“You look like you could use a friend.”
That’s how it started. Such gentle words coming from a serpent’s tongue, yet I was too naïve to notice. I look up at him from my drink with uncertainty in my eyes. A wondering child now a woman of nineteen lost to a world she hardly knows; searching for something that she believes is so far beyond her reach. For the last time in my life I’m nervous, vulnerable, and so quick to believe. Too quick it seems...
Apparently my awkward silence amuses him and he takes a seat next to me. He does most of the talking while I tune him out and shift into my hard shell, apprehensive to let anyone in. So much pain inside, yet it was all covered in loathing; not only in myself but others around me, especially those carrying such a charming smile and pleased disposition. I instantly shut him down and tell him to shove off in the nicest manner I know of and without waiting for a response; I head out of the shithole of a local tavern and go off to my own little shithole of a hovel just a good walk away. Such a silly girl I was; didn’t realize that the snake already had its mouse, and was only waiting for the moment to constrict…
For weeks he tries to sweetly chat me up as I’m out either at the old tavern or finishing up some odd job; small mercenary works and the like. It’s not a lot of money, but it helps in keeping the food in my belly and a somewhat decent place to stay. Finally I give in and ask what he wants.
“All I want it you.”
There’s that smile again. The one I reflected on with so much suspicion, I eventually return with a faint smirk.
“And just what do you want with me?” The way the question rolls of my tongue in a somewhat suggestive manner almost surprises me, but I play it off like I meant to do so. The smile on his face only widened as he gave a little bow and extended his hand to me.
“Now that mi belleza, is purely up to you.” The words cascade from his Antivan lips creating a faint crack upon my shell as I hesitantly take his hand and he leads me off to an unexpected venture.
For almost seven years we’re by each other side, leading a small group of mercenaries across Antiva. The jobs are bigger, the pay is better and for the first time in a long time, I’m actually happy. Over the years he saw behind the armor I thought was too thick to cast aside. Ultimately my shell was cracked until he broke it completely, yet he took the time to pick up the pieces and make me whole again.
I learned to trust, a mistake I will never make a second time.
Our last job was so simple: Meet, greet, claim the mark, and get out with the coin. But something felt different. He was avoiding things. My subtle quips, the stolen looks, all the little things that made the job go by faster, made it easier; he acted like they weren’t even there. It wasn’t right. I knew it yet did nothing. Trust is a blinding conviction, and I was walking in complete darkness.
The meet was a setup by a rival group. One I thought we would end right then and there but he halts my attack and turns his back on me. That same smile that he gave me so many years ago makes its way to his lips as he slithers over to the other side. He greets them; arms open before turning to me again with a look as if I should have known all along that this was coming.
“They gave me a better deal, but you’re not included, amor.” His voice is cold, distant. I look at him with those same eyes as when I first met him; wondering, mystified. The confusion is gone once he swiftly pins me to a wall, and in a few moments it slowly turns to the pain of betrayal.
"Was any of it ever true? Did you even-"
He cuts my words with a small dagger sinking into my side. I grasp onto his shoulder while my body shakes from the cold silverite blade, my eyes widen in a shock that I could hardly understand.
"Shh, my little Luci, do not trouble yourself with such questions." The quiet words come out so hollow but there is sadness behind his gaze while he removes the blade. He sighs as he steps away from me taking a fleeting moment to caress my cheek with blood dipped fingertips. It looks as if it’s the kick while I’m down; another stab to my already fragile being, or maybe something more...
I chastise and curse the part of my mind in thinking that. No. There is nothing more to him but a lying viper that’s finally allowed its poison to slowly seep in. That is all I see as my eyes glare at him with a burning hatred while my body slowly slide down the wall until finally collapsing to the ground.
The last thing I remember is hearing his footsteps as he walks away, and my lips twitching into a faint smirk as I inwardly scold myself. Once again, I feel betrayed, hurt, and ultimately lost in a sea of darkness. Is this the last lesson he has to teach me?
Emilius. If I survive this night, I will gladly return this kindness that you have shown me. This I swear.