“If you really mean what you said, then prove it with your sword!”
“I will. Without doubt, right here, right now.”
“Stupid, drunk idiot…”
There was a whirl of darkness and Logan woke up feeling a sharp pain. He felt disorientated. He was lying in a bed, but he couldn’t recall what was this place, nor what he was doing here, aside from, well, lying.
It seemed he had been dreaming about something, but that memory had now slipped into the abyss.
Logan tried to get up, but sluggishness and pain stopped him. He realized he had a hangover, which probably explained why he had trouble recalling where he is and what had happened. However, he was also sporting some fresh injuries that someone had neatly bandaged. His left hand was completely covered by them and Logan noticed that there was also a deep cut in his side.
“Did I get into a fight?” He asked himself.
A hazy memory of combat seemed to confirm this, but he had no idea with whom he fought and whether he won or not.
Logan managed to get into a sitting position and took a cup of water that someone had thoughtfully left for him. Honestly, he always envied how Rytlock could get completely trashed and then barely suffer from any effects of hangover.
That thought jolted his memory and Logan finally remembered where he was. Rata Sum. The whole Destiny’s Edge and many influential people came here to take part in conference regarding the future of charr-human interactions. A big banquet took place to put everyone in good mood before the actual talks.
Logan now remembered the opening of the banquet that happened yesterday (because he doubted he had slept for more than twelve hours), but he couldn’t recall anything that occured later on. There was only a memory of agitation, combat and a sense of defiance.
His attempts to remember what happened were interrupted by a polite knock on the door.
“Enter,” Logan said mechanically.
A woman who Logan identified as a nurse entered and two Seraph’s knights nervously trailed behind her. They were probably supposed to guard this room. Logan couldn’t recall their names, but their faces were definitely familiar.
“I came to check your bandages, sir,” the woman announced in a matter-of-fact manner.
“Please, do,” Logan said as he sat on a bed in a way that would allow her to easily reach his injuries. She quickly opened the box with medical supplies she was carrying and began to unwrap the bandages. Meanwhile, the two male guards who entered with her stood near the wall and looked as if they wanted to say something. “Do you have some business with me?” Logan asked, turning towards them.
“Ah, well… we… wedon’twanttosoundimpolitesincewerespectyouverymuchsirand… and… we…” One of them began jabbering.
“Captain, what we want to say is that,” the other one chimed in, silencing his companion, and continued in a slightly nervous, but more understandable manner. “While yesterday’s revelation has caught us completely off-guard and, well, we never suspected you felt like that, sir… I mean there were rumours, but we thought they were ridiculous and refused to believe them. But it seems we were wrong and… and, well, a lot of people will probably hate you, sir, for that… I mean, literally nobody expected that… especially that you would proclaim it loudly during such a banquet. I mean, I would be too embarrassed to do something like that…”
Logan who listened in silence to this zigzagging monologue began to sweat. It was becoming obvious that yesterday he had caused some sort of commotion of unknown nature. He could only hope he didn’t cause too much trouble to his queen.
As Logan considered asking outright what had happened, the guard finally concluded his speech.
“…so what we are trying to say is that… uh… your confession was really moving, sir, and we hope you will receive a favourable reply, sir.”
Logan looked at them blankly, as he processed what he had just heard. So yesterday he confessed, causing a huge commotion, and a lot of people would apparently be against that…
“ARE YOU SAYING I CONFESSED TO QUEEN JENNAH, YESTERDAY?!” He shouted alarmed.
The nurse who has just finished checking his wounded side jumped, surprised by his sudden outburst. Logan mechanically apologized to her. He thought in horror about his failure as a knight. The queen will surely be cross with him now for causing such an incident right before an important conference.
However, the two guards only looked at him in utter confusion.
“No, sir. You haven’t confessed to the queen,” the first one said slowly.
“No. You have confessed your undying love to your companion, Rytlock Brimstone.”
At first Logan felt relief, because everything seemed to be a better option than a drunk confession to the queen he served. It took him a second to realize that he had in fact supposedly confessed to his ironic, homicidal, two-meters tall, male and undeniably feline friend.
With a blank look in his eyes he repeated in disbelief.
“I confessed my love to Rytlock?”
“Yes, sir. Don’t you remember?” The first guard asked.
Logan was about to admit that he didn’t, but before he could the nurse lost her patience.
“Stop agitating the patient! How am I supposed to check his injuries if he is constantly shifting?! Get out of here, you two!”
The two guards immediately straightened up and with simultaneous “Yes, ma’am!” both of them moved towards the door. Logan wanted to ask them more questions, but the dangerous look in nurse’s eyes stopped him. While they were leaving, the second guard halted, as if he remembered something.
“Ah, right. The Pact Commander had to leave due to some urgent matter and left the letter for you, sir. It’s on the table,” and with that both of them really left. Nurse made an exasperated sigh and returned to her work.
Logan, meanwhile, tried to wrap his mind around these strange revelations. The whole story sounded ridiculous. If it was Queen Jennah he confessed to, it would be possible his feelings got better of him. But Rytlock? No, that didn’t sound even remotely probable. Were those two guards playing a joke on him? If so, it was a rather unfunny one. Logan considered asking the nurse, whether what the guards said was true, but he gave up on the idea. He didn’t know for certain if she wasn’t in cahoots with them. Logan thought he should calm down, soon he will leave the room and then he will be able to confirm this is just a stupid joke.
A minute later, the nurse finished changing the bandages and left with a small bow. Logan didn’t even register her advice to not strain himself. After she left, he set his sight on the letter left on the table. It was possible it contained some hints about what happened yesterday. Logan remembered that as the Commander of the Pact, his friend, also attended the banquet.
The Seraph’s captain took the letter and opened it, after sitting once again on the bed.
I’m sorry to inform you that I won’t be able to take part in the conference. An acquaintance of mine requires my immediate help and I have a huge debt to repay her. However, as far as I could see everyone was rather amiably disposed, so I believe talks will go smoothly even without my presence. Although, yesterday’s happening will probably create some sparks.
Speaking of which, congratulation on confessing. It might have been improvised, but you did a great job. I was moved by your words. Truly moved. Please, remind Caithe for me that she owes me 5 gold. She bet that Rytlock would be the one to confess first. Well, the hard part begins now. I wish you two best luck.
P.S. Please inform me if you decide to have wedding. I wouldn’t want to miss out on it.
P.P.S. Now I really regret I won’t be able to take part in the conference. Minister Ailoda almost got seizure when you proposed yesterday and I won’t get to see Rytlock’s answer.
Logan skimmed through the final pleasantries and the signature. He wondered if someone could have forged the letter. It could be swapped. Or there may have been no letter left in the first place. Logan had seen many instances of forgery when it came to correspondence during his life.
Except it didn’t make sense in this case, because after leaving the room he could easily verify the truth by simply talking to Caithe.
And that was what he was going to do.
Locating Caithe wasn’t difficult, since she was in her room. Upon opening the door the sylvari smiled.
“How are you doing, Logan?” She asked letting him in.
“There were many mornings that started better,” he admitted slowly. He wondered how to safely ask about the banquet. “Our friend apparently left due to some business,” he said deciding to approach the matter with caution. “There was a letter left for me.”
“Yeah, I heard later. Something urgent came up.”
“I’m not sure if this was meant as a joke, but I was asked to tell you that you lost a bet,” Logan said carefully.
“Oh, that one. Totally my loss. I used to laugh at the idea that Rytlock was too shy for confessions, but I’m forced to admit there might have been something to it after all…”
Logan went pale after hearing her words. The sylvari noticed that and quickly made him sit on the chair.
“What is wrong? You look bad, Logan,” she asked worried.
The knight took several deep breaths and then looked at her in despair.
“I don’t remember what happened yesterday,” he admitted.
Her eyes went wide and a troubled look appeared on her face.
“That… that’s bad…” She said slowly.
