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A note from Luc666-_-

My first released chapter in a while. Hope you guys enjoy it, more to come later.

 

Remember to rate and review.

Ah...from now onwards things are going to start getting a bit darer. Just so you know

 

 Lyle had not often encountered a woman he'd been unable to handle. 

Most were easy. 

They really only required a bit of prodding, he barely had to even try. He never had trouble talking to them, and most never had any real resistance against him.

The Noble Ladies, at least, never gave him any trouble at all.

Lyle was always the one who controlled the flow of things. 

But never before had he encountered one like Sera. A person who was so obviously unhinged. The words she said, the way she looked at him--almost possessive--set him on edge in the worst way. 

Which is why he wasn't very enthusiastic when he awoke the next morning and she made her move. 

Accompanied by two knights, Sera strode foward to intercept him as he walked.

"Oh, good morning Bell." The girl had eyes only for him, seeming to ignore everything else. Very disconcerting. 

"Good morning, Lady Seraphina" A very standard acknowledgement of her presence he was loathe to give. 

She either didn't notice or didn't care, appearing oblivious to his curt tone.

"I thought I saw you coming out, but you certainly are an early riser aren't you?" She offered a small smile full of friendliness.

The girl looked at him warmly, as if the words of the previous night were mere figments of his imagination. In fact, he almost believed it.  

Lyle watched her calmly, not showing an ounce of either hostility or warmth. 

"It's time for practice." He replied shortly. "Do your knights not also train in mornings?"

She tilted her head curiously. Had he not known the sort or crazy that hid behind that pretty, delicate face of her's Lyle would think that movement rather cute. As it was, however, he merely wished for this conversation to end. 

It was difficult, being torn between going through the motions of proper etiquette and politeness but wanting little more than to tell the woman to go away. 

He blamed his parents for this. 

When it came to women disrespect must apparently be imparted where and when it's due. Unfortunately now was not the time nor place, what with her being so civil and all.

 "No, I've never seen them do so. I do see them sparring for around an hour in the evenings, however."

"Only an hour?" Lyle couldn't help curling his lip in disdain. 

If there wasn't anything more, then an hour of sparring was far too lax for a group of knights. 

Situps, pushups, jumping jacks, there were numerous things a person could do to train their body even by themselves and with no equipment. 

Things like sword control and breathing exercises, especially, were important to a knight. One allowed you to hit what you wanted and nothing more--an excellent skill to have. The other gave you the ability to last longer in a fight and not drain yourself too quickly.

There were also other things to practice as well, such as footwork. And even boxing or wrestling techniques. Grapples, counters, things of that nature for when you're fighting someone up close and personal without a weapon handy.

A knight needed to train in all those things. 

They needed to become second nature. Instinctive. A real battle can become messy fast. Maybe you wouldn't even need most of the techniques you learned, maybe you'd never have to use them. 

But if you did, they had to be so deeply ingrained into your body that, if needed, you can execute those moves flawlessly and without hesitation. 

Lyle practiced all those things religiously. As soon as he warmed up he'd work on his muscles, breathing, footwork, combat techniques, counters, sword control....

It took longer than an hour. That's why he got up so early.  

To practice everything he needed in order to be as strong and durable as was possible for him. 

These were, of course,  the absolute basics. All the nuances can be picked up later, through experience. But these? They had to be practiced everyday. The basics were your core, your foundation. 

And if the foundation was weak, the entire building would collapse. 

But these knights only sparred? For an hour? If that's really all they did, they deserved to be scorned. 

"That's exactly right. Is there a problem with that, young sir?" One of the knights spoke with with a touch of warning. Probably dissatisfied at being looked down upon by a man much younger than he, and detecting the note of ridicule Lyle subtly gave out.

"No, nothing." Lyle shrugged. "It's just that now I know why you lot couldn't even protect a single girl despite being so numerous in number."

A person who had someone to protect needed strength, and Lyle believed it was a sin to not pursue the kind of strength needed to protect that someone. If one couldn't put in the effort then they should just go and die. Hope someone else takes over. 

He turned back to Sera. "It seems as if someone gave you mere dregs, my Lady. If not that, then obviously the standards where they trained at are much lower than I would expect. Truly lamentable. I wonder if you're not better off with me teaching you how to defend your own self. Since your knights seem, from what I'm hearing, unable to protect you themselves." He smiled faintly, mockingly. "Or perhaps," He went on, " I should show them exactly what it is they're doing wrong."

