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Archives: The Golden Egg

Chapter 5: Rylan the Centaur Berserker

    They were an hour onto the road and well out of the city, though the tallest spires could still be seen if they looked behind them. The road was lushly lined and they passed through thick stands of conifers on the edge of a forest to the west.

    Naclia leaned against Talen’s back casually as they rode, though it was her intention to be subtly flirtatious. Her arms wrapped around the knight’s waist, in between the pieces of his armor. Along the ride, she found it was comfortable to rest her arms on the waist guard, and Talen hadn’t objected, so she stayed in that position. She watched the forest as they rode through. She wasn’t very familiar with pine trees and she was intrigued by the new ecosystem. However, she was far more intrigued with building tension between herself and Talen.

    Talen had kept his gaze mainly on the road ahead, but every so often he would give a slight look over his shoulder back to Naclia, seeing how she was resting. He gave a soft smile as he looked, her actions towards him had made him nervous, but yet it made him happy. “Are you comfortable?” he asked her softly.

    Naclia lifted her head from his back and grinned. She wasn’t exactly comfortable, as saddles were not exactly couches, but she was enjoying herself. “Sure,” she replied.

    Talen nodded and smiled at her. “I’m glad, I don’t want this trip to be uncomfortable for you,” he said softly, looking down to where her hands were holding onto him. He had felt a need to speak of how he currently felt, but what Eliamn had talked to him about earlier had kept him from speaking. He wasn’t sure of her feelings, and he was unsure of how to react to certain things, but he did his best to be himself. “So is this your first time traveling?” he asked her, looking back over his shoulder.

    Naclia nodded. She met his eyes as they spoke, unabashed. There was a fierce light behind them, even though the conversation was entirely innocent. “None of us have gone far from the Mirror Forest,” she replied, referring to herself and her elven companions.

    Talen nodded, his eyes meeting hers and staring into them. “I see, so this is all new to you. Well, I will do my best to make sure this is an experience to remember,” he said smiling at her.

    “I hope so,” Naclia replied with a smirk.

    Talen mentally raised an eyebrow at her smirk that she gave him, but only nodded. “I promise, it will be a trip to remember,” he said, assuring her that this would be a fun and memorable quest.

    Eliamn was completely oblivious to the conversation Talen and Naclia were having. After spending the whole morning and a good portion of the afternoon sightseeing, the monotonous cadence of Tiash’s hooves eventually got the best of her and she had dozed off on Aiden’s back, her hands loosely wrapped around his waist. She didn’t seem completely unconscious as she occasionally shifted to make sure she wouldn’t fall, but Eli was apparently too tired to care whether Aiden enjoyed being her pillow or not.

* * *

    Rylan had been traveling for a while along the road, even though he had been keeping a wary eye about, he was unaware of the trouble up ahead. Suddenly, a group of bandits emerged from the forest and stopped him, not budging an inch and keeping him boxed in. “Look what we have here! You’re really lucky to have found us as you get to make us a little richer. Now hand over your possessions and we won’t have to use force, or are you gonna try to fight us?”

    Rylan weighed the situation and thought about it, he would not give them an inch but to fight them would be a stupid move as well. His hand was ready to move for his knife, though his head was not in fight mode yet. They thought him foolish for not fearing them, in fact the person who spoke first laughed the hardest.

    “You’re a foolish one, don’t think for one moment we’ll not kill you then take your stuff. Let’s get him, looks like he wants to fight us!” They then began to converge on Rylan and he had to defend himself as best he could, using his hooves and knife he was struggling to fend them off from striking at him with their weapons.

* * *

    Lyassa rode on Landia as she kept up with the elves. She looked around careful watching out for anything. However, the priestess of Marfa was no melee combat so she needed to be extra careful. Lyassa was suddenly aware of loud noise that sounded like steel and fighting. “Is someone in trouble?”

    Naclia lifted her head from Talen’s back and her ears pricked upwards and forward as voices came from the road ahead. It sounded like a conflict; Naclia’s sensitive ears picked up the words “kill” and “fight”. The ranger took her bow from its sheath on her back and knocked an arrow.

