Self Reflection
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In a quiet corner of Kyven Palace, a small figure stirred in his bed. The rays of the dawn sun crept quietly through the minute holes in the fabric of the curtains that hung over his window, piercing the thin skin of his slumbering eyelids and interrupting the peaceful sleep of the prince of Kyvensgate, Mirani Solarida. Morning had come, and his body was all too eager to wake up, as it’d hardly gotten any sleep in the first place. Grumbling, he rolled out of bed and stretched his back, rolling his head in a vain attempt to ease the tension uncommon to one of his status. He grimaced at the sound of his neck cracking, and sighed.

Yawning, he stepped towards his wardrobe, past the mirror that he had long since covered with a blanket. He hadn’t been able to look in it ever since his sister disappeared. Despite the subtle differences in their structure, each time he looked in that mirror he saw his own sister’s face looking back at him, and was overcome with worry. She’d left last summer with little explanation, stating only that she needed to “find herself,” and “wasn’t quite what that means.” Their mothers hadn’t even tried to stop her leaving, much to Mirani’s distress — as it turned out, they too had once felt a similar drive and left on journeys of self-exploration. He wondered idly why he’d never felt such a thing.

And so, he’d covered the mirror. But that was enough ruminating on the past. Today was another day, and he had big things ahead of him. As he was nearing adulthood — more or less, Nemaira and Taimha weren’t exactly sure how their lifespans had averaged out and had only their children’s physical appearances to rely upon — he was due to begin training in some form of adventuring discipline. Much of the Solarida family had been natural adventurers, and it had become something of a tradition to train the younger generations to follow in their footsteps. Of course, his mothers had assured him, if he found that nothing was to his liking, he could always choose a less dangerous profession. Nevertheless, Mirani was insistent that he wanted to go on grand adventures the likes of which had been relayed to him in bedtime stories. Life in the palace was great, sure, but it could become awfully boring. He wanted something exciting, something new. Something he could do right for once, and finally do his family proud.

As his internal monologue rambled on and on, he found that he was already in the middle of dressing himself. He picked out his finest set of clothes, in all of his favorite colors — black on black, with accents of gold and royal purple. He had just about finished pulling his boots on when he heard the all-too-familiar banging on his bedroom door.

“You awake in there?” asked the voice of Sari Solarida, another of Nemaira’s children and Mirani’s older half-sister, by several hundred years. “Sun’s out, gun’s out, as mom says. Come on!”

“Just a second!” called Mirani. “Just gotta get my boots on.”

“A warrior must always be punctual, Mirani. Your training was supposed to start ten minutes ago!”

“It’s only ten minutes, it’s not like this is a life-or-death situation. Chill out.” he said nonchalantly.

Sari grunted impatiently, and tapped her foot. A minute later, Mirani swung the door open — a little too quickly, and nearly hit her square in the face.

"Whoops— sorry." he sighed, his ears flushing with color.

"It's fine. Just be a little more careful, capiche?"

Mirani nodded silently.

"Now come on. You've got a lot of hard work ahead of you today."

"Do I have to?" he asked.

"Training to be a paladin ain't easy, kid. I don't know much about the whole religion thing tied into it, but I'm here to help you with all the physical aspects of fighting. You've got a lot of muscle to put on." said Sari, squinting as she picked up one of Mirani's arms and examined it. "You're just skin and bones. What do they even feed you?"

"I eat three meals a day," sulked Mirani. "I just have a fast metabolism."

"Teenagers," sighed Sari. "I remember when I was your age. I was hungry all the time, my face kept breaking out, and my body was growing lumps and bumps in places I didn't even know they could be. Also, my bones ached a lot from growing pains."

"That's puberty," said Mirani. "Pretty excruciating thing to be right in the middle of."

"Yeah, well, unluckily for you, it's also the time when your body is just about the most malleable it could be. So now's as good a time as any to start training your muscles."

"Am I going to end up all big and…" Mirani moved his arms in a square shape around Sari's frame. "beefy, like you?"

"Who's to say," she said. "You've got different genetics. Mom says that my other mom was over 6 feet tall and pretty muscular. So I guess I was a bit predisposed. Your other mom however, is… extremely short, and fairly chubby. Mom liked picking from both ends of the spectrum, I guess."

"I suppose so," said Mirani. "On another topic — was training to be a fighter particularly hard?"

"Well," said Sari, as the two of them began to step down the staircase to the ground floor. "It was a lot of rigorous physical training. Tons of exercise, and I think I even needed to go on a diet? It's been a while. But yea, a protein-rich diet is pretty essential to building muscle. That kind of depends on what kind of muscle you're looking to build, however. Whether it be lean muscle or the kind of bulky muscle that bodybuilders try to promote. By the way, that's totally bullshit — they may look strong, but they're lacking the raw power that real muscle brings you. It's actually—"

"Hi Sari! Hi Mirani! Bye Sari! Bye Mirani!" cried Venra Solarida, as she grinded her skateboard down the rail of the stairway and past the pair.

Sari paused mid-sentence, as Mirani's eyes followed the tiefling speeding down the staircase. As she neared the bottom, her skateboard bumped over a pole and tipped her face-first into the ground. Venra Solarida had successfully eaten ass on the palace floor.

"Carrying on," said Sari, disregarding that sequence of events entirely.

to be continued

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