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Chapter Twenty-Three — Decisions Make The Man
He wasn’t allowed any sort of weapons at school, which was a disappointment, so Sebastian had to settle for walking there bare-handed, albeit he would be forced to meet his assassins there, as they were part of the same group of students and shared the same classes. Throughout the entire Sunday, his phone had been quiet, which meant that Milo was still waiting for an apology that would never come. Sebastian hated compulsively that he would have to meet the boy again and stare into those green eyes filled with hurt. According to those websites specialized in teen advice, those soul wounds were superficial and would heal fast, so there was a bit of comfort in that, at least. Too bad such comforts wouldn’t be bestowed upon him, as well.
Tani walked by his side, and he could tell that his sister was dying to ask him something.
“You are allowed to talk if there’s something bothering you,” he eventually said.
“Allowed? Pfft,” she replied. “Where is Milo? Do you guys really have a fight? Is that how you broke your nose? But I thought you two made up.” The sentences shot off her tongue like projectiles.
“I didn’t break my nose, and this minor wound happened as I stumbled over a piece of furniture that wasn’t where it was supposed to be. As for Milo, it doesn’t concern you.”
“For real? I’m your sis, remember?” Tani had the same playful manner of speaking as many teenagers, but Sebastian could feel that she was, indeed, bothered, by how she slowed down her pace, forcing him to do the same.
“Milo and I broke up,” he said brusquely.
“Say what?” Tani shouted.
Now it was Sebastian’s turn to hush her, as the people around turned to stare at them.
“It’s complicated, and as a young girl, you wouldn’t understand it anyway.”
Tani pondered over her following words. “I would,” she said quietly. “You can tell me.”
Sebastian stopped and looked at her for a few moments. She was just so young; if Milo couldn’t understand and believe that he was from another world, how could Tani be more accepting of such a strange thing? He decided to keep silent. The less involved the people around him were, people he had come to care about, including this silly girl, the better. It was his curse and duty to get rid of the assassins without having Tani know about it. The chances were that even if she believed him, she would get scared, and Sebastian had no time nor the inclination to deal with her fears, on top of it all.
“There are things you can only understand when you reach the right age,” he settled for an explanation.
Tani groaned in frustration. “Ugh, you sound just like mom! Then I’ll ask Milo.”
“No, you won’t do such a thing,” Sebastian said sternly.
“Is it that bad? Ah, it must be one of those misunderstandings that appear at the start of any new relationship,” Tani said. “That means you’ll get over it.”
Sebastian failed to understand how Tani was coming up with such statements. No, he would never get over it because he would never put Milo in harm’s way, nor he would ever forget him, now that he was so hopelessly in love with him. He took Tani’s hand firmly and rushed her toward the subway station.
He waited for the other students to rush inside at the sound of the bell so that he could walk into the classroom at the last minute and thus avoid having to talk to Milo. The less contact he had with him, the better, Sebastian decided, especially since his enemies would watch his every move. He had trained in his room throughout the day before, following various advice offered freely on the internet on how one could defend himself. The encouraging part was that he had discovered that he was quite adept at learning the techniques presented, as it appeared that even his current inadequate body could respond to the challenges at hand. Maybe part of who he was inside could be transferred into the actions he would perform when forced to take a stand again against his assailants.
He walked in, right after the teacher, and took advantage of all the commotion in the room to dash to his place.
“What the hell happened to your face?”
That was Milo’s voice, but Sebastian didn’t turn to look at him. “Don’t speak to me. We broke up,” he whispered.
“I thought you were joking.”
“And I clearly told you I wasn’t.”
“Mr. Martin, Mr. Bennett!” the teacher snapped as the students finally fell quiet, and they were the only ones still ignoring her. “Haven’t you had enough time to talk in your spare time?”
“My apologies,” Sebastian said politely.
“Mr. Martin, have you sustained an injury? Do you need to go home? Or to see a doctor?” the teacher asked as she noticed the state of his face.
People in this world tended to fret over minor wounds like they were life-threatening. “No, thank you for your concern,” Sebastian replied. “I am in no mortal danger, and I do not require a healer. My mother tended to my wounds.”
