Rolling away from Flik, trying not to disturb him, Viktor sat up. "Psst. Gremio."
There were dark circles under his eyes, but his expression was as stubborn and determined as always as he looked up from staring intently at the boy sleeping at his side. "Yes...?"
Kneeling down at his side, Viktor chuckled. "Go to sleep already. You've been through a lot tonight, and you need your rest."
Gremio shook his head. "My Young Master's rune... I'm not sure I trust it. What if it fooled him, what if it... what if it's taking something, despite what he told us?"
"Go to sleep," Viktor repeated. "You'll wake up in the morning, I promise."
Gremio frowned irritably. "Would I have done what I did if I cared about my own safety? I want to be sure that Tir remains well, that the Soul Eater isn't hurting him..."
Viktor couldn't help smirking - same old Gremio. "He'll wake up too. Listen - the Beast Rune recognized what happened. These two runes have had run-ins in the past, seems like."
Gremio nodded, somewhat sheepishly. "I'd gotten that impression as well..."
"It told me what happened was real - it was pretty surprised, but absolutely certain." Viktor frowned down at his right hand suddenly, and held it out to Gremio. "Here - you can be certain too. I don't want to have this thing in me any longer than I have to."
Gremio sighed guiltily as he held out his hand, and Viktor's hand began to glow in response. "Fortunately, things went differently than I expected... but I'm sorry I deceived you. I didn't know what else to do - the rune likes you, and I couldn't let the Soul Eater absorb it..."
Viktor winced slightly at the odd feeling of transferrance. Having the rune leave him made him feel... strange. But only for a moment, and then he grinned again. "Maybe it likes me, but with you... I got the feeling you earned its respect, and that's not something a lot of people have done."
Gremio shook his head, remembering the nightmares the Beast Rune had shown him. "I believe you're right..."
As Gremio lowered his hand again, settling back down to watch Tir, Viktor got up again, only to sit down a short distance away. "So get some rest, let yourself heal," he told Gremio, as quietly as he could manage. "You were practically dead there, in way more danger than Tir ever was. But I'll keep an eye on him. I swear, if he so much as mumbles something in his sleep, I'll wake you up right away."
Gremio looked reluctantly down at Tir, who seemed to be sleeping peacefully despite all his worries. "...Please do. All of this will be meaningless, if anything should happen to him now."
Viktor nodded. "I won't let anything happen to either of you." More or less satisfied, Gremio lay down again, an arm curled protectively over Tir, and almost instantly fell into an exhausted sleep.
Viktor remained sitting in the silence of night, until a muffled but gruff voice spoke up from elsewhere in their campsite. "You do realize that as a pathetically weak human, you wouldn't be able to do a thing for either of them if the Soul Eater didn't keep its word."
Viktor scowled at his sword, where it lay with their packs. To be honest, the Star Dragon Sword's second-guessing made him a little uneasy. "Are you saying it wouldn't?"
"The Beast Rune is as ignorant when it comes to bargaining or deception as a human child would be," the sword replied, the tone of voice and inflection implying contempt for such a creature. It hesitated though, and the voice grew grudgingly respectful. "But in this case, it judged correctly. There is no indication that the Soul Eater is trying to trick them."
"Yeah?" Viktor scowled at the sword. "So why'd you even bring it up?"
"I couldn't have you blindly believing that being, could I? Bad enough that you went and accepted it, when you already had me. I believe that's what you humans call greed."
"I didn't even want the thing!" Viktor hissed, trying to keep his voice low for the sake of the others. "Besides, you're just jealous because another rune wanted me."
"Please - you make it sound like one of your idiotic relationships. You can 'cheat' on me all you want."
The sword's voice was more sullen than annoyed this time, and Viktor paused. "We can talk about it some other time," he muttered, sitting back and relaxing. "Don't want to wake the others."
"Sure, I'll be glad to let you know exactly where you stand tomorrow morning," the sword agreed. "Wouldn't want to bother the more civilized humans here, would we?"
Viktor just shrugged, ignoring the sword's insults. After what had happened when they encountered the Beast Rune, both of them knew better.