“Wila! Slow down!” Lucius tried to jump off of a branch and nearly tripped when it rolled forwards. He regained his footing at the cost of a shrub’s prickly branches and continued on, wondering how a branch got in the middle of a near-treeless plain. More tricks of the voice, perhaps. Lucius cringed as he quickened his pace. ‘The voice’ was a terrible name.
“Maybe you’re just too slow,” she snapped. Then, she shrunk in on herself and a loud exhale seemed to confirm the escaping air. “… Sorry about that. It’s been a long day.”
“You woke up maybe a couple hours ago and we’ve been together since then.” Lucius nudged Mikhail, who was staring at the ground but had managed to keep up. “He knows that too. So why’re you ticked off?”
“Reasons,” Wila answered in a tone that more than implied that they should stop talking. She was slouched and her head seemed to just barely hold itself up. Lucius couldn’t see her face, but he suddenly felt the urge to recheck it for bags under her eyes.
Mikhail peered at her through snow-white strands of hair, and the side angle from which Lucius saw his eyes gave them an inquisitive glint. The sunlight was strong that day, after all. “… We’re going to the f-forest?”
Lucius reevaluated their path and realized with a start that the grass was already dotted with greener blades and that the earth was gradually flattening out. By the pace Wila was going, it didn’t look like she planned to stop or turn around any time soon. “Wila, we found hostile people in that place yesterday.”
“Yes.” Her voice was tight and now her back was straight. A hand rested on her arm in the place that Lucius dully remembered to be where she got hurt, likely by some twig or shell shard. “I know.”
“Why are we going there?” Lucius stopped walking and held an arm to stop Mikhail as well. This time, it wasn’t a question formed from childish irritation nor boredom; Wila wasn’t about to lead him somewhere dangerous without a good reason.
Wila finally looked at them and paused upon seeing them standing still. Her eyes were narrowed in the way someone would when they had just missed their goal, and the ends of her sweater sleeves were bunched up in her fists. Then, she sheepishly smiled and her posture relaxed, which would have looked genuine if not for the suddenness of it all. “Look, sitting around on a beach isn’t going to help much. I… don’t feel safe knowing that such people are so close.”
Before Wila could continue, Lucius shot her a look of disbelief. “So you walk right up to them?”
“No, we go see where they are,” Wila replied, annoyance levels rising. She twisted her head to glance at the forest, which could only be a couple dozen feet away at most, before growling.
Mikhail frowned even as his eyes widened in realization. “And… finish… them off?”
The girl opened her mouth, closed it, then shrugged, averting her gaze. “Well, yes, you could put it like that. Or we can just go back and tell Reyna and Claud. I wouldn’t be surprised to see if there’s people other than those you guys fought before.”
“But you clearly prioritize killing them off.” Lucius didn’t bother mincing his words, since it was the truth and there was no point in not saying it out loud. He didn’t feel as shocked and disapproving that he felt he should, but there was definitely hesitation tainting his heart. “And how are you so sure that they won’t end up killing us?”
Wila winced at Lucius’s phrasing but didn’t comment on it. Rather, she grinned at his last words. “Because we can.” Upon seeing his unimpressed expression, she sighed and waved a hand in the air. “Look, could you just trust me-“
“No. This is my life you’re talking about here, and that’s not something I’m willing to gamble.” Lucius ran a hand through his hair and then let his palm drag back down his head, coming to a rest over most of his facial features. It left his hair even more unkempt than before, but neatness wasn’t the purpose in the first place; habitual comfort was.
Mikhail lowered his head once again and gave a single nod. “… I agree with Lucius… Apologies, Wila.” His stony expression was not the least bit apologetic.
Wila look liked she would toss a table -or anything, really- to express her anger, if the redness creeping up her cheeks were any indication. “Alright, fine.” She straightened her arms and held her palms out, using one to prod at something above her elbow before doing the same with the other. Several seconds later, Wila shook her arms slightly and then held up both hands. To Lucius’s hollowing surprise, two silver blades were just visible above the sleeves.
Mikhails eyes widened considerably and stiffened, dilated pupils focused on those two knife points. The two knives were thin and small, but dangerous nonetheless. Even so, Lucius was a little surprised by Mikhail’s obvious fear. Did he have a phobia of them or what?
“There we go.” Wila inched the knives into full view, her hands too large for the short handle. “Aren’t much more than kitchen knives, but in this situation, any weapon’s dangerous. Plus, I get the element of surprise.”
“On us, too. When were you planning to reveal that weapon to us?” Lucius knew he was being a jerk, but it was justified. “When it’s in one of our backs?”
Wila crinkled her brow, likely searching for something appropriate to say in this situation. She absentmindedly ran a finger up and down the blade, which only made Mikhail’s trembling more apparent. “Look…” She cut off, her words rapidly deteriorating into a shoddy excuse. Wila shuffled her feet, kicking at a tall-standing weed amongst the grass. “This is a strange place. I hope that you can trust me, but I’m not going to apologize for hiding these. I have no reason to. I’ve known you people for… what? Less than a week? I can’t trust you any more than you can trust me.”
Lucius stared at her, keeping his face blank. He scrounged his sarcasm well for a clever insult or saying, but he couldn’t find any and just stood there for several seconds. He hated when that happened.
Mikhail filled in for him, tugging a couple strands of hair in front of his ear. The boy wrenched his gaze off of the knives to look Wila in the eyes. “… I’m not going.” His words were careful and his features too calm to be natural after his earlier fear. Lucius couldn’t help but think that he was missing a key part of the situation.
“Hm.” Wila tilted her head. “Lucius, could you just leave us for a couple minutes?”
“What? Why?” Now Lucius was sure that he was being left out of something.
“… Please?” Mikhail pleaded, and Lucius was convinced that the puppy-dog eyes was not, could not, be an unconscious gesture.
Lucius grumbled about being the third wheel and that the two sucked, but obediently turned around and strolled off in that direction. He stopped when he was several feet away and ran his gaze over the curving land. It was subsequently bare, and Lucius crouched down to pick at a knot of weeds. The two better be done soon, he grimly thought, or he was going barge in on their conversation, privacy be damned.