Chapter 51:

Ex: Reprieve

Lovely kNight


Though my spirit is filled with a drive to do, my body is too stubborn to follow suit. I message Mercy an update that I’d be resting for the remainder of the day. Tomorrow, bright and early, I would make good on my word. In response to my message, I receive a picture as response. Captured is Mercy’s hand closed to display a hearty thumbs up before a windowsill and the great outdoors beyond it.

Having sorted that situation out, I continue on my path towards my room to settle a few more matters before tomorrow. And yet…

I’m stolen away from my KNITE when my ears perk up to a sound sliding through the air like a bow across the strings of a violin. It’s quiet but as I train my ears, the sorrowful, weeping tone runs over my heart like a blade. Inconsistent, a stuttering rhythm given into futility as if to decree that itself is meaningless.

I seek after the source of the sound and come to a doorway that makes my heart race. So I push open that door gently so not to rouse alarm. I peer inside to see one collapsed to their knees. Their face is planted into the mattress of their bed as their fists hold hard onto the covers and bring their surface to a messy disarray. The jumping notes skip and stumble with each intake of air leading to another miserable whine of a strained heart.

Even if the sun yet lights up the sky in a peaceful blue and welcomes itself inside, the state of the weary woman defies all the merriment of a summer’s day.

“…Juna…”

She hiccups again and holds tighter to the blanket while shaking and pouring her tears forth. She suffocates her own voice against the mattress, unwilling to let it free. Unwilling to let anyone listen as she struggles to release the pain which tears through her like the serrated teeth of a saw.

Though my first instinct is to barge in and run to her, I remember Vestil’s own two cents. Give her her own time and space. Fight against my own temptations. Yet another piece of me worries that I’d be failing her if I didn’t come to her at this moment. I’m thrust out into the cold flurries of indecision while my chest burns hot against the winds as I watch her misery continue.

My arms long to be around her and to hide her face against me where she can cry all she wants. I desire to give her my warmth and feel the heat of her tears against me. I want all of her suffering and heartache to cease.

I’m only taken away from that scene when I feel a warmth fall down my face. I realize my own tears dripping like summer rain. But I have no other choice to make. I sweep those tears away and straighten myself out. Sending a silent prayer and wish to her, I shut the door.

Yet I’m still unable to break myself away. I lean my forehead against her door and listen closely to her troubled voice struggling, fighting for release while all of her stubborn will stands in the way.

✩ ✩ ✩

I was too weak to leave so soon. The next dozen minutes of my life were spent with my head set against the wood of her door. The sounds of her tears shed had continued to fill my senses. Still unable to keep myself firm in my decision, doubt filled me.

Even now while walking the halls of the manor, a shadow of my doubts looms over me. As I drag my feet across the floor with the scar sawing deeper into my core, I hope that I’ve made the right choice after all. Though I know now is the time to exercise faith, I can only scrounge up bits and pieces as I question myself.

My feet find pause before the windowsill of the hallway to the art room. Just as the first time I’d found it, it’s lovely and bright. The sun invites me to bask in its rays so I give into its calling and overlook the green of the world outside. For now I’d let myself feel my emotions. That way even if she’s locked away in her room I won’t let her heart be left by itself.

There’s a clicking that enters my own world shared with the sun who watches over myself and Juna. Approaching me is the maiden with hair the shade of rich lavender. When she catches my eyes as she’d so clearly desired, she sends me a welcoming expression of grace.

“I’d wondered where I could find you.”

“Hello, Venna. Why were you searching after me? Is something the matter?”

“There are so many reasons. My, if I’d had the chance to, I’d most certainly spend even more time around you. But of course you’re a busy man with much to do.” She leans towards me and tilts her head playfully as she comes within arm’s length. “But there is one good reason I knew I’d had to find you now.”

“What may that be? Did you have something you’d wanted to talk about?”

“If you would let me, I would. But I think words wouldn’t do your trials justice, so I’d desired to give you something that could help you.”

I intend to speak but have the words seized from me as she steps even closer and brings herself against me. Her arms surround me ever so tenderly and she places herself against my breast.

“Venna…” Though it’s surprising, that’s the least of the feelings I’m brought as she embraces me.