“Caithe, tell me what happened. Did I really…? Did I…?”
The sylvari sighed.
“You got very drunk together with Rytlock. At some point you climbed the table and while standing on it you loudly announced that you are in love with Rytlock and when everyone were looking at you dumbfounded you started to elaborate. When Rytlock got over the initial shock he tried to stop you. The two of you got into fight. You won, so your confession has to be taken seriously. Rytlock is supposed to give you his answer today, during the evening feast,” she summarized.
“I…” Logan felt words failing him. “I… why? Why would I do something like that.”
“We all do stupid things because of love,” Caithe assured him.
“It’s not love!” Logan shouted, but then paused. “I mean, it’s friendship. I might have meant platonic love. It must be a misunderstanding…”
“Um, I don’t think anyone thought that your love declaration was platonic. Neither the crowd, nor Rytlock and especially not you…” The sylvari gently, but decisively shot down the argument.
Logan closed his eyes and went silent. Caithe was at loss for words, so she decided to help fixing something less fragile than the relationship between her friends.
“Do you want some medicine for hangover? I should have some left,” she suggested.
She moved away and started to search through her bag. Meanwhile, Logan stared into the ceiling. Everything felt unreal. For a second he considered if Caithe also wasn’t playing a prank on him, but he abandoned the idea. Her reactions were too honest and full of worries.
Logan realized he screwed up. Screwed up big time. Well, not as much as when they faced against Kralkatorrik. But only slightly less, considering he once more endangered his friendship with Rytlock. It took them five years to reconcile after the previous fiasco.
Logan felt a surge of determination. He needed to fix this mistake somehow. Make it as if it didn’t happen. Or this time Rytlock will really kill him…
“I’m sorry, it looks like I ran out of the hangover medicine, but this should help at least a bit,” Caithe interrupted his thoughts, as she handed a cup to the knight.
“Thank you,” he replied absently and took a sip. The mixture was bitter, but not as bitter as Logan’s thoughts. “I need to fix this mess,” he said after taking a sip.
“I’m not sure this situation is something you can just fix,” Caithe pointed out carefully.
“What do you mean?”
“Can’t you just talk it out with Rytlock? It’s not like he joined Dragons’ side. I’m sure you could reason with him.”
Logan looked at her seriously.
“I have embarrassed him before the delegations from all over the Tyria, including his superior. And I don’t even remember it. He will furious!”
“Well, I admit he will probably be angry when he learns you don’t remember confessing…” Caithe agreed.
“Exactly, will you help me?” Logan asked.
“I don’t think there’s anything I can help with. I mean this is between you two. And I don’t think I have any good advices about reconciling after a major blunder…” She admitted troubled.
The knight looked at her, indicating that she is not very helpful.
“Never mind, I will manage this,” he said standing up. He felt the need to do something and it was obvious that Caithe, for one reason or another, will be unable to help him. “See you later.”
For a moment she looked as if she wanted to tell him something more, but she stopped herself.
“Good luck, Logan,” the sylvari said in a slightly worried tone, as she watched him go.
The knight decided to eat something before he resumed his attempts to rectify the situation. The building in which he now was had been erected with the idea of housing guest and providing space for big conferences. There was a huge hall used for banquets and other bigger events. There were also several smaller conference rooms, which could still easily hold more than two hundred people. There was also a number of smaller dining rooms that were meant to be used during breaks or as a small dining halls. Because there were many guests, the main hall was being used for the conference. It was planned that during the evening the feast will take place there. This way the situation in which the factions taking part in conference alienated themselves would be avoided, but at the same time they would only have to interact with others during one meal which should lower the odds of potential fights breaking out during the meal. The program of the conference was designed to ensure a maximum of integration with minimum of hostility. At least, that was what the hosts claimed.
Logan wondered if those hosts didn’t in fact use those conferences as means to obtaining some sociological research data. Even the interior of the building was designed so that it would feel neutral to all of the races that would potentially use it. The rooms for guest, on the other hand, were mostly made with specific races in mind. Though, a certain amount of neutral bedding rooms also existed to make sure there is a space to accommodate the members of race which came in greater numbers than expected.
Logan entered one of the dining halls. It was mostly empty, probably because the talks were already underway and most of those who came went to observe them.
The Seraph’s captain sat down and took some of the food placed on the table to make himself a modest breakfast. While he consumed it, he tried to come up with some plan. For now it would be best to find some help. He didn’t think he would be able to fix this mess on his own. Truthfully, he had no idea where he should even begin. He hoped that someone who thought more clearly would be able to give him a good solution. Unfortunately, Logan’s hungover mind, still refused to cooperate.
As he finished eating, he spotted one of his friends. Two tables away from the human, sitting with her back to him was Zojja. He quickly moved to where she was. The asura noticed him only when he sat next to her.
“Morning, Logan. Since as far as I can see it cannot be described as good for you.”
“There were better ones.”
Many better ones in fact, but he knew Zojja hated whining, so he kept quiet. The knight turned towards her and then asked her pleadingly.
“Zojja, you need to help me!”
“Help you what? Write invitations to the wedding? Help Rytlock choose a wedding armour? I’m sure Eir would love to help you with the latter,” she answered indifferently, not even looking at him.
Logan paused, mostly because for a moment he imagined Rytlock in white armour. It didn’t fit him, since he always wore dark coloured ones. The knight looked in silent terror at his own light-coloured armour. Would he have to wear dress due to that? He would look utterly stupid! But, on the other hand, Rytlock would probably look even worse…
Logan shook his head, he was sidetracking and thinking way too much about the scenario which he has been trying to avoid.
“I want to somehow withdraw my yesterday’s declarations.”
“You are getting cold feet already? Rytlock will have a broken heart. And will probably break your jaw in return,” she said in a tone of voice that indicated that any physical or emotional damage they were going to receive was none of her business.
“Look, I was drunk at the time, I have no idea what came over me, but I need to reverse this somehow,” Logan explained annoyed.
“I actually agree with this statement. As in, the part about you having to do something. So would you mind dealing with this problem in a place different from my nearest vicinity?”
“Wait, are you telling me to deal with this on my own?”
“Let me make this clear. I am not going to assist you in any way in solving the conundrum you have caused for yourself.”
“What did I do to you to deserve such a treatment?” He asked, feeling more and more frustration due to the asura’s unhelpful attitude.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Zojja said thoughtfully. “Maybe you had left the whole Destiny’s Edge when we were fighting the dragon and as a result Snaff had died prematurely. I think this is a good enough reason,” she finished more angrily.
“I thought you hated Eir for that?”
“Oh, I hated you too. But you were always an idiot Logan, so there were no expectations to be betrayed. It was more disappointing that Eir, who I had a high opinion of, failed.”
“I’m not an idiot!” Logan protested.
“I think there is enough empirical evidence to suggest otherwise. Especially, after yesterday. Next time your misguided hormones get better of you, please try to keep this private. I know it might be difficult at this point to correct the fact that you tend to think using your reproductive organs rather than actually using a brain, but since I’m your friend I will continue to believe it is feasible for you. That is what friends are for, right?” Zojja finished the conversation with an angry stab into her croquet.
Logan realized he won’t get any help from her and stood up.
“Ah, I almost forgot. An acquaintance of mine expressed interest in conducting an interview with you for the sake of her research,” Zojja said.
“Are you suggesting I should help her?” Logan asked annoyed. He didn’t see why he should help Zojja’s friend, after receiving no support from the Asura.
“No, I’m just warning you,” Zojja answered, finally looking at Logan. “Another thing friends do. She may be a bit insensible, so please try not to murder her. She used to attend my lectures before she choose the field of sociology. Aside from that I don’t have any requests. Have fun.”
After that Zojja returned to eating her meal.
Logan opened his mouth, but quickly closed it and left the hall.
As he walked through the corridors he automatically returned to the part where rooms for human guests were placed. He planned to return to his room and wait a bit for his headache to subside. However, when he was going in that direction, he stumbled upon a group consisting of his liege and her attendants.
