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Awakening a Bright Blue Sky

Chapter Text

A wind blew gently across the tops of the dark forest trees. Cradled inside a tree of great power was a nest of gold, calmly awaiting the One who would appear to change the destiny of the world around it. Waiting for the Awakening to stir the powers of the world, either for good, or for evil.

The wind was gusty today, Tweek noted, craning his neck to see outside as more and more customers piled into the small coffee shop. A small smile tugged on his lips as he made another pumpkin spice latte, inhaling deeply the rich scent of the many spices.

“Here you go ma’am,” Tweek twitched, head ticking to the side, hands shaking slightly. The woman smiled at him, and handed him a small bag.

“Fer yer tveetches.” She told him, in a thick accent that Tweek couldn’t place. “Eet help. Vake ye up.”

Tweek took the bag carefully, only glancing inside before putting it behind the counter. Hopefully it wasn’t another bag of meth. His parents had been in the game a long time, he wasn’t going to fall for some undercover cop or nothing.

“Er, thanks gah!” He exclaimed, already turning to the next customer, who seemed to be tapping their foot impatiently.

The day went on as such, Tweek getting bored serving coffee after coffee, and sometimes annoyed with the blends they would request. This wasn’t Harbucks, he was allowed to do more shots of espresso than was technically legally allowed. But fuck it, the store sold meth to the regulars who requested it.

By the end of his shift, Tweek had almost completely forgotten about the little bag the strange woman had given him. As he was leaving, his mother popped her head from the small kitchen.

"Oh honey! Don't forget to take all of your stuff!" She smiled, her soft brown hair tickling her cheeks.

Tweek twitched almost violently at her sudden appearance, a small grunt leaving his lips as he noticed the half-forgotten bag. Grumbling softly, he snatched it up. The world exploded with sound, and Tweek found himself flying through space. Closing his eyes tightly he expected to feel pain, but instead merely continued to float. That bag had an explosive device in it! His mind supplied, opening his eyes, he gasped aloud.

"OhmygodImustbedead!" He screeched, watching as blackness faded into a soft orange glow around him. In the middle distance he saw a flash of the coffee shop, firemen rushing around to put out the remaining flames. His mother was nowhere to be seen, but his father was sobbing as a few police men patted his back.

"But what about Tweek?! Why can't you even find his body?!" Richard Tweak sobbed, collapsing to his knees.

"We're sorry sir, we've only managed to recover your wife from the store. She's in critical condition, but with time she could make a full recovery." The officer replied, shaking his head slowly. "Your son must have been at the center of the explosion. It is possible that he was vaporized."

"Gah! I wasn't vaporized! I'm- righthereohmygod where ishere?!" Tweek's voice seemed to echo back to him, making his shaking worse. "Oh no I'm really dead and now I'm going totheafterlife gah!"

Flashes of unfamiliar people swept past his vision, their voices ranging from excited to afraid.

"The Awakening! The waters are red! The Awakening has finally come!" Men standing in front of a river running red.

"My fortune-telling bowl has cracked! The water gone! The Awakening has arrived!" A figure cloaked in dark material recoiled from a broken bowl, blood-red water staining the ground.

"Find the Awakening!" "Capture them!" "We must get to them before anyone else does!"

Gravity began to pull on Tweek again, and suddenly he was laying on a bed of golden moss. It was the softest thing he had ever felt. Burying his nose in the moss, Tweek closed his eyes tightly, willing the tremors to go away.

Tweek winced, the chorus of voices painfully loud inside his head. Who are these people? Why are they so obsessed with waking up? Groaning, Tweek tried to open his eyes, but a bright flash of blue made him pause. A man stood on an outcropping of rock, robed in blue, raven-black hair streaming behind him in the wind. His face was in shadow, but his fists clenched tightly at his sides.

Finally tearing himself away from whatever those visions were, Tweek sat bolt upright, staring around himself. The nest of gold was sheltered from the sky by what appeared to be tree roots. He looked around frantically, standing to his shaking feet.

What's going on? Am I really dead? Is this heaven? His thoughts ran a mile a minute. Cautiously, he moved to where the roots of the tree parted to make a large gap. Sunlight filtered down, making the nest glitter.

"M-mom?" Tweek called, looking around carefully. The cop had said she was in critical condition, but would probably die from meth withdrawal. "Dad?!" He cried, panic gripping his chest painfully tight. It was clearly a strange place, one he had never seen before.

Tears pricked at his eyes, and he turned this way and that, eyes fearfully wide. Clutching his elbows, Tweek slowly emerged from the roots further. The sounds of the forest emerged as well, unfamiliar animal calls making Tweek's shoulders shake. There seemed to be a path running right past the nest of gold, tree branches creating a nice shelter from the sun.

The noises of the forest became louder, animals rushing towards Tweek. Small mammals skittered past Tweek's ankles, screeching and calling. Jumping back, Tweek turned around, eyes wide at the sight of a giant monster.

It looked like some kind of worm, thick, curved thorns protruding from its body every few feet seemingly without a pattern. At the front tip was a huge cluster of the thorns, seeming to mock the shape of a flower. Red blood dripped from these thorns, a small creature disappearing inside its horrific maw. The worm was huge, easily as thick and long as a tree.

Tweek was frozen, heart doing double-time as the worm seemed to notice a much larger, much easier prey standing right in front of it.

Whatthefuckisthat? Ohfuckitsgonnaeatme!! Blood was rushing in his ears, an arm hooked around his shoulders, dragging him back and away from the lunging worm.

Crack! The worm slammed into the ground, thorns tearing into the earth where Tweek had been standing moments before. It made a grunting sound, gurgling deep inside itself. Turning to where Tweek had been plopped against, Tweek finally noticed that he wasn't dead yet.

The last person he had seen in his visions stood before him. Long-sleeved blue tunic casually belted with first cloth then a purse belt, long black hair held back from a handsome face by a blue and yellow headband. As Tweek watched, the man drew a sword, pointing it directly at the worm, whom had begun to rise up and charge again.

Too quickly for Tweek to see, the stranger moved, the head of the worm landing less than a foot to the left of Tweek's foot.

"Gah!" He cried, lurching away from the head. It dripped with a green ooze, the smell pungent even through the mouth. The panic hadn't let go of Tweek yet, and he cried out again, rushing the strange man and gripping him tightly.

I don't know what's going on! I'm terrified! Too much pressure! That is so gross! What's happening?! The thoughts rushed on, body shaking uncontrollably, small grunts and whines escaping his mouth, until a gentle, rhythmic thumping caught Tweek's attention. It was pressed to his ear. Eyes squeezed tight, Tweek began to breathe in rhythm with the beats.

Finally calming down, what, or rather who, Tweek was holding onto finally began to register.

I'm clutching onto a stranger that just killed a ferocious creature. Ohfucktheycouldtrytokillmenextiwouldbeeasyprey! Shoving away, Tweek tumbled back a step, staring up with wide eyes into the dark blue of the man before him. Blue seems to be a running pattern with this guy.

He was looking Tweek up and down carefully, face cold and unreadable. Not even a flush of embarrassment. With a swish of fabric, the man turned away, sword flicking to get rid of any green goo coating it, before he smoothly slid it back into the scabbard at his side. Beginning to stride away, Tweek noticed a small black bundle that the man must have dropped in his haste to save Tweek from the monster.

"Um… excuse me? Gah this is too much pressure!" Tweek stumbled over his words, hands clutched to his chest as he leaned toward the man. "I don't, ngh know whereIam! I'm sorry for gah! Forgrabbingontoyou! I was too terrified to, ngh think clearly! But! Um! Thank you! ForsavingmeImean! Ack!" Tweek shuddered, his twitching hadn't been this bad in almost a month, since he'd quit the meth coffee at least.

The man rolled his head back lazily to look at Tweek, blank expression still in place. "I don't know what you're saying."

The words were foreign to Tweek, who's heart sank. Gh! Of course he doesn't speak English! Look at him!

"What a pain," The stranger sighed, eying Tweek up and down once more, taking in his shaking body, twitching head, trembling hands, and tearful eyes. "This wasn't the plan."

Huh? Tweek had no idea what the strange man was saying. Branches began to snap overhead, the screeches of some new kind of animal making Tweek jump and hiss in alarm.

Voices in the same strange language floated down through the foliage, sounding frustrated.

"We can't land here! These branches can't take the weight of our winged beasts!" Multiple voices chimed in, seeming to lament something.

"But we have to! The Awakening is at the golden nest right beneath us!"

Giant flapping of what seemed to be wings continued to sound, followed by more branches snapping.

The strange man was watching the tops of the trees, glaring. "Come on." He grabbed Tweek's bicep, tugging him away from the voices and noises.

"Maybe we can set down on those rocks? And make our way on foot?"

"What are you? Stupid? The sea of trees is infested with flower insects! How would we avoid running into them? Moreover, even if we were lucky enough to be able to kill one, don't you know the smell of its blood will have the place swarming in minutes?!"

The men above seemed almost panicked about something, rustling from all around Tweek and the strange man drawing Tweek's attention.

"Run."

"What?" Why is this guy trying to talk to me in the first place? It's clear we don't speak the same language! A howl went up around the pair, and Tweek would have frozen to the spot again, if the strange man hadn't begun to drag him.

Dozens of those horrible worms emerged from the trees, all of them aiming for the two men now running for their lives. A flash from the corner of Tweek's eye and he watched as the sword cut a path through the wretched creatures, the squelching noises they made as they hit the ground enough to make Tweek nauseous.

More and more were descending, the strange man growled what must have been some kind of curse. Pulling Tweek close, the man swung wide, slicing several worms in two.

"Whatfuckingkindofplaceisthisthathasthesehorriblemonstersnghinit?!" Tweek exclaimed, hanging on tightly to the man.

Changing grip, the man hoisted Tweek over his shoulder, turning around and launching himself into the air. A scream caught in Tweek's throat as he watched the ground disappear beneath them.

They jumped over the remaining worms, who then began to give chase. It proved to be no matter though, as the man ran much faster.

A worm emerged directly to the side of Tweek, and he let out a little scream, the thorns pulling back to reveal a horrible hole lined with sharp teeth that seemed to move on their own. It was so close Tweek could smell the putrid scent of death that clung to the monsters.

The strange man grunted, leaning forward and leaping. Tweek watched, terrified, as the ground rushed past them, and it registered that they were falling into a dark hole. Swinging Tweek around from over his shoulder to in his arms, the man cradled Tweek close.

A sharp gasp of breath was let out as Tweek saw one of the worms falling with them. We're going to slam into the ground and die!

They landed hard, the abrupt stop not seeming to faze the strange man at all. He even landed squarely on his feet. A fall like that should have broken his legs! Tweek shivered, watching as the worm landed not too far away. It reared up, as if deciding who to go for.

The man didn't move farther away, and Tweek sucked in a breath to scream at him to move clearly that thing is getting ready to attack again! Suddenly the worm stopped, falling to the ground limp.

"They can't live without energy from the trees. There's no trees underground." The man murmured. Turning to look at Tweek, he spoke again, his words just as unintelligible. "Don't worry, humans aren't affected by a lack of trees." The words seemed kind at least.

Setting Tweek down, he began to stride off, replacing his sword in the scabbard once more.

The sight of his retreating back made Tweek's blood run cold.

"Wait! Where-- ngh! Whereareyougoing?!" Taking a step forward, Tweek's legs gave out beneath him. "D-don't leave me!" Hitting the ground with a thud, Tweek squeezed his eyes shut, trying to remember his breathing exercises. His breathing was too irregular, speeding up as everything came crashing into his mind at once.

"I…ngh! I can't stand up…" Tweek whimpered between gasps. I've been freaking out since I got here, I've got no energy left! I wanna go home! I wanna go home! The tears that had threatened so long ago came to the surface once more, spilling over without permission.

I want to go home! Without proper air, blackness began to creep in the corners of Tweek's vision. He continued to gasp, on all fours before the strange man, the sounds increasingly more ragged until he fell forward, unconscious.

