Renin stood on a knoll that overlooked the many humble homes of his village. With a deep breath, he took in the fresh morning air. The sky around him looked so clear as white clouds glided over the still sleeping inhabitants like gentle sentinels.
Off in the distance, he could envision the gray shadows the heartless city Sendria cast over him. Imagining the cold cobblestone streets, the many edifices, and the tall iron rusted gates seemed to make the city exist in perfect disharmony with his peaceful village of Brea.
He shook his head to free himself of the summoned memories. He had already made up his mind. He was going. He smiled as he heard footsteps approaching from behind him. Renin turned around and adjusted his pack.
"I'm going back for her Oskar." he said.
"I wasn't too sure," said the older man as he walked closer to Renin. "You've been standing there for about an hour."
Renin nodded. "I know. I was just thinking."
"Thinking about telling me where you were going?"
"I left a note."
Oskar nodded as he pulled a folded note from one of his trouser pockets. "I didn't even bother reading it. You still need a lot of help on your writing skills." he said smiling. Then suddenly his face gradually turned serious as he looked out into the same direction of Sendria. "Besides, I knew you'd be going soon enough."
"Did you come out here to stop me?"
"Its up to you. Those marauders almost killed you only a few weeks ago. Are you sure your injuries have healed enough for you to face people more dangerous than them?"
"All wounds healed save one." Renin smiled as he tapped his heart lightly with his fist. "And the bandits weren't the cause of that one, my friends were."
A mixture of hope, relief and excitement began to tinge through his body as he stood before Oskar. It had taken him too long to finally come to terms with himself and accept that he would never be able to completely let her go. He came to Brea to escape her, yet she followed him over every hill, through every forest and across every river.
"Well, you're already looking for trouble getting involved with them again, just don't stay in it for too long. Besides," he added, trying to sound cheerful. " I need a pair of strong arms and a strong back to handle the forge. I am getting too old to go on my own."
Renin smiled. "Don't worry, you'll be a successful blacksmith again in no time."
The two shook hands and Renin finally turned to depart Brea for Sendria.
Oskar watched until Renin left his sight. "I'll pray every night for your safety Renin." he said to himself. He turned to head back into his home when he saw his wife Mika eyeballing him.
"You should have gone with him." she said sternly as she pulled Oskar's already packed backpack from behind her and tossed it lightly at the ground before him.
Oskar looked at the bag and then at her and nodded. "We've already helped him as much as he'll allow. He needs to do the rest on his own."
It felt as if he had merely retraced his footsteps from when he first fled the city three years ago. It was not long until he was able to take in the scent of Sendria's sea air and watch the seagulls flying off in the distance.
He stopped at the gates and looked into the city. Though the clouds blocked off the bright sunlight, it was midday and he could already hear the many voices of merchants, peddlers, preachers and regular citizens carrying about their business.
Hesitant, he waited for a moment to enter. Though the city was relentlessly pulling him in, he stood paralyzed.
"Whatever you do, don't look back." Renin said to himself as he continued towards the city's main gates. It was late in the night and the street's merchants had long packed away their goods, leaving the main square desolate. Aside from a few stray dogs, the young man was the only animated figure.
He would soon be relieved of it all. He would be free of the fear Tumas instilled upon him, free of the guilt that overcame him with life as a thief and ruffian and most importantly free of Jocelyn forever. He continued on without once looking back, knowing it would only slow him down.
The scent of rain was thick in the air and he hoped to be in the forest by the time it came down. Off in the distance he could see the main gates silhouetted against the black nighttime sky. They stood ready, waiting to send him through their arms and out into the free world. Every step brought him closer, making him feel lighter as the gates became larger in view.
For a moment he thought he heard footsteps behind him. His heart sank as all the weight that left him came crashing down on his weakened knees. He quickly turned around and saw nothing. Adjusting his pack, he continued to walk forward with more caution.
"Don't be so paranoid." he muttered.
Soon more footsteps echoed off the cobblestone ground, this time they hit the street faster. Renin abandoned his careful pace and bolted. He could hear the offbeat noise of people running behind him.
He continued to run knowing that he would reach the gates long before his pursuers would reach him and if they continued their chase, the guards would surely aid him. Though his vision was impaired from running, out of the corner of his eye, he was able to notice a figure step out from behind one of the packed tents and walk directly into his path.
