WARNING. Adult situations, don't read if you cannot handle it or are offended.
The birds weren't singing. It was eerie to be within a rain forest and not hear any sounds of animals or insects. Instead the soft sound of a fire cracking and the faint scent of smoke in the humid air invaded the senses. Something was burning, that was for certain. Wreathed in flames, a figure hung suspended above the ground, mouth open in a silent scream. Her eyes were wide open and glowed like hot red coals. The only motion in her form that one could see was her hair, which floated as if she were in water and swirled. When one stared at her, brief flashes of the woman in agony would flicker across their vision and the echo of her screams became audible. Yet... nothing could be done to help her until the fit ends. Birds and beasts looked on in sadness, for Aeolynn, the charred heart had sacrificed everything and more for Tnemele. Finally, the episode ended, and Aeolynn was dropped to the ground, shivering and pale, naked and unconscious.
From behind the cover of small leaves, the man watched the flames dissipate and the young figure fall to the ground. It did not move, not even a twitch, as it hit the ground and his mind fell silent as he stared. The man was curious but cautious; every synapse in his body was telling him to leave the figure alone and move on with his journey. His brother would not have thought twice about stopping to help and he had tasked himself with finding his brother as quickly as possible. If he stopped now, it would mean that his journey would be delayed further and he did not want to keep his brother waiting any longer. Still,
he thought to himself, it would be unfortunate to have a beast or ill-intentioned person to come upon this weakened person.
He would not live with himself if something happened to the stranger, such was his personality.
The man dropped to the ground, silently and swiftly, a well practiced hunter. He moved lightly from tree to tree as he closed in on the young figure; her feminine features were slowly becoming more prominent as he closed the distance. A female woman with so much power was a strange concept for him; having never seen any female with power beyond basic manipulation of an element. The trees would be little use for cover in a fight with a fire user but he welcomed the illusion of safety anyway as he approached the last tree between himself and the woman. She was truly stunning, a rare beauty, and if he guessed correctly, sleeping. He popped the top from his water pouch and drew water from it, wrapped it around his hand and pulled in the coolness and dampness of the air around it. The liquid weapon would burn out quickly but it was better than nothing when approaching a stranger.
His body felt warmer as he approached the woman; the very air around her had been set to the flame. The flames had dissipated minutes ago but the air was still very much dry and warm. He could not feel much water in the air and it disturbed him but he pushed himself forward to the woman's side. Her nude figure was dismissed quickly as he went through the motions of checking her breathing and her temperature. Her forehead, no, her body, felt as it would burst into flames. Shit,
he thought, I really don't need this kind of trouble. I should have kept moving and left her behind.
He pulled the leather and skin cloak from his body and wrapped it around her as he poured the remainder of his water over her body. He would clean and replenish the water tonight. Closing his eyes, he laid his fingers on the water on her abdomen and head and moved it so that it covered body while cooling swiftly, drawing the heat away from her body. If I'm going through this much trouble, she better not be dead by the end of the day,
he thought to himself.
Around where she had fallen lay her clothes, discarded in a hurry as well as a small sword, a pair of earrings and a leather thong with a metal loop on it. A pack lay off to the side, the bedroll opened and inviting. Obviously she never managed to get within it, and thankfully she hadn't. Or else... she would be without a bedroll. Something else around the camp was a little disturbing... large, clawed footprints in the moist ground, now dried from the heat.
As the clouds and sun receded to make way for nightfall, the man forced himself to move from his kneeling position over the young woman. He sat back on his haunches and his back creaked angrily at him; he had been forcing the excess heat from the woman for several hours to reduce her fever and it was finally starting to show as the deep red in her cheeks receded. He had been concentrating so deeply upon the magic that he did not notice the strain he had placed on himself. It will be at least a half day's rest before I'll be able to move properly so she will have company for another half day,
he thought. Then she will need to have woken and be well enough on her own or I'll have to make a shelter for her and I hate to muddle in the earth. Brother was always better at creating shelters with his floral manipulation; it would be an easy task for him.
The sweat from his brow had long since masked his vision but he had not taken the time earlier to wipe it away. His hand moved slowly across his forehead as he wiped his face off and with as little power as he could muster, he purified the sweat and pushed it back into his water pouch. He couldn't remember the last time he had seen rain or so much as a stream in his walking so any water he could save was precious now, especially since his powers had been strained so much. It was only now that he had allowed himself to take a break from his work on the woman that he began to make observations of her body.
She was covered in small cuts from the ground and he could see old scars leading towards her back. There was also the curious star-shaped marks on her chest that looked as if they had been painfully scorched into her body. His hand traced the marks carefully and he winced internally as he imagined the terrible pain the marking process must have caused her. Just who was this woman,
he thought cautiously, have I rescued a slave?
He had heard stories of slavers sold men and women alike as if they were nothing more than cattle from the traders that passed through the village. As a child, he had often dreamed of meeting one of these slavers so that he could show them what happened to evil men that terrorized women.
As he turned his head to look for easy shelter, he noticed the supplies and the makeshift campsite to the side. Perhaps she wasn't a slave but another lone traveler? He dismissed the thought and focused back on the task at hand, nearly missing the footprints and the scarred ground around them. He had to perform a double take and focused his eyes on the footprints. They were not marks that he recognized and he wondered what manner of beast roamed this forest. If she had noticed them when she was setting up her camp, it hadn't bothered her so maybe she was native to the area. He did not have time to continue his search as he felt her hand nudge his knee. She was waking already.
Aeolynn's eyes fluttered, then fully opened, the pupil dilating briefly before returning to normal. Tilting her chin, her gaze met his. "Who are you?" She asked, her voice uneven and hoarse. However weak she looked, her eyes were fierce, unafraid and defiant. A curious silver green. Looking up into the night sky, her stare went blank, as if mentally contacting someone, then resumed her focus on his face.
"Who..." She gasped and curled into a loose fetal position, shuddering in sudden pain.
The man's expression of surprise at her sudden conscious state changed to concern as he watched her body's movements. She was far too wild to be anyone's slave and the glimpse of her personality sparked his curiosity about what she had been doing out here. Perhaps she was here hunting the beast from the footprints,
he pondered as he watched over. Though that didn't make sense about how she came to be ensorceled in the ball of flames from earlier, it was as good an explanation as he could come up with for now. He would have to ask her about it later if he was still around.
He was still kicking himself for losing as much time as he had in his search for his brother. He had promised to return home within five years with his brother or at least news of his current state and that was nearing three months ago. He had covered a great deal of ground in that time but it was still not nearly enough. He had found very few villages that had clues about where the battles had taken place and each battleground was as empty as the last and devoid of clues.
"My name does not matter. I do not plan on staying here long and you are still recovering so I suggest you do not move much. The fever has passed but I do not know how to treat the remainder of your symptoms." He did not relish the idea of giving his name to strangers and had tried to keep to himself even when he visited the villages. He did not know what side his brother had joined in the battles that consumed the world and he was not prepared to take on a village of vengeful powers if he was wrong about his brother's intentions. He pulled his cloak further over her body, covering her as best as he could while he heated the remainder of the water in the cloak to keep her warm. The night air was beginning to cool the land and he could feel the moist air of the rain forest begin to move around him again. He relished the taste of water on the air again and stated a small prayer in his head before leaning back over the woman again.
"It's... not a fever. Soul... strain." She swallowed, uncurling slightly as the pain passed. "Ah... Thank you for your help, stranger." Trying to sit up, Aeolynn grimaced, not bothering to cover herself and she flexed her hands and arms. "I'd like your name, as it is important, to me." Her dark gaze met his again, undeterred. Stubbornly, she pressed again, "Your name. If it helps, my name is Aeolynn Slayne."
The man frowned at the strain she was putting on her body. She had been feverish and fell from the sky hard enough to be knocked unconscious. Sitting up was hardly something that even a lay man doctor could recommend to her in good faith. His hand moved on its own and braced her back, relieving some of the strain from her muscles. "My name is Samuel. My last name is not important and you are far from being healthy enough to sit up so quickly. Take it easy, I will be here until morning at least before I am able to move on."
His power was returning but very slowly, too slowly and the meager amount of food from the past few days had not helped his condition. He would actually be lucky if he could stand at this point but he would not show weakness to anyone.
She glared back at him, unused to being told to 'take it easy'. Then... "I will do what you ask," Only then did Aeolynn notice her clothing predicament, taking the edge of his cloak to her breasts. He did not look like an ex-dark, nor would one, that had been in the wars at least, would help her. "It is good to meet you, Samuel." Her eyes ducked down, slightly in embarrassment, then looked to the side at him again, "How did you come across me? I thought I was in a well secluded spot..."
The man smiled softly and turned his eyes to the side to avoid staring at her. "I was traveling between villages so I have been taking routes that are infrequent. My brother left home to join the grand battle for glory and to gain more power but I still don't know what side he fought on so I have avoided staying in villages for too long." I don't know if I should have said as much,
he thought silently to himself. After all, what if she fought in the war and opposed him?
His face changed to a grimace as he lost himself in that thought before focusing once more and smiling at her.