The nose of one of the knights flared. "And how do you propose to do that?"

"A match." Lyle didn't back down at all. "Me, and whoever you choose. You can even come at me with a few of your buddies, if you wish. I wouldn't mind." His smile turned sharp.  "It's been a while since I last had a truly good workout with so many people. So, what'll it be?"

The two knights stared at him like he was insane.

He may very well be these days. 

"So? What, are you scared? Do you not want to? Can it be that you lack bravery as well as skill?" He goaded.

"You're on!" One of the knights said. 

"Bell, wait, I don't think that's a good idea." Sera voiced her thoughts.

Lyle remained as stoic with her as he could. "Your concern for my well-being is appreciated, my Lady, but unneeded." 

"No, it's not you I'm concerned about..." Sera glanced nervously at the other two, wondering if they'd be alright. She'd seen a bit of what he could do. Strong, fast, smart, as durable as stone....

But how could the two of them refuse, when so blatantly provoked? 

"Apologies my Lady, but this is something we have to do!" The other nodded. 

Lyle's hand itched, wanting to draw blood.  "Good. Come with me then."

**********

They moved a little away from the rest of the camp, towards the road.

Under the curious looks of the others, they went on. A few knights frowned as they saw what was happening and followed. As did some of the mercenaries.

Lyle stopped, turning to face the other two. He saw them taking off the armor they wore, probably as a way to keep things "fair". But it was a wasted gesture, it wouldn't help even if they kept it on. 

"So you want to face me yourselves? As I said, you can pit whoever you want against me. Or try to overwhelm me with numbers. Either way."I don't believe that will be neccessary." Said the taller of the two, a man about ten or twenty years Lyle's senior. "I'll go first." He drew his sword.

"Have it your way. If you change your mind, let me know."

 The man sneered but didn't deign to answer. 

Lyle took out the thick black sword he always used, the familiar weight as crushing as ever.

The older man hesitated. That kind of sword... Where had he seen such a thing before?

He couldn't recall, but it almost reminded him of something...

"Are you ready?" Lyle asked.

"Quite." 

And then he moved.

Lyle felt a surge of bloodlust but remained composed. 

He took noticed of every minute detail of the man's muscle movements, knowing what was to come.

"You're far too easy to read." 

Then as soon as the man was within range, Lyle's arm blurred. 

His blade gently hit the other, seeming to coil around it like a snake. The thrust was moved away from his body, entirely rendered useless, and in the next instant the man's sword went flying into the air. 

"Pathetic." He sneered. "Again."

The man did as he was told, going into a defensive stance.

A calm, hard gaze come to life in his eyes, no longer playing around.

Lyle gave a brief smile.

"Much too rigid. So many openings." He shook his head. 

He propelled himself forward, almost too fast to see.

The man grew alarmed, hurrying to block the oncoming attacks.

One strike, two, three.

And that was all it took. The very instant after the third strike, the young man's sword disarmed him yet again and pointed his blade at his neck.

The man froze.

Although it didn't seem like it, during the last three strikes he was clearly able to feel the sheer force and weight of each.

It was like a mountain was bearing down on him, giving him a sense of being crushed.

"A protective stance should be more fluid. How can you defend yourself when you can barely react to anything? Your muscles were strained, unable to be flexible when it was needed, unable to properly dodge or counter. You were too slow to move, a fatal mistake. I have to say, so far your points are in the negatives."

Lyle took his sword away from the man's neck. "You." He pointed to the other knight. "Your turn. Entertain me." 

The taller knight felt beads of sweat along his brow. 

Just now the young man gave out an insurmountable feeling, a heavy aura of oppression and strength that he just couldn't match.

What's more, that dreadful bloodlust...

It made his hair rise. This sort of thing, a bloodlust that was as strong as this, was not something that could be acquired so easily. To pressure another person one needed a strong force of will. But to create this sort of utter dread in someone you had to have felled many a foe alongside that.  

A person as young as this, having that kind of bloodlust, so thick and strong? That wasn't normal. He turned to his younger compatriot, whispering, "Don't let your guard down. This boy is strange."

The man nodded, confident.

"Let's play, shall we?"

Lyle and the younger man stepped towards each other, swords at the ready.

The man didn't hesitate, rushing forward and continuing to attack Lyle in a flurry of fast-paced strikes.

Lyle dodged them easily, escaping with a paper-thin margin. Not a single movement wasted at all.

Lyle then started his own barrage of attacks when he saw the other starting to tire.

