It was early the next day, the sun bright and golden and causing the morning dew to glisten beautifully upon emerald green grass and vividly-colored flowers.
The chilling air, a common occurance at this time of year, caused everyone's breath to become distinctly visible.
They had stopped and rested the previous night in a clearing just a mile away from the roadside. The caravans and the rest of the things were left just to the side, the large dirt road off the main road they had come through allowing them to bring the caravans with them.
There was a small lake of fresh water not far from them, one that none of them bothered with since they had plenty of water on hand. There were a few of them who decided to wash themselves off downstream, but that was it.
They had dug latrine pits and set up camp easily. Lyle helped Melanie set up a tent, then gave her several thick blankets, a long, padded roll-up mat and a pillow to make her more comfortable. He and Iris, with her insistance, shared a tent of their own.
He agreed since he didn't want to leave her by herself. As for Melanie, he obviously couldn't do the same, he just sat their tent close to her's. Cecelia took care of herself, there was no need to worry about her.
Lyle was climbing out of his tent, ready for some "light" training to begin the day--as way his habit--and met Nyk. He was already up and doing his own exercises.
His shirtless upper body was, despite the coldness of the outside, building up a faint layer of sweat. Like Lyle, he seemed to have began with a series of slow, precise movements that allowed one's muscles to warm up when combined with sets of controlled breathing techniques.
As he stood there, Lyle, for the first time, noticed something on his friend's shoulder blade that surprised him.
"Nyk, that tattoo...I didn't know you were a follower of the Church."
Yes. Right on the back of Nyk's left shoulder blade was a stylized five-pointed star, colored in black ink. The symbol representing the Church of the Five Saints.
Nyk stopped his motions, and looked behind him.
With a casual air, he replied, "My entire family are followers."
"All of them?" That was strange, the young man never mentioned anything of the like before. Lyle then asked. "Even Solace?"
"She's very devout." He confirmed.
"Weird. I don't remember ever seeing their mark on her. Or you."
"Have you ever seen her naked?"
"No. Of course not." They had a habit of teasing each other, but that was all. Neither of them took the other serious, why would he have?
"Then there you go."
Lyle thought for a moment, but didn't think much of it after that. The Five Saints were pretty popular, a lot of people in Drann and other human settlements were believers. It didn't rival that of some of the other religions, and some even likened it more to a cult, but it was very widespread.h
Tink Solace and Nyk are part of them.
Oh well. To each their own. It didn't matter much in any case.
Thinking as such, he began his own training next to Nyk.
"What's wrong with your arm?" Nyk inquired suddenly.
He was referring to Lyle's bandages. Lyle covered up the Mark--or so it was called by those things--entirely with them. Which meant his whole arm was encased in the wrap.
"Nothing serious." He said.
And Nyk wisely didn't ask.
"Hey, Bell, whatcha doin'?" Murphy's sleepy lean frame came up from behind Lyle as he was battling an imaginary foe.
"What I always do." He replied simply, his breathing deep and even, perfectly controlled. Despite that, his face and shirt were nearly dripping with sweat. Not to mention that his muscles were pretty much screaming at him by this point.
"No, like, I mean I always see you doing this, but what's the point of just swinging a blade around like that? Isn't it better to just work out and stuff?"
Murphy understood why he was doing this, but in the end, it wasn't a real fight against anyone. Going through the motions like this was all well and good, but would it help with anything?
Lyle shook his head. He wouldn't bother explaining. "Here." He tossed Murphy the blunted weapon without warning. The younger boy hurridly moved to catch it.
...As soon as Murphy got his hands on it, he dropped it on the ground.
It made a loud noise as it sank it's point into the dirt.
Shocked at it's weight, he moved to pick it up once more.
--But he couldn't move it at all!
He strained his mucles, hard, but he only managed to get it out of the floor. He wasn't able to move it even five inches above the ground.
Son of a bitch, what the hell is this bastard made of, so heavy!
Murphy had such a thought, his arms burning as he struggled to keep the cursed thing from re-entering the earth.
"What's the matter, Murph?" Lyle's wry smile seemed downright sadistic to Murphy's eyes.
