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I Told You So

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"The people are celebrating us."

"They are. But soon, I'll set sail."

"Let the fates come when they may. Tonight, Kassandra, we are together. All of us. One family. One rebellion."

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One family.

It seems that every family Kassandra finds herself in is just as dysfunctional as the next. This time, however, she was probably was the cause for such the mess. Kassandra wanted to tell Kyra the truth, but now just didn't feel like the right time. There was a party going on and this news could surely wait as it's not like Thaletas was going to reanimate from the dead to rat her out otherwise.

No, tonight was a night to celebrate the freedom that Mykonos had and, more importantly, for Kyra's people to see that she's always had their best interests at heart.

Wine, food, and merriment were the only things that needed attention right now so Kassandra would happily put the incident she had earlier tonight behind her.

The rebels dance away the night and Kassandra cannot help but notice how Kyra keeps looking at her. Kassandra can't pinpoint why she is, but it unnerves her a bit. She's looking at her in a different way than she has prior, but she can't quite say how it differs. Kassandra has been on the receiving end of many of Kyra's look, but this is definitely new. It's almost like a look of adoration mixed in with something else.

Sure, they've had some fun together and Kassandra really enjoys Kyra, but she's not a one woman kind of gal so it wouldn't work between them anyway. That and the fact that she killed her boyfriend, but that's a problem for future Kassandra, current Kassandra is going to take advantage of the good mood and see what kind of night she can have.

Before she can peruse her potential conquest, Kassandra is pulled aside by Barnabas.

"Kassandra! There you are, you must give a speech!" Barnabas exclaims which is followed by him downing his wine glass.

"A speech?" Kassandra questions as she couldn't remember agreeing to do such a thing. "When did I say I'd do that?"

"Well..." Barnabas trails off, "you didn't, BUT I knew that you wouldn't mind as you have such a way with inspiring the souls of men."

"I think you are only flattering me to have me overlook the fact that you told a bunch of people I'd talk to them" she states plainly, but she knows she can't say no to him.

"Please Kassandra, for me?" Barnabas asks with a small plea and Kassandra knows right there that's she's going to do it. Barnabas has been by her side and has not judged her for the immense amount of questionable decisions she's made so the least she can do is give this speech.

"Fine, but it is only because you said please" Kassandra answers and this earns her a hearty laugh and a strong hand clamping on her shoulder.

"That's my girl!" Barnabas speaks animatedly as he is definitely feeling the effects of the drink. "Come, they're expecting you."

"What? Now? Are you serious? I haven't even had time to prepare anything" Kassandra protests.

"You are the mighty Eagle Bearer! You were born ready" he reassures as he motions for everyone to gather near.

"Everyone, may I have your attention please?" Barnabas calls out to the crowd. "Kassandra has happily obliged to say a few words for us here tonight."

With that said, he looks to Kassandra along with the other forty or so other people that are also here. She really wasn't the best with speeches and just happened to luck out most of the time, but she would make her best attempt. Besides, it's not like she would ever see these people again anyway so even if she bombed it, it wouldn't matter.

That thought alone helps her relax as she didn't realize how nervous she was. She stands on a nearby table to get leverage and so that she could look among the crowd.

"Hear me, for tonight we revel in victory!" Kassandra shouts out and garners a sea of applause in return. "Today we ended an era of cruelty and celebrate for what is to come. No longer will you be oppressed by a ruthless tyrant, but now, you the people will be free!"

The crowd gets rowdy and the men and women cheer to their newfound freedom. Kassandra feels pride at what everyone here has accomplished. They banded together against terrible odds to overcome a rule that was rooted in evil and deception.

"Today we have toppled a corrupt regime and we have sent a message to anyone wishing to rule Mykonos with an iron fist. You are people's now united and the rebellion will always live on inside of you until your parting breath with this world. So tonight, celebrate." Kassandra softens her tone as she takes a more serious tone.

"Never again will you live in fear, never again will you worry if you shall survive the night because of what you believe in. That died tonight with Podarkes" she says morosely.

She stands even taller to exude her trademark confidence as she can tell the crowd is hanging off her every word.

"For tomorrow," she says as she points to the direction of the setting sun, "we begin anew and a new dawn and era will wash upon your shores. Embrace the change and do better. Be better."

Kassandra clenches her hand into a fist and raises it high in the air. "Tomorrow you shall be free people for the first time in your lives, seize the day and make this your own!"

The men and women cheer and chant for Kassandra and they all join her motion and send their fists to the sky.

"Be free!" Kassandra shouts and the crowd continues her chant as she hops down from the table.

A man towards the back of the crowd shouts "let's drink to the Eagle Bearer, to Kyra, and to a free Mykonos!"

Kassandra raises her glass towards the crowd as they all break apart and continue where they left off her speech.

"I have to say, you never cease to impress me" Barnabas chimes in as he makes his way up to Kassandra to embrace her.

"Such powerful words that will echo these walls for centuries to come. Everything they have, they owe to you. You'll be a legend here" Barnabas gloats as the pride he feels for Kassandra is unrivaled.

"What can I say? I just got lucky with that" Kassandra brushes off the compliment and takes a sip of her drink.

"Lucky? My girl, there was no luck in that" he counters. "What you said up there is what you felt and that's not luck."

"Perhaps," Kassandra accepts as she doesn't feel like arguing the point, "but it is over now so we must join in on the fun before all the wine is gone."

"They raided Podarkes' private stash so there is wine aplenty so go, have your fill" Barnabas ushers her forward, but decided to leave her with another parting thought.

"Oh, and Kassandra..." he says as she turns around to face him, "don't do anything I wouldn't do."

He gives her a wink and walks back towards where the food was at while Kassandra chuckles silently to herself. That man could always find the right moment to take a jab at her, but it was always in good fun.

Speaking of good fun, Kassandra can't remember when she last saw Kyra. They had returned together after burning Podarkes' body, but she hasn't seen her since and that's almost been an hour at this point.

She had skimmed the crowd for Kyra while giving her speech, but she couldn't see her. Kassandra doubts she would've left the celebration so early so she must have just been preoccupied elsewhere.

As Kassandra makes her way to get more wine, she is greeted by several people, all wishing to shake her hand and applaud her efforts. She takes them in pride, but she knows it's not all because of her. She hopes Kyra is feeling the same kind of adoration.

Kassandra was confident that Kyra would've found a way without her to win, but it would have been much messier and more lives would have been lost. She is glad Barnabas brought this cry for help to her attention as this was probably the first deed she's done in a long time that wasn't for money.

Kyra couldn't offer much of anything as her funds were limited and what she did have, needed to go towards supplies for the rebels. Kassandra will admit she wasn't too keen on this proposition to begin with, but when Kyra tossed a dagger inches from her face, she found herself intrigued. That in itself was worth the poor amount of drachmae she'd receive when this was all over.

There was something different about Kyra from women Kassandra had dealt with in the past. Kyra was undeniably bold and relentless which was refreshing, especially for a woman. Too many felt the need to be meek and mild to please the men around them and Kassandra felt for them. Not living life for yourself was a crime and Kassandra would rather die than be subjected to the rule of a man.

Kyra reminded her a lot of herself actually and Kassandra could respect that. They had both come from hard beginnings and made the most of what they could. They were never satisfied with the hand they were dealt and they fought to get better cards. Kassandra with her nomadic tendencies and constant drive to her to be more while Kyra has her desire to do better for her people and to gain leverage on her life.

Kyra was surely one heck of a woman in many ways. It also didn't hurt that she was also the most gorgeous woman Kassandra had ever laid eyes on and she has seen her fair share of ladies. Kassandra like to think of herself as a connoisseur of women and meeting Kyra was like striking gold.

She knew she had to have her when they first met. It was going to be strictly physical as that's all Kassandra ever did, but finding out about Thaletas added a unique twist to their relationship.

Kassandra couldn't care either way if she was spoken for as that's never been a deterrent for her. Maybe it should be, but Kassandra never dabbled too much in the logistics of morals. Her line of work wasn't necessarily for the pure of heart so as long as she didn't get killed, she considered it acceptable to do what she needed to do.

This won her many enemies, but she's still alive and breathing so she's pretty much on top at this point. Kyra, on the other hand, didn't share the same whimsical views. Kyra was a person of morals, justice and fairness. Kassandra was pretty sure she wouldn't have approved of half of what she's done in her life as those three weren't too high up on her list.

Kyra was what a good leader should be and Kassandra hopes that she's the one to take over the reigns now that her father is out of the picture.

To Kassandra's knowledge, only a select group of people knew that he was her father as she made sure she told her in private instead of announcing it to her rebels. There was that random beggar who turned out to be an old caretaker of Kyra's, but other than that, it was just the three of them.

Kassandra had considered sharing this knowledge with the others in her crew, but she felt it would be unnecessary gossip and she didn't want to risk anyone overhearing them. She respected Kyra too much to cause a friction like that for her.

Kassandra continues with the pleasantries as she tries again to locate Kyra in the crowd, but still with no luck. It's not like she needed to see her, but Kyra's had a rough day and Kassandra just wanted to the right thing. That's all, no other motives whatsoever (at least that's what she's telling herself).

Kassandra is able to find Praxos so she's thinking if anyone knows where she is, he would.

"Praxos, hey!" Kassandra greets with a firm hand shake which Praxos happily offers back.

"Kassandra! That was a good speech, it really encouraged the men" Praxos says as he releases his grip to give her a not-so-gentle punch to the shoulder.

"Thank you Praxos, I hope it helps them with whatever they need as tonight is their night" Kassandra says while trying to not wince from hit she just took. She knows it was meant to be friendly, but he is a big man and can pack a punch.

"Speaking of encouraging, have you happened to see Kyra anywhere? I was hoping she was going to speak with me" she asks.

"I believe I saw her head inside. I think the festivities were a bit too much for her so she went for some privacy" he answers and Kassandra deflates a little at the tone he took when he mentioned that she wanted to be alone.

Did that mean for everyone or just everyone that wasn't her? She didn't know, but she wasn't going to bother Praxos anymore as he was loyal to her to a fault and he would defend her without question. Kassandra wondered if he knew about her and Kyra and maybe that's why he's saying this to her. She knew they were both close, but she never thought them close enough to share details like that.

Nevertheless, if Kyra wanted a pity party she would happily allow her to wallow. Kyra would just be another notch in her belt in a couple days so feelings didn't matter anymore with them. She would say this to herself, but even she wasn't too sure if she believed her own words.

Something felt different with Kyra, but Kassandra refused to allow herself to dwell on it. They were two very different people in two very different walks of life so anything between them would only ever be temporary. She knew Kyra would never leave and Kassandra couldn't see herself staying in one place too long. The open sea and adventure were her loves and everything else was just temporary.

That didn't, however, stop her from wanting to have another night or two with Kyra before she goes. Kyra was, by far, the best lover she's ever had and she's not afraid to take charge which can be incredibly sexy. Kyra was pure temptation and Kassandra had indulged once and now she wanted more, at least while she was here. It's not like she had to actually contend with Thaletas anymore, although Kyra didn't know that. She would lay on the charm and Kassandra was confident she would get what she wanted, even if it took some persuading.

With her new game plan in check, she heads into the house to try to locate Kyra.

Kassandra tries to be discreet about what she's about to do and with whom, but most of Kyra's group are all thoroughly drunk now so they probably wouldn't even notice the two of them together. It's not like any of them would really care anyway, except maybe Praxos, but he was busy with a bottle so as long as she avoids him she should be all set.

She takes to going to the outskirts of the house and decides to take the long walk around to the other entrance on the opposite side of the building than crossing through the congestion. It is a beautiful night out and there's a slight glow left from the sun that makes the view something that to rival.

Mykonos was indeed one of the most beautiful island she'd ever encountered and she could see herself spending a little more time here to enjoy the sights before taking off to search for more cult members. There was no true rush as their damage was already done so all Kassandra was doing was weeding them out so that order could be restored yet again.

The cult had been the driving force for just about everything she's been doing for the past several years and this contract for Kyra would probably have to be the first one she's done for a different reason. To Kassandra's knowledge, the cult died with Podarkes so it became newly unsullied by their poisonous ways. She should probably warn Kyra about them and their resiliency as Kyra was smart, no doubt about that, but Kassandra knew how these people thought and operated which was useful.

Kassandra works her way around, taking her time to enjoy the gentle salt breeze from the sea as she approaches from the front entrance. There are some scattered people about, but they were mostly the staff and were too preoccupied to notice her so she quietly made her way upstairs.

Kassandra hadn't spent a whole lot of time in this place so she wasn't sure exactly where Kyra was, but she could fathom a guess as only one door was slightly ajar.

Kassandra walks towards the door with purpose, but as she raises her hand to knock, she hesitates.

She doesn't know why she does as it's not unusual for her to be here, but she just felt like something was different between them now. After everything was done and after what Kassandra did, she'd be lying to herself if she thought she could just ignore this.

Kassandra can see Kyra leaning out on the balcony, overlooking the festivities. Kassandra can only see her side profile, but she can see a small smile, but it just doesn't quite reach her eyes. She looks lost and sad.

Maybe she thinks she'll feel better if she watches everyone else, but by the look of it, it's not working. Kassandra wonders if she is thinking of Thaletas and his absence. That is a conversation she didn't ever want to have so her fingers were crossed that wasn't it.

Kassandra doesn't realize how long she's just been standing there in the doorframe, but it must've been at least a minute as Kassandra found herself lost in her own mind.

Kyra was making Kassandra do something she's not done with anyone before.

Kyra was making her feel.

Kassandra takes a step back and shakes her head like she was just splashed with water.

Nope. No. Absolutely not.

She would just move on from this like she has numerous times before and that would be that. Even though Kassandra repeats this over and over in her mind, she finds it harder to believe when she looks at Kyra. Someone so strong, but so vulnerable and all Kassandra wants to do is hold her tight and tell her that it will all be ok.

She won't though as all these new and confusing feelings will only complicate her life and that's not at all what she needs. She needs uncomplicated and unattached.

She wouldn't, however, be opposed to a continuation of their activities only a few nights before. That she could do and maybe once she got it out of her system, everything would bounce back to normal.

"How long are you just going to stand there?" Kyra questions, not looking over.

"Oh, um, I don't know actually" Kassandra says as she offers a small shrug. "I just found myself enjoying the view."

Smooth Kassandra, smooth.

This earns her a genuine smile though as Kyra turns to face her. "Well, aren't you going to come in?" Kyra inquires as she moves back to make space for Kassandra to come stand next to her.

"Yes, yes I would like that" Kassandra answers as she steps through the door, taking care to close it behind her.

Kyra looks back towards her at the motion, but doesn't comment on it as Kassandra settles in beside her.

"How long have you been hiding up here?" Kassandra asks, her head tilted towards Kyra's.

Kyra doesn't look back at her as she answers her. "What makes you think I'm hiding?"

"Well, considering this is the first time I've been able to find you all night may suggest that you came up here almost immediately" Kassandra explains as she, again, looks towards Kyra, but Kyra keeps her focus forward.

"You were looking for me were you?" Kyra asks amusedly.

"I mean, I wasn't actively seeking you out if that's what you mean" Kassandra says a bit defensively.

"Of course, I would never insinuate such a thing. Forgive me" Kyra says with a bit of bite in her tone.

Kassandra just decides to ignore it as she didn't come all the way here just to argue.

"I was hoping you would be there to help support me with the speech" Kassandra admits. "They're really not my thing and I shouldn't have been the only one giving a pep talk since these are your people."

"I think I've done enough talking for a while as I don't think I have anything inspiring to say anymore, at least not for right now" Kyra confesses, finally looking towards Kassandra.

She can see now that Kyra had been crying which would explain why she didn't want to look at her. She wouldn't press it as she knows in her few moments of weakness that she just wanted to be alone.

"For what it's worth," Kassandra starts, "I think they would listen to anything you had to say and support you no matter what."

Kyra wipes away the few tears that had managed to escape and Kassandra can tell she took a bit of comfort in those words.

"Perhaps," Kyra begins, "but you had it all handled without me. You seemed like a natural."

"Well I don't want to brag, but I am a woman of many talents" Kassandra says with a flirtatious undertone.

"It was indeed quite the speech you gave misthios, I'm sure you will have your pick of the litter tonight" Kyra says neutrally, void of all emotion as she looks fully at Kassandra for the first time since she got up here.

"Mmm, perhaps, but perhaps that's not what I desire" Kassandra responds back, her eyes not leaving Kyra's.

Kassandra had no shame when it came to wooing women and now was no different. Bold was her style as you win nothing when you bet nothing and she was going to place it all on Kyra for tonight.

Kyra's mouth slightly parted as she ran her tongue across her bottom lip. Kassandra's eyes were glued on the movement and her eyes grew darker and hungrier.

The tension between them was mounting, but neither made a move. Kassandra was all in, but she could tell Kyra was having seconds thoughts.

Thaletas wasn't even alive and he was still blocking her advances. She could let out a frustrated groan, but it wouldn't help her cause out any.

That's why she didn't do love, it could be far too messy for its own good. You had to think of another person the time and it just sounded exhausting. Having to actively care what someone wants just sounds unpleasant at best. It complicates life and she is happy she's never had those feelings before.

Kassandra knew there really was no further threat to her with this, but Kyra still very much believed he was alive and she probably didn't want to start something when he could arrive at any moment.

This would prove to be a bit of a challenge, but Kassandra was feeling extra confident tonight and knew she could get what she wanted with some patience and a little healthy competition to nudge Kyra in her direction once more.

Kassandra knew Kyra wanted this too. Her body told Kassandra everything her mouth wouldn't and Kassandra knew she had her, but she just needed a good pull in the right direction.

Deciding to play it cool, Kassandra sends Kyra a wink before she leans in for a kiss.

Kassandra was pretty sure that Kyra wouldn't have moved if she connected the kiss, but she also thought Kyra's mental battle was not over yet so it would get cut short and Kassandra would have to find someone else to spend the night with and she did not have the fortitude for that.

Hovering right over her lips for a split second, Kassandra then shifts to the left and places a soft and tender kiss on Kyra's cheek. Kassandra keeps her lips there long enough for it to be more than casual before she pulled back and stepped away from Kyra entirely.

"It is clear that you wanted to be alone up here and it was selfish of me to invade on that" Kassandra says as she walks back towards the door. "You should consider mingling though as it's not every day you topple a dictator."

Kassandra doesn't wait for a response as she opens the door and heads back down towards the party.

Now that she knows where Kyra is, she can make sure she's positioned in the right spot for maximum viewing while she "mingles" with the other female rebels.

Was what she was doing a bit much? Sure, but none of these women would even come close to Kyra so there wasn't even much of a competition as all would pale in comparison. She's had to work for women before so, in theory, this should be no different.

She had a fool proof method that hasn't failed her yet as jealousy was the folly of mankind and it continually kept being proved true. Jealousy can make even the palest skin green and create either fools or opportunists. Kassandra liked to think of herself as the latter and has yet to be proven a fool and she was not about to start tonight.

Kassandra settles herself with a hearty glass of wine as she could feel her buzz from earlier wearing off and made for lower level. The men and women were dancing and singing to the music and Kassandra was not one to be left out of a good time.

She grabs a random woman and brings her to the dancing area as they join in motion with the others. She didn't usually dance and didn't know that many steps, but she was feeling determined and carefree so she moved and twirled along to the beat.

Kassandra knew this random woman was into her because, really, who wouldn't be? Kassandra tried to not allow her ego to runaway, but she would slip from time to time as, after all, she was only human.

Kassandra stood for many things and she had a freedom that most only ever dreamed of, man or woman. She had a ship, she had a crew, and she had a special skill set that allowed her to make a decent living. She wanted only for justice, drachmae was just a good bonus.

Kassandra pulls the woman in close after their dance and beings to whisper sweet nothings into her ear. She knows that all she has to do is give her the word and she would not be spending the night alone, but, alas, that was not her goal tonight.

Kassandra decides she's had enough of this woman and decides to pawn her off on some of her crew nearby. They were discussing past heroics they all got involved in so she chimed in with a quick story of her own so she could quickly excuse herself to head elsewhere.

She notices a couple men speaking with a handful of women so she decides to head over to flex her skills. One of the men gives a dramatic reenactment of their own personal battle with some of Podarkes' men and, while Kassandra knew it was all a lie, the rest seemed to be eating that story up.

"There I was, face to face with this brute who must've been half ox by his size" the man exaggerates. "He challenges me to a battle of strength so I say "it's your funeral" and the two of us grab each other's hands to see who is strong enough to bring the other to their knees."

The man rambles and spews out the most unrealistic events so Kassandra decided to knock him down a peg and she'll be sure to impress the women with her prowess as an added bonus.

"The size of an ox you say?" Kassandra chimes in. "My, that does sound so impressive."

The man never caught on that she was in his little audience so to say he got nervous was an understatement.

"Eagle Bearer!" The man exclaims as he clears his throat. "What an honor to have you here."

"Well, when I got word of your deeds I just knew I had to come over and see it for myself" Kassandra says cheerfully and as unthreatening as possible as she doesn't want him to back out of this.

"Ah, it was nothing" the man suddenly tries to downplay it, but Kassandra was not about to let him slide.

"So humble a man are you for achieving such a feat" she says as she steps closer to him. "Come now, let's show these people what you can do."

"Oh...well...I couldn't" the man stammers out as he tries to backpedal from the comment.

"Nonsense, come, challenge me in arm wrestling and we shall see who walks away victorious" Kassandra challenges as she steps further into his space.

By this time, word had spread fast so their small group turned into a much larger crowd as everyone wants to witness who was stupid enough to challenge Kassandra.

The other man in the group decides to be the referee as they clear space off a table. Kassandra leisurely takes a seat as her opponent begrudgingly takes his.

A solid wall of people encompasses them as he and Kassandra lock hands. She feels how clammy and sweaty his palm is and she was definitely going to need to wipe her hands off after this one that's for sure.

Kassandra looks up towards the direction of where she left Kyra, but found the balcony empty.

She was mentally kicking herself for not looking to make sure she was even there before she tried to impress her. Oh well, she'd at least get to knock this liar down a peg or two for his grossly fabricated stories.

They referee places his hand over both of theirs and gives them the rules. He looks to both of them who acknowledge it and he counts down.

3, 2, 1....

Now usually Kassandra would just easily sweep him, but she wants to send a message. She doesn't know the man across from her, but he seems rather on the shady side, an opportunist to put it politely. He most likely sat back while everyone else did the dirty work and only stepped in when his safety was almost all but assured. A coward to put it mildly.

No, no. She wasn't just going to win, she was going to annihilate him.

Kassandra allows her hand to slowly drop as she feigns a struggle on her end as she can tell he is already working up a sweat.

The crowd looks on in silence as they don't quite believe what they are watching as it actually looks as though Kassandra is losing.

Kassandra continues the ruse until her hand hovers just slightly above the table. She glances at the man and can see a smug grin take over his features.

"Take it all in you malaka" Kassandra thinks to herself as she can tell he thinks he's won this. She is debating at how long she wants to hover when someone catches her eye.

Kyra.

Kassandra meets her gaze and cannot help but to smile.

"What are you smiling about girl? You're about to lose last I checked" her opponent mocks.

Deciding she wants to see Kyra more than she wants to drag this out, she drops the act immediately. No longer does she appear to be struggling and no longer is her look one of pleasure.

"You know, I thought it would be good fun to just embarrass you, but now that you're talking to me in that manner, I think it's time for a lesson" Kassandra's voice goes cold as she easily lifts their hands to the middle.

"Lying is not inherently bad you see," Kassandra begins with her head slightly tilted to one side, "as I was lying about this being a challenge and nobody was harmed."

"But," Kassandra continues, "lying about your involvement in stabilizing an entire island is not just something small. No, quite the opposite."

Kassandra now forces his hand so it is barely above the table so she can deliver her final verbal blow. "What you did was take credit for actions you did not take to make you look like the hero you are not."

Kassandra tightens her grip and can see the pain radiating across his face as he's trying to not show it, but she can tell it's there.

"You owe everyone here an apology and maybe next time you should try to think for once before boasting about such falsehoods" she says as she slams his hand the rest of the way, claiming the victory.

"I suggest you leave and not come back unless you would like to have a rematch?" Kassandra challenges as she stands up in front of him.

The man says nothing and the crowd remains deathly quiet as he stands up and immediately makes for the exit.

Kassandra turns back to the crowd and starts laughing as she reaches for her wine glass. "To the real heroes here tonight!" Kassandra exclaims and the crowd roars back into swing as if nothing ever happened in the first place.

Kassandra makes light of what just happened and moves on as if it was nothing more than an inconvenience. She makes her way to where she last spotted Kyra, but finds the area lacking her presence.

Kassandra's search is interrupted by one of the more...sultry women of the evening and finds herself backed up against on of the fences.

"What a spectacle you put on Eagle Bearer" the woman croons as she leans into Kassandra's personal space. "I dare say you are not one to be made a fool of."

"I'd dare say you're correct" Kassandra replies, trying to politely have the woman move off from her.

This only spurs the woman to move in closer so they are basically chest to chest and Kassandra isn't usually one to scoff at such an advance, but she has other plans for who she will spend the night with.

"You're so smart and incredibly strong" the woman says as she feels up Kassandra's bare arm. "I wouldn't mind being your next challenge."

Kassandra closes her eyes and takes a deep breath as she wants to be polite yet firm, but can already feel the resistance already.

Before Kassandra can respond, she feels the woman moving abruptly away from her. Surprised by the lack of contact, Kassandra opens her eyes to see a very, very angry Kyra in front of her.

Her eyes raging with a fire Kassandra had never seen before and she couldn't figure out why. Kassandra hadn't even done anything, well, that Kyra knew about anyway, so this seemed like it came from nowhere.

Kyra firmly moves the woman off Kassandra and gives her a once over before addressing her. "You should move along as there are plenty of others ripe for the picking."

It looks like the woman wants to counter this, but the look Kyra gives her makes her think otherwise.

"You're right," the woman concedes, "a pleasure speaking with you Eagle Bearer."

Kassandra only dares to nod as the woman walks out of sight as she can see that Kyra still looks pretty pissed.

"I thought you were in your room for the evening?" Kassandra asks calmly.

"You thought wrong" Kyra snaps back.

Kassandra still isn't sure what's wrong, but she gathers from Kyra's tone it has to do with her.

Kyra grabs her hand and leads her away from the crowd so they can continue their "discussion" undisturbed.

"Can you do nothing with tact Kassandra?" Kyra aggressively questions.

"Tact?" Kassandra scoffs at the insinuation. "What would you even know of tact?"

"Do you just enjoy flaunting yourself in front of me? Flaunting other women in my face? Do you get pleasure from that?" Kyra inquires as she steps closer into Kassandra's space.

"Do you want me to tell you the truth?" Kassandra inquires.

"Yes, always the truth" Kyra says as she meets Kassandra's eyes.

"Yes" Kassandra answers briskly as there's no use in lying about this as it won't much matter anyway in the long run.

"I get incredible enjoyment out of making you want me and the only thing stopping you from having me is you" Kassandra elaborates.

"Who am I to deny myself carnal pleasures because you feel guilty? What's in it for me if I wait for you?" Kassandra offers up, but this only makes Kyra more upset.

"Oh yes, heaven forbid you have some kind of morals for even a moment" Kyra argues. "You are just so incredibly selfish!"

"Selfish?" Kassandra laughs at the insinuation. "I'm not the one in a relationship Kyra, that one is all on you so maybe you should take a solid look at yourself before you get judgmental about how I live my life."

Kyra is taken back by the harsh (albeit true) accusation and she realizes she doesn't want to have this conversation anymore. It's clear Kassandra wants to argue this point heavily and even though she started this, she was not going to let her ruin what should be a night of celebration.

Kyra knew Kassandra was right. She was with Thaletas and she shouldn't be harping on Kassandra for who she chooses to be with. Kyra has no right, but she can't help it. Kassandra makes her feel in such a way that she never has before. She makes her feel passionate and alive, her touch makes her come alive.

There's not a day that goes by that Kyra doesn't regret being with Thaletas over Kassandra although Kassandra had made it pretty clear it was only casual that she wanted. Kyra didn't buy it and the more time they spent together, the more she knew Kassandra felt the same about her as she did for Kassandra.

She just needed to have Kassandra see that, but right now she wasn't in the mentality to think rationally. She needed to get away from Kassandra and fast, she needed air as it felt like she was suffocating.

"You're right," Kyra concedes, much to Kassandra's surprise, "my apologies, do excuse me" and, with that, Kyra leaves a stunned Kassandra standing alone.

She doesn't spare a look back and decides to make herself scarce for the time being.

She finds Praxos with a handful of her men and they rise to greet her, but she just keeps walking past so Praxos is quick to follow so Kyra stops to turn around.

"It's ok Praxos, I just need to take a walk to clear my head" she reassures him, but he knows her better than that and scoffs at the idea.

"This is one of the biggest days of your life and you think I will let you wander alone?" Praxos rhetorically asks. "I do not think so."

Praxos turns to the men behind him and call them to attention.

"Come men, let's escort our exalted leader for a walk and then we can finish up at the tavern. Sound good?" He asks and Kyra can only smile at him as he truly is her rock.

"That sounds perfect, thank you Praxos" Kyra says and the group of them wander off into the distance.

Kassandra is left stunned and alone as she watches them walk away.

"Good going Kassandra, you're such a malaka!" She angrily scolds herself at screwing up this evening.

It was not supposed to go this way. At all. It seems she might even have to stay a bit longer than expected. She could just leave, but there would always be a little voice nagging at her for not setting this right. She just needed to get Kyra to not hate her again and then she'd be off.

She had made a fool of herself and her "foolproof" method backfired entirely in her face. Kyra was not the average woman and thus, she couldn't rely on old tricks.

Still ever confident in herself, Kassandra gears up to try to win back favor in a heart she never thought she had.

Chapter Text

Kyra wakes up like clockwork at the rise of the sun and winces at its brightness. Gods she had too much to drink last night. Her head is pounding and her stomach feels as though she drank poison. She groans as she sits up and she can feel the room still spinning.

This is precisely why she never went past her limits (and they were quite high) so why did she decide to ignore all her past indiscretions?

Kassandra.

She was mad at Kassandra and was drinking to forget and to numb and it worked, if only for a moment. Kyra remembers everything though and the pain all came flooding back, but it didn't come alone, it brought its friend the hangover.

"Ughhhh" Kyra groans out as she really just wants to go back to bed, but there was much to be done and she needed to be the one to do it.

Her island was more vulnerable now than it ever has been before and, without law, chaos ensues so it was crucial that they figure out a precedence for how everything was going to run and by whom.

She begrudgingly stands and makes her way out onto her balcony for some fresh air. The sun had just risen over the horizon so a beautiful glow of colors illuminated the sky. Orange and pink hues color it like a painting, an original, just for her. Nobody else had this kind of view so she soaked it all in, storing the positive energy that she knows she'll need later.

Kyra looks around and can see bodies littered all over the grounds. Men, women all scattered, passed out from the prior nights activities. Kyra could not recall the last time they had a celebration that could rival this as there was never any celebration under Podarkes. Nothing was light hearted and everything was war and business. It was no way for them to live and it wasn't a way they had to anymore.

Kyra takes a deep breath in an attempt to quell the unease in her stomach that she couldn't blame all on the alcohol.

She was nervous as most of her life she spent rebelling for a cause and now, now she had nothing to rebel against. Her purpose here was no longer cut and dry and she didn't know how to handle the amount of unknown that fell before her. Sure, this would always be her home and it always would be, but what would a peaceful life even look like?

Kyra can feel her head pounding at all of the overthinking so she makes her way back inside to ready herself for the day ahead. She will dress as she always does, a look that says "I'm ready to fight" as she will not be lulled into a false sense of security. There was still too much unknown and unsaid that she'd prefer to air on the side of caution and dress accordingly.

Kyra and her rebels had taken over the leader house and claimed it as their own so this place was still fairly new to her, but she knew her way around enough to get to where she needed.

As soon as Kyra opened the door, she almost tripped as there was something placed at foot level.

"What in the..." she says, quite irritated at the amount of energy she just had to exert to not face plant on the floor.

Kyra regains her composure as she bends down to see a slightly stepped on bouquet of flowers.

They were beautiful and only a couple were bruised by her foot crushing them. She smells them and they have the most enchanting aroma and they were most definitely freshly picked.

She looks around to try to find a note or something to let her know who sent them, but she doesn't find one.

"Oddly peculiar" Kyra says to herself as she brings them downstairs to the kitchen so she can place them in a proper vase with some water.

"My oh my," Kyra hears a voice say as she enters the kitchen, "it seems someone has an admirer."

"I think you're reading too many of those romance novels Sotiria" Kyra jokes as she finds the vase she was looking for and pours some water into it.

"I'm just saying I know I didn't have some mysterious stranger leave a beautiful bouquet of flowers at my doorstep last night" Sotiria jests as Kyra splashes her with water.

They both erupt into a fit of laughter and Kyra almost forgets she has a hangover....almost.

"Ah, gods, my head is killing me right now" Kyra complains as she places down the vase so she can press on her temples.

Sotiria, wasting no time, hands Kyra a drink.

"Here, drink this, it's an old family recipe" Sotiria offers as Kyra tentatively takes the drink and holds it near her nose.

She gags at the smell and Sotiria cannot help but laugh at her misfortune.

"I never said it smelled or tasted good" she chuckles as she encourages Kyra to take a sip. "Just plug your nose and chug it down, I promise you will feel better within the hour."

Kyra eyes her suspiciously, but Sotiria has never led her astray before so she had no reason to think this as anything but true.

"Ugh, fine, but if I die from this I am going to haunt you so hard" Kyra lightly threatens as she begins to down the monstrosity of a drink.

"I think that'd be alright with me as I quite enjoy your company" Sotiria responds as she watches Kyra grimace through.

The drink was a thick and chunk green mixture and Kyra felt as if she had just up and ate seaweed that had been fermenting in the sun for too long. Drinks were supposed to be liquid, but she could swear there were chunks of something as she found herself chewing to make the bits more tolerable.

It takes about a minute for her to finally finish it, her fingers gripped tightly on her nostrils for dear life. After the final sip, she releases her nose and is overcome with the urge to vomit so she races out the door to vomit all over the side lawn.

Sotiria follows suit and gently pats Kyra's back as the green substance tastes even worse coming back up (which she knows from personal experience).

Once Kyra has emptied the contents on her stomach, she glares angrily over to her friend.

"What. In the fuck. Was in that drink?" Kyra demands an answer in between her labored breathing.

"You don't want to know and that's not even the worst part" Sotiria offers up as there is still one more part she left out.

"What could be worse?" Kyra questions in annoyance.

"The fact that you have to drink another one after as the first one is guaranteed to make you sick" Sotiria offers with sympathy as this drink was by far one of the worst things she's ever tasted in her life.

"Please tell me you're joking...." Kyra pleads as the first (and subsequent second) was bad enough.

Sotiria doesn't answer her with words as she just steps slightly back in the kitchen before she produces a second, yet equally as repulsive beverage.

"Bottoms up" she says to Kyra as she holds out the drink and Kyra looks at her with anger, but she still takes the drink anyway and chugs it all down like before.

Kyra still felt nauseous after finishing it, but she was already feeling better than before so she was able to ride this discomfort out. She thanks Sotiria for her assistance (although the results have yet to be proven) and she brings the vase back upstairs to sit on the desk so it can get sunlight.

She gives one final glance around her newly appropriated room and makes for the front door. She and her group were to meet in the Porphyrion caves as that was still their home base and where they felt the most secure and safe.

The walk isn't far, but she can already observe the change happening to her people. Children were now out and playing in the streets, a sight not seen in many years and it just seemed as if everyone walked a little bit lighter.

She felt pride for the first time since this all took place as she was seeing firsthand the difference of what she did made. She walked a little taller after that as she made her way to her old home as what perfect spot to build anew than from the place where it all began.

She makes her way in and is greeted by familiar faces, but she can't help but notice Thaletas isn't here.

"Has anyone seen Thaletas today? I haven't seen him since yesterday morning" She asks the group, but none can recall his whereabouts.

Praxos steps up to speak with her, keeping his voice low. "It is possible he's already left as his ship was not docked when I was down there this morning."

"It's not like him to not say goodbye like that" Kyra counters as she hasn't been with him that long, but it just seems out of character.

Praxos just shrugs and it's clear to Kyra that he won't be attending this and maybe the flowers she found this morning were his way of saying goodbye? It's still strange that he didn't leave a note though.

"Where is the Eagle Bearer? I thought she would've jumped at a chance to give direct orders?" Kyra says a but more harshly than she should have, but she was still pretty angry at her from last night.

"I am not sure about her either Kyra. I haven't seen her since the uh...disagreement you both had last night" Praxos quietly mentions as he didn't want to share any personal details as this was not something she'd want public.

Kyra silently thanks Praxos for his discretion and decides that they will progress on without them.

"Alright folks," Kyra speaks in a raised voice, "what have we got? Let's here the ideas and see what we can do"

Kassandra, meanwhile, has opted to spend her day being productive. She had left Kyra the flowers as a peace offering and now she was going to put her muscle and crew to work to show Kyra she can be useful. It was a matter of pride at this point and usually Kassandra didn't care what people thought of her, but she cares deeply of Kyra's opinion (much to her dismay).

She had spoken to Barnabas about her ideas to get back into her good graces and he suggested a more practical approach.

"Fix up the town, show her there's more to you than your charm and good looks" Barnabas suggests and Kassandra is taken back by his boldness.

"Hey, I'll have you know I am well more than just hot hired muscle" Kassandra protests.

"You say that, but yet...." Barnabas trails off as he wants to be truthful to her, but he also doesn't want to be too mean.

"Just say it old man, I can take it" she assures so Barnabas finds the most mixed approach he can to break the news.

"Well, it's just that that's basically all you've ever been to her" Barnabas states and is quick to follow it up with an explanation.

"You can be bold which is something I adore about you Kassandra, but bold with her has only ever been you two arguing or the two of you shacking up on a beach somewhere. Have you even really ever had a real conversation with her that wasn't about all this?" He asks in as non judgmental of a tone possible.

"Of course we've spoken!" Kassandra defensively states. "I am not just a walking piece of meat!"

"I don't mean to offend you Kassandra, you know that, but all I know is what you tell me and it's not been much lately so I don't have much to go on" He apologizes, but Kassandra realizes she over stepped and places a gentle hand on his forearm.

"Barnabas, I'm sorry, I shouldn't have snapped at you like that as I did ask for your opinion. Please forgive me" Kassandra asks as she knows she was in the wrong.

"It was already forgiven" he says as he smiles, reaching for her hand with his own to show there was no hard feelings.

"I do still think, however, that you need to show her there is more to you than what I mentioned" Barnabas continues, putting the space back between them.

"Kyra is not your typical woman you can just wink at and have her swooning. You're going to have to break out the big stuff to impress her" Barnabas shares as he knows Kyra has made an impression on her and wants only the best outcome possible.

"I mean, I got her flowers" Kassandra shares and Barnabas laughs at thought.

"Flowers? That's it? No, no my dear girl, that is not going to cut it" he says, still laughing at the thought of Kassandra buying flowers as clearly she cares deeper for this woman than she let's on.

"I don't know what to do here so it seemed like the right thing to do. Isn't that what most people do after a fight?" Kassandra questions as she genuinely thought it would make a difference.

"You do that for people you care about, and I mean really care about. It's not to say friends cannot buy flowers for each other but it usually a sign of love" Barnabas shares and Kassandra can feel her cheeks getting red from the insinuation.

"I do NOT love her, I do not do love" Kassandra scoffs at the idea, but Barnabas already knows. He just has to wait for her to figure it out too.

"What did you write on the note?" Barnabas inquires.

"What note?" Kassandra questions as she didn't leave any note with it, just the flowers.

"You got her flowers, but didn't tell her who they were from?!" Barnabas inquires, completely astonished.

"I just thought she would just know it was from me" Kassandra admits, a bit ashamed as her complete baffling of all this.

"I hate to say this, but she probably thinks they're from Thaletas as I am assuming you've not shared the news with her yet or I don't think we'd be having this discussion right now" Barnabas states as he watches the pieces click in Kassandra's mind.

"Malakas!" Kassandra shouts as she runs her hands down her face. "I am such an idiot."

"No, no, not an idiot," Barnabas assures her, "just new to this and a bit inexperienced. We will think of something."

"I don't know why, but I just need her to like me and I can't tell her now or I'll lose her" Kassandra says defeated as she's backed herself into a corner with this.

"Do you think it really is the best idea to keep this from her?" Barnabas asks as he knows this will only end badly, but he will follow Kassandra's lead anyway.

"Yes. No. I don't know," Kassandra confusedly blurs out. "I have no idea what I'm even doing right now."

"Let's just work on what we can do and then the rest will become more clear" Barnabas reassures as he can tell she's going to get worked up over this.

"What do I even have to offer that would impress her that's not my body?" Kassandra inquires as she truly wants to know as she's got no ideas.

She thought she did until Barnabas poked holes in just about everything she's done so far so it was probably best to get a second opinion as she couldn't even get flowers right.

"That's it! Your body!" Barnabas shouts as he has clearly gotten an idea.

"I thought the point was me not using my body like that?" Kassandra asks in confusion.

"Not like that, but you can still put your body to work. You're young and strong and with all the fighting, there must have been some collateral damage right?" He pauses to make sure she is following and he can tell she still is a little lost so he elaborates further.

"You can help rebuild the city Kassandra" he emphasizes as she finally gets what he's saying.

"Barnabas that's genius!" Kassandra praises as she reaches to pull him in for a quick hug.

"If I help out with the city, she will have to take notice" Kassandra says to herself more than anything, but Barnabas is quick to agree.

"The men and I can help you since we go where you go. I'm sure they wouldn't be unhappy settling down here for a quick stint" Barnabas assures her.

"It is settled then, we shall stay for a week or so to help with the rebuilding efforts and then we will take sail for our next adventure" she says.

Deciding now was as good a time as any, she stands and quickly makes her way off the boat and onto the port to begin her efforts.

She wants to keep a low profile as blatantly advertising her help would probably only make it cordial at best between the two of them. Kyra would see it as a power move and while she'd be ultimately grateful for the work, she would know it wasn't because Kassandra wanted to help, but that she wanted the attention. Kassandra needed to do better than that a mind what better way of making an impact than having no warning of it?

Once Kyra saw what work she and the crew put in, she'd have acknowledge her and make amends. She would lay down all the strings for Kyra to follow and pull her along to the outcome she wished her to see. Well, at least she hoped that's what she hoped it all would mean.

Besides, she really could use the physical exertion as it had been a while since she's had to do any hard labor so at least she'd be able to stay in shape which was a win within itself.

Kyra, during this time of Kassandra's dilemma, was plotting out a plan of governance. There was nothing concrete at this point, but they did all agree that they should still keep up a patrol around the city to ensure its safety. It was more to send a message to the people that crime would not be acceptable in any manner still as there was always a few bad eggs that would cause trouble.

They all adjourned and headed on their respective ways. Kyra opted to head into town to talk with the people to see what needs they need to be met and to ensure anyone who needed it that good change was coming.

Kassandra simultaneously made her way into town from the Adrestia and encountered young girls playing ephedrismos so she decides to stop for a spell to watch.

The girls play to their hearts content until one notices Kassandra and then the game abruptly pauses as they all start talking quietly to each other. Kassandra can only hear mumbles, but soon she is approached by one of the girls that looks familiar to her.

"You're the Eagle Bearer aren't you?" The young girl asks softly as if she were shy.

"I am indeed, but you can call me Kassandra" she smiles as she offers out her hand to greet the young girl. "What is your name?"

"Thalia, my name is Thalia" she beams as she shakes Kassandra's hand. "I helped my mater get the flowers for you this morning."

That’s right, Kassandra had gotten the flowers from what must've been her mater's store. Before Kassandra can ask her anything further, the young girl, Thalia, blurts out a request.

"Will you come play with us?" Thalia asks with eagerness plastered on her face.

Kassandra was hesitant to accept as it was a child's game, but Thalia's excitement was enough to win her over and she reminded her a lot of Phoibe.

"I would be honored Thalia, thank you" Kassandra says as she stands herself up to walk over to where the kids are playing.

"No way! It IS her!" One girl exclaims as they all clamored towards her.

"I am Kassandra and my friend Thalia here has invited me to play. Is that alright with all of you?" Kassandra asks and they all immediately turned to Thalia.

"She is your friend?! That is so cool!" Another of the girls says and she can see Thalia beaming with pride at being called her friend.

"Of course you can play!" The group collectively chimes in and Thalia tugs on Kassandra's arm to get her attention.

"We may be friends now, but don't think I will go easy on you. Is that ok?" Thalia whispers her question and Kassandra tries not to smile at the adorableness of this situation.

She quickly recovers and keeps her face serious and she looks down towards Thalia to reassure her. "I would expect nothing but your best, I can take it."

Kassandra thought she was going to have to go easy on them, but it turns out she's actually not good at this game and is losing badly all on her own.

Kassandra has lost count of how many times she's had to wear the wreath and find that stone while simultaneously giving one of the girls a piggyback. She's lucky at this point that they're so light or she'd probably have a backache by now.

She played probably fifteen or so rounds before she decides to move on, but as she stands from her dramatic collapse to the ground (much to the amusement of the girls) on her final loss, she notices Kyra watching her amusedly with a few other women.

Kassandra quickly hops up and brushes herself off, embarrassed that she was caught playing a children's game. She makes eye contact with Kyra and her look is stern, but her eyes seem softer.

Kassandra doesn't dwell on it as Thalia is quick to chime in on their game.

"I'm sorry I beat you so many times" Thalia offers and apology. "I was trying to lose a few for you, but I didn't do a good enough job of it."

"Ouch" Kassandra says as she mocks being hurt by holding her hands over her heart. "I thought you weren't going to take it easy on me?"

"I felt bad" Thalia shrugged and Kassandra can't even be unhappy about her losing streak.

"Well, I will leave you to win the games in my honor and I will stick to what I do best and defeat evil people for you. How does that sound?" Kassandra offers and Thalia is so overjoyed by this that she throws herself around Kassandra's waist to give her a hug.

"I will make you so proud of me, I promise!" Thalia exclaims as she runs to rejoin her prior group.

Kassandra feels warmed by the interaction and then quickly realizes that Kyra was still very present and still very much looking in her direction.

The women around Kyra seem to be giggling and an amused smirk is plastered on Kyra's own face. Kassandra rubs the back of her neck out of embarrassment and gives a small smile and wave their direction. The women all smile and wave back except for Kyra. She still looks as stoic as ever so Kassandra decides it's best to not approach her and to just go around her.

Kassandra wouldn't even know what to say to her at this point as they left it so tattered the last time they spoke. It was mostly Kassandra's fault for being so rude about everything, but it didn't mean she wasn't right. Still, she could have handled it better, but she would makes amends in time as she had to earn Kyra's respect back first.

Kassandra needed to walk the direction they were standing so she make it a point to walk on the side furthest from Kyra.

As she approaches them, their talks become whispers and she just knows they're discussing her in some manner. As curious as she was, she didn't want to get into it and just gave the women a nod as she walked by them.

She thought she was in the clear until she heard a voice call for her.

"Oh Eagle Bearer, might I trouble you for a moment?" One of the women ask.

Kassandra, back to the women, let's an eye roll happen at the inopportune timing of all of this before she turns around to take the few steps back to the group.

"Ladies," Kassandra acknowledges, "Kyra," she continues without looking directly at her, "how can I be of assistance?"

"I was wondering if I could hire you for a delivery to the northern part of the island" the woman explains and Kassandra already regrets turning around.

"My husband is hunting with my daughter and he needs special medicine, but forgot it. Would you be so kind as to deliver it to them? I can pay you" the woman offers and there is no way she can say no with Kyra right there.

To be honest, she'd have probably not said no anyway as she could always use more drachmae.

"Of course, it would be a pleasure to assist you. Where is the medicine and can you give me a description of your husband and daughter?" Kassandra inquires.

"Nikandros is a little shorter than you and has a scar running down his right eye. He is actually blinded in it, but you'd never know by how he acts" the woman offhandedly comments as she continues on to her daughter. "Phaedra is about your age I'd guess with light hair and a matching scar to my husband's but hers thankfully missed her eye. His was to a hunting gone wrong, hers was from stupidity" she comments as she grabs the medicine from a pocket.

"Right, very well then, I'll just be on my way" Kassandra gives a nod to signify her departure and she resumes her walk at a much faster pace than before. She doesn't want to get roped into anything else.

So much for her getting started tonight on the construction, guess this will have to count as her good deed.

Kassandra makes her way and, by maintaining a steady jog, she's able to reach the northern point in an hour. She needed this time to herself so this was a blessing in disguise and since this area was pretty sparse, it shouldn't take her long at all to find them.

She makes her way to higher ground for a vantage point and is easily able to see two people she's assuming is Nikandros and Phaedra. She hops down and carefully walks over, not wanting to alarm them, but also not wanting to spook any prey they might have found.

Once she sees that they're not actively hunting, she decides to make her presence known.

"Are you two Nikandros and Phaedra?" Kassandra asks.

"Depends on who's asking" the woman who must be Phaedra quips back.

"Hush child, no need to be rude" the woman is scolded by the older man.

"Yes, we are them. What can we do for you?" Nikandros asks.

"Your wife sent me with something for you, she said it was medicine you needed" Kassandra says as she holds out the package.

"Bless her soul, I completely forgot about this" he rambles on about his forgetfulness and Kassandra tries hard to not look disinterested, but thankfully the man walks away.

"You look familiar" Phaedra states to her as she appraises, "do I know you?"

"Probably, but I doubt we've ever met as I'm sure I would remember someone like you" Kassandra says with a wink and Phaedra laughs at the very overt come on.

"I recognize you now, you must be the famed Eagle Bearer" Phaedra comments and Kassandra is surprised at the correct guess.

"How did you know?" Kassandra asks.

"Your bird is making passes above you and has been since you came into our vision. Quite easy to put together from what people have talked about" Phaedra states as it was the most obvious to anyone.

"All good things I hope" Kassandra plays off and she can tell by the slight drop in Phaedra's face that it was not necessarily the case.

"I wouldn't say it is bad per say, but you are painted as quite the womanizer" Phaedra responds and Kassandra is quite stunned.

"Really? That's what people say about me? Not my adventures, not my conquests, but who I bed? Really?" Kassandra inquires again with the hopes of a different answer.

"Sorry to say it chief, but I'm afraid not for the most part" Phaedra says a bit more gently this time as she could tell she struck a nerve.

Kassandra feels a little deflated as that is not how she wanted to be remembered. She knew that many people will know her from her adventures, but there seemed to be a trend lately and she couldn't help but want to shake off that image.

"If it is any consolation prize, this is a small island so they're going to want to harp on the gossip rather than anything heroic" Phaedra shares to try to cheer Kassandra up.

"That doesn't make me feel any better" Kassandra grumbles and Phaedra cannot help but to be amused at this sight.

"Who would've thought the mighty Eagle Bearer would get so upset by finding out word travels that she gets around" she says with a laugh, but Kassandra isn't amused in the slightest.

"Well this has been an enlightening talk, but I'm definitely going to go now. Good luck with the hunt" Kassandra offers in her parting as she turns and begins her long jog back.

She can hear Phaedra calling put for her to wait, but she's not in the mood for anymore jests at her expense so she runs just a bit faster and keeps up the pace.

Kassandra can feel herself getting angrier by all this and she runs even faster. By the time she's hit the city limits, she'd taken only a fraction of the hour to return although she was winded.

Thankfully the woman was there still and so, surprisingly, was Kyra. She had spotted them before they saw her so she ducked into an alley to try to get her breathing regular as she didn't want them to know how winded she truly was.

After several deep breaths, she felt confident that nobody could tell she just sprinted across the island so she makes her way back to the group.

Kassandra clears her throat as she gets closer to announce her arrival and all look up at her presence.

"I just wanted to inform you that the medicine has been delivered and your husband wanted me to relay that you are a blessing" Kassandra quotes as the woman places her hand over her heart.

"Forty years together and he still can make me swoon" she shares as the women collective talk about their spouses.

Kassandra had been avoiding Kyra during their interactions today, but she couldn't help but glance her way on this topic.

Kyra met her eye contact, but gave nothing of what she was feeling away. She still remained a mystery and Kassandra knew she still had to put the work in, but she still couldn't divert her eyes now that she'd looked.

It wasn't until Kassandra felt something touch her hand that she snapped out of her trance like gaze and saw a small drachmae coin pouch.

"It's not much as with the house repairs that we need it's tapped into our savings, but a deal is a deal" the woman offers her the pouch with a smile.

Kassandra decides to do something unthinkable as a misthios and declines the drachmae.

"Thank you for this, but I need no payment for this. It was my pleasure" Kassandra lies as it had been anything but, however, she didn't need to know this.

"Oh dear, please I insist a good job doesn't go unpaid" the woman tries again to give her the money, but she still declines it.

"I appreciate this, but you need this more than I do so my payment is knowing you will have a roof over your head when this is all settled" Kassandra smiles sweetly and the woman seems to be a bit beside herself.

"You are a gift from the gods to this poor woman and I cannot thank you enough for your kindness and generosity" the woman says as she stands up and embraces Kassandra in a tight hug.

Her displeasure of being touch is etched on her face and she gives a little pat to the woman to try to speed things along.

The hug didn't last more than ten seconds, but for someone who doesn't usually like to be touched, it's practically an eternity.

Kassandra decides it is time to leave, but before she can say her goodbyes, the clouds open up and it begins to downpour.

This usually wasn't a big deal, but the storms have been rather harsh lately around this area as Kassandra was on Paros before she arrived here and the water were choppy to put it mildly.

The women all scatter to grab their children and rush to their horses which left both her and Kyra standing together, all alone.

Kyra begins to jog the direction of her new home, but Kassandra just stands there and let's the rain soak her. She effectively has nowhere quick to go as the Adrestia is all the way across town and she would rather not be on a boat at the mercy of the sea. She was stuck to weather this out or find solace at the nearest temple or public building, all a decent walk away.

"Are you seriously just going to stand there?" Kyra shouts over the howl of the rain and wind.

Kassandra just kind of shrugs and Kyra let's a barely audible groan out before she motions for Kassandra to follow her.

Kassandra takes the hint and the two of them make their way back to Kyra's. Both completely drenched by the rain, they were soaked from head to toe as the make their way through the front door.

Seems like they weren't the only one's caught outside as there were puddles scattered all over the floor and there were towels draped over almost everyone.

Sotiria is quick to greet them both with towels as she ushers them into the kitchen.

"Here, you both should drink this" Sotiria offers them both a steaming beverage that Kassandra wastes no time drinking it down with steady gulps.

"This anything like the monstrosity you made me drink this morning? With the chunks?" Kyra questions.

Kassandra spits out her sip by hearing the word "drink and chunks" in the same sentence and proceeds to go into a coughing fit trying to downplay the spray of beverage she just launched.

"Oh my, are you ok Kassandra?" Sotiria asks with genuine concern while Kyra chuckles silently to herself at the spectacle.

"Yup..." she is able to mutter in between coughs, "perfectly fine."

