I try to peer the thick veil of darkness covering my eyes to no avail as the block is not something my will can overcome. I experience a rising panic at the thought of being blind from now on, turning my relatively steady heartbeats into febrile ones.
A pang of pain arises in my left chest so I bring my hand around, finding mere parchment-thin skin on my bones. I used to have some flesh left there even after the Little one consumed most of it, there is none left.
I throw myself off the bed and up on my feet, stumbling from a certain weakness in my legs and stiff muscles. Yvonne catches me by the shoulder. I shove her aside by reflex, determining to inspect myself more than casually.
I run my right hand over my thighs, ass, and then right shoulder. I realize that I’ve lost weight, a lot of it. I was sick for more than a day if my body ate at itself like this. Lucky, the Little one fattened me up to have more to devour.
“Arrrrgh!” I roar in fury at myself, at my body, at how everything I do ends up damaging me in one way or the other.
“Jessica!” Celyz cries out in the distance.
“She’s fine!” Yvonne replies.
I quickly calm down as I hear my oak’s steps from afar but start worrying about my lack of clothes. I turn around and pat around to find the bed I just got off. It takes me a few moments but I manage to find and grab a blanket to throw over my shoulders. I manage to stick the second one around my waist after a dozen attempts.
Celyz bursts into the tent with a chilly wind. I pull on my flow reserve to combat the cold, finding half a portion there which is enough but far less than I hoped. I shape the fire construct anyway. My energy was likely consumed as it regenerated to heal me.
I send the construct out, gaining sight of the golden flow in the darkness but that gives me no more information about my surroundings. I activate the construct and feel the heat but no flames appear, the only change is that the energy in the segments is very slowly being consumed.
“Are you okay?” Celyz asks, her breath short.
“Relatively.” I grunt. “What’s with your refusal to re-implant the symbiont?”
“I will not do anything that puts your life at risk again, Jessica. The fact is that you are too frail at the moment.” Celyz replies carefully but categorically.
“Frail?!” I explode, swiping my hand which incidentally controls the fire construct. Flow appears on my right and moves to blanket the area around my fire construct.
“Jessica, you’re going to set fire to the tent if you keep it going.” Yvonne warns me.
“Rhaaa!” I groan in frustration.
I anchor the fire in the air at around knee level and let myself drop on the bed’s frame, sitting down. I bring my right hand over my face, breathing roughly from exhaustion and deep fright.
“You will get better, Jessica.” Celyz carefully tells me.
“Give me my weapon.” I demand.
“It, um.” Yvonne hesitates. “It might be a bit heavy for you right now.”
I let myself fall back onto the sheet mattress, leaving my legs dangling. It feels like I’m being smothered by a dark cloud. It would have been better to keep the limb, lived fully until it consumed me.
“Find me something, anything.” I mutter, feeling atrociously naked and vulnerable.
“I…” Yvonne hesitates.
“Celyz is no danger to me!” I gripe, almost shouting.
I almost bring my legs away from the edge to lie down in the bed, like a child. Enough mellowing, Leomi is within reach. I focus myself back on my goals, to give Celyz all I can, to get rid of my scars, to find F…, to rebuild my life with or without my Lady.
I force myself up, pushing through the pain in my ribs and setting aside the odd panging agony in my absent left arm. I hear Yvonne depart at double pace, likely aware that I was going to make her anyway. I have no doubt she’s planning to return as soon as possible.
Celyz waits until she’s gone before closing the distance to me. I hold my hand out for her to help me up. I startle when her tendril curves around my wrist, having had no indication to its approach at all.
She doesn’t say anything as she helps me up, making it difficult to assess her mood as I’ve otherwise relied on her body language. The fact that she remains at a distance and pulls her tendril back worries me.
“I was so scared for you.” Celyz mutters.
“Come to me.” I tell her.
“Are you certain?” She asks, sounding as frightened as I am.
I take a step towards her voice and almost lose my balance. She takes hold of my waist without wasting a single moment despite the fact that I wasn’t in any danger of falling. I smile, feeling her appendages through the blanket.
