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Perhaps there had been a certain pull behind her decision to take the offer to study in Evermore, she didn't know what it was about the city that she had zeroed in on exactly but she did know it felt like a home here. With the money she had earned working the past few years she was able to afford the rent to an apartment on the edge of the city, the commute was long but it was hers. She liked being able to create a home of her own, even if was small, it was the kind of freedom she had never experienced before having always lived her life on the run.
She had headed out early this morning to make her way into the city, she had classes in the afternoon so her plan was to do some shopping before then. She'd been having a weird feeling in her stomach all day, like it was reminding her there was a place she was supposed to be and so she was letting it guide her a little. Freyja knew better than to ignore her instincts by now, they were usually right after all. Travelling on the subway was easier than she expected to be, though she did get a lot of people stare when they noticed the blue tattoos which spiralled all over her chest, arms and legs. Naturally, she tugged at her sleeve and avoided eye contact until she finally reached her stop.
Heading out she looked around at the familiar shopping district of Evermore city, she had been here several times to get supplies and generally explore, she enjoyed it very much, just getting lost in a crowd. She didn't have many friends here in Evermore yet but she hoped when she did that maybe she could go out shopping with them and get a coffee or something, normal things everyone did, but seemed so incredibly foreign for her. The sound of a car screeching to a halt took her attention as she was walking, someone had stepped out in front of a car and the driver had only just managed to stop in time.
She looked up towards the pedestrian crossing noting that the light was red and the guy who had almost been hit looked rightly annoyed by the near-miss. She was so shocked by the whole thing but without thinking rushed over to check if everyone involved was okay. She blinked several times when her face finally met the gaze of the man who had almost been hit by the car and then she shook her head, pressing her hand against her forehead "Am I seeing things now?" she questioned more to herself than anything. It wasn't possible to just randomly bump into her friend from all those years ago was it? "Dae?" questioned in disbelief.
Dae knew Freyja was far from being a person who craves power or the likes. She never showed any interest towards it and perhaps, she might even be the leader their tribe needed. Dae has no doubt she would make a good leader. A good leader is one who is selfless for herself but selfish for their tribe. A chuckle escaped him when she said being angry helps progress things better, "You don't say… most of the time all these bottled up emotions are so… burdensome because you couldn't vent on it." In his case, his job was practically the perfect outlet for his anger. "No one can survive with just emotions intact, Freyja. You have to have motivation somewhere… whatever it is. The moment you started losing them, that's when you should be scared because if you have none then what the hell are you even living for?"
That's the thing he fears the most because at this moment, Dae was slowly losing his own sanity over those words. What kind of motivation did he even have left? He has already fulfilled them. "If I could, I would've sentenced him to a comatose just so he knows he's at our mercy the way we were at his. There is nothing more horrifying than knowing someone is looming over you with your own life. Not knowing when you're gonna die or what the hell the other has planned for you." Unfortunately, considering the circumstances then, it was not possible. "I don't know how most of us adapted to the change but I find it hard to believe this new… identity. We were a bunch of phoenixes suffering from the prejudice of our own species, the initia… any other day, phoenixes themselves would grow to view niveis as their abomination too. What next? We're gonna be a freaking tree if we die being buried alive?" That was something. It was crazy to think how quickly the change has affected their life.
"I don't have to like it" he scowled lightly, grumbling under his breath about how he doesn't have to abide by its rules. "Sorry…" he apologized soon after, "the only reason why I'm doing this… is because I had responsibilities to uphold. I kept my promise and my word and that is all to it." He loves the cold but he also remembered resenting the fact that he now couldn't even handle the heat. It feels like he's torn between the two identities, one which he has accepted while the other is still pending. Perhaps Dae just didn't want to forget all the hardships they went through being phoenixes only to end up like this. "You'll make new friends, Frey… you always have. Surprisingly you'd find that after being niveis, most of these hot headed phoenixes are cool as fuck" not him though. His temper meshes well with his coldness. When she suggested flying, a small smile made its way up to his lips, "Flying sounds good. Be warned though, I am pretty fast" he winked playfully.
She let out a soft laugh when he said that keeping emotions bottled up wasn’t healthy “I didn’t have a choice but to do so and swear it almost drove me insane” she muttered the words and shook her head slightly, she had missed being able to talk to people, it was torturous spending so much time alone, unable to do a thing about it. “Honestly I don’t even know what my motivation is” she responded to him honestly and shrugged “It seems I was born…the natural leader of the tribe but…I don’t feel like a leader” she confessed as she glanced over at him, wondering if he could understand where she was coming from.