    “Talen, can we pick up the pace?” Naclia asked, suddenly strong and commanding.

    “Alright,” Talen said and gave Sienna a tap to the ribs with his heel. The warhorse sped to a trot and as they rounded a bend, Naclia and Talen beheld an incredible sight. A centaur!

    However, their awe was short lived, as they noticed the bandits who had surrounded the centaur. Naclia hopped off Sienna and drew back her arrow. “BACK AWAY from the centaur you pathetic thieves!” Naclia shouted. She had spent many years keeping their sort out of the Mirror Forest.

    Talen remained mounted and drew his sword. “On the authority of Queen Shiris and King Jester, drop your weapons!” the knight added to Naclia’s order.

    Aiden heard the voices as well, though Naclia must have heard something he didn’t. He was aware that Eliamn had fallen asleep. He definitely didn’t mind being a pillow for her, it showed she wasn’t mad at him. He was starting to feel the same sort of brotherly affection toward her that he did for Naclia.

    Aiden tensed as Naclia drew her weapon and she and Talen rode ahead. Glancing toward Lyassa and her mount, he reached out his hand to motion for her to come closer. “Come here, Lyassa,” Aiden said protectively. He then reached back to gently shake Eliamn’s knee. “Wake up Eli, we have trouble up ahead.”

    Eli jerked her head up, “Eh?” the shamaness’ hands clasped about Aiden more tightly. “What is the matter?” she asked, blinking sleep from her eyes.

    Before Aiden could answer, a sylph became visible, hovering next to Eliamn’s head and supplied an answer in a lilting voice. “A centaur is being threatened by bandits.”

    Eli paled at the news. As the spirit disappeared in a little puff of wind, the blonde elf asked Aiden, “What do we do?”

    Lyassa nodded when Aiden signaled for her to come closer in, then guided her mount over to him. When she got up to him, the young priestess saw Talen and Naclia riding off to where the trouble seemed to be. Lyassa waited to offer what healing assistance they would need. She might have to heal whoever was attacking, though some of her friends might not look at it the same way. Her duty as a priestess of Marfa was to help others, that included enemies in some sense.

    “Talen and Naclia can hopefully take care of a few bandits,” Aiden replied to Eliamn. He urged Tiash to pick up a slightly faster gait. Lyassa pulled her horse closer to him and they rode closely around the bend.

    Rylan heard the newcomers and used their arrival to give the bandits a start, he kicked the two behind him hard enough to send them flying but not to injure them beyond a few scrapes and sprains. “I’d suggest you listen to them, perhaps then the magistrate will not be so harsh with you. Anyways your now down by two people, and it looks like your on the losing end.”

    They looked around and sighed, their attempt had failed and should they run they would be tracked down and caught. Dropping their weapons they looked to the newcomers, justice would not be so kind to them. Rylan turned around with a wary eye on them and addressed the group, he was surprised to find that help came. “Thank you for showing up when you did, I’m sure they will receive a swift sentencing given the circumstances. My name is Rylan, who may you be?” He knew that he bandits were not moving as he was ready to kick the first one who even tried to run, that alone would be enough to shatter their ribs.

    Aiden breathed a sigh of relief as he saw bandits dash off into the underbrush and the centaur unharmed. “It seems as if we have nothing to worry about,” Aiden smiled. Two men lay on the ground behind the centaur and appeared unconscious.

    Aiden had never seen a centaur before, and he was quite in awe of the strange elf-horse. He gave a quick glance up and down Rylan’s torso and equine chest, but did not stare out of respect.

    Naclia lowered her bow as the bandits ran away. “Well, that was easy,” the ranger said.

    Meanwhile, Talen looked at the two bandits Rylan had kicked. “I really don’t want to go back to Dragon Breath,” he murmured. It was his duty to arrest them, but he didn’t want to turn around this far into their trip, dragging two bandits along while two of their three horses were already carrying two people.

    Naclia turned to Rylan and grinned. “I’m Naclia,” she introduced herself. “I’ve never met a centaur before. It’s an honor, Rylan.”

