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Cause [1.5.5]

Joseph dodged neatly around Ephra’s stab and responded with a series of jabs, wielding his spear with flair and confidence. Ephra allowed herself a grin as she deflected the attacks and went in for the kill. It never came – Joseph lunged rather than went to block, and his spear clanged off Ephra’s armour, knocking her back. She skidded, but kept her balance, and remained there, breathing heavily.

“Most impressive.”

“You think?” Joseph asked, similarly tired out. “I wasn’t even close to beating you.”

“True.” Ephra said. “But I am, not to be self-centred, one of the best fighters in Zion. Even managing to last ten solid minutes with me is very, very promising.”

Joseph nodded. “I fenced in school. The spear’s a little different, but I can pick it up.”

With a shrug, Ephra gestured to the stairway down the outside of the building. “Let’s get back to the flat and eat.” They descended in silence.

Vasa glanced up from the sofa as Ephra and Joseph came in. “How was it?”

“Not bad.” Joseph replied. “Ephra is… good.”

Vasa laughed aloud. “Ephra is. She was an Official for a short while; to become an Official, you have to be very, very physically capable. The tests are gruelling.”

“I see.” Joseph replied. Ephra, not bothering to listen to the rest of the conversation, disappeared to the kitchen without another word. Vasa turned his head, worry on his face.

“I’ll help her with lunch. Make yourself at home, we’ll have something ready for you shortly. Probably won’t be as nice as this morning’s breakfast, but…”

“Are we doing more training this afternoon?” Joseph asked as he sat in the sofa Vasa had just vacated. Vasa adjusted his helmet and didn’t look Joseph in the eye.

“You look really tired. Whilst I’d like to say no, and give you a rest, we just do not have the time. Antumbra is coming, and until we have a confirmation on when… well, it could be tomorrow, could be in a month’s time. We’ve not a clue.”

“I understand.” Joseph replied. His hand instinctively went for his pocket where his lucky coin usually was, but he couldn’t feel the coin’s comforting weight and remembered that he hadn’t taken it with him when he’d travelled to Zion. Instead, he sent a message to Geoffrey; seeing his friend that morning had been very nice, and he was hoping to see more of Geoffrey.

 

dude. JC

 

He flicked on the viewport and scanned through some more history. This time, it was the climactic Battle of Hattin, from the Crusades. He watched with interest, wondering idly what was happening in the kitchen.

Life was strange now. He suddenly lived a life of weapons training, a machine being primed for one specific purpose. One day had taught him so much, and now he was spending his hours learning the spear, living in an unfamiliar place whilst his uncle presumably wondered where his ward had gone so suddenly.

An ache appeared in his chest: it was light, at first, but it grew, as he pictured his uncle. His uncle with the dishevelled clothes and cheeky smile, constantly watching Friends reruns, keeping a notebook by him at all times. Joseph had left him behind.

 

GS bro

GS lit just saw you this morning, whaddya need?

well. i just wondered if you wanted to come over, or at least chat. JC

GS course man

GS you seem different

i was just watching the viewport, Vasa and Ephra are making lunch. JC

i just pictured my uncle. i left him behind, Geoff, and he doesn’t know where I’ve gone. JC

i miss him. JC

 

Joseph was barely watching the battle. He was staring at the conversation he was having. He missed Geoffrey just as much as his uncle, and yet he couldn’t put that into words. He shook his head, trying to quell the thoughts for the time being.

 

GS hey its alright

GS look i left my da and ma behind too

do you not miss them? you seem just as happy as normal. JC

GS as far as i know and ill admit im not too familiar with what is happening rn

GS were saving the universe

GS that includes my da and ma

GS they might be worried about me but its better than being straight dead

yeah, that makes sense. JC

i guess never knowing my parents, I just… JC

 

Vasa and Ephra returned, with sandwiches and drinks. Vasa gave a faint smile, whilst Ephra remained stony-faced as they sat by Joseph.

“This looks good.” Joseph said. “Thank you.”

“You earned it.” Ephra replied, handing him a sandwich.

 

GS jeez this is a heavy convo

GS dont worry about your heritage and stuff

GS as ive always said, your uncle raised you, hes your parent by anyones book

yes. JC

i’m gonna put my all into this, for him. JC

GS good to hear dude

thanks, bro. JC

i really appreciate having someone to talk to about this kind of thing. JC

GS anytime man

thanks. anyway, gotta go, they’re serving lunch. talk later, alright? JC

GS absolutely

 

They ate in silence, virtually. Vasa and Ephra seemed to have something on their minds, and Joseph shuddered to think what they had discussed in the kitchen.

Whoever this Raziel was, he was no ordinary guy. His death broke these people, and yet his drive and ideals inspire them to continue his work.

“Good sandwiches.” he said, trying to break the silence. Vasa snapped out of his reverie, finding himself mid-bite, and swallowed the bite.

“Yes. Quick and easy meal, and tuna’s good for your health. Try a cheese sandwich too.”

Joseph did as he was asked. Ephra stood up, not bothering to finish her drink, and she turned away quite abruptly. “Excuse me a minute.”

She disappeared to her room.

“Is she alright?”

“I’d do the same if I could.” Vasa replied. “Unfortunately, we’ve got a plan to be getting on with. Ephra is taking this a little harder than me, even though…”

“Hm?”

“Cassil loved Raz. Ephra was his friend, but they were very close. Unfortunately, due to a serious situation a few years ago where Raziel was arrested for breaking into somewhere, there was a schism.”

Joseph tilted his head, wondering what kind of schism would cause this to happen.

“They didn’t stop being friends. But, as I’m sure you’ve established, Raz is a Zionid of action. And after the whole mess with Yasen, he very clearly trusted Ephra less. He wouldn’t give her important roles in his plans and adventures as he had done in the past. Instead, it was Cassil and I that used to be the main two.”

“I see. So, why is she acting like this now?”

“Maybe ‘was a schism’ was the wrong tense.” Vasa mused. “Essentially, Ephra hates failure. And Raziel died without forgiving her for what happened… and now he can’t. She’s hurt in a different way to the rest of us – she didn’t get the forgiveness that she spent three years trying to regain.”

Joseph put his sandwich down, his appetite thoroughly gone after the conversation. He turned, worried, to Ephra’s closed door. “I’m so sorry for her.”

“That’s why she’s pushing you.” Vasa replied.

He stood up with the few remaining sandwiches and began to walk back to the kitchen with the plate. “She wants to do this plan right for him. She wants to show him that his trust should have been with her.”

“I can understand that.” Joseph replied, thinking about his own motivation. Vasa went into the kitchen and reappeared moments later, striding towards his room.

“If Ephra comes back out, you’ll need to continue training. If not, do what you like. I’m… gonna be busy for the next few hours, but feel free to come by this evening. There’s some things I wanted to talk to you about.”

“OK.” Joseph said, somewhat surprised. “Sounds good.”

“I’ve been putting it off, but I have the time. I’m going to go and tell everyone who needs to know that Raziel is…”

Joseph nodded. “You do what you need to do. I’ll see you later.”

Vasa gave a stiff smile. “Thank you.”

Cause [1.5.4]
Cause [1.5.6]

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