“I was so afraid of losing you.” She whines in my ear. “What went through your mind? You almost ripped yourself apart!” She continues, squeezing my waist with shaking tendrils. She’s clearly restraining her strength to avoid injuring me.
“I’m sorry.” I reply softly, cluing into the fact that she isn’t really asking as I’ve already answered her question when I told her the Little one almost woke up.
“That is not enough.” Celyz groans.
“I’m sorry.” I repeat.
“Far from it.” She adds softly.
I hear her blood flow accelerate as she lowers her height to bring her ovaloid head in front of mine. She blows warm air to my face, pushing a soft discreet odor of earthy musk. I suspect that it would have been enough to bring me to my knees if I still had the symbiont.
“I love you, Jessica.” She murmurs in a rumbling voice.
I tense up, feeling oddly pressured by the words and her closeness. The fact that I can’t see is making it difficult for me to react but that only excites me further. Yet, I must preserve myself.
“You have told me to express my intentions so I am going to.” She continues in the same tone. “I enjoy the fact that you make me articulate my feelings in your words, something I’ve never done in our language as the expression of these desires is reflexive and mostly uncontrollable.”
“Celyz.” I whisper.
I try to pull away but she merely has to strengthen a single of her tendrils to hinder my retreat. I bite my lower lip to stop it from trembling in fear. The darkness surrounding me and her forceful manners are as terrifying as they are arousing to me.
“You react so intensely to me, even now.” Celyz utters in disbelief, I can distinguish a certain euphoria in her tone. One of her tendrils brushes against the blanket covering my thighs. “And I do not mean mere sexual attraction, but the sadness you radiate as you prevent yourself from reaching for me.” She rips the two pieces of cloth covering me from my hands and waist.
“Celyz, p, please.” I stutter. I start shaking from head to toe, and it isn’t that cold anymore. “I’m, either going, to cry, or strike you. Likely both.”
“I am aware. It is difficult for me, but there is something I must verify and then something I must tell you.” Celyz replies, her tone hard but full of empathy.
“Go, on. You, know the lines, I’ve set.” I respond, gritting my teeth.
“I’m going to caress you, gently.” She warns me.
It doesn’t make me feel any safer or stops me from shaking, but at least I know what’s coming. One of her tendrils brushes against my scrawny lower belly. I recoil back from the flash of… of hurt that the touch provokes.
The bed frame hits the back of my knees and I fall backward. The back of my head lands on a soft cushion instead of hard wood, which I realize to be Celyz’ tendrils. She swiftly pulls them away.
I pant to catch my breath, feeling my sex drying up when it was getting moist mere moments ago. The touch wasn’t painful or anything in itself but it felt so foreign and intrusive that it physically hurt.
“No, no.” I utter frightfully.
I retreat in the bed so fast I barely register my movements. I pull my knees up to my chest, squeezing them tight with my arm to protect my exposed front. I try and utterly fail to control my violent shaking.
“D, did I do this, to you?” Celyz says, uncharacteristically stuttering.
“Shut up and hold me!” I blow up in irrational anger, seeking her comfort and to prove that I still want her.
Celyz immediately obeys, her tendrils wrapping tight around my back and shins within moments. She starts rocking me tenderly, giving me enough peace to search my memories for the last time I felt like this. I believe it was in Meria, when she pinned me to the table or around then.
“You didn’t do this to me.” I mutter.
“Will you tell me what did?” Celyz asks.
“I’d rather not.” I utter in a trembling voice.
“Tell me.” She commands.
I fold in face of the irrational and unjustified fear that she would stop holding me. I tell her about Teva, all of it including the regrets I have for what I did to her after Nobility ambushed her and Fenyz, including the fact my actions still excite me.
Her embrace combined with freeing myself by talking about this allows me to regain some clarity of thought. In the end, I assess that she will show rage for what Leomi did to me but she remains silent, which makes me worry even more.
