Arc Three Chapter Nine

Story Arc Three: Chapter Nine

Bastion and Riva were alone in the room, after the others had left to see to the arrangements, and for a while they were silent. Bastion stood by the window, looking out over the city. Riva was close to becoming frightened again when Bastion sighed. “Riva, you need to stop keeping secrets from me.”

She nodded, tears falling. “I’m sorry. I wanted to tell you everything, but I was just so afraid… afraid that you would surrender to your duty and that you would come to resent me.”

“Riva, why didn’t you tell me about…” he didn’t know what words to use any more than she did, he supposed, “about Rina and Lenne? You said that you were hunted, but you didn’t tell me that you had been Cursed, as well.” He turned to look at her and was stunned by how pale her face had become.

She trembled visibly, still sitting in the chair. “D-dramsol told you about the Curse?”

“He told us, all of us, that there was a Curse, but he did not explain what it did or how you suffered because of it. He merely said that you would not wish to tell us about it. He also said that you had suffered in ways that only a woman alone can and…” he looked back out the window, trying to maintain his composure, “and I pray that I misunderstood what he meant.”

Silent tears fell down her cheeks. “You probably understood his meaning quite well, then.”

Bastion put a hand over his face, showing his anger in the shaking of his hands. “Tell me whoever did it is dead now.”

The tears fell faster. “I cannot. Too many times across too many worlds and lifetimes. Oh, a few times a friend found me and… and made the culture pay for the atrocity, but he was not at my side at all times, or in all places. I didn’t even know that there was a Curse behind it all until recently, didn’t know that something evil had been placed on me to draw them in and encourage their darkest depravities.”

Bastion struggled to restrain his need for violence. “Did my brother…?”

She wiped the tears from her face. “What do you mean?”

He took a deep breath and turned to face her, determining to approach the question a different way. “You are frightened of my brother.” He made the statement sound like a question.

She nodded, still slightly confused. “Yes. He has strength, but no compassion.”

“You were not frightened of him before before you ran. You were frustrated with him; you wrote often of it. You were not frightened. What happened?” She was silent and he turned to face her. “What did he do to frighten you?”

She sighed. “It wasn’t what he did so much as how he did it and why. It… it was stupid, a – a stupid twin-conflict thing compounded by a male ego thing. But I don’t know how this matters, the Curse was broken before I rode to find my friend, before I was caught by Wolf Eyes.”

“What did he do, Riva?” Bastion was insistent.

She looked down at her hands. She didn’t want to see his face, his expression, his eyes. “He kissed me. Knowing that it had been at least ten years plus however long I had been in that cavern. Knowing that I had been dreaming of you. Knowing that I was running from Pallantia to go to you. And he made it abundantly clear that he could have done much more and that I could not have stopped him. I could only have killed him afterwards, but it would have been afterwards. And he implied that my brother would not have had any problems had he taken it that direction. As if all that weren’t bad enough, he did it as a way of getting to you, a way of marking territory, making sure that anything you received he had tainted first. He – he wanted me to remember.” She was shaking and couldn’t seem to stop talking, so she abruptly closed her mouth and held it closed for a moment. “I can’t seem to forget.”

Bastion sighed, somewhat ashamed that he was so grateful that it had stopped at merely the kiss. “He always started the fights when we were children.”

“He was dominant, wasn’t he?”

“Yes. And I put up with it all until… until the day we were transported here. I broke free of him then. I don’t think he ever forgave me. I’m sorry that you were put in the middle of our private war.”

“I can’t hate Marus, but I could very easily hate Gabriel.”

“I would rather you didn’t, Riva, he is my twin brother, after all.”

“I’m sorry.” She paused. “He considered it, you know.”

“Considered what?”

She looked very uncomfortable for a moment. “Doing more than… just what he did. I-I could see it in his eyes. H-he was weighing options. He didn’t, but he considered it. I think,” her voice grew very soft, “I think he wanted to.”

Bastion sighed and covered his eyes for a moment. He was close to being genuinely angry with his brother, and he didn’t need that to be his dominant emotion right now. Being angry wouldn’t help Riva, it wouldn’t change the past, and it would probably scare her more. He started to say something when there was the sound of shouting and a clanging through the hallways as the claxon sounded out a warning that was swiftly followed by the deep rumble of an explosion rocking the palace.

“What in the…?”

Riva’s face grew pale. “Ah Elar, it can’t be him. Surely he doesn’t think…?”

A voice could be heard, a shout far louder than any human voice could sound. “Goldeneyes! Where are these bastards keeping you?”

She stumbled to her feet and Bastion reached out to try to pull her back. “Riva, where are you going?”

“I’ve got to stop him! I’ve got to stop him before he destroys the city trying to find me.” Her feet weren’t the most steady in the world, but she quickly ran with Bastion close behind her. “I’m the only one who can save everyone.”

They ran to the central courtyard where a man stood, holding off the unified might of the castle guards with simply a wave of impossibly dark magic. Bastion’s eyes widened as he saw the man clearly and his jaw nearly dropped. “Damn, that’s a big son of a…” He never got the chance to finish the exclamation because he saw that Riva hadn’t stopped and was running straight for the man. “Riva! Wait!”