Murphy couldn't take it anymore, dropping the thing. He frowned. "Alright. Point taken."
As Lyle again took up the sword before walking a bit away and beginning another imaginary battle. Murphy watched with a slightly awed look
He had kept looking for several minutes before sensing a large figure coming towards him. "I always thought so, but that Bell is insane..." Murphy, still sleepy, yawned out that statement when the figure got close.
"Look at him. I can barely see the movements of his blade at all. And that fucker's heavier than a dead corpse. But strange, that sword, I never see him use it in battle. Even if it's dull, it could still be used as bludgeon."
Boris, at his side, snorted coldly. "You ain't supposed to use that kind of weapon for combat, boy. Those things, they're used strictly for training and mainly by Knights. That thick, stone-like blade, it's made of heavy materials. That one? Maybe three hundred. Or actually, possibly four hundred. "
"Your mother, four hundred pounds!" Murphy felt like he hearing things. Any sword or other weapon would not weigh more than ten or, maybe at the most, twenty pounds!
In the sword category, only Greatswords would weigh somewhere around ten pounds. Most other weapons? No.
Spears and warhammers are among the heavier weapons, but even they wouldn't be more than ten or so pounds. Because if they were too heavy, they would be way too hard to wield well. If one wanted to use a weapon effectively, it had to have good balance and weight. But too much weight, even if balanced perfectly, would be way too difficult to use!
Boris, Murphy understood, was a strong man and was easily able to use a Greatsword. That was amazing, anyone would agree. But it couldn't be compared to what Bell was doing.
Maybe Boris could lift it, but make such complicated movements similar to Bell's? Fuck, who would believe that?
No, by all rights, Bell shouldn't be able to do it either! He was strong as fuck, but this was too much!
Of course, this was all according to his own common sense and logic.
As for Boris....
"Don't be so surprised. Regular people won't be able to do what Bell is doing. And they won't use such heavy weapons. But to Knights, a hundred pounds wouldn't matter much. Powerful Earth Knights can do five or six hundred. They have to have such strongth. They fight literal monsters. Look at that." He pointed. "His feet are making slight indents on the ground."
"Bell isn't a Knight though."
"Nothing wrong with starting training early."
"So. How do they stop their feet from sinking into the dirt when using such heavy weapons?" Murphy wondered. Five hundred or six hundred pounds, all that weight, how could a human's legs not dip into the ground?
"Magic and shit, what else?" Boris looked at him like he was foolish for asking. "Anyway I would say given his physical power alone he might be comparable to a freshly trained Earth Knight. Not that he would be able to actually fight one."
Boris told the boy the last part with force, not wanting to imply that Bell is that strong. Because that would be insane. Simply put, purely in terms of strength, Bell is comparable to an average or above average Knight, maybe even an Earth Knight, but he can't fight either one just yet. They have Elementals to aid them, Bell didn't. Their powers were too numerous too.
Jaime could fight them, but he wasn't a normal human, he was a blood elf, and the training his father sent him to have was suicidal. Jaime was stronger than Bell by a few tiers, though Bell, in Boris' mind, had more talent.
He just wasn't as old as Jaime, or had the training he did. If he had at least one, then he would probably be his equal. If he had both, he would likely surpass him. This was only Boris' estimation, however.
" So what you mean is, Bell's a broken character?"
"Kind of, yeah. Were he to ever undergo real Knight training, he would make a great one some day. "
"That bastard. Hmph. Okay, well, let's not allow him to get too far ahead of us!"
"Heh, good words. Alright, let me rally the others. Lazy bastards. They'll be ashamed of themselves, knowing that Nyk and Bell are already hard at work. This'll get 'em motivated!"
Like he predicted, the others felt deep shame. They all worked extra hard that day, not able to stand the thought of losing out to two youngsters. They were all caked with sweat and dirt, exhausted after an hour of hard training.
Push-ups, sit-ups, squats, mock-battles, they did it all. And it was still early in the morning.
Iris came out of the tent just then, shivering. Lyle and Nyk were currently both soaked, shirtless and breathing hard. A fierce sparring match involving them both caused some cheers and bets from the other mercenaries. The scarce number of women who were part of the mercenay company, like Val, even whistled.