"I see." Aeolynn replied softly, "Let us pray he was not a dark. If so, I might have killed him... or I might have to kill him." Her hand clutched at the mark on her chest, the burning fading as she regained her strength. "Would... you mind turning around?" Aeolynn's blush deepened against her pale skin, as she grew conscious of her nakedness.
The man chuckled at the thought of his brother being killed by this woman. He was on par with his brother for fighting skills with power and without power when his brother had left. It was odd to think of him falling to a delicate beauty like this woman, even if she had fiery powers. "Perhaps you may have, I would find it interesting if you did. He was never one to fall easily, even when matched against his opposite in powers." He said it almost matter of factly as he shifted his weight off his haunch and turned around. He had regained some power at least and he put it to work, forming a thin layer of water across his back to protect vital organs from attack. If she attacked thoughtlessly, the water would push the attack sideways, creating a glancing blow. He could increase the intensity of his defense further but he would forfeit the power to counterattack.
Aeolynn couldn't help but snort, but didn't reply and stood with her own strength. Quickly, she began to clothe herself, slipping on her underclothes, then her pants. Buckling the belt, she then pulled on her shirt, tightening the ribbon wrapped around her ribs. The shirt was ripped where the mark of coal was in between her breasts, held together by a small chain at the top. Sitting down, Aeolynn began lacing her boots. "You can turn around now." She was mostly clothed, only missing her cloak and jewelry.
He turned slowly, rising to his feet as he did and pushed the water back into his skin. He flinched as he felt it sink back in; the leathery feel of dried skin bothered him. He smiled to himself as he noticed the majority of her skin was now hidden from view. For a potentially powerful person, she was rather modest when her mind was set right. "So where do we go from here? I know nothing about you but I have confessed my purpose. You spoke of possibly killing my brother and being secluded; just what reason do you have to be out here?" His question was abrasive but he felt it was well within his right to ask it.
"Soulstrain. I have a day before it over takes me, and I am on the trail of a darkborne general when the fever started." Aeolynn explained, "Since I am the only one that knows who they are, it is my duty to hunt them down. They have killed thousands, and I am their final act of redemption." She finished putting on her shoes and stood, slipping in the feather earrings and the necklace. Her hair was drenched in sweat, which she causally ran through with her fingers, slight steam rising off of her.
"The only one? Did you not have companions when you fought with them?" He was appalled at the idea of a single woman taking on what may potentially be an entire army of generals or other soldiers. He had women from the village that could hold their own in sparring rounds but none were keen on fighting continuously for a living. Just who are you really
he wondered to himself. "So what will you do when it's over?"
"There were nine others. Six survived." Aeolynn's back was still turned to him and her head hung slightly at the memories. Then, "I do not think of my future except the next kill. I take my vengeance on them, as I had on their leader. They killed my older sister... they killed my twin brother... and they tried to kill me." Aeolynn turned at that, her glare fierce, "My life means nothing beyond that." She threw her shoulders back and tilted her head up slightly in defiance.
Samuel frowned at the consideration of her life. He was taught that all life was considered sacred, even those of your enemies. His faith in nature and his god was the only thing that kept him going most days especially since he had left the safety of his village. "Life should mean more than an endless slaughter of men and vengeance." He said with a heavy heart; he had not experienced such loss but he could imagine the pain that she was going through well enough.
"I live to serve my goddesses." Aeolynn responded, looking up to the sky expectantly. "Do not be afraid, Samuel, he will not hurt you." She uttered. The winds picked up, swirling around them both as the ghostly figure of a large beast took form in the clearing. A white, crystalline hide covered the lithe figure of a large winged dragon, his eyes faceted like an insects. In his beak was a plains deer from the east. Aeolynn stepped forward to greet him, hugging his great maw to her body.
The man was taken aback at the large beast that had appeared seemingly upon her command. If she had control of such large beasts, then there was no doubt that her power was on a much higher level than his own. He was impressed and somewhat intimidated by the difference in power and the appearance of the elemental beast. Though he did smile when he noticed the fresh deer in its maw, perhaps he could at least share dinner tonight. "Since it will be morning before I have to continue on, may I share dinner with you tonight?"
"Of course," She answered, "I asked Teirrol to bring us a kill." Aeolynn took the animal from him, bowing as he nuzzled her then leapt into the air again. When Teirrol disappeared, Aeolynn carried the deer over. "Would you mind skinning this for me? I will create a fire."
The man smiled and took the serrated knife from the small of his back. The first cut was deep and he sawed back and forth, peeling away a strip of skin at a time. The strips still had meager amounts of meat on them and could be saved for consumption later if he salted them properly. He was careful in laying the strips with the meat facing towards the sky. When he was finished, he washed the deer carcass with his water and carried it over to Aeolynn.
By then, she had arranged wood into a furnace and lit it with a thought, the fire blazing to life. The meat went on easily enough, creating an aromatic scent in the clearing. "Should be done in a little while," Aeolynn commented. Privately, she hoped that the fire would not alert the borne she had been hunting, but at the moment it didn't matter. She was hungry! Hopefully things would go well with this.. Samuel. He seemed okay, and bore no ill will towards her.
"How long have you been hunting this borne?" he asked as he watched the meat turn from red to a dark brown. Curiosity was going to be the death of him one day but if anyone may have a clue as to where his brother might be then it may be this woman. If his brother had been one of the borne opposing these dark generals, then chances were that he might be able to glean information of his brother from one of her generals. He decided in his own mind that he would stay for at least one of the generals before going back to tracking down clues of his brother on his own again. "Would you mind if I joined you on a hunt? If my brother was truly in the battle, then one of them may have noticed him."
"I've been hunting Shakram for the last few weeks. He is a lightningborne, been one of the harder ones to hunt because of the fact that he is a slippery bastard. Lost track of him around Milltown a few days ago." Aeolynn held her hand out to manipulate the fire and turn the meat before answering. She was careful to weigh the options. "I would ask that if you would like to join me, that you stay back and not involved until I need you or ask."
"I can hold my own in a battle but I will do as you wish. I will not interfere when we meet Shakram but I ask that I be allowed to ask my questions when he falls." He was still being cautious of his words and his actions. There was still a lingering sense of danger to the young woman that he couldn't place; from her words, she was a great fighter and he wondered silently just how much blood had stained her hands over the past years. "The meat will be over cooked if it's left too much longer."
She watched the fire and motioned to her pack, "In there, there is a light metal box with some ceramic plates within, fetch those please?" Aeolynn turned her head, and actually smiled a little at him before raising the meat out of the fire and splitting it into two slabs. The borne shrugged, she had a hearty appetite, hopefully he did too. "I have questions too, but otherwise, you are free to ask."
He moved to the pack and retrieved the plates as requested before returning to her side. He looked at the hearty slab of meat and grinned as he took the meat. He bore it to his mouth and began eating quietly as he watched the flames dancing before him. Fire had always entertained him greatly even though he had no control over it personally. It had as many uses in life as his own water power but there was something more fascinating to him about watching the flicker of a dancing flame rather than the soft currents of the water.
"It's going to rain soon," Aeolynn commented, glancing up at the sky again. She had finished eating fairly quickly, brushing off the plate with leaves and stowing it away in her pack. "You can replenish your supply, and your own energies over night." Touching the ground, Aeolynn stood a moment later, having created somehow a stone trough to catch the drops for him. "We will need a shelter." Aeolynn said, glancing emotionless to him. Not that she expected him to make one, but rather watching his reaction. So far, she believed he thought she was a fireborne, and maybe she should keep it that way. Or... maybe not.
The man looked almost confused at her words. It was going to rain so they needed shelter? It was almost comical to him to think of hiding from the rain. The water had been his home away home for the past few months and he never hid from it before tonight. He sat down on the ground and crossed his legs slowly, leaning back against a tree. "What purpose is there to shelter on a night when the rain will be coming? Are you uncomfortable with being wet?"
"I guess it depends why I'm... wet." Aeolynn replied, smirking a little. "However, I cannot sleep while drenched in rain. If you want to sleep out in the rain, so be it." She turned back to him, the smirk still on her face as she went past him towards the line of trees. Reaching her hands out, Aeolynn closed her eyes and focused. A rumble sounded through the air, distinctly different from thunder, as the ground shook slightly and ever so slowly a cavern raised from the ground. Dirt showered to the sides, as it was shaped into a simple cave with a wide entrance and only about six feet thick.
The man laughed as he closed his eyes momentarily; listening to the songs of nature and the rumble of the earth. He turned his head and was surprised and slightly amused at the sight of her shelter. He could wash her out of there if it amused him enough but he wasn't really the jester type of person and his sense of humor would be lost on her if she drowned. "Any other tricks that I should know about, Aeolynn?" he asked while pointing towards the shelter.
"Tricks?" She repeated, bringing in some of her stuff from around the clearing, "Why Samuel I haven't a clue as to what you're meaning." She feigned innocence, and maybe just a hint of flirtation. "You are happy to stay inside with me, if you'd like." Not one to be nervous around men, when it came to sleeping in the same vicinity, he had already seen her naked and it truly did not bother her.
