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As destiny had planned

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One late night, days before the birth of the Luminary, Yggsdrasil’s branches glowed. The light shone over the land of Erdrea, slicing through the darkness, and illuminating the land in a glow that filled hearts with hope. The darkness would rise soon, just as fate had prophesied, and with it, the luminary would rise to put a stop to it. King Irwin was sure of it, watching the light fade from Yggdrasil’s branches, and turning toward his wife. They smiled at each other, thankful they were blessed with a son that would save the world, and Queen Eleanor put a hand on her belly, a prideful grin crossing her features. The King and Queen of Dundrasil were happy, their child would be born any day now, and soon the kings of the other kingdoms would come to meet the future prince. All seemed peaceful, as one would hope, but alas; darkness seeps in all cracks of the world. Dundrasil certainly wasn’t the only one who had been bathed in Yggsdrasil’s holy light, oh no, the monsters of the land who dreamt of the rise of the darkness, had seen it too. Evil crept in the shadows, hiding from the joy the birth of the luminary brought the people, waiting, scheming. Darkness could never rise if the hero of light stuck around, whispers of a way to rid of the hero before he could ever fulfill his fate. Whispers of the fall of Dundrasil spread through the land silently, never reaching the humans. Days passed and soon the young boy was born, the future prince of Dundrasil brought into the world. His parents were ecstatic especially when they noticed a mark on the young boy’s hand, the mark of the Luminary. The other kingdoms were thoughtful of the young boy, mindful of the power he held in his hands, of the destiny that lay ahead of him. Murmurs of darkspawn came, King Carnelian deciding to put up a test to see if King Irwin was truly ready for the luminary to be his son. The other kings agreed, all coming to see the luminary themselves. Princess Jade of Heliodor was ecstatic to meet the new prince, excited to meet her new “little brother'', eagerly pulling her guards, Hendrik and Jasper along. The two follow closely, the knights tasked with protecting their king and his daughter, not a single soul who came on this day knowing what was planned. King Irwin slipped off to the Colloquy of kings, leaving Queen Eleanor with Princess Jade. The young girl happily squeaked, watching the rain thrum down outside, utterly ecstatic to have met the young hero. Hendrik and Jasper wait outside the hall, both grumbling as a storm thunders outside. Both knights stay at attention, both feeling a strange sense of apprehension. Hendrik turned his head toward a window, watching lightning flash outside, “You would think it wouldn’t storm so hard on a day like today.”

Jasper sighed, “Maybe Yggsdrasil is trying to warn us he really is a darkspawn?”

Hendrik shrugged his shoulders, watching royals walk past them, “Perhaps. Alas, we must wait to see if Irwin is convinced. We cannot go making up suspicions quite yet.”

Jasper nodded, yellow eyes resting on the storm outside, “Either way, it doesn't feel too happy around here.”

The knight beside him nodded, his bright turquoise eyes turning to the window. Silence fell between the two, a stiff silence. A tension flickered between them, both at odds with each other and unaware of it. A bitter resentment rested inside Jasper, darkness clawing at his heart and mind. Jasper wasn’t the only one harbored by darkness, shadows slowly approaching Dundrasil castle. Monsters crept in the shadows, eyeing the castle carefully, deciding to strike now, while no one was paying attention. Jasper watched as Hendrik turned off to go patrol, as they were both supposed to, deciding if he should follow. The blonde sighed, and cast one final glance toward the window, pausing at a glimmer. Maybe in another world he wouldn’t have noticed, maybe in another time Jasper wouldn’t have seen the lightning flash and reveal the creatures prowling towards the castle. He tensed, “Hendrik.”

The knight paused, having started to turn the corner, “What is it, Jasper?”

“Monsters.”

“What?!” Hendrik scurried to his partner’s side, glancing out the window.

The two young knights watched in horror as lightning flashed, revealing shadows prowling in the night, both of them nearly frozen in place. The two had no idea of the true jeopardy of the situation, their actions very much shifting the ties of fate. Hendrik’s voice boomed across the Dundrasil corridor, yelling out a warning. Action was taken immediately, guards and soldiers scurrying to stop the incoming army. Hendrik and Jasper turned towards each other, eyes meeting, grimly nodding towards each other before splitting ways, bolting to help win the fight for Dundrasil. Monsters began to flood the kingdom, pouring in through the castle gates, the two knights scurrying to warn as many people as they could. Hendrik stayed inside the castle walls, his voice booming across the halls, pushing soldiers to fight, citizens to seek shelter, and royals to evacuate. Chaos broke loose, Jasper running outside. Rain pelted down, slicking his hair to his skull and dampening his cloth uniform, helping lead the defense against the monsters. Lightning flashed, the storm raging on, as the fight began. Though Dundrasil may have gotten the upper hand in those extra moments of warning, the monsters weren’t after the destruction of the castle. No, they wanted the Luminary. They were after blood. A soldier burst into the Colloquy of kings, barking out a feeble warning that monsters were approaching. The kings all swallowed and immediately began to flee, scurrying to escape the castle. Dundrasil could fall. All that mattered was that the young luminary, the young Eleven, survived. The royals tried to flee, monsters breaking past Jasper’s last stand and slipping past Hendrik, King Carelian and Lord Robert deciding to stand their ground. King Irwin thanked the two for providing him cover, scurrying to find Queen Eleanor and Princess Jade. He bolted down the halls, hurrying to find his wife and smiling when he finally finds them, safe in their quarters. Princess Jade lets out a soft squeak, looking up at him, “King Irwin! There you are! We were so worried!”

Queen Eleanor let out a soft whimper as she looked at her husband and son, “You’re alive! Oh, thank the heavens! When we saw the monsters coming, we feared the worst for you both!”

King Irwin shakes his head, “Nevermind that now. We need to get out of here. All of us.”

They nod, knowing every single second counts, fleeing the room as soon as they could. They waste no time, attempting to leave through the front door, the three gasping as a monster bursts through the door. The beast inhales sharply, “I feel his presence… I sense him… I! I smell him… The luminary!” They sneer, “Give him to me! There can be no escape!”

His majesty plants his feet, drawing his weapon, “Just you try and take him!”

The monster lets out a roar and charges, fending off bravely by the king of Dundrasil. It's a rather quick defeat, Queen Eleanor letting out a whimper, “The monsters are everywhere! What are we gonna do, Irwin?!”

The king of Dundrasil turns to his wife, “if they’ve made it this far round the castle, they must have the place surrounded. We’ll have to use the tunnels, this way.”

The group press on, heading into the dungeons of Dundrasil. The king very carefully shfited a bookshelf, opening the secret exit for them. They head into the dark, quietly trying to flee from monster’s sights. It doesn’t last, a group of beasts scurrying after them. King Irwin grits his teeth, standing between them and his family, “I’ll deal with them. Get out of here, quickly.

The queen lets out a feeble whine of compliant, which is hushed by them being pushed along. Irwin spares them one glance, “Run! And don’t look back!” and closes the door, allowing them time to flee.

The queen carefully holds Eleven tightly, making sure princess Jade stays safely at her heels as they flee, leaving irwin to stand against the beats. He finds victory but it is no easy feat, weak from fending off the three powerful monsters. He holds his arm, huffing and panting as he turns to follow where his family had gone, pausing when a familiar voice booms through the dungeons. King Carnelian comes streaking through the castle, catching Hendrik’s attention, who was doing his best to aid the Dundrasil soldiers. In another life, he may not have noticed his king running after his daughter. In another world, he may not have responded. But in this one, Hendrik is not too far behind, following his king just in case. King Irwin starts to run the opposite way of his family when he hears the King wail in search for his daughter, “King Carnelian? Over here, your majesty!”

Hendrik and Irwin skid into the dungeon at the same time in yet another twist of odds, the knight gritting his teeth where the king lets out a soft squeak, “King Carnelian?! What in the-”

An Evil fiend has the king of heliodor in his clutches, smirking at the royal. Irwin draws his sword, “Who are you?! What do you think you're doing?!”

The man smirks, malicious Mordegon eyeing the king of Dundrasil in amusement. He then turns to Carnelian, the fiend having intention to possess the man in his grasps. But, Irwin isn’t alone in this life. Hendrik dives to separate the man and Carnelian, sword drawn and teeth grit, “I will not allow you to set a hand on my king.”

Mordegon snarls as his plans fail, the brickwall of a man blocking him from taking the Heliodorian king. Hendrik plants his feet, “Go! King Irwin, King Carnelian, go now!”

The two hesitate but wisely flee, leaving the knight to stand his ground. Hendrik meets Mordegon’s eyes, “You’ll have to go through me to get to them.”

Mordegon huffs, “very well…”

Hendrik gasps as the beast swings at him, narrowly dodging. Claws dig through his cloth armor, snagging skin. A cry bursts from the knight’s throat as blood bursts from the injury, skin burning in pain. He grumbles, gritting his teeth and struggling not to succumb to the urge to turn tail and flee from an enemy so much stronger than him. But, it is his oath to remain loyal to his king, to protect him with his dying breath. And Hendrik would be damned if he failed his kingdom, the kingdom who had given him so much. He grips his sword and lunges forward, swatting Mordegon back, though his advances do very little. He swings, snatching skin very few times, the monster much faster and cunning than him. He fights with all he has regardless, refusing to let him pass, much to Mordegon’s amusement. He puts his hand up, Hendrik letting out a soft pant, “Had enough, fiend?” He spits.

Mordegon eyes him, “I have no quarrel with you, Zwaardsrust boy.”

The knight freezes at this, feeling his stomach drop, “How do you-”

He smiles, “I remember a purple haired boy when I destroyed that kingdom. Saved by Heliodorian forces, a mercy no one else had. This makes you loyal to a fault, doesn’t it? It does feel strange to encounter you again, boy, so I’ll let you slither away with your life. My darkness creeps in all corners, your closest allies are tempted, Zwaardsrustian, mark my words. The luminary bloodline ends here.”

Hendrik’s chest aches at the words, a violent flash crossing his mind, This same man, at the bloody destruction of his birth kingdom. It's quick, the seconds unbearably painful for the knight. Hendrik snarls, “I-I’ll kill you!” He rasps, lunging forward with all his might.

The knight stumbles, a blow with enough force behind it to kill hitting the ground instead of its target. Hendrik hisses and spins, freezing when he realizes he’s alone. Mordegon was gone, without a trace. He let Hendrik have his life, resuming his search for the Luminary. The man looks around feebly, chest heaving with the effort from the fight and the unpleasant memories forced to surface. He shakes his head, turning his attention to where the kings had fled, carefully running that way, determined to keep them protected and trying to catch up.

 

Jasper keeps his sword steady, carefully parrying a monster’s attack. He swiftly moves forward, landing a fatal blow, chest heaving. His body ached with exhaustion, slowly trying to retreat back, wanting to at least keep his life. He turned his head, wondering what happened to Hendrik, his majesty, pr- Out of the corner of his eye, Jasper spots a lone figure bolting out from the underbrush, feeling his breath catch in his throat. The knight flees from his spot immediately, following the figure, “Princess Jade!”

The young girl turns, her eyes wide with terror, stumbling and nearly dropping the basket in her arms, “J-Jasper?’

Jasper runs over to her, gently squatting down beside her, heart aching as the young girl breaks into tears, so relieved to see a friendly face. She clutches Eleven in her arms, the knight before her worriedly eyeing her and the child, “Where is Queen Eleanor?”

“I-I don’t know…”

“Your father? Irwin?”

“I dunno…” She sniffles, tears pouring down her face, hair slicked with rain.

“Hendrik…?” Jasper asks, tone both filled with a sickening worry and scorn.

The princess offers no answers, just shaking her head and clutching the knight, Jasper carefully starting to lift her into his arms, “No matter, i’ll get you somewhere safe, princess.”

He pauses when the young girl screams, a headless honcho quickly approaching the three. The knight doesn't hesitate to shove the girl behind him, rain continuing to pour down, his sword reflecting lightning, “I shan’t let you hurt the princess!”

