"You mean…?" A blush was dusted across his face as he smiled, looking down at himself in self-pleasure. "You mean…you wanted me around? It wasn't just a decision on who can heal better between the pair of us?"
"No, of course not. What would make you think that?" Alena appeared confused, as though that thought had never occurred to her. "We've known each other forever; do you think a bit of magic would change my thoughts about you?"
His heart thumped and swelled in his chest as he smiled, thinking this over and feeling his spirits sour with unbridled pride. Though it wasn't love, she cared about him. She cared about him beyond simple friendship or the desire to talk to him whenever she needed to confess something. Had he always been so blind to this? "I just thought that battle would be seen as a higher priority to you at this point than friendships or relationships in general."
A confused look crossed her face in particular, making her shrug by choice and causing her muscle to create a shaking motion. The princess said nothing, but her disbelief was clear on her pale skinned face. Somehow, a large gap had formed between the two of them. He no longer knew who she was, and he was unsure if the feeling was mutual.
"I…I'm sorry for misunderstanding. You just seem so…into the fight. I didn't think that people in the heat of battle could still focus on sentimental things." He didn't care if she sighed or didn't believe what he was saying or even commented on what he was saying.
Alena looked dreadfully confused before she spoke ever so softly. "Of course I'm into the fight. When you fight, it is for life and death. You cannot take time to think or feel in the heat of the battle."
What she was saying was true, but that did little to change his opinion of her and what he thought of her. Yes, he had been mistaken. Or had he been? How could he really know truth from lies with her?
Why was he thinking these things? The princess would never lie to him. It wasn't in her nature to lie to someone she had known for so long.
He was becoming so skeptical of everyone regardless of his past relations with them. This was beyond paranoia from the field of battle. This was an unbridled demon attempting to overrun his brain with prayers and belief in Estark rather than the Goddess and the Zenithian Dragon God. What kind of man was he becoming? What breed of a man would forget his own training and beliefs because of one or two foolish feelings? This wasn't like him. He knew it wasn't.
But how to change that? How to fix something that he had already created?
"Maybe the problem isn't me. Maybe it's the class itself. Maybe I'm not cut out to be a priest like I once thought."
No, that wasn't it. His heart and soul were pure, and he knew that. For whatever reason that only the Goddess Herself knew, he was being conflicted with his emotional state. Being paranoid was normal. Just because he was a little scared that someone was lying to him didn't make him crazy or unfit for his job.
It made him human.
Human. That's one thing Solo would never have. That was one thing that no Zenithian or deity could hold against him. He was born from the love of human parents and fought for that love with his life, no matter what.
Feeling immensely more confident, Kiryl nodded and bowed ever so slightly to the dear princess he held so close to the core of his being. His parents had fought against evil for him, and his ancestors their own lives and the lives of those dear to him. He would fight for himself and Alena.
"That does make sense." The sentence came all too late; Alena nearly jumped at the sound of him finally speaking again. "I'm sorry for misunderstanding. I just assumed—"
"To be honest, I don't think you're into this battle as much as you think you are." Alena's words were harsh and raked at his soul like the claws of Estark's minions. "The rest of us seem so into the battle, and you and Meena sit back and act like this is normal. Like we're not all fighting for our lives. Even Torneko seems like he wants this more than the two of you." A softer expression took perch upon her cheekbones now. "No offense. I just don't want you coming on this quest because you two are obligated to."
Perhaps she hadn't meant those words, but the expressions that she was portraying were massively different from one another. The princess was moving from black to white in an instant, and Kiryl was having difficulty keeping up. Was he supposed to be offended or not? Was that a joke? Was she really that worried about him?
Why was his brain picking up every little thing and analyzing it like it was some question on a test of theology and faith? Alena would never be cruel to him. She always told the truth, as hurtful and embarrassing as it was to the recipient. She would never just yell at him and accuse him of not being in it to win and protect something.
All the same, Kiryl felt obligated to fight back, subtle as the attempt was.
