Today was any other casual day for Daehyun Stormwind. He's chilling inside his cabin, his legs crossed and placed on the other chair as he skimmed through the pages in the file. He's been very careful so far, taking in small particles and pieced them to be a bigger note. Recently, he's gotten information regarding the valkyrs since he met one for the first time. A very particular valkyr that really caught his attention wholly, not that he'll ever admit it. He knew he should've at least went down and scour the city for any occupation instead of just keeping an eye out, but Dae wasn't sure what he'd find that would suit him. He's good at reporting but does that mean he'd have to work behind the screens in an office? What qualification did he even have? He remembered studying a few courses in the last 20 years but just studying with no actual interest in anything.

Clicking his tongue in annoyance, he huffed and blew the few strands of his hair away from his forehead and transitioned to another page. It continued in a cycle until he eventually stopped at one page, in particular, the one that held a few information about someone he's had the chance of meeting last time, Josefine Dietrich. He remembers stumbling across the Danish-born blonde while he was just strolling around during the New Year’s Festival in NYC earlier this year. And now she’s gone AWOL all of sudden, it doesn’t help when he had her brother breathing down his neck too. Spying was within his forte, an expertise he mastered after a while of training, so it didn't take him long to find what he needed. A few strings here and there, and he was able to get what he wanted.

While the niveis knew how to work under pressure, it didn’t mean he prefers it. It made him doubt the competency of his work whenever he was not able to achieve the maximum level and Daehyun is big on being a perfectionist when it comes to his spying. It’s the only thing he’s known for a while, and it’s one of the only things he’s even confident on doing. How many months has it been now ever since they settled in Evermore? At least up to 4 months, for sure. That’s long enough for him. Thoughts of leaving came across his train of thoughts more than once, and it’s been occurring a lot more frequently as of late. It’s just an excuse to get away from all of this, Daehyun has never been good being in a community, he’s a loner. You either seek him or he seeks you out, that’s it. The only reason that held him close for the next 40 years after Coldren’s defeat, was Anivia. He trusted her to lead the tribe and she’s shown exceptional leadership traits. She didn’t need him any longer, per se. Or at least, that’s what the elder Stormwind thought.

Just a few sweep ins on the celestials and Ailwards, and he should be done with all of this. An hour in his research, he suddenly felt sleepy. Dae yawned a few times and took off his glasses and placed it on the table, as he leaned against the chair for more comfort. He probably should go outside, he thought. Closing the curtain blinds covering the windows, he tied the ribbon around the file and hid in under the floorboards. Shady, probably. But he had to make sure the location of the files that held private information such as that is kept a secret from everyone else. The elder Stormwind wrapped himself with a jacket and exited the cabin, as he slowly surveyed the area momentarily before he went off his way to finally get that fresh air. There was no reason for him to even wear an overcoat since the pale-haired male loves the cold breeze, but it’s just a habit he developed when he went out for recon missions elsewhere for the last 40 years.

Staring at the pathway that leads her around the entire mountain, he passed the main cabin and stared for a while. Will he miss them? This was what made him conflicted. Without realizing, Daehyun was pursing his lips in contempt as he stared at the cabin longer than he was supposed to, reminiscing the memories they’ve made together as a tribe for the past years. It wasn’t as if he hated it here, he just didn’t find the joy anymore. It’s petty but how long is his responsibilities going to tie him down, leaving him with no room to speak?

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“No, no, no. I don't need any more books. I need my order of tarot cards and the shipment of skirts you promised me.” Lita stood in the middle of the library, pacing around the new area rug that had been acquired by one of the residents. The Niveis faction house was nothing more than a glorified cabin, built sturdy with more rooms than it had a right to. Anivia had fallen in love with the place and while maybe only half of their people called the place home it served its purpose. Sighing as the man on the phone tried to dissemble and blame his mistake on everyone but himself, the female store owner had heard enough. Joel had convinced her to give him a chance, to use him for her buying needs and the Male had proven himself more trouble than he was worth.

