440 Meat Puppet Part 1
Lith pondered for a while, thinking about why Kamila would have had such a change of heart so quickly.
He remembered that she had never explained why she had been sent to Othre to him.
His only real clues were Jirni's words about trusting Kamila and how she had reacted to them.
"I'm aware we've known each other for barely two weeks and that you have no real reason to trust me." Lith said.
"So, if you need some space because something happened in your personal life, just tell me and I will not pry any further.
Yet if someone from the army is pressuring you about our relationship, then I think I have the right to know.
"Because it wouldn't be just your problem, but our problem.
You shouldn't be forced to shoulder such a burden alone.
Whatever this is about, know that I'll not be part of your life unless you want me to be."
Lith's words struck a nerve.
Kamila's eyes wandered around the room, almost hoping she would receive a sign from the heavens, or at least find a way out of her predicament.
She stared at the door for a second before looking him in the eyes.
'I can't run away from my problems forever.' She thought.
'If I'm right and Commander Berion sent me here as his pawn, I should've been nice to Lith, smiled a lot, and even slept with him to further the Commander's agenda.
'That's not who I want to be nor how I want to make my way up the army's ranks.
Maybe Lith isn't as good as he appears, but at least he has been honest so far.
If I have to live like a puppet, I might as well have never run away from my family.
'I won't sell my dignity out of fear, I owe myself that much.'
Kamila did her best not to tremble as she told him about her conversation with Berion before being dispatched to Othre.
Yet she failed.
She was in an impossible situation where she had been forced to either lose her job, which had been the only safe harbor in her life, or herself.
Lith listened without saying a word nor trying to comfort her.
"So now I'm screwed no matter what I do.
If I put any distance between us, the Commander will understand I'm not playing ball and punish me.
If I stay with you, I will always ask myself if I'm doing it because I want to give us a chance or just because I'm too afraid to disobey."
She didn't cry, and her voice remained firm.
Yet seeing her anguish made Lith feel some guilt, but mostly, he was angry.
He took a few deep breaths to calm down and assess the situation with Solus.
Only then did he tell her about the dead woman, the living tissue sample, and his doubts about Manohar's theory.
"Why are you telling me all this" She asked.
"Because it's what I would have told you anyway as my handler.
I didn't mention it before only because I noticed that the woman I hope will become my girlfriend was feeling down, and I didn't want to spoil her dinner with gory details." He replied.
"I didn't mean to hide anything from you.
I know how important your job is to you.
Maybe you should wear a double sided nametag, so I know when I'm talking with Kamila and when I'm talking to my handler." He smiled at his own joke.
"Thanks, I'll think about it." Her lips curved up into a light smile as he placed one hand above her shoulder.
She grabbed it, appreciating its warmth.
At that moment, she was grateful for many things.
To Lith for not getting angry with her, for continuing to talk about "them" in the present tense instead of the past, and for just being there for her instead of making promises he couldn't keep.
It wasn't much, but at the moment it was all she had.
Most of all, Kamila was grateful to herself for finding the courage to do the right thing.
Her future was still scary, but no matter what would happen, she would be able to face it head-on.
The next morning Kamila and Lith woke up almost at the same time.
The suite had more than one bedroom, which allowed them to sleep separately.
'With my luck, it's only a matter of time before stuff starts to blow up in my face.
I need to rest every night so that Invigoration retains its maximum efficiency.' He thought.
'I keep thinking about that thing Manohar found inside the made mage.' Solus tried to keep his mind off Kamila's situation.
She could easily relate to Lith's feelings.
Both of them carried a deep sadness inside that was only aggravated by the constant feelings of isolation haunting them.
Lith because of all of his secrets, Solus because she had no life of her own.
Over time, it had become as much a part of their bodies as the mana that flowed through them.
'Why give someone magical powers Especially if they would be equally dangerous to their user as they are to those around them.'
To Solus, Lith replied: 'Off the top of my head, to create chaos, to give birth to artificial Awakened ones, or to test a Forbidden Spell on lab rats before using it on yourself.
It's what I would do.'
The discussion had just gone from theoretical to disturbing in less than one second.
Solus knew all too well how serious Lith was when talking about such things.
In his mind, he was now killing Berion over and over for messing with his life.
Luckily, before his vivid imagination could direct a full slasher movie, Tista knocked on the door.
"Sorry to bother you, guys, but with all the disgusting things that happened yesterday, I either need some company or I need to skip breakfast.
Between old creeps and Manohar, my poor stomach is still doing flips." She noticed that both beds were unmade.
"How is my favorite mistress I could have used some of your dazzling smiles my brother is always talking about yesterday." Tista had no idea what was wrong between them.
A slight sense of guilt made her attempt to remedy her previous blunders.
"What do you mean, mistress" Kamila chuckled.
She was happy to have some company.
Being alone with Lith was a bit awkward between what had happened and what hadn't happened last night.
He had agreed to let her sleep in the suite to not alert Berion that she wasn't going to play by his rules and give her some time to think.
Tista explained to her how she usually deceived people into believing that she was Lith's wife to avoid being bothered.
"Some are brave enough to face a brother's glare, but a husband is much scarier." She winked.
"So, to keep the masquerade going, I booked my room under your name and now the hotel staff thinks you are his mistress.
You charging in here made quite an impression yesterday." Kamila blushed a little and laughed heartily.
'Oh, gods! That's why the receptionist looked at me funnily.
Tista sure has a talent for embarrassing me.' Yet the more time she spent with the two siblings, the less alone she felt.