“Don’t blame her, it’s my decision to open my heart so much to the two of you, even at the risk of it breaking.” I confess, the words causing my chest to burn up. “Please, don’t hate me for this. I got over it before, I can again.” I pause to swallow my saliva and terror at experiencing the sheer hurt of being touched again. “I, give me a moment, and we can try ag…”
“You fear our rejection so much?” Celyz interrupts me.
“Ironic, considering all I’ve done to deserve it.” I giggle madly, feeling tears run down my cheeks at how badly things have gone. “I, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m erratic, my reactions make no sense.”
“Be at ease, my love.” Celyz whispers, pushing her ovaloid head in the pit of my neck. “I do not blame you and I won’t touch you anywhere sensitive.”
“That’s the problem!” I cry out. “I want you to but I can’t! I gave my word, I’m afraid you’ll pull away, and a dozen other things. I’m terrified that you’re going to blame Leomi for this, or yourself, or me.”
“You need not be afraid that I will blame her for your state as I am aware that the calculated pressure I put you and your group under partially caused this to happen to you. I am not seeking retribution for past events, Jessica, your present is what matters.” Celyz sighs, her hot breath warm my neck and chest as it passes by. “You need to stop placing yourself so low in your own priorities. You are high in mine and Leomi Lance’s.”
“But, I’m failing you.” I whine, hugging her lovable head between my shoulder and cheek.
“Shh.” Celyz replies. “You did not, I overreached even if we do not consider the lines you gave me.”
I wallow in her tendrils, feeling safer to have them covering my protruded position even though their touch caused the issue. As time goes by, I gradually get angry with myself for the bout of irrational weakness.
How silly of me to allow my emotions to overwhelm me because I can’t defeat this by confronting it the same way I have with Leomi, through fighting it head-on. Did I beat it, or did the symbiont? Unimportant, I need no help to fight or be us.
“I’m, alright now.” I mutter, feeling mortified and embarrassed.
“It was truly my fault, Jessica. It was clear that the loss of your sight affected you yet I let my emotion at finding your feelings for me unchanged overwhelm me.” Celyz apologizes.
“What did you mean to tell me?” I ask, unfolding my arm.
“One moment.” She replies.
I feel her tendrils carefully pick me up by my knees and shoulder. I set my arm in such a way to cover as much of my breast, belly, and sex as possible. I do so because I still feel fragile so I need to block her from making me ruin the moment again.
She carefully sets me down on my unsteady legs in front of her. Celyz then gently wraps the blankets back where they were around my body before resting her round forehead against mine.
“We will separate, soon.” She whispers in a painful voice. “I mean to clearly establish my position.”
“You’re burying the past?” I ask, recalling her earlier words.
“In part.” Celyz acknowledges. “Leomi Lance and I have agreed to set things aside but not forget.”
“That’s amazing.” I exclaim, my mood rising.
“Not so fast.” Celyz stops me from going any further. “First, a warning if you feel strong enough to receive it.”
“Go ahead.” I brazenly reply.
“If you allow Leomi Lance to harm you or she does so against your will, I will hold her as responsible as I hold myself to be in regards to you, Jessica.” Celyz declares in a harsh but affectionate tone.
“I suppose it is fair.” I mutter. “But, stuff I like don’t count, right?” I ask.
“Her guilt and my intelligence will be the judge of that.” Celyz counters, showing that she has an annoyingly clear understanding of my character, and possibly Leomi’s.
“Ugh, you’re behaving like she is about my life.” I whine, blushing.
“I am glad you appreciate that.” Celyz replies, carefully running one of her curved tendrils along my cheek. “Remember that I will push and fight for your heart when we meet again.”
“How hard?” I murmur the question.
“As hard as it takes to obtain you for as long as you love me.” She replies firmly, causing me to shiver in desire and a touch of fear.
“So you’ll do so forever.” I conclude, breathing out.
“Indeed.” She agrees.
