9. An Unexpected Night

Chapter 9

An Unexpected Night

Satel eventually put me down and we wandered over to the bed. We tensely sat on the edge as Cegil pulled up a chair so he could sit across from us. After that we just stared blankly at each other as we tried to figure out where to start. We each had something to say it seemed, even Satel, who had been asleep all day.

Cegil, who was the most level headed (and probably smartest) of us, cleared his throat and decided to pick a topic to start on. “I see that you are awake now, Satel. How are you feeling?”

I could’ve snorted and made a comment about pointing out the obvious, but thinking about it, that was probably the best way to begin what was likely to be a long verbal quest for answers.

“Uh, yeah, I’m fine… I’m a little used to getting up at this hour, so I guess even poison didn’t stop me. …Sorry about what happened today, ‘Tia-dear. I didn’t mean to make you worry about me,” Satel muttered in a croaked tone, choosing to address the fact that he nearly died on me. He seemed a little nervous over being the first one to reply and he still sounded sleepy- he must not have been awake for very long.

“Sorry?” I repeated incredulously as my emotions from earlier returned. If he hadn’t addressed me, I would’ve held off my angry speech for a later time, but I couldn’t let him think that a simple ‘sorry’ would let him off the hook. “You died for almost a minute! Do you know how worried I was- how much I cried thinking I would never see you again!?”

Usually, Cegil would be telling me to calm down so he could ask more questions, but he kept silent and let me berate his brother. He probably felt Satel deserved it- or maybe he thought it would help the blond realize the weight of his actions and think things over more carefully in the future.

“You know I would never try to deliberately hurt you,” he reminded me as he brought his arm up to wrap it around my waist. “Unfortunately, since life is uncertain, I can’t promise that I will never end up like that again- but I can promise that I won’t try to face anything I can’t handle. I’ve fulfilled my obligations to Cyirlie, so if she should ever visit the homestead again, I will not be here to greet her.”

I was relieved to hear that, though I didn’t think he would be that stupid to try and confront her again. I was still somewhat surprised to find that he was well aware of what’d happened to him and that he had also somehow survived it. Then again, I had no clue just how long he might’ve been conscious, so he could’ve had plenty of time to come to terms with it.

“Okay, be sure that you do- and take me with you if you need to leave,” I responded curtly, biting my tongue to keep myself from saying anything I would regret. I kind of knew he wasn’t going to argue with me since he’d made it very clear that he wasn’t going out there to die, and I knew he’d never leave me alone with her if he could help it. But while I also knew that he hadn’t tried to hurt me, the panic of almost losing him was enough to make me lash out, and neither of them deserved it. My anger and fear weren’t really directed at him- but he was there and I was still struggling to keep my righteous fury in check.

“Now that that is settled, are you well, Tia? You were the one who screamed, are you not?” Cegil paused before adding, “It is highly unusual for you to be awake at this hour.”

I frowned a little at what I thought was a joke on his part- at least when he would normally mention my sleeping habits, I always felt like he was teasing me. But I wasn’t even sure what this ‘hour’ was, though I was weirdly certain that I had never been awake for it before now.

“I just had a nightmare- that’s it,” I muttered before I put Satel in the center of the conversation again. “Besides, what was Satel doing up when he should be resting? Where were you trying to take me?”

I was much more concerned with the fact that he had been carrying me in his arms when I had awakened. Just who was the one that started it? Did I crawl out of bed without knowing and woke him up? Or was he the one sleepwalking and pulled me along with him?

The blond did give an expression that betrayed his belief that he was caught red-handed for whatever he had been hiding from me. For a moment, I couldn’t tell if he really didn’t want to tell me, or if he just had no idea how to explain it. Actually, it was probably both.

“Should I tell her?” my mate asked the lavender haired man as he nervously rubbed the back of his neck. Cegil mirrored his uncertain and nervous look, but didn’t repeat the gesture.

“She is your mate and is under your care- the decision to tell her is yours alone.”

Satel’s eyes widened before he glared and sneered at his brother. “You scapegrace! You promised to aid me in regards to her condition when I chose to take her for a mate!”

