As Kendrick Kavich sat, twirling his Flair necklace listlessly between his fingers, he thought about the conversation that he had with Layla. Though their conversation happened nearly a week prior, Kendrick was still having difficulty grasping what the fairy told him she wanted - for him to take on Nolan Deluvia. The man loomed over pretty much any person in the war and was lightning-fast with his blade; when he took out his blade, he meant to kill. While Kendrick had as much confidence as the next man, even he was weary of the giant southerner. Normally, Kendrick didn't feel short, but if he would be standing next to Nolan, who stood a good foot and a half taller than he did, it was impossible to feel anything but.
"You want me to do what?" Kendrick stammered to the fairy, not sure that he had heard her right the first time.
"I want you to kill Nolan Deluvia. Adrianna may have been willing to let you hide up here in the mountains while she was in power, but the court is mine now, and it is time that we start using all of our resources accordingly. You are easily the most deadly man in the war. Why Adrianna let you hide in the mountains is anyone's guess, but the court, and everyone in it, belong to me, now. I want Nolan dead. Surely if anyone could defeat the beast, it would be you," she replied pointedly, glaring at him with her inverted red eyes.
"I don't think you realize just how well protected Nolan is," Kendrick said slowly. "I have tried to kill him several times before, but every time, I have failed. The man does not eat or drink anything that he doesn't prepare himself or have prepared directly in front of him. Physically - the man dwarfs me. Killing him would be difficult enough for me if the two of us fought each other with no one else. Since he is the star of the Xamalian army, I'm thinking that there would be other people involved. And if there are other people involved, I can tell you that he will defeat me."
It was hard, admitting that to Layla. She was by far the scariest fairy that Kendrick had ever met and he did not like telling her that what she wanted was probably impossible.
"How can you say that?" the fairy demanded, anger surging in her voice. "You are the most powerful Flair in all of Viger!"
Grinding his teeth, Kendrick tried to remain calm as he counted to ten. Layla may have been powerful, but obviously, she had much to learn about what it meant to be a Flair. He really shouldn't have been so surprised by the fact that the new Head of the Unseelie Court was so enraged; after all, fairies didn't care about humans. As far as the fairies were concerned, the humans were simply the puppets that they controlled to fight their war. How Olivia and Sebille had managed to sign the peace treaty between the courts in the first place was hard enough to understand. By all logical accounts, the fairies should have killed themselves off centuries ago. None of that mattered at that particular moment, however. Heaving a sigh, Kendrick said quietly, "I have not fought with a sword for years, Layla. The last time I used a sword, I was taking on Edan and I know him better than any other Southerner. I haven't fought someone outside of my family for at least a decade. Just because I am a Flair doesn't mean that I don't need to sharpen my skills. The fact that I haven't fought with a sword would mean that I would have weaknesses in my form; weaknesses that I am sure a Warrior as skilled as Nolan Deluvia would be able to expose."
"I don't care how long it takes you to whip yourself in to shape," Layla snapped, stepping even closer to him. When there was little more than six inches between their noses, she spat out, "I want Nolan dead. You are my best chance of making sure that happens. So, go train; sharpen your skills and take him on."
The fairy left after that. That discussion had taken place almost a week ago, but Kendrick still had no idea how he was going to be able to take on Nolan. Usually, Kendrick was not aware of how short he was (he just barely cleared 5'4") but he knew that fighting Nolan, who towered over him at 6'8", he would be painfully aware of just how much their heights differed. Perhaps Alston could help me, he thought. His youngest brother certainly was a possibility. Kendrick could ask him about the matter when he came to dinner tomorrow. If he agreed to help him, Kendrick might forgive him for lying about getting married. Getting married, he thought grimly. The day that Alston gets married will be the day that Julia stops being beautiful.
"Is something troubling you, Kendrick?"
Glancing up when he heard his wife's voice, he saw that she was giving him a concerned look. It was not a look that Kendrick often saw on Julia's face, especially in matters that were centered on him and what he did for the Temoragun army. The two of them had been married for nearly five years. The instant that Kendrick spotted her all those years ago, he was mesmerized - her grace, her poise, the dignity she exuded. She became even more attractive to him when he learned that she was a pixie. He started studying her, trying to learn everything about her that he could. By the time he finally approached her, he knew pretty much everything there was to know about her.