Waking up was a struggle for Tweek, exhaustion trying to tug him back down into slumber. Eyes blinking open blearily, he saw sunlight filtering down through a hole in the ceiling. Only a yard or so away was the worm.

Unthinking panic caused Tweek to scream, shoving up to his feet and running in the opposite of the creature as fast as his lanky legs could carry him.

Almost as soon as he began to run however, he ran into a hard surface covered in cloth. A voice rumbled above him, alerting Tweek to the fact that he was not in fact alone, and that the man had not left him and… he was fucking ripped holy shit no wonder he could carry me so easily!

"Do you want to smack your face in? I thought you'd sleep longer." The man grumbled, watching Tweek's face closely as Tweek pulled away slowly, tilting his head cutely to look into the man's face.

"At least you aren't freaking out anymore," He let out a puff of air, shoving Tweek none-too-gently away from him. Tweek realized that the man had been standing directly against a wall of rock. How on earth did he get there so fast?

Looking around the hole finally, Tweek realized it wasn't so much a hole as it was a tunnel. Running water made a pleasant sound as it disappeared into the darkness.

"Out of my way, I've got shit to do since I'm apparently an idiot." The man continued to grumble, pushing past Tweek and over to a different section of the tunnel wall. Huge tree roots dangled down, with a mighty wrench and a deafeningly loud crack the man tore a huge section from the wall. The stuff was thicker than the man's actual arm and he pulled it off the wall like it was nothing. "Damnit, why am I so stupid?" The grumbling and complaining didn't seem to stop, the nasally voice punctuating as he tore more roots from the wall, periodically slicing through them with his sword.

The new logs fell to the ground, quickly joining a pile that Tweek didn't notice was behind him until he almost tripped over it.

Within minutes, the blue man had begun constructing what clearly became a raft. Binding the wood together with the finer strands of roots he found, the man worked quickly and tirelessly.

Tweek watched silently, thinking. He's… really fast. He ran away from those worms… while carrying me. He made a huge jump, also while carrying me… he jumped from the lip of that hole and was completely fine. Killed all those monsters… and saved me. Probably more times than I can count. Who… who is he?

The man sat down on the finished raft with a huff, wiping nonexistent sweat from his brow.

Tweek wandered back over to where he had been sleeping. Picking up a nice blanket that he hadn't noticed before. Why did I fall asleep again? Memory of gasping for breath came back, and Tweek nodded in understanding. He was leaving me, but I cried and couldn't breathe. He must have tried to help me… he probably wasn't even actually leaving anyway, probably just going to start on the raft. I slowed him down. Tweek's breath was coming fast again, fingers twitching as he began to carefully fold the blanket.

I'm nothing but a nuisance to him. Some strange guy shows up out of nowhere, in a strange land, and is useless. He must have felt sorry for me… now I'm just in his way. Tweek let out a rattled breath, shaking his head, the rest of his body still shivering. Underground was a little cold for nothing but a poorly buttoned top, apron, and skinny jeans.

Closing his eyes, Tweek reached for resolve, gritting his teeth. Marching over to the man in blue, whom was still sitting on the edge of the raft, Tweek took a steadying breath, kneeling before him, the folded blanket clutched tightly in his shaking hands.

"Excuse me? I'm sorry for not being any help and just getting in the way. Ngh! I really am grateful to you forsavingmegah!" Tweek rushed out, biting his lip at all the little extra sounds that came out. "I-- I don't know how I got here! But! I can't break ngh! Down like that again! I ack! Think we were destined to meet-- I'll stay with ngh you ifyou'llhavemethatis!"

The man in blue said nothing, his scowl merely deepening, one black eyebrow raising in question. Looking away, the man let out a puff of air, mumbling seemingly to himself. "I still have no idea what he's saying." Standing slowly, the man turned to the raft and began to push it to the edge of the underground river.

Tweek lunged forward, leaning his weight to try and aid in pushing it. He had a feeling he really didn't do anything, he was too scrawny to be of much help in that department.

The raft glided into the water gently, and the man helped Tweek climb atop it, placing his hands on a rod in the middle that seemed to be made for that very purpose. The man pulled a large stick for himself up, and climbed up too, pushing them away from the shore.

The hole grew smaller the further along they moved, and with it the light. Darkness crept around the pair, and with it Tweek's paranoia grew.

"Shit, fuck, damn, bitch!" He cursed, shaking so hard the water was making louder splashing sounds against the raft. "Ack! I can't seeathing! What if we hit something?! I don't ack! Want to die from drowning! Ngh! Especially after surviving those worms!" He exclaimed, clutching the middle rod as though his life depended on it.

A small snick sound, and suddenly their raft was bathed in the soft glow of a torch. The man in blue held it in his hands, no visible tools for fire in his hand. Where on earth did he get that?

"You make a lot of noise for someone so tiny," the man sighed, offering the torch to Tweek.

Blanching, Tweek took the torch, holding it carefully away from him just in case he caught fire. Does he have magic? Oh fuck, does everyone in this world have magic? What'll they think of me?! I'm just some broke college kid! Too much pressure!

Shaking his head as though to clear it, Tweek looked at the dark tunnel ahead of them. The torch could only illuminate so far, but at least the man would be able to save them if something came out of the darkness at them.

Gazing at the man's back, Tweek sighed. He cut a striking figure, broad shoulders strong and squared, as though prepared for anything.

I can trust this man. That's why I decided to follow him.

A thought suddenly occurred to Tweek, and he sat up straighter, looking carefully at the man in blue. "Um? Excuse me? My name is Tweek, Tweek Tweak." Tweek pointed to himself, repeating again. "Tweek, my name is Tweek."

Inspired, he swung his finger to the man in blue, hoping he would understand. "And you?"

The man remained silent, scowl not lifting. The shadows across his face danced in the firelight, and he sighed, looking away once more after his initial turning to me.

"The Awakening is supposed to be a being that throws this world into chaos…" Although grumbling, the nasally quality was easy to hear. Do most people sound like this? "How could I know he would ask me my name and be so… friendly?" Seeming to make up his mind, the man turned back to face me. "My name is Craig, Craig Tucker. Tweek."

Chapter Text

Above the sea of trees, where Tweek had appeared, men on winged beasts continued to circle, searching, seeking the power their leaders craved so much.

"Aren't they back yet?" One asked, turning to his companion. "They've been down there for too long, do you think the flower insects got to them?"

Hanging his head, the companion nodded. "Most likely, we'll have to give up soon and return empty-handed… the King won't like this at all…"

Out of the corner of their eyes they saw figures coming towards them from the sky. Another set of winged beasts was gaining fast.

"Who…? Are they ours? Did they come to support us?"

Another man gulped, rearing back. "Impossible, our country, Guzena, only has six winged beasts since they're so rare! And look how they ride! They're standing! They must also be here for the Awakening! We can't allow the free city Reinka to beat us to it!" Turning, the man noticed that his companions had already begun to flee in terror.

"We're outnumbered! Flee while we can!"

The men of Reinka chuckled, watching the Guzenians fleeing with their tails between their legs. A large-set man with short brown hair laughed outright, clutching the reins as he bellowed.

"Now, now Eric, don't kill them. We should capture them alive."

The fleeing men screamed as one by one they were thrown from their mounts, only one caught in mid-air by Eric, who seemed to delight in the screams of the falling men.

The river runs so fast, the rock is a blur in the light. Tweek looked around, curious. Craig shifted suddenly, reaching back for his bag, grabbing Tweek as well. Squawking, Tweek clutched tightly to Craig as he jumped from the raft to the nearby shore. Why the dramatics? Doesn't he have a stick for this purpose?

Set down on shaky legs, Tweek sank down to his knees, now shaking all over. "Ngh," he twitched, looking up to see Craig set down his bag in front of Tweek.

"Stay here." His voice was commanding, and he held out his hand in a motion Tweek recognized. Stay.

Tweek nodded slowly, watching as Craig took the torch, the only light, and left him sitting there.

A distant rumbling was heard, echoing through the tunnel walls. Tweek noted how smooth these were as the last of the light faded. Suddenly the rumbling was too loud, and it seemed as though eyes were staring at him from the darkness, nonexistent light making them flicker in and out of view.

Shaking his head, Tweek kept his eyes closed, trying to focus on his breathing, and slowing his heartrate. This place is going to be the death of me, if only from fear alone!

Unable to take the complete darkness any longer, Tweek moved slowly forward, on his hands and knees, searching to at least hold onto the bag Craig had left him. What a strange name. Does everyone here have such strange names? Struggling to keep his mind occupied, Tweek almost cried in relief when his hands met the soft cloth of Craig's bag.

It was still here, Craig hadn’t come back in the dark and taken it and then left me to die! Tweek shook his blond head, grabbing the bag to his chest.

Craig felt along the wall, searching for something. "Must be around here…" He muttered. With a whirl, he turned as a loud splash and small scream made his heart jump into his throat.

"What… sorry… I was trying tobecareful I ack! promise!" Tweek was in a shallow section of the river, luckily a portion that didn't really have a current. Craig's black bag was thankfully safe from the water.

Covering his eyes, Craig forced his heart, which had spiked with unwarranted fear at the sound of Tweek's scream, to calm itself. What am I doing? Why am I helping? Pushing away from the wall Craig had been exploring, he helped Tweek from the river, taking the bag from him, not unkindly.

Rifling through it, he tried to ignore the twitchy kid behind him. Tweek was blabbering on about something, but once again, Craig had no idea what he was saying. It must be frustrating and scary. This kid just shows up, most likely from someplace very different from here. He had no idea what that flower insect was. No defenses. The Awakening is just some small kid. How cruel the universe is. Pulling out a new set of clothes, Craig turned to Tweek, who cut himself off.

"Here, put these on." He grunted, shoving the clothes into Tweek's arms.

Looking down, Tweek seemed to contemplate what to do before he slowly unfolded the material. Recognition lit his eyes as he saw the long tunic as a spare Craig kept. Quickly he began to strip, fumbling with the buttons on his own shirt, cursing quietly.

Craig's face flushed, and he turned away, looking anywhere but at the kid. Why the hell does this kid think its appropriate to just strip in front of an adult? Taking a peak, Craig's breath caught.

Tweek had his shirt off, and was carefully examining the tunic, as though trying to figure out how it worked. What had caught Craig's eye though were the dark markings across his shoulders, which were revealed to be much more lean and toned than his button up shirt would have suggested. The markings spiraled down his biceps, and disappeared to Tweek's back. Tendrils of black snaked down Tweek's chest just a little, forming patterns that made no sense to Craig. Tweek's chest was just as lean as his arms and shoulders, if a bit thin. But he was clearly an adult, and not a child, as Craig had previously assumed.

Fuck. Okay. Not a kid then. Focusing back to the task at hand, Craig watched Tweek struggle into the pair of pants before giving up and shoving them off. He then adjusted the tunic, a dark blend of green and blue, so that it covered the most obvious oddities of his clothing. He tied the belt around it, looking at the loose ends and twisting them around each other in a complicated knot Craig had never seen before.

Nodding, Tweek looked up at Craig. Striding forward, Craig took the foreign clothes, a muted protest all that Tweek could muster before Craig had hurled them into the fast flowing river.

"Hey!" Tweek cried, "Those are my clothes!" Rushing forward, Tweek was stopped by Craig's arm.

"I needed a place to throw them, there's an underground waterfall. No one will ever find them." Craig spoke, his words little more than sounds. He gave a pause, then sighed heavily, facing Tweek squarely. "You might not understand me but… the Awakening that everyone is hunting for, is you, Tweek. In those clothes you'd stick out like a sore thumb. So unless you want to be caught in the middle of a bloody tug-of-war between every single nation, you'll have to get rid of everything you brought here. Including your pants."

The speech was long, but ended with Craig pointing to Tweek's crotch. Blanching, Tweek scrambled back, hands covering himself.

Sighing once again, Craig shook his head, and stepped closer, tugging on Tweek's pants.