He smirked and rose slowly to his feet before turning and surveying the area once more. It would be strange to be away from the rain but she had made an offer that was hard to turn down too. He picked up his cloak from the ground and headed into the earthen shelter. "I feel rather unprepared now since I have no bedroll of my own. I generally sleep beneath the stars with nothing more than what I have on my back."
"You must come from a small town then." Aeolynn commented, setting up her bedroll, spreading it out so he could sit before they retired. It was still rather early to sleep, and she much rather enjoyed human company that she had been missing the last few weeks. Surely, he had questions. "I have an extra blanket if you need it." She offered, holding it out to him.
He took the blanket and sat down on the bedroll; he had forgotten how much he missed human contact, especially at night. "Thank you for the blanket," he said as he laid it out next to him. "So you mentioned other companions that survived, what happened to them? Surely they would have wanted to help you on this fight if you were working together previously."
She didn't respond for a little while, chose to brush out her hair again, this time with a comb made out of some type of bone. When she did speak, it was in a very quiet tone, "Jaskan and Onea, are helping me, they chose to try to rally Tnemele within the council of Larinith, working to keep the peace with the Nagei." She shook her head, "The rest are trying to help in their own ways. But... some have their own lives to mop up. Everyone that was involved had their own issues with the darks. Families killed, friends killed..." She went silent at that.
He went silent as she talked and struggled with the idea of losing family members and friends. He had not known anyone from the village that had participated in the war except his brother and he firmly believed his brother was still alive somewhere. He just needed to find him and bring him home. The only other tales he had heard previously were from passing traders talking about the death and destruction found in some of the mainland villages. "I see, I didn't realize I suppose the outcome of the events that had unfolded these past few years. My village was small enough to be shielded from all but reports of the death and destruction of the outside world."
"You're one of the lucky ones. Even some of the small villages were greatly effected, like mine." Aeolynn lowered her head, sniffing slightly then sighing. "I would rather not talk about my past if I can help it. However, I will tell you what happened during the dark wars. We are from the direct lineage of Zephire and Embar, before they were martyred they had a son, who was kept a secret from Tnemele. He was taken to Remael, just North from the Nagei warning wall. My mother was Kroescolo's father's sister. Kroescolo, borne of dark was born in 89 MD. When he was 29, he killed his parents and left Remael. It was... as if he was crazy. Using his blood gift against his own family. My older sister tried to kill him once, only succeeded in sending his soul to wander the rifts." Aeolynn swallowed, a tickle starting in her throat.
The man moved closer and wrapped his arms around her, not knowing what other comfort he could give to one that had known such loss. He had never felt more at a loss for words than he did now. No amount of words or killing would bring back those that had been taken from this woman and her friends and she knew that but pressed on anyway in her pursuit of vengeance. She was taking on the remainder of an army that had torn apart the world while he had played at fighting with his brother and friends, taking them for granted far too often. He could think of nothing to say that would bring her any comfort; he could not speak from experiences as she did and did not want to tear open new wounds with tales of his own happy life in the village. "You need speak no more on the topic. I do not wish to further your heartache."
She took his comfort, but was stubborn, "You need to hear this. I... I need to finish telling you. Kroescolo was my uncle, he came from my blood line. I killed him where my sister could not. He wanted to destroy all nonborne who had previously killed our ancestors, and in doing so, was going to kill any borne who stood in his way. He even killed the rest of our village, in case we could rise up against him." Aeolynn tried to fight back the tears, but she could not. "My twin brother and I were 12 when he set a devastating plague on Remael... I managed to escape the prisons when I was 16, but my brother was murdered down there. Kroescolo managed to come back, and I was contacted by my goddess. She gave me orders to fight him, and so I gathered the other champions chosen by their respective gods and goddesses to fight him." She was bawling now, the memories fresh. "I've killed so many Samuel... but the war is finally over, and once I kill his generals that escaped, perhaps my life of bloodshed will end." Aeolynn did not elaborate on her bloodline, nor on her own history in those dungeons, but her crying should have explained enough. Truly, she hoped that she had not killed his brother.
The man stiffened slightly at her words; the loss of a brother, the betrayal of an uncle and the great war fought to save the land. It was simply too much to take in all at once without reacting at least in part. He was surprised that she had found the strength to continue on throughout everything; he could not imagine that his mind would still be intact or his strength as great, given the same situations. His hand reached out on its own and wiped the tears from her face. She was filled with so much pain and there was so little that could be done to help her, to be able to gain a foothold of trust with her was extraordinary. He could not imagine another being that could hear the same story and still be around afterward. She was a symbol of tragedy and vengeance. "How many of his generals remain? I had thought to find my brother first but if I may aid, then I will aid you. My brother was a strong man; if he perished in the war, then it was a choice that he made for himself. If he yet lives, I will find him when the world is healed once more."
Aeolynn sniffled, allowing herself to rest her head against his chest and listen to his heartbeat. "There are seven. Seven more. Only after will I be able to bury my brother and find peace again." His body heat was comforting to her, and she felt relaxed enough to admit to him her weakness, "You caught me during soulstrain. I am... the Charred Heart of the Nagei legend. I have stolen souls, that is my bloodlines gift. Because I have stolen the souls of every element, including my own bloodline, this is why I suffer. I battle for my own soul everyday. I wonder how long it will be until I too become like my uncle."
"Then for seven more, I will be at your side until you discharge me. You may use me as your rock in the midst of your raging rapids of the soul strain if you desire. My power may be but a pebble in comparison to yours but I can still offer small aid with the little knowledge of healing that I know." His arms wrapped slowly around her body, as if shielding her from the pain. It was a small comfort but it was all he could offer her in light of everything she had confessed. She was a far stronger person, both in mind and body, than he could ever hope to achieve but it did not mean that he could afford to squander his own gifts. He would practice harder during the off times between generals and continue pursuing his brother through each general and passing village.
She smiled grimly, "We have just met, yet we place such trust in each other..." Aeolynn lifted her head to look into his eyes. Her gaze had softened, as if she was revealing her true personality to him. The once meek and innocent girl she had been before the wars, before Kroescolo. In another moment it was gone, and she looked away.
"I place my trust in those that do not hold ill intent towards me. I have placed my back to you more than once and you have not shown any aggression towards me. I feel no ill will from you, even though blood has stained your hands countless times." He spoke softly, almost in a hushed voice, as if the thought of this innocent looking woman covered in blood was a taboo of great importance. Looking outward toward the shadows, he commented in a low voice. "The moon is nearly halfway across the sky now. The hour is late and if we are to break camp by morning, we should probably sleep now."
"Ah... yes. That is a good idea." Reluctantly she removed herself from him, wiping her eyes carefully. Aeolynn held out a hand to the fire, causing it to die down to embers as a rock overhang covered it so that the fire would be protected. It was well that Samuel had decided it was late, as the rain slowly began to trickle from the skies. "Will... you be warm enough with one blanket?" She asked, a little hesitantly. The comfort of his arms around her lingered and she had a hard time admitting to herself that she wasn't yearning for it again.
The man smiled softly as the color in his eyes brightened and then dimmed with exhaustion. "Yes, this is more humanly comforts than I have had in a very long time. Even at the village, I spent most of my nights outside sleeping in the sand by the water to find a closer connection to my god." He yawned and covered himself with the blanket, laying out on the bedroll with her. "Good night, Aeolynn. May morning bring all the comforts of the day." With those words, he closed his eyes and fell into the world of dark dreams. His arm instinctively reached out and wrapped itself around her waist, protectively, as he moved closer to her body, still asleep. Dreams of life back at the village with her and his brother filled his mind as the night's exhaustion overtook him.
Taking his grasp once more without a word, Aeolynn scooted backwards slightly so that his form mirrored hers. Days pass and I wander alone... I've tried to find my way... But as I have been fading to weakness, why do I feel stronger? She felt the night calling to her, but she chose to ignore it, finding solace in his embrace and her own thoughts.
"Did you really believe that you could be strong alone?" Asked Krissin from above the fire, her ghostly figure hovering in the rain. Aeolynn met the gaze of her sister without blinking, not replying with her voice. I had not thought someone would have accepted all the lives I have taken. Will he touch my heart without being burned?
"That is for him to decide."
Morning came swiftly, and found the two of them still sleeping till the dawn. Aeolynn as always after a stressful day before was deeply asleep, not moving except for the light rise and fall of her breasts. Even in the new brightness of the day, the star shaped coals on her chest still glowed.
The man woke sleepily with a warmth that he had not known for many years. He had only ever taken one woman to his bed and that was when he was still in his teenage years. He went to move his hand and realized that it lay hugged close to her stomach as was his body. Did I take her to bed with me? I thought I had fallen asleep alone. He was very confused about the past night's events but all the same, he was reluctant to move his hand. She felt really nice pressed against him and it was hard to pull himself away from the warm feeling of her body.
With great reluctance, he stood slowly and exited the shelter to view the night's newly deposited power sources. He walked to the largest of the new mud puddles and drew the water around his body, creating a thin armor around his skin and then allowed it to wash away, cleaning his body in one smooth motion. His clothes received the same treatment before he stepped back over to the shelter. His eyes looked over the young woman's body and smiled; she looked very peaceful in her sleep and he almost wished that she could stay that way.
