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Depositing her satchel on the counter, Idella sat heavily on a chair within her shop and clasped her face in her hands.

There was no tear, no emotion other than exhaustion. Her pack was all the lighter for no longer carrying the phylactery with a nathrezim inside. One less worry or temptation. No more taunting, no more jabs at her or others. It was over. The tormentor was dead.

Tormentor. Zenrozem had tortured many. Idella shuddered at the memory. The starvation stuck with her, an impatient reminder every time she took a bite of food. Months later and the young witch was unsure if that unsettled feeling would ever fully leave her. Such wounds never healed quickly. She heard other Templars talking of another captured Templar, another young member, Caelryn. Idella hardly knew her yet knew her to be similar. Wounded. Shying from the mere idea of the next blow. It was familiar, all too familiar. Balling her fists and rising from her seat, Idella sent her satchel careening across the room with a wave of her hand and stormed upstairs.

Ryo stood momentarily dumbfounded in the doorway. Clearly he’d let himself in upstairs to check on her and waited till she arrived. As angry as she was, her visage was out-of-character: Red but not from embarrassment, feet stomping but not in a blushing huff. She was incensed and plowed straight into Ryo at the top of the landing.

“S-sorry,” she stammered, trying to sidestep and move past. Her anger was quickly diffused, replaced by actual embarrassment. Her face flushed.

“Wait, what happened? Ida, what happened?” Ryo questioned, reaching for her with his hands.

Idella shrugged and tried to maneuver past him. “Zenrozem’s gone. We killed him, his soul. He won’t come back. For real this time, we took him to the Nether and everything. And… he was happy about it. He wanted to die. But I didn’t want him to be happy or say the things he did. He didn’t deserve it. And he didn’t need to do what he did, he said everything was for the Legion but that’s not the person I know — ” Her voice rose in an impassioned yell, a flail of her arm nearly sending another piece of furniture across the room until Ryo caught her hand.

“He’s gone?” He asked her, his voice direct, intent. His eyes bore into her.

Idella didn’t meet his gaze. She fixed her eyes on the floor. “Yes. I made sure, he’s… he’s really gone. No more. Not anymore, not against anybody.”

She was suddenly crushed in an embrace. It was not altogether unwelcome, just unexpected. Ryo pulled her in close and from his breathing, he too seemed struck by the news. The young witch found it difficult to ascertain his emotions. Craning her head up, she tried to spy his face, gauge what he was feeling. The mask covering his eyes covered most of the emotion that crossed his face. Instead, she felt it in him hugging her, his relief passing through his grasp.

“S-sorry,” Idella repeated. “I didn’t think he should stick around.” Ryo held onto her tighter.

Author Ari
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