`The downpour of the rain beat down from the dark, starless skies above. The sound of metal clashing and the spark of swords connecting rang loudly in the vast forests between Infernias and Halcyon. Two brothers, Leonard and Nicolae Shepherd battled one another, Leonard fought for the freedom of Nicolae's soul from the clutches of Ammon's spirit's control. The smell of sweat and mud mingled into the surroundings of the dark forest. Graceona and Kyra watched, as neither woman wanted this war; however, they both knew what was at stake. They both knew Leonard would not rest until his younger brother was safe. Kyra, the nineteen-year-old daughter of Leonard and Graceona, the wife of Leonard, watched as the battle raged; neither brother seemed successful at gaining the upper hand. A frustrated sigh came from Kyra, "One big game, that is what this is. Ammon doesn't care about my father, nor does he care for Nicolae. He would laugh in his grave if they killed one another in this sick twisted game of cat and mouse, I think it's pathetic, my one regret is I just beheaded the dog when it is clear I should have shown him no mercy. A mistake I won't make in battle a second time, I promise you that, here and now." The blond woman clenched her fists.
Graceona looked at her daughter, "The perfect revenge. Possess the one person who cares about you the most with the aims to destroy them physically, mentally, and turn them inside out. It angers me that I wasn't the one who killed the weasel."
"Mother, he's gone, in body and he will be gone in spirit as well, the both of us need to keep a cool head, we need to be there for father. He needs us now, more than he ever did, we are to be his rock. As it doesn't matter who dealt the blow, but what should matter most is once this madness is over with, Infernias will be nothing. Only a mention in history a dishonorable mention for the future generations to come."
The sounds of bones breaking got Kyra's attention as she saw Nicolae's sword wedged deep into her father's shoulder.
Kourtney, a young six-year-old child, hid behind a tree a short distance from the battle; she loved her daddy and wanted the war to stop; she loved her uncle Nicolae as well. She sighed, grasping unto the white mud-covered teddy bear in her arms. The stinging of warm salty tears gathered in her eyes, as the sounds of bones breaking reach her ears. As well as a sword dropping caused the girl to look to see her father on weak legs, his face drenched in blood. Her father looked as if he had run on fumes, and now it looked like he couldn't go any further, his movements staggering. Kourtney watched in horror, as her uncle lifted his sword for the final blow. With a scream from the child, every head turned her direction as she ran, getting between her stunned father and her uncle. Her arms spread open to protect her father from whatever her uncle had planned, "Don't do it, uncle Nicolae, please! Let him go, please, stop! Can't you see he's had enough! You're hurting him!" She found her voice cracking as the tears finally flowed from her lavender eyes
Thunder should have drowned out the child's pleadings, but Nicolae's keen ears caught onto every word coming from the six-year old's lips. He looked at the child with a sigh as he looked at his brother, who was slowly coming back to reality. Shaking his head in disappointment, "Leonard, why must you allow this child to witness our battles, what do you have to prove?" He sheathed his sword, "You have the one thing I can never have, but you, you allow them to witness your pain, what gives you that right?"
Graceona and Kyra looked at the silver-haired brother, shocked at his words, Kyra drew her daggers only to be stopped by Graceona. "Wait, Kyra."
Kyra looked at her biting her gums, clenching her daggers until her knuckles were a pasty white color.
Leonard looked at Graceona, who looked at him with concern; then, he looked at Kyra, who was barely holding her anger inside. "Kourtney, being here is new to me as well Nicolae. Do you honestly think I enjoy seeing her crying like this, it breaks what heart I have left. If you think I enjoy seeing this, then you know absolutely nothing about the creature that I am, however, you complain about being alone. Well, you do have Aria; it is possible to love an orphan as your child. Since when were you too good to express your love for any child? Are you finally allowing this power to blind you of what you have, what gives you that right, don't be such a hypocrite towards me when you act as much of a devil as you claim I act." Leonard still felt out of it, merely running on adrenaline for the sake of the child before him, protecting him like a mother would her child-like he should be standing. However, he couldn't find the energy, saving his actions should Nicolae try anything, his grip on his weapon, waiting. Leonard would rather die protecting his daughter by shoving her out of the way of the blow than see her die for his sake. He had no choice but to wait.
Nicolae glared at Leonard, his wounds slowly healing from the sounds of his bones popping and cracking back into place, "You're wrong, Leonard. I don't care for Aria. You have everything a creature could want, I may be a vampire, a warrior, but I am, however, a man. I do desire some companionship as well as the company of something I created, not second best!"
Leonard sighed, looking down at Kourtney, who was staring at Nicolae, Leonard then looked at Nicolae. "You are seeking things that you've been keeping yourself from, brother. You have no one to blame but yourself. While you were too busy trying to gain power to end my existence, you have thrown the emotions of two good women into the ditch of rejection. Why must you blame me for something that you have caused it's pathetic hardly manly. This truth isn't something I've kept a secret, Nicolae. Annette and Heather, have shared their feelings towards you quite generously, so obvious that everyone knows it. Both women would and could have given you the family you desired if you would have asked them."