Knowing instantly it was Tumas, he came to an immediate halt. He stood still as those that were chasing now surrounded him. They stared menacingly at Renin as their leader slowly made his way into the middle of the circle.
"So you really were going to leave huh? Just like that." said Tumas. He pushed back his long dirty blonde hair as he waded through his followers and entered the circle.
Panting, Renin said nothing and refused to look into Tumas' eyes. He tried focusing on the gates instead, though they now seemed like an eternity away. He would be killed long before the guards noticed him or heard a cry for help.
"Just going to walk out of here, on us." said Tumas with his arms outstretched. The young man now stood toe to toe with Renin. His green eyes narrowed into slits. "Suddenly we're not good enough for you?"
Renin felt a searing pain enflame his stomach. He doubled over and looked up in time to see a clenched fist slam right into his cheek. He went sprawling to the ground, his packed things scattering across the floor. He slowly tried to get up but felt a boot ram into his sternum. He instinctively flopped to his side and curled gasping for air. He saw nothing but the many legs around him.
"And on top of that, did you really think I wouldn't find out?!"
Renin coughed in pain and tried pulling himself to one knee.
"I don't know what you're talking about,"
"You filthy liar!"
Tumas kicked Renin in the face and sent him once again to the cobblestone floor. His eyes watered and he felt Tumas' sole implanted on his forehead. Nose bloodied, he tried once again to push himself up but was too dazed. He knelt once again before Tumas.
"You always wanted her, you always tried to take her from me! She is mine god damn it!"
Raindrops slowly began to tap his head as if the gods above sympathized for him. "I just want to leave." he said, staring at the ground. He heard the unsheathing of a sword. The sound of leather against metal had become familiar in his life but he was never the unfortunate person in the middle of the circle. Now it had sounded much different, much more terrifying.
"You'll definitely leave." Tumas readied his rapier for a stabbing blow. "Through your heart Renin, where Jocelyn will never be."
Renin kept his eyes on the ground. This was it, he thought. Before he could hear the sound of a pierced body, he heard footsteps and heavy breathing enter the circle.
"Stop it!" yelled a female voice. Renin looked up from the ground and saw Jocelyn standing in between him and Tumas.
Tumas loosened his grip on the sword, grabbed the woman's shoulder and began pushing her away. "Get out of the my way Jocelyn."
She countered his grab with both of her hands and looked into his eyes. "Please Tumas, leave him alone."
Tumas stared back at her with hurt in his eyes. "You're not taking his side are you?!"
"I am not taking anyone's side! Just leave him alone."
The rain began to fall with more intensity. Tumas looked around him bewildered. He noticed that all eyes, save Renin's were on him. "You don't understand,"
"What's to understand? He just wants to leave Tumas. Please, just let him leave!"
Renin hated hearing her voice tremble. He hated the way Tumas mistreated her and he absolutely hated how she kept going back to him. He slowly reached at his side and began to unbuckle his dagger. In a quick moment he could push her aside, kill him and be gone.
"Go ahead and attack me Renin if you think you can pull it off."
Stunned that Tumas had already noticed him, Renin jerked uncontrollably, knocking a folded piece of paper that was fastened next to his dagger on the ground.
"Stop it! Both of you!"
Renin knew he would never win and his already aching body would keep him from moving fast enough to successfully harm Tumas. He dropped his dagger. It clanged loudly against the cobblestone.
Seeing this, Jocelyn turned to Tumas. "See Tumas? He doesn't want any trouble, just let him go!"
Tumas looked away from Jocelyn and down at Renin. He sheathed his sword and took a step forward to face him. "Fine. But if I ever see you here again, not even my love for Jocelyn will be able to save you."
Renin felt the words rip into him. Still clutching his stomach, he nodded and refused to look up.
"I will see you at home Jocelyn. Dolph, stay with her. Kill him if he does anything." said Tumas.
"Tumas, I volunteer to watch her." said a younger looking member of the gang.
Tumas shook his head. "No Gellar. You come with the rest of us. We have other things to do." He then motioned for his followers to leave with him.
When Tumas and his followers walked away, Jocelyn immediately knelt before Renin and placed her hand on his shoulder and her other hand on his back. "I'm so sorry Renin, are you alright?"
For the first time during the encounter, Renin faced her. He looked into her eyes and found himself at a loss for words. Though he had many reasons for leaving, she was the main one. It was because of her that Renin could no longer stand to live in the city.
