Chapter V: Night Shift
The last few hours were slow, no visitors or interruptions. Leinheart was ready to close shop, and Shadow was more than ready to get out of there. She followed Lein closely as per his instructions to avoid the possibility of getting him in trouble. He was getting ready for bed. She just sat at the other side of the room on the bed he made for her, which was nothing more than a hammock, like his, only smaller. It's size made it uncomfortable at best. She tried to make herself comfortable, and just watched him, trying to build up the courage to ask him something.
"So why haven't you?" she bluntly asked.
"Why haven't I what?" he answered with a question.
"Why haven't you gone out lately?"
"I don't want to talk about it." She realized she wasn't getting anywhere with him, but figured the only way to get him to talk was to drive him further.
"Do you remember what you said to me the other day? That if there was anything I wanted to know to just ask you?" He looked at her. She could tell he was getting annoyed by his expression.
"I did say that, didn't I?" He sighed,"I suppose I could tell you of all people." He sat down on his bed. It rocked a bit, but soon steadied as he began to speak."I've been having these dreams lately, ever since Kiro died. But there's something about them." Shadow looked at him with concern, and awaited more."They feel real, like a warning maybe. It's the same almost every night. I'm leading a troop into battle, against villages, towns, cities even, and every time it ends in a bloodbath. It scares me to death." The very thought of such a thing sent shivers down her spine. She had difficulty picturing him being involved with such a thing.
"What do you think it is?" she asked.
"I don't know. Maybe it's just a nightmare. But sometimes it feels more like a resonance, like I'm looking through someone else's eyes." She thought about his explanation, but couldn't really think of what it could be. Then he continued,"I didn't share this with Jade because I couldn't think of a way to explain it, and I was afraid she might think badly of me." She tried to take in everything the best she could, then tried to think of a way to help him feel better about it.
"Would it help if you had someone to go out with you?"
"I don't see the point. I've been everywhere in the city so many times already."
"Then why not go out of the city?" she suggested.
"I couldn't if I wanted to," he sounded upset."Peasants like me are forbidden from setting foot outside the gates."
"Oh. I see." She seemed a little disappointed. He noticed her disappointment, and smiled.
"But I suppose it wouldn't hurt if everyone's asleep." She perked up, as did her ears. He gestured towards the door. She followed. It was dark out. The night sky filled overhead, the light of the moon hanging directly above. They avoided the streets directly and tried going through every corner they could find. Leinheart checked each corner to make sure no one was there. Eventually, they reached the gate. It was unguarded, apparently. But he knew that was only because the guards who were there were changing shifts. Quickly and quietly, they exited. They were immediately met by a forest just outside the city. It would provide a good place to hide while they enjoyed their time out. They found a nice, quiet field of flowers, the only sound being that of chirping crickets. The field had a nice view of the sky.
Shadow admired the view. She was afraid that she'd never see the outside again. It was a great relief for her. Then she thought about Leinheart, and looked at him. She realized this must've been the first time he had ever stepped out of the city in over two years. It was easy to see that he missed the simplest of things, as he was enjoying the scent of the flowers and the view above. He sat down in the field, and just stared up at the sky. She eventually joined him. He glanced at her, then returned his attention to the heavens.
"You know, I don't think we've had a chance to get to know each other properly," she stated,"I guess now is as good a time as any."
"You already know so much about me," Leinheart chuckled,"What else do you want to know?"
"Well," she thought for a moment,"Why did you come to the city in the first place?"
"Like I said in my journal, I wanted to be a knight. It always felt like a calling in my life."
"Where did you live before coming to Valleshire?"
"I was raised tribal, and back then, I lived with my aunt. She raised me as if I were her own."
"What about your parents?"
"She rarely spoke of them," he continued,"It seemed to bother her whenever someone brought it up. When I told her of my plan to go to the city, she was practically begging me not to. I never understood why it upset her so, but I figured she was afraid of losing me." He sighed, then looked up with a smile, eventually turning his attention to the wolf."So what about you?"
"Me? I'm afraid I'm not a very interesting person," she said sheepishly.
"I'll be the judge of that," he exclaimed,"You owe it to me, after all. I shared with you, it's only fair that you do the same." She was a bit surprised by his response, and found it pointless to argue."Now tell me, what was it like before you were taken?"
"It was a simple life, I guess. Just about every day was a fight for survival. Most of us would either become warriors or hunters, but that's not what I wanted. I wanted to be a healer, but the rest of the pack looked down at me for it, some even made fun of me." She looked away shamefully,"You must be thinking the same of me." She was almost to the point of crying, until she felt a hand on her shoulder, looking back to see Leinheart comforting her.
"No, I'm not. I think it's good that you'd rather heal than harm. It says a lot about your true nature. If being a healer is what you want, you should pursue that dream." She faintly smiled, and tears started pouring down her face, not of sorrow, but of joy. She found herself grabbing hold of Leinheart, and hugging him tightly. He was caught by surprise, and started blushing a bit as he stared blankly at her.
"Thanks, Lein. You're the only person who's ever been nice to me about it." He didn't know how to respond, only to find himself hugging back, and eventually giving a smile.
They hardly said anything to each other afterwards, the closest being a brief glance at one another. They only enjoyed the scenery, and each others company. Leinheart finally stood up and broke the silence.
"We really should be heading back soon." Shadow sighed with disappointment, but understood and joined him. They returned to the city, and like before, they were quiet and snuck by the best they could, eventually finding there way back home. Leinheart yawned, and sat on his bed. It rocked a little. He lied down was close to falling asleep. Shadow stared at him. Something else was on her mind, and she wanted to ask a favor, but was too shy. She approached him, took a deep breath, and spoke.
"Leinheart?" The call of his name made him open his eyes and notice the pup standing over him."C-could I sleep with you tonight?" Her question puzzled him. She tried to avoid eye contact."It's just.. I've been having nightmares for most of my life, but it stops when I'm close to you. So may I? Please?" He could tell by her expression, and her tears that it really seemed to frighten her so. So he scooted over as far as he could and offered her a place. She gladly accepted and laid comfortably at his side with her back against him. She snuggled up to him, which gave an awkward feeling to the dragon. She quickly fell asleep with a smile as she felt an arm wrap around her, giving her a secure and comfortable feeling. She whispered,'thank you,' before she drifted off.