AN: I'm looking for reviews in addressing to storyline and storytelling. There is more explanation in this chapter than there would be in the final draft because I don't plan to write a whole lot more of this in the near future. Anyways, enjoy!
Adashi stood besides Traythen on the landing platform, watching the small spaceship slowly get bigger in the sky.
Traythen was even quieter than usual, and Adashi glanced at him curiously out of the corner of his eye. The care-worn face Adashi knew so well was thoughtful.
Suddenly Traythen turned toward him. "Do you regret my bringing you here, Adashi?"
Adashi was surprised by the question, but he already knew the answer.
"Traythen, why would I regret it? You gave me and the others a home, and a purpose. Even though that purpose didn't come to fruition for us, we have a new purpose in these children." Adashi gestured to the two little boys who were clutching to each other in the room just inside the temple. Adashi gave them a reassuring smile, even though his heart broke a little each time he looked at them. They reminded him so much of himself at that age.
"Traythen," Adashi continued. "You've been like a father to us. I'm sure that I can speak for Kylan, Aron, Gwendl, Leshin, and myself when I say that we are all eternally grateful for all you've done, and I'm sure that Silena felt the same way, right up to her last day."
Traythen smiled sadly, his eyes starting to moisten. "Silena was the life of our little family."
Adashi placed his hand on the old man's shoulder. "We all miss her. But she would be glad that we're giving six new kids a chance."
Traythen nodded again.
A breeze ruffled Adashi's hair as the ship landed, and a few minutes later Kylan, Aron, and Gwendl stepped out of it. Four smaller figures followed them timidly, and Adashi could tell that they were no older than five.
"I see that the three of you managed not to get lost in the big wide world." Adashi teased as they approached him.
Aron laughed. "We were only gone for a week. Even with Kylan's bad flying, we couldn't have gone too far astray."
"Hey," Kylan complained, sounding annoyed. "You were the one who nearly crashed us into that freighter."
Aron ignored him, turning and greeting Traythen. Adashi turned to nod to Gwendl, who was guiding the children into the temple. Adashi examined each one with a careful eye. There was two blonde girls who looked exactly alike, and a black-haired boy who had thrust his chin defiant in the air, but Adashi could see that his lips were trembling with fear.
Behind the boy was a small girl with brown hair and eyes who was trying her best to be invisible.
Adashi entered the temple and called for Leshin. A few seconds later she came into view, and Adashi was once again stunned by her, his beautiful wife. Her eyes twinkled at his smitten expression, and she walked over him, placing a light kiss on his cheek. "Kylan and the others have arrived, I presume?"
"Yes, with four more in tow."
"Good. Then let's get to business, shall we?"
Together they went back to where Aron was regaling Traythen with tales of their travels. Apparantly he had tried a Flatzbinger hardbrew for the first time, and it had resulted in a full night of vomiting. Aron had never been one for liquor.
When Traythen saw Adashi and Leshin enter the room, he cleared his throat for everyone's attention.
"Well, everyone, it's good to have you all back. And, you were able to find six new trainees." He nodded to the children. "We have much to discuss, but let's do our best to put these little ones at ease."
"Adashi and I can do that." Leshin volunteered, smiling at her husband. Adashi nodded in agreement.
"Very well." Traythen said. "Once you're done, I have something that I want to talk to the five of you about. It's.... important to me." His tone was serious, and Adashi could see that he was not the only one who was feeling apprehensive.
Leshin grabbed Adashi's hand. "Come on, Adashi. We have a job to do."
With a smile, Adashi allowed himself to be guided to where the six children sat near a low table.
Leshin let go of his hand and knelt in front of the kids.
"I'm Leshin." She said gently. "This is my husband, Adashi. If you'll let us, we're going to take care of you."
"What do you mean, 'take care of us?'" The black-haired boy asked suspiciously. "Why should we trust you?"
Adashi felt his heart twist. The streets were a harsh place to grow up, and it did not make one trusting. These kids didn't deserve a life like that. He knelt down beside the boy, placing a hand on his shoulder. The boy flinched, but allowed it.
"Hopefully, you'll let us earn your trust. We have a place for all of you to stay, and plenty of food."
All of them perked up at that.
"What are your names?" Adashi asked, sitting cross-legged on the floor, smiling at Leshin, who smiled back. "I know your names are Idam and Cayleb." He continued, nodding to the the two boys he and Leshin had brought to the temple. They had found Idam and Cayleb huddled together in a dirty alley in the poorest part of the capital city. When Idam had seen Adashi and Leshin approaching, he had stood up and declared that he wouldn't let either of them harm Cayleb. Both he and Leshin knew at that moment that these two were exactly what they were looking for. It had taken some cajoling, but they had managed to convince the two boys to return with them to the temple.
"So?" He continued, "What about the rest of you?"
After a moment of silence, one of the twin girls spoke up. "I'm Ambera, and this is my sister, Aubrie. When can we eat? Aron said you had plenty of sweets."
Her sister nodded eagerly in agreement.
Leshin grinned. "Soon." She nodded to the other girl, who was still doing her best to go unnoticed. "And what's your name?"
The girl stared at her with big, scared eyes.
"K-Kira." She whispered. She seemed scared at her own words, and stepped behind the black-haired boy, peeking out at Leshin.
The black-haired boy stared at Adashi warily, and Adashi's heart twisted further.
"I promise that we will not harm you." He said gently. "We know what it's like to grow up like you did."
The boy considered. "Habata." He finally said.
