My boots dug into the dirt of the canton as I stood before Ash Checkpoint Thirteen. It was one of the many headquarters for Ash Legion operations, rarely anyone outside the legion was welcome here, I was an exception of course. Ever since Fumus was back, Ash was treating me much more differently, especially after the successful sabotage of the flame legion’s recent operation. They knew who I was, not at I was that hard to pick out in a crowd. Short, moody, articulate, and a necromancer. Magic users were few and far between, but you could always pick them out if they carried a staff or some sort of focus. There was also an air of prominence about them. It is difficult to explain to someone who doesn’t use magic.
Having a taste of power does something to your posture, your gait, even some mannerisms. Regardless of how self conscious you are or if your self esteem is in the gutter, knowing that you are able to take the weave of reality and bend it to your will does something to you. On a subconscious level at least. You walk with more determination, a sliver more of confidence, and just a spoonful of arrogance. Those that knew about it were able to channel it into something that was unique to a spellcaster. You were seen as more of a force of nature rather than a person, and in most cases that was far more intimidating. I was still working on having such a presence.
I breathed in deeply before approaching the checkpoint, a few soldiers on guard noticed me. They lined up before me, as if to block my passage, it was expected. Regardless if they knew of me or not, it was their duty. I brushed aside formalities, despite Mara’s teachings of greeting everyone politely, I learned that I needed to bend those teachings according to the situation. Addressing soldiers was an example. I did not outrank them, on top of that I was Iron Legion. I would have to impose a certain presence, yet at the same time not bring it down on them. I did not have to be polite, but I did have to be respectful.
“I request an audience with Legionnaire Fumus,” I said trying to not sound demanding. “Is he present at the moment?”
“Depends on what you want him for,” said one of the soldiers.
“His ears only,” I said unwavering. “It is urgent.”
“Urgent enough to interrupt him while he’s going over important business?” Said the soldier. This was how I knew that I could push further. Normally whatever business Fumus had was done quickly, mostly because he hated dealing with it. He would only say he was busy at to not be interrupted when he had free time. I wasn’t sure if his warband knew of it, but at least I knew I could pull another card.
“Soldier,” I began. “I understand you’re doing your duty, but I am not someone you want to delay. I have other means of reaching him, and I’m sure my sire will be upset if I have to go through such methods because his guards did not let me through.” The guards tensed up, evidently they did not know what Fumus’ cub looked like, but they heard of me. Unsurprising given everything that’s happened, fortunately this all seemed to be kept within Fumus’ warband. It wouldn’t sit well with the legions if they knew I had done work for Ash. They probably would think I was a spy.
“Y-You’re Anavari?” He asked in disbelief.
“You can call Fumus over to confirm it if you do not believe me,” I said. “Just mention my name and he’ll be here before you have time to get back.”
“No, it’s fine,” said the guard. “You can go through. He’s in the tent all the way at the back.” The guards parted to allow me through. I thanked them and began to walk through the various tents of the checkpoint. The eyes of other Ash soldiers landed on me as I strode through. Some looked at me as if I were familiar, probably some of the soldiers that had helped Garfas and I survive the flame legion. Others sneered, very likely to be ones that knew nothing of me. I ignored most of the looks as I walked up to the tent at the very back of the checkpoint. I gave it a pensive glance before approaching. I stood before the flaps and released a sigh. Suddenly I saw an eye looking at me from in between the flaps.
“Am I hallucinating again?” Said Fumus from within the tent. “My very own son, seeking me out instead of the other way around?” I almost jumped from how sudden Fumus had gone up to the opening of the tent. “I don’t recall taking anything that causes hallucinations, then again today’s breakfast tasted rather off…”
“It’s actually me, Fumus,” I said raising a brow and moving the tent flap aside. Fumus grinned at me as he stood proud and tall. If I hadn’t known better I would have said that he was about to—
“You do still love me after all!” Said Fumus as he hugged me with as much fatherly affection as he could muster. I was smothered into his chest as I felt his arms wrap around me tight enough so that I wouldn’t escape.
“I don’t recall a time where I said I no longer loved you,” I said as I was released.
“Oh you don’t have to lie, son,” said Fumus. “I’m aware that you find the mere sight of me abhorrent.”
“And now you’re exaggerating,” I said. “I am still a bit bitter, but I don’t hate you, Fumus.”
“Well you have every right to,” Fumus moved over to a cupboard by a desk on the other end of the tent. He took out a single glass and a bottle of whisky. With his other hand he took out a much shorter bottle, dark liquid was inside it. Crimson like wine. Fumus then dragged a chair across from his desk and sat down in his own chair, inviting me to sit down. I complied, and slid into the seat as Fumus poured the crimson liquid into the glass and placed it infront of me. He chugged the whiskey straight from the bottle. I gingerly took the glass, knowing my distaste for alcohol, but took a sip to not seem rude. My eyes widened at the flavor.
