...April paused for only few seconds. For some reason even she herself didn't know, she began to trust this man, even though she had much more reasons for killing him without a second thought.
"I... I guess I awe you a name." She said with hesitation. "I'm April!" Unnoticed smile touched her lips.
"April! I'm pleased to make your acquaintance!" Kian couldn't help himself breaking into a wide smile. He didn't even expect her to trust him, especially after her ironic way of talk a minute ago.
"You shouldn't stay!.. If anyone sees you..."
"You will not tell them?" Kian was calmed, and, at the same time, taken by surprise, seeing that she actually trusted him.
"I don't have an easy time trusting anyone Aza..." She held her tongue in time, "Kian. But I'm beginning to believe that you are the real thing, an honorable man."
"I try to be." he answered simply, there was no pride in his voice, he was very modest, too modest for an Azadi man. April wasn't sure if she was doing the right thing, it seemed to be big improvidence to let him just walk away. But for the first time in several years she was following this instinct, the one she had almost forgotten about, the one that often led her to the desired goals in ways that were hard to imagine, the one that urged her to act according to her own feelings instead of doing what no doubt would have been more rational. But still, the understanding of who she was and what situation she was in, forced her to ask:
"But I still don't understand why you're here! And I don't understand why Na'ane told me that you're... a messenger! You are not sent by Benrime, are you?"
"A messenger?." This question confused him, and reminded him that he didn't know why April had come here, he had thought that maybe she was waiting for someone.
"Yes!" she continued, watching him closely "So, are you going to answer my questions?"
"As I have told you, I am an apostle. I was sent from Sadir to... kill someone!"
Kian hesitated. It sounded like interrogation. And despite his recent decisions, he still held the mission sacred, another reason why he didn't want to say anything was the possibility of waking suspicions her. Though he felt guilty, she was more honest to him then she should have been, so he felt somehow obliged to answer with the same. But the Apostle in him took over, he couldn't reveal the matter of his mission whether he was going to fulfill it or not.
"I'm sorry!" he sighed, "I have no right to tell you. But it doesn't matter anymore, I'm not going to do it. Now I have another mission: to show my people the truth. To inform The Six about all of this. I hope you understand that I can't give you this secret."
"All right! I can't force you to tell me anything." April tried to calm herself. She found suspicious that he came exactly on this pier to find this person he was told to kill. But it could be a coincidence. Maybe he just recognized her during his searchings and came up to her.
"But I need to apologize, because I awe you at least honesty. You trust me thought you don't have to. You're a rebel, are you not?"
"Isn't it obvious?" April chuckled, seeing he was asking about something very obvious.
Yes, it is!" Kian smiled too. "I guess it was obvious even when we first met."
The memory of their conversation flashed through her mind.
"Yes!" she nodded, presenting him with a crooked smile, "At least, I did my best to make it clear!" He smiled back again and didn't answer, there was an awkward silence for a while, neither of them knowing what to say next.
"I'm sorry, I think I should leave the city before anybody suspects me." Kian dared after a moment "It would not do any good for any of us. And... as I remember, you were awaiting for someone.
"Yes," April suddenly remembered, "I... I thought it was you. A good friend of mine is in trouble. But I was just told that she had sent a messenger. I was told that this man wanted to meet me here, on this pier. And he should have been here already."
Kian's insides froze as she said that. Shouldn't that "witch" have sent the Scorpion to this pier? What if there was no mistake? What if the had not lied? It can't be her! he thought desperately. But in spite of his wishes everything was pointing at her.
"Are you sure you had to meet him here?" he asked carefully.
"Yes! That's what Na'ane told me."
"Yeah, she's a friend of mine. Actually, I thought she was caught in Marcuria too, like my other friends. But I saw her here, and she directed me here to meet some stranger, who has a message for me."
He felt dizzy now. So it was her. There was no doubt. Unless the "witch" had lied to both of them and had sent April instead of the Scorpion, to sacrifice someone less important than the leader... There was only one way to be sure:
"I need to tell you what my mission was." He started slowly, hoping against hope that she could prove him wrong "I know I mustn't give it away, but I can't hide it because... I was sent to kill the rebel leader, the Scorpion!" The subtle shimmering light of the torches at the pier were enough for him to clearly see how her face changed. It was not fear, but shock. She was really stunned, she stood motionless, speechless. It -is- her!
