Tarrant didn’t want to push the hood of his cloak over his face any farther. The weather may not be so great in helping him search, but it wouldn’t do to fully cloud his vision over.
“Mumbles, how are ya doing?” the rider asked over the winds of the snowstorm to his mount. The wyvern gave his great, scaly green head a small shake, and Tarrant could just imagine how icy the snow’s sting was to the giant lizard. Being cold-blooded had its downfalls, Tarrant supposed.
Tarrant reached over as far as he could to give the wyvern a pat on the neck. “We’ll search for just a little longer, buddy,” the rider said. “If we can’t find her soon, then we’ll head back for shelter.”
An approving rumble escaped from Mumbles’s throat, the vibrations tickling under Tarrant’s hand, and the wyvern continued to scour the skies. Tarrant’s goggles continued to get foggy and snowy, but he wiped them constantly in order to see the ground through the lens. He wasn’t sure how they were going to find her, but he wanted to do his best, for her and for the rest of the Watchers. They were as much as family to him and Mumbles as his own mother now, especially considering everything that the group went through together.
Everything that they went through was probably the prompting point that made Reyna take a little too long in her walk in the snowy evening.
Tarrant was pretty observant. He had to be, what with his job usually being up in the sky atop of a wyvern’s back. Tarrant had seen the way Reyna had looked at Nello, had seen the way she had always readily agreed to the sage’s plans of action, had seen the way she never uttered a sound when Nello was speaking lest she miss a word he said, and Tarrant had seen the way Reyna’s heart had broke when it had been revealed that not only was Nello dead but that he had been the one behind all the troubles the group had faced in the first place.
The wyvern rider gave Reyna credit, though. She hadn’t crumpled down completely in her grief when finding out the news, just gave a few quiet sniffles here and there, but then the archer had gotten back to her feet when she had been needed to help the princes of her country find what they needed in order to defeat the Dark Dragon. It was only now, about a month later after the fall of Sable, that Reyna had chosen to mourn the man that she had once loved.
Tarrant grumbled to himself, wondering why Reyna had chosen to mourn Nello during a day the world was being covered in snow. Rain would have made more sense. Rain had that certain melancholy aspect to it, one that created the perfect atmosphere to let go of one’s grief over a guy they had loved who had so happened to be a crazy sage intent on gathering power for the prince that he had served. Tarrant briefly wondered what Nello had felt toward Prince Jeharraz if the sage had wanted Jeharraz to be king with amazing power that badly. Surely there had been more of a relationship, even one-sided, than a simple servant and master had for each other.
Mumbles moved his neck toward the ground, the sudden action breaking Tarrant free from his slew of thoughts. Tarrant glanced down toward the earth as well, trying to see what the wyvern had spotted, and there was a lone figure huddled by the side of the forest. From their height in the air, Tarrant couldn’t tell if the person was Reyna or a stranger, but Tarrant’s nature compelled him to go and help just the same. Tarrant smoothly directed Mumbles to circle through the air, getting lower and lower to the ground until they had found a suitable area to land in. The moment the wyvern had touched the ground, Tarrant had leaped out of his seat from the wyvern’s back, and sprinted through the snow-covered earth to the figure’s side.
Relief flooded through him as it became obvious that the figure was indeed Reyna, and Tarrant took off his heavy cloak to drape it over her shoulders. The warm fabric wrapping around her shook Reyna out of the daze she had been in and she glanced up at Tarrant in confusion as she figured out what had just happened.
“You’ll get cold,” were the first words out of her mouth.
“I’m used to it,” Tarrant said, which wasn’t truly a lie. It did get cold riding atop of a wyvern high in the skies. “C’mon, let’s get you home.”
“I’m not ready to go,” she said.
“Mumbles and I are,” Tarrant said. “You need to warm up your skinny bones. Hell, let’s go get some food so we can put some meat on those skinny bones of yours, that way you won’t get as cold as fast–”
“Tarrant.” Reyna shook her head. “I’m not ready to go back there. Not to the garrison.”
