[Chapter Thirty One]
Rykal and Olivia landed in front of the group in time to see a broom whacking itself over Raegel’s head. The elf yelled in pain and hid behind the tree as a laughing Ava snapped her fingers. The broom followed Raegel behind the tree and smacked his head again. Raegel shouted curses in his language and ran from the tree. He saw Olivia and ran straight to her. Olivia stepped back, Rykal glared at him as the elf hid behind Olivia as a shield. Ava looked at the girl with an innocent smile and snapped her fingers, the broom vanishing inside the tent.
Olivia cocked her brow. “Where’s Vil?”
Ava shrugged. “Gone for business,”
“Is that why you were picking on Raegel?”
“Um. . .” the witch dragged out.
“Yes!” Raegel protested. “I was sitting there and all of a sudden she starts snippety snap and the broom starts whacking my head,”
The witch avoided Olivia’s stern gaze as Rykal snorted. “I wonder why,”
Raegel muttered under his breath and walked back to the log. He sat down and crossed his arms, glaring at nothing in particular. Ava looked at Olivia and Olivia pointed to her mouth, showing the witch to give him something to eat. Ava pouted but snapped her fingers. A bowl of berries, fruits, and mushrooms dropped onto Raegel’s lap and he gasped. He looked at Ava then at Olivia and frowned.
Olivia nodded. “It’s okay, Raegel. You have to eat something before we leave,”
Raegel’s frown deepened. “Why are we leaving?”
Olivia knew just as much as the elf and turned to Rykal. She knew they weren’t going to stay for long, but having a group to travel with would be nice.
Rykal cleared his throat. “You may be new to the group, and I didn’t expect to have another. . . traveler. But we’re just passing through. There were no intentions of staying,”
Raegel scoffed. “And suppose I’ll be alive throughout this trip of yours?”
Rykal rolled his eyes and Olivia gave the elf a sigh. “I understand you’re afraid of us. But if you would just relax and trust —"
“I never said I wanted to trust you and I didn’t ask for your help, girl,” Raegel sneered. “I was fine taking the pole. I’d rather that than being here,”
Olivia’s fist balled, her eyes glared at the ground and Rykal came walking past her, a growl rumbling from his throat. Before he did, Olivia held up her hand to stop him. “Don’t bother, Rykal. If he wants to refuse the kindness we’ve offered that’s fine,”
Rykal gave her a side glance, Ava did the same and Raegel kept quiet. Then Vil showed up to break the silence with a loud hey. Olivia didn’t pay any attention and decided she wanted to go for a walk. Rykal went to follow but Olivia stopped him. She didn’t want to snap at him, she just wanted to clear her head quietly without anyone around. Strangely, he didn’t fight against her like he normally would, as if he knew how she was feeling.
Though, the girl didn’t complain and began walking away from the group. Suddenly, a silver band wrapped comfortably around her neck and Olivia looked at the witch with surprise. She only smiled shouted out safe now. Olivia nodded and didn’t try to take the band off, she felt safer with it on. She continued walking hopelessly through the field, barely able to see the tree but could see the hedge in the distance. She began walking to it, wondering if she could put her hand through it.
Olivia didn’t know why she decided to help Raegel after he tried to steal from the group and hold her for leverage. She knew she saw something in him, she knew it. A scared boy just wanting to find a place to fit in, a place to be accepted. Olivia sat down and pulled her knees to her chest. She wrapped her arms around them and looked ahead. The summer gust brushed against her, swaying the tips of her hair in the same direction as the breeze. The grass was green and long enough that it touched Olivia’s bare elbow and yellow flowers popped up in little bundles of groups, the girl was sitting beside one.
If there was one thing she learned, never judge someone based on their appearance or flaws. Every living thing has bad in them but also good; Ava was a clear example of it. She had changed her ways and was probably one of the few good witches out there. And all because of a change of heart. Raegel was a troubled elf with the hardships of not being able to fall back on anyone. He’d been so consumed in all the hate and insults that he had forgotten there was good in him. He believed what people said about him, a scum, a thief, a killer.
Her back started buzzing. There was a hiss behind her. Olivia froze. She didn’t need to turn around to know what was behind her. And if she was right, it was the same snake that had been after her since Lythil bit her. It was more than just fate that the snake was able to follow her through the miles and the death it’d taken. If Olivia screamed for Rykal or Ava, the snake would only follow two steps behind and wait in the shadows.
“If I didn’t know any better, and if you weren’t a snake, I’d say I know you from somewhere, or better yet, I do know you and you want something from me,” Olivia said and wished it helped calm her racing heart.
The green snake emerged from the grassy field and slithered around her body. Olivia tried to remain calm, reminding herself that if the snake wanted her death she’d be dead within the first encounter. It wasn’t going to leave her alone, that much she knew. The buzzing rushed through her body as it followed the snake’s twirling body until it was face to face with the girl. Its yellow eyes stared at her, poking out its forked tongue with a soft hiss. Olivia realized her buzzing sense was connected to the snake.