Dolph, never taking his glare off of Renin, grabbed Jocelyn's shoulder. "You should get going." he said.
"Get your hands off of me!" Jocelyn pushed Dolph and almost sent him on the ground.
The guard took a few paces back, but kept his eye on Renin as Jocelyn helped him gather his things.
After everything was collected, the two stood up. "I wish things didn't have to be this way." she said.
Renin turned around and focused again on the gates and then back at her for a final look. He knew her penetrating sapphire eyes would forever haunt him. For a second he thought he saw a look of yearning in them. Was that just his imagination? Could she really be happy in the city with Tumas? He thought about asking her to leave with him but failed as he continued to feel Dolph's menacing glare on him.
"I'm sorry Jocelyn," he said, though he felt he was more apologizing for not saving her. "I have to go now."
Renin turned around one last time and began jogging for the gates. Though his face was almost blinded by the rain and sides still ached from the encounter with Tumas, his heart inflicted the most pain. He felt he could run passed it all and broke from his jog into an exhausting sprint. It didn't matter to him if Jocelyn watched him or even if she called out to him, he would continue running and never look back.
"Will you please state your reason for visiting Sendria." said an agitated voice out of no where.
Renin shook his head. He noticed that a few guards stood in an arc in front of him. "I'm sorry?"
"You've been standing there at the gates long enough to attract all of our attention. What is your reason for being here? Are you lost?"
Renin fumbled for an excuse. "I'm, here to, visit." he said. He noticed a few of the guards whispering to each other while keeping their curious eyes on him.
"Then please proceed." said the guard, stepping aside and extending his gloved hand toward the entrance.
Renin snapped out of his trance and walked towards the city. There was no going back now. "Thank you."
The guard kept his eyes on him, nodded and sent everyone else back to their posts.
Holding his pack close, Renin walked in areas that were the most crowded in the market place. He ignored the various hawking merchants and made eye contact with no one. He would quickly snap his head around in any direction he suspected a pair of eyes on him too long.
"Come on Renin, you're looking too suspicious." he said quietly.
As he made his way out of the town center, he walked cautiously into the city's main business district. Waves of nostalgia splashed back and forth in his gut as he saw familiar settings. Some parts of the area looked like they had never changed and others were barely recognizable.
Though it wasn't the safest course, he had become restless and decided to walk down a street that he had often frequented. He would stay in a nearby tavern that used to be his safe haven from the gang.
He turned a few corners and felt he was being followed. It was the same wrenching feeling he had experienced during his initial departure. "You're just messing things up," he thought. "I have to start playing it safe."
He rounded a few more corners and took wide angles to confirm whether or not he was being tailed. In his mind he saw countless faces that would cause him harm, all the members of the gang that were loyal to Tumas.
Renin came to the Cobblestone Tavern. Before he entered, he stopped at the door and scanned the area one last time to see if he was followed. He took a deep breath and went in. Ignoring the dozens of eyes that immediately went to him, Renin pulled up a stool at the bar.
He had come this far. He had no idea where to go now. Sendria was huge and it would take days to find someone, let alone people that shouldn't be sought out. These were days he couldn't afford. His time was much too limited.
He ordered a tankard of mead and began to feel the soothing affects of the alcohol calm him down.
Two youths sat on the docks that overlooked the great ocean. The sky was a golden yellow as the sun began to dissolve into the eternal blue waters.
"There's something I want to tell you Renin." said Tumas, out of no where.
"What is it?"
"Its about Jocelyn."
Renin's ears perked up at the sound of her name. He wondered why Tumas had brought her up.
"She's so beautiful."
Renin nodded in full agreement.
"Her red hair reminds me of a rose, and the way she can be, would be like the thorns that stem from it."
Renin continued to listen. It was odd to hear Tumas speak of her in such a way. He had never known his best friend to have such an interest in Jocelyn.
"I am going to court her." he finally said.
Renin felt shock blanket over him. He tried to hide the look of surprise on his face.
"Are you?" was his only reply.
Tumas smiled as he looked out into the ocean. "I am. She will be my perfect companion when I take over the gang."
Renin looked even more surprised. "You're taking over?"
Tumas nodded. "Our current leader is worthless. We have too many resources that aren't being fully used. I can make us better, more dangerous, more feared. And with someone like Jocelyn on my side, I can only win."
