Passage Chapter 17
Not too long afterward, Lymsleia reappeared in the audience chamber, feeling every bit as defeated as she did depressed.
Your Majesty! Galleon called as the girl entered.
Hey, Your Majesty, Kyle said, approaching her. What happened? I just saw Richard in the hall, mumbling something about being unworthy and needing to be alone.
Hes a mess, Lymsleia admitted. Hes really taking this hard. I...I dont know what to do.
Well, why dont I try talking to him? Kyle offered. Maybe Ill have better luck. And if not, uh... He shrugged. ...at least I tried, right?
Lymsleia nodded. Id appreciate that. Thank you, Kyle.
It was happening again, that cold, troubling feeling. Lymsleia felt it gnawing at the pit of her stomach, unrelenting.
All the torches and lanterns were out that evening for no particular reason, leaving the stars to enshroud the city in its dim light. Lymsleia strolled down the walkway from the palace, all alone, unsure of what she was doing there. She looked around as if to seek some kind of answer in the near-darkness, and then, she found it.
There, a good distance before her, was Richard, who was walking straight ahead. He seemed to be in some kind of trance, but Lymsleia couldnt be certain. All she knew was that she had to follow him, and stop him from...
From what? she asked herself.
Whatever it was, she knew what she had to do. However, the more she followed, the more the distance between them grew. Lymsleia picked up the pace, not wanting to lose sight of him.
She saw him going up a flight of stairs, and eventually, she reached this point. Strangely, when she climbed to the top of the stairs, all that appeared before her was a vast river. The Feitas, she presumed.
Lymsleia observed the area, wondering where Richard could have gone. Just then, she saw him. In the middle of the rushing waters, out of her reach, was a tall rock that Richard stood upon. She could not fathom how he even got over there, but all that mattered was getting him back.
She tried to call out to him, but all she could produce was a weak, whispered plea. Strangely enough, with the distance between them, she could hear his reply just as clearly as if he were standing right beside her.
Wherever Mueller goes, I follow...
Thats when he jumped off of the rock and out of her sight.
No...! Lymsleia screamed, thrashing around in her bed. Dont die. You cant die!
You fool...you stupid fool! She began to sob. Why...?
Wake up, Your Majesty...!
Lymsleia obeyed, opening her eyes to a lantern-illuminated room as a pair of hands released her shoulders. Gradually, Richards face came into view. Richard...? She slowly sat up, more tears spilling out of her eyes. Richard? she repeated, still crying. You idiot! I thought you killed yourself!
Kill myself? Richard asked as he stood back, confused. Why would I do that?
Well, with all the talk about your life being over and Mueller being everything you have and following him everywhere, I just...I dont know! And then this nightmare happened, and...
For some reason, the teenager found this amusing. Haha, oh, dont worry, Your Majesty. I was just upset. Uh...it was...it was such a shock. Mueller was a big part of my life since I was...well, since I was about your age. He was the only thing Ive had to a real father. But the problem is...I got a little too secure about that, or rather, I made it so that I only felt secure as long as he was around. You know what I mean?
Uh... Lymsleia finally started to calm down. Actually, yes. I think I do. Miakis teased me a lot when I used to follow my brother around, but she made some good points. Being a child, Id gotten too attached to him. It was a real shock when my parents died and he wasnt around. There was no one left to shield me. But then...I learned to cope the best I could.
Richard nodded. And thats what Im trying to do--cope. I know its only been about half a day, but Im starting to make sense of a lot of things.
What do you mean?
Well, one of the things Mueller told me on his deathbed went something like, Dont act like a lost lamb when Im gone. That made me realize I had gotten too attached to him, too. I, uh...dont want to feel like I cant do anything without his approval.
Well, you shouldnt, Lymsleia told him, but then looked at him with suspicion. ...or should you?
Uh... Richard felt his face grow warm. Thats a long story, but...after talking to Kyle, I think Im...finally ready to tell it. He seemed uncomfortable, yet brave, as though he were a person giving his first speech in front of a crowd. You see, Your Majesty, when I told you I started training earlier than you...I meant, really early. My father, my...real...father...he taught me how to handle a sword before I was even old enough to know what one was. I remember sparring with dummy soldiers by the time I was three. Swordplay...that was the only life I had, the only life I knew. Id look around and see the other children playing, but my father would force me to train at all hours of the day, not caring how tired or how bruised I was.
Lymsleia let out a gasp. Richard, she said, horrified. Thats inhuman...