My intimacy reacts to her words and the heat she caused in my chest, I soon feel her tendrils rest on my shoulder and waist, their weight as light as a feather. The two of us remain as such in the dark with my fire construct burning nearby.
“Jessica!” Yvonne calls out from a distance. “Are you okay?”
“I am!” I reply. “What’s wrong?”
“Fenyz delayed her.” Celyz tells me.
“Drones blocking me.” Yvonne replies.
“You shouldn’t have done that.” I frown.
“She guards you too tightly, I wanted time with you.” Celyz replies, clearly unapologetic.
“It annoys me but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate her efforts.” I grunt. “She’s being to me what you tried to be for Cetyz.”
“I wouldn’t keep my sister from Fenyz.” Celyz counters.
“That nitpick proves you know you’re in the wrong.” I reply, smiling.
“Fine.” Celyz sighs.
Celyz slowly pulls her tendrils away from my body. I hear Yvonne open the tent’s flap and feel a burst of cold air accompany her footsteps. The air suddenly feels heavier but that’s my imagination.
“I have clothes and a weapon of a sort.” Yvonne tells me.
She sets a handle in my hand. I lift the object up, feeling a lot safer already. It’s metal if I go by the weight. I rest it against my right thigh and run my hand along the length, finding that it’s pretty much a long bar.
“What is it?” I ask.
“It’s a forging awl.” Yvonne replies. “It’s pointy at the end and you can club people with it, but the point is to help you walk.”
“I don’t need a walking stick.” I utter, offended.
“Unless you want me to control where you’re going, you need a way to make sure there isn’t anything in front of you.” Yvonne counters calmly. “And you seem about to fall off, so swallow your pride and use it.”
“Look, I don’t nee…” I start, furious.
“Jessica.” Celyz and Yvonne both interrupt me.
I stubbornly take a step to prove my point in action if they won’t let me say it. I stumble as my feet catch on a rug or something, Celyz and Yvonne both catch me even though I wouldn’t have fallen.
I very independently decide to use the awl as support and to scout the ground in front of me as I turn around to take a seat on the bed frame. Yvonne soon throws me the clothes she found.
“I didn’t find any winter clothes but Fenyz provided more than enough shirts.” Yvonne tells me.
“I still believe it would be best for Jessica to rest a few more days, perhaps a week.” Celyz comments hesitantly. She definitely lost that argument with Yvonne.
“She needs to move or she’ll rot.” The sword-sworn replies while taking hold of the weapon she just gave me to set it aside. “Here, hold your arm out Jessica.”
“Celyz, would you mind preparing whatever it is you need to fix my eyes?” I ask.
“Mother is ready, she has in fact been waiting.” Celyz replies, clearly clueless.
“She wants some privacy, dummy.” Yvonne tells the Princess.
I grit my teeth from the humiliation of the implication that I can’t even accomplish the simple task of getting dressed. Yet, I know I need help as it was no easy task to even set the blankets on me with a single arm and without seeing a thing.
Celyz is sensible enough to quickly depart without a word. Yvonne takes hold of my wrist and tries to fit my sleeve on. I shake my arm to break her grip and lay my hand over my face in an effort to control my temper.
“I need you to help me figure out how to do it.” I tell her, the request already bordering on my limit.
“Sorry, but I can’t.” Yvonne mutters.
“Why not?” I ask with a growl at the bottom of my throat.
“I don’t know much and Leomi put a lot of effort into learning to do so in order to teach you.” Yvonne whispers. “She kept claiming it was to teach injured Hospitaliers but… it’s clearly something she really wants to do for you.”
“Oh.” I utter, feeling my anger vanish. “Oh.” I blush, feeling heartbeat accelerate.
My imagination goes wild, summoning images of her standing tall with a severe look on her face as she harshly criticizes my failures and lovingly rewards my successes. Perhaps even with a kiss.
“I’m going to assume you don’t want me to show you if you’re going to get that red.” Yvonne notes. I frantically nod in agreement. “But still, ask me if you get too annoyed or really need to do something by yourself. I did pay attention so I might be able to help.”