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A v a r i c e | T h i r t y T w o

T h i r t y T w o

❝He had never shown his emotion;

she had always given him her devotion.❞

IAN?” CAIN BURST INTO THE ROOM with record timing. Ian had pushed me down, his strong hands clasped around my neck as he tried to take my life from me. I should’ve used magic when I had the chance, but when I got a sight for his eyes, I knew I couldn’t. They were glazed, compelled.

Ian didn’t even bother looking up as Cain rushed into the home. He just kept on choking me, not letting anything phase him. Cain acted immediately. He grabbed one of the bucket I’d used to get water, dumped the rest out, and slammed the bucket against Ian’s head. Ian collapsed on top of me, but he unconscious.

“Thank you,” I gasped, trying to catch my breath. My throat had felt like it was being closed in, and without my airway working properly my throat had gone hoarse from trying to get some air. Cain just simply nodded, pushing Ian off of me and helping me to stand up. Cain frowned down at Ian, one of his lycanthrope hunters. Cain didn’t look super upset, but he didn’t often let emotion show on his face.

“What’s wrong with him?” Cain finally asked, helping me over to one of the open seats in his main room. I sat down, taking in deep breaths until I was able to respond.

“I think...that he...was compelled.” I finally managed to get out.

Cain looked bewildered. “To do what?” he asked. He was standing in front of me, pacing really, and threw his hands up in the air incredulously. “To kill you?”

I shrugged. “He wrecked all the potions, too,” I told Cain. “All but one.” I scavenged around in the pocket I’d put it in, thankful that nothing had shattered it when Cain had tackled me. I held it up in front of me now. It was one of the smaller potions, but it would do the trick. We just couldn’t let anything happen to it.

Cain sighed, clearly stressed about this, and pinched the bridge of his nose while closing his eyes. He stayed like this for a little while before releasing and looking down at me. “When he wakes up, he won’t be compelled, right?”

I shrugged. “I think so. You’d been compelled, too. But you woke up after you...fainted.” Cain gave me a look when I said “fainted”, and I tried my best to look innocent.

“Then we’ll just wait for him to wake up,” Cain sighed and sat down in the seat across from me. “Who do you think compelled him?” Cain frowned, his eyebrows creasing together and his forehead wrinkling in thought.

“I can’t be sure,” I sighed, glancing over at Ian as if he would have the answer. “Perhaps Marquise Trill. If she is a witch, she no doubt knows what we are trying to do.”

“What if she doesn’t drink the potion?” Cain questioned.

“I’ll make her.” I told him, shrugging it off easily. “I have powers myself, you know,” I gave Cain a playful wink, to which he just scowled at me and changed the topic.

“I’ve got the blueprints for the castle dungeon.” I didn’t even bother asking him to show me them, because I knew that I wouldn’t understand a thing on them. “There’s a shortcut to them from the ballroom that you can take. It should get you in and out pretty easily. There will be guards, however. Think you can handle them?”

I nodded. “I talked with Edward today. The Trills have permission to see Marquise right before the execution, so we can use that diversion to our advantage.”

Cain genuinely smiled, for once, at me. “Edward is one useful kid, huh?”

I nodded in agreement with a smile upon my face. “That he is.” Cain and I stood up then, to proceed with other things we had to do. Cain went out to get some water, since he had wasted the rest of it on the ground. I forced him to take my cloak with him as protection. He grumbled and complained, but he took it nonetheless and was on his way.

I chose to clean up the mess Ian had made while under compulsion. The potion was all of the floor, and I didn’t want the floor to be weakened or grow strange things on it, so I cleaned up what I could and kept a cloth on places that were far too wet to even try to clean up.

I then helped Ian (who was still unconscious) into a seat until he decided to wake up. Once he was settled, I went back over to the table with my potion and set it down carefully. This was our only shot at making everything right again; we could not afford to lose it. I needed somewhere safer to put it, somewhere where people like Ian wouldn’t even bother to look. Then, I thought better than to hide it.

Why not make it invisible?

With the thought in mind, I got out my Latin book and looked up what I had to say to do just that. It was a simple Latin word, very similar to the actual word, in fact, as it was “invisibilia”. I practiced it a few times, the first couple of times not working, but on my third try, I managed to turn a leaf invisible. I reached out, grabbing where I knew it had been and it regained its original color.

I grinned.

“Invisibilia,” I ordered while pointing and moving my hand at the potion. It did as I asked, becoming invisible instantaneously. I couldn’t help the child within me; I turned nearly everything that was in front of me invisible, and then just simply touched it to bring it back.

I played like this for a while, having far too much fun to stop.

It was until the door opened and Cain shouted, “Cerise!” that I noticed Ian had gotten up after being unconscious for an hour or more. He should’ve been cured, but whoever had compelled him, was very powerful.

Ian, without hesitation, got a knife from his pocket and ran towards me. I froze in my spot. I had never used magic like this on a human before, and my mind had gone blank. The only fresh spell in my mind was the invisible spell, and that clearly wouldn’t be of any use in this particular situation. I couldn’t protect myself.