When he had left her, Aeolynn had made a soft sound in her sleep, turning over to capture his heat before it left. She would stay this way till he was finished with his cleaning, the use of power causing her to stir. She sat up, sleepy and rubbed her eyes with one hand. While yawning, "Guud murnin'." Her hello was barely audible, so masked by the yawn, "I trust you slept well?" She asked in her normal soft tone.
"Admittedly, I have not slept well for many years and last night was the best sleep I have had in ages." He bent down and sat next to her. I wonder how many days and nights I might wake and find her like this; find us together in bed before we must part. He dared not say the words out loud lest he curse this fair dream and return to his harsh lonely reality. "Have you a method for tracking the generals or do we wander from here in hopeful pursuit?"
She closed her sage eyes at that and she dug back into the blankets, unintentionally pushing her back and shoulders against his thigh. "I track them down using their element, and if that doesn't work, I have help. Teirrol can spot anyone from the air, if we both lose track of them, then I pray to the gods. So far, I have taken down four of Kroescolo's generals this way. Only two did I lose track of, and Maeloid and Josefene were more then willing to help me." Aeolynn opened one eye to look up at him, "I have a god ordained mission."
The feel of her body against him ran a shiver across his spine. He had seen the majority of her body already without the clothing and yet there was something much more enticing about the sight of a woman clothed, like a present that is still wrapped. He pushed the thought from his mind and held back his hands from unconsciously moving to her back. He wanted to trace the scars so badly and ask about each one but he did not want to add new emotional scars. "Truly a powerful tracking method then. So what elements do the remaining seven contain within their bodies?"
"Two Ice, Shakram, who is Lightning, Void, two Fire and a Flora." Aeolynn recited, her eyes closing again as she stretched. She could feel his eyes on her, and knew he was attracted, which just made her want to entice him more with subtle touches. Having a few lovers in her past, she was one to seduce and tease. "I know their faces when I fought in the war, and I do not forget a face.
He listened intently as she described the elementals that she was going after and nodded. The lightning, fire and ice were the only ones that seemed like he could be good any use at helping in battle. Flora usually blew him away and void was a completely new elemental type to him. He couldn't begin to imagine what exactly the void powers would be but strangely, he wanted to find out. "Do you remove their souls as part of your battles or do you kill them directly?"
Frowning, "It takes a great deal of patience and good timing to properly do it. It is dangerous, especially with my mental balance. I normally fight them like you would any borne. Except with the Void, I will have to perform the Stealer to kill her. Voids are very rare, and they appear just like a nonborne. The only difference is that if you throw an element at them, they will just suck the power right out of you. They are very dangerous to those that rely on their element completely for protection." She sat up at that, seriousness in her features. "You must promise me, that when we take her down, that you will not at all get involved unless I need you. She is a cunning woman, quite deadly." Aeolynn's eyes searched his, waiting for his promise to do as she asked.
He frowned at the request but quickly agreed. He had no fear of death and his reliance on his element was limited. The people of his village were taught to fight without elements as well as with elements. The basic idea for their training was to be able to protect themselves even when their element was not immediately available, such as an iceborne that was traveling across the desert. "Yes, I will agree to your wishes. I have no wish to die but would it not be easier to kill the void without elements then? Surely, even one such as yourself fights without elements sometimes." His hands moved of their own accord and rubbed hers softly. He did not wish her to be in such a delicate situation, even if she was a great fighter. It would be hard enough to lose her as a companion upon his travels without losing her to death as well.
"I sometimes use the sword of the Slayne line, but I prefer the elements. I can use the elements simultaneously while casting the spell in which I steal souls. It will slow her down... but I will cross that bridge when I come to it. Esixa is a... well a bitch. I do not want to face her until I am ready." Aeolynn did not withdraw her hand, but instead watched his fingers move across her skin.
"Allow me at least the priviledge of being the diversion while you cast your spell. I can at least hold her attention for awhile and I do not have a sole reliance on my element. I was taught to fight without it and was a match for the greatest of our floraborne." The last part was a small hint of a tall tale; their greatest floraborne had been his brother and at their last count, he was 1 loss behind him. He could not know if his power would truly pose a diversion or if this Esixa would kill him outright but he wanted to help Aeolynn. If there was truly a path to kill this borne without the Stealer spell as she called it, then he would do all in his power to help her, even if it meant his own death. His fingers slid between hers and he enclosed the water from the air around their fingers. A small bond of rings formed around their fingers as he said a small prayer under his breath and released the water back into the air.
She looked at him curiously, "What was that about?" Just like last night, her eyes became innocent as she became curious about what he had done. Unlike last night however, it did not fade immediately.
"Nothing of great concern," he said with a smile. He would not trouble her with the details of his prayer or its meaning. To others, the prayer would have no meaning and that was exactly his intention. It was a private prayer between him and his god; none other than his brother would understand the words spoken. He stood silently and stared out towards the rain forest and the morning day. The day was promising to be a good one but it was still early and much could still happen.
"You know I could just ask Azullion what you told him," Aeolynn said coyly. The hardness returned to her gaze, as she followed his to the scenery around them and withdrew her hand from his. Then, she suddenly flinched. "Dammit." She felt along her back, tsking at herself. "I think I'm bleeding, somewhere on my back."
He moved to her back and looked at the quickly dampening shirt. Blood had begun to seep through in the center of her back, near where she had first hit the ground the day before. He had focused too much on her fever and didn't think to check if there were cuts or other problems that had not healed over properly. She must have irritated it during the night. "Remove the shirt and I'll help you with this blood. It's going to be a problem if you lose too much."
Quickly, she did as she was asked, ignoring how suddenly again she was partly naked before his man and leaned over, supporting her torso with her arms. Aeolynn had previously tossed the shirt to the side, and while he was looking at her back, her eyes slowly began to show bubbles of water floating past the pupil. Her shirt was clean from her own blood in a few moments, and Samuel had no doubt felt her use of water.
The man pulled the water from the air once more and pushed it into a small ball of rolling water. He pushed it over and around her back, pulling the blood spatters into the ball of water as he moved it. When the area was clean, he laid his hand on her back and focused on the water already present within her body. The skin on her back shifted and moved, hair thin lines launching across her back, pulling the skin together, mending it slowly. It was a draining and difficult method to use for healing and was dangerous to perform since there was always a chance to draw too much water and cause damage to the skin or organs. He had practiced it in the village many times before, to his mother's horror, usually on his older brother. "I should be done soon, then we can continue your hunt."
Aeolynn nodded, "Thank you, Samuel." Privately, she was closing her eyes, and hoping that he was not looking at the lines of dotted scars across her back. Three years of beatings and torture was written in her skin, and the more painful torture never left a scar. So had Taebold wished, so that he could cause her more pain. Aeolynn was so wrapped up in memories that she didn't realize he was done with her back.
He traced the scars on her back with his fingers, almost absentmindedly. It was the first time since he'd found her that he was able to take the time to enjoy her body. The scars on her back each had a tale to tell him and he yearned to ask about them but knew from the way they had healed that they were scars of torture. He could not help himself while he looked at her back and soon found his arms wrapping around her body, hugging her close while he made a silent vow to prevent any further scars of torture. "Can you feel or see the next general from here?"
"He has grown lazy, and does not know he is being hunted anymore. And he hasn't moved since yesterday. Maybe... a few hours flight to the North." Aeolynn said this without opening her eyes or moving, allowing him to hold her. "I do not want to jump us there, as he will feel it." Glancing around them, Aeolynn moved a twitched slightly, letting him know she wanted to stand up. When he released her, the Multiborne slipped into her shirt again and tied the ribbon. "We should pack up the camp."
Samuel nodded and rolled back up the bedroll before returning to the strips of meat that he had cut up yesterday and packing it into his leather pack. "I think I have everything packed that I brought with me. Are we traveling on your beast? You mentioned flying..." He realized that it was rude to call it a beast but at the same time, he couldn't quite remember the name she had used for it. The night had taken his toll on him and the healing had drained him further; it would take an hour or two but he would be back to full strength soon enough and completely stable in his own memories.
She glanced back at him sharply, "Yes, Teirrol will be joining us in a moment. He will fly you there... Myself on the other hand, I'll be flying." Picking up the plates and some odd ends, Aeolynn stuffed these into her pack and handed it to him. Then she did something that she had not previously done. Her eyes, which were staring into his started to swirl with silver, the swirls invading her pupil. The air around them picked up and large white wings burst into existence behind her, showering the clearing with feathers. They were quite long, at least thirty feet long each and practiced a flap. "I was born a Windborne," She informed him.
The man turned around, slipping on her pack while securing his own against his body. A Windborne with wings, what an ideal concept for one so attuned to the wind. He could still not freely transform his own body, the armor of water being his best trick. Although his defense was weak and his transformations weaker, he still had one good trick up his sleeve, though it would mean getting within a few feet of his target. During the practice from healing, he had accidents before where he withdrew too much water from the body and withered his skin, causing damage and pain that lasted for hours. He had taken those botched practices and turned it into a weapon, draining the water from a living creature and causing it to wither before him. It was the single most powerful spell in his arsenal but it took an immense amount of concentration to complete without touching the target. He had still not tested the technique in battle.
