A/N - Still alive!

I am so, so sorry for the long delay, but the story is still going. I think this might actually be one of the longest chapters I've done so far. Fair warning though, this chapter is very wordy and most of it is dialogue.

But, that's enough from me. Happy Reading everyone.

music options :

Final Fantasy XV OST "Up For The Challenge" (1) (-1)

FinalFantasy XV OST "Safe Haven" (2) (-2)

Kingdom Hearts OST "The Silent Forest" (3) (-3)

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Wings Of Freedom

Chapter 31

-x-

One week after Roy's return from Wall Rose, the wind whistled peacefully through the leave of the treehouse as the afternoon sun, shown through the windows onto the training ring…

CLANG!

(1)

…where master and students did battle.

Eren deflected Wyvern with a grunt of exertion before swinging his own magically blunted blade at Roy, who simply sidestepped the attack and used the momentum of Eren's parry to launch another swing at his opponent.

Eren leaned back as far as he could without falling, with a strained look on his face as his eyes tracked the blade and his now enhanced hearing picked up on it's subtle song as it sliced the air, mere inches from his face.

Roy was mildly surprised by the limber and impressive movement of his student, who quickly seized the opportunity to jump strait back with all his might, propelling him far away from Roy. Farther then Eren himself expected and much faster and he clumsily rolled to his feet but quickly had to block as he heard Roy moving in quickly, causing another clang to resonate through the tree.

Eren grunted and strained with effort as he held the deadlock as best he could against Roy, who was barely putting any effort into it as he slowly pushed the boy back "not bad, your strength and intuition are improving dramatically" Roy complimented his student, who had been enduring his attacks for going on half an hour now, while even getting in a few hits of his own on occasion "but you're still unbalanced and blocking with the edge of your sword too much!" he instructed while using his leverage against the edge of the blade, knocking it aside and Eren further off balance.

Eren grunted in frustration and pain as he felt the air leave his lungs, upon the blunted edge of Wyvern knocking him to the ground "avoid blocking with the edge as much as you can, otherwise you'll just chip your blade and put yourself at a disadvantage" Roy explained as the boy lay there stunned for a moment before rolling back to his feet and hold his bruised side.

Just then, Roy suddenly had to dodge and parry as Mikasa charged in with a few bruises of her own already and Armin moved to help Eren with a little healing magic while Mikasa kept Roy occupied.

Normally Roy would fight them one on one, rather then in a group, but given their current situation and how well the kids already knew each other, he figured it would be good to work on teamwork.

A decision he was regretting as Mikasa hounded him, only to be fallowed up by a freshly healed Eren shortly after, thanks to Armin's freakishly absurd talent for magic, of which Roy had allowed to be used in this little mock battle.

Roy actually grunted with some effort as he worked to hold off both Eren and Mikasa's attacks, while fighting off Armin's assault on his mind. It was actually proving to be a challenge, in spite of how green they still were, what with Mikasa's insane abilities and Eren's rapidly increasing strength and reflexes.

So, knowing he couldn't get a beat on Mikasa, he targeted Eren, sweeping his feet out from under him while simultaneously dodging the boy's thrust and deflecting Mikasa's swing. He then kicked Eren into Mikasa, which naturally threw her off balance and redirected her attention from Roy, allowing the Rider to dash for Armin, who was getting frighteningly close to braking into his mind and making his actions sluggish.

Armin's eyes widened as Roy closed the distance between them quickly and he yelped as Roy easily broke his guard "never leave your support unguarded without reason" Roy told them as he struck Armin with what would have been a fatal wound if the fight were real.

Armin collapsed to the ground with exhaustion and groaned with a combination of pain and frustration. Now, with Armin eliminated, Roy no longer felt his mental defenses being challenged and could think freely. And it was a good thing too, as two swords came at him from high and low.

Roy managed to parry Eren's overhead slash but he was still grazed on the side my Mikasa's thrust, forcing him to hop back and go on the defensive again.

Roy panted for breath as the two came at him relentlessly. A tactic that only worked now because Eren and Mikasa were working together, but they still lacked the cohesive movements born of years of practice and battle together, so Roy quickly found openings to exploit and he managed to stun Mikasa with a swift kick and go on the offensive against Eren, knocking the boy's blade aside and going in for the killing blow.

