Chapter 4 of 4 Posted April 23

(Yeah, four chapters at once because... I'm terrible at updating on this site. Sorry readers! Hope you enjoy - start with "Tell No Lies" for this surge. Hope you enjoy!)


:Well that took far less time than I expected!: Kari commented cheerfully, a warm pressure against Kir's back as they rode back to Cora's hometown. She was perched sideways on Aelius, holding onto the back of his saddle with one hand and Anur's shirt with another. They could have sent her back with Kari, but when they'd asked which she'd prefer, she said riding.

Kari's method of travel was a little nauseating after all.

:Agreed,: Aelius replied, tossing his head lightly. :She's an exceptionally quick study.:

:How long does it usually take?: Kir asked curiously, glancing at Anur briefly but the Herald was humming to himself, for all the world acting as though there was nothing going through his mind other than enjoying the pleasant evening. He was far better at pretending there were no mental voices in his mind than Kir was, simply in his nonchalance at the entire process. Kir could keep himself from giving away a conversation with micro-expressions, but he had to look bland and calm the entire time. Anur was entirely able to have a mental conversation while carrying on a staring contest with a cat.

He'd seen it done. Anur had lost, but that was more due to having the contest with a cat than in the mental conversation distracting him.

:Well, we study our Gifts and such for around a year, on average. That's to get control, consider ethical issues, practice range, see what our limits are – then we're turned loose and expected to make any further progress on our own. I could probably center and anchor reliably within a couple of days, have consistent shields in a week or so, but I also wasn't spending marks focused on it alone, perhaps one or two a day.:

:That's it? How could you last that long without proper shields?: Kir asked, aghast. Cora had very nearly been driven mad by the population of a village, to have had her Talent activate in a city, surrounded by people with Talents of their own making them louder – she would never have lasted.

:For one thing, that's what Companions are for,: Aelius pointed out, :For another, Anur's Gift was gradual, it didn't suddenly burst into being, and we caught it early, allowing him to build his shields while his Gift was weak and the consequences of failure weren't terrible or traumatizing.:

:Are there any Gifted in Valdemar who aren't Heralds?:

:Oh sure, Bards and Healers and some Blues, I think.:

:...anyone not sworn to the Crown?:

:Uh… probably?:

:Yes,: Aelius responded, ears flattening briefly before flicking forward again, :Those with powerful Gifts are Chosen to keep them from hurting themselves or others, or are at least shuffled into a place where they can get help. Those who just need some basics can learn from traveling Heralds or Healers or even Bards, much like we just did with Cora.:

:I didn't know that could happen,: Anur said, tone surprised and the glance he shot Aelius reflected that, :Kind of silly, I suppose, to think everyone Gifted ever was sworn to the Crown, especially with the stories – anyway. Is that why all Heralds with more common Gifts are given basic teaching-shielding training?:

:Main reason, yes. Also, when you teach something, you learn it that much better,: Aelius replied.

"Father Kir?" Cora's physical voice cut into their conversation.

"Yes, Cora?" he said mildly, guessing from her expression that this was the question she'd been trying to ask most of the day. After the basics of shielding had been explained and their afternoon had turned into a rigorous practice session, she had started casting curious glances his way only to look away the moment he caught her gaze.

It was much better to hold the eye-contact, give a smile or nod to indicate it was an accident and only then look away. Darting eyes never held restful thoughts.

She'd figure that out eventually. If she didn't, it didn't matter. No one was going to investigate her for burning, for having an out of place laugh or telling her mother to stop having hysterics.

How long, he wondered, until even Firestarters forgot what behaviors to look for?

"What are your shields based on?" she asked, "If they're not something I can do?"

Not the question she wanted to ask, Kir was certain. She surely had already guessed this answer, and sure enough, when he raised an eyebrow at her she winced, saying, "Fire, obviously. Foolish question."

"Not foolish. Just not the one you wanted to ask," Kir corrected.

"What did you hear first?" she finally burst, "I – I thought Anya was squealing about her uncle meeting Her Most Holy and when I asked what she was like Anya hadn't said anything."

Kir stilled, Riva slowing under him and Anur said sharply, "You don't need to answer that!"

His brother's hand appeared on his arm and Anur repeated, "You don't need to answer that."

