had died, and remembered how he had said something very similar. ‘The DARK family is different. We don't have the same priorities.’
At the time, Lyna figured he was just being over dramatic because he was hurting. But if Damien was saying it now as well, then what exactly did that mean? “Our family is tasked with doing the things that no one else can. And a job like that doesn’t come without sacrifice. Sacrifices like staying out of contact with the rest of the clan. Sacrifices like never visiting your aunt even when she’s on her death bed. Sacrifices like watching from a distance while your own brother is banished for a crime he didn’t commit!”
If what he’d said before hadn’t gotten to them, that last line definitely did. He knew. He knew with the same certainty as the rest of them that there was no way Dharc had tried to betray the Charmer Clan. Finally, Hiita’s death glare vanished from her face, and shock was all that was left.
“And at this point I’ve already told way too damn much about it! But if that’s what it takes to make you understand, then so be it; because there’s no way in hell I’m going to just stand here and let you accuse me of not caring about my own brother!
“I am not here to fulfill an obligation, or because Mistress Doriado told me to.” Damien concluded. “I am here because I wanted to be here. Because I wanted to make sure that Dharc’s friends didn’t waste their time feeling sorry for themselves. Because Dharc is gone, and there’s nothing any of us can do about it right now; so the best thing I can do is continue my training, so that maybe one day, I’ll be in a position where I can do something about it.”
Damien looked around at the Charmers one last time and saw the regret they now felt for judging him so quickly. But regret and repentance were two different things, and he clicked his tongue.
“But if this how you’re going to act, then screw it.” He growled, and then walked away from the Charmers, moving toward the door.
“Hey,” Hiita called after him, almost unintentionally.
“Class isn’t happening today.” Damien turned back and explained. “Figure we all need to cool our heads after that little episode. But whether or not I keep going with this is up to you now, so listen up.
“I’m going to be here tomorrow, waiting. If you’re ready to get back to work, then we can move passed this. But if you’re all still intent on maintaining this hissy fit and can’t deal with me being a part of your class, then don’t bother coming in tomorrow. If you don’t show up by noon, I’ll get the message, and you won’t ever see me again.”
With that ultimatum delivered, Gretzi Damien left the classroom and slammed the door behind him, leaving the Charmers to figure out what they wanted to do, looking between one another with regret and uncertainty.

* * *

Damien marched his way through the Charmer Village while trying to calm himself down, all the things he’d heard and said running through his head again. As he went on, he rubbed his head with one hand and gave out a large sigh.
“You only ever sigh like that when you need to talk, you know.” As if on cue, Sable showed up and repeated the exact same line as yesterday.
Damien still didn’t seem surprised by his sister’s sudden appearance, but this time he didn’t look pleased with it either. “Actually, that one was just pure exasperation.” He corrected her, but feeling worn down, took a step back and dropped to the ground, leaning his back against the same wall Sable stood against, once again with a book in her hand.
“So, what happened?” Sable asked, but with a tone that suggested she was still disinterested.
“Nothing really,” Damien answered. “I just said what I meant.”
Sable huffed with slight amusement at her brother’s response. “Good for you.” She congratulated him before walking away and soon disappearing, just like the day before.

