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  #21  
Old 11-20-2008
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For a long time, his presence was the only one Yashia felt. But it was not meant to last, for a foreign voice entered her mind. This made her uncomfortable at first, for the last that had done it tried to take all her love away from her. This one, however, was not the same. It was a stranger, but he seemed friendly enough. He asked her questions. Which she was to answer as if she was back at the moment she found out about the things that had happened. Perhaps to judge her? Measure her worthiness of being given a second chance? She was asked if she wanted to live and how she would react to discovering the truth. Both easy to answer, but her answers would have been entirely different if it hadn't been for Cirion joining her. For going this far to prove how much he cared for her.

Just as sudden as it came, the presence left her mind. And then the waiting began again. Only a short while later, Yashia felt a pull. A force of will calling for her with the greatest of effort. Heavy strain and pain, even. Not on her side, but on the other. She could feel the connection with her physical self once more, and when it fully engulfed her, the world around her was all of a sudden brightly lit. The environment was hard to adapt to after being in the same nightly mists for so long, but she knew for certain that her wish had been granted. And thus she remained calm. Not that she had the strength to do much else.

The risen fallen paladin heard people speaking a short ways away. None of which she could really understand or even grasp the gist of what they were saying. Her eyes opened to carefully get used to her surroundings, and the first thing she saw was exactly what she wanted to see. Or who, rather. Cirion lay on the ground beside her, and so she extended her hand to lay it in his. His fingers closed and he looked back at her. What he saw was a face of someone hurt, but now able to see beyond her broken hope. And a very small smile to show it. Sure that they would be alright, and that nothing ill would happen for now, the two of them were left in peace. To get the rest they much needed now.

Though before they would really have it, Yashia wanted to get closer to him. Crawling would be too much for now, so she wrapped herself in the blanket that was laid over her and held the one edge of the side that was underneath her firmly to herself, while reaching with the other end to Cirion. Neither of them could speak yet, so it took him a moment before he understood. When he did, he gave all that he had. Once, twice, three times they pulled together. Catching their breath in between when it tired them, not giving up until finally they could be in each other's arms again. Exhausted but content, they fell asleep.
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  #22  
Old 11-20-2008
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Their days of recovery that came were ones Yashia would cherish much at a later time. At first there was some worrying that she might have permanently lost her ability to speak and sing, which would have hurt her dearly. But that too came back to her as time passed. Almost lazily, she spent a week or two mostly just talking and cuddling with the Sunite she was to marry - an event she really looked forward to. It felt like a premature honeymoon, only without some of the activities a just married couple would normally practice.

The only one thing that irked her a little bit was that Cirion regularly tried to convince her that it all really hadn't been Cybil's fault. That he was as much if not more responsible than she for the harm that had been done to break Yashia's heart. But the fair-haired fallen paladin retained her idealistic views of the man she loved, and would sooner blame herself than him for what had happened. Nevertheless, she had no wish to make this all any harder on Cybil than it already was. She had in the end lost more than Yashia had, after all. Although she couldn't promise to befriend her like in past times, as the pain of her betrayal still lingered, but she wouldn't hate or scorn her either.

Instead, Yashia decided to avoid verbal and eye-contact with the Ilmatari favored as much as possible. Though it wouldn't be until much later, long after a great deal of misunderstandings and difficult moments in one another's presence, even after some grave events that were about to transpire, that she would come to realize this.

Grave events... As if there hadn't been enough of them already.
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  #23  
Old 11-20-2008
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They were just on their way outside, Cirion and herself, to get some fresh air and to see if they were needed anywhere. By anyone, besides each other. Yashia stood idle, watching and not really listening to the man she loved when he spoke to the old innkeeper Betty about some things seemingly unimportant. Little did she know that the dwarven warrior who entered, armoured from tip to toe and followed by the ever considerate Etria, was the bearer of grave news. He spoke to them, taking his helmet in his hands and looked down with a face filled with regret.

Gloirin Ironforge told of what had happened. What was supposed to have been a routine mission into the ogre caves of Stonegarb, turned into an assault of flesh golems and their master, a dabbler in the tainted magics of death. Their group had found defeat and was captured at his hands, and nothing could be done to keep the vile necromancer from taking Cybil's children from her womb. Cirion's children, Yashia thought immediately, and she held his hand more firmly than she had been before. His own grip weakening as his fingers grew numb...