Though worry rarely plagued her face, Julia had reason to be worried tonight. Though Kendrick knew about the proposed mission to kill Nolan for an entire week, he hadn't mentioned the idea to his wife. Seeing her standing in front of him just then, though, made him realize that he would have to tell her eventually. Inhaling slowly, he finally broke down and told his wife, "Layla wants me to fight Nolan Deluvia."
For her part, Julia's initial worry faded into a more surprised look and she asked, "And that worries you?"
"Have you seen the man, Julia?" Kendrick asked, staring up to meet her eyes. There was no denying the power of her gaze. She had mastered the art of contorting her face long before she met her husband. Spending two hundred years fighting for a fairy taught a pixie how to do that, though. Julia had been one of Ivan's pixies. His wife rarely talked about her time with the fairy, but Kendrick knew that she viewed that time of her life as a living hell.
"Think about it, Kendrick," she told him one night, early in their courtship. "Would you want to talk about a person who had ordered you to fight for him and kill the people that he saw as being in his way?"
Hearing the amount of pain in her voice hurt Kendrick so bad that he could still remember the pain all these years later. For all of his wife's ability to contort her expression into revealing whatever she wanted, she could not completely wipe away the terror from her eyes when she spoke of her service for the court. There had only been one question about her past that Kendrick ever asked her after that discussion, and it came just moments after that painful statement: "How did Ivan die, Julia? How did you escape your imprisonment?"
The question brought out a chilling smile that was as cold as the ice in the winter. "A southerner killed him. He was a pretty famous Warrior; the fairies always said that the brute was one of Aaron Deluvia's heirs, not that they could prove it."
Remembering that discussion brought Kendrick reeling back to the present. Aaron Deluvia. Nolan Deluvia's distant relative. Not that it would make any difference for Kendrick; Nolan killed anyone not wearing a navy blue uniform, distant relative or not. Turning back to his wife, Kendrick was once again struck by the emerald green of her eyes. She has such lovely green eyes, he thought, what would I do if I never got to see them again?
Wrinkling her brow in thoughtful concentration, completely oblivious to the memories swirling in her husband's head, she puzzled over why Kendrick was reacting so poorly to the request to venture out and kill someone. Then, her eyes widened. Giving Kendrick a shocked look, she asked, "Wait, Nolan Deluvia? He's the taller of the two of them, right?"
That is more the reaction I was expecting, he thought drily. However, he kept his silence and instead only nodded.
"The one that has the highest kill count of any Warrior and only falls second in kills to you?" his wife asked, as though she were trying to make sense of an impossible scenario in her head.
Again, he nodded.
"Why do they want you to try and kill him?" his wife asked. "I mean, obviously, we would have a far better chance of finally ending the war in our favor if he were dead, but I honestly think it is too risky to have you try and kill him."
"So do I," Kendrick agreed with a nod, "but Layla has it in her mind that Nolan needs to die for Temoragu to win the war, and she wants me to ensure that happens."
Julia remained silent for a time, leaving Kendrick to his thoughts. He was still puzzling over the problem with no possible solutions when he heard his wife ask, "So, are you thinking about training, or something?"
"I would have to, if I want any chance of taking Nolan on," Kendrick said, not looking over to Julia. He was lost in his own thoughts regarding the situation.
"How long has it been since you have wielded a weapon?" his wife asked after another few moments passed in silence. Getting a curious look on her face, she continued, "Have you fought anyone since the last time you tried to kill Edan?"
"No," Kendrick admitted, still not really paying attention to her. "Not with a blade, at least."
"Would you like a sparring partner, then?" Julia offered innocently.
Startled by the offer, Kendrick turned his full attention back to his wife, who was giving him a deliciously wicked grin.
"Decades have passed since the last time I worked with steel, but I still know a thing or two about using it," she offered in a dark whisper, right next to his ear.
"Is that right?" Kendrick asked, grabbing Julia's hand and pulling her onto his lap.
"I'm sure I could teach you a thing or two," she hinted in a low voice, making it sound much more suggestive and all the more fun.
"Oh really?" Smiling deftly at his wife, Kendrick nodded and responded right next to her ear, "Prove it."