"Let me go get you some more since most of this wound up on the floor" Sotiria offers in earnest and Kassandra just wants to bury her head in the sand.

"No, please, there is no need. I am quite fine" Kassandra implores as she wants this entire situation to be over.

"Well ok, but please let me know if you change your mind" Sotiria offers and leaves the two of them be as she makes her way to clean up some of the puddles.

Kassandra sits in silence as she's already done enough speaking to embarrass herself in the past few days that should've taken a lifetime. Instead she decides to find an interesting spot on the floor and begins to count the tiles. It was clear Kyra only spoke to her out of necessity so any casual conversation was probably out the window.

Kassandra begins to fidget with her hands as she's always had a hard time sitting still and there is background noise and movement, but the silence is deafening for anything she cares about. She needed to get out of here.

She would look mad if she were to just walk back out into this and she could get hurt and that would be both reckless and foolish and Kassandra tried to never combine the two. She would need to keep busy.

Kassandra stands from her seat and decides to seek out Sotiria.

"Back so soon? Did you change your mind about the tea?" Sotiria asks while she's soaking up the water from the floors and squeezing it into a bucket.

"No actually, but I was hoping I could help you" Kassandra asks.

This was an odd enough request that Sotiria stops what she's doing to ensure she heard her correctly.

"I beg your pardon, but did you just offer me help with this?" Sotiria asks genuinely.

"Yes, I'd like to help, but I don't know where these things are located to grab my own" Kassandra says as she kneels down beside Sotiria.

"If I may?" Kassandra inquires as she offers out her hand.

Sotiria hands her the sopping wet towel as she stands to gather something for Kassandra. Within a minute she comes back with an armful and the two of them work in silence. This one, was at least tolerable, as she was able to keep busy.

Kyra had exited the kitchen about a half hour after Kassandra left to find her kneeling on the floor, trying to aid in picking up the water.

It seems Kassandra was just full of surprises the past couple days, both good and bad. It seems like Kyra may have misjudged her character.

Kyra was still a bit hot about yesterday, but it was more so do to her own desires than anything Kassandra said. Every word was true and they both knew it, but it didn't mean Kyra wanted to hear it. Now that she knew Thaletas wasn't going to walk in on them, the invitation Kassandra insinuated to her yesterday was even more enticing.

She and Thaletas never set any grounding to what they were and they had never spoken of being exclusive. With his duty to Sparta and his consistent leave of absences, it would make sense that they would not be locked in to anything exclusive, for either of them. Adding to the motion that he just vanished without a word to her makes her believe that what she desires to do may not be such a bad thing after all.

Chapter Text

The storm showed no sign of letting up so an official invitation from Kyra to all guests were that they were welcome to stay until the storm ends (at it could take a couple days sometimes). There were a few random townsfolk that Kassandra didn't recognize, but she tried to stay to herself for the most part.

Kassandra took solace by the window in the kitchen and she found herself staring out it, daydreaming a good portion of the evening.

With how dark the skies were, she wouldn't know if it were morning or not except for the fact that the animals on the property were like an alarm. Their habits did not falter and she always could rely on them for accuracy and she took their irrational behavior as a sign. They did need to be fed and she was still pretty wet so she may as well be the one that has to go.

She forces open the kitchen door with a bang as the wind slams it into the side of the building. She grabs the bag of their feed and makes her rounds before dragging the leftovers back inside for the morning. She has to use some force, but she's able to close the door and as she brushes herself off she's met by Kyra holding out a dry towel for her.

"You know that's not your responsibility, right?" Kyra asks, but there is no bark to her tone this time around.

Kassandra takes the towel and just shrugs. "Guess I figured it was just as easy for me to do it as I was already wet."

"That was very kind of you, thank you" Kyra offers and Kassandra smiles at the recognition.

"It was no problem" Kassandra offers in response.

Kassandra makes her way back to the chair she had already created a puddle on and plopped herself back on it. She was not about to track water back through this place when she and Sotiria had worked hard to clean it all up.

"I am going to head to bed so have a good night Kassandra" Kyra offers with a warmth she's not felt from her in over a week.

"Good night Kyra, sleep well" Kassandra offers in as warm a tone as she can before Kyra leaves her to head upstairs.

The next two days come and go with nothing spectacular happening. Kyra is beginning to speak to her on a more frequent and casual manner so it's progress. Kassandra is going stir crazy though.

The storm was still in full force on the third day and supplies were being to become limited. Nobody knew this was coming so none if them had time to prepare and restock. There was also more mouths to feed than they're used to as the staff usually go home in the evenings (as they were retained from Podarkes mostly) and there was Kassandra and another two families.

Most everyone just wanted to go home so the two families decided to brave it as they had other people and other responsibilities to tend to. The staff also wished to go home, but most were smaller women who would have a hard time remaining upright so Kassandra offers up her services.

"I can escort you all home if that is what you desire" Kassandra offers to the delight of everyone but Kyra.

Kyra asks her for a private word in her office and as soon as Kyra closes the door, she let's in on her.

"You realize that's mad right? Willingly throwing yourself at the mercy of the gods for an escort?" Kyra shares in hopes of having Kassandra see the err in her way.

"Perhaps, but I know they stand a better chance with me than without me. They want to go home Kyra and I don't blame them" Kassandra counters. "They will go with it without me and I'd prefer to ensure their safety."

"What about your safety Kassandra? You're not expendable so stop acting like it" Kyra blurts out before she can stop herself.

She didn't mean to say this so openly to Kassandra and there is no way she didn't catch it.

"I'm surprised you even care to be honest" Kassandra says, surprising bother herself and Kyra.

"All you've done is ignore me that past few days and I think you're only talking to me now because you're almost forced to" Kassandra lays it on and the floodgates she's been withholding have opened up.

"So while I appreciate the concern, it isn't necessary as I don't just go launching myself into trouble" Kassandra says sharply as she makes her way past Kyra to open the door.

"I am getting these people home" were her parting words as she closes the door (arguably hard than necessary) and gets the three women remaining of the staff and heads out the door.

Kyra just stands in place, processing everything that was just spoken between the two of them.

How could Kassandra not know she cares? If anything, she cares far too much for someone she shouldn't be. Kassandra's words stung once again, but this time she would do better than just walking away. A part of her thought Kassandra wouldn't even come back. That she'd stay with one of them or head back to the Adrestia since she was already out.

The thought worries her more than she should and yes, it's just a storm, but they were a small island and much damage could be done in a very little time.

Kyra takes to pacing as she feels the minutes tick by. It wasn't until about thirty minutes later that Kyra hears the door fly open from the wind. She thinks it's just wasn't shut properly so when she walks out of her office to close it, she is astonished to find a drenched Kassandra holding a bag tight to her chest.

Kyra is quick to usher her inside as she closes and locks the doors as there is nobody but the two of them now here.

"Sotiria wanted me to bring this back to you so you'd have enough food for a week if need be" Kassandra shares as she offers the bag to Kyra.

Inside it a variety of sustainable foods along with some smoked meats and dried jerky.

"Well this was indeed kind of her to think of us like that. She is a sweetheart" Kyra praises as Sotiria had been with her from the start and the two of them became wonderful friends over the years.

"Us?" Kassandra questions as she had no intention of staying here any longer. "You must have misheard as I said these were for you, not for me."

"Does this mean you're not staying? Where would you even go?" Kyra inquires as she knows Kassandra only has the Adrestia.

"That's a problem for me to figure out now isn't it?" Kassandra sharply responds back as she reaches for the door, her good mood long gone as it must've drowned in all the rain.

"Kassandra, please..." Kyra pleads as she grabs her hand. Kyra continues speaking when Kassandra doesn't pull away.

"I'm sorry, truly, as I have been very crass with you for no other reason than you pointed out a truth" Kyra keeps her grip firm as she holds onto her tightly. "Please, stay."

Kassandra feels the warmth of her skin and she weighs the words Kyra offered to her.

She really didn't want to go back out into that, but she also couldn't bear to take it just being the two of them with every feeling so tense. It did seem as though Kyra was genuine so, perhaps, she could make amends too?

Kassandra concedes and her hand drops down and settles back at her side as Kyra let's go of her as well.

"Are you hungry?" Kassandra asks, changing the subject.

"Starving actually" Kyra answers, placing a hand over her rumbling stomach.

"Why don't you get some candles lit and I'll get us a good spread together" Kassandra advises as she brings the semi soaked bag into the kitchen.

Most everything was still perfectly fine although she would prefer to not have soggy jerky so she leaves them out to dry. She plates up some finger foods that require no cooking and grabs the last of the bread that's on the counter.

She wasn't sure where Kyra settled, but she heard commotion from upstairs so it was easy to make an assumption.

She heads for Kyra's room to see a sheet spread out over the floor and a pile of cloths, folded neatly on Kyra's desk.

"Those are for you as I've never given it a thought that you've been practically soaked for two days straight and I figured you'd like a change of clothes" Kyra offers as she retrieves the garments and hands them to Kassandra.

"I'm used to it so I guess it didn't phase me much, but thank you" Kassandra lifts the clothes up as to say "thank you".

"They might be a tad small for you though as they were not meant for a woman with such..." Kyra trails off as she looks over Kassandra, "muscular proportions."

Kassandra looks down at herself and can see her point. Since she had removed her armor some time ago (as it would only slow her down), Kassandra could see how the fabric clung to her body, showing off her muscles.

She was very proud of them and she worked hard to stay in the best shape possible. She would swim in the oceans, climb mountains, and race up hills all in the name of a challenge and with challenges, come great rewards. In this case, a body that could rival a rock.

Kassandra responds back to the comment with a devilish smirk and Kyra is quick to blush and turn from her under the guise of privacy, but Kassandra knew better. She would keep this to memory for later.

Kassandra quickly changes and, Kyra was most definitely correct, this was too small. Kassandra assumes this belongs to Kyra (who is much leaner than she is) and she doesn't want to look ungrateful, but she's probably going to end up ripping this before the night is over.

"You can turn around now, I'm no longer naked" Kassandra teases as she can tell Kyra is still flushed from before.

"You were right though," Kassandra admits, "this is just a tad bit on the tight side. Is this yours?"

"No, actually, it was remaining from when we commandeered this place" Kyra comments as she takes a seat on the sheet.

"Good" Kassandra responds as she moves her shoulders forward, causing the back of the garment to rip.

Kassandra moves her arms around to ensure she's got the range and doesn't join Kyra until she's satisfied she could move with ease.

"Much better" Kassandra contends as she joins Kyra on sheet.

They both lay so they are overlooking the balcony and watching the storm. The silence this time is not deafening and they both sit in comfortable tranquility as they eat and take in mother nature.

They both eat until they are full and lay back so they're both sprawled on the floor, side by side, shoulders touching.

"What's the funniest battle you've ever found yourself in?" Kyra breaks the silence as she tilts her head to look at Kassandra.

"Funniest?" Kassandra questions, eyebrow raised as she looks over to Kyra.

Kyra nods and Kassandra knows what it is, but she can already feel the ridicule and teasing she's going to get if she shares it.

"I don't know if I want to tell you," Kassandra answers and notices Kyra pout, "but if I do, you have to promise to never speak of it again."

"Oh gods no," Kyra blurts out as she begins to laugh.

Kassandra can't help but smile in return. It's such a dramatic difference from how they were only an hour to go. They never had the chance to get to know each other and there would be no harm in it Kassandra thinks.

"With an opening like that, I will do nothing but remind you of it" Kyra gleefully teases.

"Wow, you are cold, I feel that in my soul" Kassandra replies, placing her hand over her chest.

"You'd love it" Kyra says back and Kassandra has to agree.

"Fine, but you cannot tell anyone else. Promise" Kassandra requests and Kyra is happy to agree.

"Deal, now spill and this had better be good" Kyra says as she rolls over so she's laying on her side so she can watch.

"So I was on Naxos taking care of a bounty, nothing out of the ordinary. I took care of the man and fulfilled my end of the bargain, easy drachmae right?" Kassandra speaks animatedly about the details and Kyra is entranced, following her every word.

"So I return for the money and am approach by this elderly man and he was telling me he was having a problem with a chicken, but that it isn't an ordinary chicken." Kassandra explains, knowing Kyra will surely have questions as she wouldn't believe this if it didn't happen to her.

"A chicken? As in a poultry bird?" Kyra inquires

Kassandra nods to confirm as farfetched as story was sounding. "Yup and I swear to you that isn't the best part."

"Please continue" Kyra asks as she places her hand on Kassandra forearm.

"I think to myself that this will be easy, but then he tells me the price he is willing to pay and I knew something wasn't right. The man was offering three hundred drachmae to kill this bird" Kassandra shares.

Kyra's eyes go wide at the amount as that's about ten times more than what a bird is even worth. "No, that can't be" Kyra answers, still believing Kassandra misspoke the number.

"Three hundred, I swear it to the gods" Kassandra says as she places a hand to her heart. "I, of course, was just as stunned as you, but the man just said it was worth the high price."

Kassandra decides to lay on her side as well and she props her head up with her hand to get comfortable.

"I go to the area the man describes and sure enough, there stands a lone chicken along the shoreline" Kassandra shares the memory as she moves her free hand animatedly as if helps her tell the story.

"Hindsight, I should've just put arrows into this thing, but instead, I decide to approach it to see what is so special about it" Kassandra reminisces as she can still feel what she's about to share next.

"I am within an arms length away when it turns around, tilts its tiny head at me, and squawks loudly. This bird just launches itself at my face and begins to viciously peck me" Kassandra tells as she points her finger over a little spot on her face for Kyra to see.

"I, having never battled with a chicken before, didn't handle it the best way I probably could have and I immediately tried to claw it free from my face" Kassandra says as she makes a clawing motion down her own face.

"I, finally, get its talons dislodged out of my mouth and am able to toss it a good distance away as I just assumed I caught it off guard and it was defending itself. I was wrong" Kassandra says seriously.

"This spawn of Hades just picks itself back up and runs full speed back at me, as if it was intending to ram me. I had to roll out of the way as it splayed its wings out and tried to get back at my face..." Kassandra recounts every embarrassing detail.

Kyra remains quiet and invested as she follows Kassandra's animated retelling. This was a side of Kassandra she never thought she'd get to see and she's glad the fates decided to force them together to work out their differences.

Kassandra continues telling the story, now on the finale portion.

"....so I had to outsmart it, a BIRD, but I had my dagger in hand and when I knew it was going to jump towards me, I was able to catch it with my spear" Kassandra beams proudly at her well earned win.

"I take that demon back to the man and slam it on his table, do keep in mind that I'm quite scratched up and bleeding at this point, and I just hold out my hand and ask for the drachmae" Kassandra says as she lays back down on her back.

"That has got to be the best story I think I have ever heard in my entire life. Wow" was all Kyra could say as she wanted to laugh at the entirety of it, but Kassandra seemed so proud right now reveling in her victory.

"Victory was sweet, but it cooked over a hot fire for a couple hours? Even sweeter" Kassandra says as she grins, it was a delicious chicken and maybe it was because of how difficult it was.

"I didn't realize I was in the company of a legendary animal slayer. I would have fancied the place up for you" Kyra giggles and Kassandra is quick to grab a pillow from Kyra's bed beside her and launches it at her face.

Kyra wasn't quick enough to dodge it and the force of the throw sends her sprawling backwards, her laughing just intensifies.

Kassandra reaches up for another pillow so Kyra is quick to roll to grab the discarded pillow as the two have a pillow fight.

Laughter fills the air like a melody and it was the sweetest of sounds. Laughter can cure what ails you and can fill an empty spirit until it is overflowing. Or, in this case, it can create a bond between two women who have lived in hard times who finally had a moment of peace.

Kassandra isn't sure who relents first, but they both end up exhausted by the burst of energy.

"What time is it I wonder? I am finding myself quite tired" Kyra inquires.

Kassandra looks outside for a clue but cannot see anything other than dark skies and a sheet of rain.

"It sounds like its time for a nap whatever time of the day it is" Kassandra answers as she takes the pillow and places it behind her head. "That's the beauty of naps, they're accepted at any time of the day."

Kassandra settles down and tries to readjust herself to get more comfortable, but there's only so much you can do when you're on the ground.

Kyra opts to stand up and takes her pillow back to her bed. She places it down and sits on the edge, considering if she should invite Kassandra. It would just be them sleeping, no harm in that right? Friends shared beds with each other all the time, they didn't have to be any different.

"Are you going to come join me or would you prefer the floor?" Kyra asks, trying to downplay her nerves in asking Kassandra up to nap with her.

Kassandra opens up an eye to see Kyra looking down at her so the offer must be legitimate as it looks like she's waiting for an answer so she can settle. Kyra wanted Kassandra to share a bed with her again, but just as friends. She could definitely do that, she could do platonic for now if that's what it took, but she would double check in case Kyra changed her mind.

"I wouldn't want to impose" Kassandra says, looking for any sign of hesitation.

"I would not have offered if I were not willing to accept your company on the chance you said yes" Kyra answers.

"It could just have been to be polite" Kassandra counters.

"Do I strike you as the type to live based off of politeness?" Kyra questions.

"Well, I suppose not now that you put it that way," Kassandra replies as she sits up, "make some space."

Kyra stands and allows Kassandra to slide in first. They've only ever been in this close of quarters once before, but it was clear Kassandra has a preference to where she laid down. When they were together last, she had her back to the water and faced the woods. She always kept an eye on her exits and watched where she could be most vulnerable so it made sense she would want her back against the wall.

Once Kassandra settled, Kyra slid in under the covers and, if she hadn't watched Kassandra get in the bed, she wouldn't have been able to tell there was company at all.

Kassandra took up as little space as possible and stayed on her side. It felt like a valley between them and Kyra wasn't sure what to do to bridge the gap. She wasn't sure where their line was or even if they had one anymore.

Kyra knew what she wanted to do, but didn't trust herself. She wanted to back up into Kassandra's arm to feel her strong, yet tender embrace. When she was with Kassandra, she felt safer than she's ever been. The night they spent together was the best sleep she's had that she can recall. Not even Thaletas made her feel so at ease.

Kyra decides she's too tired to deal with this and settles down as close to the edge of the bed as possible in the hopes that Kassandra would try to actually get comfortable. Eyes closed, she falls asleep in no time.

Kassandra was now very alert at their proximity as she didn't want to accidentally touch Kyra, but she was starting to get a cramp and would have to move soon.

Gods, why did this feel so awkward all of a sudden? Kassandra has both seen and felt Kyra naked before so her being fully clothed next to her shouldn't be an issue. It was though, it so was.

Kassandra still lays on the bed as close to the wall as possible to leave a healthy and respectable distance between her and Kyra as humanly possible, but her arm was not having it for much longer as she could feel it going numb.

Every so gently does Kassandra shift and settles into a more comfortable position, still being cautious to not touch Kyra.

Kassandra can hear her breathing even out and she knows within five minutes that Kyra had fallen fast asleep. Kassandra let's out a breath as now she can be a little more greedy with space.

She flips so she's laying on her back and stares up at the ceiling. She needed to think about what was happening here and it's a conversation she's been putting off with herself long enough.

Kassandra knew herself better than anyone and it was clear that something was amiss.

She was becoming attached.

Kassandra's whole life revolved around herself and for the fact that she was the only stability she had. With Kyra though, Kassandra felt herself wanting her company more and more. She wanted her opinions, she wanted her thoughts, she just wanted anything to do with her. She found she wanted to be near her and, most surprisingly, she wanted her for more than just the physicality.

Kyra was only supposed to ever be a night of fun, maybe two, but there was not ever to be any emotional connection. The longer she stayed, the less detached she found herself though and it was a new feeling of panic that overtook her.

Her heart and her mind were, for once, not on the same side and it was tremulous at best. Kassandra never has this issue, but she finds herself at odds internally for the first time.

While Kassandra was lost in her thoughts, Kyra winds up adjusting herself in her sleep so that she is flush up against Kassandra.

Kassandra freezes at this sudden motion and contact. Kassandra can see (and feel) Kyra snuggle into her chest, placing her head tight above her breast. Kyra tightens her grip as she moved an arm across Kassandra's stomach so that the valley became nonexistent and that there was no longer any personal space between them.

This felt so right to Kassandra, Kyra tucked safely in her grasp, so Kassandra knew then what she had to do.

She needed to leave. Immediately.

She could not do whatever this was and, even if she could, she doesn't want to. Her life is full of no attachments and that's how she preferred it. Nobody to go home to, nobody else to have to consider, it was a good life for her and Kyra was ruining everything.

Storm be damned, she needed to get on the Adrestia and set sail for anywhere else but here fast. This was going to hurt, but it was better to do it now than later.

Soon she'd forget all about this and Kyra and it would be like none of it ever happened. She would go through the rest of her life in peace and not give this place another thought. It was the perfect plan.

With a new game plan at hand, Kassandra indulges for the last time and she holds Kyra tight and deeply inhales, capturing the moment in every way she can.

Kassandra holds Kyra close and she wants to tempt this, she wants to give into her impulse, damning the consequences.

With Kyra nestled up on her, Kassandra takes to gently stroking her hand up and down Kyra's arm and placing soft kisses to the top of her head.

Kyra's skin reacts in goosebumps and she stirs at the mixture of touches she's feeling. She's not fully awake, but she's acutely aware to every lingering touch.

This was her chance to either indulge or shut her down as all she'd need to do is roll back over and she's confident Kassandra would cease what she's doing. It's probably what she should do, but it's not what she's going to.

Kassandra can feel that Kyra is awake now so she decides to test the limits as she moves to lightly caressing her face, tracing the outline of her lips.

Kyra shifts herself up so that they are now level and she wills herself to open her eyes.

Kassandra has an unexplainable look about her, but Kyra knows what her intentions are so it's not hard to guess what some of it might mean.

Kassandra keeps her eyes intently on Kyra's as she moves so she is outlining her jaw with her fingertip.

Kassandra's touch is ghosting Kyra's skin and if Kyra weren't witnessing it for herself, she'd not even notice. There was something so intimate in what was happening between them right now, it was unlike what they had experienced before. It was driving Kyra mad in all the right ways.

Kassandra knew she had Kyra's full attention now so she decides that it is now or never and if she hasn't been pushed away yet, the odds were in her favor.

Kassandra leans forward ever so slowly and pauses when the tips of their noses touch, leaving only a minute space between their lips.

Kyra knows Kassandra is waiting for her to make the move, to show her it is ok. Even though Kassandra could be inconsiderate at times, she would never cross a line like this without consent....and she had it.

Kyra lifts up her own hand and pushes the few straggling hairs from Kassandra's braid back behind her ear and keeps her hand rested on her cheek.

They stay like that for only a few more seconds, but so much passes between them that it feels like an eternity. Words left unsaid pass between them unobstructed and Kyra can feel everything Kassandra is trying to deny. Kyra can feel the love between them and she's scared, but not in the way she should be.

She's not scared of what this could become, but of what it couldn't.

Kyra knew Kassandra better than Kassandra wanted to give her credit for. Kyra didn't get this far in her life on luck and chance. She got this far by paying attention to the smallest of details and keeping them locked away for future reference. Each reaction gets safely locked away until the time is right. Kassandra even had her own space it seemed as Kyra wanted to know anything and everything.

Kassandra was like a dessert, sinfully sweet, but something that should only be savored in moderation or you could get a sugar high. Well, Kyra has that high and now she's just waiting for the inevitable crash to follow.

Kyra would worry about that later as right now she had a craving and her fix was only a breath away.

Kyra pulls gently on Kassandra's face and that was all the confirmation she needed as Kassandra's lips met hers in milliseconds.

The kiss wasn't rushed or hurried, but there was a taste of desperation and realization for both of them.

Kassandra realized she was deeper than she ever imagined and Kyra realized that no kiss could ever compare ever again. Both had their own internal struggles, but both were willing to pretend all was well for a little bit longer.

Kassandra deepens the kiss and rolls so that she is hovering over Kyra.

Kassandra wastes no time in trailing her kisses down Kyra's neck and to her exposed collarbone.

"How much do you love your clothes?" Kassandra asks.

"Clothes are clothes and I have plenty more" Kyra responds with anticipation in her voice as she knows where this is leading.

Kassandra straddles Kyra's hips as she reaches forward and grabs the peplos by the collar and easily rips the fabric in half.

Kyra arches herself at the contact and is reveling in the feeling of warmth of Kassandra in astute contrast to the cool air now hitting her bare chest.

Kassandra dives forward and kisses every square inch of Kyra's chest, ensuring no part of her feels neglected. Her hands roam freely as she continues to tear the rest of it open as she kisses her way down to Kyra stomach.

Kyra tangles her hands into Kassandra's hair and grips tightly as she knows exactly what she's going to be in for.

Kassandra was on a whole new level and Kyra now knew what it felt like to reach euphoria. Kassandra was masterful and as jealous as it made her to know she wasn't the only woman getting this treatment, she couldn't be that mad with results like that.

Kassandra makes Kyra feel as if she were the water to quench Kassandra's thirst, that she was the oxygen Kassandra needed to breathe. Kassandra made her feel as if her whole body was a temple that was worthy of worship and she indulged in every movement.

Kassandra spared no efforts and it wasn't long before it was all rewarded with interest.

Kyra unfolded and Kassandra kept her steady as the waves flowed through her like the ocean tide, only stopping once Kyra pulled her back up for a kiss.

"Allow me to return the favor" Kyra whispers in a husky voice as she rolls them over so she's sitting on top of Kassandra.

Kassandra takes Kyra in her full form, completely nude, and knows Aphrodite wouldn't even be able to hold a candle to this woman above her. Every bruise on Kyra's body was a story and every scar is a lesson. A lesson Kassandra could find herself wanting to know more about.

"Let me take care of you love" Kyra coos as she takes Kassandra softly in her face, placing a tender kiss to her lips as they both melt at the feel.

Alarms were ringing in Kassandra's mind that she was getting too close and getting too attached. Her heart was no longer her own and that meant only one thing...

She needed to run.

Chapter Text

Kyra awoke several hours later with a satisfying stretch. She feels for Kassandra, but is met only with empty space. The sheet is cold where Kassandra once lay so she must've been up for a while now.

What an unexpectedly satisfying evening she's had. She didn't think Kassandra to be so bold after her last dismissal, but she also didn't try to rebuff any of the advancements either. She knows she should feel guilty about this, but she can't find it within herself to be.

Thaletas had basically vanished and it wasn't as if she was in love with him, but he was still a good man. He made sense for her and would be a wonderful husband and father when the time came, but the more time she spent with Kassandra, the less she wanted the "ideal life."

She didn't always want to be fighting to live and survive, but she also couldn't see herself as someone domesticated and that's what someone like Thaletas would want. He had a larger role to carry and with his promotion, he would see battle for as long as it took. She'd probably even end up a widow before long so was this something she wanted to do alone?

Too many uncertainties, all that don't need to be answered now. The only question she needed an answer to was where Kassandra got off too.

Kyra gets herself up out of bed and looks outside. The storm had reduced, but there was still heavy winds with some much lighter rain. Not ideal, but better than it has been and it quelled her worries about flooding as they were an island, sure, but they could only take so much.

She opts to get fully dressed as she didn't want to wander the house naked on the chance anyone other than Kassandra made their way in. Once ready, she heads downstairs to the kitchen to see if maybe Kassandra's having breakfast.

She steps in to find the kitchen empty, but that some food had been made up for her as there was an empty plate near it so Kassandra must've already eaten and didn't want to wake her.

Something so simple and small, yet it created a large impact on Kyra. Kassandra wasn't one for grandeur or romantic professions, she cared in different ways and that's what made her special.

Kassandra would do small things like making a food plate, small and practical gifts like a new dagger for her protection, etc. It wasn't a traditional love, but Kassandra had a way of surprising her when it mattered.

The place was eerily quiet as she sat and ate her breakfast so there was a good chance Kassandra had gone out. It was a shame as she was hoping for another go around this morning, but there was plenty of time for that and for them so she would just enjoy the now.

Kassandra had never been able to fall asleep after they finished, her mind too busy with everything this meant. Why did she do this? This was clearly not the right decision, and yet, she did it anyway because she knew it wasn't a problem for now. Well, it is the now and she needs to deal with all this.

The weather had improved a bit from what she could tell, enough that Kassandra felt comfortable going out in it without concern of wind throwing objects her direction.

Kassandra maybe stayed for about thirty minutes or so after Kyra had fallen asleep before she got restless. She wanted to just hold Kyra and enjoy the moment, but she refused to allow it as that would only make her goodbye harder than it needed to be.

Carefully, she untangled her limbs from Kyra's and is able to climb over her without disturbing her. She's had enough practice that if it were ever in the Olympics, she's bring home the victory.

Her borrowed clothes were destroyed as she ripped them off herself in the heat of the moment so they were off the table. Her own clothes probably wouldn't be too dry yet, but it would be familiar and comfortable. Dressing promptly, she heads down for some well deserved food as she worked up quite an appetite.

She eats slowly, each bite lingering as she bides her time, thinking of what she needs to do next. She will need to go check on the ship today as if it sustained any damage, she would need to get it repaired and that would just cause her to be stuck here even longer than she wanted to be. The docks would be pretty deserted still so she'd at least be able to work in relative peace so that's where she'll begin.

Finishing her last bite, she looks to see the remainder of their snacks and decides to make Kyra a plate as she's bound to be hungry when she wakes up and it wasn't like Kassandra was going out of her way. No, she just already happened to be in the kitchen with the food so it only made logical sense that she would prepare something for herself and Kyra. Totally rational. Nothing thoughtful here, just practical.

Gods, she's over analyzing food now....she really needed some fresh air and a change of scenery.

Kassandra couldn't stay cooped up in here any longer so she hastily makes her way outside and takes a deep breath. The elements always had a way to ground her to the present as she had to be more aware than usual so it was easy to keep focused.

Her boots already muddied in her first few steps and the splashes as she walked began to cake mud up her legs. Ironic how she'd need a bath when she's literally out in the rain, but mother nature had its ways.

Hardly anyone is outside (and rightly so) so she's not bothered as she makes her way to her ship. When she gets near enough she can see debris scattered around it, but nothing that appeared to be from the Adrestia, that is, until she got on board. The sails were completely shredded and there would be no salvaging them. Someone clearly didn't tie them down tight enough as both were billowing in shreds in the breeze.

Not the end of the world, but a minor setback that would at least add a day or two to the schedule as she would need to specially order new one's and pay for it to be expedited, but was at the mercy of the weather. Jumping the stairs to the helm, she can see only minor cosmetic damage as there are some nicks on the floorboards, but overall everything seems to be in tact.

For her final observation, she made her way below deck and is relieved to find she's not standing in puddles of water. Sure, there was some water, but it was courtesy of the wind and not due to a breach in the hull. Some buckets and a little manual labor would get this reduced to nothing in no time. Overall a clean bill of health which was a blessing that had been answered.

Kassandra took her time on the inspection as both a desire for thoroughness and to delay her having to go back to Kyra. She probably could spend the night on the ship, but there isn't much in terms of food as most of her crew had stayed in the tavern and had free lodging due to the aid they gave in freeing the island.

Kassandra takes a seat back up at the helm and lays down in the rain, allowing the sound of the water hitting the ocean ease her mind. Water was a place Kassandra felt at ease and it was pure luck she wound up with Barnabas and inherited a ship and such a good group of men. She's been able to go wherever she wanted on a whim without question. It's a power trip for sure, but it's what she lives for.

Maybe she should go to the tavern? Spend some time with everyone else, but it would probably look bad if she weren't staying with Kyra due to her status. It would be noisy too at the tavern and she had enough of that one a regular day so seeking it out on her free time didn't sound ideal.

No, she had to go back to Kyra eventually, but nothing was forcing her to go back now. Space would help keep her mind off her so Kassandra decided to start shoveling the water from the bottom of the ship.

Kyra stayed in her newly claimed office and spent a good portion of her day there. She made sure she kept the door open so she could hear if Kassandra came back. No, when she came back as she wouldn't just leave without saying goodbye. Would she?

Kyra didn't have a confident answer and it worried her. Kassandra was both easy to read and a mystery at the same time. Kassandra wore her expressions on her face and always had a hard time hiding them if she were caught off guard, but when prepared, she was as collected as ever.

Kyra shakes her head as she cannot be thinking that or else she'll go mad with "what ifs." Instead, she should try to be productive as there are still mounds of documents that need to be sifted through and she saw nobody else jumping at the chance to read these quite dull and uneventful logs. There was the occasional useful but of information, but nothing substantial, at least not yet.

It is almost dusk now and Kassandra still had not returned. She places her hand on her temple and begins to massage it as the words she's reading are beginning to blend together. That and the stress from the Kassandra situation are enough to make it painful. She needed a break badly.

Her body on hearing the word break reacts with a low growl from her stomach. She had been so wrapped up in everything that she'd forgotten to eat since this morning. There wasn't much, but she needed something to tide her over until tomorrow as it seemed like the storm had just about passed. She also stifles a yawn, having not slept much the night before. As much as she wanted to wait up, she probably shouldn't as it wouldn't do any good.

Kyra eats enough to quiet her stomach, but not enough to make her full. She found she didn't have an appetite for more than the bare minimum. Disheartened, she heads upstairs for an early night. She should be used to disappointment by now, but it doesn't make it sting any less. She undresses to her underwear and settles onto her side of the bed and runs her palm over Kassandra's spot.

She knows she's being a little irrational, but with Thaletas leaving her so unexpectedly and without notice, she can't help but feel that history is repeating itself. She clamps her eyes, but the tears still flow. Lost in the seas of the unknown, Kyra let's herself be consumed by the tides and, eventually, exhausts herself to the point of sleep.

Kassandra doesn't arrive back until closer to midnight, having decided to stay on the ship for as long as possible. She found things to do to occupy her time as there were a bunch of small fixes that should've been handled long ago, but they've never quite had the time. She was able to clear out the water, patch up the holes, and took a full inventory of everything. A productive day.

She grabbed a set of dry clothes and wrapped them in a fur that would hopefully keep it dry until she got back so she would have something for herself tomorrow. Having accomplished everything she set out to do, she would have to rethink what tomorrow would bring. If the rain stopped, she could always do some construction that she was planning to do to initially impress Kyra, but this time it would be to escape her company.

Kassandra feels ashamed for even thinking these things as it's the exact opposite from what she find she wants. She knows this will be better for the both of them in the long run though. Might as well just make a clean cut of things instead of dragging it out and having it become messy.

Along with the clothes, Kassandra also brings a tad more food as she's not sure how much Kyra consumed today and she knows she personally can eat with the best of them. Stepping back into the rain, she begins a brisk jog back to Kyra's to face the music.

Kassandra takes great care to open the door as quietly as possible, and she succeeds. The only sound the door makes is when it latches shut. Kassandra holds her breath to listen for Kyra, but she finds the entire place still.

"Phew...." Kassandra softly let's out as she did not want to have to deal with that minefield tonight.

She goes to the kitchen with her food and it was as if fate decided she'd been enough of an asshole with her thoughts today because she trips over a bushel of wheat. All that tiptoeing was now for nothing and she could just hear the sounds like explosions all around her.

A ripple effect would be the best way to define what happened as when Kassandra tripped, this knocked over the cooking pots hanging on the wall with her shoulder. They slam to the ground as she tried (and failed) to catch them, causing her to knee one of the cabinets which, in turn, caused her to hiss loudly at the pain.

In what was actually ten seconds or so, felt like a century to Kassandra. It was as if everything happened in slow motion and she could only watch as it all unfolded in front of her. She slams her hand over her mouth when she realizes how loud she was, but the damage would be done. Her efforts to not wake Kyra failed miserably.

Kassandra waits in the now present silence as she waits to be yelled at or scolded for the noise.

Ten seconds, twenty seconds, thirty seconds pass and still no hint of movement from above her.

"Hmm" Kassandra mumbles as surely someone as keenly alert as Kyra would've woken up to that, but it was if she were alone. Kassandra makes quick work placing everything back in place except for the cabinet as she created a nice hole in it that would take more time and effort than she wanted to give tonight. Satisfied all was back in place, she quietly makes her way up the stairs.

The only sound was that of her boots on the stone as she made her way to the upstairs hallway. All the doors were closed which wouldn't be unusual for this time of night so maybe Kyra had decided to go out herself or maybe went for some drinks at the tavern if she hadn't announced herself yet.

Kassandra grabs the handle and slowly opens the door, trying to see if she were just sleeping or if she wasn't in. The door opened inward and the bed was on the opposite side of the door so Kassandra wouldn't have a good view of the bed unless she took a step inside as the candlelight was dim and the moon offered minimal reflection.

Kassandra carefully peers in and, in the blink of an eye, is tossed forward onto the ground and can feel a blade pressing into her throat.

"Kyra, it's me! Kassandra!" Kassandra manages to get out and she can feel the blade be withdrawn immediately.

"Gods Kassandra, I almost killed you. What were you thinking?" Kyra scolds as she goes to light more candles to lighten up the room.

"I was seeing if you were here or not as I may have dropped something" Kassandra defends from the floor.

"You made all that noise just by dropping something?!" Kyra skeptically questions.

"Well, to be fair, it was a couple somethings and I accidentally broke a cabinet" Kassandra says as she can see a displeased look on Kyra's face. "I promise I will fix it tomorrow and it will be good as new!"

"Do you think that was what worried me the most?" Kyra genuinely asks, but doesn't wait for Kassandra's response before continuing.

"I thought someone was here to attack me, which is why I stayed so quiet until you came in" Kyra points out, now obviously as Kassandra connects the dots.

It all clicks and Kassandra feels like the biggest malaka for causing her this unnecessary panic because she didn't want to face her. Not only is she now having to face her, but she made it worse by scaring her.

"Kyra, I am so sorry, I did not mean to startle you. I was trying to do just the opposite" Kassandra admits.

"I didn't expect you back after you just left without a word all day so I jumped to the worst case scenario" Kyra confesses as she sits back down on her bed.

"I had some things to take care of and just lost track of time" Kassandra lied as Kyra didn't need to know the real reason why she was gone so long.

"Do you think you could give me a warning next time as a courtesy? Please?" Kyra says and Kassandra can hear the plea in her voice.

"Yes. I should be able to manage that" Kassandra confirms and Kyra feels herself relaxing again.

"You must be exhausted after being out all day, why don't you come to bed?" Kyra suggests and Kassandra can feel herself being placed between a rock and a hard place.

On one hand, she knows she shouldn't as every time she gives into Kyra, the worse this will be. On the other hand, she did just startle her and caused a panic so Kyra would probably feel better with her presence and she did owe her for it from what havoc she just wreaked.

"Ok" was all Kassandra dared say as she began to undress to lay next to her.

"Can you also take care of the candles please?“ Kyra asks as she settles back into bed.

Kassandra doesn't say answer, but snuffs out all remaining candles, sending the room into almost complete darkness. Kassandra was able to make it back to bed without knocking anything else over and she settles down beside Kyra.

She is encompassed by Kyra's body almost immediately as Kyra snuggles into Kassandra's side the moment she settles. Kassandra stills at the contact, but Kyra doesn't seem to notice. It's not as if she wants to react this way, but she needs to start preparing herself for the inevitable. Kyra falls asleep within five minutes as she must've just been awake from the adrenaline alone and Kassandra, again, is left with her thoughts.

Deciding that she's already in too deep, she decides to allow herself the joy of having Kyra in her arms for the last time as, after tonight, she cannot do this again. Kassandra falls asleep soon after, sleeping restfully with Kyra near.

Morning comes too soon and Kassandra wakes to a numb feeling in her right arm. Kassandra cracks open an eye to see Kyra's back as Kyra's body formed nicely into the front of Kassandra's. Kassandra's arm was snaked underneath her, trapped beneath Kyra's body weight as her other arm lay haphazardly across Kyra's exposed stomach.

Kassandra knows she can't get her arm free without waking Kyra so she decides to gently encourage her to wake up by trailing her fingers over her exposed stomach. Kassandra does a few passes before she gets movement and that is when Kassandra stills her hand and pretends she still asleep. She can feel Kyra adjusting and finds the opportune time to free her arm and roll over. It was still early and Kassandra didn't want to start the day yet.

Kassandra, with her back to Kyra, tries to go back to sleep, but it seems that will not be happening. She can feel Kyra shift to cradle her and she has to fight with herself not to make a sound as Kyra trails her hand over her body. She wants this. She really wants this.

Kassandra clenches her eyes shut as she focuses on anything but what is happening right now when the sound of a door closing startles Kyra's hand away.

"Kyra? Are you awake?" Kassandra can hear what sounds like Sotiria calling up.

Kassandra can hear Kyra let out a huff and she mumbled something under her breath before she responds, but Kassandra couldn't catch what it was.

"Yeah, I'm getting ready so I'll be down in just a moment" she hears Kyra respond.

Kassandra keeps the illusion that she is still asleep while Kyra gets up and gets dressed. Kassandra can hear the door open, but feels movement at her side. Kyra settled back on the bed and Kassandra feels a kiss placed upon her cheek.

"You are a wonder Kassandra, I adore you" Kyra whispers into Kassandra's ear and Kassandra feels another parting kiss before the bed settles and the door closes.

Kassandra opens her eyes the moment the door is closed and lays on her back to stare at the roof. This couldn't happen. Kyra didn't even know what Kassandra was capable of and she sure didn't know what she did to Thaletas or she'd probably never speak to her again.

Kassandra places both hands over her mouth to muffle her anguish. Kyra didn't deserve all this, but there was no way Kassandra could put it gently. She would have to do something more drastic, something she's not proud of. Kyra didn't deserve to waste her time with someone like herself and Kassandra needed to help her see that.

Kassandra waits for a few minutes before she herself gets dressed and ready. She was originally planning on just leaving for the day, but she needed to fix the cabinet she destroyed. She should just probably renovate the whole thing come to think of it as if it bucked that easily, it probably wasn't stable. She'd make a quick trip to the market since the weather was back to favorable and get her sails worked on and them she'd get some supplies to remodel the kitchen.

She makes her way downstairs and just heads out the door. There will be time for pleasantries later, now she needs to get the sails finished as soon as possible.

The trip to town is brief, but she did get good news about the sails and that the work would begin on the hour so that was one last thing she needed to worry about. She makes her way to the lumberyard and picks up what she thinks she'll need and has a few of the men help her carry it all back. She has them place it outside the kitchen door to save her the trips.

With the heat of the sun back, she needed to lose a layer or two before she overheated. Undressing herself to the bare minimum to be considered decent, she can see the kitchen staff watching her so she offers them a friendly smile and a small wave and can see them giggling as they rush back to their tasks.

Kassandra knew she was a sight to see and was not modest in the slightest about admitting it, but it always made her feel just a bit better when she was lusted after. An ego boost never hurts and it was a boost to her morale if anything so they can ogle away.

Kassandra makes herself a workbench and begins to work.

Kyra, unaware of any of this, sits in her office reading as usual. She can hear this incessant banging becoming louder and louder and it didn't bother her at first, but as her headache began to creep in, it made it impossible to focus.

"What in the gods is going on?" Kyra groans to herself as she resigns herself to leaving her office to root out the source of the intrusion.

She heads for the kitchen as she could see a bunch of the staff huddled around each other, whispering like children.

"What is going on here? Who is making all that racket?" Kyra shouts to be heard over the noise coming from right outside the window.

"Kassandra's building cabinets as she broke one of them last night" Sotiria answers while still gazing outside. "She's outside making new one's."

Kyra leans to the side and can see the gaping hole in what should have been solid wood. Shoddy workmanship it looks like as that's barely sturdy enough to hold up the countertops. She gentle moves aside her staff who, at the realization Kyra is right there, all jump back to work.

Kyra can see Kassandra out the window, dripping in sweat from the heat as she brushes some stray hairs from her face. Her mouth goes dry at the sight because Kassandra was just barely clothed, her arms, legs, and back were on full display.

It was one thing to see Kassandra in her everyday clothing, but it was always jaw dropping to see just how sculpted she was. Her arms were strong enough that she could probably carry the world like Atlas. Her legs were sturdy enough to climb Mount Olympus and back and her back was as sculpted as if it were made of marble itself. She was a walking work of the gods and she knew it.

Kyra could feel herself becoming flustered and quickly stepped back from the window. If she was on fire from just observing Kassandra, them Kassandra was probably parched and could use some refreshments. She gets a glass and a pitcher of water and makes her way outside.

Kassandra doesn't notice she has company as she's too focused on the tasks at hand until she hears a throat being cleared behind her. She halts her motion and turns her body around to see Kyra staring at her, arm extended with a water glass.

"I thought you may be thirsty and wanted to come give you this" Kyra offers as she passes over the glass.

Kassandra chugs it down in a couple seconds and Kyra picks up the pitcher from beside her and pours her another glass.

"I thought as much and came prepared" Kyra says with a smile as she shakes the pitcher for emphasis.

"That was considerate of you, thank you" Kassandra replies and turns her body back around to continue working.

"I see there is a hole in my cabinet" Kyra continues, not wanting the conversation to be over already. "How did you manage that?"

Kassandra can feel the embarrassment creeping up as she pauses her work to rub the back of her neck.

"I, uh, may have tripped last night and the counter caught my fall" Kassandra confesses, not wanting to turn around to see Kyra's reaction.

"Are you ok? Were you hurt?" Kyra asks and Kassandra can hear the concern.

"The only damage done was to the cabinet and my pride" Kassandra responds. "Thank you for checking though."

"You know you don't have to do this right? I can have someone patch that" Kyra offers up, but Kassandra scoffs at the idea.

"That whole kitchen is a joke and is just waiting to fall apart. Me hitting it last night was a blessing in disguise. I'm surprised they lasted as long as they did in their current condition" Kassandra lectures and Kyra cannot help but to be amused by her passion.

Kassandra never did anything only halfway. It was either all or nothing and Kyra could respect that and when Kassandra was determined, she did as she pleased.

The day passes in a blur and before they know it, it is well into the evening. Kassandra stayed busy with the kitchen all day and Kyra focused in her office.

Kassandra was pleased with what she accomplished today and all of her cabinets were done and much better than what was before it. Overly pleased at her accomplishments, she beams. It wasn't much, but her skills were not that ranged, but she knew enough to get around. This would be better and safer for everyone.

She had kept idle chit chat with Sotiria all day and found that she really quite enjoyed her company. She was educated which was rare as her father had insisted so her brother would recite to her what he learned in the day and the three of them would have a mini session every evening to ensure she understood.

Kassandra felt a bit saddened during all her stories with her father and brother as that was the opposite of what she had lived herself. She wouldn't let the sadness show though as that wasn't Sotiria's fault so she smiled and listened.

"There is going to be a celebration here tonight night you know," Sotiria mentions, "you should join us."

"I wouldn't want to impede" Kassandra replies, leaning against the counter

"You? Impeding?" Sotiria scoffs as she laughs. "I dare say everyone already loves you almost as much as they do Kyra."

"Well in that case, I would be delighted to join you all. Thank you" Kassandra responds genuinely. "It will also make for a nice farewell."

"You're leaving? But why?" Sotiria questions.

"I have done my part here and it is time for me to move on. This was never meant to be more than a contract" Kassandra replies with a neutral tone.

"I mean, that makes sense I suppose" Sotiria answers. "I guess you've just been here so long that it's hard to imagine you leaving."

"I know, but it is time as I've got other things I need to take care of so this little vacation I've allowed myself has set me back" Kassandra answers, trying to be detached from the emotional sentiments.

"Does Kyra know you're leaving?" Sotiria inquires.

"No, I haven't said anything to her" Kassandra admits.

"She's really quite fond of you so I think you should tell her sooner than later as I'm sure she will want to make time for you" Sotiria replies, not realizing what was already going on between them.

"I'm sure she won't even notice I'm gone" Kassandra plays off, a blatant lie and she knows it.

"Oh I highly doubt that Kassandra and I think you know it" Sotiria answers and, with that said, she walks out of the kitchen.

Kassandra was apparently wrong, Sotiria knew exactly what was going on and wanted Kassandra to know. Gods, why did this all have to be so complicated?

Kassandra decided to make herself scarce after that and decided to go back to the ship until the party was underway. She would have recanted her acceptance, but that would have just ruffled feathers and she really would miss some of these people that she's grown accustomed to the last few months. She also should have told Kyra about her leaving already, but she was afraid of what that would mean.

Kassandra didn't do fear, but she found herself utterly terrified of what position she was in now. There was so much wrong with everything she's done and what she was going to have to do. Guilt weighed heavy on her.

Her crew had returned for the most part so she spent time catching up with them and advising them to be ready to depart tomorrow as soon as the ship was ready. She wanted to further delays because, after tonight, she wasn't going to be wanted here anymore.

Kassandra makes her way back to the house after a few hours on her ship and arrives to find the party in full swing. As soon as she enters, she's given a drink and a hearty pat on the back.

"The Eagle Bearer has arrived! Now it is a celebration!" The man yells to the room and she's met with cheerful hollers.

This reminds her of their night of celebration when the island became free and, in due time, it would end the same as last time. She needed more to drink though because she's not sure if she could go through with this being sober.

She incorporates herself with Praxos and some of his men as they are retelling some of their best battle stories. It always amazes her at just how many scenarios people walk away from, herself included. Ravenous lion, poisonous snakes, etc., all deadly encounters that were walked away from, mostly without a scratch.

Kassandra finds herself enjoying the comradery and it wasn't until she spotted Kyra that she remembered what she needed to do. Kassandra excuses herself and makes her way to a group of women.

"I wish I would have noticed you all over here earlier. You all are far better company than the men," Kassandra charms as she looks at one of the women, "prettier too."

This earns her a collective giggle from all of them as she takes a seat beside the woman she feels will be the most willing. She's not seen any of them before so they must just be regular townsfolk as she was sure she'd remember the faces otherwise. She may be in a complicated situation, but she wasn't blind.

She joins the general discussion, but finds herself whispering into the ear of the woman she sat next to. She keeps the flirting light until she can tell it is being well received.

She can tell most of the men are now inebriated and there's no shortage of intimacy from what she can see so it was now or never. She needed to make a move before she lost her nerve.

Kassandra was able to spot Kyra with Praxos and the group she left so she knew Kyra would have a visual for the display she was about to put on.

Here goes nothing.

Kassandra turns to the woman next to her and kisses her. The kiss is returned immediately and she is now at the point of no return. It would only be a matter of time before Kyra saw.

Kyra was having a good night and the celebration was going off splendidly. She had waited a bit before joining, but a night of relaxation and fun was just what she needed.

She mingled with just about everyone, but she had not been able to spot Kassandra yet, but was informed by Praxos that she was indeed present. Kyra didn't want to appear desperate, but she did hope to have a moment or two with Kassandra this evening. She needed to tell her how she was feeling.

Kyra thought she could be casual about all this, but the more time she spent with Kassandra, the more she realized that wasn't the case. She knew Kassandra felt something for her too, even if she tried to pretend she didn't. Kyra was too good at reading people to not see it.

She had decided to find her and tell her tonight as soon as she found her.

"I wonder where Kassandra is at?" Kyra mentions out loud to Praxos.

"Best to not look for her now I think" Praxos answers, confusing Kyra.

"Not look for her? Why do you say that?" Kyra inquires, wondering if he knows something she doesn't.

"No reason" he responds too quickly and now Kyra is very suspicious.

"Praxos, what do you know? Tell me" Kyra orders and Praxos, loyal to a fault, is not one to disobey an order.

He gives her a saddened look as he points behind her. Kyra turns to see what he's talking about when she see it. Sees her.

Kassandra is feverishly kissing another woman and Kyra can feel her heart shatter and her face sink at the realization.

Praxos places a soft hand on her arm and gives her a soft squeeze and she holds him in place, grabbing at his hand with her own. She needed to keep her composure as, to everyone's knowledge, she was with Thaletas, not Kassandra. She couldn't convey the grief she was feeling or the hurt as she had no right to.

Praxos knew what was between them as he was her closest confidant so only he knew the gravity of this situation. He was always there for her, in good and bad times, the brother in arms and in life.

Praxos stood still, anchoring Kyra as best he could. They stayed like that for a minute before Kyra finally released her grasp. He could tell she was on the verge of tears, but she would never allow herself to seem weak in front of him or her men. Praxos knew better, but Kyra was steadfast and stubborn so she would just swallow it down like all the hurt she's encountered before.

Kassandra stops with the hope that Kyra saw and thanks the woman for her time before she goes to join another group of the rebels. She can feel eyes burning into her back as she looks towards where Kyra was to find her and Praxos standing there, his eyes an icy glare.

She saw and their eyes connect for a moment.

Kassandra can see the hurt and she can feel her heart clench at the sight. She didn't want to do this to Kyra, but everything happened so fast that it would be easier for Kyra to hate her than for her to love her.

Kyra breaks the eye contact almost immediately, but she doesn't leave Praxos. He remains by her side, clearly supporting her silent struggle. Kassandra was definitely staying alert tonight for concern of her safety as he looked as if he would try to kill her with his bare hands. She wouldn't blame him either, but she couldn't kill them both and rob Kyra of that so it was best if she just avoided him altogether. She still needed to face Kyra though as she had to show that nothing was wrong.

The night comes to a close and everyone heads home, drunk and happy, so all that was left were some of the staff doing the clean up and Kyra. She had retreated to her room so Kassandra takes a deep breath and heads upstairs.

She knocks softly to not alarm her as she opens up the door. She steps into the dimly lit room to find the bed empty. Kassandra looks out towards the balcony and see Kyra sitting down, overlooking the property as it is bathed in the moonlight and the low glow of the torches below.

"Do you ever wonder what your purpose is?" Kyra asks, not turning around.

Kassandra closes the door and steps up until she is just slightly behind Kyra.

"All the time" Kassandra answers.

Kassandra expected yelling and screaming, but not this. She was getting a taste of indifference and that felt even worse. She could feel the disappointment more than anything. Kassandra could deal with angry, but not this.

"I heard you are leaving tomorrow" Kyra says more in a statement than a question.

"I am, yes, my ship will be repaired tomorrow afternoon" Kassandra replies.

"Ok" was all Kassandra got in a response as Kyra stood up and headed towards the bedroom.

Kyra openly changed into her nightgown with Kassandra standing in the balcony archway watching. Kyra sits down on the bed and, for the first time this evening, has the edge to her voice that Kassandra was expecting all along.

"Are you sleeping here or with that woman?" Kyra asks, the tone of agitation subtly there.

Kassandra is surprised by her boldness and finds herself momentarily speechless.

"Here if that isn't an inconvenience" Kassandra answers with some shame as she can see Kyra trying to hold herself together.

"Whatever suits you is fine" Kyra answers as she motions for Kassandra to get into bed.

This was the exact opposite of what she was expecting. She was fully prepared to spend her night on the ship, but this was never something she imagined.

Kassandra strips down into her underwear and slides into bed, Kyra following behind her. Kassandra lay stiffly as she's not sure what to do here. She needs to show that she doesn't care, but every reaction she is getting from Kyra is throwing her off.

Kassandra decides to test the limits and places her hand over Kyra's waist. She can feel Kyra tense up at her touch, but she doesn't move away. She has been destructive enough for one night, she won't try to press for anything more, but she scoots herself until she's pressed to Kyra's back and holds her tightly.

