(SHOUJO AI hints) How does one move on from lost and defeat?
No one... No one left but herself and an empty name. It used to have such a powerful ring, overwhelming with hearty strength and lush. This word, which she had wore so proudly like the biggest diamond of the world, now seemed like any other name to be forgotten, a dull combination of letters, a hollow pronunciation of sounds.
For the ancient and proud lineage behind this name, she had cut her hair short, forsaken her womanhood despite her parent's objections, turned away marriage proposals, one after the other. Even before her mother's deathbed, she refused to fall into a noble woman's life of ornamental existence. She wanted to prove General Tingel wrong and make him proud like a son could. She wanted to be like them, her father, her brother, her great grandfather, everyone of those members that stood behind her from the past, watching amongst the shadows of the night. She wanted, so badly, to fulfill her promise to her brother that they were meant to succeed the bloodline together.
But what is there to prove and be, when there is nothing left to prove and be?
The wind blew again, hollow like the space between whistling lips. She stared into the open nothing, allowing everything to pass. She hadn't felt like doing anything in a long time.
The dried leaves of autumn's touch crunched as steps invaded her solitary space with eyes bluer then a sunny day's sky. Even though her back guarded against them, they still seemed capable of penetrating her shield. Like ice.
The steps took no heed of the warning and continued to approach, only stopping to take a place beside her on the old, dead log.
"I said, go away!"
The fury wind grabbed her hair and whipped it in front of her face, shrouding her emerald eyes and the woman before her.
"It's quite windy tonight."
"Which part of "go away" do you not understand?!"
"A tempest, maybe?"
"Shut up, Agrias!"
She retrieved her gaze from the skies and placed them before the dark forest in front where naked branches clattered and shivered from the violent blows.
"Suppressed anger does much damage to one's health."
"What are you trying to say?" questioned Meliadoul.
"What were YOU trying to say."
"What do you mean?"
"Earlier this evening."
Meliadoul bit her lip. The only topic she prayed not to show up. She had approached the other knight earlier, before supper, hoping for a little chat, something they had both avoided since her arrival within the team.
Tonight was Izlude's birthday.
She just needed something, or rather someone, to keep her company as opposed to her usual reticent role within the party, and somehow, Agrias stood out as a choice. But the moment their eyes met, Meliadoul dismissed the idea and left, regretting such notions. It was too bare, like skinned boars.
"I already said, forget it. It's no big deal."
"Obviously, it is."
Always answering with truthfully wrong answers. Agrias was a focused warrior that communicated through action but when those lips opened, they bit with precise force. And she hated her for it. Meliadoul recklessly threw a punch, a territorial roar. Her opponent leaned backwards and avoided the fate of a broken jaw.
Meliadoul growled, shards of fractured green in her eyes tightened and gathered as angry heat combusted.
"I'll show you sloppy!"
And she launched herself into the unsuspecting blonde, tackling her to the ground. The Holy Knight struggled and the Divine Knight fought back. Mindlessly. Without any protection, bare like the night, they kicked and punched with raw instincts, free of discipline and years of training. Forbidden and low tactics, normally looked down upon in a fair battle, all emerged. But this was a simple quarrel that had no winner or loser, only dominance, a fundamental embrace of life.
"Let go!" yelled Meliadoul, her fingers painfully being twisted back against its natural dexterity.
"You let go!" retorted the other, a fistful of her blonde hair being wrenched out of her tight braid.
"I'll let go when you let go!"
"I'll let go once YOU let go!"
They continued to growl at each other, occasionally yelling their pain, inflicting pain.
"On the count of three!" suggested Meliadoul. Her opponent agreed with her eyes, unable to nod.
They released each other as promised but not without a final hostile shove. The two former knights collapsed onto their bed of brisk leaves, heaving carelessly. The wind blew another breath over their collected sweat, a soothing chill.
She looked to her side. Agrias had her eyes closed, her mouth opening and closing with every breath. Messy golden tresses, slightly curled, laid out luxuriously around her, freed from the braid during their petty squabble. Maybe her own head of brown hair would have been this beautiful if she had not cut it.
"Why did you come?"
Agrias searched, hunting for the correct thoughts and once the words were appropriately assembled she responded.
"You looked... troubled."
"A person once told me that no one can survive solely by oneself."
