Chapter 4

A faint, pained cry startled both Somnus and Noctis as they attempted to draw on a few sheets of papers they were given. There wasn't much else to do, the toys in this room not catching their interest. All were more for toddlers and maybe Somnus and Noctis might have loved something like them years ago but not anymore. The boys were nine now and they didn't enjoy alphabet blocks and ride-on cars were now too small for them to sit comfortably on.

Ardyn had left his charges in a room with a guard while he was stuck in a meeting. It was to be one of many over the next two days. The family of three were all in Lestallum so Ardyn could attend them. It wasn't the first time they had to do something like this. Somnus and Noctis knew other adults would come to talk to them soon. They were going to ask many questions about Ardyn and how he was raising them. The boys didn't really understand why they but they answered as honestly as they could.

It wasn't very fun for them right now but both children knew that would come later. It wasn't often they left their house to travel. The last time they'd come to Lestallum had been almost three months ago. The city was amazing to them because of this. It was so very different from their house, which was rather secluded and surrounded by greenery. They still lived in a city but farther away from the general population. Lestallum was full of so many different people, food and wares. Ardyn always took them to see the sights whenever they had to visit.

Somnus and Noctis would happily bear their time in this room, anticipating when they would be able to leave with their guardian.

Ardyn didn't seem very happy about it unlike his boys. He'd been muttering not so very nice things about the adults he was to meet with the entire trip here. The ride was nice, Somnus and Noctis sleeping most of the time in the back seat. Bamut the lizard plush was strapped into the front seat, Ardyn giving it a glare like he always did every now and then.

After they made it to Lestallum, the family immediately headed into a large elaborate building. Somnus and Noctis had been escorted into a small room to play while their guardian attended his first meeting of the day. The boys had set Bamut on the table and asked for pencils and paper instead after looking over the toys they were given.

Ardyn had been gone only a scant half hour when there had been a strange sound from outside.

The two boys looked behind them towards the guard at their door. He didn't look that old to the children. They thought he'd been a teenager at first but they were told he was going to keep an eye on them. The young man looked as confused as the boys felt.

"Excuse me, kiddos. I'll be right back," the guard said with a smile that left his face as soon as he turned around. He opened the door cautiously and poked his head outside to glance around. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, he left the room, making sure to shut the door behind him. The heavy metal door clicked as it was locked and the boys were left alone.

Somnus and Noctis began to feel a bit of anxiety as they watched the guard leave.

"Do you think someone is hurt?" Somnus asked softly, feeling the need to whisper rather than speak in his normal voice. He wasn't sure why he was feeling anxious already. It had just been a sound.

"I don't know. The voice sounded like it was," Noctis answered, still staring at the door.

"Should we go look?" Somnus then asked, getting up from his chair. Noctis hesitated. He was curious as well but...

"Ardyn will be mad if we leave this room. He told us not to wander," Noctis reminded him. It was true. Ardyn always firmly told his charges they were not allowed to wander around without him.

"Oh, yeah," Somnus frowned but sat back down in his seat. He tried to go back to his drawing as he waited for the guard to return. They'd just ask him if something happened.

But the guard didn't come back. It felt like a long time too. He said he'd be right back after all. The boys began to worry as they sat there. They kept looking towards the door instead of their half-finished drawings before him.

"He's been gone a while," Noctis finally spoke.

"Yeah… Do you think everything is okay?" Somnus asked. Was Ardyn okay? Was something happening? He wished the adults would tell kids if something was wrong. Ardyn usually told them things other adults wouldn't but even he kept things from them.

"I hope so," Noctis said softly, "maybe we should text Ardyn?"

Both Somnus and Noctis had phones but they were rarely allowed to use them at home. They had free reign on them only when they were staying over at one of their Uncle's houses. Last time they'd stayed over at Uncle Gladio's house. He had a daughter named Amaryllis who was only two years younger than them and a son named Valerian who was only a year old. They had been nice to play with even if Amaryllis just talked about how much she wanted to be like Auntie Iris and Valerian just tried to chew on everything.

Ardyn would allow his charges their phones during these times to make sure he could contact them and vice versa. He always reminded them to call him if they ever felt something was wrong.

Noctis pulled out his phone and looked at it, a little unsure if he should bother Ardyn. These meetings were supposed to be important and he didn't know if anything was really wrong at all so he could be overreacting.

"Should I call him?" Noctis asked his brother.

"... I don't know," Somnus responded, also unsure of what they should do, "but I wish he was here."

Ardyn always knew what to do and whenever they were afraid. He could always make things better. Noctis made his decision then. He unlocked his phone and dialed a number. Instead of his guardian's comforting voice though, all Noctis was met with was static. He tried again but there was no other sound.

