The day thus far had been overcast, the clouds hanging low in the sky were dark grey and wispy. Despite the slight drizzling of rain that clung to the skin and stained the concrete dark the temperatures were mild. Wearing only a light jacket Lita strolled up the street, her almond-shaped dark eyes watched the traffic as well as the people walking the streets around her. Downtown Evermore was always a fascinating place to be, with dozens of people always out and about from all different walks of life. The center of the city was the main hub for business and commerce. Banks, restaurants, office buildings, convenience stores, book stores, specialty shops, fitness clubs, and even a couple hotels were all jam-packed into the slender streets. Parking was always at a minimum which left people to walk wherever they needed to go, allowing for plenty of fodder for people watching.

Lita enjoyed the buzz of the city after living so long in the desolate snowy lands of the Tundra, the thriving sea of humanity made her feel more at ease and less exposed. Here she could blend in, melt with the locals and go unseen with very little effort. It was a rare skill that her father had taught her and one that she enjoyed using, both professionally and personally. The less a person stood out the more she could do behind the scenes, without fear of being noticed and discovered. It made her job as a warrior and elder and protector of the clan so much easier and far simpler.

Smiling to herself to female turned the corner, heading uphill as her eyes rested on the sign above the pawn shop. Just the sight of it was enough to drop the smile from her face, an expression of careful neutrality came over her features making her look unconcerned and serene. Despite the fact that she felt anything but calm Lita was visiting Kaldre on official business at Anivia’s request which meant she would conduct herself accordingly. Taking a steadying breath she pushed through the door and into the slightly darkened interior of the pawn shop, looking around at all of the merchandise and customers that milled around.

An initial sweep didn’t present the person she had come to speak to, so the Elder began idly browsing the shop. There was an odd and wide assortment of items arrayed around the shop though she had to admit that everything was neat and organized as best it could be. Some of the things she came across looked like junk, cast off clutter that someone had been hoping to make a quick buck off of. Other things she came across seemed like genuine and decent equipment from cameras to tv equipment to musical instruments. Finally, a door behind the counter opened, presenting just the male she had come to see. As the pair made eye contact she nodded her head towards the woman standing not far from the counter, a silent urge for him to take care of the customer he had before they initiated their business.

As the young male handled his customer Lita watched him, his mannerisms and tone. He moved with a fluidity that was impressive and his ability to handle customers like a true born people person. Once the shop emptied out Lita took a moment to let him gather himself as this was the first time the pair of them had been alone together. “Mr. Frostbourne.”

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Kaldre’s life in Evermore city had always been an understated one, he wasn’t the kind of person who wanted to draw attention to himself, always the one to stay tucked away and quiet, he had been like that for most of his life, the good soldier, the one who did as they were told and fell into line. He lived what most might consider a mundane or boring life, a job which paid the bills, a few friends he visited, he liked to buy interesting clothes and practice his control over ice and he shared his home with a grumpy cat that only seemed to like him out of all the people in the world. But there was one important thing about Kal’s life in Evermore city, it was his. It wasn’t a path his father had set out for him or the way everyone expected him to act because of what his mother had done, it was his choice, his control and that’s why it meant everything to him.

Kal had been a pretty quiet and reserved person back on Ukyak, always following orders and doing what was expected of him, at least he had been until his father killed his brother right in front of him and then damned his lover to die in a civil war anyway. After that Kal had stopped being quite so quiet and his opinions against the idea of a single leader got louder and louder, he knew what he was standing out against was his own sister and the positions she held and he had felt conflicted about that. But it was what he truly believed at the time, probably was what he still believed now, though he’d long acknowledged that he didn’t have the right to influence any of their decisions anymore.

Since he had heard of the tribe coming to Evermore he’d mostly kept a low profile and stayed out of their hair, he didn’t want anything to do with their official business in the city and he wasn’t even sure where it left him. He’d been living his life, for the most part, as though he was a normal human for many years now, it felt like a bit of a wake up call for the people in Evermore to suddenly get to know of his kind and he knew it was only so long because people started to realize he was one of them too. He hadn’t aged in the 4 decades he’d been here in the city after all and some regular supernatural customers had already guessed as much.