Cybil. How foolish she had been to endanger herself like such while she knew her responsibilities and that she had been attended to loud and clear, more than a single time, by the wiser she called her Brothers and Sisters of the Triad. Yashia wanted to hate her, not only for failing to give her children the protection they needed, but also for doing this to the man she loved. The man Yashia loved herself, more than she ever would. But the fallen had promised Cirion not to despise her, so she shook the thought out of her mind and set it to something much more important. To be there for him, and do whatever she could to bring them back, even though they should never have been to begin with.

They were alive, said Etria. Cybil and Ru'umel, but the children too. But where they were or how to reach them, none knew. Any magic to find out more was difficult to handle. Contact through Sending was blocked, and the only location that was revealed was unknown to all. The madman's laboratory, it sounded like. With no leads to go on other than the wizard's name, Yashia led the group to the Schild Mountain in hopes of Rismal lending his mind and hand to put this rogue necromancer's practices to an end. Her attempts were in vain, as was almost usual to expect from the Hands...

Powerless, pondering and grieved, the four of them settled. At a loss, knowing not where to look further. Waiting for a miracle, almost. And a small one came when Etria's focus went to an incoming train of thoughts that weren't her own. Cybil finally could give a message in return. The necromancer was gone and she and Ru'umel saw a chance to escape through a portal to the Crossroads. But without the children, who could most likely only be saved if the life of the man who did this was spared. If he was ever found at all. Etria and Gloirin quickly made their way westwards, but Yashia and Cirion stayed behind for a while longer.

"They won't be there..." Cirion said. "He still has them."

He turned to the blonde woman he called his true, and quickly took her in his arms. He needed her now. He didn't know what to do or what would happen, but he needed her near.

"It is almost like I am not meant to have a family. They are taken from me no matter how hard I try." His eyes filled with tears while his love held him close, with the impossible desire to comfort him.

"Don't talk like that." Yashia said softly, with a meaningfully sad but hopeful look in her eyes. "Don't give up now, Cirion. There is still hope."

The words she spoke had a double meaning. Though for now it was only important that she could keep him from letting down not only the ones who cared for him and needed him, but especially from losing himself. A feeling which she was all too familiar with. A few moments he took to recollect himself, and then they headed down the road in the same direction the others had left some time ago.
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  #24  
Old 11-20-2008
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They ended up with the Triumvirate temple as their destination, for Cirion was given a Sending that Cybil had been brought there to be taken care of. They arrived, and Cirion immediately let go of Yashia's hand to step forward and care for the other woman he still had feelings for. Yashia could do nothing but watch. To see over her love's shoulder, with no room for her to stand by him, how one of the Broken Ones took care of the scars of Cybil's torture.

The favored had all the eyes of the many people present, and none noticed that Yashia began to cry. Until after a long time, Etria came to listen. And if she could, give her counsel.

"I wanted them to never have existed." Yashia said with a shaky voice, regret and sorrow taking a hold of her. "I wished them gone, but not like this."

"It is understandable." Was the only reply given by the elven woman for a while, but she continued on after some seconds passed. "It would be inhuman if you didn't feel this sadness. But sad moments are needed in one's life to make the happy ones count."

Yashia kept her eyes on Cirion without pause. While she almost couldn't bear to see him so close to Cybil, her heart told her to support him. "What if he can't believe in his dreams anymore? If he can't be happy at all any longer?"

Etria looked to her when the human woman for an instant glanced at her, and answered quietly. "Then you will hold him, and renew his faith. He embraced death to be with you. It's you he wants to be with. You, who can give him that happiness."

She already knew what would be said, though Yashia took a deep breath and sighed heavily before asking her final guidance for this night. "Should I leave him to his privacy with her for now? Or should I go to him..."

"Go. He needs you now." she said without any sign of doubt.

Yashia pushed herself off the pillar that had supported her weight up to now, and took one step closer to her love. Where she halted to speak two more words. "Thank you."

