Chapter 12: Friendship

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Tiger got well in a couple of hours. Shiba left the room, stating that he'd come to check on Astra later to change the bandages. He understood the girls wanted to be left alone for some time to enjoy each other's company to the fullest.

When the girls heard what happened at the Dragon Festival, they understood the whole situation. Riza apologized for being rude to Tamie the other day:

"I am sorry. I was just really on my nerves because of that fool Rick's behaviour, so I couldn't hold myself".

"It is fine, happens to everyone sometimes".

"I'm not going to say sorry because I'm always like this, so you'd better get used to it if you want to hang out with me," Olivia directly notified her with a cold face. At such a half-joke of hers, everybody laughed, including Tamie.

She soon got accustomed to these girls and felt really good chatting and having fun with them. There were five of them - Riza, the girl who was a Singer Class, seventh rank - the Enchantress, and so she adored singing and dancing above all; Rianna - a Defender Class, fourth rank - the Shielder, so she was skilled in medicine, using her element - the Water; Olivia - Artist Class, Painter Sub-branch (just as Tamie thought), so she enjoyed drawing and painting and was already the fourth rank - the Doodler; and two other girls whom Tamie met in that room - Cherrie Turner, exactly that Leo sign of Tiger spirit whom Tiger Braun earlier talked to her about, and Jannah Khan - a tan-skinned, black-haired, beautiful girl, a Grandmistress like Riza, but of an even higher rank - the final, eighth one, of the Sneaker Class - the Ninja.

Tiger has quite many strong friends... Tamie thought while getting to know these girls. Every one of them was different and unique, but they all had somehow found a common language and had become 'sisters', all because of Tiger's friendly and energetic spirit. She is truly amazing... Tamie watched Tiger who so bright-heartedly talked to her friends and excitedly retold them of Christo's and Blizzard's bravery and adroitness, and Astra's extreme fidelity and loyalty in battle:

"She is still small and inexperienced, but when she grows and becomes stronger, we're going to be an unbeatable team! We're going to crush all enemies, and achieve the Beast rank of Tamer Class".

"Haha, sure you will, Tiggie! You're the best!" Jannah laughed. 

"Of course! You'll make it!"

Tamie watched them and sighed:

I do often say that I don't need friends, but the fact is... I do need friends, but not false ones... I need true friends like these girls are to each other...

In the evening Tamie was lying on the bed in her room and was fallen into thoughts:

I've never had any real friend. Then I became colder in order to protect my heart from getting betrayed. The only friends for me were my family - mother, father, and Nick... she beamed once recalled her beloved family but then sighed again: Isn't that the true reason why Byakuya formed in my mind? Because I wanted to have a friend... a boyfriend, to be more precise. I came to this country to find a friend at last. Maybe... maybe I can manage it if I try to find like-minded people?

Suddenly, her Star-gadget rang. She started and looked at it. Shivers ran down her spine - it was Erik's signal! She gulped and then touched the gadget, answering the call.

"Yo, Tamie!" the familiar deep voice which now sounded so gruesome to her called out.

"H... Hello, Erik..."

"Oh, is anything wrong?" Erik caught the trembling vibes in her voice.

"N... No..." Tamie sighed, "It's just, I know what you'd been doing while in Crimson Flame Order, Erik..." she decided to be open with him - after all, if she wanted to break all ties with him, she should be straight about it. That was her way of handling things. She hated falsehood, from both her part and anyone else. 

Silence fell for some minutes. Erik's voice didn't call out for long.

"I get it... Lord Nick told you, huh?"

"Y... Yes". 

"Understood... Well then, I guess you don't want me calling you anymore..."

"No, that's not it_"

"I understand," Erik cut her speech and bitterly chuckled, "Whatever I do, I cannot run from my damn past. It's not your fault, Tamie. I wouldn't want to have contacts with someone like me either. I guess your brother is concerned too, and I can't blame him. I won't call you again then. You can call me anytime if you ever desire. Like... if ever a danger arises. The promise of mine that I'd protect you if you asked still stands. The Earth element, which is the most dangerous for you as you are the Air, cannot be handled by Lord Nick that easily, because the Water and the Earth are friendly elements, so the Earth doesn't get that easily beaten by the Water. However, the Fire is the strongest element against the Earth, so if you ever face dangerous Earth enemies and your brother is somehow unable to solve the problem, you can always call me if you wish," he laughed playfully. "Well, goodbye until our paths cross again, Tamie. I... I really enjoyed being your friend... even for a short time".

The call dropped. Tamie fell back unto her bed and sighed deeply.

Why did I ever meet him..?

Tears gathered in her throat. She had pity on the guy now, and she scolded herself for pitying a man with a bloody past, as it was against her morality. She didn't know anymore what to think - if Erik was in the end kind or not. It was truly a difficult question to give a straight answer to. But one thing she knew - she too, had enjoyed all those talks with him, even for such a short time.

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