It wasn’t all bad for him though, after 40 years he had finally gotten to see Anivia again and while the two of them were still on rocky ground, at the very least, they were on speaking terms now and he had learned that his niece, Lucia, was working for him here at the shop. He was taking things one day at a time, figuring out what this all meant. Today he was in the back storeroom of the shop sorting through a bunch of the new items he had just appraised, old instruments cleared out from a garage mostly and quite the collection of vinyl records. He sorted through the stock totaling up the estimated worth of the items before heading to the register to count out the cash for the young woman waiting for his price. She seemed happy with it and so he handed it over just as he caught the eyes of a familiar face at the back of the shop. He cleared his throat clearly off put for a moment before he smiled at the customer and sent her on her way with a smile.

Kal would have to be blind not to recognize Lita, they had known one another from Unyak but never really been close, she was much more an advisor to his sister than him but he always respected the way she held herself and the fighting spirit she had back then, no doubts something she had carried with her “Kaldre” he corrected her words with a furrow of her brow “Mr. Frostbourne was my father and I don’t think any of us care to honor him” he stated quite straightforwardly, he still had issues with his own surname reminding him of his father even now “To what do I owe the pleasure, Lita” he spoke softly as he tilted his head to the side, he knew one thing for sure, she wouldn’t have come here out of her own will for a chat.

It had been a few years since Lita had seen Kaldre, though neither of them had changed much in the way of physical attributes they had certainly changed in their baring. Memories of when he was little swarmed her mind, reminding her painfully of her own twin boys. Kaldre of course had been given the opportunity to grow up, to become a man that might take his place within the tribe and his family line. Of course that hadn’t all happened, while the male in front of her had grown up he had fled from his responsibilities and people. Being one of the few people Anivia had trusted with her personal feelings and having witnessed the devastation following the male’s choice it was hard to Lita to keep her personal feelings in check.

Despite it all the warrior was well disciplined and despite Kaldre’s cavalier statements regarding her feelings the brunette managed to keep her serene expression in place. “Your surname is your own and I would say that your sister is doing an excellent job of dispelling any stigma that might have remained as a result of your father’s actions.” It was a honest statement and something of a rebuke at the same time. There was no love lost between herself and her former leader, nor between his children though no one could blame them. After the atrocities he committed against their people it was no surprise his name in general was cursed, but since Anivia had taken over it was just his given name that was anathema. As the female Niveis continued to demonstrate her dedication to her people the name Frostbourne was taking on a whole new meaning.

Still she respected her Chieftain enough to not outwardly insult one of her family members, especially knowing how her friend felt about her remaining family. “However,” she sighed a little heavily as her gaze once more swept around the shop, “if you wish to be referred to as Kaldre I will respect your request.” It was the only concession she was going to allow him, nodding her head to him in affirmation of his assertion. As much as she wanted to bait him she was here on official business and wouldn’t disgrace Anivia or herself in such a fashion.

“I am here at the behest of your sister, and the Council of Elders. There will be a Clan meeting next Thursday at the Faction House beginning promptly at 6:00 pm.” Tucking her hands behind her back she turned to look at him as she delivered the invitation, though it was not phrased as such for a reason. Anivia had requested he be given the option to attend however she was an Elder and felt a bit differently. The young man should attend but his attendance should be mandatory. It was high time he take his responsibilities as a Niveis seriously.

Kaldre remembered Lita from back on Unyak though the two of them had never been particularly close, she had always leaned closer to his sister than him and it was no surprise which side she would take when it came to the topic of the tribe as a whole and how it should be run. Kal wasn’t proud of the way he had gone about his severing ties to the tribe but he didn’t regret doing so, for his own mental health and sanity it was the only thing he could have done, he was already driving himself into the ground over his brother’s death and losing his lover too had been the final stab in the back that told him he needed to get away. Did that make him a deserter and a coward like his mother? Perhaps, but he couldn’t change the way he went about it now/.

When she spoke about his surname he shook his head a little, he hated the connotations that were held to it, his father had chosen this quite on the nose surname as a scare tactic, to assert their kind as a powerful race not to be reckoned with. For a long time, he had been very proud of that name and carried it boldly, when he was young it was a very big part of his identity and he didn’t really know who he was if not Coldren Frostbourne’s son. Now. It was tied to the death of dozens of people he cared for “It’s not the stigma I care for, it’s how I feel about it personally” he clarified curtly, he didn’t want to proudly flaunt the name of a man who had murdered his lover right in front of him. That’s why barely anyone who met him Evermore knew his surname, he simply had no interest in owning it. He was glad that Nivia managed to turn some of it around though, he knew she could, she was the kind of person people wanted to get behind.