Obviously this excluded Phaedra, who was sharpening her weapons. Indifferent.
Melanie had long since awoken and watched as Lyle and the other worked out. Before long, Cecelia even joined them. As was normal.
After a few minutes, a person spoke. "Ah, brother is hard at work again today. I wonder how many hours I've missed...how shameful. I should have got up earlier."
Iris normally went to see her brother when he did this. It relaxed her somehow, Iris enjoyed watching him. It was a fun way to pass the time, and she sometimes drew him when he wasn't looking.
His form was especially wonderful when he trained like this. He was serious, raw, unlike his usually calm and composed self. It was a different aspect of her brother, and Iris liked to see it.
Her voice startled Melanie, who nearly jumped. "Lady--Iris. Oh, you're up? Y-your scared me..."
"Sorry." Iris apologized. "Were you admiring big brother too just now?"
"No. I wasn't. " She denied, quickly.
"So you were."
"I said I wasn't though...."
"Yes, but I know you do. You used to peek at him through the windows of the mansion, I've seen you. And that was before you began to tend to him whenever he finished. So how could you know when he was done unless you watched? You should have just been like me and looked openly, it's nothing to fret over."
"That's...I never...I mean, how could I ever do something so..." Melanie didn't know what to say. To say she peeked was too much! It sounded bad.
She was just checking on him to make sure he didn't ever get injured from such difficult training regimes, that was all! Yet now it seemed...shameful. How can her pure intentions be twisted like that...
She definitely never "peeked"...
"Don't be so worried about this. After all...you and big brother have done things much more shameful together." Iris' smile was sharp. "So what's the point of looking so embarassed with only this?"
With that, she strode towards her brother with a blanket wrapped around her.
Melanie was left dumbfounded.
Phaedra stretched her arms, getting up from the large rock she had placed a pillow on and made her seat.
"I'll be back, i'm going to go wash up by the lake. " After a visit to her tent to grab some things, she went and informed her brother of her decision. Who was currently watching the mock-battle between "that bastard" and Nykyrian.
"Alright." Her brother said. "But are you sure you don't want to go and train with them a bit?" He asked. "You could have a sparring match with Bell, relieve some stress." That much was fine. They could both use it, he thought. As long as it was just a spar, it was okay.
"No thanks." Phaedra refused. " I don't need to. And I don't want to be near that walking lightbulb so early in the morning. Why would I?."
"Such harsh words." He paused. "Wait, why lightbulb?"
Phaedra snorted. "Do you really want me to waste my breath explaining it to you?"
Jaime sighed. " Okay, fair enough. But I just don't get it, Fey. Why hate him so much? He's not bad. With your...unique abilities... you of all people should understand that."
"Well I don't." Her cold reply made him stop. "And I don't want to, either. I never asked for any of this. You have no idea how hard it is to deal with. I already get irritable with the hard-heads we keep company with on a daily basis. And now you want me to play nice with the one who causes me the most pain? Forgive me if I don't want to spend too much time with a person who makes my head ache simply by being here."
After a moment, he smiled biterly. "...Well you seemed eager enough to be near him yesterday when you were trying to get him worked up."
She smirked, her canines on full display. " And? So what? Is there a problem?"
Obviously I have my reasons, but why should I tell you? Is there anything you could do even if you knew?
She wouldn't tell him though. Her problems were her own, and he wouldn't be able to help her either way. No one could.
...jaime didn't know if it was possible for a person to be both sadistic and masochistic at the same time, but if it was, then his sister fit the bill. Or maybe she was just so sadistic that she would withstand being near the person she hates just to spout abuse at him.
Other than attempted murder of the young man, it seems like trying to make him so angry he'll cough blood is a fun way to pass the time for her. It was self-destructive though. In various ways.
Seeing him go quiet, Phaedra started to walk off. "I won't be long." She raised her hand as she her back was towards him, speaking airly.
Jaime sighed once again.
As soon as Lyle saw Iris' curent atire, he cursed and threw his sword to the side before rushing towards her.
"Iris, what the hell are you doing! You'll catch a cold!"