Kyra doesn't sleep much that night as the silent tears flow down her face in Kassandra's embrace. If Kassandra refused to care about her and her feelings, she would not give her the satisfaction of allowing her to see her vulnerable. She would be strong and unwavering as Kassandra would leave. There would be time for her to break down when she was gone.

Kassandra awakes to find an empty bed, the sheets cold. Kyra must've been up fairly early to beat her, but she didn't want to think about it. She needed to say her goodbyes and be off, she was never meant to stay put for anyone. At least that's what she made herself believe.

Kassandra says her goodbyes to all and makes her way to the docks. Kyra had been absent and Kassandra wasn't sure if she was going to reappear before she had to leave. Kassandra wanted to say a final goodbye, but she understood if Kyra didn't want to see her. Maybe it was better that way.

That idea was short lived as she saw Kyra standing on the deck of the Adrestia with Barnabas, both of them laughing.

"Kassandra!" Barnabas greets as Kassandra makes her way to the both of them. "We were just wondering when you were going to show up."

Kassandra looks between the two of them and cannot get a read on Kyra as she looks to be in quite the pleasant mood.

"I suppose I overslept" Kassandra offers up, but it wasn't the afternoon yet so she wasn't sure what she was late for.

"There is good news! Kyra was kind enough to speed up the process on the repairs and had come bearing the men with our sails. The crew have already reattached them so we are good to set sail whenever you are ready" Barnabas exclaims as he smiles and pats her on the shoulder.

"Oh" Kassandra says as she looks up and sees the new sails. She never noticed them before, but she will chalk it up to the surprise of seeing Kyra here.

"You do not sound pleased Kassandra" Kyra points out. "I thought you were so eager to move along?"

Kassandra can feel the underlying meaning, she knows what Kyra means. Kyra knew that Kassandra wanted out and this was her way of gifting it to her. As much as Kassandra yearned for it, now that she had it, she didn't know if she wanted it.

"I was...am...I am" Kassandra corrects herself as she recovers from her slip.

"Wonderful" Kyra excitedly states as she clasps her hands together. "Let me get out of your hair so you can take off. Barnabas, it was a pleasure to speak with you and Kassandra, thank you again for all of your assistance."

Kyra doesn't wait for a response before she hops back onto shore and walks away.

"Barnabas, have the men get ready, I will be right back" she shouts to him as she hops down and heads in the direction Kyra took of in.

It doesn't take her long to find her, but as she gets closer to her, she realizes she had no idea what to say. Every reaction she's getting is her own fault and she has no right to try to drag Kyra back in for a final, passion filled moment together that would only hurt them both.

Kassandra slows to a stop as she comes to the understanding that this is just what it needs to be. She watches as Kyra continues back into town, waiting until she gets out of sight before Kassandra turns back towards her ship.

She would forget all about Kyra and this soon enough. There was nothing the open sea couldn't fix and a whole world for her to explore. Mykonos would become a distant memory in due time.

Kassandra set sail with a heavy heart and, as much as she wants to forget, she hopes that Kyra won't. It was selfish of her to want Kyra to remember her. She knew it would be easier if Kyra forgot all of her and her destructiveness and just moved on with her life. Kassandra would move on too and maybe someday they would meet again.

Kassandra needed to be free and she needed to have space. She needed to leave Mykonos and leave Kyra. It was the right thing to do and she needed to accept that.

If only it were that easy....

Chapter Text

(Eleven months later)

Kyra sits in her office with Praxos and one of the Spartan generals she had invited. She had done her best to keep them neutral in this war, but it was becoming clear to her that neutrality would get her killed faster than choosing a side. She was willing to listen to both sides as they requested her allegiance, but she knew the choice she made had to be the right one.

She had taken lead of Mykonos shortly after Kassandra had left and she hasn't looked back. She threw herself into the work and became all the better for it. The heartache for Kassandra had reached deep within her and if she were honest to herself, she still wasn't healed from it. She avoided anyone showing an interest in her as she had no desire to go through any of that again.

She still had no word on Thaletas so she reached out to his commanding officer in Sparta in hopes to locate him, but what she found out was not what she had expected. He had not been seen or heard from since he was on Mykonos so it was easy for Kyra to assume the worst. Thaletas was not a deserter and his military standing was his pride and joy. Something had happened to him and Kyra was determined to find out what.

As with everything, time was the connecting factor, but she was tired of waiting. She waited for Thaletas, she waited for Kassandra, she waited for everyone. She would hear the occasional gossip about Kassandra from the travelling merchants that would grace her shore on occasion. It sounded as if she was living the life she wanted to live. It hurt Kyra to hear her name so most people close enough to her wouldn't mention it in her presence, but she knew who they would speak of nonetheless.

She felt like a love sick fool for allowing herself to believe she would be the one that made Kassandra change. She knew her reputation and Kassandra made it clear that she was indifferent at the end and, as good as Kyra faked it, she just couldn't let it go. She'd spend most nights thinking about her and she refused to lay on Kassandra's side of the bed. She found herself running her fingers over the empty space, wishing for the past.

Kyra never realized how much she loved Kassandra until she left. She knew she wasn't like everyone else, but it felt as if her heart was stomped on daily and she just didn't feel the same anymore. She still had good days and would laugh and smile with everyone, but when she was left at night with her own thoughts, they always wandered back to her. That night hurt her deeper than she'd ever admit.

Kyra doesn't realize she's checked out of their conversation until Praxos gives her a gentle nudge.

"I'm sorry Darieos, I missed that last part" Kyra apologizes as she missed everything, but figured she could piece it together.

"I was saying that we could provide you with protection in the exchange for access to your quarry" Darieos repeats and Kyra has to think about all this.

"It is not unreasonable, but you do understand that I will need to confer with my people as I must do what is best for them" Kyra offers as she is not ready to make a decision yet.

"I understand, but I do encourage you to do it hastily as we are running out of time to know if you are with us or against us" Darieos responds and Kyra sits up a little straighter.

"Was that a threat?" She questions as Praxos takes a step towards Darieos.

"It is not a threat, but a warning" Darieos coolly replies. "I may like you and respect you, but Sparta will not share my sentiments if an answer isn't given soon. I just don't want you to be unprepared."

Kyra sizes Darieos up and decides he meant no harm by what he said and that he did just want to warn her. She places her hand on Praxos as a sign to stand down and he takes a step back.

"Thank you for the warning Darieos, I will be in touch with you soon. I promise" Kyra says as she reaches out her hand to shake Darieos'.

"I am looking forward to it, until then" Darieos offers a nod and a bow before he escorts himself out.

Once she hears the outer door close, she sinks back into her chair.

"What should I do?" She asks openly, both to Praxos and herself as she can feel the weight of this choice lingering.

"I am sorry for this recommendation, but I think it would be wise in reaching out to an outside source on this who has been to both sides" he offers up as he leans against the wall.

"Why would you be sorry? Who would we be reaching out to?" She asks confused.

"The Eagle Bearer, Kyra" he responds and he can see her wince at the sound of her name.

"You want me to ask Kassandra to help me decide about the fate of my island?" Kyra snaps back, more aggressively than she meant to.

"Think about it Kyra, we both know she's done work for both the Athenians and the Spartans so if anyone knew what they were capable of, it'd be her" he offers rationally. "I don't want to suggest this more than you want to hear it, but I think for the island, you need to at least consider it."

Kyra knows Praxos is just trying to help, but all she can see is red. How dare he even suggest such a thing to her? After all they had been through....it just wasn't right.

"I can't believe you would ask something like that of me. You know I can't do that after what she did to me!" She shouts as she slams her fist down onto her desk.

"I am going for a walk. Alone." Kyra warns as she leaves her office and then the building altogether.

Praxos remains as he knows Kyra just needs to cool off, but he also knows how serious of a position they're in. Kyra would not be pleased with him, but he had to think of the island and put personal discretions aside for the greater good.

He takes a seat at Kyra's desk and begins to write a letter in the hopes that it would find Kassandra before it was too late for them.

He summons a messenger to find her and gives him as much drachmae as he could afford personally.

"You listen here boy," Praxos says to the young man, "you stop for nothing and nobody until you find the Eagle Bearer and give her this. Is that clear?"

The man nods as Praxos hands him the letter and he takes the opportunity to remind him of the most important part. "You tell nobody, but me what you are doing. This is top secret and a need to know basis. Understood?"

"Yes sir" the man responds and makes for the port immediately to find out where he should start to look.

Kyra would be livid when she discovers this, but she would forgive him eventually. He would try to get her to see reason in hopes of softening the blow if she accepted his proposal. He knew money would talk and that what the man would give her was only a small sample of what she could expect if she agreed to come back to help with their mediation in this matter.

(Two weeks later)

Kassandra was finally finishing up in Athens as she had a lead on some lower ranking cultists before she sets sail to Andros as she found a clue that indicated there was a cult presence there as well. She had made it her mission to find them and exterminate them by any means necessary so she was constantly bouncing from place to place.

Kassandra makes her way back to the ship when she notices a strange man sitting on the deck with Barnabas. He looks slightly familiar, but she cannot say from where. There were too many faces in the world for her to remember everyone. She tentatively climbs aboard and when he notices her, he smiles widely.

"The Eagle Bearer, I have been searching for you" the random man exclaims as she approaches her.

She hovers her hand over her spear, but he stops short of her and pulls out a wrinkled letter and holds it out to her.

"Where did you come from?" Kassandra questions the man as she opens the letter.

"Mykonos" he answers and she pauses for just a split second. The name hitting a sore spot that never has left her mind.

She takes less care in opening it now and begins to read.

"Eagle Bearer,

I know there may have been mixed feelings on your departure, but I would not write this to you if I did not find it of the utmost importance.

Mykonos is at risk of becoming a casualty of war as our leader, Kyra, has not picked a side and as held out as long as possible to protect our people from more bloodshed. I fear both sides are losing patience though and were are in a poor position to negotiate.

We have no ships for our defenses and our soldiers are limited as we try to regrow our numbers from our last conflict. I write to you to seek out your council on this matter as I know you have first hand experience with both sides and that you, personally, are not allied with either one.

I offer you all the drachmae I have in my possession for you to sit and meet with us to determine our best course of action. If that is not efficient, more can be negotiated on your arrival.

P.S. Kyra is not aware that this message has been sent and had refused to reach out to you so I hope you understand the gravity of this situation that I am willing to break a direct order to not contact you.

Humbly,

Praxos"

Kassandra looks up, her expression unreadable to Barnabas or the messenger.

"What does it say?" Barnabas asks curiously.

Kassandra ignores him and focuses her attention back on the messenger.

"How long have you been searching for me specifically?" Kassandra asks.

"Today marks two weeks," he answers, "I got stalled on Megaris so I lost a couple days."

"We will escort you as far back as Andros as I have to attend to so I will give you an answer by the time we reach the shore" Kassandra states as she summons Barnabas to follow her to her chamber.

Kassandra throws herself on her bed while Barnabas decides to sit on her clothing chest.

"The letter that bad?" He asks, not wanting to pry.

"No, it's not, but it has the potential to be" she sighs as she hands him the letter.

Barnabas reads it all and brings his hand down over his beard.

"You're not going to pass on this are you?" He questions as Kassandra sits up to look at him.

"I don't know" she answers honestly.

"I know you and Kyra ended things on a sour note, but it sounds serious Kassandra" he responds after having read the message a second time. "Especially if Praxos is writing you as I'm fairly certain he hates you."

"Don't remind me" she retorts as she leans forward to rest her head in her hands.

"Think of it like this," Barnabas begins, "this will probably be the easiest drachmae you've ever made. He only wants your opinion so, in the end, you can say what you want and you will still get paid."

"I suppose you're right," Kassandra concedes, "it would be stupid of me to pass on money like this."

"It also isn't far out of the way and you could probably see what you can find out about the cult as you know you've heard talks of someone on Delos" Barnabas reminds her.

"I will agree to this, but you need to keep the crew ready to leave whenever I am ready" Kassandra requests.

"But of course!" Barnabas assures.

"I still need go to Andros first as I cannot let the cult escape, but that should take only a day or two" Kassandra says and Barnabas agrees.

"I agree, this business on Andros is more important so we can tell the messenger our arrival will be in three days from when we dock to allow them time to relay the message and," Barnabas pauses as he looks directly at Kassandra, "hopefully, prepare Kyra for your arrival."

"I did the right thing Barnabas" Kassandra defends, even if she doesn't believe it herself.

"Kassandra, you know I love you as if you were my own daughter," he smiles and reaches his hand out to pat her leg, "which is why I am going to tell you something."

She's never been lectured by Barnabas before and he seems serious enough that she's just going to remain quiet and listen to what he has to say.

"I believe you did what you thought would be easier for yourself, not necessarily the right thing for either of you" he shares and Kassandra finds it hard to keep quiet, but she manages.

"I believe you think you are a bad person deep down, but if you paid attention to what you do, you will see you are wrong" Barnabas says as he gets up from his chair to sit next to her on the bed.

"You are not the most upstanding citizen and you do some terrible things" he says with a pause so Kassandra decides to chime in.

"Wow, not pulling any punches are we?" Kassandra tries to joke, but his face remains neutral.

"What I was trying to say before I got interrupted," he looks at her and she ducks her chin as if she'd just been caught stealing sweets before supper, "was all of what I said before, but with the additional comment of the fact that it does not define you. We all make choices in life and yours may not always be the best, but they come from the right place. You are not malicious and you try to pretend you don't, but I know that you actually care about people."

"You care for them and it scares you and I believe you push them away before they have the chance to hurt you," he continues, "before they get to close." "Your past does not have to define you Kassandra, don't be afraid to let people in because it could hurt you. It is a long life to live alone."

"Maybe so, but I did what I did and I cannot undo the damage I caused her" Kassandra admits. "I haven't even told her about Thaletas yet."

"I'm not sure you should just yet as it would be too much on her plate to deal with. You need to live with that for a while longer before you tell her the truth" Barnabas suggests.

"You're right," Kassandra agrees, "and that's a secret that should stay buried. It would cause too much friction between us and it won't change the fact that he's still dead and has been for almost a year."

"I will go and tell the messenger your decision" Barnabas offers as he can see how exhausted Kassandra looks, "why don't you get some rest? I will handle everything tonight."

Kassandra smiles at his kind gesture, "thank you Barnabas, for everything."

"Of course, it is what I am here for" he says sweetly as he heads for the door.

Kassandra flops backwards and closes her eyes in an attempt to make sense of everything she's feeling right now.

As much as she tried to kid herself, she missed Kyra immensely. There was something about her that Kassandra couldn't shake off and she found herself thinking of Kyra constantly. She thought distance would help her, but it only made it worse. She would spend her nights alone and sulking or in the beds of random women she'd find to dull the ache. It would work for a little while, but the end result was always the same. Kassandra couldn't forget Kyra and just has adjourned the idea that she would ever know peace again.

Her thoughts heavy, but her exhaustion was overpowering and soon she fell into a deep slumber with the hope of seeing Kyra again in her dreams.

Kyra had spent the past couple weeks researching both sides, but she was growing frustrated at what she was finding. Her sources weren't all credible and most of what she inquired about was blatantly one sided and they didn't even try to hide it. She needed facts, statistics, something concrete.

Mykonos would become the battlefield soon enough, it was inevitable. War was not avoidable, especially when you were only collateral damage. Her islands at least had the advantage of her quarry full of valuable and usable materials. She knew both sides were only playing nice as the first one's to make a move would lose her support and she would ally with the opposing side.

Podarkes had worked with the Athenians and that wasn't inherently bad, it was just him and his corruption that caused the rift. On the other hand, Spartans were not to be taken lightly and they were an incredibly resourceful group of people. Athens had the land mass advantage, but Sparta had a history of being the underdog and everyone who underestimated them paid for it dearly.

Kyra yells out in frustration and, in one swift motion, brushes a handful of papers off her desk, scattering across the floor.

When she sees the mess, she gets angrier, but she can only blame herself for her recklessness and ill temper. It also doesn't help that she's been thinking of Kassandra almost nonstop since Praxos threw out her name. They left on rocky terms, both pretending they were better than they were. Kyra wasn't a fool and she knew Kassandra better than that. She hadn't so much as glanced at another woman up until that night so something must've happened for her to get spooked.

It didn't matter now as what was done, was done, but she know she could never ask for her help for more than just her pride. Surely there were other options she just hadn't thought of yet.

Kyra decides to retreat to her room and takes a seat on her balcony. She looks over the vast row of trees beyond her and she's able to see a few Ibex walking slowly. This takes her back to her contest with Kassandra and she finds herself daydreaming of their better times.

She looks to her left towards the city when she is struck with an idea. It was a long shot, but she was willing to try almost anything for guidance. She would head to the temple of Artemis and pray for a sign. The worst thing that could happen was that the gods ignored her and the best case scenario is that they gift her with a direction to follow. She hoped they felt merciful.

Kassandra and the crew had made it to Andros and she had sent the messenger away with a letter of her own, confirming her presence in a day or two. It would take him about a day at least a day get back to the island so she wouldn't be far behind him. Better to make the expectation as spot on as possible as an under exaggeration would cause them to believe her as not coming and an over exaggeration would cause them to be underprepared for her arrival.

She's not sure who she's going to walk into so it would be expected that she stay within the main chambers for ease of discussion. She would not have the luxury of Kyra's bed anymore so she would most likely be placed in one of the spare rooms on the upstairs floor. So much formality for what should be a brief stay, but Mykonos has habit of making her "quick trips" into something longer.

Barnabas' earlier suggestion of scoping out Delos wasn't a bad suggestion either. She wasn't sure if it had merit or not, but she'd rather just take a precursory look around to confirm it or not. Perhaps she would stop at Delos first as her arrival would be unexpected and she could catch them off guard if there was anyone. Word would travel fast no matter where she landed so she would make another slight detour first before stopping on Mykonos.

Her target on Andros was a bit more difficult than she imagined and she had a nice new gash across her stomach as a memento. It would leave a scar for sure and was fairly deep. She healed fast, but not fast enough for this not to be noticeable to everyone. This was the price she would pay to not have a full plate of armor anymore. She felt them too restrictive and she wasn't able to move as effectively as she should when she has to wear them. She preferred functionality and it was a wonder she didn't make the switch sooner. Kassandra also wasn't afraid of a little danger so having less protection just encouraged her to fight smarter and more strategic.

Barnabas looks at her the same every time she comes back injured, but he says nothing to her as she makes her way into her room so she can patch herself up some. She still needed to go to Delos so she couldn't wait for the morning to find a healer for a better job. She really needed to practice more considering how many times this happens to her. At least she can handle the basics.

They set sail under the guise of the night and arrive on Delos before the sun rose.

Kassandra had them keep some distance from the shore as to not alert anyone of her presence. It was best to be over cautious when it had to do with the cult. They were everywhere and they were ordinary people at the end of the day. They can be the homeless man on the street, the baker, the blacksmith, etc. Nobody was off limits as the cult could lure anyone with the offerings of money and power and that was too much for most people to resist. They spewed their poison and the desperate were fool enough to believe them, causing their messages to spread.

They disgust her, repugnant human beings preying on the innocents. They stole her family from her so they could not ever have redemption in her eyes and she wouldn't allow them the chance. Her only exception would be for her brother, Alexios, as he knows no better than the life they provided him. He was robbed of his life, of her and their family, and she would never stop trying to reach him. This was the biggest reason she kept pursuing the cult as they still had Alexios in their claws and she would go to the ends of the earth to get him back.

This renewed her fervor and she trudged along the shore as she wrung out her clothing as she insisted on swimming to the shore. Not the brightest idea as it got chilly in the evenings and being wet would only make her sick, but she'd be inside soon enough. She had ordered the Adrestia to the opposite side of the island to save on time as she could make faster time on foot in a straight line than the Adrestia circling half of the island and she was determined to get to Mykonos before it got dark.

Kassandra kept to the outskirts until she arrived at the tavern. If anyone were to have loose lips, it would be the man who greased the wheel so the bartender was always her first stop in every time.

She enters the tavern to find it mostly empty as most men are either passed out on the floor or already back home. This would be the ideal time to have a private conversation. She can see the man cleaning up and trying to drag the passed out bodies outside. Kassandra hustles up to him and to offer her help.

The bartender looks up at her and he recognizes her immediately and she knows it. She places finger to her mouth to signify that he needed to be quiet and he shut his mouth.

"Let me help you with these" she offers as she lifts up the dead weight of the man in front of him and carries him outside, beyond the door, before setting him down by the bushes.

"Thank you, that was mighty kind as my back isn't what it used to be when I was your age" he jokes and offers his hand to her.

"Names Kepheus" he introduces as he grabs her hand in a sturdy handshake.

"Kassandra" she offers in response as they go back inside the tavern to the bar area.

"Pick your poison, it's on me" Kepheus offers as Kassandra dismisses his offer.

"Thank you Kepheus, but there is actually something else I was hoping to speak with you about" she says as she lifts up a small pouch of drachmae and takes one out to place on the counter.

Kepheus looks around the tavern before he leans forward and drops his voice as he collects the coin. "I am all ears" he confirms as he pockets it.

"Rumor has it there is at least one member of the cult who's been spotted here on Delos" she eyes him carefully as she places a few more coins on the counter. "You wouldn't happen to know anything about this, would you?"

Kassandra saw his eyes widen when she mentioned the cult so this means he knows something, but it's a matter of what and how much.

"I am not sure I have what you're looking for here" he responds, wiping a glass down to occupy his hands.

"Oh, but I really think you do" she encourages as she drops what's left in the bag on the table and places her hand over it to show he needed to give her information first.

This was more drachmae than he would probably see in a month so if this didn't make him talk, not much else would.

"I haven't seen him personally, but someone important has been making trips to Delos once every other week from yesterday on the dot" Kepheus whispers as Kassandra slides the coins his direction as that was more than she expected to get from him.

"What have you heard?" Kassandra inquires, but she can see Kepheus deflate a little.

"Not much, honestly, as the only reason I know anything is because I was at the right place at the right time" Kepheus explains as he pours himself a drink.

"I was going to collect my shipment when I saw these two men with their faces covered whispering. I thought it looked suspicious so I snuck closer and hear them talking about someone, I think the name was Daimos, maybe Didmos" he tries to guess, but Kassandra cuts him off immediately.

"Deimos" she says and he confirms it.

"That's it, know of him?" Kepheus questions, but Kassandra dismisses it.

"Just a name I've heard before" she sidesteps as she is not telling him any unnecessary details. "What did they say about him?"

"Just that he was planning something big and that they needed to prepare. They walked away and I couldn't move any closer without being spotted and I didn't want to get involved" he admits.

"That's ok, you made the right call Kepheus. These are dangerous people" she reassures as she cannot fault him for leaving.

"Do you know what is going on in Delos then?" Kassandra inquires.

"No I don't, but I don't think it happens here" he answers.

"What do you mean?" Kassandra asks, probing for more information.

"I mean I think they just arrive on Delos, but go to Mykonos for what is actually happening. There's an island off the southern coast that's pretty far away from shore. I believe that's where they go, but I'm not sure why" Kepheus confesses.

"This was all incredibly helpful to me Kepheus, you saved me a lot of time and effort here" Kassandra thanks as she stands up to make her way across the island.

"One last question, when was the last time you saw these men?" Kassandra questions as she needs to know how much time she has to prepare.

"Well, they were here yesterday as I heard some fishermen complaining about some rude strangers with hoods so a day shy of two weeks I'd say they'll be back" Kepheus answers and Kassandra takes out a few more coins and tosses it to him.

"I'll be back in a week to touch base, keep your ears to the ground for me" Kassandra requests as this is, by far, the best lead she's had on her brother's whereabouts in a long time. She beings her run to the opposite side of the island and she's grateful for the exercise, it clears her mind to think.

Looks like Delos wasn't a bust after all, but this would mean she'd have to stay longer than she planned on. It's like she jinxed herself earlier, but she could always choose to stay on Delos instead, but she's not sure what (if anything) they have for rooms and she really didn't want to have to empty her purse more than she already did. Staying outside was an option as well, but there were bugs and critters she'd rather not have crawling on her.

Seems like she'd have to ask a favor of Kyra in the hopes that she feels hospitable as the small island is technically closer to where she'd stay on Mykonos than where she'd be on Delos. She could probably exchange her advice for lodging and just keep the drachmae Praxos has already given her.

She can see the Adrestia in the distance so she heads further north to meet up with it. She is eager to share what she knows with Barnabas, but also anxious about seeing Kyra again for the first time in almost a year.

Surely they could both be adults about this after all this time had passed.

Chapter Text

Kassandra stands in front of Kyra's home and takes it all in. It's clear that they've made some renovations, but it looks nice. The whole place feels more put together than when she left it, but a lot can happen in what's basically a year. Time changes everything for good or bad and now it was time to see what time had made of Kyra.

She wanted to find Praxos first, but she wasn't sure where he was so she would maybe take another approach to get inside. Kassandra casually walks up to the kitchen door and gives it a knock. She can tell someone is nearby by the sound of the footsteps walking to the door.

It swings open and Sotiria is standing in front of her, surprise written over her face.

"Kassandra?! Oh my gods!" Sotiria squeals as Kassandra tries to shush her.

"Please, keep it down, nobody knows I'm here yet" Kassandra says in a hushed voice.

Sotiria launches herself into Kassandra and gives her a big hug. Kassandra returns it gladly as, besides Kyra, she was her favorite person on this island. She was soft spoken, but could step up when it was needed. She was wonderful to talk to and Kassandra felt safe and unjudged whenever they would talk.

"I've missed you so much" Sotiria muffles into Kassandra's shoulder so that it's barely audible.

"I have missed you too, so much" Kassandra says as she pulls back and tucks her hair behind her ears.

"Do you know where Praxos is? It is important I speak to him before anyone knows I am here" Kassandra asks and she can see the happy face of Sotiria turn to worry.

"Are you in trouble? Are you ok?" Sotiria panics and, once she steps back she notices the deep red wound across her stomach.

Kassandra places her hand of Sotiria's mouth as she inhaled to keep her quiet.

"I am fine, I am not in trouble, and this is nothing but a scratch" Kassandra assures.

"That is not just a scratch you liar" Sotiria scolds as she smacks Kassandra with a dish towel she had over her shoulder. "Don't you lie to me."

"I promise I will tell you about all of this later, but right now I really need to speak with Praxos" Kassandra urges and Sotiria finally relents.

"He is in the armory" Sotiria points towards the wing it is located in and Kassandra gives her a nod and heads that direction.

Kassandra can see him working on something so she doesn't bother knocking and just walks in. She's about to speak, but she sees Kyra directly in front of her as Praxos looks up. Thankfully, Kyra's back is to her and as his eyes go wide, Kyra looks up to see a shocked look on his face and she turns to see what he's staring at.

By the time she turns around, she sees nothing there so she looks back to him in concern.

"Praxos, are you alright?" Kyra asks in genuine concern.

"I think I am going to take a quick break to cool myself off. I will be right back" he answers, walking the direction he saw Kassandra dive towards.

"I think that's a good idea, you don't look well all of a sudden. Please take care of yourself" Kyra shouts out as she returns to polishing their swords.

Kassandra waits a minute before she peeks around the armor rack she dove behind and when she notices Kyra's back is now fully to her, she makes a hasty exit.

She's not sure where Praxos went, but she doesn't have to look for long as she feels a rock smack her in the shoulder.

"Ouch you mal...." Kassandra begins to complain and scold whoever threw it before she covers her mouth to silence herself.

She looks to the direction of the projectile and sees Praxos standing around towards the outer wall, motioning her over.

"You didn't have to throw a rock at me you know" Kassandra complains as she can see a bruise beginning to for where it hit her.

"Be lucky that's all I did" he snaps back and Kassandra can feel the tension between them. Clearly bygones were not bygones with him yet.

"Hey, you asked me here so I don't even want to hear it" Kassandra asserts as she pokes his chest to back him up

Praxos looks at her and puts his hands up in a surrender.

"Look, you're right, I am sorry I threw the rock at you" he apologizes.

Kassandra knows he doesn't mean it, but she did not travel all the way here just to get in a fistfight with Kyra's hired muscle.

"Apology accepted. Truce?" Kassandra asks as she holds out her hand.

"Truce" he agrees and they both shake on a temporary cease fire.

"I'm guessing by your reaction to me that you've not told Kyra I was here, have you?" Kassandra inquires.

"No, I haven't" he confesses. "She's been really stressed lately and I just never found the right opportunity."

"Well you'd best find one as it sounds like you're in a bit of a time crunch" Kassandra says as she leans against the wall next to him.

"I think it's best to wait until we finish in the armory so she's not around so many sharp objects that she could stab you with" Praxos says and Kassandra laughs thinking he's joking.

She laughs with vigor, but it isn't long before she looks and finds his face as neutral as ever.

"Oh...ohhhh...." Kassandra stops laughing immediately as this meant Kyra was indeed still pissed at her and this was no longer funny.

"Fuck..." Kassandra sighs as she leans her head back until it connects with the wall.

"Can't say I've never done anything for you now" he says as he stands back up and heads for the armory.

"Wait, when will I know when you've told her?" Kassandra asks as Praxos walks away.

"Trust me, you'll know" Praxos answers as he disappears from her view.

"Well that's comforting" Kassandra mutters to herself as she heads back to the kitchen to find Sotiria. Now would be as good a time as any to catch her up.

Kassandra pulls her away to a back room where she just unloads everything that has happened both a year ago to present.

"...and that's why I left and haven't come back until I got the letter" Kassandra finishes as she's pretty sure she barely took a breath. The only thing she omits is Thaletas as that's a detail she's not ready to share yet.

"First off, I knew it!" Sotiria exclaims. "I knew there was something between you two, but I didn't want to say anything."

"Secondly, you're an asshole" Sotiria says as she slaps Kassandra with the dish towel again. "That was so mean of you to do and you broke her heart."

"She didn't love me Sotiria, I didn't break her heart" Kassandra defends.

"I thought I told you not to lie to me?" Sotiria scolds. "You know damn well that woman was in love with you and that you loved her too, but you were a coward."

"We didn't love each other for the last time!" Kassandra protests. "We just had sex, that was it."

"You should tell her this because she's not been the same ever since you left and that's not something you mourn over if you "just had sex" like you claim. Who are you trying to convince? Me? Or yourself?" Sotiria asks, but Kassandra couldn't answer her.

All Sotiria's points had been valid thus far, but Kassandra surely wasn't in love with Kyra. That was ridiculous. She just enjoyed her and her company, that was a big difference from love.

"I'm not here to argue with you about this" Kassandra decides to shut down the conversation any further. "What's done is done and there's nothing I can do about it."

"You could apologize first of all for being an asshole" Sotiria mutters under her breath.

"I'm going to ignore you now if you've got nothing productive to add" Kassandra snarks as Sotiria raises up from her chair.

"Just because you don't want to hear something, doesn't make it any less true" Sotiria states as she places her hand on Kassandra's shoulder. "I need to get back to work, but I do wish you luck and hopefully she won't kill you."

"Geez, thanks for the vote of confidence" Kassandra says as she throws her hands up in exasperation. "I could totally take her for your information."

Sotiria pops her head back in the room as she needed to have the final word with this argument of theirs.

"No Kassandra, I don't think you would win as I believe deep down in your heart that you never want to hurt her again. That's why I think you'd lose" and, with that parting comment, Sotiria heads back to the kitchen.

"Yeah, yeah, go and be productive why don't you" Kassandra shoos her away as she sulks into her chair.

There wasn't anything further to look into as she just felt guilty for everything that happened to them and that's all. There was no underlying meaning and no hidden message. Kassandra wasn't deep like everyone wanted her to be and they would just have to deal with it. She held Kyra in a warm regard and viewed her favorably. This wasn't anything more than that and there was no secret romance. Everyone else was just wrong.

Kyra had almost finished up polishing everything by the time Praxos returned.

"You look a bit better, were you dehydrated?" Kyra asks as she double checks the blade to ensure its sharpness.

"Yes, much better" Praxos answered and it wasn't a lie, not yet at least. He'd maybe regret it when the two of them for in the room together.

"This was the last one so we are officially done the maintenance for the month!" Kyra exclaims as they both high five.

"I was wondering if you had a moment so I could speak with you about something" Praxos asks anxiously.

"We can talk right now, I have nothing else planned" Kyra replies.

"No!" He answers all too quickly. "I mean, no, we should probably speak about this in your office."

"Ok, my office is fine" Kyra agrees as the two begins to walk.

Once they pass by the kitchen, he whisper to Sotiria to go grab Kassandra as soon as they go to the office.

Once they are inside, Kyra takes a seat and offers one to Praxos, but he declines. She can tell he is nervous about something by the way he's carrying himself. Something has to be bothering him.

"What is wrong? You look very nervous. Are you sure you're feeling ok? Kyra inquires.

Praxos cannot take lying to Kyra anymore so he just decides to blurt it out and get it over with.

"I disobeyed a direct order" he says quickly.

"Ok, and what order was that?" Kyra prods as she's not sure what he's talking about at all. She picks up a her pen and begins to fiddle with it while Praxos gets to his point.

"That I would not reach out to the Eagle Bearer" Praxos confesses.

The snap of the pen creates an uneasy silence between the two of them. Kyra couldn't believe what she was hearing so maybe she misunderstood him for whatever reason.

"What did you just say?" Kyra orders, her tone cold and firm.

"I said I disobeyed an order to reach out to the Eagle Bearer. I sent her a letter" Praxos answers.

He is not one to be intimidated as he's the size of a tree, but he respected Kyra and he had seen her angry only once before and it was something he never wanted to repeat. Yet here he was, confessing his betrayal and he could feel her icy glare as she made him spell out exactly what he did.

"What did the letter request?" Kyra inquires, tone still cold yet neutral at the same time.

"I asked for her help with Sparta and the Athenians. You told me not to, but I did it anyway" he confesses and she sits back in her chair looking amused.

"I'm hoping you didn't your hopes up as she's not likely to being herself round here again" Kyra scoffs.

"Actually....she's here" he admits.

"She's here?" Kyra asks quizzically.

"Yes, she's right outside the door actually" he motions and Kyra had had just about enough of this charade.

"That's enough Praxos!" Kyra yells as she smacks her hand to her desk. "This is not funny in the slightest and this joke has gone on far enough."

Kassandra can overhear everything being said and she's got to go and rescue him as he is flailing.

Kassandra opens the door and moves forward. "Actually, he's not jesting, I am here and present to help with the situation you've found yourself in."

Kyra doesn't believe her eyes as Kassandra is here, standing in the flesh before her. Her mouth goes agape as she takes in the sight before her.

Kassandra looked like a new woman. Her hair remained in her trademark braid, but everything else was different. She looked stronger than before and her choice of outfit was far more revealing than anything Kyra saw her casually wear before. She rakes her eyes down Kassandra body until she pauses at the giant gash across her stomach.

"You're hurt?! Praxos, go fetch a healer immediately" Kyra orders and he goes to exit, but is stopped by Kassandra stepping in front of his way.

"This isn't anything to worry about, I'm fine" Kassandra assures them as she pokes her wound to prove a point. It still hurt, but she kept her face neutral.

Now that the shock of her presence has worn off, Kassandra can see the anger rising to the surface. Kyra's face turns hard and cold, but she remains quiet, most likely calculating her next moves. She would never be so bold to send her away as there were appearances to maintain and, to everyone's collective knowledge, they were the best of friends. They both knew that public appearances could make a difference as one never wanted to look weak or unprepared.

Kyra looks between the both of them and Kassandra can see that she is disappointed. She won't lie, it stung to be regarded like this, but she was the one who chose to walk away and how she did it. She was cruel and if she could go back and fix it she would. It was an extreme she should not have resorted to and it was selfish of her to play with Kyra as such. It was probably too late for an apology to smooth everything over.

"I am sorry Praxos had wasted your time as there is nothing here to be consulted as I am perfectly capable of making my own decisions for my people" Kyra says through gritted teeth, glaring at Praxos before turning her attention back to Kassandra.

"Of course you are welcome to stay for night for the inconvenience and I will be sure to pay you for your time" Kyra assures as she settles back into her chair.

"Now, if you both will excuse me, I have much work to be done" Kyra dismisses them both, but Kassandra did not come all the way here to be sent away so dismissively.

Kassandra allows Praxos to leave before she closes the door behind him and locking the door. Kyra pauses her writing when she hears the lock click into place, but she does not spare Kassandra another glance.

Kassandra had no idea why she didn't just take the money and leave. It would have truly been easy drachmae, but she's never been one to half-ass a job so she would not start with this one.

"Kyra, look," Kassandra says softly as she takes a seat across from her, "I'm not here to undermine you in any way so if you can look at me and tell me you'd like me to leave, I will."

Kassandra leans forward and plucks the papers from in front of Kyra and moves them to the side of her desk.

"If you look me in the eyes and tell me you never want to see me again, I will disappear from your life. Forever. You have my word" Kassandra doesn't want to offer this ultimatum, but things were never cut and dry with the two of them.

Kyra finally looks up and stares deep into Kassandra's eyes. Neither of them speak, neither wanting to back down from this silent challenge. Kassandra knew she was taking a bold risk with the proposition, but Kyra was still deeply hurt and Kassandra was hoping that was still a part of her that cared for her.

"I never want to see you again" Kyra responds, completely emotionless.

Kassandra shows a millisecond of hurt in her eyes before she reels it in to one void of any feeling. Kassandra did not expect this to fail. Kyra didn't even have to give it a thought and she answered almost as soon as the choice left her lips.

She didn't trust herself with words right now so she rose in silence, not looking back at Kyra as she knew if she did, her resolve would break. She unlocks the door and promptly makes for the exit.

Praxos catches her before she reaches the door, inquiring about the verdict.

"Did she agree to hear you out?" He asks, oblivious to her now sour mood.

"She did not so I will be on my way, if you'd excuse me" Kassandra answers as she tries to side step him, but he blocks her again.

"Surely you're not giving up that easily? I never knew you as a coward" he prods and faces the repercussions for his words immediately.

Kassandra spins around and grabs Praxos by the neck of his armor and pins him up against the wall. Praxos doesn't fight back and the two of them glare daggers at one another while everyone rushes out to see what just happened.

Praxos wasn't a fool, he had listened to the entire conversation and knew that if Kassandra walked out that door, it would be the last time anyone here would see her again. He needed to buy Kyra some time to change her mind and that meant he might take a strike or two.

"Do what you always do, run, it's all you're good at" he snarls as he forcefully pushes back on her grasp.

Kassandra gets knocked back into a bookcase, the contents spilling onto the floor and a shelf breaks at the impact.

Kassandra can hear someone yelling at her to stop, but all she sees is red. This was not the time and Praxos was pressing every button like it was deliberate. If he wanted to fight, she'd show him a fight.

Kassandra pushes off the wall and slams herself into Praxos, sending the two of them tumbling backwards into a cabinet, shattering the glass case.

Kassandra scrambles to gain footing, but winces as she can feel a piece of the glass embedded into her old wound. She feels warm blood coat her fingertips as she reaches down and if she weren't pissed before, she sure is now.

She grabs the glass and pulls it out and tosses the discarded fragment towards Praxos. He is able to dodge it, but gets hit square in the face with one of the books Kassandra knocked onto the floor right after it.

Praxos staggers back and almost trips on the blood that now litters the floor and Kassandra still stands tall as the blood seeps out of her wound and pools beneath her. She lunges back at him and the two of them get into a power grip where they try to force the others to kneel.

Kyra sits numb at her desk, replaying what just happened over and over again. The look of hurt on Kassandra's face was evident to her, even if she tried to hide it. It was nice making her feel the pain for once, but at what cost did this revenge have? She had just banished Kassandra from her life, forever. The more she thought about it, the more she regretted her decision.

Kyra leans forward on her desk and buries her face into her arms. She could both scream and cry right now and she wasn't sure which one she wanted to do first.

She needed to catch Kassandra, she needed to get her back, whatever it took.

Kyra hadn't even risen from her chair when her door slams open with a very disheveled looking Sotiria standing in the archway.

"Praxos...Kassandra...fight" Sotiria tries to get out, but she is winded from her run to fetch Kyra.

"Where?" Kyra demands as she begins to make her way to the both of them.

"Main entrance" Kyra can hear her say as she rounds the corner to the main corridor.

She arrives to find blood everywhere and Praxos and Kassandra in a battle of strength. Praxos looks like he has a dislocated nose, but Kassandra was a bloody mess. Her stomach wound got reopened somehow and she was losing blood as there was a thick puddle beneath her feet.

She needed to act and she needed to do it now.

"ENOUGH!" Kyra shouts, but both Praxos and Kassandra ignore her.

Kyra walks her way up in between them and forcefully pushes the two of them apart. Praxos only moved back about a step, but Kassandra in her weakened state, almost fell backwards.

Kyra spins to face Praxos, rage at the audacity of this stupid fight.

"Leave. Now. Do not let me see you again tonight" Kyra orders as she points to the door.

Praxos doesn't say anything further and puts up no fight as he exits to go take a walk and get himself cleaned up.

Kyra then turns to Kassandra who looked worse for wear and gives her a similar order, but more gently than their last conversation.

"My office. Now. We need to stop the bleeding" Kyra commands, but unlike Praxos, she makes no move to go.

"I will be fine, I have had worse" Kassandra responds as she slowly walks towards the door, blood still coming from her abdomen.

"This was not a negotiation" Kyra snaps back. "Either you walk there or I will drag you there. Don't be stupid."

Kassandra wants to argue, but it was clear the glass went deeper than she imagined as she was still loosing blood pretty steadily and would probably not be able to walk to the Adrestia before passing out.

Kassandra just nods, not wishing to exert the extra energy to speak and takes a few steps forward before she feels her legs buckle underneath her. She closed her eyes for the impact of dropping to the floor, but instead, she can feel herself being held up.

Kyra had been quick enough to catch her to prevent further injury so she summons Sotiria to help her with the weight as the two bring her into her office as Kassandra needs to be set on a level surface.

Kyra leans her against the doorframe, Sotiria still supporting her, as she wipes all the papers and objects from her desk. She quickly grabs Kassandra as the two gentle lower her down.

"Fetch me as many cloths as you can find and bring me water, wine, and the sewing materials as I will need to re-stitch her. Hurry" Kyra orders as Sotiria goes to fetch all the requested items.

Kyra wants to say so many things to the woman before her, but she finds herself at a loss for words. It shouldn't matter what happened to Kassandra as she had made her intentions very clear, but Kyra couldn't find it within herself to ignore her, especially now.

Kassandra's eyes start to flutter shut so Kyra reaches for her and slaps her face slightly to get her attention.

"Don't you dare go to sleep on me Kassandra. Do you hear me?" Kyra frantically says as she tries to keep Kassandra conscious.

"Wouldn't dream of it" Kassandra mumbles out and it is clear she won't be conscious much longer.

"I need you to stay awake for me please, I beg of you" Kyra pleads as she takes a seat to level herself with Kassandra.

Kassandra shakily lifts her bloody hand up to touch Kyra's cheek and Kyra grabs her hand and squeezes it tightly.

An understanding passes wordlessly between them as Sotiria finally arrives with both help and the materials.

Kassandra can feel herself losing her grip as her eyelids get heavier with each blink. She can feel pain and discomfort in her stomach and she can feel hands over her stomach, but not much else as her world fades to black.

She awakens several hours later, not remembering much of what happened. Last she knew is that she was in Kyra's office, but it seems now that she's in a bed somewhere.

Kassandra pulls back the covers to see her wound patched up and bandaged. It looks as if it needs to be changed though so Kassandra gets up and locates some leftover materials to change it out.

Kassandra never worried too much about injuries as she had the ability to recover faster than the average person. She wasn't sure why, but she was grateful for it. She still scarred, but the lingering effects were minimal and what remained was purely cosmetic.

Her clothes were stained, but it didn't bother her as, if anything, it would just intimidate them a step further knowing that she was walking around in blood. Sometimes fear worked just as well as threats.

Re-bandaged and redressed, Kassandra slowly walks her way out of the room to find herself still in Kyra's place as she's in one of the spare rooms. She gingerly made her way down the stairs as to not attract attention, but one of the staff spots her and immediately rushes towards Kyra's office. Great. Now she was going to get a lecture.

Kassandra was almost down the steps when Kyra emerges, blocking the bottom of the staircase, hands on her hips.

"What are you doing?" Kyra inquires, her head tilted to the side.

"Leaving" Kassandra answers as she keeps working her way downwards.

"You are in no condition to leave. You should be resting" Kyra says, her voice soft, a direct contrast to their last conversation.

Kassandra doesn't say anything, but once she gets to the final step she can tell Kyra wasn't planning on moving.

Kassandra rolls her eyes at the childishness and pushes past Kyra. Kassandra knew she'd be fine in another couple hours and she just didn't want to be here anymore. She remembered Kyra's words and the only reason she wasn't already gone was Praxos and his stupid mouth. She had no reason to stay and definitely would not stay out of pity.

"Kassandra..." Kyra begins to speak, but Kassandra does not slow and keeps walking to the door.

Kassandra grabs the door, but as she pulls it open, Kyra's hand pushes it closed and keeps her hand pressed against it as she leans in to whisper in Kassandra's ear.

"Please don't go" Kyra says so quietly that Kassandra's not sure she heard her correctly. "I cannot speak now, but we can talk later tonight."

Kassandra finally looks her direction to see a few men gathered at the doorway from her office. It seems Kassandra was causing a bit of a scene while Kyra was trying to work. As much as she wanted to walk out, she would not want to embarrass Kyra in front of esteemed guests and the longer they stood there, the more questions they would have.

Kassandra relents and let's go of the door and turns wordlessly towards the kitchen for some food as if she were going to have to wait here, she wasn't about to do it on an empty stomach.

Sotiria follows suit as she can see the silent request in Kyra's eyes. She knows Kassandra, they both do, so there was still a chance she would take off before Kyra could see her and maybe if she had someone with her, she'd be less likely to run.

"You don't have to follow me, I do not need a babysitter" Kassandra scoffs as she takes a loaf of bread from the counter and takes a bite.

"I'm not here for that, well, not completely here for that" Sotiria replies, not wanting to lie. "It just looked like you could use someone to talk to."

"Talking got me into this mess so not talking seems like the better solution" Kassandra responds dismissively.

"Well indulge me please," Sotiria asks as she walks to be closer to Kassandra, "what in the world happened?"

"Words were said, punches were thrown, it happens" Kassandra answers as if it were a casual scenario.

"It most certainly doesn't just happen like that. Besides, why are in such a rush to leave anyway?" Sotiria continues to pry and Kassandra knows she means well, but she is only getting irritated.

"Does it matter?" Kassandra snaps, causing Sotiria to back up a few steps out.

"I guess it doesn't," Sotiria answers dejectedly, "I'll leave you be."

Kassandra knows she should apologize, but she's tired and just doesn't frankly care at the moment. She should have just walked away and taken the drachmae and gone. To be rid of Kyra, of Mykonos, and everything else here for good. She never should have come back.

Kassandra wants to scream in frustration, but instead settles on forcibly kicking some of the animal feed to let out some steam. She needed to release her anger and getting into another fight probably wouldn't fare well at this point. She still wasn't herself and she would not be so reckless to put herself into a losing battle and she didn't want to cause a scene. As much as she wanted to rebel, she still had the decency to do so in private for Kyra's sake.

Kassandra wouldn't just sit and wait for Kyra and be at her beck and call though, she was not one to be ordered around so she makes for the armory to distract herself. Nobody even tried to stop her and none wanted to look in her direction in fear of her releasing her ire on them. Kassandra would not be so brazen, but she appreciated the space it allowed her.

Kassandra doesn't need use of any of the weapons as she always carried her spear so she decided to pass the time sparring one of the training dummies. Rest was for the weak and Kassandra was anything but.

To say Kyra remained distracted would be an understatement after her confrontation with Kassandra on the stairs. She was negotiating trade with Naxos and her attention should be towards that, but she could not help but to think of Kassandra. What a mess this had all turned into and she can't blame Kassandra for being cold when it was Kyra who told her to leave and never return. Even though Kyra regretted it, the words were already said.

She's able to hear a few keywords and is able to wrap up her negotiations rather quickly as she was not in a mood to play any games so she hit with her direct offer and, after some consideration, was accepted. Kyra would hazard a guess that their negotiations only lasted an hour, maybe two max, so she would make haste in trying to find Kassandra before she ran off.

Kyra checks with Sotiria who admits to storming away from Kassandra after an argument, so Kassandra's whereabouts were unknown. Kyra checked the rooms, all empty, and Kyra could feel the dread rising within her. If Kassandra stepped foot off this island now, she would never come back and Kyra couldn't bear the thought.

Kassandra stayed holed up in the armory, tiring from the continued combat so she, instead, went to polishing and sharpening her spear. It was already incredible sharp as she took meticulous care of her things, but the motions helped to calm her so she continued.

Kassandra could hear footsteps behind her, but she had a few guesses to who they could be, none of whom she wished to see so she kept her back to them.

The footsteps grew closer, but not close enough to invade her personal space. She could see a figure out of the corner of her eye, but she refuses to give the satisfaction of acknowledgment.

"I am surprised you're still here" Kassandra hears and recognizes the voice immediately as Kyra.

Kassandra does not respond or pause her ministrations, instead she just presses harder onto her spear and continues to polish.

"I had thought you had left once I couldn't find you in the house" Kyra confesses. "I am glad I was wrong."

Kassandra knows Kyra is pausing, waiting for a response from her, but she's not sure she could say anything without a venomous bite.

"Would you please say something?" Kyra asks and Kassandra fights the urge to roll her eyes as, of course she wasn't just going to say her piece and go.

"Say what?" Kassandra responds, still avoiding eye contact.

"What happened Kassandra? Why did the two of you fight? What did you do?" Kyra inquires.

Kassandra pauses for the first time as she reels at the accusation.

"What did I do?" Kassandra repeats the question aloud in astonishment.

"Why do you automatically assume I am the one that caused this?" Kassandra takes an offensive tone and stance, discarding her attempts to remain calm. "Do you really think I would have done this?"

"I don't know what to think Kassandra, that's why I want us to talk about it" Kyra defends as she steps a bit closer to Kassandra.

"No. It is clear you see me as the instigator of this so why on earth would I waste my breath defending myself against a stacked deck?" Kassandra voice raises in anger and she begins to pace.

"Be rational Kassandra, you know it isn't a farfetched a concept to think" Kyra mentions, but Kassandra is already over their conversation.

"Did you come over here just to insult me or did you actually have something to say?" Kassandra angrily demands.

"I don't mean or wish to insult you and I am sorry if that was how it came off" Kyra apologizes, but Kassandra isn't pleased.

Both Kassandra and Kyra can feel the eyes on them as they're having this argument in a very public space so Kyra pleads with her, much softer, to move this to her office. Kassandra gestures for her to lead the way and the two of them walk in a tense silence.

Kyra locks the door and offers Kassandra a seat, but Kassandra opts to lean near the window to keep distance between them.

Kassandra finally looks at Kyra and can see the stress taking refuge. Kyra looks tired and worn out. Kassandra wonders if this is a constant or if it because of her.

"Kyra, why am I still here?" Kassandra asks, much more calmly now that she's in a confined area.

"I wanted to stop you right after I told you to leave and not come back. I didn't mean it" Kyra confesses. "I thought I did, but the moment the words left my mouth I regretted it, but you had already walked out and I thought I was too late. Then the fight with Praxos happened and I knew if you'd have gone out that door that I would never have seen you again and that's not what I want."

Kassandra can see that Kyra is telling her the truth as it looks like she is about to cry. Kassandra softens upon seeing Kyra so upset. She still is angry about everything, but she wasn't as angry as she was. She doesn't want to talk about her feelings so, to keep the conversation going, she changes topics.

"Who were you leaning towards?" Kassandra asks. "Athenians or Spartans?"

"Honestly neither, but I know I can't keep choosing that" Kyra answers, fine with the change of topic.

"Would you like my opinion on the matter or not?" Kassandra asks, the anger in her tone all but gone. "I know you are perfectly capable of making this decision on your own so if you do not wish my input, I won't force it."

Kyra is surprised at the sudden civility as not even thirty seconds before they were practically screaming at each other. Even now, Kassandra still will not force herself or her insight in respect to her and she's taken back by just how considerate a gesture it was.

Was she still too proud to ask? No, not anymore.

"If you have the time, I would actually like your input on this as you have the experience and knowledge of both sides. Would you be opposed to staying tonight so that we may discuss this tomorrow as it is quite late to get into this tonight? I understand if that wouldn't suit you however" Kyra states as she does not want to get her hopes up.

Kassandra knows she's being offered an out as Kyra probably feels a bit guiltier from earlier, but Kassandra didn't wait around all day to leave now.

"You should also summon Praxos, he should be here for this discussion" Kassandra explains and can see the uncertainty lingering in Kyra's eyes.

"Are you sure? Would you be comfortable around him? I don't want you to feel uneasy" Kyra explains as she doesn't want to make Kassandra any more uncomfortable than she already is.

"I insist as he is an integral part of your strategy. I will, however, pass on a warning," Kassandra says as she walks up to Kyra, squatting down to be at her level, "if he pulls any stunt like this again, I will kill him."

"I will relay the message and I will personally give you my word that he will not lift a hand towards you or I will deal with him myself" Kyra promises.

Kassandra gives a nod and stands back up to take her leave, pausing before she walks out to look at Kyra and give her a small smile.

Kyra returns it immediately and Kassandra walks out feeling better than she has all day. She still didn't want to hang around any of them, but it was at least progress. She still had almost two weeks until the men would return so she might as well make the best of a bad scenario.

Chapter Text

The reconvene happens mid day as Kyra had a previous engagement she forgot about, but it allows Kassandra time to rest as she over exerted herself yesterday during her fit of rage. She was exhausted and settled for dozing on and off for a few hours instead of getting up and being g productive.

Kassandra hears a soft knock on her door, prompting her to sit up.

"Come in" she says as Sotiria opens the door with a tray of food.

"Thought you may want something to eat before your discussions a little later" Sotiria offers the tray and makes to leave.

Kassandra needs to apologize to her for her behavior as she didn't deserve to be snapped at.

"Wait, please, come take a seat" Kassandra says as she pats the empty space beside her.

She can see Sotiria hesitate, but she relents and takes the seat.

Kassandra rips some of the bread off and hands it to her as a peace offering. Sotiria gladly accepted it so Kassandra decided to keep up the good will by doing what she should have done yesterday.

"Sotiria, I owe you an apology. I acted like a complete malaka yesterday and you did not deserve it. Please forgive me" Kassandra asks, her hand placed on Sotiria's knee with a small squeeze.

"Of course I forgive you, even though you were a complete ass" Sotiria jokes as she accepts the apology. "I shouldn't have pressed so hard either and for that, I am sorry too."

"Please, you have nothing to apologize for" Kassandra brushes it off as Sotiria was not in the wrong at all. "It was all on me and I let my bad mood impact how I spoke to you when you were just trying to be a friend."

"Well, I suppose I can forgive you, but only if I can have another bite as I am starved" Sotiria laughs and Kassandra does too.

She happily shares her food as the two of them idly chat about nothing in particular. Sotiria was a gentle soul and was easy to talk to when all was said and done. A sweet girl, although a bit naive, but she was pure spirit and Kassandra loved that about her.

