Cetas wasn’t sure what to do, but he was just so glad he was holding Elidi right now. She was safe and in one piece, although of course Oriana had taken the blow that was meant for her. It was an awful night, but he still felt some relief to be holding her.
“Cetas, I’m okay,” Elidi said as she rubbed the back of his neck with her dainty fingers. “Come on, calm down.”
Cetas nodded slowly and released her. He wiped at his nose and rubbed at his eyes. He looked down and saw Elidi smiling at him, but her eyes were full of worry. “The...the baby is okay, right?”
“As far as I know,” Elidi nodded.
“Okay,” Cetas said softly. “Runi told me that something bad was going to happen and he felt like it involved you, but I thought he was just throwing a fit because of...you know, the circumstances and all that.”
“Circumstances? You mean my pregnancy? Runi isn’t like that,” Elidi tsked. “He really hasn’t lied about what he senses and sees since the poisoning, Cetas. You should learn to trust him more.”
Cetas nodded a little and then glanced aside. “I guess I was feeling a little jealous when he freaked out,” he said softly. “Darya mentioned that he might still have feelings for you, so I thought-”
“Darya doesn’t know Runi well,” Elidi pointed out. “I know we’re all a family here, but we know some better than others. Darya also doesn’t know much about relationships aside from what she’s read in romance novels. She’s not the best one to believe when it comes to these sorts of things.”
“She’s not entirely untrustworthy,” Cetas said as he tilted his head a little. His thick, dark brown hair flopped over his scalp with the motion of his head. Elidi reached up to fix a few strands of his hair. “Elidi, can I ask you something?”
“Sure,” Elidi said with a small nod.
“Did you really tell Runi that you loved me while you two were together?” Cetas asked. He wasn’t sure why he was so curious about that statement, but he had to ask.
Elidi blushed a little, as if she was embarrassed. “I was young back then,” she said. “Young and foolish. Runi and I didn’t get along as well back then, either. Us dating was the worst idea I ever had.”
“Really?” he asked.
“Yes,” Elidi said. “We’re very good friends, but terrible lovers. I want marriage and family, but he just wants…” she gestured awkwardly. “He just wants to sleep around, I guess. He likes physical affection, I think it makes him feel wanted, but he’s an awful boyfriend.” she smiled a little. “He knows it, though.”
Cetas felt awkward that he even asked now. It was a little uncomfortable to hear details about his girlfriend with her ex who was also his friend. They were bound together by Fate and nothing could break that, after all. He’d always know Runi. It was a rather strange situation.
“I’d always had a crush on you, anyway, Cetas,” Elidi continued. “So, one day when he made me very angry I did say that. I told him I loved you and I didn’t love him. We broke up shortly after that because we realized we were going down a road that might lead to us hating each other and never being able to recover from it. It was the right decision.”
“Ah,” Cetas nodded. “You both decided that, then. So, there really is no way he’d be jealous, right?”
“Nope,” Elidi shrugged. “He’s just protective of me, and I’m protective of him. We’re just good friends, I promise.”
“Okay,” Cetas smiled a little.
“Elidi, Cetas,” Runi suddenly walked into the hallway and then he gestured behind him. “I found Luca. I think we should talk with him.”
Elidi and Cetas both turned to look at Luca as he stood there looking rather ominous in the torch light. Cetas felt apprehensive, and maybe a little angry, but he just nodded and kept his emotions as calm as he could.
“Go on,” he said.
“I speak for the rest of the Monarchs, and we are so sorry for the events that have occurred,” Luca said solemnly. “We never expected Jakob to react like this. His Twin Soul nature was never an issue for us back in the Ancient Days because his brother was always well and we were usually the ones in danger. I don’t know how we can make up for Oriana’s injury, but we only want peace with you.”
“I’m not sure peace is going to be entirely possible after something like this,” Cetas said with a frown.
“Oh? You’re fired up, Cetas?” Runi asked as he leaned against the wall and watched them. Cetas glanced at him. Why did he still look like a cat playing with a mouse? He always had that air about him. Cetas figured it was because he always knew what was going on, at least to some degree.
“I am. Aren’t you, Runi?” Cetas questioned. “Shouldn’t you be furious about what has happened today?”
“I’m not furious,” Runi said. “Oriana is going to survive, and Jakob was possessed by some sort of nature that’s not unlike when humans have loved ones who are threatened. Wouldn’t you have torn Jakob limb from limb if Elidi had been stuck? If you hadn’t had to carry Oriana into the castle and address her wounds, wouldn’t you have destroyed Jakob on sight?”
Cetas couldn’t believe Runi was siding with the Monarchs, but he felt that he shouldn’t be surprised. Runi never did anything that made sense. He loved playing as Ultio’s advocate.
“We threatened Jeriah's safety in his eyes, and even if we tried to reason with Jakob about it...well, it was no use by that point,” Runi said. “Especially since Tallis rushed him on the field. If we had tried to do things in a calm manner-”
“Are you blaming me for my decision to send Tallis? How else were we going to stop him from reaching the castle with Jeriah?” Elidi questioned with a frown. “Runi, what are you getting at? I know you’re trying to make a point, so stop playing games with us.”
“It’s my simple way of saying that we should not break our alliance with the Monarchs,” Runi said. “Trust me. My visions tell me we shouldn’t do that.”
Luca glanced at Runi. “Ah, you are an Oracle,” he said. “I nearly forgot.”
“Not quite,” Runi said. “Just clairvoyant. I see things that are much closer in the future, while Oracles can see many futures and much further.”
“Still, it’s good to have an ally like you,” Luca said. “And it’s good you exist. Oracles have hidden from the world since the Ancient Days, I’ve heard. It’s a shame. They are wise and humans need them.”
“Humans likely wouldn’t believe them these days,” Runi said. “Humans barely spend their time worshiping the Immortals, they certainly wouldn’t care about Oracles.”
“So, hold on,” Elidi held up her hand. “You’re saying that we need to stay on the side of the Monarchs, and that we should forgive Jakob?”
“Yes,” Runi nodded.
“No,” Cetas snapped. “It is not going to be easy for me to forgive Jakob, at least. And the Monarchs are guilty of not informing us of the danger he posed.”
Luca hummed and then glanced aside. “You’ll need to decide what to do, then. We’ll do what we can to reassure you,” he said. “I appreciate that you were able to listen to me.” Then he gave a polite bow before walking back down the hallway that he had come from.
Elidi glanced at Runi. “What do you propose we do to make our alliance feel…stable again?” she asked. “You must have something on your mind.”
“Not yet,” Runi said as he looked at Elidi, and then at Cetas. “But I’ll find something.”
Cetas was sure he would, too. He always seemed to know what to do. He just hoped he wouldn’t regret trusting him.