Been a while since I've done much of anything in these forums. I haven't been as confident in my writing as of late, but I think I might have something decent. For those who were fans of the Knights of Terankos story I made, this takes place in that same universe, some hundred years or so before the events of that story's first chapter. For those not familiar, in this universe, we have two different organizations, the Order of Mata Nui that believe in keeping the peace and serving the will of the Great Spirit (or what they see as to the benefit of everyone else) and the Knights of Terankos, a relatively "harmless" organization led by a psychopath leader dedicated to the god of shadows Terankos after his fall from grace.
This is actually a part of a larger story that I don't think is worthy to be on BZPower, but I kinda like how this chapter turned out, so I'm going to have it as its own short story as I think it can stand up on its own. So in this scene, Lhikan, the tactician for the Order, has given their leader Helryx some intel on Lord Almatas, the Knights leader, how he has been recruiting members for his organization (in this part, specifically Atheron and Merith), and how he attacked one of their own members attempting to spy on him. Feeling they are getting dangerous, Lhikan proposes a plan to have a worm placed into their ranks to keep the Order up to date with their every move as possible. After some vigorous convincing, he got her to agree to it. For those who know the Knights story, you may already know where this is going. For those who don't, then don't really worry about it considering the full story isn't on BZP either way (but it is finished, 37 chapters and all).
So with that out of the way, now we begin. For those who are looking for something with more action, sorry to disappoint. But for those who like character interaction and world building, then you might enjoy this.
“So how did she react to your little plan?”
Lhikan turned to look over to a maiden clad in blue armor. He smiled upon seeing her, especially when he noted the book she carried in her arms.
Always so caught up with your books, eh Naho?
She gazed back at him with curiosity in her eyes. Lhikan let out a sigh.
“Well, she wasn’t exactly too thrilled with the idea, but eventually she agreed with me,” replied the tactician.
“Not going to lie, but I’d be rather reluctant as well if I were in the same position,” Naho retorted.
“I know we can’t exactly risk too many lives and all, but I don’t know what else we can possibly do. These low lives are so secretive and so hidden. Worse yet, their motivations and movements are not only just as hidden but very erratic and unpredictable as well. We need to have someone on the inside.”
“And you really think Tuyet is going to be the one?” Naho asked.
“She’s a bit rough around the edges, and I know the four of us have been at odds in the past, but I honestly believe she is the right one who can pull this off,” Lhikan said.
“That’s exactly what worries me…” Naho said with concern in her voice. “I’ve known Tuyet a bit longer than you have, and I can say her motivations for doing anything can be questionable. Typically she only does things if they are to her benefit. That’s not to say she’s not a good warrior or anything, but her morality can be rather sketchy.”
“And maybe that’s precisely why she would fit right in with them,” Lhikan said solemnly. “She’s walking on both sides of the line between what is objectively light and shadow. I will admit that much, as well as bringing in her moral ambiguity into question. That’s why I feel she could fit right in with them. Depending on how she plays her cards, she just might be as morally ambiguous as they are.”
“And if she betrays us?”
The tactician fell silent.
The both of them knew just how critical this would be, not just for the Order of Mata Nui, but for possibly all of Spherus Magna.
“That’s why I proposed a backup plan,” he said, finally breaking the silence. “That was the only way I could convince her to go along with this.”
Lhikan fell silent once again, turning away from Naho.
Naho’s eyes widened. “What did you say to her?”
Lhikan remained silent, refusing to face his old friend.
“Don’t shut me out of this!” she said. “Let me in, please, I beg of you. Tell me what you said to her.”
Lhikan could feel the hurt in her voice. The last thing he wanted to do was hurt her, which was why he was hesitant to even say anything in the first place.
“Lhikan!” she said, raising her voice.
In the years he had known her, Lhikan hardly ever heard Naho raise her voice. Reluctantly, he turned to face her.
