“W-why?” asked Hector. “You enjoy fighting that much?”
“I wouldn’t say I enjoy it. But I could use the experience.” She stopped braiding briefly in order to wave her gauntlet in front of her face. “Even with this, I’m not nearly as strong as I need to be.”
“Ah... I know the feeling.”
Lynn smirked. “You do, huh? Is that why you’re always inserting yourself into other people’s problems?”
“Uh... hah, yeah, I guess so.”
Silence seized hold of the chamber after that. Hector couldn’t help becoming increasingly uncomfortable as they waited. Lynn was just sitting there. Right there. Being herself.
This was clearly a problem.
Hector stood and went for his single bag of luggage. “So, ah... I should probably go meet Haqq now...”
At that, Lynn also stood. “Okay.”
“I don’t know if, uh... if I’ll have time to see you both again before I leave, so...”
“I understand.” She moved closer now, making Hector tense up. “Be careful out there, alright?”
“I-I will. Thanks.”
Lynn frowned at him and went in for a hug.
Hector’s eyes bulged, and he recoiled away from her.
Lynn froze up, then put her arms down and stood there woodenly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to--I just thought--uh. I’m sorry.”
“Ah, oh, n-no, it was--um, eh... I’m the one who--mm... ergh--”
‘Ugh, this is painful to watch,’ said Garovel.
“S-sorry,” Hector said again. He took an awkward step toward her, insanely thinking he would be able to reinitiate the hug, only to immediately realize his folly and step back again.
Lynn offered him a handshake instead.
Hector reached for it, but the journey proved too perilous, and he retracted his hand. “I’m... ah... s-sorry... er, again. I don’t know what’s... egh...”
‘Holy shit, Hector.’
The young woman looked at her hand, perhaps wondering if there was something wrong with it.
‘Just relax,’ said Garovel. ‘You’ve shaken hands with her before, remember?’
But it was too late. The moment had passed.
“Well, um,” Lynn retried, “be careful out there... I mean, I already said that, but...”
“Y-yeah... Er. Y-you, too...”
And he probably should have waited around so that he could say goodbye to Prince Meriwether as well, but Hector couldn’t bear the atmosphere in the room now and chose to simply flee instead.
He was grateful for the bustling corridor’s sea of people. It allowed him to feel like he was disappearing into the shuffling mass of bodies as he made for the basement level once more.
Garovel followed silently for a while, until he apparently realized that Hector wasn’t going to start the conversation. ‘That was more gruesome than watching Harper cut someone in half.’
Hector sighed to himself. ‘I panicked...’