Ashtehar kneeled before the masters of his sect like he was before the goddess herself. His white-robed apprentice, Oliver, was directly behind him with his shaven head bowed under a hood. "This lowly servant greets his masters." Ashtehar said softly. Oliver echoed him.
The masters were a collection of the sect's three oldest and strongest men. When one becomes a disciple of the sect, one is given a white robe. As they advance in rankings and strength, their robes are exchanged with darker ones. To be a the peak of the sect, one is given a red robe to symbolize the path through blood they took to reach that point. All three masters wore red robes that covered every part of their body. The only thing not disguised was their voice.
"Ashtehar." A deep and raspy voice called out from under one of the three red hoods. "You have not failed us as you think you have."
"But I have masters!" Ashtehar blurted out. "The hero has been found in a different continent. If only I had broken the rules and scoured the globe, I would have found him earlier. Please, kill me for my disobedience." He set his face to the floor.
"Fool," Another hood spoke. "If you had broken our rules, you would be dead, and nothing would have resulted from that. As of now, we have to adjust to the circumstances. The hero has appeared in a different country, Vilbar. We cannot directly go against our country's orders. We have to fight to reclaim the hero-"
"I will do my best." Ashtehar interrupted and put his entire face against the floor.
A pole sprouted from underneath one of the red hoods and pierced through Ashtehar's hand. Ashtehar didn't scream, but his body trembled. "The next time you interrupt one of us, my weapon will go through your head." the spear floated back to underneath the robe.
"As I was saying, we have to fight to reclaim the hero but, that will be our fake objective. We will participate in this war to keep up appearances. Our real objective revolves around the hero's prophecy. The hero is destined to defeat not only the resurrected demon king, but also a second foe. This is an irregularity never seen before. There has always been a hero and a demon king, never more, never less. This prophecy mentioned a Lich, which will neither be good nor bad. It is a catalyst, but we have no idea which side it is on. The Lich, as of now, is walking in a human's skin. We guess it is a mage with incredible power at a young age in the Acrin Kingdom. That was the extent of the information given to us by the goddess. A good place to start looking might be on the battlefront. The Lich might immediately stalk the hero."
"And what do you wish for me to do to this Lich?" Ashtehar rose his head, but stayed in the kneeling position.
"Find him and eliminate him." The three masters said in unison. "The hero has always won. The hero will always win. This Lich is an irregularity that must be dealt with. If this Lich interferes with the game and changes the hero's fate, then it is evil."
"Understood, I will set off immediately." Ashtehar stood up and brought his apprentice out of the room. The sun was blaring at the top of the sky, reflecting off of Oliver's shiny dome and white robe. Each movement he made had hesitation. He stuck close to his master, making sure not to get too close. His eyes were stuck to the floor even though he wasn't bowing his head. "Listen up Oliver." The tall, massive Ashtehar looked down at his fourteen year old tiny apprentice. Oliver's brown eyes shrunk back with the rest of him. "We are going to the battlefront. I'll participate in the main force while you stay behind and act as a healer for the Acrin army. Do you understand?"
"Yes master." Oliver jumped as Ashtehar but a burly hand on his head.
"That's my apprentice. You're always respectful, just like I taught you. You will have to listen to me and follow my every order in this war. This is an important mission for me. If you screw it up, you'll be punished." Ashtehar smiled. "But you're a good boy. You would never fail me. You are too close with the goddess for that." He pulled Oliver's hood off. Oliver covered his face with his hands. "Are you still nervous about the scars?" He yanked Oliver's hands away.
Oliver's nose and ears were crushed inward. All around his big brown eyes were various scars and bruises. The side of his mouth had fresh stitches. "I am nervous about the scars. Please let me put my hood back on master." Oliver asked, shaking.
"Alright," Ashtehar let his apprentice go. "On we go to the battlefront."
Thomas put his head in his arms as he sat in the darkness. He was in the hiding place he always used as a kid: behind the painting in the library. Whenever he felt sad or overburdened, he came here for peace of mind. 'I really did it now.' He thought. 'I told father everything and I ran away. I acted my age and ran away from conflict. Maybe I am a stuck up noble. I can't even face my own father properly. I wonder what Doevm would have done. He probably would have stayed and kept shouting at father. I'm starting to see what father sees in him.' His empty stomach growled at him. 'I guess even you're upset with me?'
"Thomas." Reginald hobbled into the library. "Thomas, I know you're in here, but I don't know quite where you are. I'm a little." He belched. "Intoxicated at the moment." He sat down at his desk. "Just listen. I love you more than anything. I didn't know you hated me. I didn't know what I was doing to you. I just wanted you to be safe and happy. It turns out I'm only doing half my job. Please, come out. I want to do my whole job as a parent. Please..." He leaned down on his desk and fell asleep.
Thomas creaked the painting open and stepped into the library. He tapped Reginald on the shoulder, but he didn't move. He snored out loud. Thomas smiled, crept out of the library, retrieved a blanket, and threw it on his father's shoulders. "I don't hate you," He whispered. "I just wanted you to listen to me for once." He tip-toed out of the library. Jameson was waiting for him.
"Did you make-up with your father yet?"
Thomas shook his head: "He's sleeping so I just let him be."
"He needs his sleep." Jameson started walking down the stairs out of the mansion. "He hasn't gotten proper sleep from the day you were born. Every day he stays up worrying if you're safe. He used to smile so much, but now I never see it. Please, talk to him. As much as he thinks you need him, he also needs you. If it wasn't for you, he would just be a husk lounging around in his father's money. Take him out to places." Jameson left Thomas to think.
'Take him out to places?' Thomas thought. 'I've never even been outside of Pedal Town. What places are there to go?' Thomas peeked inside the library. There was a map on the desk with a single bar with a star next to it. Thomas never figured out what it was, nor did he care. 'Maybe we'll go to a bar for my birthday. He's not much of a drinker, but it'll get him out of the house.'