"Off, someone will be able to tell they aren't from around here." Craig was demanding something, and Tweek wasn't sure he wanted to find out what.

Craig handed Tweek his change of pants again, this time more insistently. Whimpering, Tweek gave in, shucking off his pants, standing there, shivering in his briefs. The long tunic covered most of it, and Craig sighed, deciding he could keep the undergarments.

Pushing the pants again to him, Tweek struggled to get them on, hopping around on one foot. Too close to the river, he squawked, but Craig caught him.

"I'll hold onto you, just put them on for Gaia's sake." He cursed, Tweek getting the message and using Craig as a support beam.

Soon enough the pants were on, and the belt retied so that it actually did its job. Thankfully there wasn't too huge a difference in sizes between the two men. Mostly it was a difference in shoulder width and hip width. Tweek had thinner shoulders where Craig had thinner hips.

Tweek stood there, staring at his pants, his first and only pair of skinny jeans. His parents had thrown a fit when he bought them with his first paycheck. He rarely wore them but loved them dearly. Clutching them close for a moment, Tweek sighed. Lifting them slightly, he presented the pants to Craig.

"Here… your throwing arm is mm better than mine… I don't know why I ack have to get rid of my clothes but… I decided ngh, to trust you so… heretakethembeforeIchangemymind!" He finished, closing his eyes.

Craig gingerly took the pants, nodding once, before turning once more and hurling them into the speeding river.

How can a little wisp like that be the Awakening? It just can't be. Craig climbed higher, listening for Tweek behind him, making sure the blond hadn't fallen. The way wasn't too steep, but every now and then they would have to crawl over a boulder, and Tweek didn't seem like someone very capable of physical activity.

Craig was proven wrong however, as Tweek kept up just fine, seeming to enjoy the climb even. Up ahead, Craig paused, waiting for Tweek to catch up. A boulder was in front of them, blocking their way. Handing the torch off to Tweek, Craig placed both of his hands on the side of the boulder.

Moving slowly, vaguely worried about a cave-in, Craig pushed forward, unblocking the exit. The rocks rumbled, and the boulder moved slowly. Grunting, Craig pushed harder, the heavy rock still moving slowly. With a sharp heave, the rock gave way, and sunlight streamed into the previously dark tunnel.

"Wow!" Craig watched as Tweek approached slowly, torch forgotten on the ground. "The sky!" He smiled brightly, strange twitching calming for the moment.

If… if Tweek really is the Awakening… I'll have to kill him.

A bandit stood with his crew, listening as they told him of the merchant that had gotten away. His furry friend chirped on his shoulder, and absently the man stroked his head.

"Don't worry sir, we'll capture that bandit! It's just a shame you weren't with us, no one escapes you!"

The leader chuckled loudly, cheeks puffing out, the loud noise ringing in the otherwise still forest. "Of course we'll catch him, this is our turf. He won't leave this area alive for what he's done."

Tweek couldn't stop twitching, clutching as hard has he dared to the cliff face before him. How had Craig convinced him to edge out onto this sheer ledge anyway? There wasn't even room for them to walk normally, instead it was a small shelf that one was forced to shuffle along.

Tweek felt the wind gust at his back and gave a small scream, freezing in place for the hundredth time. I can't fucking do this! Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck!

"Take my hand, Tweek. I won't let you fall, come on." Craig spoke, hand outstretched, reaching for Tweek.

Swallowing hard, Tweek opened his eyes again, focusing on Craig. Leaning forward, he reached out his hand. The wind blew harder, catching the baggier shoulders of Tweek's borrowed clothes. Dragging him away from the cliff face, over the sheer drop.

Eyes wide, mouth open in a silent scream, Tweek reached desperately for Craig's hand, watching as he began to fall.

Tweek wanted to scream, he really really did, but the air left him as Craig's hand closed around his wrist, and Tweek had to watch as Craig was pulled down with him.

"No!" Tweek shrieked, eyes closed. He didn't want to see the end coming. Craig grabbed him close, twisting them. Tweek felt as they began to slide down the side of the cliff. Craig gasping in his ear as his legs were probably being broken.

I'm sorry Craig! Wincing, waiting, Tweek wasn't prepared for the almost animalistic growl that Craig released. Eyes flying wide open, he saw Craig's face twist in concentration, and felt the effects as they launched off of the cliff side, straight out over the forest below them.

Tweek closed his eyes once more as twigs and branches snapped under the weight of Craig slamming into them with his own added weight on top of that.

The pair finally came to a stop, and Tweek was relieved to find that nothing in particular hurt. Maybe his hands a bit from where branches had scratched at it, but that was it. Craig had taken the brunt of the fall.

Panic lanced through Tweek and he scrambled up off of Craig's chest, crying out in alarm.

"Gah! Areyouokay?!" Tugging on his hair, Tweek sat on his knees next to Craig, who let out a long sigh.

"What… why the fuck am I doing this…?" He breathed, and even though Tweek had no idea what he was saying, it was a relief that he was saying anything at all.

Sighing himself, Tweek settled back, only to give out a cry as he leaned a bit too far back. Toppling down further onto a lower bush, he winced.

"Ouch…" Looking around, Tweek was confused to see a wheel peaking out from under the bush. "Um… h-hey Craig? Why is there a wheel just in the middle of a forest?" Craig hopped down from the top of the bush, leaning down to see the wheel.

Tweek noted how destroyed his shoes were. Was that from the cliff? How on earth did his legs not fucking break? Is this common here?! Hoping that super strength wasn't a thing that most people here had, Tweek struggled on his own to his feet, scrambling after the slightly taller man.

"Ack! Sorry! I'msorryforfallinglikethatgAh! And now ngh! Your shoes are ruined! I'm bad with heights! Sorry!" Tweek apologized again and again, trailing behind Craig who was inspecting the wheel, then moving on.

"I don't understand you." Craig said. The words sounded vaguely familiar to Tweek, as though he had heard them before.

Continuing to follow Craig, the bushes and trees parted for a moment to reveal a small clearing. At one end was a cart, missing a wheel. Still tied to a cart was an animal Tweek had never seen before, with two-toed feet instead of hooves, larger eyes, and no mane to speak of. Goods spilled from the cart, fine cloths and clothes. A distance from the cart, as though he had been thrown, was a man.

Gasping, Tweek rushed forward, kneeling down next to the stranger. Craig made a grunting sound, then gently pulled Tweek aside, feeling different parts of the man's body.

"Good pulse, not much blood from the scratches," he muttered. Standing, Craig seemed to shrug it off, and wandered to the cart. He dug through the clothing, Tweek watching him closely. When Craig merely grabbed some new shoes and a few extra clothing belongings before standing and gesturing for them to leave, Tweek's face grew red.

"You're just going to leave him here?! What-- gah! What the fuck dude?!" Tweek remained kneeling, even as Craig cast his eyes to the sky, groaning quietly. "We should -ack!- help him!"

"Why am I doing this again? Ugh." Craig waved a hand, coming back over to the two. He leaned down, close enough to Tweek that he had to lean back. "Fine, wait here, I'm going to get medicinal herbs. Saw some a ways back." Placing his hands on Tweek's shoulders, he gently pressed down. Straightening, he turned and left the clearing.

Well fuck, I hope he's coming back? The man at Tweek's side let out a groan, drawing his attention back down. Other than the sound, the man made no other indications that he was going to wake up, so Tweek waited, and worried.

Fuck, I'm completely dependent on Craig! I don't know this land, these plants, creatures! Nothing! Like a baby. A child. Tweek almost growled out loud, hating the very thought. In my own world I can take care of myself! Hell! I had just signed papers for my own apartment! I don't know how to survive without Craig here-- the thought alone of him leaving me is too much pressure!

The man in front of Tweek made another sound, this time scrunching up his face. With long hair and plain clothes, it was difficult for Tweek to assign any kind of descriptors to him aside from 'not plain'. Tweek's cheeks burned as he realized he had immediately categorized Craig as 'handsome', a description he wasn't going to take back.

The man was mumbling something, but as he assumed, Tweek couldn't understand him. The closest guess he had was for the word 'here' but with only being in this world for a few hours, that probably wasn't correct.

"Here? I don't know where we are!" He tried anyway, grimacing as he watched the man move slowly. I don't understand you! Breathing sharply, Tweek turned his head in the direction Craig had disappeared.

"Craig! Come back! He woke up! Craig!" He called, hoping he wasn't too far away. With how fast Craig moved, it wouldn't surprise Tweek if he was farther than a city away.

"Found him!" An unfamiliar voice called from a small outcropping of rock that Tweek had only noticed in passing. A strange man stepped closer to the edge, a small furry creature on his shoulder. He giggled, an almost unhinged sound that set Tweek on edge.

"So, you've been just lying here all this time?" Tweek got to his feet, not liking the hungry look on the man's face, he was practically leering at Tweek. "And what is this? What a pretty young thing! An excellent reward for our efforts, don't you think so, darling?" He addressed Tweek, who merely hunched his shoulders, wary.

Just because he didn't know what was being said, didn't mean that he couldn't take a wild guess. The atmosphere felt dangerous, and Tweek tried to keep his ticks down, but the twitches and grunts would only worsen at the pressure.

"Ack," Tweek gasped, watching as the newcomer strode closer, sliding down the small outcropping, closer still.

The wounded man sat up a bit, grunting in pain. "Who are you?"

Tweek watched as the newcomer strode up to the wounded man, leaning over him dangerously. Clenching his fists, Tweek let out a little yelp as he watched the villain kick the wounded man hard in the stomach. Rushing forward, Tweek swung back his fist, slamming it into the villain's head.

Whirling on Tweek, the man snarled something that was probably rude, and drew a sword, advancing on Tweek. Eyes wide and shoulders shaking, Tweek took a step back before squaring his shoulders and sneering.

"Don't mess with me! I've pummeled worse assholes than you when I was in elementary school!" He cried, lunging forward. Grinning, the villain disappeared. "Wha-?" A shoe found his back, sending Tweek crashing to the ground.

Somehow the man had managed to get behind him. Swinging the sword up, he grinned.

"You'll die for that, pretty boy." Tweek only had a moment before the sword swung down, and he was frozen in place.

"Craig!" Tweek screamed, watching in slow motion as his reflection was revealed in the blade of the sword.

Crashing from the forest, Craig flew to the man, smashing into him. Both cried out, but Tweek watched as again, the villain disappeared from view, this time materializing a few feet away, wobbling on one foot.

What the fuck? "Nngah!" Tweek cried, scrambling away from the man. He needn't have worried, as the villain's attention was solely focused on Craig, thankfully the biggest threat.

"You… have a sword. A traveling warrior then?" He chuckled, gingerly resting a wounded leg on the ground.

"Help me! That man is the leader of a band of robbers plaguing this area! I managed to get away from them-- but never for very long. In my haste, I took a bad turn, and the wheel of my cart came off, sending us down here." The man was pleading with Craig, Tweek noted, trying to pay attention and guess at what was being said.

The villain began to laugh, almost doubling over. Gesturing between Craig and the wounded man, he laughed harder. "You gonna help him? Ha! Traveling warriors aren't white knights, they fight for money. Now, leave us be unless you want to die."

Craig rolled his eyes, groaning slightly. "Really not a lucky day for me it seems… why is so much trouble being thrown at me today?" He drew his sword, leveling it at the villain.

"Oh? More fun for me! Once the two of you are dead, I will relish in taking my sweet time with the pretty little thing you have there." The man was goading Craig, Tweek could tell that much, he just hoped that Craig wouldn't fall for it.

Craig's eyes widened, nostrils flaring with anger. Lunging forward, almost disappearing, he struck at the villain, who was no longer in the spot he was supposed to be. Whirling with only a split-second to spare, Craig blocked a close strike that would have maimed him.

Fear flashed across the villain's face, and he vanished once more, appearing several feet away again. So that's what it is, this guy can teleport. Oh fuck, everyone here does have some kind of strange power! Twitching hard, Tweek turned his attention back to the wounded man still on the ground. He was holding his side, watching the fight with wide eyes.

