521 Go Back
A blast of wind made the Golden Eagle tilt to the side, forcing Coraline off balance. Even though she was a master of Elven grace and beauty, she earned herself a bruised knee when she struck it against the floor.
Coraline didn't want to look for the swords anymore. She was as miserable as the gloomy atmosphere outside...
What she really needed... was a friend. Someone she could talk to... without bias... who'd listen patiently to her complaints... maybe nuzzle her a little bit.
She needed Petty Officer Mittens.
Her ears twitched, hearing movement... Unfortunately, it was the clumsy clomping of human feet-- not the soft pads of the savior she so greatly desired.
She hurriedly rushed out of the corridor, keeping quiet underneath a set of stairs. She was an elf... her footsteps weren't quite lighter than snow, but she was confident enough to avoid detection from human senses.
Curled up in the dark corner, she pulled her knees in and hid her crying face.
The steps grew closer... and she identified them as belonging to the last person she wanted to see her. Mister Lone lifted his lamp, illuminating her through the slats of the stairs.
Stars and stones... Coraline was even useless at being an elf...
"Hey," Lone waved, frustratingly innocent.
The boy puffed out his chest, looking irrationally proud of himself, "You can't hide from the Ranger of Sol Invictus."
"Ughhh..." Coraline rolled her eyes.
Was he trying to impress her? With a lie? That was the most pathetic thing she'd ever heard.
"First, Mister Lone: the only Ranger in Sol Invictus is named Quiet. And *that* is not *you.*"
Lone scratched the scar on his cheek, "But uh..."
"And second!" Coraline grit her teeth. Her chest hurt... but more than feeling sorry for herself, this boy made her so mad... "I'm not *prey* to be hunted... nor am I a prize to be won. I'm a person."
Lone rubbed the back of his head, "Oh... Hey, that came out wrong. Can... I try again?"
Coraline sighed, glaring at the boy on the other side of the stairs, "Do I have a choice?"
"Can... you come out of there? It feels kind of weird with you hiding like that."
"No, you're a pervert..." She muttered.
"I'm a what?" Lone furrowed his brows.
"Nevermind..." Coraline groaned... She wiped her eyes and got to her feet, rubbing her pained knee. She emerged from her hiding place... so her face could be seen clearly by Lone's lamplight.
She just wanted him to go away...
The boy stared at her... his stupid smile turning into a frown. Without a word he reached towards her cheek.
Coraline reflexively slapped his hand away.
She didn't want to be comforted-- not by him.
Lone slowly drew his hand back, his expression crushed. If she didn't know better, she'd have thought he looked heartbroken.
She almost felt sorry for him.
But it shouldn't have meant anything. It didn't mean anything. They didn't... have a relationship? They worked together for a short time-- that's all.
Mister Lone didn't need to care about her.
...Not that she had been kicked out of her guild. Not that she was jobless and technically homeless... nor about the fact that she had been crying for over a bell and looked like an absolute carriage wreck.
She didn't care about *him*, at all...
"Wh... what do you want?" She whispered.
Lone sucked in air through his teeth... "I wanted to ask... if you found any clues on where the swords are?"
She glared back at him defiantly, "None."
"Well... you have the Captain's Key, right?" Lone instilled a little more energy into his voice, "Let's go look for them? Together?"
Coraline crossed her arms... and she tried to not sound as depressed as she actually was, "We *already* searched the rooms when we were looking for Felicity..."
...And she'd searched those same rooms several times over, before Lone arrived.
"So..." Lone gulped, "The swords weren't on Elladan, then?"
"No SHITE!!" Coraline shouted, "GODS! You're SO DUMB, Lone!!"
Lone bared his teeth in a stupid, clueless grin, not even bothering to shrink back from her outburst, "How about... we beat him up until he talks?"
"UGH!!" Coraline threw her hands up, "NO! That's a CRIME, Mister Lone! And torture doesn't work, anyroad... Let's... let's just wait. The Church Inquisitors will take care of it...
"It's useless..." She turned her back... "I'm useless..."
She was sick and tired of looking at that stupid boy... with his stupid cute smile... and... his big, fat head.
"Well, maybe YOU'RE part of the problem!" Lone shouted at her back.
Obviously, that was true.
Hearing it aloud still hurt... very much...
She closed her eyes, letting two thick tears drop down her cheeks as she heard Lone stomp off.
Barza Keith, the Lone Shadowdark, hated that kind of talk.
Coraline was giving up.
He'd find the missing swords by himself! He didn't want to deal with that girl anymore... not when she was like that.
He turned a hallway corner and winced as thunder boomed in his ears. He reached for his weapons, and cursed in his mind, realizing he didn't have them...
The corridor lit up with a flash of lightning.
A man with a sword stood there... and after darkness blanketed his path once more, golden eyes remained, coldly staring him down.
Lone froze stiff with fear, his heart thumping painfully in his chest, unable to move, barely able to breathe. An icy chill washed over him... and his entire body was covered by a thin film of sweat.
It felt like he was about to die.
...It wasn't anything new, of course. It was almost impressive how familiar he was with that shite feeling.
As his eyes adjusted to the lamplight by his side... he was able to make out Tycon's form at the end of the hallway. His superior was blocking his path, standing motionlessly, Shatterspike in hand.
[Go back,] Tycon mouthed.
Lone really didn't want to! He didn't even know the girl that well! And she didn't even want him around!
He shook his head indignantly.
[Go back, or I'll *kill* you,] Tycon drew his thumb across his neck.
Lone clenched his teeth, trying not to cry. This wasn't fair!
[What do I do??] Lone mouthed back.
Thunder resounded and lightning struck once more, illuminating Tycon's sword-wielding form.
The noble angrily pointed again, back the way Lone came, [Go!]
That meant that Lone just... had to figure it out.