At least now that's one fire put out, now if only it were that easy with Kyra. She's going to go into this discussion with an open mind as she knows how important this decision will be as the tides of war stop for nobody. Kassandra had done a lot of thinking about it last night and she's confident on what side Kyra should take as, if she doesn't, Mykonos will not bode well and it could be a second rebellion in the making.

The two women make their way downstairs soon after they finish eating and Kyra steps out of her office to catch her.

"I am ready for you now if you have the time" Kyra says and Kassandra nods to her and hands the tray back to Sotiria.

"Thank you for the breakfast and the company, you always brighten my day" Kassandra says genuinely, causing Sotiria to blush.

Kyra watches as this banter goes on and can feel her heart clench. Was there something between the two of them? Kassandra was boldly flirting it appeared and Sotiria seemed very receptive of it. Jealousy washed over Kyra and she could feel her good mood begin to sour. Of course Kassandra would do this in Kyra's own home. She's done it once before so why wouldn't she do it again?

Kyra regains her focus as Kassandra brushes past her and whatever emotional battle her heart wanted to fight, now was not the time.

Kyra takes her seat while Kassandra and Praxos stand at opposite areas of the room. They appear to be in the middle of a stare down so she decides to cut in to get this macho display over with.

"Both of you, enough, please, for gods sake. We're all on the same side here" Kyra reprimands them both and they immediately cast their heads down.

"I am sorry Kyra, you are right" Praxos admits. "Apologies Eagle Bearer for this display and for yesterday, I went too far."

Kassandra doesn't say anything back, but she gives a nod which is better than nothing.

"Good, good, now please sit, both of you, as you're stressing me out with your incessant pacing" Kyra implores and they both move to sit in front of her.

"Better, thank you. Now, Kassandra, what advice do you have for me?" Kyra inquires as she sits back to take everything in.

"Here's what I think...." Kassandra speaks and begins to go in depth, heavily outlining her suggestion and supporting her decision with research and first hand proof.

Kassandra wanted to be thorough in presenting her opinion and she knew Kyra would want facts over educated guesses. She was meticulous with her choice as she knew there was much riding on this for everyone at the table.

"....and that's why I think Sparta will be your best option" Kassandra concludes, waiting to hear any rebuttals or questions.

"I see" Kyra answers as she ponders over everything Kassandra had told her, placing her hands in front of her mouth with her thumbs resting under her chin. "You bring very solid arguments to the table and I think it would be a disservice to you and my islands if I were to not take it into consideration."

"Praxos, any disagreements?" Kyra asks as she turns to him.

"No, none" he responds.

"It is settled then" Kyra gently slaps her hand onto her desk. "Praxos, please send word to Darieos about my decision so we may finalize our pending agreement."

"Just like that?" Kassandra questions.

"Just like that" Kyra confirms with a smirk. "I trust you."

Praxos exits the room, but Kassandra makes no move to leave. She needed to speak with Kyra about staying for a little longer.

"Are you still free for another few minutes? There is something I'd like to run by you" Kassandra asks.

"I have the rest of my day cleared actually as I was not sure how long this was going to take so I canceled everything else I had. Do you wish you speak in here or would you be interested in going for a walk?" Kyra questions as she leans back on her chair.

"A walk? To where?" Kassandra inquires, but Kyra just smiles.

"Anywhere but here, I could use the fresh air" Kyra answers and Kassandra could also go for a walk, it doesn't sound like a bad idea.

"Sure, we can walk and talk" Kassandra agrees and the two of them make their way towards town.

They walk the first portion in silence, just enjoying the fresh air and Kassandra can't help but think how beautiful Kyra looks in the sunlight. She should absolutely not be thinking this and she turns her head away from Kyra sharply enough to almost make her dizzy.

"What was it you wanted to speak to me about?" Kyra inquires as the two of them enjoy their leisurely stroll.

"I have news on the cult's whereabouts and information about my brother" Kassandra begins as she trusts Kyra with the truths of this story.

"I landed on Delos first, before I came here, as I had heard rumors of a cult presence and I was right according to a reliable source" Kassandra starts, but she pauses as she hears Kyra gasp.

"The cult is on my island? I had no idea, I am a failure to my people..." Kyra responds dejectedly as she was supposed to know everything that was going on so missing something this large was a huge oversight.

"You cannot blame yourself Kyra, you're only one person and, besides, this individual or individuals are incredibly illusive. They hide for a living, like snakes in the grass, you have done the best job possible" Kassandra tries to calm and reassure Kyra as she knows she unintentionally upset her and wants to make it right.

"You say that, but you know nothing of me or what I do Kassandra!" Kyra stops dead in her tracks as she turns towards Kassandra. "You left before any of this happened and the only reason you're back is because my own people find me so woefully incompetent that they seek your help instead of trusting mine."

Kassandra stands stunned at Kyra's confession about this. They've never really had any emotional conversations as it was just better left physical, but she can see how heavily this all weighs on Kyra. She wonders if Kyra will resent her for this unwanted intrusion as Kyra really didn't want her here. Kassandra wasn't a motivational speaker of any means, but she knew she needed to say something or else Kyra would believe her silence as compliance and an agreement.

"I don't believe that for a second and neither should you" Kassandra responds, placing a gentle hand on Kyra's shoulder. "Your people would follow you blindly to the end of this world and into the next. I have seen it firsthand how much they respect you."

Kyra places her hand on top of Kassandra's and gives it a gentle squeeze. Kyra can feel herself getting lost in Kassandra's touch as she always had a way of unnerving her whenever she touched her.

Kassandra made no move to pull away and the two of them stood in the middle of the path, remaining grounded in the moment. She can feel the warmth of Kyra's hand and it feels like she's holding her own hand over an open flame. The more she keeps the contact, the worse she will get burned.

How she had missed Kyra's closeness, even if she'd never admit it. They might not have ended on the right foot, but it was clear that whatever spark Kassandra tried to bury was returning with reinforcements. Her heart hammered in her chest as Kyra took a step closer and allowed herself to be openly vulnerable and rested her head on Kassandra's shoulder.

Kassandra couldn't have moved if she wanted to. The touch of Kyra was so overwhelming that it short circuited any cognitive function she had. The smell of Kyra's hair was something she always found soothing, even after all this time. It was as if the world stood still for them and nothing else mattered. How she longed to be with Kyra again, to indulge, but it would only end in heartbreak as Kassandra was not one to settle down and she made it very clear to Kyra the last time they were together.

Kyra wasn't sure what possessed her to lean into Kassandra, but she just knew she needed her close. Kyra was expecting Kassandra to push her off, but as the seconds ticked by, Kassandra made no move to escape her touch. Kyra knew better than to think of Kassandra as romantically affectionate, but it provided her with a sense of comfort.

Kassandra brings up her free hand and beings to gently stroke Kyra's hair, calming her immediately and pulls her into a tight embrace.

Kassandra had missed Kyra and being so close to her, feeling her against her own body, ignited feelings she swallowed down almost a year ago. She would be playing with fire if she went down this path, but Kyra was addiction, one she never truly wanted to be cured from. If she played her cards right, maybe Kyra could be hers once again. Even something in a temporary nature would be better than nothing as not touching Kyra until now was a form of torture.

Kyra finally pulls back and looks deeply into Kassandra's eyes and that was all it took for Kassandra's resolve to shatter. Kassandra holds tight to Kyra's hand and pulls her close so they are chest to chest, their lips slightly parted as they feel the weight of their proximity. Kassandra leans in to kiss her, but it was if the fates had another idea.

They both get startled apart as the sound of a heavy object drops in the distance. Kassandra takes a few steps back, realizing she was about to ravage this woman in a very public and open area. She rubs her hand over the back of her neck in embarrassment and Kyra clears her throat a few times as she also retreats away from the contact.

"Well, um, yes...well..." Kassandra incoherently tries to speak to fill the void, but fails miserably.

"What was it you wanted to discuss? You'd mentioned the cult and your brother" Kyra asks as she successfully reverts them to the original purpose of the walk.

"Right, that, yes," Kassandra stumbles as she's trying to form full sentences, still reeling from their almost kiss that happened moments ago. "I got information from an inside source who says that this group or man arrives every other week in Delos and then sails to the small island off of Mykonos to not draw attention. I need to find out what is going on so I was hoping you wouldn't be opposed to me staying for another two weeks as I just missed them and just wait for their next trip."

"You're staying?" Kyra asks, a flutter of hope bursting in her chest.

"Only until I solve what is going on here, yes" Kassandra confirms, not wanting to sound as if she's here for any long term duration.

"I see..." Kyra trails off and Kassandra can see she is deep in thought. This means there must be a catch.

"One condition," Kyra requests, "I go with you."

"No" Kassandra immediately, not needing to give the idea any thought.

"No?!" Kyra responds, deeply offended by Kassandra's fast answer. "Why in the hell not?"

"It would be dangerous first off" Kassandra recites as she had prepared for something like this once she decided to tell Kyra about the cult. "Secondly, I work alone, always have."

To say Kyra was angry was a gross understatement. How dare Kassandra not think her capable of handling something dangerous. She lead a rebellion for gods sake, all she knew was danger! This conversation was in no way over.

"Do you not remember how we met Kassandra? I'm fairly sure that was dangerous. The battle we won on the beach? Also dangerous. Are you not seeing a pattern here?" Kyra lashes out.

"What happened here was different from anything you would see from these people!" Kassandra angrily states in as normal a voice level as possible as she doesn't want to cause a scene. Well, anymore than there already is.

"I have lived my whole life fighting to survive, Kassandra, so don't you dare lecture me on dangerous people" Kyra shouts back, clearly not caring who hears them.

"Lower your voice for gods sake" Kassandra shushes as she drags Kyra towards the edge of the trees, providing them a bit more privacy.

Kyra shakes off Kassandra's hold and takes a few steps back. "Don't" Kyra sharply says as Kassandra tries once again to reach out to her.

"Kyra," Kassandra pleads, "be reasonable." Kassandra knew Kyra was capable of holding her own, but it had been a year since she had most likely seen combat and Kassandra could not and would not allow her into harm's way.

"Reasonable?!" Kyra scoffs, irritation apparent on her face. Kassandra knew right there that her word choice was poorly executed and that there would be consequences.

"I am so over you thinking you're as mighty as the gods, Kassandra" Kyra jabs as she moves forward and presses her fingers into Kassandra's chest, forcing her to take a step back or risk falling. "You walk like a mortal, you look like a mortal, and most importantly of all, you bleed like a mortal. You think you're untouchable, but you're wrong."

"What does me not wanting you to be hurt have to do with your accusation that I have a god complex?" Kassandra fires back in an attempt to take the offensive. "I have never said I was immortal so if you want to attack me, try to go for something I've actually done."

"Oh, so now you care about my wellbeing?" Kyra exaggerates, placing heavy emphasis on the "my". "Well, that changes everything. Should I just be throwing myself at your feet now or would you prefer me to find a puddle to lay down in first so you can walk all over me?"

Kassandra looks enraged enough that Kyra might actually get some truth now. Kassandra was always too in control and was never honest with how she felt. Kyra hadn't forgotten how they last parted, but she knew Kassandra wasn't telling her the whole truth about something and she was going to find out what sooner or later.

"Have you been drinking?" Kassandra accuses. "As that's the only logical reason you would be acting so melodramatic and childish."

"I'm more sober than I've ever been, in so many ways" Kyra answers, her vagueness not lost on Kassandra.

"What does that even mean?" Kassandra asks, completely puzzled at just where this conversation was going.

"What it means is that I am seeing the real you for the first time. You expect people to just accept what you say as fact and shut down entirely if there's any rebuttal" Kyra goes off on a tangent that she's been holding in for a year now, unable to stop herself. "What it means is that you must truly believe that you're the only person who is even remotely capable of doing anything. You push everyone away that wants to be there for you so you can continue on your crusade to martyrdom believing yourself righteous and just. Personally, I think you're just afraid and that terrifies you."

Kassandra steps into Kyra's space, her fists clenched so tightly by her side that they are turning white. How dare Kyra speak to her like this! All Kassandra is trying to do is protect her and it seems like that concept is entirely lost on Kyra. The nerve to accuse her of being afraid. Afraid of what? Kassandra had nothing she was afraid of.

"I think I've had just about enough of our walk and this conversation" Kyra says curtly as she turns around to head back home, leaving Kassandra standing alone, simmering in her accusations.

Kassandra doesn't move right away as she's still trying to process everything that just happened. They hadn't walked that far so by the time Kassandra decided that she wasn't just going to walk away from this, Kyra would almost be back home.

"Oh no you don't" Kassandra mutters to herself as she jogs to catch up.

Kassandra runs to make up for the head start and spots her a few houses before her destination. Kassandra picks up the pace so that she's right behind Kyra walking in the door.

Kassandra was not finished with this discussion (if you could even call it that at this point) so Kassandra follows on Kyra heels as she storms inside.

Kyra does not acknowledge her personally, but instead, she makes a general announcement to whoever was stationed inside.

"You are all dismissed for the day, with pay, please see yourselves out" Kyra orders and her people didn't have to be told twice for what is essentially a free day off. They all clamor out with the exception of Praxos.

"Kyra, are you alright? Do I need to step in?" Praxos inquires in a whisper in an attempt to prevent Kassandra from overhearing.

"You've already done quite enough already. Don't you think?" Kyra sternly chastises. "You can go. I will handle this."

Praxos steps away respectfully as he knows she is still sore about the issue with Kassandra and it was his fault entirely that she was present. He'd done enough damage for now and trusted Kyra wouldn't get herself hurt again.

Kassandra smiles smugly watching the display in front of her, taking pleasure in witnessing his reprimand. She never personally had anything against him until he started that fight with her yesterday. Now, she will take a small satisfaction in his discomfort and shame. She even sends him off with a tiny wave before following Kyra upstairs.

Kyra slams her bedroom door shut and Kassandra can hear her turn the lock. Well, that would probably stop an ordinary person, but Kassandra was anything but. She goes to the room she had been sleeping in and climbs out the window. With a grace honed only by time and practice, she gracefully pulls herself up onto the roof and walks over to Kyra's balcony. She can hear Kyra muttering something under her breath. She's makes out the words "pompous and infuriating" pretty clearly, but the rest is rather muddled. It was no matter though as Kassandra would have a bit of revenge soon enough.

Kassandra jumps down, making no efforts to muffle her landing and relishes in the startled sound Kyra let's out at this unexpected intrusion.

"Fuck, Kassandra" Kyra let's out once she's gotten herself composed.

"Only if you say please" Kassandra responds, flirtatious undertone implied. Even when she's angry she'd not pass up an opportunity like that.

What she didn't expect was a flustered blush to creep up upon Kyra's face at the innuendo. That was something she'd tuck away for later.

"You should leave" Kyra says firmly. "I locked the door for a reason."

"And I ignored it for a reason" Kassandra says without missing a beat. "We're not done here as you don't get to accuse me of such things and just walk away. You may be in charge here, but you do not rule me. You say I'm afraid yet you are the one who is walking away and locking me out. What is it you think I fear? I have faced unspeakable creatures and men so what do I have to fear?"

"Yourself" Kyra responds with conviction.

"Myself? Really?" Kassandra answered dumbfounded.

"Yes, you" Kyra says.

"By all means, please educate me" Kassandra says as she gestures her arm out in a sweeping motion.

"You're afraid of showing yourself to anyone in fear of getting attached. You're afraid of opening up as you do not wish to be perceived as weak. You're preventing yourself from finding any purpose in life other than this destructive path you're walking on. Should I go on?" Kyra rhetorically inquires, knowing full well Kassandra won't ask her to continue.

"Your saying I'm afraid of emotions?" Kassandra scoffs. "That's ridiculous."

"Not in the slightest" Kyra counters.

"I don't fear emotion, I just prefer to not let irrational thoughts cloud my judgment" Kassandra retorts.

"That sounds an awful lot like an excuse, a poor one at that. The sooner you realize it, the better off you'll be. Then maybe, just maybe, you won't be so incorrigible to be around" Kyra says sharply.

"Sounds to me like I'm not the only one projecting here" Kassandra decides to be on the offensive and give Kyra a taste of her own medicine. "You shout accusations at me, but flee from hearing any disagreement or counter. I think it is you who doesn't want to face the truth."

"What truth am I running from Kassandra? Please enlighten me" Kyra defensively responds.

"I think you're running from the fact that you don't think that you can do this job" Kassandra says, holding nothing back at this point. "You're too prideful to even take a consultation with me to save your islands because you couldn't stand the sight of me so who's to say if troubles come down the line that you'll do the right thing? You're also indecisive, which is selfish for your people and your land. You cannot leave these things to the fates, you need to grow up and make a decision."

Kassandra knew that was a low blow, but it wasn't as if Kyra's words were the kindest either. Two grown women, squabbling over such petty things, but Kassandra was in too deep to back out now.

Kassandra expected a combative response, but she sees that her words had apparently cut deeper than intended as Kyra's stoic posture is now deflated. She could see Kyra retreating into herself and she really, really needs to think before she speaks as this is the second time she's done this in a single day. The only difference is that she's not leaving this time, not yet.

"Kyra, I...." Kassandra begins, but is halted by Kyra holding up her hand.

"Don't, please" Kyra pleads, so Kassandra remains silent. "Here I am, picking a fight with you again, and for what?"

Kyra takes a seat on her bed, slumping her head into her hands to gather herself. She slowly rakes her hands over her face until they cup over her nose and mouth. They both remain silent, but Kyra's eyes roam over Kassandra.

Here before her stands the same woman who broke her heart, the woman she believed she could change to make her stay. Memories of their last fight swirl in her mind. Kassandra would always be so wild and unpredictable and she would likely never settle. Kassandra always spoke the truth to her, even if hurt, so why was now any different? Why was she willing to put herself through all this a second time?

That was perhaps, the most simple of all. She was lonely and her heart ached for love.

Kyra knew her feelings for Kassandra were genuine and with Thaletas' whereabouts after all this time still a mystery, she needed to think what she wanted for herself. She had no lovers since Kassandra and she sheltered her heart from any others, knowing it would only end eventually. How she craved for intimacy though, even if it was conditional. She was allowing her personal life to merge into her work and she needed to do something about it. She could not afford to be so absentminded.

Kassandra was right, she was projecting and indecisive, but it didn't make it any easier to accept. She was afraid she would make the wrong decisions and she was afraid of what that could mean for her people. She would need to focus herself and put her pride aside as she needed Kassandra in more ways than one. Having something would be better than nothing and, as much as this would hurt her, she wouldn't let it show. She needed Kassandra as much as she wishes she didn't and she would just have to accept whatever she was willing to offer.

Kassandra could see the inner battle Kyra was having before her and she wished she could take her words back. She wanted to cut her down a notch, but it didn't make her feel any better once it was done. If anything, it made it worse. Kyra was stressed and that caused her to lash out, Kassandra can understand and should have just let it drop, but no. She just had to have the final word and give her opinions whether it was warranted or not.

It's not as though Kyra was all wrong about what she said though although she'd never admit it out loud. It would make her too open and being so vulnerable is just not something Kassandra wanted to do. It allowed for others to have a hold over you, a power of influence, and she just couldn't subscribe to that idea. It didn't mean she didn't care for Kyra though and she found the more time she spent around her, the harder it was to walk away.

She's always had the craving ever since their first kiss and how she wished for it once more. Kyra looked so small, as if she scrunched up her body to take up the least amount of space as humanly possible. Kassandra found herself wanting to fix what damage she caused, wanting to be the source of comfort to Kyra, even though she was the cause of her pain.

Kassandra tentatively kneels before Kyra, placing her hand just to the side of where Kyra is seated. She needs to apologize, even if Kyra doesn't want to hear it.

"Kyra, I am sorry for my words just now, I said things I shouldn't have and I...." was all Kassandra was able to get out before Kyra surged forward and shut her up with a kiss.

Kassandra doesn't respond as she's too caught up with the fact that it even happened in the first place so Kyra pulls back, completely sure she missed the mark.

"I'm sorry, I completely misjudged and was out of line" Kyra backpedals, trying to save herself from the embarrassment that is coming over her.

Kyra slides off the bed, the opposite direction of where Kassandra's hand still rests. She needed to get some air as this room felt as if it was suffocating her. Kassandra hadn't returned her kiss so she'd just made an even bigger fool of herself for nothing. She should have just kept it professional as it hurt her even more to know that Kassandra didn't want her anymore. All she'll ever be is just a notch in her belt.

Kyra moves to unlock her door, but Kassandra's hand, both firm and gentle, halts her movement. She dares not turn around as she doesn't think she could keep her composure if she sees Kassandra rejection on her features. She stays still, back to Kassandra for what feels like an eons worth of time, Kassandra's hand still resting above her own.

"Kyra..." she hears whispered just audibly enough from Kassandra into her ear. The way her name sounds coming from Kassandra's lips makes her heart flutter. So tender, but filled with so much uncertainty behind it. Still, Kyra remains facing the door in a futile attempt to mask her emotions.

"Turn around, please" Kyra hears the plead from Kassandra and she knows she will have to move eventually so she may as well just get it over with.

She attempts to spin around, but Kassandra was pressed up rather firmly against her back, making it impossible.

"You do know you have to back up for me to do that, right?" Kyra points out and the weight against her back is lifted immediately and Kyra cannot help but miss its warmth.

"Sorry about that" Kassandra apologizes for as she nervously rubs the back of her neck. The embarrassment of her being pressed up so close to Kyra was getting to her.

Kassandra can see Kyra relax a little bit more from that awkward exchange and knows that she needs to address what just happened. She contemplates how she wants to bring this up as she most certainly wants to be intimate with Kyra, but not without drawing a line about what that entailed. Before Kassandra could lay out terms though, Kyra begins to speak.

"Can we please forget that even happened? It was a mistake and I am sorry for making you uncomfortable" and Kyra was sorry, last thing she needed was to alienate the only woman who's ever truly been there for her.

Kassandra remains quiet, pondering, wondering why Kyra was so quick to call what happened a mistake. Kassandra knew Kyra still harbored some feelings towards her, but she just never knew to what extent before now. She still isn't truly sure, but at least she can hazard a guess.

Kyra mistakes the silence for an agreement with her proposal and quickly tries to change the subject.

"Right then," Kyra says with a hand clap, "let's get a room situated for you for you stay until you get your thing settled."

"Stop" Kassandra commands, freezing all of Kyra's movements as she was about to open the door. "I am not finished, you seem to have a habit of not letting me speak."

"I, uh...sorry, please, go ahead" Kyra chokes out as she did not expect Kassandra to actually want to vocalize.

"What I was going to say is that what you did was not a mistake, but what I didn't do was" Kassandra speaks as she moves closer into Kyra's space.

"What didn't you do?" Kyra questions, her voice amply lower than before due to their proximity.

"This" and in one quick motion, Kassandra had Kyra pinned up against the door frame, locked in a kiss. The intensity of them is palpable and if it were possible to combust from touch alone, they both would be lighting up the room. The kiss said conveyed everything that they couldn't and wouldn't say.

Kyra is pleasantly surprised as she had discounted Kassandra actually wanting her anymore, but this kiss showed her that just wasn't true. She grabs at Kassandra's face, pulling her even closer, not wanting a single piece of her body away from Kassandra's. Kyra tries to deepen the kiss, but Kassandra pulls her head back.

"If this is going to happen, there needs to be some ground rules" Kassandra says, her voice a bit labored from their brief make out session.

"What are your terms?" Kyra inquires, not actually caring as she'd agree to just about anything at this point to get Kassandra's lips back on her own.

"That this isn't permanent as I don't do relationships and that we are free to see whomever we want in addition to what we're doing. We also must remain professional when in public as we both have reputations to uphold" Kassandra lists off, trying to gauge a reaction from Kyra, but she is remaining neutral.

Deciding to try to make light of all this, Kassandra opts to throw something extra in for a joke. "This also isn't a love thing, it's just sex, so don't ruin it by falling in love with me" she says with a mischievous glint in her tone.

Kyra's eyes bulge at that egotistical proposition, especially the last part. Just how many times has she run through this same speech that she had to add that as a rule? Kyra shudders at the thought. Could she really hold herself to what Kassandra is requesting? No. No she couldn't, but that would be a problem for her future self as right now, all she wants is to be underneath her.

"Deal" Kyra quickly agrees and now Kassandra has the look of shock on her face. She didn't expect Kyra to so readily agree to her terms.

"Deal? Are you sure?" Kassandra probes, trying to see if there is a catch.

"Well, now that you mention it," Kyra begins, a certain mischievous glint about her, "I do have one rule to add."

Kassandra nods, encouraging Kyra to speak and Kyra decides to throw a bit of self righteousness back at Kassandra. "Since you're so assured I will fall madly in love with you, I'd like to offer you a counter."

"By all means," Kassandra gestures for her to continue.

"If I cannot fall in love with you, you cannot fall in love with me" Kyra states and Kassandra cannot help but to let out a small laugh.

"I will not, I assure you" Kassandra says with the utmost confidence, but Kyra wants to believe she knows better than that.

Kyra knows there is something between them, something that Kassandra refuses to accept so she will use time and her wiles to show Kassandra that maybe falling in love isn't a death sentence.

"So is that a yes?" Kyra questions, not enjoying the small jest Kassandra took her statement as.

"I agree to your terms, yes" Kassandra assures her.

"Then why are we still here and why do we still have clothes on?" Kyra questions with a raised eyebrow.

Kassandra didn't need to be told twice so she closes the distance and reconnects their lips as she pins Kyra up against the door.

The two make love for hours upon hours, enjoying the freedom of the empty house and newfound agreement between them. Little does Kassandra know that her most important rule has already been broken before it even began. Kyra was already in love with her, but she was too blind to see it and Kyra would never admit it out loud.

Laying back in the afterglow, Kyra wrapped up tight next to her, Kassandra roams her eyes over her sleeping lovers body and thinks she's finally got everything she's wanted with no strings attached. She was able to have the best of both worlds with her new arrangement and there was not a downside she could see. How lovely a day this all shaped up to be.

It's just a shame she doesn't realize what this could've been had she allowed herself to be honest with everything she truly feels. Instead, she pushes it down and falls into the grand illusion that being casual with Kyra was all she ever needed.

Chapter Text

The almost two weeks that Kassandra needed to wait seemed to pass by in a blur. She couldn't remember the last time she had felt as peaceful as she is right now, she was at ease. She would spend her days aiding the citizens or she would go hunting for Ibex with Phaedra to pass the time. It turned out the two women had much more in common once they actually spoke (unlike their last awkward encounter). Her favorite part of the day though was returning to Kyra and being intimate with her. She made sure that Kyra knew this wasn't permanent, but she found that she didn't go out of her way to explore anyone else while Kyra was so readily available.

Kassandra did, however, try her hand at wooing Phaedra a second time on one of their hunts (as that was also a way she passed the time) as she felt they could've had a fun time together, but Phaedra was very clear that she was flattered, but just not interested. Kassandra got the message loud and clear, but unlike their first meeting, it wasn't awkward and she didn't want to bail. It was a shame really as there was potential, but it wouldn't stop Kassandra from being who she was and Phaedra learned that her flirty nature was just a part of the overall package. The two of them connected in a way that surprised her, both fiercely independent and desired to explore the world unseen.

Kassandra learned that Phaedra had traveled quite a bit for someone who appeared to be very settled. Nikandros, her pater, was a travelling merchant and she and her mater used to follow him wherever he went until he became sick. He wasn't able to keep up with the heavy demand nor could he handle sea life anymore so they set down roots where he grew up, Mykonos. They had been settled for about seven or eight years now and her father's condition didn't improve, but with stability and his skills as a hunter, it made it manageable to maintain as he could still afford his medicine. There was nothing the greedy merchants love more than an ill person seeking treatment.

The two of them became close and fast friends, telling epic tales of their pasts and what they hoped to accomplish in the future. Kassandra even trusted her enough to tell her about the cult, which spoke volumes as Kassandra had only told a few select people about just how deep they ran.

The two make quick work of their most recent hunting trip and, while only Kassandra walked away with a kill, it was still fruitful. Kassandra carries the dead Ibex over her shoulder as it is going right to Phaedra's stand in the market so that she and her pater can sell it. Kassandra wanted no part of the profit as she finds the company payment enough and it was good exercise. Having been away from her pater for too long, Phaedra requests they return home.

Kassandra spends almost the entire walk telling Phaedra all about the cult and explaining everything as best she could. She even went as far to tell her about Mount Taygetos and Alexios. She was concerned with receiving pity as it was a tragic story, but was relieved when none was found. Only empathetic eyes and support were given and Kassandra felt a little lighter getting that off her chest.

"So wait," Phaedra begins as they settle into a slower pace as they hit the edge of the market, "you're telling me there is some underground cult trying to dismantle all of Greece?"

"Essentially, yes" Kassandra confirms, her voice a hushed whisper.

"More importantly, there's one here that you're trying to find, right?" Phaedra questions.

"Tomorrow night I will return to Delos to prepare and I also want to be present in case they arrive a little early. I do not wish to wait two more weeks, I would go crazy" Kassandra exaggerates, earning her a playful nudge to her arm.

"I'll have you know there is plenty to do here so, if you went mad, it would be to your own hubris" Phaedra jokes, still leaning into Kassandra. "And besides, I'm pretty sure you have someone who would be more than happy to keep you entertained."

"Is that an invitation?" Kassandra quirks an eyebrow up as she goes along with the teasing.

Phaedra laughs, taking the resilient nature of Kassandra to heart. "You wish, misthios." They both share a laugh as they reach the stall where her mater and pater sat at and Kassandra hung up the Ibex for them to gut and drain later.

"I was thinking someone more like her" Phaedra states as she points into the crowd, placing her aim directly at Kyra. "You should go say hi."

Kassandra was about to dismiss the idea, but Phaedra essentially pushed her into the crowd, making her bump into Kyra. Kassandra almost topples them both over by the motion, but she's quick to grab both Kyra and a counter to prevent them from hitting the ground.

"Well, this certainly is one way to say hello" Kyra says after she turns to see who was responsible for almost plowing her over.

"I am so sorry, seems like SOMEONE," Kassandra says at a higher pitch, knowing Phaedra was listening, "thought it would be fun to shove me. How CHILDISH," again, raising her voice on the key word, "some people can be."

Kassandra sets them both upright as they both turn to Phaedra who is hunched over laughing at the entire encounter and is getting far too much joy out of this. They both walk over to her where, upon seeing Kyra joining Kassandra, she tries to keep herself composed.

"Sorry Kyra, I hope you are unharmed from this as it seemed I had a moment of clumsiness" Phaedra apologizes, knowing full well the shove was intentional, but there was no need to implicate herself.

"No harm done" Kyra answers, smiling sweetly.

"Kassandra was just saying how excited she was to see you so what a coincidence that you're the one she bumps into. How ironic, is it not?" Phaedra can feel Kassandra's glare burning into her the moment the words leave her mouth. Clearly none of what she's saying was technically true, but she did love to get a rise out of Kassandra and she knew about the two of them, you'd have to be blind not to.

"Yes, what ever could the odds be" Kassandra says between her gritted teeth, much to Phaedra's amusement.

It's not that Kassandra didn't want to see Kyra, but she tried to keep her distance from her in the daytime to keep boundaries between them. The less time they had in contact with each other during the day, the better in Kassandra's mind as she didn't want to give the wrong impression.

Kyra on the other hand was not a fool and she certainly wasn't blind. She could feel the discomfort radiating from Kassandra at the implication that they would spend time together. It hurt, it truly hurt, but she would not let it show. Instead, she would swallow down her pride as she cared for Kassandra, but she couldn't force her to return the feelings. All Kyra wanted to do was spend time with Kassandra as she found her so fascinating and refreshing, but it was clear that Kassandra was still apprehensive about her so she would not force something that wasn't there. It was a good thing she actually had something she wanted to do and could use it as an out.

"I am equally pleased to bump into you too Kassandra, but I will bid you both a good day and I wish you both well" Kyra excused herself rather vaguely, but it would hurt her worse to force Kassandra to spend time with her as she knew if she asked, Kassandra would.

"Oh," is all Kassandra's able to say at first as she did not see this outcome coming as Kyra has told her prior that she had the day off, "I thought you had a free day today?"

Kyra should've expected this as Kassandra is never one to take anything at face value so of course something vague would capture her attention. She didn't want to be rude, but she also didn't wish for this to get uncomfortable and drag on as Kyra didn't owe it to her to give an explanation.

"I do," Kyra answers, offering no further elaboration, "I do hope you both enjoy the rest of your day." With that, Kyra gives a slight nod towards them before turning to walk away.

Once Kyra was out of earshot, Kassandra turns to Phaedra, mouth slightly agape. "Did she just brush me off?"

Phaedra knew full well that's exactly what happened as Kyra's body language registered as "uncomfortable" upon Kassandra's forced answer. Kyra was too smart to have not caught on to this so she played it very well and handled it maturely. Kassandra on the other hand, well, let's just say this area isn't her strong point.

"She did" Phaedra responds, deciding to not spell it out for Kassandra. She had to learn and navigate her own mistakes.

"I didn't want to go with her anyway, but I thought she would have at least asked for my company" Kassandra says, slightly offended by Kyra's dismissal.

"Do you think, just maybe, she picked up on the fact that you didn't want her here?" Phaedra prods, hoping Kassandra would come to the right conclusion.

"That is ridiculous," Kassandra brushes Phaedra's idea off, "you had just told her I was excited to see her so would that not indicate just the opposite of what you're saying?"

Phaedra just rolls her eyes at the response as it's clear Kassandra isn't putting it together quite yet. "Regardless of what I think about what just happened, you should be relieved because you don't have to have that time with her. Wasn't that your hope?"

"Well yeah, I guess" Kassandra responds, less sure of herself than before.

Deciding to play devil's advocate, Phaedra pushes Kassandra just a bit more. "You sure were pretty confident a few minutes ago so what changed? Decide you maybe want to see her when she's not under the shroud of darkness?"

"That's not it you malaka" Kassandra sneers as she nudges Phaedra's arm to show her displeasure.

"Then what is it?" Phaedra continues to push. "Seems like you've gotten in a rotten mood awfully quick for someone who doesn't want to care."

Kassandra has had just about of this as it was clear Phaedra didn't want to offer her anything constructive today. "You know nothing of my mood and you know nothing of Kyra and I."

It was clear Phaedra had touched upon a sore spot for Kassandra and that their conversation would only get worse if they remained together so they needed to get some space between them. "You're right, I don't, because you've made it pretty clear that she's nothing more to you than someone to keep a bed warm so what would I know? Now if you'll excuse me, I have work to do."

Phaedra turns her back on Kassandra and goes to tend to the Ibex hanging from their hook. Kassandra takes the hint and begins to walk off in the same direction Kyra went off moments before. Kassandra wouldn't follow her per say, but she was curious to know what she had rejected Kassandra's presence for.

It doesn't take her long to find her, but it is the most peculiar of sights. There was a makeshift ring built along one of the roads and a small crowd of people witnessing the spectacle. Kassandra didn't think this kind of entertainment was common, but at least it kept their skills sharp and passed the time. There were wooden sticks being used as swords and there were two men fighting as if their lives depended on it. It was clear this was all for fun as the men would jest with each other between swings, but she still didn't understand what it was for.

Soon after one of the men yielded, another stepped in to face the victor and the cycle continued. Apparently there was a prize of some sort she gathered after asking a few of the patrons, but none seemed to want to give her the time of day when there was something to watch.

The longest streak would be declared the winner and they had until sundown. So far, the most victories in a row was seven and it was clear that the current fighter was feeling pretty good about himself until a unanimous gasp is heard from the crowd.

Wanting a better look, Kassandra cuts into the crowd to see what the fuss is about when she realizes the next challenger for this man is none other than Kyra herself.

She is almost unrecognizable as she had stripped herself down to the most basic of her clothing (as most of the men also had very minimal clothing) as it was rather muddy terrain. It is clear she's paying no attention to the crowd and Kassandra can feel the shift from casual to serious in an instance. For Kyra to lose in such a public setting would be a blow to her hold as a leader and everyone here knew that. Even for fun, she couldn't afford to lose.

Kassandra finds herself entranced by the fluidity of Kyra's movements, even in less than hospitable terrain. The mud makes keeping a pace challenging, but you could see nothing but determination etched across Kyra's face.

Kassandra, recognizing that look all to well, knew that her opponent didn't stand a chance. Kyra was an amazing fighter and she was incredibly unpredictable which make targeting a weakness isn't her almost impossible. The look she was sporting was that of a confidence only a few could successfully emit. Kyra had found her opponents weakness and was waiting to strike. Kassandra shifted her focus to the opponent and within a handful of seconds realized what Kyra saw.

The man favored his left leg which indicated an issue with his right one (either preexisting or fresh) and that if Kyra were to attack at him from the left, he'd be forced to put additional pressure on his right leg. Sure enough, Kyra targets his left side and had the man is on his back before Kyra even breaks a sweat.

"I yield" the crowd hears as the current champion is dethroned and Kyra becomes the newest contender.

Kyra was granted a courtesy thirty seconds before the next challenger approached and it was over almost as soon as it started. Kyra was catching up to the lead fairly steadily and the more men Kyra took down, the less anyone wanted to volunteer.

It was clear that Kyra knew exactly what she was doing and she did it with ease, even though Kassandra knew she was getting tired as her breathing was more labored. She had been able to tie it, but nobody else would step forward for her to take the victory. The only way she could win was if she surpassed the seven her predecessor set, tying it would result in her having to forfeit.

Kyra really wanted to win this for whatever reason and Kassandra could tell Kyra was getting frustrated that it would end here. Well, at least it would unless Kassandra had anything to say about it.

Kassandra steps towards the ring and begins to remove her armor as she would play by their rules here, no matter how barbaric they were. Kassandra removes her spear and holds her hand, palm side up, silently requesting a stick. Within seconds she feels the wood pressed firmly into her skin. She grips the stick tightly and gives it a few practice swings to get the feel of it.

If Kyra was surprised by this challenge, she didn't let it show. Instead of the usual warmth of Kyra's gaze towards Kassandra, all she can see now is indifference. Kyra was taking her very seriously and so Kassandra would do the same.

The two women clash and they move with skill and years of practice under their belts. Each woman having a completely unique style, but when pitted against each other, proved to be evenly matched. Both women trading blows relentlessly, not holding back, even when they made contact. Kassandra was sure she would have some bruising on her jaw from where Kyra was able to land a lucky shot, but she also could see a few purple spots along Kyra's arms.

Neither woman showed any signs of slowing down and it got so intense that the crowd began to place bets on who would be victorious. It was clear that this would be the final fight as nobody in the crowd was stupid enough to go up against either woman, no matter who won.

Kassandra could tell Kyra's earlier battles were starting to wear down her endurance as Kassandra could feel her reactions getting slower.

"You know," Kassandra huffs between hits, "you can just yield if you're too tired."

"Sounds like someone is reaching a bit don't you think?" Kyra responds as she lands a hit to Kassandra's kneecap.

"You forget just who I am" Kassandra replies with a renewed sense of confidence. "I am Kassandra, the Mighty Eagle Bearer. I yield to nobody."

"And I am Kyra, leader of the rebellion and of the Silver Islands" Kyra offers up in return. "These are just titles at the end of the day."

"There is still no shame in admitting defeat Kyra" Kassandra presses as she tried to mentally wear Kyra down.

Kyra, however, had already caught on to Kassandra's tactics and has decided to play into them for the moment. Kyra knew the moment Kassandra stepped into the ring what her weakness was (or at least, what she'd hoped). Kyra, although still hurt by Kassandra earlier, still believed that Kassandra's feelings for her ran deeper than she admitted. Kyra would try to use this to her advantage as Kassandra becomes easier to telegraph when she is jealous. It's not even fighting dirty at this point because Kassandra would have to admit she had feelings towards her and that would never happen.

Kassandra's movements would become predictable and her focus gets pulled from the fight and that would only be a benefit. If Kyra was able to get such a distraction from her, she could get her victory and have the added bonus of knocking her down a peg or two. Armed with a stick and a grin, Kyra sets it all into motion.

One of her prior opponents is watching nearby and is very underdressed as his minor wounds are being tended too. All she has to do was wait for the stall point as after fifteen minutes pass, if there is no victor, there is a small break before it resumes again. The pattern would keep up for three rounds until a winner was declared or the time elapsed and it became a stalemate. All she had to do was parry and dodge for just a little longer and she could pay the wounded man some extra attention.

About three minutes later a bell is rung and they both are sent across from each other for that rest period. Kassandra didn't have anyone here in support so she just paced, but Kyra knew each and every face here and knew more about them all than she honestly cared for. For now though, it would actually come into use as the man she's approaching is an infamous womanizer so she won't even have to put in much work before he completely takes over.

Kyra can feel Kassandra's eyes on her so there would be no time like the present to get this moving. If Kassandra could (and had previously done) this to her, it's fair play.

"Aristodemos, I'm so glad you're still here" Kyra shares as she leans forward to place her hand on his exposed chest. "I fight better knowing that someone worthwhile is looking on."

Kyra honestly wants to gag with what she's just said as it couldn't be further from the truth, but no pain, no gain.

"Kyra, I am pleased you seeked me out, I had hoped for some time to speak with you" Aristodemos answers as he straightens up his posture, not wanting to look weak with Kyra so close.

"I just couldn't bear the thought that I had harmed you and I needed to see for myself that you were ultimately uninjured. I was not proud that I had placed a blemish on you" Kyra exaggerates as she gentle traces over a bruise running along his jawline. Mid motion she gently turns her head towards Kassandra and can see that it is working as desired. She doesn't linger long, but she can see Kassandra's grip tighten on the stick and she's pacing faster than before.

Kyra and Aristodemos exchange a few more pleasantries, Kyra reaching out to touch him at every opportunity, before they are called back. They both enter back in the ring and Kyra makes sure that she positions herself so that she can send a wink his direction while having Kassandra in a clear view as well.

Once the bell rings, Kyra snaps her attention back to Kassandra and they begin again, almost deadlocked the entire fifteen minutes until the bell rings once more. Kyra knew she still didn't have her yet, although she was making progress as their entire bout Kassandra remained silent and didn't even make a single smart comment.

Kyra, again, returns to Aristodemos and she listens as he tells a clearly false tale of his prowess and she pretends to eat up every word. She keeps her back to Kassandra, but she can just feel the intensity being sent her direction. She's ignoring it for now as her attention needs to appear to be on him for this to work so for the small break, he is the most interesting man she's ever encountered and the funniest too, as she forces out small laughs that are too small to be obvious, but loud enough to gather some attention.

The bell rings for the second time and Kyra decides to not give Kassandra her full attention in here anymore. They are too evenly matched and unless some glaringly obvious mistake is made, this would for sure end in a stalemate. She pays just enough attention to not get whacked across the face as Kassandra has apparently decided it's no longer off limits, but not enough so that Kassandra can easily see that her thoughts are elsewhere.

Kyra hadn't done much in terms of offense as she's just biding her time, but this was not something Kassandra knew and it had finally eaten at her enough to comment.

"You do know you're actually supposed to swing at me, right? Or do you just want to get hit?" Kassandra says in a mocking tone as she continues to press forward.

"I suppose" was all Kyra responded back with as she keeps pace and continues to block every swing Kassandra makes. Kyra can see the hits getting more wild, a greater force behind them, meaning she would have her opening soon.

Kassandra grunted towards Kyra at her nonchalant approach to this and Kyra could hear the irritation in her voice when she spoke next.

"Care to take your eyes off from Adonis over there and actually give me a good fight?" Kassandra asked, clearly irritated she was no longer Kyra's focus.

"No, but thank you for asking." Kyra quips back. "Have you even seen abs like that on another person before?" Continuing her ruse to not lose the momentum.

"It's not even remotely impressive" Kassandra answers quickly, attempting to shut down the conversation.

"You say that and yet I can't stop staring. I wonder if he'd let me feel them?" Kyra speaks it as if it was rhetorical.

"That man is average at best and that's me being generous" Kassandra answers as they continue to spar.

Unbeknownst to Kassandra, she had set Kyra up for the perfect retaliation and it would be timed perfectly before the sound of the last grace period.

"I bet nothing about him is average" Kyra says suggestively as she glances his way. "I think I want to find out."

The third bell rings and Kassandra angrily steps back, being forced to withhold her comments.

Kyra saunters off with a smile and goes towards her newest fixation and knows this is her last chance to get Kassandra to make a mistake. He speaks and she listens as they did the prior round but before the bell rings to resume the final round of the evening, Kyra decides to be bold.

"You know Aristodemos, I think you are my good luck charm" Kyra admits to him as if it were a secret. "How about a kiss for good luck?" As she points to her cheek.

His eyes go wide at the request, but he happily agrees and leans in to give Kyra a kiss on the lips instead. Kyra, not wanting this to turn into anything of a larger scandal, tilts her head towards him so that he lands on her cheek at the last moment like she'd asked, but to anyone far enough back (like Kassandra), you would not be able to tell it wasn't on the lips. Kyra quickly steps away from him and walks back towards the ring and she can tell by Kassandra's body language that Kassandra is fuming.

Her nostrils are flaring and her footsteps are much heavier with every step as if she was stomping, but not so obviously. Her posture was tense and stiff and she had a scowl so intense that it would probably give her wrinkles if she held it long enough. This was exactly what Kyra was hoping to see and now she was hoping she could capitalize to not have all this incessant flirting be for nothing. It's not that Aristodemos was ugly or a crude man, but he had an almost similar reputation to Kassandra's, but with half the charm. Besides, he just wasn't her type, but it wasn't something Kassandra needed to know right now, if ever.

The final bell rings and Kyra remains on the defensive still as Kassandra is being much more aggressive with her strikes. Kassandra is hitting hard enough that Kyra has a much harder time stopping it without having to take a step back, but with a hard hit, Kassandra is exposing herself more often. Kassandra's footwork was also becoming sloppy so Kyra decided to focus on getting her to stumble.

"I have to say Kassandra, you lasted longer than I expected you to" Kyra offers up the friendly banter to see if Kassandra would take the bait. She was not disappointed.

"I bet your man Adonis over there hears that all the time" Kassandra snarks back as she laughs at her own joke.

Hubris was a cruel trait and it almost never ended up being anything of benefit for the person it is in reference of. For Kassandra, that means that her desire to put him down to make herself feel better only was setting her up for something worse.

Kyra seizes the opportunity and rushes in real close as the hold each other off in a standoff. Teeth gritted at the force put between them, but Kyra has the mental game all but executed at this point as she knows her final line will be the difference maker.

Looking Kassandra in the eyes, Kyra smirks and leans her face in close so she's able to drop her voice at a whisper. "I'll let you know once I find out."

Kassandra's face flashes a multitude of emotions at once, trying to register what Kyra had just implied. Kyra, on the other hand, wasted no time taking advantage of this distraction by swiping Kassandra's legs out beneath her, causing her to fall flat on her back. It all happens so fast that Kassandra's not even sure what happened until Kyra stands over her with the stick to her throat.

That was it. This was the game point.

Kyra just smiles sweetly down to Kassandra before the crowd erupts in a cheer for their leaders victory with her eighth win. Kyra tosses the stick and offers a hand to Kassandra. Her hand is taken, but it is clear Kassandra is not pleased at all by what happened, especially her losing. The grip is firm and is gone as quickly as it came as Kassandra released her as soon as she was upright.

"Thank you Kassandra, you were a most worthy opponent" Kyra says honestly as she wasn't sure they'd have a clear winner if left unattended.

"Sure" was all Kyra got in response before Kassandra turned to walk away from her towards the rest of the crowd.

Kyra reaches out to grab her, but stops short of actually making contact and lowers her hand back to her side. As much as Kyra wanted to console Kassandra, she'd only make it worse when Kassandra was in a brooding mood and Kyra hadn't technically done anything wrong. Kassandra was the one who wanted to make this casual, not her. Kassandra was the one who wanted to not be limited, not her.

"It is a time to celebrate our new champion!" A man yells from the crowd, gaining everyone's attention. "To the tavern for drinks!"

Kyra couldn't protest and, even if she did, it wouldn't be of use as she'd still be forced to go. Good news for her is that she could use a drink or two to help wash down everything that happened today. The crowd moves in sync and Kyra spots Kassandra still among them so that was a plus. She half expected her to leave immediately, but it seems she's made a few friends during her stay. It warms her to see Kassandra so accepted in her home. It's not that Kassandra would ever stay for anyone, but seeing her like this, with her people, made it hard to not envision this for the future.

Kyra tries to shake off the thoughts as it would only lead to her getting her heart broken again as thinking of anything long term with Kassandra was just asking for problems. Which is why it's so unfortunate that it's all she's wanting to think about. She wants to see Kassandra mingle within the walls of the city, she wants to see her banter with her friends over drinks. She wants to see her feel at ease and at peace, as if the world isn't falling on her shoulders. Most of all, she just wants to see her and have her present.

Kyra wants more than anything for Kassandra to stay as she brings to life a part of Kyra that she didn't even know existed. Kassandra sparks something inside her and she's terrified yet enthralled at the same time. Kassandra is as dangerous as a flames as she has the ability to burn everything you've ever known and loved down to a pile of ash with the blink of an eye. She was wild and thrived when moving and, if left unchecked, could ignite any place she touched. She also was beautiful, enchanting to watch, as if her very presence lured you in. She provides a warmth that will warm you to your core on the coldest days and protect you from the elements. She was mystifying and Kyra didn't know whether she should stay back and watch or if she should tempt the fates and try to tame the wildfire. Realizing her mind is too far gone, she allows herself to watch Kassandra and bask in her from a distance as now was not the time to be near.

Kyra learned early that Kassandra should never be cornered or else she lashes out as if she were a wild animal. Meaning now that if Kyra attempted to talk to Kassandra and discuss what they were to each other, Kassandra would feel suffocated and pressured which would lead to losing her as fast as she got her. For now, Kyra knew she had to suffer in silence and watch as Kassandra laughs with the other women, flirts with other women, and even touches other women.

This only amplified once everyone got settled in the tavern, Kassandra taking the furthest spot from Kyra possible. Kassandra had a reputation and here was no different so it only took a few seconds before the women flocked to be near. It sickened Kyra to no end, but she had agreed to Kassandra's terms so she needed to deal with it. Didn't mean she had to like it though so she called for her second round.

Kyra was no lightweight, but even she knew that it would hit her eventually at the rate she'd been putting them down. She's never allowed herself to lose control in a public setting before, but seeing Kassandra with other woman just boiled her blood so she drank to alleviate it. The more alcohol she drank, the less it hurt and that was all she wanted at this point. It's all rather sad in hindsight, but her heart was sensitive and it beat only for Kassandra whether she liked it or not. Being numb helped ease the pain, but it only made her feelings worse as she indulged enough to wallow privately over how everything has spiraled.

Not wanting to let Kassandra have all the fun, Kyra searched the room for Aristodemos as she was sure he could help her with something. She wasn't sure yet if she just wanted his attention or if she actually wanted him, but that would be a dilemma for her future self, for now, she just wanted to feel appreciated.

"Congratulations Kyra on your victory," Aristodemos offers as he lifts up her hand to place a tender kiss on it, "it couldn't have gone to a more beautiful flower."

Kyra felt as if she wanted to roll her eyes at the comparison, but she refrained as he meant well. Instead, she offers him a smile as she takes a seat next to him. The two talk about anything and everything and it mostly is Kyra listening and it would bother her more if she were sober at how he tends to cut her off, but for now, she couldn't care less. He tells his tales and Kyra feigns an interest for an hour at least, but she knows they all pale in comparison to those Kassandra had shared with her before. She just has to come to terms that he isn't Kassandra, but that he could possibly be the next best thing if she tried hard enough.

Kyra felt a little desperate as she just wanted someone to care for her right now, but it seemed that it just was never meant to be for her. Thaletas disappeared without a trace and Kassandra was present, but distant and she's not sure which one was worse. Both had to be a reflection of herself and it was beginning to wear at her deep down. She would always put on a stoic face as her personal problems should never interfere with her responsibility to her people, but in moments like this, she wasn't anyone's leader, she was just a regular person with regular problems.

Her self loathing was interrupted by the feel of a hand caressing her outer thigh as Aristodemos must've taken her silence as compliance. He is still speaking to her, but she's having a hard time understanding what he's saying as he's also quite inebriated so his words were slurring. She's also had a few too many, but isn't quite at the level of drunk (but it's pretty borderline) so she's probably not paying as much attention to what he's saying as she should.

Kyra can feel his hands grow bolder as he reaches a bit higher up onto her leg and gently caresses her inner thigh with his thumb. She pretends to not notice as she's not sure what she wants right now. A part of her just wants to hide away the rest of this night under a blanket, allowing her unshed tears a chance to be free, but the other part of her wants to feel the passion, even if it isn't love. She either wants to fill the void, even temporarily, or she wants to allow herself to fall deeper into it.

Kyra looks up to meet his eyes and it is clear what his intentions are, but she's finding it harder to keep herself focused. If by a stoke of pity from the gods, the last remaining sober bit of logic she still has kicks in and cautions her to not allow herself to be with someone who is essentially a stranger at this time. Deciding she's not in the right mindset to enjoy such an act, she wills her body to reject the advance and she moves his hand away from her.

Unfortunately, this does not deter him as he places his hand back on her with more force this time and begins to try to lift up the fabric of her peplos and leans in. "I think we should head upstairs to finish this conversation" he whispers and Kyra becomes more assured that this isn't what she wants.

"Aristodemos," Kyra speaks tenderly in hopes of letting him down gently, "you have been wonderful company, but I have drank too much and should retire home as I have much to do tomorrow."

Not wanting to prolong this anymore than necessary, Kyra tries to rise from her seat, but feels a strong hand sit her back into place. Aristodemos had moved his hand to her shoulder and begins to slowly caress her cheek before he leans in for a kiss.

Kyra closes her eyes and waits for the inevitable kiss that was sure to follow his action, but after a moment, she realizes that there is somebody pressed up against her side and it was not him. She opens her eyes to see Kassandra standing defensively between them, as if she's protecting her from him.

Aristodemos is stunned by the sudden appearance of the Eagle Bearer as he was sure he would've sealed the deal if given another moment alone with Kyra. Irritated by the intrusion, he let's Kassandra have a piece of his mind.

"Excuse me, but you're interrupting a very private conversation so it is best of you leave" he commands, his voice slurring, but Kassandra remains steadfast.

Instead of leaving, she turns her back towards him and focuses her attention to the inebriated Kyra. "How about we get you home, would you like to leave?" Kassandra asks so sweetly that it's hard to remember that they're not on the best of terms.

"I would like to go home please" Kyra answers and that was all Kassandra needed to hear as she turns around and offers out her arm so Kyra could stand up.

Aristodemos, visibly upset by this intrusion, steps into Kassandra's personal space and stands face to face with her. "You have some nerve interrupting us like that" his tone threatening as he inches closer, removing all but an inch between them.

Kassandra was going to just ignore him as her focus was getting Kyra far away from this creep as fast as possible and teaching this man a lesson would only delay them. It wasn't until the moment his finger pressed against Kassandra's shoulder that she decided she could make a detour. Not wanting to knock Kyra over as she clung heavily to Kassandra's left arm, she adjusts her grip so that her hand is holding onto her more firmly. Once Kassandra is satisfied that Kyra won't lose her balance, she uses her right hand to make quick work of his hand, snapping his wrist as if it were nothing.