A buffet of air blew back her hair and feather earrings, as the form of her bonded landed in the clearing again like he had the previous night. Aeolynn did not approach him, instead stuck a hand on her hip and tilted her head. Teirrol snorted, stamped a foot and tossed his own head, "Teirrol thinks he's such a ladies man." Aeolynn teased to Sam. "It's mating season!" The dragon responded offhandedly, a little put down from that. He had a low tenor voice, odd to hear from such a large creature. Having a light saddle on his back, he lowered his bulk to the ground so that the waterborne could climb on.
The shimmer of the morning sun from his scales made him appear larger than he really was and Samuel admired the beast. "Perhaps he is simply a good mate?" the man said with a chuckle. He had no intention of getting on the wrong side of any beast that could eat him or drop him from a height that no amount of water could easily break. He put a hand on the saddle and threw himself upward, swinging his leg around easily and settling on the saddle. "I don't intend to be a flying target so I hope your flying is exceptional," he jokingly told the dragon.
The dragon twisted his head to look at the borne on his back before answering, "I hope you can hold on, puny man, for my flying is perfect." Teirrol puffed up his chest and flung himself upwards, winging his way into the sky. Aeolynn wasn't far behind him, joy written across her face in a rare moment of excitement. It was a beautiful day, and the rain forest was spread out as far as the eye could see. Little puffs of clouds were out across the horizon. Undoubtedly, this was a new experience for Samuel, and Teirrol was trying to keep from doing any loops or flips.
The man laughed as he watched the ground leave him behind and thought about how much he had talked with the windborne children at the village about flying like a bird. Now, he was getting a taste of the bird flight and he had to admit that he really enjoyed it. He gripped the saddle tighter as the wind swept down the dragon's neck and blasted him. Leaning in closer, he whispered into the dragon's ear, "Can you show me a barrel roll as well?" He knew that there was nothing but his own strength holding him to the dragon but he still wanted to experience all that he could of flight.
Teirrol opened his maw and actually laughed, "I will oblige you human," then the dragon let out a roar and proceeded to twirl in the air.. and with a request from Aeolynn, he blocked a lot of the air power hitting him.
About an hour later, the sun had reached its pinnacle in the sky, and they started aiming downwards. Aeolynn now was flying with a purpose, and her face was stern with emotion. They headed towards a clearing, in which they were spiraling down and they could see a meager camp, with a man covering his eyes to the sun. Quickly, Aeolynn's frame began to shimmer with sparks of lightning. The man, Shakram knelt into a crouch, his own form sparking as well, as he tried to blink out of there. Ten feet to the right he crashed into a wall of lightning, Aeolynn blocking his way.
Samuel watched the man below try to escape the wrath of his new partner and he squelched a hard laugh. The flight over had been an interesting experience to say the least and he wanted to fly again soon but there were other tasks at hand first like the man that was trying to escape. He was ready to fight if necessary but wasn't sure how much he could do from the back of the dragon and fighting an experienced general on the ground would put him at a disadvantage too. He was far from content to have to sit and watch the battle that would surely ensue but somehow he knew better than to challenge Aeolynn.
Aeolynn landed in a flash, the wings gone an instant later as he tried to escape once again, this time being thrown back across the dirt by her fist. Even from the now landing Teirrol's distance, Samuel would be able to see her glare of annoyance and the growing anger in her features. Shakram managed to get to his feet, pulling out twin Kukris. "I see you've caught up with me again!" He shouted out at her in a hissing voice, barely glancing to the dragon and borne on his back, seeing that it was only her that was going to get involved.
"I will kill you this time." She muttered back, the wind moving around them in such a way he would be able to clearly hear her. They clashed elements, lightning against lightning before they broke apart, Aeolynn throwing her arms at him, as vines rapidly burst through the ground, making him dodge the sharp tentacles. Shakram wasn't trying to escape anymore, knowing she would stop him each time. Instead, he focused on preserving his energy, trying to make her waste hers.
Samuel watched in awe at the battle unfolding on the ground before him. It was a masterful clash of powers and he felt as though he were watching a battle between the gods themselves as he studied her control of the elements. She would be hard to match in a fight and the other man seemed to know this as well considering his attacks were far less spirited than Aeolynn's. The man did seem to have a plan though, considering he was taking so long to attack back and stayed away for a short distance.
The wind was howling now, surrounded the pair. It was obvious that she wasn't as strong in the other elements as she was in her birth given one, but she used them all simultaneously. Lightning, fire, even some water. However Shakram didn't get to where he had been by being weak. He was powerful too in his own right. Soon, he had the lightning winged feet that marked most of his kind, dancing in the air to avoid her attacks.
Teirrol, now on the ground whined quietly, as unhappy as Sam about not being able to get involved.
Unfortunately that broke her concentration as she glanced over, and Shakram took full advantage of that, flickering forward. From the angle, they couldn't see what happened, but his body was tossed backwards with only one of his blades in his grasp. The other stuck from Aeolynn's shoulder.
Samuel rubbed Teirrol's neck with his hand, trying to calm the beast and to focus his mind on something else as he watched Aeolynn battling with the general. It made him sick to his stomach that he could not help and that any aid he provided would not be useful until one or the other was dead or bleeding. He had broke his concentration when he realized Teirrol's neck was becoming slick with water and he released the water back into the air, not wanting to make them a target for a lightning attack. As he watched, he saw something red flicker across the landscape and realized that someone was now bleeding but he saw no wound on the other man. Worry lines began to form on his brow as he stilled himself, planting his feet into the sides of the saddle. If he moved now, he would only be a hindrance but he would not sit still and watch her die either. He studied the other man's movements, looking for a weakness, any opening that he could exploit to help Aeolynn. He would deal with her being mad at him later if it meant that she would survive another day.
The knife fell from her shoulder, a gray stone fading away, as it had stopped the blade for the most part. "First blood," Growled Aeolynn, furious now. The mark of the Charred heart flashed angrily, and Shakram narrowed his already slitted eyes. He could feel her power bubbling up through her, making the air around her flicker with the heat she was producing. He had seen Kroescolo, and this woman summon up their will before, but this was the first time he was on the receiving end. Asking, or praying for forgiveness at this point was useless. He closed his eyes, knowing his last moments were upon him. In this point of no return, Shakram rushed her before she unleashed, hoping for some sort of chance to grasp at.
Aeolynn actually grinned, her head tilted down and her eyes set into a maniac glare. From the distance, the ghost of another being formed behind her with their hand on her good shoulder. Shakram was stopped in middair, his body spasming before he burst into brief flames then completely turned to ash. Aeolynn had burned him with his own element... then she collapsed to her knees, heaving for air.
Teirrol rushed forward at the sight of the ashen man, standing beside Aeolynn in a flash that left Samuel's stomach lurching from the sudden movement. He had nearly fallen off when Teirrol had started running and then nearly flew into the distance when he stopped, saved only by his feet being caught in the saddle straps. He shrugged himself off Teirrol's broad back and rolled to the ground, next to Aeolynn. He looked disappointingly at the stack of ashes and the loss of a possible clue to his brother's whereabouts before grasping at the water in the air, pulling it into a swirling ball in his hands. The ball smoothed out to a thin disc as he pushed it onto the shallow wound on Aeolynn's chest. The water would replenish and rebuild quickly and this was a far less complex treatment than her previous wound. "Are you okay? You're breathing rather heavily for such a shallow wound."
"Just a... rush of... power." She caught her breath, her mouth still open in a slight grin, or grimace. "My sister's trick." Teirrol shook himself, then walked around them to make sure they were safe. "We should camp here for the night," The dragon muttered, blowing away what was Shakram to the wind. Aeolynn nodded, calming her nerves and taking deep breaths. "I'm sorry, Samuel, we'll get the next one to talk."
Samuel rolled his eyes while shaking his head. "Just don't burst the next one into ash immediately and we'll be okay." He smiled as he finished the skin mending and then slid their packs down his back. He looked at his hands and grimaced slightly at the burns; a minor side effect of using his elemental power so much in a short period of time. They would heal within a day's time at the most but the skin would remain scarred for awhile after that, it always made him feel uncomfortable but this was the first time that he would have another around to be able to see the marks. He removed a strip of meat from his pack and set it aside for later; intending to turn it into a jerky strip to make it last longer without salts. "Teirrol, where do you normally go at night? I did not notice last night but I couldn't feel your presence or smell your scent this morning when I woke."
The dragon grinned, "I am an air dragon." He thought it explained everything, but Aeolynn looked sideways at her friend before adding, "He doesn't have a scent that humans can pick up, and because he is greatly attuned with the air, his presence can only be picked up by myself, or other air dragons." She tried to stand, grabbing onto Teirrol's horns to help her then cleared her throat... and proceeded to deeply bow.
A man had appeared across the way, his face young and quite handsome. His form was see through, and shimmered with energy. There was no color on his image, dressed in plain travelers attire while his medium hair was tied back at his neck. He bowed back, "Thank you, Aeolynn, for Shakram's debt to Tnemele." The man smiled.
Aeolynn ducked her head, a light blush on her cheeks, "Thank you, Thian."
