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One step closer is all you could manage to take. You could barely process the news that you had just been given. The refusal to believe that it wasn’t true overpowered your mind and you shook your head violently, your hair cascading around you as you did so.
“You can’t be serious,” you stammer, glancing at Ilian incredulously. Everything you had been through together had made his news a shocking surprise. He shifted and took a step closer to you, not leaving the space between the two of you that you had created in the first place.
“I am doing this for our survival. For our clan. For Trishanakru,” he consoled, his eyes not daring to meet your own.
“And that means throwing your life away? You’re going to be up against the best from each
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“And...you’re right. I can’t be certain that I will win.”
You knew that there was no escaping this. You had tried to deny it in your head up until that point but nothing could make the fact that the conclave was happening and Ilian would be in it disappear. As much as you wanted it to, it wouldn’t. Ilian was your clan’s best warrior and everyone would die regardless if he did or did not fight.
This war of choices and possible options raged in your mind and you shook your head, letting out a loud sob. Ilian released your hands and brought them to your cheeks, wiping away the tears that had slid down your face.
“Don’t cry for me,” he demurred, but you could see the tears in his eyes, just as real as yours. You felt like everything around you was falling apart and there was nothing you could do to stop it or protect the people you cared about. You had known Ilian for too long to let him go, but here you were.
“Y-you’re so brave a-and you’re doing the right thing,” you managed to sputter out through your choked cries. He shook his head and pulled you into a tight hug, the warmth of his body encasing you in something that felt like comfort. Something that felt like home. “I was being so selfish.”
And when you imagined going without that, you felt hopeless.
“Stop. It’s okay,” he murmured, stroking your hair slowly with his eyes closed, attempting to savor this moment as long as he possibly could. You took long, shaky breaths and pulled him in tighter with a
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