His expression must have been horrifying, Cora was already apologizing, knuckles white around Anur's shirt and Kari was purring behind him, pressing harder against his back. But she deserved an answer – they all did, really. But Cora understood, in a way Anur couldn't. He hadn't lived knowing that a hint of strangeness could kill him, could ruin his family, could cast a pallor over his town. He hadn't worried that every stray bit of oddness would be the last one to escape the priests' eyes, that his sponsor would realize his fire wasn't worth his witchiness, wasn't worth his threat, and toss him to the flames.

Kir had never forgotten what it was like to live under that threat. He had never forgotten those days he had woken up and decided he was tired of it all, was going to tell Verius what he heard when they burned witch-children, and would do his best to let the flames take him.

Something had always stopped him – a chance to divert attention from a child for one more year, Jaina claiming he was the only thing that kept her sane some days, Axeli clapping his shoulder and asking if they'd see him at the forge the next day because there was some detail work they could use him for – but he had never forgotten that urge, that despair.

"I heard – screaming," Kir said, hearing his own voice as if it were from a great distance, "It was a burning, you see. I just wanted the screaming to stop."

He closed his eyes against the memories – Lukas, hands on his shoulders, his parents in front of him at the front of the crowd the careful gap surrounding them and Verius standing on the platform, triumphant at the coup he'd gain with this burning and before the fire even touched the pyre the terrible screaming -

His face was buried in Anur's shoulder, Riva and Aelius' flanks pressed against each other, Cora still whispering apologies he could barely hear over Anur's murmured reassurances that it was over, that he would never have to face that again.

Taking a shuddering breath, he nodded against Anur's neck and straightened in the saddle, Anur keeping one hand on his shoulder for the moment, clearly worried. "I'm all right," Kir murmured, Kari quieting but continuing to lean into him. Looking to Cora, he gave the pale-faced girl a faint smile and said, "I've been avoiding thinking about it for years, Cora. My apologies for frightening you."

"What are you apologizing to me for?" Cora demanded, eyes widening, "I owe you apologies, Father, I should have – I should have at least thought that it might not be so pleasant. It wasn't – it wasn't even a year ago that – that I'd have been one of the ones burning."

"No," Anur said fiercely, glancing over his shoulder at her, "Solaris' coming has been in the works for years. None have burnt since she began her Ascent, not for witch-powers. Talents. I need to work on that."

"Really?" Kir asked, memories finally subsiding for the moment at that revelation, "I hadn't realized."

"Well I hadn't either, but I checked the records last time we were in Sunhame," Anur shrugged, "It seemed something useful to know. Honestly, it would have been something I'd have held against her, if she hadn't called on us to intervene in a witch-burning she knew about."

:We dealt with it,: Kari broadcast, :As in Firecats as a whole, not we as in Hansa and I personally, though we did do a few. After her Ascent began we arranged for flights or detours or simple misdiagnoses, enough to keep them from burning.:

:Your Cat of Fire was a novel solution, Eldest, but I would have answered, had you asked,: Kari said, this time his voice to Kir alone. :I might borrow that form for a shock-and-awe mechanism in the future though, I quite liked it.:

Kir could feel the smile growing on his face and he nodded to his brother, catching Cora's eye to include her in the gesture, "I accept your apology Cora, though hold it needless. And Anur – thank you for asking after that. It is – good to know."

:And thank you Kari,: he added as Cora hesitantly asked after what Sunhame was like, and if it was true that the Temple District was open for more than pilgrimages, Anur responding with renewed cheer, though he shot concerned glances Kir's way every so often as the horses moved out again. :It never occurred to me to ask.:

:You called for me last night,: Kari replied calmly, rubbing his head between Kir's shoulder blades. :So long as I breathe, I will always come when you call – unless I'm literally in the middle of saving someone's life, but I'll at least respond.:

:How often have you been saving someone's life so urgently?:

:Well, two weeks ago, Rodri uttered the infamous words - :

:Oh no, not - :

:'In my defense,' he said, 'I didn't know that was flammable.':

:Jaina is going to kill me.:

***===***pagebreak***===***

Kir safely ensconced with Devek, explaining just what the man was walking into as the new captain of the 54th, a mild form of dream-tea in hand, check. Aelius and Riva safely settled and content, also check. Cora off with her parents, hopefully catching up on sleep with Kir's shield necklace around her neck, check. Kari a warm lump at Kir's side, under strict orders to maul or at least glare at anyone that looked at Kir sideways, check.

