The wind tasted like salt as I approached the beach. Up ahead, I saw Ido sitting on the shore, drawing in the sand with a stick.
"Lord Ido," I greeted him.
"Lady Eona," he acknowledged me with a bow of his head.
"You wanted to see me?" I asked.
He put down the stick and got to his feet. "Yes, I did. I wanted to show you something."
"Alright," I said.
He stood with his feet shoulder length apart, hands sticking out, palms face out. "Do what I am doing, Eona. Stand so that our hands touch."
I nodded, trying to hide my discomfort. I didn't want to touch Ido, especially not his hands. But I did as he said, pressing my hands against his.
"Good," Ido said, "Right now, our pathways to Hua are connected. Can you feel it?"
"Yes," I lied. All I could feel was the warmth of his hands on mine. It stirred something in my stomach; something warm and light. The strange new feeling had me befuddled.
"This is a very important stance," Ido said firmly, "This stance shows that two people trust each other wholly, and no doubt is at hand."
I tried to pull back, but the heat of our Hua held me in place. "I do not trust you," I said indignantly.
Ido smiled condescendingly. "Oh, yes, you do. Otherwise, our pathways would not be linked. But they are; I can feel it."
I narrowed my eyes. "I do not care what you feel. I do not trust you."
"Whatever you say," Ido said, still smiling.
I scowled. Who did he think he was! I tried to pull back again, but he was right; we were linked, his warm touch a part of me. I felt my blood boil in anger. "Jerk," I fumed.
"You look so pretty when you're mad," Ido purred, "Do you bite?"
"Yes," I snapped. His hand pressing against mine was the only thing I could focus on.
"How sexy," his voice had gone husky, his smile superior.
His fingertips pressed harder onto my own, making my face prickle with heat. How dare he make me blush? How dare he take away my will to touch whomever I want? My hands shook in fury. "You," I snarled, "Are the most uncivilized human being I ever had the misfortune to meet! I hope you die in agony."
Ido tried to look stern, but his eyes gave away his amusement. "Now, now, Lady Eona. Remember who you speak to."
"It's hard not to," I spat, "I'm speaking to a talking gorilla."
Ido laughed. "Why the sudden anger, Eona?" He lowered his voice, head bending to meet mine. "Is it because I give you…feelings?"
I drew my head back sharply. "No!"
"Good," Ido said mildly. His eyes locked on my own, and in that moment, we were searching each other's eyes. I looked at his amber orbs, golden flecked with red and yellow. I had never seen that color on anyone else, before. I could look at his eyes forever. He seemed transfixed by my eyes, as well, though I couldn't fathom why. They were plain brown. Nothing interesting or unordinary. His were beautiful, though.
"Your eyes," we both whispered.
Suddenly, the most exhilarating feeling rushed through me: it was his Hua, escaping his body and travelling into mine. From his gasp, I could deduce that the same was happening to him with my Hua. His Hua was warm, fluid, and tasted of sweet vanilla and orange. It made me feel powerful, strong, and a song of red and blue danced through my mind. I hadn't entered the energy world, but I could see the Mirror Dragon with the Rat Dragon, soaring through the sky, held together by streaming silvery Hua.
Ido and I were bonded, and the four-letter word emanating from my Dragon scared me cold.
I jerked back, abruptly breaking the connection. The energy world shattered before my eyes, the impact causing me to stagger back. Ido looked as shell-shocked as I was. With one last glance, I broke out into a run, putting as much distance as I could between me and Ido.
For the rest of the night, all I could see were his amber eyes.
I peeked out from behind a tree, watching Lord Ido from afar. Since yesterday…since the exchange of Hua…my stomach felt queasy just thinking of it. Every time I saw him, or even just thought about him, it would feel like a thousand butterflies were fluttering against my stomach. The closest thing I could pin it to was the feeling I used to get when Kygo kissed me. But this feeling…it was different. Stronger, more searing, and more…warm, I guessed. Just thinking about it had me confused.
I watched Ido sit on the shoreline, waves lapping at his feet. He swished his hand through the water, and I was oddly transfixed by his long fingers. They were so graceful…I wonder how they would feel against my own—
I gave my head a shake. Where was my mind going? Before my thoughts could get any stranger, I stepped out from behind the tree, sitting at Ido's side.
"L-Lord Ido," I stammered, unable to meet his eyes, "I-I'm here for my, um, t-training." I mentally kicked myself. I sounded so stupid, stammering like that. It's just Ido, for gods' sake! I thought. Why couldn't I talk to him normally? My cheeks started prickling in both anger and embarrassment.
"Lady Eona," Ido responded. His voice, unsurprisingly, was calm and smooth, "Is it noon already?"
"Y-yes," I stammered, then cursed at my blubbering like an idiot. I realized I had cursed out loud. I bit my tongue while Ido smiled in amusement.
"I had no idea my good looks had this effect on you," he said.
I rolled my eyes, trying to ignore the fact that his words were close to the truth. "What am I learning today?" I changed the subject.