The honcho rasps, “The Luminary… Hand him over to me!”

Jasper grits his teeth and lunges forward, Jade feebly bolting for cover, having promised Eleanro to keep Eleven safe no matter what. She flees for cover, convinced Jasper would not win against the headless honcho, terror filling her senses. The knight bravely fends off the monster, the battle no easy feat. Exhaustion claws at him, heaving in pants as he watches the monster fade, turning to find Jade again. He catches up quickly, grasping her hand, “Let’s find your father, okay princess? It’s alright, i’ve got you…”

Jade holds his hand tight, holding the young hero close in her other arm, as the three carefully slip through the shadows to find the others. It doesn't take long for Jasper to find Queen Eleanor, who is hurt but alive, a good sign. Lord Robert had managed to show up in the nick of time, the two watching jasper and the princess carefully. Rab takes the baby from Jade, the princess grabbing onto Jasper and holding him tightly, pressing as close as she physically could. He pays her no mind, “Where is King Irwin and King Carnelian?’

Queen Eleanor swallows, “Irwin was not far behind me… But, he had stood up to a rather large group of monsters…”

Lord Robert looks down, “aye… it would be wise not to waste any time waiting.”

Eleanor nods grimly, Lord Robert carefully leading the group away from the flaming Dundrasil, trying to lead the group to safety. They all look up when a voice booms, all turning to see king Irwin, “Eleanor!”

The queen runs to her lover’s side, the two groups reuniting. Jasper smiles to see Hendrik alive and well, even if hurt, gaze falling on King Carnelian who is rather rattled but otherwise unhurt. Lord Robert hands Eleven to the knight beside him, running over to speak to the other royals, all amazed to have survived. Jasper opened his mouth to object as the child was pushed into his arms, the young luminary babbling as the royals discussed what to do. He grumbled and tried to hand the child to princess Jade, watching as she bolted to hug Hendrik, letting out a soft wail to see him safe. Jasper sighed and shifted Eleven in his arms, hearing Dundrasil continue to burn in the distance. He couldn’t help but scowl at the child, the darkness in his mind convincing him he held a bringer of evil. He grumbled as he watched the royals before him ignore him, believing they were idiots for praising the young boy. The luminary had brought on the destruction of his own home, had his parents nearly killed, and cost so many innocent citizens lives… How could they just ignore that? Jasper seethed with resentment as he watched those he served, glaring down Hendrik and Carnelian, the sad look in Hendrik’s eyes as he looked back upon the destruction of Dundrasil only further angering him. He thought of seeing the terror in Jade’s eyes, the tears that glimmered as she looked at him and had bolted to Jasper’s safety, the child of evil tight in her arms. It reminded him of a young Hendrik, blood boiling. He scoffed under his breath, “Some hero.”

“Ah!”

Jasper looked down when Eleven squealed, the baby reaching for his nose. His lip curled when the child grabbed him, yellow eyes widening when light began to shine from the mark on his hand. A strange warmth flooded through his body from the child’s touch, the light fending off the darkness that ate at Jasper, if only for a few moments. His eyes fell on the royals, finding very different thoughts filling his head. A relieved Jade that was merely thankful her loved ones had survived, a rattled Carnelian who had both nearly lost his life and daughter, shaken King irwin and Queen Eleanor who had lost their whole kingdom and nearly their lives, and Hendrik… The man of Jasper’s resentment, a man who gave the darkness in his heart something to fester on. His turquoise eyes are troubled, pained to watch yet another kingdom fall, hurt from defending their king from evil clutches, and mind receding deep into the dark of his past. Pity filled Jasper, no longer feeling the bitterness he had felt toward his oldest friend for so long. Eleven’s hand faded, the child teething at his fingers and squealing, unaware of what a turn of heart he had just given the knight. The darkness tried to swallow him once again but Jasper saw through it, realizing how foolish he was. Eleven’s eyes brimmed with innocence, unaware he was wanted dead for a gift he couldn’t possibly grasp. The knight cleared his throat, “Hendrik.”

The man in question nearly jumped out of his skin, “Y-Yes sir- Ah, Jasper?’

“You haven’t got to see him yet, have you?’

Hendrik shook his head,”No, I have not.”

Jasper smiled and carefully handed him the young boy, carefully guiding the knight to hold the baby properly, “He’s rather friendly.”

Hendrik was caught off guard by the kindness in Jasper’s tone, having not seen this side of his friend in a long time. Meanwhile, Jasper felt pride flicker through him, knowing he had distracted his friend from terrible memories, the two sharing a smile they thought had been lost to them. Hendrik smiled at the child of light, very carefully rocking him, “He’s rather cute.”

“He’ll make a good prince.” Jasper nodded thoughtfully, glancing to where Eleven’s parents spoke of plans for the future, their kingdom destroyed after all.

When King Irwin gently took his son from the knights, the group all having decided Heliodor would be the safest, they all turn away, Jasper left lingering for a few long moments. He stares at the fires, watching buildings crumble, unable to shake an uneasy feeling of how lucky they were. How slim these odds had been. It felt strange but pleasant, pausing when he hears Hendrik’s voice, “You coming, Jasper?’

For once, he didn’t grit his teeth at the man’s voice. Instead, he turned, letting out a soft yes as he took his place beside Hendrik’s side, the two equal once again, their friendship turning a new leaf. Dundrasil may be in ruins but it can be rebuilt. Everyone lived. A new fate set. Just as destiny had planned… or so one would think.

Chapter Text

Dundrasil would be rebuilt, the damage severe but not irreversible. It had been decided that until the kingdom was restored, dundrasillians were welcomed by any kingdom, free of charge. The royalty however stayed safe in Heliodor, where they were most safe, protected by Helidodor’s vast army. Princess Jade was utterly delighted by having the King and Queen around, Hendrik and Jasper not so much. They immediately found themselves becoming the royal babysitters, the two knights grumbling at a very hyperactive Jade and a rather fussy Eleven, the pair often kept up at night watching after them while the royals carefully planned. It was an honor, sure, but very tiresome. Late nights watching the children provided the two plenty of time to talk, giving the darkness in Jasper’s mind no time to fester. Though, the peace between them was unsteady, especially when King Carnelian decided the knights deserved to be rewarded for their deeds at Dundrasil. Well, Hendrik anyway. Hendrik couldn’t help but squirm, his throat dry as he was ushered into the throne room, the king grinning at him proudly. He felt misplaced, the knights and guards around him cheering and praising him for a feat he hadn’t done alone. Hendrik may have saved King Carnelian against Mordegon but if Jasper hadn’t noticed the monsters, if he hadn’t found Jade, no one would be where they were now. But, his majesty didn’t see Jasper’s bravery, only Hendrik’s. He was determined to reward the knight in question despite his feeble protests that there was no need, Jasper watching the scene weakly. He hung back from the others, bitterness crawling in his gut as his companion was rewarded for both their feats that day. It made his skin crawl, the blonde unable to hear Hendrik’s attempts to have his friend noticed, all he could hear was the whispers of the darkness. They tempted him, whispering that this was intentional. Jasper couldn’t help but believe them as the knights around him didn’t notice his presence, as he was shunned while his friend bathed in glory. He clenched his fist at his side, lip curling in resentment to the knight, the forgiveness he had given Hendrik fading. It figures, didn’t it? That Hendrik would take all the credit. That Hendrik would bathe in the light while Jasper was left to drown in the darkness. What a fool Jasper had been to think maybe things would turn around. He turned swiftly on his heels, unable to bear the heartache no more. His boots clicked against the marble flooring, Hendrik glancing over his shoulder as the man retreated into the shadows, watching him go with a bitter taste in his mouth. He turned to King Carnelian, “Your majesty, please, if i could just-”

“You don’t have to be so humble, Hendrik! You deserve to be promoted for your deeds at Dundrasil! You saved my life afterall, you deserve to be a general!” The king cut him off.

“Yes, but-” Hendrik sighed as he was cut off, his words lost to the crowd.

The man felt so out of place, knowing he shouldn’t be standing here alone. Jasper deserved to be by his side, the two equals, just as they had always planned to be. Standing alone made his mouth taste of bile, swallowing just at the thought of Jasper storming out of the room, his hunched shoulders and brisk pace enough for Hendrik to know he was upset. Hendrik wasn’t quite mentally present at all during the ceremony, thinking soley of a quiet evening he and Jasper had shared the night of Dundrasil’s fall. The two had been put on babysitting duty as the royalty talked, Jade curled up asleep in Jasper’s lap and Eleven dozing peacefully in Hendrik’s arms. Sunrise was not far, golden light slowly creeping through the windows, Hendrik mumbling complaints as Jasper bandaged his injuries, the two very careful not to wake the children, “I assure you, Jasper, it’s just a scratch.”

“Which can get infected if not taken care of properly so stop your squirming before I hold you down.” 

Hendrik sighed, “You’re hurt too you know.”

“My injuries didn’t bleed, therefore I have no reason to dress them.” Jasper replied, rather snidely.

The other man let out a soft breath, “You protected Jade against the headless honcho, that was no easy enemy. I’m sure you’re injured as well, let me take care of you too.”

Jasper let out a soft frustrated sigh,  “If you insist.”

Hendrik smiled and carefully made sure young Eleven didn’t wake, leaning over to Jasper to make sure he had no bruises, the other man huffing and looking away as Hendrik ran his fingers over his skin. Satisfied with his search, Hendrik relaxed again, Jasper shifting his weight uncomfortable, “I’m sure your arm is fine now, unless you feel I should tighten them?”

Hendrik shook his head dismissively, his thoughts far from his injury. The golden light outside catches Jasper’s eyes just right, making them glow a soft honey hue. Hendrik squirmed, clearing his throat, “Ah, it is getting late… It would be wise to try and sleep at some point tonight.”

Jasper glanced toward the window, “It seems you're right. Do you want to stay here?”

Hendrik felt his face warm, “In your room?”

Jasper shrugged, carefully lying down Jade, who barely stirred at being moved from his arms, “Well, it has been a hard day and well…” his voice dropped an octave, a soft, reassuring, and almost apologetic, mumble escaping him, “I know your prone to night terrors.”

The knight beside him carefully rocked the baby in his arms, “I’m sure Eleven would enjoy the extra warmth anyhow.”

Jasper nodded, “They said body heat is good for babies.”

The two looked at each, immediately becoming embarrassed when they processed they’d have to sleep close together. Neither protested, both too stubborn to admit being shy, grunting and huffing at each other as they tried to find suitable positions. The room filled with their soft hisses as they tried to find some way to curl around the children protectively without getting too close to one another, their friendship shaky at best currently.

“Ow! Get off my hair, you oaf!”

“Scoot over, it's hot enough with Jade climbing on me!”

“Dimwit! You’re gonna crush Eleven tossing like that!”

The two bickered for a while before settling down, finally finding comfortable spots. They lie on opposite ends of the bed, plenty of space between them, and the children snug in the middle of the bed. They sighed, relieved from the awkwardness, and promptly closed their eyes to sleep. It wasn’t long before they dozed off but to their dismay, Jade soon found it to be rather hot between them. Jasper squeaked when Jade pulled his hair, Hendrik grunting when he was kicked in the back, both knights scowling out a, “Will you just get comfortable?!”

Their tones startled young Eleven, who promptly began to cry. Hendrik and Jasper sighing as they looked at each other, way too tired for the fussy children. Jade crossed her arms as they grumbled, stomping her foot, “I want to go to my room!”

Jasper let out a soft exerapsiarted noise, “Princess, do you have the slightest what time it is?”

Jade pouted at him, kicking her feet, “I can’t sleep!”

Hendrik pinched the bridge of his nose, rocking the wailing Eleven with his free-arm, “You can take her to her bedroom, I'll calm him.”

Jasper noddlessly worded and got up, grasping the princess’ hand rather tightly as he led her to her bedroom, Hendrik left to settle the young boy. Eleven watched Jasper go, sniffling before reaching at Hendrik, grasping at his nose as well. The knight laughed at him, “Aw, aren’t you just curious…”

It wasn’t long before Jasper returned, Eleven starting to cry again at the sight of him. He frowned, “What's he fussing about? Make him stop!”