She nodded her head slightly, it seemed like they both shared sentiment in their own situation feeling unresolved because of the way things ended “At least he can’t hurt anyone anymore” and despite everything that had happened she hoped he managed to find some sort of peace, there was someone beneath all that hate that was worth saving. “I forgot how scary you can be” she confessed with somewhat widened eyes when he explained how he would make Coldren pay for the things he did “Though I can’t blame you for it” she added. She laughed and ran a hand through her hair when he explained his concern at the volative nature of their species “Who knows at this point…but it kinda makes sense to me…if our fire is doused, that only leaves…cold” she commented and nodding her head.
Her gaze softened slowly, she could sense from the way he was talking that he resented what he was and that made her sad, she couldn’t force him to accept what he was now though, she knew that “You don’t have to apologize for how you feel” she spoke softly as she gazed back at him “But…I really hope you can search for more than just…responsibilities” that didn’t seem like a good way to live, there had to be more good things than that in his life right? She nudged him slightly when he said she’d make new friends “You can’t be replaced Dae” she commented and shook her head, even if she did make new friends, she would still miss him. “Well I am not….blame my lack of practice” she commented before pointing out an alley they could head down so they could take off without any spectators.
He understood how it felt, god knows he had bottled his rage up for a long while. “I get it, you can’t help but do it at the end of the day” he drawled, him personally? Wouldn’t admit to that but he was sure even from seeing his body language, Freyja was able to know he did that more times than he could count. After all, she does know him. They were friends, and are still friends. He pursed his lips slightly when she said that, a natural born leader but doesn’t feel like one, “I’ll be honest here, I don’t know if we even have much of a tribe left to be led, everyone is pretty much scattered and doing their own things but that’s mainly because they thought they didn’t have anyone to lead them. I’m sure if you come back with this… revelation, it’ll help you see where you can start. Everyone will pretty much take anyone after Coldren honestly…”
Not that he could blame them, he’d be fine too, if he wasn’t too concerned with his own life. Dae was planning to leave Evermore for a reason. “No, he can’t, and thank god for that.” Or god knows what would become of this world. He did so much damage within Unyak alone, so the niveis couldn’t imagine the damage the tyrant would’ve done to the world if he was to step out of that island. Maybe it was better that he didn’t try to guess. He bit his lip instinctively when Freyja said she forgot how scary he could be, “Well, for starters, I’m not exactly one to be trifled with after the whole fiasco with Coldren. Two, I’m a spy, Freyja. I stab people’s backs because that’s probably what I do best, get information and then do what’s needed with it. Three, well… I work as a bounty hunter. So you can guess where that leads me. Pays well though so I’m not complaining. I’d rather work as a freelancer like that and get a huge sum of money in return for my service than to work 9 to 5 in an office somewhere.”
Daehyun Stormwind does not suit office work. “It’s an ideology that will no doubt spread, Coldren wanted for phoenixes to evolve because he thought we were a lost cause at some point, isn’t that why he decided to stay back after his wife’s death? To die in the cold? He’s not the only nutcase and someone else will come eventually… they’ll come to see that niveis shouldn’t be a species, I’m not sure if we should be more worried about the Initia finding out there’s another species or the phoenixes who realized there’s another who could potentially be a threat to them.” It’s the same cycle all over again. He chuckled when she said she was blaming her lack of practice when it comes to flying, “Let’s make a bet, I’ll even give you a headstart. It’s no fun if we just… fly for fun.” The mischievous smirk had made its presence known and Dae was not one to back down. “Or are you a chicken?”
She nodded slightly “All I had for such a long time was….myself” she commented in a soft voice, the only questions she could ask were to herself, the only frustration she could vent was screaming on the inside. Eventually she realized all she was doing in the end was torturing herself so she had shut it down and let go, given in to the cold which surrounded her that she couldn’t escape. “That’s okay...it’s not like it’s...400 years ago when everyone needed to stay glued together...maybe it’s better that people remain spread” though it did sadden her to think this was what had become of their tribe, there had been a time when they were close, a family of sorts.
