Terror was in the eyes of the people around them as they marched through the city towards a building that was a weird mixture of architecture. To his surprise he had not been put in shackles, but the soldiers flanked him and Xavani. The building they marched to was also newer than the majority of the city. In some areas it was clearly visible it once had been a town of the empire, while the great fungus had still controlled the Fungal people.

A terrace stuck out one side of the building, that particular part of the building was clearly of Albin design, on the terrace some twenty meters above ground Xavani clearly saw signs of Floral presence amidst the colorful blossoms and green bushes. Barely able to contain her excitement she smiled gladly. Another part of the building was designed by the humans, while being functional it held some fashion of art, these two parts were in stark contrast to the fungal part.

Simple and functional. Although a bit more artistic than what he had seen on a field trip to the imperial capital.

Inside the mixed building the two were brought to the terrace, Xavani’s observation from afar was correct. Five floral men awaited them. Stopping at about five meters from them did Gulius realize the fungal soldiers had stopped at the door to the terrace, presumably out of respect to the Florals, who have had to deal with the Fungal guards. Feeling guilty for violating their terrace garden he bowed his head and wanted to step back away. “Stay.” Xavani glanced over her shoulder, before approaching the five men. “This former Fungal guard has saved my life! I demand he be allowed in the garden!” surprised the five Florals exchanged glances. “He is allowed.” one stepped out of their circle, slowly approaching Xavani, reaching for her wrists. Pain reflected off of his expressions, a hateful glance to Gulius from the corner of his eyes. “He saved me, gave me bandages. Neither he nor I dared to try and regrow in an unclean environment as that fungal forest.” her voice was trembling, but strong. She had never seen these men before, but she sensed that neither of them had been in the resistance, her actual respect for the elderly men was therefore minimal. “He has gone out of his way, rescuing me, going up against his own. Now he has no home, show him some respect for risking everything, so you and the world can see what his people are doing behind their palisade!” she withdrew her stumps. Although before she had yearned for her hands to regrow, she was beginning to change her mind. Perhaps she should stay like this, as a testimonial, both to the atrocities of the fungal guards and Gulius’ bravery.

After he was debriefed by both Albin and Republican officials Gulius sat lonesome on a bench in the streets in front of the joint building. Gruesome hours lay behind him, recalling every detail about the flight from his former home, and Eidomas death. He at least had learned some things of the officials too. The building had been erected after humans and albin intervened on Both’anah. From an undisclosed source the Albin provided information about an impending invasion of something they referred to as Sphinxes and sometimes as Chimeras. Gulius in turn told them of the petrified feathers that Eidoma had told him about. Considering all he learned during those hours it was quite possible that these were from the last invasion by the Chimeras, perhaps even older.

There was talk of the pole. A group of conjurers of Humans, Albin and Fungal was to travel to the pole, to fend off the invasion. Gulius would have volunteered, but his conscience forbade him.

Xavani left the building, surrounded by a group of Albin soldiers, immediately she stopped at his side. “You are done?” she seemed worried, his composure must have told all she needed to know. Tales of immense sadness, entire folios of guilt, crushing the ambitions he once had. “I was waiting for you.” he sighed, getting up slowly. “I want to stay with you.” Xavani inched back a little. “I’m not certain,” she stammered “what do you mean?”

Gulius nervously stepped from one foot to the other. “You will need help, my people chopped your hands off! And I feel that it is my duty to be around for you.” he looked up in the sky. “I’m a conjurer, although an uninitiated one, but I am a fungal guard, I left my group shortly before graduation, I can be your aid, your body guard, I,” he stopped with an elongated sigh. Xavani moved back towards him with a friendly smile. “You are free now, no longer bound to the Guards, or to our flight from the empire. So if I you should chose to stay with me, I would appreciate your presence.” Gulius bowed before her and subsequently followed her in close range. “In a few days we’ll set sails to Both’anah, I have to convince my fellow Florals to donate, or at least trade nectar. The threat of the Chimeras is to grave to be ignored, and we need every last drop.” she turned to him. “But you, must remain a silent shadow behind me as long as we are there.” her smile faint and laden with as much guilt as he felt, but he understood perfectly after their flight through the southern empire forests. “To Both’anah then.” he nodded with an equally faint smile.

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