Slowly, she walked on and sat down by the wall right next to him. The smile he gave her, however small it was on his face engulfed with seas of sadness, said it all. A hand was turned to lay open and welcoming on his leg. It was for her. Their fingers interlocked, almost like his hand was molded to hold hers. And hers to hold his.
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  #25  
Old 11-20-2008
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Great effort was made, also on Yashia's part - though it was less than she would have liked, to help Cybil in the rescueing of her and Cirion's children. There were searches for clues, chases into the Shadow Plane, curses and books. Cryptic books that each had to be deciphered. A regular group of people often gathered to throw around ideas and brainstorm about the things that were found. Osclow, Etria, Gloirin, Yashia and of course Cybil and Cirion were among them.

On one such night it came up in Yashia to ask Cybil why it was that the necromancer so specifically wanted her, and her children. She had no other explanation for it than that the man desired to corrupt something innocent and pure.

Innocent and pure? Yashia thought to herself, though not letting it show. Not quite what he would have expected, then.

Cybil confirmed just that, albeit not in the way Yashia was thinking. "They were lionhearts. He, and myself didn't even know until... Until he took them." sounded her voice with disdain towards the end.

"Lionhearts?" the blonde ranger asked cluelessly. "Like the paladins here in the temple?"

The naturally gifted of Ilmater shook her head. "More than that. They were - no, are - souls of the utmost purity. Touched by the light itself."

"I see." was all Yashia answered, and softly so. Her state of mind suddenly shifting as her mind drifted off. Some more talking went on, but it all went past her. A few minutes later, she rose up from her chair and made her way to the door.

"Yashia? Where are you going?" Cirion said as he stood up to side with her quickly enough.

With a weak shrug and facing down to the doorknob, she replied. "I need to catch some air..."

Cirion excused them and soon they walked out together. Only barely having left the Triumvirate temple on Torm's side, he turned her and set his hands to her shoulders. It was clear enough what he wanted to know, but he asked her anyway. "Yashia, what happened to make you sad all of a sudden? Was it something that was said?"

She kept quiet for a short few seconds, taking a deep and shaky breath before speaking her mind. "Why do they have to be something special? Why can't they just be normal children like all others?"

"Does it really make that much of a difference?" Cirion's voice was as quiet and comforting as it could be, yet that still didn't seem enough.

"It just isn't fair." Yashia uttered emotionally. "That any children we might have will always walk in the shadows of hers. That they are more."

He tilted his head to the front, and now he too had a sad expression on his face. "There is something I have been meaning to ask you about, and I think it might be related. Back on that day when the children were taken, I overheard you saying that you had wanted them gone... Finally I can become a father and have a family, but you would rather not have them exist. Could you please tell me why?"

Cirion's attempt to sway her emotional state to another side, though he himself was hurt by the memory, seemed to work. Yashia became a bit calmer in her will to make clear to him that she didn't bear any ill will. "It was wrong to feel that way, love. But I just couldn't help it. I wanted me to be the one to give you a family. I wanted to give you that special moment to first lay eyes upon a child of our own. And that is now no longer possible."

"But Yashia," Cirion said and softly sighed, "Any child I will have with you will still be just as special to me, if not more so, if only because it's yours. I won't love our children any less just because they are normal, human children."

Those words momentarily put a smile on her face. Though it was only just that; momentarily. "Even then it might still take years before we can have any. If I have children of my own, then I will want to give them all the love and caring that I can. If I also help raising yours, alongside all other responsibilities we have to the people, then I really can't devote the time I would want to our baby, even if it is just one."

The silence fell between them, Cirion now the more uncomfortable one. They were still standing close, but his voice sounded distant when he spoke to her again. "I don't want to wait that long..."

The look he had in his eyes struck Yashia deeply enough to make her stance on the matter slightly less firm, while the hold of her arms around him became more so. "Alright, dear. It might be hard, but I'll try. I'll try when the time feels right."

It looked like he didn't want to stick around here for much longer, and gave note of that with a nod and asking her if they could go home. Which they of course did, though even with all the talk of children and Cirion wanting to, it was Yashia's will that they still didn't make any work of bringing them into being.
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  #26  
Old 11-20-2008
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The next morning things went much the same. They teased around and cuddled, and ultimately Yashia rejected. But she saw that it had really begun to break his hopes of having a family with her, no matter the promises she had made. She could not see him go down under this. She had to tell him.

"Cirion, I really don't want you to feel like I don't want to have more with you than we have now." She started carefully, still keeping a way out in case she changed her mind at the last moment. But he merely nodded, and it was crystal clear that just this wouldn't be enough.

