CASeries #2: LEGEND
Chapter 37 ♕ The Challenger and a Champion
Valeriana somewhat wanted to regret ever agreeing to go along with Corvan’s ‘plan’. Quite honestly, in comparison to the ‘Charles Style’ of formulating tactics, his was very . . . ‘Corvan’.
By that, she meant that it was very reckless, impulsive, and much too risky. Charles was his complete opposite—very calculating. He took every factor a consideration to his plan-making and every disadvantage and advantage. Corvan was more on that ‘I-go-with-what-I-feel-will-be-great’ side that was based solely on his instincts and what he thought was right.
However, backing down would no longer be effective, for it was too late to change her mind. Aside from having already gone too far into it, seeing how Corvan was so determined to have this mini-mission of theirs successful made her incapable of trying to talk him out of it.
They were already somewhere near the sanctuary the demon and the lady had taken and were preparing to put their plan into action.
Seeing him now, Valeriana could see how serious he could get with everything he took . . . well, seriously. Corvan might be a stick-in-the-mud most of the time, but his earnestness and solemnity brought him the advantage. He was able to keep himself focused and performed every task well—which Valeriana felt envious of.
“I’ll go first and restrain the demon. You come out when I tell you to and take the girl. Do you understand? Avaro will help you with the job since I do not trust your work very much.”
But the only thing she did not like about him very much was his overconfidence and distrust in her abilities. Geez, now she was wondering where the hell all his comforting words went. Did he mean them at all? Or did he say it just to shut her up?
She bit down on her upper lip as she looked up at the green-eyed lord and prepared herself for another retort. Her words, however, died in her throat when she saw Corvan’s fixated gaze ahead. It was as though nothing else could disrupt him—not when he looked like that, rather.
Without Valeriana’s consent, she automatically fell quiet as her eyes widened a small fraction. As usual, Corvan appeared too cool for her eyes to take in that she had to just avert her attention to something else.
God, why did he have to be so freaking . . . handsome? How was she supposed to tell him off when he looked like that?
Valeriana started fidgeting as her stomach twisted into an uncomfortable tangle. Her cheeks warmed to a few degrees that left a rosy tint staining her cheeks.
That idiot . . . devil!
She bit the inside of her cheeks and puffed a short breath through her nose, her brows furrowing as her lips formed a small pout of protest. And just as she started having thoughts about injustice, Corvan spoke once again that forced her out of her reverie.
“Valeriana, I do not need you losing focus.” His deep voice scolded softly.
The girl dragged her gaze to his and shot him a glare. “Now whose fault is it?”
“It sure cannot be mine.” He countered.
“Whatever, jerk!” She hissed at him.
“Now, what is it again?” The young lord glared down at her. “Stop initiating useless fights for nonsensical reasons. I’ve no desire to get into an argument with you right now. Save whatever you have later, and maybe I’ll bother replying to them.”
Valeriana held back her irritation and turned to Avaro who was crouched beside her, waiting for any instructions he was required to follow. The beast offered her the sanctuary she needed, so she chose to cuddle with him instead and wrapped her arms instinctively around his furry neck.
“Why did you even choose him, Avaro?” The girl complained quietly as she buried her face into his mane. “He so doesn’t deserve you.”
‘Thou shalt know anon. Betwixt thou and myself, this one suspects thou thinkest the same.’ The ancient beast replied.
“Thinks the same about what?” She questioned him.
‘I shan’t say.’
And just as Valeriana was about to whine in response, Corvan shushed them with a sharp look and squared his shoulders. He then flexed his fingers and stretched a little before eyeing the both of them.
“The demon’s already weak, so there won’t be too much trouble bringing him down.”
Valeriana jumped at his statement. “You don’t mean killing him, do you?”
“Just wish I don’t resort to it,” he said, then erected his back and prepared to walk out of their hiding spot. “You come out on my signal.”
“Wait.” She called out to him as he was about to jump into the impending fight.
Corvan looked back at her with a cold gaze. “I do not need your—”
“Just be careful.”
The young lord was somewhat taken aback by what she said that it took him a moment to process what she just said. Yet, when it dawned on him what she really meant, he looked into her azure blue eyes and gave a brief nod, a look of bewilderment painted across his face.