“I tried!’

Jasper grumbled and sat down, the baby reaching for him. They gently swapped, the blonde taking the fussy child, who gripped his shirt tightly and proceeded to throw a fit that he wasn’t with Hendrik. Eventually, the baby’s crying forced them to press close together, the knights grumbling as Eleven forced them to cuddle close before he settled down. Jasper sighed, “Guess this is how we’re sleeping.”

“Unfortunately.”

They both shifted to try and get comfortable, resuming hissing and grunting at each other over every discomfort, finally finding a spot that was bearable for the awkwardness. Jasper’s head was on hendrik’s shoulder, the broader of the two knights carefully holding Eleven and Jasper close, as the child demanded. The young luminary was content now, warmed by the close proximity, unaware of how flustered he had made them. Eventually sleep came for Jasper, leaving Hendrik to sit with his thoughts for a little while. He couldn’t help but notice just how thin Jasper had become, bordering unhealthy thin. He began to worry for his companion, wondering if he had been eating enough, unable to shake his worries even in the current moments, standing before Carnelian and not curled up beside the man. Hendrik thought nothing of the ceremony, head full of thoughts of Jasper, unable to shake the feeling that jasper needed his recognition. Hendrik thought of the nightmare he had that same night, to waking up to feeling Jasper’s hand tight on his wrist, the grip firm yet kind, steadying him into the real world. That he was safe with Jasper. The memory of that night only made his skin burn even more to stand alone, looking around to see most the other soldiers had cleared out by now. He opened his mouth the moment silence fell, “Your majesty, I have to object.”

King Carnelian fumbled, “Object?! Whatever could be the reason?’

Hendrik met the king’s eyes, standing his ground for his friend just as he would in a thousand lifetimes, “As much as an honor this is, I must object, for I did not act alone. If it was not for Jasper’s bravery that night, I fear Dundrasil would have been in much worse condition. He noticed the monsters approaching, he was on the frontlines, he saved princess Jade, your majesty, he deserves his credit where it's due. I cannot just stand idly while he goes unnoticed.”

Maybe in another time, maybe in another world, Hendrik’s plea would have fallen on deaf ears. Hendrik would defend Jasper in every life, he knew the man deserved credit, but there was more urgency to his tone now, more desperation. He could not let the door between him and Jasper close again, pleading with the king. King Carnelian eyed him, the man not wanting to tear the two apart but instead, tipping his head to Hendrik’s words, ‘You feel rather strongly about this, yes?”

“Of course, sire.” He bowed his head respectfully.

King Carnelian studied him intently for a moment, his reply yet another turn of fate, “Very well.” He turned his head toward some guards off to the sidelines, “Go fetch sir Jasper.”

Hendrik couldn’t help but grin, relieved as the guards went to fetch the blonde, straightening and trying not to look nearly as excited as he was. Maybe in another world, Carnelian would not have been quite himself, he would have ignored Hendrik’s defense, he would have forced the knight to bite his tongue and splintered their friendship beyond return but in this one, Hendrik beamed with pride. He knew something was off with Jasper and he was determined to help him through it, no matter the cost. Hendrik wanted to reach into the darkness and pull Jasper out of it, now fate just relying on Jasper taking his hand.

 

Jasper grumbled as he stormed to his quarters, stepping into the room and exhaling hard. He cursed Hendrik under his breath, upset to think his friend had changed in any way. No, he was just as selfish as before and Jasper was a fool to think otherwise. He paused when he noticed the crib, standing numbly in the doorway to realize he was alone with Eleven. He looked around, thoughts cut short, expecting Jade, a guard, anyone really, to be lingering around the child but alas; Jasper stood alone. He felt numb, his skin crawling, to be alone with the luminary, the darkness seeping through him. It poisoned him, gruesome thoughts filling his head. He and Eleven were alone, and would be for a while. He could easily dispose of the child of light, couldn’t he? No one would know. All were occupied with Hendrik anyhow, what Jasper did was of no concern to anyone. Thinking of the man made Jasper growl, resentment flooding through his senses. He watched Eleven as the baby babbled at the mobile above him, the darkness whispering horrible thoughts, thoughts that made Jasper nearly want to puke. Kill the Luminary. That was all he had to do to have anything and everything he wanted. Let the child of light’s blood stain his hands and Jasper would no longer be ostracized, he would be a minion of darkness with all the power he could possibly want. Anything in all of Erdrea would be his if he named it. All he had to do was to make sure Eleven didn’t draw breath. It made him sick to think of such brutal thoughts, finding himself struggling for breath. Anything. He wouldn’t be alone anymore, the darkness would welcome him with open arms and provide him all he wanted in reward for one despicable act. It was tempting, too tempting. Jasper grit his teeth, feeling his stomach flip, numbly stepping toward the luminary. Eleven looked up at the knight, eyes brimming with innocence, a soft squeak escaping him at a familiar face. Jasper felt his lip curl, head throbbing, the thoughts only getting louder. How easy it would be to squeeze the life out of the boy. How simple. His blood could stain his hands, he could slip out of the castle walls and flee to Snifflhiem, the royal library would provide him refuge. It was all too easy, Jasper covering his mouth to stop himself from spewing. It was sickening, overwhelming, both hands coming up to grip at his head. The shadows screamed, Mordegon knowing Jasper was his last remaining tie to Heliodor and Eleven’s inner circle. Jasper was his last hope. The knight buried his face in his hands, weakly heading over to where the baby sat. He gently reaches into the crib, letting Eleven grab onto his hands, the man hoping to be provided clarity. He hoped to watch the mark glow again, for the darkness to clear for a few moments, “H-Hey kiddo…”

Eleven could not give him answers, just smiling at the man before him. The hero had done all he could for the knight, powerless now. If Jasper decided to take his life, there was nothing that could be done about it. The blonde coughed, his lungs feeling like they were full of tar. He stood on shaky legs as he studied the baby, hating every second he was alone with him. He could have all he wanted in exchange for this one life. Anything in all of Erdrea. Jasper swallowed as thoughts of ripping the light from Eleven’s eyes continued to drown him, too terrified to move anymore.

“Sir Jasper?”

The knight spun, ripped out of his thoughts, cold relief flooding through him to longer be alone, “Yes?”

“King Carnelian requests for you to come to the royal chamber.”

Jasper sighed and pulled back from Eleven, who frowned at him, and turned on his heels, “Whatever could he want?” he grumbled, acting like nothing was amiss.

The guard paid no mind to the rattled Jasper, mumbling to Eleven about going to see his parents. The baby squeaked, Jasper keeping his head down as he briskly left, disgusted with himself for what had nearly happened. He wouldn't ever hurt Eleven, would he…? Surely not. He swallowed hard, finding the whole experience rather surreal. He felt nearly out of body, like it wasn’t truly him thinking such terrible things. Unfortunately, Jasper didn’t have forever to rack his brain for answers, soon arriving before the king of Heliodor. Hendrik smiled at him, the smile kind and sweet. Jasper just glared, expression cold, before he turned to Carnelian, bowing respectfully, “You wished to speak to me, your majesty?”

Hendrik frowned at the sudden coldness but didn’t leave Jasper’s side, casting his gaze toward the king as he spoke, “It has been brought to my attention that I have failed to reward you for your bravery, Jasper.”

The man glanced at Hendrik, who beamed, earning an amused eye roll from the blonde before his yellow gaze fell on the royal again, “Rewarded…?”

King Carnelian nodded, “You and Hendrik showed unmatched bravery, it would be wrong

of me to only reward one of you. Heliodor grows even stronger with you two as generals, afterall, neither me or my daughter would be alive without you two. I’m sorry I was delayed in this.”

“Thank you, your majesty…” is all Jasper could muster, looking at Hendrik.

The bitterness had faded already, finding himself forgiving him rather quickly. He smiled, meekly, but kindly, satisfying the man beside him. Jasper couldn’t quite shake the sick feeling however, even as Carnelian promoted him, doing his best to stay steady. When the king finally released the two, Hendrik turned to Jasper, smiling warmly at him, “Do you wish to accompany me to the banquet tonight?”
Jasper glanced at him, “I have something to take care of first but… sure. I’ll meet up with you later.”

“You will?”

Jasper let out an amused snort at the childishness in his tone, “Yes, Hendrik, i’ll be there.”

“See you then, Jasper.” Hendrik mumbled and let the other leave, Jasper unable to

resist chuckling.

He smiled to himself, almost grateful to get to spend time with his friend, instead of time with the darkness that poisoned his insides. Speaking of that, Jasper found himself gagging like a cat with a hairball, hurrying to get to his quarters, unable to shake the sudden bout of illness. When he stepped into his room, he was more than relieved to find himself alone. Eleven was with his parents, meaning the knights wouldn’t be stuck babysitting tonight, meaning Jasper was free to spew into the trashcan as noisily as he pleased without worry. He grumbled to himself and hoped vomiting would ease his pains, brow furrowing to notice he hadn’t hacked up leftovers, a dark liquid dribbling down his chin. At first, he felt terror flash over him, thinking it was blood but its color was too dark to be that either. He groaned and rubbed his temples, hacking up more of the sticky fluid before deciding to get an aspirin. He was unsettled by whatever his body had just tried to get rid of but he did feel better nonetheless, deciding to go catch up with Hendrik. He should tell Hendrik about this. Jasper shook his head a the sudden thought, scowling. No, he couldn’t possibly tell Hendrik. The dimwit would worry endlessly. Jasper cleaned himself up as he convinced himself that this was a secret he must keep to himself, glancing at himself in the mirror as he carefully groomed his hair. His eye bags were dark, a tired expression resting on his features, and his skin was awfully pale. He could really use a vacation right about now. He straightened his uniform before leaving his bedroom, wiping his lip precariously before heading off to catch up with Hendrik, deciding some socializing would be good for him. 

 

Jasper wasn’t exactly sure how the night would go, Hendrik just as worried. It had been so long since they had hung out just as friends, would their bond still be there? Or did the years apart tear them apart? They both were worried, both hoping to start fresh, not wanting to let their past stand in their way. Around the third round of beers, their worries were far behind them. They laughed and giggled like they hadn’t in years, hearing each other’s laughter just making them laugh even harder. Their joy was outmatched, faces flushed as they hung off each other, sharing their wildly different drinks with each other in their amusement. Moonshine for Hendrik, margaritas for Jasper, Moonshine for Jasper, Margaritas for Hendrik, who could possibly remember who had ordered what? Not them. Jasper had one arm draped over Hendrik’s shoulder, “You know, you were always such a lightweight.”

“Says the one who’s slurring.” Hendrik snickered.

The other rolled his eyes, “You have no room to speak, you’re slurring too. Besides that, I remember when we were younger we’d sneak into the pantry and swipe a few bottles…”

The broader of the two smiled at the thought, “hm, yes, I do seem to recall you getting trashed on the job and collapsing mid-shift.”

Jasper elbowed him but laughed, stretching his arms out, “You act like you hadn’t drank your fair share too. Threw up on the first drill, might I add!”
“Liquor doesn’t sit well on a hot day, dearest Jasper.”

“Hm, I wonder how much more you’ll have to drink in order to throw up again?” Jasper taunted, flashing the other a smirk.

Hendrik met his gaze, “If you make me throw up, I'm locking you on the balcony in your boxers.”

Jasper snickered and grabbed his glass, swirling the contents, “Buzzkill.” he smiled as he watched the liquid slosh around inside his cup, “Ah, good times.”

Hendrik tipped his head back, studying the ceiling. He clicked his tongue a few times thoughtfully, “Oh, where does the time go… It doesn’t feel like that long ago we were wrestling in the courtyard…”

The blonde frowned at his comment, staring into his drink at his reflection. The liquid was a dark color, giving him an off-putting barely recognizable reflection, his brow furrowing. He sighed, finding his heart aching. It really had been years since they’ve hung out like this, hasn’t it? Hendrik didn’t move, in his own trance as he stared upward, “When did it ever go wrong…?’