He immediately recoils his hand and cradles it to his body, hissing in pain. Kassandra opts to follow this with a headbutt, knocking the man unconscious. Kassandra felt the sting and could feel the blood trickling from her nose as it wasn't a clean hit as Aristodemos turned ever so slightly that her nose caught his cheek, but the satisfaction she felt from shutting him up more than made up for it.

He slumps to the floor and Kassandra turns to Kyra to find her eyes wide, processing how everything unfolded. Wordlessly, Kassandra motions for them to leave as she uses her free hand to wipe the blood from her face. Kyra doesn't say anything, but complies and the two make their way through the crowd that pays them no mind towards home. Kassandra ignores the prying eyes looking at the two of them once they enter through the front door and carefully leads Kyra upstairs to her room.

Kyra releases her tight hold, noting an imprint of her palm on Kassandra's arm where she gripped, but it didn't seem to bother Kassandra. The past twenty minutes or so had passed by in a blur as one moment she was being felt up by Aristodemos and the next Kassandra had broken his hand and headbutted him so that he fell unconscious. Kyra couldn't fully remember why it all transpired like that, but what she did know is that Kassandra would not harm someone innocent unless she was provoked so he probably deserved it. Kassandra hadn't spoken a word to her since she asked if she wanted to leave and Kyra didn't know if she was grateful or resentful for the silence. As much as Kassandra infuriated her, she also found ways to surprise her and she's not sure if she could come up with the words she wants to.

Kyra feels more sober now that she's had the walk with the fresh air and thinks she probably could've made it back without assistance, but Kassandra's presence is still a welcomed one. Kyra looks up at her and notices her nose is still bleeding a bit from her hit earlier so she tests out her stability by standing up. Feeling stable enough, she makes her way to her desk where there is a bowl of water and a cloth for her to clean up before bed. Not trusting herself enough to not drop the bowl, she breaks their silence.

"Come here please so I can clean you up" Kyra requests softly as she knows Kassandra would be able to still hear her.

Kassandra complies by stepping closer to the desk and taking a seat on the chair that Kyra had pulled out for her.

The water is cold at this point, but it will still be just as effective in cleaning off the dried blood and providing something soothing for what must be throbbing and bothering her. Kassandra rarely admitted to feeling pain and Kyra believed that she couldn't be fully human with the amount of injuries she's seen her with and how little it fazed Kassandra. The woman was something of legends and she'd made a believer out of Kyra.

Dipping the cloth into the water, Kyra gently dabbed at and around Kassandra's nose. The bleeding had seemed to stop for the most part which was a good sign, but she could already see the beginning of a bruise that would soon form across the bridge of her nose. Kyra couldn't help but cup Kassandra's face as she gingerly wiped away the last remaining evidence. Kyra tentatively runs her thumb across Kassandra's cheek and she could swear she feels Kassandra leaning into her touch.

There was so much that Kyra needed to say, but with Kassandra resting in her hand, she couldn't bring herself to want to break the moment. Morning would come and with it meant the end of what they had, at least for now. Kassandra would depart for Delos on her quest, but Kyra would be damned if she let her go alone. They were better together and Kyra would just have to prove it.

Chapter Text

Kyra awoke late with a bit of a headache, but not as bad as it could've been considering how much she had to drink. She slowly sits up to get a bearing on herself and recalls the events of last night.

Kassandra had hung around for a while after she had cleaned her up before excusing herself for the night. Kyra didn't want her to go, but Kassandra would never take advantage of her like that, especially when she was borderline drunk so she understood. Instead, the two spoke about nothing in particular for a few hours as they lay in her bed.

Kyra relished in the feel of Kassandra as she was pressed into her side, arm placed over Kassandra's stomach. She knew she shouldn't feel possessive, but her mind was always put at ease when Kassandra was with her and not someone else. Kyra had seen the attention she got last night and Kassandra wouldn't have been sleeping alone, that's for sure so it made her presence only the sweeter.

Kyra didn't expect Kassandra at all and she especially did not expect for her to swoop in and save her from an uncomfortable situation that she would have regretted the next day. Kassandra had a way of just making herself present in the most opportune of times and it has saved Kyra on more than one occasion. If Kyra was a betting woman (and she was always willing to gamble) she'd say Kassandra had an attune sense to know when people needed help. Kassandra tries to play it off as coincidence, but they happen far too frequently for it to continue being called that. Kassandra has helped numerous people on this island just because she happened to nearby when something went awry and Kassandra may place that up to random chance, but Kyra wouldn't.

Speaking of Kassandra, she needed to find her as Kyra was not about to let her do all this by herself. It would be one thing if she was going far away, but these are her islands and she'd be damned if she was just going to sit back and let this all unfold right under her nose. Odds are good Kassandra was already on Delos since Kyra herself got a very late start, but Kyra was confident she could find her. True, it had been year since she'd stepped up to run the island and placed her old life behind her, but she was still confident in her abilities and that she'd find Kassandra before she got in over her head or before she disappeared.

Kassandra, true to Kyra's prediction, was nowhere as Kyra took a precursory walk around, asking of Kassandra's whereabouts, but all came up short and nobody had seen her. Kyra really didn't think she would have been seen as Kassandra had a habit of cutting off all forms of communication the day of her departure, at least that's what Kyra assumed based off personal experience. Kyra hadn't expected her to leave for Delos until late in the evening though, but she could've gone early to ensure her position which would be just like Kassandra to do. That woman left nothing to chance if she could help it.

Kyra had only one task to finish before she could depart as she had warned Praxos of her absence for an undetermined amount of time and that he would be in charge of the everyday running’s in her absence. He had seemed grateful and humbled by Kyra's faith in him and as impulsive as he could be sometimes, she had her own flaws so he wouldn't be judged by his own. She hadn't expected to be longer than a week, but she was not about to limit herself if this turned out to be larger and more complicated than Kassandra believed so she advised him of such. She would do what she had to and if that meant culling this untouchable cult until it was a husk then by the gods she would do it.

It did strike her at how displeased Kassandra would be by the intrusion so she knew she had to wait until there was no choice but to accept that she was tagging along. Was this the right thing to do? Maybe. Was this a healthy way to think? Probably not. Did she care? Absolutely not. Similar to Kassandra (although not as extreme in Kyra's own opinion), Kyra could be stubborn too and when her mind is set to something, she'll be hard pressed to deviate from it.

It was honestly the smarter decision in Kyra's mind anyway as they'd be a team to handle whatever was thrown against them and two was always better than one. As much as Kassandra played the lone wolf, it could do her some good to know what it's like to work as a team and consider someone else for once. Kyra wonders how many close calls Kassandra's been in because it was only her. She truly doesn't want to think about it as even the mere hypothetical causes her discomfort. She couldn't bear the thought of Kassandra being in harm's way (even though this was a regular occurrence) and it just would cause her to worry prematurely.

It was no matter as even if Kassandra said no to her again and declined her presence, she was still going anyway and she would just do it alone. Now that she knew about the threat, she could not just remain dormant and allow someone else to solve her problems. It's not that she didn't trust Kassandra, because she did without a doubt, but she also knew Kassandra had her own personal agenda and that what was best for her may not be what's best for Mykonos. She will ensure the right thing is done, even if it comes at a personal cost.

Kassandra had decided to get an early start as she wanted to speak with Kepheus to see if he's got any good news for her, but she got caught by a woman who needed her help so she was delayed by a few hours. She had done her best to stay out of the town and away from the crowds, but this woman was somehow able to not only find her, but talk her into a menial task for hours.

She was anxious to get this trip started as the waiting around was driving her mad, but she was not cold enough to turn away a cry for help. Sure, she generally found ways to keep herself occupied, but there was nothing like the thrill of what she’s about to do. The thrill of the hunt was very real and it gave Kassandra an adrenaline rush like no other. She didn’t always go looking for trouble, but when she did, you could guarantee it’d be a sight to see.

She had made her way to the tavern which appeared to be closed which was odd given that the sun was beginning to set and these kinds of places are always open around this time. She decided to take a peek around to see if she could find him, or anyone really, to see what was going on, but it was as if everything was eerily quiet. Figuring it was worth a try anyway, Kassandra tries the front door and, as expected, it was locked so she made her way around the property to try to find him.

There was what appeared to be an extension added on for a makeshift living quarter so odds would be good he’d be in there. There were also some wooden boards leaning up against the small add on, but the placement of them seemed as if they were blocking something. It looked almost like an afterthought as it was leaning oddly against the wall and there is no way these beams would work as anything as they looked to be a bit rotted. What ever could these be here for? How would they even work? The way they leaned did leave an opening that Kassandra could make out.

The more Kassandra moves around, the more suspicious she becomes as there seems to be signs of a fight here as she can see specks of blood splattered around the wooden beams on her approach. She reaches for her spear as she continues her perimeter search, but finds nothing amiss anywhere else and there is still no sign of Kepheus.

She makes her way back to the beams where she carefully removes them, revealing a broken door, pieces of it scattered on the ground inside. There also seemed to be a pool of blood just beyond the opening and if she wasn't alarmed before, this definitely sent of alarms that something was very, very wrong.

“Kepheus, are you in here?” Kassandra whispers as she’s not sure who’s going to be present. She holds her breath to listen, but she can't hear anything out of the ordinary.

She is about to step back when she hears a faint cough followed by the sounds of labored breathing. She knows she’s not alone anymore, but she’s not sure if it is Kepheus or his attacker. She lifts her spear and cautiously steps in, avoiding as much blood as possible as it makes her footing slippery.

Each step she takes inward, the louder the breathing becomes until it suddenly ceases as if they were holding their breath. Kassandra does a precursory glance around the disheveled room and locates where she believes the breathing came from as most everything in here has been tossed over so there was only so many places one could hide.

Before her was a table flipped over onto its side with some sort of fabric covering the top two legs, shielding whomever was behind it from sight. It offered slight protection as this table was thick enough to withstand an arrow and most likely any initial swing from any known weapon, but it was not ideally placed.

Before she could think too long on the subject, a figure bursts from behind it with a yell. Kassandra, of course, was ready for this and she easily parried the blow before she knocked the weapon from the mans hands.

“Please, no more, please....just kill me already” she hears, the plea sounding desperate and strained.

Kassandra takes a harder look at the man in front of her and she can hardly recognize it as Kepheus as his face is completely bloody and swollen. He probably couldn’t even see her which is why he lashed out.

“Kepheus? Is that you? It’s me, Kassandra. We met two weeks ago" Kassandra says as she sheaths her spear and raises her hands up so he can see she is unarmed, well, so he maybe could see her unarmed.

“Ka...Kassandra?” Kepheus chokes out, his voice hoarse and raw.

“By the gods, what on earth happened to you? Who did this?” Kassandra questions, taking a few more steps into the room.

“It was…men…you...watching...” he begins, but his voice keeps fading in and out so Kassandra could only make out bits of what he was trying to say.

“What men? Who is watching you?” Kassandra keeps prodding, desperately wanting to know the culprits behind this.

Kepheus opens his mouth to respond, but instead of speaking, he collapses backwards and slams into the table before he descends to the floor.

Kassandra rushes forward to aid him, but as soon as she tries to get him to stand, she can feel something sticky on her hands. She gently sets him back down and pulls her hands away to see them stained with blood. She looks up into his eyes and can see them beginning to gloss over. This meant if she didn’t move quick, his time on this earth would be over soon.

“Hold on Kepheus, I will not let you die like this" she assures and usually she would never intentionally lie to someone about something like this, but she liked him. Kassandra also wasn't sure where he was injured either and that would take time that he doesn't have, but she desperately needed him to live as she needed information.

She runs out of the broken entryway and crosses towards the front of the tavern. Squaring herself up, she places a strong kick right below the handle and the door offers almost no resistance as it snaps out of place and slams into the wall behind it. She'd pay for it later as neither she nor Kepheus had the luxury of time for her to try to lock pick.

Kassandra isn’t too sure what he’s got in here, if anything, but most people who run taverns know to keep some handy equipment and spare wraps for the fights that go too far. Kassandra is hoping Kepheus is the same kind of cautious as the rest of them, but it's clear after a minute that he's not.

She just needs to buy enough time for them to get to a healer so she takes alcohol and every cloth she can see so that she can at least disinfect the wound and hopefully stop him from losing anymore blood. She was rushing so fast back to him that she almost missed the fact that they had company lurking about.

Almost.

The way the tavern was set up was that it was away from any populated area and there was only one road to enter by so it was well secluded. The position of this place also allowed for even the most brazen men to step forward before the sun even set to cause trouble as it would've had to have been daylight when this happened to him. Whoever it was, they didn't mess around and it was almost as of they wanted to be caught as there would be no way to prevent someone from just walking down here for a drink.

Kassandra almost trips over herself with how fast she stopped when she realized that things were not the way she'd left them only a few moments ago.

The remaining beams had been knocked over and there were now footprints in the blood that she purposely avoided. Going through her mind, she quickly eliminates Kepheus as the perpetrator as he couldn't walk, yet alone displace anything in his current condition so there is at least one, if not more people here that she needs to deal with.

"Just great" Kassandra mumbles to herself as this was exactly what she needed. Of course things had to get complicated for her and of course there would be an additional set of danger added. Some stroke of luck she seemed to be having.

She retreats enough to be out of sight and summons Ikaros with the direction that he goes to the ship to try to get her help. He caws in agreement and takes to the sky while Kassandra gets closer to where Kepheus is.

She is light on her feet as a rule (unless she's purposely stepping heavy out of spite) and it's something so second nature to her that she never even thinks about it unless she's in a critical situation. Now though, it becomes a very real forethought as it's very necessary for her to tread very carefully. If she doesn't want to be noticed, she can become a ghost and that's exactly what she needs to be here until she can gain a better insight on what's happening.

Each step taken from then on was meticulously thought out as she made the tentative steps inside. She leans in the opening, just enough to get a quick look, and spots one man looming over Kepheus. If there are other men, they're out of her line of vision, but what she does see is that Kepheus doesn't have the time for her to be patient as the unknown man is holding a sword to his throat. Taking the risk, Kassandra leaps into the room and lands a solid blow to the back of the head of the man, dropping him to the floor. A follow up slice across his throat silences any call for help.

Kassandra looks down and it was clear that Kepheus was no longer conscious as a best case scenario and as she crouches in front of him to try to feel for a pulse, she realizes that she'd made a grave mistake.

By the time she registered the sound behind her, it was too late and she gets hit in the back of the head with a broken version of one of the wooden beams, causing her to stumble forward. She was able to remain standing by some miracle, but she was unable to get her body to want to move and places a hand up to her temple as if it would fix her problems.

Kassandra can hear a ringing in her ears and she tries to shake her head to make it stop, but that only makes her dizzy. She also tries to blink furiously to remove the spots that have seemed to multiply in their intensity as everything had become so disorienting for her in a matter of seconds.

All this time, unbeknownst to her, the man who struck her watches her, a sadistic look in his eyes and a smile that would make the hairs on your neck stand. He had a look of a mad man and Kassandra had no idea what hell was about to be unleashed upon her.

As she turns to get eyes back on the second attacker, he follows up with another swing, this time to her abdomen, knocking the wind out of her. The momentum of the swing knocks her head into the corner of the table, sending shooting pains throughout her whole body. There was enough speed from the fall where Kassandra knew it was going to bleed, but she didn't have time to dwell on this as there was an immediate threat she needed to handle.

She tried to stand up, but the man was relentless and she found that she was having a hard time even blocking his swings yet alone getting any momentum to stand up.

"Shame," Kassandra hears the man say as he gloats, "I thought you of all people would put up a better fight, but you're nothing like Deimos unlike what the rumors say. You are pathetic."

"Fuck you" Kassandra spits out, but it was more for show as she knew she couldn't do much about him at this point and they both knew it.

Her carelessness would be her downfall and she didn't want this to be where she died, but it was looking pretty grim. Laying on the ground, on Delos, at a tavern covered in blood. It was not a hero's exit and it was not fitting for someone of her caliber. This couldn't be it and it wouldn't be if she could help it.

The man wears a maniacal grin as he sheaths his sword in favor of hand to hand combat. He shakes out his arms as he plans on finishing this with his bare hands and Kassandra feels a bit rattled by the gesture as it makes no sense. As much as she hates to admit it, he had the upper hand and this felt like a cocky move, something to gloat by.

"I've been looking forward to this moment for a long time" the man speaks low as he knows she's listening intently. "You may not remember me, but I remember you."

He takes the confused look on Kassandra's face as a sign he should continue.

"Of course you don't recognize me," he scoffs, "you were too busy slaughtering my crew to pay me any mind. Unlike you though, I never forget a face."

"Who are you?" Kassandra asks in genuine confusion as she doesn't remember him at all, nor what he's claiming she did.

"My old name isn't important, but my new name will be. You may call me the Eagle Killer" he answers with an intense and crazed look in his eyes.

"I don't know what you're talking about" and Kassandra truly didn't, but maybe keeping him talking would help. "Where and when did this even take place?"

"Do you kill so many people that you can't even remember?" He asks rhetorically, his head shifting to the side as if he were appraising her. "Megaris, two years ago, you and your crew destroyed three of our ships and you single handedly killed thirty five of my men that same day."

Thirty five? That seems a bit much, but regardless of the number count, she at least remembered exactly what he is talking about. That's right before she met with her pater, the Wolf of Sparta, for the first time since he dropped both her and Alexios from Mount Taygetos all those years ago.

The man notices the look of recognition in her eyes as she pieces it all together.

"I survived you. Twice" he emphasizes by holding up two fingers her direction. "You sunk my ship and I was the only survivor. I managed to undo my armor before Poseidon claimed me and I washed ashore only to survive a stab wound from you when defending Megaris later that same day."

Kassandra looks on, not believing the absolute garbage luck she's been having lately because, of course she would create this enemy only to not be aware of their existence. Mercenaries make no friends, but they had no problems with making enemies so it came with the territory, but this was different. This was about a war and her picking a side and war was nothing, if not only, a giant grudge festering under the surface until it explodes.

"I can see it in your eyes that you remember it" his tone getting angrier each sentence. "You killed my brother and my best friend. You ruined my life and now, for your last moments in this world, I am going to make you feel unspeakable pain."

He takes a few steps forward to bridge the gap between them so Kassandra musters what she can of her strength and kicks him, hard, in the shin. It wasn't hard enough though as it only seemed to make him angrier as he showed no signs of slowing down in the slightest. Before she knows it, she's being yanked up from the floor by her throat and being pinned against the wall.

This man was no average man as he lifted her with an ease that only larger men could do and he tossed her around like a ragdoll. Every time she tried to fight back, it was to no avail as she must've hit her head harder than she thought as she couldn't make her body move to match what she wanted to do. It was causing her to be disoriented and it was messing with what she could actually see. Her mind was playing tricks on her as he would appear to be in striking distance only for her to swing and get nothing but air. Her outlook grew dimmer each hit she took.

It was becoming difficult for her to stand without holding onto something, but it seemed this "Eagle Killer" was in a mood to play. Kassandra would take the hits as there wasn't anything else she could do. One strike knocked her onto some shatter remnants of what appeared to be a vase, causing several lacerations across her left side. The pain was almost enough to overtake her into unconsciousness, but she couldn't lose focus now or she truly would be dead. What she really needed was a miracle.

The man grabs Kassandra by the hair and tosses her into the pool of blood she's been desperately trying to avoid. Before she can roll out of it, he comes up quick behind her and places his boot on the back of her head, forcing her into the small puddle.

Kassandra tries to wiggle out of his hold, but he's too strong and she can feel herself running out of oxygen as she desperately tries to not breathe as all she'd get would be blood.

Kassandra had never felt this way before in her life. A shortness of breath, light headedness, pain encompassing almost every muscle in her body, and a general helplessness that she'd never felt before. She was almost positive she was going to die here and she was becoming more ok with the idea the more this torture went on. She just wanted it to stop.

"I hope you rot in Hades for all of eternity Eagle Bearer!" He shouts and Kassandra can hear enough to know that her time was up. This was it.

It was as if the gods themselves listened to her pleas for help because she felt the weight of his boot release from her head, but never felt its return. She gasps up for air as she couldn't take it anymore and for whatever reason, he had let her be for a moment. She couldn't see a thing due to her blurry vision though and the fact that blood was covering her eyes didn't help either, but she could hear muffled sounds as she tried to move to a corner so she could use it to stand.

Kassandra could hear shattering, but was at a loss for what was happening. Had Kepheus become conscious and come to her aid? That was the only explanation as they were the only one's out here and Kassandra knew it wasn't her causing this distraction.

She finally is able to feel a wall and she slides herself so that she's sitting upright with her back pressed against the cool surface as she tries to stand. She fails, continuously, and when she tries to use her hands, they only slide off due to her being soaked in blood so there's no place on her to dry them off. Whatever is going on, she's going to have to fight from down here.

Kassandra feels a presence before her so she blindly swings her fist as her spear had been removed from her possession during one of the manhandling sessions. She connects with something, a face perhaps, and she tries to find her second wind.

All she can hear is the incessant ringing in her head and her heart pumping with adrenaline, her chest pumping. She's not aware of the voice that speaks her name as she continues to throw punches, too far gone to understand. Kassandra can feel them being deflected, but none are being thrown her way, but she persists.

She has, by some grace, managed to stand so she vigorously wipes at her eyes to try to see who is in front of her. She doesn't want to hurt him if it's Kepheus, but she also doesn't trust leaving her guard down while she's so vulnerable. She squints and can make out a figure much smaller than the other man so this must be Kepheus.

"Kepheus..." Kassandra strangles out as her throat is aching from where he was holding her earlier.

She reaches out for him, but her knees buckle beneath her before she can go anywhere. She closes her eyes, expecting to hit the ground, but instead she feels a warm arm around her waist holding her steady. She's grateful for it as her head feels like it's underwater and the pressure is giving her a headache.

"Kassandra" she hears, but she contorts her face into that of confusion as it didn't sound like Kepheus.

"Kassandra, can you hear me?" She hears the voice again, but she can't seem to get herself to respond.

Kassandra can feel herself getting very tired, very fast and finds herself drifting in and out of consciousness. One moment she's standing with someone and the next, she's laying down on what was probably a bed. Gods did her head hurt something terrible, but she needed to ignore it as she needed to find Kepheus as he was still injured and she promised she'd save him.

Kassandra promptly sits up from the bed and regrets it immediately as a wave of dizziness takes over and she feels incredibly nauseous all of a sudden. She lurches for the edge of the bed as the contents of her stomach make a reappearance and vomits all over the floor before her arm gives out and she collapses back onto the bed. She can hear her name being called, but the urge to sleep overtakes her.

By the time Kassandra stirs, her head is feeling only slightly better, but her stomach feels worse as the stench of death, blood, and vomit fills the air and it takes all her willpower to not throw up a second time. She groans as she tries to sit up, slowly this time, but is stopped by a hand placed gently on her shoulder.

Kassandra reaches for the hand and finds it to be incredibly soft and smaller than what she expected. She can't handle opening her eyes right now as the pain it still too intense and the everything seems so bright as Kassandra could make out a reddish glow from behind her eyelids. She could still rely on her other senses to help her out, but this all was just too much at once and she couldn't place this stranger. She had shaken Kepheus' hand and his was calloused and rough so unless he had been using oils for the past two weeks, there was no way this was him.

She still had the incessant ringing in her head, making it hard to hear her own thoughts yet alone anyone else's, but she believed she was being spoken to by this mysterious person.

She allowed herself to be pushed back onto the bed by the hand that she was still gripping onto. Only once she was fully laying down again did Kassandra release her grip, but the other person didn't let her go, instead she felt a hand gentle running their fingers through her destroyed braid. Kassandra melted at the touch and could feel her headache lessen with each pass.

Being more relaxed allows her to pick up a forth scent to the awful one's flooding her system, one that struck Kassandra as familiar, but she couldn't place from where. It was soothing though and Kassandra focused on that as she lost consciousness for the umpteenth time, but unlike the last time, there was a small smile on her face as she succumbed into the darkness while a gentle hand strokes her hair.

When Kassandra awakens next, the brightness of the room is gone and she notices the room doesn't smell as bad as it did before. Kassandra wiggles a little and can still feel herself in the bed or whatever it is she's laying in. This time, she cracks open an eye to see nothing but darkness and she's wondering if that's because of her head injury or if it was night time, maybe both. Slowly opening both eyes, blinking hard to try to focus, she realizes it is indeed dark out, but that there are a few lit candles meaning someone had been here to take care of her. It was possible it was the healer she sent Ikaros to find.

It only takes a moment for her first clear thoughts to sink in.

She had missed the meeting and she had failed Kepheus.

Her body is telling her to not move, but Kassandra has never been one to sit on the sidelines and now wouldn't be any different. Willing all the energy she has, she forces herself into a sitting position and can feel the light headedness begin to return. She closes her eyes again and takes several steadying breaths until the feeling subsides. She then slowly drags her legs to the ground and lifts herself from the bed. Her body still ached, but it was manageable compared to earlier.

Feeling as if she has her bearings together, she takes a few tentative steps to get her legs moving again before she walks over to where she last saw Kepheus. He was nowhere to be found so he either had gotten up on his own or the person who aided her, also aided him. She didn't have time to dwell on it as she had no idea what time it was anymore so she needed to make her way down to the docks and fast.

It took her an additional moment to realize that she was also no longer fully clothed as a breeze came through and she began to shiver. That's when she looked down and noticed that she had some bandages around her side and around her thigh on her left leg. Meaning all she had on from the waist down was her underwear so she probably should get dressed. Looking around for the rest of her sash, she finds it placed near the bed that was haphazardly made for her and pulls it on as quickly as she can (which is painfully slow). The weight of it is irritating her bandages, but she didn't care.

She still had a ways to go as this area was not in the town, but southwest of it, maybe five hundred meters or so if she went by land. Although, if she went to the coast she could see all the ships arriving and departing and cut her time in half, but she'd be too far away to see any individuals as more than just a silhouette as it was so dark. She needed to make haste and she'd come back for Kepheus once she found what she needed. This left her with two options, trying the shore in hopes there is a boat, cutting her travel distance in half, or she would need to try to run it.

A short test jog outside gave her the answer as the impact caused her side to ache so trying the shore for a boat was the answer. She'd even rather swim than run at this point so she does a light jog as to not irritate her wounds even further.

It takes about a minute for her to get there and, buy sheer luck, there is a small boat left unattended. She didn't want to resort to stealing, but it's not like it was going that far, only across the small patch of water, they could just swim to go get it back.

Having justified her actions to herself, she hops on the boat and makes quick work, reaching the other side in only a couple minutes. She has to climb a little bit, but it still beats having to run. Dusting herself off once she gets back on her feet, she briskly walks in the direction that Kepheus had given her last time.

Kassandra arrives a bit winded, but at least she's there. She looks around to find anyone out of the ordinary, but the whole place is almost deserted.

"Malaka!" Kassandra scolds herself internally as this was all her fault. She should have just come over when she woke up and not waited. Then maybe she could've found Kepheus unharmed or she could have at least given him more help than she did.

There was no doubt that the cult was behind the attack so this place would be compromised when the men didn't report back so she could kiss any chance of them returning here goodbye.

She had failed.

She failed Kepheus as she exposed him to the wrath of the cult, she failed Kyra as she had assured her she would take care of the threat, and she failed herself for her poor judgment.

Kassandra had not screwed up this bad in a long time and she wasn't quite sure how to fix it. Life would go on and nobody would be the wiser, but Kassandra would always know. She would always know there's a threat that could lurk these islands and that Kyra and her people could never truly be safe.

She would need to eventually find Kyra to admit this failure, but she's not sure if she has it in her to do right now. Kyra would lose respect for her and Kassandra couldn't take seeing it fade right before her own eyes. Kassandra's not even sure why she cares so much about Kyra's opinion anyway. She will lose everything she built with her if she ever tells Kyra about Thaletas.

Defeated, Kassandra begins the journey towards the Adrestia. She had Barnabas stay on Mykonos to remain out of sight, but not too far that she couldn't reach him in a hurry.

Making her way back to the boat, she takes it back to where she found it, nobody the wiser, and makes her way back to the tavern. She checks inside by the moonlight and can see that nothing's changed and that everything was as she had left it. Still not completely trusting that it's safe, Kassandra pulls out her spear. The candles had been extinguished, but it was recent as the scent still lingered in the air. Kepheus was still missing from what she'd seen so she assumed that he was long gone and most likely not the one who was here with her. She couldn't blame him for running, but it pained her to know that whatever knowledge he had was lost along with the cultists.

Kassandra opts to not walk in blind, well, blinder than she already is, so she grabs a stick and a rock and uses her spear to ignite a flame. It won't last very long, but it will be enough that Kassandra can take a quick look around and light the candles again. It takes her no time at all to assure it's empty so she lights the candles and extinguishes her torch before it burned her hand.

She was weighing if she wanted to go all the way back to Mykonos today or wait until tomorrow. Her body still felt so drained and it was beginning to turn light and she did not want anyone to see her like this, but she also knew she would not be able to get any rest out here. The cultists would already be long gone so there was no longer a sense of urgency, she didn't feel much of anything at all. Still, she wanted to be home and she knew if she was on the Adrestia that she'd at least feel safer.

It takes a lot to rattle her, but the events that all unfolded so quickly had really gotten to her. She could have died, really and truly died tonight. She can handle close encounters, but this was different. This was personal. That man had tracked her, stalked her, just to get her alone. It wasn't honestly hard to find her alone as that's how she worked, but she just couldn't shake this off. She needed solace in her own room, on her ship, with her people and maybe then she'd be able to rest.

All she knew was that she wanted to get as far away as possible for right now. She would send a letter to Kyra about all that transpired as she didn't think she could actually face her with this failure, not yet anyway. For now, she just needed the open water and the sea breeze.

Chapter Text

(Earlier that same day)

Kyra had finished up her final errand and it took more time than she wanted it to. The sun was getting lower in the sky and if Kyra wanted to find Kassandra, she'd need to leave before it got too dark or tracking would be almost impossible. Thankfully, Kassandra had shared some information with her before she voiced that she wanted to help as after that, Kassandra kept everything pretty tight lipped so she had a general idea of where to look.

She never spent much time on Delos as there wasn't much going on there as the quarry was on Mykonos, thus the drachmae was here. She'd need to do better as it was her responsibility to see it succeed and that meant finding a way to turn it around. Alas, she was not making this trip for that, at least not this time. This time it was for Kassandra so she needed to cover herself so that she wouldn't be recognized.

After a quick wardrobe change, Kyra made her way to her docking area along the coast. There were perks to being in charge and having her own mode of transportation was one of them. It took a little longer to reach Delos than if she went to the actual docks, but this way she'd be less likely to be recognized and the less people she was around the better.

During her ride she can swear she hears Kassandra's eagle, Ikaros, cawing above her, but she dismisses it as just another bird.

Kyra finds no trouble during her short journey and she stops near the southernmost part of the island and drags her boat to shore, hiding it in some shrubbery for safekeeping. She was grateful that she at least knew this island fairly well although the tavern was most certainly new. Last time she was here it was a farm so it must have been sold and repurposed to try to bring in drachmae. Farming was rough on these islands so it was probably very wise for them to sell and move on.

She makes her way up the trail, but stops short of actually stepping onto the property as she can hear the sound of talking. It wasn't unusual for people to speak at a tavern of course, but this didn't sound like talking, more like a threat. She didn't like this one bit, but still she waited as she needed to do some recon first before she interjected herself into something that's potentially dangerous.

Kyra survey's the surrounding area, but she cannot see anyone else and from the sounds of it, there's only two people inside.

There's definitely sounds of distress and of some sort of item shattering, but Kyra doesn't have the weapons like she would have at her disposal on Mykonos. She had figured this would be stealth so she carried with her a bow and a small dagger. Not enough to take down a swarm of men, but hopefully it was enough to help out whomever was being attacked.

Kyra slowly works her way towards the tavern, ensuring she stays low to the ground. She is grateful her wardrobe is that of earth colors as it allows her to blend in seamlessly with the area around her.

She remains perched by one of the silos until she hears a man shouting. He yells such a phrase that sends dread down every fiber of Kyra's body as she now knows exactly who is inside.

"I hope you rot in Hades for all of eternity Eagle Bearer!" Kyra hears the man yell and she knows that she doesn't have time to wait as Kassandra is in deep trouble.

Kyra sprints as fast as her body will allow as she she's got a straight shot into the entrance. She's got her dagger in her hand and is ready to fight even the gods themselves to protect Kassandra, she just prays she's not too late.

As she gets closer, she can see a battered and extremely bloody Kassandra face down in a pool of blood. Kyra prays that it isn't Kassandra's as there is just so much on the floor and there is no way Kassandra could survive that much blood loss, even if she did rival the gods with how resilient she was.

Kyra wastes no time in slamming both herself and her dagger into the man who's about to stomp Kassandra head into the ground.

The man was too distracted by his own dialogue and vengeance that he didn't even see Kyra's approach as his vision was looking down at Kassandra. It would be his hubris that truly ended him, that and the fact that Kyra lodged her blade directly into his chest, just shy of his heart as she barreled into him right before his foot was about to connect with Kassandra's skull.

Kyra's momentum sends her toppling over him causing her hand to lose the grip on the blade embedded in his chest. Kyra wastes no time on the ground as she turns the tumble into a roll and springs back to her feet, grabbing an arrow as it was the next available weapon she had with her.

The man is slow to rise as the blood begins to flow out of him like a fountain. He had the look of pure shock and surprise etched all over his face as Kyra was not something he would have even thought to consider. Kassandra works alone so if she was the target, they would know that she would have no back up. No amount of planning would have made the difference as Kassandra had made herself a lone wolf and that's the reputation that the world got to know. Little did they know that Kyra was too stubborn to let her go into a suicide mission without help, it's just fortunate she arrived when she did.

The man pulls out the dagger, but remains standing as he grips the bloodied blade in his palm. Kyra can see that the man is beginning to sway, but he too must be stubborn as it was clear he wasn't just going to die quietly. Whatever happens, she needs to keep his attention off from Kassandra so she takes several steps back to lure him.

It works as the man staggers his way towards her with the intent to not die alone. He swings when he gets within range and Kyra is able to dodge and counter with a slice with her arrow right up the vein along his arm.

The man drops the dagger as he drops down to a knee, cradling his arm as both he and Kyra know that his fight will be over in a matter of minutes. He's lost too much blood to stand and even he could, Kyra could easily parry anything he had to throw at her.

He looks up at her, a look of confusion now replaces the surprised look he had but moments ago.

"Why?...How?..." is all the man is able to get out as each breath becomes more labored than the next.

"You made the mistake of messing with the wrong woman, my woman" Kyra answers in a serious tone, dropping herself so that she's level with his face. "You had better hope she is still alive or else I promise that I will kill everyone you've ever loved, ending your bloodline with you."

His eyes go wide at the threat, but Kyra is done with him so she takes arrow and lodges it though his throat, giving the final moment of his life, a harrowing end fitting for a man like him. He maybe lives for a few seconds, but as soon as she stands up, it's clear he is no longer alive. She's covered in blood which immediately brings her vision to Kassandra who's now huddle up in the corner.

"Oh thank the gods!" Kyra exclaims as Kassandra was alive and that was more hope than she had when she first got here.

Kyra makes her way over to Kassandra, elated that she is alive.

"Kassandra" Kyra says with such love, but it as if Kassandra cannot hear her as she lunges towards her with the intent to fight and Kassandra's fist connects with her jaw.

"Fuck Kassandra, stop" Kyra pleads, rubbing her jaw, but Kassandra continues to swing wildly at her. Kyra knows something is deeply wrong and she absolutely would not strike back so she would just continue to block them until she tired out.

Finally, as if something clicked, Kassandra wiped the blood from her face and squinted at her.

"Kepheus..." Kyra hears her utter, voice raspy and broken.

"Who is Kepheus? It's me Kassandra, it's Kyra" she tries again as Kassandra still isn't registering it's her.

Kassandra reaches out and tries to take a step, but her legs give and Kyra quickly lunges to grab her, saving her at the last moment.

"Kassandra" Kyra repeats and she can see Kassandra's face change and it's clear she's confused and disoriented as her eyes are glazed over. Kassandra must have sustained a head injury sometime before Kyra arrived as it would explain the odd behavior she's exhibiting.

"Kassandra, can you hear me?" Kyra questions as she leans Kassandra onto the wall so that she can look at her.

She's grateful for the forethought because as soon as she asked the question, Kassandra became deadweight in her arms, almost causing Kyra to drop her. Instead, she slides them both to the ground and checks for a pulse. Kassandra is still alive, just unconscious and after Kyra rests Kassandra's head against a stand that is nearby, she takes the time to observe the room.

Towards the back corner on one side lays the body of the man who attacked Kassandra, but as Kyra turns, she spots another man in the adjacent corner. He looks limp as his body is hunched forward, but Kyra still approaches with her arrow in her hand. Picking up a broken table leg on her way, she gently pokes the man who slumps back.

"Wow, ok, you're definitely dead too" Kyra recoils as he is quite the sight. Kyra was pretty sure that man had bled to death given the stain that was being absorbed into the wood below him, but it could be a host of other things too.

Moving his body seemed to distribute a foul stench into the air so putrid that Kyra had to rush outside for fresh air.

She takes deep and heavy breaths as the weight of everything that just happened comes crashing down on her. Kassandra almost died and she had killed a man in all of about ten minutes. Kyra looks down at her splayed fingers and they're covered in blood and shaking ever so slightly. So much more could have gone wrong. If she even hesitated for a second longer than she did, Kassandra probably would've died or had heavy brain damage at least. Kassandra could still die as she's not sure what kind of injuries she even has.

Taking a deep breath, Kyra turns to go sort the disaster that lies beyond. She starts with Kassandra as it is important that she gets examined. It's too dark out now, but she is able to locate several candles so she brings them to where the bed is and lights them. The beds a bit broken, but it should hold Kassandra up no problem, but not both of them so Kyra would need to find somewhere else to lay down as Kassandra was in no position to travel.

Kyra brings Kassandra to the bed and begins to look her over for wounds. Kyra can see gashes alone her lower left side and there are some bruising and minor cuts just about everywhere else. Kyra gently observes Kassandra's head and she goes to lift her head up, she can feel the stickiness of blood. It was clear Kyra was ill prepared for this, but she would make do.

There already were rags and alcohol (which was convenient), but she also needed cloth to wrap up the wounds so she took to digging through a dresser that she's assuming belongs to the random dead man.

Kyra is no healer, but she's also no novice as with the life she lives, it's a very useful skill set to have. She focuses on her head first, cleaning the wound as best she can and disinfecting it before wrapping it with a few chitons that she ripped up. Looking down, it was clear the shards went deep in her skin, hitting her just right that the armor was of no use. It also meant that she would need to undress Kassandra.

Now, it wasn't anything Kyra hadn't seen before, but this would be the first time she didn't have explicit permission to see her almost naked. Kassandra would forgive her if it meant saving her life so Kyra slides down the lower sash until Kassandra is only left in her underwear. It makes Kyra blush as even on the brink of death can Kassandra elicit such responses from her, but now is certainly not the time to ogle.

It takes Kyra about an hour to get everything else cleaned up after she’d finished up with Kassandra. The place was really starting to smell and it even got so bad that when Kassandra became conscious she quickly vomited and then passed back out again. That was the sign she needed to clean house and, in this case, it was the entire place that needed to be evacuated.

Kyra dragged both bodies outside and managed to find a shovel so she finds a nice spot for the stranger and gives him the best burial she can, but for the other man, the one she fought with, he could rot until the wolves tear him to nothing but bone. She drags him far enough from the path that he wouldn't be seen and places him in a bush. Not luxurious, but he would be nature's problem now.

She tried to clean up the blood, but there was just so much and she didn't have enough to fully soak it all up. She needed to keep fresh stuff for Kassandra so did her best to get the larger puddles.

Satisfied that this is all as good as it's going to get, Kyra needed to go find some food for the two of them. She would check in the storage, but odds were good she'd have to find something herself.

Hunting by moonlight was not easy and it took time and patience that she just didn't have anymore. Giving up after an hour, she heads back as she didn't want to leave Kassandra alone for that long.

Apparently though, it was long enough for Kassandra to have come to and completely vanish. Kyra calls out her name, but is met only with the sounds of the animals around them.

She was at least relieved that Kassandra was at least functioning on her own accord as it was clear she got dressed here and left on her own so Kyra would wait a few minutes before she made her way back to Mykonos as there was no use in sticking around. It would be unlikely that Kassandra would return back here, but she would hold out for a little while longer just in case.

Kyra waited for about fifteen minutes before she headed for the shoreline. She had spotted the Adrestia near the docks as she took a walk around the main square earlier in the day so there was a high chance that Kassandra would make her way there. She was too anxious to sleep for what was left of the night (which wasn't much at this point) so she made her way to her boat and began the trip across to the docks as there's a good chance that that's where Kassandra would go. Kyra needed to see her, she needed to see that she was still alive and in one piece after how she last knew her condition to be.

Kyra made her way towards the ship, but as she gets closer, she realizes they're about to depart.

"Shit!" Kyra mutters as she picks up the pace, running blindly towards the slowly departing ship.

If she didn't find a way to make it on that boat, there was a good chance she'd not see Kassandra again, maybe ever, and that wasn't something she was going to let happen.

Thankful that she was still covered, she continued to run full speed towards the boat, grabbing her dagger as a way to get leverage once reaching the ship. It was going to be a stretch, but she needed to try for it anyway.

Kyra reaches the end of the dock and leaped towards the Adrestia, hoping she got enough speed to get her close enough to the ship. The momentum was just barely enough as Kyra connects her hands over the dagger above her head and plummets it into the wood on the bottom half of the stern. Her grip almost loosens, but she's able to reposition herself and gain her footing.

She realizes how this would all look if she was spotted right now and she did make some noise so it would be best to lay low for a few minutes before finishing the climb on up.

After waiting for around ten minutes or so, Kyra's hands were starting to tire and she was too far from any land to want to land in the water and she was not about to become shark food so she works her way up.

Kyra was just below where the railing was when she paused as both Kassandra and Barnabas were standing right there, having a serious discussion from the sounds of it.

"Talk to me Kassandra, what happened? I'm sure she would understand, but not if you keep running!" Kyra heard Barnabas challenge, care and concern evident in his tone. Kyra was grateful Kassandra had someone like him in her life, someone who truly cares about her without ulterior motive.

"For the last time Barnabas, drop this now. I don't want to talk to you, to Kyra, to anyone! Just leave me be" Kyra overhears Kassandra snap back, but her tone was filled with something she's not heard in her voice for as long as she's known her.

Fear.

Kassandra is clearly perturbed by something, but Kyra doesn't understand why it had to do with her. Did she not want her to save her? Would she have preferred she left her for dead? Kyra was at a loss, but it was clear that whatever was wrong, she was a part of the problem.

It was too late to change anything as Kyra was here now and there was no turning back, but she just would keep a low profile until she figured out what to do. She would try to speak with Barnabas in private as if anyone would be reasonable, it'd be him. She's also grateful she got to know a few of Kassandra's crew as she needed to blend in.

Traversing to the side on the ship, Kyra slips inside, but is immediately spotted by a member of the crew and, thankfully, she knew who it was. Kyra was quick to remove her head covering as he was about to draw his sword, but once he recognized her, he immediately relax.

"Kyra?!" Sabyllos questions as this was not expected in the slightest given that they were in the middle of the ocean. "What are you even doing here?"

"It is a long story, but a summary is that Kassandra is in trouble so I'm here to help, but she can't know I'm here, not yet" Kyra answers, not really lying about the situation, but not really telling the truth either.

Sabyllos looks her over, analyzing her it feels like, but he doesn't take too long to decide as a nod of his head confirms that he will help her.

"You should keep that on by the way," he says as he points to the head piece Kyra holds in her hands, "you're a pretty recognizable face on this ship."

"Thank you Sabyllos, I appreciate your help and sensitivity with this" and Kyra truly did, she knew what kind of a risk this could be as she's technically a stowaway.

He takes her to the most secluded area on the ship, the bow, and the two of them sit for a few hours, light conversation passing between them. Nobody pays them any mind as they're all eager to get what rest they can.

"Sabyllos, you don't have to keep me company, you deserve the rest" Kyra says as she can tell he is getting tired.

"You say that like you're not on the verge of passing out yourself" he laughs in response.

The calmness between them doesn't last forever as, all of a sudden, a loud "boom" is heard from a distance.

"Pirates! To your stations everyone, now!" Barnabas shouts and Kyra and Sabyllos listen to the running stomps above them as everyone hustles to their positions.

Any fatigue either of them was feeling was long gone as Sabyllos runs back to his spot as a rower and Kyra makes her way to one of the opening for the canons to see what the fuss is about. She can see two large pirate ships in the distance, but the more she looked at the sails, the more she realized they weren't the sails of pirates. A golden face with snakes was the mark of the cultists and that meant that this was an ambush for Kassandra.

It didn't take long for the two ships to reach the Adrestia and all Kyra could do was watch at this point as she would just be in the way otherwise. Everyone had a place here and she didn't want to be the cause for any problems when there was enough already so she stayed as out of the way as possible until she saw the hooks being thrown.

Identity be damned, if she didn't at least try to fight these cultist she'd never forgive herself and Kassandra was already injured and the cultists would spot that in a heartbeat. The Adrestia was in distress and she was going to do whatever she could to keep everyone alive.

Sabyllos tries to stop her from going up, but she pushes past him and lifts up the hatch to the utter chaos on the upper deck. Swords were flying and bodies from both sides and the sounds of screams echo hauntingly around the calmness of the water.

Kyra wastes no further time observing and she forces the hatch fully open so she can climb out. She closes it immediately once she's out as she doesn't want to risk any of the lives below deck with a stray arrow or any sort of explosive. She spots a discarded sword near a body and she runs over to it as it would do more damage than the dagger she's got and she rips off the head scarf as she needed to be able to see from all angles.

Kyra dives into the fray as she works her way towards Kassandra who's at the helm, trying to protect Barnabas. She can see Kassandra struggling to stay on the offensive, but it's clear just how exhausted she is.

Kyra looses track at how many cultist scum she's killed, but each one that dies by her hand is one less infestation in the world. It didn't mean this was easy though as these people were skilled fighters, clearly better than your average for hire henchman. This also meant that they didn't play fair as an explosion sounds from beneath them and smoke billows from below them.

Kyra knew the scent as a smoke bomb, this was a smart tactic as it would force everyone under the ship up on deck, leaving the Adrestia dead in the water. Sure enough, all the hatches get thrown open and Kassandra's crew scrambles to get out into the fresh air, but most get attacked before they even open their eyes.

Kyra frantically searches for Sabyllos in the chaos so she decides to call his name and see who reacts.

"Sabyllos!" Kyra yells and she can make him out near where Kassandra is fighting as he turns to her with panic in his eyes. Kyra knew he wasn't a fighter and so didn't the man approaching him with a handheld axe.

Kassandra was trying to keep them off him, but her injuries made it difficult for her to skewer these cultists like she would in her prime so she could only do so much. It was clear though that this one behemoth of a man was toying with Sabyllos as he backed him up to the railing next to the steps.

Kyra was on the wrong side and this man was built like a tree so there is no way this puny sword would even dent his armor, but she had a plan.

Kyra races up to the front of the ship, expertly avoiding everyone as she jumped up the small flight of stairs. She has only one shot at this and she had to hope Sabyllos would listen to her.

Kyra sprints forward and yells to him. "Sabyllos, duck!"

He doesn't question it and immediately drops to the ground, but Kassandra does as she turns her attention at the familiar voice to see Kyra sprinting across the helm of her ship.

Kassandra watches in shock as Kyra runs towards the inner rail and vaults herself off it, slamming into the berserker who had Sabyllos cornered with enough force to knock them both clean off of the ship.

"Kyra!" She can hear Kassandra scream as she plummets into the water below.

It her like a sheet of ice as the water is just so much colder than she's used to by the shore. Every meter she drops further down, she can feel the chill begin to set in. More importantly though is the fact that this man was still very much attached to her as they plummeted deeper and deeper into the abyss.

With the weight of his armor, Kyra knew that he realized this would be his final resting place, but he also seemed determined to take Kyra to Hades with him. His grip around her tightened so that it was crushing her lower body as he'd only managed to get around her waist.

Kyra thrashes her body to try to wiggle free, but his grip is tight like iron and he isn't budging. Each kick she placed, he endured. It also didn't help that her kick was half the speed it should be underwater so the damage would never be to the level where it hurt him. She had to think of something else to save herself and fast.

Kyra could feel her lungs burning from the lack of oxygen and she tried to remain calm to not over exert more than necessary to preserve what little oxygen she had left. At this point if she wasn't free soon, it wouldn't matter if she got out or not because the swim to the surface would be too far for her to manage.

That's when she remembered something that, if she could reach it, could level the playing field. She had been smart enough to keep her dagger on her instead of tossing it once she picked up the sword. That is her only hope, but she's got to be quick.

Remembering an old trick she was taught, Kyra pinches the back of his arm as hard as she could where he was exposed, enough to bruise the skin. He releases his right arm only to try to free it from her grasp, but it is enough for her to reach behind her back to grab the weapon. His grip tightens almost immediately, but she's got what she wanted so now it was a matter of finding any opening to stab him.

Realizing that he is solely focused on his grip on her, it leaves his head exposed as all she needs to do is remove his helmet and get one good blow. She uses both hands to yank the helmet free from his head and as he looks up at her, she plunges her dagger directly into the side of his skull, killing him instantly.

His grip lessens and she's able to wiggle out and begin her immediately rise towards the surface. Her limbs are moving as fast as they can and she can see the light and the outline of the ship once more. She's so close, she can do this. She did not come this far to drown.

Kyra's not sure where she found the energy, but she was grateful for it as she propelled herself out of the water, inhaling as much air as she could muster before the momentum drops her back underwater again. The waves have begun to pick up so she needed to get out of the water fast as she was not strong enough to compete with them. She also needed to get back on the ship as, to her knowledge, the fight was still going and she needed to find Kassandra.

She swims to the side of the ship and hauls herself out of the water, using her dagger again as an anchor point. Her body is heavy from being waterlogged and being exhausted, but she pushes herself as she knows there are people still counting on her.

It takes her longer than it should to reach the top, but she manages to pull herself up and flop onto the floor. She forces herself to stand and has to use the railing to hold herself up, but she's got her dagger in the other and the adrenaline would kick in if anyone came for her. To her surprise, only Kassandra's crew was left alive and she watched as Kassandra kicked off the final cultist into the water below.

If Kyra had to guess, she'd say that Kassandra lost about a third of her crew on this attack, but at least they won this fight.

"Kyra! You're alive!" She hears as Sabyllos barrels towards her and encompasses her in a tight hug.

"Can't...breathe" Kyra chokes out as it feels eerily similar to the death grip she was just in moments ago and she'd not recovered enough to be bear hugged again.

"Sorry, so sorry" he says as he releases her into a much lighter hug. "I can't believe you did that for me. You saved my life."

"Of course I would do that for you Sabyllos, you're a dear friend and I could not bear it if he had harmed you when I could've done something to prevent it. It was nothing" Kyra downplays his praises, even though she knows they're valid. She's never been one to gloat and to her, it really was the right thing to do.

"It was not nothing, you're a hero!" Sabyllos praises and Kyra knows there's no arguing this with him so she just returns the hug until she hears someone clear their throat. More specifically, Kassandra clearing her throat.

Sabyllos jumps away from her immediately and Kyra locks eyes with Kassandra.

Kassandra is unreadable to her as her face remains so neutral after everything that's happened with them within these past two days. Her face is hard and Kyra can see a small crease form between Kassandra's eyes as her face turns into a scowl. This was not the reaction she was expecting, but given what she overheard earlier, it was probably the best it was going to get.

The two of them just stare, nobody wishing to break the eye contact first. Kyra wasn't sure what kind of power move this was, but she would not back down, even if her body was begging for her to sit down.

"Kassandra" Barnabas speaks, but her gaze never leaves Kyra's so he tries again with more fervor.

"Kassandra!" Again, no reaction or recognition and Barnabas is visually getting frustrated.

Tired of whatever this is too, Barnabas shouts as loud as his voice can carry. "CAPTAIN!"

That one does the trick as Kassandra snaps out of the trance like state she was in and turns her attention towards him.

"I think we should discuss what to do now. We need to come up with a plan" Barnabas suggests and Kassandra nods her head in agreement.

"Tend to the wounded first and then we can discuss what is next. I will go below deck to survey the damages" Kassandra says and as soon as she finished, she turned to walk away, leaving no room for any further discussion.

Barnabas looks back towards Kyra and just shrugs as he limps towards the scattered bodies littering the ship. Kyra knows she could help, but the odds of anyone surviving any non minor injuries out here are slim to none.

Kyra looks across from her and can see that the two ships are loosely attached still so this would be an opportune time for her to scavenge what she can before they set the ship ablaze.

"Any able bodied person not tending to the wounded, come with me" Kyra orders and the men jump to the ready as if Kassandra gave them the order.

Kyra holds the planks as the three men who volunteered crossed and they returned the favor for her. Once aboard, Kyra pulls her dagger back out and advises the men to take up arms in case there are stragglers. They ensure the top level is clear before they move down below deck.

Nothing seems out of place and after a through search, they conclude that there's nobody remaining so they all sheathe their weapons.

"Find what food and supplies you can and transport back to the Adrestia. I will go through their documents and see if there's anything of interest" Kyra orders and the men all nod in agreement as they disperse to take what they can.

Kyra had them separate to cover more ground, but she also didn't want anyone present as she was ruffling through the documents. She wasn't sure how much Kassandra's crew knew about the cult so she didn't want to divulge any information prematurely.

She entered into the captain's quarter and began her search. A lot of the messages were coded which meant that Kyra needed to keep these to find someone who could translate it as there were stacks of them. It was a smart move for them to not speak openly as there was always a risk of something like this happening. Otherwise, she found nothing worthy of taking. There were a few business ledgers in there too which could help them locate more members so she adds it to her stack.

Satisfied that she had gone through everything, she decided to toss the rest of the room and see what else she could find as she was sure there was something good in here, there always was.

After clearing off a shelf, Kyra taps on the wood behind it, listening for a hollow sound and she strikes gold, literally. Kyra removes the fake panel to find handfuls of gold coins and drachmae.

"By the gods" Kyra utters as she's never seen this much gold in her lifetime. Gold was scarce all over Greece so these cultists must've either worked for the Persians or took down Persian ships previously as nobody in Greece had anything close to this to her knowledge.

Kyra used her dagger to rip open one of the pillows so that she'd have a pouch to carry it all back as she couldn't do it with only one trip and it's not like the actual captain was using it anymore. She also wanted the pillow as, even ripped, it would provide her a comfort she probably wouldn't have otherwise.

Stuffing the pillow full, Kyra tucks it under her arm as she grabs the documents and makes her way back to the Adrestia.

Upon reaching the top, she can see the progress the other men are making as there's now a pile of food, weapons, etc. all dumped in a sorted pile at the helm as there were still bodies that littered the majority of the deck. She greets one of the men with a small nod as she makes her way back over. She needed to speak to Kassandra about all this.

