Chapter 25 – Impartiality
Eve was the first to wake up. Her eyes unfocused as she felt a pain extending from her neck all the way to her scalp.
It took a moment for her mind to clear and realize the situation. ‘I’m on the couch… Was that a nightmare?’ She entertained that thought for only a moment as she glanced at the broken down doors and a gnawing feeling sprung forth in her chest.
Immediately whipping her head around disregarding the now worsened headache Eve looked around to find her husband on the floor in front of her and Erith standing in a corner of the room.
Jumping off the couch she knelt down on the floor with haste to check Dillan’s condition. She only needed to feel his body to notice there were no injuries. ‘He’s fine… We’re fine…Erith.’
Looking towards Erith, her heartbeat eased. A look of gratefulness in her gaze as she started to help Dillan who was coming too.
“Is everyone okay?!” Dillan’s first words were of concern. He wasn’t foggy. He knew what had happened. He’d seen
The moment his gaze landed on Eve his heart eased a bit as he recalled the moment before Erith had knocked him unconscious. His fists and teeth clenched for a moment he could do nothing but let it go. ‘I’m so useless now! I saw him coming, I felt Erith move! Why won’t you work you stupid piece of junk!’
Mentally chastising himself for weakness, Dillan only blamed himself. A small hint of a mocking smile crossed his lips and left just as soon as it arrived but Eve had seen it. She could tell at a glance what he was thinking as she placed her hand over his to ease his pain.
“I felt your presence when you made your move. I could have survived that.”
“You could have survived that strike but is that truly an achievement to proud of?” his words cut straight to the truth of the matter. He wasn’t unintuitive and had seen the micro expressions on their faces but didn’t pull his punches either way.
‘Pathetic. Even if he did catch me by surprise he’s right. I wouldn’t have been able to survive more than a few strikes from that weak soldier and I wouldn’t have been able to evade Erith either way.’
Unconsciously the hand Eve wasn’t holding touching his heart. Rubbing it subconsciously much the same as a wounded soldier would coddle a wound. Eve’s gaze shifted to Erith unable to see the look of longing and pain in her husband’s gaze. The look in Erith’s eyes was cold.
Eve instantly recognized something was wrong. It was a look he usually reserved for the world, but never showed to his friends or family. This was a look of separation, he was detached from them and everything else at this moment and for the first time Eve looked around as the obvious question dawned on her.
“Erith… Where’s Lily?”
Dillan look of wistful regret and self-depreciation disappeared at the mention of his daughter.
Erith’s cold eyes stared back at Eve blankly.
It felt as if cold water had suddenly been poured directly on top of her heart as her stomach sank into a pit. She stared back at Erith unable to move, unable to allow herself to think the worst but equally unable to look away from Erith and face what she could already tell was the truth.
Dillan’s mind clicked into place as his body sprinted off the couch to check the bedrooms. “Lily!?”
He checked every room, bathroom, and hiding spot he could find. ‘She loves to play hide and seek with Eve! She must be hiding! That’s it! She’s really good at hiding!’ his face dripping with tears as he looked everywhere and then doubled back to check again several times.
Erith’s gaze never moving away from Eve but his eyes were looking through her.
“Why…?” Eve’s voice nearly cracked but she managed to say the word without breaking into tears. Even now she had refused to cry, refused to acknowledge the truth before her.
Dillan had already walked into the room and was gazing at Erith. A feeling of powerlessness like none he’d ever felt before overwhelmed him as he looked at his closest friend.
“Why? How can you even ask?”
“WHY!!!!” Eve stood up as she shouted at the top of her lungs! Eyes reddened and looking every bit like a furious mother that she was.
Taking one slow step at a time she slowly made her way to Erith. Her mind not forming any coherent thoughts as the only thing could feel was betrayal, hatred and an overwhelming urge to hurt the man before her.
Erith watched her walk close with his never changing cold and indifferent gaze until she was standing right before him. Her entire body, her hand especially moving so very slowly under his gaze. It was as if she was moving in slow-motion to Erith as her hand slowly neared his face as a *slap* resounded in the room as Eve’s hand had moved across his cheek.
He could have moved away but he stayed put, letting her vent her anger in the only way she could. His left hand moved to his waist and pulled one of the two swords, still sheathed in one quick and fluent motion as the bottom of the handle of the sword snaked its away forward like an arrow hitting Eve right between the eyebrows knocking her backwards and onto the floor.
Dillan’s reaction came almost immediately after she’d hit the floor. Everything had happened so suddenly to him that even with his perception he was unable to see Erith’s attack coming much less react to it!
“Eve!” He rushed towards Eve immediately but was surprised to find Erith blocking the way and his eyes staring at a small object that seemed to grow larger before he felt pain and his entire spiritual realm tremble.
