I was up before dawn the next morning. My mind had been bogged down with the events of my journey and I couldn’t keep myself from thinking about how unskilled I was in combat. If I was to truly protect those close to me, I needed to have the means to do so.
I charged up those flames at the core of my being, feeling them expand to the tips of my fingers, and discharged them towards a stack of wood. At first the flames danced around the target before eventually starting a small fire. I still wasn’t good enough. My spellcasting was so sporadic that I felt I had not even an ounce of control over it. I thought back to the times that it had been so strong as to kill a man. What made it so? Fear? The want to protect those close to me? Even then, I had lost control of it and killed someone. Sometimes too strong, sometimes too weak. I needed to gain control.
I tried again. It was a simple spell, so how was it that I couldn’t get an appropriate amount of fire from it? Another time; it was bigger, but it wasn’t big enough. It should be roaring to life, mingling with the flames from the attempts before. Once more; what was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I do this? I felt the anger boiling the blood in my veins. Last time; success. I sat on the ground to catch my breath. Adrenaline pumped through my veins and my heart beat in a frenzy. I didn’t like feeling this way, I needed to calm down.
Ragnvaldr sat down next to me. I thought I had been far enough away to not wake anyone. “Practicing again?” he asked, rubbing my back with a large hand.
“I can’t seem to find a balance for myself. Once I get the spell working correctly I’ve already exhausted myself.”
“You don’t look as much exhausted as you look afraid.” His words didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Of course I was exhausted; my heart felt as if it were on fire and I didn’t feel as if I were breathing in enough oxygen.
“I just need to pace myself,” was the only response I could think to give without letting on that I wasn’t entirely understanding his words.
From the top of the ruins I had found my way up, I could see the sun beginning to peek over the distant sea. It had been so long since I had time to just watch the sunrise. I laid my head against Ragnvaldr’s arm. He put it around me, bringing me close. My heart began to calm and I watched the sun slowly rise with him. Birds sounded the arrival of a clear morning. I yawned and allowed myself to continue to relax with him.
“It’ll be time for breakfast soon, huh?” I broke the silence as my stomach rumbled.
“Yeah. Anything you want to eat?” he responded.
“Eggs Beetletun,” I replied. I saw him smile.
“And an apple cider,” he tacked on. “Must be a favorite.”
“Something like that… Wait, I’ve never mentioned these to you!”
“Your breakfast back at the lodge. Asa told me.” His smile was soft and familiar.
I remembered it now, “You must mean the over-worked and uncaring looking woman who served me that morning.”
“That describes her pretty well.” He laughed, “I worked with her for quite some time. Recently she had been put on morning shifts instead though.” He shifted around a bit and held onto my waist tightly. “She probably hates me for leaving.”
“Why is that?” I asked while gently taking his ponytail in my hands. I brushed through the blonde strands with my fingers.
“I left her there. She was always talking about how she’d like to adventure across the world, and that’s what I’m doing now.” His eyes were still focused on me. “She, uh… She confessed to me just before I left. Things got a bit awkward and I just left without answering her.”
“It seems like everyone is announcing their love these days.” I sighed. Unrequited love was no joke and I felt sorry for people like Asa and Angel. I knew that I had left Ragnvaldr in a sort of limbo state between even that for quite some time before accepting.
“When it’s this world that holds your life in its hands, it’s no surprise that everyone rushes into it. You could be enjoying a beer one night and be dead by the next day from one thing or another.” He was right, though. Tyria was merciless and more people were dying with each coming day. The dragons played a huge part in the rising death tolls.
A thought came to me, “Where’s Tobih? We can’t leave him and Angel together.”
He patted my shoulder. “Tobih is sleeping. Angel left on one of her usual scouting missions or whatever it is that she does at night instead of sleeping.” My heart settled down with his words. His tone changed as he looked down at me, “How does someone with so much energy as her never sleep? How is it that she keeps going?”
“She has a lot on her mind.” Perhaps that wasn’t the only reason. Maybe it was that she was waiting to hit the wall of ‘not being able to go’.
“Don’t we all.” It was more of a statement than a question. He shook his head and ruffled the hair on top of my head, “Maybe it’s better if we don’t worry about things like this right now. We should relax.”
It was nice being able to watch the sunrise with Ragnvaldr. I almost felt at peace for once. The stress melted away with the darkness in the sky. It wasn’t really a wonder how I could have fallen sleep in his arms.
I woke up just as peacefully. Ragnvaldr had stayed with me and seemed to be watching a few moa in the distance. I raised my head up from his lap and rested it on his shoulder instead.
“Good morning.” His voice was soft and pleasant to wake up to. I noticed the red marks on his skin and realized I must have been sleeping on his arm.
“Morning…” I yawned and rubbed my eyes. “Did Angel come back?”
“We have company. Tobih isn’t alone,” he reassured me. I suddenly felt more awake.
“Company?” I questioned.
“A few of Tobih’s friends.” He noticed that my face has contorted in a way that showed I was even more confused and added, “Our guildmates.”
“Oh! Ventari’s Refugees!” I realized and sprung up so quickly that my leg gave out and I fell back onto Ragnvaldr’s shoulder. He caught me by the legs, making sure that I didn’t completely tumble over. “So Kiffi is here?”
He nodded, “We should go down and meet with them.”