Cain took the liberty to do it for me, however. Right before Ian could stab me in the neck (which seemed to be where he was aiming for), Cain unsheathed the sword at his belt and buried the blade in Ian’s stomach. Ian gasped, blood immediately forming at his mouth. He looked into Cain’s eyes, his own eyes no longer hazy with the compulsion.

Cain’s jaw tightened as he stared down at Ian. “I’m sorry, my friend,” Cain whispered to him. Cain carefully retracted the sword from Ian’s abdomen, letting Ian fall to the ground at his feet in a mess of blood.

Ian’s parting words, the final words Cain would ever hear his close friend say, were “Thank you.”

Then, he stopped coughing. He stopped moving. His eyes were wide open, but there was no light on. I stared at the lifeless body in front of me before glancing over at Cain, wide eyed. Cain paid no attention to me, instead focusing on cleaning off his sword and sheathing it once more.

“Cain?” I asked carefully, stepping over Ian’s lifeless body and reaching out to touch Cain, to comfort him somehow.

Cain turned away from me, storming out of his house and slamming the door behind him.

I knew that he wasn’t mad at me. He would’ve yelled it me if he was. Based on the expression on his face and the look in his eyes, he blamed no one but himself for Ian’s death. In truth, Ian’s death could only be blamed on Marquise Trill - the one who had compelled him to do such awful things. Cain shouldn’t be burdened with the guilt.

I knew that Cain needed some space, so I gave him just that. I didn’t go back to practicing magic. That would feel wrong. Instead, I cleaned up the blood from the floor and wrapped up Ian’s wound. Already, Ian had grown cold, his skin becoming ashen. The smell of blood was all over the cabin, but I ignored it.

Ian deserved a proper funeral.

After snooping around Cain’s cabin the last time I’d been here, I knew exactly where everything was. I got out a linen sheet, one that I was certain Cain wouldn’t care. I set the white sheet down beside Ian, making sure that it was flat out. Then, I rolled Ian into the sheet, completely covering his body. When I was finished, I tied a rope around his chest to keep the sheet on him, and then another rope on his legs.

Cain walked in shortly after I did this. I’d been washing my hands, scrubbing them and any germs I could’ve gotten away.

Cain paused in the door, staring at Ian’s body. I stopped washing my hands and stood up from the bucket. The longer he stared, the more I felt that an explanation was needed to justify why I’d done what I did. “I just...I thought he deserved a proper burial, and so I figured this would be easiest to carry him, and-”

Cain cut me off, waving his hand in the air. “Cerise,” he murmured, still not looking at me. “Thank you.” After he said this, Cain turned around to leave once more.

Frowning, I called out to him, “Where are you going?”

Cain, not even bothering to turn around to look at me, said, “Follow me.”

So I did.

We went to the back of his cabin, where he’d gathered a pile of wood. I immediately knew what it would be used for. Cain shed the cloak I’d forced him to wear, handing to me without comment. “I don’t want this,” I shook my head. Cain ignored me, shedding his leather vest as well. “Really, you need it more than I-“Cain didn’t have to tell me to shut up. My mouth instantly went dry the second he shed his shirt too. I swallowed hard, rubbing my lips together while I frowned at him. “Er, Cain?”

Cain turned towards me then. “Cerise,” he said, very carefully. I nodded. “Will you be quiet?” I nodded.

Cain lifted up a log on top of a tree stump. He turned back towards me, walking forward. I stared at him while he did this, my heartbeat quickening as he got closer. He reached around me, grabbing something that was leant against the cabin. When he pulled his hand back, he was carrying an axe.

He walked back over to the log and slammed the axe to it, chopping it in half almost immediately. He reached out, tugged the axe out and got more wood. This process repeated over and over again until finally he had enough. I helped him in setting up the process of the fire, knowing that he was tired. Clearly chopping the wood had been some sort of exercise release of his emotions, as he seldom showed them.

It had begun to get dark by the time it was finished. I wrapped my cloak around me as the cold of the dusk began to set in. Cain grabbed his shirt, taking it with him while he left back to the house. When he came back, he was carrying Ian’s body.

I sighed, closing my eyes. Cain set Ian’s body in the fort of wood we’d made and stepped back. He looked over at me, raising an eyebrow. “Care to do the honors?” he asked.

I nodded, walking over and standing next to him in front of the wood and Ian. I hadn’t said the spell aloud before because I hadn’t ever had a reason to, but now as I stood in front of Cain’s body, I knew that I didn’t need to have practiced it beforehand. Just like this burial, it would be perfect.

“Ignis,” I whispered, rising my hand in the way that Lilith had taught me. Ian’s body, and the wood surrounding him, burst into golden flames.

Cain and I stood in front of the fire like this, not saying anything. I looked over at him. His jaw was tightened, the dance of the fire casting shadows all over his face. His eyes were bright blue. His entire demeanor was tight, and when I reached into his energy, his aura was the same. It looked the same as it had when he had told me my parents - my family - was dead.

“I’m so sorry,” I told him, reaching out and gripping his hand in my own.

Cain glanced down at our hands, moving his fingers so they fit perfectly against mine. “So am I.”

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