"I'm going for a walk, Master."
The young man that stood was a well-built youth. Athletic with a smooth muscular chest and sinewy arms that were more lithe than bulky. The ease with which he adjusted the sword scabbard on his hips told of experience and familiarity with the red, silver, and brass weapon. The weapon seemed to radiate an impression of fire.
The 'Master', a warrior looking to be in his 60s, only nodded, but a young woman with long auburn hair and dressed in a flowing pantsuit of blues and yellows stood. She was pretty, with bright green eyes and a timid countenance that hinted at seeing deeper than what people normally took the time to see. She stood shorter than the young man, coming barely to his shoulder, and she was petite and slender with long fingers and graceful limbs.
The action of her standing to her feet drew the young man's gray-blue eyes.
"Lang? May I come?" she asked softly, her green eyes holding hesitancy and uncertainty.
"Sure, Maya. I don't mind." Lang focused on the older warrior as he sat cross-legged in front of the fire within the Forest Maze. "We'll be back in a little bit, Master."
His Master nodded again. "Be careful," he instructed.
Lang gave a brief nod and then turned to Maya, smiling as he motioned down the path with an arm. She fell into step beside him. "You're probably looking forward to seeing your village again, huh?" he asked with a sidelong glance her direction.
Maya nodded, intently watching the path at their feet. "Yes. I've missed them."
Lang absently nodded, adjusting the scabbard again on his hips.
Maya looked over at him. "Have you always lived in Nohl?"
Lang kicked at a rock. "Yep."
"Did you... Do you like it?"
Lang nodded. "Yeah. Galvan's been a great 'Dad'." He sent Maya a sidelong glance. "I know he's not my real dad, but he's the only one I've ever known, and he's treated me good." Lang smirked. "Nancy on the other hand..."
Maya watched his face a moment before looking back to the ground at their feet. "She's very pretty."
"I guess," he said, shrugging. "But she's bossy, and she's always yelling at me and stuff. Of course, I guess that's what family does." And Lang shrugged again.
Maya smiled softly. "Yes. I suppose they do."
Lang sent her a glance, and his lips twitched upward. "After this is all over, you should come and stay with us. Nancy could teach you a lot about cooking and gardening and stuff."
"Sure. We've got more than enough rooms. I know Galvan wouldn't mind. Master and he could teach each other a lot." Lang laughed. "Galvan finally found someone who drinks more than he does."
Maya softly giggled, shielding her mouth with her hand as her bright green eyes twinkled up at him.
Lang smiled down at her a moment more before focusing ahead and adjusting his hands on his scabbard. "So... You're probably happy to be going home again, huh?"
Maya smiled, focusing on Lang and sending him a nod and a "Yes, I am."
Lang reached out and held her back from a possible trip on a protruding rock. "What's it like?" he asked as he guided her around it.
"White and beautiful."
Maya nodded. "Snow. Have you seen snow before?" she asked, tone and expression curious.
"No. I can't say as I have. But it's pretty?"
Maya nodded again, eyes dancing with her smile. "It's cold, but pretty. Yes." Then her expression grew concerned. "You might get too cold," she told him.
"Huh?" He looked down when she pointed at his chest. Then he focused on her again. "What?"
Her cheeks flushed and she looked away. "You don't... You're not..."
Lang looked down again, lifting each side of his battle vest to see if there was a hole or something.
She giggled, drawing his attention as she stopped and faced him. "No, no." She made a raking motion down the front of her outfit with her hands. "You see what I'm wearing? These layers keep me warm, protecting me from the snow and the cool wind." She again pointed to his chest. "You don't have that protection."
"Ohhhh." He grinned. "My sword fighting keeps me warm."
Maya giggled again. "We won't be sword fighting in Yuno, Lang."
"Then I guess I'll stay indoors a lot. It's nice and toasty indoors?"
She fell into step beside him and nodded. "You and Kazan can stay with me. I've an extra room."
"You don't mind?"
Maya shook her head, smiling. "Of course not."
Lang tucked his thumbs into the belt of his scabbard and kicked at a couple rocks in the path. Maya sent him occasional glances, her smile slowly disappearing as she saw the intensity of his face suddenly grow so grim.
"Lang?" she prompted gently.
He looked over at her, his gray-blue eyes more of a charcoal. "Hm?"
"Are you alright?"
Lang looked back down to the path at his feet. "I guess. I just keep thinking about the black sun and the world and what could happen..." He sighed and met her gaze. "You think this Reym will be able to help us know what to do?"
"I hope so." Maya rested a hand on his arm. "And if he doesn't, maybe he'll know where we can go to find the answer. We can only go one step at a time."
"Yeah. I guess you're right." Lang released another breath and then smiled down at her. "Thanks, Maya."
She flushed and smiled as she lowered her hand back to her side. "You're welcome."
Lang scooped up a flower from the side, absently and then self-consciously twirling it between his fingers before offering it to her while clearing his throat. Maya accepted it with a timid smile, and then they both looked ahead. Neither knew what waited, but they felt a growing eagerness just the same.