She only wore the light dress from yesterday with a blanket around her. Yesterday the dress was fine, despite the rain.
But today it was much colder!
She could catch something!
She could start running a fever!
" Come on, let's go get something warm on you. Honestly, what's with you, coming out with such clothes on. You could get sick, you know? Hurry up, come on!"
He was very angry. It was this cold outside and she was running around like that, it was as if she didn't care about her body at all.
A few minutes later the young girl came out wit some pants and a long-sleeved shirt on. With a furry red coat, knit gloves and a cap. It all seemed to be a set.
Very thick, very warm. She even had a muffler. And boots. All either red or black.
She looked adorable dressed like that, anyone would agree.
"Hehe, big brother does indeed worry about my well-being. So caring..."
"Caring? Ha, I would fail as an older brother if I didn't do this much. It's really the bare minimum."
"Big brother, why can't you just be honest?"
Lyle ignored her and looked towards Melanie. "You should cover up too."
The girl glanced away sheepishly. " That...um, that'll be a bit difficult right now."
"Ah, right, sorry." Lyle remembered that she didn't bring many clothes with her. Even the ones she brought wouldn't do much for her. "Stay here." Saying so, he ran back to his tent. He came back moments later and tossed something to the girl. " Use this for now until I can get you some clothes at the next town."
Melanie looked and saw that it was a deep grey and silver-colored overcoat.
She shook her head. "No, I can't! This is yours, how can I take it? " She knew that the one he wore previously got ruined, and he probably wouldn't back more than two.
"Fear not. I can use the other one. I repaired it a bit last night, and it'll do. I can't let you wear nothing, and I can't let you use one that has tears in it still. So have this one. It'll keep you nice and toasty."
"Wait, you repaired it yourself?" She instantly felt bad. " Why? I should have been the one to do it!"
"Since I can do it myself, why should I trouble you?"
"It's my job..."
"Not right now it isn't. You don't have to worry about me so much, you know?"
"But...it's my responsibility..."
"Like I said, right now it's not."
"...Alright. Fine. E-even still, I c-can't take this. You should take it. I'm f-fine, r-really! It's not that col anyway. Y-you should have it instead. You could come down with something if you don't! It's c-c-cold outside, so--"
Lyle looked at her doubtfully. "First you say that you're fine because it's not cold, but then tell me to wear the thing instead since it's cold outside? Also, do you think I can't hear your teeth chattering?"
"That's...That's not true!...M-my t-t-teeth aren't chattering at all!" She denied his words.
Who are you trying to fool, Both Lyle and Iris thought, not believing her at all.
"And...oh..." Melanie stopped.
She only just now realized the mistake he pointed out in her last statements.
Melanie felt a faint heat spread across her face, not knowing what to say in response.
"Ah, it's kinda cute." Lyle mused. "You think I was asking. I wasn't. Put it on." He commanded firmly.
"...Y-young Master..." Melanie kept hesitating.
"...I understand. E-excuse me then..." Left with little choice, she put her arms through the sleeves of the coat and put it on.
True to his words, the coat quickly did well in protecting her from the cold. It also had his scent all over it, even though he'd not worn it yet. It felt like he was warmly embracing her.
Melanie's heart sped up wildly at the thought, her heatbeat so loud to her own ears that she was afraid even he'd hear.
Melanie was glad to have it, but she if it was going to be like this every time she wore it... She didn't know if she could endure.
Melanie forced these thoughts to the side, but she was unable to look him in the eyes. She could feel her cheet start warming up, all the way to her ears.
She glanced at him just then, suddenly thinking of something as she did.
"Young Master, wait..." She told him, disappearing.
A few minutes passed.
" Young Master, here you go." Melanie came up and handed him a towel to dry his sweat, offering him a cup of water a moment later.
"Ah, thanks." He accepted both gratefully.
She waited for him to finish wiping himself and drink all the water before she took them back. "...Would you like something to eat? I could...I could make something for you. You must be famished. Hold up, I'll get a fire going and--"
"No, that's fine. I'll just chew some jerky, I'm not really all too hungry anyhow. I can wait till later to eat, and we should reach a town within a few more hours of travel. But you, Cecelia and Iris can go ahead and eat. In fact, should I make you guys something then? You've probably never used a campfire to cook, right? So you might not be able to do it. Let me handle it instead. I'll go call Cecelia, she should be getting hungry right about now."