    Rylan nodded, seeing them run away then focused on the people who saved him. He should show them some sense of gratitude, they seemed to be good people. “Not many have or will, though I have traveled through the land for the last several years. It is good to meet you Naclia, your timing was uncanny. If you would like I could accompany the two of you, as I am going nowhere in particular.” He sheathed his knife and adjusted all of his gear, this was just another bump in the road. The fact his voice showed no emotion and his face showed no expression was unusual, he did not let anybody who could not figure it out know why.

    Eliamn disembarked from Tiash herself—not sharing the other two elves’ awe (her father had brought her once of twice on trips to meet some of his centaur acquaintances)—and crouched down next to the comatose bandits. The elf’s eyes flicked back and forth between them, trying to figure out a way to deal with the problem they could cause.

    Finally, she returned to Talen. “It is odd that bandits would be only an hour away on horseback from Dragon Breath—but it could turn out as fortunate for us.” She pointed toward the still visible spires. “We could make camp here while you bring both of them back to the proper authorities,” her eyes turned to Rylan. “Noble centaur, it is not the custom of your kind to stray close to human settlements. May I inquire at the purpose behind your wanderlust?”

    Two elven rangers, one elven shamaness, one human knight, one human priestess and a centaur wanderer. Eliamn was starting to wonder just how right she had been when she had asked Naclia on how many ‘pet humans’ they would gather on the way.

    Rylan was caught off guard by her question and swallowed a little, he had to tell them as vague as possible but as clear as possible. If they learned he was a berserker they would turn away from him, possibly even keep him away from the city.

    “I travel in order to survive, the real reason being my wanderings is unclear but I do seek to see as much of the land as I can before my time. For one such as me the custom of not coming too close is not an option, but allow me to leave my answer at that.” He answered as best he could not giving anything away, even if they inquired further he would not tell. But eventually they would see and then what would happen, he seemed a bit unnerved for once. Even if for a second his emotionless shell cracked, that was not a good thing for them or him if his defenses broke.

    Eliamn walked closer to the centaur until she had to crank her head up to look at him. ...something was off. She wasn’t sure why, but the way Rylan seemed guarded about the details made her wary. She felt... an ache from him : something tightly leashed inside. “That was a rather vague answer.” was her soft reply.

    Rylan heard her reply and chuckled, it was vague but then he did not want anymore questions raised. It was hard enough as it is, but with somebody being too suspicious he had to keep this from happening.

    “I ask that you leave it at that, sometimes a person has their reasons for everything. I am merely an adventurous spirit who seeks to learn about this world, and humans and their cities are among the most interesting.” His voice went back to his usual tone, he could not let that happen again or else questions would be raised. Once again he fell silent, looking at everyone else.

    Talen sheathed his sword and walked Sienna toward the two bandits as Rylan and Eliamn talked. Her suggestion was a good idea. All Talen really had to do was take the bandits to the guards at the gate and they would handle them. Besides that, he and Naclia could get some time alone. The knight glanced to Naclia hopefully as he thought.

    Backing up Sienna, he was able to meet Rylan eye-to-eye from his horse’s back. “Greetings, I am Talen Drecloud,” the knight said, bowing in his saddle.

    Rylan looked at Talen and bowed lightly as well, at least Talen did not ask too many questions. The bandits were not gonna forget this, and as he looked to them he looked back to Talen. “Good to meet you Sir Drecloud, it would be no trouble for me to wait with the others while you took these ruffians away. Thank you for coming when you did, perhaps it was foolish to travel alone.” He then cracked his knuckles and looked over to Eliamn, who had been grilling him pretty hard. Hopefully she would not ask anymore of him, the questions were getting tiresome.

    Eliamn’s violet eyes met Rylan’s squarely—if anything, her uneasiness only grew—but she decided not to press the matter. “Perhaps Aiden and Naclia could hunt for some game while we set up camp.” Eli turned to smile at Talen. “We will try to have a warm supper ready for you upon your return.”

    Talen’s heart fell a little when Eliamn suggested that Naclia should hunt with Aiden. But, he would need the space on his saddle for the bandits. “Alright. I’ll take care of these two,” Talen replied.