“Good to see you, Logan!” Queen Jennah said as she smiled. He felt guilty about appearing before her in such unsightly shape and did his best to present himself better than he actually felt.
“Your Majesty!” he called, happy that he found a light in the dark tunnel that his life was slowly turning into. Of course, Queen! Who else if not her could help him get this whole situation straight? “My queen, there is something I need to ask of you,” the Seraph’s captain said hopefully.
“I will gladly listen to you, but before that let me congratulate you!” She replied with a sincere smile. “I’m very happy you finally managed to find the courage to confess to the person you loved. I was beginning to fear that all the responsibilities you have been carrying made it impossible for you to find the happiness of married life. I’m truly relieved that my worries were baseless.”
Logan froze, hearing this unexpected confession. He wanted to say something, but his lips couldn’t produce any words. Meanwhile, Queen Jennah continued cheerfully.
“I was happy to learn yesterday that you actually found someone like that. And a charr, no less. This may be a breakthrough, Logan! Your relationship may help us finally mend the gap between our races!” she explained and there was an excitement present in her voice. “It all depends on tribune Brimstone’s answer, of course. But after witnessing your passionate and honest feeling, I’m sure he will agree.”
Logan felt the world around him shatter, as the light he found in the darkness turned out to be a fiery breath of an attacking dragon.
“Help mend the gap?” He repeated, because he was still unable to produce words on his own.
“Well, you probably didn’t consider it from this perspective, but this will have a huge political consequences. Commander of Seraph and Blood Legion tribune coming together! Don’t worry, I already had a word with imperator Smodur and he is not going to interfere when it comes to your relationship. I’m not sure what imperator Bangar’s stance will be in the matter, but I doubt he will outright oppose tribune Brimstone, since he must be aware of how his carrier in the Blood Legion looked like.”
“I-I see…” Logan stuttered. Queen Jennah took step forward and looked him straight in the eyes.
“So, don’t worry for now. I will make sure that the strained relationship between our races won’t get in your way. That’s why you should concentrate on making sure that both you and tribune find happiness. I believe in you. I’m sure you can raise above our ugly history and show the world that love will shine in spite of the horrible past,” she assured him.
Logan couldn’t avert his sight. He looked straight into his queen’s eyes. He could see her trust in him and hopes she had for him. He realized it was his last chance to explain to her that it was all mistake. That he didn’t mean what he had apparently said yesterday.
“My Queen…” He started to speak, but stopped, because he was hit by a sudden sense of déjà vu. He remembered a look. A look saying that he should find happiness. Happiness with someone else. A sad look. Unacceptable look…
The memory slipped away before he could actually grasp it. He focused once more on the reality and realized it was different from that memory.
There was no sadness in Queen Jennah’s gaze. He wished there may have been some fleeting regret in her eyes, but there wasn’t. There was only joy and hopefulness of a person who saw a possibility of bright future.
An unknown resolve suddenly surged inside him.
“Don’t worry. I will make sure to succeed no matter what!” He said strongly. He felt confusion at his sudden words, but the queen only grinned when she heard that.
“Then go, my knight. I will make sure to be the one to protect you this time. Don’t hesitate anymore. I will be awaiting the good news.”
“As you wish, my queen,” Logan answered confidently.
“I shall be going then. I am to join the conference soon and I need to prepare. Good luck, Logan. If everything goes well I will be happy to help you with organizing the wedding,” she announced and then moved on. The captain was left alone in the corridor with his own thoughts.
Logan Thackeray, the proud knight of Serph, was sitting in dining hall and drowning his sorrows in the water and cucumber juice.
Everything he had believed in seemed to have crashed.
The queen was supporting his relationship with Rytlock and he had promised her to “do his best in that matter”. Logan felt like crying whenever he remembered that. Not only had he destroyed his biggest chance to somehow clarify the whole misunderstanding, he had been indirectly rejected by his long-time crush and now he was left alone to deal with a huge mass of anger and violence that was his best friend to whom he had proposed.
Logan took another sip of the juice. Normally, he would much rather drink some alcohol, but drunkenness was the thing that got him into trouble in the first place. That was why, the knight had been trying to combat his hangover using some other means.
This only left him feeling even more miserable. Will he have to start dating Rytlock now? Or will he end up being killed by him first?
Suddenly, a happy voice pulled him out of those thoughts.
“Excuse me, are you Logan Thackeray?” A female Asura asked him. She wore a beautiful scarlet dress and her ginger hair was tied into two buns. She wasn’t high, even for an Asura, and had a fearless grin very characteristic of her race. A pair of blue eyes was now fixated upon the knight, judging the research value he presented.
“Who are you?” Logan barked.
“I’m Fujjo, I specialize in interspecies intercourses and I hoped you would answer some of my questions,” she answered happily, completely undiscouraged by his harsh tone.
Logan just looked at the Asura, as if she was a living manifestation of all his fears and problems.
“Intercourse?” he repeated hollowly, because the realization of what she could potentially mean threatened to crush his mind.
“The close relationship between the groups or individuals of different species. This is largely uncharted field, so currently we are dealing with all manners or relationships. Aromantic, asexual, familial, romantic and sexual. We would be grateful if you could provide us with more data.”
“Could you just leave me alone?” The knight asked pleadingly. His head hurt both from the hangover and the content of the Asura’s speech.
“I presume this is a bad time. However, I will take only a bit of your time,” she assured him. “Just a few questions.”
He shot the most intimidating look he could toward the Asura. The annoyance, hangover and the prospect of incoming disaster made his face contort into hideous frown. Yet, Fujjo stood in place with an unmoving grin of a trained salesman.
“Only five questions and you will leave me alone after that,” he said. The Asura was a stubborn one and had a dangerous pressure of someone very dedicated to their goal.
“Yes, sir!” She replied happily, as she flipped the pages of her notebook which she suddenly produced.
“Watch carefully, Retto,” she instructed a male Asura next to her, who she also seemed to have pulled from nowhere, because Logan was sure he wasn’t standing there just a second ago. “You need to learn how to conduct interviews, if you want to work full-time in the field. So watch carefully and make your own notes,” she instructed him, while pointing the sharp end of a pencil towards him.
Retto only nodded silently. He was similar size as Fujjo, or rather he was slightly taller than her, but had a strange for an Asura tendency to hunch, which made him look shorter than he really was. He had a mop of black hair that partially obscured his eyes. Unlike his boss, he produced a holographic notebook.
“Now then, let’s begin!” The Asura announced happily as she raised the pencil into the sky.
Logan felt he was already regretting this.
“Are you romantically attracted to any charrs other than tribune Brimstone?” she asked him straightforwardly.
“No!” He answered immediately. He wasn’t “romantically attracted” to Rytlock, as well, but somehow he didn’t feel like explaining it to the Asura. He felt tired and doubted she would believe him.
“I see. Since when have you discovered you had a romantic interest in him?”
“I-I’m not sure. When we were fighting Zhaitan?” He suggested, deciding to just continue with the lie. There was the memory of telling his friends to go on without him. So he could repay them for his previous failing. And Rytlock looking at him with a mix of surprise and worry. And anger. There was always anger in Rytlock, so it was pretty normal. He sounded very annoyed as always when he told Logan not to die.
”Fine. But if you get yourself killed I will hound you into the Mists!”
The knight almost chuckled at the memory. He often found Rytlock’s crude ways of showing concern amusing, rather than annoying.
Meanwhile Asura and her assistant were busily writing something down. Logan instinctively considered it a bad sign.
“What physical feature of tribune do you consider most agreeable?”
“His fur,” Logan answered without even thinking. Rytlock’s feline hide sometimes triggered in him a strong urge to pet. Of course, he always resisted, because he was pretty sure that Rytlock would kill him for that.
Except maybe for few times when Logan helped to apply the first aid, which provided some excellent opportunities for surreptitious caressing. But it wasn’t something he was going to ever admit loudly.
