Episode 4: We’re In This Together
A small school of minnows swam apart as two sets of hands dipped into the clear waters of a river. Zene and Bryn were side by side. She splashed water to her face, catching her friend with the spray. He turned his head with a smile just before bringing a handful of water to the back of his neck. Her eyes happily watched a pair of songbirds dancing above the water. The sun was beginning to set, giving the world and Zene an enchanting glow.
“So, where did you and your sister live?” Bryn asked as they washed up.
Zene stared out across the river before them. Her eyes were lost to a moment known only to her. “On the outskirts of a meadow.”
“You’d said that,” Bryn politely reminded her. “But where was it?”
She was back to the present and smiling warmly, “I don’t know. But that doesn’t matter.”
“Really?” his hands fell softly to the water.
Her voice was soft, “really. I have our memories in my heart. And even if I could go back there, I know she won’t be there.”
Bryn’s hands were motionless in the water, “may…I ask why?”
There was a tear in the corner of her eye. With the back of a finger, she wiped it away. “We’d better get moving before Nevetes leaves us behind.”
“Yah,” he breathed as he watched Zene leave. Her shirt flowed around her as she made her way back towards their temporary stopping point. The afternoon sun was hard on a vampire and so Zene had insisted on the stop earlier in the day.
His wet hands were dried off by shaking them lightly as he stood. Troubled eyes and slow feet followed her. He found the two of them. Nevetes held their bag on his shoulder.
Zene turned to Bryn, “do we know how close to Hope we are?”
With remorse, “no, I’ve never been there.”
“Then how do we know if we’re going the right direction?” Zene asked with polite curiosity. Nevetes’ dark eyes shot daggers.
Bryn swallowed hard, “well, if we come across a town, we can ask.”
“How about it?” Zene turned bright eyes to him. “Hear any heartbeats?”
Heartbeats, he mouthed the word.
Nevetes turned away. “Let’s move.”
They began walking. The sky was clear of all clouds. The setting sun danced off the surface of the river. Birds sang to them. Zene lifted a finger to a fluttering butterfly that wasn’t inclined to land. Her smile was unwavering.
“Walk,” Nevetes commanded over his shoulder.
Bryn touched her on the arm. She took his and together they followed Nevetes.
“So, tell me more about your town,” she prodded.
“Zene,” Nevetes cautioned over his shoulder.
“No, it’s okay,” he was quick to assure. “My town was probably just like every other one. Small group of people living close together for protection and socialization.”
“Socialization?” Zene questioned.
Nevetes responded, “humans feel safer in groups.”
“Typically, yah,” Bryn sighed. “But, that only works if you fit in.”
“What do you mean?” her eyes held worry.
“My father is a very liked man in the village. Unfortunately, he doesn’t like the person I’ve turned out to be. Which means…”
“No one there likes you,” Nevetes spelled it out coldly after Bryn trailed off.
“I probably should have left long ago,” he tried not to care.
“But then,” Zene’s hands on his arm pulled his eyes to her, “we wouldn’t have met you. And that would be sad.”
“Zene,” he blushed with pleasure!
Nevetes’ hand on Bryn’s shoulder shoved him forcibly. The wind it created pulled at his hair until the branches of some bushes tangled into it. Branches across his skin left stinging welts. He rolled up on his knees. Through the leaves he spotted Nevetes and Zene. She was held in his arms, pressed tightly to the vampire’s chest. Her delicate hands held his jacket. His claws were in her hair and at her back to keep them close. A large tree at his back was their temporary cover. Nevetes’ eyes looked down. His ears were in tune to the sounds Bryn had yet to hear. Everything in this moment told Bryn to keep his head down.
Nevetes moved Zene into the protection of the tree. He mimed for her to keep quiet. Yet, she couldn’t resist, “don’t kill anyone.”
Bryn felt Nevetes’ annoyance from the bushes. The dropped shoulders and sideways look sort of broadcasted the emotion.
She amended, “try not to, please.”
It was nothing more than the blink of an eye and Zene was standing alone at the tree. Bryn’s eyes danced. Should he take Zene and leave? Did they run? What would they even be running from?
