Chapter 22: Playtime - Maradalel

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It had taken Andarada—el two weeks, two long, long, weeks before he reported back to Maradalel about a very secluded swimming spot. A part of the river that was relatively far away and hidden in a thicket of trees.

Maradalel really needed the relaxation. He felt like the tension in his body would snap his bones. He'd been nearly unable to sleep for ages.

He grabbed himself an extra set of clothes and then out the door he practically flew. He'd been practising his fighting every day, he deserved this.

"Someone's eager," Andarada—el commented.

Maradalel glared at him. "I haven't done anything close to fun in forever. I've only just been allowed some time to myself."

"All you ever do is train, it's annoying! Even my father lets me have free time."

Maradalel frowned. "I'm not allowed to have much free time because if I do, I could choose to do something feminine, or reveal my secret. That's why I'm so limited."

Andarada—el laughed. "It's uh-, a bit late for keeping your secret a secret, though."

Maradalel frowned slightly. "You're special though. I know you wouldn't reveal it to anyone else."

Andarada—el flushed purple, yellow, and orange. "Oh."

Maradalel smiled at him. "So, how long will it take to get to where we're going?"

Andarada—el's lips twitched. "About one and a quarter hazokil."

Maradalel gaped. "You've gotta be kidding me! That's so long!" He groaned.

Andarada—el turned red and glared. "Well, you told me it had to be hidden!"

Maradalel gulped. "I-I did. I'm sorry."

Andarada—el turned blue, cyan, chartreuse, and orange. "No, no, I'm sorry! I shouldn't have yelled."

Maradalel flicked his eyes down, not looking up at his friend. "But, you were right."

"Doesn't mean I should have yelled though."

Maradalel bit his lip. "Okay."

His friend sighed. "Just because I'm right and older doesn't mean I have a good reason to be angry. You had a reason to be annoyed and I should have just explained without yelling."

He grabbed Maradalel's hand, who raised his eyes to look at him. "Now..." Andarada—el smiled. "...Let's get going. We only have so long to swim after all."

Maradalel felt himself blush, though he wasn't quite sure what colour it was. He wasn't sure he wanted to know.

****

Andarada—el had led him to a thicket of willow trees, their thick drooping branches acting like curtains that secluded this calm curve of the river from everywhere else.

Andarada—el dropped his spare clothes next to the base of one of the trees and then jumped into the water, spreading his limbs to float on the surface.

"So! What do ya' think? Pretty sweet, right?"

Maradalel looked around as he placed his extra clothes next to his friend's. The leaves were a pretty shade of pale green, and sunlight glittered across the surface of the water.

"Yeah," Maradalel said softly. "It's pretty sweet."

Andarada—el kicked over to the edge of the water and patted the ground next to him. Maradalel hesitated only a moment before sitting down, legs criss-crossed.

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