"Not bad! Unfortunately for you though, no one bests me in sword fighting! How can you beat someone who moves faster than you ever could?" The man disappeared once more, this time appearing behind Craig. In a flash, Craig was blocking the blow meant to sever his head, and even make a swing of his own.

Tweek could hardly follow the fight, both men moving too fast. Occasionally the clang of two swords meeting would ring throughout the clearing, but even those brief pauses were not enough to tell who was winning. The villain suddenly skittered away, teleporting several jumps away, a shocked and fearful expression on his face. He was shaking, eyes wild.

His sword landed on the ground, several feet away. His hands went to his abdomen, where blood was slowly seeping from a gash Craig had managed to land.

"No… how..? How could anyone stab me?"

Craig lunged forward again, and the man skittered away farther, almost completely out of view from the clearing.

"I'll--! I'll kill you later!" The man shrieked, turning tail and teleporting away in short bursts until he could no longer be seen at all.

The clearing sat in stunned silence for a few moments. Tweek was in awe, they had both been moving so fast! Hands raising, Tweek moved before he was fully conscious of the movement, letting out a few short bursts of clapping, drawing Craig's incredulous gaze.

Ack, why am I such a dork?

Chapter Text

Craig was tending to the wounded man, handing him what appeared to be herbs. That must have been what he went out to gather. Craig handed the man a few of the herbs crushed up, and a cylindrical canteen.

"Thank the gods! Koko!" The wounded man exclaimed, taking the water happily.

So… koko means water. Seeing as I can't leave, I'll have to learn the language quickly.

"These bandages should be good enough to get you to the nearest town, Calco. We can't stay here in case those robbers come back in force." Craig sighed, monotone voice dragging with exasperation. "Give me a minute and I can fix your cart."

If I had known that word I could have given him some earlier. Tweek watched as Craig moved to the cart, leaving the man to clumsily put a poultice on his leg himself. Sighing at the messy bandaging job he was doing, Tweek shoved his hands aside.

"Let me nggh help you withthat, it won't --gah!-- stay onthatway!" Quickly looping the makeshift bandage around the leg, Tweek made a sturdy knot.

"Oh! You must not be from around here! You must be from one of those islands right? Since you can't speak our language and they've been separate so long." The man was speaking to Tweek, who flushed deeply, head twitching violently to the side.

"There's gotta be a dozen different tribes for each island right? Which one are you from?" Pointing at Tweek only made the anxiety spike.

"Um ngh-- gah! Whatareyousaying?! I don't understand you ack!" Tweek stammered, leaning away as the man merely laughed.

The creature pulling the cart gave a very clear 'neigh' and struggled to its feet, assisted by Craig. Jesus Christ, am I supposed to call it a horse even though it looks nothing like a horse except maybe size? Too much pressure! Twitching more, Tweek watched as the wounded man greeted his beast, happily patting its nose from his seated position.

Fuck I really have to learn their language if I'm going to be any kind of independent. I can't rely on Craig to save the day every time. Standing to his feet, Tweek bit his lip, eyes burning with determination. I'll do it.

(A/N: So, the bolded language is going to become the new normal, I won't be bolding it anymore, Tweek's native language will be bold, but he will also be learning the new one, and that one won't be. Hope to avoid confusion here! Thanks!)

"I heard a slave trader saying that some island bed slaves he had kidnapped escaped. I won't tell anyone, he's wearing your clothes right?"

Craig glanced down at the man he was carrying, never allowing his expression to betray anything. Too conspicuous, but it could work.

"I gave him my clothes since his were torn. His parents didn't survive the journey over to the mainland, and he latched onto me when we met." Craig invented, hoping his monotone voice would help hide any false notes to his story.

The man laughed, even as Craig dropped him into his cart. "Sounds fake but okay. Like I said, I won't tell anyone. Anyway, y'all saved me, so let's see if I can't help. I trade clothes, I'll give him some that fit better, and can give you a new set of shoes. You've gotta walk a whole lot for them to be so trashed." Chuckling, the man dug through some bags, pulling out a leaf green tunic, and eying it carefully.

"Hey you! Come here," He gestured to Tweek, beckoning him over. The thin man trotted over, hands and head twitching like always. "Do all island people twitch like that, or is it just you?"

Craig growled low, eyes piercing.

"Nevermind, here, try this on. It should fit your shoulders better." He handed the tunic to Tweek, who looked it over for a moment before shrugging. He stripped off Craig's extra tunic, handing it back before sliding on the new one. Craig’s face heated up again at the sight of Tweek’s bare chest, the black markings still stark and beautiful against his creamy skin.

He turned his gaze away, and noted with distant interest that the merchant had averted his eyes as well, face beet red.

"Changed?" Tweek spoke, and Craig's head whipped back around, eyes wide with surprise that he had already begun to pick up the new language. He looked Tweek up and down, frowning at the tying of the belt scarf.

Shaking his head, Craig stepped forward, reaching out and explaining as he went what he was doing, hoping Tweek could pick it up.

"No, no, you have to tuck it in like this." His voice was gentle, and he almost missed the warm blush across Tweek's face when he pulled away.

"Tuck… ngh, tuck it in?" Tweek copied, also repeating the motions to get the hang of the feeling.

The merchant chuckled, "Aww, how cute. He's trying to learn our language."

Craig nodded to Tweek, who in turn beamed up at him, the smile catching Craig off guard. He can't be the Awakening, he just can't be.

The carriage was underway, with Tweek and the merchant sitting in the back since he was still injured. Craig drove the cart, and Tweek was sure he was listening as the merchant babbled on and on, showing Tweek different things and naming them.

"This is a bow!" He explained excitedly, showing Tweek the familiar weapon. Tweek smiled, taking it and repeating the word, determined to at least learn nouns.

Testing it, Tweek drew back the string, looking down his arm as he would if there was an arrow. The draw weight of the recurved bow was a little more stiff that Tweek had been used to, but nothing he couldn't handle.

The merchant was silently watching Tweek, a slightly shocked expression on his face. He obviously hadn't thought Tweek was capable of drawing the bow, which was rather annoying. Do I look that weak?

Frowning at the merchant seemed to snap him back to himself, and he continued going on to different items.

"I fell from the cliff, and the wheel of my carriage came off, ya know, carriage?"

"Carriage?" Tweek touched the side of the rough wooden carriage, nodding to himself. He would master this language, and then he wouldn't be such a burden to Craig. He would be able to help. Or even go his own way if Craig really wanted him to.

The road turned from rocky and dirt to cobbles and stone. Buildings appeared, streets took shape. Tweek couldn't get enough of it, watching raptly as people moved about, the setting sun casting a warm orange glow over everything.

It's a town. Tweek's head whipped around as a fluttering sign covered in scribble caught his eye, and people in strange clothing moved down a street, and a woman packed up what looked to be a stall. There was so much to see!

"Don't stare." Craig's voice cracked like a whip, and he forced Tweek's head down, the touch still gentle despite the harsh tone of voice. He stopped the carriage in front of a building that had a sign on it, and hopped out, knocking on the closed door.

"Hello? Is the doctor here? I brought a wounded man." Craig called, waiting to see if someone would come out no doubt.

Tweek watched as another man came up and began talking with Craig, looking quite surprised. They chatted for a moment, but the door opening cut them off. An older man with a beard and mustache gestured them all inside, the local exclaiming something as he looked around.

Following behind Craig, Tweek sucked in a sharp breath at the scent of death that hung in the room. Had they brought the merchant to be killed? Or was this man a doctor? Was there a plague? Oh jesus christ there's a plague and we're going to catch it and die and I don't want to die here I won't even be able to tell them what's wrong with me if I do fall sick oh fuck oh fuck what if Craig gets sick? Then what will I do? How would I be able to help him?

The doctor was explaining something, possibly about whatever had killed the eight or so men covered in blankets on the floor. Chancing a look, Tweek peaked around Craig's back, almost stumbling back at the sight of so much blood.

Blood was coming from the men's mouths, and blood stained their uniforms. Tweek could see a few faces of the dead men, the sight making his stomach churn. He had seen a lot of fucked up shit in his hometown, but no sickness he knew of could twist men's bodies in such a fashion. Thank fuck it isn't a sickness.

A voice from behind Tweek nearly made him leap three feet into the air, whirling around to see one man alive on a bed, bandages covering his torso. No blood came from his mouth, but he seemed to be struggling to breathe. Who did this to these men? What could have done this? Tweek wondered, stepping closer to the man.

He was panting shallowly, a low whine in the back of his throat.

"He was ruthless… we thought we had them, capturing their winged beasts, lying in wait at the edge of the Forest of Trees… what fools we were. A small party of men emerged, and we thought we could take the Awakening from them. But it wasn't with them. Instead they had a monster of a man, Eric, who began slaughtering us with some strange power. A blond man, who was supposed to be in charge, tried to make him stop. That only made Eric angry, and he left them, screaming about how all he enjoyed to do was kill…" The weak man spoke quietly, and Tweek lamented not being able to understand what he was saying. Still he stepped closer, reaching out and holding his hand.

The wounded man took a shuddering breath, groaning. It must have taken him too much strength to convey that message. Looking back, Tweek flinched to see all eyes on the two of them.

Trembling slightly, Tweek took a step back, looking from the man to Craig.

"Is this horrifying to you? Unfortunately this is nothing new. If you don't get used to it quick, you won't make it." Craig was trying to explain something to him, Tweek knew that, but he didn't understand what. Maybe words of comfort? Unlikely given Craig's grim expression, but Tweek could hope.

The man with the beard, the one that seemed to be in charge, Tweek figured he might be a doctor or something, suddenly turned his attention to Craig, away from the merchant he had been tending.

"You cut the leader of the thieves?" He asked, gripping Craig's wrist.

The door to the shop flew open with a bang, and another man in uniform marched in, yelling something incomprehensible. Two more men in uniform were behind him, looking forlorn.

The leader gestured to the dead men on the floor, yelling angrily.

Panic clutched at Tweek's lungs, and he wheezed, backing away to lean against a wall, far from the angry man. Why is he yelling?

In the silence that followed the yelling man stopping, he turned to look at Tweek and Craig's group, ignoring whatever the doctor was trying to explain to him. Pointing directly at Tweek, he began to yell again.

Stumbling back against the wall, Tweek began to curl up, clutching at the wall with both hands, angled so he could still see the yelling man. The local that had first spoken to Craig seemed to step up to their defense, and the man stopped yelling, looking between the three men suspiciously.

"They look suspicious! Check their things!" He exclaimed, waving to the two men behind him, who seemed to reply with an affirmative.

The doctor rushed in, hands up in a placating gesture, but the yelling man began to yell louder, and Tweek could barely hear that over the sound of blood rushing in his veins. Trembling more, he sank down to his knees, covering his ears to try and block it out. A whimper escaped his lips, and suddenly there was a muffled silence, followed by Craig's calm monotone.

"Please stop yelling, you're disturbing the only survivor. Go ahead and search through our things, we have nothing to hide." Steps receded, and familiar steps came closer. Craig was kneeling in front of Tweek, placing his hands slowly on his shoulders, coaxing him to look up.

"It's okay." He murmured, "Your things are gone, they will find nothing." His voice was low and soothing, and Tweek found himself calming.

"What's going on?" The merchant asked, "Why are they treating traders like this?"

Shaking his head, the doctor replied, "The seers have declared that the Awakening has finally come."

Tweek had kept hearing that word, whatever it meant, must be pretty common if everyone was talking about it, or pretty important. Hopefully it was the former.

"For years the seers have predicted that the time was soon, and its happened finally." The doctor sighed.

"The Awakening has finally come, the one with the power to Awaken the Sky Demon. But no matter how wise, or how powerful, no Seer has been able to tell us what the Awakening actually looks like."

"Correct Father Maxi, the air is too disturbed to see anything." A small, blind girl spoke to the gaudy figure before her, a small hand holding onto the cloak of her big brother.