Eren saw the strike coming and knew he couldn't avoid it, and so instead focused all his effort into getting one last strike in and managed to get a good slash at Roy's side as he knocked Eren out of the fight.

Roy had no time to recover from his bruised side or criticize/praise Eren on his mistakes and sacrifice though, as a less then pleased Mikasa nearly got a good hit on his shoulder why in the world did I let Mikasa fight with them again? he asked himself sarcastically as he dodged and blocked the girl's strikes before sending a few blows of his own, which she too parried. Roy had seriously considered not letting all three of them fight together against him, because they might actually be able to win, simply by Mikasa being there and not having Roy's full attention on her.

But, that would kind of defeat the prepose of the whole exercise, and so he focused what was left of his strength on taking down Mikasa, and without the others to distract him, he quickly found enough openings to strike at her and bring her down with one final sweeping strike, knocking her blade aside and allowing him to quickly thrust his sword right at her, stopping just short of the finishing blow to her chest.

(-1) (2)

Silence filled the room for a moment before Mikasa finally fell on her rump with an exhausted sigh while the others moaned in pain and exhaustion. Even Roy had to put a hand on his knee to hold himself steady as his sword arm fell limp and he too panted for air "damn it, you kids are a pack of little monsters" Roy said breathlessly, fallowed by a chuckle as he straightened up and ran a hand through his hair that still had some blond at the ends but was slowly returning to red as it grew out and he trimmed it. Roy quickly wiped the sweat from his hand before offering it to Mikasa, who accepted it and he pulled the girl back to her feet "we still got our buts handed to us" she replied with a wince as she rubbed her bruised arm.

Roy just laughed lightly in response as they helped Eren and Armin get back on their feet "no seriously. Even back with the order, I've never seen anyone develop in skill and strength so fast, and the fact that the three of you together could give me pause like that, even with all the flaws I saw, is a testament to your growth" Roy praised them and the kids likewise beamed with pride, even as they nursed their bruises "well, you can't exactly call our development normal when compared to other Riders" Armin pointed out while gesturing Eren and Mikasa.

While Mikasa did indeed seam to be showing more emotion as time went on, her unnatural skill and strength showed no signs of diminishing so far, and Eren's abilities all around only continued to develop at an accelerated rate with Armin beginning to show some signs as well, just a little slower then Eren.

Speaking of accelerated development, Eren had opted to have his facial features remain human while his ears evened out, and Armin and Mikasa went ahead and had the spell applied to them as well, keeping them appearing human. Roy was just glad Thalia had been there when the spell was applied to him, that way he could recreate it from her perfect memory.

Roy pondered the kids development for a moment before replying "true enough, I suppose. But it doesn't change the fact that you three together can keep up with me for a while. It means we're making good progress" he said and the kids couldn't help but feel pride in their achievement "that being said, you still got a ways to go. Like I said, there were plenty of flaws I was able to exploit back there. Chief among them is your ability to work cohesively together. You're all off to a good start, but with time and practice, you should be able to coordinate your efforts together without having to say anything and keep your opponents locked down so they can't brake though and pick you off one by one like I did" Roy explained and was proud to see them hungrily take in his criticism and learn from it turns out teaching isn't so bad once you get the hang of it Roy thought.

The group's thoughts were interrupted by a muffled crash and Armin and Eren both winced a little, as if they had been hit. They all then moved to the entrance to the tree and looked down to see their Dragons on the ground, sparing with Thalia, ignored by any Titans that might wonder by. Though the same couldn't be said for the Titans themselves, as a few were still cut down or burnt to ash by the Dragons occasionally.

Said Dragons were quickly growing in size, though Mikasa's Dragons were still a little too young to participate in the sparing and instead observed as Scarlett and Armin's Dragon clawed and snapped at Thalia, who easily avoided and blocked their attacks and retaliated in kind.

Roy noticed Eren and Armin wincing every now and then and alternating rubbing or scratch at their arms and shoulders. No doubt a sympathetic response to the cuts and bruises their Dragons were receiving. Roy got it too every now and then but not often. Still, it was obvious, even from up high in the tree, that the Dragons were improving, just maybe not as fast as their Riders.

Eren winced as Scarlett took a particularly bad hit "man, Dragons train hard" he commented as they watched the sparring match from on high "if you think this is intense, you should see wild Dragons teaching their young. Now that is the definition of intense training" Roy said with a chuckle as they watch their Dragons finish up their match and Thalia gave them a few words of advice before calling it and flying back up to the tree with the others in tow, though she did have to help Mikasa's Dragons a little, to get back up.