"What? No!" She stopped him. "I can't do that! Iris and Cecelia aside, how can I just let you do the cooking?" Wasn't that her job? To eat something made by him... allowing him to make something for her, a servant... that wasn't acceptable. "Also, you just went through such a intense training session, you should eat!"
"Like I said, i'm fine. I'm not that hungry." He insisted. He really wasn't. For some reason, he only felt reinvigorated. Maybe it was just the high from a hard session of exercise, but he hadn't felt much desire for any food right now. Some jerky was more than enough to last him.
He lowered his voice. "Besides, again, you're not a servant right now. Here we're just friends, right? Don't worry about it."
"It's not right. It shouldn't be like this. And you're always hungry when you finish training in the mornings...Ah" She remembered. " You should be feeling sore too. Then before eating, would you like a massa--?"
"Melanie." He stopped her with a word.
He was worried that some of the others may hear, and it would be bad if she said what he suspected she was about to say. In various ways. They weren't talking loudly, but what if someone walked up to them unawares?
"Sorry..." Melanie knew that, once again, she was about to make a blunder. She had to stop that.
"But really, don't be so stubborn." Melanie was saying. " I can take care of this much. At least get something light in your stomach. You can't eat anything heavy, but if you don't eat something then isn't it bad for you?" She unconsciously moved to take his hand. " Come on, let's--"
But Lyle roughly broke from her grip, as if her arm was a snake.
There was a small quietness that took root between the three present which stretched out for several seconds.
"...I-I'm sorry, I shouldn't have..." She began.
"Don't." Lyle waved off her apology. "It's not your fault." He stiffened. "Melanie, on second thought, go ahead and make something for Iris, will you? I'll be back in a bit."
"Brother?" Iris grew concered, tugging on his arm.
" I'm alright." He said. "I'll be back." He repeated.
Then, without another word, he walked away into the forest under the worried gaze of the two.
He raced at a break-neck pace once he was out of eyeshot.
Something was wrong. He felt like he was on fire. His blood, his bone, every part of him, at that one touch of Melanie's, was set aflame.
Ever moment made his heart pound harder in his chest. His skin was ultra-sensitive and, like everything else, hot.
Abnormally so. So much that it hurt. Like there was a small sun forming inside him that was pressing against his flesh in an attempt to get free.
But this feeling, it was different from before. It was more intense. Much more.
And he had to get away. It was as if someone set him aflame. Lyle couldn't handle it. He felt like he would pass out from the heat. Or scream. Or go wild. Or maybe a weird combination of all three.
But it just kept on building up...
He rushed forward, desperate to alleviate this scalding heat that was ignited within him.
He paid no attention to the things in his way, he just had a single-minded focus on getting to where he wanted to go.
There was only a single time when he stopped, when the fire threatened to overtake him, when his body spasmed with pain and dropped him. There was no warning. He had taken a sharp rock, making a jagged cut into his leg.
His blood was like acid in his veins, and that was the only way he knew that might help. By letting it out.
Then he moved on. Doggedly. The wound helped only slightly.
And several agonizing minutes later, he arrived.
With the fire almost ready to explode, Lyle kicked himself off the ground.
An instant laster, a loud splash! was heard.
Ice-cold water surrounded him. It was salty, and invaded his nose, mouth, ears, the cut on his leg, everything.
Freezing. Biting into his skin.
...Liberating him from the fire...
He stayed like that until he couldn't breathe anymore, until his chest felt like it was being pressed down. Unil he had to come out of he would drown.
His face broke through the surface of the chilling water, coming out and gasping for air.
Lyle stayed there, his feet touching the sandy bottom of the shallow lake which only came upto his waist.
He just stood in that spot, unmoving, his breath ragged. Steam rose off his skin as he made contact with the water. The droplets of liquid on his arms and torso and hair also began evaporating.
It felt great, the iciness. It dampened the fire that was eating away at him, helped him get more control of himself.