"I will give your new friend a gift, but I require something in return."
Samuel blinked at the wanderer that had appeared before them. He did not recognize the man but then he knew very few people outside his village. Is this man dead? No, he can't be dead or he wouldn't be able to talk and yet, I can see-through him and what kind of gift could a dead man give me? "May I ask what gift you would impart upon me and what price would be paid?" He spoke his words slowly, carefully; taking note of Aeolynn's reaction to this dead man. He didn't know what he would do if he needed to attack; how do you attack a dead man after all?
Thian did not respond to him, instead he kept his gaze on Aeolynn's. "This is Thian, the god of lightning," She spoke quietly, and respectfully as the god closed the distance between them, "I accept the price," The windborne said after swallowing, as it seems he offered it in a private conversation. Thian smirked sideways at Samuel, then took her hips in his hands and pulled her to him, surprisingly solid and strong. She went willingly, and unafraid, letting him kiss her. The god was respectful in the fact that his hands didn't wander, but he pulled away tantalizingly slow, his eyes closed. "He has given you the gift of time, Samuel," Aeolynn whispered, still in the embrace of the god, who's form diminished, then disappeared completely.
Samuel grimaced and then turned away at the sight of this god. He could not, would not, show respect to such a distasteful god. He despised those who abused their power and to charge selfishly was just as much a form of abuse as hitting a woman to him. More than that though, he was jealous and he didn't really understand why he was jealous. He strained hard to not roll his eyes at the disappearing mist before speaking lowly to Aeolynn. "A gift of time? I hope it was worth it, Aeolynn." He cut off his own words there, not wishing to speak ill of a god in front of her, even one that he would harm if it were possible.
"It was just a kiss..." She murmured in reply, then, "He has given you a chance to grow in your power, and has also given you some strength from him. He wants you to help me." Aeolynn turned and glared at him, slight tears in her eyes, "Time is priceless and I'd do anything for it. But he didn't offer it to me, only to you."
The man frowned, unsure of what to say to her. It was an ill-received gift and one that he still did not understand fully. What good was more time to one such as he? Time was hardly something that Samuel could take the time to concern himself with so it confused him that she would treat it as something precious. I don't know how to say that time is useless unless it is spent with you, he muttered to himself in his own mind. He was beside himself as he looked at her and and then moved closer, wrapping his arms around her and holding her close. "I fail to understand the gifts given but I would like to know them. Will you help me?"
Aeolynn tilted her head up at him, nodding, "Of course-" Her voice was heavy with emotion and sincerity, "Why wouldn't I?" Her eyes searched his, a light blush still lingering on her cheeks. One of her hands brushed upwards to return his embrace as she put it around his waist and hips. The she did something even Teirrol didn't expect, as Aeolynn went on her tip toes and pressed her face against his neck, her other arm going to his shoulders. She hugged him like this for a little while, just appreciating him.
Samuel could not bring himself to say anything more; the powerful emotions against the god drained from him. He knew this embrace and he had longed for it for years. The sad, loving embrace of someone who truly cared for him. He opened his mouth to speak and then closed it again. He could think of nothing that he could say that would make this moment any better and he did not dare say anything that would dissolve her hug, instead he pulled her closer into him. His hand moved up her body and rested behind her head on its own as he leaned back slightly to look into her eyes again. He smiled, tilted her head up with his hand and dropped his lips to hers as he closed his eyes.
Tears slipped down her cheeks as she too closed her eyes. Her stomach leapt within her, the warmth spreading through her body as she strained to hold the kiss. They had just met, yet Aeolynn could not deny her feelings towards him. Even a flash of pain from her charred heart could not force a reaction. She was temporarily immune to it, though the heat from it could easily be felt by Samuel. She returned his kiss with pent up passion, strain from the past few months, it all seemed to drain from her in that moment.
Her passion caught him off-guard slightly but he quickly recovered, deepening the kiss. It felt like nothing he had ever experienced before, from the heat of their bodies pressed together to the heat pouring forth from her charred heart mark. He wanted nothing more to stay in this position forever but there were other things that needed to be done still. As he released her lips, he smiled at her and blushed as he realized Teirrol was still standing next to them. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have been so forward..."
"Ah... it's okay." She looked away and sniffed, rubbing her face as she separated from him. The dragon murmured something to Aeolynn, so low that she barely heard it, then he left quickly. Aeolynn sat down on a thick branch that was on the ground and held her face in her hands. "Teirrol said there was a small stream off to the East that is only a few minutes walk away, and he will be back later with food." The second part she had received after the elemental beast was already gone. Silently she raised a similar cavern to the night before, it coming up behind her as she sighed.
The man crouched in front of her and pulled her hands from her face. "Why do you look so sad? You killed another of the men that you needed and that means we're a step closer to being finished." He could not begin to understand the emotions that she felt but he knew that he was at least beginning to fall for her. Night would bring another chance to spend time with her closely and the stream, depending on depth, would mean a clean shower at least. He always felt unclean when he showered with the water from the air since he released the water back to the air when finished. At least with the stream, he could wash up and allow the water to drop back into the flow to be washed down shore. "Teirrol said there was a stream right? Let's go wash up..." he said, forcing a smile; trying to brighten her up again.
Aeolynn avoided his eyes and sighed again, "Alright." Teirrol had left his giant saddle behind, in which Aeolynn stood and rummaged through some packs, withdrawing some towels. "Perks with having a giant animal as a constant companion," She said with a hint of humor in her voice, tossing him one. Pulling out a clean set of clothes, Aeolynn left them out for their return, and turned back to Samuel, "Ready?"
He smiled at the kind gesture of using towels; he had grown somewhat unaccustomed to using them. Prior to meeting with Aeolynn, he had been wandering the rain forest and used the drain off from the trees and small streams to shower and clean his clothes. There was never a use for a towel, extra clothes meant less storage for food after all. The thought of stripping before her had not yet occurred to him but he would realize it sooner or later.
"Yes, I'm ready now." He smiled as he looked at her and stepped up beside her. He put his hand on his waist, offering her his arm and a goofy smile. She may have been happy but the sighs were beginning to throw him off, especially the avoidance of his eyes.
She took it silently, rewarding him with a small smile as they made their way towards the promised stream. When they arrived, it took a little bit of backtracking to find a sizable pool. It was at least four feet deep and wide enough for them both to have enough space. "You can go first," Aeolynn murmured, turning away slightly, "I can find some fruit or something while I wait."
Samuel smiled at the moderate pool before them and tugged slightly at her hand. "There's no need for you to leave. There's enough room for both of us in there unless you prefer to bathe alone." He looked fairly hopeful that he would not be forced to bathe alone and he wanted to be closer to her still. It felt like he said something wrong after kissing her and he didn't want to end it there. He bent down and checked the water temperature with his hand, slowly heating it up a little as well.
"It feels good now too..." he smiled as he stripped and eased himself into the pool. His hands had healed over thanks to Thian but they still felt tender as they touched the warm water. He got comfortable and then waited to see if she would join him or stay outside the pool.
Aeolynn blinked, then smirked. "Alright," She couldn't help herself from looking him up and down curiously, seeing his now new pale skin that was underneath his clothes. Pealing her own clothes off at a much slower rate then he, she watched his reaction carefully, the smirk still on her lips.
Samuel could only smile as he watched her movements and waited until she was down to her undergarments before he pulled her into the water. The water splashed outward, wetting her clothes and covering the towels slightly as well but he did his best to clear the water from the towels as she fell back. "Sorry, it was just far too irresistible to pull you in." He laughed and pulled her into his lap; trying to maintain his composure while he reached out to her playful side.
"Hey!" She pouted, still wearing her panties. She allowed him to take her into his lap, letting out a rare little giggle. Relying on him to hold her, Aeolynn reached beneath the water and took off her panties, dangling them in front of his face. "Look what you made me get wet..." Her lips pulled into another smirk, a double meaning behind her words.
The man could only grin and laugh at her comment. He was not so naive as to not know what she meant and it made him feel good inside to hear that coming from her. "So the mighty warrior has a weakness for wet panties?" He joked and wrapped his arms around her, pulling her body into his own. He nuzzled her neck softly before catching her lips in another soft kiss. This was far too bold even by his normal standards but for some reason, he was comfortable being bold tonight, with her.
She let out another giggle. Then Aeolynn let out a small, "Oh..." when she felt a part of him harden. Aeolynn blushed, and returned the kiss before leaning back to look into his eyes. "I..." She almost managed enough courage to say something, then dismissed it. It didn't matter. Tilting her head, the borne timidly brought her own lips to his, pressing them together very gently, savoring their connection. Doing so while trying to ignore her breasts pressed to his chest was a little distracting.
Samuel smiled and gulped slightly as he felt her body press harder into his own. He did not want to rush immediately into something naughty but he supposed it was far too late now. He had already set the expectation and he would follow through with it. His hands traced along the scars of her back and he felt himself harden more at the feel of them. He had a fascination with scars that he would never reveal or at least not tonight. He leaned back, breaking the kiss slightly to get a word in again. "You know, in the water, it's very hard to tell if I really did wet your panties before I pulled you in..." he said with an impish grin.