"Your sister sure likes to talk like a full-fledged seer, even though she's just a little girl. Interesting, don't you think, McCormick?" Father Maxi frowned as neither McCormick sibling reacted to the barb, crossing his arms. "Now, care to tell me why the Awakening isn't with you? Why you deemed it appropriate to come before the great Lord Garrison having failed? Explain yourself!" He barked.

Kenny McCormick shifted his weight, suppressing an eye roll. He could clearly tell that Lord Garrison wasn't really upset, besides, it wasn't his fault.

"The oil of Coz allowed us to stay safe from the flower insects, but if we had stayed after dark, there were many more monsters we wouldn't have been able to handle. We arrived well past noon, and had to fight off a few soldiers from Guzena that had come to try and claim the Awakening for themselves. We searched for as long as we could, but I decided to end the search before we could become stuck in the Forest of Trees." Kenny explained, calmly watching Lord Garrison's face. It remained vaguely bored, but his eyes tracked every movement.

Father Maxi spun to look at Lord Garrison, most likely expecting him to be angry. "Have you ever heard such cowardice before in your life, my Lord?! No wonder Eric was so disgusted that he left! Now my efforts to recruit him were useless!" He cried, pointing accusingly at Kenny.

Annoyed, Kenny wrinkled his nose. "Father Maxi, are you saying I should have led a suicide mission?"

"Talking back again?! The nerve! Why I oughtta--!"

Lord Garrison cut off Father Maxi, rising to his feet in one long, languid motion. "Calm yourself." He ordered, himself the picture of composed.

Father Maxi blanched, taking a step back as though horrified with himself. He bowed his head, conceding the floor to the Lord.

"So… where did the Awakening go, Kenny?" Lord Garrison asked gently. A shiver went up Kenny's spine.

"We don't know. We're practically flying blind. I've sent men to investigate nearby Zago in the meantime on your behalf, Lord Garrison. The Awakening will turn up." He replied, tensing as Lord Garrison came close.

Shifting his attention to the little blind girl, he smiled at her.

"Your name is Karen McCormick, correct?" He addressed her, and immediately she hid herself behind Kenny's cloak, hands trembling on the fabric. Kenny began to bristle, afraid that his failure would hurt her.

"I'd heard stories of a blind girl that was supposedly renowned for her amazing abilities as a seer. That's why I asked your big brother to bring you with him today. I was hoping you could help me find the Awakening. But you can't see it, can you?" He asked gently, his tone making Kenny relax, and Karen peek her head out from behind him.

"No… all there is when I try is swirling colors that I can't make sense of. The only thing I do know, is that no country has managed to seize it yet." She replied, hesitant.

Lord Garrison smiled, "The same as my seer's have said. Hmmm…" He hummed, stepping away, "I wonder who could have snatched it away so quickly…"

Kenny frowned, memories flashing in his mind. "I don't know, but whoever they were, must have been an incredible warrior. We managed to find over a dozen flower insects, sliced in two, near the Golden Nest. Their skin is too tough to be penetrated by any normal sword, or any normal strength." Kenny sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Eric got angry, he thinks whoever it was, was taunting him personally."

Lord Garrison looked coolly intrigued, one grey eyebrow raised in question. "And who is this Eric I keep hearing about? I haven't met him before."

Kenny hesitated, not wanting to speak so ill of Eric in front of Father Maxi, and not wanting to describe the horror that was that man in front of his little sister. "He… is very confident in himself, and is very powerful. Sure in that no one could ever beat him." Side-eying Maxi, Kenny continued.

"He is also obsessed with continuing to be the best. The strongest. He was furious when I ordered him to stop slaughtering the soldiers of Calco. He defied me in front of the entire party, and then left, leaving a trail of death. To be honest… I am afraid of him." Kenny admitted, holding Karen closer.

"What? You're afraid of Eric?! How humiliating!" Father Maxi crowed, falling into a fit of laughter only quelled by a stern look from Lord Garrison.

"I hope Eric doesn't find the man he's looking for. In his obsession, he will try to kill him. Honestly? I feel sorry for him." Kenny waited for a few moments before bowing his head, leading Karen out of the treating hall they had made their report in.

Chapter Text

"Father Maxi?" Lord Garrison asked, the man perking up instantly at his name. "You were the one to find Eric?"

"Yes, I found him on the island of Leebe. I was impressed by his fighting skills. He had been a bodyguard for a small lord on the island, but seemed ambitious, wanting more. He agreed immediately when I offered him to join us."

A sinister smile pulled Lord Garrison's face. "He sounds interesting, I would like to meet him."

"Lord Garrison is creepy." Karen's small voice brought Kenny's attention to her, and he frowned. "He's polite, but whenever he gets near I start trembling."

Kenny's frown deepened, but he squashed down his own feeling of unease, thumbing the heavy bag of coins he had received as compensation. "He does have an air of mystery about him." Continuing to lead Karen away, he sought to reassure both of them. "But he has been the default ruler of Rienka for decades. Maybe you were just overwhelmed by the power he must exude to control such a state."

"I don't know…" Karen murmured, then brightened, deciding it wasn't worth trying to argue. "Father Maxi doesn't scare me, he's just an ass." She declared proudly, making Kenny gasp in mock surprise.

"Karen McCormick! Language!" He laughed, scooping her up into his arms. She squealed happily, hugging him around the neck. "I'm sorry you had to hear all of that, I was hoping a trip to the capital would be fun…"

"Don't worry about it Kenny, you know I always love to spend time with you instead of with Mom and Dad…"

Kenny's happy face melted away into sadness. I became a mercenary so I could get enough money to cure your blindness and get you away from them. I just… she's so lonely and vulnerable without me. This last assignment was too much, probably why I didn't chase too far. Staring up at the starry night sky as he walked, carrying Karen, Kenny brooded.

What will happen if the Sky Demon comes back? Legends tell that the only one who can control the Sky Demon is the Awakening. They tell that the Sky Demon is a manifestation of all of the Dark Forces. Its destructive power is unrivaled, no other monster even compares. I guess the Sky Demon is even more horrible than Eric.

Tweek let out a small scream of alarm as a horrible crash sounded from a building in front of them. Several people were gathered at the front, looking concerned, and disgusted in turn, watching what was going on inside. Tweek wanted to see what it was, to understand, but Craig continued to walk. It sounded as though some kind of fight was going on, grunting and muffled, drunken shouts ringing in the night air.

If Tweek hadn't been watching, he wouldn't have noticed it. Craig glanced at the building, breathing sharply from his mouth. Instantly, the lamps inside the building went out, along with several of the lamps in the street around us.

The building went silent, and the people out front made sounds of approval. Tweek heard the word for 'lamp' that the merchant had taught him, and knew they were speaking of the timely black-out.

The sudden realization that it must have been Craig gripped Tweek in a vice, and he jogged forward, catching Craig's sleeve.

"Hey, you --gah!-- did that, didnnnngh't you? To the lamps? Howdidyoudothat? I thought it might --ack-- be normal, but no one else hrk, seems to be able todoit!" Tweek exclaimed excitedly, the word for lamp tripping Craig up.

He raised an eyebrow, eyes darting back to the people who were quickly dispersing. "I don't understand what you're saying."

I should know this! This was what he first said to me, maybe-- oh! He doesn't understand what I'm saying! That's what it means! Gleeful, Tweek repeated back the phrase carefully, trying to keep his nervous tics from mucking it up.

Craig patiently corrected him, helping Tweek to speak.

"I don't… undastan… wad ya sain." He tried, Craig repeating the phrase so he could hear what he said wrong. "I don't… understand… whad ya… sain?" Determined, Tweek clenched his fists in effort, shaking. "I don't understand what you are… saing."

Craig's face was softer than Tweek had ever seen it, the tiniest of smiles pulling at the corners of his lips. "Good."

Tweek flushed at what was clearly praise, sure he still hadn't gotten it quite correct. But Craig thought it was good enough for praise, so he would take that. Speaking of Craig, he had sighed, frown firmly in place.

"Craig…?" Tweek asked hesitantly, unsure what he had done to upset him.

"How did I get myself into this mess?" Craig grumbled, holding Tweek's hand as he lead them to a building that must have been an inn or hotel or something.

A sly looking man threw a key to Craig as they walked in, and of course Craig caught it automatically. The two exchanged words, and Tweek followed silently as Craig led them up to a room.

While climbing a set of stairs, Tweek noticed something odd. Craig looked rather pale, much too pale. Maybe it's the lighting? He didn't finish his dinner… but neither did I… I've seen some fucked up stuff, but dead bodies was a first today. Shifting closer, Tweek watched Craig carefully. I don't think Craig was shocked by the dead like I was though.

The room was lit by a single lantern, glowingly softly in Craig's hands. Tweek reached forward, catching Craig's sleeve gently, just enough to get his attention.

"Craig? Are you okay?" He tried, but Craig just looked blankly at him. Shrinking back, Tweek watched as Craig flopped onto the bed, sighing.

Without looking, Craig dug in his bag, and brought out the same clothes Tweek had been wearing earlier. "You can have these to sleep in." He tossed the clothing to Tweek, who caught them clumsily, before nodding.

He stripped down right there, for the first time noticing the blush rising to Craig's face as he did so. Pausing, he panicked, worried that Craig was sick. "Are you okay?!" He asked desperately, leaving the pants and rushing to Craig's side in only the tunic, which hung off his hips anyway.

Craig blinked, the blush only getting brighter, and it dawned on Tweek what the red in his cheeks really meant. He blushed as well, ducking his head and quickly moving to the other side of the room. Tweek looked around, frowning at the lack of a second bed.

What am I getting worked up over? We slept out in the open together last night, and I've stripped in front of him several times… sharing a bed shouldn't be a problem. Tweek tried to reassure himself, approaching the bed cautiously, still refusing to put on the tight pants for sleep.

Craig's flush had gone down, and he was studiously ignoring Tweek, facing the wall the bed was pushed up against. Gingerly, Tweek climbed in beside him, having no choice but to press their backs together.

The sounds of hooves beating the earth woke Craig. That must be the soldiers leaving, that loud commander yesterday had said they were leaving in the morning.

"HIT THE ROAD!" The voice of the commander carried easily, and Craig slid carefully from the bed to observe from the window, parting the curtains just enough. He didn't want to disturb Tweek.

His arms and feet felt heavy, as though they were tied to a boulder and he had to try and drag them through molasses. Mind fuzzy, Craig could barely register that he was so weak.

Rustling from behind him drew his attention. Tweek was looking at him, wild blond hair flattened on one side from where he had been laying on his side. He blinked blearily at Craig, and it stirred something within his chest.

"Good morning?" Tweek tried, his foreign language sounding like gibberish as usual.

Craig shook his head to try and clear it. I feel so weak… must be… "I didn't mean to wake you."

Like a puppet whose strings had been cut, Craig thumped to the floor, eyes wide in alarm. His body would not hold him upright, arms trembling as he fought to push himself to a sitting position.

"CRAIG?!" Tweek screamed, rushing forward, hands out. "What's wrong?! What happened?"

Slowly Craig was pushing himself to his arms, breathing heavily. Inside something stirred, Dark and hungry. Fear spiraled in with the animalistic need, and Craig needed Tweek to stay far away from him.

"DON’T TOUCH ME!" He yelled, forcing his head up to yell directly at Tweek.

Skittish, Tweek stumbled back several steps, fear the main expression on his face.

No… I don't want him afraid of me… Craig wanted to plead, to take it back, but the hunger was rising, the Darkness trying to consume his mind. He needed Tweek to get away before he did something he would regret.

As though he could read his mind, Tweek turned and fled the room.

Were those tears…?

Chapter Text

Tweek's heart was hammering in his veins as he fled the room. Without calling for them, tears had sprung to his eyes at being yelled at. That wasn't what made him run, he had to get help, return to that doctor person, get him to help!

Craig is so strong, it has to be serious to have him collapse like that!