But it wasn't easy. His lungs burned, his head was dizzy. He could only stand there and struggle to keep his senses, could only cling onto consciousness with everything he had.
Because he wasn't sure what would happen if he let go, if he let it take him, if he was not awake to fight this feeling off.
"What...The hell...are you doing here?"
A low, threatening voice--feminine, full of warning--was issued forth from behind him.
Phaedra had her head dipped underneath the freezing water when she felt it. The movements of someone or some thing jumping inside the lake.
Never had she expected that when she readied for a fight she instead would find the rather muscled back of a young man facing her only a few feet away. Surprised, she eyed the newcomer wearily, not sure what was happening but knowing that he hadn't noticed her.
It took her only a second to recognize the person those broad shoulders belonged to.
And it took much longer for her to realize what situation she was in. At first she just stared at him, wondering what he was doing.
It seemed like he was in pain, and she didn't think it was due to the wound she saw by his leg. There looked to be steam rising off his body, and Phaedra knew that if she touched him he would probably be scalding hot.
Seeing this strange thing didn't cause her much worry, however. She knew more than anyone that his body was strong, very strong. No normal person could have that strength. He probably wasn't fully human, like her.
So she thought nothing of this sight, just idly curious as to what was happening to him.
But then she understood that she, naked, was pretty much being disturbed in the midst of her "bath". Even if he didn't mean to, or didn't know, how could she be calm? Especially when it was he who was here, about to see her naked as day?
With that anger building up inside her, she let out a few words of warning.
His entire body looked to stiffen up noticably.
"Phaedra." His made it sound like a curse. His gaze involuntarily moved to the woman's voice.
Phaedra, noticing this, instantly dipped her entire body back into the water.
"Bastard, look away!"
"...Why?" There was a silence before he said that.
"Why!" She repeated after him. "Damn beast, only you would have the gall to ask that question in this situation!" She yelled. Then her eyes narrowed. " Did you see?" If you saw, you die.
Her words implied this.
"I see." She calmed herself. Then, "I'm going to kill you later. Failing that, I'll gouge out your eyeballs. Now look away!" She snapped that last sentence at him, enraged he hadn't already done so.
"I don't see how it would matter if I look away now. The rice is already cooked, so whether I avert my gaze now or not won't change the fact that I saw. No excuse would be good in a situation like this, you would be mad either way. So why shouldn't I just look?"
"Perhaps so." His lips curled upwards. " If I am, me looking is really just as to be expected, right? Well, I won't disappoint you then. Rest assured that I'll etch every detail into my retinas. You're welcome." He spoke like he was doing her a favor.
Phaedra was speechless. Every word he spoke up to now, it was all ridiculous! Continuing to look because he already saw? What sort of logic was that? What sort of person would come up with that? This bastard...he had reached a level of shamelessness that was many times higher than others his age.
It was simply inconceivable there was a person who could say all that with such a reasonable tone of voice.
However, Phaedra did notice one thing that caused her to think: Though he didn't bother looking away, except for that initial glance, he never broke eye contact with her. From almost his first real awareness of her up to now, he had not glanced even once at her naked form.
But that, to her, might have been worse. She was naked, and yet he was staring her in the eyes like that. Somehow it made her feel more exposed than if he actually did look at her body.
Again, that angered her to no end.
"Fine. Keep looking, I don't care. Shameless bastard."
"Do you always have to be so foul-tempered?"
"Do you always have to be so hateful?"
"I wouldn't have to be if you just layed off me once in a while."
"Well maybe if you just kept your mouth shut once in a blue moon, I would."
"So, what, you blame me for this..." He gestured to them both. "...Thing between us?"
He laughed. "You don't have the right to say that. I'm not the one who jumps to murder everytime we meet."
" I don't ever see you backing down."
"Because you won't let me." He narrowed his eyes dangerously.
She barred her teeth, her face a mask of ferocity. "If you just stop provoking me I would't have to bother with you!"
"How do I ever I provoke you?" Lyle asked angrily, voice getting more heated each second they talked.
"Fucking hell, woman, that's not an answer! Exactly what am I doing that's so damn offensive?!"