A small hint of fear began to spread through Renin, preventing him from telling his friend off. He sat motionless and looked out into the sunset. Jocelyn deserved better than that. She was not to be someone's trophy. Besides, Renin knew in his heart that Tumas was wrong for her. Tumas was too cruel and selfish to treat her the way he would.
"Will that be all for you sir?" asked the barkeep that loomed over the counter at Renin.
Once again pulled back into reality, Renin looked at the barkeep with a blank stare in his eyes. He looked at the four mugs in front of him. Had he consumed that much already?
Renin shook his head. "I think I am done for tonight." he said.
The barkeep eyed him strangely. Renin refused to look at the man, suddenly afraid that he would somehow recognize him.
"Would you like a room for the night?" he asked finally, breaking the silence.
Renin pondered it for a moment. It was now dark outside and dangerous for him to traverse the streets. He reached into his pocket and placed a few gold coins on the bar table.
"Will that be enough for one night?"
The barkeep took a share of the coins and left a few for Renin to pick up..
"That will do. You can have the room upstairs, down the hall and to the right."
Renin sat up from his seat and braced for the wave of intoxication to surge through his body. He clumsily began his way away from the bar and up the stairs into his room. Using the wall as support, he entered his room and bolted the door from behind him. He dropped his pack on the floor and dropped straight onto his bed.
A loud crash of thunder woke Renin up in the middle of the night. It took a few moments for him to realize where he was as he slowly sat up and rubbed his forehead.
Once he regained himself, he slowly rested his head back on a pillow. His room was small and had only one window. He could hear the rain beating relentless against it. Listening to the storm Renin began to second-guess himself.
He succeeded in making it to Sendria. He briefly looked around the town and did not see one trace of the gang that was once such a big part of his life. Had they vanished over the course of three years? What had Tumas done with them? Did he lead them to bigger and better things like he pledged he would?
As Renin lay awake, he began to hear the sound of something dense striking his window. The noise came in an infrequent pattern. He first dismissed it as possible hail.
He quietly got out of his bed and made his way over to the window. He listened for the noise again. Just as he was about to turn away, he heard it once more. He slowly opened the shudder and saw the city of Sendria completely enveloped in the rainstorm.
Directly below him stood a cloaked figure. Renin felt his stomach twist up into his throat. Had they found him already? Or perhaps it was a mere beggar seeking shelter from the storm. He opened the window and peered outside. The cold rain collided with his face as he tried to get a closer look of the person.
The cloaked figure pulled off its hood, revealing a head of short red hair. It was Jocelyn.
Renin stumbled back, not believing his eyes. Before he could call out to her, she put a finger to her lips. Was she being followed? She signaled Renin with hand gestures that she was hiding and that he shouldn't turn on any lights or cause any noise. Renin was surprised he was still able to answer back in the same code he had used what seemed like ages ago He quickly signaled for her to come up to his room. She nodded and was gone in an instant.
He waited near the door patiently, not knowing what to do. Could it be a setup? How did she know he was in the city? If she knew, who else did? What would he say to her?
He heard a gentle knock on his door. He quietly unbolted the lock. The hallway was dark and he only saw a blur rush passed him. The moment he had refastened the lock on the door he felt himself seized in her arms.
He was taken by surprise but finally returned the embrace. He stood with her for a moment, listening to the sounds of the rain beating against the window and the dripping water as it seeped off her body onto the floor.
"Well I was nice and dry." he said, trying to break the silence. He heard only what sounded like a choked laugh. Was she crying? He slid his head closer to hers and felt her soft soaked hair rub against his cheek and tickle his nose.
"How did you know I was here?" he asked, not believing he held her in his arms.
Jocelyn cleared her throat but remained buried in Renin's chest. "Gellar saw you come in through the gates."
"So I was followed."
He pulled back a little and wiped her face on his sleeve. He brushed back a lock of her hair and went to kiss her. The sensation of his lips on hers caused his body to race. He had never felt so at peace and content with the world. As the two continued to finally share their affection for each other, Renin knew that she was all he ever needed.
Later that night Renin listened to the rhythmic pattern of the rain beating against the roof and the window in front of him. It seemed to follow him everywhere he went he thought, as he lay holding Jocelyn in his arms. He basked in his silent comfort for several more moments before he felt her eyelashes flutter against his neck.
"Have you just been laying there this whole time? Why haven't you said anything?"
