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--by Golth


“Well, looks like we’ve reached this ending again…” the boy said, moving his king in a flicking motion at the last pawn on the table. His face was marked by a frown, setting down his king.

“It seems that way, looks like your strategy didn’t work, Vinecus” said the young girl sitting across from him.

Brushing his long black hair from his face, Vinecus shook his head as he looked over the chess board. Only two pieces remained, his king and her “king”. (Her king, being swapped out for the Queen piece.)

“I was sure that I’d defeat you this time, Dhizelandra, this is quite vexing.” Vinecus remarked, still eyeing the board where his king sat in stalemate. “How is it that you are able to defeat all my pieces, yet lose every one of your own at the same time, every game?”

Leaning back in his chair, Vinecus sighed in frustration, looking up at Dhiz as she shrugged at him.

“You know, you can just stop asking me to play this game if it upsets you so much, Vinecus.”

The young man, Vinecus, 17 in human years, sighed again at the young girl, Dhiz, 16 in human years before him. Unbuttoning the top of his collar, Vinecus shrugged as he leaned deeper in the cushioned seat. “You are one of my father’s protégé, I see this as a challenge.”

Dhiz gave a slight grin, trying to brush aside Vinecus’ obviously placed feelings of rivalry with her. “Then our skills are as equals, your father, Lord De’Aerin, has obviously…”

Vinecus, brushing his hair aside again, gave Dhiz a cold look. “I do not wish to be second place or equals. I wish to over come anything that stands in my way. I am to be the Lord of this House one day, I will see it brought to even greater heights that what my father has done.”

Dhiz, her own gaze going cold, looked back squarely into Vinecus’ eyes. “…and you see me as a challenge to this?”

Vinecus nodded, eyes locked with Dhiz’s. “You are perhaps as intelligent as myself, and both of our fathers have invested greatly into their business partnership together, I will see that, should our families join together one day, that I am the heir.”

“You assume that the Mi’Neris family will become nobility?” Dhiz asked, looking over Vinecus as he started to gaze out the window.

“It is only inevitable now that my father has put his hand into this trade partnership with your father, it is only a matter of time before you join the ranks of the lower nobility.” Vinecus replied, matter of factly.

Resting his head on his hand, Vinecus looked back toward Dhiz. “Your father’s dream will be realized, but what of you?”

Dhiz’s face flashed slightly, before she quickly put on airs of disinterest. “What do you mean? My Father’s dream is my own!”

Vinecus gave an amused look at Dhiz, and chuckled at her attempt to mask her true feelings. Dhiz naturally was hard to read, most people would never be able to notice the few flaws in her defenses. Vinecus, though, he thought to himself, was not like most people. In fact, he felt even superior to most of the governing nobility. It was only natural then that he would have such strong feelings of rivalry with this girl, who appeared out of nowhere in his life to challenge his every skill thought mastered.

“I find that hard to believe from the woman who spends more time hanging out at the docks with the workers than having tea parties with the daughters of the other noblemen.” Vinecus replied.

Dhiz, sitting straighter in her chair crossed her arms. “If my father wished it, I would give such things up.”

Vinecus gave a grin of challenge. “Really? You would even marry a man you had no love for, just for political gain? You know that is part of the role of a daughter of nobility, to be presented as a tool of family alliances with a dowry.”

Dhiz’s eye ticked. Vinecus grinned in triumph. He knew full well of her feelings for her childhood friend, another student of his father’s that was training for knighthood. Calienthal “Caleb” Lebethon, 9th son of the Lebethon family. As the 9th son, he had absolutely no chance as heir of his family, so instead of being sent to be a priest or magister he was sent to become a Knight.

“You know, chances are you’ll be married off to a Magister or Priest of some sort, a first son of a family. Your father is looking to go up in the world, I highly doubt you’ll be married to someone lesser, say a knight of some sort.”

Gathering her dress, Dhiz glared down at Vinecus before storming off. Left alone to his thoughts, Vinecus, still leaning his head on his hand, looked down at the chess board. He wasn’t quite sure why he always picked fights with Dhiz, even with his sense of rivalry with the girl. He even felt a bit protective of the woman that his father had been teaching, yet every opportunity presented to get under her skin he took it.

Placing down his black king next to the white queen piece, Vinecus frowned. “We are not so different, Dhizelandra. Both of us wish to see our family better of, yet neither wish to give up their life completely to the aristocracy.”

Grinning down at the two pieces side by side, Vinecus chuckled. “Perhaps, even if it is a dream, Lord De’Aerin is preparing us for a day that the need for an unorthodox noble is needed.”

--

Walking into the living room of a dock house, Caleb looked curiously around at the dimly lit room. The young man, of 17 in human years, peered around the room littered with machine parts. Pip’s house was always something of a mess, as he rarely actually lived in it and mainly used it to store parts for the Wings of Winter where he preferred to live. It had become more of a secret hide out for himself and Dhiz, where he could practice his sword skills and her make any number of crazy devices that interested her. Setting down his pack that contained his practice armor, Caleb peered curiously at the dress discarded on the floor.

“Guess her and Vinecus had another fight.” Caleb said to himself, knowing suddenly full well where she would be.

Walking to the roof, Caleb poked his head out the window and grinned as he saw Dhiz sitting on the roof, dressed in some of his work clothes he left at the house when he helped out De’Aerin after training.

“’Eyah Dhizzy.” Caleb said merrily, pulling himself through the window to sit next to her on the roof. “…have a fight with Vinecus?”

Frowning, and pulling her legs closer, Dhiz mumbled something intelligible. Laughing, Caleb wrapped his arm around the women and pulled her closer. “You two bicker like siblings.”

They sat for a bit, overlooking the harbor that held the ships of the Kingdom of Silvermoon. Sails littered the horizon and the sound of gulls pierced the air above the din of yells and shouts below.

“I want to go out there.” Dhiz said finally, her eyes locked on the horizon as she kept her chin resting on her knees. “…I want to be like the gulls, flying wherever they want, free from the chains of this city.”

Keeping his gaze out toward the sea, Caleb smiled. “Is that what you were arguing about?”

“…a bit.” Dhiz muttered. She always bragged about never backing down, being able to stand unwavering to anyone. Yet here she was, silenced by one of her few fears.

Caleb looked down, smiling as he placed a hand on Dhiz’s head and starting to mess up her hair. “…a bit?”

Shrugging off his hand, Dhiz sat quietly, mulling over her own courage.

Grinning still, Caleb looked out toward the horizon, and pointed as the familiar sails of the Wings of Winter came into view. “Your father is back. I think you should talk to him, get whatever is bugging you off your mind.”

Standing up, Caleb stretched as he looked over the skyline again.

“Hey, Dhizzy, can I ask you something?” he said finally, looking down at her.

Looking up, Dhiz nodded silently to him.

“If I were to leave here, give up being a Lebethon and go live my life elsewhere…” he said, offering a hand down to her. “Would you come along with me?”

Dhiz stared at the hand before her, eyes slightly wide as her mind raced over what Caleb had just said. Everything that she wanted, her own dream was now before her, with a offering hand. Looking up, her eyes met his, and just like they were when they first met, and felt her heart race.

“We’ll talk to Demuth and Slade first of course, I wouldn’t let them be in the dark for anything.” Caleb said, his hand still before Dhiz. “Come on Dhizzy, lets live while we can.”

Taking his hand, Dhiz started to smile.