On A Bad Foot

The Black Mask had a rigorous training process and they mostly exhausted the night training, at least that was what Diamant discovered.

She had been introduced to everyone. She found Rina to be a nice person and Roc to be a man who wanted any woman who came his way. It wasn't always hard to sense things like that. Roc told her that three of them were out on a mission and two of them were in the villages to find out more about the uprising. He stated that the uprising was the hardest the DL had to confront so far and that they weren't really making any head way. She nodded along, listening intently.

Goben was made her trainer as she had so much to learn about. Diamant repeated to herself why she was here and her hatred for the DL. She wouldn't want to risk forgetting a second time.

Training with Goben was painful. Sometimes it looked like he was purposely hurting her. Although they were using sticks to train, it looked like he was punishing her. Diamant twisted her face in anger and decided that she didn't like him.

She added him to the list where DL was, the list of the people she wished she could kill. She was still not making head way with her Grandpa's confession and that was really frustrating for her.

Another strike on her arm brought Diamant out of her thoughts. Her arm shook in pain and she dropped her stick, her face filled with hatred.

"Distracted!" Goben said, his face hard.

"Of course not." Diamant spat trying not to say anything anymore.

"We will continue this tomorrow." He said ignoring her comment and turning away. She felt terrible, she was stuck with him because the DL couldn't make a better pick.

"He is usually nice." Roc said startling her. He laughed at her expression and Diamant sighed.

"He is usually nice, I don't know why he is going so hard on you. He is one of the best trainers around here and we all mostly just prefer him to teach us new skills." Roc further explained.

"Who else is good with the training?" Diamant asked hopefully.

"The Dragon Lord. I don't think anyone would pick him anyway, he is a lot worse." Roc laughed and Diamant's hope disappeared into thin air.

Some people came in and Roc turned to look at them.

"Finally! They are back." Roc said excited as he ran to them.

******************************

"I will only ask you one more time! Who told you to do it?! Who told you to betray me?! Who are you working for?" DL said his face rigid.

The man sat on the floor quivering. His wife, son and daughter in a corner as they all held each other and were shaking with fear as they cried.

"My Lord, I won't ever betray you. We only asked for an heir because we were worried." The man said.

"Liar. Put his head in the water again!" DL ordered and Goben brought the man up as he pleaded loudly. Goben thrusted his head into the water and he started thrashing around, struggling to breath. Goben pulled him out again.

"Who did it?" DL asked.

The man started crying now. He looked at his family and they looked at him too, they were all crying.

"I don't know, Dragon Lord! Please spare my family!" He pleaded desperately as he held the DL's feet sobbing.

"Leader of Fire Tribe, I am running out of patience. Take his daughter, beat the drums. I would be killing someone today." DL said as he ordered Malik and Joseph. They moved immediately, taking his daughter. She started crying loudly for her father to save her, her mother and brother were pleading as they took her from them.

"I will talk. I will talk! Please not my daughter! Not my family!" The leader of the Fire Tribe said quickly before they would drag his daughter away any further.

DL ordered for them to bring her back and he was obeyed.

"Then talk." He said

"The Master!" He said and looked at DL. DL's face slowly formed into anger.

"That is what he calls himself, The Master. I have never seen him and he only reaches us through arrows. The Master moves with the darkness and he hasn't sent me a message since you came to the Fire Tribe. I swear that I know nothing else about him!" He pleaded.

DL nodded and they dragged them as they kept shouting for mercy.

"I've said everything I know, pleaseeee" The Leader of the Fire Tribe said as he was dragged away. Masks placed on their face as they got knocked out. Silence reigned.

"Return them. This 'Master' is still well hidden. Appoint some trusted warriors to watch them carefully." DL said, his confusion increasing as he now discovered that this Master might be more powerful than he thought.

"Can we even trust what he said?!" Goben asked in a low tone that only he and DL could hear.

"Doesn't look like we have a choice." DL said distastefully. There wasn't ever a time like this for him, a time when he had little or no choice for not knowing what to do.

Yet he wasn't the only one in a tight spot, Lewis was deep in thought too. That note he got had been through an arrow.

Could it be The Master?

******************************

"You should watch where you are going?!" Aliyah said venomous, cold biting into her voice.

"You watch where you are going!" Diamant replied.