"I've been thinking."
"Why did you leave Renin?"
Renin pondered the many things that could be on her mind. How did she know he loved her? How did she know where to find him? Did she know he had come back for her?
"I left this place for many reasons." he began. "I was tired of stealing from people, of hurting complete strangers. I didn't like who I was and things weren't the same anymore either."
He thought for a moment before telling her the truth. "And I couldn't stand to see you with Tumas anymore."
Jocelyn remained silent.
"I didn't understand it. It was so unfair. I loved you more than he ever would and still, you remained with him. He mistreated you and it just got to the point where I had to leave it all behind."
Renin almost jumped in surprise as he felt Jocelyn's arms tighten around him even more.
"I'll admit it Renin, I was afraid of Tumas. I still am. I am with him because there is no safer alternative for me."
"Why not run away?"
"I thought about it. But where would I go? With Tumas I was safe from anything other than him."
It pained him to hear her talk about her and Tumas. He didn't want to hear any more. "How did you know I had feelings for you?"
"I had always hoped that you did. And when you left that night you dropped a note that you should have given to me a long time ago."
Renin remembered the lost note he had written for Jocelyn. "So I did drop it here."
Jocelyn nodded as she leaned back to face Renin. "It took some time but I got someone to read it. You should have told me. You should have just asked me to come with you."
"So this whole time we felt the same way."
He pulled her closer to him and felt the warmth of her body press up against his.
"I'm sorry Jocelyn." he whispered in her ear. "I should have just told you how I felt. We wouldn't be in this whole situation if I wasn't such a coward." he said as he remembered Tumas was still somewhere loose in the city.
Jocelyn nodded in agreement. "What are you going to do now?"
"Will you leave with me?"
"As fast as I would have back then." Renin noticed Jocelyn's tone changing. She no longer sounded so poignant but more like the girl he had remembered in his visions. He was ecstatic to know that his journey had been worth it. Soon he could leave the awful city with her and put the rest behind him.
After some time had passed, Renin remembered how furious Tumas had been that night when he tried to leave the city the first time. He began remembering the monster that Tumas had become once they had gotten older and even when the beast held his love in his arms. He had to stop him.
Renin sat up from the bed and thought for moment with his bare arms resting on his knees. He could tell the night was almost over. The sun would soon rise and with it Tumas would undoubtedly be waiting. He was sure of it.
"Now what are you thinking Renin?" asked Jocelyn as she rose up next to him. She rested her head gently on his shoulder, making his hair rise. He loved the feeling of her against him more than he could have ever imagined.
"About Tumas. He is not going to just let us leave."
Jocelyn sighed. "Please just leave him alone."
"You don't think I can beat him?" asked Renin. Though the comment bruised his ego a little, he tried to ignore it.
"I don't know Renin." The eagerness in Jocelyn's tone suddenly began to ebb away. "I don't want to know." she thought for a moment. "What made you finally decide to come back?"
Renin reached down with his left arm and held Jocelyn's hand in his. He felt her fingers caressing his palms.
"When I was away, about a year ago," he began as he cleared his throat. "I was in Brea. I had made friends with a blacksmith and he had been teaching me the craft. He took me as his partner and I had secured that honest job I wanted so much."
Jocelyn smiled, trying to take her mind off Tumas. "I remember hearing you go on and on about that."
Renin smiled as well. "I was on my way back from an errand. For some reason I left late that evening thinking I could make it back to Brea safely." Renin sighed. "I was a former gang member; I could take on anything." he said with a smirk. "Well I had it coming because I was jumped by bandits, a lot of them. Having nowhere to run, I faced them until they eventually over powered me. I lay in the road between Moncless and Brea, far away from anything I could consider home. As my eyes took in nothing but darkness I thought I was dying and felt so alone. My heart desperately sought comfort and only from one person. I don't know how long I had lain there in the middle of nowhere but a traveling merchant found me. I was returned back to Brea and the blacksmith's family nursed me back to health. I thought about those feelings everyday and then I realized that no matter where I was, or what I was doing I needed you."
"And that's why you risked coming back here."
Renin nodded. He had rehearsed every word that he was going to confess to Jocelyn when he had the chance, but now completely forgot all of it.
"Then you don't want to throw it all away, right?"
"You're right Jocelyn. I don't. But I also don't want to live my entire life looking over my shoulder in fear of Tumas' retaliation."
