All About Us
Prologue, Part I: "Silences"
Limping home from the final battle had given everyone in the army ample time to think.
If any of them had thought their problems were at an end with the death of Nergal and the sealing of the Dragon's Gate, they were sorely mistaken. Perhaps they preferred the illusion to the reality.
The group headed for Caelin was small to begin with, and made smaller with the loss of Sir Wallace. Considering the older man's lack of a sense of direction, they did their best to press onward even without his added strength. He would be fine on his own, they told one another, though they all doubted he would ever manage to find his way back to Caelin.
Weary and in desperate need of rest, Kent, Sain, Florina, and Lyndis stopped their travels; less than a full day's ride from Caelin Castle, everyone's mind was weighed down with thoughts of the future.
Florina was to marry Hector within a few months, and Sain, ever the go-getter, was determined to sit down as soon as they arrived at the castle, so that he could write a letter to Fiora, who he insisted was the one he had been searching for from the very beginning.
None could claim to be as burdened as Kent and Lyndis. Even Sain, with his head in the clouds, could feel the tension in the air between his lady liege and his boon companion. He didn't dare to ask either of them what the matter was; he already knew.
Kent, seemingly stuffy and as emotional as a rock, was desperately in love with Lady Lyndis. It sounded like the most cliché of plays, he had thought to himself many a time, but to be certain, Kent's love was not unrequited. No, Lady Lyndis was just as much in love with Kent as he was with her, if not more, according to Florina.
Only circumstance prevented their feelings from blossoming into a relationship. And pah, what were circumstances, anyway? But Kent was afraid to act above his station, and Lyndis was afraid to push him out of his damnable bubble.
Sain wanted to do something. Florina did, too. But neither of them knew what to do, and discussing the situation with one another yielded no fruitful results. They tried talking to their respective best friend, and still, nothing. Both had been strangely distant since Nergal had been defeated…perhaps even before.
So the cavalier from Caelin and the soon-to-be wife of a marquess let things be. What else could they do? Forcing things was out of the question, and Kent and Lyn both seemed stressed to the point of breaking.
So that evening, while they camped for the night, Sain watched Kent, saw the looks he gave Lyn, saw the love and the flickering hope in his eyes, saw his hand twitch, his fist clench, saw him look in the direction of Caelin where the highest tower of the castle was barely visible.
And Florina watched Lyndis, saw the way she bit her lip and smoothed down her hair as she stared at Kent, completely unabashed, saw the small smiles, the love and hope in her eyes that flickered as surely as a candle in the wind. When her friend looked up at the darkening sky, she knew that she was looking at the castle's tower, at the future that was waiting for her.
Florina smiled at the thought of her own future. She would be wealthy and powerful and loved—really, truly loved—by Hector. She was still painfully shy and she sometimes froze at the thought of speaking to him, but she was doing better every day, and so was he. She was nobody, just a poor girl from Ilia, a mercenary, but they were going to be together. Hector had promised her that when he had kissed her before they parted ways. She still blushed just to remember it.
But Lyn… Lyn wasn't happy. Hector could marry a mercenary, but Lyn couldn't marry a knight? And it wasn't as if Kent could be considered just a knight; he held the rank of a knight commander! Maybe it was because Ostia was a military country, or maybe it was because of something else. Why couldn't Lyn be happy, too? It broke Florina's heart to see her friend hurting, but she couldn't change the laws that applied to Caelin or its heir.
Sain had every intention of moving to Ilia to marry Fiora. The thought made him happy. A wife, perhaps kids in the future… He wondered how Kent felt, in love and unable to say so aloud. But Kent never told him anything anymore, so he didn't know, couldn't see, and he chose not to ask about it. It would only send his friend's mood into a downward spiral, and the redheaded man was already likely to spend his future pining for the one woman he wanted that he couldn't have. Or perhaps he could have her, only he was too afraid to try.
Sain and Florina watched the fire as it burned. They missed the way Lyn's hand curled into Kent's, the longing in their eyes, and the way their lips pressed together for just a moment. There was want, there, in that kiss, and need, and desire, and desperation. But neither of them allowed their lips to meet for a second time.
So when Sain and Florina turned around again, Kent was sitting a respectful distance from his liege, and their hands were folded neatly in their own laps as they turned their attention back to the looming tower of Castle Caelin that peeked out over the treetops.
Maybe if they had seen, things would have turned out differently.
The rating will probably change after the next chapter. This is, I think, different from what I usually write. Erik shows up in the next chapter.