* * *

It was several hours before the Charmers finally left their classroom. But when they did, Lyna found herself standing out in front of her house, just trying to convince herself to go inside. After Damien proved just how wrong they were about him, it also made Lyna realize that he wasn’t the only person she had been mistreating recently.
But while trying to build up the courage to go inside and face that problem, the front door suddenly opened up and Milla came out instead, looking tired but pausing when she noticed her sister there. There was an awkward moment of silence where the two sisters just stared at each other, but when Lyna looked to be on the verge of tears, Milla tried to say something.
“Lyna, I-” She started, but was cut off when the LIGHT Charmer suddenly bounded forward and surprisingly wrapped her arms around Milla instead of running away like usual.
“I’m sorry!” She cried out as she started crying. “I’m so sorry, Milla!”
“Lyna, I… wait, why are you sorry?” Milla wondered, not sure where this was coming from.
“I don’t hate you.” Lyna told her through the tears. “I wanted to; I tried to hate you for banishing Dharc, but I couldn’t! I was avoiding you because I didn’t want to forgive you, but I couldn’t make myself hate you. I could never hate you because… because you’re my sister, and I’m sorry! I’m so, so sorry.”
Lyna’s tears became uncontrollable, and she just started sobbing into her sister’s shirt as she tightened her embrace. And overwhelmed by her own emotion, Milla kneeled down to wrap her arms around Lyna as well. “Oh, Lyna! Thank you, you have no idea how happy I am to hear you say that. I’m sorry I couldn’t do more to save Dharc, but I couldn’t be more relieved to hear you say you don’t hate me.”
“I don’t,” Lyna said it again. “I love you, Milla.” And the two sisters continued to cry into each other’s shoulders, even as Nadia and Kiran appeared in the doorway to figure out what was going on.

* * *

Wynn arrived home and opened the front door, peaking inside before walking in. She stood there for a moment, still very nervous about seeing her family, but as Kamui walked passed the atrium, Wynn gasped and caught his attention. “Wynn!” He called to his sister, surprised to see her home already.
Wynn shook in the doorway, tempted to close it and run away again. But she forced herself to speak instead. “Um, is Windaar in his Study?”
“Uh, no. Actually, he and Winda left like five minutes ago to head out for a jo- Hey, wait!” He explained, but Wynn bolted from the door when she heard that, and ran for the village outskirts.
And she kept running until she found Winda and Windaar, already starting to make their way out as their father saw them off. “Wait!” She cried out, and the three of them turned to look at her.
She finally stopped near her father and took a moment to catch her breath, hunched over and thinking. She still wasn’t sure what she was supposed to say, how she was supposed to act toward her siblings, but Wynn knew that she absolutely had to say something before they left. She could let them leave without telling them something that let them know they were alright.
She looked up at her brother and sister while still catching her breath, trying to think of the right words, and they stood there waiting to hear what she would say. They all stood there for an uncomfortable amount of time in silence, but after what felt like an eternity, Wynn swallowed hard and took up every last drop of her courage to say the following word, “Take care, I’ll miss you.”
She finally said it, and her siblings looked surprised that those were the first words she’d spoken to them in two weeks. But their surprise was quickly replaced by warm smiles, and Winda stepped up to her sister to lean down and give her a kiss on the forehead. “Thank you. See you when we get back, okay?” She said, a big grin now spreading over her face.
And just like that, all the hesitation Wynn had felt flew away, and she broke out into a smile as well. “Yeah!” She nodded, and the sisters had a quick hug before Winda and Windaar turned around again and headed out of the village for their job. And once they were far enough away, Wynn made her way back home with her father.

* * *

Aussa had arrived home again, and once again, she was helping her mother cook the food for dinner. “So, has your classroom situation changed yet?” Once more, her mother asked that question.
Having been waiting for it though, Aussa responded quickly, “Ask again tomorrow, I’ll have a more definitive answer then.”
Sabre raised an eyebrow. “Well I figured something happened since you came home so early. Should I take this to be good news?”
“Kind of depends. It’s sort of a ‘cold light of day’ type thing.” Aussa explained.
“Very well,” Her mother understood. “I trust you’ll make the right decision.”
“Thank you,” Aussa thanked her, and the two continued to cook dinner.