He wasn’t sure if it had been a second, a minute or an hour. Shorter or longer but his entire head was throbbing. Dillan lifted himself up as he looked around. His vision was a little blurry but he recognized he was on the couch. ‘The couch’ a headache that made him want to throw up caused a distorted expression to cross his face but he held the pain at bay as he looked around and noticed Erith.
Their eyes met and once again he felt disoriented.
“I doubt it will change your pain. Even if I hadn’t removed the remnant effects of her aura from you, I truly do believe you see yourselves as her parents.”
Dillan’s mind felt foggy but he understood his meaning. ‘So he noticed too…’ thinking about it a little more closely… It confirmed one of his suspicions. ‘The timing of Erith moving into Eastesp city. The odds of us running into anyone at his level were next to none. He was drawn in by her. He already knew we were here before we knew he was.”
“I can’t do anything about the headache.”
Erith nodded looking away. ‘He should be getting close to done with his exercises by now…’
Dillan’s mind took a bit but it finally all came back into focus and his hearing also sobered up.
“She’s been sobbing in the bedroom since she woke up.”
Dillan looked in the direction of his gaze confirming the words. His heart clenched knowing how much pain his wife was in. “Haru?”
“What about him?”
Dillan nodded understanding his meaning, but he couldn’t help but bring himself to ask “Why?”
Erith looked back at him and that cold and indifferent gaze finally wavered as a look of pity and hurt took its place. “You forced me to choose between my friends and my family. You forced me to put my beliefs aside when you forced me to choose. Still, I treat you as a friend. I haven’t seen my sister in over a decade, and still I hold no grudge against you. Do you truly have the nerve to ask me ‘why’”?
They stared at each other for a few more moments before Dillan looked away first. “We thought you chose us.”
Erith looked at him cold and indifferent again. Choosing not to feel rather than face the truth.
“True friends would never have forced me to choose between them, and my family, my home… humanity.”
“Don’t exaggerate Erith.” Dillan’s gaze turned fierce.
“Exaggerate? The prophecy is coming true. You’re harboring her. That was a choice. You chose. That was a choice, and whether wrong or right it was a decision you made, but do not pretend that she’s innocent!”
“She is innocent! She’s a child that’s done nothing wrong! I don’t care what a bunch of old men who don’t know their faces from their own asses say! She’s done nothing wrong!” Dillan shouted at him, he could take everything until now. Despite the fury he’d felt earlier, he’d already understood to some degree but this was something he couldn’t stand for.
“She influences everything around her. That is a fact. Are you going to tell me that now that she is gone, that after I dispersed her aura you don’t feel any different?”
Dillan’s fists were clenched and his nostrils flared at the accusation. “She. Is. Innocent.”
“She has an ability that can and will destroy the last refuge humanity has to offer. She is not human. Whether you believe in prophecy’s and fate is of no consequence. It doesn’t change the threat she poses. She is a calamity, and we swore an oath. To protect humanity above all else. You broke that oath.”
“I took that oath because I believed that innocents should not die to meaningless slaughter! To protect those who cannot protect themselves! She needed our help and we had a debt. We took her in and while we didn’t plan on loving her, we did. We do. Understand that much.”
“Then acknowledge that she is a calamity waiting to happen!” Finally, Erith’s voice grew louder. The shout out of character for him.
Dillan recognized that Erith had reached his limits and calmed himself down first. Realizing that burning one of the last bridges they had left was the worst thing they could do. He began reminding himself to breathe, to just breathe. Something he’d told Haru every day and now had to tell himself.
“If we’ve become the type of men who are willing to kill, to take a life because of what someone could do. Not because they’ve expressed an intent to do so, but because they were born with the ability to do, then we’ve truly fallen. I have not fallen. I may be crippled, but I have not fallen Erith.”
Erith took a breath. He acknowledged it was as much as he was going to get from Dillan.
He looked at his childhood friend in front of him. Slim and defiant, he reminded him every bit of the noble little boy at the capital all those years ago he used to play with every day. The only boy who looked at him and treated him like a person and not royalty. The only other person who’d ever tried to befriend him for no other reason than friendship. It was this reminder, this constant reminder when he looked at his friend that allowed him to stay neutral.
He had known what he had done all those years ago when Dillan had betrayed his country, and in essence humanity by harboring the prophesized Fae child. He had known and he had said and done nothing, but unlike Dillan he never believed what Dillan had done was right. He thought that it would truly bring a calamity even if it didn’t bring an end to their race. He himself did not believe in fate, but a child with an ability to manipulate the feelings and thoughts of all humans around her while only in her infancy, doomed to be hated by humans and eventually grow to loathe them could only have one ending.
Engrossed in their own thoughts, both of them almost missed as Eve walk into the room with her head down. She looked every bit like a grieving mother but her expression was no longer forlorn but rather focused and decided. A small envelope in her hands that she grasped tightly to her chest.
Dillan saw her face and already knew. He himself knew, because he was also going to make the same decision.
“We’re going after her.”