Nih'na had finished the day's lessons and was hurrying to the market to buy some special spices her mother had requested. In her hurry to be home, she tripped over a small rock and went flying, her precious books scattered everywhere. Feuor, who was practicing defensive wielding in the training yard, had seen her fall and he asked his tutor if he could leave his class early as he wanted to walk her home. He could sense her increasing unhappiness, and he wanted an opportunity to see what was really troubling her. Changing quickly, he raced in the direction of the market.
Picking herself up and dusting off her books, Nih'na had continued her way towards the market, but in her consternation she had failed to notice that she was being followed. Suddenly, something hit her head and everything spun into blackness for a brief moment. When she regained her sight she was lying on the ground again, and her books were once more scattered around her, but this time it was no accident. Rough hands grabbed her and tossed her in a small alley and as she hit the wall she was finally able to see who her attackers were. Two Matis and a Fyros boy were standing there, eyes dark with hate as they blocked the only exit from the alley.
"You are a nuisance, you know that? You're always in the way acting as you know everything. Answering correctly every time..." One of the Matis boys said.
"Teacher's pet... I bet that is not all you do for them..." The other one said.
Suddenly she felt a sharp blow and realised that one of them had kicked her. She fell backwards and landed on the ground, turning in pain and trying to protect her head as she curled up into a ball. Tears started to trickle out through her mask as she wondered if this was the end of everything she had strived for.
There was a strange stillness to the air, and no more blows followed. Slowly she opened her eyes, to see that the dynamics of the scene had altered, as a tall shape, eyes blazing with anger, stood rigid at the entrance to the alley.
"I have already killed a Kincher who tried to harm her, do not ever think that I would hesitate to do it again to anything or anybody that threatens her." As he spoke with chilling precision, she noticed that he was holding a dagger to the throat of the Matis boy that had first spoken and she recognised the fear stamped on the boy's face as a reflection of her own, earlier terror.
"Who are you to judge someone that you do not even know! How can you cast judgement on her when your only measure is in the twisted lies of old stories?."
"I... she is ... she is..." The Matis boy squealed out.
"She is Nih'na and she is my friend. And I will do what it takes to defend my friends, never forget this." Feuor said in a tone that made even Nih'na shiver as she gazed up at him, holding his knife steadily and speaking with such determination that none of the other boys dared to move.
"Feu...*cough* Feuor. " Nih'na managed to say, but her stomach hurt too much.
"Leave, and if anyone of you ever lay a foul hand on her again, I shall make sure that you boast one hand the less." Feuor said and slowly removed the dagger. The boys faded quickly into the alley, not one of them wishing to make a fight of it.
"There, Nih'na. Let me help you up back on your feet."
When Nih'na looked at him it was as if the previous Feuor she had seen was washed away. He was smiling as he extended his hand to her and his eyes were kindly and calm. She hesitated for a second but after an encouraging word from him she took his hand and he helped her back on her feet.
"Are you Ok, Nih'na?" He asked her.
She could not help it, tears started to fall from her eyes, as she hugged him tightly. Why had she not told him how she had felt from the start? Why had she held it so deep inside when someone who would understand was already so close to her? There were so many questions in her mind, but for now all she could do was to cry and to wash away the months of hurt.
Feuor stood there holding her, speaking soothingly to her as he rocked her in his arms. He knew that in time she would explain everything to him, but he did not rush matters. For now all she needed was a kind shoulder to rely upon, and this he could do for her.
"I am here Nih'na; here as always for you."