* * *

When Eria got back home, she found herself in the garden’s center pool again, trying to clear her head. She wasn’t submerged like when she’d thrown herself in after hearing about Dharc’s imprisonment, but rather she was floating in the middle while looking up at the sky.
Damien had really let them have it in class, and now Eria could hardly believe she had acted the way she had towards him. Snubbing him had been a unanimous decision by the Charmers after Hiita had explained her rationale behind the idea he didn’t care about Dharc’s banishment.
But Eria felt like she should have realized the flaw in that logic that Damien brought up today. If she had acted like herself, surely she would have noticed that something was off about never having seen Damien before his introduction to their class. Maybe it was just because she was hurting, or maybe she just needed someone to blame, but Eria had come to the same conclusion as Hiita and wanted to drive him out of their class.
After about half an hour floating in the pool, Ariel came out to check on her. “Is this going to be a habit from now on? Sulking in the pool?”
“Don’t see why not.” Eria replied. “It’s soothing.”
“It’s meant for the familiars though.” Ariel noted, crouching down at the pools edge.
“They don’t mind.” Eria argued.
“Well you might want to come in and dry off anyways. Dinner will be ready soon enough.” Ariel told her, and Eria nodded and climbed out of the pool, her sister handing her a towel that she used to start wiping off most of the water. “Are you sure you’re alright?” She asked.
“I hope so…” Eria replied cryptically.
“Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it?”
“I’ve already made my decision.” Eria declared, patting her clothes to get some of the moisture out of them. “So one way or another, the problem is going to be resolved tomorrow.”
“If you’re sure.” Ariel conceded, and the two of them walked back to the house together.

* * *

Having put it off for as long as possible, Hiita finally arrived home and entered the house actually later than normal. She could smell her parent’s cooking the second she walked in the door, and when she walked into the living area, she was immediately met with the apprehensive looks of Houri, Tesni, and Kouki.
Hiita stood there for a long moment, long enough that her siblings’ eyes started to dart away from her nervously. But with one big sigh, Hiita opened her mouth and asked, “So what’s for dinner?”
And that was all it took. Having said even a single word to them was all it took to make all three of her siblings - and even her parents from the sudden sounds of clanging kitchen tools – stop dead and look at her with eyes wide. And just a second later, all three jumped up from their spots around the living room and run up to their little sister, collectively throwing their arms around her and shouting her name in delight, and completely ignoring the small scab that had formed over her lower lip.
“Hiita!” Houri was the first to reach her, almost tripping over as she made her way across the room. “Oh, I missed the sound of your voice!”
But Hiita still squirmed uncomfortably in her siblings’ arms from the tight hold they all had. “Okay guys, I’m talking; not necessarily ready for all this love and affection yet.” She told them, and they reluctantly released her from their grasps.
“Sorry, sorry,” Tesni laughed. “But you can’t very well blame us after a two-week long silence.”
“Seriously, even if you had only started talking to yell at us, I don’t think any of us could have been upset by that.” Kouki added.
“Yeah, yeah, you still haven’t answered my question yet.” Hiita rolled her eyes. “What’s for dinner?”
“Well come on in and find out,” Pyrrhus addressed his kids from the kitchen door, a smile on his face at hearing Hiita’s voice again as well. “We’re just about to set the table.” He told them, as his children hurried over to the dining room together.

* * *

And so another day had come and gone. Showing up early, Damien lay on his back next to Mistress Doriado in wait of the Charmers, absently tossing a ball into the air and catching it with a scowl on his face. When the time was drawing near that class was supposed to start, Doriado looked to Damien and asked. “Do you think they will show?”
“Well, if they don’t…” Damien started, and once more chucked the ball high into the air, almost hitting the ceiling. “…Then I’ll be the man they thought I was, and stop caring.” He stated coldly, catching the ball, setting it aside, and watching the clock.
The second ticked by, but eventually, Doriado and Damien’s attention was drawn to the door as they heard it open. Silently, the two of them watched as Eria entered, followed by Aussa, then Lyna, Wynn, and finally, even Hiita. The five young Charmers filed in and walked up to stand together in front of Damien and Mistress Doriado.
Damien took a moment to size up the Charmers, making sure all of them were here because they chose to be, and no other reason. Once he had determined that to be the case, he got to his feet and dropped down from Doriado’s stage, walking over to stand in front of Hiita. “So, you ready to-?” He asked, but paused when Hiita held up a finger to silence him.
“I just want to get one thing straight here.” She started. “You are not my partner. My only partner is Dharc. You, Gretzi Damien, are my temp. You answer my questions, you do what I tell you to, and you don’t complain when I call you rude and offensive nicknames. Are we clear?” She asked, and crossed her arms to wait for an answer.
Damien was surprised, but only because he didn’t know Hiita as well as the Charmers, who each smiled and laughed quietly to each other over her demands. But after a second, Damien smirked down at the FIRE Charmer, and answered her, “Crystal.”
“Good. Then to answer your question: yes, we’re ready to start.” Hiita said, grinning back at Damien.
With that, Damien stepped over to stand beside Hiita and looked up at Doriado, who let out a sigh of relief. It was a far bumpier road than she would have liked, but some way or another, they managed to reach the other side. Looking across at her students, Doriado smiled to herself and spoke. “Alright then, let us begin.”