Jasper tipped his head, noticing the man beside him had zoned out, the comment having never even meant to leave his mouth. The blonde frowned, asking himself the same question. Then, in a sharp moment, the answer came, catching Hendrik completely off guard, “When you didn’t shake my hand.”

The reply was laced with venom, Hendrik jerked back to reality at the words, “What?”

Jasper stared at his glass, finding his throat burning again. The darkness wouldn’t let him have even one moment, would it? He began to feel ill again, swallowing at the memory. Hendrik had just returned from Puerto Valor and Jasper had wanted nothing more than to congratulate him on being knighted, offering him his hand when the man passed. The broader of the two had ignored him, had turned him down, had stepped aside from years of friendship. The heartache ate at Jasper, it always did, even now. It burned a fire inside him, coughing and setting his hands on the table as he pushed himself up, “Pardon me.”

Hendrik frowned, unaware of the turmoil that boiled inside the other male, “Where are you going?”

Jasper turned without answer, stepping away and heading towards the door, “I just need to rest a few, Hendrik.”

“Jasper?”

The blonde didn’t look at him, spluttering more of the strange blackness, leaving promptly to go take care of it, too stubborn to tell Hendrik what was going on. The knight watched his companion leave with a heavy heart, no longer interested in the glasses around him or festivities. He huffed, knowing something was wrong, glancing at the liquid in his own glass. How did he let Jasper convince him to drink such an awful tasting liquid? Hendrik sighed and stood, wanting to talk to the other desperately. He knew better than to chase after him now though. For now, he was just gonna go outside and train, to release the pressure and distract himself from the anxiety Jasper’s behaviors had been giving him. He plopped some gold on the bar and grabbed the gold Jasper had given him to pay for the drinks, refusing to let him pay and intending to give it back later. He turned to leave, hoping maybe he’d run into the blonde. He grumbled at the loss, suddenly feeling very alone as he walked through the halls. Hendrik carefully reached up and pulled the token of fealty away from his neck, glancing at it in his palm, chest aching for his friend. Hendrik would worry about Jasper in a thousand lifetimes. He would never have the heart to think poorly of his friend in any lifetime, He could never give up on him. Not in a thousand years. This was one continuance no matter what. Hendrik would do anything to restore the friendship he had lost, he would do anything to fix their broken bond, he would do anything for Jasper. Though, he never had any idea on what to do to stop the man from slipping through the cracks. But now. Now he knew. The knight smiled at the token in his hand and placed it back, deciding to go kill his buzz before he did anything, for once sure on something regarding his closest companion.

 

Night fell, the two knights long sobered from their fun. Jasper was curled up in bed, grumbling at the illness that still ate at him. He was alone, peaceful, keeping a trashcan close just in case he spewed anymore of the dark sticky liquid. He was dozing in and out of sleep, lights dimmed, as to not b disturbed with babysitting though he knew the children were likely with their parents again. He needed a break either way, comfortable to sit and think for a while. Hendrik on the other hand was restless, sweat dribbling down his brow as he finally headed back to his room. He did, admittedly, feel more relaxed after some sparring but it wasn’t quite the satisfaction he was after. He stood outside his quarters, hand on the door, unable to will himself to settle down for the night. Turquoise eyes fell on the room across from his, the dim light that peeked out from under the door catching his attention. Jasper was awake. The broad shook his head, trying to convince himself that he needed to give the man more time, that saying anything now was clingy. Hendrik soon found his heart had more control over him than his brain did, sighing as he found himself outside Jasper’s quarters. He rapped on the door three times exactly, holding his breath when he heard Jasper stir. The blonde pushed to his feet and came over to the door, opening it and eyeing the knight in surprise, “Can I help you?”

Hendrik cleared his throat, rubbing the back of his neck, “Ah, I brought you your gold back. I paid for our drinks.”

Jasper tipped his head at the man but sighed, “I had intended to help, you know, but,

fine. If you insist on being a gentleman for once, I'll take it.”

The knight nodded and carefully placed the gold into the other’s hands, finding his words catching in his throat. He exhaled, “I also came to apologize.”

The blonde quirked his brow, “Oh really now.”

Hendrik spoke with confidence, having never felt so strongly about anything in his entire life, “I want to fix things between us, Jasper.”

Jasper tipped his head, eyes flickering with interest as he studied Hendrik more intently than he had any book, “How do you propose we do that, Hendrik?” he asked, voice riddled with scorn, but there was no hiding the genuine curiosity in his tone.

“I do not know for sure but… I have a start.” Hendrik offered Jasper his hand, the other puzzled by the motion, “I owe you a handshake, don’t i?”

Jasper stared for a few moments, almost unsure how to react, like he couldn’t believe what was happening. He felt his throat burn ever so slightly, looking into the turquoise eyes of the knight, His eyes were filled with nothing but hope, enough hope it made the blonde’s lip curl in disgust. He smiled at Hendrik, “You really are a sentimental fool, Hendrik. Alas… This will do.”

The purple haired man grinned when Jasper took his hand, the two sharing a firm handshake. They smiled at each other, with more strength than the night of Dundrasil, true peace flickering between them. Jasper pulled his hand back to cover his cough, groaning as the tar-like substance splattered onto his hand. Hendrik let out a soft noise of distress at this, “Jasper-”
Jasper grabbed the knight with his clean hand, pulling him into his room, unable to keep silent any longer, “We need to talk.”

Chapter Text

“What do you think of this?”

Hendrik and Jasper turned their eyes to the prince of Dundrasil, who smiled at them proudly. The now six year old Eleven set his hands on his hips, dressed up in standard Dundrasil garb. It was too big for him, the blue and green outfit draping off his figure as he showed it off to the knights, who were more or less paying attention. Hendrik offered the child a smile, “It looks fantastic, Eleven.”

Eleven grinned and swayed, kicking his feet as he pranced around the room, nearly stumbling on the cloth. Jasper rested his hand on his cheek, “As nice as it is that you’re wearing the clothes your grandfather got you, don’t you think it’d be wiser to show him and not us?”

Eleven pouted, nearly slipping another time, “Mum and dad are in here, though!”

Jasper sighed, carefully getting up and putting his hand on his back as to prevent him from slipping on the outfit, “Ah, yes, they will be here when you get back as well. Now, why don't you scurry along and play with Princess Jade, hm?”
The young Luminary stuck his tongue out at the knight as he was ushered outside, “Playing with Jade is no fun! She always wins! Hey, Hendrik?”

The man in question turned, “You know as well as I that I cannot save you from Jasper.”

“No, that’s not it! Will you play with me later? Please?? Jasper too??”

Hendrik smiled, “Of course, Your highness, we’ll both play with you in a little bit. I promise.”

“I won’t.” Jasper grumbled, crossing his arms as the young boy turned to go.

Hendrik glared at him, “Yes, we will.”

“Fine.”

Eleven let out a delightful cheer at this and scurried off, undeterred by Jasper in the slightest. The blonde began to close the door after him, wincing when the prince tripped and face planted, Hendrik and Jasper both starting to get up to fetch him. Eleven bounced right back to his feet without even a whimper however, zooming off again, much to the knights relief. Jasper closed the door, “Nothing can slow that boy.”

“Feels like immortality flows through him sometimes.”

The blonde took his place by Hendrik’s side once again, “He’s turning into a real brat, though.”

“Rude, Jasper, he is just a boy.”

“I’ve met monsters nicer than him.” The other crossed his arms smugly.

Hendrik sighed, “Can you blame him? He’s just now getting used to castle life now that Dundrasil is rebuilt. He was just ushered awkwardly around Heliodor, mind you.”

Jasper groaned at the other knight’s reply, “Still, some humbless would do him good.”

“He said please, what more do you want from him? Mind that you think we were much better than him at his age.”

“Phooey, we were far above him. We were not spoiled by the lavishiness of royalty.” The blonde commented, eyes batting toward the royalty present, who were too occupied with their own conversation than what the knights were saying.

“You kidd, Jasper, you were just as spoiled as the boy. You were a brat too, once.” Hendrik grumbled in defense.

“Name one time?”

“Present.”

Jasper scoffed, “I was nice to him! I politely declined!”

“Not getting out of it though.”

“You’re gonna kill me, Hendrik, truly.” The blonde knight waved his hand to silence the other for a rebuttal.

Hendrik sighed but fell quiet, the two carefully moving to join the conversation of the others in the room, having gotten bored of bickering with each other. King Carnelian barely batted an eye toward the generals who joined them, the two slinking to opposite sides of the king, flanking him, “Whatever will we do?”
“A village ravished by monsters is problematic indeed, your majesty. Though they are in the Heliodor region, why can’t they just be moved into Heliodor?” King Irwin suggested.

“Not a bad suggestion…” Carnelian thought for a moment, half startled when one of the men behind him spoke.

”I do hate to object, your majesty, but Heliodor has no room for village folk. The poor district is ever growing as it is, taking in a town’s worth of people is not going to do much more than cause a bigger problem.” Jasper said matter of factly, yellow eyes falling on Hendrik when he spoke.

“Cobblestone, wasn’t it? Yes, they do not come from wealth, Jasper is right in that aspect. It’ll be more costly for us to expand downtown Heliodor than it would be to just move them to a kingdom that could provide them proper housing.”

“Is that so…?” King Carnelian thought for a moment on their words before looking at the king before him, “Do you think the sultan would take them?”

“Gallopolis is rather far.”

“Ah, true. Maybe Octagonia?”

“Octagonia is packed enough with all the martial arts tournaments, plus, it is a city of wealth, your majesty.” Jasper slid his words in, expression thoughtful as he racked through options.

“Why can’t they stay here? In Dundrasil?”

Everyone stopped when a new voice piped in, the group turning to look at Eleven. The prince smiled, one of his front teeth missing and eyes brimming with their usual child-like delight, “The city is plenty big! I like new friends! And! And! Dad did just say we don’t have enough peoples?”

“How did he even get back in here? He can’t reach the doorknob.” Jasper mumbled to the man beside him, King Carnelian turning on them.
“Weren’t you supposed to be watching him?”

“Uh.” is all the knights really had in response, both fumbling for an excuse on why Eleven had snuck back in, Hendrik managing to give a proper response, “We thought he had went to lord Robert, your majesty.”

King Carnelian opened his mouth to give them a lecture of some sort, stopping when Queen Eleanor spoke, “We have expanded greatly since before dear, it wouldn’t hurt to take them in. Plus, you did say you hoped Eleven could have a little more say around here.”

King Irwin thought for a moment, gently scooping up the boy, “That’s a genius idea!”

Eleven wrapped his arms around his father’s neck, squealing happily, “Yay!”

King Carnelian turned back to the knights, “Very well. I can trust you two to round them up, yes?”

Jasper opened his mouth but was interrupted by Hendrik, who spoke first, “Yes, sire.”

“You are dismissed then.”

