Chapter 240: Insights
The truth could hurt him, but lies had hurt him even more.
The trauma, the grieving had never stopped until he had been forced to face his own mistakes through the eyes of the others.
She couldn't let him start his life anew based on a convenient lie.
It was time to come clean with Lith, even if that meant destroying their relationship.
Every day she hid the truth had been torture for Solus, but she endured it because she cared too much for him.
She was even willing to bear his grudge if it meant for Lith to change for the better.
'Lith, do you trust me' She asked.
'I'd trust you with my life.
Beside Protector, you are my only true friend.
Despite witnessing every single and most despicable flaw of mine, you have always accepted me for who I am.
I wouldn't be the person I am now without you, Solus.' He replied.
'Then I hope that one day you'll forgive me.'
'Forgive you for what' Lith had yet to complete his question when Solus projected in his mind everything that had happened after he had lost consciousness.
How Protector had survived, his last words for Lith, and his plea to Solus to keep it a secret.
Lith couldn't believe his own mind.
'How could you do this to me' There was no trace of rage in his thoughts, only the deep pain coming from the breach of their trust.
Until that day, Lith had always considered it the only certainty in his life.
Solus was a part of him as much as he was a part of her.
In his eyes, she back being an untrustworthy piece of stone, just like the first day they met.
She could feel his pain and silent accusations.
They both deeply hurt her, but she kept being honest without hiding anything from him.
'How I'll tell you how.
I simply did exactly what you have done time and time again over the years to everyone you love and care for.
I followed your teachings and lied to you to keep you safe from a truth that I was afraid could kill you.'
Lith wanted to rebuke, but everything that came to his mind would sound incredibly hypocritical of him.
He still remembered how Scarlett had accused him of corrupting Solus's nature, but he only now understood the meaning of her words.
'How can I trust you from now on How can you ask me to forgive you You are the only one I never lied to, never!'
'It's actually easy.' She replied with a firm voice, even though Lith could feel her pain and tears. 'Just read my mind like you always did when we first met.
Dig up all my memories and feelings until your paranoia it's satisfied !
' Do it right now, if it makes you feel better.
I know that I made a mistake by lying to you, but I did it only out of love.
Maybe you don't realize it yet, but you are my everything just like Carl was for you, if not even more.
'I was scared of losing you forever, scared of being alone again.
I chose to keep you safe and sound, even if it meant losing your trust.
I prefer a world where you hate me for my actions rather than to keep living without you.
It would be worse than death, even worse than slowly starving.'
Lith would have loved to believe her, but at that point, he believed in no one.
He followed Solus's suggestion, fusing their minds completely for the first time in years.
Lith could see everything that she had ever thought and felt since the day they bonded.
The pain from not having a body, how her feelings for him had grown and changed over the years.
At some point, it was impossible to understand if it was the kind of love a daughter had for a father or rather the one a woman felt toward a man.
Everything she had told him was nothing but the truth, from the reasons why she had lied to him to all the sacrifices she had made to keep him alive until that moment.
He learned about all the times that she had risked her life to protect him, belittling herself like she wasn't even a person.
He experienced the guilt and suffering that derived from hiding the truth from him.
Lith was shocked by all those revelations, even more so because fusing their minds meant violating her privacy, rummaging through her most private thoughts.
'I knew you would do it, but it hurts nevertheless.' She sobbed.
'Please, throw me away if you must, but leave me alone.' The old pouch reappeared around his neck and Solus left his finger to hide inside it.
Suddenly, he couldn't feel her presence inside his mind.
The door between them could be opened with a simple thought, but then what
Lith felt lost, he couldn't think about anything that he could do to make either of them feel better.
Everything that Solus did, was only because she followed his teachings.
He had no one to blame but himself.
White Griffon Academy, Yurial's apartments.
"Girls, I can't believe I'm going to say it out loud, but the more I know Lith, the more I think he isn't a human being." Yurial said.
"I mean let's set aside his terrible attitude when we met, since we well deserved it.
How can he possibly be that strong It's not natural.
Also, how could he be okay without resting not even for one hour It doesn't make any sense."
"Yeah, not to mention that somehow he spotted the Clackers despite them being underground.
Did he ever explain to you how he managed to do it" Quylla pointed out.
"No." Phloria replied.
'There's also the issue with his beloved brother that he let slip while giving us the pep talk.
I have triple checked it, his relationship with his brothers is terrible.
Either he has a third secret brother or I don't know what to think.
'Yet if they didn't notice it, I'm not going to add coal to the fire.
I don't like where this conversation is going already.' She thought.
"Honestly, I never understood how any of you could overlook his ever changing persona.
First, he was very rude to us.
Then he became our mentor despite being three years younger than us and lastly our 'good friend'.
"We all have seen how he kills people without remorse, how easily he lies to everyone, even to us.
I'm grateful for everything Lith did for me, but he still creeps me out." Friya shrugged.
"I suspect Lith actually is a bastard member of the royal family." Yurial's words left the others speechless.
"My father says that the Royal couple is known for having physical abilities on par with magical beasts.
It would also explain how he is so knowledgeable and why Linjos keeps him in such high regard."
"Guys, I can't believe I'm going to say it out loud, but the more I hear you talking about Lith like this, the more you disgust me." Phloria's gaze was filled with contempt.