Zene lightly held the tree. It was clear that she wanted to follow Nevetes. She too could not hear whatever it was that took Nevetes away. And yet, fear made her tremble. What was it that these two ran from?
Braving the unknown, Bryn moved from the bushes. Quickly, he ran to her. A small, surprised gasp escaped her lips. He motioned for her to keep quiet. With a nod he indicated that they needed to run away. She took his hand and together they left.
“Do you know where we’re going?” she whispered as they ran.
He shook his head, “no idea.”
“What if he needs our help?” she looked over her shoulder.
“I can’t imagine that he would.”
She pulled back on his hand to make him stop running. Her eyes were determined, “we’re in this together.”
He got the sense that Zene was referring to herself and Nevetes. Not Bryn. Still, he shook his head, “he’d want me to get you away from whatever it is.”
“I’m not helpless, Bryn,” she was adamant. “I’m…”
A crash through the woods sent a dark, shapeless form flying past them! In the wake, a path of destruction. They stared wide eyed.
“What was that?” she breathed!
A long, mournful, and eery howl came from the direction that whatever it was had gone. In the near distance, the call was answered several times. Nevetes appeared, angry and determined. “Keep moving that way.”
And he was off, chasing after the beast that he’d clearly thrown.
“Nevetes, wait!” she called after him.
“Zene,” Bryn took a hold of her arm. It was going to be his hide if he couldn’t get Zene out of harm’s way. “Nevetes said we go this way.”
Her bottom lip firmed. Her hands were fists nearly hidden within the folds of her shirt. She pulled her arm away before moving after Nevetes.
Bryn sighed nervously. “I am so dead.”
It was easy to track Nevetes. The fight he was in was becoming loud. Fearlessly, Zene ran towards the noise.
He caught her wrist to pull her back, “he can handle it.”
“You don’t even know what it is,” she argued.
The question of what it could be was quickly answered when the fight came to them. Nevetes emerged, thrown brutally through the woods like a ragdoll. Zene gasped! He landed hard against a tree before crashing to the ground. Nevetes’ eyes seemed to glow red with anger.
“Get out!” he snarled at the two of them. The tone of his voice made Bryn’s blood run cold.
A bulky form, heavy with shadow crashed through the trees to land between the three of them. Bryn fell back. Zene’s eyes grew larger as her fingers covered her mouth. Nevetes raced towards the threat.
He shouted at them, “run!”
The two forms collided with force! Nevetes’ growl was echoed by the other creature. Bryn, desperate to listen to the order given, pushed his weak legs to move him. Zene stood motionless. He grabbed her arms and tried to pull her away.
“Nevetes!” she pulled towards the fight.
The vampire was thrown by hairy arms holding a lot of muscle. Nevetes sailed past them right into a second creature that had emerged from the woods. They both disappeared into the darkness. Dull red eyes flashed upon Zene and Bryn. The creature was massive, hairy, beastly. A large tongue ran over fangs dripping with drool.
They stepped back only to be stopped by the heavy breathing of a third creature. Breathlessly, Zene asked, “what are they?”
The beast Nevetes had been thrown into, now slammed solidly into the beast at their back. Both were sent tumbling towards the first. Furious with the turn, Nevetes strode in with claws poised to strike. Darkly, he enlightened them, “werewolves.”
“Werewolves?” she uttered the word.
The beast rushed Nevetes. Its speed would nearly rival the vampire’s. Full force Nevetes hit the beast in the side of the head. Its face slammed into the ground. The other two were running back in. Nevetes launched at them without pause. His force sent one skidding back the way they had come from. Heavy feet of the beast dug into the ground to stop the momentum. Nevetes pushed off it to intercept the other. They collided head on. Their arms were locked, and it was impossible to tell who was stronger.
A shortened muzzle filled with canine teeth snapped at Nevetes’ face. Fierce bloodred eyes and a muted growl came from Nevetes. Shifting his weight, Nevetes slammed the beast into the ground. After rolling several feet, the werewolf found its footing. It shot forward at Nevetes who dodged the fur-covered missile in less time than it took for Bryn’s heart to give a single beat. Good thing, for the first beast was at Nevetes’ back. Deadly werewolf fangs bit into thick werewolf hide. The scuffle between the two gave Nevetes time to face off with the third, who was quickly orienting upon prey.