"He won't retaliate. He is a coward and will never leave this city." Jocelyn's hand enveloped Renin's. "Please Renin, let's just go now. We'll go somewhere far away, some where Tumas will never find us, even if he wanted to."
Renin reached his arm around Jocelyn and gave her a gentle squeeze. "Alright. Let's go now." He kissed her on the forehead and both prepared to depart.
The rain had ceased and the sun began to reveal itself through the dissipating clouds.
"Will Gellar be okay?" asked Renin as Jocelyn ran next to Renin. "I'm worried about him." she continued in between breaths.
"He will be okay." said Jocelyn.
They made it within eyesight of the southern gate and decided to wait a moment before it opened to catch their breath.
"I wish we could at least say goodbye to him."
"So do I."
"Maybe you can." said a familiar voice from behind them.
A chill shot up Renin's spine as they both turned around and found Dolph standing before them.
Instinctively, Renin gently pushed Jocelyn behind him and reached for the dagger at his side.
Dolph recoiled and immediately went for his weapon.
"I have to Jocelyn! I should have known! Tumas would never let us leave so easily! The bastard was probably waiting for us to make our move."
The man smiled. "You're right he was." He then looked at Jocelyn with menacing eyes. "You really hurt him this time Jocelyn." He shook his head. "You weren't even going to say goodbye."
The two men took their hands off of their weapons as a guard slowly made his way toward the gate across the street from them.
Jocelyn gripped Renin by the shoulder and began pulling him in the direction towards the gate. He began to follow but still faced the hazard in front of him.
"So you're not going to say goodbye to Gellar either huh? Poor guy was all worked up when I told him I'd bring you."
Jocelyn's heart sank. Whatever lay beyond the gate was now a distant dream. She let go as Renin turned to face her.
He looked at her with pleading eyes. "What should I do?"
Hearing the frustration in his voice, she knew that he was not trying to prove anything but help a friend in danger. It was because of Gellar that they were together. They couldn't just leave him.
She rubbed the corner of her eyes. "Come back."
She pulled him in closer and kissed him. She fought the feeling that it was for the last time.
"Wait for me by the edge of the forest. I will come back."
Renin swallowed the lump in his throat and walked over to the man in front of them.
"Take me to him now."
Renin was led back through the city into a small courtyard infested with Tumas and his gang. The courtyard was a portion of the city that the gangs frequented and authorities strayed from. Renin knew there would be little chance of any lawful intervention on his side.
As he was led further into the courtyard, it was no surprise to see that Tumas stood in the center of the stone yard with a knife held at Gellar's throat.
"I'm here Tumas, now let him go!"
Tumas smiled. "I brought you here to say goodbye, not to save him."
Renin watched helplessly as one quick sliding motion from Tumas' arm violently released the blood flowing from Gellar's throat. Tumas released his grip on the young man and watched as Gellar stumbled forward and fell lifeless to the ground.
"Gellar!" Renin hollered. He looked at Tumas with his eyes ablaze. "You'll die for that you wretch!"
Before he could compose his senses, Renin charged blindly at the man in front of him, hoping to tear him apart. He brought his dagger down on Tumas, hoping to rip into his shoulder. He was within inches before Tumas pivoted out of the way and drew his sword.
Renin's momentum drove him forward and shortly after he regained his footing, he saw Tumas already trying to drive his sword straight through his chest.
The two weapons clashed together as each body tried to overpower the other. Renin felt his muscles begin to convulse as Tumas began to lean forward inch by inch.
"You were my best friend Renin! I trusted you!" said Tumas angrily.
A swift kick to Renin's stomach sent him falling back.
Knowing that he could not overpower Tumas, Renin tried to regain his bearing before the man killed him. He pulled back and squared off with Tumas. The man in front of him was his only obstacle between happiness and remorse.
"I'm not going to let you beat me Tumas."
"I already beat you! Why couldn't you accept that?!"
Renin adjusted himself and watched as Tumas merely held his sword in front of him and waited.
"What is he waiting for?" Renin thought.
Unsure of what was taking place, Renin turned around just in time to see Dolph about to thrust his sword into Renin's side. Renin caught the man's wrist and drove his dagger straight through the assailant's stomach.
Speechless, Dolph released his grip on the sword and dropped to the ground. Renin quickly picked up the blade and swapped hands, holding the dagger in his left.