This wasn’t what I wanted to hear- it was bad enough that there was something going on that I didn’t know about, but now I’m hearing that both Satel and Cegil had been keeping some kind of secret from me!? Not only that, but it had also apparently been going on for at least three years!

…And what in five hells was a ‘scapegrace’? Sometimes I’d forget that Satel was so much older than me and that he knew all of the classic insults of my grandparents’ time.

“I did- and I will in regards to finding a solution. However, it is up to you to inform her of what is happening. She has been passed from my care to yours, if you recall,” he reminded the platinum blond with a cool look. I kind of didn’t like how they were speaking as if I wasn’t present- I was clearly the subject and there was no point in dangling this daunting news in front of me and expect me to ignore it.

“Alright, I will tell her, but I’m not going down alone- you will explain to her why you’ve been keeping it a secret ever since you met her!” Satel insisted, still not pleased with where this conversation was turning.

“I’m going to be angry with the both of you if someone doesn’t explain what’s going on now!” I interjected testily, tired of the delay. I figured that they weren’t outright saying anything in fear that I wouldn’t speak to them anymore or something. But who knows? If it was really as bad as they’re making it out to be then I might end up giving them the cold shoulder anyway, but I would like to think that maybe they’d kept it from me to keep me safe somehow. I was willing to forgive them if they gave a very good reason why I should.

Satel glanced at my face for a brief second before he decided that my knees were a much safer place to stare at. “Alright, I’ll tell… Every night at around this time you’ve been…sleepwalking.”

He kept it short and allowed me time to really process that. It actually took a while for me to first figure out that it wasn’t a joke and that he was being serious. All I needed to see was Cegil’s nod to confirm that it was true before I finally expressed shock over it. I really had been sleepwalking this entire time?

“Really? Every single night?” I asked numbly, still stunned as I earned nods from both men. I then turned to Satel and tried to get him to look me in the eyes, “Ever since we’ve mated?”

“Longer than that, it seems. Cegil first showed me your nightly, uh…episodes just about a week before I first informed you of my intentions.”

Elit… I couldn’t remember precisely what happened that far back, other than the fact that he’d chased me around a town on a stormy night. I believe we’d had a fight prior to that, which was the cause of my running away from him in the first place. I remember being very confused about his sudden change of heart- first I thought we were breaking up, then he suddenly wanted to mate with me… I was never able to make sense of that. So… if it was a week before that, it had to have been before all of that drama. Of course I couldn’t for the life of me remember where we were at that time, other than somewhere in the Wastelands.

“…And I’ve been doing it ever since I’d met you?” I continued as I turned to Cegil for confirmation. If the tall man had had to inform Satel about it, the he must’ve known about it for quite some time.

“That is correct. In fact, I would not be surprised if you had already possessed this trait before we met- it would explain why the people of Port Sibest believed that you were some cursed soul,” he replied, stunning me further.

Oh Elit… I used to sleep on the beach! I could’ve wandered into the sea and drowned at any time! …But I had no reason not to believe Cegil- I couldn’t say for sure how long this had been going on, but suddenly it seemed like a lot of little mysteries were starting to make sense.

Cegil always acted strange when it came to the subject of the night, like he was worried about something, and my sleepwalking also explained why Satel and I always ended up in the same position every morning. He must’ve been getting up every night to carry me back to bed and would just collapse on top of me. It did fit with what’d happened moments before, though I’m a little impressed that Satel managed to pull out of his deep sleep just for that. It must really be a strong habit for him- so much so that even his recovering state couldn’t stop him.

But there was also something that wasn’t adding up- sure, sleepwalking was a potentially dangerous habit, and a little embarrassing for the one afflicted, but it wasn’t some rare condition or anything. Many humans have sleeping disorders like mine, so it didn’t make sense why Port Sibest would alienate me just because of that- though I could see them using it as ‘proof’ because they already thought I was evil from some other action.

And- it didn’t make sense as to why the two men I trusted the most would keep it a secret from me for all these years. Sure, they might’ve done so because they wanted to save me the embarrassment, but one would think it would be safer to tell me so that I could find some way to cure myself. And they wouldn’t have to wake up every night to help me back to bed- they didn’t need to suffer with me.