“Still a smartass,” the teacher said istanbul travesti with a sigh. It was the same who had sent him to detention that time, so Sebastian needed to tread cautiously around her. As things stood, he was in no need of such a waste of time. “But how did you injure yourself?”
“Maybe he stumbled over his own legs,” Chet suddenly spoke.
Sebastian turned in his seat and took a long hard look at the pig-like face. While he had every reason to delay a second confrontation, he wouldn’t give that boy the satisfaction of cowering in his presence. Chet and his posse laughed, but the rest of the students began whispering between them. Sebastian knew how to recognize worry when he saw it. How many times hadn’t he seen it in his people when monsters were at the gates? He knew no such thing; it was his duty to protect the others, and it was what he did every time, without wasting a moment on dealing with such feelings.
The correct thing to admit to himself was that he hadn’t known worry before. Now, he worried for Milo and what those disgusting boys could do to him. Even if all they wanted were to tarnish his reputation on grounds Sebastian couldn’t comprehend, and in the process, prevent him from playing his favorite sport, he still wouldn’t allow it. Milo and his passion had to be protected at all costs.
“Did these idiots do something to you?” Milo whispered and fidgeted in his place.
“I just fell,” Sebastian said out loud, without looking at Milo. “It could happen to anyone,” he added and met Chet’s eyes with determination. For a moment, the pig-like face lost that stupid smile.
“If you’re all right, let’s just get to what’s far more important. Your education,” the teacher said, and soon only the sound of pens scribbling on paper could be heard.
Sebastian stole a glance at Milo. He looked as beautiful as ever, but it was easy to notice that there were dark circles under his eyes and that his mouth was set in a grim line. Since he was just looking at his notebook, like everyone else, Sebastian stared a little more. The large calloused hands were clenching tightly.
Why were sentiments such a difficult thing to deal with? As always, Sebastian had to admit his mother — the real one — was correct. The most important thing was to be all-powerful and know no fear. Love had no place in his heart, shouldn’t have had one. And that was another lesson from the ice goddess that he had so inconveniently forgotten.
Milo caught him in the hallway as he was rushing out. Ignoring him throughout the day had been an ordeal of the most torturing kind. Milo grabbed him by the arm and pushed him into a corner. “Don’t think that I’ll just let this whole thing slip like it’s nothing. What happened? Did Chet do something to you? Is that why you decided we should broke up?”
What was the point to explain the truth again? Just like Tani, Milo was better knowing as little as possible. Sebastian even had regrets about telling him too much already. “No. Nothing untoward happened. And I decided to break up with you because we’re too young to be in such a relationship.”
“Too young? We’re eighteen –” Milo’s voice raised a notch. Then he added more quietly, “Is it because of the whole sex thing?”
Sebastian began looking around. He didn’t need Chet and his acolytes to be privy to this conversation. Suspiciously enough, they had left him alone the entire day at school. “No. It is because of developing an attachment where there should be none. I have no feelings for you, so there’s no gain in continuing.”
He pushed past Milo and began walking fast. What would it take to make sure they never spoke again? Chet needed to see that he and Milo were perfect strangers so that he would leave him alone.
But again, he was grabbed from behind and forced to stop.
“Kai, what the hell is happening?” Milo said through his teeth.
Sebastian shook off the other’s touch. Other students hurrying about began throwing them curious looks. “I just don’t want to have anything to do with you anymore.”
“You can’t –“
He turned on his heels and bore his eyes into Milo’s. “Yes, I can. I’m doing it right now. You mean nothing to me anymore.”
Milo appeared to stagger slightly under the force of those words. Sebastian had never before once thought anything of being cruel when demanded by the circumstances, but now he could feel his chest squeezing tightly as Milo’s face scrunched up in worry and despair.
“We’re through,” he added through clenched teeth and dug his fingernails into his palms to stop himself from reaching out and pulling Milo into a tight embrace as his heart yearned and pushed him to.
“All right,” Milo said and pursed his lips, his face turning to stone. “I’ll find out what this is all about. Don’t think I’ll take this lying down like a moron.” He walked away without one look back.
What did he mean by that? Sebastian knew that one thing only was certain. He could waste not one precious moment and needed to get back istanbul travestileri home, lock himself in his room and continue his training. His muscles were sore everywhere, which was a downside, but if he didn’t push this body into doing what was needed, what chances did he have?
