Tired, worn, and yet full of mirth, Keo strode out of the tower. His traveling clothes were still cold from his trip, but Keo was plenty warm. From head to toe, his attire was made for comfort while moving. Except the armor, which sat upon the pack he carried. The shirt he wore was one of the most comfortable things you could wear, as well as the leggings. For boots, it was the standard boots of the Chosen Guard of Althena. Not the most comfortable, but they would do.
His quiet brown eyes scanned the trees near the tower, a slight smile forming on his lips. He reached up and stretched, enjoying the warm spring breeze across his face and through his brown hair.
"Ahhh, how I have missed the wind in my face, the last time I was here it was autumn..."
Keo looked down at his dirty clothes and frowned, seeing grime and other various things clinging to his clothes.
"It shows too..."
He shook his head and set off toward the forest, ready to finally go home. He wrapped his fingers around the straps on his traveling pack, adjusting the weight of the armor that was attached to it for the long walk.
"It is a long journey to Meribia... then finding a ship to Saith."
Keo sighed. He wished he didn't have to go home yet, his journey had already been so incredible. He never wanted it to end. Danger, exploring, it was so... exciting for him. Keo finally entered the large forest, his step growing lighter as he thought.
It is a long walk to Meribia... so I guess I can enjoy my adventure awhile longer, who knows what I may find on the way there...
Keo's thoughts were interrupted by the sound of someone crying nearby. Keo turned to his left, his boots making little noise in the green underbrush.
"What..." Crouching near a Reab Berry busy with it's toxic fruit, he looked toward the source of the sound. It sounded like a child crying, a girl. Keo thought maybe it could be a trap, but dismissed it as nobody knew where he was. He hoped. Keo rose slowly and let his left hand rest on his saber, he could draw it with the left almost as well as he could cross-draw with his right hand.
He stalked toward the crying, staying low and making as little sound as possible. As he neared the sound he was certain it was a young girl, but as he rounded a tree he was proved wrong. Lying curled up on a treestump was a small looking feline, it was a light red, almost a pink color. Looking once more at the sobbing creature, his eyes went wide, and realized it had wings. He took his hand off his saber and walked toward the animal, palms out in a friendly gesture. Keo assumed as he neared that it was female and not a threat, but it didn't even notice him as he approached. He stopped five feet away from her, and decided that he would have to get it's attention.
"Hello..." Keo cleared his throat. "are you all right?"
She looked up from teary eyes that went wide when they focused on Keo's face.
The... thing yelled, leaping into the air and flying straight at Keo. She stopped two feet from him, frowning and sighing, her little face bunching up in sorrowful expressions.
"You're not Hiro..."
She said in a high pitched voice, filled with what sounded like anger, and a deeper running sadness. Drifting back toward her stump, the sobbing began anew, as she whispered just under her breath.
"I miss him..."
Keo raised his eyebrows, he knew exactly who it was now. She must have been Ruby, the young Red Dragon who followed Hiro throughout his quest.
"He misses you too Ruby, but he can't come back, you know that."
Though Keo said it with a light tone, he wished Hiro was on Lunar too. Ruby's head snapped around toward Keo.
"What? How do you know where Hiro went? Who are you anyway?"
She said with a fierce protective voice, which just came out cute. Keo smiled as he replied.
"My name is Keo, and don't worry Ruby, I mean no harm. Hiro would punt me through the air if I did."
"Your darn right he would, Hiro is the greatest person in the world..."
Ruby began crying again, the sound resonating through the forest. Keo walked toward her again, wanting to help. He pulled a cloth from a pocket and offered it to Ruby, who took it in her small paws and buried a pink face in it. She looked up at Keo through red eyes and smiled slightly.
"Thank you, and sorry about before, I am just very protective of Hiro, and nobody is supposed to know he went to the Blue Star. I have two questions, however..."
"Go ahead, ask."
Keo replied with a slight smile. He took a seat next to Ruby on the ground, crossing his arms over his chest, and locking eyes on her.
"Okay, first, how did you know Hiro was on the Blue Star. Second, why do you look so much like him?" Ruby said in between sobs, taking nearly a minute to get it out. Keo smiled as he answered her, leaning back on his elbows.
"I'll answer your second question first. I look like Hiro because he is my older brother, we look a lot alike except for his tattoos... and I know where he went because White Knight Leo told me. Then I went to find out for myself."
Ruby backed up a little step, her eyes widening. She almost fell off the small stump, barely keeping from tumbling over backwards.
"Hir... Hiro never had a brother... and did you say you went to find out?"
"Hiro didn't know he had a brother, and neither did I until last fall. Yes, I went to find out, I just returned as a matter of fact. Oh, and that was three questions." Keo said, grinning.
Ruby flew up in front of Keo's face, her little mouth wide open.
"You mean you went to the Blue Star? How is Hiro? Is he okay? Did he get hurt on the way? Is Lucia taking care of him? Tell meeeee!"
Ruby said with a whine in her chiding, rapid paced voice. Keo laughed, closing his eyes as he did. Ruby seemed to be ecstatic about news involving Hiro, though Keo didn't like sitting around and chatting. It was a long way home...
"Tell you what Miss Ruby, you come along with me as I walk and I'll tell you all about it. Sound good?"
Ruby flew up and landed on his shoulder, looking over at him.
"Sure! I want to hear how he is doing. Hey, your shoulder even feels kind of like Hiro's..."
Hearing that made Keo grin as he turned and walked back toward the well worn path that led through the forest. Then he would have to travel to Meribia and get a ship to Saith, and finally go home.
It had only taken about four steps before the small, high voice of Ruby chimed into Keo's ear.
