It wasn’t fair…
How could they abandon me?
After everything I have done for them.
I gave them my loyalty. My dedication. My devotion.
All my skills were for them. All my training. My sword. My talents.
Then I lost my skills. Injured in place of another. My life in place of another.
The injuries I sustained should not have been mine. I took their place, like a good knight should.
In exchange for my life, I lost the ability to use a sword.
In exchange for my life, I lost everything.
My skills. My sword. My purpose. My meaning.
Useless. A knight is meaningless without a sword.
I was no longer of use. To anyone.
So they abandoned me.
Everything…I gave them everything…
And they threw me away. Without a second glance. Without mercy.
After everything I’ve done for them. For her. For everyone.
Anger, betrayal, bitterness.
I will get my skills back. I will make them pay. Make her pay.
No matter what…
… … … … …
The heat of the desert sun was relentless as Duran lowered the Ferry Flute to his side and waited for the ever reliable Vuscav to show. The sea lapping at their ankles offered some reprieve from the searing heat, but not enough in his opinion. The sooner they entered cooler waters, the better.
“Let’s head to Mintas next,” Kevin insisted. “Village of beastmen, but peaceful. They like humans.”
Duran nodded his head as Vuscav trundled into the shallows, eyes wide and all seeing. “Sounds good. Just two more Elementals to go.”
Soon, they could finally open the portal to the Isle of Mana. Reach the Sword of Mana. And where he could finally make that Crimson Wizard pay for everything he had done!
Pushing that thought aside for the time being, Duran waded out into the shallows to hop aboard Vuscav’s back.
“Don’t get too close to the edge of the shell, Kevin,” Duran chided the energetic beastman protectively as they all clambered aboard.
“It’s ok,” Kevin insisted. “I can swim. Good at it.”
“I’d rather not have you race Vuscav right now,” Duran pointed out.
Kevin, however, furrowed his brow and folded his arms across his chest. “Race?” he muttered and after a brief silence nodded his head sharply. “That sounds fun. Can I race Vuscav later?”
Duran immediately regretted his choice of words and winced. “Ah, not yet. Maybe…maybe later, yeah. You, ah, know the way to Mintas, right? Why not tell Vuscav where to go?”
Kevin unwound his arms and nodded his head. “Yes. I’ll do that.” He turned on his heel and bounded forward without a care to perch himself atop of Vuscav’s head.
Taking a half step forward, Duran threw out an arm in preparation to order the boy back on deck, as it were, but sighed and touched his forehead. “Just, don’t fall into the water, alright?”
He had to smile as he shook his head when Vascav began to swim forward under Kevin’s guidance. That smile faded into a look of concern, however, when he turned his attention to his other companion.
Hawkeye was quieter than usual, though Duran couldn’t really blame him. He sat with his back toward them, knees bent as he casually rested his elbows. His gaze lingered on the distancing horizon of Sirhtan and despite the distance between them, Duran could see that he wore an expression of contemplativeness. Sombre yet serene in some way.
He was probably thinking about Jessica.
At that thought, Duran felt his stomach suddenly twist into a knot and he tightened his jaw.
It wasn’t the first time he had experienced such a reaction. He experienced it multiple times as they journeyed through the desert. And only when Jessica was mentioned or seen.
He didn’t understand why, though; Jessica seemed nice, and she obviously cared for Hawkeye in return. And she was the sister to his best friend, so obviously he would care for her greatly. After all, he entered this journey with the soul purpose of rescuing her. If he didn’t care for her, he wouldn’t have bothered, right?
So why the twinge of…annoyance? Anger?
The perky, cheery voice of Undine resounded within Duran’s mind and he unintentionally snapped his head up in response. His reaction resulted in a soft giggle from the back of his mind and he couldn’t help but frown.
Jealousy? That couldn’t be right. What was there to be jealous of?
“You felt the same when Reisz was around, yes?” Undine suddenly asked.
As when she did, Duran felt that twinge of…something again. In the centre of his chest. Like an ache. And again, he was baffled as to why. Reisz was capable, skilled, and a dedicated leader. She had been nothing but polite and civil. There was literally no reason why she would evoke such…frustrations in him.
