Eon rode in the carriage for the rest of the two day journey. None of us trusted him on a horse by himself. The open wounds on his head and Talon's shoulder look a little better. Luckily, Talon had come prepared. He had various vials and powders in a small bag, neatly tucked into separate sleeves and labeled with letters that didn't mean much to me. I had cleaned both thoroughly and Talon had provided a jar of blue black liquid that had glowed for a few seconds after I dripped it all over both injuries. Eon had been no problem, he sat still, staring straight ahead as the edges of the wound slowly pulled together a bit. Talon had told us ahead of time that they wouldn't be completely healed but it had still helped immensely. Talon had been far more awkward for me. We hadn't been talking very much, only in passing and he bristled every time I told him to do something. I'd ordered him to sit on a downed tree and it had thrown me off for a second when he pulled his tunic over his head. All the pale skin and tattoos came into view and my mouth dried out. I shook myself and cleaned all of the caked on blood off his shoulder and chest, him complaining the entire time.
“I can do this myself.”
“It's the back of your shoulder, how would you manage that?”
“Stop complaining.” I sat the blood soaked rags aside and Dima snatched them up.
“It's one of the things I excel at though.” Talon's hissed softly as I dropped the liquid onto his shoulder and I was silently satisfied that it shut him up for a couple of seconds.
“It's bigger than Eon's.”
“Don't I know it.”
Heat flew over my face and I coughed softly as I went through the dismal medical kit that I had packed, “I'm going to have to stitch it closed.”
“Fantastic. That sounds like more fun than I've had in a long time.” Talon gritted his teeth as I pushed the needle through his skin, his entire body tensed. He didn't open his mouth the rest of the time I worked the needle and thread through his skin. When I was done he pulled away and moved to where he'd thrown the couple of bags he'd brought with him. He knelt on the ground and fished out a thin dark gray vest that he slipped on. He was silent for quite a while and I turned away, packing up my things. I checked on Eon, patting his shoulder as he struggled to keep his eyes open. That was mostly what he did on our journey, nap. He left the carriage only to eat and sleep. Much to his dismay. We were moving far slower than we should be. That was entirely my fault. I forced the entire group to stop more often so Eon could take breaks.
“I hate this.”
“Too bad. Don't get hit in the head next time. Aren't you supposed to have military training?” Talon quipped from the other side of the clearing.
“Talon leave him alone. Eon we're almost there. If we got attacked again it'd be hard for Talon and Lex to protect all of us. We all know you'd try to help. So just relax.”
My 6'2”, made of solid muscle, stoic brother actually pouted, “Yes mother.”
“What he meant is we know you'd do something stupid and then Mallex and I would have to save you and the civilians. I'd also like to add that Mallex spent most of his time on his back during that last...skirmish.”
“Shut up freak.”
“Oh, I'm sorry. Is that a new fighting style I'm unaware of? Scuttling around on your back like a crab improve your defense?”
“Which one of us got injured?”
“Which one of us saved your fiance?”
Mallex took in a sharp breath and I rolled my eyes as I stepped between them, “You're acting like children.”
“Yes Mallex, truly childish.”
“You too Talon.”
“Me? What did I do?” Talon clutched his chest, winking at me.
“You all make my head hurt.” Eon groaned.
“No lord,” Talon cupped his hands around his mouth and spoke very slowly, over enunciating each word, “That's the head trauma remember? You got your ass kicked?”
“Talon! Go gather wood or manners!” He grinned at me and walked away to go do who knows what.
“He'd right you know.” Eon mumbled glumly, “Without him we'd be dead.”
“We would've figure it out, “ Lex reassured.
“No, if he hadn't save Kal, he wouldn't have been able to save me. You couldn't have fought that many men alone.”
“He didn't get that many.”
“At least six or seven mostly by himself.”
“Can we stop talking about this? It shouldn't be a competition. It's over. People lost their lives and no matter which side they were on that's a tragedy.”
“Men from Dleth relish the chance to die in battle. They're fanatical.”
“I looked up at Talon, realizing he'd just wandered to the edge of the clearing to sit and fiddle with some metal contraption from a different bag.
“Kalian is right. Killing shouldn't be a competition,” Lex argued.