 

Even with disgruntled and bored-with-this-task knights suggesting the idea, the Cobblestonians were thrilled with the thought of moving to Dundrasil, at least until a new Cobblestone was built. It was a few weeks of Hendrik and Jasper journeying back and forth to oversee the moving until Dundrasil had properly welcomed the residents. The royalty of Dundrasil were stoked, extremely happy at the new citizens who filled the population. Eleven especially found the new residents pleasant, often sneaking out of the castle to play with the village kids. Despite Hendrik and Jasper’s best efforts to keep the young man safe, he was faster and more determined than them to get outside the castle, finding himself much happier in the open air than inside. He loved to send Jasper and Hendrik on wild goose chases when he went slipping into the village, finding their anger with him endlessly amusing. Everyone in Dundrasil loved the darling prince, the boy eager to meet anyone, friendly and brimming with excitement at everything. No matter how much he was scolded, put in timeout, ushered inside, and punished, nothing could stop the child luminary from joining street parades, small gatherings, or anything else he saw that was neat. Everyone could recognize the prince in a heartbeat, always being looked out after, even if he didn’t have guards scrambling after him. Over the course of just a few days, Eleven made friends with a young girl named Gemma, who was born on the same day as he. They had an instant bond, Eleven finding her presence much better than Jade’s, the princess having no complaints about this. Jade found herself spending more time with Rab than she did Eleven, much to her Helidoorian guardians' confusion. They found the young heirs had very different opinions of how life should be lived. Princess Jade found interest in martial arts, learning combat with lord Rabert, and spending her days trying to join in on sparring competitions instead of doing “girly” things. She was damn good at being a warrior too, besting Jasper on several occasions, though the knight would rather die than admit he lost in arm wrestling to a princess. King Carnelian had no problem journeying to Dundrasil so much, proud of the young warrior princess, Hendrik and Jasper not nearly as thrilled with all the traveling. Eleven on the other hand, found castle life to be a bore to him. Being waited on hand and foot made him uncomfortable, much preferring to help the village woman do laundry. He found a home away from home quickly, loving a kind woman named Amber and her father, Chalky, spending most of his afternoons with them. He spent days and nights with Gemma, never straying too far from her side. She quickly became his best friend, the two filling the whole kingdom with their joy and childish fun. When they fought, just about everyone knew it, finding those days to be rough. Despite his parent's attempts to keep him safe indoors, going as far to lock him in his room, Eleven always found a way back outside. Once when Jasper had taken Jade to Dundrasil on the king's behalf, he noticed Eleven had been grounded after mischief with Gemma and the chickens resulted in some chickens getting lost. The young boy cried endlessly, distraught with his punishment, and awfully lonely in timeout. Jasper had decided he could take the crying no longer, mumbling to a Dundrasillian guard about, “letting the hell child loose” before he let Eleven out, the young boy giving the knight the fiercest hug he could muster before running off to find Gemma. It became one of Jasper’s fonder memories; crouched down on one knee to be on the boy’s level, Eleven hugging him tight, burying his face into his chest, and sniffling out, “Thank you, sir Jasper!” before running off, hitting the door in his excitement but not slowing in the slightest. Jasper, Hendrik, and various other guards all collected memories like this over the years. King Irwin and Queen Eleanor found Eleven’s love for village life rather strange but quickly learned keeping him inside the castle only made him more and more upset, eventually letting him do as he pleased. He grew up learning to ride horses and various other domestic things in town, learning to be a proper royal inside the castle walls, the mixture of environments and constant love making him become humble and rather shy, the boy a beaming way of sunshine for just about everyone. As the years passed, Hendrik and Jasper had to babysit less and less, finding watching the youngins much better than doing whatever chores King Carnelian wanted to task them with. Jasper particularly loved watching Eleven, dozing off peacefully in the shade while the boy did his regular village-life activities, much to Hendrik’s disappointment. The broader of the knights approached the man sleeping under a tree, nudging him slightly, “Jasper? What are you doing?”
The blonde opened his eyes, glancing up and yawning, “Eleven is loose and terrorizing the village again so I decided to get some much needed rest.”
Before Hendrik could ask what he meant, they were interrupted by Gemma’s yell of, “Hey, Eleven, be careful!”

The two knights turned to look, finding a now teenage Eleven on horseback. He was hardly hanging onto the horse, cockily grinning at Gemma, obviously trying to impress her, “I’ll be alright, Gemma, I’ve got this!”

He kicked his feet in his excitement, startling the horse, who promptly bucked ever so slightly, a motion that should not have had much effect if he had been holding on properly. Eleven was dropped immediately however, hitting the ground with a thump and groaning, Gemma covering her mouth to stop from laughing aloud. Though Eleven hit the ground hard, the only thing that had been wounded was his pride, flustered as Gemma pulled him to his feet, amusing the knights who had watched the scene. Jasper snickered, leaning his head back against the tree and closing his eyes again, “Those two truly wreak havoc everywhere they go.”

Hendrik couldn’t help but chuckle at his companion’s words, glancing around. He wanted to scold Jasper for dozing off during a shift but there wasn’t truly much to do, finding himself just sitting down beside him. The other scooted so they could share the spot under the tree, watching Eleven and Gemma bicker playfully and enjoying the quiet moment. The purple haired man studied them for a few, “He’ll marry her one day.”

Jasper opened one eye to look at him, “What makes you say that?”

“He holds a certain glimmer to his eyes when he looks at her. I know it very well.”

“Hm, a prince marrying a commoner isn’t exactly common, but for Eleven? Entirely possible. Oh, you know the look well, Hendrik? Why is that? You have someone you fancy?” The other knight teased, flashing him a smirk.

Hendrik blushed at this, grumbling, “No, it is just rather recognizable. I’m sure when he returns from Angri-La he’ll be right back at her side again.”

“Probably.”

The two spent the rest of the afternoon dozing off together, letting Eleven and Gemma do as they pleased. They spent a lot of afternoons dozing under that tree together as the children played. Eleven spent most of his youth by Gemma’s side, his parents just delighted he had a best friend, but alas, childhood would not last forever; Eleven was still the luminary. He would leave for Angri-La in just a matter of months...

Chapter Text

As Eleven approached his teens, so did subject of being brought to Angri-La to train. He would follow his destiny and learn to master his powers of the Luminary, the king and queen of Dundrasil deciding that he would be sent off on his thirteenth birthday. Eleven was sad to go but was willing to face his destiny, knowing the task of the luminary was one he could not just ignore. The fresh faced thirteen year old sat in his room at the moment, having spent the day doing standard birthday celebrations, now quietly getting ready to leave soon. Gemma sat with him, watching him, “How long will you be gone?”

Eleven turned to look at her, “Hopefully not long. Maybe a few years at most?”

“I know it's selfish but I really wish you could stay… I’m gonna miss you.”

Eleven gave her a soft smile and gently tucked clothes into his suitcase, “I’ll miss you too Gemma, but I do have to go... I am the luminary after all.”

“No one ever lets us forget.” She groans, “Having a legendary hero as my best friend is nice though!” she giggles and lies flat on her back, watching the young man, “Princess Jade came to send you off today.”

Eleven nodded, “Practically everyone in all of Erdrea did.”

Gemma let out an exasperated sigh, “Ugh, getting Amber to let go of you will be impossible you know.”

The prince laughed softly and stood, finished packing, “I know. You’ll be hard enough to shake off.”

The blonde got up with him, watching as a guard grabbed Eleven’s suitcases so they could go greet the public, the girl following the young hero and punching his arm lightly over his comment. They smiled as they stepped outside the room, greeted by king Irwin and queen Eleanor. Irwin smiled, setting his hand on his son’s shoulder, “Are you ready?”

Eleven smiled and nodded, hugging him tightly, “Yes.”

Eleanor kissed his forehead softly, “I know you’ll do great, Eleven.”

He beamed, turning to Gemma when she grasped his wrist, “Ready to go meet your adoring public?”

The prince blushed, “Ah, I wouldn’t say adoring…”

Gemma giggled, pulling him along, “You’ve got plenty of people to say goodbye too! C’mon!”

The prince’s parents beamed proudly at their son as he was dragged off, the young man greeted and hugged by just about everyone he saw. Lord Rabert swept him off his feet with the sheer force of his hug, reassuring him that he would come visit him and oversee his training. Eleven smiled at his grandpa’s words and was immediately pulled off by Gemma, cycling through all kinds of royals that wished him luck. Amber grinned at the young prince, eyes watering, “Aw look at you, you look so big! I’m gonna miss you so much!! Where would I be without my little helper!” she squeezed him tight, the prince gasping for air against her.

He pushed away after a moment, ruffled, smiling awkwardly at her as she sniffled proudly at him like he was her own son and in a way, he was. Their mother and son bond ran way deeper than they could ever imagine… 

Amber dabbed at her eyes, “Chalky would be so proud of you, Eleven. You’re always gonna be my little boy, don’t you forget that.”

The young luminary felt his eyes water at this, Chalky having passed away a few years ago now. His heart ached but felt a little warmth flutter at the pain; he would make sure he would become a hero Chalky would be proud of. Gemma rubbed Eleven’s back before taking Amber’s side, nonshalontly giving him a chance to escape from her tears, which the prince took as soon as he could. Eleven met with royal after royal, heaving a sigh of relief when he met the last group of people and the closest group; The Heliodorians. King Carnelian and Princess Jade both grinned at him, “Ah, you already look as bold as the hero you will become, Prince Eleven!” the king boasted, patting his shoulder.

Jade smiled at him, “Good luck, I hear Angri-La training is no easy job. Though, I have no doubt you’ll be able to handle it!” she ruffled his hair, teasing him just as an older sister would.

Hendrik watched the royals speak, waiting patiently alongside Jasper for their turn to wish the prince well. He frowned when he heard the man beside him burp and proceed to choke, turning to look at him. Jasper furrowed his brow in pain as his throat burned, feeling the sticky black fluid return once again, dribbling from the corners of his mouth. Hendrik was careful not to cause any attention to the knight’s delemina, he knew the darkness that tainted him was stubborn, voice soft, “Can you take care of it or do you need to be excused?”

“Need to go…”

Hendrik nods wordelssy as Jasper swiftly turns to leave, carefully covering his retreat. He smiled when Eleven turned to him, “I am sure you have received countless praise today so I will save my breath. I am just as proud of you as everyone else and I wish you luck with your training. I have no doubt you will succeed.”

The prince smiled at the knight’s words, frowning when he noticed the empty spot beside him, “Where is sir Jasper?”

“He has fallen ill once again. Rest assured, he will be back in a few moments.”

Gemma frowned at Hendrik’s words, having barely gotten away from the crying Amber, “Again? He hasn’t gotten sick in years!”

Eleven glanced at her, “He usually gets like this anytime I do anything kinda cool. He threw up everywhere when I casted my first spell remember?”

“Ugh. Talk about very specific times to get sick. What does he have again?”

“Acid reflux. Now, don’t be rude, young Gemma, Jasper will return in a moment, I assure you that he would not miss this for the world.” Hendrik defended, acting unbothered by their words. 

Though Jasper had sworn against the darkness, it wasn’t exactly going to take no for an answer, eating at him silently.  The closer to fulfilling his destiny Eleven got, the sicker Jasper would get, the knight refusing to listen to the whispers. He had promised Hendrik that he had no ties to the darkness and in return for this promise, he was protected. The two had a million excuses for the darkness that consumed the blonde, both coming up with him having acid reflux to excuse the fact that Jasper was very prone to vomiting. All of Erdrea believed them and therefore he could leave whenever he needed. Jasper had promised Hendrik he would never harm a hair on Eleven’s head and Hendrik trusted the man with all of his heart. The knight grumbled as he finished and carefully wiped his mouth, returning to the others. He had an oath to Heliodor to serve, he had a promise to keep, Mordegon’s whispers could never break him. He smiled at the young luminary, “My apologies, your highness.”

“You’re fine.” Eleven gave him a warm smile.

Jasper bows to him respectfully, giving him a smirk before ruffling his hair, “I wish you luck, young hero!”

The prince squeaked and ducked away from him, Hendrik and Jasper both laughing at him as he stumbled, becoming rather embarrassed. He turns away from them after a moment, the king and queen of Dundrasil calling for him. The purple haired man glanced at the blonde, tone low, “You are still pale.”

“I wasn’t going to miss saying my goodbyes.”

“If you are still ill, I demand you leave. Eleven will return. We cannot afford to let you raise any suspicions, Jasper.”

The smaller of the two grunts, watching the young prince, “It’ll be years, Hendrik, I wish to at least see him off.”

“I will accompany you if it means you get this taken care of properly.” He tuts.

Jasper sighs after a moment, turning on his heels and heading off, Hendrik following closely as they retreat. They head to a bathroom just in time, more black splattering K\Jasper’s palms. He hunches over the toilet as he spews the vile fluid, Hendrik sighing as he holds Jasper’s hair out of his face for him, “Do you think this will ever ease?”

“I do hope so. I would hate to have to avoid Eleven forever over this.”

“Hopefully it will get easier…” Hendrik let out a soft noise of worry, rubbing his back gently.