“Expect nothing less,” he replied, before stepping out with an air of confidence around him. Corvan then paused and said, “You shouldn’t have bothered.”
“Well, last time you underestimated the guy, you lost consciousness,” she said, which wounded his pride.
“He’s weak now.”
“And you’re underestimating him again.” The girl added as she stroked Avaro’s fur, frowning at the Twelve’s proclivity to make light of their enemy. She did not know if it was a typical habit among Valemnians or if only existed among aristocracy, but it was an unpleasant trait that brought her irritation. “There’s nothing more dangerous than complacency. You may be the best, but there can always be someone who’s better.”
‘This one agrees strongly.’ Avaro interjected.
“You have to remember that those underestimated have more drive to prove themselves. If you want to continue winning, then treat every fight as the challenger, and not the champion.” She quieted. “Just a little bit of advice though.”
”I’ll try to see if I can follow that.”
That was when Corvan jumped like a ninja—at least, how Valeriana saw it—and disappeared from her line of sight. She sank to the ground and leaned against Avaro as they looked up at the darkened skies. Unlike what she usually saw, they were devoid of any stars, and it looked . . . boring.
‘Thou sayest such wise words. Thy wisdom astounds this old beast.’ Avaro told her.
“They just make me think sometimes,” she told him. “And though I can’t do much myself, the only thing I’ve got is a mouth with words. That’s all I’m ever good at.”
‘Dost thou not believe in thyself?’
“I’m not smart like Charles,” Valeriana whispered. “I’m not a prodigy like Corvan. I’m not like Brindon who’s good with arrows either . . . or like Tamara who’s . . . well, Tamara. I heard Elfre’s main forte was horses . . . and Keelan’s good with food. I’m really not like the Twelve. I don’t even belong there.”
‘Lheuim ansur . . .’
“It’s all a mistake. A big stroke of luck. Gosh, what was I even thinking when I thought I could do it? Even when everyone tries to encourage me, I can’t help but feel so . . . so . . .”
‘Why dost thou possess such self-doubt? Thou canst not continue comparing thyself to others who are not thee. Each being is given a different purpose, so comparing one to another is utterly futile.’ The wise beast’s cold, blue eyes slowly trailed to the girl and bore deep into her own. ‘Thou hast lost thy sense of purpose. It seems to this one that the changes thou hast experienced these past few days threw thee off of the path thou followst. Thou wast easily discouraged. Thou needst to find thyself, little one. If thou findst thyself, then nothing else can throw thee off the path thou seekst.’
“I totally did not understand what that half meant.”
‘Thou shalt soon.’
“No. It’s your way of speaking that made it hard to understand.” Valeriana scrunched her brows. “I mean, those extra ‘t’s after a verb and ‘thou’ confuses me.”
‘It is the way this one speaks. That cannot be easily changed.’
“Whatever you say.” She surrendered. “When will we receive that signal Corvan was talking about?”
“NOW!” The first-ranker’s voice echoed.
“Oh, yeah.” Valeriana pulled herself up and prepared to do her part. “I guess we gotta get going.”
With a swift swing of her feet, Valeriana had mounted Avaro and readied herself for the takeoff. The beast unfurled his wings and crouched low, letting the power gather under his paws for the momentum before jumping high into the air with astounding velocity.
Valeriana pursed her lips to keep her scream in as they dove back down at the same speed and landed on the hidden garden in the middle of the maze. The walls were particularly very tall, so no one would’ve thought it existed if they didn’t know of the secret door. However, that fact was lost to Valeriana as her mind spun at the suddenness of her ride.
“Um . . . I . . .”
“What are you waiting for?” Corvan yelled.
Avaro lunged forward while Valeriana reached for Asthore and pulled her with herself and the beast. The city lady squeaked loudly and took a moment before she started resisting the grip around her waist.
“We’re going for a little ride, so make sure to hold on to your hat, milady.” Valeriana gave her a small smile before Avaro flapped his wings and took off for the second time.
“Asthore!” Faolan screamed, his eyes bleeding black as he turned to Corvan. “Give her back!” His voice, deeper as though not his own, grunted.
“I’m afraid that’s not possible.” The male ranker replied.
Pulling back his lips into a snarl, his body popped and shifted into an image of a monstrous panther that lunged for Corvan with a bone-chilling roar.
And so the finale begins.