There would only be one place to look and that'd be Kassandra's quarter as no other place would offer any secrecy so she heads below deck.

It's still a bit smoky down here, but in terms of damage it's relatively unscathed. There will still need to be repairs, but at least the rowing stations were intact.

The closer to the stern she gets, the louder she can hear them arguing. It's too muffled to make out what is being said but she knows it's going to be unpleasant. It will be even worse in about five seconds.

Kyra knocks on the door, the voices silence themselves immediately before Kassandra speaks.

"Come in" Kassandra commands so Kyra does as she's asked as Kassandra was already mad at her.

Kassandra glances her way as she enters, but just as soon as they make that eye contact again, she immediately casts her vision back to the table with papers scattered about.

"It's progress" Kyra thinks to herself as she closes the door behind her.

"I won't take up much of your time, but I found some things I think you should see Kassandra, you too Barnabas" as Kyra knows he's just as immersed in this as Kassandra. "I found these documents when I was scavenging the other ship and I believe them to be useful, but there is a slight problem."

"And that is?" Kassandra inquires, her voice just hindering on annoyed.

"They're coded" Kyra says as she pulls put the stacks of papers and places them on top of the already full table. "I didn't know if either of you knew how to decipher it or not."

"I'm afraid we do not" Barnabas chimes in, not wanting Kassandra to speak as she's been nothing but rude since the attack.

"I also found something that will help everyone here" Kyra says as she reaches into the pillow.

Kassandra raises a brow at this, but doesn't speak so Kyra takes that as positive progress. It gets even better when Kyra loosens her fist to let both the gold and drachmae fall from it.

Both Barnabas' and Kassandra's eyes bulge at the sight as, unbeknownst to Kyra, they had previously been discussing money.

"Is that pillow filled with all this?" Barnabas questions, trying to keep the joy from erupting prematurely.

"Yes!" Kyra exclaims to Barnabas' delight. "I found a hidden compartment in the captain's quarter and it was filled with this stuff. I'd say it's enough here to fully repair the Adrestia and have plenty left over."

"See Kassandra? I told you!" Barnabas gloats, but for what reason, Kyra isn't sure. "She was sent by the gods to aid us."

"I don't know about that Barnabas, but I'm just glad I was able to help" Kyra answers with a bit of a blush at the high praise.

"And so humble too!" Barnabas happily exclaims as he pats her gently on the shoulder.

Kyra, feeling uncomfortable at both the praise from Barnabas and the sheer indifference from Kassandra, decides she's had enough for one day and she really, really just wants to lay down and sleep.

"Do you have anything I can dump this in by any chance? I, kind of want to keep the pillow, it's super soft" Kyra trails off after realizing that she's gushing about a pillow, but she did see a small smirk appear on Kassandra's face for a moment.

"One moment" Kassandra says as she goes to open the trunk that's at the foot of her bed.

Kyra doesn't dare move any further into the room than she already is so she waits for Kassandra to return back with a towel.

Kassandra holds it steady as Kyra carefully transfers the contents from one place to another until the pillow only has stuffing remaining.

"Thank you for this Kyra, as we all know you could've just kept this for yourself" Barnabas thanks her and Kyra appreciate how nice he'd been to counter how rude Kassandra was.

"I wouldn't ever do that, I care about you, all of you, so it would not be right to keep this for myself" Kyra answers honestly as she hadn't even considered taking all of this for herself.

Kassandra had not said anything as she placed the towel back in her trunk so Kyra was going to just leave now while there was distance between them. "I will take my leave now, I apologize for also dripping on the floor, I kind of forgot I was still soaked." Kyra makes a bit of a bow to the two of them before she turns to open the door.

"Kyra, wait," Kassandra speaks and Kyra pauses as she can hear Kassandra rummaging through her trunk.

Kyra turns to see Kassandra walking towards her with a fresh set of clothing, offering it to her.

"These should be a better fit than anything else you could find on the ship" Kassandra says as she passes the clean clothes to Kyra.

"Thanks, these will work perfectly" Kyra responded with a smile and Kassandra offered her a small one in return.

Kyra turns to leave again, but Kassandra reaches out and places her hand on top of Kyra's arm.

"Why are you here?" Kassandra questions, her voice much softer as if they were sharing secrets.

"I already told you, I'm not letting you do this alone and I meant it" Kyra answers, her back still towards Kassandra as she couldn't handle seeing the lack of emotion on her face anymore.

With that, Kyra turns to leave to get changed and as much as she wants to sleep, there are people who need her help. It would also allow her a distraction from her thoughts as she's been through a whirlwind. She's gone from her desk work and meetings to foiling an attempted murder to crashing onto Kassandra's ship to coming mere seconds from meeting Poseidon on his playing field to getting the cold shoulder from Kassandra.

She's had enough for a while and hopefully the gods would take pity on her, even for just a little while.

Chapter Text

Kyra lays on the least damaged cot she could find, but sleep would not come, no matter how much she desperately craves it. Instead, her mind runs and she can't control it, losing herself into everything she's experiencing. She can feel the tears well up behind her eyes, but she refuses to cry, not when so many people have just lost their lives. Something as petty as her love life doesn't deserve to overshadow the pain that Kassandra's crew is feeling from both the casualties or immobilizing wounds. If they could keep themselves composed then so could she, at least for now.

"You know, I think you could burn a hole through the upper deck with how intensely you're staring right now" Kyra hears Sabyllos comment, but she ignores him as she is not in the mood for playful banter.

Taking her silence as an invitation, he drags a cot and sets it next to hers and takes a seat. He has his positioned in such a way that he was able to sit and lean back against the wall.

"You know, talking about it usually helps" he prods, but is still met with Kyra's silence.

"You know...." Sabyllos begins again, but Kyra found herself ill tempered and aggravated.

"You know a lot now, don't you then? Good for you" Kyra scoffs, tired of his attempts to talk.

"I like to think so" he answers, purposely ignoring the bitterness to her words.

"If you know so much, just ask yourself the questions and save us all some time" Kyra coldly suggests, her tone harsh and her mind was filled with icy remarks.

"I don't have as nice a voice as you do or else I would" Sabyllos tries again to lighten the mood. "If I just talked to myself, people would just think I'm crazy."

Accepting that he was not going to take the hint and shut up, Kyra opted to try to get right to the point.

"What do you want?" Kyra asks, exhaustion clearly evident.

"I want to talk about what happened Kyra. You could've died protecting me" Sabyllos states, more to hear the words himself than for Kyra. "What you did, it was amazing, I've never seen anyone move like that."

"Clearly you've never seen Kassandra in action, she's always more impressive" Kyra mutters under her breath, but Sabyllos caught every word.

"You know it isn't a competition between the two of you, right?" He asks with genuine concern. "Just because Kassandra is amazing doesn't make you any less amazing."

"What it makes us is equal and that's not good enough" Kyra answers dejectedly. "To be on Kassandra's level, you have to be better than her, smarter than her, sharper than her. It isn't enough just to be the same."

"Where is all this coming from? It seems that this all runs deeper than what just happened here today" Sabyllos, sensing that Kyra does wish to talk, gently prods for what the underlying issue is.

"I don't even know where to start" Kyra laughs out, but it's definitely not funny. This was a kind of self deprecating laugh that was meant to belittle herself.

"Well, we're here until enough of the ship has been patched up so I think there's plenty of time. I've also got nowhere else to be so I'm all yours" Sabyllos offers as he leans forward to give her kneecap a squeeze, assuring her the he is present before he lays down.

Did Kyra really want to open up to someone that was essentially a stranger? Sure, she knew who he was but the two had never spent that much time together. She had called him a friend earlier, but she chalks that to being caught up in the moment. Sabyllos seemed like a decent man and he did genuinely sound interested in what bothered her. Still though, he was a member of Kassandra's crew and had loyalty to her.

"I know what you're thinking," Sabyllos interjects, interrupting her private thoughts, "and nothing that is said here will ever get back to Kassandra in case you were wondering."

Kyra raises an eyebrow to this spot on observation, but Sabyllos couldn't see just how well he hit the mark. His admission did ease her mind a bit as she wanted to trust his word. So she did.

"Kassandra and I are," Kyra pauses, contemplating how she could best summarize the two of them, "complicated."

"What couple isn't?" Sabyllos responds, earning a huff from Kyra.

"That's just the thing, we're not even a couple!" Kyra speaks more animatedly as she is now speaking with passion. "I don't even know what we are."

"Well, what would you like to be?" Sabyllos inquires.

"With Kassandra? I mean, I don't even know anymore" Kyra answers truthfully as this whole ordeal has made her reconsider every aspect of her life. "I might have a boyfriend, kind of, maybe, I don't even know anymore. I've heard nothing from him in a year, but Kassandra just kind of happened and kept happening and I just couldn't stop myself so that's been a thing for a little while."

"Wow....that's uh," Sabyllos trails off as he was not expecting this kind of backstory, "complicated."

"You're telling me" Kyra scoffs as she adjusts herself so that she's no longer staring at the ceiling, but is facing Sabyllos. "I had everything and then what felt like nothing, all within a blink of an eye."

"What draws you to her?" Sabyllos asks and Kyra couldn't help but smile as she thinks about Kassandra when they first met.

"Everything" Kyra answers in awe. "Kassandra is like fire, beautiful and ever moving. The way she commands to be seen and how she can light up a room with just her presence. She radiates this warmth that you can't help but be drawn and she is dependable when she is around."

"That was beautifully put Kyra, I think you've described her well" Sabyllos assures. "That said though, what exactly is the problem between the two of you?"

"She's too much like fire as what makes her so wonderful is also her biggest fault" Kyra deadpans, losing the smile she had reminiscing of earlier times. "She will pull you in to her only to singe your flesh and burn you. She burns too hot and it can become suffocating, like you can't even move. She will torch a path with little regard to the collateral damage she'll cause and she won't even give it a second thought."

"That is, uh, quite the analogy" Kyra can tell Sabyllos is trying to understand and Kyra appreciates it, but she will need to be more direct if she wants him to grasp it.

"I think I know her and then it's like she changes direction and I'm left standing alone in the dark" Kyra frowns as she's never shared these thoughts with anyone before, yet alone admit them to herself.

"Ah, that makes sense now" Sabyllos nods in understanding. "You had also mentioned a boyfriend? Where does he play into all this?"

"That's just the thing, I have no idea" Kyra sighs as she slumps even further into her cot. "He was a lieutenant in the Spartan army, Thaletas, and he answered my distress call before Kassandra did so he and I spent a lot of time together. He was a strong willed man and I appreciated his drive and loyalty he had for his men. I think a lot of what pushed us together was just circumstances, but I appreciated having someone to rely on. He didn't know about Kassandra and myself and I was going to tell him once everything settled down, but on the celebration of freeing my island, he disappeared. Nobody has seen or heard from him since."

"I don't want to add any distress to you," Sabyllos starts, trying to tread lightly, "but have you considered that maybe he found out about the two of you and just left on his own accord?"

"I had, yes, but there is no way that he would've abandoned Sparta, especially in the war. He was too prideful and he was never one to back down from a challenge. I've sent numerous correspondences to posts across Greece in search of his whereabouts, but all I've gotten in return is that nobody has seen him or even heard from him" Kyra sighs heavily as it had been a while since she thought about Thaletas in such detail.

Sabyllos looks at her with sympathy as it is clear she is a woman with struggles, but she owes it to herself to face some possibly hard to swallow truths. One's that he now has a responsibility to aid. "Kyra, there is perhaps a chance that maybe, just maybe, he's telling them to tell you nothing because he doesn't want anything to do with you?"

Kyra opens her mouth to speak, but finds she doesn't have the words. The weight of Sabyllos' words resting fresh within her mind. What if he did find out? What if he just left her?

She deserved it if that was the case, there is no denying that it would have hurt him deeply to find this out by someone other than her, but to remain a ghost for a year? It just seems like a lot of effort to put in when he could respond back that he is alive and just doesn't wish to see her. She would respect that, but the not knowing has always eaten at her. Kyra can feel the tears return and is finding herself powerless to stop them.

Sabyllos scoots off his cot and goes to sit next to Kyra on the floor as he offers her his hand to hold. They are level and he can tell Kyra is trying to keep it together, but it is clear how emotionally drained she is and all it took was her accepting his gesture to let the flood gate holding the tears to open up.

Kyra cried as silently as possible, holding the hand of a man she barely knew, all while the woman she wishes were here to comfort her was in her room, angry and irritable, wanting nothing to do with her. How cruel the gods have been to her. She was fine alone in her new way until Kassandra came barging back into her life, making her realize all that she was missing once again. How easy it is to forget what we desire most when it is out of sight, but how torturous it is when it stares you in the face.

As Kyra cries the tears she so desperately needs too, she reflects on the questions Sabyllos had posed to her. What would she like to be? Who would she like to be?

Kyra thought she knew at one point, but with Kassandra returning it was as if a boulder crashed into the calm waters she had created. Now she's in this ridiculous agreement with Kassandra about being "sexually, but not romantically" attached, but they're not doing anything sexual as of late as they've been too busy bickering and Kyra's already emotionally attached beyond what she should be.

Who in their right mind would have agreed to something like that? That's just the problem though as whenever Kassandra was near, Kyra was never in her right mind. It was clear that she and Kassandra were on two very different pages and Kyra just couldn't see an outcome where they made it out unscathed, at least not right now. Kassandra craved freedom and Kyra desired stability. They were oil and water it appeared and Kyra needed to resign herself to that fact, but that would mean accepting defeat and Kyra didn't do that easily.

As much as she said she was ok with sharing Kassandra, she wasn't. She needed to stop lying to herself and just cut the cord as it was obvious by how Kassandra was acting towards her that her feelings were very one sided. She would just be making a fool of herself, well, an even bigger fool than usual and she deserved better. She deserved to be more than an afterthought or a warm body to lay next to.

Feeling better, Kyra sniffled as she wiped her eyes, the irritation setting in to them already. She squeezed Sabyllos' hand as she withdrew hers to try to get herself back from the brink of being a disheveled mess. She was grateful he didn't say anything to her, but opted to just silently retreat to his cot for some well deserved rest.

Sabyllos had been a better friend to her than Kassandra had been lately and his only rival was Praxos, but they had a decade of history between them so it wasn't really fair. He had stepped up when she needed someone and maybe it was guilt for her almost dying for him or maybe it was because he actually cared. Whatever the reason, she's grateful for him for being here now.

There was only one thing left to do before she could rest, truly rest, she required a conversation with the woman who tormented her thoughts. It probably wasn't a good time, but she'd been on the cot for a couple hours so there was a chance Kassandra had settled in for the night, but she needed to try. She wasn't sure what she wanted to say at all, but she knew she needed to take a step back.

Uncaring that her eyes were obviously puffy and bloodshot, she lifts herself up from her cot and makes her way towards Kassandra's room. She presses her ear to the door to see if Barnabas is still there, but all she can hear is silence.

Mustering up the courage she so desperately needs, Kyra knocks on the door.

Kyra waits, still no sound so Kassandra is either sleeping or not in her room. She'll try once more before calling it a night and dealing with this tomorrow.

Kyra knocks a second time and was about to walk away when she hears Kassandra on the other side.

"I am trying to sleep" she hears Kassandra scold her and Kyra feels guilty about waking her because she knows how little Kassandra sleeps.

"I didn't realize it was so late, I will just come back tomorrow" Kyra answers as she now just wants to get as far away from this door as possible.

Kyra immediately backs up and begins to walk away when Kassandra's door opens, revealing her to be scantily clothed. Kyra only turned around to tell Kassandra to go back to bed, but the words died on her tongue along with all rational thoughts.

Kassandra is not shy about her body and for a good reason. The woman was built like she was hand sculpted from the gods as every part of her was tanned and toned. Her body covered in scars from her past adventures and exploitations, but they added a certain charm. There was no question, Kassandra was radiant.

"Kyra, was there something you wanted or did you just want to stare?" Kassandra says suggestively followed by a wink.

It was if a cold bucket of water had just been poured on Kyra with how much she shook to snap herself out of this stupor. Here before her stood her Kassandra, the one she loved and the one who makes her heart flutter, but who (just a few hours ago) was a completely different person towards her. She could not get pulled in to Kassandra's charms, not this time.

Remaining collected in her composure, Kyra squares up her shoulders and doesn't take the bait. "I had something I wished to say to you, but I can see you're indisposed so I will come back tomorrow."

"Kyra, it's not like you've not seen me before so why don't you come in" Kassandra jokes light heartedly, not catching how serious Kyra was.

Kyra didn't want to end up in Kassandra's room as she knows she's only got so much resistance in her and with Kassandra being practically naked, most of it was gone already. However, there was a chance that others could hear and see them so, for Kassandra's sake, she would continue this in the room.

Kyra entered the room, but never strayed far from the door as Kassandra went back and took a seat on her bed.

How Kyra just wanted to throw herself at Kassandra as she knew the night would be indescribable, but she also knew that it would not solve anything between them. She needed to get in and out.

"Kassandra, I have something I wish to say to you" Kyra begins, waiting for Kassandra's consent, but she realizes she didn't know what she actually wanted to say now that she was here. She hadn't expected a response and now she finds herself woefully unprepared.

"Since when are you so formal? You usually just say what you want to me anyway" Kassandra laughs, but it dies rather quickly when she notices that Kyra is upset.

Kyra had been looking everywhere but Kassandra as she could feel more tears brimming and she would not let Kassandra see her cry. Once she did look up, she noticed Kassandra's demeanor change. Kassandra looked at her now in such a soft manner that Kyra knew she needed to leave now or she wouldn't be able to walk away.

"I cannot do this" Kyra says softly, so soft that Kassandra wasn't sure she even heard her correctly.

"Do what, Kyra?" Kassandra questions as she lifts herself off the bed to move closer.

"Never mind, it's not important" Kyra replies and Kassandra continues to walk closer until there is no space between them.

"Kyra, what's the matter?" Kassandra asks, confused by what Kyra was avoiding to tell her. Kassandra places a gentle hand to Kyra's waist for support.

Kyra couldn't do this, she couldn't say the words she thought she needed to say. Kyra thought maybe some space between them was necessary, but the more she thought about saying it out loud, the less she actual believed it. She knows that she should just end what they're doing and just remain professional, but seeing Kassandra in front of her, concern etched across her face, she just knew she couldn't go through with it.

Kyra's mind whirls in a flurry of confusion as she was met with the Kassandra she loved, the one who showed her a softer side. This Kassandra was who she was here for, to help and to protect. What was she even thinking? "Oh hi Kassandra, I saved you but I think we should break up because it's getting difficult." Ridiculous. It doesn't mean she forgave Kassandra for her behavior, but Kyra was an emotional wreck right now so making such a crucial decision on her future probably wasn't the best idea right now.

Kyra straightens her posture and takes a deep breath, calming herself enough to lose the slight tremor she had before. "I am sorry, it really is not important and I regret waking you up for this. I will see myself out."

Kyra watched as Kassandra's jaw tensed ever so slightly, most likely from her irritation at Kyra's unwillingness to talk now (and rightly so if she was being fair). Kassandra could mask a lot from the world, but Kassandra's tells were clear as day to Kyra. It was clear she was not pleased, but Kyra would chalk it up to her being woken up.

Kyra turns to leave, but the firm grip on her waist moves to her hand which halts her exit. Kassandra had slid her hand into Kyra's, but no words followed. They both stood there in the silence, the low murmur of her crew and that of the sea were almost fully muted behind the closed door.

Kyra knows that Kassandra is waiting for her to make the move, but Kyra doesn't trust herself right now. Her moment of needing comfort had passed so there was no need to stay in actuality. The more Kyra thought about it, the more she wanted solitude. She just wanted to curl up in a ball in one of the corners and be left alone. Kassandra had unknowingly given Kyra a bitterness with her mood swings earlier that Kyra didn't realize until their hands connected. What should've brought her comfort and peace was only causing irritation. Kyra needed to leave before she did something she regretted.

Kyra plastered on a fake smile that didn't quite reach her eyes and gently squeezed Kassandra's hand. "It's alright, it's nothing. Have a good night Kassandra."

"Kyra, you know you can tell me anything that's bothering you, right?" Kassandra encourages, but Kyra's resolve remains strong albeit short.

"Sure, of course" Kyra loosely affirms before she moves out of Kassandra's grasp and exits the room.

Kyra closes the door gently behind her and leans up against it, tilting her head back so that it can rest. She closes her eyes and takes a deep and steadying breath as she tries to make sense of what she's feeling. Here certainly wasn't the place though so her moment of thought would need to be postponed for a minute. Clearly she didn't get it all out like she had thought when she spoke with Sabyllos and she needed to deal with this.

Kyra heads back to her cot to find Sabyllos fast asleep nearby so she gently walks over to lay in her own space, cautious to not make too much noise although it's not so easy to do when every step is telegraphed with a creak of the floorboards.

Settled down and comfortable, Kyra resumes her previous ministrations of staring into the ceiling, mumbling softly to herself. It was a habit she did when she was overwhelmed as it helped her feel like she was sharing the problem or dilemma with another person and she found she could work out her issues faster this way.

Kyra decided after much thought and deliberation that she needed to change her approach to Kassandra. It was clear that Kassandra wasn't going to take the extra step and meet her halfway unless pressed to do so. Kyra would need to step up her efforts and show her just what she is going to miss out on if her behavior doesn't change.

They hadn't been physical in a while and, as much as Kyra would've loved to be, it was, perhaps, to her advantage that they had a bit of a dry spell. Kyra didn't want to manipulate or force Kassandra into any particular state of mind since she wanted Kassandra to reach her by her own conclusion. This didn't mean, however, that Kyra would just sit back and let nature takes its course. Sometimes nature needed guidance and that's where she would come in.

It was just like Kyra told Sabyllos, she needed to be better than Kassandra to be considered her equal so it was time for Kyra to show that she was more than just a pretty face and a bedside companion. She needed to stop feeling sorry for herself that her life was hitting a rough patch and she needed to rise above it and do something about it. Kyra couldn't just expect Kassandra to change her ways for nothing, she needed to give Kassandra a reason for it.

With the outline of a plan formulated in her mind, her body finally allows her to get the much deserved rest she needed.

Upon daybreak, Kyra is awoken by Sabyllos as Kassandra had requested the presence of all crew to discuss something import. It wasn't as long as she wanted to sleep for, but the little she got was better than nothing.

The two of them make their way on deck as Kassandra stands at the helm, stoic as ever with Ikaros perched on her arm and a scroll in the other. There was not a trace of the Kassandra she had seen last night as this one was all business so that's what Kyra needed to be too. If she were to prove to Kassandra that she could handle everything thrown her direction, she needed to show she could pull her own weight and not be a burden first and foremost.

"As you all know, we suffered a few casualties last night and some damage to the ship," Kassandra speaks, her voice remaining unwavering, "but we must not let this consume us. We must remain strong and untied in the face of our enemies. They may rattle is, but they will not break us!"

Kassandra's crew cheers loudly, their spirits bolstered by her words hell, even Kyra felt a little shiver run down her spine.

"My journey, our journey, is far from over, however, I would not be doing my due diligence as your captain if I did not share that the fight will only get harder" Kassandra states firmly, not wanting to sugarcoat the severity of what was to come. "There are bad people out there who will use every trick in the book to get us to fail and there is always the possibility that they might succeed. So what I offer to you all is an out, a way to end your pledge to me without repercussions. Once we dock for repairs, I will take my leave and leave Barnabas in charge and you will resume as if I had never taken control."

There are collective murmurs amongst the crew and Kyra looks towards Sabyllos for an explanation, but he is just as lost as she is. Why would Kassandra offer this? She loved the Adrestia, Barnabas, and the crew so why on earth would she walk away from all of it? It made Kyra think that she was about to do something stupid.

"I know, I know...," Kassandra continues in an attempt to quiet the whispers, "this doesn't make sense, but I promise you there is a reason for all of this. I don't say this lightly, but if you stay with me there is a high likelihood of death waiting for you and I cannot have any more innocent blood on my hands."

The crew look around at each other, their nerves and anxiety skyrocketing, as Kassandra continues her speech.

"I have been one step behind too many times as of late and this all changes now" Kassandra shouts, her anger showing as she slams her fist on the railing. "From here on out I will be on the offensive. No longer will I be waiting, oh no, I will be bringing the fight to those who have wronged me. That being said, I could not risk all your lives for a personal vendetta as this was not what you signed up for. We will make for Port Piraeus on Attika for repairs and then we shall part ways, at least for now. It has been an honor to lead you and I will never forget all of you, thank you."

Kassandra steps back from the railing, but the entire ship is quiet from the shock and Kyra doesn't know how to react to all this. It was clear though that Kassandra needed her now more than ever, even if she wouldn't admit to it and Kyra would not let her down.

Kassandra looks towards Kyra and tilts her head in a "follow me" motion so Kyra quickly moves between the men to follow her into her quarters below deck.

Kyra didn't take more than a step inside before Kassandra pulled her the rest of the way in and quickly glanced behind her to ensure she was not followed before shutting the door.

"Kassandra..." Kyra starts as she can sense something is off, but is cut off before she can ask anything.

"Were you serious?" Kassandra asks, a sense of uncertainty in her voice.

"About what Kassandra?" Kyra responds as she wasn't following Kassandra's scattered train of thought.

"That you were going to stick with me. I need to know. Did you mean it?" Kassandra questions.

Kyra doesn't even hesitate before she responds. "Of course I meant it. I wouldn't be here if I didn't."

"It won't be easy, this, all this," Kassandra motions around her with her arms, "being around me won't be easy" breaking her eye contact to stare at the floor beneath them. "I am difficult and I am meticulous with how I operate and I don't compromise."

"Kassandra, you forget that I know you and that doesn't frighten me" Kyra assures.

As much as Kyra was conflicted with what she wanted, she knew she needed to follow Kassandra as there was more to this story. This was not the end of their chapter together. No mater how much uncertainty there was in their future together, Kyra knew that Kassandra was a loyal friend most of all and it was something she would always cherish.

"You know what I've let you know Kyra, I am not the person you think I am" Kassandra says with shame as she still refuses to meet her eyes.

"Kassandra, you're not a monster" Kyra reassures as she doesn't know where this is all coming from, but she knows how cruel self doubt can be. "I know you like to think of yourself as heartless, but it's not true. I know you actually care for people and that you try to do what is right."

"You say that now, but you will change your mind with time" Kassandra answers, finally allowing their gaze to meet and Kyra can see the hurt in her eyes. There had to be something to trigger this as Kassandra was many things, but nervous and unsure weren't ever one of them.

"I got word from a reliable source about cult activity in Athens and, more specifically, I got word that my brother will be arriving here soon" Kassandra confides in Kyra, allowing her to share in Kassandra's personal demons. "I need to find him, but I know he won't be alone and I could use the help as my last attempt with the cult was not favorable, so...will you help me?"

If Kyra wasn't sure that Kassandra would rescind the offer and never spoken to her again, she would've openly reveled in the fact that Kassandra was asking for help and from her of all people. Instead, she maintains her composure and quells the shock and offers her a small smile and a nod.

Kassandra smiles and Kyra believes it to be genuine and she's now grateful she followed her to begin with and took that leap (both literally and figuratively.)

"I have never been to Athens so I do hope I'm not in charge of the navigation" Kyra offers as a way to continue the lightheartedness, but Kassandra's face changes like she's just told her something unbelievable.

"Truly?" Kassandra questions in disbelief. "Oh Kyra, Athens is such a spectacle, there's nothing like it. The Akropolis, the Parthenon, the Agora, all wonders you must see!"

"I've not had the time nor the resources to make the trip as it is a distance from Mykonos and I guess I just never got around to it. I don't travel much at all actually so there's much I've not seen" Kyra didn't want to crush Kassandra's spirit as she seemed excited to show her around, but there was no use in pretending to be the avid traveler she clearly was not.

"That's no matter, I will show you once we get there" Kassandra beams, clearly excited from the prospect of showing her around the city.

"I look forward to it" and Kyra honestly did and she thought to herself that maybe this trip wouldn't be as bad as Kassandra imagined.

Remembering something important, something she seemed to be forgetting as of late, Kyra speaks back up. "I will need to send a message back to Praxos though as I told him I wouldn't be gone long and that's clearly not true anymore."

"Oh, right, yes" Kassandra says as she clears her throat. "I have something you can write with and I can have Ikaros deliver it once you're done. Are you sure though that you still wish to come with me as it may take a while and I know you have responsibilities."

"My responsibility is to my people and the cult a threat to that so I am doing this for them, so that they may be safe once more" Kyra firmly answers and she watches Kassandra deflate a little.

"Of course, for your people, that makes sense" Kassandra says and Kyra believes there's a bit of disappointment behind it, but it is gone as soon as it arrived.

"Well, I cannot promise you what will happen, but I can promise you an adventure and to showing you a world you've never seen before" Kassandra promises and Kyra believes her without a doubt.

"I look forward to it" Kyra says with a smile and Kassandra smiles right back at her.

"Please, feel free to stay in here to write as I am just going to pack some things for the journey, unless you'd prefer to be alone" Kassandra says as she begins to move about.

"Here is perfect, thank you" Kyra accepts the scroll Kassandra offers to her as she settles at the desk and begins to write a very lengthy and slightly vague letter to Praxos.

Kyra wasn't trying to be vague on purpose, but she genuinely didn't know what she was going to be doing other than hunting down the cult. She advised to him that she was in Athens and might be for a while and to send all responding correspondences here until further notice. She alluded to the cult without direct use of its name and that she was on a mission to cull them from the ground up and that she was unsure at how long it would take, but to keep her updated on any events and that she would return early if need be.

Satisfied, she rolls up the scroll and sealed it closed with wax to ensure it was not tampered with and handed it to Kassandra who then leaned out her small window to whistle for Ikaros.

He arrived within moments and Kyra was amazed by how attune he was to wherever Kassandra was and would never be far from her at any given time. Kyra thinks it must provide Kassandra some peace of mind knowing at least something was watching her back.

Kassandra tends to Ikaros, offering him treats and some gentle scratches on his head.

"You're such a good boy, Ikaros, so handsome too" Kassandra says lovingly as she gives him a second treat. "Deliver this to Praxos on Mykonos and bring me anything he has to say in response. Do not hassle the critters either, I know how you operate."

Ikaros squawks in acknowledgment and takes flight with the scroll tied around his leg.

"I never get tired of seeing you with him" Kyra says, meaning for it to just be a thought, but her mind had a different opinion.

"He is the one constant in my life and I am granted for him" Kassandra beams as she watches him fly off into the horizon.

"He is unlike no animal I've ever encountered before. How did you train him?" Kyra inquires, curious to the methods Kassandra used.

"Well, that's the funny part," Kassandra chuckles, "I didn't. He came like that and we just have this connection that I just cannot explain. I'd probably sound crazy if I tried."

"I'd never think you were crazy" Kyra assures. "I've seen you walk away from things nobody should have and I've seen you injured only to be healthy the next day so having a connection with an eagle is not so farfetched."

"Thanks..." Kassandra trails off, rubbing the back of her neck. "I think you should head back up as we won't be long before we reach the port. You should see it from the water to truly appreciate it, especially since it's sunrise."

Kyra nods in agreement and takes the hint and decides to follow Kassandra's advice.

The remaining trek was a quiet one as all the crew kept to themselves and just went through the motions until they finally docked where Kyra was awestruck. Here before her was this billowing metropolis, larger than anything she'd ever seen in her life and it was just bustling with life.

She catches Kassandra from the corner of her eye and watches as she makes a quick exit, having spent the last hour speaking with Barnabas and the rest of the men. There were no goodbyes left, no sentimental speeches, just Kassandra, in full gear, with a bag thrown over her shoulder.

Kyra realizes she's just watching Kassandra walk away so she also makes haste from the ship to catch up. It takes her about a minute to reach her as it was quite crowded, especially early on in the day before it became too hot. Kyra found herself gawking at anything and everything as this was all so new to her so she marveled at its beauty as they walked.

Kassandra doesn't spare her a second glance as they move in sync with one another to whatever destination Kassandra has in mind. Kyra has no idea where she's leading her, but she would follow anyway, even to the gates of Hades itself if Kassandra were by her side.

Kyra had spent too much time doubting herself and her feelings that she just needed to act on her instinct for a change and her gut was telling her right now to follow Kassandra, wherever that may lead her. She just wished she knew where that was right now as all of this was so unfamiliar. The people reacted differently to one another, less hospitable than she saw on a regular basis back home.

It wasn't until Kassandra grabbed her hand and began to jog that Kyra snapped out of her trance.

"Hurry or we'll miss it!" Kassandra rushes as she pulls Kyra along.

"But Kassandra, I can't even appreciate what we're passing now, let alone if I'm running and there are so many stairs!" Kyra protests as they've climbed endless sets of steps that seem to go on for an eternity.

"I didn't realize you were so out of shape that a few stairs would make you so winded" Kassandra teases, knowing full well Kyra would not just take it.

"Excuse me?" Kyra scoffs. "I am most certainly NOT out of shape."

"Then quit your bellyaching and pick up the pace or we will miss it!" Kassandra encourages Kyra whilst she herself is jogging backwards as if to show off.

"What are we running to?" Kyra asks, slightly winded.

"It's a surprise, but you'll love it. It's just at the top of the stairs, promise" Kyra crosses over her heart with an eager smile and Kyra can't help but continue.

"Fine, but you're about to trip over a dog so good luck!" Kyra exclaims as Kassandra quickly tries to turn around to avoid the dog, but trips over herself as she realizes Kyra had just tricked her and there was no dog.

Kassandra is quick back to her feet, but Kyra had bursted ahead, sprinting up the ramps, taking advantage of the fake distraction.

"Made you look!" Kyra shouts as she races up the first of the ramps, stopping to look down on Kassandra who's face was priceless.

"When I catch you, you're in for it!" Kassandra shouts in response, but Kyra only laughs.

"That's if you catch me" Kyra winks and takes off, leaving Kassandra rooted.

Kyra's heart was beating fast and she wasn't sure she could blame it on the running. Seeing Kassandra so carefree and playful was the most magical part of her journey so far and just seeing her smile was worth anything. That didn't mean she wanted to lose though so she continues to run upwards.

Kyra could tell Kassandra was gaining heavily on her, but with a final push, she bursts to the steps leading to the Akropolis.

"I won!" Kyra cheers before she hunches over to try to catch her breath.

Kassandra takes the final few steps, conceding the victory and offering Kyra a bow as a grand gesture, uncaring to how the Athenians are judging the both of them.

"You know I'd have beaten you if you hadn't cheated" Kassandra jabs, her tone indicating it was in good fun.

"I never cheated, I merely used your own hubris against you. I wasn't the one running backwards" Kyra says as she lifts herself up and gently pokes Kassandra's chest, having regained most of her breath.

Kassandra raises an eyebrow to her and Kyra can only laugh at how ridiculous they're both acting. Kassandra steps closer into Kyra's personal space until there's barely anything separating them.

"Do you trust me?" Kassandra asks as she looks Kyra deeply in the eyes.

"Yes" Kyra answers without hesitation.

"Close your eyes and follow me" Kassandra responds as she takes Kyra's hand in her own and takes them up the steps

"This had better not be payback for earlier" Kyra says with some light skepticism as to Kassandra's true intent.

"Me? Hold a grudge? Why I would never?" Kassandra laughs and Kyra can't help but join in.

Kassandra takes her up three more flights of steps before they come to a stop. Kyra can feel Kassandra scoot behind her as she places her hands over Kyra's eyes.

"Can't have you peeking now, can we?" Kassandra jests.

"Oh, I see how it is" Kyra playfully responds. "I trust you, but you don't trust me. Good to know."

"Shut up already or I won't let you see it" Kassandra responds.

"See what exactly?" Kyra asks as she's been kept in the dark (literally at this point.)

"This" Kassandra says softly as she releases her hands and moves to her side.

Kyra blinks to take it all in and as her vision cleared, she saw what Kassandra was talking about. Before her stood a massive statue of Athena, her helmet and chest plate made of gold shimmered in the sun light. The sun was hitting it just right that it almost looked like it glowed and Kyra was at a loss of words. The way the sun lifted from the sky made everything before her more surreal and she had truly never seen a more breathtaking sight in her life.

While Kyra was lost in the sheer beauty of what was before her, Kassandra was lost in something entirely different. Instead of watching the sun dance across the Parthenon, Kassandra took in the beauty that was Kyra. How her face lit up with joy and awe and just radiated this pure, unadulterated feeling of bliss was enough to take Kassandra's breath away.

"I've never seen anything like it, this is so beautiful Kassandra" Kyra speaks softly to her, her eyes still faced forward to soak everything in.

Kassandra, without missing a beat and her eyes still trained on Kyra, responds. "It is, so very beautiful."

Kyra spins to face Kassandra, her face plastered with the largest smile Kassandra had ever seen on her. Kyra engulfs her in a tight hug and Kassandra is quick to return the embrace. All of Kassandra's problems just fade to the background as all that matters is right here and now.

Chapter Text

(Three hours before disembarking)

"Barnabas, a word please" Kassandra asks as she heads below deck towards her quarters.

Barnabas knows something is amiss as Kassandra rarely had any company in her room and the two of them has already spoken not too long ago. Curious as to what is bothering Kassandra, he follows steadily behind her and shuts the door.

"What's wrong?" Barnabas inquiries, looking her over for any obvious visual issues.

"What makes you think something is wrong? Couldn't I just want to speak with you?" Kassandra questions, knowing full well that he was on point with his concern.

Barnabas shoots her this "are you really going to do this look?" and Kassandra just slumps down onto her bed.

"You're right and there's no use in me delaying what I need to say so you need to promise me you're going to hear me out. Ok?" Kassandra tentatively asks, but she can see the rebuttal already forming

"Whatever it is, I don't like it" Barnabas quickly responds. "Nothing good can come from a promise like that."

"Please, for me, just hear me out" Kassandra adds a tiny pout for good measure and, to no surprise, it works.

"Fine, I promise, but only because I like you" Barnabas relents as he takes the chair at her desk and sits down.

Kassandra takes a deep breath as these were words she never expected to have to say, but for his safety and the other men around her, it needs to happen. "I need to leave the Adrestia. For good."

"Absolutely not!" Barnabas sharply declines. "You shall do no such thing."

"Barnabas, you promised" Kassandra reminds him, but he won't stop.

"That is ridiculous Kassandra! Why would you even say such a thing? This is your ship! You're the captain! You can't just leave...." he rants, not allowing Kassandra to get a word in edgewise so she resorts to shouting.

"Barnabas, that's enough!" Kassandra shouts, silencing him mid sentence. "If you'd let me finish, I could explain it to you."

Kassandra takes his continued silence as compliance. "Thank you. Now, as I was saying before, I need to step away from being captain. It isn't something that I want to do, but for both the crew's safety and yours, I need to distance myself. The best chance I have of finding these snakes is by appearing that I've lost everything."

Barnabas leans forward, his hand brushing through his beard while he's considering her words. He remains silent still so Kassandra continues.

"They are opportunistic and can smell blood in the water so I need to make myself as vulnerable and exposed as possible and I can't do that if I know you will be harmed. I care too much about you to let you come to harm because of a personal vendetta. I just don't see another option right now" Kassandra confesses as she slumps forward into her hands. The weight of what she's requesting lay heavy on her shoulders.

Barnabas moves to take a seat next to her and he pulls her into a tight hug to convey all the love and support he can muster up. Kassandra had become like a daughter to him and losing her would be more painful than anything he could imagine so he knew he needed to help her.

"Why can I not help you?" Barnabas asks softly, not wanting his tone to be aggressive in any manner.

"Because I can't lose you too..." Kassandra whispers as she suppresses the sudden urge to cry. "I would not be able to live with myself if you were to be harmed because of me so I need to place distance between us to show that I am alone."

"Kassandra, you are the most important person to me and I hope you know this" Barnabas discloses as he's never directly told Kassandra how he feels about her. "I would gladly take your place with your demons if it meant giving you the opportunity to live a healthy and happy life."

"I know you would which is precisely why I can't let you" Kassandra admits as she looks to her right to see his warm smile. "This is something I need to do for myself and this is the only way I can keep you safe so it is what I'm going to do."

Barnabas places his arm around her shoulder and pulls her back into a side hug as they both grapple with their new realities.

"I know there is no stopping you once you've made up your mind, but you will always have a home here and your spot will be waiting for you until you're ready to return" Barnabas shares and Kassandra can't help but smile back at his stubbornness.

"You're stubborn, you know that?" Kassandra jokes, nudging into his side.

"I learned from you" he jokes back and Kassandra just shakes her head.

"I will do what I can to help you discreetly from the sidelines as I will not abandon you. You may leave in presence, but I will never stop supporting you" Barnabas says, bringing the conversation back to a more serious note.

"I appreciate it, truly" Kassandra says genuinely.

"What about Kyra? What will happen with her? Have you told her all this yet?" Barnabas questions and Kassandra is quick to shake her head.

"No, no I haven't. I wanted to tell you first and I don't exactly know what to say to her as she wasn't a part of my plan. Maybe you could just take her back to Mykonos after the repairs are done?" Kassandra suggests and Barnabas let's out a hearty laugh at the thought.

"Oh my sweet child" he says as he shakes his head. "You really expect to tell a woman who stowed away on your ship only to fight pirates and offer up more drachmae and gold than humanly possible that she has to go home? My dear girl, you've given her a taste for a dangerous adventure and she doesn't seem the type to just go home."

"Well it's not like she can come with me" Kassandra retorts.

"Why not?" Barnabas questions. "There's nothing wrong with having a second pair of hands."

"No. Absolutely not" Kassandra dismisses. "I work alone."

"And look what happened to you!" Barnabas runs his hand in front of her body to reminder her of her still very fresh injuries. "If not for the random stranger you told me about, you'd have died Kassandra!"

Kassandra wants to protest, but she knows he's right. If that random passerby didn't step in, she would have died that night and there's no denying it. That didn't mean that she wanted to risk Kyra with having her tag along on what could be a suicide mission.

"You have a point, but I don't want her to get hurt. I care about her....being a liability" Kassandra counters thinking to herself "good save, good save" as Barnabas just raises a brow.

"A liability?" Barnabas scoffs. "Did you not happen to catch her jumping off a railing to throw herself overboard with a man five times her size to protect one of your men? Because I very vividly recall this."

"I recall" Kassandra admits, keeping the fact that it terrified her to watch Kyra fall out of her sight like that to herself.

"So I don't think "liability" could even be in the realm of a description for her" Barnabas states, satisfied that he's gotten his point across. "I think we both know why you're hesitant, but I don't think that's a good enough reason to not at least ask her."

"I think you're looking deeper into something that you shouldn't be old man" Kassandra scolds him, but her tone indicates that she's not irritated about it. "I suppose it could help having her as another resource."

"Who knows? Maybe she will unlock areas you never thought about before." He offers. "While you've always taken the physical approach, Kyra has began to fine tune that of the political gambit and those skills don't come easy."

"Hmm..." Kassandra ponders aloud. "You do have a point and she could come in handy in Athens as that's nothing but politics. Do you think she'd agree?"

Barnabas rises to his feet, turning around to face a still sitting Kassandra. "I do, but I also know that you won't know unless you ask."

Barnabas offers her a hand which she gladly takes as the two stand up and hug for a final time, at least for a while.

Barnabas takes his leave while Kassandra takes a moment to compose herself. She thought about his unwavering support and what he had to say about Kyra. The worst that could happen is that she says no and disappears from Kassandra's life once more. Kassandra would be totally fine with that and she'd just move on and it would be just like she planned.

Kassandra decided to wait until after her speech to find Kyra as she didn't want to have to give a talk after Kyra's "no" that she was anticipating. The more Kassandra thought about it, the more she wasn't against the idea of company. It would be different than anything she's had to do, but Barnabas was right, she did come with a political advantage. It also may be nice to talk to someone other than herself or Ikaros.

Kyra was easy to find once it was over and she attentively followed at Kassandra's silent request.

To say that Kassandra was surprised to hear Kyra agree to join her would be an understatement. Kyra had a new life, completely separate from Kassandra, one in which she commanded such a power and she was willing to put it on hold for her. Kassandra wasn't sure if the roles were reversed that she would be able to make the same decision and she just prayed that this new partnership was fruitful.

She had spent the final hour on the Adrestia with Barnabas going over all the known information on the cult to see if they missed anything. If only Kassandra could decipher their code, then they would be in for a world of hurt. Alas, neither she nor Barnabas knew it so she would have to do some reconnaissance once they docked. First things first though and that was showing Kyra the statue of Athena at day break.

Kyra had admitted to her that she'd never been away from her islands and Kassandra thought she was joking at first. She couldn't imagine staying put for too long, much less her whole life. There was such a world to explore and so many new things to discover that staying put wasn't even a realm of a possibility. She decided after Kyra's confession that she would take the time to show her some of what Greece had to offer.

Kassandra made sure to say her goodbyes before they docked as she knew they'd only have about ten to fifteen minutes to get to the Parthenon to see the sun rise. Once the ship was close enough, she hopped right off it and began her walk. It wasn't until a few steps in that she realized she had forgotten to tell Kyra she was leaving, but as she turned her head back, she spotted her hopping off to follow.

Kassandra hasn't told her about the statue as she wants it to be a surprise and she was hoping Kyra would take the hint to walk faster, but Kassandra can see in her peripheral that she was gawking instead.

After some light banter, they picked up the pace which eventually turned into an impromptu race. Kassandra didn't even mind that she fell flat on her face as when she got up, Kyra had looked more radiant than Kassandra had ever seen her look before.

Kyra's hair swayed gently in the breeze and Kassandra could see a pure and true smile on her face that she'd never seen before. Before her stood a woman who was carefree and living in the moment. She was no longer "Kyra, leader of the Silver Islands," but just plain Kyra. Here in this moment she was free of all her responsibilities and obligations. Kassandra wishes she could capture and savor this moment forever, but she would just have to commit it to memory for now and strive to keep putting the same look on her face as much as possible. That doesn't mean she intended to lose though.

Quickly making her way back to her feet, Kassandra rushes to catch up. She almost recovered, but the distraction was enough and Kyra was the winner, questionable tactics aside. It was clear Kyra was more winded than she wanted to let on, but Kassandra appreciated the efforts nonetheless and offered her a bow of concession. Kassandra knew that she wasn't average when it came to physical endurance so the fact that Kyra didn't get overtaken counts for something.

Kassandra also couldn't help but to tease Kyra so it was only fair she accused her of cheating which, of course, Kyra denied and shot her sass right back.

Kassandra could only raise an eyebrow to her as Kyra laughed at how ridiculous they're both acting. Kassandra, however enamored with the now, knew she needed to show Kyra what just lies beyond them so she steps closer into Kyra's personal space until there's barely anything separating them.

"Do you trust me?" Kassandra asks as she looks Kyra deeply in the eyes.

"Yes" Kyra answers without hesitation.

Kassandra's heart skips a beat as Kyra answered her without any hesitation or wavering and she did it instantly. The sheer trust and faith Kyra had in her was astonishing, but reveling in that feeling didn't last long as she knows she keeping something major from Kyra. "How she trusts you now, if only she knew" Kassandra thinks to herself, her heart breaking for the lie she's allowing Kyra to live. This is no time to be morose as it's important for her to show Kyra what wonders their world has to offer and she will do it with a smile.

"Close your eyes and follow me" Kassandra responds as she takes Kyra's hand in her own and takes them up the steps.

Kassandra takes great care in ensuring that Kyra doesn't trip up the stairs as that would be a terrible way to begin their journey. Kassandra looks ahead and can tell the sun is about to hit the right spot so she positions Kyra as close to the pillar as possible so that she can take in what she's about to see without having to strain her neck.

Kassandra positions herself directly behind Kyra so that her view would be unobstructed and she places her hands over Kyra's eyes for good measure.

"Can't have you peeking now, can we?" Kassandra jests.

"Oh, I see how it is" Kyra playfully responds. "I trust you, but you don't trust me. Good to know."

Thankfully Kyra can't see her smile falter as the words ring true than Kassandra ever wished. She mentally shakes it off and focuses her attention back to Kyra.

"Shut up already or I won't let you see it" Kassandra responds.

"See what exactly?" Kyra asks.

"This" Kassandra says softly as she releases her hands and moves to her side.

Kassandra wanted to be a bit selfish, she wanted to watch as Kyra soaked in everything that was in front of her and enjoy the unfiltered response that Kyra was emitting.

Kyra's eyes shined brightly as she marveled in the statue of Athena as her helmet and chest plate made of gold shimmered in the sun light. The sun was hitting it just right that it almost looked like it glowed as Kassandra discovered many years ago. A mesmerizing sight on it's own, but instead of watching the sun dance across the Parthenon, Kassandra took in the beauty that was Kyra. How her face lit up with joy and awe and just radiated this pure, unadulterated feeling of bliss was enough to take Kassandra's breath away.

"I've never seen anything like it, this is so beautiful Kassandra" Kyra speaks softly to her, her eyes still faced forward to soak everything in.

Kassandra, without missing a beat and her eyes still trained on Kyra, responds. "It is, so very beautiful."

Kyra spins to face Kassandra, her face plastered with the largest smile Kassandra had ever seen on her. Kyra engulfs her in a tight hug and Kassandra is quick to return the embrace, savoring the moment.

Kassandra loses track of how long they stay like that, but it was never as if she was counting to begin with. Every awful thing that has happened to her in the last couple days was a distant memory as all that mattered now was the two of them, right now.

Kassandra reluctantly pulls back after a while as she did come here with a purpose and she couldn't get too distracted.

"I have a friend here who we can surely stay with while we're here, but I will warn you that he can be a bit..." Kassandra pauses to try to think of the right word to describe him as he was colorful and unabashedly bold, but she also didn't want to scare Kyra away before they even met, "eccentric."

"I'm sure he cannot be that bad Kassandra, you're just a stick in the mud" Kyra playfully responds, nudging her gently.

Kassandra just smiles and shakes her head as she's sure Kyra will change her tune within an hour of meeting him.

"You'll take that back soon enough" Kassandra responds, allowing herself a small laugh for how unprepared Kyra will be. "Come, it's not too far from here."

The journey to meet her friend would take about ten minutes as they have to walk back down all of the ramps and stairs and neither were in any hurry this time, but Kassandra knew that there was no way he'd be awake so she needed to kill some time.

"I am going to show you the city of Athens, but do not be fooled as beneath this exterior lives a rot that slowly is consuming this people and it's livelihood. Athens is a place of wonder, but it can be dangerous if the wrong people are crossed" Kassandra warns as she wants to not allow Kyra to be completely taken in by this place without giving her the whole picture.

"I understand" Kyra acknowledges. "It's a shame such beautiful places are usually the ones to fall first. I will be cautious, but I still wish to see what all this hype is about if you're not opposed."

"Of course, just pick a path and I'll tell you what I know about anything you wish" and Kassandra does as the two set off exploring.

Kassandra continues to steal glances at Kyra as they walk in the ever crowded streets as the vendors prepare their wares for the day ahead. Kassandra felt as if she were seeing some of these statues and buildings in a new perspective as Kyra reacted with her small gasps. Kassandra never gave them much thought before as they were nothing special to her, but maybe she just didn't have the right point of view.

Kassandra decides to take point and leads them towards a large and ornate home, covered with various festive decorations. There were colorful fabrics everywhere and it was set up in such a way that there would be no mistaking that this was the party hub of the city.

Kassandra knows that there's a good probability that he's still asleep with three or four of his conquests at this time, but he would eventually forgive her for walking him up.

She knocks loudly on the door as there is a good chance he's got a hangover and she knows she'll have to be loud and persistent to get him to move.

Kassandra rolls her eyes because of course he's not going to answer the first time, he's going to make her work for it.

Kassandra pounds harder this time with more persistence. "I know you're in there so get your ass up."

This time, Kassandra can hear complaints muffled behind the door before he pulls it open.

"Kassandra?" He questions as he was not expecting her company anytime soon. "Decided to finally take me up on my offer? The bed is still warm you know..."

Kassandra huffs as his persistence as pigs would have to fly for that to happen.

"How generous as always, but no, that's not why I'm here" Kassandra declines politely. "I was wondering if we could stay with you for a day or two while we're in town."

"We?" He questions excitedly as he's known Kassandra for a long time and not once has he met any of her conquests.

Kassandra shifts so Kyra is easily seen and she proceeds with the introductions. "This is Kyra. Kyra, this is Alkibiades."

"Oh my Kassandra, she is a vision, well done" Alkibiades teases and Kassandra does her second eye roll of what will presumably be many more for the day.

"It's nothing like that Alkibiades so calm yourself" Kassandra dissuades, not wanting to get into this with him in front of Kyra. "Kyra is the leader of the Silver Islands and is assisting me with tracking some people."

"My, my....a woman of beauty and power. Consider me swooning" Alkibiades says as he extends his hand towards Kyra. She reaches out to shake his hand, but he quickly pulls her hand to his lips and offers her knuckles a small peck.

"You are too kind Alkibiades" Kyra blushes at his boldness and flirtatious manner. "Your home is just beautiful, I've never seen anything like it."

"You've clearly not even seen the best part," he flirts, "the bedroom is this way."

Kassandra finds herself getting bothered by his advances on Kyra and decides to move this conversation elsewhere. "She's all set Alkibiades so tell me, can we stay here or should I look elsewhere?"

Alkibiades picks up on the shift in her tone and he can tell that he struck a nerve with this Kyra so he decides to play nice...for now.

"You wound me Kassandra, you never let me have fun," he teases, "but of course you both can stay for as long as you wish, my home is always open."

"Thank you Alkibiades, that is very kind of you" Kyra thanks him as he ushers the both of them inside.

"Of course my dear, anything for you, and Kassandra of course" he offers with a wink. "Tell me though, what do I owe the honor of your company to?"

Kyra looks to Kassandra as she's respecting the unsaid boundaries of not mentioning the cult without her consent. Kassandra nods to Kyra before she moves them both to a more secluded area.

"He knows Kyra, it's ok" Kassandra whispers as they walk so she's not taken by surprise when Kassandra tells him everything.

They end up in a pantry room as Kassandra needs to be sure this was shared discreetly. Alkibiades is a lot of things, but he was loyal and trustworthy, however, she wasn't sure who else he had laying around and those were the people she didn't trust.

"I am here to hunt the cult and I could use any information you may have to help me with that" Kassandra whispers and she can see Alkibiades go from playful to serious in the blink of an eye.

"I do have information that I think will be useful for you, but," Alkibiades peeks his head out to scope out their surroundings and he sees one of his lovers moving about, "it is not safe to speak so openly here now as I may or may not have a few members of the Athenian guardsmen in my home at the moment."

Kassandra reaches for her blade, but he stills her hand. "They're awaking from last nights...festivities, so I think you two should lay low while I escort them out."

Alkibiades takes his leave to round up his lovers while Kassandra and Kyra remain stuck in a pantry room until further notice. Kyra takes the opportunity to peek out the window and can see a completely naked man, make that men, walking around without a care in the world. She quickly turns away and sits down on the floor below the window, opposite of Kassandra.

"So, I hate to admit that I may be wrong," Kyra starts speaking after about a minute of silence, "but I think you may be right about him being eccentric."