He quickly and precisely cut into him. Cheeks, arms, legs, every point where the man was weak was taken advantage of. 

His attacks were like raindrops, wearing him down into nothing with sheer number. The strikes increased in speed, faster and faster until the knight was bleeding profusely from shallow, superficial wounds. No matter what the other tried to do, it was useless.

Against human opponents, very rarely did Lyle lose.

Lyle dominated the entire fight, controlling every single action. Every attack, every move the other made, was all under his care. The knight stepped where Lyle wanted him to step and attacked where Lyle wanted him to attack.

The knight understood this, but he couldn't do anything about it!

In the chaos of battle, the young man before him was somehow determining each and every aspect. 

This wasn't even a fight, just a puppeteer in the midst of controlling his puppet.

Until, finally, Lyle once again held his sword to another throat. 

He didn't look winded at all.

"Hm." Lyle contemplated. "I never actually used that style of combat in a battle. Slow, but effective. It seems you were useful to me, good job. You're a bit better than your friend there, if just barely. Take heed, though, you're much too honest. Despite your skill and talent appearing a little above average, you're way too straightfoward. You should work on that." 

Lyle turned to the other knights that had gathered. "Anyone else wish to test their blade against mine? Or are you all content with being weak, worthless dogs?" 

There was something different about him. Something that Cecelia and the others, had they been there, would have noticed. Such a display, such harsh and arrogant words, were unlike the usual him. 

Yet they weren't present, and he himself didn't care for self-reflection at the moment. 

Everyone's eyes brightened when they heard his words, a few knights eagerly stepping foward. 

They had all seen how the young man dealt with the two. 

To be able to land so many strikes on the last man yet not cause any lasting damage or accidentally kill him, one could see just how skillful he was.

It was hard to plan out every move even in a match like this. In battle, no matter what type, there would be no time to hesitate or give much consideration to your next step.

Things went downhill fast and you can only rely on your instincts to survive, to dodge the next attack, to strike at just the right moment. 

But the way he just manipulated everything like this wasn't something normal people can accomplish. 

It was the first time they saw someone so young wielding this kind of ability. That is the type of person you called a genius.

How can they not want to polish themselves? Although it galled them to admit it, they had grown lax. Sparring against someone like this would definitely benefit them greatly.

Sera watched this all with a hard to read expression. 

"Young Miss?" She heard someone call to her. Voorhis.

"Good day, Captain." Sera greeted distractedly

"What's going on here?"

"See for yourself."

"Oh, a sparring match?" He realized belatedly. 

Wait, a line? Was he going to fight so many? The men seem in high spirits, why.... 

"Hmm..." Voorhis watched, in disbelief, as the youth took on three to four of his men at a time. And what's more amazing than that was....

"What do you think?"

He shifted. "A blade like that is something I've only seen used by those training to be Elemental Knights. God only knows how he got his hands on one. Unless he's an initiate and his master sent him out to gain experience. But he wields it so easily, it's astonishing. I've seen some initiates training with them before, none of the younger generation ever had that kind of control. And even his monstrous strength aside, his sword skills are far above the norm. Who spars against so many at one time? That's asking for a beating, but he does it so naturally. Regular opponents wouldn't be a match for him without using some sort of trick."  

"I asked about him, not his skills." 

"He strong and he's got talent. The boy has a bright future, what more can I say?" Voorhis carefully dodged the question.

Sera silently watched him for a moment more, then bloomed. Her smile was enough to melt the heart of even the most coldblooded of men. 

" He truly is exceptional, isn't he?" A note of pride was heard beneath her words. "My Bell..."

Voorhis was strangely quiet.

**********

"That was quite a performance." Sera clapped her hands as she walked.

He saw Nyk off to the side, giving him a Are-We-Going-To-Do-This-Or-What kind of look.

As soon as he saw Sera, however, he just shook his head with an amused smirk on his face and leaned against a tree. Presumably waiting.

Traitor. 

"Hm." He only gave a non-committal grunt and began to wipe the faint sheen of sweat from his brow. 

Seeing this prompted Sera to take out a pristine white cloth and present it to him.

After a while it was clear she wouldn't lower her hand unless he took it, and with the pressuring gazes of all the men around them he had little choice but to accept.

"Thank you." As curt a reply as ever. 

Another thousand-watt smile. He feared he may go blind if she kept doing that.

"My pleasure." 

