a foray into the world of Efferia by Mana Angel
There is little this world holds for Orha Duren to fear, or at least, little that he has not seen already. One does not become a Blast Worm general if one fazes easily, and Orha has learnt, if nothing else, to hide his fears. For all that they are fewer in number, they represent even greater liabilities; should he be confronted with even one of them, he believes he would be able to do little about it. Thus he keeps his fears hidden away even from himself, tucked into a corner of his mind.
Even if they are hidden, he can sense them there, squirming restlessly and waiting for the nearest chance to burst into the light. It is paltry consolation that one of the worst of them has already come and gone, never to threaten him again: the price of being free of that burden is not one he ever wanted to to pay. He would have gladly served Queen Amila until his last breath, if it meant she would live-- but in the end, she beat him to the afterlife, and at her own hands.
It's difficult, seeing the reason she sacrificed herself walking around the gardens of Epentar and touching its stones with the same sad affection as a departing lover. It's difficult not to tell him that he doesn't have any right to be there; he's the reason those gardens are empty now. The only reason Orha turns a blind eye to the pale-haired spectre stalking along the pathways is the odd shimmer of firelight around his ankles, the strange sound of invisible wings shifting still air in his wake. That the Queen's own familiar condones Calintz's presence here is permission enough.
Still, Orha is not likely to ever forgive or forget the manner of his Queen's death, however much Serina might plead with him otherwise.
Serina is another factor that upsets his equilibrium in this strange new world of Human and Yason friendship. She makes his nerves, already strung wire-taut over a frame made of duty and familiarity and half-acknowledged affection, sing in warning. He does not fear death, for he walks beside it, but Orha's gut clenches in something like trepidation every time that soft voice calls his name.
"Yes, your highness?"
A frown that's half-troubled and half-teasing. "I haven't actually been crowned yet, you know."
"But you're the only logical successor. The Yason expect to see you as the next queen--"
Serina scowls at him, and he stops.
Sucking in a breath, Orha has to remind himself that the Queen is dead, that it's his sister speaking to him and not her-- they don't even look that much alike. He supposes his confusion stems from the fact that he's essentially serving Serina in the same capacity that he used to serve her sister... and that there's hardly any similarity between the way Amila treated him, and the way Serina treats him now.
Amila had plans, and she simply ordered him to act according to them. Serina, on the other hand, appears to expect him to make her plans for her.
The silence is anything but uncomfortable, but Serina isn't looking at him-- her eyes are tracking a figure in the distance, which appears to be gesturing at thin air.
"You don't like Calintz very much, do you?" She turns to him, brown eyes wide in question.
There's not much point in lying. "No." And then, "But I believe Queen Amila trusted him. As do you." The latter isn't a question. Orha doesn't meet her gaze; instead, he keeps up the pretense that he's here to watch Calintz and make sure he doesn't hurt Serina or try to kidnap her by focusing his eyes on the man at the other end of the garden. Of course, the Tears of Blood are capable of practically anything, but he doesn't think they're stupid enough to steal away the next in succession for the Yason throne in the middle of Yason territory.
Serina smiles at him. "Yes. He did save my life, after all..." Trailing off, she rearranges herself primly on the weathered fountain seat, getting moss-stains on her skirt that the palace cleaners will surely throw a fit over. Satisfied, she looks up at him again, parroting his words back at him. "...As did you."
Her words cause a pang in his chest. "...Yes. Queen Amila-- no, your sister-- wanted you to be prortected. I am simply fulfilling her wishes."
Orha's words don't seem to be what Serina is looking for; her eyes seem more distant than ever, and she's begun to toy with her hair in a manner too absent to be true. "So that's the only reason you've helped me so much? Because my sister wanted you to?"
He is about to answer an affirmative, before he remembers again: Serina is not her sister, and it may not be frankness that she wants. That thought in mind, Orha looks more carefully at what she is actually asking him, and after a moment, he answers.
"No. Protecting you is both my duty and my pleasure. As long as you are safe, I can be content." He surprises himself by finding it to be true.
There's a pause, Serina's smile faltering, before her lips twitch up wryly.
"You're lying, you know," she says. "But I'll believe you. For now."
It's been a while since I played Magna Carta, so you'll have to forgive me if I'm not getting the speech patterns correct or if people seem a little wackily OOC. XD; I just felt that it was such a copout having Calintz and Serina seem so close at the end after they built up that Calintz/Reith dynamic for a minor century... and really, Orha and Serina would be more fun and messed u-- I mean, interesting to explore, anyway. Or so I thought. My brain kind of died somewhere in there.
On a completely random note, I seem to be the only person in the world who likes Magna Carta's English opening theme!