His uncle, sitting on a bench behind the stables and staring at the darkening sky, well out of anyone's earshot so long as they didn't shout – final check. Taking a settling breath, Anur rapped on the side of the building before he could lose his nerve, holding up two mugs of tea and saying quietly, "We need to talk, uncle."

The man's eyes tightened, but he nodded and shifted over so Anur could sit beside him, accepting his mug of tea with murmured thanks. Taking a sniff of the steam, Markov chuckled, "Your father mentioned you'd become obsessed with spice-cake. I had to figure out the Valdemaran names for some of the spices you mentioned in the recipe. I used to love this tea."

"I try to save it for when I need it," Anur replied blandly, noting his uncle wince out of the corner of his gaze.

"Yes – I – I understand. I never thought I'd see – I didn't think it was possible – nephew, is getting Gifts under control so easy? So simple? An afternoon, that's all it took, and Cora is – is functional, is fine," Markov asked, head bowed and his eyes squeezed shut, "An afternoon."

"Cora learned quickly," Anur explained, "Can take a couple of days. It's not hard, shielding. It's just tricky to anchor properly, to make sustainable. So it's better to have instruction, to make sure whatever methods you use don't sabotage you later on. Teaching yourself can go – very wrong."

"But it doesn't take years, to make a witch-power controllable. Doesn't take decades," Markov murmured.

"Depends on the Talent, and on what you mean by control," Anur pointed out, "She's shielded, she won't suffer hearing others, but she wouldn't be able to use her Talent with any precision. That takes time and practice."

He hesitated, taking a sip of tea before looking at the first few stars in the sky and asking, "What did your sister have?"

Markov snorted, "I have no idea. I was eleven and far too concerned with my own woes to pay much attention to a six year old girl who was always begging for ribbons we couldn't afford. We'd saved up to buy her an embroidered hair ribbon for the Feast of the Children that year. It burned with her."

"That's very young," Anur murmured, "It's unusual for Talents to manifest that early – if they do – she would have been very strong."

Pausing for another sip of tea, he sent his uncle a sidelong glance before saying, "Kir manifested his Firestarting Gift at seven."

"Now there's a way to put things in perspective," Markov shuddered, "The idea of a seven year old boy – of any child – having fire at their beck and call is not an easy or comfortable one."

"But Kir is different," Anur said pointedly.

"I was wrong," Markov admitted, meeting his gaze and looking so tired before turning back to his tea. "It was wrong, what I did – what I said. Not inaccurate, but – cruel. I should have trusted you, nephew, should have trusted your judgment in Dinesh as I did all else – especially after that Delilah girl had burned you so. You would have been careful, far more careful than you once were. I should have known that – I did know that but when I saw what he was – realized who you'd brought home – I was terrified."

Anur could hear the same creeping horror in his uncle's voice that echoed in Kir's voice when he spoke of screams, that Jakyr let slip when he mentioned bishra, that border people hissed when Furies were wandering.

The idea of Firestarters, of Kir, inspiring that same sort of monstrous terror was absurd to him. Seemed preposterous. But so many Karsites had shied away – would still shy away – at the sight of black-edged robes. So very many people thought of Firestarters as unreasoning monsters, as vicious, flame-hungry fanatics and had no idea that Kir would lie shaking at the thought of burning any more innocents, that Jaina had nearly killed herself when she'd realized what they'd done, that Maltin would sooner share a room with his tormentors forever than set anything living on fire.

That much terror made people do ridiculous, stupid things. That much terror had set Nichter burying a knife in Kir's ribs.

All his uncle had done – his former soldier, former priest-mage uncle – was throw words.

"Mara's named after your sister, isn't she?" he finally said, recalling some words to that affect when the girl had been born.

"Close – her name was Mariah. Jana changed it a bit to sound more like hers, make things less obvious. I – I didn't want her named Mariah. It seemed a bad omen," Markov grimaced and admitted, "Her being nearby didn't help the situation. I don't think I'll breath easy about that girl until she passes thirteen."

"Uncle Marcus, as overprotective as I remember you being, Mara is your only great-niece. You're not going to breathe easy about that girl until you're dead."

"It is such a good thing I'm already grey," the man muttered, Anur laughing quietly.