"Very good, Habata." Adashi said, standing. "Now, I'm sure you're all wondering why we brought you here. But," he held up a finger. "that's not important right now. Right now, all that matters is that you six now have a home. You don't need to trust us yet, but hopefully you will soon."
"Right." Leshin agreed. "For now, we'll get you fed, then work out where you'll be sleeping."
Half an hour later, the six children had eaten their fill from the stores of food the temple offered, and now were exploring their rooms. While Leshin was keeping an eye on them, Adashi went in search of Traythen and the others. He found them drinking coffee together in the kitchen, amicably talking and laughing, though Kylan seemed a bit grim. When Traythen saw Adashi enter, he held up a hand for silence.
"The children are settled?" He asked.
"Yes." Adashi entered. "Leshin is keeping an eye on them." He moved to pour a cup of coffee for himself, putting a generous amount of milk in it.
"I'm surprised you guys were able to get them here. They are very distrusting."
Aron laughed. "All I had to do to get Ambera and Aubrie to come with me was promise them that we had cookies here. After that they were perfectly willing to let me take them from the homeless shelter."
Adashi smiled. "They were quite insistent on the cookies." He sat down at the table next to Gwendl, taking a sip of his coffee. "How about you, Gwendl? I assume it was you who found Kira. How in the world did you convince her to come with you? We had to practically pry her name out of her."
Gwendl snorted. "I found her in a orphanage. I picked her out because she was definitely the type of kid who needs real parents instead of a frazzled old women who has too many kids on her hands."
Traythen, who had been quiet up till then, spoke up. "My children, I'm afraid that I have something very serious to talk to you about."
At his tone, they turned to the bowed figure that they all knew and loved so well.
"What is it, Traythen?" Adashi asked.
The old man was silent for a moment before continuing: "I must insist that the five of you... leave the temple."
"What?" Adashi exclaimed. "Why in the three moons would we do that?"
Traythen met his eyes. "I want you to have a chance at a real life. You've been here for thirty years now, barely going out into the rest of the galaxy."
Adashi stared at Traythen. So that was what had been on the old man's mind earlier.
"I can train these new Six." Traythen continued. "I did it for you, I can do it again."
"What can Traythen do?" Leshin walked into the kitchen, narrowing her eyes at their serious faces. "What's the matter?"
"Traythen thinks that we should leave the Temple." Gwendl responded, pursing her lips.
"Because, I want you to spend your lives in a better place than this dusty old temple." Traythen explained firmly.
"But Traythen," Leshin exclaimed. "This is our home. And besides," she continued, moving to stand beside Adashi, "these six kids are going to be a handful. You'll need us to help you."
"You're not as spry as you were thirty years ago." Adashi said gently. "Even with all your wisdom and knowledge of the temples and the powers they hold, you won't be able to care for these kids as well as you did us."
"And like I said before, this is our home. I have no desire to live anywhere else." Leshin looked at Adashi, who nodded in agreement.
"I don't know," Gwendl spoke up. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I love this place and you guys, and I don't regret a moment of it, but..." she hesitated, looking embarrassed, but pressed on. "We're adults now, and who knows when Traythen's vision will come to pass? I just.... I want to see the galaxy for myself."
Leshin stared at her with a hurt expression, then turned to Aron and Kylan. "And you guys? You've been quiet."
Aron shrugged helplessly. "I don't know what the right choice is. Unless the vision comes true very soon, we won't be the ones taking the powers to defend the galaxy."
"That's right," Kylan spoke up, his voice sounding bitter. "We're not the Chosen anymore. We've been replaced."
"Kylan!" Leshin exclaimed.
Adashi looked at Kylan in surprise. "Ky, we talked about this before we left."
"Yeah, well," Kylan muttered sullenly. "I still don't agree with it."
Adashi shook his head, and glanced at Traythen. The old man's face was sorrowful, and his head was bowed. Adashi felt his chest tighten in anger and sadness. Traythen didn't deserve words like that.
"However you feel, Kylan, now is not the time for it." He commanded. "There are six new Chosen now, and Traythen cannot care for them himself, whatever he says."
"So whoever wants to stay, stays, and whoever wants to go, goes." Gwendl suggested matter-of-factly.
Adashi considered. "I suppose..."
"So who stays?" Aron asked.
Leshin looked at Adashi, who nodded.
"We'll stay." She declared. "The rest of you can go."
Traythen raised his head. "Leshin, Adashi," he said. "You two should go most of all. The two of you have been married for three years now, and the closest you've had to a honeymoon was one dinner in the capital. I want to see you happily living your life, with your own children."
Adashi shrugged, a pang of sadness in his heart. Traythen didn't know.
"Living here with the love of my life, caring for these kids, is honeymoon enough." He said warmly, smiling at Leshin. She responded by nodding, and placing a small kiss on the top of his head.
"Well," Gwendl said, "I suppose that settles it." She looked at Aron and Kylan. "Yes?"
Aron nodded slowly. Kylan still looked sullen, but nodded as well. What is up with him? Adashi wondered. He's even grouchier than usual.
"Ok, then." Gwendl said. "Adashi and Leshin will stay, and the rest of us will... leave." Her voice held a note of nervousness in it.
Adashi didn't know what to say. What did you say when the people you'd known and loved for years decided to leave?
Traythen's face was sad. "Very well, then, if that is your decision. But do not feel obliged to go immediately. We will miss you greatly, so give us at least one more day together."
Gwendl smiled and nodded. "Of course, Traythen, though I'm sure we all plan to visit."
Aron nodded in agreement, though Kylan gave no answer. With a sorrowful nod, Traythen rose from his seat and slowly walked from the room, leaving them all in an uncomfortable silence.