20 Royland and Anna I
The second night.
"Leon, what has you keeping silent to your thoughts since we've left for your estate?" Royland asked his childhood friend.
"Family…" Leon replied concisely.
"…" Royland kept silent thinking about Leon's answer.
Before he went to bed, Royland thought about his family.
Royland grew on a farm on the outskirts of the capital of Kandarynd.
His mother and father were peasant farmers, thus commoners. He also had a cute little sister named Anna. He and his sister were both good looking children. Like there parents, they had charming blonde hair. Royland kept his hair short while Anna let her hair grow.
They spent most of their childhood helping their parents with maintaining the farm. They'd wake up early in the morning to help their parents and finish later in the afternoon. During that time, they'd spend their time playing games with each other.
Royland was reckless and rambunctious while his sister, Anna, was kind and good-hearted always following her brother around, tagging along for the fun.
Their lives were simple and peaceful.
Peaceful until… demons attacked.
It happened while Royland and Anna were out playing.
The two cheerful children were playing one afternoon outside of the farm.
The day was warm with a gentle breeze.
However, during their game, Anna noticed smoke coming from her family's farm.
"R-Roy!" she pointed out to her big brother.
Royland turned to see what she was looking at and noticed the smoke in the air.
"Hurry, Anna!" he grabbed Anna's hand and pulled her along as he ran as fast as he could home.
The two children's hearts beat faster and faster as they got closer to their home.
The sky turned red as the children came to their farm.
Fire. Their home was on fire.
The fields of crops were set ablaze. Corpses of the animals they've raised were slain and spread on the ground. Their blood splattered across the barn the animals were tended in.
Royland's back was covered in cold sweat. He felt his sister's hand shaking in his. He turned towards Anna to find her crying. She was scared, devastated of what's happened to their home. Where were their parents? Were they okay? Are they still here?
Royland tried his best to keep his mind calm, but it was difficult after what he's seen happen to the farm.
"Ah!" a screamed came from the house beside the barn.
Royland and Anna turned towards the source of the scream and found their parents running out of the house.
Royland was relieved for a moment. His parents were here, surely, they'd know what to do?
However, when he looked behind his parents, he fell to his knees.
It resembled a human from far away. But on closer inspection, you'd notice the two horns that grew from its head. Pale white skin. Red eyes with black sclera. A sinister smile that brought chills just looking at it. Long red hair that flowed from its head. A presence that brought nightmares to one's thoughts.
Royland's mind couldn't process anything, all he could hear was his sister's crying.
"Royland, Anna. Run!" their father screamed at his children holding his wife's hand.
Royland and Anna stood still, dumbfounded.
"RUN! DO NOT LOOK BACK!" their father screamed louder as he turned to face the demon while protecting his wife.
Royland bit his lips, blood fell from them. He clenched Anna's hand and began running frantically to the capital.
Royland didn't turn around as he ran. Anna turned her head towards her parents. Her eyes were blurred with tears. She saw her mother behind their father standing against the demon.
The demon's eyes focused on Anna. She couldn't breathe. No matter what she did, her body wouldn't respond. The demon continued looking at her and smiled.
"LEAVE HER ALONE!" their mother and father jumped towards the demon, trying their best to hold it down.
The invisible feeling left Anna as she and Royland made an escape.
The two ran and ran, not looking back at the place they called home.
As they ran, they could hear the screams of their mother and father. Anna cried loudly, afraid the demon would come after them next. Royland kept pushing forward, his face riddled with tears. He stayed in front of Anna the whole way, never showing his face to her. Because if he did, the two would surely die here crying. So, he ran faster until the two made it to the capital.
A few years passed since the demon attacked Royland and Anna home.
The demon only attacked their home and fled after destroying everything.
The two children lived in the slums of the capital as street children. Stealing, pickpocketing, mugging. Royland did all he could to keep himself and his sister alive.
Royland loved his sister, but he was reaching his limit. Most of the food he would manage to scrape up would go to his sister. He would only take enough that could last him barely for a day. Anna noticed this as she saw as her loving brother grew weaker each day. The guilt in her heart grew whenever she ate.
One day, Royland followed a woman down an alley, hoping to mug her for gold. He carried a rusty dagger on him. He's seen her play music in the center of the plaza before. Other times, he'd find her singing with a melodious voice. He knew she had a lot of gold on her since he's seen people passing by tip her with gold.
She had long dirty blonde hair. She had a curvy figure and was very beautiful. She wore a simple green dress with a green mantle.
Just as he was about to make his move, the lady turned towards him and smiled.
"I know you've been following me, child," the woman said.
Royland held the rusty dagger in both hands, his breathing getting heavy. His body was too weak to respond due to the lack of food.
The woman looked at Royland with a gaze of pity. The boy in front of her wore tattered clothing riddled with holes. His hair was messy with dirt and grime. He was so skinny that you could see his cheekbones protruding out.
Just before Royland stepped forward to threaten the woman, he fell on his side and fainted from hunger.
"Oh my..." the woman said.
Royland woke up and felt himself being carried.
He realized he was being carried by the woman that he tried to mug. He began to thrash around, trying to get her to release him.
"Stop that Roy!" a small voice yelled from beside him.
Royland looked down and noticed his little sister Anna holding onto the woman's dress.
Anna explained to him that after he fainted, the woman found Anna nearby and learned that they were siblings. The woman picked him up, placed him on her back and began to carry him with Anna walking beside him.
"You two, come with me," said the woman.
"I've got a son and daughter around your ages and I'm sure you'll make great friends with them."
She smiled and laughed when she said that.
Royland and Anna were confused at what the woman said but decided to just follow her.
They were taken to a big estate with a big black banner with a raven outlined in white. The two children were amazed at how big this home was and the woman who lived in it.
"Welcome home," she said as she walked into the estate, "What are your names?"
Royland responded with a bit of hesitation while Anna replied with glee at having come to such a splendid home. The two children looked towards the woman.
"Well, Royland and Anna, I hope we can get along. My name is Aria. I hope you get along well with my little Leon and Vivian!"
"There it is!" shouted Walice from the front of the carriage.
Royland got up and looked out from the carriage. It was already midday as the sun was still up in the sky. In the distance, they saw a tall estate made of white bricks. Lush evergreen trees created a walkway to the entrance of the estate. It was certainly big with many windows and a heavy framed door. Above the door was a black banner with the silhouette of a raven outlined in white.
Royland was excited to see his little sister again. She was always writing letters to him of her studies here in the capital. He'd tell her about the upcoming tournament and make sure she'd come to watch him come out as the champion.
"I'm back, Anna."