Cegil and Satel remained quiet to allow me to process all of it. They didn’t seem to want to volunteer anything else unless I asked- and rightfully so, because I was still liable to bite their heads off if they dared utter a word. But, luckily for them, I was still far from satisfied and had more questions I wanted answered. “If it’s just sleepwalking, then why the secrecy? I don’t understand what’s so disturbing about it- if I knew about it sooner, then couldn’t I find a way to stop?”

“There’s more to it than just sleepwalking… but I hesitate to say more. Some part of me is admittedly scared that there is no way to stop it, or if so, that it would come at a hefty cost,” Satel said while still keeping his eyes averted from mine. I believed him when he mentioned his fears- even if I couldn’t fully see his face, I saw enough, and knew from his voice that he couldn’t be faking…

Even Cegil appeared uncomfortable across from me as he added, “I share the same sentiment, though I also feared that there might be consequences if you were made aware if it. After all of this time, you had no knowledge that it was happening and I felt as if it was intended. But now that you know something is amiss, I am at an impasse of what to inform you.”

…And so he places the burden on Satel’s shoulders. Now I knew why my mate was so upset a moment ago. I had no clue what else I could’ve been doing at night, and I was a little concerned about it, but I could also see why they both thought something bad might happen to me. If it’s strange for a human like me to have whatever this behavior is, then it couldn’t possibly be good. I wouldn’t be surprised if they both felt as if I would be killed instantly upon the wrong people learning the truth.

So the question was, did I want to know? Could I continue on knowing that every night Satel or Cegil would have to get up for me?

“I would be more inclined to tell you if I had some clue as to the nature of it,” Satel reasoned, using a more formal tone in his speech to cover up how concerned he was. He then finally managed to look me in the eye before he pleaded, “Is there anything you can recall in your past that might’ve led to a curse? I want to believe that all you have is something that can be easily broken.”

A curse? Well, it was fairly common for seafarers to get them since we interacted with more demons out on the sea than we liked, but I didn’t recall ever being cursed by one.

“As far as I know, I don’t know of any- the only monsters I interacted with when I lived on the ship were lesser sea canines, and there were sometimes mermaids that swam along as we traveled,” I answered, feeling a little bad upon seeing the slight look of disappointment on his features. Never before did I think a curse would be a good thing in this case. It really made me worried about what else I could have.

“Do you remember any of your dreams? Since this is something that happens while you are asleep, perhaps your dreams are telling you what is happening,” Cegil suggested, seeking another path to an explanation.

Come to think of it, I’d never told Cegil about my dreams- usually I didn’t remember them, or I thought they weren’t important enough to mention. But, of course, I was starting to get an idea that a certain recurring dream might be linked to whatever was causing my nightly activities. After meeting Cyirlie, it couldn’t have been a coincidence that I dreamt of a sea dragon- I didn’t even know what she looked like in dragon form, but I knew it had to be her.

I slowly lowered my head as I tried to piece together the similarities to every dream I recalled. I didn’t remember having them every night, but I seemed to pay attention to the ones that ended differently.

“…I usually don’t remember my dreams come morning, but there is this recurring one I have from time to time,” I began before I sensed both men leaning closer to give me their full attention. I described the parts where I was always under water and swimming around, looking at the moon- all while deliberately leaving out certain endings that involved my getting out of the sea and into Satel’s arms.

For some reason, Satel had come to play a large role in the ending- they weren’t always sensual dreams, as sometimes it just involved hugging and innocent kisses. Sometimes, I felt like I was in control at that point in the dream and that I wanted to crawl to land every time to see him. If it had any meaning, then he should be honored- I was basically implying that I would rather end up with him rather than stay in the sea. Once upon a time, the thought of severing all ties with my seafaring roots would’ve bothered me greatly, but now…

My story wasn’t very long because the dream (at least the parts that I could clearly remember) wasn’t long. But it seemed to be enough to make the two brothers deeply think about what I had said. Apparently there was some importance to those dreams…

“I was afraid it was going to be related to that…” I distinctly heard Satel mutter under his breath, leaving me to wonder what ‘that’ was.

“When you sleepwalk, you usually wander to the nearest window to stare at the moon- most likely it happens at the same moment as in your dream,” Cegil explained, also appearing disturbed by my descriptions.