He fixed his eyes on mine, sending a chill running through my spine. I forced my eyes to stay on his face, not understanding this new feeling. "Actually," Ido said, "I wanted to try the stance we did yesterday."
Oh, no. Warning bells rang in my head. "Why?" I demanded, a little too loudly.
Ido blinked, seeming surprised at my outburst. "When our Hua had interchanged, I…" he trailed off, his gaze shifting to the waves at his feet. "I never felt anything like it before. I want to know what it is."
I had a pretty good idea, due to my Dragon streaming a four-letter word through me. One that started with the letter "L". But it couldn't be. I couldn't let it. It would make this mess even more complicating.
"Well," Ido said, getting to his feet, "Assume the position."
I stayed where I was, staring off into the horizon. "No," I simply said.
There was a silence. "What do you mean no?" Ido asked, his soft voice now dangerous.
"No," I repeated, turning to face him, "I will not do that stance again."
His eyes narrowed. "You," he said, "will do as I say."
"No," I repeated, forcing my glare to stay on his eyes.
He scowled. "Why are you being so uncooperative, Eona? What's gotten into you?"
I shrugged. "I just don't want to do it." Pushing my limit, I said, "Do you have a problem with that, Lord Ido?"
I didn't know why I was being this bitter. With all the confusion bubbling up inside me, I needed an outlet. Poor Ido was just in the way.
Ido crossed his arms. "Fine," he said, then smiled wolfishly. "But for that, you owe me."
I raised an eyebrow. "Owe you what?"
He grinned. "An explanation."
"An explanation," Ido said, "Whatever I want to know, you will have to answer."
I crossed my arms. "And what makes you think I'm going to do that?"
Ido smiled. "If you do not," he said, "I will tell Captain Yuso – and the Emperor, for that matter – that you are not abiding by our agreement. You will certainly have a tangle in your romance, then."
I scowled. "Kygo and I don't have a 'romance'."
Ido mock pouted. "Did the lovers get in a fight? That's alright. I am available."
"Besides," I said, pointedly ignoring him, "I can control your will. How will you be able to talk to the Emperor?"
He smiled. "I have my ways."
Before I could retort, Ido flopped down beside me, then leaned in. Shocked, I jerked back, but Ido pulled in, closing the distance. I finally fell on my back with Ido on top of me.
"What are you doing!" I gasped.
He smiled. "Quiet," he said. Closing his eyes, he pressed his fingers on the middle of my forehead, right above the bridge of my nose. I knew that this spot was the entryway to one's mind.
It took me a second too late to realize what Ido was doing.
I felt the rush of Hua again, but this time, it was being forced out of me. It felt a little like being controlled, but this feeling was more…queer. I heard Ido's voice in my mind.
Hello, Eona, I heard him, I can hear your thoughts.
No, you can't.
Oh, yes, I can.
Well, yes, but you aren't getting any information out of me.
Oh, aren't I?
Ido's fingers pressed a little harder into my temple as his head leaned in. His eyes were closed, but I could see his eyeballs moving frantically from left to right underneath his lids.
Who was your first best friend? Was his question.
I didn't want to tell him. It was private. I evaded my thoughts, thinking of beautiful spring mornings and gurgling creeks.
But something strange happened.
It was as if the answer, hidden deep in my spirit, was being drawn to the front of my mind. No matter how hard I tried to fight it, it appeared as clear as day.
Dolona, was my forced answer.
A smile appeared on Ido's face. I gritted my teeth, shaking with anger.
You, I hissed in my mind-voice, are the most pitiful scumbag to walk this planet, you arse-faced freak!
I could almost hear Ido's amusement. I've never heard a lady say 'arse', before.
I froze. Those were the exact words Ido had said to me so long ago. How carefree he had been then, how different things had been…now, it was as if we barely knew each other
Aw, Ido cooed, you two did have a fight.
No, it's just that— The answer was snatched from my spirit, Kygo is the most rotten Emperor I have ever seen, being a two-faced son of a bitch, having relationships with more women than I can count, and the worst part is that I'm being completely prejudiced and idiotic.
Ido was quiet for a moment. Impressive vocabulary, he commented.
Get off of me!
No, I could practically hear his smug smile. His voice then grew serious. Eona, do not waste your time thinking of that petty boy. He's much too insignificant to deserve your time.
Was Ido offering me consolation while pinning me down, stripping away my free will? The thought made me want to laugh.
Are you done, Ido? I snapped.
No, he responded, Who was the first man you kissed?
What kind of question is that? I demanded.
The answer was forced out of me. You, I said bitterly, It was you, though I did not do so willingly.
There was a long moment of silence. I waited for his jeer. Instead, I heard, I regret that, Eona. I truly do.
It just doesn't seem as sincere, I commented, when you are pinning me down like this, forcing answers out of me.
He smiled amusedly on top of me. Quite true, he said.
Just get off of me!