Tumas stood ready. "She chose me over you and you hated that."
"She was afraid of you!"
Making sure he was clear from all sides, Renin began another charge, though more cautiously at his opponent. He used his sword in an attempt to distract Tumas' own with every attack and once open, tried to swipe at the man's throat with his dagger. Unfortunately, Tumas was too quick and always proved a step in front of Renin.
A quick slash to Renin's midsection sent him sprawling back. The sword tore through his shirt, cutting him. He could feel blood soaking his shirt but knew it wasn't fatal. Tumas was merely playing with him.
Renin tried in vain to regain his breath. He could hear the cheers and taunts of those that surrounded the two and did his best to block everything out. He pictured Jocelyn waiting for him safely in the forest. He would not let her wait forever.
Once again Renin began the charge and blocked a cut to his temple with his dagger. With his right hand, he slashed at Tumas's extended knee. He felt some resistance.
Tumas reared back in pain but said nothing. He instead tried exchanging foot stances. He was hurt, but not down.
"I was kind enough to let you leave, even after all I'd done for you and still you came back."
"I left because you were a monster, you killed for no reason, you terrorized everyone. My only mistake was I should have taken her with me the first time!"
Enraged and as if never struck at all, Tumas lunged for Renin with a multitude of slashes. Renin blocked each one but grew weaker and weaker with every connection.
A sharp cry of pain interrupted the duel as one of followers fell to the ground with a knife to his back. Both Renin and Tumas looked around for its source. They both spied several men clad in black advancing on them.
"The guard?" muttered Tumas.
"It seems all of your enemies want you dead on this day."
Tumas ignored the comment. "Kill every last one of them!" He then looked at Renin. "It doesn't matter, you'll be dead soon and so will Jocelyn."
Within moments a melee in the courtyard erupted as every body clashed with an opponent. Renin soon found that both he and Tumas were squaring off against the Sedrian guard.
"You fools! I am not with these men!" he shouted after dodging a swing to his head.
Unwillingly, Renin engaged one of the aggressors and remained ever watchful of Tumas. He knew that if he had an opportunity, the fiend would pounce on him in an instant. Quicker than his aggressor, Renin took advantage of an opening and disposed of him.
At one point in the skirmish, Renin actually found himself fighting back to back with his most hated enemy. Within moments of defeating their attackers, the two were back to clashing arms but were separated again by more members of the guard.
As people fell all around him, Renin realized that he needed to flee the scene. He would die if he stayed in the area, no matter how many of his old and new enemies fell before him.
He began pacing backwards, ever watchful of any opponents. Suddenly he saw Tumas struggling with two simultaneous attackers.
"This is my only chance." he thought. "I can end it here."
He began making his way toward the three when he remembered Jocelyn. It had been a miracle he made it this far into the fray. He couldn't jeopardize it. They were so close and she was waiting for him, worrying about him.
"Gellar would want me to be with her too." he thought.
Backing away slowly, Renin felt a sharp pain enter his side. He cursed as he noticed the attack came from behind him. He immediately turned around and rammed his sword straight through one of the gang members.
Renin dropped his weapons and fell to one knee and clutched his side. He tried to get up but fell again as his legs buckled underneath him. He barely caught his fall with both hands. The amount of fresh blood on his right hand frightened him. Was he going to die?
He heard the footsteps of another attacker running towards him.
Renin threw himself down on his back and stared up at the sky, the sun was shining beautifully; he had not seen it so completely in a few days. He believed that somewhere nearby, Jocelyn was seeing the same thing. He reached in vain for his dropped sword. When he felt nothing but the ground he prepared for his final killing blow.
Within seconds the silhouette of a figure darkened the sun with his hands raised for a strike. Another silhouette clashed into the figure standing over Renin and drove a sword straight threw him before he could finish Renin off. Renin squinted his eyes trying to see who had just saved him. The figure bent down and extended its hand toward him and helped him up. It was Jocelyn.
"Fight it Renin!" she said as he struggled to stand up.
"I think I'll be okay." he said exhausted as he began to lean on her. "Gellar's" he began. It pained him to speak.
"I know" she said as she began carrying him away from the courtyard.
"Where's Tumas?" he asked, trying to make sense of the fight his vision was blurred and he could only hear the echoed cries and screams of the battle.
"It doesn't matter anymore. We're getting out of here, even if I have to drag you."