Name: Mallin (with no permanent residence, and no true job to speak of, he is simply known as Mallin of Arcturus)
Mallin had an important job, in the desert kingdom of Arcturus. His magic had manifested with tendencies towards water the moment he started to discover his power for himself, and even though he had learned earth, fire, some healing, and many other things from the other mages in his town, his strengths had always rested with the water so hard to come by in the desert. As such, Mallin traveled the town once in the morning, once in midday, and sometimes again at night, conjuring water for the plants, filling up the bowls left out for pets and strays and the basins that others without water magic needed filled for washing and for drinking.
When he had first stumbled upon the town in Arcturus, young and weak and afraid, he'd hardly been able to do a thing. He had received the task from an old mage that had been able to sense his strengths and later became his mentor, and as a young teen it had been too difficult. He could hardly make one trip, let alone two or three, and it left him exhausted and ready to collapse. But as he grew older and kept at it, with less and less help, he grew stronger. With a willing and eager learning spirit, he had surpassed many of the strongest mages in the town, and learned a wider variety of magics than most were ever able to perform. He had, as a child, been manipulated by a strong witch, and been made to kill the rulers of the land, the parents of one of his best friends, and he would never feel that weakness again.
Having long since grown out of the fine white cloths he'd worn at the King's palace, Mallin wore simple tans, yellows and browns as others did, everything else too easy to get dirty. His hands were covered with bandages that extended up to his elbows to be hidden under his sleeves, the wrappings concealing the runes that were tattooed or scarred onto his skin to assist in his magic, and the scrapes and bruises he often received from intensive training of both his physical body and his magic. But he could not hide the mark upon his face, given to him as a toddler to contain the strength he couldn't control, and so he didn't venture out of town as often as some. Mages were still not accepted, that much he knew, and besides, this was a place where he could do good and perhaps make up for his own past sins.
Mallin noticed the horses and guards and fanfare while he was making his midday rounds, but didn't flock to the scene as others did. He had a duty to finish, one that was sorely needed in a place like this and one he didn't take lightly. When he was done, he flopped down in the shade at a stand of one of the many market goers and heaved a slightly weary breath. Though his tasks didn't sap him as they had as a child, it was still a bit tiring, and under the hot sun of midday he needed a rest, so he accepted an apple from the stand owner. Like many in this place, his tasks for the people meant he didn't pay, but in such a close knit - and potentially dangerous - place like this, he didn't dare take advantage. These were good people, and he liked them.
It was only when the veritable caravan he had noticed before began to dissipate that he finally took notice again. The man at the center of it was dressed in stark white clothing, which was unusual in itself, and seemed to be the cause for all the ruckus. While he didn't approach, Mallin did admit to sitting up a bit straighter and leaning forward to see, as the market crowd milled about. The man stopped not far away, and Mallin studied him for a moment with an alarming and rapidly increasing sense of familiarity.
Abruptly, the water mage stood up and walked away, the apple dropping from his hand to the ground. He bit down on his own tongue hard enough to hurt to keep himself silent, eyes wide and panicked and watching the ground as he walked because even if he didn't quite tower above the crowd he was not a short person, and he needed to keep his head down. If he just walked and didn't run, he could blend with the crowd and go hide in a goddamn cave somewhere.
That could not be him. That could not be the Prince - his Prince. And if it was, he could not see Mallin.
Cryon couldn't remember the last time he had just visited a kingdom without any business to attend to. For once, he would be glad to see the sights, to enjoy the food and the people, to experience things that he had wished to experience ever since he was a young lad. But, for him, it has always been about his kingdom, his rules, and he figured that this was how it was going to be until the very last day of his reign.
He had taken the throne the minute he had turned eighteen, leading the council that had been king and queenless for so long. It was an awkward journey for both of the parties, the council not quite ready to give up power, and the young soon-to-be king quite ready to take it. However, the kingdom, although fairing well, would be powerless without the guidance of a noble and wise king, and he had assumed the position. It was a hard time, and he found the overwhelming adoration from citizens of his kingdom embarrassing, he led with all the wisdom and grace as his mother and father before, and the kingdom has thrived in that past few years.
