Elementals loomed in corners too dark to be comforting; waiting limbs of ice and rock with their non-eyes focused on the passersby. That vacant glare was enough to conjure goose-pimples even in the toughest of men and Gwen could feel every negative notion she’d ever had in their presence as if flooded and consumed. Nervous smiles and glances were plentiful, but chestnut eyes tried their darnedest to fixate on the cobblestone road at every turn. Sure, Mikhal was there to offer company and protection, but he could only do so much. He was a man and these creatures? They were on par with leviathan in the fawn’s mind.
“I told you I saw one once,” she mustered after some time; her voice barely an octave above the quietest murmur. “I saw one through my secret window. It didn’t see me, of course – I was little and I didn’t make any noise, but I saw it. It was so big and exactly how I imagined it would be. Still, I never thought they’d seem so –“ She paused for a moment, her mind desperate to catch the right word with a broken butterfly net and nerves ablaze. “- soulless up close.”
It wasn’t just the beasts that were causing unease in the pit of Gwen’s being. They just channeled a fear that was already brewing, for a little further down the road (to the left some and then the right), a true nightmare sat ready and beckoning: a dwelling. Not just any dwelling either; this domicile belonged to an aging piano instructor. Quirky fashion and salt-and-pepper hair were just a few of her attributes, but she was a good woman to those who knew her – albeit slightly crazy. Of course – there was a name she carried, an unimportant one without any flair or origin. She often forgot it unless it was spoken, and even then it jutted like a bone broken through flesh. No, her most important title came from the soft lips of a willowy brunette with more freckles than bust… ‘Mama’.
Many a twilight and dusk were spent wondering what would happen if Gwen were to make the voyage home. She’d left without a word, without a note or a missive – just disappeared into the darkness as swift as a breeze fleeing through an open window. It had taken a fortnight before the fawn even thought to write her Mama and those letters were still sparse, no matter how heartfelt. How would a true, bona fide return be treated? Would it be met with open arms or screaming loud enough to leave ears ringing for days to come? Would there even be a reaction? Perhaps her mother had been so distraught that she’d been rendered emotionless. Gwen could imagine it now; those listless, vacant eyes matching such a calm, unforgiving frown. It was a terrifying image, but there was only one way to find out the truth.
That truth was coming up quickly on the right and paces slowed as the pair reached their destination at the edge of town. Here villas commonly thought of as quaint or rustic clashed against walls of evergreen forest. Of course, only one of them had a sign which bore elaborate vermilion calligraphy. It was ominous in a way and more nerve-wracking than not, reading out ‘WALKER’S MUSIC’ for those happening by.
Brave was hardly a word to describe Mikahl. Surely, he could feign bravery with boisterous fervor if need be, but truthfully, the man’s heart weighed heavy from underlying fear. It anchored him from being as independent and nonchalant as his siblings; unable to he as cold and uncaring as Viktor, unable to be flightly and reckless like Eve. This fear always stayed close to the man, padding closely behind every step and leap made. It was the same fright that lingered within him as a child, the same trepidation rested in him as his mother was dying, and now, the same nerves he felt walking beside Gwen.
Mikahl knew Gwen was far braver than he could ever be. She had escaped her home with a thirst to feel every single place and person she could get in contact with. It boggled poor Mikahl that Gwen, with her insatiable hunger for adventure, chose him to hold close for comfort as they both neared the woman’s former home. He couldn’t help but wonder how Gwen’s mother was like, if Gwen’s descriptions were correct or complete hyperbole, would she approve of the two together or dismiss him at the door… would she accept her daughter with open arms after leaving the domicile? All of these questions made the butterflies in Mikahl’s stomach flutter in an absolute frenzy… but Mikahl held her hand tightly, offering Gwen kiss on her temple as they stood before the sign labeled ‘WALKER’S MUSIC.’
"Ya’ ready?" he said with a reassuring smile.
This time, he had to be brave for Gwen, even if he was afraid out of his wits.
Upon reaching the ship’s bunks, Mikahl immediately tossed his shirt over his head before unbuckling his trousers. He realized only after this action that he should probably consult Gwen.
"I ‘ave a li’l trouble sleepin’ when m’ body gets too hot…" He tries to read her expression, "I can put them back on if this ain’t okay…"
Mikahl, though not as muscular as his father or brother, did have a fairly impressive physique. He was tall, so he may have looked lanky while clothed, but Gwen could now be able to see the definition of the man’s body.
"What side o’ the bunk ya’ wanna sleep on?" he asks with a cheeky smile, rubbing the back of his neck nervously.
Darkness brewed in her heart, churning slowly and precise.
"Why am I still angry?"
The thought echoed in her mind, as if waiting for reply. Eve had separated herself from all her acquaintances and family in hopes to calm the fire that burned at her sanity.
"You’re angry that he left you. He left you all those years ago and he’s going to leave you again…"
It was almost like someone else was in her head, slowly poisoning her thoughts.
"They always leave… Don’t ever forget that."
In his heart, he really hoped she was not just a one night thing. It had been so long since he felt some kind of tangible connection with someone else.
Please, please keep her safe at sea…
She said she would write, would she really?
Sometimes I feel like drawing, but I don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable if it’s not your cup of tea.
ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS
I will always accept free drawings, always. Even for practice drawings.
She picked it up from its shelf in the corner store and knew instantly: it was for him. It was his.
She would be a great test in patience and self restraint. Mikahl was a man of his word, but at the end of the day, he was a man. If given permission, he would surely be able to answer whatever questions she had in the span of one night. He had never taken a girls innocence, not to his knowledge anyway. This was all minor to his real goal though; Mikahl really wanted to gain her trust and eventually win her heart.
Mikahl was not the type of man to pray. He had lost faith in the Six years ago; when he was four, he prayed for all the other kids to stop making fun of him; at ten, he prayed for his runaway rattlesnake Sparky to come back home; just years ago, he had prayed for his mother to get better. All of his prayers had gone on to deaf ears, contributing to his frustration over hearing about The Six.
"May the Six watch over you."
He secretly wanted to retort with “bullshit” every time someone had said that to him, but he kept his barrings and usually replied with a smile.