ฬєɭς๏๓є Շ๏ Շђє คק๏ςคɭץקรє PΛЯƬ 2
ᴄʟʏᴛɪᴇ'ꜱ ᴘᴏᴠ "They'll be coming soon," I whisper to Romaeo, watching as the darkness sinks in. He grunts in reply and positions himself at the edge of our camp, rifle at the ready. I find myself fingering the pendant hanging round my neck. I head over to the campfire and add some more wood to it.
Just then I spot a figure in the distance. At first I think it's a Darkman and reach for my dagger but then I squint my eyes and realize the figure is too... curvy to be a Darkman. It's too... womanlike. "Romaeo!" I hiss. He rushes over to me. "What?" I point numbly at the figure stumbling in the distance.
"A Darkman." Romaeo grits his teeth and raises his rifle. "No, no," I insist. "Look." He does and frowns. "I never knew Darkmen could look so... sexy?" I punch him in the arm. "She's not a Darkman. She's a human being! We're not alone!" I start laughing with relief.
"Shut up, Clytie," Romaeo tells me sternly. "We don't know for sure if it's a woman. And plus, you might attract more Darkmen with that horrendous laugh of yours." I glare at him. "I'll go check it out," he continues and gets up. I grab his arm. "Wait. You're not leaving me here!"
He shrugs. "Someone's gotta guard the camp." "But what if the Darkmen come," I whimper. Romaeo rolls his eyes. "That's why I'm leaving you here. So you can ward them off." He smirks. "You're not scared, are you?" "Well, duh!" I scoff and fold my arms. Romaeo nods curtly and walks off, leaving me alone in the dark.
ʀᴏᴍᴀᴇᴏ'ꜱ ᴘᴏᴠ I have to admit, I'm feeling just as terrified as Clytie but I push on. I sweep my torch out in front of me, the thin beam slicing through the endless darkness.
Suddenly, I'm aware that I'm not alone. I hear a slight shuffling and heavy breathing. "Who's there?" I call out, flashing the torch around me. "Do Darkmen talk now?" A woman's voice. Clytie was right. No matter how annoying she is, she's still pretty smart. Did I just say that?
"Are Darkmen more feminine now?" I reply sarcastically. The woman snickers and appears from behind a bush. She's younger than expected; no more than seventeen. She has dirt-streaked skin and short black hair, framing her sharp chin. From the weak light of my torch I can see she has fierce, dark eyes, the colour of bitter coffee.
"Stop shining that thing in my face before I shoot your ass off," she tells me. I lower my torch. "What if I shoot your ass off first?" She smiles sweetly and flutters her lashes. "You wouldn't do that to a beautiful woman like me." I roll my eyes. "You're covered in dirt and look like you haven't slept in days. Don't call yourself beautiful. " The girl glares at me.
"Hello would've been a better start to this conversation," I add and hold out my hand. "I'm Romaeo." "Valeska," the girl answers and we shake hands. "Now let's get back to my camp," I say. "Clytie will be over the moon to me you." Speaking of Clytie...
An ear-splitting, blood-curdling scream rises in the air and a sudden realization hits me. "Clytie!" I race in the direction of the camp. I dont look back to see if Valeska is following me. Instead, I listen to the pounding of her footsteps, in time to the beat of my heart.
We return to the camp to see about five Darkmen advancing on Clytie. She is frozen in terror, but otherwise unharmed. I raise my rifle and aim for the Darkman closes to me. I fire and hope and pray for all I'm worth that I don't hit Clytie. The Darkman crumples to the ground in a pile of flesh and ashes.
But my relief is short lived as now the other Darkmen are closing in on me. I fire wildly but all my shots miss. Suddenly I hear a screech and Valeska launches herself into the air and slashes out with her knife. A Darkman falls. She dances on the balls of her feet, dodging the Darkmen's blows. She fights like a proper warrior.
I finish off the last Darkman and take a step back, gasping for air. "You alright?" Valeska helps Clytie to her feet. She nods shakily, and I can tell she isn't alright. "What was that?" I demand angrily. "You were supposed to be guarding the camp, Clytie!" "I just… froze up," Clytie stutters. "Froze up?" I snort. "I thought you were better than this."
"Oh, leave her be, Romaeo," Valeska says. "We were all terrified out of our wits back then. It's only right for her to freeze up." I frown and cross my arms. "I'm Valeska, by the way," Valeska turns to Clytie. "I take it you're Clytie." Clytie nods, wide eyed. "Are you… real?" Valeska laughs and nods. "As real as you and Romaeo."
Clytie gawps and I feel a pang of sympathy towards her. Over four years in the Outskirts, alone with a grumpy, sarcastic guy like me. No wonder she's ecstatic to see another human being.
ᴋᴀᴢ'ꜱ ᴘᴏᴠ I have no idea how long I've been in Cys' camp but I've estimated it to be about two days. So far there hasn't been anymore Darkmen attacks. "How are you?" Cys asks gently and hands me a mug of steaming hot tea. It scalds my tongue as I take a sip of it. "Better," I shrug. My wounds weren't too bad but we were worried they'd get infected.
Cys gazes at me for a few moments before walking off. She is a strange girl. She looks about sixteen but her soft blue eyes are ancient and tired. Her golden blonde hair hangs down to her waist in an impossibly glossy waterfall. Everything about her is perfect; her porcelain skin, her slender fingers, the way she walks, like she's floating along.
Yet, it is so unnatural. How could someone in the Outskirts remain so beautiful and unharmed. I am still yet to see a cut or scratch on her. I suppose it is because she is not entirely human. There's a part of me that is terrified she might turn on me and use her electrifying power to kill me. Another part is mesmerized.
I climb out of my hammock and walk towards the campfire, limping on my bad leg and cradling my injured arm. "Kaz, you must rest," Cys tells me without looking up. I ignore her and hover beside her, staring out at the sunrise. "The Darkmen know we're here, Cys," I say. "They'll come back for us if we don't move soon."
"But you're injured," Cys protests, gesturing to my wounds. "I can walk and shoot," I say. "That's all that matters." I hate it when Cys treats me like a helpless bird. I am a man. I am meant to be strong and brave. I feel ashamed for Cys to see me this way.
Cys is silent for a while. Then she says, "Fine. We'll leave as soon as we're all packed up. Hopefully we'll reach a new place to camp before nightfall." "Wonderful," I grin, my mood changing suddenly, and clap Cys on the back.
Sweat drips down my back as Cys and I trek through the desert land. I grunt and heave my pack further up. Cys had offered to help me but I refused. Holding the strap of my pack in my good hand, I wipe my forehead with my injured one. Unsurprisingly, Cys isn't even tired out.
My bad leg is throbbing with pain but I don't tell Cys. I have a feeling it'll never heal properly and I'll forever be a cripple. Suddenly Cys stops and I almost walk into her. "Look," she points. "Do you see that?" I squint my eyes against the sunlight and make out the faint rise of smoke in the distance. "A fire," I realize breathlessly. "A campfire."
Cys nods eagerly and turns to me. "If there are humans there, you have to promise me not to tell anyone what I am and what I can do." I nod, feeling slightly confused. Why would Cys want to hide her power when it could be the key to destroying the Darkmen? But of course, she saved my life, so the least I can do is keep her secret. "Your secret is safe with me," I tell her.
Then I grin widely and, despite my bad leg, I race towards the camp, with Cys laughing and running right behind me.