Everyone backed up to make way for the Dragons, and as they got closer, Eren and Armin could feel their partners' fatigue add to their own as the Dragons landed with a loud thud and heavy breathing "hay, how are you guys doing?" Eren asked as he ran up to embrace his partner along with the others.

Scarlett purred in response, in spite of her fatigue "my pride is the only thing wounded today Eren" she answered but Eren frowned at her before shifting his gaze to the slightly bleeding gashes in her scales. It was nothing major but it was definitely noticeable.

Scarlett noticed her partner's gaze and his feelings on the matter and she snorted before puffing smoke in his face "please, this is nothing. I'd be even more ashamed if a few scratches could put me down" she rumbled.

Eren sighed in response "I know, but still…" he trailed off. His attention was quickly drown to his friend though, as he heard Armin humming as if responding to someone talking to him, while examining his own Dragon's cuts and bruises "oh come on, you weren't bad. Besides, you still got lots of growing to do" Armin replied to his Dragon's silent words.

Eren looked to the green Dragon with mild frustration as he continued to converse with his Rider. In spite of all the time that had passed, the Dragon still refused to speak with anyone other then Armin. The kids had actually been a little worried at first, but Roy and Thalia assured them that it was actually normal for Dragons to not talk to anyone other then their Rider for a long time, and according to Armin, the Dragon had said something along the lines of not wanting to talk to them until his vocabulary was more then broken, three word sentences. Eren was getting a little tired of waiting though. He wanted to know what was so special about his voice that it made Armin react the way he did.

Eren sighed as he turned his attention back to his own Dragon. He would just have to be patient.

Meanwhile, Roy stood apart from the group, observing them with Thalia "so, how did things go on your end?" Roy asked and Thalia seamed to puff out her chest a little with pride "they are improving very well, my hatchling in particular is improving at a fast rate" she replied with pride.

Roy chuckled in response "sure that's not just your bias opinion talking" he teased and received a face full of smoke for his troubles "what of your students?" Thalia asked, redirecting the conversation away from her.

Roy sighed as he dusted the soot from his hair but let her redirection slide as he looked upon his students with a smile "very good. It's actually kinda terrifying how fast their picking this up…but then again, I guess that's only natural after what they've been through" Roy answered with a bit of concern at the end. It hadn't escaped his noticed that they still had nightmares often and they almost always buried themselves in their training when they did, to help distract form their trauma. But then again, Roy would have been a hypocrite if he thought he was doing any better. The elder Rider had been doing the exact same thing since arriving here. Roy shook that thought from his head and made his way to the Dragons to help with healing.

As Roy began quickly attending to their cuts and bruises, Armin to note and grew a pondering expression "hay Roy, I've been meaning to ask you something" he said and Roy turned his gaze to the boy as he healed "yah, what is it?" he asked and Armin rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly "well, you've always said you were bad at magic, but you know a ton of spells and have taught us all a lot" he pointed out.

Roy blinked a few times with surprise, then he started chuckling "you noticed that huh?" he said with a smile and a shake of his head "it's true that I struggle with magic, but it mostly lies in the actual casting of it. With the energy required and comprehending complex spells. My master, when I was training, noticed this and had me devote a great deal of my studies to refining what magic I was capable of, to perfection. Like a smith striking a blade to remove the impurities. As a result, I can cast all the basic spells competently, just not repeatedly or frequently. I can also at least understand the more advanced spells and counter them, even if I lack the skill to cast them myself" he explained.

The other kids quickly took interest in the story "who was your teacher back then?" Eren asked and Roy took a deep breath as he finished up his healing. It was an odd combination of things Roy felt at that moment. He still felt the grief but it was starting to give way to nostalgia more, as time went and he spent more time with his students "at first it was a scholarly woman by the name of Lilith Sarasdaughter. She was a very kind woman. Had a reputation for bending the rules. Later though, when she determined that my talent for the sword needed better attention, she sent me to train with an Elven Rider named Oromis for a short time. Now he couldn't have been any more different from Lilith. No-nonsense and by the book, but I adjusted quickly. I was used to following the rules even before I was a Rider…even if it was just so I could brake them later" Roy explained with a bit of a smirk towards the end.