    “Oh, actually, I wanted to go with Talen,” Naclia spoke up. Talen seemed to light up when she said that. “If I can take Tiash, then both of us can carry a bandit,” the elf added.

    Aiden nodded. Naclia’s reasoning was sound, if a little suspicious. “Go ahead,” Aiden replied and dismounted from his horse’s saddle. The elf petted Tiash’s neck and waited beside the gray.

    Eli frowned and hitched up her robes to run to Naclia’s side. “Naclia, I don’t think it’s wise to leave only Priestess Lyassa and myself in the company of this centaur. There is something about him which makes me uneasy.” she quietly told the female ranger, trying not to be overheard by the centaur.

    Though Naclia could always argue that Aiden would be with them, Aiden would have to hunt for game in the meantime—which would leave the two other girls alone. Eliamn, for one, wasn’t willing to trust the centaur—whom was still, after all, a stranger and a suspicious one at that.

    Rylan waited for them to settle plans, he wondered why Eliamn questioned him so much. It was not unusual for somebody to if he avoided issues, though with her it was disconcerting. He would have to earn their trust, but how could that happen if he had to find ways to avoid certain answers?

    “I’ll help in gathering wood for a fire, I have enough rations for a while and I don’t eat meat anyways. That is one curious quality about humans, how can they enjoy the flesh of a living being?” He seemed truly puzzled and a bit disgusted by the practice, as much as he found humans interesting that was one of his only issues with their customs.

    Naclia was disappointed by Eliamn’s suggestion. She was hoping to go on a ride with Talen, and he could use the help. What if the bandits woke up and he had to fight them alone? He could get hurt.

    “We have plenty of food, we don’t need to hunt,” Naclia replied to Eliamn. “Besides, what if Talen needs help when the bandits wake up? Or if he’s ambushed?”

    Lyassa ignored the conversation and walked past the elves to the fallen bandits. She was very surprised to see a centaur for this was the first she had ever seen. Without another word she sat down and lifted her hand toward the bandits. She felt her friends would most likely dislike what she was going to do, but she was a cleric of Marfa. “Dear Marfa, I ask upon thee to heal these injured people,” she whispered. Her hand gave a soft white glow as she cast her healing spell.

    Eliamn looked aside—she wasn’t about to start arguing about the issue on something that was just a hunch. “Then do as you please.” Her eyes flicked over to Lyassa and she frowned. Healing the bandits would wake them up. “Best tie them up while you still have the chance,” she advised Talen.

    Naclia didn’t want to deny that Eliamn had felt something, she was a better shaman and more intuned to the world. The ranger cast a glance to Rylan, and when she knew to look for something odd, she realized that something didn’t feel quite right about him. However, she didn’t think it was something so bad that Aiden’s magic and fighting skills, Lyassa’s holy magic, and Eli’s shamanism couldn’t protect them from.

    Naclia placed her hand on Eliamn’s shoulder. “I’m sure you’ll be fine with Aiden. We won’t be too long.”

    Meanwhile, Talen took Eliamn’s suggestion and began to tie the bandits up with some rope he had on hand as Lyassa healed them. They did wake, but when they did, they found their hands bound.

    Rylan watched them work, he would do something to help here. They did just help him and he might have friends here now, though he was not sure, so instead he gathered some branches nearby for a fire. He would not really be much of a problem, unless things turned ugly and something came up. “I’ll be here when you two return, everybody will be safe too. I will make sure of it, they need not worry about fighting.”

    Naclia and Talen carried the bound and gagged bandits and placed them on the backs of Sienna and Tiash. The bandits had little fight in them and were bound too tightly to put up much struggle. Once they were secure on the horses, Naclia and Talen mounted and rode off.

    “Have a safe trip,” Eliamn wished her two departing companions once they had mounted with the bandits set securely against the saddle. She made a small wave and then turned to those whom remained.

    “Aiden,” she called. “I’d like to do some foraging, but there might be some bandits still in the vicinity. Would you be my escort?”