Not prey, Bryn realized. Nevetes was far from being prey. Bryn looked at Zene, “we have to go!”
“I’m not leaving him,” she was firm.
Nevetes was caught on the side and thrown towards them. This time, he had to dig his heels in to keep from colliding with the two of them. As he stopped, he glared over his shoulder, “I don’t need your help.”
“Tough,” she argued. “You’re getting it. Just tell me what to do.”
Nevetes’ claws dug into the ground with the anger he felt. “Get out of here.”
The two scuffling brought their fight close. Their massive bodies slamming into each other created a deadly barrier. The third snipped at the two before clashing mighty jaws Nevetes’ direction. He dodged the bite, crushed its head with his fist, and kicked the mouth of the second. It sent the two further away from Zene and Bryn. He realized Nevetes was trying to buy them time.
“Come on, Zene,” he took her arm again.
Nevetes jumped to avoid the jaws of all three beasts. His fists sent two jaws snapping uselessly to the side. The third caught him on the exposed arm. There was an immediate vicious headshake. Nevetes’ free hand slammed claws into the exposed eye. A yip proceeded Nevetes being tossed aside where the other two pounced!
“Nevetes,” she shouted his name! Her mind was made up. “Werewolves fear the silver my kind can bring up.”
“What are you talking about?” Bryn was desperate to get them away.
“Stay behind me, Bryn,” she told him.
Eyes closed, Zene folded her hands.
“Are you praying?” shock kept his feet from taking them away.
One beast was sent flying. Nevetes slid around the first. Fist met claw. They began exchanging deadly blows with their claws. Nevetes glared over his shoulder at Zene.
Trees around them seemed to shift as though they were adjusting their position. Zene’s left hand moved over the earth with her fingers spread. Roots shot up out of the earth! Bryn fell back. One beast was lifted off the ground as the roots quickly took a hold of it. As the others came back in for more, they were stalled by the branches and roots of other trees.
Nevetes leapt off the ground to come to a landing right before her. Hands on her shoulders he scolded, “I told you I don’t want your help. Secrets are meant to be kept quiet. Now he knows.”
Nevetes had been talking about him!
Zene opened her eyes, “I had to do something. He didn’t see…”
The weight of the werewolf struggling began to break the roots that held it above the ground. The other two were breaking through. Nevetes looked at the beasts. He muttered, “the light in your eye marks you, Elemental.”
“Elemental?” shock rang clear in Bryn’s voice.
Zene looked at him and he saw it. A symbol resting in glowing grey eyes that shone brightly. No thought was able to make its way to his tongue. Zene was an Elemental!
“And you got it wrong. Your root trick worked on a lesser werewolf. But it won’t stop this kind for long.”
Nevetes rushed the beast just as it broke free from the bonds Zene had wound around it. He evaded the teeth, and with a punch sent the beast flying back. The weight of its body crashed through the branches holding the others back. There were more yips and another scuffle.
Zene’s hands moved fluidly. “I just needed a little more time.”
The growl coming from the woods was absolutely terrifying! The crashing of trees falling added to that dread. In a burst of speed and debris, all three emerged with fangs bared. Heavy muscles propelled them towards Nevetes, who was waiting with claws bared. Zene’s fluid movements seemed to crest. Nevetes shifted his stance to take the brunt of the force the werewolves possessed. The first launched into the air right for Nevetes, who didn’t back down. Gnarled spears of silver erupted from the ground all around Nevetes! These spears caught the beast in midair. Flesh was skewered at the cheek and through an arm. A horrendous yowl emerged from the throat. The other two, moments behind their packmate, veered off as though they were aware of the danger.
Casting a look over his shoulder, Nevetes looked annoyed, “show off.”