Yeah. Richard nodded. He was...he was pretty bad. I mean, he was a good soldier, but he was...he was...the worst kind of father. Abusive. A real...horrible bastard.
Then that explains those scars on your back.
Uh... The Queen recounted the episode in the infirmary where Richard was having a nightmare.
Oh... The teenager seemed genuinely embarrassed. Im sorry you had to see that. I probably was dreaming about my childhood. And youre right; thats where I got most of my scars.
What I dont understand, Lymsleia started, is how you managed to put up with that everyday.
Richard shrugged. I dont know either...I mean, I dealt with it. And then, one day, Mueller happened to be around when I was being reprimanded by my father, and...he killed him right there. I was so grateful, so happy, I made a vow to fight alongside Mueller for as long as I was able to.
Lymsleia was silent, shocked by this information. So thats why...no wonder neither you nor Mueller would talk about it. Thats a horrible thing, what you went through.
Richard only showed her a smile. Its over now, though. And I was glad to be able to fight with Mueller for a while, so I cant complain. Im really grateful to him. Its just going to take some time...letting go.
You never really let go, Lymsleia said. Well, the grief, you do. But the memories and their faces always stay with you...even if sometimes it gets harder to remember with time.
Are you...thinking about them?
Huh? The girl looked at him. Oh, she said, realizing what he meant. Uh...maybe a little. But I cant help but be reminded of Mother and Father. If its not the memories in the palace, its the townspeople talking about them. But it gets easier with each day. I still miss them so much, but there are so many things Im grateful for, too. We regained control of Falena, and many of the people I do care about survived...
Yeah. I guess Im...grateful, too.
The two sat in silence for a while, and then Lymsleia asked, Richard...what do you plan to do when this is over?
I guess Ill be returning to the mercenaries.
He gave her a half-hearted grin. Yeah...without Mueller. Why do you ask?
Well, the knights told me about that thing they discussed with you, she told him. And...Im in agreement. If you ever decide to stop being a mercenary, theres always a door open for you here. Commander of the Queens Knights? The position is yours if you want it.
Thats good, but as I was telling the other knights, what happens when you take a husband?
The girl exhaled. Well, she started nonchalantly, I hope, for his sake, that he reads the fine print. Besides, I dont plan on getting married for a while.
Richard chuckled. Your Majesty, he said, and then nodded. All right. If I ever quit the Lindwurm Mercenary Brigade, Ill return here and be Commander. Ive got a bit of experience, anyway.
No kidding. Oh, and... She lifted an eyebrow at him. ...did I not tell you its okay to call me by my name?
Well, yes, but I told you I could never do that.
But you already have.
The young swordsman grew perplexed. I did? When?
Back in the audience chamber, she said. When the expression on his face failed to disappear, she added, It was when you were fighting the Nether Gate. I screamed when one of them was about to kill me...but then, you shouted my name and saved me from the assassin. Actually, I think you might have said it twice.
Oh, I, uh... Richard let out a nervous laugh. I guess I did, then. Haha, imagine that! I guess I dont have an excuse anymore.
Lymsleia smiled. You never did, silly.
Maybe, he said, though his tone had changed. You know, before I took this position, all I concerned myself with was Mueller. Because Mueller was around, I never felt alone, and I felt like I didnt need to care about anything else. It was a shock to have that all taken away. His face now bore a serious expression. I always thought there was some passage from childhood to adulthood, but apparently, its brief and abrupt. I was...probably clinging to some lost childhood when Mueller was around.
Well...maybe for you and me, the passage was abrupt, the girl said. I think for most others, its a bit smoother. But its true. Its shocking when it happens.
Yeah, and then you become the one at the top, with no one to look up to. At first, I thought it was going to be scary, but now that its happened... Richard shook his head. ...not so much. I think its because...all of you were there. I thought I was all alone, but then Id come to realize Id made some good friends here. Youve all made the transition a bit smoother. He was smiling with appreciation. Thank you...Lymsleia.
Lymsleia felt herself start to blush, but she smiled back, avoiding his gaze from time to time. Well, now that were friends and all, she began, would you mind telling me what the heck youre even doing in my room at this time of night?
Miakis needed a break, so she asked me to stay with you for a while. Then I heard you calling out in your sleep, and... He trailed off.
Well...Im glad you were here, she told him, her contented look unyielding. Im...glad we were able to have this talk.
Richard simply gazed back at her, the expression mutual. Me too, Your Majesty, he said. Me too.
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