The Perfect Couple Part Two “Well, boohoo for you! You didn’t just show me up, you humiliated me! And showed them… that everything you said is true. You didn’t redeem me. There is no redeeming me.” He looked away. “I’m finished. I lost my dominant arm. My magic is all messed up. You were right. There is no reason for your apparent lover to keep me around…” “Oh… well… well, boohoo for you, you big baby! So you got put down. I don’t remember hearing you being such a coward before. You want to run away from your problems just because they’re difficult? Well newsflash buddy, life sucks for all of us. You aren’t the only one to have suffered, so don’t think you’ll earn sympathy for acting like a total idiot.” “Says the woman with two arms and functional magic that just made me look the fool in front of everyone.” Eraqus crawled to his feet. “Why do you even care? Hell, I bet if I was gone, you would get my job.” “Perhaps, but I don’t want your friggen job. The only reason I went through all the trouble of kicking those guy’s ass was because you needed to get out of your hovel eventually. I kicked your ass for disrespecting me, so consider it payback.” Kara crossed her arms. “So convicted to quit? Look Mina in the eyes and tell her then. And don’t you dare plan on looking away either. See where it gets you.” Eraqus glared into her eyes for several moments. He then suddenly chuckled, shaking his head. “You’re an insufferable woman, you know that?” “I make my living off of being such.” Kara said, turning her nose up at him. “Now apologize.” The Elf blinked. “I… apologize for what? I thought you said kicking my ass was payback, and I still have to apologize? What about every insulting thing you said about me? And, you know… the humiliation?” “Apologize mister!” Kara demanded with a shake of her fist. Eraqus rolled his eyes. “Fine… I’m sorry. You’re not Lyr’s whore, and I’m sorry for what I said about Ophidians. Jeez…” “See. Wasn’t so hard to uphold being a gentleman now was it?” the girl asked, pushing herself up with her feet to kiss him on the nose again, though this time with the lack of sending him flying away. He rubbed his nose, remembering the pain. “What is that power of yours anyway? Between you and Lyr, do all Ophidians have weird, secret kinds of magic?” “Weird? I’d hardly call it that. Ever hear of spirit energy?” Kara asked with a curious look, clinging to his incomplete shoulder. “Is that like Chi from Stormrend?” Eraqus asked, scratching his head. “Same basic concept. Well, I unleash it on demand, so I don’t even require a weapon for my attacks. No special wand, gun or sword necessary. I suppose you could call me an Ophidian battle monk without all the special quirks that come from training as one.” She explained, her attitude becoming quite bubbly at this point in time. “I see.” Eraqus sighed, rubbing his eyes. “Listen, I… I need a drink. You want to get a drink?” “You aren’t allowed.” She pulled the elf away from the manor. “Consider your last call long since passed.” “Then, ugh…” Eraqus flinched in pain. “Then what would you suggest I do with the rest of my day?” “You could come take a walk with me. Show me the special things about the landscape. After all, I haven’t done a lot of exploring of this strange country after all.” “You’ve been around for a while now. Besides, I’m sure Lyr has already told you that I make for lousy company.” “Show me the landscape.” Kara said more forcefully, furrowing her eyebrows. “I haven’t done a lot of exploring.” Eraqus frowned. He wasn’t sure what it was about her that compelled him to listen. Could a hypnotic spell be working if one is aware of it. Finally, he slowly shook his head and asked, “Have you… seen the lake?” “I have not.” the girl said with a clear shake of her head. Eraqus took a deep breath, and nodded his head to the side. “Come on. It isn’t far from here. Just follow me, and try not to do anything weird.” “No promises.” the girl said chipperly, not letting go of him as they began their short journey. They walked in relative peace for a while, Eraqus pointed out a few aspects of the manor and area as they went. He was used to giving tours. What he wasn’t used was people giving him odd looks, wondering why he was with the woman who had just floored him like they were a couple. When they were off the main grounds and away from prying ears, he asked the question burning on his mind. “So is what you said true? You know, about you and… Lady Havenbrook?” “Mhmm. Though it is a lot more nuanced than you probably think. When I was… much younger, I became a slave to a very mean man. That same man so happened to capture Mina during her trek across the desert and our relationship was… very close while under the influence of a drugged wine. It wasn’t love, it was just comfort