The Five Wanderers

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Chapter 8

“Did you hear that?” Runi asked as he lifted his head and looked towards the rolling hills before them. That was the direction they would be walking in the morning, but it sounded like a gun had been fired. It echoed throughout the night, but no other sounds followed. It was eerie.

“It’s probably nothing,” Cetas said with a small shrug. “If we hear something else we can go investigate, but I don’t think we should wander too much in the dark. We don’t know this area very well.”

“What if that sound has something to do with the…” Laguna paused and tilted her head. “What do Jeriah and his crew call themselves?”

“No idea,” Runi said with a shrug. “That sound probably has something to do with Jeriah, though, you’re right. Why would a gun fire in the middle of the night in the approximate area where Jeriah and his friends are supposed to be?”

“I still say we just stay put. Besides, Darya and Royse are already asleep. We walked a long way from home, and we all need to rest before we confront Jeriah,” Cetas insisted as he watched Runi and Laguna over the small campfire they had built. “If there really was a fight going on, we would hear more than a single gunshot.”

Laguna raised an eyebrow and glanced at Runi. “What do you sense?”

“It has something to do with Jeriah,” Runi replied without missing a beat. “But I don’t know what it is, exactly. Some weird...shadows are all I see.”

Cetas raised an eyebrow. “I guess you’re just not going to listen to me, huh, Laguna?” he smiled a bit and looked into the fire. “We wait until morning. I don’t want to take any unnecessary risks.”

“Fine, fine,” Laguna waved her hand and glanced aside. “We’re going to have to move eventually, though. We might lose them if we sit too long.”

“I’ll text Elidi, then. I’m sure she’ll listen to me,” Runi said as he pulled his phone out of his shirt pocket. “Then she’ll tell you to listen to me, Cetas.”

Cetas reached over and put his hand over Runi’s phone. “Don’t bother her,” he said firmly. “She doesn’t need you to bother her.”

Runi moved his phone out of Cetas’ reach. “Bother her? She’s my best friend. I’m not bothering her,” he said, but then he got that look in his eyes that clearly showed his clairvoyance had told him something. “What are you hiding from me?”

Cetas looked surprised and his cheeks reddened a little. Laguna looked back at the scene curiously. “Cetas? Why are you blushing?” she asked as she leaned forward.

“I’m not!” Cetas exclaimed as he looked into the fire that they had built. “I’m just warm from the fire.”

Runi sighed. “Cetas, seriously,” he clicked his tongue. “I know you and Elidi are hiding something, so you might as well tell me. I can sense it.”

“Are you getting married, too? We just had Tallis and Minda’s wedding,” Laguna asked curiously.

“No! No, not yet,” Cetas exclaimed. He seemed very nervous now, and he just sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. He couldn’t keep their gazes. “She told me not to tell,’s pregnant.”

Runi sat upright so fast his spine cracked from the motion. Laguna gasped and leaned back. There was silence for a good minute.

“Didn’t you two just start dating a month ago?” Laguna asked to break the silence.

“Four months ago,” Cetas corrected.

“And she’s pregnant already? That’s…” Laguna trailed off.

“I know it’s sudden, but we talked about it. We didn’t exactly plan this, but we want to be together for a long haul, and we do want to have kids-”

Runi interrupted Cetas. “You talked about this, huh? You talked about getting Elidi pregnant while we’re in the middle of a contract with an Immortal? Now is a good time to get pregnant?” he questioned aggressively.

“I know it sounds bad, but yeah I guess,” Cetas shrugged a little. He seemed sheepish about it, at least. “Anyway, she found out about two weeks ago, but she said she wanted to keep it private. I guess she forgot how annoying your clairvoyance is, Runi.”

“Cetas, are you stupid? Elidi should not be out there!” Runi snapped. “We have no idea what we’re up against and you let her go out like that? She should have stayed home with Levant!”

Cetas frowned. He felt his anger rising in his chest, making his entire body warm. “You know Elidi isn’t the type of person to listen to advice like that. She said she wanted to come to be helpful, but she’s not going to get into any unnecessary danger-”

“This entire mission is dangerous, Cetas! Oh my god,” Runi stood up and started to walk away, but then he turned back around and pointed at him. “If anything happens to her, it’s your fault. You want that on your head?”

Cetas stood up, his fists balled up at his sides. “What the hell is wrong with you, Runi? She’s going to be fine! She’s not out there walking alone!”

“Something bad is going to happen,” Runi barked back at him. “I’m telling you that right now. I can’t believe you two are so careless. You’re not children anymore, you should know when to take care of yourselves.”

Cetas couldn’t figure out exactly why Runi was angry. He hadn’t seen Runi like this before. “What do you want me to do? If I demanded that she stay home, then she would have just gone after I left! You know her well enough!”

“I’ll have to talk to her about this, too. You’re both stupid,” Runi said and then he walked off into the dark landscape. He didn’t go too far, though, because Cetas saw him sit down at the base of the hill. He clearly just needed to let off some steam on his own, but he couldn’t understand why.

“Wow,” Laguna finally said after the explosive conversation. “You really pissed him off.”

“Yeah!” Darya was now peeking out from the tent where she had presumably been sleeping. “What was that about? I heard yelling and woke up right away.”

“I dunno, but I think we need to give him space,” Laguna said as she stood up and walked towards the tent. “I guess we don’t have to worry about chasing the gunshot sound now. If there’s someone with a gun out here, I’m sure they heard all that yelling and will hunt us down.” She pushed Darya out of the way and slipped into the tent. “I’m gonna nap for a bit.”

Darya smiled and crawled all the way out of the tent and sat down next to Cetas. “Runi sounded really upset, huh?” she said softly.

“Yeah,” Cetas frowned. “I don’t know what he’s angry about. I know he worries about Elidi, but she’s not incapable right now.”

“Well,” she hummed and tapped her chin. “He dated Elidi once, right? Maybe he still has feelings for her. Maybe he feels like you’re not protecting her.”

Cetas looked surprised. “You think he still has feelings for her?” he asked. He sounded a little skeptical.

Darya shrugged. “I mean...I don’t know! It just kind of sounded like he did, right? Maybe he sees you as his rival,” she twisted a piece of blonde hair around her finger. “I’m not as close to Runi as some people, but I watch him pretty closely. I’ve never seen him react like that before.”

“Rival?” Cetas snorted with amusement. “Why would he see me as his rival?”

“Oh, I guess you never heard,” Darya said as she leaned towards him. “Elidi told me once that while she was dating Runi she told him that she loved you and she didn’t love him. That was right when their relationship was going sour, you know? I’m sure they patched things up since then, but what if he’s kind of...holding onto some hard feelings? Learning she’s pregnant is one thing, and that’s a huge bombshell for all of us, but on top of that she’s out there and he can’t protect her? I guess it must be too much for him. And he wants to blame you.”

Cetas’ eyes widened and he looked at Darya. He wasn’t sure what to do with this information. “Maybe I should talk to him,” he said as he slowly stood up. “We can’t be divided right now. We have to finish this contract with Prudentius.”

Darya patted his back. “Then go on! You’re our leader, it’s a good idea to settle things quickly,” she said pleasantly.

Cetas knew Darya wanted to keep things positive between all of them, but he was worried. This was a lot of information to receive in one evening. Runi was jealous of his relationship with Elidi? He was angry about the news, and that she was out there traveling with the rest of their group? Runi saw him as a rival?

He wished Elidi was here right now, honestly. She was much better with words, especially when talking to Runi.

Well, it was better to try and communicate than to ignore it and let it fester. That much he knew.

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