“No, you know what I'm done. Cancel my order, refund my money. I am taking my business elsewhere. No. No! Joel just stop. This is the third time you haven't filled my order and pushed useless merchandise I don't need. I can find my items elsewhere for a fair price and not near as much hassle. Goodbye Joel.” The warrior pulled the phone away from her ear and hit the end button, cutting off the quiet litany that was no doubt a string of useless apologies. The device began to vibrate and without looking at who it was the raven-haired female sent it to voicemail. Truth be told she had already found another distributor, a little more expensive but they were locally sourced which meant more opportunity to ensure the quality of the products.

Slipping the cell phone into her back pocket, ignoring the constant vibrating Lita turned to head back into the living room when movement caught her eye. Turning fully to the window her almond shaped eyes narrowed for a moment until recognition flashed through her mind. She watched him for a few minutes, trying to gauge why he was just standing outside the house. The expression on his face was pensive, wistful even which spurred her into action. Curiosity propelled her through the house and put the backdoor where she circled around to where Daehyun stood looking at the cabin as if the weight of the world rested on his squared shoulders.

“You look as if you are contemplating the mysteries of the universe and the answers can be found in the grain of wood.” She gestured to the wood planks that made up the bones and foundation of the cabin. A slight smile on her face as she walked up to stand next to him, pondering the cabin in a reflection of his own stance and repose. “What exactly are you doing out here?” There was a touch of amusement and curiosity to her tone, as she knew Dae never did anything without a solid and valid reason.

Unyak had been his place of shelter for as long as he could remember, that’s a given when it’s the longest place he’s been at. But it was nowhere near home. When they moved, the island was supposed to be their place of refuge for a few days, or a week, at most, considering it wasn’t the most idealistic place for phoenixes to reside in, especially with no heat to accompany them day and night. They allowed the whole tribe to mourn over their sacrificed, their fallen ones that were ruthlessly butchered by others that eventually forced them to flee from their home before Unyak. It was supposed to be a new beginning, but now that place only serves Daehyun as a bitter memory.

It’s where he would remember as his prison, nothing more and nothing less. He died there, in the hands of the person he trusted the most; the one he had so many high hopes for. Watching his sanity go away, he couldn’t fathom how much it hurts him internally. He could still feel the pain in his chest, just above where his heart lies, when it rains. Ironically. It’s the same spot where he had a mark over, alongside their tribal marks that trailed from his wrist up to his arm and shoulders, spreading through his torso. No one ever saw his marks up close because the snowy-haired niveis always made sure to cover himself up, a personal trait from his old life for Daehyun was forced to cover himself since childhood after his phoenix marks started to appear to avoid suspicion from his former tribe.

After moving to Evermore, everything was slowly looking up, they had more addition to their tribe, and Anivia was prospering as a chief. The elder Stormwind was elated to see how far she’s come from 40 years ago. So his faith and hopes were not misplaced, after all. But perhaps, the time has come where he puts his mantle down and dismiss himself. Not entirely out of the tribe permanently but Dae needed to find himself again. The pale-haired male felt as if he’s been inside this vessel for so long feeling lost. Shortly after he was brought back as a niveis, he coped with it by enduring the stakes of a soldier. Every order Coldren barked, he would comply without any questions raised. It didn’t take him long to realize that being someone’s lap dog was not what he wanted, especially under such a tyrant. From there, his journey as a spy began.

He kept staring at the main cabin, delving too deep into his own train of thoughts, so much that he didn’t even realize another presence crept up behind him. Hearing her familiar voice, the younger male turned around to face her and cleared his throat a few times. “Maybe I am contemplating it, the world is a mysterious place, isn’t it?” Lita Okada was one of the Elder that of course, he had information on. During their rebellion against the tyrannical niveis that ruled over them, Daehyun communicated the most with Thomaz, who was also one of the Elders, one of the wisest and oldest too. He wasn’t all close with everyone else, but who is actually close with the elder Stormwind sibling, really? You find him or he finds you, either way, it’s not as if they could barge into his home and demand to see him, even Anivia understood that.