He gave an appreciative nod when she let up on what he asked her to call him, he could tell from the stern look in her eyes and the way she was standing that there was far more than that to come though. He swallowed down as he looked back at her for a few moments before he heard her speak about the meeting. The way she phrased the invitation and the tone she spoke it told him that she wasn’t exactly here to give him the option to attend but regardless, he wasn’t intending to “Thank you for the information but I really don’t think that’s wise” he spoke curtly as he tilted his head to the side.

“I don’t know how to make it any clearer that I have no interest in being part of the Niveis clan, nor do I intend on giving my thoughts on how the faction should be run” frankly he didn’t know why they cared for his opinion so much, sure he was his father’s son and that might mean something but he was just another Niveis, one who was much younger than most of the others. One who was naive and followed orders almost blindly until it was too late to stop his father. He definitely wasn’t leadership material, nor did he want to be. In fact, this very visit was the reason he’d been considering leaving Evermore. It was clear Lita wasn’t here to just deliver the message though, he could tell that much from her phrasing and he suspected she didn’t favor him or the things he had done all that much.

The male shook his head at her words though it took him some time to explain why he found such odds with her words. The name Frostbourne had been an adopted surname and Lita remembered painfully the day she had awakened a Niveis, having survived a knife in the chest. Her Chief had been almost mad with his giddy delight at having rebirthed the Phoenix clan into an all-new species. Nothing in their past histories had prepared them for such a possibility and it seemed the fates had given them all a second chance. Unfortunately, their leader hadn’t given them a choice in whether they took that chance or not, instead of thrusting it upon them with apology or compunction.

At his explanation the warrior pressed her lips together into a thin line, pushing her hands into the pockets of her jeans. “Sadly we are not all able to give in to our personal feelings, as so often they are discarded and ignored,” she replied evenly though there was an undertone of bitterness towards his outright and rather ego filled request. Of course, he had been given more opportunities to choose and select his path since he had fled from his home. The rest of them had chosen to stay, to take what fate had thrown at them and instead of falling over to running away they had kept stubbornly moving forward. Not once had leaving ever entered her own mind but she had talked to plenty who had considered the same course of action. Lita had made her feelings on such an act of cowardice be known but always left it up to the individual, after all, they would one day have to face their own judgment.

The brunette acquiesced, however, as much as it bugged her it wasn’t her place nor was it her business. It crossed her mind that if he cared so little for it why had he not changed his name, picked a new one instead of maintaining possession of it. Again though, not her business. It was, however, to deliver the invitation and just when she thought he might be considering it, the male turned it down. He was curt and polite in the rejection but just the same Lita couldn’t hide her disappointment and annoyance. Anivia had asked that she at least extend the invitation and given what she knew of her friend’s feelings it riled her sensibilities that her own brother was declining in such a cavalier way.

Placing her hands on her hips she considered Kaldre, measuring his words and her own feelings. Taking a few deep breaths while she mastered her anger and resentment. It wouldn't due to unload, not when she was here on official business for her Chieftain. “I'm not sure I understand your reluctance, it isn't as if we are asking you to speak or even lead. Anivia wishes to hold a meeting and would like EVERY Niveis to be present.” Lita managed to keep her tone even and the words she spoke professional, with only the littlest bit of emphasis on having everyone present. Even him, a member who had abandoned everything and everyone who had ever cared for him. In spite of everything, there were people who had lost far more than him and were still standing tall within the community, striving to bring some light out of such darkness.

Gritting her teeth the Elder tilted her head fo the side, “You cannot deny who and what you are, no matter how far you run. You dishonor those who are lost and those who share your bloodline with your cowardice.” Perhaps her words were harsh but she was tired of playing nice, tired of everyone stepping lightly around the male. Even Anivia had taken it easy on despite his betrayal and Lita could take no more.

Kal had 40 years of freedom from being seen as Coldren Frostbourne’s son and there was no doubt in his mind that those 4 decades were the best of his life, the make Niveis hadn’t even realized how deprived he had been of control of his own life until he left. Maybe some saw that as abandonment, it certainly seemed like Lita saw it that way but for him, it was a necessary step towards keeping his own sanity intact. As far as he knew, Kal was the only one who left and never returned, others took the opportunity to travel and scout in the tribe’s name but they always returned back to it. He was the first to truly walk away and leave that life behind. Did that strip him of the right to be who he was? Perhaps. But did that make him regret it? It didn’t.