Flesh tore apart as the beast pulled back mightily. Blood poured from wounds. The beasts weren’t without intelligence. Nevetes was protected and he was a challenge. And maybe they put it together that Zene or Bryn were behind the interferences in the battle. There wasn’t time to process the change in tactics. The beasts rushed around the silver that kept Nevetes protected. The target was the two of them standing helpless, knowing that there wasn’t enough time for Zene to pull the trick a second time.
Zene gasped. Bryn ran before her, hoping to buy her time to run away. Fangs came for him. The image would be the last he saw. Already he felt phantom teeth sinking into his neck. Eyes were wide with the fear that was locked in his chest.
At the last moment, the first beast was sent wide. In its skull, a twisted spear of silver had found its target. It twitched as it landed hard in the leaflitter. In the air, Nevetes was coming in for the remaining two. In his hand, a second shaft of silver. It was launched towards the body of the one in the lead. Unerringly, it found the mark. Through the heart of the beast the silver was quick to claim the life. Nevetes landed heavily upon the beast Zene had injured. His claws sank into the skull. With his right hand, he reached down to tear out the throat. The injuries could not be fought through. It sank to the ground with Nevetes still standing on the back. Only feet before them the creature expired, unable to take another breath.
Bryn took in the situation. Despite or because of how things had turned out, he passed out cold!
“Will he be okay?” she couldn’t help but worry.
“Heart’s still beating normal. He just passed out,” Nevetes’ attention was upon his own hand. Next to him, his jacket lay on the fallen log they sat upon. Zene was inspecting the bite he’d received. But the skin hadn’t been punctured thanks to the heavy jacket. A few bruises would be all he’d get.
“What happened to your hand?” she took note of it.
“Best guess, vampires don’t react well to silver,” he mused.
“I thought silver was what we used on werewolves,” it was hard to hide the hurt she felt at that statement.
“What they use on werewolves,” he amended as he lowered his hand. “The humans. Not you.”
“I did today,” she looked over her shoulder to where the bodies were.
“They were trying to kill me,” he reminded her.
“You’re tough enough to take it,” she laughed lightly. “I can help with the burn. If you trust me.”
“It’s just a burn.”
She shrugged acceptance.
He looked over his shoulder at the werewolves, then at Bryn. Nevetes came to a decision, “we have time.”
He put his open hand out to her. It was surprising, and that surprise made her smile! She took his wrist in her hand and pulled him to the edge of the water.
“Just hold your hand in the water. The coolness will help take away the sting,” she instructed.
One hand on his wrist, and the other in the water, Zene began to move the water about. Nevetes jumped back, which pulled the smile from her face.
“What is it?” those damned soft, grey eyes showed that he’d hurt her feelings.
“You’re using your power,” it was an accusation.
“I’m sorry,” she breathed.
She sat at the water’s edge looking down at her hands. He stood back several paces staring down at her. The mark of her power still shining in her eyes. He looked over at the werewolf bodies the growing gloom of night could not hide from his eyes. His ears heard Bryn’s steady heartbeat. And her familiar one.
“I’d have a lot worse than a burn, if it weren’t for you,” he muttered.
She looked up in question.
With a sigh, he reclaimed his seat before her at the water’s edge. “Fine.”
Her eyes seemed to ask if he meant it. He offered his hand back. Once again, her right hand moved the water. Her left held his wrist lightly. His gaze was intense.
“I didn’t mean to scare you,” her voice was a whisper.
He made a rude noise that discounted her statement.
A small smile was visible. Yet, doubt was heavy in her gaze. “How do you know when I’m using my power? What do you see?”
“You don’t know?”
She shook her head. It was hard to make her eyes meet his, but she did it.
He was silent for a moment, watching her eyes glow. She waited patiently till he nodded to the water, “look at your eyes.”
Slowly, she turned her face away from him. In the water, once her hand had stopped creating gentle ripples, she saw it. Her grey eyes staring down in wonder at the light and the image that was reflected. In the one, she saw a symbol which marked her kind.
“What does it mean?” she breathed in awe.
He shrugged with an uncaring expression, “beyond that you’re using your power, I don’t know.”