"I don't know about you, but I approached him after the first exam, not the other way around.
So, he definitely didn't try to exploit me for personal gain.
Also, yeah he has a lot of secrets, but so what
"He could have hidden his strength and let the assassin kill you, Yurial.
Just like during Balkor's attack or against the Clackers just a few hours ago, he could have run away and leave us for dead.
Instead, he fought by our side, saving our lives.
"He helped us countless times, but never asked us anything in return.
Yet here you are, talking behind his back because he never explained how he did manage to beat those Clackers or cleanse us from Balkor's toxins while many others died.
"I don't care how he did it.
What matters to me is that he cared more about our safety than about his own secrets.
I don't care if he is the King's bastard son or if he has dragon blood in his veins."
According to the legends, the offspring of a human and a dragon would carry a hidden strength that could manifest in the form of physical prowess, magic talent, or beauty.
"It would explain why the female members of his family are so pretty and why he is so different from the rest of us.
Whatever his secret is, I'm certain he will tell us in time.
What really matters to me, is that his actions speak loud about his character, just like your ungratefulness does about yours.
"If you really think about questioning him after all the times he saved our lives, after all we have faced together, you don't deserve being his friends and neither mine!"
Phloria slammed the door behind her, incapable to listen to their ramblings any more.
"Do you think that her feelings for him are clouding her judgment"
Phloria's words struck several nerves, making Friya regret to have spoken so harshly.
"No, I think we have let our fear of the unknown get the better of us." Yurial replied.
It took a while to find out Balkor's whereabouts, but Scarlett discovered his location thanks to her communication network with all the magical beasts she had worked with in the past.
The various Lords of the different regions had helper greatly in collecting the necessary intel.
She knew that Balkor would require a constant supply of dead bodies to build each year such a massive army.
Also, by examining the captured undead with her artifact, she had managed to identify Balkor's energy signature.
At that point, all she had to do was to use her enchanted pince-nez as a scanner.
She started her investigation from the locations were big battles had taken places.
Balkor's undead required more than just bones, so he needed fresh corpses.
From there she had interrogated the magical beasts that lived nearby.
All that work would have been useless without her artifact, though.
Balkor was aware of the flaws in his supply chain.
Over the years he had used countless middlemen to store what he needed in dimensional amulets and have everything delivered at his doorstep.
The only thing he was unable to predict was the existence of an artifact capable of recognizing an individual's life force from a great distance.
Scarlett had almost been on the verge of giving up before finding his trail.
Like the countless pursuers that preceded her, the Scorpicore had remained trapped in the web of false leads and deception Balkor had laid.
Too much time had passed from the attack.
The trail was cold and the Forgotten Plume tribe was nomadic.
However, one of the Lords of the oasis reported to her about how a small mound of rock that had decorated his fief for centuries collapsed right after the attacks on the academies had ended.
The Lord had no idea what could have happened, but for Scarlett was more than enough.
Once she reached the location the mound occupied, the artifact was able to detect Balkor's energy signature.
It took Scarlett just a few hours to follow the lead to her destination.
She was already tasting Balkor's blood and fear, when her chase came to an abrupt end.
Salaark, the ruler of the Blood Desert blocked her way, staring at Scarlett with annoyance.
"What are you doing here This isn't your turf.
You are not welcome here."
Scarlett recognized Salaark for what she was.
Her body instinctively trembled in fear.
"Lady Salaark, I'm here to exact vengeance for all the loyal subjects and dear friends that the fiend hiding in that encampment killed." She said pointing at the Forgotten Plume tribe visible at the horizon.
"Fiend Do you mean Ilyum Balkor If that's so, you better go home.
He's one of my subjects now.
Tell Tyris that she had her opportunity and wasted it.
Now it's my turn."
"What" Scarlett was flabbergasted.
"You know who he is and what he does, yet you let him live"
"Of course, I do.
Who would be so stupid to let such a rare talent unattended Over the years, Balkor has helped the Forgotten Plume tribe to prosper.
He not only protected them from all kind of threats, but he also taught them advanced magic and took care of the sick.
"You should know that light and darkness magic go hand in hand.
When people think of Balkor they only see the necromancer, but he is also a great healer.
I offered him many times to become one of my underlings.
"Yet he always refused, because it would mean to swear his loyalty to me and relinquish his foolish plans of revenge.
Now that he has only a few years left to live, Balkor finally listened to reason and submitted to me.
So bug off, Scorpicore.
Tell your master he is under my protection."
"I respect Lady Tyris as I respect you, Lady Salaark." Scarlett roared.
"However, I have no master.
I'm here of my own will and I will not back down just because you say so!"
Salaark laughed heartily at Scarlett's daring words.
"Kid, I have a soft spot for arrogant youths, but that doesn't mean I will go easy on you.
Take another step forward and the two of us will fight as enemies."
"So be it!" Scarlett roar made the earth tremble and the skies cry.
Despite the dry climate of the desert, black clouds appeared out of nowhere and covered the sun.
Salaark's smile grew even wider.
'A world tribulation This sure makes things more interesting!' She thought.
AN: Dear readers, I'm sorry to tell you that Supreme Magus will go on hiatus for some time.
My health is slipping and I can't postpone things anymore.
I'll be hospitalized for a while, but if everything goes well I should be back in 3-4 weeks.
Thanks for your support and understanding.