    Lyassa turned to the centaur, bowing her head slightly. “I thank you for offering help,” she said. She watched Aiden being asked to go with Eliamn and giggled quietly. Then, she sat down on a rock, a little tired from the healing.

    “Of course,” Aiden replied and moved to Eliamn’s side. He cast a glance of concern to Lyassa, but she would be safe with Rylan.

    Eli led Aiden past trees and shrubs, her feet picking her way around bushes and roots. She was silent for a time, looking along the ground and fingering some of the bushes leaves before looking over at Aiden.

    “Next time you invite someone to our group, even if it is a pretty human priestess... please make sure to ask the rest of the group for an opinion before actually making an agreement,” she told him in her typical polite elvish—which added some sting to her rebuke. Apparently, she hadn’t let him off the hook.

    Aiden was caught off guard by Eliamn’s reprimand. It had been hours since they first clashed over it, and after helping Lyassa pack, the wyvern cliffs, the long ride, and meeting Rylan, he had completely forgotten that Eliamn had been angry with him.

    “I...I’m sorry,” Aiden stammered. He knew full well that he had made a mistake, but his pride didn’t want to admit it, making the apology hard. He felt the need to explain himself too. “I only said I wished she could join us to make her feel appreciated. I didn’t think she would actually be able to come, and when she said she could, I just didn’t know what else to do but invite her.”

    “You are forgiven.” Eliamn assured Aiden as she stooped down and began digging in a patch of earth just under a bush.

    She grunted as she strained to get at a particular root. She stopped and raised her head to look back at him. “The centaur seems likely to follow us as well,” her reluctance at having Rylan come along was somewhat obvious. “How many people are we supposed to bring along in our wake?”

    Aiden was relieved by her forgiveness. Despite the circumstances, Lyassa would probably be good to have along as a healer.

    “Well, it’s good for use to get to know members of other races,” Aiden replied. “We are exploring, and we will need guides, though I think six individuals is more than enough, if Rylan travels with us.”

    She looked to the side. “Something about that centaur is not right. I am starting to think it is something of a magical nature as well.” She collected the root she had been fishing for and stood back up, securing her find in one of her belt pouches. “I really wanted to draw you away to have a talk with you,” Eli said, brushing the dirt off her robes. “We can go back now—I’d rather not leave the Priestess of Marfa with that Rylan for an extended period of time.”

    Aiden took Eliamn’s warning to heart. She was a better shaman than he, and therefore, more sensitive to magic. “Right,” Aiden replied as he turned to follow Eliamn back to the road.

* * *

    Rylan sat there on the ground by the priestess and pulled out some of his rations, munching on some dried fruit and nuts he looked over at Lyassa. “Don’t mind if I am so silent, I find conversation rather difficult sometimes. Is the group you are with just exploring, or do you travel for other reasons?” He thought he’d inquire as to their traveling, see what their goal was as they might be a good group to join up with.

    Lyassa looked to Rylan, smiling. “It’s alright sir, for I understand that. We’re just exploring as far as I know. I just joined the group recently. Thus, I haven’t been told,” she said. She didn’t know if they would ever tell, she still felt the female elves disliked her. She didn’t ask him any questions she didn’t want to be rude or look like that.

    Rylan was somewhat pleased to know they were exploring too, but even then there was hesitation about traveling with others. Perhaps this was all for the best, fate had finally been kind to him and he could possibly try to make some stable companions. “I’m exploring myself, I live like the wind which has no home. It comes and goes where it pleases, leaving nothing behind it or a crimson scar where it passed through... The other two should be getting back soon, I’m sure they’ll have something to say to or ask me.” He then waited as he watched the area around him, he would not let anybody near them and that was final. If they even tried they would be warned then wounded or killed, people he had even a chance at befriending were worth it.

    Lyassa nodded as the centaur explained to her that he too was just traveling. “I can see how you’re like the wind sir,” she replied to him while staring at him. “I also think those two will indeed ask quite a bit of questions, but, please bear with us... we’re just a bit curious about you. Thats what travelers do, I suppose, then again, I wouldn’t know for I haven’t traveled much.”

    Eliamn and Aiden returned to camp, the shamaness looking over to Lyassa to see if she was alright before finding herself a clean place to sit and tend the roots she had found.

