CHAPTER 36 - From Our Mistakes (3)
Zach panted heavily, the sight before him taking some time to sink into his mind. Morgana lay sprawled in the dirt in front of him, her sword off to the side and out of reach. She looked up at him with a surprised expression as he slowly lowered his own sword.
A few seconds of awkward silence passed between them before he sheathed the blade gifted to him by the Queen. He reached out and helped Morgana to her feet. She dusted herself off, and a smile gradually spread across both of their faces.
Morgana was the first to speak as she went to grab her blade.
“You are learning quickly. I had heard stories of the Heroes of ages past, and I am surprised to find them understated, even as grand as they were. Is your magic tutelage going as smoothly, as well?”
Zach nodded, rubbing the back of his head as though he were embarrassed.
“Yeah, I guess I’m some kind of freak, being able to use all the elements. They keep having to bring in new instructors because I’m learning everything from the old ones in record time. Still, that doesn’t really compare to this. I can mimic your sword moves all day, but it doesn’t mean I know how to use them.”
“You are correct. Magic, while much harder to learn for most, is rather easy to master once it has been learned. Swordsmanship, on the other hand, is easy to learn, but harder to master.”
She spun and pointed her blade at him with a playful smile on her face.
“I suppose it’s time I step up the difficulty, then.”
Zach returned the expression and redrew his own sword.
“Mid game difficulty adjustment? Guess we’re on hard mode, now, huh?”
He blinked at that exact second, and that was his first mistake.
In the span of that motion, that split second, Morgana had sprinted towards him, her legs glowing with pale green magic. Her blade came up, about to stab through his chin, impaling his head. Zach felt the tip stop just as it reached his skin.
“’Hard mode’? I’d say we are moving to easy mode from beginner, if I understand the terms you’ve told me correctly.”
He blinked again, this time in dumbfounded surprise.
“Well, shit. Let’s go, then!”
Later that same evening, Zach stood in front of the majestic wooden doors that marked his private sleeping quarters inside the castle. He looked up and down the hallway, not seeing any guards as per usual. With a deep breath, he stepped forward and opened the door. It creaked softly on the hinges, revealing the ornate and opulent interior.
In a land where the nearest tree was miles and miles away, this room alone had an entirely wooden interior. The walls were coated in expensive-looking planks, the dressers and tables were each seemingly carved from one large trunk each. The 4-poster, princess-style bed was veiled by rich red velvet and covered in sheets that would have sold for a lot even back on Earth.
Zach swallowed hard as he looked at the bed, wondering if ‘she’ was behind those concealing drapes.
Like she had been every night since he arrived. Each time passing off his questions with the fact that a Queen should be with her King.
“Shall you be declining me again this evening, My king?”
He winced in pure, visceral reaction to the voice from the bed. He began unbuckling his armor, setting it out neatly in the wardrobe. His sword, which he still refused to call by its name, sat in an impressive display on the boudoir. Next came his clothing, drenched in sweat and clinging to his rapidly growing muscles. All the while, he didn’t answer her question.
Shuffling was heard behind him, and a cool cloth was pressed against his bare back, sending shivers down his spine. He moved to turn and stop Jayna, but her strong hand reached his shoulder and held it in place while the other continued to wipe his body. He could feel the heat of her flesh, an odd mix of sensations when combined with the damp cloth.
“I do not know why you reject me, Hero. But you must learn that I shall not give up.”
“You ask me so suddenly to… you know. I’m not… Shouldn’t the first time be with someone special?”
Jayna laughed from behind him. A regal, authoritative, yet beautiful sound.
“Is that what your Earth believes? Or is it the view of all humans, even here?”
“… I’m going to take that as a no.”
“You are well to do so, My King. We demons do not have the luxury to worry about love or the like. We must ensure the survival of our people, and so power equals choice. You are powerful, and I choose you. It is simple, yes?”
’That’s the problem. Something like that isn’t ‘simple.’’
Aloud, however, he couldn’t come up with a proper reply. Noting that he wasn’t stopping her, Jayna continued to swipe the cloth across his body, wiping away the sweat. Every so often, she’d dip it in a small basin and rinse it before resuming. The stillness of the ‘night’ entered the room on a soft breeze as the duo passed many minutes in such a state.
“Jayna. A King does not use honorifics towards his own queen.”
“J-J-Jayna… I don’t know that I can provide what you want. I was raised believing that this kind of thing is sacred. That two people who share love or some such special feeling towards one another should go this route.”
The cloth suddenly stopped moving and left his back. He heard a wet smack as the object hit the floor, and he winced once more. His eyes shot open when he felt hot skin replace it, and he could tell she was pressing her body against his.
“My Hero. My King. My Traveler. My Savior. You are special to me, Zachary Anderson, warrior from Earth. So, if it is your wish to honor your morals, then…”
A hand came up, cupping his cheek. His head was turned until his eyes met hers. Those glimmering red orbs seemed to melt away his willpower at an alarming rate, and he struggled to keep his composure as he swallowed audibly.
“I merely need to become special to you, just as you are to me.”
Her lips found his, and he tried to pull away. Her hand had slid into his hair, gripping it tightly as she held her mouth against his own in an awkward kiss.
Something inside the man broke, and the last of his willpower drained away as he realized that she was just as inexperienced as he was. The kiss was sloppy and uncoordinated, like his first one back in middle school with a girl he couldn’t even remember the name of anymore.
When Jayna finally pulled away, Zach stared into her eyes, fighting the inner turmoil that was throwing his mind into a turbulent chaos. She looked back at him, and he could tell she was speaking the truth.
They had known each other for only a few days, and already, her heart was his.
He leaned in and pressed his forehead to hers with a smile.
“Please, Jayna… Give me more time.”