Now was not the time for reminising though. Today, he was to go to Arcturus to seek an alliance with the fellow king. Threats from the mountainous kingdom, Theromin, were looming over both of their heads, and an alliance could be just what the two kingdoms needed to deflate the threat from their path.
The citizens of Arcturus greeted him with wide eyes, full of awe at the appearance of a King in their mists. He could feel them watching him, staring at his sweeping white cloths, made of soft, travel-ready cloth. He felt himself trying not to duck from all the attention, fighting the soft red dusting of his cheeks that threatened to rise up from its depths. Instead, he let his gaze sweep around, focusing on anything other than the awaiting crowd.
A figure moving through the crowd, in the opposite direction caught his attention. The man was not the tallest, but he stood out among the shorter women and even a few of the men, catching the King's interest quickly. However, his guard leaned over, speaking of needing to reach the meeting quickly, and pulled his mind back to the task.
His curiosity could wait until after the audience with the King.
Mallin could barely contain the panic seizing around his lungs. As weary as he had been from his work of the day, and from the midday heat, he kept walking without looking back. If he looked back he might have been seen, and the way the crowds had to part for the caravan behind him meant he was much faster on foot. When he could, he ducked casually into a building, called on a family he often worked for when they needed an extra hand, and begged of them a moment to sit inside. They were more than willing to give him a shady place to rest, and he managed a bit of play with the children before sitting down to read to them.
When the chatter from outside had dissipated, Mallin said his goodbyes and snuck out the back of the house rather than the front, ducked his way into the narrow spaces between small clay buildings and continued his controlled fleeing from the epicenter of the noise. He wasn't quite sure where he was going, unsure where to flee to, but the panic told him to move and not stop moving until he was far away. There was only so much space to cover in this city of the kingdom, and it wouldn't take him even an hour to get back to the home he shared with his old mentor.
As much as the curiosity ate at him, as much as he desired to see his old friend, he knew that they wouldn't be friends anymore. The last he had ever heard of his prince had been a child's voice, shouting in frightened confusion in a demand to see his parents, to know why he couldn't. Just then, the room had been filled with blood, with hardly a body left to be found, and Mallin had crawled out a window and fled at the sound of pounding guards' boots. He couldn't remember ever going in the room, or what sort of way his magic had been used, but he remembered the witch coming to him before his memory had gone blank, and he remembered fleeing with blood on his clothes. It had been nearly a year before he stopped running.
Halfway home, Mallin was stopped by a man he knew well enough and asked to take on a task. Tither was the man's name, and he had a bum knee that kept him from most long trips, especially in the heat of day. But his son was ill and they had need of supplies to bake the breads they sold, and they trusted Mallin to take care of errands and help out like most did. The task would take him closer to the palace than he would've liked, but how could he have said no? Someone needed him.
And so it was that Mallin found himself donning a light cloak to help protect him from the sun, a cowl drawn over his head, and he took a handful of coins and a mule from Tither to walk the animal to the right shops to collect flour and other such things. He had to get to the place before the sun started to set and it closed up shop, so that his friends could have their wares by morning. His running would just have to wait a while.
Cryon remained among the crowd for only a few minutes longer before moving onwards, his guards walking on both sides of his transportation. With hawk-ike vision, he cast his gaze across the crowd, relaxed but in a correct posture as they made their way among citizens. A kid darted across their path, squealing as her mother chased her out of the way, casting an apologetic glance with wide eyes.
The crowd eventually thinned the closer they got to the castle, allowing Cryon to release the stiffness in his back and wipe the sweat from his brow. It was much more hot in this kingdom compared to the chill breeze that always ran through his old kingdom. He could remember when he had first asked his parents why the breeze felt so cool, but he pushed that thought away now. That only brought back terrible memories.
The memory of his parent's death has haunted him in his dreams and thoughts since he first waked into the room, seeing nothing but their bloody corpses. Throughout the first two years without them, he barely slept, barely ate. He had been a shell of his former self, and without his best friend to help him through it, he had almost completely lost his way.
Still, he strived through, and he was better now. Even his parents would be proud as he looked up at the king in this audience, a confidence aura in the way he swayed and moved, descriping his plan with the older and more wisely king. The elder listened carefully, taking everything into consideration as Cryon finished his speech.