“Why does my eye do that?” she stared in wonder. “It’s so pretty!”
Surprise now rested within his expression. Despite his best efforts to maintain his uncaring composure, Nevetes grinned. “A sign of death, but sure, pretty.”
Nearly, that delighted smile she carried disappeared. His words were frightening to her. But then, she recalled, “not death.”
Her hand was back to moving the water. The glow in her eye was mirrored in the water as the power flowed from her hand.
“How come you can do this?” he watched with fascination laced with unease.
She shrugged, “when I was young, I didn’t like going to bed. I always liked staying up late to look at the stars. Our meadow had the most beautiful skies!”
She moved the water over the burn, her eyes intent upon a memory.
“My sister caught me out there one night.” She gave the ghost of a laugh, “she was so mad at me. I think I must have scared her. Instead of listening to her and apologizing, I got mad back. Told her that she was mean. I ran away into the woods.”
The memory of that night hurt.
“She ran after you,” Nevetes put it together.
She nodded, “uh huh. And she was hurt. Even at night, I feel the woods. I know where the roots are, when to duck, even what to eat. My sister never could.”
“She wasn’t an Elemental?”
Her hand was over the burn. There was a faint glow that she watched. “I don’t think so. She never talked to me about Elementals or Primals. We just lived quietly next to the meadow with the pretty sky, far away from other people.”
There was silence for a moment before he softly pushed, “so, how did you figure out your powers?”
“Growing up there wasn’t much to do, and other than my sister, there wasn’t anyone else there. I thought the meadow played with everyone that way.” She smiled as she released his hand. The burn was now gone. “When my sister fell in the woods that night, I remember crying and crying. And I remember asking the meadow for help. But, we were next to the lake. And I felt its call. I think that’s the first time I realized that it was me doing all those things.”
“You taught yourself,” he sounded impressed.
She shrugged, “I think not hearing that it was supposed to be impossible, helped me figure out ways that I could. That night, I healed my sister’s foot. After that, all injuries were mine to fix.”
She’d fallen silent as a dark memory dulled the light in her eyes.
She forced a smile, “I never ran away again.”
Nevetes considered what he saw in her. “You still snuck out at night.”
She blushed, “yah.”
“I’ve never heard of an Elemental that can heal,” he pointed this out to her.
“I’m not sure but,” she shrugged, “if the humans use us to hurt, then why can’t I use myself to heal? I don’t want to be limited by their vision of me.”
Feeling stunned all he could do was stare silently at her. There was a small smile that nearly touched his eyes. He told her, “come on, you’re getting cold again.”
They left the waters of the river. He picked up their jackets and held hers out. His eyes fell to his left hand since it was the one that had held her jacket. The burn was gone completely. His blank stare moved to her. The moon danced off the water and off her silver hair that she pulled from her jacket. Was the sparkle in her eyes natural, or remnants of the power she’d used?
“Do you think the werewolves were sent to hunt us?” she asked as her fingers did up the buttons.
“There’s collars,” he nodded.
“They were sent,” he clarified.
“Then we shouldn’t leave them here like this. They’ll know,” she ran over to the bodies.
Hands upon the ground next to the beasts, she ignited her power once more. Curious, he watched as the ground shifted and crumbled. Roots rose to pull the bodies into an embrace. The werewolves were consumed by the earth they lay upon.
“Smart,” he commented quietly.
Bryn sat up, open mouthed and barely breathing. He’d come around just in time to see her use the power she held a second time.
Nevetes knelt beside her. His eyes saw the tremble in her body even as she sat there upon the ground. They made eye contact and he pointed out, “your power comes at a cost. Explains why they want so many of you.”
“Oh,” she uttered the word in surprise!
She was in his arms as he stood up. The trembling couldn’t be stopped. He looked at Bryn, “you coming or do we have a problem?”
“Uh no,” he stood up on his own shaking legs. “No problem!”
They disappeared into the forest. Bryn’s eyes looked back in worry.
“General Vania,” a soldier saluted him. “We are ready for your command.”
They were on a road just outside a small town. A village, really. Hate-filled eyes stared down upon it. To the soldier, “keep the perimeter surrounded. Anything that tries to escape, kill it.”