Jasper grumbled and went back to what he had been doing, the other knight gently supporting him. He was quiet for a few long moments before he spoke again, “...Have you still been having night terrors?”

“Not that I remember.”

“That is good. A sign of progress, I believe.”

Silence fell for a few long moments, neither having much more to say. It wasn’t exactly an uncomfortable silence, more worried than anything; would Jasper ever truly escape the darkness?

Hendrik certainly believed so and so did Jasper, the blonde wiping his mouth and staring down at the ground, “I’m sorry, Hendrik, I am sure you are doubtful of my claims…”

The other knight shook his head, “Not at all, Jasper. I trust you.”

 

Eleven found Angri-La to be both a blessing and a curse for him. On one hand, his spell casting ability improved drastically with every single day, on the other, Master Pang was hard on the young Luminary. He spent the next six years of his life there, training relentlessly for his future alongside grandmaster Pang and his grandfather Rab. They guided him along, teaching him all they possibly could for the destiny that awaited him, only finding one major roadblock in his progress; he just could not grasp his powers as the luminary. Any of the ancient Luminary’s abilties were lost to the young man despite endless attempts. No matter how many times Eleven found himself at the mercy of the naughty stick, he never could grasp the power Yggdrasil had gifted him. He spent six years trying to unlock this sacred power but to no luck, Rab and Grandmaster Pang pushing him even harder as he approached eighteen years of age, knowing they were running out of time before he had to press on - the darkness would not be willing to just sit around and wait for him to unlock his powers. Eleven found their pushing very frustrating, unsure quite what to do. Destiny awaited and he lacked the proper skills to greet it. He was eighteen years old now and finally ready to be sent home to prepare for his journey. He was excited to see his friends and family in person again, having really only heard from them via notes, pacing in his room. He turned his head when Rab stepped into the room, “Hello laddie.”

Eleven smiled at him, “I know what I want to do.”

Rab tipped his head, eyes twinkling with interest. Debate had been floating around Angri-La about what Eleven was to do without the power of the luminary mastered, Master Pang finally saying that it would be the prince’s decision in the end. Now, the young man knew what he must do. He had his bags packed much to Rab’s interest, knowing what he was going to say but surprised by the words anyway, “I am going to go on anyway. I am of age now, I can’t just wait around!”

Rab nodded, having honestly expected this from him, “Aye, I figured so. What will ye’ tell Grandmaster Pang?”

“The same thing.” Eleven said confidently, slipping past his grandfather. 

And that’s exactly what he did. Though Pang had some strong words about the subject, in the end they knew they had no choice but to send Eleven on his way. The young man was sent home the very same day, deciding he could use a little time back in Dundrasil before he was sent on his journey, Rab deciding he would accompany his grandson on his adventure. King Irwin and Queen Eleanor were content with this arrangement, knowing that Rab was very skilled in spell casting and would protect his grandson with his dying breath. Discussion after discussion came and finally it was settled that once the time came for Eleven to set off, he would head to Heliodor and collect the red orb first and foremost. Princess Jade looked at her father when he told her this, popping her knuckles, “Father, I want to go with him.”

King Carnelian spluttered at her words, “You? I cannot allow you to do such a thin-”

Jade interrupted him, “I have spent my whole life training in martial arts, I would like to think I am capable of defending him. Please, father, I really want to go.”

They bickered back and forth for a while before Jade finally agreed that she would allow him to send bodyguards with her in return for him letting her to go. They had a very brief discussion on who exactly but they quickly found their answer; Heliodor’s finest pair of knights were the only logical match. Hendrik and Jasper tried to object at first, not exactly excited to travel across the world after a bunch of kids but alas, King Carnelian believed they were a perfect choice. After just a little while of grumbling, they soon found this to be a great honour, both happy to be appointed for such an important role in the Luminary’s destiny. Jasper was tasked with being Jade’s personal bodyguard while Hendrik became Eleven’s, the two ordered to protect the young heirs with their lives. Eleven quickly amassed a party, finding himself becoming even more sure he was ready to proceed even without his legendary ability. He had his grandfather who was skilled at spell casting, Princess Jade who would never let anything happen to him, and finally he had the brains and brawn of Heliodor on his side; Hendrik and Jasper. He had a good feeling about this and so did Gemma, who commented proudly on his group. She had said she felt safe with him going but she could not go with him; this was his mission, not hers. She had known that for her whole life. Eleven respected this and decided to spend the rest of his time in Dundrasil in her company; or so he planned...

Chapter Text

“Heliodor, you say?”
Two men sat across from each other, both thinking quietly. The taller and lankier of the two drummed his fingers on the table, his hood drooped over his face, hiding any distinguishing features. He looks down at the table, the tavern bustling around them, “That is pretty far, Derk, are you sure Noah isn’t sending us on a wild goose chase?”
Derk, a small and round man, nods at him, “Course i’m sure, Erik! Heliodor is the only place that orb would possibly be! Why do you need such a measly little thing anyway.”
The hooded man, named Erik, leans back in his chair and looks up at the ceiling, seeming rather uneasy on sharing his reasonings, “It has personal value, I’ve said that! Besides, it's worth a fortune underground.”
They fall silent when a bunny girl comes walking past them, offering them a round of drinks. Erik puts his hand up in refusal, focused on the conversation at hand. Derk frowns as the girl leaves, “Oi, I was thirsty!”
“Focus, Derk.” Erik sighs softly and rests one hand on his palm, “I’ll buy you a drink later if we settle this. We have to split by morning, remember?”
The other man grumbles but nods at him, “Are you sure you’re gonna have enough money to make it all the way to Heliodor? You ‘ave been spending an awful lot…”
The hooded man scoffs, “I’m fine. Besides, we have to make do with what we have. We can’t exactly keep sticking our hands in people's pockets, they’re already onto us as it is.”
“Yes but Erik, I would hate for ya to get stuck somewhere with no gold! How will I possibly know if you’re caught up somewhere if I’m in Heliodor!”
Erik waves his hand dismissively, “I’ll be fine, Derk, promise! Now, I think we can get by without anymore stops. Downtown Heliodor will hide us right?”
“That's what Noah said.”
“I sure hope he’s right about this. I can’t say I'm looking forward to winding up in a jail cell anytime soon. So, we’ll head to Heliodor and regroup at Ruby’s inn right?”
Derk nods his head, “Yes, also, I ‘eard Heliodors' generals have been reassigned to Dundrasil so even if we do get caught in a tricky situation, we’ll still be able to weasel our way out of it.”
Erik grins at this, “It’s falling together so perfectly!” he stands, digging through his pockets and dropping some gold on the table, “Here’s the gold for your drink, by the way. Now that we’ve got our plan, I’m gonna go rest up. You did say you wanted me to leave before you do, right?”
Derk nods, “We can’t leave together, we’ve got enough heat on our backs after you tripped and dropped all the gold you got from pick-pocketing that poor bunny girl!”
Erik rubs the back of his neck sheepishly, “heh, heh, yeah… Goodnight, Derk.”

The young man steps outside the tavern, blue eyes flickering around warily. He’s met with silence, unsurprisingly, it is rather late after all. The sun has long gone down, most of the Hotto residents asleep. He strolls down the path, finding the Hotto air to be hot even at night. He keeps his hood over his face as he walks, pulling out the bag of gold in his pocket. It was light, too light, much to his disappointment. The chatter from the tavern quieted the further he got, keeping his head down as he counted the gold, knowing he had to make sure it was enough to make it to Heliodor with very little stops. Erik had spent five long years waiting for this moment and he was not gonna let his funds slow him down. He stopped and stuffed the gold into his pocket, figuring he could walk some of it if need be. The thief glanced up at the stars that glimmered above, the night sky swirling up above. A soft sigh escaped his throat, wondering where it all had gone wrong for him. What led a young man from Snifflheim to robbing Heliodor of one of their finest possessions? It didn’t take him long to figure it out, quietly slipping into the inn. He dropped a few coins in return for the fare and grumbled as he headed to his room, thinking of his past. A life of poverty alongside the vikings haunted him, a life struggling to look out for a young girl, himself, and stumbling upon a cursed amulet led him to this, didn’t it? Erik looked down at his gloved hands, determination flickering through his gut, “Oh, Mia, I promise you won’t have to wait much longer…”
He sat on the edge of the bed, watching the moon out of the window. For his younger sister’s birthday he had managed to thrift a necklace as a gift. It had glimmered so brightly with its gold, it was a perfect gift for the young girl who loved all things shiny. Much to Erik’s dismay, the amulet had cursed his sister and turned her to gold, unable to forgive himself for such a tragic accident. The moment he heard getting ahold of one of Yggdrasil’s orbs could save her he was utterly determined to get it, no matter the cost. Erik had never imagined he would turn to a life of crime, finding his predicament one he hated. Which is likely why he had found a young woman filling his head with a strange prophecy.
In your darkest hour, the Luminary shall come, and light the path to your redemption. It was simple, sure, but it had struck Erik. Whether he truly believed the seer was unbeknownst to even him, unsure what to think of such claims. What would the luminary want with a thief like him? It didn’t matter, he supposed, as he curled up for the night. Tomorrow would bring rise to his future, he would fix this, all he needed was that orb…