Three questions went by. The interview wasn’t as much of a disaster as he thought it would be, so Logan relaxed a bit and took a sip of juice.
“Are you sexually attracted to tribune Brimstone?” Fujjo asked with a brilliant smile without missing a beat.
Logan spat the juice in her direction.
For a second it seemed that her dress would be ruined, but a barrier suddenly appeared around her, stopping the substance from reaching her. Her smile didn’t disappear even for a second.
The captain would probably realize she was also a guardian if he wasn’t busy choking on both the juice and the question.
“I’m not sexually attracted to Rytlock!” He shouted in a strained voice. His throat felt painful.
Several people turned around to look at them, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care right now.
“I see, no sexual attraction,” Fujjo said without even bothering to hide her scepticism.
“I’m not!” Logan repeated more angrily.
“Yeah, yeah. I understand you think that way, you don’t have to repeat that!” She said, as she nodded. Retto was typing furiously behind her.
“Just what makes you think I am?!” He demanded, because her confidence was deeply unsettling for him.
“Well, I was there during your yesterday’s speech and I must say that while you never outright mentioned a sexual interest there are parts that strongly suggest this. There was a lot of vocabulary referring to skinship and physical closeness. And your fight later contained a lot tension, which nature is something I can’t easily determinate. But if someone ever asked me to choose a situation that best represents sexual tension I wouldn’t think twice about using your skirmish as an accurate representation,” The Asura explained cheerfully.
“There’s nothing scientific about it,” Logan pointed out, mostly to distract himself from thinking just how many people might have gotten similar impressions.
“Feelings are also important! Honestly, that’s why nobody ever takes my research seriously. All they talk about is data… Love is the power that truly moves the world! It’s an integral part of the Eternal Alchemy! Isn’t that right, Retto?” She proclaimed turning towards her assistant. He nodded vigorously. She smiled wider seeing that. “Exactly, no wonder I choose you as my number one assistant! Well, this is your moment to shine. I will leave the last question to you!”
Logan looked with a worry at the silent assistant. The Asura moved closer and then said in a quiet voice that was close to whisper:
“Have you thought about starting a family?”
“Um, I don’t think it’s possible with two males,” Logan pointed out.
“Adoption is feasible,” Retto retorted.
“Well, true, but I didn’t really think about it…” The knight admitted, but at the same time he remembered his visit to Ascalon. It wasn’t long ago, he went there to help with some diplomatic matters, but somewhere along the way he and Rytlock went to oversee a cubs’ field trip. It was first time Logan saw his friend interacting with children and it was a strange experience. There was a clear fondness in him whenever he interacted with the cubs, even if he teased them. There was something charming in this discrepancy between the ruthless and homicidal Rytlock whose favourite pastime was killing the Dragonspawn and the Rytlock who acted as a wise mentor towards a young generation.
“An excellent question, Retto!” Fujjo said excitedly, as she wrote quickly in her notebook. “Thank you very much for giving us your time, captain! We will be sure to contact you in the future. For now we wish you good luck. If everything goes well, please consider giving us an exclusivity when it comes to the future interviews. Come on, Retto, we need to prepare for the evening!” The Assura exclaimed happily as she started to move forward. Her assistant nodded politely toward Logan and then followed her, scampering in a rather comical way.
The captain watched them in silence and then looked into his cup. There were about two hours left until Rytlock appeared with his “answer”. Logan sighed, drank the rest of his juice and stood up. He couldn’t just give up.
In the end, he was concentrating too much on trying to save his face than on the actual attempts to solve the problem. His hangover was beginning to subside and Logan was starting to think more clearly.
He should try to find Queen Jennah and tell her the truth after all. He lied in their conversation and he was beginning to feel guilty about it. Logan started to move, hoping to catch the queen during the short moment of break between the talks.
“I wish to meet with her highness, it’s an urgent matter,” Logan explained to the guards.
He was standing before the entrance to her quarters.
“Countess Anise is with her majesty,” one of the guards said, as they let him through. Logan figured they were probably discussing the strategy for the talks that were about to resume.
The queen’s quarters were very spacious. She had several rooms, all brightly lit with artificial light. The furniture was high-class, but instead of creating an aura of inapproachability, it was homely. Logan felt himself calming down just looking at the interior.
However, neither of the women was in the first room. He knocked upon the next door, but received no answer.
“Your majesty?” He called, as he carefully opened them. This room was also empty, but the Seraph’s captain could hear a muffled sound of conversation. It came from behind the half-closed door leading to another room.
“Your highness!” He called again, louder, but still received no reply. At this moment he started to worry. Was there some kind of danger threatening the queen? Even if Logan was in a different room the two women should have heard him.
He cautiously approached the opened door and then peered through it.
Inside the brightly lit room Countess and Queen Jennah were kissing. For a moment the knight wondered if his tired mind wasn’t playing tricks on him. But there was no mistaking that Anise was bent to reach the lips of the queen, who was sitting on one of the chairs. And that it was without a doubt a rather passionate kiss.
Logan’s mind froze. It wasn’t like he never considered idea of Queen Jennah being in a romantic relationship with someone. It was just, he never considered that it was something that could be happening right here and now, and that the object of her affection would be his acquaintance. Which was why he could only stare in silent astonishment at the scene before him. He thought he should do something to make his presence known, because he felt that eavesdropping on such an intimate moment was wrong. However, interrupting them also seemed to be an extremely rude thing to do. Unable to decide his course of action, he just stood in place until they broke the kiss. When that happened he coughed theatrically to make his presence known. Anise straightened and turned toward him with a smile that suggested she realized he was there all along. Meanwhile, Queen Jennah had an unreadable expression.
“I’m extremely sorry to have interrupted you,” he said quickly. And he really was. Mostly, because he felt ashamed, but also because he wished he had at least several days to sort out his feelings after his previous meeting with the queen, where he got indirectly rejected, before he witnessed her kissing someone. A few hours were definitely not enough. Logan did his best to contain the feeling of regret and sorrow that threatened to crush his heart. He logically understood that the current situation wasn’t really anyone’s fault, but this did little to dispel the horrible sense of injustice that he felt. “There is something I need to tell you, your highness.”
The queen stood up, but for some reason she avoided eye contact.
“Logan… I’m afraid I don’t have time to listen to your case right now. The meeting is about to resume. Could you report to Anise instead? She will pass it to me later on.”
“But your majesty…”
“Please,” she said with more pressure.
“I understand…” He said, as he lowered his gaze. He didn’t want to argue with the queen. Especially, right now. He knew nothing good would come out of it.
She passed him as she moved toward the other room, but then stopped for a moment.
“I’m sure she will be able to help you better than me,” the queen muttered. Before Logan could ask what she meant, he heard the sound of door behind him closing. He was left alone with Anise, who was smiling enigmatically. He wondered if he should congratulate her. As a potential rival, who never took up the challenge and instead gave up before the competition even begun. He was beginning to comprehend that he truly lost his chance. Before, he still had some slight hopes, but now they had been utterly annihilated. Only a hollow feeling of overdue regret remained in their place.
He tried to recompose himself, but that seemed like a futile attempt considering he was about to face the countess.
“So what is it that you want to report?” She asked.
“Anise, the thing is I don’t…”
“…remember what happened yesterday, so I’ve been running around confused, unsure what to do,” she said mimicking Logan’s speech. After seeing his dumbfounded expression, she chuckled. “Don’t underestimate my information network.”
There was a pause.
“Does her highness also know that?” Logan asked in a wavering voice.
“And would you prefer if she did or if she didn’t?” Anise returned the question.
The knight shook his head dismissingly, realizing that he was probably better off not knowing. He had enough revelations when it came to Queen Jennah today. He wasn’t sure he would survive another one.
“Never mind. Anise, you need to help me.”
She blinked, but then smiled warmly.
“Well, I guess I should,” she admitted.