“Bring in the tracker.” He moved away as the soldier saluted once more.
It was as he made his way into town that the beast he’d called for showed up. Led by a heavy chain locked securely around the neck. It was a hybrid. A beast. An utter monster. Even in the daylight, this thing instilled fear into any that looked upon it.
Thundering footsteps gave the impression of a monstrously huge creature. When in fact, it was just shy of his height. Knotted muscles bulged out from twisted arms that a hunched back kept locked to the ground. Gnarled bones distorted hairy hands with stubby fingers and deadly, shortened talons. Yellow-white fur sparsely covered ashen skin. Black eyes rested in the disfigured face of a monster that was both werewolf and vampire.
The nose was flattened and wide, protruding outwards were the muzzle of a werewolf tried to exist. It was that nose that made the monster worthwhile. The handler pulled at the chain as it tried to wander off.
“Give it the lead,” he ordered the handler. “They came through here. I want to know who they talked to.”
With the nose as close to the ground as it could manage, the beast followed the fading scent. Their presence in town was heavily noted. His officers had already introduced themselves, and now stood throughout the town as a visual aid to instil fear. Next to the beast, he walked slowly.
Until the beast stopped at a small two-storey home. Quaint, adorable, and simple. The beast snorted, alerting him of what he was now aware of. Through a small gate, the creature busted in. Flowers and herbs were trampled as it cast about. The back door was the target.
His hand held up told the handler to reign in the foul beast. Then he snapped his fingers. A following officer rushed forward to enter the house. Moments later a couple was forced out of their home. Middle aged and unassuming. They were brought before him.
“Search the house,” he gave the officer the command.
Several men rushed into the home. The sounds of looting soon followed. It was on the couple’s tongue to beg for this to stop.
“We are seeking two fugitives from prison,” he began.
And was quickly interrupted by the husband, “we don’t…”
“Lying to me,” he returned the interruption, “would be a very bad idea.”
Two fingers gesturing subtly forward brought the beast closer. The heavy snorting and the dead eyes always had an effect. The couple held each other tighter.
“This monstrosity moves slow, it stinks, and lacks even your intelligence.” He took a single step closer to the couple, “the amount of blood that it takes to keep this thing alive is abominable. But we keep it alive because nothing else can track like it does.”
The officer came back out the backdoor. In his hands he held an off-white dress and a brownish-grey shirt, “we found their clothing, sir.”
His gaze held the couple immobile, “your names.”
The lips quivered, “Re..Reason.”
“Lovey,” her breath was nearly lost.
His smile held no warmth, “let’s have a talk.”
Zene stood next to Nevetes. They were looking upon a town that didn’t know they were being watched. The people in the town were having a celebration of some kind. They shared food, drink, friendship, and laughter. It reminded her of Reason and Lovey’s town.
Two young women danced to the music, lost to the enchantment of the firelights and revelry shared by people that were close. Zene’s look held contentment. Her body leaned closer to him. As the song wound up, the dancers’ intensity increased. Zene’s delight grew.
The music had reached its pinnacle. Merriment was all about. The dancers ended with one final spin before collapsing into each other in peels of laughter. The two women that had captured her gaze held each other close. Their eyes sparkled as they look only upon each other. Amid the joyous sounds about them, their lips touched.
It was not to eat. It was not to speak. It was not to take in air. Why not these things? The two of them stared; she with open mouthed wonder. He with annoyed confusion.
“Is it only women?” she thought to inquire.
But the answer was about them. Others were engaging in similar behaviour. She looked at Nevetes in wonder. Anyone else would have seen the dark expression on his face and backed away. Lips pursed she leaned closer. His left hand held her face. Seemed he held no interest in engaging in human behaviour.
“Are we going there?” she pulled his hand away from her face.
“No,” he stated.
“Ok,” light acceptance came easily. She turned away to go rejoin Bryn.
His hand on her wrist stopped her from taking another step. Still looking upon the town, Nevetes said, “Bryn is.”
Confusion crossed her face, followed by fearful understanding. “Alone?”