(-2)

Eren hummed in thought at that "then, what was your life like before becoming a Rider?" he asked innocently. Everyone else stiffened a little though. They had forgotten that Eren was the only one who didn't have any idea as to what Roy's life was like before. Not that they actually knew themselves, but they knew enough to guess that Roy's life wasn't pleasant.

Armin cleared his throat a little "i-it doesn't really matter w-" Armin was interrupted by Roy placing a hand on his shoulder and giving him a thankfully expression "it's alright Armin. By now I know pretty much everything about all of you…but I've yet to really tell my story…" he trailed off a little before giving a sigh "it's not really fair to any of you…and I think I can tell it now" he said as Thalia walked over to him and hummed sadly.

Eren was starting to feel like he had just put his foot in his mouth, but the cat was already out of the bag as Roy took a deep breath "Armin and Mikasa already know some of this. Enough to know that my life before being a Rider was basically a living hell" Roy began and Eren really started feeling guilty, but he still found himself listening intently as Roy lead them to sit down by the fireplace.

(3)

Roy stretched out his limbs as he sat down and then leaned forward on his knees in the chair to look at the others "I lived in a town south of Belatona, along the Jiet River. Well, it was really more of an estate, surrounding a castle where I lived and worked as a servant basically from the day I could walk. The lord of the castle was…not a kind man…in fact I can say with certainty that he is the worst example of trash humanity has to offer" Roy began before his eyes darkened "that bastard's favorite pass time was giving me impossible tasks and then taking me where no one would see and beating me half to death. All while living off the bare minimum" he explained while rubbing at some well hidden scars. Roy then heaved a sigh as the kids all unconsciously leaned forward and Thalia leaned her head in close to him "so, knowing that, I bet it's a big shock to learn that I'm actually of noble birth" he said.

A small smirk actually shown through as Roy watched the kids' jaws go slack as they stared at him, godsmacked "y-you're a noble!?" Eren exclaimed in shock, to which Roy nodded "b-but…you don't act like a noble at all…and how did that man get away with abusing you then?" Armin asked and Roy's face darkened again "because…technically, that sack of shit is my grandfather" he explained.

The kids were yet again floored by the news as Thalia growled slightly "h-how?…" was all Eren could mutter in response to that. Roy simply slumped in his chair though, as he took time to organize his thoughts "to understand why, you must first understand who that man is" he began "Dramus Jameson, is a man who is obsessed with legacy. More then anything, he wants to make a name for himself that is known far and wide, and then have that name and his achievements be carried on by his successor. Now I don't know how it works here, but in Alagaësia, the firstborn male, inherits the majority of the family's properties and responsibilities, and more then anything, my grandfather wanted a son" Roy explained.

The Rider's grim expression cracked slightly as he took some guilty pleasure in this next bit of information "though, it seams fate had other plans. Complications in childbirth, rendered my grandmother unable to bare more children, and she only had one daughter. May Carrelsdaughter. This of corse, enraged my grandfather, especially when rumors started spreading of it before he could do anything" he said.

The kids were starting to develop hateful expressions of their own as the story went on and they got over the initial shock. Armin arched an eyebrow in confusion though "why would he be bothered by rumors so badly?" he asked and Roy heaved a sigh "because unlike here, divorce is less common for us and usually looked down upon, especially when you just had a child, meaning because she still lived, he couldn't take another wife without ruining his precious reputation, which also ruled out having an affair, which he probably would have done, had the truth about his wife's condition not spread, meaning he couldn't pass the resulting child off as theirs" Roy explained before grimacing "honestly, I think the only reason why my grandfather didn't murder her so he could take another wife was because her father was of higher standing them him and didn't trust him anymore" he continued.

The kids and Dragons were a little stunned by Roy's accusations "your saying he would have killed his own wife over something like that!?" Eren asked in shock and outrage. His Dragon mimicking his rage with a feral growl.

Roy fixed them with a hard gaze "it's definitely not out the realm of possibility with him" he said with complete seriousness.

Roy shook his head as he focused back on his story "anyway, as you can guess, life was pretty hard for my mother and grandmother. The latter retreated into a whine bottle to escape the abuse or at least dull it, leaving my mother with little in the way of parental care" he said as his hands clenched in rage and Thalia growled lightly "soon after though, my grandfather decided that if he couldn't have a son, then he would have the next best thing. So he "raised" my mother to be the picture of perfection, so he could marry her off to the son of another noble family. One that was just as deluded and sick as him, and he began grooming him to inherit his estate, even arranging their marriage at a very young age" Roy practically spat the words out.

