Chapter 227: Death Visions
After Raaz's speech made Lith realize how self centered he had been, fatigue overcame him, making Lith fall asleep again.
When he woke up, only his mother stood beside him.
"Mom, what happened to me Can I have a mirror" Lith asked.
"That's something you should tell us, baby." Elina was happy to see him awake again so soon.
The fever was finally gone.
"Your Professors say you were alright when they left you at Protector's deathbed, but when they found you, you were already in a terrible state.
You have recovered greatly in the last five days, but I wouldn't look in the mirror if I were you."
"Please, I want to see the price of my foolishness with my own eyes." Lith squeezed her hand.
When Elina conjured a water mirror in front of him, Lith didn't even flinch.
Despite all the potions and the treatments he had received, he was still severely underweight.
He had no more bald spots, his hair was regrowing fine, but it was still grey.
Only his eyes were unchanged, cold and uncaring.
- "Solus, can I use Invigoration"
"I don't know." She replied.
"Your core is perfectly fine, but your body worries me.
After burning so much of your life force, most of your healthy tissues are still recovering.
You were left with mostly impurities.
I'm afraid that by recovering so fast you may trigger a breakthrough."–
Lith mind nodded.
Healing overnight would be impossible to explain, releasing so many impurities in front of witnesses even more so.
"I guess I'm finally as ugly on the outside as I am on the inside." He cruelly laughed at himself.
"Do you mind telling me what happened" Elina changed the subject.
In the past, she had experienced the pain of loss and how hard it could be for someone so young to face it.
- "Between his best friend's death and his current condition, there is no telling how he must be feeling.
It's better for him to share whatever is burdening him.
It should help him recover."– She thought.
For once, Lith was honest with her and told her how he had attempted to save Protector, giving it all he had and more.
"There's no need to scold me.
Now I know that what I did was stupid and useless, just like me."
"No, you are wrong again." Elina lay on the bed beside him, hugging him tightly.
Reckless Sure, but it wasn't useless.
You did it out of love because you cared for him.
I would do the same thing for any of my children if I had the opportunity.
No parent should outlive their children, it's a pain too great to bear."
Carl had been more like a son than a brother to him, his death still haunted him.
He conjured another water mirror to look closely at himself.
Maybe it was the aftermath of his failed spell, maybe it was because of the grieving, but for the first time, Lith felt his age weighing on him.
He felt old and tired.
Too tired to keep fighting a losing battle.
He thought about leaving the academy.
Being there every day would remind him of Protector, also he didn't know how Linjos would punish him for his behavior.
He also thought about abandoning his family for good.
It would mean no more chains, no more ties, no more weakness.
He was already tall enough to pass for an adult and with his magic talent, money wouldn't be an issue.
Solus was deeply scared of his mental condition.
She could sense his mind swinging back and forth from desperation to anger, Lith's calm was only an appearance.
She had spent the last days pondering what to do.
Telling him the truth would lift his spirit, but what about the long term What if one of his relatives suddenly died or they were beyond saving Despite all of his power, despite his strength that grew by the day, Lith was far from invincible.
Solus had noticed right after he had been hospitalized that his body was rebuilding itself stronger than before, the problem was his mind.
It was shattered once again, now another deep scar was engraved in his soul, but it also represented the opportunity for him to change.
Solus didn't want him to become a saint or a hero, nor to forget about his past.
She just wanted him to live his life without letting Carl's death affect every important choice he made.
- "He needs to learn that loving someone means knowing when to let them go.
I don't know what I feel for him anymore.
It could be love or the childish desire of a little daughter who wants her father all to herself.
I know nothing about human relationships outside of what he has taught me.
Maybe I'm just scared at the idea we may grow apart once he has a real girlfriend instead of a high school sweetheart.
Even if it's love, and even if he returned those feelings, I have nothing to offer him.
I could have cried and begged him not to be with Phloria, but it would have been just cruel and egotistical.
She can give him everything I can't.
A shoulder to cry on, the warmth of a real embrace, maybe some love.
I don't care what he chooses to do, as long as he doesn't punish himself out of fear of being hurt."– She thought.
- "Life sure has a twisted sense of irony.
It's only thanks to Balkor's past that my family is so heavily protected, yet it's also because of him that Protector died.
I must remember to thank him before killing everyone and everything he holds dear in front of his eyes."– Lith thought.
From that day, Lith could finally start eating real food instead of being forced to drink potions while he was asleep.
It took him less than two days to be able to walk again, even if he needed help to do it.
Lith would have liked a walking stick, but there was always someone offering their arm to him, to not leave him alone for even one second.
Even if his body was quickly recovering, his psychological trauma was only getting worse.
Ever since he had regained his consciousness, his eyes kept acting weird.
If he looked at someone long enough, Lith would start to see odd things.
The first time, it happened with Phloria, since she was the one spending the most time with him.
She was telling him about what had happened to the academy and the Griffon Kingdom while he was unconscious when he saw an invisible hand cut her throat.
Blood spilled everywhere, leaving Lith incapable of moving from the shock.