“I’d heard what had happened during that meeting. I can only fathom how dreadful it must have been. With how you’re here all alone without Juna, I know that there’s much taking its toll on your heart right now.”

“But why…?”

“You’re such a knight.” She giggles. “I already know just how much you go through for others. Juna has always been your support but now you’re both struggling. And sometimes we could just use a simple hug. So here.”

She holds onto me even more firmly. And without another word spoken I can feel her kind heart which beats to support me in this time. Although I’m shy to start, I give back to her and seize the moment. I bring my arms around her and accept her warmth. We stand still while the sun shines down on us.

“It’ll all be okay. I can feel it in my heart. So don’t get discouraged. And when Juna’s dream finally comes true, I’ll be privileged to learn more about her. I’m betting that she has some great stories to share about your time together!”

The feeling of her touch and care paired with the gentle, loving tone in her voice feels like balm to the soul.

“I’ve been sad that I haven’t been able to spend much time with you yet, but that day too will come soon. I understand there’s so much you have yet to do. When we finally have our time together I have so much I want to tell you. If Marcia wouldn’t get cranky over it, I’d love to tell you all about her. I hope that’d be a fair exchange for being able to hear all about Juna and the friends you treasure.”

“That’d be fair. When that time comes, I promise we can share all sorts of stories. I’ll make sure that I give back to you just as much as you give me.”

“Then it’s a promise.” She speaks so brightly with laughter and joy to her heart. “And until then… even beyond then, I’ll be your support too. We’ll all be, so don’t lock yourself away too. We can all get through this together.”

She peers up to find my eyes again and proves all of her promises with the light in them. Though I’d had so many doubts inside my heart, I couldn’t dare to doubt the earnest kindness that flows from her.

“I suppose now would be just a time for that. When Juna’s finally among all of you again, I trust her to your care. Take good care of her and support her. Just as you’d all spoken your word.”

“We will.” She nods to me and then returns herself to embracing me closely.

✩ ✩ ✩

The moment we’d shared in an embrace came to an end and although I’d meant to rest myself in my own room, Venna was adamant to plead for me to follow her. So I’d gone with her to the living area. Hearing her pleas, I’d sat myself at her side upon the couch. From there she’d held onto me just a bit longer until she’d gently made me rest my head upon her lap. I was shy and fidgeted plenty but she’d kept patience and helped me through my nerves.

I lay and watch her as the sun falls through the blinds and brings light to her kind features. She hides the sun from blinding me with her own form and tender smile. Watching her eyes, I feel myself beginning to drift away. Weary from the burdens thrust on myself and Juna, the time I hold my eyes open becomes shorter and shorter.

“It’ll all be okay.” She speaks to me another promise.

✩ ✩ ✩

I wake up to the sight of the sun now giving the world its fire and brilliant riches. The first sight I behold is that of Venna’s beauty given a finer splendor by dusk’s embrace. She sleeps with the most peaceful expression. Her hand rests atop my head and I can feel her fingers mingling with my hair.

Unwilling to risk disturbing her so soon, I simply lay and watch her while letting my mind wander. It hadn’t been so long since I’d first met Venna and even though I’d been a complete stranger, she has always been welcoming with open arms and an open heart. Sure she may be a bit forward and her feelings of infatuation for me aren’t hidden in the slightest, but it’s admittedly charming. Rather, I feel a seed of fear come to me while I wonder if ever she’d have her heart broken for offering her kindness to someone who would mishandle it.

When I’d woken up, I’d quickly noticed that she now had a blanket placed around her shoulders. Draped around her cautiously but made to keep her warm while she’d rested. I can understand well that my fears, although well founded, are meaningless to worry over. After all, she’s long had her own special guardian to keep her safe and prevent her precious heart from falling into wanting hands. Now I promise to her while I watch her sleep so restfully that she’ll have another guardian to protect her in this world that can so quickly turn cold.

The moment I finally decide to rise and let her be, I feel a soft sensation roll off of my chest. When I see it, I smile to myself. A blanket is gathered on my lap.

I kiss Venna softly on the cheek and thank her for letting me have a sample of the treasures of her heart.