"Can you try yours?" Noctis asked, the anxiety from before now growing in intensity. Somnus did, not saying a word but there was worry clear on his face. His phone too let out only static.

Just then, multiple sounds of booted feet stomped towards them. One set was much closer than the others. Something slammed into their door, causing both Somnus and Noctis to flinch in their seats.

"Help! Intruders!" The panicked voice of the guard came from behind the door he was trying to protect.

"Shut him up!" Another, more sinister voice, hissed. There were several thumps and then the sound of something heavy dropping to the ground.

Somnus and Noctis jumped up, their chairs almost falling in their haste.

"Come on," Somnus, with a panicked expression on his face, grabbed his brother's hand and pulled him towards the only viable hiding spot in the room. Noctis grabbed Bamut from the table and allowed his brother to lead him to a small little closet the toys had once been held in. It was all they could do, the window having metal bars across it.

Both boys huddled inside the closet, wrapping their arms around one another and holding each other tight. They prayed for Ardyn to save them as they shuddered in fear. Somnus and Noctis could hear voices outside but they were muffled so they could not understand what was being said. A short time later, the boys heard a click as the door was unlocked.

The children heard several sets of footsteps and then a voice, "they're here somewhere. Grab them and let's get the hell out."

The voice was masculine and gravelly, barking out orders to whoever else was in the room. Somnus and Noctis realized these people were here for them, though they could not understand why. Whatever the reason, these were kidnappers they were facing.

"Yes, sir," a male and female voice responded in tandem. The boys held each other tighter as they heard the intruders searching the room. There wasn't much to search and so it didn't take long for them to be found.

The door to the closet was ripped open and Somnus and Noctis let out a yell of terror.

"Found them!" A tall woman in dark clothes announced, "I'll grab one and you get the other. Quickly now!"

"Ardyn!" Both boys screamed, crying out for their guardian as the woman grabbed Noctis. Bamut fell to the ground where he was dropped by Noctis. Somnus held onto his brother, refusing to let go and both boys were pulled out of the closet roughly. Another man grabbed Somnus and tried to pull him away from Noctis.

"Shut up and let go!" The female snarled, smacking Somnus hard across the face to try and make him. The young boy didn't and let out another scream that Noctis echoed and only tightened his grip. He might have been hurting his brother but he was too terrified to let him go. The woman's eyes narrowed eyes at the boys and raised her hand again.

But instead of striking the boy, the female kidnapper let out a curse when she felt something furry latch onto her hand bite down deeply. She swung her arm and whatever attacked her fell to the ground. Holding her bleeding hand against her, she was startled to find some kind of odd creature in front of her.

"Is that some kind of mutated fox?" the woman snarled, seeing the odd pale blue creature looking at her with teeth bared. There was blood on its mouth, hers. Her companion shrugged, still holding onto a struggling Noctis.

Both Somnus and Noctis recognized the creature. It was Carbuncle, a fox from their dreams. They thought it strange that the both of them dreamt of the same fox but passed it off as a coincidence. Seeing the fox for real now, the children could not deny something magical was involved. They knew Ardyn had magic but he didn't use it around them all that often. He did tell his charges they would likely have magic one day too but the boys had yet to manifest it.

Suddenly, a strange feeling began to emanate around the room. Both Somnus and Noctis could feel it but it seemed the kidnappers could not. They did not notice anything amiss, intent on the fox and the boys.

"Shoot it," the leader, a large bulky man that was even bigger than Gladio, commanded. He'd hoped they would not cause too much of a scene as they grabbed these kids but it was too late for quiet now. They needed to get out of here quickly before anyone else arrived. They could even take the mutated fox's corpse with them. It might make a nice fluffy pair of gloves.

Before anything else could happen, the intruders froze when a white light blinded them. Then, in a shower of sparks and a burst of blue light, a man in blue armor appeared in the center of the room. His entire body was covered in metal like a some kind of knight. The children and the intruders froze, not understand what they were seeing.

The armoured man took care of the kidnappers within moments.

Only by raising a hand, the bodies of the men and woman were blasted back with a wave of electricity. The kidnappers slammed into the walls and slumped onto the ground. A dent was left on the wall from the force of the attack. No doubt the intruders were left with a few broken bones each. Even if they were quite hurt, the were not dead, only left unconscious to face whatever consequences they deserved.