“Why air head? Afraid you'll lose?” Lex bristled.
“Fine, fine. Stop scolding me. You're all too sensitive.”
“No if you're so sure. Let's have it out.” I turned to Lex, alarm flaring in my mind. Talon's hands stilled on whatever he was toying with. He looked up at Lex and his fanged smile set my mind on edge.
“Not fond of your arms Mallex?”
“Oh gods,” Eon let his head fall into his hands in frustration.
“You didn't accept. Are you scared?”
“Oh no. Never. I thought you'd never ask.” Talon rose and Lex stepped closer.
“Stop it! This isn't funny!”
“No this is dead serious.”
Talon laughed and I noticed his eyes were significantly darker, “that was the dumbest one liner I've ever heard.”
“Shut up freak.”
“I am still waiting for you to make me.” They were circling each other now and Eon looked at me with wide eyes. Sighing he waved his hand in a circle and both men were surrounded in flame. Talon paused and looked up and then behind him, like a cat preparing a jump. Eon caught it though and the flames shot higher, Talon's circle shrinking at the same time. Lex spread his hands and slammed them together, blowing the flames of both circles out. Talon grinned wide and cracked his knuckles.
“Finally you did something right.” I lost my temper, which had been happening quite a bit lately. Running between them I threw my hands out, casting a net of blinding light. Both men cringed back and shielded their eyes.
“Stop now. You're both being stupid.” I stood completely still and glared from one to the other.
“He started it.” Talon threw over his shoulder as he walked back to where he'd been sitting. Lex glared at his back and left our little campsite, grumbling about firewood.
“How did you know the light wouldn't hurt them?” Eon asked.
I closed my eyes as I sank down to a sitting position on the ground, rubbing the bridge of my nose, “I didn't.”
A couple hours later I was helping Dima make food when Talon strolled up to me, or rather, us. I ignored him and stirred the pot over the fire. Dima dropped in a few handfuls of chopped vegetables. Dima was only a couple years older than me and even I knew she was pretty. Most people who became servants were powerless. It was hard to be a high ranking person with influence in Dimian without the gift. You weren't given a voice without one. Therefore, things were hard. Dima was beautiful, blond, brown eyes, cute freckles, and lightly tanned skin, but she would never go anywhere in life thanks to our society's structure. Her freckles spread down over her chest, which I noticed for the first time was almost on full display. I looked up at the wrong time and noticed Talon's eyes slide over her. Dima looked up at him and blushed as their eyes met. Her eyes strayed to mine and I looked away. She bowed and scurried away.
My mood worsened and I turned to him, dirty look at the ready, “Can you not do that?”
“Do what? Be ridiculously attractive and charming with an almost animal magnetism?”
“Is that what you were doing?”
“You're telling me it doesn't work on you?” I felt heat creep into my cheeks and I turned away, pretending to search for a spice or ingredient. Talon stepped around so he was in front of me, “What? You can't even take a joke now? You're spending too much time with Mallex.”
“Well he is my fiance.” I snapped, meeting his gaze.
Talon rested his hand on his hip and raised an eyebrow as he looked down at me, “you don't seem very happy to have me here.”
“I'm not.” The words surprised both of us after I spit them out and Talon stayed quiet for a couple of minutes. I turned all of my attention back to the soup, stirring even though it didn't need it.
“Are you upset about Amaris?” I flinched and a knowing look settled in his eyes, “I knew her before you. We had a...relationship before I knew you. That's none of your business.”
“Is is actually a relationship or are you just fucking her?” I had no idea who was saying these things in my voice? I never spoke like that and I had no right. I had no claim on Talon.
Talon blinked and his expression frosted over, “How do you think you have a right to ask me that? Who I sleep with is no concern to you. Why does it bother you so much? You showed up unannounced. I'm sorry I was busy living my life. Are you upset because you want to join the ranks?” I slammed the spoon into the pot and stormed away from him, earning concerned looks from everyone else in the camp. I heard footsteps behind me and his fingers wrapped around my wrist, gently pulling me to a stop.
“Quit acting like a brat and talk to me like an adult.”
“I'll do that as soon as you stop acting like an arrogant ass. Just leave me alone.”
“Is that really what you want? I thought you 'cared' about me? Remember?”