“I don’t ever try to wish death on anyone but...I can’t see that there was ever another way out of that loop” she murmured softly, she believed that people could learn from their mistakes and be better but with Coldren, he had gone entirely mad, there was no seeing to reason, all he wanted was to hurt people. She gave him a look when he pointed out all the reasons he had to be scary and pressed her lips together “But you’re you Dae, even behind all of that facade and the violence you surround yourself with, you’re still you” that quiet but refined guy she had met when he was younger, the one who silently looked out for the whole tribe without saying a word about it. Someone she had always been able to rely on and someone she understood “Good for you for putting your skills to good practice though” she nudged him and smiled proudly.
“I’m done being afraid of Initia, if they want to go back to their corners and act like spoilt children afraid of their siblings that’s their choice, but that doesn’t mean we’re going anywhere and they are sorely mistaken if they think we can’t take care of ourselves” Coldren had taught them pretty well in that aspect and while Freyja had a much shorter time to accustom herself to her new form, she had spent pretty much all of the past 2 years focusing on it, honing herself to get stronger. “Always so competitive” she commented and rolled her eyes at him but she looked around to make sure that no one was watching before she allowed her wings to set ablaze and before long she was pushing herself up into the hair, moving through the sky quickly enough to get out of human reach “Chicken” she scoffed to herself “He seems to have forgotten who I am” she grumbled as she headed up towards the clouds.
He could understand where that sentiment could come from, it wasn’t exactly a shocking revelation, Freyja did spend what seemed to be a century in a desiccated and comatose condition. “I wonder what you felt that time… was it like a very long slumber? Or was it suffocating? Painful? Painless?” He’s curious. It’s the closest thing to death while not being dead at all. “The people, some of them want to stay together, perhaps not together together in that sense, but they still want to feel like they belong to a tribe. They need a leader, like how wolves travel in packs, lone niveis won’t survive for long, especially not with phoenixes and Initia looking over our shoulders. Not everyone knows we’re not a threat” he hates the reality that they’ll always need to be careful who they trust.
“I don’t exactly wish death on people either but I wasn’t the same person I was a hundred years ago” even if it was just Coldren, Dae knew he soiled his hands already, the moment he became a niveis, it was already written down. There was no defending that and there was no justification for what he had done. “Coldren is hardly the only guy I’ve laid my hands on anyway” after that, he only knew hunting and that’s what he did. It wasn’t until he found a more legal way of doing this job that he stopped hurting people unnecessarily. “Do you still think I could be redeemed, Freyja?” he chuckled bitterly, perhaps he yearned for one, but another part of him also thought it wasn’t needed. “But at least I know what I… do now. I mean, it’s better to own up when you’re in complete control of yourself. It’s much better than being someone’s lapdog and not having the freedom to even think for yourself. Nowadays, I do the jobs I was given and they praise me for it.” For a while, Dae admitted it felt nice to be acknowledged like that.
He had a smile on when she exclaimed she isn’t afraid of them, “We’ve never really been afraid of them, though? When we were phoenixes, we just wanted some peace, don't mistake that for weakness. We wanted to avoid bloodshed and unnecessary maiming because it all ends up the same way, that’s what Coldren believed. Well… used to believe. We were never weak, Freyja, we just… decided not to meddle.” The pale-haired male wondered how much she had honed her flying as much as she honed her other skills so he gave her a quick 20 seconds headstart before trailing behind her. He’s not especially the strongest nor the fastest, but Dae worked well as a spy and a hunter because he only utilized what he knew he could. So he was able to fly above her and switch a few positions to make sure he stays undetected, but still behind her tail, “Well at least you didn’t forget how to fly” he exclaimed loudly, using the clouds to cover himself from being seen.
Her expression dropped for a moment when he asked her what that experienced had been like, she lifted her gaze for a moment before sucking in a break “It was...cold...there would be times I was awake...conscious but they got shorter and shorter the more time passed...I wanted to scream for help or move but I couldn’t” the times when he body shut down were probably the good ones compared to the agony of trying to tell her body to fight and it turning out entirely fruitless. Her gaze wavered when he said people needed a leader to guide them “Perhaps there was a time I felt like a leader but it feels like I barely know them anymore” she commented softly, the world had changed, everyone had experienced so much, you couldn’t just go back.