"I will certainly consider your offer. Until then, please, enjoy the town." The King responded after several moments, a pleased smile on his face. Cryon nodded, bowing in respect before making his way out of the throne room. He would go into the town, explore the sights like the kindly King has so suggested.
Mallin was practically holding his breath the entire time he walked with the mule, keeping his head down and at the same time trying to keep a lookout for the procession of the prince. Even if it hadn't been the prince he knew, the Mage had to avoid him. There was no sense taking the risk - and he'd thought that never leaving this town or this kingdom would have kept him safe. It seemed nowhere was truly safe anymore, not when you were a falsely accused fugitive for a decade.
After a few stops and a few exchanges, the mule's bags were full and, feeling sorry for the animal even though he knew he shouldn't, Mallin considered taking a heavy sack from each side to carry with him. It would be a bit heavy, going all the way back to Tither's, but the beast was carrying even more and Mallin was of course not unused to manual labor.
He stopped thinking of any of that when he heard the slight ruckus coming from nearby. When he turned to look, Mallin could've screamed. Down the street a ways, he could see the prince standing in the shade of one of the stalls, looking over some of the pottery, displayed in the different colors of clay that could be found only in this part of the world. The woman that usually ran the stall had offered him water, and was doing her best to do well for a dignitary, something they didn't really get in this kingdom very often, not with such fanfare.
Inside, Mallin panicked. The man had, somehow, gotten down the street a bit from him, and Mallin would have to get far too close for comfort in order to get by. Backtracking would only bring him closer to the castle, without much else to go to with the mule at his side, so he had no choice. Pulling his hood down a bit more to hide the color of his hair and keeping his head turned away as if paying attention to the mule at his side, Mallin started to walk casually by on the furthest side of the road.
If he could get to the next street that crossed this one he would take it, no matter if it would take him longer to get back to Tither's house afterwards. There were still hours left until sundown - running into what could potentially be his prince was a far worse fate than the cold of night. If the man saw his face, surely he would know. Mallin couldn't change the marks he'd had since his earliest childhood memories. It would give him away in a second.
As soon as Cryon got out of the gates of the castle, he took the dirt path to the left, heading towards the middle of town. His eyes flashed around, looking at all the sights with fervent interest. He felt so adventurous, as if nothing could touch him with the warm sun on his back, and a warm breeze stirring the soft hair on his head. He tugged at his clothes, feeling a bit self conscious as some citizens stared at the silken clothes.
Maybe he should change. After all, it would be much more immersive to wear normal clothes and act like a normal citizen for once. Regrettably, the only clothing he had brought with him had been white, red, and even purple clothing, not brown. It shouldn't matter too much anyways, most citizens just greeted him with a small curtesy, which he responded with a smile and a small greeting. There wasn't a crowd like before, making him more relaxed.
He paused as he saw a market ahead, people milling around the stands and looking at the different wares dotting the open area. He strode forwards curiously, drawn in by the smell of something sweet in the air and coming upon some pastries, ranging from pies to fresh bread still warm from being baked fresh that day. He sniffed delightfully, a bit regretful he had eaten earlier and continued on, smiling as he saw a young child with rasberry all over her face as she chowed down on one of the small pies.
He continued on, only to stop once again when he saw a woman selling beautifully crafted pottery. He had always loved the arts and couldn't help but look over each one, his face lighting up at some of the detail that was put into each piece. The woman was kind, and talked with him about the wares, and even offered him a drink, which he took gratefully. With wandering eyes, he let himself look around as the woman paused to answer another potential customer's question, his eyes landing on a man walking beside a mule.
He watched the man make his way down the street, his head covered by a hood and seemingly focused on the mule. He grew curious, as he the man was not acting like the other citizens, who were milling around and being friendly with each other. Maybe he was a traveler? Nevertheless, it spiked his interest enough that Cryon left a few coins on the counter for the woman's kindness and followed after the man. Maybe he was worried for his mule and would like some help.
Mallin walked at a normal pace for the usual crowd, tense and glad for the cloak he'd borrowed but knowing he would have to give it back eventually. He only picked his head up again when he knew the pottery stall was behind him, having turned down another street to keep walking, giving the mule the occasional gentle petting or soft words to keep it walking with him. The mage relaxed just a bit more when he was halfway back to the mule's home, and stopped a moment to take a couple of its bags after all, carrying them in one arm and keeping the lead in his other hand to give the beast of burden a bit of a break.
