7 - Iridescent Gaze

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[Picture of Raleigh and Kaden by Lady_Lucia]


After her failed attempt the night before, Nell felt discouraged. Going home to her sister was all Nell wanted; she didn't want to be apart from Ianthe anymore. Walking next to Raleigh only made that feeling more prominent. While Ianthe was always talking, Raleigh preferred silence. And though Raleigh didn't mind the quiet, Nell grew restless. The silence forced her to dwell on the events of the night before.

When Raleigh finally did speak, her words were uncomfortable and formal. Her foreign accent further reminded Nell that she wasn't home.

"Are you feeling much better?" she asked. Nell's eyes widened for just a moment in shock. She had forgotten that she was supposed to be sick, and she realized she hadn't been acting like it at all. 

"Oh," Nell answered. "I'm alright."

Raleigh gave a curt nod of her head as if that answer satisfied her, and they continued walking without speaking. Making conversation was not Raleigh's priority. That much was clear.

 Nell didn't want to force a conversation. She was tired of trying to make friends. She was tired of all of it, and her discouragement soured her attitude.

Her legs ached, and her lack of sleep did nothing to help the situation. However, for the moment, she had no choice but to play innocent and naive as she had been. At least her sullenness was mistaken for illness. Raleigh was looking significantly better, and Nell noticed that the longer they walked, the quicker her pace became. On top of her frustration with failure, and her homesickness, Nell was embarrassed. She was embarrassed that she kissed Kin, and she was embarrassed that she could do nothing to help her sister. At least she was used to the uselessness. The kissing was new. She didn't think about what she was doing the night before.

Kin would never be someone Nell would dream of kissing. Ianthe warned her about his type of man, and Nell did not desire to be any closer to him than necessary. Though a warrior and protector, Kin seemed like the type of man who would hurt young women like Nell, and his slow eyes made her skin crawl. Even so, a part of Nell rejoiced at her accomplishment. One day away from Ianthe, and she was already kissing men. Something she hadn't allowed herself to even dream of happening though Nell couldn't stop herself from hoping. Perhaps next time it would be more enjoyable. Cyran had already proven he wasn't a loyal husband after all, and she felt safe enough around him to put herself in that vulnerable of a position, confident that he wouldn't take advantage of her.

Nell itched at her thigh. She could still feel where Kin's hand had touched her. While she couldn't sleep that night, she'd prayed that he was too altered by the poison to remember her foolish actions, but his knowing leer made her certain that he remembered perfectly, and her nerves twisted in her chest at the possibility of him confronting her. What would she say?

After an uneventful hour of walking, Raleigh stopped. One hand snapped to the hilt of the sword at her waist, and the other grabbed Nell's shoulder to hold her still. A burst of excitement shot through Nell's limbs. Were they going to be attacked again? With Raleigh by her side, she felt no fear, but she wouldn't mind seeing more magic. Cyran's weapon could change form at will, and Kin could move objects without touching them, but Raleigh's magic remained a mystery.

Raleigh's hand dropped away as suddenly as she had grabbed Nell, and her posture relaxed. "How was your hunt?" she asked.

"Very interesting." 

Nell flinched when the voice came from directly in front of them where no man stood. But she recognized Kaden's voice, and was not surprised when he appeared from nowhere.

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