away from the confines of our suffering. Everyone needs a confidant, and her husband is away so often, she needs to keep the loneliness away to properly focus on her work.” Eraqus shrugged. “I guess. I just never thought she would do that kind of thing. Unless Janne knows about it. Does… does he?” “That’s between her and him. None of my business. What about you? Ever get up in there before you know who finally confessed to her?” Kara questioned with a couple light pokes in his side. Eraqus jumped a bit. “N-no! I… I could never…” “That almost sounds like a fib.” her mouth upturned. The Elf sighed. “Look, I… I’m not going to say it never crossed my mind. But I could never. She is one of my oldest friends. At least, one that is still around. I could never endanger that. Besides, I’ve known her since she was six or seven. It is kinda hard to think that way about someone you first met as a little girl.” “Very noble of you.” Kara said with a slight nod. “You’re royally missing out, but… it is noble.” Eraqus chuckled. “Would you believe me if I said I’m just happy she’s happy?” “Sure, I’d believe you. Just gonna be hard during those late night sessions missing that right hand of yours.” Kara chuckled evilly. He nudged her with his empty shoulder. “What do you take me for? You think it is either Mina or no one for me? I’ve had others. Not… for a while now, but I’ve been a bit busy.” “I just like teasing you about it. After all, look over there,” Kara said with a finger pointed over at a tree. When the elf look, he got a glimpse of Mina’s bare back and buttocks before she disappeared behind a tree. Eraqus blinked and rubbed his eyes. “I… who… was that…?” “Wasn’t real. But spiritual energy is great for a lot of things. Manipulating one’s perception of the real world being one. Illusions are easier when you aren’t the one paying to make it. Mina’s favorite. You say it, I can make it a fictional reality for a time.” Eraqus quickly shook her head. “N-nothing of Lady Havenbrook, please. It just seems… wrong. Like peeping on her in the shower or something.” The Ophidian chuckled, laying her head against the elf softly, closing her eyes as they walked. He blinked in confusion at that. She was surprisingly comfortable with him considering how they were just butting heads a while ago. They arrived at the lake. Despite the cool day, the area around the lake was warm, likely due to the open sky reflecting warm rays off the clear surface. “Here we are,” the one armed Elf said. “Lyr spends a lot of time here training with his two… uh, students, I guess you’d say.” “You say that like they aren’t. A lot of people seem to have scandalous ideas about him and those two. I guess it isn’t helped by just how insistent he is of denying the allegations.” Eraqus tapped his lips, then shook his head. “Nah. Lyr… isn’t like that. He’s a very respectable young man, considering… you know, fifteen. I mean, compared to how I was at that age…” “I am sure you have quite the stories old man.” the young adult said with a roll of her eyes. “Hmph.” He turned his head away. “Well, if you’re going to be rude…” “Well, compared to an Ophidian, you are old.” Kara reminded the man, going to the water’s edge, reaching behind her and removing her skirt. Eraqus quickly looked away, ever the gentleman. “Whoa, hey! A little warning next time! Bad enough you are already dressed so scantily...” “Come take a swim with me.” Kara said teasingly. She jumped into the water moments later with a splash. “I’m not really dressed for it,” he said when she came back up. “All I have are my boxers, and I doubt you want to see me…” “Are you coming or not?” Kara asked, rubbing her face free of the water. Eraqus sighed, pulling off his shirt, showing off his chiseled abs. “Ask the recently crippled man to swim. Sure. What could go wrong?” He stripped down to his boxers, not shy, but not used to this kind of situation, and slipped into the water. The young woman swam over to him, looping his arm over her neck. “If you are going to be a baby about it, I’ll help you.” “I-I don’t need your help… I mean, I might, but… not yet.” He shook his head. “You are extremely eccentric, you know that?” “And you’re a grumpy old man who broods too much.” She met his gaze, giving him a serious look. “Guess we do quite the balancing act, hm?” Eraqus slowly smiled. “Yeah… I think we do. Though… and hyperactive Ophidian and a brooding Elf? Think that could actually work?” “I don’t care.” Kara said, pressing a finger in his chest and swimming away, her legs just visible underneath the water’s surface as she kicked up some water at him intentionally. After some consideration, Eraqus decided to swim after her. Things were down for him, but it wasn’t over. And maybe, just maybe, he found something new worth exploring.