"What was the first clue?" Kassandra chuckles softly. "Was it when he asked me to sleep with him, for you to sleep with him, or who ever you saw out the window walking around naked from your reddened cheeks?"

"Two men Kassandra! Just walking around completely naked!" Kyra utters in a hushed yet heightened voice.

"One would think of you as a prude for how you're reacting and calling me a "stuck in the mud" seems a little hypocritical now doesn't it?" Kassandra asks rhetorically.

"There's nothing wrong with a lover, but two? At the same time? It just seems like much" Kyra says as her cheeks begin to blush.

Kassandra can sense this is not a topic Kyra is comfortable with, but she cannot help but to tease at this time as her reactions are priceless.

"Two is nothing for Alkibiades" Kassandra responds. "I wouldn't be surprised if there were at least four people."

"Four?!" Kyra says astounded.

"Yup. Oh, and there was also this one time where there were at least six or seven men and women and a goat" Kassandra shares, enjoying the deep crimson that Kyra was turning. "Perikles can throw some pretty wild parties."

"A goat...oh my...that poor creature" Kyra shakes her head, Kassandra assumes it's to get the mental image away. "Wait a moment, how did you know this?"

"I was there of course, I wouldn't miss it" Kassandra answers thinking she's asking about the party.

"You were there?!" Kyra asks, surprised that Kassandra would do such a thing. "By the gods Kassandra, how could you? I mean, why would you even want to?"

"He has good parties and it was a way for me to meet others as I don't socialize much" Kassandra responds, still not realizing she and Kyra were on two very different pages.

"There are other ways to socialize" Kyra defends, not liking the idea at all that Kassandra was in what was basically an orgy.

"There is no better way in Athens as there are many men you can meet who become useful to you" Kassandra answers.

"Men?" Kyra questions as she thought Kassandra only had an interest in females from what she gathered. "I thought you didn't have an interest in them?"

"Who really does if we're being honest here?" Kassandra laughs at herself, amused by her own banter. "They are a pain, but they run the show for just about everything so it never hurts to have a few good ones on your side when the time comes."

"I have to say that I didn't expect this at all from you" Kyra admits. "I guess you're far from a stick if you've been with the likes of him and apparently many others."

Kassandra's amusement fades at Kyra's answer as she doesn't understand why Kyra's responding like this.

"What are you talking about?" Kassandra questions. "I've never been with Alkibiades, that's ridiculous."

Now it's Kyra's turn to be confused as she heard Kassandra imply that she was there, she was sure of it.

"But you said you were there?" Kyra responds, confused.

"I was," Kassandra affirms, "at the party, not with Alkibiades. I only saw him twice as he requested I bring him oil for some unspeakable things, I absolutely did not stay and join."

"You didn't?" Kyra inquires.

"Gods no!" Kassandra laughs loudly, quickly lowering her volume as she realized they still needed to be quiet. "You could not pay me enough to sleep with a man. I would rather die. Wait...so you thought this whole time that I slept with him and those others this whole time?"

"...yes" Kyra whispers, realizing her mistake. To say she was embarrassed was an understatement.

"Tell me then, how did you feel about it? Knowing that I could've been like that?" Kassandra asks, curious to know how Kyra was feeling.

"It doesn't matter" Kyra responds in an attempt to shut down the conversation.

"Kyra, you can tell me" Kassandra teases. "Did you like the idea?"

"Absolutely not!" Kyra snaps, her mood souring rapidly at the thought. "I am not going to judge others for the way they live their life, but that doesn't mean I'd condone it. I mean, two people are fine no matter the sex, three is pushing it but socially acceptable in certain situations, but anymore than that is not for me and especially nothing with a goat."

"Relax, ok?" Kassandra leans forward to place her hand on Kyra's knee. "I was just teasing you and I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you upset."

"I'm not upset, just perturbed" Kyra defends. "I realized as you were talking that there was so much to you that I didn't actually know and then it made me question just how much I truly knew about you at all. Even though it wasn't true and I misunderstood you, it still stands that there's so much of you that you keep hidden from me."

"Kyra, I.." Kassandra tries to come up with a fast response, but she knows that she's backed herself into a corner. She could deny it, but that would be a lie and they both would know that and this was not the time to tell her the whole truth as it would break everything she's worked for.

A knock outside where they were sitting interrupted anything she could've said as Alkibiades pops his head in. "Coast is now clear, come to my office when you're ready"

He disappears as quickly as he came and Kassandra thanks the gods for this interruption as it postpones an uncomfortable conversation. She rises to her feet and dusts herself off before offering her hand to Kyra.

She knows that Kyra wants to have this conversation, but she accepts her hand which at least let's Kassandra know she's not too mad at her.

They don't speak further until they arrive in Alkibiades' office as she and Kassandra provide all the details they know so far.

"I think I can provide you both with something of use as I've heard a rumor about some recent misdeeds about a very affluent man here in Athens" Alkibiades informs both of them as he goes to his bookshelf to find his journal.

"His name is Hermippos, a very wealthy man who has property near the northern wall. It seems he's interested in purchasing some new properties that have been suddenly vacant near where the supplies transfer and it's raised some concerns. I cannot say with certainty that he is a member, but I don't believe it is a coincidence" Alkibiades confides his suspicions to the both of them and Kassandra feels a spark of optimism.

"Thank you, this is perfect" Kassandra says as she claps him on the shoulder. "Your help is as invaluable as always."

"He should be attending a conference tomorrow night, leaving his home relatively unattended if you wanted to, perhaps, have a closer look" Alkibiades shares, knowing full well Kassandra would jump to the opportunity.

"I think that sounds like a wonderful idea. Perhaps we can find more information on some others while were there. Everyone always leaves a trail somewhere" Kassandra states as she formulates a plan. This would be the start of her luck changing by the sounds of it.

"I have other business to attend to so I'll have to bid you both a farewell for now and please, feel at home here and don't do anything that I wouldn't do" Alkibiades offers a wink as he walks himself out the door.

"If I didn't know what I know now, I'd think that suggestion was harmless" Kassandra hears Kyra mutter and she tries to withhold a laugh, but fails miserably.

Kyra, to her credit, begins to laugh as well as they found their way back into a comfortable presence once more.

They spend the remainder of the day wandering aimlessly through the city as Kassandra took her further towards the outskirts and played tour guide as best as she could. The two enjoyed a quiet night in once it got dark and they both opted to review all of Kassandra's notes on the cult.

They both have had a long past few days so they opt to call it a night early as they both hope to sleep before Alkibiades brings in his new flavors of the week.

The spare bed is quite luxurious for the both of them as, to Kassandra, it made sense that he'd not own anything of poor quality and especially not something as important as a bed. They also have to share a bed as all other rooms are spoken for so Kassandra decides to be respectful.

"If you'd like the bed, I can sleep on the chair" Kassandra offers as she begins to undress for the evening.

"Why would you need to do that? Do I smell or something?" Kyra questions. Realizing that she's not been in the water since their battle when she went overboard so she probably could use a bath. "Oh gods, I do, don't I?"

"Kyra no, that's not why" Kassandra tries to assure, but she can see Kyra was already getting worked up about it. "You are perfectly fine, I promise. I just didn't know if you'd want to share a bed with me is all."

"Why wouldn't I?" Kyra asked confused.

"No reason I guess, just figured I'd do the appropriate thing and ask first before I assumed" Kassandra responds.

"Well that's ridiculous, of course you're not going to sleep on the chair or the floor or wherever when there's plenty of space here" and just like that, Kyra dismisses any out Kassandra was trying to give her.

"I do, however, have a request if you wouldn't mind?" Kyra poses the open ended question and Kassandra knows she'd do just about anything for her.

"Of course, what do you need?" Kassandra asks, stripping off the last of her gear.

"I would desperately like a bath now that the idea has popped into my head, but I have no idea where that would be here. Do you think he would mind?" Kyra asks sheepishly as if bathing was this scandalous idea.

"I can put something together for you, sure," Kassandra agrees, "and I'm sure he'd be thrilled to show off his tub to you, but he'll just be jealous that he didn't get an invitation."

Kassandra knows exactly where to go and she heats the stones for the water that she pumps from his private well. His wealth was put to good use as he cared about his appearance far too much to not have his own personal haven to indulge in. Given that he also was a fan of multiple indulgences, the bath was spacious, more spacious than most she's ever seen. It could fit two people pretty comfortably, maybe even a third.

The stones only take about five minutes to get hot as Kassandra fills the tub about halfway full. She carefully moves the stones with a makeshift clamp of her spear and one of his cooking pots as she dumps them in the water, steam filling up her vision.

Kassandra turns to see Kyra already behind her, watching as she finishes setting the stones so that Kyra wouldn't have to touch them.

"All yours" Kassandra says as she motions beside her.

"Thank you" Kyra says sweetly as she walks up to the bath.

Kyra's hand travels through the water and Kassandra watches as she closes her eyes to enjoy the warmth.

"I'll leave you to it" Kassandra says rather quickly as she hurries out of the room as she noticed that Kyra was removing her final layer of clothing.

Kassandra wasn't sure if she could've controlled herself if a naked Kyra was present before her so it was best to remove herself from the temptation.

She decides to get some stones ready for herself as a bath sounds relaxing since she's still quite sore from her injuries and that she's still covered with blood from when the pirates attacked her. Kassandra was used to icy cold baths in the rivers, but with the option to have it heated would be delectable.

Kassandra decides to get a clean set of clothes for Kyra and she carefully places them inside the washroom, her eyes casted downward to not tempt a peek. She's sure she looked ridiculous as she practically just tossed the clothes in, but it got the job done.

About twenty minutes later, Kyra emerges looking refreshed and relaxed. "That was probably the best bath I've ever taken. He really out did himself on the set up in there."

"It pays to be vain" Kassandra responds with a smile. "I'm going to get one ready for myself so if you need anything or if anything happens, that's where I'll be. I'll also try to be quiet in case you're asleep by the time I'm out."

"Sounds good" Kassandra can hear her say as she entered the room and drained the used water. She refilled it with clean water and replaced the now cool stones with fresh ones.

Kassandra didn't even check the water before she immersed herself into it. The water stung her from the heat and she could feel her body putting up a protest, but she knew the benefits would outweigh the slight discomfort so she endured it. Soon, she settled and she submerged her head under the water, allowing the grime and dirt to be free from her hair.

Kassandra emerges for air and can feel the contrast of the heat and the cool air hit her face. It isn't too cold out tonight thankfully as Kassandra still needs to oil herself before she's finished.

Kassandra looks towards the table where the oils were located, but her head whips around towards the entrance as she hears a familiar voice.

"I recommend the rosemary one, it smells quite enchanting" Kyra speaks to her in a soft voice as she leans in the entry way.

Kassandra fights the urge to cover herself as she wasn't ashamed of herself in the slightest, but something about Kyra's gaze on her made her feel so exposed.

Kassandra's throat becomes terribly dry all of a sudden as she attempts to softly clear her throat to speak.

"Uh, yes, ok" is all Kassandra can seem to formulate as she watches Kyra's eyes roam her body.

"Let me help you" Kyra offers as she makes her way to pick up the oil.

Kyra kneels down behind Kassandra in the tub and pours a generous amount on it on her hands before she begins to massage Kassandra's scalp.

If Kassandra got embarrassed easily, what happened next would have ascended her soul, as she let out an unintentional and unexpected moan at the contact. Kassandra was always putty whenever she got a massage (which wasn't often) as there was just something so relaxing about it and it could remove all the tension she carried, no matter how severe. With Kyra though, it was different and Kassandra couldn't pinpoint why, but she wasn't going to complain.

Once Kyra was satisfied, she moved on to Kassandra's arms as she massaged the sore muscles. Kyra was in no rush and neither was Kassandra. They had all the time in the world and Kassandra no longer had any willpower to protest. Kyra moved onto her torso, paying special attention to her chest, before she trailed down to her lower abdomen.

Kassandra could feel herself tensing as Kyra's hand got closer and closer to where she desperately wanted her, but she kept herself from bucking at the movement by gripping the sides of the bath until her knuckles were white all while Kyra was pressed up flush against her back.

Kyra adjusts herself toward the side as she let's her hands travel over Kassandra's hip, her inner thigh, and finally down to her leg. Kyra continues to shuffle around to ensure the most contact possible and starts her opposite side from the leg up until Kyra's hand is at her inner thigh.

"Come, let's get you out before you get a chill" Kyra whispers into her ear as goosebumps start to show across her arms.

Kassandra doesn't trust herself to say anything so she just nods and allows Kyra to help her stand and get out.

Kyra takes special care to not irritate her wounds as her left side is still tender from the attack and there's still some mild bruising as she dries her off. Kassandra, once dry, drains the water and accepts Kyra's hand as she leads them from the washroom to their bedroom.

Kyra pulls her towards the bed where Kassandra eagerly lies down, only to watch Kyra leave the room.

She's not gone for long as she returns with a different oil.

"Lay on your stomach" Kyra orders and Kassandra flips herself over with ease.

Kassandra can hear the sound of Kyra's clothes dropping to the ground and the footsteps she takes to step onto the bed.

Kyra places the oil on the floor next to them after pouring a little on her hands and Kyra begins to massage her shoulders and Kassandra can feel the heat from Kara's thighs as she straddles her, the bare skin against her own warming her body. Kyra leans forward to brush Kassandra's hair aside, she can feel that the only clothing Kyra has on is her underwear and anticipation sparks through her as she knows that all she needs to do is flip over and she'll be greeted with a beautiful sight, but she remains in place as her limbs probably wouldn't move if she wanted them to.

Kassandra can feel her stress evaporate and she finds that she's relaxed so much that it's becoming increasingly hard for her to stay awake with each minute that passes. Before she knows it, she's fast asleep.

Kyra notices Kassandra is fast asleep no more than five minutes into her massage and she smiles sweetly at the thought of Kassandra being so at ease. She knew that Kassandra had a hard time sleeping for the most part so she was happy to be able to provide her some relief. It wasn't how she planned on this night ending, but it was just as good.

Kyra wipes the excess oil off her hands on the sheets as she carefully removes herself from Kassandra, being ever so careful to not disturb her as she rolls to her side of the bed. Kyra pulls up the covers and enjoys its warmth, but she enjoys Kassandra laying next to her even more. She can almost forget what they're here for.

Kyra keeps the respectful amount of space between them, but its not even thirty seconds after she settles herself that Kassandra scoots unconsciously towards her and pulls Kyra's body flush into hers so that no space remains.

Kyra does not stay awake for much longer, but for just enough that she can commit this to memory before the reality of the world crashes down on them in the morning.

Kassandra doesn't even start to stir until mid day as she stretches to get the feeling back into most of her body. She opens her eyes to see an empty space next to her as she runs her palm over the space to find it cold.

She hadn't even noticed that she fell asleep to begin with and she could tell by the sun shining in that she'd slept for a very abnormal amount of time as she was usually up and active around dawn.

Kassandra sits up and slowly stands to put on some clothes as she was not about to give Alkibiades a show.

Kassandra notices that her armor is missing and, instead, a peplos lay in its place. Her boots were still there but the rest of her armor was no where to be seen.

Kassandra doesn't get more than two steps outside their room before she spots her gear hanging out to dry, looking much cleaner than how she left it before. Nearby, she could also hear voice talking and laughing.

Kassandra makes her way to the sound and finds both Kyra and Alkibiades in an animated discussion.

"You did no such thing!" Kyra exclaims as she holds her side from all the laughing she's been doing.

"I did and now I am no longer allowed back in the region. How was I supposed to know it was his sister?" Alkibiades responds and the two burst back out, unable to hold it in.

Kassandra isn't sure why, but it warms her so to see Kyra getting along with her friends with such an ease and it's clear Alkibiades enjoys her too as not anybody gets his stories.

Kyra must've seen her in her peripheral as her body turns in Kassandra's direction and she beams with a smile. "Good morning, I hope we didn't wake you."

"I am surprised I slept as long as I did. I don't remember the last time I've slept so well" Kassandra offers in response and Kyra's smile grows even wider.

"I'm sure you must be hungry so I'll go and see that our lunch gets prepared" Kyra offers as she heads towards the kitchen.

"I like her Kassandra" Alkibiades shares as he watches Kyra disappear into the kitchen. "All jokes aside, she is truly remarkable and I think you have a keeper here."

Kassandra appreciates the gesture as she's grateful he enjoys her company, but she doesn't want to give the wrong impression. "Thank you, but she and I are not together."

"You are a malaka then my friend" he retorts. "By the time you see what the world sees, it will be too late at this rate."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Kassandra counters, but her answer doesn't come from him.

"What does what mean?" Kyra asks innocently having just gotten back into earshot.

"Oh, it's nothing" Kassandra brushes off. "Alkibiades was just trying to be funny."

"Oh, before I forget," Kyra says as she offers Kassandra her plate, "I cleaned your armor as best as I could, but it's white so not everything came off."

Kassandra can feel Alkibiades hit her with his leg and she sends him a glare before turning back to Kyra.

"Thank you, that was very kind of you to do" Kassandra says before she takes her first bite of food.

Kyra settles in beside her and the three of them have an enjoyable meal.

After lunch is done, Alkibiades asks for Kyra's assistance with some documents so Kassandra goes to dress on her new clean and dry armor and takes to sharpening her spear.

The rest of the day was mostly wasted, but she and Kyra didn't need to be anywhere just yet as Hermippos' place would still be surrounded.

Kassandra sat for what felt like hours by herself as she waited for Kyra to come back before they emerged from his office.

"I must borrow Kyra for another hour on business as her help would be invaluable for me at this time. Will you be alright while we're gone?" He asks her as he's standing in the main entrance.

"Are you sure you don't need me?" Kassandra asks in concern as she didn't truly want Kyra too far from her sight.

"We'll be perfectly fine and I can't have you scaring away who I'm meeting as you're cute, but still utterly intimidating so no, you can't come with" Alkibiades shoots her down, but Kassandra can tell he's not telling her everything, but it's not her place to call him out.

"Great! Come Kyra, let's get to work!" Alkibiades clasps his hands together as he pulls her out the door before she can even say a word.

Kassandra tries to fill her time reading, but she can't seem to focus as her mind keeps drifting back to Kyra. She eventually settles on tossing olives in the air and trying to catch it with her mouth.

By the time they've both returned, Kassandra had eaten Alkibiades almost entirely out of olives. Kassandra was on a streak of thirteen catches in a row before she caught sight of Kyra and noticed that she was dressed very differently than hoe she left.

Alkibiades had bought her several new outfits for their journeys and even got her some new boots and wrist guards.

"How does she look? Ready to take the world down to its knees?" Alkibiades introduces her and Kyra does a twirl so Kassandra can see her whole ensemble.

"Absolutely stunning" Kassandra answers honestly and she can see a small blush on Kyra's cheeks.

"I just had to thank her for saving me so much drachmae on what would've been a terrible deal for me in the long run. She's smart this one, very clever." Alkibiades praises and Kyra's blush intensifies at all the attention.

"Right then, that said, we must be going for now or else we will miss our window, but if all goes to plan we shall be back after dark" Kassandra says to Alkibiades as she wants him to know an approximate timeframe in case anything goes sour.

"Understood, thank you and you both be safe" he says as he pulls them both into a hug before retreating into his office.

Kassandra nods to Kyra and they both head out towards the northern part of Athens. They walk in silence even though Kassandra tries to fill it with small talk, but Kyra's bubbly nature is clearly missing. Something must've happened when the two were out. Kassandra wants to ask, but she knows that now isn't the time to unpack whatever the problem was as they had arrived and it was time to focus.

They snuck their way towards the back of the property and they stayed crouched and hidden while Hermippos and his men got ready to leave.

Kassandra was paying close attention to the guard rotation and she was pretty sure she had the timing down so they could sneak in and put undetected.

They watch as Hermippos and his men saddle their horses and take off towards the city center. They allow an additional ten minutes before they begin to move in case he returned home early for having forgotten something, but it appeared their coast was clear.

There were only two perimeter guards that Kassandra had spotted so she pointed out the second target to Kyra while she took out the first. Kassandra didn't want to kill them, so she stuck with a chokehold as did Kyra as the two men were easily subdued.

They make their way in the back and spread out to cover more ground and they would have to be fast as they could only see by the light outside and that was diminishing quickly.

Kassandra had found some useful bits of information on locations in the neighboring region of Megaris that they would need to explore, but everything else remained coded or irrelevant.

Kassandra had not heard anything from Kyra since they split up so she makes the decision to go searching for her.

Kassandra steps into the hallway and is met with the sound of a door slamming and a loud a d angry voice echoing through the house.

"If that malaka thinks I will just fold under the pressure like a doll, he is dead wrong. How dare he accuse me of such cowardice!" The voice yells as heavy footsteps make their way towards her.

Kassandra is stuck as there is no opening large enough for her to fit through here and she could try to hide, but she'd make more noise that way. The only thing she could do was catch him by surprise and try to run and hope that Kyra got the same idea.

As Hermippos rounds the corner to where Kassandra is standing, his eyes go wide at the realization that he is no longer alone and Kassandra makes the split second decision to punch him in the throat before he can scream.

He quickly grasps his throat and drops to his knees Kassandra takes the opportunity to vault over him and run down the stairs. What she failed to notice was that there were already two guards making their way up the steps so she couldn't go down, she had to run for the roof.

"Hey! Stop! Intruder!" Kassandra hears the guards yell as she tries to slow them down by tossing everything she finds in their path.

Kassandra had still not seen Kyra, but she could hear yelling from the other part of the house and assumed they had spotted Kyra as well.

"Just great" Kassandra mutters to herself as she makes her way towards the door in front of her, quickly opening it and slamming it shut.

It was only once she closed the door that she realized that this was essentially a dead end, the one thing she tried to avoid this whole time.

"Who puts a door to something like this? Really?!" Kassandra complains to nobody but herself as she jams a small dagger into the hinges of the door to prevent them from opening. Kassandra remained pinned, having blockaded the door behind her as she tried to find a way out.

Kassandra finally spots Kyra as she bursts open the stair enclosure, scrambling towards the railing only to realize it was also a dead end.

The first three of Hermippos' guards ignore Kyra as they cross from the lounge platform overlooking the northern wall diagonally right of her to the open hallway she was on by way of a small roof platform. Kassandra takes a few steps back from where she had advanced in order to get to Kyra and notices two more guards who turn their attention to Kyra.

The three men in front of her formed an impassible wall that she would need to get through in order to reach Kyra. Kassandra lunges forward and easily counters every strike sent her direction, but as she was gaining the upper hand, she heard the unmistakable sound of the snap of an arrow being let loose above her.

Kassandra watched helplessly as the arrow passed above her, gliding right in the direction of Kyra who was pressed up again the railing furthest from the stairs. Kassandra watched as it struck her in the left shoulder, forcing her to take a step back.

Hermippos them made his own appearance and rose from the stairwell and Kassandra could only watch as he looked over Kyra and took a few strides to forcefully kick her over the railing, sending her backwards off the side.

"KYRA!" Kassandra screams as she remained paralyzed. There was nothing she could do.

One of the men took advantage of this momentary distraction and lunged for her legs, causing her to fall backwards, slamming into the door behind her. The other two men in front of her rushed up towards her to maintain the advantage and Hermippos just brushes himself off as he backs away from the same spot she last saw Kyra.

Hermippos and the other two men who were previously on Kyra make their way over to where Kassandra was sitting. They cross the small patch of roof between the areas and suddenly her idea of barricading the only way out wasn't such a good idea after all.

Kassandra's mind is a blur as she replays Kyra getting struck with the arrow and getting kicked off the side of the house over and over. Kassandra should have done something more than just watch. She should have been more careful, she should have just done something, anything. Instead, she is pinned against a door, a six on one ratio. She watches as Hermippos walks with an arrogance towards her as the men part to allow him to be closer, but not far enough that they can't act if she makes a move.

"It's too bad about your partner there, guess she should have just stayed home. It is a shame to waste such a beauty like that, she'd have made a wonderful whore" he mocks, trying to get a rise out of Kassandra but she doesn't take the bait.

"You are in way over your head Eagle Bearer" he continues, pacing as he speaks. "You really thought that you could defeat us? Did you honestly think we wouldn't know you were here? We have eyes and ears everywhere and we knew the moment you stepped foot on our shore."

"You, up there, get this damn door open!" Hermippos addresses the archer who shot Kyra above her and he quickly descends down the stairs to unblock the door.

"Now, back to the fun" he persists, speaking only fill the silence, glaring at Kassandra. Kassandra can feel his eyes burning into her skull, but she keeps her head down as her mind races for a plan. She needed to at least get to her knees and she knew that if she ignored him long enough that he would strike her, allowing her to reposition herself.

She doesn't have to wait for long as it is apparent that Hermippos has a short temper.

"Look at me when I speak" he shouts as he backhands her.

Kassandra tossed herself to the side as if his blow was stronger than it actually was. She averts she eyes to the left to observe if she still has the same distance between her and his guards and it looked as if they didn't move. This allowed her to rise, slowly, until she was resting on her knees. Still persistent, she keeps her head down.

"What are you? Deaf? I said look at me you bitch!" Hermippos, again, backhands her, but this time she doesn't move at all.

He continued to strike her until his hand became sore, but Kassandra remained sturdy and unwavering. What he failed to realize is that Kassandra was slowly drifting into a madness of sorts. With the possibility that Kyra was no longer alive, Kassandra began to lose all her morality.

He had put his hands on Kyra and for that he would pay with his life, they all would, but Kassandra would ensure that Hermippos' death especially wasn't swift. Kassandra could still see the look of horror on Kyra's face and it engrained itself into her very core and it broke everything good that remained inside her.

Kassandra began to laugh, softly at first, but it got progressively louder and came out in spurts. Hermippos was taken back by this behavior as none of what he knew about the Eagle Bearer had prepared him for this. He knew she was resilient and stubborn, but how she was acting in this moment reminded him of someone who was maniacal, unhinged.

Kassandra remained on her knees with her head tilted towards the ground, her body shaking with the uneasy laughter. She felt possessed by something new, something dark, something vindictive. Her body coursed with an unfamiliar feeling, a possessiveness that was wildly consuming her.

Hermippos had made a fatal mistake.

Kassandra lifts her gaze, eyes as dark as night, as they rested upon his and she could tell he was petrified by what he saw. Her mouth raises to a smirk with that knowledge so she continued to stare. She knew he was silently getting rattled as he took several steps back until he was at the other end of the hallway.

A chill passes over him as her eyes roamed him like a rabid wolf who's been caged and her eyes looked like death itself had overtaken her. There was a darkness within her and even though he had five guards between them, he somehow didn't feel all that safe anymore.

"Well? What are you waiting for? Kill her already!" He orders as he gets as much distance from her as possible, just in case.

The guards react, but not nearly fast enough. Kassandra had settled herself so that she was just barely sitting on her toes with her hands behind her back so when Hermippos gave the order, she used that leverage to propel herself forward towards the nearest guard while simultaneously unsheathing her spear.

They collide and Kassandra impales her spear through his lower abdomen before she rolls so that he is directly over her. Using her legs again, she launches him off her in the direction of the remaining guards all while holding her spear, letting gravity remove it from the guard.

Kassandra rolls forward towards the door and sets herself up I'm a defensive stance. The door still remained shut behind her, but she could hear the archer make attempts to break it down. It wouldn't hold for long, but she only needed a few minutes.

The remaining four guards quickly formed a half circle in front of Hermippos so that he could remain protected, but Kassandra knew it was only a matter of time as these guards were no match for her.

Two of the four jump forward, swords at the ready as they both try to swing at her in tandem. It was sloppy work as it increased the odds that they would strike one another, even if they were aiming at her. Kassandra would use this to her advantage.

Both guards swing at her and she quickly drops to the ground so that their swords connect with each other. Distracted ever so slightly by the near miss, they don't realize that Kassandra is in a prime position. She quickly slices the achilles on both of their heels and the two men collapse to the ground in agony, unable to apply any pressure to stand back up. Blood pours from their wounds and the horror in Hermippos' face is evident as he realizes how south this all has gone so quickly.

Kassandra slowly lifts herself off the ground, covered in blood, until she's fully standing upright. She cracks her head from side to side and flexes her shoulder blades as her grip tightens on her spear.

"Who's next?" Kassandra speaks predatorily.

Neither of the two guards make a move and it wasn't until Hermippos pushes them both forward that they even so much as breathed. They weren't stupid, they knew the kind of reputation the Eagle Bearer had, but this....this was something of nightmares.

Kassandra, not feeling generous in the slightest, launches her spear into one of the man's throats and walks directly towards her final obstacle. The final guard tries to keep her away, but Kassandra easily is able to telegraph his moves and uses her hand to punch him in the jugular. As he drops his weapon, clutching his throat in an attempt to breathe, Kassandra picks her spear out of the guard. Her eyes never leave Hermippos as she stabs the remaining guard through the throat.

"Now, now Eagle Bearer," Hermippos protests as he begins to walk back to the lounge area with his hands help up in a surrender, "I'm sure we can come to an agreement here."

Kassandra doesn't answer right away as she stalks forward, forcing him backwards towards the rail Kyra fell from.

"No words can save you from your fate" Kassandra practically growls as she adjusts her grip on her spear.

"I...I..." Hermippos stammers, trying to buy himself an out from the situation. "I can give you information! I know about the inner most workings and if I'm dead, you'll never know."

As enraged as Kassandra is, she also knew she needed this information and she would not have Kyra's end be for nothing so she places her spear back in its holster and takes another step towards him.

"Speak. Now." Kassandra demands and he seems more than happy to oblige.

"Kleon, Kleon is the man you want, please, don't take another step" he begs as he backs himself up fully to the railing. "He controls the cult for Athens and a few other islands."

"Where! I need names or I will gut you where you stand" Kassandra growls as she takes another step forward.

"Please, I beg of you, I will tell you, but I will need a guarantee that you won't kill me or else I will take this to my grave" Hermippos offers in an attempt to bargain for his life. Little does he know she's going to kill him regardless so she may as well play along.

Kassandra takes a step back as a show of good faith and she can see relief wash over him.

"Delos....Delos and Mykonos along with Athens. He is just one of many, but he seems to have the means to cause damage. I had heard he was in Delos last, but got spooked and fled" Hermippos rambles, unknowingly providing Kassandra with some answers to her questions she's had since Kepheus.

"Where is he now?" Kassandra questions, her tone still as sharp as ever.

"I, uh, I don't know," he admits and Kassandra begins to step forward, but he throws his hands out in from of him, "but wait, wait, I can tell you who else may know."

Kassandra pauses to consider his words and steps back into her prior position.

"Nyx The Shadow" he offers her.

"Where is she?" Kassandra asks, irritated that she has to continually keep prodding for information.

"She is everywhere and nowhere, her identity is a mystery" Hermippos answers.

"How am I supposed to find someone who basically doesn't exist to locate someone else who is a mystery? Hmm? Do you truly want to die? Because that's what this sounds like to me" Kassandra responds aggressively.

"There is also someone in Megaris, a woman who goes by Sotera, who is apparently close to Nyx who should be able to tell you more, I promise, please just let me go" he begs, his hands placed in front of him like he's praying.

"No" Kassandra replies sternly as she moves forward.

"But...but, you promised! " Hermippos stutters as he frantically looks around for someone to aid him.

"She did, but I didn't" a voice rings out from behind him and as he turns, his chest is impaled with an arrow.

The look on his face was a distortion of pain and shock as he collapses to his knees, too weak to remain standing.

Kassandra couldn't believe it as Kyra stood in front of her looking as if nothing had happened.

Kyra grabs the man by the collar and drags him over to the barrier to their left and leans him up against it before she offers him her parting words. "You know, you should probably make sure there's not an awning below where you kick someone off."

Kyra takes a few steps back and charges towards him, her boot crashing into his sternum as he tumbles backwards and they can both hear the audible crack of his neck as he partially lands on the post at the stairs.

Kyra looks over the rail to see his lifeless body and she does what anyone rational person does and spits on his lifeless body.

"May you rot in Hades for all eternity" Kyra sneers.

Kyra takes a step back and turns to see Kassandra and notices that she is covered with blood. Kassandra didn't appear to be injured, but she never knew with her. Before she could ask if she was ok, Kassandra rushes forward and squeezes her in a tight hug.

"Thank the gods, I thought I'd lost you" Kassandra almost sobs as the relief of seeing Kyra has soothed her ravenous taste for revenge.

"Can't...breathe..." Kyra says in broken spurts.

"Oh, malaka, I'm so sorry" Kassandra recoils and immediately let's go of Kyra, giving her space.

"I came prepared as I knew that you had a habit of getting into trouble so I put on this while Alkibiades and I were shopping" Kyra says as she pulls down her peplos to show a now dented chest plate.

"I just saw you get shot and fall and I just blacked out, I don't even know what happened" Kassandra admits, her voice shaking a bit as the adrenaline wears off.

"Shh, it's ok, I'm ok, I'm right here" Kyra pulls Kassandra into her and tries to soothe her with her presence and her words.

"You can't get rid of me Kassandra, as much as you may try" Kyra attempts to lighten the mood. "You are stuck with me."

Kassandra keeps her face pressed tightly against Kyra and hopes that Kyra's words will still ring true when she has the courage to tell Kyra the truth.

Chapter Text

The walk back to Alkibiades' is done in solemn silence. The gravity of the loss Kassandra almost endured tonight had shaken her deeply and she was lost within her own mind. Just moments ago she witnessed a horror she never even considered before and it became real in the blink of an eye. The life beside her was fleeting and there was never a guarantee of tomorrow, Kassandra knew as much, but she never realized to what extent this would bother her.

Kyra meant a great deal to her, that was apparent, but why couldn't she admit this out loud? Kassandra had not told Kyra the depths of her admiration, ever. Kassandra preferred a method of silent assurance and gestures to convey her feelings, but she wonders if that's enough this time? Kyra could have died before her tonight and Kassandra would've shared nothing with her. It makes her feel a bit disgusted with herself that Kyra had been so open and so willing, but Kassandra lived in the shadows and gave no details unless absolutely necessary.

Kassandra had kept up her guard even after Kyra proved herself again and again that she was worthy of this trust, of this confirmation. Yet, she remains silent, biding her time for something unknown. What was she waiting for? There would never be a perfect time so what was stopping her?

Perhaps she was too afraid of rejection as a dismissal from Kyra now was something she surely wouldn't recover from. This had been the reason she'd not told Kyra the real truth about Thaletas, even though she's had ample opportunity to do so. Kassandra became enchanted by her persistence and presence and now she cannot imagine a moment where Kyra isn't by her side.

Kyra was understanding and compassionate when the world had been so cold to her. Kyra still stood tall and proud in the storm, unwavering as the blows kept coming. She truly was unlike anyone Kassandra had ever met before. Kyra fascinated her to no end as every time Kassandra thought she had her figured out, she got thrown off guard in a new and equally intriguing way.

Kassandra would have never thought Kyra capable of all they've endured the past few days, but yet, here they both were. She had fought pirates and had infiltrated enemy lines without so much as a protest and she was still walking by her side. Kyra accepted Kassandra for all she entailed and she welcomed the challenge of facing Kassandra's demons together, as a team. To have someone care so unconditionally made Kassandra feel one emotion more than the rest.

Fear.

Fear that this would all be a dream that Kassandra would eventually wake from. That this had all been some grand illusion from the head injury she suffered. Kyra would still be on Mykonos and Kassandra would be left to face the world alone. The idea had never bothered her before, but it was almost funny in a way at how quickly life could change your perspective.

Kassandra made it known to absolutely everyone that she was a one woman show, no exceptions. Yet, here she was, side by side with another and she found herself unwilling to see a future without her in it. Kassandra had unknowingly warmed to the thought of a companion and Kyra was the answer to a void that Kassandra wasn't even aware of.

She never understood the gravity of team work and dependency on others as just about anyone she's ever associated with left her feeling disappointed. People were not reliable and they surely did not care for her own well being unless there was something to gain for themselves. How selfish the world was, a lesson Kassandra had learned very young, and how selfish it would remain. Still, she couldn't help but notice how her icy exterior began to melt around Kyra and that even the most inhospitable places could have a beacon of light if one only had the right perspective.

Kassandra could feel the inner turmoil raging as her tried and true self fought with her new self discoveries. Kassandra hadn't gotten to where she was today by being friendly and warm. She was smart, strategic, and isolated so why should she fix what wasn't broken? Why should she allow this woman to walk past all her safeguards? Then again, Kyra had shown an undeniable spirit and loyalty to her and surely that should count for something?

All this thinking was giving her a headache. She was grateful that Alkibiades lived nearby as she wasn't feeling up to a long walk. All she wanted now was to just lay down and be alone.

Kyra, for her part, never once tried to talk to her on the walk and she was silently grateful she didn't have to indulge in small talk. There was just too much going on in her own mind that she probably wouldn't have been able to focus on it anyway.

The bath they both had earlier was but a distant memory as they both looked a fright, Kassandra more worse for wear than Kyra, but both equally squandered all prior attempts at cleanliness. Kassandra couldn't find herself caring too much about her appearance as anything she soiled could easily be replaced and her desire for the comfort of a bed outweighed her desire to clean up against first.

Alkibiades was off in the distance from where they entered and Kassandra didn't even have the energy to stay and fill him in. Instead, she just walked silently towards her room, disrobing, and throwing herself between the sheets.

This was why Kassandra never bothered with emotions unless she absolutely had to as they were quite taxing and she found that she couldn't handle them like the average person. Maybe someday she'd be open about her thoughts and feelings, but that day was surely not today and was a problem for future Kassandra.

Kassandra closed her eyes and squeezed them shut in a failed attempt to quell the voices that were arguing in her mind. So many options swirling for what she should and shouldn't do, it was becoming overbearing. She just wanted some peace and quiet, was that to much to ask? She didn't want to think this much.

Kyra, on the other hand, took it upon herself to chat with Alkibiades and fill him in one what they had found (omitting some key details for Kassandra's sake). Kyra wasn't sure what was wrong with Kassandra, but she knew her well enough to know that pushing before Kassandra was ready would only result in her retreating further into herself. Kyra had come too far for a setback like this so she would be patient and wait, even if it frustrated her that Kassandra so easily threw her walls back up. Until then though, she would take the company she had right now and see if she could learn some more about her mysterious lover.

She and Alkibiades discuss the events of the evening, their political views, local gossip, etc. No subject seemed to be off limits and the more wine that entered his system, the easier his stories flowed. Perhaps in his current inebriated state he'd be more forthcoming with more personal details about Kassandra.

"So tell me Alkibiades," Kyra begins in an attempt to steer the conversation where she wanted it, "how did you come to meet Kassandra?"

"Ah, that was a fun night" Alkibiades recounts with a smile on his face. "Perikles was hosting a party and Kassandra had attended for whatever reason and the gods brought her to my door. She wanted information and I needed oil for various activities so it was a mutually beneficial arrangement."

Kyra didn't realize that was the first time Kassandra had ever met him when she had recited the story earlier. What a first impression of a person.

"She departed not long after, but she would always make return visits and the two of us grew to be quite close" Alkibiades shares with a warm reverence. "Tis a shame she had no interest in men though or we could've been quite the spectacle."

"That would be a sight to see" Kyra laughs and Alkibiades joins in too.

"She and I are from the same cloth so it would have been doomed from the start" he admits. "We both are lovers and, although she is a bit more restrictive than I, we would've burned too hot, too fast."

"No commitment in your future?" Kyra inquires.

"I will never say never, but for now, I couldn't restrict myself to only a lone individual when I can share so much with the world. It would be a crime to keep this," he runs his hand in front of his torso in a downward motion, "for only one person."

"Do you think Kassandra is the same way?" Kyra asks, a bold question to ask someone who is a stranger to her, but there would be no other to speak of her so freely.

"That depends," Alkibiades trails off as he leans forward, "are you asking as a friend or as a lover?"

Kyra wasn't surprised he was still sharp enough to see right through her, but she'd come too far to back down now.

"A bit of both I guess" Kyra answers honestly.

Alkibiades' gaze was unsteady, but he still gave Kyra a precursory once over, freely judging her intentions. His eyes squinted a bit as if he were debating something in his mind and Kyra started to become a little self conscious with this unadulterated attention.

"I have not know Kassandra for that long, but in my personal observations I've never know her to decline an invitation to not spend the night alone" he answers and Kyra suddenly felt the air get stolen from her lungs.

Kyra had asked for the truth and Alkibiades was not going to pull any punches to spare her feelings. His answer shouldn't honestly surprise her as she was made aware very quickly at just how popular the misthios was. Kyra knew better than to think Kassandra inexperienced in this field, but she didn't grasp just how far that carried the opposite direction.

Sensing the mood change, Alkibiades decided to further elaborate on his prior statement.

"That being said, I've also never seen her act with other women the way she's acted with you" he shares. "Not once have I ever even heard the names of her lovers, yet alone meet them and share stories with them over wine."

"I am trying to be realistic about this, I truly am, but I just find myself so lost with her" Kyra admits. "I thought it may be different with us now, but I also know I'm not special, just an ordinary woman."

"I don't believe that for a moment," Alkibiades chimes in, "you are the furthest thing from ordinary."

"I am but a dull blade in comparison to the sharp edge that is Kassandra and I accept that, but I had always hoped that I would be the one who makes her want to stay" Kyra says as she lowers her head forward. "It seems as though she's always running and I just wanted to be the one person she didn't run from. That must sound so stupid."

"Wanting a home with someone is not stupid Kyra, I think you are too hard on yourself" he comforts as he leans forward to place a hand on her knee.

"I just find myself shrouded in doubt and I second guess just about everything I do with her" she tells him, allowing all of her deep seated fears to manifest. "I don't want to do too much and push her away, but I don't want to show her disinterest and risk losing her that way either. I'm constantly on edge."

"Kyra," he sobers up, getting more serious, "as much as I love Kassandra and want the world for her, I also know that she can be as perceptive as a rock. You cannot put in all the effort. Have you considered making yourself harder to get, so to speak?"

"I don't know if I could ever do that. I've tried before, but I lost my resolve" Kyra admits, but she couldn't ignore that he did still have a point. "I just can't seem to say no."

"I'm not saying you have to rebuke everything, but she should realize you're worth working for" he clarifies. "It should be organic and if you pull back, you will get to see if she is willing to walk to meet you."

"I suppose you have a point," she concedes, "thank you for being honest with me."

"If there's one thing I know in life, it's the act of love, and I think the two of you just speak it differently for now, but it doesn't mean that you can't learn one another’s in due time" he imparts his wisdom as he rises to retire for the night.

Kyra smiles in response, not wanting to discuss this any further as it was clear Alkibiades was quite tired and he'd been a good enough sport for her already.

"Oh, and Kyra, one more thing" Alkibiades speaks as he's leaning against his bedroom wall.

"Hmm?" Kyra hums as she shifts herself so that she can face him.

"If she won't have you, I surely will" he says with a wink as he enters his chambers.

Kyra shakes her head and allows a small smile to creep its way up from the pout she's had affixed since they got back. She didn't even know if it was a joke at this point, but she will take the compliment at face value for now. As fun as Alkibiades is, he is most certainly not her type.

Kyra finds she's now completely by herself in a strange place and she knows Kassandra is just next door, but she can't help but feel a little alone nonetheless. Every time she thinks they're making progress, something happens that brings them several steps backwards.

Kassandra held her earlier like she's never done before and it was as if Kassandra couldn't have her close enough. It was a wonderful sensation to be craved in such a manner that it was almost a shock at how quickly Kassandra retreated back into herself when she let go. It wasn't as though Kyra expected a dramatic change overnight, but it felt as though she only wanted Kyra when there was a fear of losing her.

Kyra decided to lay down as she was tired and her thoughts of that moment was rather taxing and exhausting. She also didn't want to disturb Kassandra if she was in a mood so there was no point in going anywhere else.

It felt like she had to walk on eggshells to protect the delicate state of Kassandra sometimes. For as strong and powerful she was as a misthios, her emotional range left much to be desired and she tended to overreact. Kyra knew there had to be something in her past that alluded as to why she was like this, but Kyra was never privy to Kassandra's life. In fact, she didn't really know Kassandra at all now that she got thinking about it.

Kyra knew that she originally hailed from Sparta, but had grown up on Kephallonia, but she knew not much more. She had eventually become a misthios, most likely out of necessity, and that she traveled frequently. Only recently did she even discover that Kassandra had a brother, Alexios, but that he was in the cult for some reason that has yet to be explained. She knew nothing of her family, her interests, or her general day to day activities.

Kyra was aloof to even the smallest and most casual of details like what Kassandra's favorite food is or even her favorite color. All mysteries wrapped into the enigma that is Kassandra, the Eagle Bearer.

Frustrated, Kyra sighs audibly as she adjusts to make herself comfortable on the lounge. It's nowhere near as good as a bed, but it was better than the ground. Exhausted and drained, Kyra curls up and easily falls asleep hoping for a better day tomorrow.

Kassandra was equally as restless as she had fallen asleep shortly after laying down, but it was fitful and broken. Each time she stirred awake, she reached for Kyra but found the bed empty and cold.

Kassandra knew it was partly her own fault as she'd been distant, but she figured Kyra would have made her way into bed eventually. She should get up and check on her, just to settle her mind so she could go back to bed.

Kassandra isn't sure what time it is, but the room remained dark, illuminated by only the moonlight coming through the windows and the candle she had lit to light her path.

She finds she doesn't have to go far as she spots Kyra curled up on a lounge chair. Kyra did not have anything to shield her from the brisk chill of the night and it was quite apparent that she was cold. Kassandra wonders if she just fell asleep on accident or if she was there by choice.

She places the candle down on the table and crouches so that she is level with Kyra. She didn't want to wake her, but she also didn't want her to freeze.

"Kyra" Kassandra whispers in an attempt to wake her.

With no response, Kassandra decides to give her arm a small shake. "Kyra, wake up."

Kyra just makes a sound, still clearly not awake as she shifts herself to turn away from Kassandra.

"You're going to catch a cold out here" Kassandra speaks a little louder this time. "Come to bed."

"I'm fine" Kyra groggily responds, wanting Kassandra to just leave her be.

"You're shivering and your skin is cold to the touch" Kassandra says as she rests her palm on Kyra's exposed hip.

"Then don't touch" Kyra snaps, swiping away at Kassandra's hand. She was not awake by any means, but she did remember she wasn't pleased with Kassandra.

"Fine" Kassandra huffs as she stands up back up. "If you want to freeze to death, be my guest."

Kyra doesn't bother with a response as she didn't have anything nice at the ready and she knew that fighting now would only make it worse. It was a matter of pride at this point as she was freezing and cold, but it felt like she would be caving if she were to return back to bed. It was absolutely stupid, but if Kassandra was going to sulk and push her away then by the gods she would stay away.

Rationally Kyra knew Kassandra was only trying to be nice and that she, perhaps, was too aggressive with her response, but she was irritated and she would reap what she sows.

Unfortunately, her spat with Kassandra had made her acutely aware of how cold she truly was and it was going to be a miracle if she was able to fall back asleep. Letting out an irrigated huff, Kyra forces her eyes closed and begs her body to go back to sleep.

Kassandra had returned to the room, extinguished the candle, and gotten back into bed. She lay on her back, staring at the ceiling. What even just happened now? All Kassandra was trying to do was get her warm, but Kyra was uncharacteristically hostile towards her. She didn't know why Kyra reacted that way, but if she wanted to act childish then she'd let her.

Only Kassandra couldn't seem to let it go.

She tossed and turned, trying to get comfortable, but her mind kept drifting to Kyra. Kassandra didn't even know why she cared so much as clearly Kyra was mad at her for something and wanted to be alone and she should just let her. However, she couldn't quiet the thought of Kyra getting sick because of something so ridiculous that could be easily prevented.

Resigning herself to face Kyra's wrath once more, Kassandra gets out of bed, throws back the sheet, and walks back towards the chair. She didn't bring a candle as she was going to need both hands free, but it thankfully was only a few steps away and there weren't any stairs to deal with.

She didn't do anything to disguise her footsteps as she didn't want to startle her, but it was clear once she got closer that Kyra was still awake as she could see the slightest of shivers.

"Go away" Kyra huffs out as she pulls her body into a tighter ball in a futile act to get warm.

Kassandra doesn't say anything, instead, she just bends down to scoop Kyra up effortlessly in a bridal carry.

"Kassandra!" Kyra shrieks, quickly stifling her outburst as she didn't want to wake Alkibiades.

Kassandra still remained silent as she carefully moved into their room as she didn't want Kyra to hit her head accidentally.

Once in the clear, Kassandra walks over to the bed and ungraciously drops Kyra onto the bed below. Kassandra had been forward thinking enough to pull back the covers before she went and got her so she could do just this.

Kassandra couldn't see her expression, but she could hazard a guess as either shocked, displeased, or both. That would also be a problem for future Kassandra as present Kassandra just wanted to go back to bed.

Kassandra covers Kyra with the sheets as she returns to her own side of the bed. Kassandra takes her usual spot and is able to get comfortable almost immediately although it was a bit colder than she'd prefer it. Kyra was practically an icicle and was sucking all of the warmth, but Kassandra would deal with it as she was at least beside her and not foolishly without any barrier for the cold.

Kassandra also noticed that Kyra was as far away from her as physically possible without falling on the floor, but it was better than nothing. She'd grown used to Kyra's presence and felt a sense of comfort in it nonetheless. If Kyra decided to leave now though, she would not stop her as her due diligence had been done. Thankfully, for both of them, Kyra remains in the bed and under the covers and the two fall asleep within moments.

With a new day on the horizon, Kassandra wakes with a stretch. She cracks open an eyelid to see that it is still somewhat dark, but that it must be close to dawn. She also can see an empty spot next to her indicating she was alone again and that Kyra seems to have left.

Kassandra instinctively runs her hand over Kyra's spot and can feel that it was still warm so she must not have been gone for long if that was the case. Did she truly get out of bed and go back to the chair? It was a frustrating thought as it meant she was really angry at her and she's not even sure what she did wrong.

Interrupting her thoughts, Kassandra hears footsteps as Kyra pads her way across the floor to get back into bed, blowing out the candle. Kassandra closes her eyes as she doesn't want to be seen watching her so she waits patiently until she feels the bed shift next to her. Kyra isn't that far away now, unlike earlier, so she decides to test the limits.

Kassandra felt emboldened in the darkness and she would stop if Kyra pushes her away, but if it works, she'll have nothing to lose. Going for broke, Kassandra reaches her arm out and lays it across Kyra's hip.

Kassandra stills for a moment, but notices no resistance or movement so she tests the waters even further by sliding her hand up to her stomach.

Kassandra can hear a small hitch of Kyra's breath as she trailed her hand up and Kassandra grins like a cheshire cat at the sound, stirring her to press further.

Kassandra tightens her grip and pulls Kyra so that her backside is flush against the front of her.

Kyra was a bit cold, but it was a nice balance to the heatwave Kassandra was now feeling as her skin was on fire where Kyra touched. Again, Kassandra waited to see if she would pull away, but to her surprise and pleasure, she didn't move.

Kassandra had two options. She could either try to go back to sleep with Kyra close or she could try to make a move and risk further irritating her.

No risk, no reward, so the choice was an easy one.

Kassandra takes her right hand that still rests over Kyra and slowly ghosts her hand up towards Kyra's breasts, stopping just beneath them.

Kyra audibly gasps and Kassandra can feel Kyra press up against her a bit harder in response and Kassandra had to fight everything in her to not just take Kyra right then and there.

But no, Kassandra would take this slow and ease Kyra into it.

Kassandra pulls Kyra tighter into her body and allows her head to readjust so it is resting right behind Kyra's own. Her nose was pressed into the back of Kyra's head as she nudged herself forward so that her mouth could be in line with Kyra's ear.

Kassandra could feel Kyra's heartbeat pick up and decided that she would push it to the next level.

She slides her hand up the remaining distance until it lays faintly over Kyra's breast, taking extra precaution to not place any additional pressure, at least not yet.

She cannot help but smirk at the small sounds she's pulling from Kyra and she can only anticipate how delectable they will be once they're louder.

Kassandra again "readjusts" herself and let's her hand give a small squeeze and she can feel Kyra arch into her to gain some friction.

Kassandra wonders briefly if Kyra still assumes she's asleep, but it didn't really matter as she would know soon enough that Kassandra was oh so very awake.

Not wanting to waste the opportunity, Kassandra grips her breast harder, more deliberately as she kneads it slowly.

Wanting to explicitly make sure Kyra consents, Kassandra takes the opportunity to whisper into her ear. "Do you want me to stop?"

Kassandra does not stop her hand while she waits as the only way she will halt is if she gets a yes, but that never happens.

Kyra moans out and presses harder into Kassandra as she nods her head no.

"I need to hear you say it" Kassandra goads as she continues to caress Kyra's chest.

"Don't stop, please" Kyra chokes out as she reaches her own arm behind her to get a hold of Kassandra.

Kassandra takes advantage of their position and brings her teeth around Kyra's earlobe and gently bites it to give it a tug. That and her palming Kyra's breasts sends a louder moan from her lips which sends pleasure coursing through Kassandra's own body.

Deciding that it's time to spread the love, Kassandra drags her nails down Kyra's chest, leaving a trail of scratch marks until she lands back on her right hip and gives it a squeeze.

She is pleased that Kyra had removed her clothing at some point in the night as having her only in her underwear made this immensely easier.

Kassandra runs her fingers down Kyra's leg and dips towards her inner thigh, still dragging her nails.

"Kassandra, please" Kyra gasps out as Kassandra glides her hand over her center.

Not usually one for dirty talk (or even talking in general), Kassandra opts to try something different as it is clear Kyra very much wants this.

"I want you to need me" she whispers into her ear, sending goosebumps down Kyra's whole body.

"I, I..." Kyra huffs out as she tries to nudge Kassandra's hand where she desperately wants her, but Kassandra remains in control.

"Ah, ah, ah," Kassandra scolds, "I don't think you're ready yet. Although I do appreciate the enthusiasm."

"Kassandra, touch me, please" Kyra whines as she bucks her hips towards Kassandra's hand.

"Like this?" Kassandra teases as she runs her finger up the center of Kyra's underwear.

"Or maybe like this?" She continues as she traces a pattern onto the fabric.

Kassandra can feel the heat and wetness already and she takes a moment to revel in the fact that this is all for her. How it took almost no time at all to get Kyra worked up in such a manner, she'd have to remember that for future opportunities.

"I need you inside me" Kyra begs at this point because the pressure inside her is getting unbearable and Kassandra can tell.

Kassandra ponders dragging this out even further, but she also wants to touch Kyra as badly as Kyra wanted it so she was going to do what they both needed.

Kassandra pulls her hand away completely, causing Kyra to groan out in frustration, but that doesn't last for long.

Using her strength, Kassandra rips off Kyra's top off her as if it were nothing and quickly repeats the same motion for her underwear, leaving Kyra completely exposed.

The sudden forcefulness of the action causes Kyra to yelp as she's now successfully naked and extremely turned on by the show of strength.

Kassandra wastes no more time as she moves her hand to cup Kyra's core, allowing her fingers to run through her slits.

"Oh gods!" Kyra shrieks, relishing in the feeling of literally being putty in the palm of Kassandra's hand.