Lita is one of the greatest warriors he’s ever witnessed, of course. He respected her greatly but never went as far to talk much, not to anyone. When she asked what he’s doing there, he shifted his stance slightly and shrugged casually. “Just looking around, I’m almost never home, thought I’d stop by and see how things are going. Everyone seems to be settling well.” Home, why does the word feel so bitter when he said it? “How are you holding up? Good?” He wasn't above to just tell her out loud that he's planning to leave, especially when they both know another member's departure would upset Anivia greatly.

Stepping off the porch her boots made very little sound as they transferred from wood to compact Earth, her dark almond-shaped eyes studied the snowy-haired male. He looked pensive as if the weight of the world were resting upon his shoulders though he couldn’t find an adequate place to set the globe down despite his efforts. It made her wonder if that were his plan if that far off look in his eye wasn’t a desperate attempt to try and escape something he couldn’t seem to shake. It was a tad concerning given what his main job was and the fact that most of his profession was built upon his ability to spot details and keep up with people. Yet here she was sneaking up on him, practically in front of his face and under his nose and still unnoticed.

The Niveis had a sordid and complicated past, many of their stories were riddled with blood and betrayal. With that sort of beginning, it was no wonder many of them were so closed off and suspicious, even of each other. Those who were older, however, and had lived through the tragedy and somehow had managed to stay connected to one another; through Anivia. Their Chieftain had kept them all connected, bringing them to Evermore and carving out a place for them among this community of misfits and abnormalities that inhabited the city. Since coming to this mountain city in the middle of Colorado their people had begun to thrive again, growing in numbers and influence as well as once again beginning to enjoy life.

Daehyun had never been the type of person to simply wander aimlessly. As a spy everything he did had a specific purpose in mind, a specific goal be it a piece of intelligence he meant to gain or something he needed to attain. Seeing him outside simply staring off into space was so out of character for the male it set Lita on edge and made her immediately suspicious. Tilting her head to the side she considered his words slowly nodding her head as he acquiesced her statement about the world. It wasn’t like him to do so readily, or in such a forthwith fashion. Narrowing her eyes he seemed to be deflecting from something which raised her suspicions even more.

“Perhaps.” She responded, watching as he began deflecting and asking her rapid-fire questions that were inane and meant next to nothing. Dae never asked how she was, nor did he care. There was something up, something he was trying very hard to hide and now she was almost certain of it. Pursing her lips together the warrior slide her hands into the pockets of her jeans and sighed, “You know I didn’t take you for one to act like such a fool. Or to think that I would be taken in for one so easily.” Shaking her head she sighed, looking around to make sure they weren’t going to be overheard before she leveled her gaze at him. “Out with it, what’s going on?”

He wasn't supposed to be startled like this albeit even if he wasn't as startled as one should be when being snuck up by Lita Okada of all people, Daehyun was known for his perceptiveness that carried him well with his job throughout the lines. Yet here he was, almost suffering from a mini heart attack because the raven-haired female had came up to him asking questions he wasn't sure he could even answer without stuttering in guilt. Was he ready to actually leave Evermore? Yes. But was he ready and willing to leave his own tribe behind? The one helped build in hopes that they would be granted the second chance everyone deserved? Undecided. And that is exactly what's been eating the elder Stormwind up for the past few months. 

The presence of the female elder made Dae scrunch his nose up in distress and drenched with nervousness that came out of nowhere, he was lost for words; speechless. He exhaled the air that he wasn't even aware he had been holding in, things would be getting out of hand the longer he chose to keep it forthright. You should tell her, he told himself yet the voice remained what it was; a voice. Not really much of 'voice of reason' anywhere near it. He may have been a good liar who could lie like his life depended on it, obliterating every form of emotion that could be seen by any eye with an emotionless face. Only, it wasn't really a mask there. Upon hearing her response to his rather off behavior, Daehyun shook his head denying the matters quickly, "No… that wasn't my intention at all… to lie to you or take you easy. How could I? You're an Elder, Lita. You and I both know how much we've suffered. It doesn't get easier." There it was. 