It was clear to the tactician that she was upset. In one hand, she was furiously gripping to the book she held. Her free hand was balled into a fist, resting squarely on her chest. Her stance was very aggressive, and her expression was filled with anger, outrage, and concern. Her eyes looked as though they were fighting back tears. The more he looked at her, the more he also realized she was trembling as well.
“I am tired of you keeping me in the dark!” she said, her voice cracking. “You’re my best friend… You mean… so much to me… Do I mean anything to you at all?”
“Of course you do!” the tactician shouted. “And that’s why I don’t want to involve you in any of this! If anything happened to you…”
Naho took a few steps towards him and took one of his hands in her own.
“Anything having to do with you already involves me, Lhikan,” she said soothingly. “If there’s anything going on, I would want to face it with you, not run away and leave you.”
“Should Tuyet betray us…”
He hesitated, especially upon seeing the weak, reassuring smile Naho had. A smile, he felt, that he was going to take away from her.
“If she reveals our existence… Our base of operations must be abandoned and the island evacuated save for one…”
Lhikan paused to see his old friend look at him quizzically.
“I have secretly made a partial mental bond with Tuyet. I can’t see into her exact thoughts, but I can sense some of her general thoughts as well as sense if she is in pain or anything.”
“Lhikan…” Naho said, cutting him off. “You’re getting off track.”
“In the event she betrays us and she’s alive long enough to bring them here, I will remain here to answer for my mistakes. I will pose as the true leader of the Order and hold them off for however long to make sure everyone gets as far away from her as possible.”
At that moment, Naho let go of both her tome and Lhikan’s hand, clasping her hands over her mouth as she let out a gasp. Lhikan could see the anguish in her eyes as tears began to well up.
Before he could say anything further, he felt something abruptly strike him across the face. He looked to see Naho’s hand in the air.
“What’s wrong with you?!” she cried. “Why would you bargain with your life so carelessly?!”
In his heart, he knew she was right. However, he felt this would only be right. He felt he would have no right to be alive if his plan backfired and he endangered not just the lives of his fellow Order members, but the many innocent lives of Spherus Magna as well. He wouldn’t be able to live with that kind of guilt hanging over him constantly.
Lhikan put a hand over where Naho slapped him and did his best to explain his reasoning to her. She listened intently to his every word, wanting to understand why he made such a bold decision. After hearing his explanation, she felt she understood his motivations better.
Your heart is in the right place, Lhikan, but…
At that moment, Naho felt the strength in her legs suddenly leave her as she abruptly collapsed to her knees.
Lhikan immediately rushed to her side.
“I… I’m fine…” she said, her voice shaking. “This… this is just a lot for me to take in right now. At least…”
Before she could say anything more, Lhikan grabbed her book and immediately took her up in his arms. She let out a yelp as he brought her up. The maiden felt her face grow warm as she looked at the ground and then back at Lhikan.
“Let’s take you somewhere so you can rest,” he said calmly.
As Lhikan made his way through the corridors and ascended a flight of stairs, neither spoke a single word. There were only a few uncertain glances here and there, but neither seemed to want to break the silence.
Naho felt herself getting anxious with each passing moment.
Why am I feeling this way? she asked herself. I wasn’t feeling this nervous before, even after Lhikan told me about his little… condition. My heart is beating so fast. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever been so close to him before…
Finally, Lhikan stopped in front of a closed door, which was actually Naho’s room. Opening the door, the tactician stepped inside and gently rested Naho on the bed while proceeding to place her book on top of her desk. As he turned back to face her, he took a quick survey of the room.
Neat and proper… so much like she is. I swear, I think she keeps adding more books in between each time I visit. She could have this be like a personal library if she wanted to.
The room was fairly large, and it was more apparent seeing as there weren’t too many fixtures aside from the bed, a desk, a chair, a cabinet, and several tall bookcases.
Lhikan sheepishly sat down near the foot of the bed, hesitating to look at his good friend. He let out a sigh and he finally looked her in the eyes.