But then Roy's expression softened a little "but…in spite of all that, my mother somehow turned out alright" he said and he actually smiled as he thought back on the woman who cared for him "she was fearless and free spirited. Always sneaking away and doing whatever she could get away with. After all, it's not like her father could do anything to her when he was about to hand her off to someone else, even if they were just as much of a scumbag" Roy explained and for a split second he almost looked found of some of those memories "a lot of my features come from my mom. According to her, the only thing my father gave me was my red hair and a slightly cooler head then hers" he said with a small smile as he remembered her with her auburn hair flowing in the wind has it really been this long since I thought of her Roy pondered for a moment.

Roy shook his head again to refocus "anyway, while my grandfather was busy grooming his future hair, my mother was sneaking out of the castle and exploring while running and hiding from the guards sent to bring her back, and she got really good at hiding from them" Roy paused for a moment to chuckle at that "and then, one day while out in the forest, she ran into a man with red hair and wearing fancy but well worn and used armor. And by ran I actually mean full speed, headfirst into him" Roy paused to chuckle a little "she was being chased by some of the guards and the man decided to help her hide, and sent them running off in the wrong direction" Roy explained.

It wasn't hard for the kids to put two and two together "that man was your father, wasn't he?" Armin guessed and Roy nodded with a slightly somber expression "I never actually knew him myself. I didn't even know who he was or what he looked like until I became a Rider" Roy explained and Thalia gave a comforting hum as she lay her head next to him "he never gave his name. He simply teased my mother after complimenting her skills in escaping the guards" Roy continued and some of his happier mood leaked through again "she hated it though. She hated his level headed personality and his teasing, and she hated the look he gave her, and she made that known to him, even as he asked for her name and if he would see her again. She gave him nothing though and apparently told him some rather choices words that she never repeated to me, and then ran off" Roy continued.

The Kids were a little surprised by the sudden turn, as was obvious on their faces "yes, I know, not the ideal beginning to a love story. But that was how they first met before my mother ran off to explore before returning home. But apparently she couldn't get my father out of her head after that. The way she explained it, it was like she was possessed by a hatred of him that even she didn't understand the cause of, and she was determined to find out why. Also, she did feel she owned him for his help, even if she wouldn't admit it at the time. So she snuck out the next day to go and find and confront him" Roy explained.

Roy then grinned a little as the kids leaned forward in their chairs "apparently she was very surprised when she arrived at the same spot they had met, only to find him there, waiting for her. When she asked why he was there, he simply said he knew she would be back. My mother was pretty agitated by that answer and ended up using even more choice words she refused to tell me and stormed off again" Roy explained.

Amine sweat dropped a little as he listened to the story I think I'm already starting to see pattern here he thought as Roy continued "and so that's how it went. Day after day, my mother would show up, only to find my father there waiting for her, and when he wasn't, there would be a letter left pined to a tree, telling her he was away doing his job and when he would be back. Something that struck her as odd apparently, seeing as they were the same age, but those feelings gave way to anger again, at how well he was able to read her" Roy said as he and the kids started chuckling a little "but as time went, she stayed longer and they would trade more colorful and witty insult. Then the insult turned to challenges and then…well, then they stopped fighting altogether. And through all that, after three years together, they still hadn't told each other their real names. Always using nicknames and teasing each other and trying to trick the other into revealing it" Roy paused for a moment to let the nostalgia of his old bedtime story wash over him.

"My mother said she finally figured out why she was angry with him so much, the day he revealed he could use magic" Roy continued, catching the kids a little by surprise "she had asked how he was so good at throwing off her guards and he showed off his illusions. She then playfully accused him of casting a spell on her to make her fall in love with him. They hadn't yet confessed or even admitted their feelings for each other to themselves yet, so it was just a harmless joke" Roy explained but then grinned a little "apparently my father took it a bit more seriously though. Because then, in the most corny way possible, he said he couldn't cast such a spell on her, because she had already done so to him" Roy actually laughed this time, his mouth feeling like sap as the words left his mouth "oh my mother FREAKED when he said that, and it only got worse when he got to his knees and started professing his love fluently in the Ancient Language. Spouting poems and love songs. My mother told me it was like a madness had taken him. Like all his feeling that had been building up for the past three years suddenly came bursting out. And in that moment, as panic set in on her, my mother finally realized why she had been so angry when they first met."

