\'F*ck me sideways! I forgot that inside the tower our mind link is stronger than usual.
Thinking or speaking is almost the same thing.
I wonder what he will think of me now\' Solus spent the next minutes reviewing her blunder.
Every time she replayed Lith\'s last words, she could feel her heart flutter.
After she regained her composure, she went back.
It was nice seeing Jirni again. She said pretending their last conversation never happened.
She hasn\'t aged a day.
What do you think about her words Maybe you and Phloria could give your relationship a second chance.
Maybe, maybe not. Lith said with a sigh.
I don\'t want to see her right now.
Life isn\'t a romance drama where people can break up countless times and make up like nothing ever happened.
The next time we break up will be the last.
Either I open up and tell her the truth she still doesn\'t know or I can spare us both the inevitable sad ending.
Phloria is the first person I had a true relationship with.
It wasn\'t just about having fun or sex.
Lith couldn\'t bear to finish the phrase and Solus knew well why.
It happened after Nalear\'s attack on the White Griffon.
Between the slave items, Yurial\'s death, and having killed many of their schoolmates, Lith\'s companions were on the verge of a mental breakdown.
They were all living under the Ernas\' roof, together with Lith\'s family, searching for a way to cope with their trauma.
Lith was the one faring the best, but not by much.
Having been split from Solus, Yurial\'s death, and receiving his notebooks weighted on Lith\'s mind.
Quylla was having the worst of it, requiring assistance 24/7 just to prevent her from self harming.
Phloria was tormented by the ghosts of those she had killed, Yurial included.
It had been her decision of saving Jirni first that spelled his doom and she couldn\'t forgive herself for not finding a solution to an impossible situation.
After sundown, she would see their faces in every shadow, making the guilt unbearable to the point that tranquilizers had little effect.
Lith had to spend the nights sitting on a chair next to her bed, caressing her head until she would fall asleep.
His touch was the only thing that calmed her.
Lith would hold her hand for hours to make sure her dreams would be free from nightmares.
The days passed and Phloria\'s condition improved.
Yet he would remain on the chair, keeping her at arm\'s length.
A few nights before the academy would resume, Phloria mustered the courage to confront him.
Why are you doing it again She asked.
Why do you keep your distance from me You are so close, yet there is a divide between us.
Would it kill you to at least sit on my bed
I- I can\'t. Lith replied.
You can\'t or you won\'t I can understand if you blame me for Yurial\'s death, I do the same. She clenched the blankets, her firm tone just a cover for the underlying fear.
Fear of being hated, of being rejected by those she loved because of her weakness.
It\'s not your fault nor Quylla\'s.
My reasons are my own and believe me when I say you don\'t want to know them.
We have been together for months now and you still don\'t trust me Is that the reason you always refuse to touch me She was hurt by his silence.
She knew Lith had lots of secrets, but she had waited for him to open up.
Phloria knew that he was like Nalear.
Lith and the mad Professor were the only two mages she had ever seen emitting an aura without the use of any spell.
Phloria was very close to the truth, she just lacked the term Awakened one to fill the picture.
I told you after Balkor, you just didn\'t listen! I\'m not like you.
I\'m a monster.
You have no idea how hard it had been keeping you safe from me, from all the sh*t that\'s my life.
I never asked you to protect me! I\'m not a child, I\'m a woman now.
The only things I asked from you were to love me and let me be part of your life.
Easy to say when you know nothing! Nothing about love or me.
Those are just words and words are cheap!
I know a lot of things! She replied.
I know that Nalear was strong and fast, just like you.
That the aura you emit when you go all out is not normal.
That somehow, somewhere you lost a brother that\'s not part of your family.
I know all these things because I was always by your side.
Lith was taken aback by Phloria\'s words.
Yet he didn\'t budge.
You don\'t understand.
We are both emotionally vulnerable right now.
If I take a step forward, we\'d do something we will regret forever.
How can you say that What gives you the right to decide what I will or will not regret
Lith was so tired of that charade.
Yet he had to pick his words carefully.
It was the second time she was offering herself to him and he was pushing her away again.
She deserved a proper explanation.
Turn off the lights, please. Phloria did as instructed, making the room turn dark.
Passing clouds obscured the moonlight from time to time, giving the room an eerie feeling.
Lith stood up, taking a few steps away from the bed, letting the left side of his body be basked in darkness.
I was serious before.
You deserve someone better than me.
Someone that can make you happy.
I can\'t because I\'m not like Nalear, I\'m much worse.
I\'m a real monster. He took a deep breath, letting the abyss inside him step out of its boundaries.
Solus had described Lith the form he would take while fighting in dimly lit spaces and with a bit of training he had learned how to conjure and to block the shadows that would cover him like a shroud, changing his appearance.
Phloria gasped when she saw three yellow eyes opening on the darkened face, the hand turned into vicious claws, and the skin covered with black scales the edges of which were burning hot.
Lith could see her face turning pale as a ghost, her eyes turn watery.
It was what he wanted, yet he felt his heart squeezed by an invisible vice.
\'It\'s over now.
I\'ll release a bit of killing intent to make her faint.
Tomorrow she\'ll hope this is just a nightmare.
Even if she remembers anything, no one would believe her story, not even herself.
With all she has gone through, everybody will think it\'s her trauma talking.\'
Lith released waves of violent mana expecting her to scream, to cry and call for help before passing out.
Phloria stepped out of her bed, wearing only her nightgown.
In the moonlight, she looked like a fairy as much as he felt a monster for crushing her feelings once again.
Lith waited for her to run away, so he could strike her from behind and make her lose consciousness.
That way the events of that night would remain etched in her mind without compromising his cover.
All according to plan.
Phloria didn\'t run.
She walked slowly, covering the distance separating them until they were in front of each other.