I stared at him, rage boiling inside of me. I didn't let it explode though. I slammed it all down inside and peeled his fingers from my wrist.
“Where and what has caring ever taken or given me? Except rejection and pain? I didn't ask you to come with. No one did.”
“You're lucky I did. I saved your life.”
“And I'm grateful, but I just...need to get away from you.” He cut me off again and I shoved him away from me. I wove a path through the nearby brush, my heart hammering in my chest. I heard shouts from behind me, but I couldn't figure out what they were saying. I sunk down behind a bush, my hands clamping over my ears as my thoughts roared through my brain. I knew why I was upset. He'd nailed it on the head. The whole argument started because I couldn't handle my own jealousy. I hated myself for it. The rational part of my head knew all of that. But it was just how it'd been when I was young and infatuated with Lex. Unrequited. Talon just enjoyed toying with me. I wrapped my arms around myself and rubbed at my ear as a shrill ring ran through my head. For the second time I felt a power prodding at the edge of my mind. This time I was curious. I answered it and emotions and thoughts that weren't my own slammed into me. I flew back, my hands squeezing my head as it threatened to split in half. I gasped and tried to force some of it back. At least enough to sit up and regain my composure. I waded through all of the noise, trying to narrow things down. I slowly tried specific hot points, the things in my head that screamed for attention louder.
I saw myself, angry and talking. It was like watching what had just happened in a pool of water. It shifted and rippled in my mind, replaying my fight with Talon. I funneled the tiniest bit of power to it and then I was looking down at myself through eyes that weren't mine. I was overcome with anger but that was quickly forced out by a sharp, deep sadness. It took my breath away. I let go of it as soon as I could and I looked into what I assumed was a memory. Darkness surrounded me and I got the impression I was very young. Thin arms wrapped around the body I was inhabiting and small sobs broke the silence. A door to the left was thrown open and men with torches stood on the other side of what I assumed was a closet.
“There's one here! A boy! Alive!” That sent a ripple of my own sadness through me. My host shrunk away from the man who offered his hand. They pulled him out anyway and walked him through a small house. It was dark but I noticed I was in a small hallway and then in a tiny kitchen with a wood burning stove. My vision was blocked as the man tried to shield the child's eyes, but the child still saw her. White hair soaked with the blood she lay in, her light gray eyes open and empty. My stomach lurched as I saw a deep wound stretching across her neck. The man turned us away. I let go of all the power abruptly. I was seeing something I shouldn't. Memories that belonged to an owner that would be horrified if he knew I was privy to them. I was still crouched in the brush, my chest aching, I no longer saw his memories but I felt a pull. It made me want to run through the brush, toward what I now knew was the nudging power's owner. I followed it hesitantly. Soon I was back in our little camp. Lex was suddenly all over me, checking to see if I was okay. Eon had actually stood rather fast, concern on his face.
Talon sat father away, toying with some new device. He looked up at the commotion and we locked eyes. He stood slowly but I shook my head and looked away. We'd be in Syrin tomorrow. This would just be another thing I put in the box in the back of my mind.
“You can't run off like that schatz. What if you were attacked again?” Lex's fingers combed soothingly through my hair and I side stepped him. I forced Eon to sit back down. Dima was back at the pot and I joined her, taking whatever spice she'd been holding and adding it to the soup. I waved her off and and realized with disappointment that the soup was almost done. Not a long enough distraction. A few minutes later I served everyone in simple wooden bowls, pointedly handing the spoon off to Dima when Talon stepped up. I felt more sadness flow over what I now was understanding was an actual physical connection. I tried my best to ignore it, walking to where Lex sat on the ground. His legs were bent, his feet on the ground and he held his soup between them as he ate. He moved it though when I sat between his legs. He put it aside and I could practically feel him debating whether or not this meant he could touch me.
“Are you alright?”
“Can I help?” I shrugged, playing my spoon through the thin broth. Lex's arms hesitantly wrapped around my waist, pulling me back against his chest. I tried to convince myself this was where I wanted to be. That I wanted Lex's hands on me. That he was the one I wanted to be sitting with. Not across the camp with that mercurial jackass that was currently making Dima giggle.
I didn't wish it was me at all.
