With a start, Javelin sat up, wide awake. He opened his eyes and was instantly blinded by bright sunlight.
‘Where . . .’
Confused and squinting, Javelin looked around the blue-stoned room he was in, his eyes falling on a dark silhouette standing by the window. Her lonely figure was clearly outlined against the outside sky, but the contrast was too great, so Javelin couldn’t see her face.
“Raven Night?” he found himself asking, thinking of the woman in his dreams, and the silhouette twitched. Suddenly Javelin’s mind was over-flooded with emotions – the strongest of which was apprehension, but there was joy too.
“Eric?” her voice was soft and slightly unstable when she spoke, but Javelin recognized it right away.
“Raven?” he corrected himself and used the back of his hand to rub his eyes. “Why do y-. . .”
Javelin stopped mid-sentence. When he had opened his eyes for the second time, the light wasn’t as blinding and Raven had stepped away from the window. He saw her blue silk dress and the intricate ornaments in her hair, but, most importantly, Javelin saw her deep green eyes, staring at him without any of the calm coldness he was used to.
“Wow. . . .” Javelin was at a loss for words but his reaction caused some of that coldness to flash by in the forests of Raven’s eyes. At once, the apprehension left him, but so did the sense of happiness.
Raven sighed and muttered something Javelin didn’t quite catch. She sat down on a nearby chair, the bells in her hair ringing as she moved.
“Um, what happened?” he asked nervously when Raven only stared at him, a hard-to-read look on her face.
“What happened?” Raven repeated his question and a tinge of anger ran through Javelin. “You ate a supposed miracle pill – given to you by a power-hungry, homicidal maniac – practically died, and were then brought back to life by me. That’s what happened.”
Javelin’s jaw dropped in shock.
“Oh, and the Talon clan has been eradicated and I’ve been reinstated as the heiress of the Nightingale Prefecture.”
Blinking, Javelin’s mouth open and closed like a goldfish’s. There was too much for him to process in those two sentences and the rising anger within him didn’t help.
‘Why am I angry?’
Raven sighed again, heavier this time. “Seriously Javelin, I know you’re a kid and all, but you’ve gone through freakin’ military training! Use your head a bit and stop making me feel like I’m a babysitter. . . .”
Something within Javelin snapped. “Sorry for the inconvenience! I’ll leave you alone from now on!” he shouted and prepared to storm out of the room, but, just as he reached the door, a sharp pain tore through his mind. Instantly, Javelin collapsed on the floor, clutching his head.
However, the pain quickly subsided and he looked up to see that Raven had moved closer to him. “I’m afraid that won’t happen any time soon,” she said and hunched down in front of him. She took a deep breath – calming herself – and, strangely enough, Javelin’s anger calmed down with her. “My apologies, Jav,” Raven said with a half-hearted smile. “I let my anger get the better of me and it spilled over into you.”
Javelin frowned, not understanding what she was talking about.
“Confusing? I know.” Without regard for her delicate dress, Raven pulled Javelin to his feet and led him back to the sofa he had been lying on. “I have a few things to explain. . . .” she said and that was the understatement of the year.
Slowly, and seemingly without holding anything back, Raven started explaining what had happened since Javelin passed out from the Phoenix Death Lotus. The main focus was naturally on the Soul Bond which Fenris had helped form between them.
“So, you’re telling me that we are linked for life through our souls?” Javelin asked after nearly half an hour of quiet listening.
“Yes.” Raven nodded and Javelin suppressed a smile; he quite liked the idea.
Looking within himself, Javelin could see the changes: he saw the additional, albeit translucent, soul prism which was linked to hundreds of equally incorporeal spirit connections; he saw his own soul prism, now orange but with only a single spirit connection. With only one connection of his own, Javelin felt a bit disconnected from the world, but he understood it was only temporary and he could feel the immense amount of spirit essence flowing through Raven’s connections. She was forcefully holding it back for now, but the moment she loosened her control, Javelin would be flooded with more spirit essence than he could handle.
“Gaining the extra spirit essence from each other’s spirit connections without stealing from each other . . . what an amazing benefit!” Just thinking about it made Javelin excited. Sure, he wasn’t contributing so much to Raven right now, but every drop counts and at least he doubled Raven’s growth-rate, connection-wise. “I’m surprised not more people get Soul Bound. Was it hard to do?”
Hesitation flashed by Raven’s eyes for a moment as if she was considering what she was going to say, but it quickly passed. “Well, the requirement are supposedly rather high. . . ”
“Fenris didn’t really go into the details, but I got the distinct impression that one has to be soul touched for it to work.” Javelin made no attempts to hide the confusion he was feeling and Raven continued; “Being soul touched means that someone gave his or her life to protect you. That strong emotion causes a part of the dying person’s soul to linger, imprinting on the one left behind.”
Javelin frowned; this explanation wasn’t helping much. After all, they were both alive!
“Javelin, you . . .” Raven halted and drew a deep breath, steeling herself, “. . . or rather the previous you, gave your life to save me. You don’t remember it now, but you will – eventually.”
“But you already do?” Javelin asked, not really believing what Raven was telling him.
“I do – I always have. How else could I possibly have been born with such an odd soul prism? Since it’s only a matter of time, I might as well tell you. . . .” Raven seemed a bit distant as she spoke, her mind clearly somewhere else. ” You, then known as Eric Solar, took a bullet for me, Raven Night, while I was working as your bodyguard.” She laughed bitterly. “Not one of the finest moments in my career.”
Javelin had no idea what a ‘bullet’ was, but it didn’t matter. “Those dreams!” he gasped, finally accepting Raven’s words. “They were real!?”