“Then tell me somewhere else I can take you,” Tarrant said. “Mumbles and I aren’t letting you stay out here in this weather. You’ll get sick.” Mumbles snorted from where he was waiting, the gust of exhaled breath breezing over Tarrant and Reyna. “And Mumbles too. We don’t want him getting sick, he gets awfully cranky–”
“Please, I can’t go back,” Reyna said. She took a few steps backwards from Tarrant, but he reached out to hold fast to her arms. “I can’t… It reminds me too much…”
Tarrant took a deep breath, the cold air granting his throat and lungs a temporary numbness, and he tried to think of his next move. “Did Nello love you too?” he asked, the words blurting out of his mouth.
Reyna gave him a crooked smile and shook her head. “Not at all,” the archer said. “His love was solely for Prince Jeharraz. It used to extend to King Ellery as well, but not since after the pair stopped their competition for the throne.”
“Then why waste all of this grief,” Tarrant said, “on the sage when he didn’t love you as you did him?”
The look he received for asking such things was scathing, and he almost wished that she had just slapped him for his insensitivity instead.
“You don’t choose who to love,” Reyna said. “I wish I could let go of this, but I just feel… Like, he always had our backs during fights and battles, and it always seemed like his best interests were for the Watchers…”
“His best interests,” Tarrant said, “if they can be called that, were for Jeharraz and only Jeharraz, even if the prince didn’t want it.” He pressed on, despite her glares. “Is that why you loved Nello? Or started to fall for him? Because of his abilities to protect you in a fight?”
“No,” she protested, “and I can take care of myself in a fight, thank you very much. It’s just… Look, he was always there, ever since I joined the Watchers. If we were in a tight spot, we looked to Nello and his battle tactics to get us out of it. If Jeharraz was suddenly missing or couldn’t take the lead, Nello was the next up on the mantle. Do you understand? If Nello was able to go bad, then… What’s to stop the others? What’s to stop me?”
“For one thing, you’re considering the consequences,” Tarrant said. “You have too much of a good head on your shoulders to do something that will risk the world like Nello did. Yeah, he was a smart guy, strong too, but his head was full of what he could do by Jeharraz’s side if Jeharraz was king.
“I don’t think there’s anyone in the Watchers who are capable of going power-hungry like that,” Tarrant continued, “especially now that they know what happens to someone who does.”
“You’re all stronger now after the battle with Sable,” Tarrant said, plowing on through his explanation and hoping that he made some sense to Reyna. “It will suck for a while, sure. It’s understandable to be a bit paranoid because of what Nello did, but it’s dangerous to not continue to trust one another. If you let these doubts plague you in the middle of a fight and you can’t trust, say, Burnan to watch your back, then chances are, you’re both going to be killed.”
She glanced down at the ground and Tarrant took the opportunity to wrap his arms around her shoulders and bring her closer to him.
“Keep your chin up,” he said, ignoring the feeble struggles that she was displaying as he hugged her. “Wars suck. Traitors and crazy people are, unfortunately, going to exist. But you should spend your time focusing on those who are your true friends, those who truly care about you… Like me and Mumbles!”
The wyvern gave a weak roar, one that said while he may agree with Tarrant’s words, the wyvern was still cold and was wondering when the trio were going to head back to the garrison and his custom-made stable.
Reyna took a moment and buried her nose into the crook of Tarrant’s shoulder. Her hands curled upwards to cling to the back of his arms, and Tarrant was tactful enough not to say anything more while her body shivered from her soft cries as well as the cold. After a few minutes, a few minutes too long, if Tarrant was asked about it later, Reyna looked up at the wyvern rider with a watery smile.
“Thank you, Tarrant,” she said. “I’m ready go home now–”
“Oh, thank all the deities!” Tarrant pulled her along and ushered her toward Mumbles. “I am absolutely freezing, I almost can’t feel my legs–”
“I told you not to give me your cloak–”
“Tough luck, sweetie, I wasn’t about to let you freeze what little meat you have on those skinny bones of yours.”
He gave her a leg up atop Mumbles’s back, and the wyvern gratefully flew back off towards the Watchers garrison.