There was still a bundle of nerves in his chest when he reached Tither's home, but he stopped to set the bags down and kneel next to the mule, gather a bit of water from the air to settle in his hands and holding it where his own body would shield it from view. He held it there and stayed kneeling for a minute or two until the animal was done drinking, then led it up to the door to knock and greet the head of the house again. Insistently, given Tither's knee, Mallin made sure the man let him carry everything inside, and when he exited again he kindly refused the man's offer of payment. Like many of the people around, this family had given him handouts as a child and an adult, and always cared for him, so a little chore like this one wasn't anything that was too difficult for him.
When the moment came, Mallin took off the cloak and handed it back, said goodbye to the man with a little smile, and set off at a somewhat quick walk down the street, avoiding the way he had come from. All he had to do was get home, now. Once he did that he would be fine. Perhaps his mentor could even come up with a way to hide his face, if the royal procession was going to stick around.
At the thought of the older mage, Mallin stopped and smacked a hand lightly to his own forehead, cursing silently to himself because he still had a short list to gather before he went back, and he'd forgotten in the panic. With a nervous sort of sound, Mallin shook his head and finally just broke into a light run, little more than a jog, to get to one of the smaller markets that he could pick up the food at on his way. Eide wouldn't be happy if he returned home without it.
Cryon managed to keep a close following on the man until he reached a home, obviously at his destination. The King frowned, feeling almost a little disappointed that he didn't have a chance to meet another person. Even though Cryon had many people back at home he could speak to if he needed anything, he did not really have anyone he could just talk to for enjoyment. It was a much more lonely life than he had anticipated, but it was a life that needed to be lef nonetheless.
As the man carried in bags for an older man, the prince sighed and continued on his way, going down a different road than the one he had wence came. He figured it would be a good time for exploring more places, even though this road seemed to be just a different way to get to the market.
Cryon couldn't help himself but glance back at the home that was slowly getting farther and farther away. What he saw floored him, leaving him in the most absolute of shock as he stared. There was a man, but not just any man, the one with marks on his face. He recognized it, never could forget it in fact.
But, just maybe he was mistaken. Maybe it was just a trick of his mind, seeing something that he remembered from ten years ago. It most likely wasn't even a true memory, but a thought his brain had created to help him cope with his parents loss. Yet, he couldn't help but long to follow the man, to see exactly what was going on. So, that was exactly whas he did.
Despite the heat of the day, Mallin continued at a light run until he reached the market, slowing down so as not to disturb anyone. He was a little out of breath, but for the most part was used to working in the sun and even running in it, when he stopped at the first stall. He smiled a little in greeting at the man that owned the shop, greeting him briefly before taking the things he needed in a bit of a hurry because he needed to go. The man made fun of him a bit for being quick, but loaned him a basket to carry his things in and after being paid and thanked let Mallin go. It wasn't a lengthy errand, Mallin moving easily from place to place, knowing exactly what he needed, and he had everything in just a few minutes, ready to leave, when footsteps approached.
"Twicks!" A small boy cried, running over and flopping into his legs to grab on and give him a toddler's version of a hug. "Play!" The boy asked, bouncing and tugging at the mage's pant leg and looking up at him expectantly. "Twicks p'ease?"
Smiling a bit though he hadn't forgotten the panic, Mallin knelt next to the boy to ruffle his hair a bit. "N-Not today, Toma. Tomorrow, maybe. Where's your mother?"
The little boy pouted at him, but as his young mother stepped over to get him Mallin happened to glance over his head and almost didn't hear anything at all. He was there. The prince in white, hardly blending in with the crowd at all. He was so different, but there was still a familiar face somewhere hidden behind ten years of maturing, and Mallin found it suddenly rather hard to breathe.
"Don't bother Mallin, Toma," The boy's mother scolded gently, picking him up to give him a little kiss. "He mustn't always do tricks for you."
The mage usually would have responded, would have told her it was all right, that he didn't mind, but when she picked the boy up he'd gotten instinctively to his feet again, taking a few unconscious steps back, eyes a bit wide and focused straight past her. Every part of him screamed at him to run. He should have just gone home and let Eide be angry.
