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20 Part III

 "I'm sorry for not showing up yesterday. Here's your money back" she handed over the money to the client she failed to meet up with. The man didn't respond like he wanted to because of the glare he got from the intimidating man standing behind her with arms crossed.

The man reclaimed his bronze and scurried away without saying a word then Anna turned back to look at Orion who quickly changed his expression to a plain one.

~

"You're wrong. I'm with you."

Anna rolled her eyes in disbelief "If that's true, spend the whole day with me tomorrow and I'll believe you!"

~

Anna gestured for Orion to hold her hand, and he did so with delay. She gushed as her cheeks crimsoned because they were close to each other. She'd dreamt countless times of being with a spell caster all of her imaginations were finally becoming a reality 'I can't believe he agreed to it!'

'I can't believe I agreed to this' Orion mentally facepalmed himself. He just did it to stop her from being with someone else because of his natural sense of ownership. She was something like a property to him. An valuable one. .

"What's inside the box?" Orion always wanted to ask about the parcel she'd been holding ever since they began strolling together.

"It's a secret..." She stuck her tongue out teasingly, and Orion saw it as a signal to use his x-radiation, but she stopped him "please don't spy. I don't want the surprise to be ruined" Orion's eyes were gleaming a second back, but because of her plea, he decided to let the box be.

"Let's go over there" She pointed at a cedar bench, a spot they could get a close view at the lake not too far away. She felt the wind tousle her hair as she turned to seat down along with Orion.

"Pretty isn't it?" The lake mirrored the sky and the pine trees around it. She let her emerald eyes wander the surface of the blue before her. Beams of lights moved gently over the water, birthed from the afternoon sun that made the view more beautiful.

The breeze that ran unchecked over the rippled surface blew her long bangs from her eyes and Orion focused on her face, and not the lake she was so immersed in.

"Rowan?" A profound feeling of tranquility overcame him as he gazed at her and he got too carried away in the process. He blinked as he refocused, and she started to think he was staring at something disgusting on her face.

"I'm sorry, something is on my face right?" She regretted not carrying her mirror that day and she required so badly at that moment.

"There's nothing on your face Anna" That was the first time he called her by her name and it brought hues to her cheeks "I believe we're becoming accustomed to one another at this point."

Orion watched her open the covered basket and a bowl was revealed. "When you were at the restaurant, I noticed there was something you ate differently. It appeared as though you were astonished by the taste."

The fragrance of the familiar food and the bright colors of it breathed life into his interest. "At the point when you constrained Zayn on his knees, I was unable to stop appreciating how cool you were back there. This is how I decided to repay you for everything you've done for me. I made you frittata" She grasped a fork as her mouth twitched. There was something else she wanted to say, but she was too shy.

Orion wanted to take the fork, but she withdrew her hand "If you want a taste then you have to let me feed you."

His mouth faltered, and she was almost certain he was battling a laugh. She knew the chances that Orion would consent to it was slim, but she decided to try.

He endeavored to take the fork once more, but she still refused to give him "Let me feed you" Her glossy eyes were blackmail, so he didn't have a choice. At least he'd get to taste the food.

He opened his mouth, and she put the fork in it. He was stunned for a second "Where did you get this from?"

She sighed deeply "I said I made it..."

Orion extended his hand to take the plate, but she quickly moved her hands an inch away "If you want more say, Anna I want you to feed me."

Orion pinched the bridge of his nose. People were already watching them from the opposite side of the lake "Anna...I think I've lost my appetite."

She frowned " Oh...Oh... I'll set it aside. Whenever you're hungry again, I'll give it to you." Orion nodded at that idea as he laid back on the bench.

The young lady close to him bolted her fingers together as she gulped. She was prepared to start up another discussion.

"Soo, Rowan" she played with her fingers, trying her best to avoid his intimidating gaze "Remember when I wanted to know more about you, well I still do, but I've decided to introduce myself to you better. I'm Anna Webb. I'm nineteen"

Orion's eyes widened,  she was so young. She didn't see his expression, so she proceeded."I don't have the foggiest idea what else to tell you..so you can ask... "

"Why do you love spell casters so much?"

