Generally, I enjoyed the silence, relished every moment I managed to get it since it helped me breathe, but the silence at that moment was insufferable, taking away any form of comfort and causing me to be conscious of every click of the cutlery on my plate. Levi was not helping as he kept a stone-cold expression while he ate, only us two in the room.
Sighing, I pushed my plate away, its edge clinking against the metal tray with sliced up fruit. Levi side-glanced me as he continued ripping a bread roll into pieces.
“Something’s wrong. Spill.” Crossing my arms over my chest, I glared at him as he shrugged in response. “I worked in a cafe, I can tell when something is bothering someone. If we are to rule this kingdom together, we need to communicate.”
Levi’s jaw formed a tic as he sighed through his nose. The action made me stare more intensely at him and gently prod his shin with the toe of my boot. He glanced away when I did that, the tic disappearing as his hard expression softened. He refused to meet my eyes.
“What I said earlier about your line, did it upset you?” He muttered, leaning back in his chair. “Because if it did, I’m sorry. I genuinely thought it was cool that your ancestors did that to create peace. Mine just set up shop to help form a territory.”
Clenching my jaw, I bit back my comment. No wonder he looked offended after I snapped at him. The only reason he made it back here was due to him needing to marry me. Would they have brought him back if he no longer was suitable to be a suitor? Would he be the head of a territory instead of the king then?
“Sorry for snapping. The way you talk sometimes sounds like you are mocking me rather than stating your interest,” I admitted, pulling my plate back so it sat in front of me again. “Is that a form of habit?”
“I... had a hard time growing up. It became a defence mechanism at some point.”
“Oh, so I scare you, now? Is it the whole femininity versus masculinity thing?”
Levi exhaled, rubbing his face, allowing for the neck of his buttoned-up shirt to gape and reveal more of his tattoos. They were more intricately done there compared to the earlier ones I saw.
“I did time before Blaze pitched up on my release day. The tough-guy act comes from there and the mocking one from school. I don’t necessarily care that you have more right to the crown or how marrying you gives it to me. In all honesty, I’m happy for you to take lead,” He rambled off, sinking in his chair and pointedly staring at the salmon in front of him.
Jail time. Kit wouldn’t leave me or expect me to be with Levi if he killed someone, right? They would know the reason why he was in there if Blaze was able to go pick him up on his release...
“What got you in there?” Levi growled in his throat at my question as I began to eat my own salmon. Acting unbothered seemed to work for Levi because he begrudgingly answered.
“Scapegoat mainly. The gang I used to hang with decided on a job that went down messily. I wasn’t there, but they managed to pin the whole thing on me.”
Nodding, I pointed my fork at his plate, swallowing against the lump in my throat. “Eat.”
We were back in the library, sitting next to each other on our own accord. Kit had business to attend to, Yuki was with Shimmer and Blaze was out in the yard cracking down on new recruits, his voice a distant shout in the background.
“You know, Kit is really not doing their job,” Levi muttered, playing with one of the many quills on the desk. I raised a brow but kept quiet. “Yesterday they promised answers to you and here they are off doing other shit. Don’t you feel like we have been dropped in the deep end?”
To be honest, I felt calm and relaxed compared to the day before. Something was finally feeling right in my heart, like a lost piece of a puzzle was placed into its rightful place. Sure, I was freaking out about the history I was trying to digest and the idea of having so many people trusting me with their lives yet somehow, I just knew I could do it.
“I guess, but we can make learning all this so much easier,” I stated, standing up and picking up an inkpot before plucking the quill from Levi’s hand. Grabbing some papers, I began to scratch down headings on each page before sitting down.
“Belief system, territories, allies, traditions,” Levi listed off, raising an eyebrow at me. “You are going to make cheat sheets on our kingdom?”
“Precisely.” Grinning, I opened the first book Kit had handed me. “We’ll start with Wylan before branching out to our so-called allies. So, you can read out the territory names and their functions since you don’t give me the whole ‘sit and takedown notes’ vibe.”
“I...” Levi sighed, cheeks slightly puffing out as he thought of a response before muttering, “I don’t like reading either, but I will let it slide this time.”
Rolling my eyes, I waited for him to begin. He was slow at first, his Aussie accent catching me by surprise as he got comfortable with the task, allowing for the accent to flow without being halted like it always was when he talked prior. It made his voice sound deeper, ear-catching and drawing me in, to the point I caught myself having to lean back as I wrote. He even allowed himself to finally look relaxed, his concentration clear and for some reason, he looked sexier.
In the end, we managed to dissect our three territories and link each to their functions. Lorcan was the biggest territory out of the three and was Levi’s birthplace. It was a training ground for soldiers and our main and critical post for any wars being planned out. Our second largest was Alderreach which was a farming community providing for the whole kingdom. Every Sunday stalls would be pulled up for a market and local training to the militia given to every willing person. Besides Lorcan, Alderreach had the least amount of Lizard Folk inhabiting it while our last territory, Mirk, had the most that rivalled the number at the castle. Mirk was a mining territory built up close to the mountain, the ore they mined was ebony and precious gems like rubies. Most weapon trades took place there.
“What does the belief system look like?” Levi asked while standing up and stretching. He hid his yawn behind his hand. Noting his exhaustion, I stretched and tried to resist yawning. My right hand throbbed from writing so fast and the tight grip I had on the quill.
“It’s small but complicated. Wylan’s main deity is Ebus, Goddess of Shadow. She comes from the Lizard Folk and is pretty powerful since she controls nightmares and monsters. The second main is Casteus, God of War. He comes from the Winged Folk.” Rubbing my eyes, I tried to brush away my own exhaustion. “Then there is Heros, written like heroes but pronounced as Her-ross. He’s the God of Duty. Next up is Arla, Goddess of Seduction though she has marriage and a handful of other stuff linked to her. The last two are Tula, Goddess of Death, and Jagter, God of the Hunt.”
“Wow, you weren’t kidding about the size and complication of it,” Levi sighed. Humming in response, I folded my arms and rested my head on them. “You tired too?”
Lifting my head, I blinked slowly as Levi pushed the curtain back to expose the dark sky outside. Another day left inside. Another day where we were kept out of reach of our kingdom. Gritting my teeth, I stood next to him, glancing up. Stars glittered brightly amongst the sea of indigo blue, but it was the two moons that caught my eye. One was closer, craters dotting over its surface. The other had indistinguishable black marks.
“Have you two been here the whole time?” Turning around, I watched as Kit tilted their head to the side. “Well then, you have guests dining with you this evening, I would recommend you wash up.”