Nicolae looked at Leonard, "They're human scum!"
"So what? Graceona is a Lupir Queen. Both species we are supposed to despise. Not suppose to marry. Gaia forbade us to have children. However, we do have two beautiful daughters. Nicolae, generations have evolved. We do not always want to make a meal of those we love, get Ammon's dictatorship from your thoughts; this isn't you! Ammon is dead, why must you mourn for Siren trash?" Leonard gently shoved the six-year-old child behind him facing his brother, "I have one question, Nicolae." The silver-haired man looked at his brother, who continued, "Is your hatred for Aria with her being human. Or is it the fact that Ammon is telling you to despise the one other person who would have done what Kourtney has done. What is your answer? Don't you think the girl has suffered enough neglect? Be a man, Nicolae! Man up!"
Nicolae bit his lower lip and clenched his fists as Leonard got Kourtney's hand and started to walk past him, "I'm not through with you yet,"
Leonard stopped turning his head, interrupting him, " Nicolae, I've had enough of your childish talk. I need to get Kourtney home and calm myself down. Because brother or not, I'm not going to make you the promise of your safe return should we start this battle once more, I may be down. However, you of all the creatures in the seven realms should know that when I'm at my weakest point in battle, that is when I'm the most dangerous. I've not got the time to nurse your ego, do try to be more grown-up in our next fight, come, Kourtney, it's time to go home."
Leonard walked away from Nicolae, leaving the forests, with his family.
-Thirty Minutes Later-
Leonard now cleaned from the bloody mess he was in sat on the side of Kourtney's bed rubbing her head as the child's tears slowly came to a stop, "Why must you sneak away, Kourtney?" The child sniffled, digging her head deeper into her pillow, " Kourtney, I leave you here for your safety, not to be mean, or to make you feel abandoned. I'm not only your father, but I am also a warrior, a leader. I must protect others as well as you, do you understand?"
Kourtney looked at him, " I'm sorry, daddy." The child frowned, turning on her side, hugging up to Cotton, Kyra's childhood teddy bear.
Leonard sighed, kissing the child's hair, " My little girl. Why must you torture yourself," he chuckled a little as the small child looked at him, " Why must you torture yourself and me, with these nights, if you desire time together I would never deny you that."
Kourtney smiled, "So you're not mad at me, daddy?"
"I wouldn't go that far, Kourtney. I'm furious at you for sneaking away. However, I'm more concerned about your well-being should you continue to witness my battles as you had tonight. However, you're not out of the woods of getting into trouble. You may have saved my life tonight. Just don't get the big head that you saved my life and forget your safety, I am very well capable of taking care of myself, fighting is what I do, I've made a living off of it."
Kourtney nodded her head, " But, are you proud of me, daddy, maybe just a little bit?"
"There is a debate going on in my head about that question, Kourtney. Some part of me is, while the other is emotionally kicking me inside out. For unknowingly bringing you into this battle, leaving you so much to the fact that you would consider having to get involved in my affairs to make a statement." Leonard looked at his shirt, "You need to go to sleep now, I'm going to get a shirt, but a warning, don't you ever pull another stunt like you did tonight again. Am I in any way unclear?"
Kourtney swallowed hard, "I'm sorry, daddy. I'll be a good girl, please don't take my toys and ground me."
Leonard sighed, "Just as long as you learned your lesson, Kourtney. I'm not trying to play the bad guy, but once it comes to your safety compared to my well-being. I do tend to get a little unlovable. It's a parent thing, add to the fact that I'm naturally over-protective of what I hold dear. I tend to be Halcyon's most hated ruler when it comes to my family."
Kourtney sighed, "I feel like I'm going to get grounded, daddy."
Leonard kissed her hair, "I'll let you know in the morning, but I do want you to know that I love you Kourtney I may be livid at you, but it doesn't take away from my love for you, Kourtney you're my daughter. I love you because you're a part of me, no matter what, my love for you and Kyra. Will never grow less, only more."
Kourtney looked at him confused, "Then why are you so mad at me daddy, if you love me so much why are you so angry at me right now,"
Leonard interrupted her, "Because Kourtney, you put yourself in harm's way, Nicolae isn't the uncle you love, he's fighting his own battles. You were in danger, Nicolae wouldn't have hesitated to hurt you or kill you, meaning I wouldn't have hesitated to do the same to him. My brother I can handle, we grew up doing this, but you, you're a child. Just promise me you'll never do anything like that again, I'll rest easier tonight knowing you're angry with me. However, it will also help both of us knowing that you will remain safe, I couldn't bear the thoughts of seeing you hurt, Kourtney, promise me."
Kourtney looked at her daddy, seeing the gentle look in his eyes, "I promise daddy, I'm not mad at you. You're my daddy."
Leonard smiled, kissing her hair standing to his feet, "Thank you, Kourtney, now go to bed, you need to sleep it's getting late."
Kourtney hugged his neck holding him for a long moment, "I love you, daddy."
Leonard held her, "I love you too, Kourtney."
The embrace broke as Kourtney laid down, and Leonard covered her up, walking to the door turning the light off walking from the room, closing the door gently behind him.