"So tell me, I have a lot of questions. I mean A LOT. First of all, where did you come from. Why did you go after my Hiro, and did he talk about me?!"
Laughing lightly, Keo shook his head, still walking at a good pace.
"Yes, he talked about you, and to tell you where I came from, and why I went after my brother... well that would take awhile..."
"Well, we seem to have plenty of time, this forest is biiiig." Ruby just about cut Keo off as she cut in, chiming her tiny voice to his deeper one. Sighing, Keo continued to shake his head, deciding he might as well spill his story to her.
"Well, Miss Ruby, I was born on a small village, near the port city of Saith. It was a farming village, not too many people, you know. My... er... Mine and Hiro's father was named Turo, our mother Kria. My dad was in the Guard of Althena, like White Knight Leo. From what I was told, he was almost to the status of White Knight before he was killed in a bandit raid. I was yet to be born then, and I never got to meet my father. I remember my mother though, she was real nice. Well, for three years, I lived with my mother, and my aunt and uncle, Jane and Fedar, worked to help raise me. At age three, I lost my mother too. She was attacked by monsters, and died a week later. She gave me my fathers ring, and told me she loved me... that... that's all I can remember about her..."
Looking over at Ruby, he saw she was about to cry, and he couldn't help but bring his left hand up to rub the spot where the ring sat, on the necklace he always wore. It explained her silence during his long winded tidbit. Smiling slightly, his eyes came to lock on the path once more, as he began to continue on his story.
"Well, after that my aunt and uncle raised me. My uncle was a member of the Guard too, and trained me to fight with sword. I was even planning on joining the guard, still do, actually. My aunt was... a bit different. She could fight too, but she used her hands and fists. She was raised far away from Saith, in a City called Lann, I think that is what it was. Anyroad, you probably don't want to hear this. I will go on."
Keo shot a look at Ruby, who seemed anxious for him to carry on. Probably to the part about Hiro. For a different species, she sure had quite the obsession with his brother.
"Well, last autumn... you know what happened then. It was three days after my sixteenth birthday when you all fought Zophar. We in Saith were told that Leo was going to fight him in the name of Althena, and we were told to do our part to protect Saith. Well, after three days, you killed Zophar, we waited for Leo's return. He took longer than expected, as he usually comes on a set day for an inspection of the Guard in Saith. When he showed up, he took my uncle and I apart, and told the whole story. About Hiro, Zophar, Lucia, all of it. That was when Fedar told me my brother was Hiro. Apparently, my father sent Hiro away."
He looked back again, to a confused and bunched up face next to his.
"You see Ruby, my father Turo was a descendant of a people known as the Vile Tribe. Now we have been at peace with them for a long time, and they live among us still. But the people of Saith did not look too kindly on the Tribe. So, for my father's sake, and because Hiro had active marks of the Tribe on his cheek, he was sent to live with his Grandfather Gwyn. Gwyn is also a Tribe descendant, and it shows. But when I was born, I was born without marking, and was raised not knowing of my brother. So when I found this out, you can guess I was quite shocked. Heh... why don't we sit for a bit? We have gone through at least half of the forest."
Looking around, Keo made his way toward a dry area in the grass, careful not to bump Ruby around. She was still sitting on his shoulder, and was listening quietly the whole time. Finding a good spot to sit, Keo collapsed down, letting his pack fall to the soft earth.
"There, much better!" He said with a smile, eyes half closing down at Ruby, who had flown to the ground to rest. "Shall I go on?"
"Please do!" Ruby replied, smiling back up at him, and curling up into a ball.
"All right, well, I heard about all of this, and set out that night. I just took what I needed, and left. It wasn't that I didn't want to stay, I just wanted to find my brother. To cut my adventures short, I made it to the Star Dragon Tower in about two months. That is where Leo told me Hiro went to get to the Blue Star, and Lucia. So I figured, hey I can just walk in and go there too. It wasn't quite that easy. I made it to the top, but as you know, there is a guardian there."
Ruby nodded, focused quite intently onto Keo's quiet features. He absently wondered if she was comparing him to his brother. He resembled Hiro quite a bit at first glance, but a more thorough look would reveal the differences. Keo carried on with the tale.
"I didn't exactly beat the Star Dragon. In fact... he actually beat me up pretty bad. Regardless, he let me go just once, when he learned why I was going..."
Keo trailed off, as he thought to what else he gained in that little excursion, and the weight he now carried wherever he went. Hearing the high pitched sound of whistling, his attention was dropped back down to Ruby, who had her little paws in her mouth, getting his focus back on her. Clearing his throat, he went on.
"Sorry. Well, I got there, and it took me all of ten minutes to find Hiro. Lucia and him were in some temple, or palace or something. I explained it to him, and showed him my fathers ring as proof. The resemblance was enough for him I guess, because he didn't doubt me. So for the next few months I stayed there with him and the Princess of the Blue Star. We talked, told about our past. Heh... we even sparred a couple of times... he beat me bad."
Keo smiled down at his new friend, and saw her grin back up at him, happy he was getting to the Hiro part of the story.
"Anyroad, basically it was just catching up on old memories we both missed. He told me of my Grandfather, you, all his friends on Lunar. I told him of our parents, my aunt and uncle, life with the Guard. Things like that...."
Keo trailed off again as he yawned. It was beginning to grow dark, and he was already very tired. But Ruby, being her normal self, leapt right up, prying further.
"Well, how is Hiro? Did he say he missed me? Is he safe? Is it too cold up there for him? Is he coming back?"
Keo was just about to answer some of the questions, a smile forming on his youthful face, when a loud noise was heard nearby, and both companions jumped. Something was in the bushes not twenty feet from them...
Jaide Minikus' Fanfiction