It took only a few moments, then he began folding the thing neatly. "It's dirty, I'll wash and return it la--"

"That won't be necessary." The girl said quickly, snatching the sweat-stained cloth from him before spiriting it away. 

Lyle narrowed his eyes at that, but what was he supposed to say?

Her smile grew shamelessly larger, not minding him at all.

"I'll go fetch some water, you must be thirsty." And with that, she was gone. 

He mulled over his previous choice. It may be just his imagination, but perhaps he shouldn't have accepted the thing after all. It felt like it just encouraged the girl and he didn't want that at all.

He was in a foul mood. Over something so insignificant. That fact alone irked him even more. 

He felt like hitting something again.

"Nyk, let's go." Lyle called out.

The man nodded and they each took their stances.

**********

When Sera reached her tent she immediately dismissed Voorhis, closed the flaps and fell on her bed.

She idly brought the white cloth in her hands to her nose. 

"As expected, it has his smell. And so strongly too." She murmured. Sera took a moment to just lie there and breath it in. 

"Ah, how sinful....to think I would be doing such a vulgar thing...." 

"No, rather, this is his fault. Who told him to make me into this kind of woman? Oh, but must he be so...so cold?" She sighed to herself. "Why doesn't he aknowledge me? Does he not understand how special those moments were? Does he think I'm a loose woman who wouldn't care?"

Sera was very frustrated over the matter, that he was so adamant in rejecting her. She just wanted things to be as they should, as they were meant to be. Was that so wrong?

She shook her head clear of these thoughts. Wouldn't be good to dwell on things, she should just focus on the task at hand.

And so she stood up, took a pitcher of water, and intended to head back--she folded the piece of cloth and placed it under her pillow for safekeeping before she did, however.

But just as she turned to leave a voice made her stop right in her tracks.

"My Lady, there is a little girl here requesting an audience with you. Shall I send her away?" 

Sera blinked. Girl? She searched through her memories, and a small figure appeared in her mind. 

Oh. It must be sister-in-law. What a good opportunity....

"No, that's quite alright. Please let her in." She felt her voice shake just a bit in the midst of her excitement.

"Yes, My Lady." 

It wasn't long before an exceptionally beautiful woman, with waves of shimmering jet-black hair, walked inside. 

Sera frowned. What little girl? This cool-looking woman can be called a little girl? 

Despite her expectations being betrayed, that didn't mean she would be unkind. 

But her frown persisted. This woman, who was she? Sera had seen her before, but her memories of her were vague. She was not the same black-haired woman who was amongst her guests last night, was she?

No, that one had blue eyes, not grey. That girl was Lord Jaime's sister, if she recalled right. Not like this grey-eyed woman at all.

"Good morning." Sera greeted politely. "To what do I owe this pleasure, Miss...?"

"Cecelia." She answered, in a voice which was neither warm nor cold. 

"Cecelia. Right, please come in and have a seat then." This was not going to be a normal conversation, Sera would bet. She wanted to get back to Bellamy, but felt this may be important and so pushed the desire into the back of her mind.

Plus, something about this girl bothered her.

"As you wish."

While Cecelia came inside Sera busied herself with getting some cups and treats ready. It was a short few minutes before they were both seated on a with a small  round table between them

Sera provided some milk and a pastry for each of them. She liked sweet things. 

They didn't talk, which suited her fine. She just continued to gaze at Cecelia intently. The way she sat, the way she drank. It was all very graceful, even the way she held the cup in her hand.

"I thought so. I knew there was something off." Sera laughed in realization, causing Cecelia to halt her actions. "You're a Noble too, aren't you?"

The remark made Cecelia's mouth nearly fall to the floor. Shocked and blindsided she geld firm. "I've no idea what you speak of. Such an idea is preposterous." Cecelia denied with not a single bit of indication she was lying.

"No...I'm right." Sera nodded to herself. "It's in the way we're bred, you know. We all have little things we can't really hide. If only one knew what to look for, it's easy to spot the inconsistencies. Even the words you say and the face you just made. Most would not be so calm. Your self-control betrayed you."

Cecelia's brows knit together. Unexpectedly this girl was rather sharp. 

"One needs not be of Noble blood to have been raised well."

"Of course. " Sera agreed. "But the clothes you wear aren't what normal folk can afford."

"My parents are merchants. We do pretty well."

"Bellamy also comes from a merchant family, but he doesn't wear clothes that look to be made from famous tailors. You do."

As a woman, of course she'd know of such things. It was one of the first points she noticed about this Cecelia woman.