"I cannot speak for Meena, but I know that I desire to fight against Psaro and the rest of his minions that would dare stand in our path. I'm fighting not only for Zamoksva and your father, but yo-" he barely caught himself there, "-your people as well. All the people in the world. This battle isn't just to protect a sacrifice. This battle is about life versus death and the Goddess versus the Master of Monsterkind. Zenithia and Nadiria are fighting, not just us." Rather than a battle return, that had sounded more like a speech that he would give in church, but that was the only place where he felt all eyes on him and that people would listen to him.
"As though I'm some wandering sheep who doesn't know that people do care about me." The words and realization sounded empty and monotonous in the vast expanse of his mind. "I know that people care. But for me, someone who obviously doesn't seem like I'm battle-hungry, I find it hard to believe that people would take my words entirely to heart."
Alena went silent during the duration of his speech, and even for a short time afterward. However, as she always did, she spoke back to him.
"…I trust you." That had not been what he had been expecting, but at least she had said that and not something of the oppositional nature. "I know you're not as riled up for battle as Solo or Ragnar, but I trust that you do care about this and that you do want to do this for the good of both Zenithia and the rest of the world, and not just yourself. Or because you're obligated to for whatever reason."
"I am obligated to. But not because of what she thinks. She thinks it's because I feel bad. I'm doing this for you, Alena. Not for just me, and not for just the world. If only you could see that."
"Is something wrong?" He jumped in surprise at her words. He hadn't spaced out that time any longer than he had some other time. "You're looking at me strange."
"I should tell her. I should."
Courageous as he was in battle, he couldn't bear to. The idea of rejection was too powerful for him to take a chance and confess to her his love. His body may be strong and getting stronger from this adventure, but his soul and mind definitely weren't.
"I've seen death and sickness and I've brought people back from the dead, but I can't get my head straight or tell her what I think of her."
"Yes. I'm fine. I just…spaced out there for a moment." Despair and regret overtook him as he realized that this was the reason why she had become interested in Solo and treated him like just another friend. He was so distant from her, and always swallowed his feelings. Of course she would take interest in someone who actually did something about their feelings and impressed her.
"Good. Because we have to be off." For once, Solo spoke, much to Kiryl and Alena's surprise. Not just because he had spoken, but because they had honestly forgotten his existence during their conversation. Why hadn't he spoken sooner? And how had the pair of them both forgotten that he existed?
"Of course we do. My apologies." Kiryl looked down and cursed himself for not saying something sooner once more. He had had the opportunity, and instead had wasted that chance by not doing anything but chatting about his own weaknesses and strengths as well as Alena's. The chance had happened, though he was rather glad he had not said anything. Confessing his love and opening himself up to rejection in front of the Hero of Zenithia? That rejection would be the most painful of any. "I didn't mean to keep you waiting, listening to our-"
"It's fine. Let's go." Again, Solo had interrupted the apologies and words of Kiryl. So much for him being important to the team or even to him. Of course. Solo didn't require someone else to heal him. He was the hero, and could heal or do damage far beyond his own. "We need to go defeat Psaro and bring peace to Zenithia and the world."
Alena was finally silent for that, offering Kiryl only an intense stare that could have meant anything from apology to a form of distaste for forgetting the hero. If it was the latter, Kiryl could only feel a deep hatred, for she had also forgotten about his existence. It was embarrassing that they had both forgotten someone, but at least they had heard his voice for the first time in, well, ever.
Kiryl also remained silent as Solo took command of the hot air balloon and piloted them toward the middle island of the world; a place that nobody had ever gotten to because of the sharp reefs that surrounded the perimeter fully.
"Where are we headed, Solo?" She finally spoke again, but this time it was toward Solo and not him. Silently, Kiryl sighed at the disappointment. "We've never been here before. Do you know where you're going?"
The hero regained his silence, shrugging in response to her words. "If we knew where we were going, then it wouldn't be an adventure, would it?"