The stale atmosphere from earlier was immediately casted away as soon as they were under Cynia's humorless gaze. It was only a message to say that she wasn't joking or that this was one of her antics like earlier.
"A contract is a contract."
Natalia eyes widened at Yoca's resolute answer. He didn't even need to think of what he has to do. "What!?" Natalia wanted to make sure if what she had heard was right or not. He has to tell her that this was not happening, that he had a plan! Or at least something! Anything!
"You're not familiar with contracts, are you?" The wolf who preferred to be silent, unavoidably spoke. "Contracts differ from each person to another, but there's only one thing for sure." Natalia already felt anxious at what the wolf was about to tell them.
"You'll die if you try to break it."
Natalia felt like a splash of cold water was thrown over her head. What does that mean? Yoca.. will die?
"You're a knowledgeable young man," Cynia's attitude quickly shifted at the wolf's explanation. "And quite pleasing too." She narrowed her eyes at the boy's pretty blonde hair and shimmering blue eyes. The boy was something.
After smiling and breaking her uncomfortable stare at the wolf, she turned her head to look at her prize. "Well, now that you know.. that makes things a little easier." She smiled once more, glad and joyed that they would understand. However, that was not the case at all.
"What do you even want from me!?" Rhian demanded to know. The first thing was they got out of slavery, then escaped on a boat, and right now she's being forced to stay with a crazy woman in a smelly tavern!
How the hell is she supposed to react? When everything's happening so fast!?
"Oh, there are a lot of things that comes to mind, dearie. But I'd rather not tell." Rhian felt goosebumps all over her body at Cynia's answer. That woman was clearly out of her mind. "There you have it, let's go." Natalia couldn't believe that Yoca was fine in leaving Rhian behind. They had to leave the others behind and now she losing someone again! She had to do something.
"This isn't what Malcht wanted you to do." All of them watched as Yoca came to a stop before walking out the door. Yoca remembered his agreement with Malcht. But even if wanted to, he couldn't possibly refuse.
His life was on the line.
"Oh, so these children are under Malcht." The young witch came to an understanding. "No wonder. Bringing children here was so unlike you." Cynia stifled a laugh as she looked at the man who was never good with children.
Malcht coming there with children was something in her expectations, but Yoca on the other hand was another thing.
"I get it, I get it." Yoca, exasperated by events that unfolded one by one, thought that he shouldn't have brought the children here after all. But leaving them at the boat with his father was not a given either. Who knows what actually goes inside his father's mind.
After all, there was only one person you could trust.
And that.. was yourself. Mostly.
"But I don't really have a choice," Natalia looked straight at Yoca's eyes, and she saw that he wasn't lying. He had no reason to.
"Yoca's right," Cynia added. "You're coming with me whether you like it or not." Cynia was wearing her seemingly innocent smile, but Rhian couldn't help but feel something sinister was beneath it. And it made all of her hair stand on its ends again.
"I am not staying here! That's final!" Rhian demanded one last time and firmly standing her ground. She wasn't just about to be taken by some other red hair for the fun of it. That wasn't in the plan! She will go with Natalia in order to save their friends.
"It's not like you're going to be here forever." Cynia used a calm tone of voice to convince the stubborn child. "I just need you with me for at least— let's say, a year or so?" The older woman showed an alluring smile, trying to get the best of the child so that the process could be more easier.
She doesn't need her for long, just enough time to make sure of some things.
"Then we'll come back for her in a year. Same time, same day." Natalia and Rhian could only look and each other worriedly at Yoca's reply. There was no convincing the adults anymore, and it wasn't that bad if it's only a year.
But even so..
"I'm getting you back for this, Yoca." Rhian growled in defeat. Angry at the man who made it all happen. "What did you say, brat?" Yoca was about to get ahold of Rhian's collar but a hand on his wrist stopped him.
"Not on my watch, Averdeen." Cynia slid a finger under his chin while calling his last name. "This child is under me now," the woman smiled teasingly. As much as Yoca wants to get even with her, he knows that now isn't the time. So he could only grit his teeth in anger.
"I can't have you doing things your way, right?" Cynia's finger slowly went down to his chest, poking him with the slightest bit of force as if telling him to go and take himself out of the room. He hated this woman, but what he hated the most was making a contract with her.
But there's no use. If that kind of thing happened again, he would surely choose the same path if it meant to survive.
Yoca scowled at her. "We're leaving!" He yelled angrily before seeing himself out and Natalia took one last glance at Rhian before turning her head to Cynia.
"If anything happens to her, I'm holding you accountable." That was a warning. Natalia's eyes were as cold as it could be. Emotionless and pure of bloodlust. She didn't even know she was capable of it.
But if you were forced to slavery and was ordered to be an assassin for a few years, then that was really not surprising. Although not to others.
Rhian was surprised when she saw that. She never once saw Natalia that serious.
"Oh, how scary.." Cynia took the warning with a grain of salt. Mischievously smiling at the Altian in hopes of provoking her more, but Natalia already turned her back.
Because Natalia knew that if she stayed any longer, she would've fought that woman to death. "Hm, interesting.." Cynia held her fan to her lips as she observed the child. That little Altian was going places. It was not a guess, but vague glimpse of the future.
One that is drowned is discord and misery.
The two children that were left with Yoca were closely following behind him as they went down to the catering area of the tavern. The people over there gave them looks, but they paid the visitors no heed and busied themselves over the free drinks the owner did for tonight.
It's not like everyday that they get something for free. Life is hard, and they experience at least a thousand years of it.
Everyone kept to themselves until they got to the ship where Yoma was waiting. "Where's the other kid?" The older man asked and he immediately had a gist of everything when he saw their faces.
"Unfurl the sails. We're leaving." Yoca blurted. Not even bothering to answer the question and they had finally set sail.
It was a quiet journey to the other side, and none bothered to break the silence they were in either. Natalia was still bitter about what happened at Boleam. How was she supposed to easily accept that?
Reaching to a conclusion that nothing would happen if she just thought about it, she sought out to find some answers.
"Yoca." She called the man standing at the ship's front, quietly overseeing their travel to the other continent.
"What contract did you form with Cynia?" Yoca only narrowed his eyes at the young girl. "I don't have to answer that." Natalia could see in his movements that he has no intention of telling anything. He just closed his arms together and turned his face to look at the endless sea.
"Don't you think I deserve at least a tiny bit of explanation? My friend was used as payment for your contract and you won't even tell me why!" She was furious. Yes, she could at least understand that his life was on the line. But that doesn't mean she just had to accept everything as it is either.
That wasn't fair!
"Let me tell you just one thing, Natalia." It struck her different when he called her by her name. "Just because Malcht told me to watch over you, doesn't mean I have an obligation to tell you everything. I have secrets and you have yours. Unless you're ready to tell me something, I doubt that I'll tell you anything either."
Natalia was taken aback by Yoca's words that it took the voice out of her lips. "Let's stay out of each other's businesses."