“I wouldn’t expect you to be” she responded and nodded her head slightly, of course what he had been through would change him the same way it changed her “But I still see the person I used to know in you” she offered a small smile because that was a compliment, he had always been quiet and gruff but Freyja had always seen Dae as loyal to those who mattered to him, to a fault and his own detriment sometimes. “I know you, I know that you have boundaries and morals and I’m sorry he forced you to twist them” if anything that was worse than death because it killed a person’s sense of identity. “I think it matters what you do now, now that you are free to make your own choices” she pointed out as her expression softened.
She nodded slightly “I’d say that some of us were afraid...afraid that we would become so engrossed by fighting an unnecessary war that we would lose ourselves” she commented in a soft voice “Just because we could fight them doesn’t mean we wanted to” all they ever wanted to do was live their lives in peace but bloodshed between both their kind was deep-rooted and bitter. After she took flight she felt the rush of air around her and smiled, there was something freeing about flying and even though it was slightly different now she was a niveis, it was much like riding a bike to her. She started picking up speed as she glided through the clouds, she had no doubt Dae was gonna catch her eventually but she wasn’t gonna make it easy for him to do so, she dived down beneath the clouds, feeling the cool of the water on her skin as she weaved enough to make herself harder to track “Flying has always been one of my favorite things, you really don’t think I’d forget” she laughed.
A part of him doesn't want to know how desiccating felt because it sounded horrid and the last thing Dae wanted was to know exactly how the process goes. It wasn't as if he wanted to feel it. But at the same time, he probably needed to know, at the end of the day, Freyja is still a long-time friend of his and he has enough respect for her. "Sounds horrible, glad you got out of that." He wouldn't wouldn't that upon anyone. "Is it me or it sounded a lot more painful to dessicate than to just.. die?" At least if you died, it would just be a one-off thing rather than letting themselves suffer slowly. "The world is different now, Freyja, the people you think you knew… they may not be the same people anymore." Him, he could be an example of that.
"But that doesn't mean you couldn't make an effort to get to know them again. There's still time." Most are still trying to find a leader if he was being honest. He felt something when she told him she could still see the person he once was, did she mean that? "You sure you're not seeing it wrong?" he teased, maybe he was being serious about that, maybe not. But Dae didn't want to make it serious hence why he tried to joke around instead. "What's done is done" he mumbled, either way Coldren broke him, there was nothing he could do about it anymore. He scoffed sarcastically when she said he was free to make his own choices now, is that right?
"Yeah, and that's exactly what I'm doing right now. Or… at least I think I am. There's no way of knowing it honestly. It feels like I'm somewhat still tied to something…" No matter how hard he tries, the niveis couldn't sever it. The rivalry between both species went on for centuries so he wasn't expecting for much, you either end up oppress or being oppressed. He just wants the niveis to not be the latter anymore. They tried to use the peaceful way but if that's not going to work then shouldn't they do something?
He's used to flying, it's how he sees a form of freedom but it's been so logn since he bad someone to fly with. He nudged against her playfully as he caught up to her, doing as much as covering her eyes with both hands. "I didn't think you'd forget it, I'm just saying, maybe you're rusty" he stuck out his tongue and chuckled, beckoning for her to follow him as he led her above a clearing. "I found this when I first came scouting here… a field of poppies."
She looked down for a moment and then back up to him when he commented about how what she went through is horrible “Me too, it’s not something I’d want to repeat” the pain was one thing but the loneliness and sense of hopelessness wondering if anyone was going to find you was worse. “Having been through both, death is more painful, but it’s also over much quicker” she nodded her head, she knew which she’d choose if it was a decision. “I know that” she responded to his words “I know it’s been a lot of time and everyone has moved on, but that doesn’t make me feel any less...responsible” she was supposed to be their leader it the way things unfolded made it seem like she had abandoned them.
“I have to try to...fulful my role...even if I have no idea where to even start” she murmured softly, she didn’t know how things would turn out or whether people would even want her to take the place but it wasn’t like she could just deny the part of her that was destined to lead. “I’m certain, perhaps he’s tired and he’s...a little angry at the world but he’s there” she nodded her head slightly, she still had this same feeling when around him that she did all the way back then “You’ve adapted to the cards the world played you, no one is going to ever blame you for that” she murmured in an assuring tone.