“I…” Naho was struggling to speak, her voice still weak. “I know your heart is in the right place, Lhikan, but I still think you’re being a bit too extreme about the whole thing. And… maybe… just a bit dramatic?”
Taken aback, the tactician remained silent as she continued.
“That’s why… I’m going to personally talk to Helryx later,” she said. “I can’t let you do this.”
Before Lhikan could speak, Naho placed a hand on his and gave him a weak smile.
“You’re courageous. You’re compassionate. You’re brilliant. You’re a fierce fighter… and an equally fierce friend…”
Naho was struggling to find the right words, unsure of what to say next or what was the right thing to say in this moment.
“Spherus Magna would be robbed of an amazing person should your little… condition come to pass. Even then, all of Spherus Magna doesn’t matter as much to me as you do…”
The tactician looked at her somewhat confused. Upon realizing what she said, Naho let out a small gasp and covered her mouth with her free hand.
“Wait, no, that’s not--! I mean…” She felt her face growing warmer and her heart beating faster.
She took both her hands back and buried her face into them.
“Oh… what’s wrong with me…?”
“There’s nothing wrong with you, Naho,” the tactician said comfortingly. “You have a good heart, and you’re probably one of the strongest people I know.”
“S-S-Strong? Me? But I’m not—“
“Maybe you don’t see it, but I do. You’ve definitely changed since the first time we met. You were very shy and nervous all the time, always struggling with your words. Granted, you still show shyness and difficulties with your words…”
Naho let out a groan, this time folding up her knees and burying her face into them.
“But now…” he continued. “You’re speaking your mind a lot more, especially when it comes to matters you feel strongly about. I can’t be happier to have you as my friend. And…”
Lhikan paused before choosing his next words. “I’m honored you think so highly of me… especially considering there are times I don’t have such a high opinion of myself…”
Naho lifted her head and looked into his eyes.
“I might seem like I’m strong and confident, but actually I’m not. Sometimes I struggle to say the right things or make the right decisions. However, as tactician, I do my best to not let it show, otherwise I may risk people losing faith in me.”
“I… I didn’t know…”
“I didn’t want you to know. You or anyone else, for that matter. If you and I are going to be more honest with each other, I feel I should at the very least tell you how I feel. Sometimes… I feel like some museum exhibit with so many eyes on me, watching and expecting my every move. Sometimes I feel… rather afraid and even alone sometimes.”
Without warning, Naho took one of Lhikan’s hands in both of hers.
“You don’t have to be alone. I’m here. I’ll always be here. Don’t you forget about that.”
Caught off guard, Lhikan felt his face grow warm as he felt her touch and saw her smile. He returned her smile with one of his own.
“And if Tuyet does betray us…” Naho took a pause. “If you have to stay here, then I will, too! I’m not leaving you by yourself.”
“I… I don’t know what to say…Th-Th-Thank you.”
There was a silence between them before Lhikan finally spoke up.
“Um… can I have my hand back?”
“Oh! Oh, goodness… of course you can, I’m so sorry!”
Naho let go and quickly tried to pull her hands back before Lhikan caught one of them in his.
The tactician let out a soft laugh. “There’s nothing to be sorry about. I better get going, though. I want you to make sure you get plenty of rest tonight. So no late night reading.”
“Yes, sir!” Naho said jokingly as Lhikan let go of her hand.
“Glad to see you’re feeling better. And… do me a favor.”
“Please… never stop smiling.”
Before she could question him further, Lhikan quickly walked out of the room, not looking back.
My heart is beating so fast right now… And really, he’s the only one who makes me feel this way. Ugh, I don’t know. I know we’re supposed to be honest with each other and all, but… can I really tell him? No. Yes? Maybe? Well… hopefully, I can decide. When the time is right, I’ll tell him. I only hope I don’t destroy our friendship or anything in the process…