Huh… so some of my dream actually happened- at least the moon part. I certainly wasn’t swimming in real life, though I had to wonder what the symbolism behind it was. Was my subconscious trying to tell me that I should be with the sea? Or was I actually a mermaid turned into a human by some forbidden magicks?

As amusing as the latter thought was, I knew that that wasn’t it. I didn’t have an appetite for men (or any human for that matter), and for what purpose would it serve to have me turned from a demon to a human? It almost made sense, given the fact that I’d hated humans for a long time, but it didn’t explain my early life or now, thanks to my interactions with Lioa.

“What was the nightmare you had just now? Was it the same as the others? Or did you dream of something else?” Satel inquired before an apologetic look came to his face. “I don’t mean to pry on something unpleasant, but it might be important.”

“It was the same dream, sort of, but I was above water this time and I was singing something.” I paused when I noticed the two perk up at the mention of my singing. Both pairs of rust colored eyes widened for a split second and I could feel my mate tense beside me. What in five hells was that reaction for?

I decided to hold off my questioning in favor of finishing. “…When I was done singing, a white sea dragon appeared, and in what sounded like Cyirlie’s voice, she said she was going to eat me. I woke up just when she closed in on me with her teeth.”

I resisted the urge to shudder in fear from just the mere image of the sight. Satel didn’t appear to be any less perplexed and worried as he shook his head slightly and muttered something under his breath. If I hadn’t known any better, I would think he was cursing in another language- the dark edge in his tone did betray some anger and hate.

Before I knew it, Cegil stood in a flash to push Satel back down by the shoulder. “You are in no condition to do anything- your powers should be too weak to be of any use to you right now.”

When I realized what was happening, I finally noticed the look of fury and determination in my mate’s eyes and knew he was about to rush off and do something reckless. I also turned and placed my hands on his chest, but I used more force than Cegil did and made sure to push him on to his back.

“And where do you think you’re going now?” I asked in a warning tone as I stared down directly into his eyes. The next words that come out of his mouth better be ‘to the bathroom’!

“Cyirlie is threatening your life- I can’t sit by and let her haunt you like that!” he yelled out, resisting the urge to push me off. I just didn’t understand why he was suddenly acting like this. It was just a dream- Cyirlie wasn’t really after me… as far as I knew, she still didn’t know who I was.

“You just promised me that you wouldn’t face her again!” The angry words tumbled out of my mouth before I could stop myself. The very idea of him going back on his word just to protect me sent me on the defensive and I had to resort to hiding my fear behind my fury. I should’ve been more calm and tried to reason with him- at least point out that the chances of that dream having any meaning in the real world was very slim.

“I won’t unless she actually comes for your life!” he snapped back, probably also hiding the same emotion I was really feeling. “I need to prepare defenses to keep you safe- and maybe plan on where to hide you should she really come.”

Hide me? Why? I would be more worried about her being furious over the fact that he was still alive! Satel was the one who needed protection, not me.

“Satel, leave the defense to the clan for now. Tia has no intention of leaving the homestead any time soon and should be safe within these walls. You just need to focus on your recovery,” Cegil told him from behind me. I watched as the young falucite’s eyes drifted up to look at the giant, then back down to me.

He soon relaxed a little before his hands wandered to his chest and wrapped around my wrists in a near iron grip. “Fine, but you will not leave my side while I’m here, my sirsa.”

“You idiot…” I growled before I allowed my features to soften some, “I wasn’t planning on leaving you at all. Besides, what’s there to panic about? It was just a dream.”

“Tia,” Cegil cut in before I felt his hand briefly touch my shoulder. “Do you know what you were singing before?”

I glanced back at the lavender haired man before I tried to move back to my previous sitting position next to Satel, but the white-blond man wouldn’t let go of my wrists. I had to sit with my arms in an awkward pose while he remained on his back, with his legs hanging over the edge.

“I don’t know- it was just some gibberish. I didn’t even recognize the melody,” I answered Cegil while shaking my head. I wasn’t sure why he thought that was important, or why it had to be brought up. All because Satel was calmed down for the second didn’t mean he was going to stay that way. He was a lot like me- in times of stress it didn’t take much to set me off.