"Shh now" Kassandra chastises softly, gently placing a kiss behind her ear. "As much as I'd love for you to be loud, I think that's best left for another time as we have company. Can you be good and quiet for me?"

"Mhm" Kassandra can hear, albeit a bit muffled, as Kyra has resorted into biting her fist to keep herself quiet.

Kassandra decides to test this as she rubs her finger over her clit and swirls around it.

Kyra eagerly bucks into it, craving for more, but she remains as silent as she could be (which wasn't very at all). There would probably be bite marks if she wasn't careful, but her mind was too far gone to care.

Kassandra goes further, adding a single finger inside her as she pumps her hand, allowing her palm to press firmly on her clit.

"More" Kyra pants between breaths as she can feel herself so close already.

Kassandra wastes no time and props herself up on her arm so she can have more leverage.

Kassandra adds in another finger and continues her ministrations. She and Kyra moved in sync with one another, unified as a single mind. Kassandra found herself losing her control as she could feel how ready Kyra was and lit a fire deep within her.

How with just a bit of foreplay, Kyra was unraveling beneath her touch and it was as if she couldn't get enough of her and Kassandra lived for this feeling. Having Kyra at her mercy was intoxicating and it aroused her to no end.

Her body didn't lie and Kassandra couldn't deny that when the two of them had sex, it was like her body was bursting at the seams with every kiss, every touch. Colors became more vibrant, her senses were heightened to a new level, and she could feel everything with an intensity that was almost too much.

Kassandra has never felt like this before Kyra and hasn't felt this in her lovers since. The sex with the others was usually good for the most part and it got the job done, but it was nothing like what she felt now. Kassandra felt she had the world before her and that she would do anything to keep Kyra like this, in this moment. It is a bliss she'd never tire of for as long as she lives.

Kassandra continues her pace, rocking her hand into Kyra with more fervor on each thrust. She could feel Kyra clench tight around her and Kassandra let out a moan in response.

"Fuck, Kyra..." Kassandra husks into her ear as she presses her own hips into Kyra's ass to try to relieve some of her own needs.

"You're so wet for me, aren't you?" Kassandra growls as she adds in a third finger that Kyra easily takes.

"Kassandra, fuck, I'm so close" Kyra whines out, her chest heaving as she can feel her orgasm build within her.

With the curl of her fingers and a hard press against her clit, Kyra's eyes roll back as her orgasm overtakes her. Her body tremors, a small earthquake erupting within her as she rides it out on Kassandra's still present hand. She can feel the spasms as her body slowly comes down from the euphoric high that only Kassandra could take her to.

Kyra may not have had half of the lovers that Kassandra did, but she didn't need to. She knew what and who always made her feel the best and that was always Kassandra. It was like her body was an instrument and that Kassandra was the only one who could produce such melodies that made her heart and body sing.

Not even Thaletas could hold a candle to Kassandra as he was rather selfish in that department and it left much to be desired on her end once he got his fill. Not like with Kassandra though, she was always generous and giving and paid you attention as if you were a goddess.

"You're so beautiful" Kyra hears Kassandra whisper tenderly and her heart melts.

She promised Kassandra that she would not get attached, but when she spoke like this to her, Kyra couldn't help but fall a little more in love. She couldn't even stay angry at her for more than a few hours when Kassandra showed her this side of herself. The tenderness was what Kyra loved as everyone got to see the brash and detached that Kassandra fronted herself with, but only a select few were privy to a more gentle giant.

Kassandra doesn't allow her to bask in the afterglow long before she finds herself pulled to her back with Kassandra straddling her.

Kyra tilts her head up ever so slightly and her eyes meet with dark, almost primal ones looking back at her with almost a challenge in her gaze. Her body reawakens and any hint of exhaustion dissipated immediately. With Kassandra straddling her hips like that and with her eyes feasting on Kyra's body, she couldn't be more awake.

Kassandra's eyes roam Kyra's exposed body and marvels at what is beneath her. Never before has she seen a sight more beautiful in all her travels, none could even compare.

Kyra's body is marked with the realities of the world they both live in. Scars of a darker time, of a hard life, but it didn't diminish the value Kassandra saw in her. If anything, she adored her more for it as it showed that even the most beautiful of things could have imperfections, but that those imperfections only added a rich history to the canvas.

Kyra was a masterpiece if Kassandra had ever seen one. She was not versed well in the world of art and culture, but she could see why men would defy the gods and wage wars. To protect something so beautiful, so precious, Kassandra could finally understand why.

Kassandra doesn't look down as she feels Kyra's hand trace her newest scar, courtesy of Praxos from their last skirmish.

Kassandra closes her eyes and takes a sharp inhale as Kyra traces it, finding herself nervous for the first time in a long time.

Her own body was riddled with scars, bruises, and wounds that she could barely recognize her own skin. Kassandra was no masterpiece. If only she weren't so damaged herself. If only she could be free from all these reminders.

She's not sure why she got so lost in her thoughts and allowed herself to be caught up in self doubt. She also wasn't sure what this all meant for her and Kyra, but as she reopened her eyes and looked down, Kyra's eyes didn't show any judgment. Instead, Kassandra saw admiration and acceptance along with a small smile.

Kassandra's heart was feeling something so strange and unfamiliar the longer she looked at Kyra. Kassandra knew then something between them had changed, but she didn't quite fully understand as to what it was.

Kassandra felt like she was drowning in an ocean, but that she wasn't sure if she wanted to be saved. She could feel something within her change like nothing she's ever felt before and she knew it had everything to do with the woman beneath her. How Kyra managed to have such a hold over her was perplexing.

Kassandra could feel Kyra tracing her hand down the length of her torso, moving down until she reached her hands resting in front of her. Kyra gave them a small squeeze, instinctively sensing that Kassandra was lost in her own mind.

Kassandra blinks to help her focus as now was not the time to be having these kinds of thoughts. Now was the time for action and she knew Kyra would support if she chose to stop, but Kassandra didn't want to.

As awful as she was with handling her feelings, she knew she needed to express something to Kyra that she wouldn't be able to do with words. She needed to show Kyra what she was feeling in the only way she knew how. She may not be one to say how she feels, but in this case, she would just have to show it.

Kassandra grabbed both of Kyra's hands and swiftly moved to pin them above her head. The soft eyes boring into her soul was slowly shifting into that of lust, of desire.

Kassandra hovers her head just above Kyra's and is met eagerly with a soft kiss as Kyra arches her body to reach.

The kiss was tender, wanting, almost an understanding passing between the two of them wordlessly. Kassandra knew she would have to talk with Kyra eventually about all of this, but for now, this was enough.

Kassandra speeds up the pace and meets Kyra's kiss with more intensity this time, tenderness replaced with eagerness and want. Kyra happily obliges so she and Kassandra continue to kiss until the need for air overtakes them and they separate, but only for a second.

Kassandra allows her free hand to roam across Kyra, the desire to feel her maddening. Kassandra wants to mark everywhere, staking her claim on Kyra as her own so she trails a mixture of kisses and bites down Kyra's throat.

If Kyra cared about having these love bites where it would be difficult to hide them, she did not say so Kassandra kept on.

What was a softer, gentler start has turned quickly into one of passion.

Kyra strains herself under Kassandra's grasp as she longs to have her hands on the misthios, but Kassandra is too strong. She knows if she asks, Kassandra would release her, but she decided to take an alternative approach.

As Kassandra worked her way down her neck to her chest, Kyra adjusts her leg so that it is in between Kassandra's.

Using this to her advantage, Kyra raises her knee until she has it pressing against Kassandra's core.

"Fuck, Kyra" Kassandra moans into her chest as Kassandra subconsciously sinks nearer to her body to keep the contact.

Hearing her name said like that from Kassandra sends a jolt through her body and she can feel herself desperate for more.

Oh yes, Kyra definitely wanted to hear more.

Kassandra had found the sudden pressure against her core surprising, but not unwelcome. Kassandra was not one to receive in these cases for the most part as she found giving pleasure more enjoyable than reciprocation, but Kyra had a way to unhinge her.

Kassandra found herself craving to be touched, but she also didn't want to relinquish the control. She would need to though as she still had one more important thing to do and for that, she needed both hands.

Kassandra regains control of herself and squeezes Kyra's leg in place as she glances up.

Kyra was sporting a devilish grin and Kassandra couldn't wait to wipe it from her face.

Kassandra leans forward in the appearance of kissing Kyra, but just as Kyra lifts to meet her, she pulls back slightly.

Kyra tries to move closer yet again, but Kassandra just teases her and moves back a bit further.

Kassandra just grins at Kyra's desperation, but she cannot deny her any further so it was time to drive her wild.

Kassandra nuzzles into Kyra's neck, placing lazy kisses against her pulse point until she reaches her ear.

"You're exquisite" she speaks softly in earnest as she lifts herself up so that she's hovering back over her.

"When I release your hands, I want you to grab the headboard behind you. Will you do that for me?" Kassandra asks as she slides herself a bit lower down Kyra's body.

"Yes" Kyra husks out as she nods eagerly in agreement.

Kassandra releases her hold and can see Kyra flex her wrists to get some circulation back. It doesn't take long before her hands go behind her, grabbing the headboard tightly.

Kassandra pushes herself back until she's kneeling between Kyra's splayed legs.

Maintaining eye contact, Kassandra reaches around behind her and undoes the binding holding her chest. She watches as Kyra's gaze breaks only once her chest is exposed. Kassandra can see her muscles tense as she grips harder to keep herself steady.

Kassandra's never been one to put on a display of her own body as she wasn't always the biggest fan of it, but having Kyra look at her this way made her forget her doubts.

Kassandra moved her hands lower until they rested against her underwear, her eyes never leaving Kyra's.

Kassandra watches as Kyra's pupils dilate as she undoes the fabric until it unravels beneath her.

Kyra's eyes drop to Kassandra's sex and her view is welcomed by Kassandra's ever growing arousal.

Kassandra watches as Kyra slowly licks her lips and Kassandra can feel herself teetering on the edge by her hungry gaze alone.

Kassandra sinks down lower while leaning forward until her mouth lingers just before Kyra's awaiting entrance.

Kassandra cannot take anymore waiting so she glides her tongue up Kyra's folds and delights in the taste and scent as it overwhelms her. She continues her motions as Kyra bucks beneath her, so much so that Kassandra has to hold down her hips with both hands.

Kassandra moves up towards her clit and gently bites the nub and is rewarded with Kyra moaning her name again and again.

Each masterful stroke of her tongue causes Kyra to moan louder and louder. At this rate, she wouldn't be surprised if the neighbors could hear them, but Kassandra couldn't find herself caring anymore.

Kyra took control and Kassandra found herself at Kyra's mercy as she grinded harder and harder on Kassandra's face until Kyra became unhinged, writhing her orgasm out as Kassandra continued to taste her.

Kassandra was not done with her yet and she knew she could get one more out of her before she became too spent to even move.

Kyra had other ideas as she relented the hold on the headboard and dug her hands deeply into Kassandra's hair, tugging her upward.

Kassandra allowed herself to be pulled as Kyra brought her into a sloppy kiss, tasting her own arousal on Kassandra.

Distracted by the intensity of Kyra's kiss, Kassandra doesn't notice that Kyra had slipped a hand between them until she feels Kyra inside her.

Kassandra gasps at the contact and bites Kyra's lower lip in response, accidentally drawing blood.

Kassandra wants to apologize as it wasn't intentional, but all words die on her lips as Kyra slides two fingers into her.

She clenches herself with the initial intrusion as it was unexpected, but she relaxes shortly after as Kyra pumps into her.

Kassandra can't help but to nuzzle herself in Kyra's collar and push down to meet each welcomed thrust as she moans Kyra's name over and over.

She connects their lips and can feel Kyra smiling to herself in between their kisses. The moment blooming into something larger than either of them could've ever anticipated.

Kassandra reaches her hand back down to Kyra's very swollen clit and begins to rub it once more and it's Kassandra's turn to smile as Kyra bites her still bloody lip in pleasure.

It won't be long for either of them and Kassandra knows it so she attempts to quell her release until she's sure Kyra is ready, but she doesn't know how much longer she can wait.

Kassandra leans her forehead against Kyra's, her eyes closed, as they share what precious little oxygen is left between them.

"Open your eyes" Kyra requests as she gently nudges her nose against Kassandra. "I want to see you when you come for me."

At those words, Kassandra has never felt more vulnerable. Sure she and Kyra have slept together before, but it was never like this. There was never this level of intensity or intimacy as Kassandra never allowed it, but she couldn't help herself this time and now she feels so utterly exposed.

It wasn't an outlandish request rationally speaking, but it would connect them in a way they've never been before and it frightened her beyond belief.

Sensing Kassandra's hesitation and feeling her tense up, Kyra tries a different approach.

"Please, for me, let me see you" Kyra pleads with tender kisses along Kassandra's jaw.

Kassandra was hard pressed to decline anything that Kyra asked of her, she always had been. There was something in her voice though and that blended with how she asked it, for her benefit, that made Kassandra cave.

With hesitancy, Kassandra opens her eyes to see Kyra's shining back at her, eyes shining like the stars. That was all it took for Kassandra and, for Kyra, looking deeply into her lovers eyes was enough for her too.

They both scream out each other's name as Kassandra collapses down onto Kyra as they let the pleasure overtake them and allow euphoria to take control.

Their chests heave as they both are breathing heavily and their limbs remain intertwined as Kassandra makes no effort to move just yet.

This was all too much for Kassandra to absorb. She could feel tears building up inside her as she came down back to reality, but she didn't want Kyra to see her like this.

Kassandra rolled back to her side, now cold with abandon, and allowed herself to feel the sharp contrast between her overheated body and that of cool sheets. It gave her something to focus her mind on while it battled with what this all meant.

Kyra, blissfully unaware of Kassandra's inner turmoil, rolls over to follow Kassandra as she places her head on her chest and slings her arm across her stomach. The strong and steady heartbeat soothed her, allowing her to drift quickly into sleep, safe within Kassandra's arms.

Kassandra on the other hand was now completely awake and utterly confused as the seconds turned to minutes and minutes turned to hours.

What did she even want it to mean between them? She used to be so sure, but now had doubts and was really just unsure. She would need to figure it out before they both got hurt.

As the silent tears fell, Kassandra comes to at least one conclusion. She had never felt so close to someone yet so equally alone at the same time. How Kyra filled her heart with something so strong that it also caused such fear.

For the first time in a long time, Kassandra finally found something that scared her.

Chapter Text

Kyra awakens much later to the sun shining bright in the sky. It must be close to almost mid day by now, but Kyra couldn't care less as there was nothing pressing they had to do, but head to Megaris at some point. Kassandra had told her previously that the journey would not be that long so she didn't feel guilty about sleeping away most of the morning.

Kyra does a quick stretch and looks towards Kassandra's side of the bed, noting that it was empty, and thinks about how quickly everything happened with them as she runs her hand over the sheets. They are cool to the touch, but this doesn't surprise her any as it was a rare day that Kassandra would allow herself to sleep in.

Blushing as she reminisces about Kassandra's hands on her body, Kyra smiles and feels a comfort she's not had before as she settles back into her pillow. A feeling of contentment took over her and Kyra allowed herself to feel truly happy in this moment. Her thoughts easily drifting back to Kassandra at every moment.

She had wanted this kind of connection with Kassandra for a long time, but she was sure she'd not live to see it reciprocated. Yet here she was, basking in an afterglow caused by the very person she thought impossible. Kyra knew Kassandra had to have felt something too, there was no other explanation. She would have to be cautious though as Kassandra was an emotional minefield and Kyra did not want to risk setting her off.

She could be patient if it mean having Kassandra in the long run, at least that's what she was telling herself. She was willing to put in the effort it took to show Kassandra that she will stand by her. She just had to trust that Kassandra wouldn't break her heart in the process, but she knew that it would inevitably come sooner or later.

At this point, Kyra wasn't sure if she could stand to see Kassandra with anyone else. They've never agreed to be exclusive, clearly given that stupid deal they both agreed to, but Kyra at least thought it was implied by this point. She hadn't seen Kassandra seek anyone else, but they haven't been on the road very long so time would have to tell.

Speaking of the road, she had better get dressed before too much daylight goes by as Kassandra had wanted to make the trip today to Megaris in search of Sotera so there was no use lingering at Alkibiades'.

Kyra gets out of bed and heads towards the vanity. She grabs a cloth from the now cold water and holds it towards her chest as she takes in her appearance in the mirror.

Kyra still had some blood on her from yesterday as neither she nor Kassandra had bothered to clean themselves up. What was most apparent though was the small bruises that covered her body.

Kyra places her hand to press them gently and can feel their tenderness. Kassandra had thoroughly marked her and each love bite Kyra cleaned brought a small smile across Kyra's lips.

Kyra adored this as it meant that what happened between them wasn't a dream. There was no denying what they did between them now as these marks were as real as they come.

Kyra doesn't linger as she doesn't want to remain naked like this in a home that's not hers so she quickly wipes herself down before dressing.

As Kyra combs out her tangled hair, she can see a few of the marks above her collar. She's got nothing she can use to hide them so she has to hope that nobody notices. Perhaps to the untrained eye they'll just look like she got in a scuffle and got the tail end of a beating.

To the untrained eye perhaps, but Alkibiades was the first one she spotted as she dressed and exited her room and by his appraising glance, he definitely knew what happened and what those were.

Kyra reddens at the thought, but Alkibiades by some miracle doesn’t tease her for it. He only winks as he continues his walk towards where there were a few people gathered.

The gathering seemed very casual, but it was clear within a few moments that it wasn't just a friendly get together.

Kyra averts her eyes to give what privacy she can and decides that now would be a good time to find Kassandra.

She was going to go and ask, but it didn't seem like the right thing to do anymore so she'd just have to find her by herself. His place wasn't that big so it shouldn't be too hard.

Well, turns out she was wrong.

"Where could you even be?" Kyra mutters to herself as she opens the final door, having checked every other room in the house. She had ended up searching every room imaginable, but Kassandra was still missing.

Kyra walks to the main entrance and decides to go look outside and see if maybe she went for a walk, but she doesn't get a chance before she hears a thud from behind her.

Spinning around, Kyra comes face to face with Kassandra who's smiling a bit smugly as she had caught her off guard.

"Do you get joy from startling me? Hmm?" Kyra scolds as tries to get herself to calm down. "Jerk."

"You're getting rusty if I was able to sneak up on you like that" Kassandra laughs as Kyra swats her.

"Where were you even hiding? I looked for you everywhere" Kyra inquires.

"I was on the roof" Kassandra shrugs, finding nothing out of the ordinary about her hanging out up there.

"Why in the world would you be up on a roof?" Kyra asks, but holds her hand up to stop Kassandra from answering. "Never mind, I don't want to know."

"Well it's not my fault someone decided to sleep in" Kassandra responds as she leads them back towards their room. "I get restless easily."

Kyra follows along and takes a seat on the bed as she watches Kassandra pack their things. Kyra can feel the domesticity in what Kassandra's doing and it fills her with a happiness she's not had before.

She didn't want to say anything that could ruin the moment, but she could absolutely get used to this.

Thankfully, Kassandra didn't notice her staring as she packed their final items.

"Is there anything I forgot?" Kassandra asks as she looks around the room once more in an attempt to spot any lingering items.

"I think only one thing" Kyra says as she stands up and walks over towards Kassandra, their bodies incredibly close.

Kyra reaches behind Kassandra's head and pulls her in for a gentle kiss. There was no urgency like earlier, but this kiss was still just as special and it got Kyra's heart racing.

Kyra could feel Kassandra resisting at first, but she was soon welcomed as Kassandra grabs her waist and pulls her flush against her.

Kyra tries to keep it going, but Kassandra pulls her head back.

"We should get a move on before it gets too dark" Kassandra rationalizes, clearing her throat almost like she's uncomfortable, but Kyra doesn't notice.

"You're right, we should get going" Kyra reluctantly agrees, placing one more sweet kiss upon Kassandra's lips. There would be more opportunities for them later.

"Have you seen Alkibiades? I was going to say goodbye" Kassandra inquires as she slings their bag over her shoulder.

"He is a bit occupied at the present with some...guests, so I think you should just leave a note" Kyra answers as Kassandra scrunches her nose at her disapproval of his activities.

"That's probably best. Why don't you take this," Kassandra hands over their bag which Kyra accepts, "and put it on Phobos."

"Your horse is here?" Kyra questions as she doesn't remember seeing him at all on the boat.

"He goes wherever I go so yeah, he's here" Kassandra answers.

"But Kassandra, I didn't even see him once on the ship? How could he be here?" Kyra persists with her questions as none of it makes any sense to her.

Kyra can tell Kassandra is getting agitated by the nature of the conversation, like she should just drop it, but her curiosity was too strong so she waits for an answer.

She doesn't get one.

"Just go put it on him" Kassandra more forcefully requests as she heads for Alkibiades' office to write him a note.

"Geesh," Kyra mutters under her breath with an eye roll, "looks like it's gonna be one of those days."

Not wanting to argue any further, Kyra does as she's asked and, sure enough, Phobos was waiting patiently outside as if nothing was amiss.

"Hey there handsome" Kyra coos as she ruffles his mane. "It's nice to see you again, I've missed you."

Kyra wasn't too big on animals, but she always had a soft spot for horses and Kassandra's was an exceptional being. It still mystified her as to how he always knew where to be and would summon almost immediately if Kassandra called for him. She knew that animals were more attuned than people were, but this was unlike anything she'd ever seen before.

Kyra rests her forehead against Phobos and continues to pet him and he happily accepts it with a satisfied snort. "At least you're happy to see me, aren't you boy?"

Phobos nudges her in return and she reaches into their bag and pulls a treat out for him.

"Keep this between us" Kyra whispers to him as she holds out an apple from their pack which Phobos eagerly accepts.

Kyra hears the telltale sound of a throat clearing behind her and spins to see Kassandra looking at her with an amused gaze, her eyebrow raised.

Kyra blushes at being caught smuggling him treats and goes to place the pack on the saddle which was the whole purpose of her coming out here to begin with.

Kyra wondered how much of that one sided conversation she overheard, but if Kassandra had any grievances with her, she's not saying.

"Let's go, if we hurry we should be able to arrive by nightfall" Kassandra says as she gracefully hops onto Phobos, holding out her hand for Kyra.

Kyra grabs her hand and places her foot in the stirrup to boost herself up and over, settling in behind Kassandra. She is a bit perturbed by Kassandra's snappiness so she keep her hands to her sides.

"Let's go Phobos" Kassandra commands as she snaps the reigns gently. Phobos trots off into the winding paths and the two of them begin their true journey start.

Kyra remains silent, taking in the sights as Kassandra skillfully leads them through different alleys and streets. She's grateful she's not having to lead this time as this city is ten times the size of anything she's ever seen before and she surely would've gotten them lost.

Kyra is able to make out a temple of some sort, but they move so quick that she doesn't get a chance to see who it is for. As much as she'd love to do more exploring, this trip was not for her and she would just have to make a mental note to come back in the future.

They exit the large walls protecting the city with relative ease and Kassandra takes them on one of the numerous paths scattered around. This one appears to have a military camp near by, a convenience only a landlocked area could understand. Having forces so close to the city walls must put the Athenians at ease. While Kyra does not support them in this war, she would still wish no ill will towards any innocent civilians.

She wonders if they really even know what is going on, what lies are being fed to garner support and soldiers. War is a nasty business, but it is almost inevitable as it is one of profit for those who are dirty enough to make it so.

Kyra's face hardens at the thought of such moral corruption plaguing her mind. It was always best not to dwell on these things, but Kassandra was showing no signs of conversation so she was left with her thoughts and they took her down a darker path.

They traversed the countryside and once they had enough space between them and Athens, Kassandra spurred Phobos to ride faster.

It was unexpected, this change of pace, so Kyra quickly brings her arms around Kassandra's waist to keep her balance as the sudden burst of speed almost sent her toppling backwards.

"Some notice would be nice next time" Kyra scolds as she loosens her grip, not feeling in the mood to touch Kassandra any more than she had to.

Kyra didn't understand what she was doing wrong to make Kassandra so irritable, but this wasn't the first time she's just completely shut her out after they had a moment.

Kassandra was the one that made the advance on her, not Kyra, so why was Kassandra treating her like she's to blame? Hell, Kyra didn't even know what was wrong to begin with as she thought the two of them were fine. Well, fine up until she began asking Kassandra about Phobos.

Was there some big secret to it all that Kassandra didn't trust her with? It sounds ridiculous once she poses the question to herself, but Kassandra was anything but ordinary so something so farfetched wouldn't be off the table.

It was a moot point as whatever was bothering Kassandra, she'd never open up enough to allow Kyra to help her. It didn't matter how much Kyra shared, Kassandra was a steel trap. If she wanted to be so childish, Kyra would let her and serve it back to her tenfold. She had been generous and understanding enough, but Kassandra still slammed the door in her face when it was anything deeper than general conversation.

Kyra would gladly play the silent treatment game if that's what Kassandra wanted. Was she taking this a bit too seriously? Perhaps, but perhaps not.

"We're not far now, we're making good time" Kassandra remarks, but Kyra doesn't say anything. She's not about to just dive into small talk as if nothing happened before.

The silence lulls around them as Kassandra doesn't push anything further and Kyra wasn't about to say anything unless necessary.

"Look," Kassandra starts to speak, "it's hard to explain it with Phobos as I'm not even fully sure I know why we're like this."

This grabs Kyra's attention, but she's going to remain silent as too many times has she jumped in and pushed down her own needs to protect Kassandra from discomfort. No more.

Kassandra pulls on the reigns a bit and Phobos slowed down to a more adequate travel speed for conversation.

"He does have a secure area on the Adrestia you know..." Kassandra begins in what Kyra assumes is an explanation she asked for earlier. "He was on the ship the entire time, you just didn't see him. You also didn't see him when we disembarked as I wanted to walk and he's not your average horse and doesn't need to be guided. He does what he wants, but is always within a certain radius of me and comes when he's called, like Ikaros."

"I know it sounds made up and I know if I wasn't the one it worked for, I wouldn't believe it either so I just don't ever talk about and nobody had ever bothered to ask me about it so does that clarify it for you?" Kassandra inquires after her explanation.

Kyra honestly ended up with more questions after the explanation, but she wasn't going to press this as she still didn't want to talk to her.

"Yeah, ok" Kyra responds, short and sweet to allow for the most basic of acknowledgments.

Kyra can feel Kassandra shift with a discomfort, most notably due to Kyra's tone, but she wasn't satisfied yet. She deserved an apology and an explanation at minimum before she was going to back down from this.

"Are you holding up ok back there? Do you need a break?" Kassandra asks.

Kyra knows it's to fill the now awkward silence and tension between them and she wouldn't be rude and not answer at all, but she would continue with the bare minimum.

"I'm fine and no" Kyra answers sharply and she hears Kassandra heavily exhale as Kyra rebuffs another round of small talk.

Kassandra didn't say anything further in an attempt to speak, but she did at least give Kyra a "heads up" before she pushed for Phobos to pick up speed again.

Kyra was still taken a little off guard by it and her hands went to wrap around Kassandra, but she had misjudged her position so instead of her hands hitting her waist, Kyra's hands were now splayed across Kassandra's exposed abs.

Kassandra's new choice of apparel was incredibly distracting and revealed a whole lot of skin. Doesn't do for much in the way of protection, but gods, Kyra couldn't argue with the view.

Her fingers flexed and she could feel Kassandra's abs tighten and Kyra was never more grateful Kassandra couldn't see her face as she was surely as red as a tomato with a blush.

Kassandra used to be covered by everything but a helmet, but clearly something caused her to rethink her strategy as when she came back to Kyra the second time, she was wearing hardly anything.

Kyra knows she should have let go already, but she's drawn to the feel of Kassandra as she's never had much opportunity to just have free reign of Kassandra like this. She slowly unwraps her hands and she brushes over Kassandra's latest addition, the scar Praxos gave her in their fight.

Kyra feels Kassandra tense at the connection so Kyra removes her hands immediately and settles them back at her side.

They rode the rest of the way without speaking and Kyra couldn't wait to get there so she could be free of Kassandra's overpowering presence.

Her body was fighting against what her mind was so desperately trying to push. Kyra knew that she needed to keep physical space from Kassandra and riding pressed up against her was not helping her case. Kyra had willpower for everything but Kassandra it seemed as no matter how angry she was at her, she always managed to get under her skin and disarm her.

By allowing this cycle, Kyra didn't help herself any and, if anything, encouraged Kassandra that her bad behaviors could be rewarded. This was the opposite message that Kyra wanted to send, but dammit if Kassandra wasn't a convincing argument.

Kyra knew there was more to life than sex and the physicality of it, but in addition to all the other life adventures she wanted with Kassandra, she also wanted sex. Plain and simple.

The two could have been mutually detached if Kyra had played her cards better, but there was no way Kyra could separate them now. It didn't seem to matter what was happening, Kassandra was always on her mind.

Kyra dreamed of their future, of their potential, and she did so on a regular basis. She'd never admit this to Kassandra, but she did try to envision what their life could possibly be like.

Sure, some scenarios are completely unrealistic, but that's the joy of a daydream. In her mind, she and Kassandra can be anything they want to be. Kyra's even gone as far as imagining children for the both of them.

Kassandra, a mother, a wild thought indeed, but Kyra can see deeper into Kassandra than she let's on. Kyra can tell Kassandra yearns for a family to some caliber from how hard she is working to save her brother and find her mater and pater. Kassandra longs to rebuild what was lost to her and Kyra can sympathize with this all too well. Maybe it wasn't too wild after all for Kassandra to want to continue what she's worked so hard to obtain.

Kyra could almost scream with frustration at how lovesick she was for the woman in front of her. Her love for Kassandra would drive her mad before she knew it and it would be her fault and her fault alone for allowing it.

Why couldn't she have just fallen in love with a fisherman or something? Life would have been easy, simple, and uncomplicated. She would've had minimal worries and a normal life.

But alas, the gods wanted to toy with her and instead gave her heart to a misthios with commitment issues and emotional problems.

Kyra rolls her eyes at herself for being so complicated, but she knows that she truly wouldn't want it any other way. Maybe something a little more stable, but her life was surely not boring.

Instead of being domesticated like most women, Kyra had made her mark as a woman not to be taken likely. She is formidable on the battlefield, but she's also smart which plays well into the game of politics. Her adventure with Kassandra now was something she never would've done if she settled for the minimal in life. An entirely new world is opening before her and she has Kassandra to thank for all of that.

As boneheaded as she may be sometimes, Kyra would give credit where credit was due. Her new life was all Kassandra's doing, she couldn't deny it. As much as Thaletas tried to help, Kassandra was the one who made the difference. She is the one who took out Podarkes and his forces almost single handedly and she was ultimately the one who turned the tides.

Kyra wouldn't downplay her own role in everything, but it was clear she was only treading water. They just didn't have the resources or manpower to do what needed to be done. Thaletas would eventually tire of the efforts and Sparta would've withdrew, leaving her and her people at the mercy of a madman.

Kassandra didn't need any of that.

She was an army within herself and she did it all with such conviction that you couldn't help but to be in awe of her. Kyra was interested as soon as she first saw her when she thought she was a spy. Kassandra exuded confidence and that was sexy all by itself, but it was Kassandra's tranquility when in the face of danger that really drew her.

Kyra was told that Kassandra didn't even so much as flinch when Kyra tossed the dagger in front of her face all those months ago. She sported a look of detachment and unamusement that only triggered Kyra's intrigue as their relationship grew.

Kassandra was a danger from the start and if Kyra were thinking strategically, she would have left it be and walked away. However, she didn't for the first time in a long time. She allowed herself to act on impulse and indulged and got swept up in the currents and finds herself in the mess she's in now.

As mad as she was at Kassandra for blocking her out, she couldn't be that angry as she knew Kassandra did care about her even if she didn't want to admit, at least that's what she convinced herself to believe. As wonderful as it would be to be allowed into Kassandra's heart fully, Kyra still saw the small ways in which Kassandra showed her feelings.

It was simple gestures of an unspoken kind that Kyra felt from Kassandra and she would need to learn how to just accept that as being enough.

Kyra shakes her head as she was getting ahead of herself. There was still no assurance that Kassandra actually felt anything deeper for Kyra. She's never given Kyra any indication that she felt anything remotely close to love for her as Kassandra always shuts down before Kyra can get her to say anything.

Did Kyra really want to spend her energy on this when she was the only one putting in work? This pining for Kassandra couldn't be healthy and she remembers how Alkibiades warned her of something very similar just the other day.

She now regrets her refusal to talk to Kassandra as it would give her a reprieve from her incessant thoughts. She was a proud woman though so she'd see it through for the sense of self satisfaction if nothing else.

Kyra's daydream gets interrupted as Kassandra halts their fast pace into a gentle trot.

Kyra looks up and can see the silhouette of a large house and a portion of a large wall in the distance.

"Welcome to Megaris" Kassandra says as she sits up a bit straighter and points towards the building they see. "That's Megara, we'll be staying near there for tonight. This is Spartan territory so we will be safe here."

"Do they not have a place to rent a room?" Kyra asks as she really didn't want to sleep outside as it looked like it was going to rain.

"Most places don't from what I've seen. Unless you run into a hospitable local or fall into bed with a stranger, you're usually out of luck" Kassandra explains as she leads Phobos towards a clearing she remembers.

"I take it you say that from experience?" Kyra meant this to come out as a question, but her jealousy took over and it changed into an accusation. She would never warm to the feeling of Kassandra talking about other lovers she's had.

"I, uh.." Kassandra stammers at the loaded question, taking her off guard.

Not wanting to make this into something bigger, Kyra withdraws the question. "Never mind, please don't answer that."

Kyra quickly changes the subject as this was getting borderline uncomfortable with how they both were acting. "Do you know where this Sotera can be found?"

"Megaris isn't that big so even if I have to flip over every rock, I will find her" Kassandra says with authority and conviction. "My best guess is down at the port as it would be ideal for a swift getaway."

"Do you have any contacts here?" Kyra inquires.

"No, not anymore" Kassandra responds, her shoulders slumping down. "We need to try to remain unnoticed as best as possible. This is a small area so word travels fast and we don't want her to flee."

"Makes sense" Kyra shrugs as Kassandra leads Phobos off the path into a patch of flatland on the hillside.

"We will make camp here as it will be dark soon so get comfortable as I won't be lighting a fire" Kassandra warns as she dismounts.

Kyra decides to hop down fast as she knew Kassandra would be as chivalrous as ever and extend a hand and she needed to remember that she was still mad at her. She'd already slipped, but it wasn't so bad as she asked about their mission so it was rather important.

"This is going to suck" Kyra mumbles as she plops down onto the ground.

"This life isn't glamorous, I hate to break it to you" Kassandra teases at Kyra's displeasure.

Kyra doesn't take the bait, but she does send a nasty scowl Kassandra's direction.

Kassandra laughs at the sight so Kyra does the most adult and mature thing she can think of and spins around so her back is facing Kassandra.

"Is this you ignoring me again?" Kassandra prods as she continues to laugh.

"Yes" Kyra responds curtly.

"You're not doing a very good job of it. Haven't been the whole ride" Kassandra calls her out, taking a small pleasure in getting under Kyra's skin.

"Shut up" Kyra snaps back, scooting a little further away.

"I'm just saying, you're doing a lot of talking for someone who doesn't want to talk to me" Kassandra points out her failure to keep her mouth shut and her irritation builds.

"You know what Kassandra?" Kyra challenges as she stands up from the ground to face her. "Fuck. You."

"With pleasure" Kassandra smoothly responds, pissing Kyra off even more.

"I'm glad you find this all so fucking funny" Kyra shouts at her, hands flying exasperated over her head. "I'm leaving."

"Kyra, wait..." Kassandra jogs to catch up with her, but Kyra recoils as soon as Kassandra touches her shoulder.

"Don't" Kyra glares as she points a finger at Kassandra as a warning. "Just don't." She continues her walk down the path, leaving Kassandra standing alone.

"Kyra, come back!" Kassandra shouts, but Kyra was not turning around now.

Kyra does decide to leave her with a parting gesture as she flips her off, continuing down the path heading into the city center.

Once she was far enough away, Kyra let's her anger out.

"Gah!" Kyra yells, ignoring the curious eyes that befall her from the outburst. "I just want to wipe that smug look off her fucking face."

"Now I'm yelling near random strangers and I'm even talking to myself, out loud, just perfect" Kyra shuts up after that as she didn't want to draw any more attention to herself than she already did with her outburst.

How dare Kassandra tease her when she was genuinely upset! The nerve on that woman was astounding. "With pleasure" Kyra scoffs as she replays Kassandra's words to her in a mimicking tone.

Kyra was glad she at least had her own drachmae and wasn't reliant on Kassandra. She would find something to do for the night, only returning back when there was no other option.

As soon as Kyra reaches the main entrance, the smell of supper time hits her hard enough that her stomach growls.

"Looks like food it is" she says to herself as she continues into Megara.

She's grateful she doesn't have to look far as the first still to her right has tons of fruits and vegetables on display and, as she approaches, an entire pig roast.

"Good evening weary traveler, may I interest you in some fresh produce or a nice home cooked meal? I have soups as well in the oven" The seller pitches as he moves behind his stand.

"How late will you be open?" Kyra asks because if the man would be open for a while more, she'd get it on the way back and eat it in front of Kassandra.

"Oh I'd say about another couple hours as I don't pack up until it's dark" the shopkeeper responds.

"Wonderful, I will be back before you close as I'd rather get in some sights before dark" Kyra gleefully claps her hands together. "Could you, perhaps, point me in the direction or anything worth taking a look at?"

The man laughs as he moves to continue butchering the pig he was working on before Kyra stopped. "Oh I'm afraid we've got nothing that special, but we do have a temple for Apollo. There's another temple further in, but I wouldn't recommend it as it has been militarized so you wouldn't be allowed in."

"I don't care about that, I just need to get away from my companion for a while so I will take anything at this point" Kyra sighs, trying to keep her focus away from Kassandra.

"Ah, classic lovers quarrel" the man exclaims as he cleaves the meat into smaller pieces. "I could tell by how tense you were walking in."

"Yeah, I guess you could call it that" Kyra admits, not wanting to get too personal with the stranger. "It's complicated and I kind of just walked away from her."

"Rest assured, your girl will realize the err of her ways soon enough" he shares as he wipes his brow. "Life is too short to live it in such loneliness."

Wow, this guy is getting pretty deep. He's awfully chatty too, they must not get a lot of new faces. Kyra wants to confide in him for some reason, but the logical side of her cautions oversharing.

"Those are sound words, very wise" Kyra admits as they're much better than anything she's come up with. "Is this from experience?"

"Indeed it is," he answers, "time can be the most harsh teacher of lessons."

"I thank you for the sound advice, truly" Kyra smiles at him. "I have never traveled before so you've done Megaris a great service."

"Kindness is the only currency that transcends time, just be sure to pass it on and my job will be done" he says as he brings the meat over to his grill.

"I will, promise" Kyra smiles and holds up her hand to swear it. "I will be back in a bit, see you soon."

Kyra walks away with a wave and heads in the general direction the man had pointed towards. She feels a bit lighter than before, having shared some of her frustrations. If only it was with Kassandra instead of this random man, but she still wasn't in the mood to deal with Kassandra's deflection.

Kyra spots the temple easily and decides now is as good a time as any to pray. Apollo was not the god she normally prayed to, but he was still a god and that was good enough for her.

Kyra finds the place empty so she kneels down in front of the statue and she silently prays.

Kyra didn't ever ask for much as she believed in being self reliant, but there were moments like now when she asked for a sign. What direction she should take, but as usual, the gods are silent. Kyra never held it against them since there were only a handful of them in comparison to how many people prayed. She understood, even if she didn't like the answer.

Kyra heads out of the temple, the sky now darkened, and heads towards the shop.

The man is still there and Kyra is grateful she didn't miss him. She's not sure how long she prayed, but it must've been close to an hour as there was still daylight when she went in. It was no matter though as she knew her way back and the walk wouldn't be long. She was, however, starving by this point.

"I was beginning to think you'd forgotten me" the man says as she approaches him.

"With food smelling like that? Not likely" Kyra laughs as she looks over the dishes he has prepared.

"Anything catch your eye?" The man asks, waiting patiently as she looks over everything.

"I will have a bowl of kakavia please" Kyra asks as she hands him a handful of drachmae.

He hands her the food and they carry on for a bit more small talk before Kyra excuses herself to go and eat. She makes it as far as the door before she pauses.

It would be in poor taste for her to bring back this food and not have anything for Kassandra. Kyra knew she'd be fine either way, but Kyra would know deep down that she had neglected her and that just didn't sit right.

Kyra turns and goes back to the man and he has a small smile on his face.

"I wondered how long it would take you to come back for the second bowl" he chuckles as he hands her an already prepared bowl.

"I wasn't sure I was going to, but I am not that kind of person to be so cruel" Kyra admits sheepishly.

"This one is on the house, do please enjoy and I hope to see you again before you depart" He offers her a warm smile and Kyra was stunned by the generosity.

She was not used to this kind of behavior and she wonders if it was the gods aiding her in her quest or just dumb luck. Either way, she'd accept the gesture.

Kyra bids the man goodbye and heads back towards Kassandra. Kyra felt much better than she did when she first left, but she was not ready to forgive Kassandra just yet. She had cooled off enough to have a more level head, but there still needed to be consequences for actions.

Kyra rounds the statue and heads on the path up towards the hill. It was very dark out and there was only the torch at the bottom of the path to illuminate her way, but she was sure she knew the general area. She just hoped she didn't trip on a rock.

Kyra's eyes had adjusted enough that she could make out a figure, presumably Kassandra, leaning up against a rock. Kyra could hear what sounded like tiny pebbles being tossed the closer she got.

"It's me Kassandra" Kyra whispers as she walks closer. She knew Kassandra must've noticed her presence before she'd even said anything, but she wanted to ensure Kassandra didn't hold her at knifepoint just in case.

 

"Miss me already?" Kassandra pauses her pebble tossing to prod her again.

Kyra is grateful for the darkness as she rolls her eyes at Kassandra's behavior. She seems to be doing that a lot more lately and Kassandra has been the sole cause for almost all of them.

"Here" Kyra whispers as she pushes the bowl into Kassandra's hands.

Kassandra looks up at her and takes the bowl of food shoved down "gracefully" in her palms. "Thank you."

She doesn't bother to respond as Kassandra's unnecessary banter clearly hadn't died down at all by her absence.

Kyra instead takes a seat as far from her as possible as she eats in silence, well she at least tries to.

Kassandra carries on a conversation with her all by herself. She'd talk about something completely random, wait for Kyra to respond (which she didn't), and Kassandra would magically hear an answer and keep going. Kassandra was clearly on a mission to irritate her from what Kyra could tell and it was working.

"Why are you doing this?" Kyra snaps, over the nonchalant attitude Kassandra's been sporting.

"I'm just keeping myself entertained is all" Kassandra responds.

"No. That's bullshit and you know it. You've done nothing but press me since this morning and I'm tired of it!" Kyra argues while her voice rises higher and higher as her emotions get more charged. "What did I do to you Kassandra?"

Kyra wishes she could see Kassandra's face, but maybe she'd get more answers from her in the dark.

"You didn't do anything Kyra" Kassandra answers softer, no longer in the teasing tone she had just a moment ago.

"Unbelievable" Kyra huffs at Kassandra. "Clearly there's a problem or you wouldn't have been such an asshole to me. So tell me, what possible thing could I have done to set you off?"

"Kyra, look," Kassandra tries to start, but it sounds like she's struggling to find the right words, "I don't know what you want me to say."

"Of course you don't" Kyra huffs. She's not appreciating Kassandra playing dumb. "You snapped at me when I asked about Phobos which, by the way, is a completely valid question, and you just shut me out."

Kyra takes a deep breath to calm down as she can feel herself getting worked up again. She needs to keep her emotions in check or Kassandra will shut down like she always does.

"Kassandra, this is not the first instance of you doing this to me and I just want to understand why" Kyra confesses, now trying to hold the tears back as she speaks. "It seems like we make such strides and have such a good time only for you to push me away the next day."

Kyra wipes away the tears that escape as she steadies her breath from the slight tremor she was developing. She doesn't want to cry, at all, so maybe Kassandra just wouldn't notice.

"My mind jumps to all these places and they're not very kind" Kyra continues, her voice laced with sadness as she opens up in a way she's never done before. "I'm not even sure if you even really like me sometimes."

"Kyra..." She hears Kassandra speak her name, but she needs to finish this or she'll lose her nerve.

"Don't say anything, please," Kyra pleads, "I need to say this."

Taking another deep breath, Kyra decides to hold nothing back. "I never know where I stand with you and I try hard, so very hard, to respect your space and give you time, but I can't keep doing this to myself. You rarely talk to me about anything that matters and most of what I do know about you hasn't even come from you! How am I supposed to feel? I thought we were at least friends, but I think I was wrong about that too."

Kyra sighs in relief, a weight she's been carrying around for a while feels like it's been lifted. She has said her piece and will give Kassandra the time to process all this. "I don't want you to say anything to this now as I want you to take what I'm saying seriously so just think about this if you even care for me at all."

Kyra settles down onto one of the smooth rocks in a more comfortable position, well, as comfortable a position as one could be on a rock, and decides it's best to try to sleep the rest of the night away.

"Good night" Kyra softly says as she curls up in a ball to keep herself as warm as possible.

With a heavy heart and a heavy mind, Kyra drifts off to sleep with the hope that tomorrow would be a better day.

It was a restless sleep and Kyra wakes up more tired than she was before she went to bed, but at least the sun was up and it didn't rain overnight.

Kyra sits herself up, trying to work out all the kinks in her neck and back, but there would be no relief.

Kassandra was no longer at their makeshift camp, but their things were still here so it was unlikely that she took off. She'd never thought Kassandra would just abandon her like that, but she thought Kassandra would never do a lot of things.

Kyra takes this opportunity to eat something light as they would probably be mobile most of the day. Megaris wasn't too large an area so they'd hopefully find out something today about Sotera's whereabouts.

Kyra had studied maps before all of this happened so she had an idea of their size, but nothing written could ever prepare her for seeing it in person.

Kassandra was most likely canvassing the area so she should probably pack their things up and help. There was no use in her just sitting around waiting and Kassandra could find her if she wanted to. She was an expert tracker and it wasn't as if Kyra was trying to hide.

Kyra packs the bag and slings it over her shoulder and heads towards the one person who could give her some direction.

Returning to the man from last night, Kyra greets him warmly.

"Good morning sir" she greets formally.

"Sir? My gods I've gotten old" the man jokes. "Please, call me Pelios."

"Of course Pelios" Kyra corrects herself, "I am Kyra. I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of the nearest settlement. I'm looking for someone, but I've not got any idea where."

"Due north west of here there's Pagai and Panormos and there's Nisaia that's south west of here. It is a lot of ground to cover on foot" Pelios warns.

"Well my companion took her horse and took off somewhere so I really don't have much of a choice" Kyra sighs out as she really didn't want to do all of this on foot.

"What did your companion look like? Perhaps I can point you in the right direction" Pelios speaks, offering his services.

"She's stunning, tall and muscular build. She's got brown hair in a braid off to one side and was wearing white armor" Kyra describes.

"Rather grumpy? Wears a scowl?" Pelios questions.

"Very much so" Kyra laughs. "I take it that means you've seen her?"

"You are in luck as I did just happen to see her" he says as he turns to point her in the right direction. "She went off towards Pagai or Panormos, the path goes for a while before it branches so I couldn't tell you what one. My guess would be Pagai as Panormos was recently burned down by the war."

"Oh my, that's terrible. Thank you so much for heads up" Kyra gives his arm a squeeze in appreciation. "You've been invaluable to me, thank you."

Kyra offers him a smile as she turns and walks in the direction Kassandra was last seen. It would still be a stretch to just happen upon her, but it was worth a try.

As she walked, she realized how much it bothered her that Kassandra would just leave her like that. She could've woken her up and told her where she was going, but no, clearly common decency was not a skill she had.

The closer Kyra got to where the path divides, the more she could see the effects of the war. There were military posts scattered everywhere and houses were destroyed from collateral damage. It made her grateful that their battles took place on the open sea. The losses were still present, but the casualties for the innocent civilians were dropped to almost nothing.

Kyra walks through Pagai, but doesn't spot Kassandra at all. This area was sparsely populated so someone like Kassandra would've been easy to spot.

Kyra decides to head to the shore and sit a while. She sits among the warm sand, picking it up only to let it fall through her hand.

If she closes her eyes, she can pretend she's on Mykonos. Megaris was certainly more plain in comparison, but she could have a blissful moment that she was back home and that everything was back to normal.

Alas, it would be short lived as when Kyra opened her eyes she was met with destroyed ships and charred buildings. A sore sight to see.

Kyra stands up and brushes the excess sand from her clothes when she hears her name shouted from behind her. She didn't think it was a common name so it was probably for her. After she heard it a second time, she recognized the voice.

"What are you doing over here? It's still so early" Kassandra says as she approaches her, hopping off Phobos right in front of her.

"Well somebody didn't have the decency to tell me they were taking off" Kyra counters and Kassandra ducks her head as she knew Kyra was right.

"I am sorry, I didn't think" Kassandra offers the apology and Kyra debates whether she wants to stoke the flames of their prior conversation.

At least Kassandra seems remorseful this time so she'll keep the peace for now. "Any luck so far?"

"Yes actually, that's why I came looking for you" Kassandra says. "I returned back and you were nowhere to be found. Some random man caught my attention in Megara and pointed me in this direction."

"Pelios" Kyra says aloud to Kassandra, she'd really need to thank him properly before they left.

"I know where she is hiding. She's down at the port" Kassandra shares, excited by the new development. "From what I heard, she will be arriving within the next few hours."

"Perfect, let's get going so we're ready for her" Kyra says as she goes to get on Phobos, but Kassandra places her hand on her shoulder.

"There is something I need to show you first if you'll allow me to. It's a bit off the beaten path" Kassandra says, her mood somber.

"Sure, of course" Kyra agrees as she allows Kassandra to help her up.

Kassandra clips her hood to her armor and covers herself and takes them through the largest of the Spartan settlements and she can feel Kassandra tense up as they're passing through it. Kyra had never seen Kassandra cover her head before so she must not want to be recognized.

If Kyra didn't know any better, she'd say something about this place bothered Kassandra deeply. She seemed unsettled and she kept looking around, like she was expecting something to happen as they passed through with the ease Kyra had expected.

Kassandra leads them to what looks like a now deserted battlefield. Kyra didn't understand the significance of this spot, but Kassandra pulled her hood down and stared up at the ledge.

Kassandra slowly brings them to a stop where the land leveled out and the two of them walk towards the ledge, Kyra allowing Kassandra to lead.

Kassandra just stares at the ground below them, but Kyra doesn't understand what she's supposed to be seeing.

Kassandra turns her head and motions for Kyra to stand next to her, Kyra obliges and the two stand together overlooking the cities below them.

"You're probably wondering why I brought you here" Kassandra speaks softly.

"Yes I am" Kyra confirms as there was no use in pretending that she knew.

"This spot we're standing on right now is where I spoke to my pater for the first time since I was a child" Kassandra shares as she plays with the dirt beneath her feet. "I had been paid to kill the Wolf of Sparta, a feared general of the highest rank. What I didn't know at the time was who he was. Only once I landed and saw him in the flesh did I recognize his face."

Kyra is taken back as out of everything Kassandra wanted to show her, she never expected it to be so personal. For the first time, Kassandra was allowing Kyra in.

She could tell Kassandra was struggling to stay composed, but Kyra remained quiet, allowing her to work this out at her own pace.

"I had been tasked to aid Sparta before I was allowed to meet him so I worked with his adopted son, Stentor. He was an asshole, but he was loyal to my pater to a fault. I never liked him though" Kassandra says with a bit of a bite. "Anyway, I finally prove myself and am requested to meet the Wolf up here on this ledge. It took him a while, but he eventually realized who exactly I was."

Kassandra's hand balls itself into a fist as the anger courses through her. Kyra watches as her face contorted into a scowl and her nostrils flared with her intensity.

Kassandra then takes Kyra step by step to what happened to both her and Alexios on Mount Taygetos all those years ago. Kyra at some point had moved her hand to cover Kassandra's own and Kassandra had intertwined their fingers and absentmindedly was brushing her thumb across the back of Kyra's hand.

"My god Kassandra..." Kyra shares her shock at everything Kassandra had unpacked on her. What could she even say at this point?

"When I met my pater face to face, I knew I had a choice to make" Kassandra's face hardens as her grip tightens. "I knew I would either kill him where he stood or I'd let him live the rest of his life as miserably as he had been."

Kyra squeezes her hand in support, hoping that her presence helps anchor her as she relives this awful memory.

"He said he didn't regret what he did and that he would have done it again for Sparta" Kassandra's face falls in anguish. "His duty was always to Sparta first and foremost. He had made peace with his decision and I needed to accept that too. Well, I didn't."

Kassandra angrily kicks the rocks below her, sending them careening off the cliff.

"I killed him, Kyra" Kassandra confesses, her voice a hoarse whisper. "I killed my pater right here where we're standing and I don't regret it. All the pain and hurt he caused us, caused our family, I could never forgive that. As he lay dying, he told me that he wasn't even my real pater and that he just stepped in to fill the role. All this time I searched for the both of them only to find out my life was a lie."

Kyra watches as Kassandra uses her free hand to wipe at her face as it was apparent that she had cried at some point, but Kyra would pretend to not notice as she knows it would make Kassandra uncomfortable.

"He raised me and I will never forget that, but he also wedged a stake into our family so much that we all broke. Alexios and I should be dead, but by some miracle we weren't so I just couldn't forgive the man who caused us all such pain. And for what? The Oracle?" Kassandra spits out her name with such venom that Kyra guesses that she plays a much larger role in this.

"I killed Nikolaus and fled, but Stentor wouldn't leave me be so I had to kill him too" Kassandra confesses. "He had tracked me for a while before he confronted me, but I was the one who came out on top. His death I did not question, he never had the right to call him pater."

Kassandra loosens her grip on Kyra's hand as she turns to face her. "I am a monster Kyra, I kill because I can sometimes and that should scare you."

"I know what you're trying to do and it won't work" Kyra dismisses Kassandra's vague warning of herself. "I do not fear you Kassandra and I never will. I know you've done some less than reputable things in the past, but I believe in you and the good that you bring. I do not think you're a monster at all."

"You will, eventually, it is why I do not speak about myself to anyone as they will all leave. I only can trust myself and I'd recommend you do the same" Kassandra advises as if this was something Kyra would even consider.

"I trust you unequivocally" Kyra speaks as she tilts up Kassandra's chin so that they're looking directly at one another. "Do not shut me out, let me help you."

Kassandra looks at her soft features in the morning sunshine and smiles warmly at her. Kassandra pulls Kyra into and hug and holds her like she was the only thing keeping Kassandra's feet on the ground.

This may not be the grand declaration of love Kyra had expected, but this was love in Kassandra's language and Kyra was more than fine with that for now.

The two stand there for a while longer, not breaking their embrace as the sun danced around them. The world may be turning, but right here and now, time stood still.