“And you only felt that way when Hawkeye was around?” Undine continued to interrogate him.
And, unfortunately, he couldn’t rightfully deny that. When he spoke with Reisz alone, he found their conversations intriguing. He admired her inner strength in the face of adversary, and he genuinely wished her luck on her mission to rescue her beloved brother. She was a genuinely good person and she didn’t deserve any of the hardships forced upon her.
But he did feel a sting of annoyance whenever Hawkeye appeared to speak with her. To flirt with her.
He might just be feeling protective. Although, it was also if he didn’t like the attention Hawkeye gave. Attention toward…someone else?
“Boy,” Gnome laughed a little too boisterously. “Sure is a shame you’re not as sharp as your sword.”
Duran immediately felt insulted and indignant. What was that supposed to mean? Was Gnome insulting his swordsmanship?!
“Hush,” Undine chided her fellow Elemental quickly. “Leave him be. These emotions are obviously new to him.”
Duran sighed aloud and scratched his head. Emotions? Did she mean that jealousy she spoke off before? He had never been jealous of anyone in his life, so why now?
Wait…how did Undine know about the events that occurred with Reisz and the Citadel?
“Oh, don’t worry; Faerie filled me in on everything!”
That wasn’t exactly the answer Duran expected. He frowned and quirked his head to the side slightly. Filled in on what exactly?
“Th-the journey we’re on, of course!” Faerie was quick to respond.
Oh, ok, that made sense.
As the chatter of Elementals subsided for a moment, Duran turned his attention back to Hawkeye. Only to find him in the same position; staring wistfully at the far horizon.
“You should speak with him,” Undine piped up. “You’re obviously worried about him.”
Honestly, Duran couldn’t deny that, and he would like to. About what, though? He didn’t know what to say to him about what happened. Nothing he couldn’t say that hadn’t already been said.
Still, he had to admit that he was curious as to why Hawkeye chose to continue to journey with them. Jessica was safe, free of her curse, though the ramifications of carrying such a burden was harsh. He had every right to wish to stay behind and watch over her. The poor girl was in a fragile state.
Although, wanting revenge against Belladonna was also a very important reason to continue. To ensure that the curse had indeed been lifted and she wasn’t in any danger.
He had been quiet for a while now. Could he be silently regretting his decision to continue?
“You ok there, Duran?”
Duran snapped out of his musings when he heard Hawkeye’s voice. When he opened his eyes, not knowing when he had closed them, he found said thief directly in front of him. Leaning forward slightly to look at him straight in the eyes, his hands on his hips, and a somewhat suspicious expression on his face.
“Huh? What?” Duran muttered in surprise as he scooted back.
“You’ve been staring at me,” Hawkeye explained as he leaned back. He then pushed back his hair in a flamboyant manner, something he did often. “Not to say that I’m not used to it, with these striking looks, but any particular reason why for the stare off?”
“O-oh, sorry about that,” Duran muttered as he rubbed the back of his head. “The Elementals were chatting in my head.”
“Ah,” Hawkeye said with understanding. “Plenty of room there.”
Duran idly nodded his head. “Right and-hey!”
Hawkeye threw his head back on a laugh for a moment at his indignation before he flopped down next to Duran on the back of Vuscav. He rested on his side and leaned on his elbow, to which he propped his chin casually within his hand.
“Seriously, though, why the chatter?” Hawkeye asked.
“Well, I was, I mean we were just curious,” Duran began, ignoring the disapproving tsk from Faerie, “if you’re ok with continuing with this journey…and all that?”
“Hm? Wondering if I’m regretting my decision not to stay?” Hawkeye questioned; his tone surprisingly casual.
Duran simply nodded his head.
“I said that I would see this through until the end,” Hawkeye replied without hesitation as he flopped onto his back and cushioned his head with his hands. “And I mean that. So sorry, but you’re stuck with me for now.”
That brought a wave of relief and Duran smiled. He lowered himself onto his back to stare up at the blue sky, too, content in simply watching as the clouds drift by as they moved toward their next destination.
“Awww,” Undine suddenly cooed. “I feel as though this trip will prove to be life-changing in positive ways!”