The man was huge, taller and respectively larger built than Bastion himself and he was no small man, to be certain. His hair was a grey color and his eyes glinted yellow in the light. He turned his head to see Riva running for him with Bastion following her and he roared with rage. “Get away from her!” He held out one hand, dark energy gathering at his palm as he readied a spell of some sort.

“Simon! No! Simon, don’t! They aren’t trying to hurt me! No one here’s trying to hurt me!” Riva didn’t stop, merely ran straight through his magical barrier and up to the man, wrapping her arms around him to bury her face in his chest. “I’m alright, Simon. I’m alright. They saved me.”

The man, Simon, lowered his hand slowly, letting the energy dissipate from both the spell he was readying and from the barrier that he held against the guards. He reached his arm out to wrap around Riva, holding her gently. “You are certain? You are unharmed?”

She nodded. “Yes. How did… how did you know about what happened? I can’t imagine that Destiny would tell you since I didn’t need rescuing.”

Simon chuckled low. “I may work with her, but I don’t trust her, Goldeneyes, even if she is your sister. I heard your shout for help and she told me that she’d sent her bard son to find you, and set your Dragoon on your trail too. There’s no telling when he’ll make it here, but I’ve got my own people clearing his path as best they can and sent some to look for that scamp of hers. I’ve been looking after your two girls in the meantime.”

Bastion slowed to a walk and approached the two cautiously. He nodded his head to the man. “I understand that you are a friend of Riva’s?”

He nodded, his eyes measuring the Castellan knight for a moment. “You could say that. I’m not certain that the term goes far enough, though.” His eyes narrowed slightly in thought. “And you are?”

Riva’s voice was muffled from where she still hid her face against Simon’s chest. “His name is Bastion, Simon, and he’s… he’s my friend, too.” She sighed deeply. “Can we please talk about this inside? So we can at least keep control over who hears us, Simon?”

— — —

The discussion took place in King Ainmire’s personal library and Riva made absolutely certain that she was seated on the other side of the room from Simon before she told him that she’d been forced to actually kill to defend herself.

As it turned out, that was a very insightful precaution on her part because his first reaction was to roar and step towards her. “That’s it, I’m taking you back to that crystal hideaway of yours and I’m never letting you out again!”

“Simon, don’t! I need to be here! Please!”

Bastion stood up and put himself between the two. “She is quite capable of defending herself, you know, and I’m not going to let anything like that happen again, not so long as I am able to protect her.”

“You have no idea what it costs her!” Simon raged at him. “How she’s not burning this whole city to ash, I don’t know, but taking a life damages her very soul!”

Bastion’s face lost all expression for a moment. “What?”

Riva sighed deeply. “It’s the Empathy, Bastion. When I kill… I feel the death as if it were my own. It causes my magic to go beyond all control and I lose my own identity. It takes a while to recover, but I’ve had lots of practice the times that Simon wasn’t able to find me before I had to take steps of my own.” She took a deep breath. “The only thing I can say is that the cost for killing one man and the cost for killing a hundred is the same, so if I have no choice… I try to get every bastard that needs it at once.”

“Is that what’s been going on with you, then? Why you’ve been so scared of everything?”

She nodded slowly. “Oh, I’d still be an emotional wreck from what… what almost happened, but I wouldn’t necessarily be this bad if I hadn’t had to kill three of them on top of tripping several deep emotional trauma scars on the way. I will get better. I just… I’m very vulnerable right now. Every nerve on edge, so to speak.”

Simon’s eyes narrowed. “Do you have any girls at the moment, Goldeneyes?”

Riva colored brightly and shook her head. “No, I don’t. But I don’t really need any at the moment, either. I can’t spare the attention to keep guard of Rina the way she needs and I’d rather not separate her from Lenne. And without my magic to be able to take certain precautions, I can’t risk it either.”

“What do you mean? What happened to your magic?”

“Wolf Eyes sealed my magics before he tossed me in that cavern to die. All I’ve got right now is some of the minor Illusions.”

Simon’s expression firmed. “I should take you away from here. You know I should. And I should tell that interfering sister of yours that she owes me more than she’s prepared to pay for not telling me where you were the moment she found out.”

“Please don’t, Simon. I- I trust Bastion. He’ll help me keep it from happening again. He’ll help me keep myself safe, if anyone can.” She bit her lip nervously for a moment, looking for a way to distract him from that train of thought. “Y-you said that Destiny had sent someone other than Dramsol to find me?”

“Yeah, your Dragoon. That biker boy of yours. No one knows when he’ll be able to reach here, though. His was a longer path.”

“Kenshin? He’s coming here? But he’s not…”

“I presume that interfering female forced his potential awake so that he could Travel. Goodness knows he’s been following you long enough to have gained the ability by now. He’ll find his way to you if he has to fight past death to do it, and he’s proven that already.”

She paled. “Cearnach…”

“Yeah. Cearnach, and Conn and Nebby and now Kenshin.” Simon looked Bastion in the face. “So you had best get used to the idea that you’re not the only one in her heart or I’ll just end this charade now. No matter what you are or will be to her, and you’d damned well better make sure that you are what she needs to you to be, you’re gonna have to accept the fact that she’ll always have her girls and that she’ll always have her Dragoon.” He smirked slightly. “Hell, between the two of you, you just might keep her as safe as I would.”

Bastion wasn’t quite certain how to respond to that.

Categories: Castellan Dreams Traveler | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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