Cryon kept a fair distance from Mallin, making sure not to alert the man of his presence right away. He knew that the Mage would remember being hunted by the guards and knights of his kingdom. How could he not? He had been accused of killing the King and Queen. A poor, helpless twelve year hold with a gift that had gotten taken advantage of. At first, like everyone else, Cryong had blamed him just as much as everyone else. The nightmares, the moments when he would suddenly snap out of a daze, the memories of the blood of his parents flashing through his head, all blamed on Mallin. When he had learned that it was not his ex-bestfriends fault, he nearly cried at all the hatred he had put on the boy. He had chased him away, and he had no one to blame but himself.
Yet, even with the thought of how much leaving must have hurt Mallin, he still couldn't help but smile when he saw the little toddler attach to his leg. He couldn't hear exactly what the kid said, but even the sight alone sufficed as he crossed his arms, watching the scene unfold. A woman approached the two of them, picking up the boy.
That's when Cryon noticed that Mallin was looking directly at him.
For a moment, Cryon could only freeze, his hear rushing as his ex-bestfriend looked directly at him. Even though he had followed the mage, it had never quite occured to him that he would actually be spotted. Realizing, how could he not? He was a King now, and dressed to show just that. Maybe if he had had commoner's clothes, he could have blended in enough, just to watch the man from a far. He hadn't wanted much, just to know that his dear childhood friend was okay.
It was too late to turn back to time and change things now. He stepped forwards, feeling a slgiht churn in his stomach. Never before had something bothered him so, but it was now or never. Hopefully, Mallin didn't run before he managed to convince him it was okay.
All he could hear was the beating of his own heart. The mother and child beside him were only a dull, forgotten sound at the back of his mind, and as Cryon stepped forward Mallin stepped back. Still, as the prince crossed yards, the mage moved back mere feet, feeling for all the world like the small child he'd been when he was forced to run away from home. He felt trapped, though there was hardly anything keeping him in place, and glanced back and forth as if looking for escape.
Finally, there was some sort of clarity to it all. He didn't want to do this, not here, not with all these people around. Shifting back again, Mallin looked at the prince one more time, then turned and started to walk at a quick pace, thinking he would apologize to Toma and his mother for leaving so abruptly without so much as saying a word. The mage only hoped Cryon would follow as he turned down another street, and at the next turn he paused just long enough to be sure the man could still see him, still follow him, until they were far enough from the markets that there was hardly any out and about. There, he finally stopped and waited anxiously, hands clasped tightly behind him with the panic settled deep in his stomach.
Mallin had spent a long time running from the pain he'd caused. He'd taken to blaming himself even though he knew another mage had tapped into his magic on their own. There was still a belief somewhere in him that he should've been better, should've been able to keep his magic to himself. It had led him to carve runes into his own arms in a fit of desperation, terrified of ever having someone step inside and take control of him again. But Cryon's parents were gone, and the kingdom had likely suffered, and it was time he faced consequences, wasn't it? If the former prince was going to draw a sword on him, Mallin wanted it to be where no one would have to see it.
Cryon could only furrow his eyebrows when Mallin backed away, feeling a bit of distress as he he continued forwards. He wished for the chance to speak with Mallin, to make it clear that he didn't blame him. Would it be so impossible for the mage to accept his apology after all these years? Or maybe the mage feared him, feared what he would do. He had never even considered it, but it was a possibility that the mage thought he still blamed him?
At first, he thought Mallin was going to flee as the man turned to walk away, he started forwards, only to pause in confusion as the mage headed towards the corner of the square and glance back. Cryon had only just passed the woman and toddler Mallin had been talking to, ignoring their glances as he continued his path towards the mage.
It took Cryon several moments to realize that Mallin was not running away, but rather leading him away from the market. It was when the mage stopped and turned to face him that the King paused, taking in a nervous breath. He offered Mallin a wayward smile, swallowing nervously before holding out his hand.
"It's been too long Mallin." The prince said softly, his voice barely above a whisper as he looked over his old friend.