Watching more stars appear in the sky as the last of the sunlight faded, he finally said, "You're still my uncle, Markov. I don't know that I'll call you that, not if you plan to publicize your stay in Valdemar, but one day I will. It hurt, that you didn't trust me."

"I should have at least listened," Markov murmured, shoulders slumping with relief.

"Listening through terror is hard," Anur said flatly, remembering the smell of tar-fueled flames, that horrifying silence when Aelius' voice was gone, "None of us – neither of us were at our best. Kir was suffering, I was trying to help without having any idea what was even wrong, I was hurting over Delilah and then you didn't trust me – it was a bad situation all around and I couldn't tell why. If I'd known – well. I'd have at least written my friend was Karsite."

"You, communicate something potentially troublesome in a letter? Perish the thought," Markov said dryly.

"Oh shut up," Anur muttered, smiling faintly.

"We're – all right then? We can try to – work forward, at least?" Markov asked carefully, Anur considering it for a few moments but really – he'd said what he needed to. And he'd heard what he'd hoped to. There was only one thing that needed to be clarified.

"I'm going to hold a grudge because you hurt Kir," Anur shrugged, smiling ruefully, "Silly, what I said hurt him worse but – there you have it."

Markov gave an exasperated sigh, "Of course. Insult someone you care about and you hold a grudge until the end of time. Hurt you and you fall over yourself to let them close again. You forgive too easily nephew."

"Aelius says much the same," Anur admitted, the former priest barking a laugh.

"Now that the serious matters are out of the way – what did you do to make so many people hate you enough to set up curse anchor traps?" Anur demanded incredulously, waving a hand vaguely into the night, "More than two, it sounded like they were scattered all over the country! That's an immense amount of effort!"

"Thinking about it I doubt they were triggered only by me," Markov said carefully, "I would suspect that there was a – master anchor, of sorts, which they would add signatures to. Priests who fled, I would guess. It would keep anyone with high influence from making it back with word that the Outlanders weren't demons, ensure anyone who heard their words was also attacked by Furies or at least heard of their death by Furies – heretic hunters – and come back to Sunhame's version of the One Truth. With them scattered all over the country, no matter how many triggers came back there would always be another layer to stumble upon."

"Yet another thing to talk to Solaris about," Anur sighed, but refused to be diverted, "How'd you get your name on that list then? I doubt it was just by leaving. Come on! I've missed out on so many stories!"

"Not that many," Markov admitted, a rueful smile on his face, "You know most of them – remember the one with the powerful man who would kidnap beautiful girls and kill them to ensure only he had their beauty, and how an angry mother cursed him to see only the most elderly and ugly as lovely?"

"Didn't that story end with an old woman with plague letting herself get caught so he would suffer a horrific death alongside her?" Anur asked, remembering Markov's truly bizarre fire-side stories very well. They had been a key part of his childhood, along with his mother's exasperated scolding for scaring them all before bed. That one had been rather tame – Mara hadn't been the only Bellamy child terrified of Walkers.

He'd asked to be cremated long before he ever knew a word of Karsite.

"That's how I hope the story ended, but I don't actually know, he hadn't died by the time I fled," Markov shrugged, Anur choking on his tea and spluttering.

"Those stories were all real?" he demanded, wide-eyed, "What the – uncle! What did the elderly and ugly ever do to you? How does that make the situation better – what? Why would you – how did you even do that?"

"The story is lacking details," Markov rolled his eyes, "The angry mother was a brothel owner in Sunhame, the powerful man was a priest named Lastern. He had an eye for pretty youths, boys or girls he didn't much care. He took one of hers, and he was on my list. We made an agreement – I arranged for enchanted jewelry, basic things, that made whoever wore it lovely and eye-catching. She found people – the old, the ill, whoever the bastard would find abhorrent, and offered to pay their families or loved ones for their loss. It was all consensual on their part, and just imagining Lastern's face when the enchantments broke once he achieved completion made all the effort worth it."

"I think you and I have very different ideas of what consensual means," Anur said, deeply disturbed, before remembering where he'd heard that name and choking again, though on air this time. "Lastern? As in the former Son of Sun Lastern?"

"He did get the job then?" Markov sighed, "I had heard rumblings of a change in Sunhame when I left – I'd hoped he'd disgraced himself enough to no longer be considered for the job."

:On one level, I want to introduce him to Seras. On another level, I think it would be a terrible, terrible idea,: Anur told Aelius.

