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Cause [1.4.3]

It had been several hours, and Cassil was walking. The edge of Zion, from where she could step into the Reaches, was in her sights now. With two spears strapped on her back, a minimal amount of food and water in a small bag by her side and a hardened stare on her face, she was the very picture of determination.

In her head, a memory resurfaced.

Three years prior…

 




 

Cassil leapt forward and clanged against Raziel’s spear, but he was too fast for her. With a deft flick, he sent her spear spinning into the air and sent her crashing to the floor. She laughed to herself and looked up at him. Raziel nodded and offered her his hand. “Nice job.”

Cassil loved that look. She could never beat him during their frequent sparring sessions, but when she did well against him, his eyes would flash and his smile would widen, and the only thought in her mind was ‘I did that. I made him happy.’

Cassil took Raziel’s hand and he pulled her to her feet. She blushed, but Raziel didn’t notice. Instead he just said “So, shall we head back now?”

“Yeah.” Cassil replied. “Let me get a shower and then we can go.”

They went their separate ways – Raziel to the male changing room, and Cassil to the female. She was quite tired out; it had been a long afternoon of sparring. There was a general spear fighting tournament coming up, and it had snuck up on the pair of them: it was now tomorrow. Cassil had been training with Raziel to try and get better, because she wanted to impress him. The time to test her dedication was finally upon her, yet she still wasn’t sure if she would even make it through the first round. She resolved that she had to try, though.

Once Cassil was showered and respectable, she donned her armour and helmet and headed out. Raziel was waiting for her; he dressed quickly. He was messaging some people on his wrist phone, and she went over to him. “Who are you chatting to?”

“Miz.” Raziel replied. “He’s just got the latest viewport, so I’m helping him set it up.”

“I see.” Cassil said, shrugging. “Anyway, come on.”

They left the arena together, chatting quietly about this and that. Cassil never really cared what she talked with Raziel about, so long as she interested him. She often did – Raziel made sure to save his problems and worries for moments like their walk back from the arena so he could confide in her. It made Cassil feel quite special.

It was quite late, and the lights of Zion had already faded. It wasn’t long before the pair had returned to their apartment and let themselves in. There was nobody using the viewport, but the lights under the respective doorways told the twosome that Ephra and Vasa were in; probably busy with their own things.

“We’re home!” Raziel called.

A door opened, and Vasa poked his head out. “Thank goodness for that! You were out sparring way too late, you two. Tea’s on the side, but I’m afraid it’ll be cold by now.”

Cassil nodded and made her way into the kitchen, throwing up a lazy hand in a gesture of recognition. “No worries, Vasa. Thanks.”

“No problem.” he sighed, grinning. “How are you two feeling for tomorrow’s competition? Ephra’s already asleep, so she’ll be top of her game tomorrow.”

“I think I’ll be fine,” Raziel replied, hopping onto one of the sofas and reclining with a soft sigh of relaxation. Vasa stopped hanging outside his doorway and came to sit by Raziel. Cassil returned moments later with two plates of food.

“Here we go.” she replied. Raziel nodded in thanks and began to eat.

“I’ll be OK, too! I’m hoping to at least make it through the first round…” Cassil said through mouthfuls of food. Vasa nodded. Raziel chuckled to himself.

“Really, Cassil? You’re not half-bad now, you know. Not a patch on Ephra, but she did just pass the Official test a few weeks ago, so she’s in the top 3% of fighters in Zion already. But beating me? That’s not particularly easy.”

“I can’t beat you consistently.” Cassil said. “Although, that does remind me. Wasn’t it Ephra’s first proper day on the job today?”

“It was.” Vasa replied. “She finished all her training. Apparently the day went off without a hitch – investigated a burglary, and then paperwork for the rest of the day!”

“Hahah!” laughed Raziel. “Sounds about right. Bet that drove her crazy.”

“Oh, it did. Her boss seems nice, though – Kushel, I think it was. Head of Punishment.”

“Sounds like her area of expertise.” Cassil said.

Vasa glanced at the table and saw an abandoned glass that he recognised as his own drink from when he and Ephra had eaten hours previously. He took it and drank the rest of it.

“You can ask her about it before the competition, if you’d like. I don’t know how she’ll be, though, you know how she is on competition days.”

“Yeah, I’ll pass.” Raziel replied with a grin.

Cassil finished her food, but Raziel was still eating. She patiently waited a few more moments for him to finish, then took both plates to the kitchen.

“So, she beat you today?” Vasa said.

“A few times. We had about thirty matches, I’d say, and she won at least ten.”

“Blimey. She’s getting better.” Vasa replied. “…I hope tomorrow doesn’t ruin her confidence. I mean, she’s alright, but you know what they’re like there. They’re all ridiculously good.”

“Officials definitely are. Ephra had no trouble passing that test. Didn’t she say it was easy?” Raziel said.

Cassil returned with a drink for Raziel, which he accepted with a smile.

“Yes, and didn’t you fail it?” she replied, smirking.

“No,” Raziel said defensively. “I just… I wasn’t on top of my game at all.”

“Sure.” Cassil replied.

She yawned loudly and stretched her arms back. “Anyway, I think I’m going to polish my spear and then get to bed… wait.”

She looked around nervously. “Um, Raziel, have you seen my spear?”

Raziel held his up, but Cassil’s was nowhere to be seen around the apartment.

“I had mine… I don’t think you came out the arena with yours, now that I think about it…” he said. A look of horror crossed her face.

“Oh, shit.” Vasa said. “They close the arena all day on tournament day, don’t they?”

“And you’re not allowed to go into the changing rooms. They say you could steal another person’s spear or armour, and ruin a match for them.” Raziel replied.

“…I’m not going to be able to go and get it. My match is in the first round.” Cassil said, staring at the floor. “And it’s closed now. Bloody, bloody hell!”

Cassil was not one to swear often. Vasa and Raziel exchanged glances.

“Never mind.” Raziel said. “I’ll go get it.”

“What? Raziel, it’s closed. Breaking and entering isn’t-” Vasa stammered.

“I will go and get it. Be back before you know it!” Raziel replied, and before they could move to stop him, he’d gone running for the door and disappeared into the Zionid nighttime.

“This is going to end poorly.” Vasa said with a look of distaste. “…You should get some sleep, Cassil. I’ll wake you if I hear anything.”

“Aren’t you going to bed?”

“Not tonight.” Vasa replied. “Got a book I need to read through – Denneb sent me an old history of Void that I want to try and translate.”

Cassil smiled. “That sounds nice. Goodnight, Vasa.”

“Goodnight. See you in the morning… and hopefully, we’ll see him by then, too.”

Cause [1.4.2]
Cause [1.4.4]

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