In the meantime, he needed to discover some ways to project himself as someone people didn’t want to mess with. That was just another strange expression he had learned since coming here, and it served to illustrate his current situation because people, obviously, were interested in messing with him.
He was almost out in the street when Tani hurried from behind and caught his hand. “Weren’t you going to wait for me? I called you for like a hundred times.”
“I doubt that. Tani, what does it take to look badass?”
Badass. Another strange turn of phrase. It made Sebastian think of someone with an abominable condition that involved their behind, but he had seen enough TV shows to understand the meaning. To keep the assassins sent to eliminate him on their toes, he needed to look, well, ‘badass’.
“I don’t know. Big scary muscles, maybe a moustache,” Tani replied.
“A mustache?” Sebastian grimaced. He didn’t believe he had the necessary time for developing big scary muscles, and facial hair didn’t appeal to him. Plus, Kai didn’t seem to be capable of even growing a mustache.
“Ah, I know,” Tani said. “A tattoo.”
Sebastian flicked through his phone without asking any unnecessary questions. His phone screen filled with pictures of physically impressive men exposing their bodies covered in intricate designs. A tattoo would be just about right, he decided. Since he still had money left from his cosplaying gig, he would put it to good use.
“Wait, are you going to get a tattoo?” Tani asked excitedly as she peeked at what he was browsing. “Mom is so going to kill you.”
“Kill me?” Sebastian was rightfully taken aback. “But I’m her only son.”
Tani patted him on the back. “Don’t worry, I’ll convince her that I don’t want to live the rest of my life as an only child. See how much I love you?” She blinked a few times and smiled at him. “But only if you take me with you,” she added quickly.
“Take you where?”
Tani groaned. “Where you’re going to get the tattoo.”
He didn’t have time to convince his sister to leave him alone. Even though she was Kai’s sister, he found it quite natural to call her his sibling, which, in itself, seemed like a dangerous thing to do and think, just as much as indulging in fantasies regarding him and Milo together. “All right. We’re going right now.”
“Wow, for real?”
“Yes. I still have some money left from the cosplay competition.” According to the list of prices displayed, he had enough for having something done. He would have to compromise by the looks of it, but he would get a tattoo, nonetheless.
“Maybe you should break the bank a little if you want to get something cool,” Tani advised.
“I don’t have time to break a bank,” Sebastian replied.
Tani snickered. “That secret stash of yours, don’t you want to put it to good use?”
“I’m afraid I forgot where it is.”
“Don’t worry, I didn’t,” Tani said and began dragging him.
Knowing Kai’s secret money place would have come in handy earlier, but it was a good thing to learn about it even now. And it was good to have such a thoughtful sister, after all.
“You eighteen?” The man at the tattoo parlor threw him a dubious look.
Sebastian produced his identity card and presented it dutifully. The man scratched his head and handed it back. Even part of his face was covered in skin art, and Sebastian had to admit that he couldn’t stop staring despite his impeccable upbringing.
“I hope the little girl doesn’t want one, too,” the man said and offered a toothy grin.
“No, she’s just here because she’s my sister,” he explained.
“Could I get a tattoo, too, though?” Tani asked the tattoo artist.
“No,” the man replied at the same time as Sebastian.
Getting a tattoo for himself was one thing, but letting Tani do the same was out of the question. He had a feeling that Mrs. Martin might not keep from killing him if he allowed the little girl to get a tattoo along with him.
“So, what’s going to be?” The tattoo artist offered him a seat and some catalogs with amazing pictures. “And where do you want it?”
Sebastian flicked through the pages. “It should be in a visible spot,” he said. “As for design, I’m yet to decide.”
“Take your time. You’re the last client for today, so I can wait.”
Tani stared at the pictures with him. “I think you should get one on your arm, like this,” she said, lifting the sleeve of her uniform and presenting her arm up to the elbow. “Unless you want it on your face.”
“No, that would be a bit extreme. Yes, I’ll get one on the forearm, as you suggested,” he decided.
“This kitty is pretty,” she said as she pointed at a pink cat with flower pins behind her ears.
“I’m travesti istanbul not getting a kitty, Tani. Kitties are not badass,” he argued.