The way she talked about personal feelings being irrelevant made him shake his head a little “That’s the damn tribe mentality in full, that the unit is more important than the individuals” he scrunched up his nose in distaste “We were freed of that 40 years ago, you’d think people would have dropped the soldier roles by now” and yet he found nearly everyone just kinda fell into line, continued the roles Coldren had given them under their new leader. He loved his sister, he really did, but he was over the military actions of his kind and how they acted like everyone had to fall into line. That being with the tribe was the be all and end all and frankly, that it was the only option they had “You’re in the Eternal City Lita, surely you dream of some sort of life of your own” though knowing the mentality his father drilled into them all, he wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t.

The only reason that Kal had kept his surname was because it did still connect him to Anivia and while he had his own opinions on the life he lead, choosing to relinquish his last name felt like truly abandoning his sister, something he would never do, as much as he knew he let her down, that was one line he could never bring himself to cross. The moment he declined the offer he caught the look of annoyance in Lita’s eyes and knew this wouldn’t be the last he heard of it. He knew she was close to Nivia and he knew not attending would hurt his sister but he also wasn’t sure he could go against his own morals, even for her.

“My reluctance is because of the message attending would send” he responded curtly as he looked back at her, the way she implied every Niveis was expected to be a part of this group, like you couldn’t be one and exclude yourself from the narrative. That sent a message that everyone should follow and not lead the life they chose. Essentially against everything he stood for and undoing 40 years he had spent building a life of his own and distancing himself from the tribe. Had he been tempted to go back? More than once. But going back meant undoing all the progress he’d made with his mental health and he refused to do that. “I’ve managed just fine by myself for the last decades, I don’t need anyone telling me how my identity in this city is going to be defined” he spoke sternly. She clearly didn’t get it but he wanted no part in the collective.

Her words about cowardice though, they did get under his skin, he took the comment, looking almost as though he had been physically slapped but didn’t move or lower his glare in her direction “I don’t wish to be associated with a culture that accepts a leader capable of taking everything a person has from them” he spoke in an equally harsh tone. No leader should have the power to strip someone’s wings and immortality from them, it was wrong and it was cruel and while he knew Nivia would be a better leader than his father ever was, he couldn’t hold his support for the idea as a whole, no matter who the figurehead was. “I really don’t care if you think me a coward” he bit the inner of his cheek as he stared her down.

Lita had to keep reminding herself that the male before her was a spoiled and insolent whelp, young in the ways of the world. Compared to herself at least and instead of doing the honorable thing, instead of sticking things out and fighting to make things better her had made the selfish decision and fled. She wasn't a fool, the ease and the appeal of making such a decision was obvious and his father had paved the way to making it all the more simple once he had gone on his murderous spree. Life was all about choices and the moment Coldren had yanked his people out of the fire into a realm of ice and frost against their will they had all faced a grave choice. To face this new reality, to find a way to exist and shed light on an otherwise dark existence or flee.

Kaldre had chosen the path of the self-centered egotist leaving the rest of them to deal with the repercussions while having the nerve to talk down to her. Her eyes flashed with menaced and rising fire, though if it weren't for her years of training she would have attacked him by now. Instead, she smiled, the upturn of her lips completely devoid of emotion, "Warrior. Not Soldier." She spoke very clearly, making it plain how much she disliked the second moniker. "Soldiers follow orders without question and fight for people they have never met and causes they do not believe in. Warriors, on the other hand, know what it is they fight for and for whom they are aging their sword, and if they are ever given a task they do not agree with they say so. Warriors have honor and integrity." She decided to ignore his comment about her dreams, he wanted to bait her personally and she wasn't about to let that happen. Her dreams were none of his business, what they had been before her family had died and certainly not after.