Lex's fingers slid down my back and I had to make an actual effort to not shudder or recoil. He stopped touching me in favor of eating and I slouched, still poking around the small pieces of meat in my bowl. I was trying not to watch the other end of camp but my eyes betrayed me. Dima had moved closer to Talon, and I flinched as she let out another loud peel of laughter. Her fingers were running over her braid and her bangs fell into her eyes as she hung on Talon's every word. She was trying to act interested in whatever metal mechanism he held in his hands. He pointed to something in it with a small tool and I wanted to roll my eyes when she literally oo'd and ah'd over it. I tried not to grin as Talon raised an eyebrow and looked disappointed at her. He set it aside and I did finally look away as she moved even closer to him, her breasts one wrong move away from falling out of her dress.
“You know I'd feel better about you sitting with me if you weren't watching them.” Lex's arm moved back around my waist and I felt his chin rest on my shoulder.
“He doesn't deserve you Kalian.” I didn't answer, spooning food into my mouth so I had an excuse, “What can he give you that I can't, liebe?”
“Please stop calling me that. You don't love me Lex.”
“Of course I do.” I shook my head and went to pull away but Lex's arm tensed and I couldn't, “I know I haven't been good at showing it but I do.”
I ate and frowned, “You definitely have a weird way of showing it. That I'll agree with.”
“I thought you were going to give me a chance?”
“I am giving you a chance.”
“That's not what it feels like. It seems like you're just stringing me along. Things were so nice these last two months without him and now I feel like you're comparing us again.”
I pulled away, brushing my knees off as I stood, “There is no comparison. Right now, I don't know how I feel about either one of you.” I walked away from the camp, walking down the road and running my fingers through my hair. I heaved a heavy sigh when I heard footsteps come up behind me. I turned just as Lex reached for me. I snatched my hand away and he crossed his arms, narrowing his eyes.
“I have no idea how you think I am going to fix this when you barely acknowledge me. You send me mixed signals by sitting with me but then shy away from my touch every other time. Is it just because the servant girl is throwing herself at him? Is that the only reason you notice me?”
“Her name is Dina. You would think that someone walking off alone would be a clear indication that I wasn't in the mood to talk to you.”
“You can't keep brushing me off and then come back just because you don't get what you want from him.”
“I don't know what it is that you think I want from him.”
“You tell me.” Lex had a dangerous look on his face and I began to brace myself.
“Go away Lex.” I tried to pull away but he was faster and his fingers closed down on my wrist, grinding my bones together.
“Not until you answer some of the questions I asked.”
“I thought you weren't going to act like this anymore?”
He grip on my wrist tightened and I gasped, “Let me go.”
“Yes, I think you should let him go as well.” Eon had come up behind us and I hadn't even noticed. His eyes were locked on Lex and I started at the anger in them.
“Eon, please, we're trying to have a discussion as a couple.”
“Oh? Does that need to involve you breaking my brother's wrist?” He took a step closer and narrowed his eyes, “And as far as I know, Kalian hasn't officially agreed to be a couple so you have no right to have him alone.”
Lex dropped my wrist and I shoved him. He didn't move much and my nerves frayed as they stared each other down. In a fair fight I had no doubt that Eon would decimate Lex, but he was still injured and that made me nervous.
A smile slowly formed on Lex's face and he gave a sarcastic bow, “Of course my lord. Kalian.” He turned and walked farther down the road, disappearing into a thicket of nearby trees. Eon relaxed and held his head, sighing.
“I'm starting to worry about him.”
“Starting?” He sagged a bit and I wrapped my arm around his waist as we made our way back to the camp. The sun was setting and Talon was working on a fire, Dima handing him logs. He glanced at me and he straightened, his face clouded with anger. For a moment I wondered if he could feel my emotions come across as well. How much of that altercation had he seen?
“Wandered off,” Eon supplied as he sank down to sit, his eyes weary.
“Maybe we'll get lucky and he'll get lost. Or better yet maybe he’ll run across thieves and they’ll kill him.” I sat down next to Eon and covered him with a blanket. Talon turned away again and Dima looked between Talon and Eon like she wasn't sure who to throw herself at.
I had a feeling that Lex would be back soon. I never got that lucky.