Ismus stares at the ground for a minute.
“I can’t express how sorry I am, Roselyn.” He doesn’t even look me in the eye as he speaks. “I’ve regretted leaving since the day I did. I’ve lived with the guilt and pain of leaving you."
He finally looks up.
"It still haunts me when I sleep. The day the mom and dad died was the worst day in my life. And I almost lost you too. I almost lost you to that thing."
"If I was stronger I could have saved us both. But I wasn't"
He grabs fistfuls of his green robe. “Those men said they’d make me stronger. That’s why I left, Roselyn. I wanted to be stronger, strong enough to protect you. I won't let anything hurt you."
My rage slowly fades. There’s no way I can be made at him after that speech. I had no idea he felt that way; I had no idea he gave up everything to try and protect me.
I sit down again and rub his back, trying to soothe him.
“Ismus,” I repeat. “I-it’s ok. Really. I didn’t know you did this all for me.”
“I may not have been the best big brother to you."
His voice is regretful and solemn. "But I wanted to make it up to you. I can’t let the last person I love die.”
I hug him, hiding my tears in the fabric of his robe.
“Ismus,” I snivel. “I’ve missed you so much. You have no idea how glad I am to see you.”
“Did you mean it when you said you hated me?”
“No,” I whisper, squeezing tighter. “I just didn’t want you to leave me. I’ve lost so many people I’ve loved. I didn’t want to lose you, too.”
Ismus wraps his arms around me. “I’m here now.”
I pull away, looking him in the eyes. Those gorgeous emerald eyes. I’ve missed looking at them. My gaze is determined. “You’re on some kind of military mission, right?”
“You could call it that. We’re just passing through until we reach our base.”
“Take me with you.”
“Ismus.” I grab his hands, squeezing them tight.
“Take me with you. I don’t want us to be apart again.”
“Roselyn…” His voice is sorrowful.
“I wish I could, but I can’t. Everyone in our group is specially trained for this mission. We could never bring in outsiders. We couldn’t risk it.”
“I can keep up,” I plead.
“I’m not some weak little girl anymore. I’m almost an adult now. I can take care of myself. I fend off creeps in town all the time.”
He shakes his head.
“I’ve seen the battlefield with my own two eyes. It’s not safe. I’d never put you in a place with that much danger.”
Ismus places his hands on my shoulders. His gaze is hard; he’s made up his mind. “Promise me you’ll stay here where it’s safe. Promise me you won’t follow us.”
“Please, Roselyn. I can’t let you die," he begs.
I frown. “When will you be back?”
He returns my sad look.
“I’m not sure, Rose. But I promise I’ll come back for you. I swear I’ll protect you no matter what.”
“What’s going to happen?” I ask.
If things are really as bad as Ismus says they are, then who’s to say I won’t have to move to a new town when danger strikes.
If it’s anything like that beast that attacked me before,
I don’t know what I’m going to do. I beat up old pervy guys in town, not monsters. Or whatever the hell is coming.
“I don’t know…” His eyes don’t meet mine anymore.
“All I know is that something bad’s about to happen. That’s what our leader told us. Danger is around the corner. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. But, that’s why you have to stay safe."
“I’ll fight until the end. I won’t give up on us, on our family. I’ve come too far to give up now. I’ve been through too much.”
Ismus smiles. “That’s my Roselyn.” He ruffles my hair.
I give him a fake smile back. I wish I could go with him, I wish I could show him how much stronger I’ve gotten over the years.
But Ismus can gauge most situations well.
If he says it’s dangerous, I’ll stay away. I’ll keep myself safe. I’ll treasure what little time I have left with him. I might not see him again.
I don’t want to leave off on a sour note;
I can’t have what happened last time.
I want him to know how much he means to me;
I want the memories we have to be happy ones. We’ve both been through too much pain to end on poor terms.
I love him, so much.
I’ll do anything to make sure I see him again. I promise I’ll stay safe. As long as we have each other, we will survive. We were born to fight, and that’s exactly what we’ll do.