Her eyebrows nearly shot up into her hairline and she listened to his reasoning, the words he spoke making even less sense than his father's had. The naivete he was showing was astounding, not to mention that he sounded like a spoiled brat. "Message?" Before she could ask what he meant he was answering her letting her know just what message he thought it would be sent to the population at large. For some reason the thoughts and perceptions that he held made her smile a little wider, a small laugh bubbling up though it held more sarcasm and disbelief than humor. Once more he showed his age and lack of experience along with a generous sprinkling of egomaniacal narcissim, as everything that came out of his mouth was about himself. Meeting his gaze head on she had to give him credit, he didn’t flinch or back down from her standing by his assertions with a staunch if not foolish heart.

“It’s not surprising that you would see it that way. Rather than seeing it as standing beside your sister, a woman who has done nothing but honor your wishes you continue to think of no one but yourself.” She licked her lips tilting her head to the side as if considering her in a new light though she had to admit she was, at this point, she had believed him to be more a man than this. “Instead of acting like a spoiled brat and living in the past you might see all that your sister has accomplished and is still working to accomplish. We do not stand as a society in the shadow of what your father has done, we have cast off those chains no thanks to you and your cowardice.” Lita pointed a finger at him to accentuate his words, it was high time someone held him accountable and though she knew her friend would not thank her for it she didn’t much care. She’d be damned if she was going to be disrespected by a young male who had run at the first sign of trouble rather than stay and handle his business.

“You are right though. You are defined by your actions and from where I am standing you are alone. You may judge me for remaining, for helping to pick up the pieces of the world your father shattered however I call it honoring the memory of my father and husband and the twin boys who died in OUR tribe's flight to freedom.” She bit out the words, an impassioned explanation she didn’t owe him but one she made none the less. “Tell me Kaldre, who do you honor by standing alone? Who do you honor by remaining apart and by snubbing your sister’s request? A simple request that you, her last remaining familial link, stand by her side or even in the same room?” Her facial expression took on a look of utter confusion for a moment before she gave the pup a deadpan look, “Oh that’s right. Nobody but yourself.”

His father had definitely done some serious damage to him that he wasn’t sure could ever actually be repaired, since the death of his brother he had suffered from depression and chronic nightmares, he struggled to get out of bed some days and yet he forced himself to do so because he didn’t want those around him to be punished further by his father. He did everything he was told to try and protect those he loved, Anivia included. In that sense, he was a damn soldier doing as he was told, despite the fact he had no desire to hurt people or see them suffer like his father did “So-called warriors left our rebellion leader to die in the name of their vengeance” he commented in a short tone, his expression stern, he didn’t stand behind a community that turned their back on their own in the name of their own anger “So if that’s the example I’m supposed to live up to, I want no part of it” which is exactly why he didn’t want to let anyone get close now.

He really didn’t appreciate the way she treated him like he was a child, unable to make decisions for himself, frankly, she acted like he was ragdoll she had the right to drag around to places he didn’t want to go simply because she disagreed with where he stood. His expression clearly showed his distaste for her laugh and the way she held herself. Despite the fact that he knew she could probably immediately knock him on his ass if it came to a fight he continued to stand his ground, knowing that she respected general strength. He wasn’t sure why he was so concerned about her opinion of him, considering how far he had moved on from the tribe, he felt disconnected them, so much so that seeing Anivia had been quite a surreal experience for him. He wanted to make amends with her, he really did, but he also didn’t intend on throwing himself into the Niveis community again either.

“She was better off without me there dragging her down, it’s evident that our opinions of what a leader should be are different, all I would be doing was stepping on her toes constantly, I’m sure she has enough of that already” considering how opinionated a lot of the elder ranking members are, he was sure they pulled her in a lot of different directions and Nivia had mentioned herself how against welcoming outsiders the tribe had been. “I don’t dispute that she’s come a long way” he spoke matter of factly “And I’m glad that the rest of you get the peace you deserve” he shook his head slightly “But you’re all so wrapped up in tribe mentality that I fear you’ve forgotten about free will” he narrowed his eyes “believe me, I highly doubt I’m the only person who wants to leave” and who could blame them all after living on one tiny island with the same tiny village for hundreds of years.

He wasn’t letting her insults bait him because frankly, he’d been called every name under the sun before and words just didn’t have much of an effect on him anymore. He did understand what she was trying to say though, if she wasn’t saying it so aggressively and judgmentally, maybe it would have had more of an impact on him. He pursed his lips, she was right, he was alone and at first he thought he wanted that, but recently, meeting more people in the city, meeting his niece, being reunited with his sister, it was all starting to stir up other emotions in him, ones he hadn’t wanted or recognized in a long time. “Do you know whose life I am living?” he raised his brow “Mine” he responded bluntly “That means honoring myself comes first” it had taken him a long time to come to the realization that sometimes your own sanity had to come before what you might feel a duty to do.

