In The Balance

Original Written Work
Characters: Rylerion, Corrin
Summary: Defeated and captured by the hated Arani, Rion is given a moment’s chance to slay his enemy, the prince of Carryn-yehl.

Like a snake the Itishi struck, without warning.

In one single fluid movement he swept the knife off the table, grabbed his collar and pressed the blade hard against his throat.

”I could slit your throat with a flick of my wrist,” he hissed, and for an ice-cold moment Corrin wondered if his gifts had let him down at last. Forcing himself to trust in his instincts, he let out a silent breath.

”And yet you aren’t,” he pointed out, calmly, holding that black stare without flinching. The most minute tremor passed through the hand holding the knife, a brief flicker of uncertainty.

”You really think I will hesitate? I have killed thousands. Once cut, everyone bleeds the same.”

But hesitate he did, and Corrin could feel the frightened racing of a heartbeat not his own. Not bloodlust, there, but desperation.

”I know you have,” he stated, and again it was the other who retreated minutely at the barb, both minds chafing with the memory. ”Thousands upon thousands. I remember. If you wanted me dead, I would already be cold on the ground.”

Their eyes locked again, a silent war of wills raging. And yet there was calm at his core, absolute certainty.

”So why do you hesitate?” he pushed, and this time the man physically recoiled, the edge of the knife leaving his skin for a moment. ”What makes me so different?”

”You’re not,” Rion finally said, defeated bitterness to his tone as he lowered the blade, giving it a nervous twirl before letting it fall harmless back on the low table. ”You’re just the same as all the others.”

He finally looked away, shoulders slumping in surrender, and Corrin allowed himself a slow, deep breath.

”Guards,” he called out, felt his heart jolt again with apprehension not his own.

Within half a heartbeat, no doubt having expected trouble, the soldier threw the tent flap aside, spear at the ready, eyes darting back and forth between them.

”Kindly bring me a pot of tea,” he told the bewildered man, glancing over his shoulder at the tense shadow beside him, not quite stupid enough to completely take his eyes off him, after all. ”And two cups.”

——

Freshly captured Warlock still hellbent on escaping! He made a pretty good attempt, was hunted down by Corrin in unicorn shape, and then things got… complicated.

Having Corrin forcibly read his mind, dragging him through every last painful memory one by one, is one of the worst experiences of Rion’s life – though to be fair, it wasn’t a very happy trip for Corrin either. And whether they like it or not, that intimate connection linked their souls. Especially when close, they’re extremely sensitive to what the other is feeling.

Once Rion’s brought back, the guards are furious with their Ititshi prisoner for making them look like idiots, and he sneers and mocks them, taking quite a beating. Until Corrin comes along and tells them to stop.

And Rion knows that this man, with more reason to hate him than just about anyone else, now knows his every fear and weakness. Expecting the worst, he lashes out to deal with the threat the one way he knows how – but something about Corrin’s calm and steady gaze defeats him more completely than the violence he’s so used to. All that Arani blood on his hands, and he just can’t make himself kill this one – and Corrin doesn’t even seem surprised.

A very tense and very guarded conversation no doubt follows upon this, the first of many. And Corrin does make the conscious choice not to be like “all the others”, demanding decent treatment of their prisoner, no matter how well-deserved petty vengeance might be.

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