“That’s all you can do, figure out your own path in the world, whether it’s big or small, it’s yours” she assured him and nodded “And that tie, maybe it’s not such a bad thing, what’s the point in such a long journey if you have no one to share it with, right?” she raised her brows in a questioning manner, surely he had to have met someone who sparked interest in him, whether it be a friend or perhaps even a lover. “There’s no one here that...ties you down a little?” she questioned in a curious manner, she didn’t know how long he’d even been in the city.
It had been so long since she had been flying just for fun, it was such a freeing experience that before long she had forgotten she was being chased because she was too busy sweeping and diving between the clouds. She smiled at him over her shoulder when he nudged her “Maybe, but that’s besides the point, it’s just good to stretch my wings” she commented as she followed him down towards the clearing, eyeing the poppies and smiling “It’s beautiful” she commented in a soft voice “I missed just being able to...see everything” she commented wistfully.
Both of them knew exactly how painful that period was in their life, and could not wish it on anyone else. Honestly, Dae was a bit sad that he was leaving at this moment when he just met Freyja after a whole century? Though there was still a bit of resentment in his heart, she was still his friend and he doesn’t forsake people that easily. She was betrayed too, wasn’t she? He wasn’t the only one, he reminded himself. “Like I said, Freyja, don’t fuss yourself over it, people understand and if I was being honest, I can’t find it inside to actually care how hurt it made me feel, because it was the past.”
Resentment is resentment, he’s still someone with feelings, even if he often doesn’t show them, so it was natural for Dae to feel hurt thinking his friend, one he divulged his secrets to, left him. “But you’re here now so you can start making up bit by bit, I guess…” It wasn’t as if he’s going to be here to see it, right? “You don’t need to go too deep into it, all our people need right now… is someone they can trust and relate to, which is honestly the bare minimum but that’s what we need after going through a long period of betrayals.” Living under a tyrannical ruler wasn’t easy on anyone.
She was trying to console him, to comfort him and tell him that what he did was not wrong, even though the niveis knew it was. It might not define him as an individual but like it or not, it’s still a stain on his life. “Well, I liked doing it too so I won’t even try to say it’s not me, no point in that” he shrugged. He frowned and bit his lip when she said he should share this with someone, the only person that came to his mind when he thought of that was Yeon. It was always that charming blond, every single time. “There’s someone… His name is Yeon, a devastatingly hot valkyr. All suave and shit… you’d love him, everyone does.” Why wouldn’t they? “He’s a nice company to have…” That’s an understatement. He pursed his lips slightly and stared at her as they flew above the clouds, yeah for her this was freedom for a long while “Now you’re making me feel responsible to show you what’s fun and what’s not. Do you have anything you wanted to do when you first came here?"
She nodded slightly, she knew there was nothing she could have done but with the leader gene inside her, there was this collective sense of family for her when she thought about the niveis she had spent so many years alongside as a phoenix “It still feels like I should have been there…maybe if I’d been less gullible or stronger then I could have stopped the worst from happening” maybe she could have warned everyone they were in danger at least. She pressed her lips together, she should have been stronger, it was her duty to protect them and honestly, it felt like she failed them.
She nodded as she hung her head for a moment, she couldn’t change the past she was right and all she could do now was try to make up for the years she missed and put themselves in the place where she could prevent bad things from happening again “What if they don’t believe in the concept of a leader anymore?” Coldren had been someone they trusted as a leader at one point and he had let them down so what was to stop them from being let down again? “I want to be the best for them” she murmured softly, she was their born leader, it was her destiny and yet she was still worried about their approval.
She pressed her lips together and nodded, she knew Dae was the type to punish himself for the mistakes he had made and honestly she couldn’t tell him whether what he did was right or wrong, that was on his own moral compass “You’ve been through so much pain…you need to start forgiving yourself for the things you’ve done” she pointed out and squeezed his shoulder slightly. Hearing the way Dae talked about this Yeon guy though, she was immediately intrigued “Including you?” she commented and raised her brows out of curiosity, it wasn’t like Dae to focus himself on one person so she was very curious to know what this guy was like.
She continued to fly, rolling herself over in a somersault in mid-air, a wide smile appearing on her lips, it felt so good to be free and to spread her wings like this “God I missed this” she commented and dived through a cloud with a giggle “Nothing especially…I mean I thought about making a snowman on top of one of the mountains” she teased and laughed, mostly because she liked the idea of going up somewhere so cold. But she knew it was close to where most of the niveis resided and she’d been afraid to show up there.