Out on the street, Tweek paused, frowning. Night had been falling when he last walked the streets, and he wasn't entirely sure how to get back to the doctor's home. Clenching his fists, Tweek willed away the threatening panic. He would help Craig, no matter what!

Turning back around and slowly making his way back to the hotel they had stayed at, Tweek looked around carefully, and began walking where it looked familiar. Soon enough his problem was solved however, as the doctor and a stranger came walking around a nearby corner.

He smiled warmly at Tweek, greeting him and possibly something else. Tweek didn't care, instead just grabbed his arm, pulling him back to the hotel.

"Something is wrong with Craig! You gah! Youhavetohelphim!" He cried, pulling harder and dragging the older man after him. Eventually he caught up his feet, and began hurrying after Tweek on his own.

Tweek opened the door to their room, showing the concerned doctor inside. Craig looked mostly fine now, sitting casually on the bed. When the door opened his head had snapped up, and the worried lines on his face smoothed out into a more neutral expression.

"Oh… what's wrong with you? You look exhausted." The doctor fussed, looking Craig over.

He wasn't afraid of me, he was afraid for me… he went out into a strange town by himself and found the doctor for me. The thought stirred something warm and comfortable in Craig's chest, and he relaxed somewhat.

"He must have been quite concerned to come looking for me when he doesn't even know the language. Let's get a proper look at you then." The doctor echoed Craig's thoughts, kneeling on the bed and feeling his forehead. "Do you have a fev-- oh my! A very high fever! How long have you been this sick? What symptoms are you noticing? Let me take your--"

Craig was overwhelmed, but finally managed to push the doctor away. "I'm fine. Every now and then this just… happens. My fatigue builds up and then bursts out all at once. Its been this way since I can remember." He picked his words carefully, knowing that even if he told the truth they wouldn't quite believe him at best, and try to kill him at worst.

The doctor looked stumped, but also intensely curious. "I… I've never heard of such a disease before."

Pulling away from the doctor further, Craig hoped his casual act was being bought. Every muscle burned with fatigue from being wound so tightly, kept in such control. He just had to keep this act up a little longer, long enough to get everyone out of the room so he could just sleep this off.

"Don't worry about it, nothing my family did could ever cure it, I just have to wait. It's just… an old ailment." They're going to see through this so easily fuck, there's no way I'm convincing like this.

"So you're a sick man, eh?" The man that had trailed after the doctor and Tweek into the room finally spoke, and Tweek flinched violently away from the man, almost stumbling over his two feet.

Craig watched Tweek carefully, making sure he was fine.

"Mayor! No need to be so blunt…" The doctor grimaced, hands up as though to defend Craig from the words themselves.

"Mayor?" Craig's tired body tensed slightly, fear skittering down his spine. What would the mayor of this town want with him? He would have left already if he had other business, surely. In this state I'm too dangerous.

The brisk, sturdy man drew himself up to his considerable height, and nodded firmly. "That's correct. The doctor told me about you. I want you to get rid of the thieves for us."

Craig was stunned, while Tweek sat still, looking back and forth between the speakers, as though he could learn the language that way.

"Doctor! This man is too sick for such a job! I had thought the man who hurt the leader of that gang would be big and strong! But look at him! And what's with that scrawny child he has with him? Nothing unsavory had better be the answer to that!" The mayor cried, pointing angrily to Craig, who merely raised an eyebrow. However, when he swung to face Tweek, and began accusing him of something like that, Craig felt his hackles raise.

"Please sir! You shouldn't be talking like that in front of the sick man…!" The doctor pleaded, face red with embarrassment.

"But I am right! How can we rely on a sick cradle-robber for this mission?" The mayor's words stung, but Craig could do little but grit his teeth. Tweek clearly had no idea what was going on, but he must have understood a word or two, because his face was heating red as well, and he was making small grunting sounds. "And what's wrong with this kid anyway? Why is he twitching like that? Is he possessed?"

"Mr. Mayor!" The doctor exclaimed, grabbing the man and hurriedly trying to shove him out of the room. "I am so sorry, he just thinks out loud too much. Forget about the plan okay? My priority is that you're well." He was so busy bundling the mayor out that he almost didn't register that Craig was replying to him.

"How much can you pay?" Craig asked, halting the two men from leaving.

"Huh?" The doctor's mouth flopped open.

"I asked how much you would pay for the job." Craig replied calmly, trying to appear completely unruffled. Glancing to Tweek, he saw the confused tilt of his head, saw the intense concentration on his face, the spark of anger and fear since he had no idea why anyone was raising their voices or doing anything.

"It's… 5,000 zol." The doctor replied, confusion creeping into his voice.

Earnestly the mayor shoved forward, a flush of energy surrounding him. "I know it isn't much but it was all the villagers could give. As peaceful as it seems around here, we live in fear. That gang has attacked so many farms and traders, weakening our economy considerably. There's about 20 men in the gang, give or take. Anyone who tries to stop them is either killed or sold as a slave. We were never a rich town, but because of them poverty is threatening to overtake us."

Craig considered for a moment, remembering how the leader of the gang had looked at Tweek, threatened to take him. "I accept the job."

The mayor lurched forward, "How can you be any help?! You're sick!" He cried, then quickly fell back as Tweek ran between the bed Craig sat on, and the two grown men. Craig could see how Tweek trembled as he held his arms out, as though to shield him from their words.

"Don't yell --hrk!-- at him you assholes! He's gah! He's sick!" That strange language coming from his mouth was fierce, his own words barked out in an order. Maybe telling them to leave, or telling them to stop yelling, who knew? Craig could almost discern what was a regular word, and what was just a sound that Tweek made without his control.

Tweek's outburst at least had all the yelling stop. In the silence Craig didn't even know he had been holding his breath, until he let it out in one rush, relaxing. The doctor turned slowly to the stunned mayor, and frowned at him.

"See? He yelled at you because you were yelling at Craig. You know how often you've been told to soften up. The poor thing must be so worried, not even knowing why you're yelling at his friend." Scolding finished, the doctor nudged the mayor in the side, pushing him forward.

Tweek stood firm, even as he twitched. Not a very sturdy protection, but Craig knew he wasn't as weak as he looked.

"Uh…" The mayor was blushing, looking thoroughly embarrassed, rubbing the back of his head. "Oh dear… what do I even say?"

Taking pity on the man, Craig spoke up. "Give me some time, mayor. The fatigue goes away in a day or two." Tweek looked over to Craig, arms lowering somewhat.

"We would be happy to wait, not a problem. We're just glad you accepted. Some neighboring villages tried hiring warriors but… none of them succeeded. When I heard from that man you brought in yesterday that you had managed to wound the boss, I thought that maybe… maybe you could defeat them. That's why we were looking for you when your companion came looking for us." He looked so relieved, so hopeful, the doctor so sure in his faith.

Worry marred the mayor's face. "But this money is precious… these villagers donated all they had-- we can't hire someone who's not really--"

Craig cut the mayor off gently, "Mayor, you can pay me once the job is done." The fluttering of an extra heartbeat finally registering in Craig's ears. "And someone is outside the door right now."

"Who's there?" The doctor called out, "What do you want?"

"Sorry… hey there." The sleezy man that had given them their room key opened the door, poking his head in. He didn't look sorry at all to Craig, and something felt off about him. "I didn't want to bother you in the middle of a conversation. I work here, how would you like to have your meal? The other guests are eating downstairs."

"Go ahead and take Tweek, I'm not hungry." Craig sighed, breathing out in relief when the three men left the room. He flopped back onto the bed, a tiny whine leaving his lips as his muscles protested.

Tweek was ushered out of the room by the doctor and stranger that had yelled so much at Craig. Confused and worried, Tweek kept moving back to the door, trying to get in.

"Where are you ngh, taking me? What-- gah!-- what about Craig?" Tweek asked in vain, knowing they wouldn't understand him, and he wouldn't understand whatever they answered with.

"He said he wasn't hungry, told us to take you downstairs to eat."

Following the men hesitantly downstairs, the doctor called to a woman picking up plates from a couple of large tables.

Before Tweek knew it, he was sat down at a table, and a steaming bowl of stew with slices of warm bread was set before him.

"I'll take this to Craig," Tweek declared, picking up the food and moving to the stairs. The doctor stopped him gently, looking a little awkward.

"No, I told you he didn't want to eat." He chuckled, as though explaining something to a stubborn child. "That's your food. Don't worry, I'll ask them to make him something anyway."

The doctor set Tweek back down at the table, and leaned closer, a soft look on his face.

"Listen, take good care of him. He has a disease I cannot help him with." Tweek recognized a few of the words, mouthing them to himself, trying to divine their meaning.

"Hey," The owner of the hotel spoke to his wife, a server in the morning. "Where did Han go?"

She smiled, ladling a bit of the stew into another bowl for the sick man upstairs. "He went home, remember? His shift ends in the morning."

The owner frowned, placing another piece of dough onto a griddle where it sizzled and wafted an enticing aroma into the air. "I've been thinking of firing him for being so lazy but… he worked uncharacteristically hard this morning."

The sleezy man, Han, made his way quickly through the village, heading for a lavish home a little beyond the outskirts of town.

Chapter Text

They were frozen in place, sweat dripping from brows, horror churning their stomachs as they sat astride their horses. The commander had no thoughts, no orders, nothing. Before their small troop stood a man on a hill, his brown hair ruffled in the late morning breeze.

A chill went down the commander's spine at the smile the monster levelled them all with.

"C-Commander…?" The second in command shook, hands cold with fear, white from clutching the reins so hard. "Isn't he…?"

"Hey." The monster greeted, mouth open in a cold smile.

"I know." The commander's voice broke, flashes of horror assaulting his mind at the sight of the man before them. He was the monster they fought at the sea of trees. The monster that had slaughtered so many of his men as though they were made from twigs. The monster that had laughed and taunted them as he did so.

The monster walked closer, so casual.

"Do… do we arrest him?" A different officer whined, his voice only barely carrying to the commander in front.

"Don't you dare you idiot!" He hissed, "It would be a waste of lives. Do nothing, let him pass. Do not even make eye contact." Orders given, the man could do nothing but watch as the monster drew closer, despise the slow smirk spreading across his lips.

The monster paused before the commander, looking up at him carefully. "You look familiar…" He chuckled, moving further into the train of coffins and soldiers. "Are you the guys I fought?" More chuckles, the commander didn't even dare to look back at the monster, anything could set him off.

"What's wrong?" He sneered, "Did you forget what happened? I'm the one that killed all your buddies." His voice was slow and mocking, trying to get a rise out of them, trying to get any excuse at all to slaughter more men. "Are you afraid of me?" Throwing back his head, the monster cackled, laughing at the soldiers in the very center of them.

Enraged, unable to hold back, an officer snapped. "You bastard!" He drew his sword, jumping from his horse and charging the monster from behind. "Don't you mock us!" He cried, swinging.

The monster grinned, turning to face the man, his own sword at the ready. They traded blows, the metal ringing out painfully loud in the stunned silence. The monster grabbed the soldier's face, cackling still.

"Fool!" He laughed. A jet of power sprang from his hand, and the face beneath it turned to liquid. The soldier probably hadn't even felt a thing, dead in an instant.

The thud of his body and the wet slosh of his blood spurting out made the other soldiers cry out in panic.

The monster sneered at the corpse he had just created. "Insect, tremble before my power and respect my authority!" Chuckling to himself, he left the train of carriages in a state of panic.

Tweek's hands trembled slightly as he wrung out a washcloth, making sure it wasn't dripping cold water. He turned to Craig, trying to lay it on his forehead. When Tweek had arrived with food, Craig had been spread out on the bed, sweating and shivering. The doctor seemed to not be able to do anything.

Some things worked for everything though, so Tweek was trying to follow the instructions the doctor had managed to convey to him.

Craig turned his head away, batting the cloth from his face. "No, I don't need it."

