It was a Three day ride to Akain with breaks. The journey itself was awfully boring. But the views were everything I remembered they would be like. I didn't talk much, as did anyone really. After the little 'coming out' scene, things seemed to change. Selir seemed to loose a small amount of respect for me, Darius oddly seemed to give me respect, Deiz had some newly found hero-worship towards me whilst Falmor became what most people would consider to be a best friend. Sitzeru seemed to just treat me like he had before. Only he was kinder. That was off-putting. By the time we reached the gates, we were all worn out and stiff from riding. I managed to pull up my scarf, changing it to a hood. Falmor gave me a funny look at this, but I shrugged it off. After all. Spending 60 so years in the dead lands would drive any man to have odd little quirks.
I looked up in awe. Everything was the same, the crystal effect of the walls, the shining white of the soldiers in their armour. Everything down to the last detail. It was almost too real when the large oak doors opened and we passed through, guards giving me more funny looks. We trotted through the city, and up to the castle. We dismounted in the courtyard, suddenly being surrounded by guards, who all had their eyes set on me. I hid behind Falmor a bit, becoming anxious around so many narrow eyes. Sensing this, Sitzeru stepped forward, and said something in that funny language and they all backed off. We all walked up towards the doors, hesitantly I stepped through and they swung shut behind me. Sitzeru put a reassuring hand on my shoulder and led us through the winding hallways, to the throne room.
I bowed my head as we entered. Not wanting the King to see my face just yet.
"Ah. My favorite soldiers! You've returned!" A booming voice said. I smiled, this was indeed Millorou. He seemed to be ignoring me for the time being. I wasn't fussed about delaying our meeting.
"Yes, sire. I'm afraid we got lost on our way back, and headed into the dead lands by accident." Gasping could be heard throughout the entire room, even by the King himself, the dead lands must have quite the reputation then."But luckily, we stumbled across this fellow who helped us out. And I think sire, you might just be surprised who it is." Sitzeru said, patting my back. My stomach turned when I felt the eyes of many on me.
"Well boy. What's your name?" Millorou chuckled. There was another uneasy pause. I slowly lifted my hands and drew down my hood, hair falling out and over my shoulder. There was another pause, where mine and the King's eyes met. There was more gasping. Millorou was speechless, he stood there, jaw almost at the floor. By the Goddess, he had changed. The curly black hair had turned slightly gray. He must have been in his 70's, although he looked much younger. Ah yes. He is 77, I remembered that Millorou and I had the exact birthday, except I was 10 years older.
"It can't be. Kaize...Is it really you?" He murmured. I nodded slowly.
"It is me, Millo. But I go by the name of Kenji now." Millorou smiled at the nickname. It was our little joke, back in the days, he was Millo, and I was Keezu. Only the Goddess knew how he came up with 'Keezu'. Suddenly I was in a tight embrace. I think everyone was as shocked as I was. I was spun around a few times before sat down on my feet again, hands on my shoulders. I stood shakily, looking at him funny. He laughed, a broad grin on his face.
"By the Goddess! You're alive! You've changed, you should be old and wrinkly by now!" He chuckled.
"So have you Millo. Although, you're not the 10 year old child I had looked after when I was a servant here. And I'm a demon remember. An immortal one too" I let myself smile. All the hatred towards this man seemed to melt there and then. He laughed again and commented on how worn we all looked. I nodded wearily.
"Well, it is dusk, so you shall stay here and rest, all of you. And then in the morning we shall catch up," Millorou said proudly before he led us off to get some rest.
The bedchamber he provided was stunning; A large bed filled with lush pillows and cream satin sheets, a medium sized wardrobe and a oak desk next to that. There were two large doors leading out to a decent sized balcony that gave you a full view of the kingdom. Then it snapped in my mind. This was were my room was. Before. And it was identical. I looked up at the king with large crimson eyes, and he just smiled. Not an overly large one, a hearty one. He departed with few words, telling me that the wardrobe was full of clothes (After he had joked that I looked like patched up doll), and he'd send a maid to draw a bath. I was about to shut the door, when I heard some fleeting words come from the king.
"It's good to have you back." And with a smile I closed the door
And then I was left in the room, alone. I took off my boots and placed them next to a wicker chair, as with my tunic, scarf, gloves and weapons. Opening the wardrobe was a surprise. There were many clothes indeed, but what shocked me was that they were all mine! From when I was a General. Even my old sword was there, looking almost brand new, why would Millorou keep these? Or better, why would the previous king want to keep these? There was a knocking at the door and I went over to answer it. It was the maid, I stepped aside to let her in. She was young, only about 16. Wasn't very talkative though, but then again, maids were trained not to talk unless asked to do something or asked a question.
Soon the maid was gone, and I had my bath. Hot water felt strange to my skin, all these years I'd used streams and rivers. All cold water. Even though strange, it felt nice. I made quick work of cleaning myself, a habit I doubt I'd ever grow out of, and went back to the bedchamber to dress. I picked out a white nightshirt. I let the fabric run over my fingers for a moment. This was my favorite shirt. It was a gift from a young servant girl for saving her from the wrath of the king. I declined the gift at first, but she said she'd be hurt if I didn't accept it. And here it is.
I soon sat down on my bed, staring out the glass doors at the night sky. I was extremely restless and shifted about for a while. I stood, walking to the doors and opened them, walking out on the balcony. I sighed deeply, feeling the clean air fill my lungs. Millorou was right. It was good to be back, even though I did miss the dead lands and the challenges it provided me. I bent over slightly, leaning on the railings with my elbows holding me up, my face cupped in my hands. I wondered on what the Goddess was talking about days earlier. 'Lead you too your destiny'. Was my destiny to live in Akain again? Or was it something more? A small turning of my stomach made me think of the latter, but I put it aside.
I jamp slightly when Sekku pounced onto the railing, looking up at me. We had a mini staring competition between us, and after a while, I lost. I smiled slowly, reaching out to stroke the furball. He (I presumed) mewled and padded forwards, butting heads with me. My smiled quickly spread to a grin. I forgot the simple pleasures of sharing affection with something. Even if it was a small fur clad mini-beast, which I still don't know what kind of animal it was! We stood there for a few moments, letting the purple-ish blue sky settle over us. The stars were twinkling merrily. Never had I seen them so clearly. That was why I loved this view. It was stunning indeed. It made me fall in love with the city all over again.
Silly isn't it? To be able to 'fall in love' with a place. But sometimes the silliest of things can make you fall in love. I didn't think anything this simple could fool me. I could remember walking through the streets with Resh. If you're wondering who Resh is, she was a lady friend of mine, before she left to live with her mother in another city. Reshema, or Resh as she asked everyone to call her, was a very beautiful girl. Long ebony hair with pale blue eyes. Even in her mid-thirties she could still fool any man into thinking she was years younger. That's one thing I liked about her. She was a fool, who loved to fool people. I smiled at her memory, of us both chasing each other through the empty streets, annoying the local people with our friendly insults and hysterical laughing when one of us accidentally decided gravity hated us and fell face first into some mud.
The smiled on my face faded to a sorrowful one. Resh left to find medical help in the city where her mother lived. Her condition was bad, and I was sure she wouldn't make it there without the proper treatment. She waved me off and said she would be fine. If she was alive now, she would be old. In her 90's at least. I stood up straight and walked back to the chamber, standing aside to let Sekku run inside too. I sat back down on my bed, suddenly tired. I fell asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow. I didn't even notice Sekku curl up next to my head.
Or the glowing pair of pale blue eyes in the shadows.