:You should definitely introduce them,: Aelius said, sounding fascinated, :Imagine – there'd be no quicker way to clear a room! This explains a lot about people hating your uncle so much though.:

:Oh I really hope he wasn't the protagonist of all those stories,: Anur thought, feeling faintly nauseated.

:Well he couldn't have been the protagonist of that nice one he told about Rolan and the Lost Companion… wait a minute – Anur, did he intentionally retell the story of Reulan and Char with a Companion?:

"Oh sweet stars you turned a Firecat into a Companion?" Anur hissed incredulously, remembering the story Aelius was citing very well. He'd heard it for the first time his second winter home after being Chosen and had found it a fun story without the creepy elements most of Marcus' stories had – he'd just figured with Lilah his only younger audience Marcus had started thinking up nicer stories. Lilah had scared easily.

He'd even noticed similarities when Kir had told him the story of Reulan and Char in full, had even guessed that it was some retelling of a Karsite tale in Valdemaran terms but he'd have never thought his uncle had started it!

"Nephew, I used up all of my creativity figuring out ways to extract vengeance," Markov said frankly, "Evey story I told you was either my own experiences or a Karsite tale modified for the audience. I didn't retell any of the apocryphal stories about Firecats because there was no Valdemaran equivalent – not until I started to actually accept that those horses weren't evil. I didn't even let myself think about that until after you had been taken and I was forced to."

"...what about the one with the plague of rats that besieged a cook-hall and the only way people could escape was by hiding in barrels and rolling out over them, leaving squished rats lining the streets?"

"That was a little more heavily metaphorical - "

"Did you or did you not squish people by rolling barrels over them!"

"No, no, it was rats, but the cook-hall was actually..."

***===***pagebreak***===***

"I've heard some of those rumors," Kir said the next morning, looking as disturbed as Anur felt. "Your uncle is a very – strange man."

"He's crazy nearly to the same degree as Seras, I agree," Anur said frankly, "With some questions – all his targets were more deserving than Seras' were towards the end, but his attacks were a lot more involved and a lot more specific – there was a lot more personal investment in his, Seras seemed to consider it a job, more than anything. Figured out the most efficient way to get it done. Marcus – he thought of it like a calling."

:Very different from Seras then. He never considered it a passion – most of the incidents he's confessed to me were rather methodically and logically thought out. It wasn't until he'd grown complacent in his duty that he started making decisions based more on personal preferences and his feelings than the actual threat level of the individual in question,: Kari said, sitting beside Kir. Anur felt fully justified in keeping these revelations from Kir until the next day, and Kari sticking to Kir's side like glue was only confirming it.

Neither of them had slept well, even with Kari sprawled across their legs. He didn't want to think about how bad the night would have gone without the Firecat's presence.

"Whereas Markov has admitted he was motivated mostly by hatred. I – don't know how I feel about him telling you those stories as a child. I don't know that I like the idea of him telling those stories to Mara or Marco and Josef," Kir admitted, picking his saddle-bags up from the floor of the room they'd shared. There wasn't an official inn in town, just people who offered spare rooms. They had stayed in Olerus' small home, in the room intended for visiting priests. Marcus had stayed with another family.

He and Olerus apparently used to work together in various Sunhame-thwarting enterprises, but had butted heads over means and motives and methods too often to ever actually consider each other more than inconvenient allies they wouldn't risk their own necks to save but would probably spit on if they were on fire.

The threats of evisceration weren't serious though, they claimed.

"Knowing that most of them are real?" Anur shuddered, grabbing his own bags and standing, "I just thought he told good scary stories, didn't have an idea of appropriateness being a soldier most of his life – thought it was – wow, I don't think I know how I feel about it either. I don't think I can hear them again without shuddering."

"Do you think your parents..."

"Ma didn't, she was angry enough at him telling us some of those stories. If she had any idea he'd actually done or seen some of those things? No, I don't think she'd find them remotely entertaining. Da? I don't – I don't know. He might have some idea but probably not – details."

"More to discuss with Solaris – is it going to be a continuing problem?" Kir finally asked the most important question and Anur shook his head, having spent more than a little time feeling his uncle out over this issue in addition to asking him directly.

"No he's – he admits that he overstepped a few times – ha, a few try every time ever – and doesn't think it's his place to enforce anything on Solaris' regime besides. I don't think he plans on staying long either," Anur admitted, "If that changes we might need to have someone keep an eye on him. I'm toying with the idea of introducing him to Seras – since they both admit to having overstepped having someone else in the same situation might help?"