"I think it is time I tell you my last remaining reason for keeping from taking that next step in our relationship. The reason why we haven't yet... Well... you know." At all times she kept her eyes on him, however hard it was to ruin things as she had wanted them.

"It's just that I wanted to surprise you. I wanted to make our wedding night a night we would never forget. To make something we have both only dreamed of come true." Yashia was sincere and aware that what she just confessed would be enough to take away the feelings of doubt within him. Though that didn't take away that she immediately felt sorry for removing the element of surprise from what she had planned.

He looked her seriously in the eyes and now that he finally knew what had been keeping her, he could take a breather. Which he didn't, because he felt he had to speak his own mind on this. "But the day of our marriage will be special to me regardless of it being our first time or not, Yashia. It will be our day to reveal to the world that we belong together. That in itself already means a lot to me."

That was enough to make Yashia smile, hug him and place a kiss on his cheek. "Do you understand now why I didn't want to tell? Why I have been waiting?" She asked quietly with a whisper in his ear.

"I do." He replied. And with that, their life had been stopped from being taken in a tragic direction through the keeping of secrets for too long.
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Old 11-20-2008
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Unfortunately, tragedy is not always something of which the prevention is in one's hands. For a few months now Yashia had not really spoken with Cybil on a personal level, but when she saw her mumbling to herself in a mood that appeared not at all a pleasant, she couldn't help herself. And reluctantly walked over to the other side of the Trading Post's travellers encampment, where she sat down next to the pile of sorrow that was Cybil. The woman didn't notice her approach at all, continuing on with her muttering with no knowledge of someone having come to listen. She spoke of things that had to do with the lost children, and it was much like she had given up any hope of returning them.

Yashia just had her ear to Cybil until it became clear that she was endlessly repeating herself without being aware. "We will bring them back, Cybil. We might not have been making the progress we would have wished for, but now is not the time to give up." She said, though still not looking directly at her former rival.

The voice was met with surprise on the Ilmater follower's part. And thus a few seconds passed before she answered. "... There has been some progress. Melchior has uncovered some of the secrets in the tomes we found."

"Oh. But... isn't that good news?" Yashia asked with a hint of insecurity in her tone.

"He said that if what we learned was true, then they are already gone. And the only thing that remains for us to do is ensure that they don't become monsters."

Yashia's eyes widened and she had to swallow at that statement. Although as soon as she began speaking again, she made sure she sounded solid. "Melchior is wise, but he is just human. And people make mistakes. He could be wrong, and we should act on based on that thought. It is still possible that they can be saved, and so we must work towards that."

Cybil merely nodded, so Yashia continued by asking a question. "Tell me, Cybil. What is it worth to you? What would you do to bring them back?"

"Anything." she sighed. "I would give up everything I am for them."

The ranger who had been trying to encourage Cybil was now struck by an entirely opposite feeling. Everything you are? Are you actually... The arrogance! She gritted her teeth to keep her thoughts in, which instead caused her to burst and bark it out in a way that came across much heavier than it should have. "That isn't anything to be proud of!"

Cybil stood to her feet right away and walked off. Visibly shivering on her legs from the harsh words spoken to her. Yashia rose also, but decided against going after her. There would be little sense in it. She had to find Cirion...
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  #28  
Old 11-20-2008
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Upon reaching the Sundren Comfort, the place not only Cirion and Yashia, but also Osclow and Annie called home, the Sunite's fiancÚ and bearer of ill news did not find the one she was looking for. But she did meet that other couple, who had both long been friends of hers.

"Good day, Yashia." Osclow tipped his hat and greeted her, with the small druid at his side smiling simultaneously at her.

"Hey." she said nervously. "Have you seen Cirion around anywhere? I have something to tell him."

The master bard noticed right away that there was something wrong, and there was no real talking around it. And no reason to, either. For if she told them what Cybil had told her, then they would doubtlessly help her looking. Yashia expained her friends what news there was in as little words as possible, invoking a nod on Osclow's part. "We saw Cybil searching for him as well. And this... explains a lot."

"Cybil?" Yashia gulped. "I need to find him before she does, I want to be there for him when he hears of this. Do you have any magics at your disposal to contact him or divine his whereabouts?"

"Regretfully, no." The bard sighed.

Yashia nodded, and dug into her packs to take a scroll from them. One to locate any known being, that Cirion had given her for just-in-case situations. "Then I think this is emergency enough."