"She said it was because of the look in his eyes. That even back then, he had looked upon her with kindness and compassion instead of the greedy look her father always had, and later he looked at her with genuine love. Something she had always wanted but was too afraid to seek out and wouldn't know what it looked like" Roy paused catch his breath and let the kids process his story.

Said kids were deeply invested in the story by this point though as the practically sat on the edge of their seats.

Roy gave a sigh though "but, my mother was justifiably overwhelmed by all of this, and she nearly ran as he continued. Eventually though, after he stopped to catch his breath, my mother began crying as she told him of her arranged marriage, which was fast approaching. Her father, she had already told him about by that point too, so he already knew how cruel and uncompromising he was. But, before she could tell him how it would never work and run off, he took her hand and said 'Eka weohnata vardi ono'. Which basically translates to, 'I will protect/save you'" he paused to let the kids think on the translation "that gave my mother pause, and when she looked back at him, he told her with absolute certainty that he could save her. It was also then that he spoke for the first time of his status. He had never told her what his real job was, but it was obvious he was a warrior. Not quite a soldier but definitely not a mercenary. The revelation that he could preform magic only furthered his importance. He then said that he was of such high status that it would be political suicide if her father refused to merry them, as he was far higher then any lord. My mother was stunned at first but he had said much of it in the Ancient Language, so she couldn't deny the truth, and it was then, when she felt hope for her future for the first time, that she confessed her own love for him and didn't return to the castle that night" Roy continued.

It was at this moment though, that Roy's expression turned downcast again and the air around them seamed to grow colder "but, a messenger interrupted them the next day, before they could confront her my grandfather and told my father that he was needed immediately for an important mission, and that's when it all came crumbling down" Roy paused and the kids picked up on the shift in atmosphere "my father swore he would return and save her, and then he would give her his real name and they could be together. And then they parted ways for the very last time…" Roy trailed off.

The kids were silent as they watched him. It didn't take a genius to figure out what happened he never came back Armin realized with sadness.

Roy took a breath as he rubbed his eyes "my mother went back home and waited…and waited…she waited all the way up to her wedding day, when a messenger arrived with word for her and a package. An Elven messenger…" he paused to let the words hang in the air at the implication. The kids may not have known much about Elves and how things worked in Alagaësia, but they understood enough to know elves were a rarity in the human kingdoms, so for one to appear was unprecedented. "Naturally, everyone was quite shocked, but none more then my mother when he walked up to her, offered his condolences, and presented her with a package rapped in cloth, and when she unwrapped it, she brake down into tears when she saw the broken remains of my father's sword…" Roy tailed off with a somber tone.

The Rider hesitated for a moment before reaching over to where he had leaned his sword against the table and drew Wyver from it's sheath "shattered fragments that would one day be reforged into this blade" Roy revealed as he stared into the flames that engulfed his blade.

Roy took a few moments to gaze at the one remaining connection he had with his father before getting a grip on his emotions, and returning Wyvern to it's sheath with a sigh "anyway, my grandfather didn't really care for any of it. His only concern was looking good in front of the Elf and improving his reputation. After all, it wasn't like his plans had been jeopardized in any way by the new developments" Roy said with obvious bitterness "and so my mother was left to morn and despair alone, and the next day she was set be be married off…or at least that was the plan…"

"During the ceremony, my mother collapsed in pain and the wedding was put on hold while the healers attended to her. Of corse my grandfather payed little attention to her condition, preferring to keep his further son in law happy and wanting to know when the wedding would be back on. He didn't even want to know what was wrong with her" Roy said with venom and the Dragons all growled along with him "that all changed though, when the rumors reached him. Then he went off like a pounder keg. My mother was pregnant".

The kids gave Roy a moment to simmer, while they began contemplating along with their Dragons, the many ways they could make Dramus suffer.

Roy eventually collected himself "at that point, my grandfather's plans all fell apart. Because he had ignored my mother's condition for so long, he didn't stop it from becoming rumor, and once that spread, there was no stopping it. The man he was going to marry my mother off to, canceled the wedding and rebuffed him, along with the rest of his family, and my grandfather's precious reputation took a nosedive. And to make matters worse for him, he could no longer merry my mother off, as no highborn would take a woman who's had a child out of wedlock, that wasn't their's. And, as such a thing as terminating a pregnancy is considered one of the worst crimes, he couldn't get rid of me ether" Roy explained with a somewhat dark tone.