“Finally, someone…” Logan was almost breathless from the relief he felt upon hearing that. “I want…” He started, but Countess raised her arm, silencing him.
“But first I should warn you that the help that you need and the help that you feel you need are two different things. And I’m only going to provide you with the former.”
“What do you mean?” He asked in confusion.
“You are a brilliant person Logan, but this is one of the things you are bad with. Listen, if you want to solve a problem you must start by identifying it. Otherwise, you won’t get anything done.”
“My problem is that I have made a drunk confession to Rytlock yesterday and he is going to kill me,” Logan said impatiently.
Anise sighed and brushed her hair.
“That’s what I’m saying, you are looking at it only from one perspective. Firstly, tribune won’t kill you even if he gets angry at you. He may break some bones, but that’s it. You are exaggerating. And secondly, confession itself isn’t a problem.”
“It is a problem. If nothing changes I will have to date Rytlock!” Logan shouted agitated.
“And why is that a problem?” Anise asked calmly.
“I don’t want to!”
“Then why did you confess to him?” She continued to question him impassively.
“I was drunk!”
“Have you ever confessed to someone while being drunk, before?”
“Well, no,” Logan admitted in a more even tone of voice, caught off guard by her question.
“Then we can safely assume that there was some kind of reason why you confessed yesterday.”
“But, but I don’t remember…” Logan admitted in a slightly panicked tone. Until now he had assumed that there was no logic in his actions during the banquet. However, if what Anise suggested was true…
“And we finally got to the problem!” Anise announced with a smile.
“Are you saying that if I remember what happened yesterday, everything will sort itself out?” Logan asked in disbelief.
“Life isn’t so simple. I have no idea what will happen, regardless of that. But your actions yesterday were definitely deliberate. Just because you don’t remember why you did something, doesn’t mean it wasn’t important.”
“But how can I remember? I’ve been trying to recall what had happened since I woke up, but without any success.”
“You spent most of that time running in circles. Instead, you should try to calm down and understand your own motives.”
“And what if I don’t remember? Rytlock will appear here in less than two hours.”
“It’s up to you. Good luck figuring it out. Both me and Queen believe in you,” Anise moved towards the door. “Oh, and you can stay here as long as you like. You probably need some thinking time. See you later.”
With that, the Countess left Logan with his own thoughts.
Half an hour has passed and Logan felt he wasn’t even one bit closer to remembering why he had confessed. The reason eluded him. There were hints. Logan could hazily recall feeling very determined. There was also a feeling of enlightenment. The captain was sure something dawned on him back then. But the truth behind his actions remained elusive.
“Was I actually so drunk that I thought Rytlock was… desirable?” Logan questioned himself, but he wasn’t able to answer. The idea was foreign and difficult to process.
After all, wasn’t love a rather immediate thing? He was sure he fell in love with the queen as soon as he saw her.
That thought made him recall the scene involving the queen and Anise. Logan shook his head trying to chase it away. He had no time for that.
But, really. Wouldn’t it be strange to know someone for a long time and only realize that we love them at some point? Unless there were circumstances that prevented you from making a proper judgement during the first meeting. Like the fact that you are members of two hostile races. Or the immediate threat of death requiring combat. Followed by even more combat. And fighting Dragons. Dragons were especially distracting…
Okay, so maybe there were situations that prevented you from making a proper judgement at the time. And later times as well.
Still, Logan was sure that he would have noticed if he started to develop a semblance of romantic feelings toward his friend. There would be some obvious signs, right? Like wanting to hold hands, or… or maybe wanting to go together to slay more dragonspawn? Actually, wouldn’t that be Rytlock’s idea of a date? Wasn’t Rytlock very happy when they went on a short journey together to slay this and that not long after defeating Zhaitan?
No, he was probably reading too deep into this. Honestly, this whole situation was making him lose his better judgement.
Luckily, he had finally found the person he was looking for.
“Here you are Eir,” he said when he located her. After he decided that sitting alone in the room isn’t really helpful, it took him more than half an hour to find her, because she kept moving around.
“Oh, Logan. Were you looking for me?”
“Yes, I need to talk to you about something,” he said.
“It’s about you and Rytlock, isn’t it?” She asked with a warm smile.
“I was surprised, but I must say that I am happy for you two. You sacrificed a lot for the sake of our world. You deserve to find happiness more than anyone else,” she admitted. The knight could only wonder why all of his acquaintances have apparently considered him and Rytlock as a potential couple even before the yesterday’s fiasco.
“Listen, Eir,” Logan interrupted her. “I don’t remember anything that happened during the yesterday’s banquet and I was hoping you could help me fix this mess.”
“You don’t? Oh… What about poor Rytlock?” She asked.
“Are you planning to break his heart again?” Eir asked Logan accusingly.
“Wait, what do you mean again? There wasn’t first time!”
Eir shook his head.
“Of course there was. Rytlock was furious with you, when you left him last time.”
“I don’t remember…” Logan started, but he paused, because he finally realized what Eir was talking about. “You are talking about Kralkatorrik?!”
“What else?” Eir returned the question, annoyed by Logan’s denseness.
“But I left all of you back then. All of Destiny’s Edge.”
“Which Rytlock was part of. Or rather, still is,” the norn pointed out. “You left him back then.”
“I believed he could handle it,” Logan explained.
“Did he handle it well?” Eir asked harshly.
“Well, not really,” Logan admitted. The charr was furious with him. Perhaps if he had explained himself better back then. But there was no time for that. The queen needed him and Rytlock could take care of himself.
Or so Logan thought.
It never occurred to him that Rytlock might have needed his support as much as Queen Jennah.
“Wait a moment, Eir. I’m not trying to run away this time,” Logan pointed out.
“You are. I’ve been there yesterday. Both of you staked your pride as warriors during the fight. You have announced your feelings and proven them during the fight. You can’t act as if this doesn’t mean anything.”
“But Eir, we are both guys and Rytlock is…”
“Logan!” Eir said strongly, which caused him to stop talking. “Do you really think Rytlock cares about such excuses?”
“…he doesn’t,” Logan admitted grudgingly.
“Look, this is something between you two, so I’m not going to repeat my mistake and try to interfere. However, I don’t want to see either of you sad again. I’m only saying those things, because I’m worried about you.”
Logan nodded. He could clearly see the concern in her eyes. Feeling guilty, he lowered his gaze.
“I promise, I will confront him seriously today.”
He wasn’t sure why he was saying that, but he knew this was the right thing to do. Even if he hated the idea of having to talk about his yesterday’s behaviour with his friend, he had to do it.
Even if the only thing he could do was make amends and ask for forgiveness.
Eir smiled at him.
“I know it might be difficult for you, but, please, just make sure not to lose sight of what is important to you. I’m sure that your heart knows the right answer.”
Logan nodded noncommittally.
“I need to go, the time is drawing near,” he said, excusing himself.
“Good luck! I will also return soon to watch both of you!” Eir promised.
Logan left, moving swiftly towards the hall where he was about to confront his best friend.
As he returned to the building where the conference took place, someone called Logan.
“Here you are, captain!”
He turned around surprised and saw a sharply dressed woman.
“Minister Ailoda, do you need something?” he asked.
“Do I need something? Of course, I do. You need to stop this madness!” she demanded.
“This madness?” he repeated confused.
“What you did yesterday! Honestly, I never thought you capable of doing such a stunt,” she said with disappointment.
Logan wanted to agree with this statement. He also hadn’t thought himself capable of doing something like that.
“Yes, that was certainly a surprise,” he said neutrally.
“So you really did it due to drunkenness,” she heaved a sigh of relief. “For a moment I was really afraid you might have a preference towards those furry beasts.”
Logan did his best not to wince. He was sure he had no such “preference”, but that didn’t change the fact that she was insulting his best friend right now. He understood well the reason for her dislike towards charr, but he still thought that treating them as crazed savages was unfair.