“Yes! Well, no . . . I’ve been having these dreams. . . . There was a woman, my bodyguard she said, and her name was Raven Night, just like you. I thought I was just making things up, but . . .” Javelin’s eyes widened. “Hey, if I remember everything, will my soul prism become like yours?”
Raven stiffened slightly but quickly shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know, but it should at least get stronger than it is now.”
Javelin felt himself smiling broadly. This was it. This was the only way he would ever stand a chance at catching up to Raven. Her head start was enormous, but at least the gap wouldn’t keep increasing forever.
‘I have to remember!’ he vowed.
An odd emotion suddenly washed over Javelin and he looked over at Raven. She was staring at him calmly, but the feelings that reached Javelin through their bond told him otherwise.
“What’s wrong?” he asked. “It would seem like you don’t want me to remember?”
“What I want doesn’t matter,” Raven said and smiled back at him, the merriment not reaching her eyes. “They are your memories – you deserve to know. . . .”
Listening to her words and feeling her emotions, a sudden thought struck Javelin. “Hey, we weren’t perhaps lovers in our past life?” he asked before he had a chance to get embarrassed. It just made too much sense! If they had been lovers before, then that might explain why he had fallen for Raven so quickly when he was younger, and why he got so hot-headed whenever she was in danger. He had already been willing to die for her once, naturally he should still be willing. Javelin didn’t really need an answer, he knew he was right, but . . .
“No, we were not.”
Raven’s reply came like bucket of cold water. Her tone was emotionless and all he sensed from her was icy rejection. She wasn’t lying. Not completely anyway. Unwilling to accept it, Javelin was about to refute her claim when a familiar red bird landed on the windowsill and Raven walked over to let him in.
The bird took one long look at Javelin.
“So the life-and-death risk paid off – he is up and running.”
The sudden voice in Javelin’s mind almost caused him to jump in his seat.
“He is indeed,” Javelin heard Raven reply moments later while giving him a quizzical look. “And I suspect he just heard you, brother.”
For the second time that day, Javelin blinked in confusion and shock as he stared at Raven and her pet bird.
“He can hear me?” the second voice spoke again. This time Javelin could hear the familiarities with Hoatzin, Raven’s dead big brother, but that made no sense at all!
“So it would seem. Fenris did mention that we should be able to speak mentally once the Soul Bound was in place. Perhaps you’re on the same frequency?”
Raven clearly had no qualms about discussing the elephant in the room, even in front of the elephant. Had Javelin not been so shocked by it all, then he would perhaps have realized that she had simply jumped on the change of subject.
“Y-you. . .” Javelin stuttered.
“Wow, he is almost as well-spoken as Martin,” Hoatzin laughed, before flying over and landing in Javelin’s lap. “Hello Javelin.”
“You survived? Like this?” Javelin couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
“Yes, well, I apologize for my appearance, but desperate times call for desperate means.” There was a tinge of amusement in his friend’s voice that Javelin couldn’t miss, but something about it made it sound awfully fake. Hoatzin’s next sentence explained why. “I am glad to see that you failed to drag my sister down with your carelessness.”
“Brother!” Raven reprimanded out loud, but the cat’s head was already out of the bag – no point in pushing it back in now.
“What do you mean?” Javelin asked, even though he feared that he already knew the answer.
“Oh, my little sister didn’t tell you? She risked her life to save your reckless ass – and the odds were not in her favor.”
As he spoke, Hoatzin kept jabbing his peak into Javelin’s thigh, but it was the concerned brother’s words which hurt the most. Every sentence stabbed, like a dagger, at Javelin’s heart.
“What odds? That should be your next question!” Hoatzin continued, ignoring Javelin’s paling face. “A million to one, mister Hake – a million to one chance of success or you would both die!”
“Oh come on, brother! Fenris was exaggerating. . . .”
“I would not bet my life on that,” Hoatzin muttered back.
Javelin was at a loss of words. Although he had promised himself not to, he had done it again – Javelin had put Raven’s life in danger because of his own silly actions.
“Why . . .” was all he managed to squeeze out after a long period of silence. In his mind he couldn’t help but feel like his lover-theory got even more credit. Surely you would only risk your life for someone you cared about?
Yet Raven only shrugged. “You used your life to save mine – it is only natural that I repay the favor.”
“But what about your own life? If you hadn’t done anything, then at least you would be guaranteed a longer life.”
“I wouldn’t really mind if I had died, Javelin. If it ends, it ends – no point in getting worked up about it. I’ll admit, it would be a boring ending and, naturally, I don’t like the consequences it would have for my brother. . . . However, the two of us will have to go our separate ways eventually anyway, and I had made adequate preparations for my him. All in all, my death would have been of little consequence.”
Both Javelin and Hoatzin stared blankly at the girl for a while before the former finally spoke. “You’re really selfish sometimes, Raven,” Javelin said, feeling both sad and angry at her reasoning.
“Perhaps,” Raven answered, smiling weakly, “but at least like this our score is settled.”
‘Like hell it is!’ thought Javelin, the determination to recall his previous life growing even stronger. He couldn’t help but wonder what Raven had been through to get such an outlook on life.
Even more than before, Javelin found himself yearning to support Raven, but he knew that there was little to nothing he could do for her at the moment. However, if Javelin colud remember, then they should be on a more equal footing. At that time, Raven would be forced to stop seeing him as the kid he, begrudgingly, admitted he still was.
Perhaps then she would start relying on him a bit more – perhaps then her outlook on life would change.
‘I must remember. . . .’