Roy then gripped his left arm and started rubbing it absentmindedly "it's at this point that my part in this story begins. My mother lost what little freedom she'd had up to that point and my grandfather locked her away, trying to salvage what little of his reputation as he could…" Roy trailed off for a moment as his face took on a dangerous look and Thalia growled next to him "his abuse reached new levels though, with her out of public sight. He still kept her alive and in a condition where she would be presentable in a pinch, but his beatings and other unspeakable acts, which my mother refused to tell me about, left their marks on both of us, even before I was born" Roy said before gripping his arm a little tighter "did you know I used to have nerve damage in my left arm when I was born. All the beatings he gave her, left me injured from birth. It wasn't till after I became a rider that I got proper healing and could feel anything with my left hand properly. I'm pretty much certain that he was trying to get rid of me while making it look like a miscarriage" Roy explained, much to the horror of the kids and their growing hatred of Roy's grandfather.

Roy finally forced himself to let go of his arm and heaved a sigh "I don't know how she did it, but my mother managed to keep me alive through all of that and protected me as best she could after I was born. Always trying to make me happy, I spite of everything that was our lives" Roy continued with a somber expression "back in those days, we only had each other, but we did manage to eak out a little happiness. But like I said before, from the moment I could walk, I was practically a servant. Any claim I might have had to inheritance was denied and I was hidden away. He would occasionally bring me out to insult me and treat me like a court fool, when guest were over…and he insisted that I take my mother's name" he said with bitterness.

Everyone was becoming more and more sympathetic with Roy, while hating his grandfather more and more with each passing second of the story. Their emotions amplifying each other as they were shared between Rider and Dragon. A moment of confusion did managed to brake through the spiral of rage though "why was it so bad to take your mom's name?" Eren asked.

Roy grimaced for a moment before answering "Because in Alagaësia, not only are boys names for their fathers, but bastards aren't given last names unless their parent claims them. But my grandfather insisted that I take my mother's name. A massive brake in tradition, that way every time he called my full name, everyone would know what my mother had done. You see, by naming me Mayson, after my mother, he was essentially humiliating her through me, every time he brought me out before guests" he explained.

Everyone paused for a moment as they processed the shear amount of depravity that Roy's grandfather was capable of. It truly did amaze them that he shared any relation at all with the man.

Roy rubbed his face to try and dispel his stress, if only a little "anyway, that was my life for all of twelve years. During that time I made only one friend and grew aquatinted with one of the other local lords who didn't by the rumors my grandfather spread about me, but didn't get to know him well beyond that. But then, that all came to an end on my thirteenth birthday…" Roy trailed off a little as he turned his gaze up to Thalia and placed a hand on her snout as she purred a little "in Alagaësia, a Dragon Rider will visit random cities and towns annually, to present Dragon eggs before children to see if any will become Riders, and it just so happened that a gold Dragon named Gildintor Swiftwing, came to visit us with eggs that day" Roy explained as his expression became a little more fond "this particular visit was odd though. For starters, the Dragon had no Rider with him, though he later explained that he had lost his Rider in battle and had only recently recovered from the madness that had brought on" Roy explained "the second oddity happed shorty after all the children in the town had been gathered. I had naturally been forbidden from attending by my grandfather, he even went out of his way to make sure no word of me was spread that day, in hopes I would never become a Rider" Roy continued.

A smirk then forced it's way onto Roy's face "so it was all the more shocking for everyone when the Dragon suddenly landed in our yard and called for me by name" he said and watched the shock and confusion spread across the kids' faces "aye, that's the same reaction we all had" Roy added before laughing "god, I will never forget the horrified look on my grandfather's face as the Dragon growled at him with so much hate and demanded that I be allowed to be presented before the eggs. He refused to say how he knew of me and why though, until after the ceremony was over, wether or not an egg actually hatched for me, and a few days later, I met Thalia" Roy said with a smile "I swear my grandfather was white as death with fear when he saw us together, and rightfully so, because Riders rank above all lords and highborns, nor are they even beholden to the king, so my word would now weigh more then his" Roy explained.