Frowning in concern, Tweek looked back to the equally uneaten food, shifting from foot to foot anxiously. He isn't eating, he won't let me put this on his forehead, what do I do? Maybe… maybe the doctor was trying to tell me to leave him be? How much help could I be anyway? I'll leave him alone. Tweek went to the only chair in the room, and sunk down onto it, trying not to stare at Craig.

"So! The fool accepted the job? Said he'd kill us all himself, huh?" The boss of thieves sat at the head of a laden table, sipping some wine as Han finished telling him what he had overheard.

A rich merchant stood next to Han, lip curled in disgust. "What a sight, never thought anyone could hurt you, boss." He commented, smirking at the men around him.

The boss grumbled, drawing attention once more. "Hmph, don't underestimate him. He's an unusual guy. Fools."

Rubbing his chin thoughtfully, the fat, rich man seemed to consider this for a few moments. "There are indeed some strange characters in the world. On the way here we saw a…" But he trailed off, waving away the boss when he asked for him to continue. "Nothing."

"That guy, Craig, is something else. I wasn't making any noise, but he somehow still heard me on the other side of that door." Han brought up, rubbing his own chin thoughtfully, probably to look smart and important. As if he was more than a pair of eyes and ears in the village.

He smirked, "But, he's weak right now. I was able to overhear that he has some unknown disease that not even the doctor can cure."

The boss was wary, slowly stroking the fur of his Chimo that sat purring on his shoulder. "You did say he couldn't even walk…." Musing this over, the boss took another drink of wine.

"I also heard that he'll be fine in a day or two. If he manages to recover, we're in trouble." Han finished, crossing his arms.

"Yeah… we killed everyone that had been on the neighborhood watch, right?" The boss grinned slowly when the rich man nodded.

"Those villagers are all cowards. If we show up now, they won't be able to do anything." The boss's grin got bigger, more sly as the plan began to unfold before them.

"And if you go at night…" The rich man smirked, his thick mustache wriggling. "Han will be on duty at the inn, he can let you in. Of course, for a price." He laughed, slapping Han on the back. "I pay him well for the information he provides."

The boss smiled, taking a bite of a fruit. "Okay. Having a spy in town is rather helpful after all. Plus… you, Niva, gave me this cute little thing." He cooed, feeding the small mammal on his shoulder a new piece of fruit.

Its slit eyes widened, and it mewled in pleasure. Razor teeth sunk into the fruit, licking up the juices eagerly.

The world was fuzzy around me, the rustling of leaves the only evidence that there were any. I moved slowly, sluggishly, searching.

"Mom?" I called, turning this way and that, trying to peer through the mists to find her. Mom… where are you?

"EEEEE!" Her scream made me flinch back, her long, blonde hair whipping crazily about her head. "No! Don't come near me!" Her screams turned to sobs, and she knelt on the ground, sobbing into the folds of her rich, green dress.

Mom…

"Agh! How could I be so stupid? Agreeing to have a child like this in exchange for gold… how horrible!" She wailed, her words piercing my young flesh like knives.

A child like that? Like what? For gold? Whose child was I?

People from the village began to gather around me, faces washed blank from forgetfulness, but hands gentle as they tried to console me. I didn't even know I had begun crying.

"Don't go near him! Stay away!" My mother shrieked in fear, and people were running, Darkness following after them, enveloping me in its embrace. What was this feeling? So intense. My heart beat faster, my fists clenched. An aura of Darkness began to pour forth, swallowing me whole.

Craig woke with a gasp, flinching in the low light. His surroundings were the same as when he shut his eyes, sword next to him in bed. Looking to the edge of the bed, he flinched, shoving himself back against the wall.

Tweek was asleep on the floor, head resting on the edge of the bed. Even as he slept he twitched a bit, the sight endearing. He looked almost troubled, brows twitching too. But Tweek didn't wake up, even as Craig sat up and calmed his racing heart.

The memory of Tweek standing between Craig, and the mayor and doctor flashed in Craig's mind as he watched Tweek sleep. So the Awakening was worried about me? How ironic. Craig noticed the lamp lit on the desk, and frowned. It's night already, I wonder how long until dawn. A small sound raised Craig's hackles, and he grabbed his sword, easing from the bed.

That woke Tweek up, he sat up with a tiny sound that made Craig's heart squeeze it was so cute, and rubbed his eyes. When he saw Craig standing, sword drawn, he let out another small sound, concerned.

"Craig…?" He whispered, eying the door. Craig motioned for Tweek to hide, ushering him underneath the bed, never allowing his own eyes to stray from the door.

With a crash it was thrown in, men with swords charging in yelling. Yanking his sword from the sheath, Craig lunged off the bed, easily killing the men that entered. They cried out, and more men began pouring in, all with swords drawn.

Craig spun to face them, growling. The first two flinched back in fear, seeing what had been done to their fellows. The rush of fear had flooded Craig's senses long enough so that he could defeat the first two, but with the remaining not charging, the screaming of his muscles could not be ignored.

Dropping to a knee, Craig grunted, gasping at the pain racing through him. His breath wouldn't come to him, instead dragging in harshly as he panted on the ground in front of these men clearly here to attack him. Craig was angry, his body too weak from holding back the oppressive force inside of him, all of his efforts going to containing it still.

The aggressors began to chuckle amongst themselves, nervously at first, then as Craig continued to stay on the ground, more confidently.

"So! This is the guy who slashed our boss?" "What the fuck? This baby-faced guy? He… he just hacked two of us to death…?"

Tweek was shaking with fear and anger, Craig's bag tucked close to his chest under the tight squeeze that was the bed. Men had come in, and Craig was defenseless! Under the very edge of the covers, Tweek could see Craig kneeling on the ground. He was still too sick to fight back, whoever these people were. What did they want with us?

Silently he drew out the bow he had snatched from the merchant guy they had saved, stringing it quickly. As they laughed, and spoke to Craig, or taunted him, Tweek wasn't sure, Tweek drew out an arrow and notched it.

The aim would have to be perfect despite the terrible positioning and angle.

"You that guy's thugs?" Craig finally spoke, his voice a wheeze. Tweek's heart squeezed along with the sound, and he carefully sighted the arrow to the man in front. None of them were wearing any kind of armor, so it would kill him.

Twisting slowly, Tweek drew back the arrow as far as it would go in the cramped space, making sure he was laying flat enough that nothing would slow down the arrow whenever he released.

"He's weak now! We don't need to be afraid of him!" The one Tweek had sighted, crowed, calling back to the men behind him.

"You're right I'm in bad shape, I won't be able to control my power." Craig growled, still huffing, but shifting into a crouch instead of just kneeling on the floor.

"KILL HIM!" They yelled, and Tweek loosed, shooting the first man in the right shoulder. He dropped to the ground, arrow protruding from his chest.

The other men who had started charging with the man faltered back a step, and Craig whirled to face Tweek, who had emerged from under the bed, another arrow already notched and ready to loose. Craig's eyes were wide, mouth slightly open. The men closest to him took the opportunity and lunged.

The next arrow hit him square in the forehead, a sickening crunch sounding as the arrowhead pierced his skull.

Craig turned back around and sprang at the next man, while two more came at him as well.

More calmly than was perhaps appropriate, Tweek notched another arrow, training it on men just coming in the door. They weren't all kill shots, but most of the men hit backed out of the door, running the other way. So busy aiming for the one's coming in the door, Tweek didn't notice a man sneaking up to spring on him from the side.

The attacker jumped at Tweek, yelling a battle cry.

"Sweetheart, what is all that noise?" The barmaid asked her husband quietly, huddling close to him as they crept to their door. Opening it, the husband jerked backwards, yanking the door closed.

Immediately he began grabbing furniture, smushing it up against the door to the main courtyard.

"What's-- what's happening?" His wife cried, clutching her wide sleeves.

"Robbers! More than I can count!" He cried, trembling against the table he had managed to push in front of the door. "One of them is even their boss! I saw the tiny animal!"

Craig lunged, slicing into the man's arm aimed at Tweek. He screamed as he went down, clutching the stump of his arm.

A man still out in the hallway gave a cry of frustration. "What is taking so long?! Drag him out here and we'll pulverize him!"

"Give me a break!" Another thief whined, "I don't want to fight him anymore! He's already killed eight of us! And that friend of his is dropping more with his arrows!"

The boss whirled on Han, who was pressed against a door. "You! Han you lied to us! You told us he was bedridden!"

Terrified, Han sunk back into the doorframe, as far as he could go. "No! I swear!"

"Boss… he really is weak, he's staggering but… he's still…"

"He's still powerful. You don't say?" The boss finished, fear skittering down his spine. "I brought everyone on the off-chance he would be tough, and he's just shredding through you guys. I'm still too injured to fight." Panic was making his heart beat faster, the wound at his side throbbing in time.

Looking up the flight of stairs leading to Craig's room, he made a decision. "Men! This is our only chance! If he gets better he'll be even stronger and will destroy us all! Don't be afraid of him and he will tire!" And then I'll kill him myself.

That voice. That's the voice of that guy who can teleport! That means these people work for him. These people are the ones that attacked that merchant guy with the clothes. Tweek grit his teeth, hitting another man with an arrow. Craig was doing all the hard work, but Tweek wanted to be helpful however he could.

The men Craig had been fighting staggered back, and Craig retreated to the wall, huffing and wheezing. The men began to chuckle, easing back towards the bed.

Mind working fast, Tweek reached for another arrow, only to discover his quiver was empty. Abandoning the bow and quiver, Tweek yanked on the bedsheet as the other men did. They're going to try and throw this over Craig, and I have to help him!

"Huh?" The men turned to look at Tweek, and slow smiles came over their faces. "Run out of arrows? Heh heh, we'll get you too for killing so many of us." The men leered, dropping the sheet and slowly approaching Tweek, who had backed himself into a corner.

One man jumped, grabbing Tweek by the arms and swinging him into the adjacent wall, knocking the breath out of Tweek's lungs. He tried gasping, but his diaphragm seized, and he ended up choking and wheezing, drawing Craig's attention.

In less time than it takes to blink, Craig was on the men, shoving them out of the way, grabbing Tweek from them, and jumping out the window into the darkness of the night.

Chapter Text

I've got to be out of my fucking mind. Why am I rescuing him? I should want him dead! Glass shattered on impact as Craig smashed through it, gritting his teeth and holding a trembling Tweek closer.

"They jumped out a window! Quick get to the back street to cut them off!"

Craig's body wouldn't hold him up any longer, and he collapsed once his feet met the cobblestone.

"Craig!" Tweek cried, kneeling down in front of his sick form.

"Did you… land safely? Sorry… I didn’t think we could take them all on." I should want to kill him, I went into the sea of trees for the purpose of killing the Awakening but… this guy doesn't know anything. He doesn't know anything and he was fucked over by the universe just as I was.

With herculean effort, Craig reached for Tweek, grasping his wrist, panting hard. "Run, find somewhere and hide." He hoped desperately that Tweek would understand. "I won't be able to move for a while."

Fuck! Craig's used up all his energy, and I can hear them searching for us-- I have to get us to safety! Craig shoved at Tweek, probably urging him away, but Tweek merely grabbed under his arms, and carefully maneuvered so that Craig's body was draped across his own.

Heaving, Tweek managed to get to his feet properly, using Craig's sword to help him keep balance, one arm keeping Craig across his back. Craig was heavy, a completely dead weight that concerned Tweek almost more than the men chasing them.

Gods, give me strength to protect Craig.

Running feet were heard. They seemed to come from all directions. Tweek had managed to carry Craig with him to under a little bridge. The water was very shallow, and nice and cool. The area seemed to be storage for a nearby store as well, some jars piled all around.

Craig was leaned up against the stone of the bridge, farthest from the incredibly dim light. Tweek was crouched over him, listening intently to any sounds of someone approaching.

Don'tletthemfindus. Please don't let them find us gah! Tweek forced himself to breathe evenly. If it came down to it, he would have to fight to protect Craig, and if he was panicking he would only scream and that wouldn't be a help to anyone.