“That was an unfortunate happening,” he admitted. “If possible I want to make amends.”
“I believe you shall! Otherwise, it will be a huge blow to the political image of humankind! We will become a laughing stock for other races.”
“It probably won’t be that bad,” Logan suggested, as he looked impatiently in the direction of the hall. He’d rather not be late.
“It will be,” the woman assured him. “Well then, I won’t be stopping you anymore. Please, be mindful of what you will say.”
Logan nodded and resumed walking toward the hall.
“It’s far too late for an advice like that,” he sneered to himself silently.
The main hall looked just like yesterday, when the banquet took place. It was a huge square area. The space around the wall was elevated and the tables set there were intended for the most important guests. It was the highest level, there was also a similarly elevated area, placed twenty meters lower than the first one. The tables for important, but not as prominent guests were placed there. Then there was the lowest level, where all other guests resided. Due to the huge amount of space this division didn’t seem all that jarring. It was easy to travel between the levels and even from the lowest level one could clearly see everything that happened on the highest one.
Logan recalled that he and Rytlock occupied a table on the middle level during yesterday’s feast. Not because they were assigned there, but because they felt like celebrating their meeting with a generous amount of alcohol and they didn’t want to interrupt other guests. Not to mention, avoid disapproving looks of some of the ministers sitting on the highest level, which could probably sour even the wine.
Honestly, they just wanted to get drunk in peace. How come everything ended up going so wrong…
“Oh, captain, it’s good to see you,” a familiar sylvari greeted Logan.
“Trahearne, how are you?”
“Fine, yesterday was a bit stressful. Rytlock’s sword at one point flew very close to my neck, when I was trying to move people away from you two. So this time we have prepared a suitable space for a fight beforehand. But it will probably go more smoothly today, now that both of you are sober,” the sylvari said, smiling hopefully.
Logan felt even more guilty when he saw that grin. He also noticed a patch of empty ground on the lowest level, which seemed to be cordoned by guards and mages.
“Trahearne, I don’t remember anything from my yesterday’s confession, especially why I did it. I came here hoping that I will be able to take it back,” the captain admitted.
The sylvari fell quiet.
“Oh… this won’t end well…” He said as he looked towards the space prepared for the upcoming combat. “I will go tell them to hurry up with the preparation of fighting grounds.”
Trahearne quickly moved towards workers.
Logan sighed. He felt he was dashing everyone’s hopes. It was as if he was the only part of the huge machinery that suddenly started moving backwards. All due to his stupid mistake.
No, didn’t Anise tell him it wasn’t mistake? That maybe this whole situation wasn’t a problem in the first place?
Would dating Rytlock really be that bad?
It would probably be difficult for them. Recently they couldn’t even meet too often…
Logan felt he must be losing it, because he was considering this scenario seriously now.
“This is stupid,” he said loudly.
“What is?” Another familiar voice asked him. Logan moved his head to see a different sylvari standing next to him.
“Caithe… I was thinking that the whole idea of me and Rytlock being together is just stupid.”
“We… like… don’t fit together.”
“But don’t you get along well? You always looked as if you enjoyed each other’s presence,” she questioned his excuse. Logan realized that going in this direction would be dangerous, so he quickly used another argument.
“And even if we disregard that, we are both very busy. We would barely have time to meet,” Logan pointed out, desperate.
Caithe fell silent for a moment, but after several second she seemed to have resolved herself.
“If you want I can lend you a book on long distance relationships,” she offered earnestly.
“Why do you have one?” he asked flabbergasted, because he didn’t expect such an answer.
“That’s not important, you want it or not?” she asked, slightly flustered.
Before Logan could recompose himself and answer, an asuran youth suddenly dashed into the hall.
“He’s coming!” he shouted.
There was no need to ask who.
Rytlock entered nonchalantly. Part of his head was covered by bandages and so was his left leg. He was visibly limping, but moved forward nonetheless. He ignored the stares of all the beings assembled in the hall. The tribune threw a short glance towards Eir and Caithe, but after that fixed his gaze on Logan.
The knight realized that while Rytlock tried to appear collected there were signs of nervousness. His fists were clenched, he was lowering his centre of gravity, which suggested battle-readiness, and his tail was swinging with much more force than necessary. It was obvious that the tribune wasn’t treating this situation as a joke. Both of them moved to the space prepared for them on the lowest level.
Finally, when they both arrived at the improvised arena, Rytlock stopped and then scrutinized his friend. Logan felt uncomfortable. He knew he was at fault here. He had to…
“Rytlock, listen, I…” he started, but the charr scoffed interrupting him.
“You were so drunk yesterday that today you don’t remember anything that happened, right?” The tribune guessed confidently.
Logan froze with his mouth wide open. Seeing this confirmation, Rytlock let out a loud ironic laugh.
“Ha, how long do you think I know you? Whenever you drank too much and went around swinging your sword, you woke up next day with a hole in your memories. I was sure it would be the same this time. You would spew lofty words and then conveniently forget everything.”
“Look, I’m sorry, I didn’t want…” Logan began desperately, but he was silenced once more.
“You didn’t want what? Confess to me or forget everything? You want to run away again, don’t you?”
“I don’t know why I did that!” Logan shouted frustrated. A day has passed and he didn’t feel he had gotten any closer to solving the mystery of his yesterday’s confession. If anything, now that he was standing before his friend everything seemed even more convoluted. He could feel the truth lingering somewhere in the mists of his mind. The forgotten memories were stirring and making Logan feel even more confused. There was a palpable tension in the air, which reminded him of yesterday’s battle. Logan realized he was keeping a hand on the handle of his sword, expecting to use it.
“It’s just like you to screw things up in the end, but at this point I’m not even surprised. I came here expecting you would pull something like this, you dumb poser,” as Rytlock continued his rant, he drew the greatsword he brought with him and took a battle stance.
“Are you going to kill me?” Logan asked as he also equipped himself with a sword.
“That would solve a lot of my problems, but no. Yesterday, you had proven how serious you are in battle, so I decided it’s my turn,” Rytlock proclaimed, as he pointed the end of his greatsword towards his friend. “I will smack you in the head until you remember what happened yesterday!”
Logan hardly had time to comprehend the charr’s words, because the tribune charged at him swiftly. The captain managed to block the strike, but barely. He could only use his right hand, since his left one was still bandaged and mostly unusable, while Rytlock could freely swing his greatsword. On the other hand, the charr had visible problems with maintaining balance due to his injured leg. Logan had better mobility, which meant he could more easily dodge the attacks. However, the knight was at clear disadvantage, because unlike Rytlock, who came to this fight full of conviction, Logan was in a state of a complete turmoil.
That was definitely not how he imagined that this confrontation would play out. He was mostly shocked by how on point was Anise’s and Eir’s analysis of problem. Apparently, the confession itself wasn’t much of a problem in Rytlock’s eyes.
Which had worrying implications.
He’s okay with it?! Logan felt panicked as he frantically parried the strikes. In his mind he quickly reviewed what he knew about Rytlock.
Well, certainly the tribune had never shown any interest in females which Logan used to think was weird, but at some point he just assumed that Rytlock was simply married to the violence, slaughter and constant search for prospective battlefields. Though, he apparently didn’t mind adding Logan to the list…
The knight forced himself to return to the reality, because a horizontal swing was coming towards him and he wouldn’t be able to dodge. He used the sword to block the slash, but the pure strength of the attack pushed him backwards. Logan hit the shimmering Mesmer barrier, which was erected to protect the spectators, with a loud thud. The impact caused a short moment of disorientation.
“Get up! I can’t beat you up properly, if you are lying on the ground like a sad excuse for a knight.”
The captain forced himself to rise up, but the situation wasn’t looking good. The impact had impaired his sense of balance. Logan desperately steadied himself. Rytlock just stood there, waiting for the human to attack. It might have been because he didn’t want to move with his injured leg, but Logan thought it was a ridiculous way of showing a consideration.