"Let's just say..." Aeolynn pulled a finger across the damp skin of his chest, "Maybe." With that said, she leaned her neck forward, kissing along his neck and to his ear. Nibbling on his ear lobe, Aeolynn smiled to herself and grinded gently against his hips with hers.
Samuel had closed his eyes to focus on the sensation of her lips on his neck and ear but opened them once more as she grinded gently against him. Resistance is futile cried out his body as his self-control and modesty was thrown to the wind. His hands slid down to her inner thighs and he pulled her forward as his head dipped to her neck, kissing and biting softly as he traveled down her chest. He stopped at her nipples, licking and kneading them softly between his teeth as he pulled her forward and onto him. His hardness entering her smoothly thanks to the water and her own relaxed muscles. His eyes fluttered closed for a moment as he felt her body around him before he pulled back with a smile. "I think I have my answer now."
Aeolynn gasped softly, not quite expecting him to be so sudden. Then again, she had baited him. She really couldn't have expected another outcome. He could feel her muscles tighten around him, then fully squeeze down as she recovered from her own shock. Aeolynn grinned evilly. Wrapping her legs around his hips, she closed her eyes then pushed herself against him so that his entire length was within her, Aeolynn's mouth opening in pleasure.
He gulped down the sudden shock from his entire length sliding deep into her pulsing body and let out a low growl instinctively. By the gods, she is an incredible woman, he thought to himself. A great fighter and an even better lover; it was a truly astonishing combination. He bit his lip as he shifted his body slightly, trying to free himself enough to thrust back into her and force himself deeper but he couldn't move, such was her grip upon him or his own reluctance. Either way, he was in a state of ecstasy that he had not experienced previously with any woman.
Shuddering against him, Aeolynn laughed quietly, her body shivering as she was too in a state of intense pleasure. Releasing him, she let out another small laugh, her eyes full of excitement and half lidded. "I had to pay you back for that." She added slyly. His bestial sound made her lips part and nudge him again with her hips.
"And so you have...." he said as he met her thrust downwards. His hands traced farther up her body, sliding to the front to pull on her nipples softly. His lips descended back to hers as he rolled his tongue around hers, tugging slightly on it while he thrust harder into her body. He had an idea for another surprise but he would wait a little longer for it.
She moaned quietly into his mouth, exploring his just as much as he was hers. The heat between her legs flared to life, and while one of Aeolynn's hands braced his shoulder and back, the other slid between her thighs. Meeting him thrust for thrust, her breath started to come in interrupted gasps and her passion rose. It had been a while since she put her own yearnings before her mission, and it was like a long lost emotion coming back to her in the form of Samuel.
He groaned and rose to his feet slowly, his hands gripping her sides as he lifted them both from the water. He pulled her up his body and kissed her deeply before pushing her back down upon him. A rising heat building in him as he moved them fully from the water; a short laugh emanating from his chest as his back hit the rough bark of a tree bordering the pool. "Well I do enjoy a bit of rough sex but that was rather unexpected," he said, wincing slightly as he moved them to the soft rain forest floor; keeping her on top of him.
Smiling, Aeolynn gasped lightly when he moved her, then when they laid down on the ground she moved her torso so that she was parallel with his body. Ever so slowly she eased him out of her, smirking at him as she plunged him within her again, clenching down on him as well. Squirming over him, Aeolynn greatly enjoyed his twitches of pleasure probably just as much as he was enjoying her.
The clenching sensation around his shaft was nearly too much for him and he bit his lip, trying to hold himself back awhile longer. She was a great lover, both in mind and body, and he was starting to have trouble keeping pace with her. At the same time, he felt almost embarrassed to think about having to stop too soon because of him. He put the thought from his mind and focused again on the stimulation from her body as he leaned forward and nibbled along her neck.
Aeolynn's eyes fluttered at the feel of his lips and teeth on her neck, her hand moving on its own accord back down to her clitoris. Arching her back, her muscles were starting to clench on their own, the passion rising within her steadily. Her other hand slipped into his hair, taking some up in her fist gently.
He hissed softly at the pain in his back as his skin scraped against the ground but the pain had reached the point of making him more excited. The heat in his groin felt like a fire and he flexed himself inside her, making himself thicker if only for a few seconds. He relished the feel of her clamping down on him and he knew from the familiar stirrings that he would reach sexual release within the next few thrusts so he strained to make them slow, savoring the soft feel of her tender body. His leg muscles tensed sharply as he flexed inside her; his hands gripping her waist tightly, holding himself as deep in her as he could be from their angle. Shivering in pleasure, he held her perched on him momentarily to pause the sensations before releasing his grip, deciding it would be better to finish and be dressed before Teirrol came back.
She was all ready way ahead of him, her eyes rolling back as she was in the first throes of an orgasm. Her hips pushed forward hard against his pelvis, her whole body shivering violently and her mouth opened in a silent smiling gasp. Moaning quietly, Aeolynn collapsed part of her weight, breathing in heavily at the exertion and recovering from the heavy dosage of adrenaline. Her hips however continued to twitch as the feeling subsided.
The sharp push and the shivering of her body forced his own orgasm as Samuel groaned eagerly. His seed spilling into her body as she collapsed upon him; his body twitched sharply and he felt as though a great weight had been lifted from his chest. He had been holding back until he could feel her orgasm so that he could ensure the favor was returned. He had always been odd in that sense but it only felt right to him to give and receive an equivalent pleasure. His hands moved to wrap around her waist and pressed her to his body; holding her close to him, feeling simply that if he let her go now, she would disappear back into his dreams.
Aeolynn's eyes barely opened, letting her head fall gently to his chest as they both caught their breaths. He was still inside her. Smiling, she sighed happily and didn't try to move him, just listened to his heartbeat gradually slow to pace with hers. One of her hands was trailing lazy circles across his sternum, while the other supported her cheek that was directly over the right side of his collarbone. Just like him, she was enjoying the peace of being in the arms of another.
His left hand moved to lazily sift through her hair while he kept his right hand around her chest, still holding her to him. "We should get cleaned up but I'm reluctant to move now that I've gotten so comfortable," he said with an impish laugh. In truth, he didn't want to lose this moment of harmony and euphoria. He wanted to stop time completely and live solely in this moment where nothing else mattered but the feel of their bodies and their own happiness. I can never go back to the village now, he thought absentmindedly. At least, I cannot go back until she has finished her job and perhaps accepted my proposal for her hand.
"Just a little longer..." She pleaded quietly, her eyes now fully closing. It had been a long time since she had at last felt that she was safe... and she didn't want it to end so soon. The only other time she could remember feeling like this was when she and her brother had ran away for a few days. It had been so cold, Aeolynn had been shivering and Myrin and pulled her close, embracing her as only a twin can. True, it was not this intimate, however Aeolynn wasn't really thinking about it anymore.
Samuel's eyes closed and he maintained his light hold on her. He kissed her forehead and just held her close, not wanting to move or to even accept that they would have to move eventually. His muscles were still relaxing, leg and otherwise, and within the hour, they would burn from strain but he didn't think about that now. His mind was still focused on the woman laying with him and the intimacy that he would never be able to find elsewhere. "We can stay like this as long as you like; I have no intention of making this end early."
She sighed, then after another few moments sat up, still cradling him. "I need to let the council know that I killed Shakram... so we should probably go." Aeolynn let him slide out and slipped back into the water, rubbing it over herself briskly.
The abruptness caught the man off guard and his recovery was slow as he pushed himself back to a sitting position. "How far away are the council?" he asked, mildly curious. Honestly, he was somewhat hurt at the almost abrasive nature of her movements but he would get over it soon enough. It was better to hold back his words for so long as they were traveling together. He shifted towards the water carefully; his back still a mass of dull pain. "We're traveling tonight or are we heading there in the morning?"
"If we hurry, we can make it there for a late lunch. I will use my power to take us there... and then we can get news on where the next general is." Aeolynn replied while cleaning herself. Glancing over at him sideways, "Is something wrong?"
A smile drew across his lips at the sound of seeing more of her power. It was always an amazing sight to see and feel her power crawling over his skin. "Nothing that won't heal quickly, just some minor scratches." He would not show weakness easily, not after the show of power that she gave during the battle and the stamina during their sex. It felt crude to call it that, even in his head, but it was simply sex. He finished washing the blood from his back, pushing the small splinters of rock out with the water at the same time. He could plug the holes with sand if he could find enough at the bottom of their bath. Feeling nothing comfortable below his feet, Samuel shook the thought from his head and smiled. "I'll dress quickly and then be ready to get going," he said as he stepped out and dried himself off, returning the water he used back into the earth.
Aeolynn wiped herself clean on one of the towels, making sure she was completely dry, and that the results of their intimacy were completely gone. She had no fear of pregnancy, as her body had suffered too much trauma during the last few months. It had been a while since she had last menstruated... however that didn't stop her from going through the actions of cleansing herself from sex. Like the previous night, Aeolynn dried her hair with a few motions, then dressed. "We aren't in that much of a hurry, you don't need to rush. Aeolynn sat on a dry spot and laced up her boots.