She muttered the words that were inscribed and found out that he was out hunting in the Viridale. Perhaps to search for clues on the necromancer? It mattered not right now. Yashia told quickly of what she had seen and Annie and Os offered to accompany her. With haste. Magical haste.

They darted across the landscape, over roads, through military outposts and eventually into the forest. They had only come just in time to meet him. Which they did on the bridge that crosses the river that runs past the glade. The three panting figures before him made him suspicious, and wondering what was going on.

"Yashia," he asked the woman closest to him, "is there something wrong?"

It was obvious that Cybil had not been there before them. He would have reacted differently otherwise. That was relief, but a relief that paled in comparison to the burden she bore. "Cirion. I'm so glad we found you. There is something. Something that I need to tell you."

Her breathing was still heavy, and she beckoned for Cirion to come nearer to her so they could talk. The other two watching closely from a distance. The Sunite eyed them for a moment but quickly made his way over to Yashia as asked. When he reached her, she laid her arms around his back in a weak hold. Mostly so he could easily embrace her for comfort should he want to, after learning what she was about to tell.

"I'll be direct.." She began, in a soft and gentle voice. "Something in the books has been deciphered. Melchior believes it indicates that there is no more way to bring the children back."

Cirion shivered, and might have screamed if it wasn't for his love standing so near to him. She wouldn't mind if it had been agony alone that caused it, but the fury that boiled beneath was something he didn't want to expose her to. Yet he couldn't hold her either, there was no comfort he craved as Yashia thought he would. Still she saw what he felt, and it scared her. And all her begging to find solace in their love proved futile.

Cirion turned away from her, clenched both of his fists and groaned. "That... Zhur'kel, that foul necromancer. He will pay for this."

"Yes!" Annie said. "Set your mind to stop him. Prevent him from pursuing his cruel ways."

"I will break him. And once I get to him, he will regret to have ever even thought of touching them. I will make him suffer!" He roared, having his volume built up towards it from the start of his words.

Seeing the rage taking over made Yashia completely helpless. This wasn't supposed to happen. Cirion was supposed to be driven by love, not hatred. She began to shake, with no idea what to do or say to make him cast away these corrupting feelings that made him so. "Cirion... Please!"

"Focus your anger, Cirion. Don't let your rage overwhelm you. You are needed to end this suffering, not cause more of it." Annie protested, quickly growing frustrated with Yashia and Cirion's lack of discipline.
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Old 11-20-2008
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Most of the things that were said from there on faded for Yashia. Nocte appeared on the scene and came to stir Cirion up some more from what it seemed. But the often-foul tiefling, actually almost whenever he wasn't with Arawen, was fairly insignificant to the crying blonde woman, who at times still felt like the same girl she was many years ago. There was only one thing she could think about, and that was the fear of losing her love to something far worse than the events from before. That he would no longer be himself. She wasn't even aware that her trembling hand on his shoulder was all that prevented Cirion from doing something he would really come to regret.

After a while, the horned warlock left. And after that so did Osclow and Annie, deciding it best to leave the other two alone. With no one left but the weakly shaking Yashia, the Sunite's fury died down to make way for wanting to make her at ease. Silently, he held her to him, and together they sat down in the tall grass on the riverbank. Yashia on Cirion's lap. What he wanted to do for her actually had the same effect for himself, and it didn't take long before they calmly embraced.

"Cirion," she said in a hushed tone, "I don't want you to change. You need to stay as you are."

"I don't know what to do, Yashia." He replied with a sigh. "This is just too much. Everytime something happens that I want, it gets taken away from me one way or another. Every single time I am mocked with the chance of having a family, it only brings regret and suffering. It's the same every time. For all four of them." The hopeless Sunite closed his eyes and frowned. Now not in anger, but sooner in pain. As the sound of his voice made clear. "I'll never have one, and I have come to accept it."

"Please, don't talk like that. It was never your fault, Cirion. Galiana and Kelena left you without you knowing whatever happened to them. And Cybil, she had been warned and still put the future of your children in danger. Something we might still be able to set right. And if we can't, then you still have me..."

With a shake of his head it looked like he denied or disagreed, although he didn't put that to words. "Just never forget, Yashia. That whatever happens, I am yours. Always."