Still dazed, the knight launched himself forward. He couldn’t just give up right now. It would be insulting towards Rytlock.
His slash was easily blocked by the charr, but it was expected. Logan immediately shifted his weight and slipped to his friend’s side. Rytlock’s footwork was impaired, so he couldn’t correct his posture quickly enough to block the incoming attack with his weapon. Logan thrust his sword, but at the same time he realized he miscalculated his steps. Due to that he lost his balance and was now falling down. It was bad, but the captain knew that if his strike managed to penetrate the small chink in the armour it might end in his win or at least a draw.
However, Rytlock seeing the incoming attack decided to let go of his greatsword and instead punched Logan into face. The strike wasn’t very strong, because it was launched from unnatural angle, but it was enough to make the stab veer from its course. Logan’s sword merely grazed the armour, while the human landed once more on the ground.
The knight rolled away from the enemy, but his attempts to stand up ended in failure. Rytlock didn’t move from his spot and just watched in silence Logan’s unsuccessful attempts to position himself vertically. Somehow the lack of taunting felt like an insult and the human felt agitated by this silent treatment.
“I’m not done yet,” he said as he finally stood up.
Saying that Logan wasn’t thinking clearly right now would be an understatement. The pain has murdered all coherent thoughts he had. His body moved fuelled by stress, anxiety and frustration that he has been accumulating ever since he woke up. He gritted his teeth, as he forced himself to prepare the next attack.
“Is that all you’ve got?” Rytlock asked mockingly.
Logan wanted to make some kind of biting remark, but he wasn’t in shape to do so. Instead, he scowled. The charr smiled seeing this.
“Oh, it is. Then let me say this once more. You are a coward! You are a coward who doesn’t even have enough balls to confess to someone properly!” Rytlock taunted the knight.
There was a horrible sense of déjà vu when Logan heard those words. Bits and pieces of memories flashed in his head. He couldn’t make sense of them yet, mostly because alongside of them appeared emotions. A strange determination surged in Logan. He raised his sword and then charged once more towards his friend.
He did it because he was trying to prove something. He couldn’t remember what it was, but it was important. Important enough to end up where he was right now. Important enough to disregard other things. He may have made some choices that weighted on his heart, but he wouldn’t regret them. He would face forward. Because he…
“I…” Logan started his voice breaking. He knew he was at his limit. It was going to be his last attack. Rytlock also wasn’t in his best shape, as he was barely standing. The combat forced him to put way too much pressure onto the injured leg. If Logan waited a minute longer the charr would probably fall under his own weight. It would be easy to win against him then.
Obviously, the knight had to attack now to make sure the fight ends up settled before that happens. But more than that, he had to vent the emotions that were threatening to overflow. He knew he was close to remembering. All he needed to do was to take step forward.
So he did. Logan charged forward, while screaming at the top of his lungs.
“I-I AM NO COWARD!!!!!!!!!!”
There was a clash of swords, which was almost drowned out by the inarticulate shouts of both combatants. Logan instinctually shifted to make another attack, but while he executed it a powerful force slammed into him. He managed to realize that it knocked the sword out of his hand, but before he could even think about evading his body and mind collapsed from the next attack.
And as he descended into darkness, Logan remembered.
“You haven’t confessed yet, have you?” Rytlock asked quietly in a conversational tone.
Logan almost spat what he was drinking.
“W-what are you talking about?” He stuttered.
“You know what I’m talking about,” Rytlock said as he turned his gaze toward the place where Queen Jennah and her aids resided.
“There isn’t anything like that,” Logan denied, but he could feel his cheeks burning.
“Oh, come one,” the charr sighed. “Are you going to spend the rest of your life secretly swooning over her or will you confront her properly?”
“It’s not my place to make such daring thing as proposing to my liege,” Logan admitted flustered. The drunkenness sometimes made him descend into a purple prose.
“Honestly, you should listen to yourself,” Rytlock berated him. “It’s not like you to worry foolishly about such details.”
“And it’s not like you to get hung up on the topic of my love life!” Logan pointed out annoyed. Seriously, what came over the charr?
Rytlock suddenly got quiet, as if he didn’t know how to answer. The human silently contemplated his friend’s consternation.
“I’m just sick of watching your spineless behaviour,” the tribune complained, but Logan only smiled at this usual outburst that was meant to hide the charr’s worries. “There’s a woman you love and you just sit on your ass waiting for someone to take her away from you!”
That… was true. Logan knew he was passive when it came to his feelings toward Queen Jennah. Passive by choice, really. However, it was strange for Rytlock to be bothered by something like that. The captain narrowed his brows, as he concentrated on the tribune’s body language rather than his words. He could filter the important content from Rytlock’s rant even without paying attention.
Now that Logan looked properly, the charr was really animated. He was gesticulating wildly and there was a strain in his voice. Even being drunk didn’t explain the tribune’s sudden obsession with this topic. He seemed to be very, no extremely, bothered by the lack of progress in Logan’s love life and judging by how much he was complaining he must have been holding this in for quite some time.
“…I thought you’d do something after defeating Zhaitan. You returned hero. What better chance would you get?”
At least since Zhaitan, but probably even longer than that.
“…If you go like this you will just end up alone and crying…”
That made absolutely no sense even for drunk Rytlock’s standard. It was a sort of sappy argument that just didn’t fit him. He was being outright irrational. Logan looked at his friend slightly worried.
“It’s not really that important if I end up with somebody,” the knight pointed out.
Truthfully, he was sure that Rytlock also shared the view that prosperity of world and their respective races was more important than their individual lives.
“You really are stupid!”
…not in this case, apparently.
“Why do I even care? You are just coward who can’t be sincere about his feelings! Are you going to keep running away all your life?!”
Logan straightened in his seat more surprised than outraged by this outburst. Rytlock looked regretful about what he said for a moment, but he quickly overwrote this expression with his neutral face. It didn’t change the fact there was some strange kind of fondness and resolve in his eyes.
“You should stop being a coward and just confess your feelings!” Rytlock finished more quietly and a bit awkwardly.
Even Logan in his infinite denseness realized that the mood got weird. Whatever was going on right now was important. Rytlock was trying to be uncharacteristically emphatic for some reason and any reason that made the charr concerned with the private life of others (especially Logan) was worth investigating.
Anyway, the tribune was urging Logan to confess love to his crush. There didn’t seem to be any hidden motive, aside from sincere wishes for the knight to attain happiness. Yet, there was something unsaid. Rytlock was far too distressed and worried by the situation. Also, he looked regretful about what he said, as if he did it against his own feelings.
Oh, that was it! Rytlock wanted the knight to be happy and yet he didn’t. That certainly fitted his bipolar nature. So he was basically telling Logan to do something, but didn’t want him to do it. Judging by his actions the reason why he didn’t want Logan to confess was purely selfish, otherwise he would have handled this more calmly. The captain tried to figure out why Rytlock would be against his own proposal. Well, if Logan got married he would probably get tied even more to Divinity’s Reach and couldn’t meet the charr aside from the conferences like this… was that it?
Logan looked at Queen Jennah as he tried to sort his thoughts, the charr also moved his head in that direction and something flashed in his eyes. It was only for a second, but the captain recognized that emotion.
It was jealousy. The answer dawned on Logan suddenly, but quietly. He realized he should be shocked, yet he wasn’t. It was like finishing a jigsaw puzzle. He only now saw the whole picture, but the pieces were always there. The fact that the two of them got along well, Rytlock’s rage at Logan for leaving the Destiny’s Edge when he was needed, the very personal way in which the charr took this “betrayal”, and the way he acted after they reconciled. All the elements neatly fitted together and the knight came to a simple conclusion – Rytlock was in love with him. Normally, Logan would consider the idea ridiculous, but the intoxication somehow made him accept this discovery easily. After all, it explained everything perfectly from the fond stares to Rytlock’s awkwardness when it came to the topic of his love life.
