Chapter 228: Moving On
After the training session was over, Friya, Quylla, and Orion spent some more time together in the park nearby.
House Ernas had two training areas.
One indoors, to practice during bad weather or run fighting simulations in different scenarios.
The walls and the ceiling were enchanted, allowing them to shapeshift to recreate caves, narrow corridors, or small rooms.
The other one was located in the back of the house.
It was a large clearing, with no vegetation or furnishing outside training dummies.
It was the perfect place to practice magic and sword in the open under different weather conditions, allowing one complete freedom of movement.
"Dad, there's something I need to talk to you about." Friya sat on the ground in front of him, with a sad expression on her face.
Orion could tell there was something haunting her.
"During the last day of the attack, I killed a few undead.
I wouldn't even mention it, if not for the fact that they were people I knew." She told him about what had happened while she was looking for a Healer to save Phloria and Yurial.
"When I killed that woman, during the second exam, I felt terrible.
Some days, I can still see her terrified expression the moment before I executed her.
This time I didn't feel anything.
I know they had become monsters, but they were still my classmates.
"I should feel remorse, some pain for their deaths, something.
Does this make me a bad person Am I turning into a cold blooded killer"
"No to both your questions." Orion shook his head without hesitation.
"It just means that you have got your priorities straight.
On the battlefield, remorse or hesitation leads to premature death.
Even if your enemies are humans, mercy is a luxury you can't afford.
"You killed that woman in cold blood, the others for self defence while trying to save the people you love.
The two events are worlds apart.
Also, those weren't your classmates.
At least not anymore.
They were just reanimated corpses, there's no reason to feel guilty.
I'm proud of both of you."
He hugged them, kissing the top of their heads.
"Dad, I have something to say too." Quylla had never had a family before.
She still found hard to believe that someone like Orion was now her father.
Orion was brimming with joy.
Quylla had finally called him dad instead of father.
"Surviving the god of death's anniversary made me understand a few things.
After so much death, I realized that I don't like fighting.
Unlike my sisters, I'm not suited for the battlefield.
I want to become a Healer and help people."
"It's good that you found your way so soon.
Fighting is not everything.
You must always think about your happiness and your future first."
"About that, I don't want to spend the next year only studying magic." She said averting her eyes and fiddling with her hair.
"There's more to life than grades and exams.
Phloria is right, we have so little time left before our duty replaces our life.
I want more.
I can't just wait for good things to miraculously fall into my lap."
"Yeah, me too." Friya chimed in.
"Honestly, I never thought Lith's and Phloria's relationship would last this long, nor that it would become so special."
"No one did." They both blushed in embarrassment.
They had secretly bet against it.
Quylla had given them a week before breaking up, while Friya's wager was that their first date would also be the last.
"While we were at the mining town, I was so envious of them that more than once I daydreamed about being in Phloria's place.
So there's one thing I have to ask you."
Friya looked resolute, making Orion worries go through the roof.
"So do I." Quylla became beet red.
He could now only fear for the worst.
"Can you please bring us to social events during the weekends" Friya said.
"I don't want to marry yet, but I want at least to start dating.
Please dad, can you help us"
Despite he had barely started to know them, Orion felt like he was already losing them.
Inwardly cursing his bad luck, he could only agree.
'It's time to hasten my recovery.
To use Accumulation or Invigoration I need to be alone though.
I cannot risk for a breakthrough to happen in front of witnesses, it would raise too many questions.
Loneliness is a luxury at the moment, but luckily, I know a heavy sleeper.'
Lith had noticed that the undergoing regenerating process had made most impurities almost reach his core.
Even if he did nothing, it was just a matter of time before a breakthrough happened.
He decided to avoid relying on luck and take the matter in his own hands.
That evening, after a particularly large meal, Lith made his move.
"Mom, Lady Ernas, I'm really thankful for everything you have done for me so far.
I think now I have recovered enough.
It should be safe leaving me alone for a good night's sleep."
"I don't think it's the case, young man.
You could still have a relapse.
It's better if someone keeps you company, so if anything bad happens, help will come immediately." Lady Ernas shook her head.
Those days she would spend a lot of time with Elina.
Which meant also with Lith and his sisters.
He could clearly see what Jirni goal was and he didn't like it one bit.
Yet she was the reason why he had been able to improve so quickly while his family managed to remain so calm despite his situation.
Lith knew he was indebted to her and that she was going to use it as leverage to ask him something in return at the right moment.
It was exactly what he would have done in her shoes.
"Then what if only Phloria stays with me tonight We have much to talk about, yet we never managed to get a little alone time." The cough was long gone, his voice back to normal too.
Yet Lith pretended to cough a couple of times, using that horrible raspy, hissing voice that had tormented him after he woke up to appear as harmless as possible.
Phloria and Elina turned beet reed, while Tista and Rena giggled like crazy.
They whispered among themselves things that Lith had hoped his sisters would never think about him.
"When I say 'talk', I mean it." He coughed again, looking at them with a sourly gaze.
"I'm still recovering.
Not to mention that I look like a monster." Lith's hair had yet to regain their color.
He didn't look like an old man anymore, but he had still a few wrinkles on his face and hands.
