Chapter 13 - Between the Sea and a Hard Place

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Chapter 13 – Between the Sea and a Hard Place

"Look at it again," Rhydian barked.

"I have looked at it again," Sylara answered back just as sharp. Rhydian ran his hand through his golden locks while Tars, Dov and Duerrak stood looking on nearby. Nomi hovered even further away keeping the three men between her and the bickering couple. When they drew close to their destination earlier in the day, the 'X' shimmered and disappeared. It had yet to return and here they stood looking out on the Darmounth Sea. As beautiful as the glistening water was, Rhydian really wanted to be finding the next segment of the Heart.

He watched as Sylara turned the map this way and that, rolling and unrolling it several times. He knew it wasn't her fault the 'X' disappeared. He shouldn't take his frustrations out on her but the fact they'd been so close and now were standing in the middle of nowhere was causing his temper to rise. Taking a deep and hopefully calming breath, he walked back towards where she stood.

"Alright, let's take a break. We should eat something anyway and then afterwards we'll try again," Rhydian said as a way of apology purposely schooling his voice into a soft, soothing tone. But obviously the elf cared little for his effort as she cast him an irritated glare and walked away. Maybe he should have used his gift on her just this once, he thought before dismissing the idea.

The others went about setting up a make-shift camp and preparing the meal. He watched Sylara's retreating backside as she walked back into the copse of trees, they'd emerged from earlier. The proud tilt of her head caused him to feel even more guilt for having barked at her  over the last couple hours. Maybe he should go find her so he could apologize properly. That would probably be the best idea although he didn't relish the idea.

He started stomping off into the direction he had last seen her. Overhead he heard the cry of the wyvern as they flew in circles high above the tree tops. She couldn't have gone far, he thought turning to see which way she'd went. The forest was quiet except for the scampering of animals high in the boughs of the trees. How could she have gone that far so fast? Oh, wait. She was an elf after all, with the gift of speed. But if she'd used it, then it probably meant she was even angrier than he first imagined. And now he was out here looking for said angry elf. He started to see a few flaws through the cracks in his well-intentions about the time he spotted her through the trees. Too late to turn back now, he thought with a sigh.

"I wanted to be alone," she bit out, turning her back to him. Rhydian paused mid step. For once in his life he didn't feel as confident as he usually did when interacting with a member of the opposite sex. How did a woman who barely came up to his shoulders have this effect on him?

"Listen, I didn't mean..."

"Yes. You did," Sylara cut him off without turning around.

"I was only trying to help. I'm just as frustrated as you... maybe more than you," Rhydian tried explaining without letting his anger rise back up.

"No! No, you're not!" Sylara spun to face him. "I'm the one holding the map. I'm the one everyone over there is looking at wondering why it is not working. I'm the one you got upset with." Her voice trailed off after the last statement. Rhydian stared at the infuriated woman before him. This was not the calm, collected elf he'd first met. This was not the warrior who had everything together in battle. This was a passionate, sensitive woman. A smile crept across his face. Who would have thought such fierceness lay under her well-guarded exterior? He'd seen glimpses of it but nothing on this level. Her fists were clenched, as a red flush spread across her cheeks.

"You think this is funny? Are you making fun of me?" she asked in response to the involuntarily smile on his face.

"No, Sylara. I would never ridicule you," Rhydian said taking a step closer. Sylara looked away as he did, but he wanted to see the emotions on her face. Even if they were anger, there was something beautiful about the way she looked just now. Something wild and freeing about her. He reached out with one hand, turning her face back towards him. They were now within a breath from each other. Her pale blue eyes bore into his. Time seemed to stand still for that brief moment as Rhydian felt drawn by her lips which parted slightly. Lowering his head, Rhydian captured her in a kiss that surprised both of them. And while his head screamed at him nothing good would come from it, he pulled her closer, deepening the kiss as she leaned in to him.

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