Confusion came through the fear first, filtering in slowly and unsurely. Cryon was smiling. The fact of it brought Mallin's train of thought to a screeching, stuttering halt. The former prince was smiling, and while there was nervousness in his stride there was nothing of the determined, purposeful stride of a soldier, of someone seeking pain or retribution. Shock was next, when the darker haired man stood just in front of him, within reaching distance, almost, and held out a hand.
For an awkwardly long pause, Mallin could do nothing but stare, wide eyes flicking occasionally between the other man's face and outstretched arm. But there was part of him that knew, no matter what happened, he could not pass up this chance. Even if the prince would only take his hand to pull him close and put a knife in his gut, he would never have this again, not if he let it slip away.
Slowly, hesitantly, Mallin unclasped his hands and reached one forward, fingers curling loosely around Cryon's hand. ". . . You're not angry." It was all he could manage, in that moment, just a shocked realization that he wasn't being attacked, that his former friend even had the audacity to smile at him after all that had happened, after all the time that had passed. He couldn't process it. It was one of those things that was too unbelievable, too good to be true.
The look on Mallin's face had confirmed what Cryon had suspected earlier. The fear followed by the confusion, the King had finally understood why Mallin had seemed so uneasy. Of course he would have thought the King angry, maybe even out for blood. After all, he probably hadn't known that they had found the truth, three years after the mage had fled. With that thought in mind, when Mallin finally took his hand, he couldn't help but let his smile widen, crinkles pulling at the edge of his eyes in a way that they haven't done since he was a young child.
"I was at first," The King replied, his eyes thoughtful as he slowly shook Mallin's hand, remaining careful so he didn't scare the poor man to death. Even though his smile did not abate, the mage still seemed ever so slightly suspicious about it, "When I thought you had killed my parents, I could feel nothing but anger at the mere thought of you. But...when I learned that you were not truly to blame, I almost wept. The things that you must have had to live with, the way I wanted to hunt you like a dog, the things I wanted to do to you, it wasn't human."
Cryon paused, shaking his head. Now was not the time to force unwanted memories back on the both of them. He had found his old friend, and he couldn't wish for anything better. "I apologize for scaring you. I wish no harm on you, but merely wanting to know how you have been fairing ever since... well, since you left." He finished, feeling a little awkward as he finally let go of the mage's hand. He felt so strange, and even though he was always in social situations all the time, this felt different. So so different, and he just wished he knew why.
It had never occurred to Mallin that anyone would ever fight for his innocence. It had happened when he was a child, of course, and had nothing to go on but his own fear and the idea that if he was found he would surely die. More than that, seeing his own magic used in such a way, waking to a room filled with blood and scattered bones - he would have been lying if he said he hadn't been traumatized. There had been no rational thought in his head, only 'run, and keep running'.
The relief was too much, too confusing amid the lingering fears. For a moment Mallin felt like the uncertain child he had been so long ago, easily frightened and too quick to tears. But even after he'd been taken away from his home to live in the castle, he'd had a friend, and all the affection that came back to him was overwhelming, for a few seconds not tinged with the sadness and torment he'd been feeling for years. When Cryon released his hand, Mallin closed the small space between them and pulled the man into a hug, perhaps too tightly at first.
When he realized what he'd done the mage stepped back again, pulling away as if burned, and held his hands up as if to say he wouldn't do it again. "I-I'm sorry, sorry, I -" He shook his head, ran a bandaged hand back through his hair and tried to order his thoughts when they were going too fast to keep hold of. "Cry, you - you found her? Someone found her?" The witch. He didn't even know her name, could hardly recall her face, but her voice and the feeling of her magic touching his would forever be seared into his brain. He couldn't think of any other way that they could have cleared his name. He was still trying to wrap his head around the fact that they had.
To say Cryon was surprised by the hug from Mallin would be an understatement. Here his old friend was, scared and confused and then something changed. It was as if he got to see the old him, the young child that he had grown so close to. He hadn't reacted to the hug at first, but when Mallin pulled away, he wanted nothing more than to hug him again, to feel that comfort that he had missed dearly for ten years ever since his parents died and Mallin had fled. He restrained himself though as he was a King and a King would not fall to temptations.
"We found more of her work." Cryon set, his throat clenching when he said it. The memories were bad enough to resurface his own nightmares, and he had to be careful when speaking of it. After all, a feeble mind could be the most dangerous thing for a King. "A couple, who had a magical daughter. We knew that...magic could not be that way for every child, and the girl kept speaking of a voice that told her what to do. We recieved the help of templars, who tracked down the witch. It was a slaughter. Only a few survived."
