CHAPTER 37 - From Our Mistakes (4)
Zach stirred, slowly rising from his slumber. He looked over to see that Jayna was already gone, just like the other mornings. He sighed and pulled the covers from him when a noise stopped him cold.
“You sleep like the dead, Hero.”
Jayna was sitting at the boudoir, running a brush through her hair with gentle, deliberate strokes. She was clad in her usual royal finery, and he couldn’t help but stare. He was in his own pajamas and felt very underdressed for the situation.
“Sorry. I’ve always been a heavy sleeper. Is that why I always missed you in the mornings?”
“Possibly. I ensure I move quietly so as not to wake you. You need your rest so you can focus on your training.”
‘Then why do you keep staying in the bed every night? Even if we don’t do anything, you know how hard it is to fall asleep with a beauty like you just inches away?’
“Thank you for your consideration. I should get ready. Morgana is probably waiting in the courtyard, already.”
Jayna merely nodded as she finished with the brush and set it back in front of the mirror. She spun and walked over just as he was getting up from the bed, and her hand cupped his cheek like the previous night. She gazed at him, her ordinarily cold eyes particularly emotive, this morning.
“Jayna? Don’t they need you to do, like, Queen stuff?”
“An intriguing way to phrase that, My Hero. And yes, sadly, they do.”
Her hand drifted back to her side, and she moved to the front door. A last, longing glance was cast over her shoulder with a wistful smile.
“I shall see you tonight, My King.”
Before he could even reply, the door closed behind her. Zach was left with the aching in his chest wrought by that last gaze. He tried to shake it from his mind, along with the building emotions, as he began donning his attire for the day, laid out by the maids overnight like normal.
No matter how hard he tried, though, the conversation from the previous evening kept creeping back into his thoughts, distracting him and slowing him down. When he was finally kitted out, he wasn’t sure how much time had passed. He ran as hard as he could towards the courtyard, hoping he hadn’t kept Morgana waiting long. She was frightening when she was irritated.
When he reached the dirt section of the colorful area, he found Morgana stretching, and he let out a sigh of relief.
“Good morning, Morgana. What’re we going to practice today?”
She looked up from the deep toe-touch she was doing and waved pleasantly.
“Hello, Hero. Your strikes are coming along nicely, but your defense leaves much to be desired. We will focus on parries and counters for today.”
“Sounds good! Need a hand with your stretches?”
He began going through his own routine as Morgana stood once again. She waited for him to catch up before they started the assisted stretch portion of their daily preparations. It had been almost a week since Zach had come to this world, and he felt himself already settling into a pleasant rhythm.
Perhaps it had something to do with that ‘Hero’s Sensibilities’ skill he had. Whenever it came to adjusting to the new world or learning about things, his brain drank in information like he had always been a part of this world. His apprehension, his fear, his awkwardness, it all melted away, and he felt like he could be just another regular guy.
It was a good feeling if he was honest with himself.
“Well, are you going to draw your sword or not?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah! Go easy on me, today?”
He snapped from his reverie and took a stance opposite Morgana.
“Not a chance, Hero. We both know you can keep up, anyway!”
Aundell followed Treya and watched from the nearby tree line as Alex took his position. She couldn’t see the finer details of the village in the distance, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out what was going on.
Treya, on the other hand, was preparing her bow and magic for use at a moment’s notice. She kept an arrow knocked and an eye on the beasts running around the city. She wanted to take some of them out, but her longbow did not have the range she’d need to be effective.
Both were startled when ALICE fired, the sound echoing over the plains and through the trees until it reached them. Treya saw one of the flare wolves fall and observed movement among the remaining entities. She couldn’t make out any details, though, so she was stuck hoping that it was a good thing.
It wasn’t until Alex stood and began walking, right past Quinn, that she sensed something was wrong. One of the distant beings was coming closer. As he came into focus, Treya and Aundell gasped.
“Elf, do they not remind you of my husband?”
Treya’s mouth twitched in irritation as Aundell called Alex that, but she nodded, nonetheless.
“Yeah, they do. Could they be other summoned beings from Earth? Maybe they all look like that, where Alex is from.”
“I suppose that could be the case, but then why does he not carry a weapon like my husband?”
Treya had already been thinking that, and she drew back her bowstring, ready to fire. All the while, Alex had kept walking. His posture was immaculate, and she shuddered as she saw his broad shoulders moving across the field. He looked strong, stronger than anyone she’d ever met, either as a royal guard or as a mercenary.
Right now, though, he looked frighteningly so.
“We need to move. Now.”
“I agree, Elf. Something far beyond our abilities has come.”
Treya looked over as she loosened her bow. Aundell’s skin was covered in goosebumps, and she was hugging herself as if against a chill. A knot formed in the petite blonde’s stomach as she looked back towards the man she admired so much. It grew even more, making it difficult for her to breathe as Aundell continued speaking.
“If we do not act, we will lose him.”