    Aiden found a patch of grass between Eliamn and Lyassa and sat on the ground. Recalling Eliamn’s distrust of Rylan, he looked at the centaur and extended his shaman senses. “So, what brings you out into the world, Rylan?” Aiden asked, so his stare didn’t seem intrusive. He started to sense something amiss about Rylan as well.

    Lyassa, who couldn’t sense something was wrong like the elves, was surprised to see the two back so early from whatever it was they had went too. Lyassa was just about to ask the same question when Aiden asked it for her. The priestess remained silent, waiting for the centaur to respond.

    Rylan listened to the both of them before he spoke, the priestesses words were true about him. He had never really thought of it like that, and now the fact that they would ask questions. “As the Priestess Lyassa said, I am a lot like the wind, I come and go as I please in the world. I travel because I have nowhere else to go and seek peace, one day I will find the peace I desire but when it is found with it will come great pain. Thus is the life I lead, you all are truly lucky to have a home.” He had to keep his memories of his home from surfacing, it still hurt being sent into exile. Though perhaps that would not go away, he had to accept the fact that one day they would learn his secret.

    “Some of us cannot return home,” Eli said quietly, her hands busy peeling away the slight crust around the root she had brought back with a silver-edge knife.

    Rylan looked to Eliamn and knew what she meant, he did not want to say anything to make them wonder about him but he had to. “Thus the reason the road has been my home for seven years, I do know what it is like to have no real home. I am from the Glassy Woods, or I was...” he trailed off into thought and went silent, trying to not remember why he was sent into exile. He had to keep a lid on it, otherwise he was just going to move on and leave them behind alive even if it means leaving before losing it.

    Lyassa was getting uneasy about this, turning her head slightly to Aiden wondering if he was feeling a bit of unease with this conversation as well. She noticed the centaur didn’t like talking much about his past and maybe they should leave him be. However, Lyassa spoke nothing of what she thought but she did stare uneasy toward Aiden.

    Aiden met Lyassa’s gaze, then turned his attention toward a bird flitting about in a nearby pine. There was an uncomfortable silence filled with nothing but the slight breeze and Eliamn’s scrapping. Aiden felt the need to break the silence, the subject of Rylan’s home seemed taboo. “So...what do you do out on the road? It must be hard to deal with humans.”

    Rylan would answer this one, even though he did not really know where his destination was except to see all of Lodoss and maybe beyond. “I travel for the mere reason to see Lodoss itself, perhaps one day lands beyond Lodoss, if they exist. I do however put down bandits if their numbers are not too many, of course I take their possessions worth money and sell them to merchants in cities. One could say I merely survive on the road, though I have had a few mishaps that resulted in tragedy...” He went silent as he remembered the times he came out and realized what he had done, though he did not even remember it it had been his work. He had to keep them away from that line of questioning, he had to bury it deeper.

    Eliamn was weary of having the centaur go around in circles, repeating variations of his first evasive answer. She had done some thinking of her own, trying to figure out the reasons that would have a goodly centaur be on exile. The pieces were gradually coming together enough so that she was starting not to like the implications they hinted at...

    The root was peeled to her liking, so she placed it into her belt pouch and glared at the centaur. “I believe this has gone on long enough,” she declared, rising to face the centaur. It was rare for her to take stands like this, but she felt the concerns for her companions’ safety warranted such measures. “I am good enough a shaman to feel the coil of tightly knitted violence in you and so I will not tolerate you thinking you can dupe your way into our company with half-truths. I will offer you this choice: you may explain to us what is ailing you and we could then decide if we will have you travel with us or not... or you can keep your truths to yourself, share our camp until the morrow and then we will part ways.” Eli’s tone was somewhat implacable, cultivated from years spent as the eldest of her parents’ three children.

    Rylan was tongue tied as he now had to say what he was hiding, now they would leave him alone like all others had. “I travel as I do as I am afflicted with Hyuri, several years ago it happened and that is why I was exiled from my home. I do not like to speak of it because people react with fear to me then, I must keep myself in check lest I hurt those I could call friends because of it...” He sighed now he was silent even more, trying to forget a memory again so he could keep himself under control. Remembering why would just kill them and he did not want that, so they were best not asking further. “Please do not ask further, it’s for the best.”