"One saved my life and it's quite a coincidence that you saved mine as  well. Before I moved to Virsa, I lived at Buston. As a matter of fact, that was my home town before it was burned to the ground and it was my fault. Twelve years back, everything was fine for me. I had a caring mother, a persevering father and a delightful little brother" Orion observed the word 'had'

He was eager to know what befell the girl and made her the way she was.

"My village was burnt down. Everyone was killed by Beastmen for a petty reason and my family happened to be part of the few residents to suffer that faith. I watched them get slaughtered that cold wintry night. I wished I was fast enough to warn them about the Beastmen, but I was too slow. No matter how fast I tried to trudge through that deep snow, they were already ten steps ahead. They trooped into my village, killed everyone there and burnt, all because I refused to be enslaved. It wasn't even time for slave picking, so my actions were justified. But those animal looking people don't care about how we humans feel. They do whatever they want, whenever they want."

Orion wasn't going to intercede for his kind. He didn't accuse her for her viewpoint and perspective of beastmen. He disliked humans, but for some reason he didn't understand, he liked her company despite her race.

"I still remember their leader's face. He was a fox, a cruel kind! They didn't have mercy on the babies and children. They think of us as bugs! Something they could squash for fun..."

Orion recalled when Melissa made reference to the attack but his memories were foggy because it was a long time ago, and he didn't care whatsoever, but since Anna was the one describing it, he was moved.

"After that day, I had been roaming around aimlessly until I met an old man traveling. He offered me food from the little he had. He told me not to worry because he could sustain himself with the spells he'd learnt. He just hauled food around  because he liked the taste of it, and he didn't didn't generally require it.

I asked him if I could travel with him, and he welcomed me. We went village to village. Despite his age and looks, he carried me on his back. He clothed me, gave me food and water to drink. He'd tell me stories and perform tricks for me. He was a blessing. A star in the darkness that enveloped me. Apart from the family and village I lost...he was there to show me what love and care  felt like. He was killed two years ago in an ambush and it was the same Foxman that burnt my village. He made reference to what I had done and how fast I'd grown" She sighed as a tear ran down her cheek

"I blamed myself. It was my fault. Everything was my fault. If I didn't meet with him, he wouldn't have been killed. That particular Foxman wanted to punish me. I wasn't a runaway slave...I was running from slavery! Be that as it may, the Beastmen couldn't care less about the standards. They made the rules but didn't follow, and we're the ones to suffer their actions. Tomorrow makes it two years since I've been forced to stay here and work as..."She didn't want to say it because she didn't like being called that.

"I begged him to kill me but he refused. He marked my abdomen with a knife and cursed the blood that flowed out. Whenever I'd try to kill myself,  my body acts on its own and tosses whatever I want to use. Be it poison, butcher knife, a rope, even if i tried to jump from a roof, drown myself... My body won't let me. So, I'm forced to live a very terrible life..."

There was an odd silence, and she decided to break it with an apology but Orion spoke up before she had the chance "I understand. The spell caster you met was very important to you. I have one more question."

"Don't hesitate to ask me."

"Did he mention to you what he was? His race? His clan?" Orion needed insights concerning the puzzling race.

"Well," She tried to remember if he ever mentioned important things like that "He once told me his was found and that there's more of him. So, that's why I've been optimistic that a spell caster will come save me from this hell."

Orion felt bad for her. He wasn't the spell caster that would give her a happily ever after. Truth be told, he was a Foxman, and she hated his sort.

"What's wrong?" she asked, wondering where his mind had scurried off to again.

"Nothing. It's about time we move from this place" He got up and waited for her hand. She gave a small smile before she took hold of it, and he led her down the pavement.

He was forced to a stop when a group of children surrounded him. His eyes scanned the desperate faces of the earth children and where their fingers pointed at. They'd been trying all day to get their kite that had been stuck In a tree. With Orion's height, he could do so with ease.

"Please help them out" Anna moved closer to whisper, and he bit his lip. He didn't want to let go of her hand, but he had no choice. He needed that hand to get the kite down then carry on with what brought him out in the first place.

Once Orion got the kite down, the next thing the children wanted was for him to play with them. He was enraged that they were touching him, and creating a ruckus. He shot his eyes to meet Anna who was conversing with a man he hadn't seen previously.

He wanted to kick the boys out of the way, but he thought Anna wouldn't like that. He had his eyes fixed on the man she was talking to as questions wandered his head. Why was she talking to a different person? Who is he to her?