Because of the massive weight loss, Lith also had deep set eyes, like he had been recently resurrected from the grave.
The only problem with his claims was that despite his visage was still quite unsettling, the rest of his body told a different story.
He had lost almost all his body fat in the process, so his physique was lean and only muscles remained.
Lith was quite thin, but exactly because of that he had a six abs pack for the first time in his life.
"If you call this being a monster, lil bro, you should have seen how you looked like when you first arrived here.
Yet your girlfriend never left you until we forced her to.
You should really find a way to thank her properly." Tista giggled.
"Tista, what are you saying in front of our host" Elina was embarrassed by her daughter's words and so was Jirni, at least apparently.
Lady Ernas saw through his lie and inwardly nodded at Tista's words.
"Well, Elina, your son may be a little too bold, but he is right.
We both know there are some things that a young couple shouldn't discuss in front of their parents, right" Jirni whispered in Elina's ear.
When Lith and Phloria were left alone, Lith started wracking his brain about something to say.
Also, he needed her to quickly fall asleep, since he had no idea how long he could last before fatigue overwhelmed him.
If he fell asleep first, he wouldn't wake up until the next morning, increasing the risks of a breakthrough.
Both of them remained silent for a while until Lith found his answer.
"Why don't you come closer Back at the mining town, you had no problem sleeping beside me.
Or was I just some kind of teddy bear to you" He said with his best smile.
Lith knew from experience that Phloria was weak to cuddles.
They made her sleep like a baby.
Phloria swallowed a lump of saliva, taking only her shoes off before going under the blankets with him.
She wrapped her arms around Lith, making him flinch.
The unexpected warm embrace soothed his restless spirit for the first time since he had regained his senses.
Lith couldn't stop looking at her while she rubbed her body against his, making him feel pleasure and embarrassment at the same time.
"To think that you mocked me so badly for using my uniform as pajamas and now you do the same." He tried to stop her by caressing her hair and kissing her gently, but it only made things worse.
He heard her emit a soft moan while she shivered under his touch.
"You are right.
It's a little hypocritical of me." Phloria's head disappeared under the sheets.
Lith heard a rustling sound before seeing her naked arm throwing away the shirt first and the pants later.
"Is it better now" She asked pressing her body against his again.
Lith only wore light pajamas, there was little he couldn't feel through the fabric and so could she.
"I should have done this much earlier." She said giving him a gentle kiss, unsure how much he could take.
In her eyes, Lith was like a cracked vase.
Also, she had no idea what she was doing.
"I was so scared.
I thought I had lost you for good." She started sobbing, clinging to him for comfort.
Lith was moved by her boldness and at the same time frozen in surprise.
No matter how long he looked at her, nothing happened.
Lith could see Phloria's body only down to her shoulders, the rest was covered by the sheets, but she was the picture of health and stayed that way.
He was so relieved that his hands wrapped her back, caressing it along the spine and enjoying her soft skin.
He sensed her shivering again, but this time he was also able to notice that it wasn't because of pleasure, she was wound up like a drum.
"Lith, I have to tell you before it's too late: I l…" Lith placed his hand on her lips, stopping her before it really was too late.
"No, you don't." He said as he never stopped caressing her head.
"It's a little too early for you to use that word.
We met months ago, but we really know each other for barely a month.
You are not ready for this and so am I.
You are just too scared of the future, so you are rushing blindly to escape from your fears."
Lith didn't know whether he was talking to her or himself.
"I care too much about you to let you make this mistake.
It would scar both of us and likely put an end to our relationship.
Never make important decisions when you are angry or afraid.
"Those are not the kind of emotions you want to let cloud your judgment.
They will always make you pick the wrong path.
You deserve someone better than me, especially now that I look like your grandpa."
Phloria managed to chuckle even if she was still sobbing a little.
"The Phloria I know is bold, but not reckless.
I'm not going to die anytime soon, so there's no reason to force yourself." He kissed her back gently, needing his sheer willpower to keep his hands on her head.
"All I want is for you to be happy.
When you have calmed down, if you still think I can make you happy, we'll resume this conversation.
I beg of you, remember that I am a broken person and that I have been broken once again.
You deserve someone normal and sane, while I could shatter anytime and hurt you."
Phloria never stopped sobbing, but he could sense her relaxing under his touch.
"There is only one thing that I must ask of you before the night ends." He said, wiping away her tears with his hands.
"Anything." She replied blushing violently.
"Please, put your clothes on, or when our mothers will enter this room tomorrow morning, they'll start arranging our wedding."
'Also, even in this debilitated state, I don't know how much longer I can hold myself back .'
Lith inwardly added.
He knew that, between being emotionally vulnerable and the self-inflicted prolonged isolation from all kinds of human contact, he was really susceptible to temptations from the only girl that he had allowed to become close to him, both physically and emotionally.
There was only so much he could take before his pubescent body took the wheel.
Phloria was well aware of this since she could feel something hard pressing against her abdomen from the moment she had taken off her clothes.
She turned off the lights before going out of the bed.
Luckily, she hadn't thrown her uniform far and it was designed to easily come on and off.
Lith instantly started regretting what he had done and the fact that none of his abilities allowed him to see in the dark.