All I need to go on —
They had been a long time being followed by a big number of monsters. To Neeba it had seemed, at the start, that it would be reckless face them. But they were getting cornered, and it seemed they hadn’t any other option aside from fighting. Neeba stopped and started shooting the arrows towards the nearer enemies. They started to fall, but soon other ones substituted them. Kaaya got behind him and started to whisper one spell to get Neeba’s arrows stronger. The archer continued shooting, and that mountain of monsters started to reduce. One of them, though, dodged one of the arrows and jumped, approaching Neeba, and with one attack hit the shoulder of the archer. Kaaya invoked a magical-barrier so Neeba could recover from the hit, repelling the monster. After a while, he picked up his bow and continued shooting. Neeba’s arrows fell onto the last-standing monster, making him to disintegrate. The archer sighed, a bit tired after that avalanche of monsters. Kaaya approached him.
-Let me see the wound. –She said.
Neeba took of the armour and the shirt, and Kaaya started to use a healing spell over the wound. They had been there for two weeks, defeating monsters and crossing doors. But the Mystic Tower didn’t seem to have an end. How long did they have to continue until they found the shadow of Gilgamesh, for whose death they were putting that effort and getting themselves into danger? Neeba looked at Kaaya. She had followed him until there, betraying her comrades, trusting him blindly. But it was only because she had to follow Ishtar’s command. “She’s only following me because it’s convenient to her…” he thought. He pressed his lips. Why was he suddenly starting to care about that? He also started that path only worrying about himself. He would accomplish his task and nothing else. But, even so, he couldn’t avoid asking himself if he wasn’t getting used to the girl’s company.
-Neeba, we should get some rest. –Kaaya’s words got him back to reality- You need to rest and me too… I’ve been using my powers a lot.
He turned around to her, seeing she was supporting herself on him to continue standing. Usually, that contact would have annoyed him, but since he had started exploring the Tower with Kaaya, no one of the gestures she made annoyed him. They had even held hands.
-It’s alright. Don’t push yourself. –He said.
They looked for a good place to stop. Neeba stretched out a blanket on the ground, where Kaaya sat. Then, he lighted a small campfire to keep warm.
-It’s been already two weeks, huh… -Whispered Kaaya to herself.
Having heard her, Neeba answered:
-Do you miss Meskia?
-Even if I did, I have to fulfil my task. –She said, circling her knees with her arms and smiling shyly.
-All for Ishtar, huh? –Neeba looked away, feeling unease by the topic.
He didn’t believe in deities. Looking at how Uruk was going down, how could a God exist? And, if existing, he was a terribly cruel being that left the kingdom to its luck, abandoning all citizens. Because of “God’s” ineptitude, Neeba had to put at a risk his own life to liberate the kingdom of the King’s shadow.
-…Sorry. –Said Kaaya, knowing that the topic annoyed the archer.
-And what about Jil? –Neeba stared at the girl.
She pressed her lips.
-I have already forgotten about him.
For a moment, Neeba’s heart jumped. Without knowing why, those words had brought to his dark eyes a sparkle. “Why do you react like this, idiot?” he thought.
-Neeba… -Said Kaaya, without noticing the excitement of the archer- You’re a very strong person. The others may think you just betrayed them… but you were protecting them. And you wanted to carry this task alone…
Neeba looked at her again. That’s what he liked about Kaaya. There they were, surrounded by danger, but she hadn’t stopped worrying about him not even for a moment. Even when she was going exactly under the same as him, she didn’t say a thing about her own situation, sympathizing with him.
-That doesn’t change the fact I betrayed them. They won’t be out of reasons if they end up hating me. –He answered, looking away.
-You’re wrong! They can’t hate you. –Kaaya frowned, annoyed by the idea.
-How naïve you are. –Neeba half-smiled.
Kaaya looked away.
-I prefer to trust them.
-Then you haven’t forgotten about them. –Answered Neeba, sighing.
Kaaya looked at him again. For the first time since they’ve started exploring the Tower, she had discovered an emotion of sadness in her companion’s eyes and voice. Everything she had felt in him until that moment had been confidence in him and in whatever he was doing, strength to carry on, courage… but never sadness. She saw in Neeba an incredibly strong person that would never give up no matter what happened… But now she also saw in him a human being, someone with his weaknesses. And she felt the need to hug him.
-Have you forgotten about your people? –She said, with a bit on insecurity in her voice.
-I have no other choice than to forget about them. I’ve done right leaving them behind. –Answered Neeba- Besides, nothing proves we’re going to come back safe from this.