At the same time, Logan felt rage. How could Rytlock dismiss himself just like that?! It was horrible and so out of character for him! The captain decided he needs to do something. The charr deserved better than that! The knight stood up as he thought, but in the end it was simple. If Rytlock was too stubborn to fight for his own happiness then Logan would force it on him. He will make the charr realize how much of an idiot he was!
“Logan?” the tribune addressed his friend who was suspiciously silent.
“I am no coward, Rytlock,” the human said, “and I will prove it. Just watch me!”
“Wait, what are you…” the tribune started, but Logan already got onto the table and shouted.
“Everyone, I have an announcement to make!” He shouted. The people in the immediate vicinity fell quiet. The shout seemed to have reached the table where the queen sat, because she and some of her aides turned towards him. “This might be sudden, but I believe this is a matter that shouldn’t wait any longer. I want to use this chance to confess my feelings!”
Rytlock was looking at him with exasperation and a slight melancholy. Logan smirked and then announced loudly.
“I’m in love with my friend, Rytlock Brimstone!”
There were loud gasps from the crowd and a chatter spread through the hall like a wildfire. Logan looked at his friend. The tribune was visibly stunned after hearing that, his face a mix of astonishment and disbelief. The knight made sure to remember that expression, since he didn’t think he would ever see it again.
But this wasn’t enough. He needed more impact. He needed to make a lasting impression.
“Let me tell you about the depth of my feelings!” He shouted, as he began to elaborate.
Logan opened his eyes suddenly. He was lying on the ground. There was a feeling of pain and intense exhaustion.
“Do you remember now?” someone asked.
The knight realized that Rytlock was sitting next to him. There were also medics casting some healing spells on both of them.
“It’s coming back…” Logan said, but his voice trailed. His consciousness was threatening to leave once more. “I need more time to…”
Before he could finish, he sank once more into the memories.
It was when Rytlock forcibly removed him from the table that Logan realized that he might have slightly overdone it. He should have probably waited with the confession until he was sober. Now, Rytlock thought that this was only an effect of intoxication, not a heartfelt thing.
The charr was accusing him of being a drunk idiot, but Logan could see that he was moved. There was exasperation, embarrassment and a bit of anger, but no hate. This convinced Logan he should press on. If he did nothing, his confession would be turned into a stupid joke. He couldn’t allow it. He needed to validate it somehow.
“I’m being serious!” He said angrily, as he shrugged off Rytlock’s hand that was keeping him in place.
“You are being drunk! When you wake up next day, you will regret being a fucking idiot who can’t hold his liquor. So stop making this worse for yourself!” the charr roared angrily.
“I won’t regret it!” Logan proclaimed stubbornly.
“You will! You never do what is good for you, you furless retard!”
“Oh, you talk all high and mighty, but aren’t you the one who have just tried to pair me with someone else?! I am merely dense, while you are just a big sissy to give up without even trying!”
“I didn’t! I mean…” Rytlock got flustered for a second, but quickly recovered. “I swear, one more word and I will just knock you out! And that’s only because we are on peace conference, otherwise I would have just dismembered your perfidious body for the humiliation you have just caused me!” He shouted, as he drew a greatsword he brought with him. Apparently, his superiors decided that bringing Sohothin to the banquet might be a bad idea, mostly because a charr stabbing someone with a legendary Orrian artifact right before the peace conference between charr and human would definitely turn into a political scandal. Stabbing someone with an average sword, or in this case greatsword, would be much easier to ignore from political point of view.
“Then try!” Logan shouted as he drew his own sword. “I challenge you to a duel!”
“What?” Rytlock looked at him dumbfounded.
“If I win, then it means I was serious about my confession and if you win you are all free to treat it as a mad ravings of a drunk knight!” Logan proposed, addressing not only his friend, but also other people present in the hall.
“Are you that insane?” Rytlock asked while furrowing his brow.
“Do I have to repeat myself? I thought I have made my feelings clear!” Logan pointed out nonchalantly. “Well, the famous poet said that love is a kind of madness. A common, yet unique one that strikes when you least expect it and completely overturns your life… So do you want to hear me recite some more mushy lines or will you take up the challenge?” The knight taunted his friend. He was starting to feel impatient. Honestly, Rytlock should decide whether he feels offended or flattered by being courted.
“I will gladly use force if it will make you shut up for good, you craven bard!
“You keep repeating that I’m a coward, but aren’t you the one who had been afraid?!” Logan shouted. “If you are that much afraid of admitting your feelings, then fine! I will drag them out of your furry, chicken heart with my sword! I’ve seen innocent maidens who faced suitors with more dignity and bravery than you!”
“And you are the biggest parody of a suitor in the whole Tyria!” The tribune retorted, but there wasn’t as much bite in this remark as in the previous ones.
“Then let us face of and confirm who is right. If I win I demand you confront me seriously as well, Rytlock!”
There was a moment of silence, as the tribune slowly pulled out his sword and took a combat stance. The beings who sat nearby started to evacuate quickly. All the important guests were sitting in a considerable distance from the two heroes, who were about to fight, so there was no need for them to worry. However, some curious onlookers were now backing away quickly. Logan and Rytlock were looking straight into each other’s eyes. The human refused to flinch under the gaze. He was full of determination. Because there was a hope in the charr’s eyes. Hope that maybe he isn’t right this time. That there is a happiness at the end of this battle.
“If you really mean what you said, then prove it with your sword!” The tribune shouted.
“I will. Without doubt, right here, right now.” Logan announced. He would prove the charr wrong. No, prove anyone who doubted him wrong.
“Stupid, drunk idiot…” Rytlock muttered with a tinge of joy.
As if on cue, both of them raised their swords and moved forward.
There was a whirl of darkness and Logan woke up feeling a sharp pain. As he opened his eyes, he realized he was lying in the bed. It was just like yesterday.
Except this time he remembered what happened.
“I lost…” The captain muttered as he looked at the ceiling.
“Yep, completely,” someone agreed.
Logan tilted his head and saw Caithe sitting not far from him with a book she must have been reading. She smiled at him.
“Morning. I thought it would be good if someone were here to tell you what happened after your fight. And maybe before it… We were all a bit worried because you hit your head quite hard. Do you remember what happened?” she asked.
“I remember everything what happened until I got knocked out. And what happened yesterday.”
Caithe grinned even wider.
“That’s good to know. What you forgot tormented you greatly, so I was a bit worried. I’m glad everything was resolved peacefully.”
“It got resolved?”
“Yeah. Well, both you and Rytlock are seriously injured, so you won’t be taking part in the conference. Most of the witnesses had no idea what to make of your fight, so for now the talks are continuing as though nothing happened. Or rather, everyone is pretending there isn’t a blooming interracial love on the premises of the building.
“Blooming love, huh?” Logan sneered.
“Am I wrong?” Caithe asked teasingly.
The human shrugged, but there was a faint smile on his face.
“I guess I need some time to think things over. Rytlock, too.”
The sylvari nodded and then frowned as she remembered something.
“By the way, there are two guard’s waiting behind the door, who seem to have misunderstood what happened yesterday. They seem determined to cheer you up after you got dumped. Should I chase them away?”
Logan snorted as he remembered the duo.
“Let them stay. I will explain it to them later.”
“I see, then I will go call the nurse and bring you some breakfast,” Caithe proposed as she stood up.
As the sylvari was about to leave the room she turned around to face her friend.
“It’s really good to see you so happy. I hope, you two will manage to get together.”
Logan watched her leave in silence and then wondered about what she said.
There were a lot of things to wrap his head around.
His relationship with his best friend was moving into completely unforeseen direction, he was completely beaten up by him, half of the ministers probably hated him now, the rumours about what had happened between him and Rytlock were surely already spreading through the Tyria, and Logan could see a business card which had a name Fujjo on it placed on his bedside table; but this time he didn’t feel so anxious about those things.
For now, he would just slowly move forward.