Kia jerks awake, his heart is pounding in his chest. Gasping for air, he frantically looks around for Innder. After seeing his brother a few feet away and fast asleep, Kia tells himself, “It was only a bad dream. It was just a bad dream.” His breath’s pace slows back down, and he wipes the sweat from his gleaming brow. Kia lies there and listens to the symphony of the nocturnal creatures singing to one another, as he watches the stars dance in the sky. After what seem like marks, Kia slips into his tunic and walks over to the campfire.
The campfire had dimmed compared to how it was before he went to bed, and he finds Odin leaning against a log, his katana in his lap, arms crossed, and head drooping.
Kia sits down next to the docile Odin, “Hey Odin, aren’t you supposed to be keeping watch?”
Odin stirs, “Wha- Who there?” He quickly raises his sword.
“Easy… easy it’s just me, Odin,” Kia says with a smile, “So much for our stalwart defender.”
“I wasn’t asleep! I was just resting my eyes…” rubbing his eyes, “Why are you up?”
“You were definitely asleep,” Kia’s smile wanes, “I had a horrible dream and couldn’t go back to sleep.”
“I am here for you, Kia. If you want to talk about it,” Odin takes his katana and sheathes the blade in its engraved yew scabbard.
Kia sits there in silence, drawing in the dirt with a small stick. Not a word is said between the two.
“It was about my par-“ Kia sets his knees to his chest, and wraps his arms around them. “It was about my father.”
“What happened to your father, Kia?”
“After my mother died, my father drank a lot, in fact, I do not remember without a bottle of ale in his hand, expect for when he was passed out. When he would drink, he would become another person.”
“What do you mean?”
“He was overcome with anger, one evening when he was like this, Innder was being a handful, pestering father about getting a dog, he saw in another merchant’s shop. Father asked Innder to stop several times,” crystal streams began to run down his obsidian cheeks, “he became angrier with every word. Then out of nowhere Father struck Innder, and caused him to hit the floor.”
Odin does not utter a word, and he wraps his arm around Kia.
“When I tried to help Innder up…” He sniffles, “he hit me an… and just kept hitting us. The kitchen, Innder, and Father got fuzzy, then faded to black. Wh…when I woke up, Father was crying and begging Alkiane for mercy. He apologized profusely, and said he didn’t know what came over him.”
Kia and Odin sit there for several moments, Kia with his head on his knees, constant streams of tears flowing down his face and onto the ground. “He prom…. he promised… he promised he would never do it again. But he… he… just kept beating us… an… an… and every time he did, he would apologize again and again… He… he… told us that he loved us, Odin, how…. h…. how can you say that, and beat your kids?”
Odin looks at the ground, “I don’t know what to say.” Kia continues to sob, Odin gives Kia a squeeze. Both sit there for several minutes neither saying a word.
“Kia, I do know, that your father loved you, otherwise he wouldn’t have apologized to you and Innder. Liquor is a horrendous thing, that can make even the gentlest of giants, monsters.”
“How do you know that.”
Odin gazes into the fire with a somber look, “I truly only knew my father for about a week or two, but he loved me as if he knew me for my entire life. I am not saying that what your father did to you and Innder was right. But I think that he did still love you and was sincere about it.”
Kia calming down to only a sniffle, “You didn’t know your father, Odin?”
“No, I was forced to attend school in Fenris, but that’s not what stopped me from coming home-” Odin lifts his arm off Kia, and constricts them around his legs
“I was forced into a harsh Bengionian interment city because my arcane abilities manifested. The inquisitor that took me from my school said it was for the best. The only way I was able to leave to voluntarily join the army, but even then we had handlers. It wasn’t till I was left for dead on a snowy null that I was free for the first time in my life.”
“How did you find your way to your Father, Odin?” Kia wiping his face, with the hem of his tunic.
“My Father actually saved me from a snowy demise, he was traveling in the area, and discovered the patrol, I was the only one still alive, although comatose. He took me home, and tended to me until I was well.” Odin wipes his face into his sleeve.
“What happened to him?”
No longer able to hide it, Odin let the crystal streams trickle down his cheekbones. “I received a letter from my mom, it said that he died, while I was in another town, and she took everything and disappeared. If it wasn’t for Halros and his Father, I probably would have been dead in the streets.”
An understanding silence envelops the two, as they sit there watching the campfire’s dance match the star’s dance in the sky.
“Odin, I’m sorry I didn’t know. I know we aren’t related, we aren’t even the same race, but in the short time I have known you, you tried your best to be a big brother to me and Innder. If you ever need a shoulder, I’ll be here for you too.”
Odin looks up at Kia, with a small smile, “Thanks.”