"You are new here, you should learn the ropes. Don't cross me, just stay in your place and stop trying to take what isn't yours."

Aliyah said.

Diamant looked confused immediately.

"I am not taking anything that isn't mine. What are you even saying?"

"Just stay away from what I want! You are in my way." Aliyah said and hit her. Diamant fell on her butt as she wasn't expecting that.

"What is your problem?!The door is behind you!" Diamant defended, still on the floor.

"Who said it was about the door?!" Aliyah scoffed.

Diamant's face hardened.

"I don't care. Enjoy the view very well because this will be the last time you will see me like this because of you. Next time I will be prepared." Her voice filled with coldness.

Aliyah scoffed and went away.

"That is strange. Aliyah is usually nice." Roc said as Diamant stared at the empty space Aliyah was some moment ago.

Her stomach turned with hatred.

******************************

"That is a really long scar." Sunain said looking at Goben's stomach.

He looked up immediately and dropped his shirt, hiding the scar away.

"You should mind your own business!" Goben said back.

"I was." Sunain defended.

"You were? I am your business now?" Goben laughed showing how ridiculous that sounded.

"Of course not! You are just in my way. My bag is behind you and I was heading for it. It isn't like I put you there." Sunain said

Goben looked behind him and truly, her bag was there. He looked at her, embarrassed and angry. He stepped out of her way.

"Just so you know, I am keeping a close eye on you." Goben said looking at her skeptically while she fetched her bag.

"And why is that?" Sunain questioned, her voice showing a bit of fear.

"You can't really blame me. I don't trust those big eyes." Goben said like it should be obvious anyways that anyone with huge eyes like those should not be trusted.

"My big eyes?!" Sunain exclaimed, widening her eyes.

Goben flinched, took his sword and left quickly.

Sunain huffed.

How rude...

******************************

Diamant had sneaked away that afternoon, found the nearest river and set the flowers, which Sunain had helped her with, to the water in remembrance of her loved ones. Remembering how everything had gone wrong in her life shook her. She had even been another year and not noticed it. Her eyes were red from tears and her eyes ached. When she sneaked in again, her leg had hit a table, the goblet on it fall and it echoed across the room.

DL who was sitting alone at the center of the room looked up at Diamant

"What was that?"

Diamant looked at the goblet that had stopped rolling on the floor and she looked up at him.

"A goblet? A fallen goblet?"

He huffed and muttered some words under his breath, "You were by the river, weren't you? Why were spreading flowers on it?"

Diamant felt surprise hit her but she managed to keep her face as straight as possible. She walked into the room, taking a seat.

"A remembrance for my dead loved ones."

And wasn't that stupid? DL thought.

Why would anybody in their right mind do that? There were memories and voices that he was always trying hard to suppress and here was somebody who thought that the best way was to purposely hurt herself by remembering them.

"Why that?"

"For peace."

"Peace?" He scoffed.

"I forgot the meaning of peace the moment I understood death."

Her lips trembled slightly in rage.

"And yet, your presence spells death." She picked up a goblet and twirlled her hands around it.

DL shrugged, taking a sip from his goblet, "That is what I have, so I give."

Those words crashed against her. She tightened her hands around her goblet.

She looked around the room and rolled her eyes in annoyance, bitterness rushing through her veins.

"Looks like they don't like your little gift. Uprisings here and there. Even with your thousand warriors, you still had to come up with this. Are you afraid of death? Afraid of what you give? How pathetic." She took a sip from her goblet but could only taste the bitterness in her heart.

"Uprisings always arise, that is how it has been even before I was born." DL said as calmly as he could afford. He could see burning hatred in her eyes, pain and bitterness that consumed her very being.

"Men like you send others to die in their stead." She said through gritted teeth.

"I am a King, not a coward." He snapped, finally pissed by her interrogation "You should have seen that from how I set my Kingdom. The Capital is at the fore front. Just in case you have forgotten, I am your King and you are just an ordinary slave paying off with her life. You are my dog."

"While you have the chains." She added.

"What?" He raised his eyebrows at her.

Diamant looked unaffected by his outburst and she just stared back at him bored.

"While you have the chains, I remain your dog. When you lose them, you will find me no more. I still remember how I became this slave and I won't forget it in a hurry." She scoffed.

She took a large gulp from her goblet and settled it back with force, a bright smile spread across her face.