:Or at least give them someone to stay on track with,: Kari offered, but he sounded rather hesitant, tail lashing at the air as he padded out the door after them.

"We can ask Solaris for suggestions I suppose – and perhaps Jaina, she's worked with Seras longer," Kir said dubiously.

"Aelius did point out that it would probably be the fastest way to clear a room," Anur pointed out, Kir snickering at the idea and he couldn't help but smile himself. People would be running off to choke down bile, he was sure, but it would clear the room.

More horrifying was the worry that it might not.

"Come on then," Kir sighed, glancing around in the early morning light. Most people had gone about their day's work after the Ascending Service was over – but Anur suspected Kir was just keeping an eye out for Cora and her family. They'd managed to avoid interacting with her parents the previous day since they'd arrived late enough Cora had been dragging, and Kir was probably hoping that would last up to their departure. "We'd best get to the horses and make sure Olerus and Markov haven't murdered each other."

:I'd have noticed murder. Maiming, on the other hand - :

"Right, fair point," Anur said hastily, lengthening his stride.

They had made it through the Ascending service, had gotten their horses ready, and literally all that remained was attaching their saddle-bags and riding off. If Markov or Olerus did something to delay their departure – delay their chance to get to a traveler's chapel and sleep for a day or two – they wouldn't have to worry about killing each other, Anur would kill them himself.

When they reached the stables, Devek was standing with Markov and their horses, Olerus nowhere in sight. Anur didn't bother to hide his sigh of relief and just shook his head at the glances the pair shot him, saying, "I was worried something else had come up. That's a hint, Koshiro."

The new captain laughed, shaking his head, "No need to worry. I have nothing else to delay your departure to Sunhame."

"On second thought," Kir began, Anur scoffing at him as he secured his bags to Aelius' saddle.

"On second thought – no!" Anur insisted, "Sunhame is crowded, fine. Sunhame has politics, fine. You know what else Sunhame has? Other people to deal with anchored mage-traps. And spice-cake."

"Well there's the selling point," Koshiro snorted, offering a salute to Kir and accepting his blessing gesture with a smile. "I'll make sure to avoid invading Valdemar."

"You're already off to a better start than Coronad," Kir assured him, "Be careful with Tehan, you need him on your side."

"I remember, Father. Thank you – for the advice, and for helping Cora, both of you."

"It's… not something I ever thought I'd have the chance to do," Kir said, choosing his words carefully, "But I am glad to have done it."

"Safe journeys, you three. Try not to get eaten by Nightstalkers," Devek offered dryly, the three of them finally mounting up. "I'll make sure to tell the 62nd that I saw you safely off."

"Safe travels yourself, Captain," Anur offered a deliberately proper salute, grinning at Devek's automatic return gesture before he realized just who was offering him said salute and choking.

He had to get all his teasing of those in-the-know in before Midsummer, after all.

They returned the few acknowledgements they got riding out, Markov quiet and subdued but that was hardly unusual. His uncle wasn't a morning person – growing up in a land with mandatory dawn services must have been rough. Anur sympathized entirely. There was no sign of Cora and her family though, and Anur was a little saddened by that.

He liked the girl, unfortunate choice in questions aside.

But when they rode past the fields, a distant figure straightened and waved at them – two taller figures nearby doing the same, though with less enthusiasm. Anur laughed quietly and stood in his saddle to return the gesture, Kir simply raising his hand.

:Thank you, Holiness. The Sunlord smiles upon you,: Cora's voice was uneven – louder and then fading before growing near deafening again – but there. There, and strong, and nothing to be afraid of hearing.

:Sunlord protect and guide,: Kir replied, and there was none of his usual shakiness, at an unfamiliar mental voice. None of the faint horror, the rippling undertones of nightmares soon to come that Anur had heard after the first times he'd spoken with Kir, the times Aelius had piped in uninvited – when Kari and Hansa had spoken, Holy nature aside.

They had helped Cora, certainly. But she had also helped them.


A/N: And... the story is finished! Wahoo! Next up, the one you've all been waiting for - Kir Sees His Family! (Currently titled: Reunion Arc (but not really, better title in the works) In progress, hopeful update time - June-ish.)