Cryon stopped, shaking his head and looking at Mallin. The poor mage looked so shocked, and he must know how it was overwhelming for him. He let out a smile, as sad as it was, as a reminder that things were okay now. "I'm just glad you are alright, friend." He finally said, a happiness filling him unlike any other.
Mallin's heart sunk as Cryon talked, and the mage couldn't help stepping back a bit, shaking his head slowly with a soundless 'no' on his lips. He had thought, over the years, about what might have happened to the witch when she was done with him, but most of his concerns as a scared child had been making sure she couldn't do it to him again. He hadn't considered she would go after others in the same way. He should have done something. Once he'd made himself stronger, he should have gone and looked for her.
But it was clear that this subject wasn't a pleasant one for either of them.
"I - I am . . . okay." The mage said softly, unsure how else to respond, and managed a little smile of his own when it seemed Cryon was happy again. "This is . . . a nice town. I made a place for myself here, after a while." He'd spent over a year by himself, fleeing and lost and struggling to survive - but that was not a story for now. Perhaps, if fate permitted, they would have some sort of future in which they would speak of such things.
"And you?" Mallin asked after a moment, and took a moment to glance up and down at the man, a bit of surprise filtering into his expression. "You . . . You took over the throne." He wasn't a prince anymore. That was why he was here, in Arcturus. It wasn't so very far from Cryon's kingdom, the two territories even sharing a boundary or two, so it made a sort of sense. His old friend, the child he remembered, had grown up and become King. Mallin wasn't sure whether he should box, or simply sit on the ground with the weight of it all.
"I am happy to hear that you've made a life for yourself." Cryon said, yet he couldn't help but feel a little bit of regret at the thought. His friend had a home here, and although he was happy for the mage, there was something there, a small inkling of the selfishness he had as a kid telling him that he did not want to leave his friend again. Maybe it was because the mage was a link to fonder memories, of times when they played and had innocent fun and when his parents were still alive and cared for them. That need of affection that he had for so long been denied was coming back, and his stomach twisted at the thought of how weak he would seem were he to voice his thoughts out loud.
"I did not do so because I enjoyed the thought of it." Cryon replied to Mallin's words, wincing at the look that the mage had on his face. Yes, he had taken the throne, and he had done a fair job in leading his people, but he had never felt as if he had the required knowledge, wisdom, and skill to be King. If given the choice, he would have thrown the power to one of his relatives, yet the only choices he had were his five year old nephew and a drunken uncle. War was the threat, and it would not wait for a King.
"What have you done since you had settled here? Have you found a wife? Do you have any children?" Cryon asked, forcing the thought of his own life out of his head. He wanted nothing more than to hear every detail of Mallin's life. There were so many questions he wanted to ask, so many things to discuss; he had no idea how he was ever going to have enough time in his life, never mind the small amount of time they had been standing here, to ask them all.
It was a depressing thought, imagining his friend being forced into the role of King too early, because Mallin hadn't kept control and someone had used him as a puppet against the real King and Queen. It wasn't the first time Mallin had wished he had been stronger, more skilled, or at the very least never left his home so that all of that wouldn't have happened. The thought of his friend continuing to be lonely as a child wasn't a pleasant thought either, but the mage made himself stop thinking of that.
"A-A wife?" Mallin scuffed a shoe lightly against the ground, smiling just a little and shaking his head. "No, I - I have had too much to work on." He'd never really had time for romantic sorts of thoughts, and there was always the fear before that he would have to run again some day. Beyond that, there was the ever present, nerve rattling thought of the mage's struggle against his own brain finding both women and men . . . attractive. Even less than his magic, it wasn't really something he spoke of.
"I live with a mentor of sorts." He added, a hand resting unconsciously against the bandages that hid the scars and tattoos of runes on his forearm. "And I fill the water basins of the homes in this place, and run errands in between." He had shown Cryon his tricks, of course, when they were children and he was eager to have someone he could impress. He had only been able to touch water with his magic, then, and failed at all other elements, but he was . . . better now. Stronger. He'd had to be.