“What do you want?” Olivia whispered.
It remained silent. Instead, it curled around her chest and nestled the rest of its body on her shoulders. On one shoulder was its tail and the other its head. Olivia stayed still for a moment or two before deciding she had enough alone time. She didn’t want to be alone with a snake currently staring at her intensely; too scared and uncomfortable.
Slowly, Olivia stood up, finding the snake did nothing and walked back to the group. It was easy since she didn’t take any turns and soon saw the tree in the distance. She could make out Rykal leaning against the tree, Raegel sitting on the log with crossed arms and Ava. . . Ava hanging upside down on her broom. Olivia blinked at her as Ava squealed out her name. The other two turned their heads at her and all three widened their eyes. Rykal ran straight at her, Ava behind, and Olivia mentally prepared.
“Olivia! Don’t move,” Rykal shouted stopping a few steps from her.
“Snake!” Ava screamed, though more of excitement than fear.
“It’s okay,” Olivia answered. “Rykal, it’s okay. I’m okay,” Olivia twirled around, hands in the air. “See. I’m not hurt,”
Rykal frowned. “What the demons. . . How is that thing alive?”
“Salvesta,” Ava replied before Olivia could.
The girl glanced at the witch holding her broom like a sword. “What?”
“Snake’s name Salvesta,”
“You speak snake?” Rykal questioned Ava with a curious glance.
Ava looked at him with bewilderment. “I’m witch. I speak all language,”
“Would you care to be the messenger?” Rykal asked, watching the snake as it watched him. He didn’t like it.
Ava nodded and Olivia asked the first question on her mind. “What does it want?”
The witch placed her hand on her hip, leaving the broom to float on its own. “He yours,”
“Mine?” Olivia frowned.
“He speaks of lamia bite. You should be lamia. He be your other half. Since you not lamia, he your. . . familiar of sort,”
“Familiar?” Olivia frowned.
“Familiars are an animal that is connected to the witch mentally, reading their thoughts and such,” Rykal answered. “But they don’t take the form of a snake,”
Olivia was left speechless, staring at the snake on her shoulder with wide eyes. It was weird, so weird knowing that she was meant to be apart of a snake, be a lamia. For some odd reason, part of her believed that Lythil would turn her into the monster he was, and part of her believed he did.
“Will Salvesta hurt me or anyone around me?” Olivia asked, though she didn’t look anywhere but the ground.
“Naye. He snake with advanced mindset and accepted connection you share with snakes,”
“Why do you say snakes?” Rykal asked in a suspicious tone.
Ava answered, “You meant to become something more than lamia. Salvesta have strongest connection with you. You accept connection, you speak snake tongue, and become something rare,”
Olivia glanced at Rykal who grimaced. “Hate those snake tongues. Them and their traditions. Olivia will not become one of those things. That I promise.”
Salvesta hissed at Rykal which he dropped his expression at. “You’re a snake, not a lamia, so don’t take offense,”
Salvesta hissed again and Ava translated, “Meant to be with your Dragella, lizard breath,”
Rykal grumbled under his breath and walked away. Olivia frowned at his leaving figure and looked at Ava. “How do I accept the connection if I wanted to?”
“You know when time come,” Ava said. She took her broom and walked to the dragon shifter and elf.
Olivia frowned and glanced at the snake perked on her shoulder. “Do you have any idea how calm I’m trying to be after learning that?”
Salvesta shook his head.
“Well, I’m being very calm about this and not. . .” she trailed off and looked at Rykal who leaned against the tree as he always did. “Running away,”
“Whoa, snake season’s closed folks,” Vil exclaimed as he approached the group.
Olivia glanced at him with a small smile but the snake paid no attention to the satyr, too focused on the elf as a snack. Raegel didn’t notice as he munched on some berries, careful around the witch who greeted Vil with a smile. Rykal nodded at Vil from his position of the tree.
“What did this satyr miss?” Vil questioned, dropping a full sack next to Rykal’s and Olivia’s.
“Nothing much,” Olivia said. “Just have a new friend,”
“Well, I’ll be. Looks dangerous,” Vil chuckled. “He’s friendly, right?”
“We’re all still here,” Raegel mumbled through a mouthful.
Rykal rolled his eyes. “Have you not noticed the snake has been staring at you for some time now,”
Raegel looked at Rykal with a cocked brow and scoffed. “The snake isn’t —”
Salvesta poked out his tongue, hissing softly that only Olivia heard.
Raegel narrowed his eyes at him. “You watching me until I’m all fattened and tasty for you?”
“Elves my favourite. Especially ones eating berries,” Ava answered for the snake.
