Legea/Seventh Realm Crossover by Verity A. Buchanan
Consider this the first (only) official piece of fanfiction for the Seventh Realm. Based on an inside joke, Verity A. Buchanan, author of The Journey, book one in the Legea series, crafted this short tale where her explosive character meets my explosive character.
Verity's version of Ren turned out rather different from my Ren. Of course she did. That is what makes fanfiction fascinating. It is a look at your own creation from someone else's perspective. Because, of course, no two people will ever see it the same way.
Without further ado, I give you explosive vs. explosive, or should I say, the Ren Draven and Mordred Kenhelm crossover.
Ren picked herself dazedly up off the ground where the wind and whirling had flung her. Was this Gabriel messing with the stone again? She took a look around, and panic jumped in her as she realized that there was no-one else on the reedy, water-logged plains.
She pushed the panic down. "They'll turn up," she muttered to herself. If they didn't, she'd kill Gabriel – or near enough.
After a second, longer reconaissance, she set off towards a thin trail of smoke pushing against a cloudy, rain-spitting sky. The distance across the marsh looked deceptively short, and she found herself tiring, especially as her shoes became soaked.
Her roving eye caught movement and she stilled, glancing up to see the flock of ducks flying overhead. Automatically, she reached for her bow. Flicked an arrow out. Sighted. Released.
"What are you doing?"
The voice made her jump right as she let go the string. The arrow went flying wide in a wobbly, low arc and plunged into a distant puddle. Ren whirled, furious. "What do you think you were doing?" she yelled.
The intruder was standing barely an arm's length away, feet planted apart in the boggy grass and piercing grey eyes narrowed accusatorily. He looked both underfed and highly arrogant. "You're not from around here," he said.
"So what are you doing, a girl out by yourself, shooting at ducks with that thing?"
"It's called a bow, numskull." She noticed that he was at least four inches taller than her and wondered if the insult had been a wise addition, but did not regret saying it.
"I know what it is." His chin flew up stiff and stubborn. "And you could be fined for hunting ducks on a noble's lands."
"Noble's lands, huh?" She cast a scathing eye over the marsh about. "That's not much of land."
"This is Rehirne." His voice cut with scornful insolence. "If you do not like it, you can leave. Most people don't."
"Don't like it, or don't leave?"
Though she was not looking at his eyes, she sensed his anger. "Both."
Ren decided she had stood here talking long enough. She tramped off through the slog of mud and water to retrieve her arrow, which took her longer than she wanted to find again. His footsteps followed her, to her increasing annoyance, and she ignored him in stoic silence, though her shoulders stiffened harder and she jerked the wayward shaft from its puddle with unnecessary force.
"Can you really hit anything with that?" His voice came again, full of curiosity and challenge.
She blotted the arrow dry, paying careful attention to the fletching. Her eyes remained focused on her work as she answered coolly, "I can get a bird dead through the eye. Every time."
He didn't believe her. She scanned the sky, looking vainly for another flock of ducks. Then the flicker drew her eye, and she saw the brown, billed head poking through the rushes at ground level. The arrow was up the next second, the bowstring brushing her cheek, the aim steady –
And just as she was releasing, the duck fell backwards with a splash.
Ren whirled to see her antagonist clenching a stone in his palm, arm back for a second throw. "Will you stop doing that!" she shouted.
"Doing what?" he asked, as snappishly as if he had no idea how he had wronged her.
"Throwing me off my shot! First you ruin my aim, then you steal my kill–"
"Steal?" he repeated, almost sputtering. "You never told me you were shooting at it! Was I supposed to ask? If you're too slow, that's your fault, not mine." With a disdainful toss of the head he made his way with long strides to the fallen duck, giving its neck a twist to make sure it was dead. Ren stormed after him, irate.
"I am NOT slow."
His head jerked up. His voice was hard, unimpressed. "Is this a competition game to you? I suppose you actually think I killed the bird merely to show off my shying skills? No wonder you don't know a thing about the world, you've clearly grown up in a place where the most important thing is you, where you never wonder about your next meal, where nobody teaches you what life is really like, where your waking thoughts don't revolve around how to get more food for yourself, and your brother, and your sister, even if it's only a scrawny duck with more feather than meat–"
Ren attempted multiple times throughout this to cut him off, but he overrode her easily. When he paused for breath, she yelled in disgust, "Shut up!"
Inside a dark storm was stirring up inside of her, too many dark things that his words had incited. She was way more angry than she let on, even to herself. "So you're poaching your landlord's ducks?" she said coldly. "Funny how that was exactly what you were telling me not to do."