Dae didn't went straight ahead with his plans to leave but he did let the female know what he's thinking about, to be fair, that was what she asked anyway. "Maybe I'm thinking about other things… outside of the circle… outside of this circle," he turned to face her with both his hands tucked in his pocket, the way the wind blew lightly made his pale hair stand out even more despite the snowy state they were in, "I was thinking about what our lives would've been, sorry my life… what my life would've been if I had accepted that offer of freedom and left." 

Huffing slightly as he puffed his chest, his doll-like lips shifted itself into a pout, and the Nivies shrugged, "Not that our tribe is bad but you know, those questions… They sometimes pop up." It was a bit surprising to see someone with delicate features as his turn out to be quite the mercenary, but the dark hooded feline outlook made him intimidating at some point too. His gaze was still leveled with Lita, a part of him didn't care what she says, he never did care what others say anyway, but another part of him that craves a sense of belonging feared what she would say. So many didn't know about how he is with only an exception to few like Anivia, Kal, Lita...

Lita had known Daehyun a very long time. The bones of the tribe had been around since before Coldren had gone mad and frozen their fires, long before their flight into the frozen tundra of the arctic circle. It was one of the reasons the pair of then were considered Elders, they had been there from the beginning. From proud and powerful Firelord's at the height of their prime to the downfall of the tribe at the hands of both Initia and humans alike, together the had evacuated what had been left of their people to the frozen wastelands just for some semblance of peace. Dae and Lita both knew the dirty and bloody deeds that had been needed to be enacted in order to not only attain that peace but to maintain it and it took its toll upon the soul. At certain times Lita had wondered if there was ever a point that she was going to be able to come back from all the dark things she had done in the name of keeping her people safe if the blood staining her hands would stop washing off.

There were few people who could understand her struggle and Dae had always been one of those people. Though he was considered more of a spy than an enforcer he knew the things that haunted her and could relate. They had both lost an untold amount of things in their lifetime, intangible memories and people who could never be replaced. Yet they did it because if they didn't, someone else would have to. She had always felt a sort of kinship with the male due to that fact and the idea that he might be keeping something from her now upset her. After so many years Lita had thought they had gotten past keeping secrets, moved past deflecting.

She pushed like she was want to do and thankfully she didn't have to push very hard for him to crack. The male moved restlessly as he spilled what was on his mind in a slightly incoherent rush. Had she not known him as well as she sis she might have been confused by his words but as her mind processed it all her brows knit together as her lips pressed into a thin line. Then she carefully made her face go blank, no expression whatsoever. A serene almost placid look at she tucked her hands inside the front pockets of her jeans and kept her stance relaxed. As upsetting as his thoughts were she was not one to let her emotions get the better of her and she was not about to start now.

"I see." She answered, her tone almost conversational as her nearly black hues scanned the tree line. Inside her rage was seething, the mere idea that one of her closest friends was considering leaving was unthinkable. After everything they had been through, everything they had sacrificed and how far they had come as both a tribe and as a community. It was nearly unconscionable that the male would be bringing this up to her of all people, that of all the Niveis he would think it was a good idea the mention leaving to the one person who had sacrificed everything in order to ensure the tribe’s safety and security.

“I wonder what it is that you feel is keeping you caged here? What is it about the tribe that everyone sees that is so bad and constricting that they must run to achieve this so-called freedom they don’t already have?” She spit the last few words out with such venom that ice nearly flew from her lips, the temperature around her dropping with her ire. “What is it about our lives that suddenly has you thinking you are like a caged animal that must be freed? Have we not sacrificed and fought long and hard to achieve everything that we have today? To throw all of that away would be a disgrace and dishonor the lives of all those who fell in the name of our tribe.”

She took a few steps away from him, thinking about her father, the man who had taught her everything about being a warrior. Her husband, the man who had shown her love and tenderness in a world of blood and death. Her twin boys, the miracles of joy that she hadn’t dreamed she needed in her life and yet when they had arrived she had known instantly she wanted more than life itself. Then came the moment they had all been ripped from her grasp, all four of them slaughtered before she had been able to get to them and still she had fought for her people. Fought hard to ensure that as many of the tribe as possible escaped living another day.

