Fingers nervously held onto the brim of her helmet as she stood just a few short yards away from the man she had been trying to track down ever since they returned to camp. She had only spotted a glimpse of him moving away in one direction and it took her almost ten minutes to search for him… the sudden downfall of darkness all around them made it more difficult to figure out where he had gone. It was just… they hadn't expected to take on a late battle like that one.
Their combined inability to catch onto the ambush attack left a few of their soldiers gravely injured and the rest of them still struggling to realize what had happened. Begnion forces weren't supposed to be out this far, they weren't supposed to have jumped out like that… By the love of the Goddess, that much blood should not have been shed.
Now wasn't the time for those thoughts though…
Minding her steps across the uneven ground, she hesitated once more before she carefully moved to take a seat just a foot or so from his side. If she were to take in the solitude that the darkness provided and the soft splashing of the river just a few short feet from them… she could see why he chose this place. It wasn't that far from the campsite, but it was just out of distance to keep from hearing the usual chatter that the others took up at this hour. This was as close to solitude one could get. For a moment, she wondered if she should have let him keep that.
But part of her knew better than to just let him walk away from a battle like that.
"Are ya… are ya alright?" Nephenee questioned, knowing the words sounded ridiculous on her lips, but also knowing that it was something worth asking anyways. At least it was set out to get an answer… if he chose to answer her that is.
The darkness threw shadows across the angular cuts of his jawline and cheekbones, it collected shadows along his rounded shoulders and down against his fitted biceps. It was odd to see the loud, arrogant and rather abrasive Warrior so solemn and to himself now; she didn't think she could recall a time where he was so quiet like this… not in the years of running battles she had known him. One hand moved to cup his face for a moment as though he was trying to find an answer for her, as though he was honestly searching for something to say at the very least.
"I don't know…" he managed to spit out. "I didn't get hit out there, but Goddess… I have so much blood over me."
When her eyes finally adjusted to the darkness, she could tell he was physically shaking. Even down to his fingertips…
Words stumbled in her throat and for a moment, she couldn't force any of them out onto her tongue; lips were left in this half-open purgatory of some sort as she struggled to find something to say. Fingers moved to brush aside her loose, green locks, trying to tuck them behind her shoulders and keep them there. "I'm sorry."
He didn't have to say anything in response.
She almost hoped that he didn't.
But she heard the slightly broken, sharp inhale that was taken in against his lips; she heard the shuddering breath that tried to escape from his chest, exposing his breaking exterior to her whether he wanted to or not. She had seen only a few men break down before in her life, most of whom were soldiers who had witnessed their homelands destroyed and families killed. Such a sight was common in times of war like this, but she had been praying that they could avoid something like that. Everyone hoped to come out on top with the least amount of causalities, everyone hoped to come out of this war with their loved ones all present… but such was not always possible. She had spent countless nights awake in fear for her own mother and siblings, wondering if their farmland was still intact or if some kind of rogue force had set it ablaze. It was a terrifying image that sometimes brought her to tears.
She couldn't imagine what he was going through.
"Yeah well… you weren't the one with the sword, were you?" Boyd muttered briefly, dropping his hand to rest against his propped leg instead; hoping that he could still his trembling fingertips somehow. It felt like he was slowly suffocating, like his lungs were swollen and enlarged or maybe just getting crushed beneath the weight of his chest. He was struggling to keep himself together, but he knew it was inevitable that his strength would run out… that was why he separated himself from the others. They wouldn't understand anyways… But she had followed him out here, didn't she? Even if he didn't want to talk to anyone, he knew she was only trying. "… Everyone keeps saying to brace myself for the worse. I even heard someone say that he wasn't going to make it."
"That's not true-" she started.
"It's a possibility and that's close enough." he interrupted sharply, almost snapping the words towards her.
She told herself not to get upset over the remark… he didn't know how to react, he didn't know what to do, no one did. "Do you think Oscar would want you saying things like that?"
He seemed to tense at the mention of his older brother, his hand moving to cover the lower half of his face once more as though he had become physically ill all of a sudden. For a moment, she regretted speaking in the first place after seeing how badly the words seemed to hurt him.
"You saw his injury, everyone did…" he started.
It was true, then again it had been difficult to ignore the wounded once the battle had dispersed. She tried to help where she could, offering her assistance to the purple-haired swordswoman who had sustained a rather severe leg injury; the woman laughed and assured her she didn't need the help, but after it failed to support her weight, the offer was taken up regardless. Even their blonde-haired Marshall had been injured to the point where he had to remove a majority of his armor in order to even breathe properly.
But it had been the Paladin brother that everyone was drawn to.
At first, from a distance, it seemed to be a minor disarming injury; it just looked like someone had knocked him off his horse and the resulting collision forced him to stay on the ground for a while longer. But after hearing the scattered gasps and watching several soldiers quickly walk away from the scene, things went down a darker path. She could see the worry in Titania's face as she remained knelt at his side, one hand tightly gripping her fallen counterpart's. It was the spill of blood across the ground below, the crimson stain that was quickly spreading across his uniform… it all just started to build up.
"You're right…" she whispered, moving her eyes to the dark river in front of them; the faint moonlight above them was barely caught in the soft ripples of the surface water… casting its image as a river of dark liquid instead. Like blood almost. "It was bad, but ya can't just give up on him."
"Do you think I want to?" he questioned softly. "I lost most of my family years ago, him and Rolf are the only ones I have left… You have to understand, I don't want to give up on him, that's the last thing I want to do. But… I don't want to get my hopes up either. I don't want to set myself up for false hope."
It was almost difficult to speak sometimes… he was trying to keep himself together and keep himself from losing all hope, but he didn't want to give himself something he couldn't hold on to.
"I'm scared he's not going to make it and then I'm going to have to look after Rolf and… I'm scared I'm not going to be able to do it and somehow he's going to get hurt too."
"You have the rest of the Mercenaries watching after him, nothing's going to happen."
Her words seemed to do little to comfort him as he moved to drop his hand back onto his leg once more.
"We were all out on that field tonight and he still got injured." he replied.
She couldn't fight that statement…
A heavy sigh escaped him as his head dipped forward slightly; it felt like every ounce of weight in his body was pressing down against his shoulders and upper body, breaking his back with its continuous pressure. By the Goddess, this didn't even feel like his skin anymore… he couldn't even put a single thought together, he couldn't even focus. He knew she was only trying to comfort him, to keep him connected to the real world somehow and he kept breaking every attempt she tried to make. He wasn't helping, he knew that.
"I used to think he was invincible…"
The words left him in stated whispers and she just barely caught what he was saying at first. Looking to him once more, she watched as he seemed to be trying to calm himself down; trying to bring himself back to their collective reality.
"Because, you know, he was my older brother and despite all the shit he went through, he never complained about a thing. He always just took it and did what he could." he continued, pushing his fingers through his limp bangs before he moved to position his hands behind him; leaning back slightly on his palms. "Even after our father died, he didn't hesitate to do what he had to… and you know, the whole ordeal with Rolf, he didn't even blink an eye at it. Throughout this war and the last one as well, he was always on the front line, doing everything that had to be done to make sure we didn't fall as causalities. It's just… it's hard to see someone as strong as that fall in battle."
She hesitated slightly before she slowly reached over and settled a hand against his shoulder. "Whatever happens… I just want ya to know we'll be here for ya."
He seemed to wait a few minutes himself before he moved to rest his hand on top of her own, eventually looking over to her with the motion. "Thanks."