The smell of this island, the sweet fruit, the salt spray, the clear air…to outsiders it was intoxicating. To a sixteen year old boy who has never left it, it was a very pretty prison, only taking occasional trips to the mainland of the Crystal desert once a year.

But something was different today, he was being given many more gifts, like gear and travel snacks, sweets from the island he was nearly sick of by now, he knew what was happening, but he still couldn’t believe it, he was leaving today.

He had no boat, and no one had mentioned how he was leaving, but when a familiar ship was seen on the horizon, belonging to the man he called Uncle Degarus, he was excited. Uncle always had fantastic stories of his adventures out in the wider world, but something was different, Kalya, his matron, the woman who raised him, looked concerned. She could always see further ahead that anyone else, maybe it was Raven, maybe she just had really good eyes. But when the ship docked, everyone gathered, cheer and then…recoiled.

His arm, was missing, replaced with this mix of fine metals and crystals, floating parts that fit together into a functioning arm, paired with 3 rings of the same materials on the opposite arm. Liam pushed through the crowd, as Argus pulled off his mask, placing it on his hip, running to hug his uncle. Argus embraced the boy, enjoying the moment, knowing he would have to ruin it before long.

Argus called to his men on the boat, who began unloading supplies and exotic foods and drinks, repaying the islands inhabitants for taking care of the boy. He looks to the top of the small hit on the island, seeing Kalya, and sighing.

“Liam my boy, help unload ive got a crate we need your muscles for to go to the village elders, make sure to pay your respects..”

Liam nods, smiling brightly as he practically leaps up onto the ship, the boy was strong, in will and body, so very much like his mother.

Argus moved to the top of the hill, bowing his head to Kalya “Thank you, for taking care of him for so long, I had hoped i would have come up with a better plan before now.”

She crosses her arms, looking down at him with the Ire of a mother “He’s your problem now, i’ve replayed my life debt to you, and to his mother, he’s a man now, but his is still a kid…be careful with him.” she scoffed to the side, trying to hide her affection for the boy, trying to make this all easier on herself.

Liam returns quickly, grabbing his gear and luggage, nearly sprinting back to the ship before Argus grabs the back of his shirt. “Whoa there kid, i know you’re excited to go, but dont you have something to say first?”

Liam freezes, embarrassed at how excited he got, nearly forgetting to say goodbye.

He sets down his things, and looks up at the Matron, Kalya, the woman who raised him, and hugs her tightly, picking her up a bit. She protests and flails, before relenting and patting his head, giving the smallest smile down to him. “Thank you Ma, ill never forget what you’ve done for me, or how you’ve raised me.”

She huffs, patting his head “You had better come visit, you have access to a ship now, now run along, put your things away..” She crosses her arms, turning around to hide the tears streaming down her face.

Liam grabs his things, running back to the ship, Argus smiles down at him, seeing so much of himself, and his mother in the boy, and the deep pain that brings to him. As if a habit forming, Argus decides not to have the hard conversation until they had set off, the villagers waving them off, the other moms comforting Kalya as she tries to keep a tough face, while bawling.

It was about an hour into the journey, Liam comes to Argus’s cabin, a concerned and questioning face as he steps inside. “Hey… I wanted to talk…”

Argus closes a scroll he was preparing for Hebichi, setting it aside, knowing in a way what was coming “Sit down lad..”

Liam takes a seat, muddling over his hands “My whole life, Ma never mentioned my dad, only mom, and you’re the only guy who’s ever come to check up on me… ” He grips his fists, looking up at Argus “Who are you to me..?”

Argus sighs, setting his mask to the side, looking Liam in the eye. “My name isn’t Degarus, not anymore anyway, these days I go by the name your mother knew me by, Argus Gravewhisper, and I…am your father..” He nods slowly, adjusting his hands as he speaks, readying himself for what came next.

Liam takes a moment, breathing deeply, before deciding to swing anyway, taking several swings at Argus in the only way a 16 year old could, with full force and no aim. Argus blocks the first four swings, before Liam lands a solid right hook across his left eye, Argus’s mechanical arm blocking and deflecting the next six swings before Liam falls back.

“I knew it… you…you abandoned me there, and now you come to collect, to get a free kid, why….why didn’t you come get me before!?”

Argus took a moment, holding his hand to his eye before answering, swearing under his breath. “That is a long…complicated answer, to begin, when I was much younger than you, I lost my family, and was taken in by criminals, and up and comer in the underworld..” He takes a chilled bottle of wine from his secret stash, motioning for Liam to sit back down, which he did reluctantly, still practically steaming with anger.

“Long story short, he made me into a criminal, and eventually…a crime lord, i met your mother when i took..let’s call it a sabbatical with the Order of Whispers, she was an Elonian agent I met there, skilled warrior, hot temper and at first, despised me.” He chuckles a little, shaking his head “She even tried to kill me once, that…encounter lead to us eventually having you, but i was undercover at the time you were born.”

He looks down sadly a moment “The night i knew you existed, I had just come back from assignment, and she arrived with you in her arms…and a blade at the ready. The man who raised me, made me into the crime lord i became, had gotten to her, bewitched her mind, and she tried to kill me, with you in my arms..” He motions to the scar on Liam’s face, To which liam runs a finger over, the rage replaced with sadness and horror.

“I… tried to restrain her, to keep her at a distance, but your mother was an unstoppable force of nature in a fight, and I.. i ended up killing her…”

Liam looked back up at Argus, both of them streaming tears down their faces. “The last thing your mother saw, was you, Liam, and she begged me not to let our work, the spy work, the crimes, the world saving nonsense, rob you of a good childhood…” He removes the bottle, setting it down “So i went to Kalya, the adoptive sister of my right hand man Fenton, the kindest person I knew, and she promised to raise you, until you turned sixteen, which is the coming of age for her people, and old enough to start your journey.”

Liam stared at the floor, conflicted with all these things, swimming with questions. “Do I have any siblings?”

“None by blood as far as I know, but… a few months ago I was following up on a lead, about someone like myself, a Necromancer in Cantha, turns it out was a teenage girl, with almost as much power as myself, but no training. Took some convincing, but she is now my apprentice, and something like a daughter to me, it was…unplanned.” He rubs his face, wincing slightly “She is inheriting my magical secrets, from what we have determined, you didn’t get any of my magic, and i’m honestly glad, it was a nightmare to have all this time. You.. will inherit your mother’s’ legacy, a warrior for peace, a whirling raging flame, burning away those who would harm the innocent.”

“Didnt you both do that, why can’t I help like you did, i mean…you did some bad stuff..but you prevented other bad things right?” Liam was confused, so much info all at once.

“No, Liam… you are a good kid, with no context for the criminal world, I want to keep that as separate from you as possible, which is hard to do..” he chuckles shaking his head “ apprentice…Hebichi, is a bit…abrasive, she’s had a hard life and didn’t take the news of your arrival well, so….expect some…static..and maybe some threats..”

Liam looks, utterly flabbergasted, hasn’t even met this girl and shes going to threaten his life, for existing…then again he just tried to knock his own fathers block off for telling him the truth…so they weren’t so different. He didn’t say anything else, just standing, and returning to his own cabin in the ship to try and sort through all his feelings.

Argus returns the bottle to his face, letting out a deep, tired sigh “Parenting…. i’ve killed more people than I can count, stolen millions of gold worth of things, helped take down dragons and their minions, raised the literal dead, and ripped an ungod out of a person.” He sighs again “But being a Parent to two hot headed teens, might actually be what kills me..”

Author Scond
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