When the sun rose the next morning, so did Erik. He had to leave before Derk did to avoid suspicions, hitting the road the moment he could. He slipped from village to village, fumbling with his funds, finding the inn fares way more expensive than he planned. In fact, everything turned out more expensive than he planned. Erik found himself getting thrown out of inns, missing meals, and getting terrible directions at just about every turn, starting to regret not listening to Derk’s advice. By the time his pockets turned up completely empty, he didn't even know where he was for sure. He stood in the middle of a kingdom he didn’t recognize, having never been here before, the village bustling around him. He glanced at the crowds and swallowed anxiously. Crowds meant a perfect opportunity to steal. Though Erik had always felt bad about stealing gold directly from pockets, it was either that or sleeping in the street tonight. He glanced at a young girl who walked by, a red scarf covering blonde hair, clearing his throat, “Uh, excuse me miss but, where am I?”
She gives him a confused look but answers, “Dundrasil, of course.”
Ah, Dundrasil. Just his luck. He muttered his thanks and continued to walk through the city, taking in the sights of the mighty kingdom, which was infamous for housing something specific that he could not remember at the moment. It didn’t matter anyway, he would be in and out of here soon enough. What really mattered was getting enough gold to get him on the road again. Erik soon became part of the crowds, trying to swiftly snatch anything of value from passersby, becoming more and more irritated when he repeatedly turned up empty handed. Dundrasillians are rather stingy, aren’t they? Erik only retreated when guards started to notice what he was doing, feeling his stomach rumble as he headed toward the inn, desperate to find somewhere to rest and maybe snatch some food. He attempted to slip into a room without paying but this only resulted in him getting tossed into the street. He stormed off afterward, scowling under his breath to find himself so helpless. Hunger clawed at him, deciding that sleeping in the streets was his only option now. He kept his head down as he wandered the streets, sunset illuminating the city in a soft pink glow, one Erik was in no mood to admire. He found the scent of freshly baked bread luring him towards a small home closeby the castle, noticing the blonde girl he had seen earlier inside. She stood beside a boy he could not really make any details of, the two crowded around the oven as an older and rather stout woman pulls out a loaf of bread from the oven. Erik’s gut rumbles in protest as he turns away, blue eyes taking in his surroundings. He noticed a spot that looked perfect for dozing off in, an abandoned house sitting not far from the home he had just been peering into, jogging over to it and checking it over to see if he could get inside. To his dismay, he could not, but there was an outcrop from the roof that could provide him shelter. He sighed but figured it would save him from any possible rain, sinking down into the miniscule shelter. It was better than nothing. He crossed his arms over his chest and tilted his head back against the wall, hood still pulled up over his face, grumbling as he closed his eyes. Tomorrow would be better. He was sure of it. He glanced at his pockets, pulling out three singular pieces of gold. He grumbled, head falling back against the wall, “Damn it… I hate when Derk is right.”
He crossed his arms again when his stomach ached, deciding sleep was his only option for the night. He shifted his hood to make sure it kept his face protected, letting his eyes close again. Despite how uncomfortable and rather stiff the streets were, it was better than out in the wilderness. Waking up to a very angry slime was something Erik had done one too many times. He soon began to doze off, opening one eye at footsteps. Erik hoped whoever it was would just ignore him, hoping it wasn’t a guard about to toss him out of the kingdom for trespassing. He only looked up when they came over, stopping right before him. He found himself looking at the man from the house, his blue eyes glimmering in the lights that shone from an open window in the castle. The man wore a blue tunic and had brown hair that didn’t quite reach his shoulders, a kind smile on his face as he crouched down to meet Erik’s level. They were both strangers to each other, Erik tensing warily. It wasn’t the first time someone had seemed kind and then turned against him, fingers straying to the dagger at his side just in case. The strange man gently offered Erik a piece of bread, its mere aroma making the starved thief nearly lightheaded, “Here. I-I couldn't help but notice you looked hungry.”
The hooded man shook his head, “I can’t just take that from you.”
“Please, I insist. I’m just going to feed it to my dog, Sandy, if you don’t take it. Don’t worry, I didn't poison it or anything…” He seemed sincere enough, Erik sitting up on his elbows.
In a quick motion he sntaches it from the mysterious boy, holding it to his chest and muttering quick thanks. Erik wasn’t used to kindness like this and he wasn't going to waste his time and see how long it lasted. A life on the streets taught him that things can turn ugly in seconds. “Eleven!”
Erik watches as the mysterious boy turns his head, recognizing the same blonde from earlier. She crosses her arms at him, “Come on, it's getting late! Your parents will want you home soon!”
The man in the blue tunic stands and turns away from the lone thief, Erik watching as he drops something. He turns his head, stray strands of brown hair falling over his face and hiding the blue eyes that gave Erik a soft warm look, somehow easing the lost man. Eleven, as the blonde called him, offered a singular smile and disappeared into the night with the girl, their faces and names fading to Erik the moment they were gone. He stuffs the bread in his mouth before bottling out of his shelter to see what had been discarded, finding gold in his hands. He stared in awe and looked around, hoping maybe he could return it. He may be a thief but he did have honor. Somewhat. The mysterious man was long gone, Erik carefully counting what he had in his hands. It was exactly enough to get him in the inn for the night. This led him to the conclusion that the boy had been kind enough to provide him both dinner and a place to sleep, in awe at the act of kindness. Maybe wandering into Dundrasil wasn’t such a bad thing. His name seemed somewhat familiar but Erik could not place it, let alone remember it. He had no reason to. He would scavenge the gold tomorrow and he would never see that boy again. Erik slunk back to his makeshift shelter, debating on whether he should truy go to the inn or not and continuing to eat the bread. On one hand, a bed would be great, on the other, he could save it and use it to get him on the road again. But, even if he did get on the road again, he was just going to end up in a similar spot somewhere else. Erik sighed and slumped back against the building, eyes closing halfway. He was tired of being on edge constantly, he just wanted a guarantee on something for once in his life. He found himself stopping when the light from the castle window illuminated the ground beside him, turning his gaze upward. His blue eyes found the window wide open, a rather bright lamp on inside. He decided to just ignore the light at first, wanting to roll over and just sleep, but found a glimmering opportunity instead. The window was not far up off the ground and the abandoned home provided a perfect way for him to sneak inside. One singular jewel from royalty would get him on his feet again, wouldn’t it? Erik hesitated, unsure if he should. This was a massive risk. One wrong move and the only meals Erik would be getting from now on would be prison ones. But yet, he had nothing, he could not proceed without gold, and this was the best opportunity he was gonna get. He glanced around warily for guards and stuffed the last of his bread in his mouth, getting up ever so carefully. He would be quick. In and out. Yeah, that sounded right. Erik kept his hood down over his face as he climbed up onto the roof, eyes searching the city for any guards or anything else that would possibly get him in trouble. It was all clear, gaze returning to the window. It was almost too easy. Erik gave one last wary glance before he leapt upward, fingers managing to grasp the ledge. He scrambled and kicked but eventually managed to pull himself up and into the room, rolling across the floor silently. The floor was carpeted, Erik’s fall cushioned by soft blue wool, taking in the room. It was obviously the prince’s quarters, the room tidy and well taken care of. Everything looked rather untouched, like he hardly spent any time here, carefully pushing to his feet and looking around. Some clothes were strewn about the room and some areas looked like he was mid unpacking from something, Erik being very careful not to disturb a singular thing. The bed was freshly made, part of him wondering why the prince was not already here. It's dark out, why would the king and queen just allow him to wander? Erik shook his head as he began to admire anything shiny, searching for anything of value, knowing that the prince could very easily return at any moment and he had no reason to question things. This was his chance. He began rummaging through drawers, looking for anything that could be turned to profit. To his dismay, he found the prince did not own anything worth much. Erik could not find a single thing he could flip around and sell, heart plummeting in his chest. He had just risked it all, breaking into the castle, for absolutely nothing? Boy, did he have the worst of luck today. He grit his teeth and turned his head, finding a pendant catching his attention. The blue and green jewel glimmered in the light, tempting Erik. It was marked with the symbol of Dundrasil and was obviously a very prized possession, Erik’s throat drying as he studied it. It would be worth an utter fortune. It was enough to get him to Heliodor, hell, maybe even further? Maybe he could spit the gold with Derk? But yet, this was the prince’s most prized jewel… He couldn’t just take it. In a battle against his morals and his desperation, the hooded thief turns away and tries to find something else, scowling when he turns up empty handed yet again. The jewel kept catching his eye, nearly glowing in the lights, Erik warily stepping towards it. He needed this money. Mia needed him. That was all the convincing he needed, reaching for it, eyes darting for the window. He froze at footsteps, gaze swiveling toward the door instead. The thief could do nothing when the prince stepped into the room, both freezing at the sight of each other. Eleven paused at a trespasser in his bedroom, let alone the same exact one he had just seen curled up in the street, unable to even respond. Erik on the other hand felt his heart pound so hard he swore it could burst at the prince, feeling sick when he processed him. Bright blue eyes, not quite shoulder length brown hair… This was the same man who had just fed him, the same man that had tried to house him, the same man who had shown him nothing but kindness, this man was none other than the prince of Dundrasil. His name hit Erik like a freight train. Prince Eleven, the luminary. He had just tried to rob the luminary! Eleven was frozen in place, wordless, as Erik backed away, starting to drop the pendant in his fingertips, “I-I was never here.”
Erik then tried to make a break for it, stumbling backward and bumping into a vase, knocking it off and struggling to catch it before it shattered onto the ground. Eleven was still stuck, unable to shake the feeling the utter terror in the thief’s eyes gave him, heart aching to see someone so low. Eleven had been sheltered most of his life, this being his first glimpse at true poverty. Erik looked at the vase and then the door when footsteps approached, the lump in his throat only growing. The thief watched in utter horror as the door opened to none other than the bastards of Heliodor, as they were so lovingly called, Hendrik and Jasper. Hendrik looked at Eleven first, “We heard a crash, is everything alri-”
“Thief.” Jasper drawled, the word laced with so much venom that the hooded man swore the word alone could have killed him.
Immediately the knights tensed, sworn an oath to protect the prince with their lives, some lowly thief certainly counting as a threat. To Eleven, Hendrik and Jasper were his friends and bodyguards, bringing safety with their presence. For Erik, they were the most terrifying thing he had ever seen with his own eyes. Jasper’s yellow eyes cut sharp, like a cat studying his prey, while Hendrik looked like he was debating on what the most efficient way to rip the young man’s head off was. For criminals, getting Hendrik and Jasper sent on you was an instant death sentence. They were the most feared combo in all of Erdrea, Jasper’s cunning and Hendrik’s brawn a match that sent terror spiking through any thief. The two could hunt you land and sea if they needed, relentless men who knew no mercy, Erik’s whole body trembling at the teal and yellow eyes that studied his every movement. They had managed to catch some of the sneakiest and most daring criminals in all of Erdrea; Erik was nothing to them. He was a life they would ruin and never think about again. It took everything in him not to scream as he threw the pendant and bolted for the window, no longer caring for the gold. If he could escape with his life, it would be nothing short of a miracle. Jasper and Hendrik both barked out simultaneous “Halt!”s, Erik beelining to dive out the window and flee Dundrasil forever. He would run on foot to Heliodor if it meant escaping these two. He leaped over furniture and knocked over a few things in his scramble, bounding for the window, grinning when his hands grasped the ledge. He started to push forward to let himself fall, his heart catching in his chest when Jasper grabbed his wrist. The knight held him firm, grip strong enough to stop Erik dead in his tracks, utter terror crashing over him. It was over. The rest of his life would be spent in a prison cell, trying in vain to tug away from the blonde. His heart pounded in his chest, adrenaline racing through him as he scrambled to escape, his face growing hot against the panic. He was going to rot in jail and no one would know what happened, not Derk, not Mia, not anyone. He had failed Mia. She would be trapped forever because her big brother let himself be caught before he could ever even grasp that damned orb, Erik feeling his fingers curl into a fist at his sides. When the knight yanked him away from his only chance at freedom, Erik swung with all he had. Jasper let go of the thief the moment his fist struck his nose, bright red blood bursting from his face as he shrieked in pain. Erik was frozen at Jasper’s wail, watching the knight's hands fly up to hold his face, looking down at the red that painted his fist. He had just hit Sir Jasper. Being able to strike such a blow was surely an impressive feat. Anyone who managed to cause the knights’ harm were to be praised for such an impossibility, but, alas, the thief had no time to think about what he had done. When Jasper’s eyes fell on him, their yellow depths cut sharp. Rage made his face red, blood dribbling down his lip as his expression turned from rage to utterly livid. Erik wasted no time to make a break for it, knowing he had really done it now. He backed against the window, the ledge catching him by the waist and nearly throwing him out to the street. He could fall to his death for all he cared. If Jasper got his hands on him again, he’d be dead before he could blink. The thief shoved his weight backwards and tried to topple out the window but he wasn’t fast enough. He had hesitated too long, Hendrik grabbing him firmly. He wrenched the thief away from the window, Erik letting out a cry when the grasp was so strong it nearly pulled his shoulder right out of socket, swept right off his feet. Hendrik held him up by his arm, the thief feeling tears sting his eyes as he kicked and bucked, unable to believe it was going to end like this.
“Sir Hendrik, w-wait-” Eleven croaked, gently reaching forward to stop the knight from hurting the young man any further but his words fell on deaf ears.
“Jasper, you go clean up. I will take him to the dungeon for King Irwin to deal with.” Hendrik cut Eleven off, tugging on Erik’s arm just a little too hard when the man tried to bail, ignoring the whimper that escaped his throat.
“No.” Jasper spit blood as he spoke, careful not to touch his face so as not to ooze anymore red, “I want to see the rat's face when we leave him to rot.” the words dripped with venom, baring his teeth at Erik.
Hendrik knew better than to argue and kept the thief in a very painful grip, dragging him to Dundrasil’s dungeons, a livid and hurt Jasper following closely behind. Eleven watched them go numbly, utterly rattled from such a scene. He couldn’t shake the terror he had seen in Erik’s eyes, unable to even be mad at him. He had tried to help him when he had seen him looking so miserable and seeing him again, looking even worse for wear hurt. The prince wanted nothing more than to help, hating to see anyone suffer, and seeing such a violent scene hurt him in a way he could not describe. Eleven sighed shakily and ran his fingers through his hair, thinking of the explosion of blood that resulted from the punch, the sound it had made sending a shiver down his spine. The mysterious hooded figure just seemed scared and desperate. He couldn't muster the rage he needed to feel, looking down at the pendant on the floor, a gift from his mother that meant the world to him, and a jewel that had nearly been stolen from him. Even as he squat down to pick it up, he felt no anger, his soft blue eyes falling to the door. Eleven looked down at the pendant, deciding he had to do something.