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Mon Jan 16, 2017 11:45 am

This was a heavy chapter, but it was well-needed. I don't remember if I've said this before, Dharc, but you are really, really good at characterizations.

At the beginning I found it odd that the focus was so much on Damien, especially the fact that you were detailing so much of his thoughts. I mean, it makes sense why you did so after reading the whole thing, but it is still kinda surprising since Damien is not one of the major characters in the story and all of a sudden he is being treated as one.

The one thing I still don't quite understand is the Lyna-Milla paragraphs. As far as I can see, Milla wasn't mentioned as prosecuting against Dharc in his trial, so why did Lyna act that way toward her? And, if you don't mind me asking, what is this "application" Milla is using when Lyna sees her? It's not very clear.

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Mon Jan 16, 2017 6:04 pm

Hippocampus wrote:
The one thing I still don't quite understand is the Lyna-Milla paragraphs. As far as I can see, Milla wasn't mentioned as prosecuting against Dharc in his trial, so why did Lyna act that way toward her? And, if you don't mind me asking, what is this "application" Milla is using when Lyna sees her? It's not very clear.
Well, Milla is the LIGHT family Tribute Charmer, and therefore had to vote 'guilty' along with Windaar, Ariel, Bezal, Sabre, and Pyrrhus for Dharc to be convicted. Lyna - similar to Wynn and Hiita - felt like she were supposed to blame Milla for Dharc being gone. She felt like she was supposed to, but she couldn't actually bring herself to do it, and avoided her because she thought that if she forgave Milla, it would be like pretending nothing happened.

I think I meant to expand on Lyna's parts before posting, but I got caught up in the excitement of finally finishing the chapter and forgot. (I had really been looking forward to writing the Hiita-Damien argument.)

As for the application, Milla was just working on one of the many job requests sent to the Charmers. I was just saying she was in the middle of work.

Still, I'm glad you're enjoying it. I really appreciate all of your feedback.

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Tue Jan 17, 2017 11:26 am

Binding Dharc wrote:
Well, Milla is the LIGHT family Tribute Charmer, and therefore had to vote 'guilty' along with Windaar, Ariel, Bezal, Sabre, and Pyrrhus for Dharc to be convicted. Lyna - similar to Wynn and Hiita - felt like she were supposed to blame Milla for Dharc being gone. She felt like she was supposed to, but she couldn't actually bring herself to do it, and avoided her because she thought that if she forgave Milla, it would be like pretending nothing happened.
Well to be fair, you did say the jury took two hours to come to a resolve, and Windaar never said they unanimously decided it lol. But I'm not gonna debate that.

Binding Dharc wrote:
As for the application, Milla was just working on one of the many job requests sent to the Charmers. I was just saying she was in the middle of work.
Ah, that makes sense. Yeah I wasn't sure if it was an application for a job or an application of some kind of object she was using; thanks for clearing it up.

Binding Dharc wrote:
Still, I'm glad you're enjoying it. I really appreciate all of your feedback.
You're welcome! I also see you're posting chapters much quicker than before... is that a sign? Wink

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