"I have that exact same coat too." She pointed. It was a deep black coat with silver buttons and a small gold design over the left breast. "Kiergan, no? He makes some fine pieces, expensive pieces. Sadly he doesn't deal with merchants. He makes clothes exclusively for Nobles. Still want to deny it? Or do you admit to stealing from a person of Noble blood instead?"

....Shit....

Cecelia inwardly cursed. She'd been careless. 

Her time with the mercenaries made her forget how smart Nobles can be. They excelled in discovering secrets, in using words against you. Cecelia hadn't seen another Noble when in disguise like this, she wasn't prepared for meeting one. 

Only a few minutes and she already knew what Cecelia was, how did Lyle stay with her for several hours undetected? 

 "Don't make that face. If it weren't for that I wouldn't have even thought of the possibility. It's a bit embarrassing to say, but usually I'm not all that sharp when it comes to things like this." Sera admitted. "Tell me, what House do you hail from?"

Cecelia had little choice but to accept the reality of the situation. 

"I can't say." 

"Oh" Sera's eyes dimmed. "I guess that's understandable. "And you're out to gain some experience, I assume?" 

She hesitated."Yes."

"Ah. So you come from a more militant family than most then." The light returned. "Not many Houses would allow their sons and daughters to venture out with mercenaries just for something like that, unless they thought it could provided valuable lessons...Lessons which regular Noble families wouldn't need." 

Cecelia again cursed, this time at herself. Despite this girl's looks, she really was quite quick-witted. 

"..." When facing one like this saying nothing was always best.

Seeing how she refused to say more on the subject, Sera let it go. "Right, what did you wish to speak to me about again?"

Cecelia put down her cup. 

"It's about Bell." 

The light came rushing back. "Bell?"  

Cecelia frowned. "Yes. In short, I'm here to tell you that any advances won't yield any results." There was no other way to say it, so she said it as bluntly as she could.

And yet, was her voice also a bit cold just now? 

"What?" Sera's smile froze. "What do you mean? What is this?" She started to grow suspicious.

"I mean," Cecelia worked to control her voice, to keep it even. " That he's already been taken by another woman. I'm sorry. But if you plan on trying to tempt him it won't do any good. He's quite loyal." Unfortunately.

"How..." Sera started, "...No, why do you think I would even..." Her voice faded away

Cecelia smiled gently, trying to lessen the blow. It was a small mercy she felt the girl deserved. "Look, I've seen the pattern before with other girls. It starts when he saves you, protects you, takes care of you....makes you feel really safe and secure. Then you want to repay him, but he refuses. So instead you want to do something nice for him, maybe even just cook him a meal, and he reluctantly agrees. But in the end, when you try for something more, he moves away. And you think to yourself, 'Why? What did I do wrong?'" 

"But there wasn't anything you could do." Cecelia stared intently into the girl's eyes. "You might think that you're special, that he's special. That you were guided here, to him, due to something like fate. That perhaps he was too, that he was meant to save you." And Cecelia sighed. "But no." She told the girl. "That wasn't the case. You had the good fortune to be saved in a time when you needed it. That's all. No more, no less."

Cecelia really did do her best to try and let her down easy, but she could only notice how Sera's hand gripped the edge of the table so hard her knuckles turned white. 

How her eyes moistened with unshed tears and anger and disbelief.

"You're wrong." She replied. Her voice was distinctly huskier than it had been just moments ago, harder for her to control. "Something like that, you're all wrong. I'm not like them. I'm not like those other girls. Me and Bell have a connection. I felt it. You can't tell me otherwise. I felt it."

Cecelia was already shaking her head. "What you felt was the gratitude and relief at being saved. Like I said, he made you feel safe. You depended on him. But that's all it was." Her expression was stern, almost harsh. "These feelings you think you have for him are false. An illusion, created because he was the one who rescued you. Fate had nothing to do with it. When all is said and done you'd probably feel this way about anyone who saved you. It didn't have to be him, they just had to do what he did."

Cecelia continued to try and convince her, but from the glare she got in return she could tell it wasn't going well.

"I said you're wrong. You're wrong about all of it. Anyone? No, it wouldn't be any good unless it was him. I'm telling you, I felt something between us. The things we did, the moments we shared together--"

"I'm sure they were important to you." Cecelia cut in, silently wondering what she meant by 'things'. "But to him it was just another day, another person he felt obligated to help. He doesn't care about you in the way you want,  and your own feelings for him are also shallow."