“They totally are,” Tani countered. “In a cute way.”
“I don’t need cute,” Sebastian said sternly. “I need something that symbolizes strength and courage.”
“What about this lion?” Tani pointed at one of the pictures.
“Yes, but it is not quite what I want.” He turned a few more pages, and then his eyes fell on what looked like the perfect choice. The golden eyes stared at him fearlessly as he had always known them to. “This,” he said and showed the picture to Tani.
“Wow, you’re getting a dragon? You’re going to look like a yakuza,” Tani said excitedly.
Sebastian didn’t care to search for the term and understand what Tani was talking about, especially since he was now eager to get the thing done. “All right.” He stood and cleared his throat to draw the artist’s attention who was on his phone, enraptured with one of those silly games that Sebastian had once lost an entire night trying to beat.
The man looked at the design and then at him. “You sure, kid? It’s going to hurt.”
Sebastian shrugged. “That’s no problem, I assure you.”
“Do you have the dough?”
Tani pulled at his arm and nodded enthusiastically as he looked at her. Sebastian produced the bills from his pocket and slammed them on the man’s table.
So far, all had been nothing but fun and giggles, while he had done nothing but enjoy to the extreme being inside the body of an OP character like Sebastian. On their way back, everyone kept silent, and he didn’t dare to interrupt their thoughts by asking silly questions. At the same time, he couldn’t repress the feeling that this time, he wouldn’t be able to wing it as he had done with everything so far. War had a serious connotation, and it wasn’t a word like all the others. What he needed right now was to be alone with Pepin and ask him everything he knew about the House of Uxilan and how he could carry a war when his knowledge of such things was as good as none. Yes, he had led troops and conquered vast spaces in video games, but there, he could plan his actions while deciding which units to sacrifice, as those were nothing but pixels on the screen. Now, he would have to do the same thing, but with people who were alive and breathing, and would be greatly affected by his decisions.
It must have been something in the ominous smoke rising at the horizon that had sobered him up to the reality of this world he had been thrown in. At first, he had thought nothing but how cool it was to travel to a fantastic place, but what if all this was real? It couldn’t be a dream because dreams couldn’t last for days and weeks, and they couldn’t be this vivid. So, the House of Uxilan and their poison that had almost done Conrad in were very much real.
Now wasn’t the time to get cold feet, he decided. He would just extract all the information he needed from Pepin, and Galien would have to help him, too. If they ever wondered why he was such an airhead, he could blame it on that hit to the head again.
Adhe left them on the wall, where she had taken them from. “When you need me, I won’t be far. I’ll give you one of my scales, and you can use it to call me. Just put it to your lips and whisper my name.”
“Thank you. But you have your baby to worry about. I wouldn’t bother you,” Kai said.
The dragon looked into his eyes. “The House of Uxilan is drunk on power, always has been. They care naught but lay destruction in their paths. As much as I’ve known you to fight against my kin, Prince Sebastian, I also know that you’re the only one that can keep them from taking over Ifigia and turn it into the pestilence they call their home.”
“Sebastian,” Galien called for him. “You have to call the war council. Now.”
That meant that he had no time to prepare. “But I want to change out of these clothes first,” he said defensively.
Galien grabbed him by the shoulder hard. “Your Majesty,” he said sternly, “now’s really not the time to worry about your attire. The people need to learn of it so that they can start preparing. Call the war council, without delay.”
Kai remembered only one other time when he had felt so utterly alone as right now, as he was seated at the head of the table, with dozens of eyes on him, belonging to old generals, seasoned warriors, and a few diplomats. Galien and Conrad were seated by his left and right side while Pepin was tiptoeing about while offering refreshments. So much for getting the servant to inform him of what needed to be done.
In front of him, on the large table, a map of Ifigia lay, and at the east, the House of Uxilan and its lands were represented by charcoal terrain. The feelings of hopelessness and injustice that had overwhelmed him that day when he had said his last goodbye to his dad were with him now, and Kai pressed the palms of his hands against the thick oak surface while trying to get a grip of himself and his surroundings.
Everyone was silent, waiting for him to speak up. How had he done things so easily while playing games? He was good at it, as he well remembered, but this was real. So basing his actions on a child’s play seemed ill-advised and likely to have horrible consequences.
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