"The... Scorpion..." It was all April managed to say. He was sent to kill her. Cheers for your intuition! Someone laughed sarcastically in her head.
"You!" Said Kian "It is you, am I right? You are the Scorpion!" Now it was April who quivered and felt dizzy, not because of fear though, she was not afraid at all, she just felt like an idiot, and was angry with herself. So that's why he started this talking about how his belief had changed! He just wanted to get the information out of me and I was so fool as to believe him!
"So what now?" she asked, her voice calm and frosty cold.
"What do you mean what?" Kian was startled, "Didn't I tell you that I have refused to complete my mission. Especially now, when it appeared that this so-called Scorpion is actually you!"
"What does it matter for you, is it me or someone else?" April narrowed her eyes on him.
"I..." He didn't know what to answer, he wasn't prepared for this question. It really was worth thinking. "I don't know... Maybe because you are the most honest person I have ever met. Because I see that the tales I've heard about your spite and evil soul can't be true!.."
"Even though you know I have killed hundreds of your people, and it's not like I'm too sorry about it!" she interrupted, it was strange, she sounded like she was trying to provoke him. And she was very good at it too...
"You..." Kian sighed uneasily, her bitter sarcasm slightly stinging him "You were defending your land and your people. If I was on your place, maybe I would do the same."
Strange, April thought, I'm blaming myself and he's trying to defend me! I have this weird feeling that something should have been vice versa!
"So... What now?" She asked again a bit irresolutely.
"I don't know..." he answered slowly. Neither of them was going to say anything else. April started to feel a bit uneasy. How long is he going to stay here standing like a statue? Wasn't he going to leave? It looks like he has changed his mind! Kian felt the awkwardness of this situation too, but couldn't do anything. Why am I standing here as if I'm numb? Come on, say something! Do something! But he had nothing to say. The only thing he could say was "Good by" and the only thing he could do was to leave. But none of this pleased him too much. April was the first one to break the silence:
"I think you should go now!.." She finally managed "I don't want anybody to see you here and... You'll be in a big trouble if somebody recognizes you as the Azadi soldier. And..." Suddenly an idea struck her. "B-but do you know how to get out of here safely?"
"I'll find my way, don't worry about me!"
"I'm not..." She was going to say 'I'm not worried about you!' but thought better of it, instead she said: "All right, as you wish. Good luck then!.."
"Thank you!.." Kian was going to turn back, but stopped and looked at her again. "I really am pleased to meet you... I don't know how, but I hope I'll see you again someday... Soon...?"
"I... hope so too. Be careful... Good by!" She hardly forced herself to say the last words. For the reason still unknown for her she didn't want him to go, at least so soon. As for Kian, he thought if April was trying to get rid of him as soon as possible. But he knew she was right, he should get out of the city immediately.
"Good bye!" said he and left the pier in a hurry. April took a few steps forward too, looking at his back as he was going away. Again, a sudden idea ran through her mind, outraging her inner voice at once: April what are you doing? - None of your business!
"Wait!" she called him, following quickly now. He stopped surprised. "You won't make your way out so easily! The place will be crowded, they're unloading the supplies. It will be safer if I escort you!" She said approaching him.
"You don't need to put yourself in danger because of me! I'll be fine..." he argued and felt sorry for that at once.
"No, you won't be! And I'm definitely not in any danger unlike you..." She lost her patience "Look, I'm offering you my help, and it happens really rarely for the last about ten years, so why don't you just accept it?"
Kian hushed up. Really, why not?
"All right. I'll do as you say!"
"Good." April nodded. "Now follow me."
She walked forward. They were both silent. Several people who knew her personally, greeted her happily: "Good to see you're back, Raven!" She was answering everyone with a smile, trying to look confident, but actually she was afraid. If only they don't suspect him! she was praying. But her fear seemed to be groundless. He wasn't dressed like the Azadi, and his unusual appearance was not something they would find suspicious here, especially with so many newcomers. Though a few people did pay attention to him, but they didn't seem to be doubting about anything. It was just that he was walking with Raven, that was why they were interested. After all, Raven wasn't a person who would easily allow somebody to join the small number of her friends, close friends. Isn't there anything else interesting? Why are they staring at us?
"Where are we going?" Kian asked after a while.
"I'll show you the safest way, we'll need to take a boat first. Once we're far enough from here, you'll need to go alone, I can't leave..."
"I know, you're doing much more than you must, I'm grateful for that."