For a moment, Cegil seemed pained to hear that. There was a moment of heavy silence as I tried to wonder what the singing could’ve meant to him. Soon his eyes darted over to his brother, then back to me before he let out a sigh. “Very well, I shall inform you of the other issue. …Every night, in addition to sleepwalking, you also sing in an old language. I would assume that it is a dedication song to Elit since you seem to be facing the moon at all times. When you finish, you collapse and sleep soundly until morning.”

I felt myself tense before I noted that Satel did the same. I had a feeling he only did it because he didn’t expect Cegil to actually tell me anything. I wasn’t sure what to feel after hearing that, but I finally understood why everyone was acting the way they did. Was I really singing to Elit? Why?

I didn’t understand how I would’ve contracted such a thing. I knew for certain I wasn’t cursed, and I was most certainly no servant of the sea. Sure, I followed Elit as my god, but I wasn’t that devoted to religion.

“What does that mean, exactly?” I found myself questioning, before I clarified. “I mean- what would cause this? Is someone trying to call me or tell me something? Or is this some psychological mumbo-jumbo that I’m too ignorant to figure out?”

“There’s no telling… All we do know is that it does have something to do with the sea. We have no idea of the origin, who to ask, or how to break it,” Satel muttered as he let go of one arm so I would be more comfortable. It was a little endearing that he still wouldn’t let go of the other wrist, but I was growing steadily uncomfortable with his behavior in front of Cegil. I felt it was too romantic for public.

“We also have no clue when this started either,” I pointed out as I tried not to think about the gesture. “The Wise Man never mentioned anything about sleepwalking or singing to me, so it must’ve happened sometime after I washed up in Port Sibest.”

Not long after I had said that, Satel practically jumped back into an upright sitting position and appeared to have some kind of idea. “Now that I think about it, did you ever mention how you ended up there, ‘Tia-dear?”

“Well… no- I don’t know how I got there. All I remember was being thrown off the ship and I passed out in the middle of a raging storm. After that, I was on the beach with some moron poking me with his fishing rod to see if I was still alive.”

I winced a little when I realized that that was the first time I’d told Cegil and Satel that I was thrown off the ship. There wasn’t an accident or anything- it was just after the ‘event that shall not be mentioned’ where the crew deliberately threw me overboard. They most likely did it because of my loyalty to the Wise Man…

Thankfully, neither one called me out on that little reveal or seem to understand exactly what I had meant by ‘thrown off’. I was a little relieved that I didn’t have to explain it. Cegil crossed his arms and resumed his deep thinking as he tried to come up with anything that would make sense of what I had.

“It sounds as though you were in a life-threatening situation. Do you remember where the ship was at the time you passed out?” I shook my head to the tall man’s question and waited for him to continue. “I would guess that perhaps some sea creature took pity on you and saved your life- or maybe they saved you in order to place their debt upon you for a while.”

“Debt?” I repeated as I thought back on the legends. They say that all Elit ever wants in return for his favor was a song every night. If I was unwittingly singing on behalf of the true debtor, then that was unfair. I didn’t ask to be saved, nor would I agree to take the place of some lazy demon in rituals like that. But… since I never really knew about it until now, I suppose there was no point in getting upset about it. In the end, the only harm done was to Cegil and Satel’s sleep cycles.

“In fact…” Cegil began as a new thought came to him, “your dreams might be visions of the one who saved you.”

“You mean like she’s seeing through her savior’s eyes during the song?” Satel guessed as he also entertained the idea.

Actually, that didn’t sound farfetched- I always had the feeling that I was a mermaid in those dreams, but I knew I wasn’t one. Was it possible one of the mermaids that followed the ship pulled me to safety? Why not? Since I wasn’t a man, she wouldn’t have had the desire to eat me. But how could I explain those new ‘endings’ with Satel? Though if I happened to be in control of the dream once the song ended, then they must’ve been my doing. Elit, I hope so- if the mermaid somehow knew Satel and happened to be fantasizing about him, then I was going to have an issue with that…

“Hey… if that’s true, and if Cyirlie happened to show up that last time, then doesn’t that mean…?” I trailed off before I visibly shuddered. If I was having visions of what the mermaid was seeing, then I must’ve just witness her final moments before the dragon priestess decided to have her for dinner. “…She’s dead now, isn’t she?”

