“Hm?” Stefan looked up.
“My name is Lethe.”
“Ah.” Stefan smiled. “Thank you, Lethe.” She remained silent, so Stefan spoke once more. “You know, there is an entire colony of Branded living in the Grann desert. For such a considerable taboo, it appears broken rather often, would you not say?”
“Beorc do not learn from their mistakes,” Lethe said, her voice low.
Stefan ran his fingers through his hair. “I would argue that laguz are just as to blame, if not more so.” Lethe growled at him. “Think about it. Most laguz can tell a person’s emotions a lot more readily than beorc can. By the time a beorc realises, it is usually too late. They are too emotionally attached to the other. Yet I know that the beast tribes, at least, would know far before anything…occurred.”
“Nevertheless,” Stefan continued, “it could also be argued that the laguz were trying to strengthen the beorc bloodline. Consider it, Lethe. Beorc live short lives. They are weak. The Branded far outlive them, outstripping their skill in every respect. I believe Soren’s tactical prowess alone is proof enough of that.”
“That puny strategist is--”
Stefan laughed. “One of ours, yes. He is far better at hiding it than I am - he probably has more experience doing so. But again, this proves my argument, does it not? You, a pure beast laguz, were unable to sniff out his identity at all, whereas I knew instantly. Even you cannot deny that the Branded have more in their favour than either beorc or laguz. Indeed, I believe this is why the goddess punishes us. Because we have succeeded in creating beings more perfect than even she was capable of.” He gripped Lethe’s hand, loosely but firmly.
She snarled at him. “Will you let me speak now?”
“Certainly.” He smiled at her.
“Good. You are without a doubt the most infuriating man I have ever met, rudely interrupting me like that.” Stefan laughed. “Do not test my patience! Listen to me - Parentless, Branded, whatever you wish to call your cursed self - no laguz would ever risk losing their powers to help such a bafflingly inferior race as the beorc!”
Stefan took her other hand and ran his fingers across it. “Shh…the loudness of your voice alone could deafen every laguz and Branded in this entire encampment.” He slowly moved forward, backing her up against a nearby wall. “Tell me, Lethe. You seem intelligent. The laguz blood that I have comes through many generations of beorc. Would you have me pass it on through another?”
“Beorc have no right to laguz blood, when it casts them no such curses as it does us.”
Stefan smiled, leaning in closer. “The goddess curses relationships between laguz and beorc to cause enmity between the two, and towards the Branded. She thinks that such curses will dissuade us from creating beings more powerful than she can control. Yet I think her foolish. In cursing laguz and beorc relationships, she has overlooked a very crucial thing.” Lethe’s eyes met his in confusion. “Last time I checked, I was not a beorc.”