He was quick about his clothes anyway; not liking being exposed to the elements without the feel of water covering him. His body creaked slightly as he rushed through motions of donning his clothes and he winced only slightly as his shirt slid over the fresh cuts. They were healing but slowly still and he would not risk healing them on his own because he could not see the cuts to control the power. "All the same, I will not be the cause for delay. I do not think I have been a burden thus far and I do not wish to start now." His words were neutral, not wishing to be aggressive or overly submissive in his tone.
She nodded absently. "I do not believe you will ever be a burden, Samuel." Aeolynn uttered quietly, looking up at him with a gentle smile along her lips. Then she stood and rolled her shoulders, stretching out her arms and letting out a soft breath. "Ready?"
The man could only nod in reply, some of the uneasiness lifted from his shoulders; his smile returned to his lips. The mere smile etched across her face was enough to jump start his mood. It was becoming a very strange experience to him; being so excited to see a woman smile for him. Words failed him today and the day was still young. He would have to regain his composure before arriving at the city or he would be fumbling with words for the remainder of the day.
Aeolynn stood at that, shook her head to move some of her hair into her face before slumping forward. She was concentrating. Taking his arm, Aeolynn grasped the simple clothes he wore, as her eyes closed. If they had been open, her iris would have been faded to white, along with the pupil as she was summoning up light. The surrounding foliage flickered around them before disappearing, instead the form of speckled granite, smooth from polish met their gaze. She opened her eyes, darting from the lit walkway through an open door. The room they had appeared in was dark, and the doorway partly open. "This is where I always come, so that I may not make a spectacle."
The world spun slightly for him but he kept himself upright. The sudden movement and power had washed over him like a tidal wave and it made standing take some effort. He always enjoyed the use of his own power, never taking it for granted, but hers was still on a level far beyond his own and he struggled with not putting her on a pedestal. "A spectacle? Yes, I think it would be hard to explain that from an outsider's view. I'm having some difficulty with the feeling myself and I don't have the outsider's perspective."
"So where do we go from here?" he said curiously. The city was not one that he had been before and the sudden movement disturbed his stomach but curiosity overrode everything else, as it always had and a new city was always something to be curious about for him. The council, was another interesting idea, but it didn't enthrall him like the city did.
Chuckling, "Here, follow me." She slipped through the doorway, seeing the hallway empty and continued down till they reached a branch. Aeolynn didn't falter, going to the right, taking them to a dome with several circular stairs were. Below them many scholars were at work, most of them nonborne, however there was a creature there that she wasn't so sure Samuel had ever seen before. A Nagei, coiled in the center with a pair of spectacles on his reptilian muzzle, getting asked questions by what looked to be a young earthborne. The Nagei was a distant cousin to the now extinct naga, having the humanoid proportions of a man above the hips, the rest coiling out in a snake's body. From his shoulders sprouted wings, though looking and acting as an extra set of much larger hands.
Heading upstairs, Aeolynn waved, catching his attention. The Nagei lifted his head, having not actually seen her, but was notified by her use of his power. "That is Hsvair, the Nagei diplomat."
The man bowed his head towards the Nagei as a sign of acknowledgment of the presence of the wiser man. Diplomacy was not a strong suit of his own; he would have much rather put sword and magic into play than words. It was because of this weakness in himself that he believed he drove his brother away from his family. They had been fighting more and more in the weeks before his brother left and he still blamed himself for it. He smiled as he turned back to Aeolynn and blushed slightly as he caught himself staring at her backside as they walked. He quickly stepped up his pace so that he was at her side.
They reached a floor that Aeolynn paused at, looking to the side at a raised portion of the tile, with a column that was cut at an angle which held hovering object. Without a word, Aeolynn strode over and bowed her head. The round piece of slate colored stone was kept suspended by some sort of power, and at its center was the glittering shape of a lightning bolt made from the clearest of diamond, highlighted by gold. "My sister's lover, Eltus formed the symbol on his earthen armor to show his loyalty to her. At the time, he did not know of her bloodline and she added the gold, even though she was a lightningborne." The multiborne smiled softly, "It marked his soul; they didn't know it at the time until later but, it was thanks to that that Eltus did not suffer death. They are together now, in the Haven free from pain for all eternity." Bowing her head again, Aeolynn uttered a small prayer to her sister and goddess, then took a small corridor off to the side at a slow walk.
The man listened intently to the story, nodding his head at the appropriate intervals. He did not know what words to say after the story ended and simply followed her. The story had shaken him to his roots because of the tragic message that it portrayed but his face showed no emotion. He longed to have a love that persevered long past his eventual death and the death of his beloved or betrothed. His eyes followed along Aeolynn's body slowly, wondering if she would ever become as enthralled as her sister.
The double doors they approached to the conference room were closed, but, she didn't bother to pause. Her power simmered to existence and faded just as quickly as a group of people around several old maps looked up sharply to her entrance. Many looked like typical Tnemelian borne, blond or light brown with blue or caramel eyes. Surprisingly enough, there were not just borne in the chamber, but against the far wall lay a giant timber wolf, bright yellow orbs blinking at Aeolynn's appearance. Along with the elemental beast were two tall figures, a man and a woman. Both had faded wine colored hair, and matching blood red eyes, combined with pale alabaster skin. They both looked very young in comparison to everyone else. Upon second glance revealed folded leather wings and reptilian legs, as well as dangerous looking claws on both feet and hands. A few moments passed in shocked silence.
Smiling, the nonhuman woman raced to Aeolynn to gently embrace her. Aeolynn's face mirrored hers, “Misheema!” they both laughed and hugged one another again, while most everyone else in the room also quirked up their lips. Leaning back, Aeolynn looked to the man of the same race. “Ty, how goes it with your tribe?”
Ty nodded, “Well, thank you. We have our lands back and our villages are secure.” Tylandros and Misheema were Nightlyres, a long lived race that were generally nocturnal and predators in their very right. It was the reason that feelings towards them had always been violent. Kroescolo, before the war had recruited some, and slaughtered the rest, much like the darkborne had dealt with his own family. Join him or die. Aeolynn looked to the rest. “Jaskan, Onea, Derigoth... Kalere and Chase. Shakram is dead.” All their faces darkened except for the two Nightlyres, as they rarely showed much emotion.
Misheema's eyes flickered to Samuel, “Who is this?” Her lithe form curled slightly as she bent into a light bow. Had the charred heart taken a lover?
The man bowed deeply from the waist, pausing as his body reached a ninety degree angle. After a few seconds, he straightened back up; his bow spoke silent words about the training he had with regards to dealing with anyone of rank well above his own. He had long healed over the thrashings he had received from his childhood when the elders of neighboring villages visited and he showed his obvious disdain for their presence.
"I am Samuel, a simple hunter from one of the lesser villages," he said with a smile. He trusted Aeolynn easily enough but he did not know the others, nor what they would do with further information about him and his people. There was still much distrust with the outside world in the village, enough that he had been barred from receiving aid after leaving the village. He was truly alone, save Aeolynn's friendship and whatever else may blossom from it.
"May I be so bold as to ask who you are?" he asked, his smile never diminishing. A pure neutrality filled his eyes; he had no intentions to be anything more than a neutral party among Aeolynn's friends. There was a power in the room that crawled along his skin and threatened to suffocate him if he were to but give into it and he was beginning to consider that option as well.
Smiling pleasantly right back, "I am Misheema D'elirk, and this is my mate Tylandros D'elirk. We are Cory's and Frore's champions." Flora and ice. "I am Onea, of the desert and friend to the Nagei," Spoke a woman with white blond hair, lightly freckled and tan. The man next to her smiled with his arm around Onea's hips and bowed his head, "Jaskan, Maeloid's champion."
An older man, this one quite scarred and muscled wearing heavy plate armor grunted, "Derigoth, Josefene's champion." A woman with almost as dark hair as Aeolynn and dark eyes glanced over at Samuel curiously. "Kalere, Embar's chosen. And this is Chase, Thian's choice." Chase also nodded to him, but didn't speak. A scarf wrapped around his neck barely hid a nasty scar, one that had left him without a voice.
"You are Azullion's follower." Commented Onea knowingly, "Welcome to Larinith."
The man bowed his head in acknowledgement of the dominance of the men and women before him. "I thank you for your welcome and acknowledgement. I knew that Aeolynn travelled in powerful circles but I would not have guessed I would find myself in the presence of such champions as yourselves." He spoke carefully, still not fully trusting the men and women before him but never failing to show the proper respect. Each of them would easily be able to kill him and from what he knew of other villages, dead outsiders were almost always overlooked by the local law enforcement officials.
"Strange that Azullion would..." Kalere uttered quietly, recieving a side glance from Chase, who transfered the look to Samuel. "He was busy during our plight," Aeolynn chastized, making the fireborne flush. Kalere had not believed in the gods when they first met, and still had a hard time accepting them, or their ways.
"We all know what this means." Aeolynn continued knowingly, "Azullion sent Samuel to me, and Thian has given him the gift of time." She closed her eyes briefly and took in a breath, "It is my belief this is Azullion's champion, in the making." That caused quite a few of the borne to raise eyesbrows, except the two nightlyres who rarely responded to anything emotionally.