Their eyes widened and we had a moment of stunned silence. On one hand, that meant that Cyirlie’s threat and her anger weren’t necessarily directed at me, but on the other… what a way to go.

“I would like it very much if that was the case- if the creature has been eaten, then the debt must’ve died with her. Perhaps that’s why you’re awake now- you’re free,” Satel guessed sounding hopeful, but Cegil shook his head and appeared a little disturbed.

“While it would be nice to know that Tia is indeed free of another’s obligations, it is a rather morbid victory to be happy over. A life had just ended,” he reminded us, so that we wouldn’t get too disrespectful.

“It’s better to happen to her than to ‘Tia,” Satel muttered dryly. Cooooold- oh what the hell was I thinking? I agreed with him.

It was hard sympathizing with someone I didn’t even know. Not only that, but this creature was allegedly the one who slapped a nightly debt on me. At least she died as part of the circle of life and not in some senseless murder. Even a dragon needed to eat, after all.

“Even so, we cannot be entirely sure that she is free until tomorrow night. If she does not resume her usual habit, then we will surely know,” Cegil said with some reasonable skepticism.

It would just be too easy for me to be ‘cured’ if it was as simple as killing off the one responsible, wouldn’t it? Or perhaps it was an irony that he wasn’t sure he wanted to accept. He’d known me for about ten years now and had been unable to do anything for me the entire time, whereas I had only just learned about it tonight and found that it probably corrected itself. Of course, the fact that I knew now could’ve been proof that the curse or whatever was broken…

Strangely, Satel had nothing to say to that- he just sat quietly beside me. Perhaps he was fully relaxed thinking that there was nothing to worry about with Cyirlie. Or maybe he was just happy with the thought of my being cured and that he didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night for me anymore. …But when I dared to glance at him from the corner of my eye, I found that he was thinking heavily while trying to hold back a troubled expression.

The lavender haired giant switched his gaze between us before he decided he was satisfied with his answers for the night. “Very well, I believe we have talked enough for now. It is very late and you both need your rest- we will discuss more at a later time.”

I still didn’t know what time it was, but I didn’t feel sleepy at all. I didn’t know if it had anything to do with the fact that the spell on me was broken or if it was because I had already sang for the night. But I didn’t argue to Cegil, choosing to agree with him for now. It wasn’t as if I wanted him to leave as soon as possible, but I did want to have some alone time with Satel so I could hug him and have him promise again to never repeat his earlier actions with Cyirlie.

“Cegil, wait,” Satel suddenly called out as his brother headed for the door.

“What is it?” he replied as he stopped and faced us again. I watched curiously as the blond opened his mouth to say something, only to freeze on the first word. He then appeared downtrodden as he glanced down and shook his head.

“Never mind- it can wait until tomorrow,” he muttered. I had to wonder what he wanted to ask and why it was so hard for him to start…

“Very well. I will come in the afternoon when my duties are over- Tia, we can resume our lessons afterwards if you wish,” Cegil said with a nod towards me.

“Okay, I’ll think about it. Good night,” I replied, hoping that I didn’t sound as if I was trying to rush him. It wasn’t my intention- I just simply had nothing left to say to him. At the moment, I was much too worried about Satel to even think about my lessons, but at the same time I did want to resume them soon before I started forgetting everything I’d learned so far.

When Cegil finally headed out, he left the lights on, most likely assuming that Satel could turn them off when he was ready. My mate soon let out a sigh as drew a leg unto the bed and turned to face me. He then bowed his head to allow his white-blond strands to obscure his face.

“I’m ready for my punishment ‘Tia-dear,” he told me in a tone that was a strange mix of resignation and amusement.

“What are you talking about?” I inquired as I raised an eyebrow at his weird behavior.

“I know you’re mad at me, so I’d rather have you punch me now and forgive me instead of suffering days of you not talking to me,” he replied, making me realize what he was talking about.

In the past, when we had first met, I wouldn’t forgive him easily or accept his apologies when he did something really terrible. The last major fight we had was after we mated and I found myself unable to talk in his presence because I was so upset. It wasn’t until after I blew up and punched him in the face when Lioa stepped in and helped me organize my thoughts so I could fully realize what I did was wrong.