Steps sounded closer. Voices got louder. Suddenly a sound of a jar shattering reached Tweek's ears. He stiffened, hand clenching around the hilt of Craig's sword.

"It's all junk, they could be hiding here though. Check everything."

Tweek sucked in a breath, moving the sword closer to himself. He had never been very good with a sword, a bow had been his specialty back when he played with friends as a child, and doing minor competitions he could get a ride to and off work for.

They're going to find us. Tweek breathed out, heart hammering but this time in determination.

A larger hand closed around his own on the sword, and Tweek's eyes snapped to Craig's shadowed face.

"I feel a little better… I've got to kill them all at once." He growled, and for a moment it seemed as though his teeth were elongated into fangs. Tweek shivered.

"Found them!"

A shadow jumped from within a shadow, and the shout turned to a gurgling mess as Craig cleaved him in two. Tweek watched, legs trembling. Craig was moving just as fast as he had been before, slicing through enemies.

Screams and thuds echoed in the otherwise silent night.

Following Craig at a distance, Tweek watched, careful no one else saw him. He was winning handedly, each swing looked like it cost no more effort than closing a pair of scissors.

On an upswing Tweek watched as a chain was thrown. Instead of hitting Craig though, it caught his sword, leaving his chest wide open. The man who could teleport was suddenly there, plunging a sword deep into Craig's chest.

Twin screams, one of shock, one of agony, rang in the darkness. Craig's body fell to the ground, and the man drew his sword back, readying for another blow. Tweek rushed out, shoving into him.

"Don't!" Tweek yelled, knocking them both down.

The man screamed in pain, and Tweek saw he had run into the side that Craig had previously wounded. Grabbing a sword, Tweek swung down, trying to kill him before he retaliated. Instead he hit the small mammal.

In a puff of smoke, the animal died.

"No… my…" The man was shuddering, sitting up slowly, one hand cupping the space the little furball had occupied. "My pet… MY DEAR BELOVED PET!" He screamed, tears in his eyes already.

Tweek couldn't pay him mind anymore. Craig was groaning, so Tweek was there, kneeling by his side.

"You bastard!" Turning too slow, Tweek watched as the sword came down, aiming to take his life. Hands gripped his biceps and swung him out of the way. Only a small nick on his left arm was any indication he had been in harm's way at all.

Craig kicked away the distraught man, and began sitting up. Blood covered his shirt, but Craig was ignoring it, stone-faced as he stood, sword still in hand. The men before him were both angry and afraid, shaking as they stood before him.

Tweek inspected his arm before grabbing a sword for himself, getting in a stance to fight. He needn't have bothered, the men were completely focused on Craig.

The chain was thrown again, wrapping around Craig's wrist this time. He didn't budge as the man yanked on it, instead pulling towards himself. The weapon left the attacker's hands, and swung to kill another man.

"This guy… is a monster!" Someone shouted, and Craig turned to them, growling.

"Boss? Boss!" A few of them had begun running already, but the boss was sitting down, rocking back and forth, muttering to himself. "Get a grip boss!"

Whirling, the boss fled, sprinting away.

Stunned only for a moment, the rest of the men looked to each other.

"RETREAT!" They yelled, turning from Craig and running from the town.

Tweek sunk to the ground, looking at the bodies littered around them. It's over?

"I've heard… that people exist in this world with unique powers. However, I've never met someone like you in my life." Niva sat on his plush chair, a glass of fine wine in one hand, as he spoke to his guest. "I've wanted to meet you ever since I saw you." He was smirking, watching his guest's impassive face.

"Do you like the wine? It's from Reinka." He grinned, watching the slow smirk on Eric Cartman's face.

...

"Craig?" The chain around his wrist fell to the ground, and Tweek yearned to get closer, but remembered the room, when he had yelled at him. He didn't look like he was about to fall over again, but it seemed one would never know.

Tweek watched as he grasped at his chest, and Tweek remembered the feeling of watching him get stabbed. Craig took a step, surprisingly steady on his feet. The sky was beginning to lighten, dawn was coming.

"Craig…? Ngh! Is it really okay for you ack! to be walking?" Tweek asked carefully, legs unable to get him to his feet. Adrenaline had long since faded, and Tweek was dead on his knees, the nap he had taken seemed to have been a lifetime ago.

Craig continued to ignore him, walking back in the direction of the inn. Why isn't he going to the doctor? He was stabbed in the fucking chest!

"Hey! You-- I don't know mngh the way to the doctor's from here but-- I can wake someone up and ask but you fucking shouldn't be moving! I'll get the doctor just --urk!-- waitasecond!" Tweek cried, pushing himself to his feet and jogging after Craig. His eyes were unfocused, and sweat was gathering on his brow, but he also didn't seem to be listening to Tweek at all.

"Craig stop! Doesn't it hurt? If you keep moving you'll bleed to death!" Reaching out against his better judgement, Tweek tried to stop him with his hands.

"SHUT UP!" Craig snarled, face livid and suddenly very focused.

Exactly like the room, Tweek skittered back, stumbling over an uneven cobblestone. Instantly Craig looked contrite, and sighed, shaking his head.

"I'm sorry. I should be thanking you."

"Oh! Thank you for helping, everyone." The mayor stood outside of a bustling inn, grinning at the bodies as they were carried out on stretchers. "Isn't it amazing? He got them all by himself!" He crowed, noticing how some of the bodies had arrows sticking out of them. He would have to ask that Mr. Craig later how he had managed it all.

"And there are more bodies outside." The villager said, carrying out another body.

"Mayor?" The innkeeper and his wife stood before the mayor, looking a little shaken.

"You're the innkeeper?" The mayor asked, looking them both up and down.

Nodding, the man ducked his head in shame. "I hate to bother you when you're so busy right now, but it looks like my servant, Han, was the one to let them in. We overheard the boss talking to him, and when we confronted him about it, he attacked me!"

"My husband is stronger than he looks however," His wife cut in, giggling.

"Right! Anyway, I punched him and he ran away like the coward he is!"

"Got it, we'll have people out searching for him. Let it be known he has betrayed us!" The mayor decreed.

"Oh hey, this guy is just badly wounded, where's the doctor?" A villager asked, the thief on the stretcher moaned as he turned, drawing attention.

"The doctor? Why is he here?" The mayor asked, confused.

"Oh yes, he's up with the warrior and that Tweek fellow. He came back here and his chest was all bloody, I insisted."

Craig stood with his chest bare, and Tweek couldn't stop staring. There had been a sword through him not even an hour ago, but there was only a pink scar on his breast to show for it.

What the fuck? Confused, Tweek stepped closer, trying to figure it out. The doctor seemed confused too, but not as concerned as Tweek thought he should be. Craig of course was completely blasé about it, which honestly pissed Tweek off more than it should have.

"I told you, the blood on my shirt wasn't mine." Craig sighed, crossing his arms.

The doctor looked uncomfortably from Tweek to Craig, frowning. "He was making such a fuss… it's good to check anyway. I'm very grateful you're unharmed."

Tweek stalked forward, grabbing Craig's arms and lifting them. He got close to the scar, inspecting it carefully. What the fuck? His wound is healed? The anger was fading, and Craig wasn't looking at Tweek, a light flush rising to his cheeks.

His wound is healed. And he doesn't even look sick anymore. It… it doesn't hurt anymore. He's not in pain anymore.

"I'm so glad." Tweek breathed, closing his eyes tightly, a few relieved tears escaping. His legs, which had been threatening to give out from the moment they had been discovered under that bridge, couldn't hold him anymore, and he slumped to his knees in front of Craig.

I'm so glad. More tears came, and Tweek couldn't hold back his relieved sobs, taking in deep shuddering breaths when he could. It was all so much, and Tweek was tired. Craig was safe, everyone was safe, so many of those men were dead, never to hurt them again.

The door opened, the mayor poking his head in. "Oh hey now," He cooed, coming inside. "Why is he crying?" He asked softly, moving to comfort Tweek.

The doctor held him back, watching as Craig knelt before Tweek. "I think he's just relieved. He's been worried since yesterday morning, and then he had to watch all of the fight."

Tweek breathed in deeply, the rush of oxygen making him light-headed. With a sigh, he slumped completely, surrendering himself to the darkness of the unconscious world.

"Whoa! Is he okay?" The mayor jolted, freezing when Craig cradled Tweek's limp form carefully.

"He's asleep." The doctor and mayor both looked at each other then at Craig and Tweek, a raised eyebrow on both of their faces.

"This thing has happened before. He'll use too much energy and then collapse afterwards crying." Craig explained, lifting Tweek easily into his arms. Tweek was so pliant beneath him, head lolling into Craig's chest.

His breath caught at the unguarded expression on Tweek's face. His body was still, not a twitch to be seen. He must be truly exhausted. Moving to the bed, Craig laid him out, moving the bow out of the way. A good sleep and he'll be fine.

"That's the traveling warrior that killed all those thieves?"

"He's so young!"

"I don't think he's even twenty!"

"Hey, I can't see!"

"Now, now, everybody out!" The doctor called, pushing out the curious throng of people.

Craig was lead to a separate room, one without any blood on the floor or sheets. One without a softly snoring Tweek on the bed.

"I need to rest up a little, could I use this room?" Craig asked the innkeeper.

He grinned broadly, "Of course! We can bring your things to you so that when you're ready you can get dressed properly."

"Don't, leave my bag there. I don't want Tweek freaking out thinking I left him." Craig sighed, sinking onto the bed. He wished he was Tweek right now, asleep on the bed. I wish I was with Tweek right now, sleeping in the bed together.

"Well now, I actually have some concerns regarding that young man." The mayor cleared his throat, drawing himself up to his full height.

Craig's heartbeat sped up, and he focused on the mayor, who began to look uncomfortable with confronting this issue.

"You two should remain in separate rooms. I don't think it's right for two people to stay in one room when one is clearly at a power disadvantage with not knowing our language. I don't know either of you very well, but it is obvious Tweek cares about you. I know that he might not want to be apart from you but--"

"Mayor you don't need to worry about it. He's not my type." Craig cut in, terse in his lie. He had turned from the mayor so his blush wasn't visible, but the thought of leaving Tweek all alone was almost too much for him. He couldn't do it. No matter how much he knew he would have to, not right now. He couldn't right now.

"Well that's a little rude, don't you think? He was so concerned and seems so caring too! What about him don't you like?" The mayor frowned, having to be pulled back by the doctor.

"Now, now, don't yell at him. He's still recovering." He chided, trying to get the mayor to calm down.

"But… he looks much better than he did this morning!"

"You're right, I'm in the recovery stage now." Craig sighed, sitting down on the bed. Ooooo bad idea Tucker, this bed is comfortable. "It's happened quicker than normal. Usually takes half a day more at least." If it had, I would be dead. "I'm still too weak to go after those who escaped right now, but I will after noon passes. They only have one place to go anyway. I will complete the assignment." Craig finished, sinking lower onto the bed.

The mayor and doctor nodded, and the doctor pulled the mayor out of the room. Craig settled in, getting comfortable so he could sleep for a few hours at least. Muffled voices from the other side of the door caught his attention however.

"Wait, I wasn't finished talking to him." The mayor's brash voice echoed.

"He's clearly exhausted, whatever it is, it can wait." The doctor replied, clearly done with the mayor.

A long pause, and Craig begins to drift off when his attention is caught once again by the voices.

"What? You want to take Tweek in as your own?"

"Well… he doesn't have a family right? He's just all alone?"

"I was told he was lost, and Craig was wandering by and Tweek decided to follow him. Poor thing doesn't understand a word of our language though, so we might not know the full story for a long while." The doctor replied, sighing.

"Tweek reminds me of my son. Years ago, he was in a hunting accident, and died. As the mayor, I have resources, and I can afford to take care of him. Plus, Craig is a traveling warrior, Tweek will only be a burden to him. After all, it is a hard life." A sigh, the din of other voices mingling making it harder for Craig to concentrate on their voices.

"He could have another battle like last night's at any time. They can't travel together forever."

Don't you think I know that?