“Does the hard-fought road we have been down mean nothing to anyone anymore?” Lita hissed.

Ever since he came to join Coldren's phoenix tribe close to 164 years ago, everyone had been so welcoming to both him and his sister, Mirae. It was almost unexplainable to see how humble and withdrawn the community as a whole were, especially Coldren. Where could he even begin to describe how homey and belonging everything used to feel like? He loved the life they led, sure they had a few unsettled misunderstandings and conflicts with the Initia tribes but who doesn't? They were branded nemesis since birth which led Daehyun himself to flee his own tribe despite being the leader's firstborn. Fate had something else in store for him. It sure did. Everything was fine until it wasn't. One attack was all that it took to take them down, physically and mentally. They had to flee again but at that time, they had lost their own leader who descended into his own dark path. 

Dae will never be able to forget the crazed look visible in Coldren's eyes when he found out he had the chance to create a stronger and unique species, being a counterpart of their phoenix selves as if they weren't already one deviant species before. To say that Daehyun was afraid would be an understatement, he feared for his future, if he has one, and the future of others in the tribe. What will happen if one day, someday, he ended up losing his way and become like their former tyrant of a ruler? He didn't want that. A part of him was begging for her to understand his current circumstances, "You know this was never my choice no matter how you'd like to see it" he murmured faintly, his gaze was still fixated on the ground instead of meeting her sharp glare, he could already feel the way she was slowly fuming, "I'm not as strong as you may think I am, Lita. I'm not you. All those things we did, for the sake of our tribe, for the sake of our people, our family… I can never come back from it." 

He shook his head, no he couldn't find a will to come back from it and it has been plaguing his mind since he was sent out in a scouting mission 40 years ago. It haunted his head for the next 40 years too. Dae remembered looking up to her and respecting how she carried herself even after all the bloodshed and tragedy that befell her entire family, he always found a way to empathize with her but to see the woman he respected get mad at him, it was slowly shredding whatever courage he had left. The placid emotionless look she wore was eating his guilt and he felt as if his entire being was burning himself for it. Nobody ever would have thought him, out of all people, would leave. He could've left 40 years ago but he didn't. He stayed. For reasons unknown to many, even when Dae would like to tell himself it was because his loyalty drives deep and he didn't want to leave this tribe that gave him his home once. 

"Nothing here is keeping me caged, Lita. To be honest, I don't even know myself right now. Why am I here? Because I'm a tribe member, because I promised Thomaz to look after Kal and Anivia, I served my purpose as a soldier… As a spy, perhaps even as a friend, I've never questioned any command given even if I bicker with Nivi occasionally" he sighed and finally had the courage to look back up to meet her dark hues, "But what's my purpose as a person, Lita? Whatever I have done before, and even now, it's all for our family. I don't even know what I want, I don't have any desires or hopes… or dreams, it never bothered me before but a friend asked, and then I started wondering who the fuck am I?" It was clear that this had been bothering the snowy-haired Niveis for quite some time, he was trying his best to not explode and say it in a calming manner but the way his fists were balled up and the audible sound of his heart breaking, Daehyun Stormwind was actually feeling sad. 

"And I'm not leaving forever… it's a temporary thing, think of it as a sabbatical leave or something. When you need me you know what you have to do, and I'll come running without a thought. I won't hesitate to do anything for our tribe but I'm not gonna be anymore useful to you if I'm like this" he pursed his lips and sighed heavily, "Someone told me, when you feel like you have nobody to feel that love from, sometimes you just need to love yourself because at the end of the day, you're all that you have." His eyes were filled with plenty of emotions steering clear, as if he was pleading with Lita not to resent him for doing this because she's one of the only people he probably would have in this lifetime, "This hard-fought road means everything to me. To us. But I need that closure. I owe myself that."

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