Satel must’ve thought that my punching him was what led to me wanting to reconcile, but that wasn’t the case at all. I received counseling from another human and learned how to work out my feelings to understand him better. I didn’t want to do that to him ever again- and, thankfully, we never had an argument that huge ever since.

However, I couldn’t help but make him sweat a little. I shifted until I was positioned between his legs and clenched my hand like I was really going to hit him. He didn’t even flinch when I stopped myself at the last second and relaxed my hand so I could touch my index finger on the tip of his nose.

“You should know me better than that, Satel,” I told him with mock disappointment. “I don’t deck people while on their sick bed. I wait until they’re better before I do so. But don’t worry about it- I’ll likely forget by the time you’re well.”

It took him only a second to realize that I was teasing him and a small grin appeared on his thin lips when the implication that I already forgave him came to his mind. I heard a soft, amused grunt before he leaned forward and wrapped his arms tightly around me. The next thing I knew, he fell back with me unto the pillows behind him, dragging the rest of my body up on the bed in the process. The room was then cast in darkness as he willed the lights away.

“…Did I really die earlier?”

My face was pressed against his chest, but I managed to push myself up a little so I could glance up at him. The moonlight streamed through the lone window, allowing me to see that he was staring up at the ceiling, his expression showed awe and some doubt. I suppose he was still trying to come to terms with what happened to him after all.

“Just for a minute,” I replied before repeating some of the things Didra explained in the heat of the moment, “But Didra said that your body managed to regenerate just in time for you to revive yourself and stay alive.”

She was also muttering under her breath the entire time how his surviving was a medical miracle. While we were cleaning Satel up and setting up the room earlier, she did say a few more words about the outcome, though I had a feeling she was trying to explain to herself as to how it happened. She believed that it was simply a matter of timing and that Satel was just lucky. Had his body tried to revive a moment too soon, it would’ve failed and he wouldn’t likely have made it a second time before it was too late.

Of course, she wasn’t completely satisfied in the end when realizing she had no theory as to how his body managed to recover so quickly despite the severity of the damages. To her, his regeneration was done at a super-falucite speed that was unheard of for an average member of her race. Personally, I didn’t care about the medical crap- I was just glad to have my mate back.

“…I think I had a near death experience- or maybe it was just a dream. I’m still struggling to decide which because I think I have a message from the dead for Cegil. If it was just a dream, then I shouldn’t say things that I made up,” Satel continued, revealing why he was so uncertain. So that’s why he stopped himself from saying something to Cegil…

“Is it about Dantia?” I guessed, before his head shot up to stare at me in surprise. I shook my head a little to calm him down and explained further. “When you came back, you had a fever and talked in your sleep. You confessed your guilt about her death and Garroe explained to us how you blamed yourself when it wasn’t really your fault. Cegil doesn’t blame you for anything, though he does want to know why you trust him so much, despite that he was barely in your life early on.”

Satel relaxed upon hearing that and let his head fall back again. “Yeah… I felt I had to apologize to her when I saw her, but she also said it wasn’t my fault. She owned up to her mistakes and asked me to tell Cegil something important.”

I had to wonder what the message was. Was it something incriminating about her death that she felt her father needed to know? Or perhaps it was a secret that she felt she needed to get out? But more importantly, was what Satel had seen just a product of his own feverish mind, or a paranormal phenomenon that resulted from the near death state he was in?

I knew absolutely nothing about how the mind worked, so I couldn’t help him figure it out. But I could at least listen to him and give an opinion if asked for one.

“I mean- I can understand why she would say some of those things, but at the same time, I can’t fathom how she would know,” he continued, sounded more like he was working it out to himself rather than relating his experience to me. “Actually, I can barely comprehend how I would’ve known.”

“Honestly, why can’t Cegil see that we all respect him for what he has done? Only those with cold-blooded hearts would allow others to be carelessly sacrificed. Dantia and I understood that very well and never faulted him for his absence. The elders had to do what they could to protect him and us from those who’d overzealously followed the Fates,” he added as he thought over Cegil’s concerns.