She shouted venomously. "It doesnot matter. What matters is that if only you weren't here then everything would be fine! If only you weren't here, I wouldn't hurt so much!"
She didn't continue, just glared at him hatefully. She breathed hard, her eyes flashing with a wild, furious light.
He realized it then. He never felt this way before, despite everything she had said and done.
Lyle realized...That right now, in this moment, he hated her. He hated her. This emotion, so sudden and without warning, sat in the pit of his stomach. Making him feel sick. The fire from before rose up, this time changed. It smouldered inside him, slowly building up, like a volcano. It wasn't a raging inferno like before, but a molten lava that just made him want to scream.
Never before had anyone seemed to simply reject his entire existence before. This loathing, this disdain, it was like she just wanted him gone.
It was only now that he had discovered that there was someone who would just be happier if he had never been born.
But she had no reason to hate him. He had never done anything to her from the start. Not that he knew of. He had never even know of her until more recently in his life.
What hurt? Nothing but nonesense.
"Why?" He asked quietly, trying very hard to control the burning feeling in his chest. " Why do you hate me? What possible reason could you even have?"
Her face went hard.
" I don't need a reason. What I hate, is everything about you. Just being near you sets me off. Don't you get it? But you keep coming back no matter what I do! I wash you'd just fucking leave already!"
Unnoticably, in the middle of their heated back talk, they had moved closer to each other.
And because of that, Phaedra was given the perfect opportunity to shove him to enunciate the words. Like she imagined, his body was hot. Strangely, though, it wasn't hurtful or unpleasant.
As for Lyle, with him being pushed back, feeling the warmth of her hands upon the brief contact... the aggression behind the shove made him nearly lose it. He wanted to get away from here as fast as he could, but if he made any sudden move he feared that it would just make him run wild.
The only reason he hadn't, he believed that the only reason that he was able to hold a seemingly normal conversation up to now was because of cafeful restraint--sheer willpower--and the coldness of the water constantly dousing the ever-rising heat inside him.
"Don't. Touch me!" He ground out.
She smirked, not at all sorry. "Or what?" She challenged. With that said she once more placed a hand on his torse, ready to shove him another time.
When she did, his pupils contracted and her felt his fists tremble.
"Oh? Is there something wrong, huh? You seem troubled. Well, what're you going to do?"
Lyle, seeing her disdainful face, the way she smirked at him, egging him on, he couldn't stand it.
Phaedra had no time to react by the time she felt his hand around her neck, lifting her up. He had the face of a beast, predatory.
His hand was hot and full of power, like they could break her with but a tiny squeeze. Maybe they could. Maybe she wanted them to.
"Go ahead..." She forced out. "...Try it."
She saw several emotions pass through his eyes at her words, knew he was struggling with himself.
She could feel and see him letting out hard, staggering breaths. Neither of them spoke. They could only here the various sounds of the forest around them, the sound of flowing water and chirping of birds.
With visible effort, through clenched teeth, he let out a single sentence.
"You wish I would leave? Well I wish that we had never met."
And the hate vanished. It left as fast as it vame, birthed and killed in a matter of moment. All that was left was a hollowness.
He was tired of it. Of her snide comments, of her caustic attitude.
He had his own problems.
Hell, he'd had problems since his first day of life, things that he would have to deal with simply because of who he was and what family he was born into.
In addition, just in the past few days alone the number of problems he had to face went up drastically. Not just him, but even Iris, the sister that he cheished more than probably anything else, was the same as him.
So he didn't need this. He didn't need to be dealing with her, too.
He had enough of her.
And as soon as he realized this, that hate, that anger towards her...was gone. It just left him feeling empty.
With stiff movements, he turned away from her and went towards the edge of the lake, slinking back into the forest.
Phaedra was still in the lake, having been dropped abruptly.
...I wish that too, She thought. Every day. You...you're nothing but a poison to me...
Standing up, she eyed the red liquid that was spreading throughout the water
He was wounded, she remembered. Which meant that this was his blood. And there's so much of it...
A strange look came onto her face as she watched it. Almost remorseful.
Finally, after a moment's hesitation, she cupped her hands, carefully bringing the blood-water to her lips...
But one I can't help wanting more of...