“Fruit juice?” I asked cocking a brow towards Fumus.
“I had a feeling you wouldn’t like alcohol,” said the older charr with a smirk. Fumus leaned back on his seat as he took another swig from his bottle. “So tell me, cub. What can I do for you? Must be important if you’ve worked up the effort to come all the way out here.”
“It’s something quite serious,” I said as I finished up the juice in my small glass, after placing it back on the desk, Fumus topped me off. “I’m being followed by someone.” As soon as I said those words, Fumus glanced at me with an all too familiar fire. It was the gaze of a predator, no, something much more terrifying.
“Were you able to get a good look at them?” He asked as he maintained his composure, he leaned back on his chair and looked at me expectantly. I responded by shaking my head.
“I managed to stun him and ran,” I said, he did not question why I ran. Did he find it inconsequential or did he expect it out of me? “I heard him make noises however, much too deep to be a woman.”
“Male stalker, got too close?”
“Not exactly,” I said. “I could sense his presence, his direction too. It’s like when you know something’s looking at you, except much more accurate, as if I could almost feel him. It might be something to do with my magic.”
“You’re probably getting stronger,” mused Fumus. “Which is good, considering that this stalker is probably from the flame legion.”
“I was afraid you would say that,” I sighed. “You think it’s from the recent attack I helped ruin?”
“It must be,” nodded Fumus. “What concerns me is how exactly were they able to figure out that you were the one that helped us out. My gut tells me we have a spy in our midst, the question is who in the damn mists could it be?” Fumus combed his claws through his hair and sighed himself. “Regardless, if they’re following you then they’re very likely to follow Garfas too. I’ll have two of my agents follow you and Garfas around for the time being.” Fumus drew out a sheet of parchment and a quill. He began to write down the orders for his soldiers. Meanwhile I was dealing with a pit at the bottom of my stomach while I considered that Garfas might be in trouble as well.
“It’s going to be alright, Anavari,”said Fumus, noticing my concern. “Nothing will happen to the two of you while I have my two best agents watching over you. Of course I’m aware Garfas can handle himself quite well, But very little can stop an unanticipated knife.” I nodded, not exactly feeling any better. “FERRIS!” Fumus’ sudden shout caused me to jump, moments later a charr almost as short as I came in and saluted.
“Yes, Legionnaire?” Said who I assumed to be was Ferris. He was a burly charr with fur that was dishevelled and unkempt. The messy brown fur poked out from the gaps in his leather armor.
“I have an important assignment for you and Tai,” Said Fumus as he leaned back on his chair. “It needs to be off the record as well, top secret.”
“Understood, Legionnaire!” said Ferris maintaining his salute.
“At ease,” said Fumus and Ferris released his salute. His posture relaxed slightly as he waited for his orders. “This here is my son, Anavari.” Ferris acknowledged me with a not and I returned the gesture, albeit it was more of a slight bow. “He helped us out a while ago, the flame legion attack that we managed to stop. You were there remember?”
“Of course, sir!” Said Ferris. “A battle well fought.”
“Well it would have been a failure had it not been for Anavari and his mate. It appears that the flame legion may be sending in spies after those two. They may be Iron legion, but Ash knows to keep an eye on its allies. I need you to keep an eye on Anavari and the iron legion soldier Garfas. Anavari will take you to his house, big massive fellow, you can’t miss him.” Fumus held out a note for the charr and he approached and took the orders. Ferris stored the note in his breast pocket.
“Understood Legionnaire!” The charr once again saluted to my father then face me. “I will wait outside the camp until you’re ready to leave.” With that the ash legion agent left the tent and I was once again alone with Fumus. I once again to the glass of fruit juice and down the contents. I briefly considered asking Fumus for whiskey instead, but then I remembered how it felt like drinking fire so I abstained.
“Thank you…father,” I said. Those words felt awkward, but I needed to showing him that I still cared.
“I’m sorry for leaving you without saying anything, cub,” he said before taking another long swig. “I truly thought it would be the best for you, and I was wrong.”
“No,” I said as I placed the cup down. “I shouldn’t be angry about it. Charr aren’t normally close with family anyway.”
“You know we’re not like most charr, son,” said Fumus. “I had trouble coming to terms with that myself.” We both stood up from our seats and walked over to the exit. Fumus ruffled the fur on my head and I made no effort to stop him.
“I’ll come visit again soon,” I said.
“Bring Garfas with you,” said Fumus. “He’s good for you.”
“I know that all too well,” I said as before leaving.