They sat there a while doing nothing but staring at eachother. Neither knowing where to go from here and both not wanting to let go. The first to act was Cirion, who firmly but gently pressed his lips to hers in a kiss. Which he made to last a while and really tried to give himself in, but when it ended he expressed that it wasn't what he hoped it would be. And he hung his head low.

"I... can't feel it anymore, Yashia. It's not the same."

She in turn looked at him with a sad smile and continued to hold him. "It will come back, love. Who you are deep down inside will never go away. All you need is something to remind you."

"I want to. I really want to, but I don't know how." And he did really want to. The last thing he wanted was to let Yashia down. Cirion held her tightly against him with her head over his shoulder and carressed her back.

Yashia felt no warmth of his from their hug. But the cause of that was the armour he wore, she knew. And so she went on trying. "I will do anything, Cirion. I will be there for you however you want me to be, wherever you want. Either one of our rooms, the bathhouse, some camp in the woods, right here or even into the water and under the bridge over there. It doesn't matter to me, as long as I can help you feel again."

"Underneath the bridge?" He retreated from their hug just enough to see her eyes and grinned.

And she back slightly when he did, and continued in a caring tone. "Yes, I don't care. Just tell me what you want."

His grin turned to a smile much like hers, touched, before giving his answer. "I really just want to feel you close to me right now. Nothing else."

Cirion kissed her again, more meaningfully this time. He got up and lifted her with him, taking her to a secluded campfire nearby, hidden away under the trees by the water's edge not too far from where they had been talking. There, they quietly pursued what they both had in mind. Yashia didn't really know how to go about it at first and was extremely nervous when they were making out with not much left on in terms of clothing. Though her one true love easily made her feel at ease, so she could give herself guided by feeling alone.

From that moment on, she was a virgin no longer.
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Old 11-21-2008
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Kaeldorn Kaeldorn is offline
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What the fallen paladin had once vowed to abstain from now became an act she commonly engaged in. Probably much more than would be considered normal. It happened many a time that during a private conversation somewhere, one well-placed remark from either of them would inevitably lead to them doing their thing. For Cirion, the reasons were obvious. He had been waiting for a great many months to finally be with Yashia in this way and it really did take his mind almost completely off of any despair he had been in. To her it was new, and sort of exciting. And it almost felt like she had years to catch up on. The difference in her demeanour was more subtle, but those who knew her well could easily notice that she too became less tense than she had been. Or even fairly loose at times. If only we had met sooner was a thought that frequently crossed both of their minds. Though that would likely have been a bit awkward, their difference in age considered.

Their overly busy love-life, while they practiced it in many different places all across the valley, was for the most part spent exploring all the corners of Yashia's room. Though that limited separation from publically accessible areas did not come as a blessing to all. Their next door neighbours, or rather the couple that lived inbetween their rooms one and three of the Sundren Comfort, were not quite comfortable with the never-ending noises coming through the walls at night and felt forced to move out. Both Osclow and Annie begged them to switch their room number two for Cirion's number three, so that there would be two walls and a hallway inbetween. And of course there was also the bit where getting a larger room would be a welcome change. Yashia did have the plan to make Cirion move in with her permanently, but any talking about that plan was often foiled by her significant other. And sometimes even by herself.

They were not the only ones who showed an interest in what were perhaps the two most royal suites in all Sundren and held by one and the same couple. Lauan also had a wish for a place to stay away from her daily business at the Enclave. There were more, but Lauan was the only one who really had another thing in common with Osclow and Annie; she was bothered by Yashia's and Cirion's being together. Yet she never quite expressed why that was. At least not for a long time.

Naturally, their good moments did not only consist out of the physical. Hours and hours were spent doing nothing more than just talking. The Sunite taught his love of the dogma of his goddess' followers, for which she was more than interested in learning. The image of her catching the holy symbol of Sune as a last motion on that one fateful day had inspired him to try and convert her, so he could have yet more to have in common with her. The thought of seeing her reclaim paladinhood not in Lathander's name but in Sune's was something his mind played with too, but the inability to marry put Yashia off.

Although the times they spent together and alone were considered the most enjoyable parts of any day, both him and her agreed that they had to stand up for Sundren in its hour of need. That they had duties and responsibilities to the land they called home, the people they called friends and also every other inhabitant of the valley. Luckily for them, not a whole lot happened that required their efforts. And whenever something did, they were ready.
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