Two years had passed since they stood in front of the gates, two long years it could seem. But for Feuor they had passed as a flash in hindsight. He had found himself to be quite handy when came to the wielding of weapons, he excelled in the arts of swordsmanship and was among the top five with a pike. He worked and trained hard each day to better himself, thinking about how well he was to do so he could use the pike his father had given him.
“Very well. Well done Feuor, you can handle that sword pretty well by now. Bring on your shield and we shall train some evasive manoeuvres.” The trainer often said as he walked him by.
It were fine days for Feuor and he enjoyed them to the fullest, often being able to tell his father how well he had done each day. He had also got plenty of attention by some of the girls in the Academia, even if he was the outlander he was still a skilled fighter and they seemed to allow this so set aside from where he came and were fond of him. Many of them whispered that they would like to spend a moonlit evening with him and then giggled.
For Nih’na it was otherwise, she had found herself to have a gift for the magical skills and proceeded through them with ease. She could easily comprehend the tasks set in front of her and she could solve them fast and well. But there was something else that was placing its burden on her mind. She was the only Homin in the class who was of Zoraï birth and it placed her on the outside of the group. The fact that she was knowledgeable added to the jealousy of some of her classmates.
They did not often talk to her nor invite her to work with them, but rather seemed to avoid her. And even if she could not hear them she felt how they would speak of her and make fun of her behind her back. She had found a way to manage through it; she mentioned nothing about it and hid inside her books.
Feuor had noticed that she often seemed to be alone when he was walking from a class to another, often it was hard but he tried his best to share lunch with her whenever he could. She was always smiling towards him and the times he watched her from a distance he could see how she had a little smile as she read the book in her hands. Little did he know that the smile was due to her being able to escape her harsh reality. She had not mentioned anything to her parents either, just excused with that the studies was hard and she wanted to do well on the tests. She had hid it so well that not even they would even hint at her loneliness.
The class they were in was of mixed Homins, but after a year the classes had shifted and those that had prevailed or done remarkably well in their results were gathered together. In these classes many came from a more noble part of the town, families with a heritage or a fortune. And it was noticeable on how some of them acted. They were popular among the girls and stood well in a fight or battle, and they did not look well upon the only Zoraïan girl. Specially not since they knew that she was doing better in class then their possible life mates. Nih’na never bother them, she just went to the Academia and did what they were told to do, in fact she was never a bother to anyone. Still she was seen as a thorn in the side by many of these young Homins.
One day they went one step to far..
Nih’na had quit the days classes earlier as she was finished and she was heading home but first going to the market as she had promised her mother to find some special ingredients for tonight’s supper. She hurried as much as she could but had tripped on a small rock in the hurry. Feuor, whom was practising defensive wielding in the yard had seen her fall and he had asked his tutor if he could leave class a bit earlier as he wanted to walk her home. She had seemed to be so stressed lately he had noticed but she had not mentioned why to him so he was a bit worried that she might be overdoing her studies. His trainer had said that it was more then fair that he left as he was already doing so well. So he rushed into the changing room and removed all his heavy armour and left it there as next day was Pike training. He then rushed in the direction where he had seen Nih’na trip.
While Feuor had been changing Nih’na had continued to walk towards the market, but she had not noticed that she was being followed. Suddenly something hit her head and everything went black for a brief moment. When she regained her sight she was lying on the ground and her books were scattered around her, she saw a small rock and it was probably what had hit her. Suddenly someone grabbed her and tossed her in a small alley, but she could not see who it was. With a thud she hit the wall and took support by it so she could stand up and see who it was that had been doing this to her. She gasped as she turned around and faced three young Homins staring at her with eyes full of hate. Two Matis and a Fyros boy were standing there, blocking the only exit from the alley. Slowly they started to walk towards her, staring at her.
“You are a nuscianse you know that ? You’re always in the way acting as you know everything. Answering correctly every time..” One of the Matis boys said.
“Teacher’s pet.. I bet that is not all you do for them..” The other one said.
They came closer and closer and as they covered the exit it was as if their approach ate the light for her. It became darker and darker. Suddenly she felt something aching in her stomach as she realized that one of them had kicked her. She fell backwards and landed on the ground, turning in pain as it had been a hard kick, especially for one that was not used to take hits. She cringed together trying to be as small as possible and decreasing areas where they could hit with their kicks. Tears started to find their ways out through her mask and down her face falling to the ground. Was this the end, the very final of what she had felt lately ? How could she ever dare to explain this to her parents, it would shock them if they got to know. It seemed as an eternity as she could not feel any more kicks. She slowly opened her eyes and looked at her suppressors. She was surprised of what she saw.
They stood there as if they were about to kick, but they all stared forward in fear. Behind them stood another one, his eyes were not the usual ones, they were burning with rage, and the tone of his voice told of the same anger as his eyes.
“I have once thrusted my dagger into a Kincher who tried to harm her, do not think that I will hesitate to do it again to anything that threatens her.” He said and she noticed how he, from behind, held a dagger to the throat of the Matis boy that had first spoken to her. She saw that he was scared to death feeling the edge of the knife’s blade against his throat. “Who are you to judge someone that you do not even know, how can you cast judgement on her when all you ever know is the twisted fear you have been told by others.”
“I… she is … she is…” The Matis boy squealed out.
“She is Nih’na and she is my friend. And I will do what it takes to defend my friends, never forget this.” Feuor said with a tone that would make even Nih’na shiver as she was looking up at him, holding his knife and speaking with such determination that not even the other boys dared to move.
“Feu…cough Feuor.. “ Nih’na managed to say, but her stomach was hurting too much.
“Leave, and if anyone of you ever lay a foul hand on her again, I shall make sure that it be one less hand on your arm.” Feuor said and slowly removed the dagger. The boys ran off as fast as they could, they knew that in a fight they would loose to him without much effort from his side.
“There, Nih’na. Let me help you up back on your feets.” Feuor said with his usual kind voice, it was like the turn of a hand. Feuor was being his usual kind and smiling self again..
When Nih’na looked at him it was as the previous Feuor she had seen was washed away. He was smiling and looking at her with kind eyes as he extended his hand. She doubted for a second but after a encouraging word from him she grabbed it and he helped her back on her feets.
“Are you Ok, Nih’na ?” He asked her.
She could not help it, tears started to fall from her eyes, she cried loudly as she hugged him tightly and continued to cry. Why had she not told him how she had felt from the start ? Why had she held it so deep inside when someone who would understand was already so close to her. There were so many questions in her mind, but for now all she could do was to cry, to let all the strains out.
Feuor stood there holding her hugging her back and talked soothingly to her. He knew that in time she would explain everything to him, but he did not rush it. For now all she needed was a kind shoulder to rely upon, and this he could do for her.
“There, there. I am here Nih’na.”