Aldrest collapsed in front of me, dropping his weapons in the process. I stood stunned for a moment, flat against the wall, my heart thumping at the near miss I had had.
"Shizuma..." Aldrest was looking up at me, his eyes wavering. I dropped to the ground next to him, and took his hand. "Shizuma..."
"I'm here, I'm here. Are you alright?"
"I... I beat my fear."
"That's right, that's the whole point of the exercise I think. It takes your biggest fear and makes you think you are experiencing it. So...you saw your father?"
"Yes." He was steadily regaining his breath. "I'm sorry if I hurt you."
"Don't think on it. It was my own fault. Once I knew it was you I couldn't fight you anymore."
"So it wasn't just my skills?" He grinned weakly.
"Actually, that may have been the most of it. You're quite terrifying when you're angry." I remembered his burning eyes and contorted face, grateful he hadn't been able to see my reaction.
"I'm so sorry." He took my hand. I let him for a moment and then moved his grip. I was still shaking slightly from my own fear encounter. Aldrest noticed. "What...what did you see?"
"One of the things you aren't telling me?"
"I don't want you to know what you became." He paused, then shook his head, putting his arm around my shoulder.
"I want to know." I hesitated, then leant my head against his shoulder.
"When I was young, Candravar found me on the streets. I had lost everyone, and was living as a thief. One night, a man decided he... well, you probably can guess."
"He tried to have his way with you? Just like Karion?"
"Yes. I wasn't as strong then as I am now. It was my hair he liked I think, so he decided to just take me for his own right there and then. Candravar arrived before the worst. I was only slightly injured, and he didn't manage to do anything but since then...well I guess you could say that's why I am like I am. No one gets too close. I guess I'm too afraid to let them."
"You let some people close to you."
"Candravar is my hero, and like a father to me. I let him close. You... well maybe I don't see you as that much of a threat. Or at least I didn't."
"Hey! I'm not that easy to beat...oh. So I was..." I didn't answer. It was too painful to think that he had gotten so close... "I was the one doing that to you?" I nodded my head once. "Shizuma...I'm so sorry. It wasn't bad though? I didn't do anything really bad...?"
"No. You didn't. You're not that strong you know. I can still kick your ass in any fight."
"Oh really?" He was grinning again. My attempt to lift the mood had worked, even if it was only a little bit lighter. I debated what to do next. He seemed to be doing the same. We both pondered awkwardly for a moment. I turned to look at him, taking my head off his shoulder. He looked back at me.
"So... what's next?" I grinned and he laughed to see me returned to my normal self.