“Kestyn.” A familiar voice called forcing him to look up from the stack of papers littered all over his desk.
“Xiyana.” He replied, acknowledging her presence as she approached. “Good to see you doing well.”
“I’m sure that my brother wouldn’t have expected anything less.” She answered, expressionlessly.
“Fair.” He responded, silently admiring her. Even from the far end of the room, the effort she put into her appearance was evident. Despite her performance only a day before, her hair was neatly bound and her uniform was finely pressed. Even with the military’s dress codes, no one would’ve been expected to be well-dressed the day immediately after something like that. In fact, he hadn’t even expected her to be up and about already. “I assume that you’re here for the next part of the exams?”
“Why else?” She asked.
“Wow, that hurts.” Kestyn answered, feigning injury. “You couldn’t even visit me as a friend?”
“Not with my brother constantly in and out of your office, no.” She replied, still a little stiff.
“Relax.” He cooed, waving her over. “He won’t be here for the rest of the day.”
“Are you sure?” She inquired, peering at the door in uncertainty.
“He left camp earlier this morning.” Kestyn reassured. “As far as I’m aware, he won’t be back until tomorrow.”
“That’s. a relief.” She breathed, relaxing her shoulders as she walked over to the counter and helping herself to tea. “You should’ve said so from the start.”
“Are you sure you really want to take the next part of the exam though?” Kestyn asked, wrinkling his brow. Most people gave up after the first round, not to mention request to take the second on the day immediately after the first. “No one would blame you for taking a few days, or even a month between them.”
“Yeah.” She answered, suddenly solemn.
“You’re still thinking about him, aren’t you?” He asked.
“It may be foolish.” She replied. “But I still want to grant him a hero’s burial. After what he did… Even if there’s nothing but a scrap of fabric left of him… I just want to give him a grave… Like everyone else…”
“You realize that you’re still well-off from any possibility that Xev lets you anywhere near a forest right?”
“Yeah.” She said with a sigh, before turning to meet his eyes. “But, at least this way, there’s a chance of changing things.”
“A path of high risk and low reward.” He commented. “Is it really worth it?”
“He’d paid his life for my foolishness.” She answered with a pained smile. “What’s a few years of effort and a minor gamble, in comparison?”
“As I’ve mentioned before, I really don’t think he died so that you could live in guilt.” Kestyn said with a sigh.
“I know that.” She answered. “But I still want to pay him my last respects.”
“But so close to your mission?” He tried again.
“It’ll be fine.” She answered, with a smile. “We still have a few days till then, right?”
“You’re insane.” He replied, holding up his hands in surrender. Before meeting her, he’d once thought that Xev was unreasonable, but compared to Xiyana, her brother was entirely normal. At least the man was open to reason. His sister, on the other hand… It’d take nothing short of a miracle to persuade her after she’d made up her mind. “But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”