Hymir hated waiting. He focused on breathing. It was easier to think about being calm than to ‘be’ it. The air was cool in here, cool enough that he wasn’t actively getting angry. And there was a hum from some machine hiding somewhere in the walls. The soft sounds of Dimitri flicking the feathers of an arrow with his fingertips. Soft. Everything in here was soft, as if everything was afraid of disturbing the balance of the room.
“We leave tonight.” Pallas’s voice was rough. He had not cried. He was under constant supervision, and he had not cried. Enviable. “I’ll call ahead for the boat. We pack. We leave.”
Dimitri glared at Hymir before taking Pallas’s hand once more. “Are we taking him?”
“I thought you’d be more worried about my mater.”
A sigh. “If you wanted to leave, you were going to leave. Love her, but she knows that. And the sooner you get your test over with-”
Pallas stood up, and Dimitri stopped talking. A simple transaction. “Explain to Hymir so he doesn’t look like a lost puppy.” Hymir thought that he looked fine. But Dimitri rolled his eyes as he scooted to fully face Hymir, and Pallas went to stand in a corner and talk to himself.
The two looked bitterly at each other, for lack of a better word. “You are the crappiest assassin ever.” Hymir shrugged. He was used to worse. “In order to… not ruin the country? The new King has to go to this island and win this competition against a really powerful fella. Ancient times stuff. Totally not connected to Greek politics. Got it?” A nod. What could be said? “It only works if the new King isn’t cheating. Uncle was going to die that night. He cheated. He lived the rest of his life in pain. Serious stuff.
“The burden is easier with strong allies. Strong fighters. Me. Not you.” His tone was bitter, like the look that dominated his face since Hymir had arrived. It was then that Hymir realized he had created an accidental competition that he had no interest in participating in. “Do you understand that?”
“I’m not here to interrupt what… relationship you guys have here,” Hymir said, glancing between Dimitri and Pallas. “I’m here for a month. Tops. Trust me, I am not in the way of you two being ‘besties.’” It was a word Peter liked using but had no one to use it on.
Silence held them. To Hymir’s surprise, Dimitri bursted out laughing. It sounded like bells. Only for a moment, a blink. “Are you actually here for a treaty?”
A nod. “There’s a war brewing up North. My… superiors are the ones starting it. We’re not supposed to get too many treaties since that’s suspicious.” Dimitri rolled his eyes again and Hymir smiled, because it was ridiculous, and Levin was a fool for thinking that. “You guys are the first people. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry I’m sucking at this.”
“You’re not the worst assassin.” A moment, Pallas’s low voice the loudest thing in the room. “Better introductions?” Hymir nodded and Dimitri beamed that media smile, hand outstretched. “Hey, I’m Dima.”
“Hymir.” They shook hands. “Is he okay? He’s been muttering for a while.”
They looked over at Pallas. Dima shook his head with a smile. “He’s fine. He’s on the phone.” That wasn’t a word Hymir knew, and it was all over his face. Nothing was done about it.
Once Pallas was done with the ‘phone,’ Dima and Pallas packed while Hymir wrestled his spear from the wall. It was a miracle that it hadn’t fallen. With that piece of familiarity back in his hands, it was easier to think. In order to fulfill his contract, he was going to an island and enter a battle with two people he’s never fought with before. It was foolish. But it sounded like… fun. Something new. Something that he didn’t do every week since he was ten.
Packing was short. Dima had his bow and quiver, loose arrows snatched from the floor. Pallas had a halberd and a pack filled with water bottles. Ten minutes. Hymir watched the setting sun through the window on Pallas’s bed. Levin preferred to take him out during the night, saying that it was easier to be stealthy. The off-chances Hymir had seen the sun were when the raids took too long, and glimpses of the rising sun made the other side of the portal feel so much darker.
Waiting to leave was shorter. They went out into the night, the first few stars serving as beacons.