Not yet. Eona is a pretty name. Who gave it to you?
I don't know!
Alright, fair enough. Do you think of me as attractive?
The answer was literally ripped out of me, leaving my soul wailing. Yes.
His smile grew broader. Good to know.
All done, my Lord? I said bitterly.
Alright, I'll skip to the last question, he paused. Do you love someone?
Yes. The answer was a surprise to me, as well.
The other questions were playful, if a little grave. But this question was serious. It was deeply personal, and I could not, would not, answer him.
Anger boiled in my veins. Using all my strength, I concentrated on my Hua. More specifically, the part of it that was within him. Gritting my teeth in concentration, I started to pull the Hua back. It drained my strength, leaving me feeling hollow.
Ido's voice was alarmed. What are you doing?
I didn't answer. I pulled back, feeling the strain. I saw black spots dancing in my vision, my oxygen shortening.
Stop! You'll hurt yourself!
I ignored him, pulling my Hua. It was working. I could slowly feel his voice fading away.
It won't work! Stop, Eona! Alright, you do not have to answer me. Stop now!
I did not believe him. I kept pulling back.
Ido sighed. This girl, he said, then removed his hand from my forehead. He staggered back from the impact, my head hitting the ground. I groaned. Ido was right. I did hurt myself. My muscles ached, my Hua was weak, my insides protesting. I had gone overboard.
"Are you alright?" Ido asked, concerned. He touched my shoulder. "You do not look well. Let's go back, you need rest—"
I let out a cry of anger, punching my fists into him. I struck every part of Ido, his stomach, his chest, his shoulders, his arms. He gritted his teeth, enduring my blows. I punched and yelled until I had no steam left. I then slumped into his arms, too weak to do otherwise.
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
This was the first time I had heard him apologize. It did nothing to resolve my anger, though. He was a sick, rotten, horrible man.
"Eona, please do not be mad," he pleaded, "If you want, I…" he swallowed, "What I did to you, you can do to me."
I needed no further invitation. Letting out a roar, I pushed him to the ground. I then jabbed my fingers into his forehead, paying no attention to his wince. I closed my eyes, then shifted to the energy world. I had never done this before, but the steps came to me like a second instinct. I drew his Hua into my own, and soon, I was in his mind.
Hello, Eona, he said, sounding tired.
Who is your best friend? I snapped, asking the first question he had asked me.
I felt resistance; his answer did not appear right away. Jade, he responded.
Where is Jade now?
Dead. He was beaten to death by his master. I had to dispose of the body.
His bitter tone and harsh truth made me feel guilty; I had no right to invade such a personal matter. Then again, it had been exactly what he had done to me. All feelings of remorse vanished. I pressed on.
Your first kiss? Who was it?
You, he responded, sounding embarrassed.
I was genuinely surprised. Me? But you're –!
Be quiet, he snapped, I was not around women much.
I couldn't help but laugh. Imagine that.
Alright, you've had your fill. Now get off.
My face broke out into an unexpected smile. No, I said, I will stay as long as I like.
I could hear the anger in his voice. Fine.
Do you have family?
No. I was sold to my master when I was two.
Do you…do you feel any remorse for what you have done?
There was a moment of silence. Yes, was the quiet answer, yes, I do. Every day I spend thinking of how things would've been different if I hadn't done what I have. I feel so guilty, so, so guilty…I just wish…can you forgive me, Eona?
My lips pressed tightly together. It does not matter what I think. Moving on. I tried to think of something superficial. What is your favorite color?
What is your Dragon's name?
I could hear the smugness. That is one thing even you cannot reveal to me.
Fair enough. I paused, searching my mind for questions to invade Ido's privacy. Only one true question came to mind:
Do you love someone?
Hesitantly, he said, Yes.
Who is it?
I could feel him trying to draw back, to break the connection like I had. But I pressed on, drawing his Hua into me until we were playing a game of Tug of War. Finally, I pulled the Hua onto my side, winning the game.
You, he said softly. I love you.
ThatI did not want to hear. I broke the connection, back into my earthly body, with Ido underneath me. His eyes were looking everywhere but me. I tried to get off of him, but his hand latched onto my wrist.
"Wait, Eona," he said.
"I…" Alarm was making my heart race, "I have to go."
Ido held me firm, his amber eyes holding my gaze. "I have just revealed the most guarded secret in my soul to you. You most certainly do not 'have to go'."
I sighed, my cheeks heating up. "Okay."
What happened next shocked me to the bones. He leaned in, pressing his lips softly on mine. This wasn't the hungry, fierce, controlling kisses from before. No, this one held the intimacy of a lover…which, I guessed, he technically now was.
He smiled, pulling away. "Alright, now you may go."
I stayed where I was, my mouth open in shock. He waved a hand in front my face, but I barely noticed. Ido shrugged, then got to his feet.
"I shall see you soon," he said, leaving. He turned around, and as an afterthought, said, "My love." He then walked away, his laughter echoing through the beach.