Someone finally uttered the forbidden word, the double syllable which seemed to be automatically banned around her presence. Agrias closed her eyes again, her breathing now steady and even. She reminded Meliadoul of a slumbering lioness.
"You should forgive yourself."
"What one wants to feel and feels are two separate matters."
The brunette responded with an indignant grunt, allowing silence to claim their sanctuary. Izlude is dead, the princess was gone, both involuntary victims of happenstance. The hunted heretic shifted her body to a side and examined the fallen noble beside her for the first time, carefully. Steady posture, unhesitant and proud eyes, everything about her screamed pride.
"Have you ever wanted to change things?" asked Agrias.
The fallen noble, a member of the once powerful Tingel family, pushed herself up from the grave of dead leaves, a new boundless calm claiming her body.
"I have," said Meliadoul casually, "You know, you've been talking a lot more lately."
"Yes, I agree."
"When I first saw you, I thought you were a mute."
The Holy Knight propped herself onto her elbows, shoving away a few heavy strands of hair from her face.
"I don't find humour in that."
"Neither do I. It was just an observation, which you have proved quite the opposite."
Agrias lifted an eyebrow.
"I thought you were bald."
"And now you know I'm far from it."
A soft itch of mirth tickled their throats and amused smirks were shared.
The Holy Knight responded with her habitual throaty hum, usually taken as curt or offensive but to Meliadoul, it was a clean gesture.
"Doesn't it bother you?"
"Sometimes, during battles especially."
"Then why do you keep it long?"
"Her highness said that I should."
Meliadoul nodded and reached into a side pocket of her green tunic, something that she had been meaning to do ever since the first time she saw Agrias fight. And out came the hidden piece of ribbon, a gift from her brother on her twentieth birthday, an encouragement for her to grow her hair although the laughing manner in which Izlude had presented it had the opposite effect. It was nothing expensive nor intricate, just a simple piece of velvet with a gold button at the end from her brother's cape. She herself had given him the exact same thing on his last birthday, as a small tease.
"What's that?" asked Agrias.
"For you hair. Yours is all tattered and you didn't even bother to change it."
Meliadoul picked out the thin rope that was caught within the blonde woman's hair and threw it back at its harsh user. It used to have a deep shade of blue to match her jacket but the lack of care had left it more brown then its actual colour, the end uneven with loose strands of thread.
"I can take care of myself, you know."
"Not from what I see."
The blonde accepted the gift, examining it delicately within the surface of her gloved hand as her teammate stood up.
"I just happened to see it on our way here. Do whatever you like with it, I couldn't care less," added Meliadoul, brushing off lingering leaves and dirt.
Agrias watched the retreating back, trying to ignore the nagging pinch at the back of her neck. Just as she was about to loose sight of the other knight, she gave into the annoying voice.
"Meliadoul!" she called.
The brunette turned around but gushes of wind swiveled and blurred Agrias's response.
"What did you just say?"
The Holy Knight hesitated and what would have been a rare thankful phrase got cut down to a single word.
"Damn you!" yelled Meliadoul, and she strode away with fierce force from sight.
Agrias cursed the winds as she proceeded to stand up. As much as she wanted to stay here, it was almost her shift and Mustadio was quite particular about such matters. Following the faint light, she found she way back to camp where everyone else was asleep except for the shivering boy.
"Finally!" exclaimed Mustadio.
The Holy Knight quietly took a seat by the fire as she ignored the boy's repetitive complaints about the cold, only aware of her surroundings and the other knight's absence. Another gust of wind blew by and immediately shooed the young engineer into his share of sleep but not without noticing the foreign piece of ribbon as the blonde braided her mess of hair.
"Hey, when did you get that?" asked Mustadio as he tucked himself into his blanket.
"Sorry to say, but green and blue don't match very well," remarked Mustadio, bluntly. Honestly had always been his strength despite his lack of tack.
Agrias shrugged defensively, securely the knot.
"Green's a nice colour."
Personal afterthought: Meliadoul and Agrias do share a lot in common, both being strong female knights with reclusive natures maybe with Meliadoul a little more impulsive. I think they share an unique type of relationship within team; Somewhat competitive and hostile although perfectly capable of understanding each other through circumstances and their similarities which was the reason for this fic.