“But, he’s our friend,” she had to argue.
“Exactly why he’ll go alone,” he wasn’t going to waiver.
She shook her head to argue.
He stopped her short with words that turned her heart cold with fear, “we’re being hunted. Do you want him to face our fate?”
“The werewolves,” she breathed. His fingers moved from her wrist into her hand. She held on.
“Others are coming. You can protect yourself.”
“But Bryn can’t,” she cut Nevetes off. “He’s not an Elemental or a Primal. But it doesn’t feel right to abandon him.”
“He’ll be safer here.” Troubled eyes turned back to the town, “maybe.”
“I’m going to miss him. He’s so kind and friendly. He’s made our travels better.”
He held the town in his gaze. “He’s not completely awful, for a human.”
“Okay,” she came to the decision with reluctance. “But we can’t just leave. We have to let him know. It’s only right.”
“I’ll tell him.”
She shook her head, “I can.”
He looked at her in question, and maybe a little doubt.
She smiled, “I’ll tell it nicer than you.”
“Probably,” he consented. “Let him know that it’s time he started acting like a man.”
Strange parting words. Hand on his arm, she reached up to kiss him lightly on the cheek. It wasn’t quite like the women had shared, but it still felt right. He watched silently as she ran away.
Bryn was at their camp site packing things up. He was carefully tucking her cloak into the bag. His smile was filled with friendly greeting. She tried to return the sentiment, but she knew what he didn’t.
Bryn quickly picked up on this, “what’s wrong?”
She shook her head as she sat down next to him. “There’s a town close by.”
“Ok,” the confusion was easy to hear.
“Thanks to you, Nevetes and I have a direction to move in,” she couldn’t help but hedge.
Bryn caught on, “just you two.”
She nodded with sorrow, “I think it’s best.”
The hurt that flashed across Bryn’s face was pushed down so that he could respond without it, “why?”
Moved by his pain, she turned so that she faced him. It brought some ease to her smile when he didn’t pull his hand away from hers. “Nevetes and I are running. What happened in the woods; more like that will happen. I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you what I am.”
The secret she’d kept and how Bryn had found out bothered her. Bryn quickly assured, “it’s okay, Zene. Nevetes didn’t seem willing to let you tell, and he can be rather scary.”
“Nevetes?” her shock was clear. “He’s not scary. I feel totally safe with him.”
“I believe that,” Bryn laughed softly.
“He’s got a good soul. And well, I am an Elemental,” she shrugged helplessly.
“I don’t think that has anything to do with it,” he smiled.
She took in a breath to question him.
Bryn continued before she could, “some people are friendly in nature. Like you are. Some are protective. I think maybe that’s his nature.”
She nodded because she agreed, “he is. That’s why he wants you to go to that town. Because he wants you to be safe.”
“And I wouldn’t be with you two,” he sighed.
All she could do was shrug. “Bad people are after us, Bryn. It wouldn’t be fair to you or to Nevetes if you came with.”
“Nevetes?” Bryn questioned.
She nodded, “yah. He’ll try to protect both of us. But that’s harder on him.”
“Maybe it’s your nature too, to be protective,” Bryn nudged her shoulder.
Bryn leaned into her side, “when we first met, he would have killed those guys that’d hurt me.”
“He’s not evil,” she worried that Bryn thought bad of Nevetes.
“I think so too,” he shrugged lightly. “But his moral compass could use a little direction.”
“I don’t understand,” she tried to.
Bryn smiled, “in your way, you protect him. And in his, he protects you. That’s what I see.”
She laid her head upon Bryn’s shoulder. “You’re so kind! I wish it was safe for you to come with us.”
“I wish it was too,” he told her.
“Oh,” she looked up at him. “Nevetes said that you’re supposed to start acting like a man. I don’t understand what that means.”
Bryn laughed lightly. Seemed he wasn’t offended, which was good! He whispered, perhaps to Nevetes himself, “thanks, I will.”
Silence fell between them.
“Is it bad?” Bryn finally asked. “The situation that you’re in?”
Mutely, she nodded.