145.2 \ 337

A liquid fog passing over his vision, Grant watched his blades slither out of their sheaths at the bottom edge of his periphery. With equivalent response, Soleil’s stance changed, initiating Dusk-Arrow’s arc of momentum. A ringing clash shuddered through the room as the first swing was turned aside with a forceful glancing double parry.

“What are you doing?!” The voice tore from Soleil’s throat with half-expected betrayal. The Princess Ascendant had to attack – with this weapon in her hands for this moment, her best defense was to drive him back.

“There has to be an end to this,” stated King Vario between strategic stance repositioning. “It could be ugly, or it could be clean. So much has gone on for so long, I don’t know what I might do.”

The muscles Soleil had grown in her adolescent training remembered her specialty in counterbalancing pirouette, and she kept herself moving in a smooth whirlwind to keep her openings covered and the King Proxem’s cleverness at bay. “There are lots of things you could do!”

“Perhaps not, my daughter.” Vario kept taking the attack, dodging backwards while making occasional entries that altered the course of her parabolic swings.

They paused; his attacks, and her drive, facing each other in the strengthening morning light.

He signed the scroll. Then, they hugged. He sighed and said, “Well, it’s not going to be easy.” They smiled gratefully at each other. It could have been like that. But then, what would have happened? Vario felt like he just knew.

It actually was like they were trying to hug, but completely unable. Huggy feelings of days gone by had been swept away by the effort and the heartbreak. And this, this was the freshest mess. Soleil was suffused with a clarity that was merciless, rightful, and righteous. Everyone and everything that had sent her here wouldn’t let her lose by giving up. She might have guessed what her father was thinking, and to that she couldn’t agree or disagree.

The pause went on almost too long, and their weapons came up again at the same time.

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