"For Alusa!" She mocked.

******************************

"I am sure the fire is tired of you staring at it like that." Diamant said from the doorway and Sunain staggered up, frightened. Her hands tightened around her necklace and she blinked rapidly.

"Is everything okay?" Diamant walked closer to her, worry in her eyes.

"I-I must let them go already." Sunain stuttered, her eyes blinking away tears.

"But I can't and it is wrong, very wrong."

Diamant wrapped her hands around her while she sobbed silently. She slowly made them sit by the fire, whispering words of comfort.

Sunain's eyes suddenly brightened with a smile and she cleaned her wet face with the back of her hand.

"Do it with me."

"Do what?" Diamant's eyebrows furrowed.

"Let the dead go."

Whatever it was, Diamant didn't understand but she could relate it with setting the flowers over the river. Sunain threw the necklace into the fire while she held Diamant's hand tightly. Thy sat there for a long time, till they could no longer see the necklace, then Sunain whispered the words,"for peace."

She hugged Diamant and thanked her before they both resumed to their various activities.

"You don't like it, do you?" Sunain asked as they retired for the night. After they sat by the fire, Diamant had looked very tense. They could hear noises from the village. They lived somewhere between the kingdom and the Palace. Somewhere that wasn't far from where the Black Mask trained.

"Yes, I do not like it! I hate the Dragon Lord! I hate Goben! I hate Aliyah! And I hate myself!" Diamant declared.

"You don't have to be so hard on yourself." Sunain said trying to calm her down.

"Of course you would say that. It isn't like you are in a tight spot as I am." Daimant shouted at her and Sunain went rigid.

"Don't let us start this please. We are all going through difficult moments." Sunain said calmly.

"Well there is someone I mostly certainly hate too. I mean apart from the Dragon Lord." She paused for Diamant to ask her who but when she got no response she continued.

"I hate Goben. He said no one should trust my large eyes." Sunain said sounding child-like

Diamant roared with laughter. She hated Goben too but for another reason. Sunain's eyes were large but they were really amazing, absolutely captivating. What she found funny was how Sunain said it, something was just so hilarious about it.

"You think my eyes look funny?" Sunain asked suddenly feeling insecure about herself.

"Of course not! Your eyes are big and they look absolutely amazing. Call them mesmerizing! They are one of the best features about you, Sunain. I love them."Diamant assured her.

Sunain's eyes lit with happiness as Diamant's voice in her head overshadowed the one of Goben.

"Thank you, Diamant. You have no idea how much that means to me."

They said their goodnight and retired to bed. Sunain fell asleep quickly, feeling happy. Diamant laid on her bed, her eyes wide open. She hated that she started Back Mask on a wrong foot. Although she is against the Dragon Lord and would love to punish him, she still had to have people on her side.

Her mind went to what Aliyah said.

What was she stealing that was for Aliyah or maybe....who?

******************************

DL didn't come back with a smile this time. He had taken offense when a servant stepped in his way and yelled at him. He threatened him with dungeon till the servant started begging profusely. He let him go after some time but the servant had already been drained psychologically.

"Grandson, finally! You are never around anymore. I looked for you in your study, your room which you have already changed the lock and everywhere. Come have some tea with Nana." Nana invited him.

"Not now, I don't feel like." He said sourly.

"I promise you they are great. Clara made them and she makes perfection." Nana pressured.

"Not today....okay. Just one cup" He said, joining them.

Clara settled a cup of tea in front of him and smiled.

"It is a pleasure to have you drink my tea again." She said sipping from her own cup.

"Hmm" he hummed as he nodded. Taking another sip.

"How about the mines?" Nana asked, trying to break the silence.

"Great all thanks to Clara." DL said offhandedly.

"My idea worked!" She declared excitedly.

"Yes. As from tomorrow you will be handling some works on the mines if you want to, I see you that you are interested in it. Are you good with paperwork?" He asked.

"Yes, Dragon Lord. My father taught me." Sunain replied happily.

"Then you will do it, only if you want. Goben will review your works. I have to go now, Nana. Thank you for inviting me." He said standing up. He walked to the door then stopped.

"The tea was good." He compliment, Clara and she blushed. He left.

Clara took another sip as she let her mind wander happily to her new found job. Still one thing bothered her.

She couldn't shake away the feeling that she was being watched.

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