The moment he blinked, Phloria was alright again, like nothing had happened.
Then, he watched her aging decades with each passing second.
Phloria turned into a nice looking woman, then into a mature lady, and into an old woman with a kind smile.
Lith felt like he was living in a nightmare, but it became even worse when she turned into a corpse, her old body started to rot while fleas and maggots feasted on her flesh until only a skeleton remained.
Tears streamed down his face.
"What's wrong Are you in pain Is there something wrong with your body" Phloria asked.
Blinking returned everything to normal again.
- "Solus, what the heck is happening" He was too shocked to answer Phloria's worried questions.
He needed to know if what he was seeing was real or if it was just madness seeping into his mind.
"Nothing happened." She replied not understanding the reason for the question.
After checking his memories, Solus didn't have any idea what he had seen either.
They both checked his body and brain, but aside from the after effects of his attempt to save Ryman there was nothing new.
Then, Lith watched Phloria's heart getting pierced by a sword, her head cut off by an ax.
He was forced to watch her die in a different way over and over again, and there was nothing he could do.
It happened the same way with everyone, be they members of his family, of the Ernas household or their staff.
Soon Lith wasn't able to take it anymore and would keep his eyes closed most of the time, pretending to be tired.
- "Is my mind playing tricks on me or is this some kind of new power I developed Seeing the death of the people close to me without any indication about how to stop it seems more like a curse than a power though.
Solus, tell me the truth.
Am I losing my mind"
Solus was hesitant to reply, she knew how fragile his psyche was.
"I think your mind is slipping, yes.
I don't know if it's all in your head or it's somehow related to your current condition, but I believe you are torturing yourself.
In a very twisted and cruel way, you are trying to get accustomed with the thought that sooner or later, everyone dies.
It's like your subconscious is showing you that some things are inevitable and there's nothing you can do about it ."–
Solus's words made sense.
Lith was still conflicted between finding a way to hide everyone he loved away from the world to prevent them from getting hurt or just cutting his ties with his current life.
If he was alone, then he had nothing to lose.
However, the thought of spending the rest of his life alone made death look alluring.
Power and immortality had no meaning to him by themselves, they were just a means to an end.
Lith's end had always been to find a place where he belonged and live a happy, quiet life.
He was only twelve yet had already experienced more battles to the death than most of Earth's professional soldiers.
Lith wasn't willing to give up on life again, but he didn't know what he was fighting for anymore.
After she had returned home, Friya was giving her all practicing swordsmanship.
She had too many thoughts crossing her mind to practice magic.
She decided to keep her promise and use that unexpected free time to get to know Orion better.
Orion was overjoyed.
It was the first time that his adoptive daughter had asked for his help.
He knew that it was only a matter of time before Quylla joined them too.
Those two were inseparable.
They spent the first day going through the basic forms.
Only when Orion grasped what her skill level was, he decided what style was more suitable for Friya.
Over the years of his military career, he had become proficient with most weapons
From the second day onwards, Quylla joined their practice as Orion had predicted.
He had several of his subordinates come to his house to use them as sparring partners for Friya while he taught self defense to Quylla.
"I know you don't like fighting, little one,…" He caressed her head every time she learned a new move.
"…but there's no telling when it might come in handy."
As for Friya, her basics were solid.
She had studied under a good master for years, after all.
What she lacked was practical experience.
Orion had arranged opponents of different genders and builds for her to help her learn how to adapt her style according to the situation.
Fighting someone smaller or bigger than Friya required adjustments that she needed to execute in a split second, otherwise a skilled enough opponent could take advantage of such an opening to put her on the back foot right from the start.
When Orion corrected Friya's mistakes during a sequence or a stance, she would only reply: "Thanks, dad." With a smile that almost moved him to tears.
Until that moment, she had only called him by his first name.
Orion was happy that Friya was starting to accept her new family.
There were only two sore points in spending quality time with his two new daughters.
The first was that Phloria wasn't willing to join them, spending all of her time taking care of Lith.
Orion dearly missed the good old times when his little Flower would only have her dad in her eyes and ignored all the stuck up brats that Jirni sent her way.
Back then, they were like minded, only thinking about magic and sword.
Sure, he had to suffer Jirni's daily nagging every time she failed, but keeping his baby safe was worth the price.
Now he and his wife had switched position.
Jirni now gloated all day and he could only prepare for the worst.
The second one was that too many of his subordinates looked at Friya with lustful eyes.
Orion had to admit that she was almost as beautiful as Phloria.
His fatherly eyes still refused to accept that, while Phloria was a really cute girl, Friya was a true beauty.
The tiny droplets of sweats during the exercises would make Friya's visage sparkle under the sunlight.
Her long black hair framed her face, bringing out her fair skin and light chestnut eyes.
Coupled with the grace and elegance of her movements, she was truly a sight to behold.
Most of the times it was enough for Orion to clear his throat to remind those idiots of his presence.
Sometimes, he was forced to take Friya's place to show her what she was doing wrong and wipe the floor with their as*es.
He only did it for educational purposes, of course.
Friya needed to learn her forms while the others their own place in the world.