Now that I understood both views, I could see why Cegil wasn’t sure about his brother and daughter’s feelings- it’s reasonable to not trust someone they barely knew, and as far as he knew, Satel and Dantia barely knew him. He was never aware of the fact that someone told stories of his feats. In fact, Cegil always thought the clan resented him for everything he had done.

“Regardless if it was a dream or an experience, I think you should tell Cegil what you just told me. It’s better to know than to wonder about it, don’t you think?” I asked him, hoping my suggestion might give him some idea of what to do next. I wasn’t trying to tell him to do anything, and it wouldn’t have bothered me if he decided not to listen. I was just thinking that it would make Cegil happy to know this, since he also cared about Satel.

I didn’t even know much about his family in the beginning, when I first traveled with him, but I knew from the very first day we ran across Satel that he loved his brother. Once I started helping out in the problems that were happening then, I recognized how hard Cegil worked to save his brother from what he thought was a real ceremony that could destroy his life.

Satel let out a small smile before his hands trailed up my back and began rubbing lazy circles on the exposed skin between the straps of my nightgown. “Actually, I recently learned that one doesn’t have to say anything to convey how they feel, all I need to do is look… but I suppose it doesn’t count with someone who’s been away for a long time. I guess I’ll tell him after all.”

…Huh? I glanced back at him in confusion as I tried to decipher what that first part meant. Did that mean there was something unsaid that he didn’t know about before? I wonder what it was- and who didn’t say it.

“Don’t worry about it ‘Tia-dear,” he added after a chuckle when he noticed my look. “I know how you feel, so I won’t ask you to say anything.”

“Huh?” I said out loud as I pushed myself up in a near panic. He was talking about me!? What did I do?

“What didn’t I say? …Satel!” I shouted when he wouldn’t answer me. He just gave me a grin before he rolled us over and trapped me under his body.

“I love you,” the blond bastard told me, almost cheekily, before he pressed his lips against mine quickly and then reached for the blankets. He soon tossed the thick covers over us and then settled down in the usual sleeping pose that we would wake up in.

“H-hey! Don’t dodge the question! Are you upset that I won’t talk about my past or something?” I inquired, both frustrated from his actions and a little worried that I might’ve offended him somehow. He didn’t seem like he was upset, but I didn’t want him to question anything about me. He already knew what I couldn’t talk about, so if he wanted me to answer him something, he should just ask!

“Goodnight my dearest,” he mumbled sweetly against my neck, still refusing to answer me.

I let out an annoyed growl before I let it drop. Whatever his issue was, apparently it didn’t really bother him. What did he say before? That I didn’t need to say anything to ‘convey how I felt’? I wasn’t sure what ‘feelings’ he was curious about- I clearly expressed myself just fine… even though I sometimes didn’t know what I was feeling.

I couldn’t even fall asleep now after all that’d happened. Ignoring Satel’s out-of-body experience (or fever dream), I still had some thoughts and fears about my new revelations. All because I could be conveniently ‘cured’ of my nightly ‘hobby’ (for lack of a better word) didn’t mean I could just forget about it. I had something wrong with me and I didn’t even know about it- it was my body and I should know what happens to it!

But what was the point in fretting over it now? I wouldn’t know for certain until tomorrow night if I was really freed from the debt or whatever, and there was nothing I could do about it regardless. Cegil knew about it this whole time and he couldn’t do anything for me- even Satel didn’t seem confident that he could find a way to get rid of it.

I eventually let out a sigh and focused on the mass of platinum blond below my chin. How could he fall asleep so quickly after being knocked out for most of the day?

I felt the corners of my lips tug upwards slightly before I let my hand trail up his body and then cup his jaw line. Oh who cared about the rest of the drama? The man I loved was still alive and that was enough.

I wanted to lean up and kiss him on the forehead, but I couldn’t even reach since his head was so close and snug under my chin. I had to settle with wrapping my arms around his form and tried to sleep while hugging him.

…But soon I felt a knowing smirk against my skin, proving that he was still awake. I didn’t know what he was grinning about, but I ignored him and simply enjoyed his presence.

I’ll get my revenge on him in the morning.

This was the last peaceful night we were going to have for a long time, but at least we were always going to be together, no matter what danger was heading our way.

To the Next Chapter

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