“It’s not a simple request, it’s asking me to rejoin the tribe, the moment I step foot on that mountain I undo all of the healing I have managed to do” emotions were evident in his eyes, it was clear he didn’t know how to come to terms with what happened while surrounded by the people involved. “So if you want me to show up at the damn meeting, fine, I will show face, but I’ll be damned if I get dragged back into playing yes sir” he shook his head, she acted like it was easy to face them all, including people who had sided with his father in the battle and later surrender, people who he held personally responsible for what happened.

Lita had to take a few breaths as she stared at Kaldre, measuring him as her view of him shifted a bit right there. It was strange how even a single conversation could do that, strip away a few layers of veneer to show a bit more of truth beneath. His words told her more of what he saw of her and what his opinion of those like her was, the tone in his voice broadcasting his feelings more firmly than any expression in his face of bodily actions could have been. So it was with a little bit more control and far more measured response that she countered his argument. When spoke her voice was low, almost sad, "Vengeance is never a cause that a true warrior will take up. Vengeance poisons the heart and clouds the mind, strip the honor from the very soul of the warrior." No one knew that better than she did, from the moment the clan had fallen apart and her family had been murdered before her eyes she had struggled with the human instinct to seek out those responsible and carve a gigantic hole in their decimate their family future. That had not been what she had been taught however, that was not the way her father had instilled in her and she was determined to keep to the teachings of her ancestry. Her mocha-colored hues rose to meet the young males' eyes, solemn and true, "You live up to the example you choose, you either run from the ones you fear or you rise above them. No matter how evil and wrong, you manage to carve a path of goodness and renewal from all of pain and heartache."

The Elder had had the exact same conversation with his sister at some point, imparting to Anivia that she had an opportunity to make a change. To take the stigma that her father had created and change it, to take his shadow and obliterate it with her light. Like a wicked jagged iceberg with a little bit of snow and rain mixed with some sunshine, the hard edges could be broken away, warping the entire piece into something new. It had taken her friend a while to decide what she wanted to do, and perhaps it had been the absence of the rest of her family that had pushed her into stepping into the leadership role but she had forged ahead nonetheless. With a little bit of guidance and a whole lot of help and faith from her people, Anivia had created a new and better future for the Niveis, one that they could all contribute to and be proud of.

Lita couldn’t help but give Kaldre a very confused and frankly disbelieving look at his next words, the sentiments were spoken with a considerable amount of vehemence and conviction. Shaking her head once more had to exercise constraint before she responded to the young man, keeping herself and her emotions under firm control. “That’s where you are wrong. You are her only remaining family if you think that she would hold your opinion in anything but the utmost respect you do not know her at all.” The warrior paused for a moment, tilting her head for a moment as she heaved a gentle yet strangely heavy sigh, “which I suppose is the entire point, isn’t it. You hold such animosity for the tribe or anything that represents our people standing united inspires complete and utter contempt within you.” It was evident in the way he talked about none of them having any free will or the fact that he believed that many more of their people wanted to leave but couldn’t.

Narrowing her eyes speculatively she assessed him, wondering just where he might be going with all of this. “Tell me, what in your mind might my free will look like. What would you have me do?” She took a few steps closer to him, reaching into her back pocket she pulled out a picture and placed it before him on the glass counter. “In that picture is my father, the man who taught me everything I know about being a warrior. He taught me how to protect my people, how to fight both with fists and with fire. Next to him is my husband, a man that was kind and honest and compassionate. Those two boys, barely above the age of 2, were my twin boys.” Lita had to swallow hard, speaking about her family even now, years later was hard, “How would you have me honor their deaths? What would your view of my free will have me do, to see that their deaths not be in vain? By spending this eternity we are now faced with hiding in some mountain town alone and adrift, or by serving my people? By keeping the innocents I was sworn to protect safe?”