Erik threw his hands out to try and catch himself when Hendrik tossed him into the cell, the stone floor harsh and cold. He shoved himself up and tried to barrel through the door, instead getting it slammed in his face. He collapsed, head pounding and arm aching, looking up weakly at the knights. Hendrik looked at the thief with disgust and stepped back, having completed his job. Erik was no longer of interest to him, teal gaze falling on his companion, Jasper still fuming. The blonde wiped blood from his face, glaring Erik down, “You will regret this, thief, you will rot in this cell.”
Erik’s mouth fell open, feeling helpless as tears sting his eyes. He just sat on his knees, watching the two in horror, having nothing to say. He just wanted to scream, cry, he wanted to run back to Snifflhiem and deal with the vikings if it meant he could escape such a cruel fate. Jasper flashed him a smirk, pinching his nose, “I’ll make sure of it.”
Erik grit his teeth, “No wonder you’re called the bastard of Heliodor.”
The blonde reached through the bars, grabbing the hooded man firmly by the chin, “What was that?” he hissed, the words looming threateningly.
“Jasper.” Hendrik grunted, prompting the other knight to release the prisoner’s chin, “Come. King Irwin will see to him.”
Though the words provided Erik a singular mercy, it left another threat on the platter, watching the two knights leave. Tears spilled the moment they left, getting up and swearing, throwing his fist at the wall. He didn’t even get that damn pendant! He grit his teeth and slammed his weight against the cell door a few times, finding the door will not even budge. He threw his hands up, angry and upset he had let such a terrible thing happen. How will he even tell Derk? Erik wiped his eyes with his arm, leaning back against the cell wall, slumping down. What now?

Eleven slipped out of his room before Hendrik and Jasper could return, unable to shake the feeling that he could not sit and wait. His skin crawled and his hand ached, looking at his mark as he walked down the halls, finding it itching strangely. He grimaced as he scratched it and slipped past any guards, heading towards the dungeon. The prince was not permitted to be outside of his room at night but he did not care, finding his heart pounding at the mere thought of turning away. His hand itched whenever he slowed, furrowing his brow as he avoided the guards and grasped his pendant in the same hand. The brightly colored halls seemed more prominent against the dark depths of the dungeons, spooking Eleven slightly. It was dark, the energy of such a place giving him chills, almost sending him running back to the safety of his room. His fingers curled tighter around the pendant, taking in a deep breath, forcing himself to proceed. The dungeon was cold, chilling him to his very soul as he wandered. Prisoners eyed the prince dangerously, only spooking him further but he continued on, finding this feeling deep in his gut much stronger than his terror. He slowed when he spotted the hooded figure at last, Erik glancing at him. The thief was startled to see the prince for the third time today, scoffing, “If you’re gonna mock me, save your breath.”
Eleven shook his head, “I would never do that. I just wanted to talk to you.”
“Why?”
The young luminary fumbles for a response, having a thousand things he wanted to say. He finally settled on one that made the prisoner laugh, “I wanted to make sure Jasper didn’t kill you.”
“It was sure close.” He dares to smile, finding the young man somewhat charming, “Not yet, anyway, i’m sure he’ll be back.”
“What are you doing here, anyway?”
Erik frowned at the words, “I was arrested, where else would I be?”
Eleven carefully studied the thief, loosening his hold on the pendant. He dropped it within the mysterious man’s grasp, giving him a perfect opportunity to snatch it, “You just don’t seem like you belong here.”
Erik found himself dumbfounded at the words, gaze falling to the pendant. He didn’t even move, having no urge to take it whatsoever. It was prized and now that Erik did not need it, it had no value to him. Eleven’s eyes never left the hooded figure, “Say, what if I made you a deal?”
“What makes you think i’m trustworthy enough for a deal?” the thief asked wryly, narrowing his eyes at him.
Eleven smiled but did not say anything on that subject, “I could use someone with a sleight of hand on my journey. You don’t seem like a bad person, you don’t belong here, I can just tell.”
In your darkest hour, the Luminary shall come, and light the path to your redemption. It's happening just as the seer said. Erik opened his mouth to speak but he had nothing, a few long moments of silence flickering between them. He finally settled on what to say, “...So you’ll get me out of here? What are you getting in return, huh? Aren't you afraid i might like, kill you?”
“If you wanted to hurt me, you would have already. Besides, I can't help but feel you're only here because of circumstance. I'm about to go on an adventure soon and I'm offering you to come with. Don't feel inclined, you can run and never look back if you want.” Eleven pushed to his feet, picking up his pendant and stuffing it away, “I’m getting repetitive but… I just know you’re not supposed to be here.”
The hooded man watched as Eleven turned to leave, clearing his throat, “Hey, Eleven?”
The prince looked back at him, startled to hear his name without the usual title. The thief shifted towards him as he pulled his hood down, tufts of blue hair sticking up as he revealed his face. A singular strand fell over his eye, offering a smile, “The name’s Erik, by the way.”
Eleven smiled back, feeling his heart thump a little harder in his chest.

The sun rose over Dundrasil, bathing the kingdom in a soft warm light. The sunrise sent beautiful yellow light streaking through the darkness, washing warmth over the kingdom, a warmth that could not seep into the dungeons. A lone man slept in the cold depths of the cells, curled up in a ball with his back against the wall, only stirring at the echoing footsteps. Erik groggily lifted his head at the Dundrasillian guards, who opened his cell and stepped inside, “Wake up.”
He groggily sat up but was jerked to his feet in a quick motion, stumbling as the guard huffed and handcuffed him, Erik finding it easy to tell these guards were not happy about such a tedious task. The whole kingdom was mid preparation for Eleven’s leave, they did not care for some lowly thief. Eleven. Erik thought back to the conversation he had with the prince last night, starting to wonder if that really happened. It had felt like a dream. Would the Luminary really show? Erik kicked weakly as he was drug to the throne room, feeling his heart pound in his chest for what sentencing he could possibly get. He was dropped before the throne, hands wound behind his back, looking up to meet the cruel gazes of Hendrik and Jasper. The two stood on opposite sides of King Irwin, staring Erik down like he was prey. The thief gulped, his skin crawling as he glanced around the room. What felt like a thousand eyes fell on him, looking back up at the knights before him. Hendrik’s gaze was empty and cold while Jasper bristled in anger, yellow eyes burning into Erik’s very soul. King Irwin looked down on him, brown eyes just as emotionless. Erik studied Jasper’s nose, seeing it was not looking much better than it had yesterday, the blood long cleaned but the skin had definitely swollen. He glanced for the prince, for the warm blue eyes that he had seen so much as of late, but was disappointed to see he was not here. Erik would not be saved. His legs trembled when Hendrik spoke, his voice booming across the room, “You sit before the royal court of Dundrasil, accused of attempted thievery of the prince of Dundrasil’s belongings, how do you plead?”
Erik kept his mouth clamped firmly shut. He knew better than to answer such a question. He knew he was guilty but saying so would not help his case, meeting Hendrik’s gaze with defiance. The knight did not even bat an eye, turquoise gaze falling onto His Majesty instead, waiting for his input. Jasper stepped forward, voice steely, “Your majesty, If I may interrupt, I would like to add to the charges.”
King Irwin turned his eyes to the knight, who’s words had a sharp ruthless edge to them, an edge that made Erik sick, “You may proceed.”
The blonde smirked, stepping forward from his stance opposite of Hendrik, “You stand before the court, accused of not only attempted thievery from Dundrasil’s darling, Dundrasil’s prince, The luminary, I also accuse you of battery and trespassing! You are not of Dundrasil, quite frankly no one is sure where you hail from, and you dared to come into the castle, no, break into, and attempt to steal? Upon said attempt, you resisted arrest, which is a charge as well if I am not mistaken, and struck an elite.” Jasper gestures vaguely towards himself, lip curling in a satisfactory smile at the ripple in the crowd, Erik feeling his heart pound at how efficiently the knight turned the crowd against him, “Amongst said battery, trespassing, and resisting arrest, your original charge of thievery does not seem very just. I have reason to believe this charge should be robbery instead.”
Erik stared at the knight in horror, each word hammering a new nail into his casket. The crowd bristled at his words, hanging off every single one that left his mouth, leaving the thief utterly alone. He had no rebuttal, gulping when Jasper met his eye. His eyes were cold, merciless, his smile nearly sadistic. It reminded Erik of what he had said to him in the dungeons, the words chilling him to the core.
“You will rot in this cell. I’ll make sure of it.”
And that’s exactly what he was doing. He had won the court over in a few select words, King Irwin eyeing him with interest. Erik wanted to scream, he wanted to run, he would give anything to punch Sir Jasper squarely in the face again. His majesty tipped his head toward the knight, intrigued by him, “Do you have evidence for such a claim?”
Erik dared to let out a breath of relief, knowing that he was innocent on that one. He had no intent to hurt the prince, it had never once crossed his mind. It was a simple in and out mission, well, it had planned to be. To his dismay, Jasper merely chuckled, “Of course, your majesty, I would not say such a thing without evidence.”
The thief frowned, unsure what to expect. He hadn’t hurt the prince and said prince had not even shown, how was he going to prove that? His jaw dropped open when the blonde pulled out his dagger, which he had almost forgotten about. He was going to pin it on him. Erik tried to get to his feet, to run, to escape the cruel fate Jasper would plant on him.He was shoved back to his knees in seconds, unable to believe this. He had no defense either, unable to do anything as Jasper won the court over once more, dropping the weapon before him, “Why else would he bing such a weapon if not with intent to harm the beloved prince? He attempted to steal a beloved item from his highness, the pendant of Dundrasil! If it were not for Hendrik and I intervening, I fear this thief could have severely hurt the prince, or worse.”
Erik’s eyes fell on Hendrik who was stiffly silent, having no word on the subject. When he noticed the thief’s eyes on him, he met his gaze, eyes cutting deep, spooking Erik into flinching just from the look. King Irwin narrows his eyes at the young man on his knees, “Is that so… Such crimes will not be taken lightly. What is your intent with such claims, Sir Jasper? A harsher sentencing? Execution?”
Execution?! Erik felt his heart in his throat, mouth open in utter shock. This could not possibly happen, it couldn't be real. Hendrik was even shocked at this, his composure breaking for a split moment. That was a rather harsh punishment but it was quick to see Jasper had angered the king, his plan to get Erik locked up for good working a little too well. A threat towards his son, whom he loved with all of his heart, was one King Irwin wasn't going to take lightly, usually warm brown eyes cold when they fell on Erik. Jasper faltered for a moment, definitely taken aback by this; but when he met Erik’s terrified gaze, he grinned, determined to get his revenge for the injury, “Whatever you feel is best, your majesty.”
King Irwin studied the thief for a long moment, Erik feeling like years slipped by him. His heart thrummed so loud that he swore the whole court could hear him, feeling so frail and small on his knees. His majesty leaned back in his throne, “I have made my decision.”
Erik squeezed his eyes shut, unable to bear it anymore. He was dead. His life was over. Tears stung, hardly able to breathe, daring to peep one eye open at a percuilaur sound. The whole courtroom froze for a moment at the strange sound; footsteps. Running footsteps. Feet scuffed the floor with a loud noise that had the whole courtroom’s attention, the door swinging open. “Wait!” Eleven yelled as he burst open, feet skidding against the floor in his rush.
The prince looked ruffled, Erik baffled to see him dressed as a prince should. His crown nearly fell off his head, clothes rumpled from running here, all eyes on the young Luminary as he interrupted the court. Eleven had overslept and nearly missed the sentencing, confused on why Jasper had not woken him as he usually would, having been jerked awake by a sharp pain in his hand, but now was not the time to think about that. He marched across the floor, stepping in front of Erik protectively, much to everyone’s confusion, “Father, wait!”
“Eleven? What are you doing?”
The young man planted his feet, blue eyes sharp with determination. He had never been so sure of anything in his entire life when his voice rang out across the throne room, throwing his hand out, “As the prince of Dundrasil, I hereby pardon Erik!”