“Well done gentlemen!” said Traynur as he stepped into the ring. “You can both lower your weapons now, the match is over.”
Breathing heavily and clutching wounds, we both let our weapons melt back into our black sleeves, which then faded back to gray in Pownde’s case, and white in mine. We shook hands and as I went to pull away, I could feel Pownde’s grip tighten on my hand. He pulled me back towards him.
“That was impressive. I guess I misjudged you… I assumed.” He said with an awkward laugh. “If you ever want to spar again, talk to me. I’d be glad to introduce you to some of my buddies or fight with you myself.”
Then my hand was free, and he Pownde was walking away, pressing on his stomach to stop the bleeding for the shallow hole that I had drilled in him. I began to follow him, when my leg buckled underneath me and I fell to the floor. A pair of hands rolled me onto my side and picked me up. I was half-aware that we were headed towards the Rest Area. Now I would get to see what they did to make people heal so fast.
I was laid down in a bed and a pillow was propped under my head. My eyes had been closed for most of the journey here, and I didn’t see any reason to open them.
Heh, get it?
I could feel another presence in the room, but was too tired and too weak to try and find out. I was already exhausted from a sleepless night. With the injuries and physical drain from the fight, I had fallen asleep in less than a minute.
I woke to an empty room, which was disappointing because I was hoping to find out who had carried me here. I had been hoping that it was Pailadyn, but if it was her, she wasn’t here.
I was visited a few hours later by a person with a Shroud that looked like a nurse outfit. She examined my hip and the mark on my shoulder.
“It looks like you won’t need any treatment this time around. I’ll just need to- What in the world?”
She was looking past me at the doorway. I turned to see who or what she staring at and didn’t see anything.
“GAAAHHHHH!!!” I yelled as I sat bolt upright. “Warn me next time please?”
“Sorry. Usually when I give a warning the patient panics and won’t let me near them.”
“I can’t imagine why.” I said dryly.
“I could dislocate it again if you’d like. Then I can give you your warning.”
“Ah, no. Thank you so very much for your help.”
She smiled sweetly, “Anytime dear. Oh you had a visitor earlier. She brought you in and waited for you to wake up. Eventually she left. She told me that she would meet you after she was released from training.”
“Did she say where?”
“No she didn’t. Well there are others I have to see to. Have a good day.”
If she didn’t leave a specific spot that meant that she thought it was an obvious place. I suppose it was too. I was careful getting out of bed. I tested my hip to make sure it was functioning, then I took off down the hall, through the Hub, and down to the exit. If I was right, Pailadyn would be waiting for me at the cliff.
I knew she was going to ask me if I had figured out what she was “quoting” me on. As I walked along, I was racking my brains, trying to think of something that would make sense. But I was coming up with nothing.
Finally I came to the base of the cliff. I was barely conscious of what I was doing, all my brain power was being spent thinking about what had happened. I needed an answer before-
“Hey Pailadyn. How are you?”
“I don’t know yet. Come on up!”
Up I climbed until I reached the top. I took a seat on one of the rocks and waited for Pailadyn to speak.
“You could have beaten him you know.” She said.
Already my mouth was open to defend myself against the inevitable ques-…
“You could have beaten Pownde. You should have been able to, if you have truly grasped the secret behind your will. It certainly appeared as if you had.”
“I think I have, but I just wasn’t at the top of game during that fight.”
“That was the best I had ever seen you do!”
“I know, but I was tired, I could have avoided some of the hits or reacted more quickly before he dislocated my hip. I couldn’t sleep at all last night.”
“Something a friend said to me that just wouldn’t leave my head.” I said with a pointed glance.
“Oh. I…I’m sorry. I guess that answers my next question.”
“If I had figured it out yet?”
“No, if you had thought about what I said. If you had figured it out would have been my next question.”
“Well I can answer that one too, although I don’t want to.”
“That doesn’t sound good.”
I Stood up and began to pace as much as the small space allowed.
“Pailadyn, I’ve thought about what you said since you said it, and I’m not a single step closer to figuring out what you want! I’ve tried! I really have tried.”
“Listen to yourself. It’s not about what I said. Tell me what I said.”
“You said it was something that you didn’t have to say because I already said it.”
“Exactly! So don’t think about stuff that I’ve said. Think about what you’ve said!”
I had. But just in case, I thought back to my first day here and began to flip through everything I had said to Pailadyn.
I came to a point in my thoughts that I had been trying to avoid for quite some time, but even as I tried to shy away from it, parts of it began to flood back into my mind.
“What is a kiss?”
Wait a minute… was this it?
“Ok. Not quite. It’s positive feelings towards another person. Attraction… Love.”
“Love is basically is affection, only stronger
I had wondered why Pailadyn had been oddly silent after that conversation… it wasn’t because she… she…
“Oh… do you get shivers or warmth in your heart when you are with the person you love?”
“I wouldn’t say that always happens, but it is common. Why?”
“Because I’ve felt something like that.”
That didn’t prove anything though… she could have been talking about-
“A kiss. You talked about one the other day.”
“It’s when two people press their lips together… It’s a sign of affection on Earth.”
My eyes widened and I looked back at Pailadyn as the final piece fell into place.
Pailadyn had stopped pacing and stood facing me. She was close. Very close. I had started to repeat my question when she grabbed my head and kissed me.
“Juewuhl? Are you all right?”
“Y-yeah… I’m fine. I just… I know…” I was breathing heavily and could barely gasp out the words. I inhaled deeply and began to regulate my breathing. Once I had calmed down from the shock caused by the influx of memories, I looked Pailadyn in the eyes and spoke with a certainty that I had never felt before.
“You love me don’t you?”