She gave him a moment, let him see why it was she made the choices she made and the reasons behind her decision to serve his sister. Lita wasn’t going to get into the fact that she believed in Anivia, that was going to go over his head. At this point he didn’t want to hear about her loyalty and respect, the more she spouted about her values the less he listened and the more he balked. Once more the female shook her head, her midnight black hair swinging over her shoulders as her expression turned infinitely sad, “I won’t tell you who you sound like.” She didn’t have to, they both knew who she was referring to and yet she knew better than anyone who he was reminding her of. Besides his sister, no one had spent more time with that monster so if anyone was an authority it would be her.

“No one is asking you to rejoin the tribe. Anivia wants to tribe and you there, there are some dangerous things happening in the city and everyone needs to be apprised of the situation.” Despite the venom, he spoke with the warrior managed to keep her calm demeanor, once more in control of herself despite her earlier outbursts. “Like it or not your big sister is going to be looking out for you, which means that I will be looking out for you at her behest. Save all the face you imagine you need, she only wants you there so that she can keep you safe. You are her brother after all. That may mean very little to you, but to some of us that means everything.”

“Yeah well tell that to those who were more interested in seeing Coldren dead than protecting their own that night” he sighed defeatedly, he had been doing everything he could that night to keep everyone he cared for safe, running around and protecting any rebels from those still loyal to his father. Of course, he knew there were going to be casualties but what he saw, his view of the events that unfolded, it saw people so wrapped up in their hatred for the oppression his father had cast upon them that they forget about the reason they were fighting in the first place. Kal had done everything he could that night to protect people and it hadn’t been enough and that thought had eaten away at him and created self-doubt and fear in him that he didn’t know how to shake.

He wasn’t exactly proud of his actions that he took in the wake of that night but a part of him was just always haunted by it, unable to look those who surrendered on the opposite side in the eye, unable to see them as equal members of the tribe. He recognized feelings of resentment in himself, things he didn’t want to feel and a person he didn’t want to be. His choice to leave may have been a selfish one, he would own that, but it was his way of coping, of not falling into the pits of despair his mind wanted to. He needed something new and more importantly, he needed to be alone. He should have told Anivia he was leaving but he also knew she’d try to convince him to stay and that wasn’t something he could handle at the time. He regretted it now but it was necessary at the time.

In a way he supposed he was lost, there were parts of him that couldn’t get past what happened that day and made his heartache just seeing another Niveis, they were walking reminders of everything he had lost, they were people who may have changed, but when he saw them, he saw the people responsible for taking everything he loved from him. He knew his sister cared far too much about his opinion but that was the problem, for her to have any shot of doing things right he couldn’t be tainting her leadership with views that constantly conflicted with hers, it was wearing both of them down and ruining a relationship that was once strong “I live for a day where people don’t need to be told where they will live, what kind of life they will lead and who they can and can’t trust, maybe you could say you’re on the path there, but there’s still plenty to go” he didn’t believe for a second that everyone there wanted to stay in Evermore, he stayed because he chose this place but there must be people who wanted to break off and live lives of their own, why was it that there was a single tribe with single ideals still? Why was there not room to branch out and live lives differently? What was so wrong with wanting to be alone?

He looked down at the picture she placed on the counter, don’t get him wrong, he was perfectly aware that he wasn’t the only person who lost people that night but he felt like he was the only one who chose to deny the system which created the situation in the first place. For years people sat there and followed Coldren blindly, they believed in him and by the time the rebellion came, it was too late. Kal had always opposed fighting, he hated the path his father tried to force him down and for the longest time he could remember, he wanted to leave, to build a life of his own “By living the life you choose” he responded honestly and nodded his head, it wasn’t about living alone or choosing to stay, it was about feeling like you had the freedom to do either and not be held with judgment for it. Most of those people had never even seen any of the world, he’d be a lot of them wanted to travel and see new things but they’d stay because they felt duty to “I’m not judging you for staying Lita, if that is what helped you get through then it was your choice” he pressed his lips together “But if I would have stayed I would have felt dead inside” he responded honestly “Perhaps I still do”

When she likened him to his father he went silent and pressed his lips together swallowing what is quite possibly the worst insult anyone could throw at him, he didn’t say anything but his expression showed his sadness and hurt. Everything he did was to distance himself from the memory of his father and the ideals he forced upon them, the way he would insist people do things they didn’t want to, the way he turned Mirae and Daehyun into Niveis against their will. The angry part of him wanted to yell at her to leave the room immediately but instead he said nothing and perched himself on the chair “I’ll be there” he spoke softly as he stared off into the distance as he clenched his hand into a fist a few times “And now I’d really like to be alone” he spoke to her sternly, she’d given him plenty to think about and yelling at each other more now felt pointless.