"Sure!" she said and rolled her eyes as another passer-by looked at them strangely. She didn't care much for strangers, but those who knew her were being more attentive than it was needed at the moment. They passed by two man who were standing at the boat near the pier. She knew them, but preferred to pretend that she didn't notice them. "Who is he? Raven's got herself a boyfriend?" - they heard them chuckle. This phrase made her stop abruptly, but continued walking at once. If she looked at Kian at that moment, she would notice how he tried to suppress a smile more because of her reaction rather than their words, luckily for him, she didn't look.
They reached the pier in the eastern part of the city. There was nobody there, the people were People were probably already getting ready for the feast. April sighed with relief, she had been hoping that nobody would notice them taking the boat.
"Come on!" she told Kian as she got into the rowing-boat starting to untie it, "We'll take this boat. If we hurry up, we'll be on that bank in fifteen minutes, then you'll have to go through the forest to the south-west. That's all I can help with. After that you must pave your way on you own.
"I will. Thank you again for what you're doing for me."
"Ok, let's hurry up!"
There were oars for two people. They were rowing fast. April showed the direction, she knew the surroundings very well, she also explained which path to follow out of the forest, how long it would take to reach the first village on the way and so on. It took them about twenty minutes to reach the bank. They got out of the boat and dragged it onto the ground a bit.
"This is it!" said April, pointing at trees as she headed towards them, "Remember, you need to walk to the south-west. The forest is not so thick in this part. If you go to the right direction, you'll get to the nearest settlement soon, maybe even before the sun-rise..."
"Thank you..." Kian beamed "I've thanked you several times already, but it's still not enough. No one else would do what you're doing for me, and nobody would even believe me on your place."
"Yeah, actually I'm wondering myself why I believe you. I guess... Maybe it's my intuition, I don't know... But I think I can trust you, don't know why, but I really think so."
"It means a lot to me!.." Silence fell yet again, and April suddenly realized that the thing she hated most of all in this world was awkward silence. Just say good bye and go back! The inner voice ordered.
"Well, I... I guess I must return now." She surrendered to this hateful voice "There, you can already see the path... Good bye"!
"Yes, until we meet again..." He smiled softly once more. It was more or less dark, but she could still see the warmth in his eyes. There was something very attractive in this look. What are you waiting for? The strict inner April asked. She turned to the boat in a hurry, but...
"April, wait!" She turned to face him and almost fell backwards. He had moved very close to her. As she turned, he put his arms round her waist and she felt her lips touching his. It was sudden, but she felt like she was waiting for it. April, what are you... - SHUT UP! She mentally punched the inner voice in her abstract face. This kiss was just too pleasurable to allow some stupid nonexistent voice in her head to interfere with stupid comments. After several seconds their lips parted Now there was definitely nothing left to say...
"I... I will pretend that it never happened." April said feeling somewhat awkward, her cheeks warmer than usual.
"As you wish" Kian chuckled softly "Though I cannot promise to do the same..." Now his smile looked a bit confused, it seemed like he was thinking if he offended her with this kiss. But he knew he didn't. It was obvious, she didn't resist, and her eyes... they were telling him that he hadn't done anything wrong. His words made her smile.
"All right... Then let's remember it as a... pleasant leave-taking..."
"Very pleasant." He emphasized, redeeming his usual self-confidence.
"Good bye!" She granted him a warm smile.
She's so beautiful when she smiles! Kain thought, admiring. "Good bye!.."
He watched her getting back to the boat and leaving the bank. When she was far enough from the bank, he went on his way, but he couldn't help himself looking back several times, until her image disappeared in the darkness. Then he continued walking, without noticing that he was still smiling...
April fastened the rope and got out of the boat. She slowly went to the ship with supplies. People had unloaded everything already. The captain was still there though, checking on the vessel.
"Where have you been?" He asked in surprised tone.
"I... I'm sorry, I'm late. I had some business..."
"That's all right. It wasn't too hard anyway, with the enthusiasm of people seeing that the supplies made it here safely, undisturbed by the Azadi!.." - April suddenly looked at him strangely. Mentioning the word "Azadi" made her feel a bit weird now.
"I want to take a walk, I'll be around here if you need me!" she blurted out and hurried away. For some reason, she went back to the East pier. She gazed into the darkness and fog of the swamps, but she was looking in the direction where she left Kian. With a sigh she whispered:
"Good bye. May the Balance protect you."