    Lyassa heard the centaur’s story about being afflicted by Hyuri and felt a bit of sadness for him.. Being all alone and no one to turn to because of it. That was a sad life. She said nothing about it, finding it was not her place to say any comforting words for they wouldn’t do anything to help the poor man. She heard his plea of not asking further and agreed it would probably be best to just drop it now and gave a small nod.

    Aiden’s attention suddenly landed directly on Rylan and his ears shot up. He was grateful to Eliamn for finally saying something, since he didn’t know what to say. A chill went up his spine when Rylan explained that he was possessed by Hyuri. Now Aiden knew just what he was sensing, as he had never seen a berserker or a summoned Hyuri to compare.

    “I can understand that you have no control over this, and I don’t want to be another to ostracize you,” Aiden said. “I know they say that no shaman can cure a berserker, but perhaps Ento himself could help if Eliamn makes her covenant with him.”

    “That will not be anytime soon.” Eliamn whispered to herself. She shook her head and looked at the centaur. “Thank you for your admission. It must have been hard to tell us,” she said, not ungraciously. Eli sat back where she had and stared up at the centaur. “I do not fear Hyuri and have no qualms at you staying now, as long as all my companions agree to it. Even so, while I cannot offer a cure, I think I should at least be able to dispel the rages—since I know about your problem now.” She tilted her head to one side, her hair a golden curtain on the sides of her face. “It would help if I knew what trigger Hyuri uses to possess you. Can you tell me?”

    Rylan nodded and relaxed somewhat, they were not like others and he need not be worried. She wanted to know why and it might help him, they could be trusted. “When I see anyone harming a horse as I perceive it I lose it, I witnessed such cruelty as a youth and it never left me,” he answered, if she could help him control it better that would be enough. Maybe then he could be more at peace, he had to trust them now. “Thank you, I am sorry for using deception to hide my affliction.”

    Eli looked over at Landia and returned her eyes to Rylan. “It is a good thing we are aware of it now. I will be able to deal with this more easily.” The blonde shamaness frowned as a thought struck her. “Do you think, perchance, this would extends out from horses to encompass other equine creatures such a ponies, mules, pegasi and unicorns?”

    Rylan thought about it and didn’t really know, he had seen such animals being moved around but then donkeys and mules were just stubborn. The more exotic ones like the pegasus and unicorns did get to him because they were so close to horses, and cruel people hunted them for parts he had heard. “Not donkeys. Though the mules, ponies, pegasus, and unicorns yes, they are too close to a horse for me to tolerate.” He did not know but he gave his best estimate, that had to do for now.

    “I see,” Eli nodded. She looked somewhat deflated, as if she had been expecting the answer he gave, but was hoping for something else. Unknown to her companions, Eliamn’s best means of defense was a spirit creature that took the shape of a pony-sized unicorn. With Rylan as their companion, Eli would not be able to use her guardian for fear of triggering a berserker’s rage in him—all it took was a wound and Hyuri might take that as an opportunity to sink his foul claws into Rylan’s mind.

    “Well, I don’t think we’ll be mistreating any of our hoofed friends,” Aiden replied, unaware of Eliamn’s familiar. However, he couldn’t guarantee the safety of all their mounts. What if they were attacked and their horses hurt? Or if they came across someone else hurting a horse? It was always dangerous to be around a berserker, but Aiden could only hope they could rely on their agility and speed to escape him if Hyuri took him over.

    Rylan listened to them and knew they were being honest, if he was going to lose it then he would try to be as far from them. For once he had people who would accept him, he was a little happy for once. He said nothing to acknowledge what was said, except a light nod from his emotionless face.

    Lyassa felt better to know about all this information of their new ally. She knew that if he changed into a berserker they would need all the speed they could to escape with their lives. Lyassa smiled slightly she was glad that they had another helper with them. She patted Landia softly on her head, running her hand through her mane.

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