"But, that still leaves the issue of the Dragon, and how he knew of me. And he revealed that soon after Thalia hatched" Roy said as he glanced over at Wyvern again "he asked for my mother to be president as well, and then he said he was sorry for taking so long, and that he was there to keep the promise his Rider had made to her twelve years prior" Roy explained.

The pieces quickly fell into place for the others, who's jaws dropped, even as Roy continued "and it was on that day that we learned my father's real name, and that he, Arther Clayson, was a Dragon Rider" Roy said with a combination of somberness and pride.

A moment of silence followed as Roy thought back on the events of that day and the others processed his story "well, I suppose you all can guess what happened after that. My mother and I were justifiably shocked and my Grandfather was even more terrified when he overheard it. Gildintor then proceeded to tell us about my father and how he had been killed fighting a Shade…" Roy took a moment to shift though his emotions before continuing "apparently my father used his last breath to make Gildintor swear in the Ancient Language not to fallow him into the void and to rescue my mother, which was the only reason the Dragon hadn't commuted suicide…but madness still took him with my father's death and it took years for him to recover and uphold the later part of his vow, and when his mind was finally restored to him, with the aid of the Order, he flew out to see my mother and if he still had a chance to help her, but before he could land, he saw us together from up high. After that he quickly discovered who I was and, after getting over the shock and finding a new since of purpose, as he put it, he devised a plan to possibly get us both out, without incurring any legal issues with my grandfather, as he was the ruling lord of the area, and Gildintor retuned to Vroengard, where he convinced the council to let him handle the search for the next Dragon Riders. As for the rest…well you already know how that went" Roy said with a small grin.

The elder Rider then sighed "and so that's how my miserable life changed for the better…well, mostly better…" Roy paused as sadness briefly overtook him "I had made one friend in that hell hole. Her name was Elizabeth…we were…very close. Maybe we could have been more if things had turned out differently…but, an egg didn't hatch for her, and our relationship didn't survive after that" Roy explained with sadness.

Eren briefly glanced at Mikasa during Roy's pause, as it settled on him how badly things could have gone between him and his friends, had fate been curler.

Roy shook his head free of his grief and refocused on the kids "anyway. After everything was arranged, I made sure to tell everyone what my grandfather had been doing and there were more then a few other servants that were willing to back me and my mother's story, especially with a Dragon looming over everybody. It's safe to say that my grandfather was ruined after that. He was skill enough in corruption to bride his way out of execution but he still want into a dark and damp cell. Hopefully for the rest of his miserable life. My grandmother was taken back in by her parents but the damage had already been done and she was shell of her former self, but they did what they could for her. Then, shortly after that, my mother and I were off to Vroengard. We started a new life. Gildintor, would tell us about my father when we had free time. I would train to become a Rider. I made friends…I met Ari…and we never looked back on that place" Roy hesitated for a moment as he considered his words "well, my mother never did but…if there is one thing a regret, it's not making things right with Lizy before…before the traitor burned it all down, along with everything else…" Roy finally finished his tale with that somber note.

(-3)

A long moment passed as everyone processed everything and the sun moved lower in the sky. The kids all knew Roy had been through a lot, but they didn't expect THAT.

To live through all of that and then win. To get his revenge against the one who'd tormented him and his mother and to finally carve out a happy life…only to then have it all ripped away. Armin was honestly amazed that Roy hadn't broken under all that pain. But It would seam they all had a lot more in common then they thought.

The silent moment continued to stretch as Roy look down with a somber expression and the kids were starting to worry a little.

Before any of them could say anything though, Roy's face suddenly became chipper as he clapped his hands together "welp! There's my tragic backstory out of the way. Now unless any of you want to continue with this depressing stuff, I say we have some launch" he said with a surprisingly happy tone as he got up and stretched his limbs. A lot more time had passed during that story then anyone had expected.

The kids were a little worried about Roy still, but they decided to take after his example and not bing the mood down any further, and fallowed him to the kitchen.

Thalia hummed after her Rider "are you sure you're ok?" She asked and Roy smiled back at her "yes, I'm fine Thalia" he replied. And in truth he really was. Roy actually felt a little better now that he had gotten that particular weight off his chest. It still hurt of corse and he still couldn't shake the foreboding feeling that this land of Titans and strange magic, would bring him more grief before the end.

But it was a step in the right direction. Here with this odd assortment of traumatized orphans and misfits.