Sera still fought. "We were meant to--"

"Be together? Yes, a few of the others said that too." Most of them. The ages varied, some even older than Melanie, several already full grown women. 

But all they wanted, to Cecelia's mind, was that sense of security. Lyle provided that feeling easily, and that's what they desired. Not him. How could they? They barely knew him. 

And because of that Cecelia told them what she told this girl now. She had to. Cecelia couldn't stomach seeing how they treated him, not caring about the person but just the things he could do for them. It sickened her, knowing that they only wanted him for his looks and his strengths.

No, not just them. The Noble Ladies too. She hated how, for all the attention they threw his way, none of them seemed at all interested in actually getting to know him--or rather, they couldn't. Because he was different from them. He wasn't spoiled rotten, wasn't as only knee-deep and naive as they were. 

They merely liked him for his face and status. 

People like that in general were deserving of her disdain. 

"But that doesn't make it true. In a few weeks what you feel now will have cooled down, trust me. Don't bother to hope for something that will never be."

Sera remained unmoved. She just sat there looking dazed.

Then a sharpness once more came to life within those irises of her. 

"This other woman you mentioned previously...it's you, right?" Her tone was a touch mocking. 

Cecelia was taken aback. "What? No, we--"

"Don't lie to me!" It was a low hiss that shocked even Cecelia into quiet. "I'm not stupid. I hear how you talk about him, it's not like it's hard to figure out." She spat the words. 

Cecelia almost laughed right in her face. The two of them, together? Something like that was unlikely, she now understood.

Whenever he looked at me before I always knew that I was never the sister he thought about. Now I'm just a reminder of the woman who couldn't even see him with another girl without thinking the very worst. 

And given what Cecelia saw last night, Sophia wasn't the only one who lost out to a mere maid. No, in truth Sophia didn't. Only Cecelia. 

Ironic when she thought about it. 

"Our relationship has never been like that." 

"Even if that were true, if you weren't interested then why even bother to come here and cause trouble?" It was like an interrogation. " And if he has someone who isn't you, then why do this for them?" 

Cecelia wasn't ruffled at all. "He's my friend. At one point he nearly became my brother-in-law. This much care is as expected. It means nothing more."

"...Brother-in-law...?" Sera frowned, confused.

Cecelia had warning bells go off in her head. She stood abruptly. "We're done here. Remember what I said. I really do think that's what would be best for you. As I said, don't hope for what will never be."

 

**********

"Do you see how worked up they're getting?" Livia grinned. "Honestly, some women really are petty to a fault. Such low-quality women, we should just kill them right?"

Iris opened her eyes, shaking her head. "What? No! Big brother would hate that."

"Oh? Is that all that's stopping you? You've become quite vicious, haven't you?" Livia peered at Iris with a smile.

"..."

"Hey, isn't that Cecelia chick a pretty nice person? Coming to talk to the girl like that, out of the kindness of her heart, to keep her from making a fool of herself?" 

She was watching Iris' expressions closely. 

The little girl had a look of disgust. "Please. She just cares about keeping the herd down to a manageable size. She only had Melanie to compete against before, but then another opponent suddenly pops out from the ether? Hmph. Playing the good friend in front of my brother and Melanie yet carrying a scheming heart, it suits a woman like her who would turn against her own kin without a second thought."

"Ah, so she's just a snake then." Livia said.

"Nothing more." Iris agreed.

She went on. "So what should we do? Surely having such vile people by our brother's side is no good. Should we not remove the disease altogether?"

Iris felt herself getting angry. "My brother, not yours." 

Livia narrowed her eyes, but nodded. "Of course." Came the smooth reply. 

"And like I said, he wouldn't like that."

"Would he even know? How would he?"

"My brother isn't stupid, he'd find it too suspicious...and I wouldn't be capable of feigning sadness for their passing..."

No, rather, wouldn't she even be happy? 

"But if we were to--"

"No!" Iris snapped. "We won't kill. Never. I refuse."

"Ha." Livia offered a short laugh. "We'll see about that. In the future you'll realize you should have listened to me. I think you wouldn't mind killing then."

"And what do you mean by that?" The little girl demanded.

"Don't you think it's weird how attached that girl's become?" Livia questioned back mysteriously.

"What?"

"And look at the others too. Already showing signs, aren't they?"

Iris looked around her, perplexed. "I don't..."

"Lust is a very powerful emotion, you know." Livia's smile grew. "it can make people do pretty horrid things...Just keep that in mind, Little One"

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