Anna waved the man farewell, and he went on his way. She turned to meet up with Orion who had a puzzled face whilst the surrounding children tried to get him to move, but he resembled a block tower. He stayed solidified in his spot until the children finally surrendered.

Anna knelt to the height of the kids and presented some apples.

"The spell caster has some important things to do, so he can't play with you all for now. I'm sure he'd loosen up sooner or later. Here are some apples for the meantime."

She handed green apples to the kids. They were about to sink their teeth into it when a member of their group ran towards them, screaming "stop!"

Anna was surprised and so was Orion.

"What's wrong with you all?" He slapped the apple away from the hands of the closest boy to him.

"What's your problem Alex?!" Anna didn't like when children got into fights. She wanted to separate them, but the boy, Alex, pointed a finger and commanded she didn't touch him.

"Don't you know who she is?" The boys shook their head, wondering what Alex had to say.

"She's Anna the whore!"

There was an unexpected flare of outrage in Orion's face. His jaw braced tight, his nose flared, and his fingers grasped firmly into his palm.

"Wait, she's the one? No wonder she looked familiar" A boy from the group added as he hurled the apple to the ground.

"Ew, witches give out Apple's right?" Another apple was tossed. Her shoulders shook with melancholy, as she attempted to stop the tears that took steps to leave her eyes.

Orion stepped forward. He'd tried his best to hold his displeasure in, but he couldn't do so anymore.

He drew a hand back, targeting it towards Alex who began the affront, but Anna begged him not to hit them. "Rowan, they're just kids."

"He cussed at you, and you think it's something a kid will do!" He yelled making her tremble.

"Golly! She must've given the hexed apples to the spell caster... "

"No normal person would hang around with filth like her."

Orion grabbed her arm then turned to leave. He was tired of listening to what those so called kids had to say.

He came to a stop when he noticed Anna had slowed down.

"I'm sorry...I swear...I tried not to cry. I'm so sorry..." Slow desolate tears from her unblinking eyes, dousing the top she wore. Orion pulled her to his chest, and she wailed into it endlessly, hands gripping at the piece she could hold.

When she finally looked at him, her beautiful green eyes were swollen and sore "I want to go home." That was her request.

Orion nodded and the two went back to the cottage close to a hill.

"Thank you for the time you spent with me," She said forcing a smile "It meant a lot to me."

"Are you going to be fine?"

She nodded "I can't kill myself so, you'll get to see me again" She closed the door, leaving Orion worried about her mental state.

The girl slumped to the floor in the darkness of her home. She stifled the sobs that weakened her muscles, bones, and guts. She pressed her forehead against her door and began to let her sadness out.

She wondered how many more kids thought of her that way. Her mind could only go to Zayn, Mary, and Bianca. It was possible they were the one's feeling people's mind with wrong information about her and no one ever bothered to find out if it was true or not.

Orion was still standing there. He didn't know why, but he didn't want to leave. She wasn't going to open the door, and he knew she must've expected him to be long gone, but his body hadn't moved an inch ever since the door shut.

He wished he told that she's not a whore, or whatever they've told her before his arrival. He didn't want to see her cry anymore. Her smile was something he wanted to protect at all cost.

Slowly, he turned away from the door. He'd come back as soon as the sun rises again.

"Excuse me sir" On his way back to the new inn he was staying at, he ran into the woman from the orphanage. If she didn't call his attention, he wouldn't have known she was passing by.

"Is Anna home?" He nodded and was about to walk away when she called his attention again.

"Sorry but there's something I've been itching to inquire. Ever since you came...Anna had been so interested in you. And now, a lot of people have been seeing you both together lately. She hasn't told me yet, but, are you in a relationship with her? I mean, do you like her back because she really does like you..."

Orion never thought about the connection between them. He never considered her to be a friend either.

"I truly don't have a clue." That was all he was going to state about that issue.

"Orion, you wouldn't understand how it feels. If you ever fall in love, just pray it's not with a human."

He recalled his sister's statement before she was killed and it made his veins throb. It happened thirty-six years ago, and he was supposed to forget about her words, but it's been haunting him lately. There was no way he was in love, he gave up feelings a long time ago.

"Accept it Orion, you're in love!" His heart skipped a beat as he turned back, wondering where the voice came from. It was familiar. It sounded somewhat like his sister's voice.