He went rigid with defensiveness. Then he flung the dead bird down in front of her. "Have it," he said harshly.
"I don't want it!" Ren kicked the bird back towards him before he could turn his back. "What, are you trying to bribe me? Do you think I'd tell your stupid old landlord?"
His tense chin was raised more arrogantly than ever. "Tell him if you want. I don't care."
"I don't want," said Ren. She kicked the bird again. "Pick the stupid thing up."
He kicked it away from both of them.
Their eyes met, accidentally, Ren's incredulous and outraged, the boy's haughty and withdrawn, before Ren spun away, hitching one shoulder. "What's wrong with you?"
"What is it to you?"
"I suppose you think you're the only one with problems," she spat, furious in every way. The earlier words were still burning into her head. She hated him. Hated him for calling her ignorant. Hated him for saying she was a somebody.
"Of course I don't think that." He sounded stung.
Ren rolled her eyes. "Who are you kidding?" She shook her hair back, away from her face, remembering that she still had to find the now twice-lost arrow.
The boy, who till now had had a retort for every thing she uttered, said nothing. In the queer, continuing silence she could think of only one thing that could have caused it. He must have noticed her scar.
The girl's pivoting figure stalled suddenly, her gaze fixing on a black, narrow silhouette protruding from a bushy hummock. She splashed away to retrieve it. And Mordred watched her, held still by an unerring band of shame.
Softness had stirred up in him, softness and sadness at that sign of hurt, as it always did whether he willed it or no. And he had been wrong – wrong to say she did not know anything of life, anything of pain. That cold, jagged wound proved him wrong without a word.
He reached out a hand, in pity – and it fell back, arrested by the shame.
"I am sorry," he said in a breath, the pain in his heart clenching harder.
She turned, startled.
"I am sorry," he said again. He knew she could not understand what he had realized so swiftly and surely in those past moments, and would not know the depth of everything that was behind the words, no matter how earnestly he spoke them.
"Now you're sorry," she said.
"Not for the scar," he said quickly, but that was not true. "Yes – for the scar – but more than that." His breathing came in faster and faster, he was not sure he would be able to lower his pride enough to say it aloud, but he had to. "I was wrong – to say everything."
She shrugged. "I'm fine. Words don't hurt."
"It was still wrong." He would not go back now that he had said it. What a foolish thing to say, that words did not hurt. No-one would say that except someone who knew how they did hurt.
He stretched out his hand again, hesitant. She slapped the arrow lightly against her palm, tested it with a finger, and replaced it in her quiver. Ignored him.
"Take the bird." If she would not listen to his apology, she must listen to something – anything. He fished around, found the draggled carcass. "You should have it. You would have shot it."
"I would've," she agreed, and for a second almost looked as though she would accept. Then she laughed shortly. "But I didn't, so why take it?"
He let the bird fall. He had been gone long enough, and too long – he should be going back. He was tired, so tired, and empty, except for the ache that burned because the girl was empty, too.
"Where are you from?" he heard himself asking, he was not sure why.
"Somewhere far away from here." She studied her feet, shrugging indifferently. "Doesn't matter, except that I don't know how to get back."
He could not break the indifference. He was desperate to, and yet nothing cracked it. He reeled, lightheaded from the ache and the tiredness all at once.
"What's the matter?" She sounded halfway concerned.
"Nothing," he said quickly, blinking away the dizziness, the dark spots. It was nothing that he was not used to. "Nothing. I'm fine."
"Hey." She almost met his eyes, her face screwed in a slight frown, and then they dropped again. "Did you mean what you said?"
"About being wrong."
"Why would you care?" He was angry that she had not believed him, too tired to care that he was angry.
"I don't know, I guess there's no point in caring. But at first I didn't think you meant it."
"You thought I was just sorry for your scar." He hurled the words at her a little blindly.
She stared at him. "You're confusing, you know that?"
"No." No, he did not know. What was confusing about him?
She shrugged again, but there was something oddly truce-like in her expression. She stuck out a hand. "Ren Draven," she said.
"Ren – Draven," he repeated, puzzled, and then it brightened on him. He put his hand in hers, which she jolted by a brisk, unexpected tug. "Mordred Kenhelm."
"I guess I'm not sorry we met, Mordred," she said.
And Ren Draven turned, the edge of self-consciousness dropping from her shoulders, and wandered jauntily away across the marsh.