Even as dangerous as the armoured man seemed, both Somnus and Noctis rushed to him. There was a feeling of safety with him. They grabbed a hold of his metal armor and held on tightly. The man didn't move and offered no words or gesture of comfort. Perhaps he was unsure how to respond to the fear and embrace of these children. Carbuncle sat down beside the three, chirping little comforting sounds.

When two more people came through the doors, both children screamed as they did not know if they were threats. When their savior and Carbuncle did not move, they calmed down a little. The newcomers seemed stunned at whatever had happened in the room. They did not approach the intimidating looking man in the center who they could tell should not be messed with.

The armored man disappeared when Ardyn burst through the door. He looked frantic and terrified, two expressions his charges rarely saw on his face. The only other times he'd worn such expressions was when he awoke from some nightmares that he never explained to the boys no matter their prying. They never liked seeing him like that.

"Ardyn!" Both Somnus and Noctis tearfully cried out his name and rushed to him now. Their guardian glanced around seeing the fallen men before kneeling down to grab them in a fierce hug. If it was a little too tight, the boys didn't mention it.

Ardyn and the boys left Lestallum that day, Carbuncle and Bamut in tow. Their guardian swept them up and paid no mind to anyone as they immediately went to their car and drove off. The children heard Ardyn yelling into his phone when they stopped for gas and some food. Ardyn let his charges order whatever they wanted today, something he did rarely as he did not like junk food.

The boys offered some of their meals to Carbuncle and he nibbled on some of Noctis's unfinished fries and Somnus's cookies. Normally, the children would have easily finished but they didn't feel that hungry today. The feeling of anxiety hadn't left them either. All Somnus and Noctis wanted to do was go home.

Ardyn didn't stray far from his charges and both boys kept their eyes on him as he spoke on his phone. Carbuncle chirped and rubbed up against them but he could do little to cheer up the children.

As they began to drive again, Somnus absentmindedly rubbed his face where he had been hit. It still hurt a little even hours later. Ardyn noticed the movement from his rearview mirror and realized there was the start of a bruise forming on the child's face.

"Did they hurt you?" Ardyn asked, a strange note to his voice. Somnus stiffened, not expecting the question but nodded. The car slowed to a stop and both boys could see that Ardyn's hands had tightened on the steering wheel. It seemed he was about to turn the car around. Instead he inhaled and let out a deep breath.

A car honked behind them but passed them by. Eventually, Ardyn began to drive again, still heading back to their home.

"I'll take care of that the next time we stop alright?"

"Okay," Somnus nodded not saying anything else. Neither he nor Noctis had been talking very much. Both felt like they would begin crying if they did so they remained mostly silent.

The three didn't stray far from one another after the incident in Lestallum. Ardyn refused to let them out of his sight and the boys didn't want to stay out of it anyway. He went with them outside when they wanted to play and they in turn quietly played near him when he relaxed on his favourite chair.

The children felt safe with Ardyn and scared without him. They tried to find things to keep their minds off of what had happened but it was hard. Somnus and Noctis tried to play some games, watch TV and read but their minds were not focused on any of it. They kept thinking about what might have happened if the kidnappers had taken them.

Ardyn told his charges not to worry. The three men and women that tried to take of them had been caught as well as everyone else involved. He'd said their Uncle Ignis had made sure that he'd gotten them all. There was an odd smile on his face as he said this. When asked how he was sure, Ardyn simply told them that their Uncle Ignis had his ways and would say no more.

All of their uncles and aunties came to see the boys. They could hear Ardyn and them talking in hushed whispers about something that they didn't want Somnus and Noctis to overhear. But even so, the children could see that sometimes Ardyn would get mad and other times that his guests did.

Occasionally, their uncles even stayed over. Even the ones that didn't seem to like Ardyn like Uncle Gladio.

For a few weeks after, the boys slept in Ardyn's bed, refusing their own. When Somnus and Noctis had a nightmare, Ardyn would comfort them until they'd calmed down. And when Ardyn had his own, the boys tried their best to comfort him too. Bamut was clutched by one of the boys at all times during these weeks. Ardyn didn't even say anything about the toy that was brought to bed with them all.

It took awhile for things to become normal again but they did. Slowly, Somnus and Noctis began to get over the trauma they faced. And so did Ardyn, allowing his charges their space and even letting them stay over at other people's houses again. Ardyn told them they wouldn't be going back to Lestallum for those meetings anymore as well. Both children were a little sad but their guardian promised that they would still go to visit in the future.

Things were okay again and Somnus and Noctis could only hope they stayed that way. It was a bit of a relief to know that they had so many people on their side like their uncles and aunties, Carbuncle and even the armoured man. With this knowledge the boys understood whatever trouble they faced, they could rely on them as well as their guardian.