THIRTY EIGHT

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THE MOMENT RAVENNA inhaled a breath of fresh air, the hurricane of anger that raged through her faded. Sunlight kissed her cheeks, warming her from the inside out. Her hands started to tremble as her emotions melted, shattering the dam she'd created to contain them. A shudder tore through her. In one swift moment, she reached up and yanked her hood over her head, obscuring her face within the shadows.

She moved quick to get away from the market, away from the prying eyes that watched her. As she walked, her mind raced. She felt absolutely crazy. It was easy to put two and two together now that her head was clear. She wasn't sure why she'd gone off on Bella like that, or where the anger came from. Now that she could think straight, she knew that there had been no reason behind her rage. Bella had provided more than enough information. She'd practically solved the mystery of the ghost girl and explained the sourness between Vyses and Caelan --all without realizing it. All without Ravenna realizing it, at first.

But she couldn't bring herself to turn around, to apologize. No number of apologies would make up for what was said.

She climbed the steps and pushed open the front door the tavern. There were only a few patrons inside, chattering joyously with frothy mugs in their hands. Vyses stood behind the counter, his back to the door. As Ravenna approached the bar, she could see that he was counting coins.

He glanced over his shoulder at her and blinked, appearing somewhat surprised. "Welcome back," he said, returning his gaze to the coins in his hands. "I wasn't expecting to see you for a few days, after the last training session."

"I need to talk to you," Ravenna said.

A drunkard stumbled up beside her and leaned against the bar. It took him a moment to notice Ravenna. The moment that he did, he began to squint, intensely staring at her face. It was almost as if he thought that, if he tried enough, he'd be able to see through the fabric.

Annoyance began to build within Ravenna. Her eyes narrowed and she crossed her arms over her chest. "Vyses, I need to talk to you now. Privately."

The drunkard beside her scoffed. "Aye, mate. This one's an angry little thing," he slurred, waving his hand in Ravenna's direction.

Vyses turned around, an amused expression on his face. As he moved, she could hear the coins jingling in a pouch attached to his side. He met Ravenna's gaze and smirked. "But you seem to be having so much fun with your new friend," he teased her.

Ravenna glared at him.

Lyth appeared behind the bar. Without a word the boy began to tend the patrons, even distracting Ravenna's new "friend" with a fresh glass of ale. Vyses stepped around the bar and gestured for her to follow him. "We can talk downstairs, if that's alright with you, lass."

She followed him down the stairs and into the training room. The room itself looked as though it had never been touched. All the weapons had been returned to their rightful spots on the walls, and any remnants of the magic used had faded. Once the door shut behind them, Vyses turned to face her.

"Tell me about the girl," she said, her voice cold as ice.

Vyses didn't respond for a moment. He stared at her, his expression unreadable. She refused to back down, meeting his gaze evenly, her eyes narrowed.

"What girl are we talking about, specifically?" Vyses asked. His tone sounded cautious.

Ravenna's hands clenched into tight fists at her side. That swell of anger had returned, blistering within her veins. "That little girl. The ghost. The one that you killed. The one that you attempted to pretend didn't exist. Tell me about the girl."

Vyses pursed his lips. His gaze shifted away, toward the wall behind her, his eyes glazed with pain. "Oh," he said. "That girl."

Ravenna didn't answer.

"It's a long story," he said. "Are you sure that you want to hear it?"

"Considering you tried to convince me that I was just hallucinating her existence," she growled, "Yes, I would like to know all about the creepy little ghost that's been stalking me."

He lifted a hand, running his fingers through his hair. "I apologize for that. At the time, I didn't know that she had already begun to follow you around. I had hoped that you were drunk enough to not remember what happened and that would be the last of it. She holds a lot of painful memories for me."

Vyses glanced around the room. His movements seemed sluggish now, as if plagued with a heavy sense of exhaustion. Waving a glowing hand, he snapped his fingers. A wooden table appeared in the center of the room, along with two matching chairs. She watched as he eased into one of the chairs and leaned forward, resting his elbows against the tables. He gestured for her to sit as well.

She hesitantly took a seat on the second chair. She folded her arms across her chest and glared at him, waiting for him to continue.

"Her name was Eleanor," Vyses said softly. He stared at the table, his eyes half-lidded. "Ellie for short. And she was supposed to be my betrothed, a long time ago."

Ravenna blinked. "She's quite young," she said. Her nose curled.

"At the time, I was too," Vyses said, meeting her gaze warily. "I was human then, and only three years older. It was arranged between our parents though. I had no control over the situation. Because of our engagement, Ellie was quite attached to me. She followed me around a lot. I didn't mind. I was quite fond of her, and she didn't really get in my way a lot. There was only one place that she couldn't go, however, and that was Caelan's house."

"You studied under him," Ravenna interjected. "As I was."

Vyses nodded. "Again, another arrangement that was made by my parents. At the time, there were only three possible apprenticeships for a boy. Magic, blacksmithing, and farming. There wasn't need for any soldiers, as war wouldn't come until much later. I was allowed to choose, and I chose magic. It always interested me," he said. His fingers began to glow red. Ravenna watched as the red light twirled around his fingers. "Ellie loved magic too. It made her sad that she couldn't follow along to my study sessions. I tried to make up for it by showing her some of the spells that I learned. She seemed to like that a lot."

Ravenna frowned. She watched Vyses carefully, searching intently for any sign that he could be lying to her. The more that he talked, the more that he seemed to become lost within his own words, lost within his memories. It seemed completely genuine.

It made her nervous.

Thank you for your continued patience and support! As always, if you want to read ahead, there is a solid 20+ more chapters available to read on Tapas! <3

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Thank you for your continued patience and support! As always, if you want to read ahead, there is a solid 20+ more chapters available to read on Tapas! <3

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