The elf stopped chewing and turned his body over so that his back faced everyone else. He wore a scowl and Rykal chuckled. Olivia caught his eye and he looked at her for a bit before calling Vil over. The satyr followed as the two took a walk away from the rest. Olivia watched from her seat and Rykal turned back and gave her a nod; again, another pathetic attempt to calm her. As if a nod would solve everything she was feeling.
“Ah, Dragale telling Vil plans,” Ava said to Olivia as she sat next to her, giving Salvesta a little scratch under his chin.
Olivia looked at her as Salvesta slithered his head over Ava’s shoulders, letting the witch scratch under his chin more. Olivia never knew snakes like being scratched like a cat. “You can hear them?”
Ava nodded and continued. “Speaking of newcomers, speaking of your wishes, also advice,”
“What about wishes and advice?”
Ava was silent for a moment, gathering more information Olivia figured. “Wishes of not leaving newcomers, advice of showing what you worth in his kind. . . and in his eyes,”
Olivia remained quiet, thinking that he would be the one to bring it up.
“Also, you leave in morning,”
Olivia nodded, thanking the witch that was enjoying Salvesta’s company. “Do you want to hold him for a bit?”
Ava nodded her head happily and grabbed the rest of Salvesta’s body from Olivia’s shoulders. There was an ache from the weight of the snake Olivia didn’t know she had until Ava took him off her shoulders; for them to feel light was a relief. She waited for Rykal to came back but only Vil did and sat on a different log from Ava, wanting to keep his distance from the large green snake. He looked at Olivia and motioned his head to Rykal and Olivia understood. She stood up and walked over to the dragon shifter. His head was tilted up, looking at the evening clouds with orange, yellow and pink hues. Olivia always enjoyed a sunset, she found it romantic.
“Are you okay?” she asked, standing next to him.
“Should I lie and say I’m fine or be honest and say no?”
Olivia glanced at him as he glanced at her. “I want you to be honest,”
“Can I know why?”
Rykal sighed and looked at the clouds again. “I don’t think you can understand why I’m not fine, Olivia,”
Olivia nudged his arm with hers. “Is it me? Or the newcomers?”
Rykal sighed again. “I suppose you could call this jealously and somewhat uncertainty. I feel confused about what we were. My traditions say we have a bond, that we are meant to be. I want you to be my Dragella and me to be your Dragale but it’s complicated. Everything is complicated,”
He ran a hand through his hair and Olivia grabbed it. He glanced at her and she pulled him down with her to the ground. He followed and when he sat down, she sat close to him. “I understand, Rykal. Things are complicated. I do blame myself for not believing in fantasy. But this world, the world of the mythical, it’s something else. It’s more than a book can describe. The good and bad. That’s why I’m embracing everything with an open mind. I mean. . .” Rykal looked at her as she looked over her shoulder. “Did you honestly think I would ever let a snake get near me, or even sit around my shoulders?”
Rykal chuckled half-heartedly. “I think you would’ve screamed and run away first chance you got,”
Olivia nodded. “And I am sorry about Grimfore, if you’re thinking about it,”
Rykal shook his head. “If I am to be honest, it helped us through the barrier of miscommunication,”
Olivia agreed with a hum. “That’s the part I think about so I don’t feel as guilty,”
Rykal gave her a stern look. “It stays in the past, Olivia. Don’t let it consume your mind the way it has to others. . .”
Rykal looked up and Olivia knew he was talking from the past. “You’re talking about your past, aren’t you?”
“I wish I wasn’t. I’ve done things, Olivia, seen things. The things I’ve caused for my kind, I should be nothing but cobwebs and dust because of it,”
“Hey,” Olivia murmured. “It’s in the past, Rykal. Don’t feel guilty about it,”
“It’s difficult to live with the guilt, Olivia. The past haunts me more than anything,”
Olivia nudged him. “Then think about today, now, with me,”
Rykal glanced at her. “What are we, Dragella?”
Olivia shrugged. “We can start as friends. As you said, it’s complicated, it’s confusing. But we can get there, where ever there is. We’re doing okay now, aren’t we?”
Rykal glanced over his shoulder for a second before at Olivia. “For now. That elf and snake will cause problems,”
“Because they’re males, just like you, and you’re jealous because of it,”
“Ha,” he replied sarcastically.
Olivia rolled her eyes and shook her head. “The only guy I had a crush on was years ago. It was hopeless fairy love and I haven’t seen him since,”
Rykal cocked his brow but didn’t say anything. Instead, he watched as the sunset was swallowed with the dark colours of blue. Olivia leaned her head against his arm and sighed wistfully. She moved a little closer to his warmth, embracing the sparks that she liked feeling, and Rykal leaned back on his hands. Olivia then leaned her body against his and ignoring the chaos of Salvesta trying to eat a terrified Raegel with a panicking Ava and laughing Vil in the background, they were able to enjoy each other’s company peacefully and unspokenly.