That singular sentence told the female all she needed to know about where Kaldre's head was at. Realizing that nothing she said was going to make a difference, his heart was so crusted over with bitterness and sadness that it would take a very long time to chip away at it to reach the darkened organ beneath. It was a self-preservation tactic, of course, one meant to protect the heart and yet in doing so he was closing himself off from seeing the bigger picture or from seeing anything besides his narrow scope of the events that had led to his flight from their tribe. "I suppose it would be hard to see past your own memories of that night, telling you that I can name at least a dozen warriors who fought to preserve the lives of the innocent, including my own and you probably wouldn't believe me." Lita spoke quietly, regarding thoughtfully for a few moments, "No, you seem set on viewing the rest of your people as villains and it helps you to do so." She nodded, as that puzzle piece fell into place in her mind and understanding dawned.

He was so young, and living in the shadow of his father hadn't been easy. With everything, Coldren had subjected the tribe to it was a wonder, his children had come out of it in one piece, let alone with their minds intact. Instead of clinging to the tribe as his sister had and finding solidarity in rebuilding their culture the brother had done the opposite, cleaving from society and finding some semblance of peace in living a solitary life. Now that the Niveis were appearing in his territory, encroaching upon his space he seemed almost panicked. Like a cornered animal facing reintegration into a pack that had abused and belittled him to the point of torture. Lita knew that life in the last few years before that dark transition from FireLords to Niveis had been difficult but their lives hadn't always been bad, she felt almost insulted at his attitude despite how hard she tried to reconcile her own feelings with how he must be feeling.

Lita let out a heavy sigh, reigning in her impatience and whatever quick-witted and anger filled retort that jumped to her lips in response to the words he spoke. He was still young and everything he did was in a way shielding him from feeling and experiencing yet more trauma. Once she set that knowledge uppermost in her mind it was easier to keep her temper in check and see him for what he was, a wounded and lost young man who was doing his best to survive despite having been seriously betrayed and hurt. Instead of handling the events in a healthy manner he had shoved it all down into a dark place and run until he thought he had escaped it all, that is until his past had settled close by in some freak accident of fate. "We all choose our own path and make our own choices contrary to what you may believe. You are a testament to that fact, some of us have just chosen to put our strengths and faith and energy into rebuilding our tribe. We know better than anyone that sometimes when a creature burns to the ground rises from the ashes better and stronger, only in our case we emerge from ice and snow."

She placed the picture of her family on the counter, hoping maybe it might get through to him somehow. Seeing the smiling faces of her boys, two innocents she had fought so hard to protect and in the end it hadn't been enough. She had been spread too thin, trying to defend so many people alongside her father. Feng had fought valiantly but his advanced age had won out and her husband hadn't been a warrior, he had died defending their boys to the last breath. It had killed her seeing the four men in her life surrounded by enemies who had been soaked with their blood. Lita had made sure not a single one of those monsters had survived the night, cutting every one of them down. Anyone willing to murder children deserved a brutal death, without mercy or a single shred of doubt in the downswing.

So preoccupied with her own thoughts the female nearly missed the words he pronounced to her as he slid the photo back towards her, effectively delivering the verbal equivalent of a slap to the face in a few short syllabic words. His sentiments stabbed her straight through her heart, the fears lurking in her own mind spoken plain as day by a practical stranger that had passed judgment upon her actions and found her wanting I more ways than one. Swallowing hard it took every ounce of will power the Niveis had to keep her rage and pain held inside, to not lash out at him for his recriminations and condemnation. She had sacrificed so much, had she focused solely on keeping her own family safe and ignored all others her family would be alive today. Had she been selfish and narrow in her views she would have her sons by her side and a husband to comfort her instead of plunging on alone, standing like an island in the midst of such chaos. Taking the picture back she couldn't bring herself to look at him, unwilling to let him see that he had struck a harder truer blow than he knew.

"Very well." Her tone was icy, spoken around the rage and gripping sadness that suddenly had ahold of her heart. Turning quickly away from the male Lita made a quick escape, heading away from the shop with all speed. She couldn't let anyone see her pain, her heartbreak,.....her tears.

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