“Enough!” shouted Solana, which dispersed the crowd in a frenzy.
But, rather than forcing me into a panic as well, Solana’s yell forced my arms to fall to my sides. I took a few deep breaths, then looked back down at the man. Blood poured from his now-crooked nose, and his eyelids swelled. He spat out a tooth that was drenched in red.
Everyone around became irrelevant for those moments. Only Solana, the man, and myself. I no longer cared about the frenzied spectators, but I knew another blow to the guy’s face would knock him unconscious.
The man spat out blood, then smiled at me, ignoring all the pain I had caused him.
“Well? I’m waiting,” he said.
I struggled not to finish him off until something caressed my neck. Cold, sharp metal sent a chill down my entire spine.
“If you touch him, I will send this through your neck. Guardian or not, I will not let you hurt him, Elijah.”
My heart stuttered. If I finished him off, Solana would end my life right here. I took a look at my hands. The blood already dried on my knuckles, the blood of a man whose name I still did not know.
I rose from his crumpled body, slowly, as to not startle Solana. “I’m okay now,” was all I could say to her.
She removed the tip of her blade from my nape, allowing me to turn around and watch the blade dissolve into Essence in her hand.
“We’re leaving, now.”
I nodded, showing no emotion, even though inside, I was stirring with regret. But I was still fuming with anger over that man.
He had to be a Dweller, I thought. No one would ever want to throw their life away so willingly.
But that man was firm; he was stable with his conviction. Any other Dweller would have begged for me to let them go. Overexposure to the twilight forces the animal instinct within every human being to take over the brain. If he truly was a Dweller, he would have fled immediately, placing survival at the forefront of his priorities.
Maybe he just lost the will to live.
Solana wrapped her hand around my arm and pulled me away from the man’s crippled body. I could hear his struggling breaths amidst the dead silence of the Duscan.
After making considerable distance from the Dianoche, Solana finally released my arm violently. She turned and glared at me, her sapphire eyes like icicles to the heart. Remorse quickly spread to my body.
“Care explaining what the hell that was about?” she asked harshly, each syllable carefully wrenching at my guilt.
I remained silent. How could I answer that?
“Don’t have an answer? Fine, then I’ll tell you,” her words sharpened the blades that dug into me. “You’re not in control of your emotions. You’re rash, impulsive. You lack concern for others.”
I lowered my head in shame.
“Hey? Is this sticking? Because the Master has high hopes for you. It’s not everyday a White stumbles onto the castle grounds, let alone one as hasty and ill-tempered as you.”
Solana sighed, then cleared her throat. She was choking up. “Do you understand why you failed so many times during training today?”
“I...I was letting instinct take over, when instead, I should have analyzed the situation.”
“I’ll give you credit: that was a great takedown you did, and I’m glad you gave that man the chance to get away. It was until you let him manipulate your emotions that you lost control. Had he been well-trained in martial arts, your ass would’ve landed on the pavement in a matter of seconds.”