Kaaya looked away to that last sentence. She knew about the dangers she was facing getting into that Tower, but she had left some hope of coming back sound and safe. She approached him and caressed one of his hands. Then she rested her head on his shoulder, sitting next to him.
-You know, you don’t have to keep it all to yourself… -She whispered.
Neeba felt again that warmth he always felt when Kaaya was near him. And, this time, even her words calmed his heart.
-What are you talking about? –He said, trying to keep serious.
-You’re always trying to do all by your own, but you have us next to you… You can lean on others when you need it, counting on them… -Continued Kaaya.
Neeba fixed his gaze to the ground.
-No. They’re not prepared for this.
-And don’t you feel lonely?
-What? –Neeba looked at her when he noticed Kaaya’s finger entwined with his.
-If you’re always taking the decision of acting by your own, with no one around… Don’t you end up feeling lonely? –She said.
-…That doesn’t matters while I can accomplish my mission. –He answered.
Kaaya knew it as well as everyone. That, in Neeba’s heart, darkness has started to take shape and, if it continued to expand, it would be hard to erase. Hate had started to grow in his heart, without containing. He had enough iciness to see his friends die and feel nothing about it. And, probably, those feeling had started to take shape because of lack of true love and affection.
-At least trust me. –Whispered Kaaya, tighten up strongly his hand.
Neeba looked at her. She was the first one who caused in him a feeling different from contempt. He couldn’t lie to her. It seemed as if the ice that surrounded his heart could only be melted by Kaaya’s presence. And that, even though it uncomforted him because of the strange of a new feeling, calmed him. It made him think that, after all, there was a bit of humanity left in him. Because he had started to think that he was losing himself, at every step he took, at every betrayal he caused. He felt he was shutting himself up on his own world from where no one would be able to take him out. But that girl had succeeded entering into that world, rescuing him just at time. And that confused him.
-I will follow you until the end of the Tower. Together, we will defeat Gilgamesh’s shadow, and we will liberate Uruk’s kingdom… So just trust me. –Kaaya said.
-Do you trust me? –Answered Neeba firmly, trying to put aside his feelings.
-Of course. –She looked at him, moving from his shoulder- Since I decided to follow you, I’ve trusted you.
-And have you never doubted? Did you never ask yourself that I could betray you, like the others? –Neeba’s words didn’t show up the security he wanted. He probably feared the answer, because someone finally trusted him for real.
Kaaya’s lips trembled when she imagined that possibility.
-You’re not going to betray me. I want to trust that, and I would. –She answered.
Neeba’s body that had been tensed because of the doubt finally relaxed. And Kaaya would have sworn that it was the first time he relaxed since they entered the Tower. That made her smile. That smile weakened even more the ice of Neeba, who couldn’t contain himself from hugging her.
-I won’t betray you. –He said.
Kaaya smiled widely and answered to the hug. “I was waiting for the chance to hug him…” she thought.
-I know, Neeba.
Neeba thought about Jil, Fatina, and all the friends they had left behind, and for a moment it seemed to him that that happened a long time ago. It also seemed to him that the space around them had disappeared. That it was only them there, inside the Mystic Tower. That nothing besides Kaaya’s presence mattered at that moment.
Then, Neeba saw Succubus’ spirit appear behind Kaaya, looking at him with disbelief.
“For real, Neeba? Are you going to give her hopes like this?” only Neeba heard the spirit’s voice.
“They aren’t just hopes” while Neeba thought this firmly, he grabbed Kaaya by a cheek and kissed her sweetly.
The Succubus frowned and disappeared, but Neeba could still hear her words:
“Remember that you have no right to be happy. This relationship won’t last long”
But the archer didn’t want to surrender to the spirit’s influence. He wanted to believe he could also be happy. The free hand he had took one of Kaaya’s hands with strength, giving to his thoughts security.
Kaaya closed her eyes and answered to the kiss. When they got separated, she smiled.
-I love you. –She said.
Neeba pressed his lips, excited for hearing someone say that to him. “See how I can also be happy?” he thought. Then he smiled.
-I love you too. –He answered.
Kaaya also got glad of those words. She was afraid to tell him what she felt, because she thought he didn’t share those feelings and that he never would.
-I will protect you. We will climb this Tower to its top, and defeat Gilgamesh. Then we will look for a way to go back home… and we’ll be happy. –She said, hugging him again- So just trust me.
-I’ll also protect you. –He caressed her hair, in a tender gesture, making her to smile again.
Kaaya was everything Neeba needed to continue on. As long as she was by his side, everything would be fine. He could trust that.